Sitting down to write the article today, I looked at some of the comments about the Time Spiral article and people seemed to enjoy it. I enjoyed writing it as well, and decided to continue through the block, covering Planar Chaos next. Like Time Spiral, Planar Chaos is a funny set, taking older cards and literally just changing the color, or taking a mechanic or style from one color and adapting it to another. A pretty cool set, and a decent amount of cubeable cards as well.
Aeon Chronicler: I have mixed feeling about this guy. On one hand, I’ve universally positive experiences, typically playing it in decks like UG big ramp or artifact-based decks with tons of signets and a piece or two of power to combine with a Tolarian Academy. I would have the mana to afford to play it for x=3-4, and those extra 3 or 4 cards would be the key to putting me over the edge. When he hit the board, he was a sizable beater, at least a 4/4, sometimes even a 6/6 or 7/7, and the path would be clear as I’d draw the relevant removal to get past what was in the way.
There was admittedly never a time I played him when I was behind where I casted, and I can imagine him being a lot worse in situations where you don’t have the time to get up to a sizable amount of mana to cast him for a decent size. Usually I was either on even footing with my opponent or just barely ahead, making it easier to waste the turn casting him and allow me to reap the rewards of the X cost in the following turns. If you’re behind when you’re casting him, the turn you spend suspending him could be enough to put you far into the hole. Aeon Chronicler is pretty good, and incredible in the decks that can take advantage of an X cost you want to be pretty high, but I can understand not running him.
Akroma, Angel of Fury: Fun Fact–this was my first EDH general. I whipped together a deck from about ~1000 cards I had bought from my brother and got second in a 4-man game, winning with such EDH all-stars as “fling”, “act of treason”, “cunning sparkmage” and a pretty OP Sylvok Lifestaff. The only reason I lived so long was because the other players looked at my unsleeved deck while they were playing altered card, cracking fetches for ABU duals, and trying to go infinite, while I’m attacking with 2/1s and stealing their Godsires and throwing them right back at their face. Good times!
Akroma—this one, the one on fire—is pretty good, and having protection from white is pretty solid, but it doesn’t have haste, it doesn’t leave anything around, it’s still expensive to morph, and it dies to Doom Blade and all of his pals. She’s OK, but ultimately underwhelming. If I’m going to pay 8 or 6 (technically 9) for a giant red fatty, it better leave some sort of impression before my opponent can remove it.
Blood Knight: Blood Knight used to be fairly acceptable. Black Knight in red seems pretty solid, as he dodges some of the pertinent removal. With first strike on a bear-sized body, he can get through a lot of the resistance most decks can put up in the early stages of the game. Unfortunately for the bloody knight, Ash Zealot and Kargan Dragonlord have been printed since, and if I’m going to have to pay RR for a red two drop, I’d rather it be one of those. It may not be the worst to run more than 2 RR cards, but unlike the soltari in white which all have protection, Blood Knight can get outclassed pretty quickly by your opponent’s curve
Body Double: Body Double is alright, and as a pseudo-reanimator card it’s OK as well. Like an Unburial Rites you can’t flash back (but you can bring back with volrath’s stronghold or genesis etc) it acts as a clone of that card, nettng you the ETB abilities as well. In a reanimator strategy, this ability is really strong; outside of it, though, it’s difficult to maximize value unless you have alternate ways to get creatures you want into the graveyard. In my experience, it was always “not enough”, as the problem creature I wanted to manipulate was on the board, not dead. The card can be really solid, but you need to have a deck that can utilize its strengths well to get the most out of it.
Boom/Bust: This is an interesting Armageddon variant in red. But the 1R ability doesn’t really do enough in a lot of matchups, and 5R for armageddon is a bit too expensive. It’s not like catastrophe where a wrath is the back end; a weird 2-for-1 is the other option, one you’re not going to cast all that often. I’d rather run Jokhaulhups or something like that I can abuse with planeswalkers instead.
Braids, Conjurer Adept: Unlike the other Braids, this gal is a bit trickier to set up. They could drop their sizable guy in, bounce or remove Braids, and you end up eating a removal spell and allowing your opponent to get something expensive in for cheap. If she had hexproof or a bigger body, it might be easier to justify her inclusion, but too much can go wrong to want to maindeck her.
Calciderm: Calciderm is awesome. He’s a boring, undercosted 5/5 that beats down and can’t easily be removed. As a curve topper, he’s pretty solid. But CMC 4 is a tough place to stay for long in white. If Wizards keeps on printing cards like Hero of Bladehold, Elspeth if they compete for a spot in your cube, and the likes, then he might not be in consideration for long. As of now I think he’s an alright option, though I wouldn’t be disappointed if he disappeared from the pool or was replaced by a different card of another flavor.
Damnation: Can someone give me a hell yeah? Wrath of God is such a black card when you think about it. Black is all about death and destruction, and what’s the epitome of killing than killing all creatures? The artwork is sweet, it’s a highly-desirable card in a draft, it gives UB decks a way to wipe boards that up until that point wasn’t possible (Black Sun’s Zenith has since been printed); overall, I think this card is excellent.
Deadwood Treefolk: Getting two creatures is a decent amount off a 3/6 for 5G. If you can recur him in and out you’ll pull in a lot of value, and just grabbing two guys is enough to pull games your way. CMC 6 is a tight competition in all the colors, and this guy is not worth the consideration, if he ever was. In peasant cubes he might be a sweet one, but I don’t know what that format is like so that’s all speculation.
Gaea’s Anthem: Unfortunately for green, there haven’t been nearly enough consistent token makers to make him work, but this might be a nice card if you heavily support green aggro. Have the recent Garruk’s that have been printed enough to warrant this guy’s inclusion? Thragtusk? Maybe Master of the Wild Hunt if you play it? Probably not, but I’d like to hear some thoughts on this card; leave them in the comments section if you have them.
Harmonize: Draw 3 in green is pretty awesome, and for 2GG it’s a decent price. But at 2GG, would I rather and answer to planeswalkers that can also hit lands/artifacts/enchantments? Would I rather the Garruks? Most definitely. Harmonize is cool and a powerful card in green decks that can cast it on turn 3, but it seems like a luxury once you get to the smaller cube sizes. It’s a must include if you run Storm Combo/Dream Halls; being able to dig a little deeper, or having another green card to pitch that isn’t also a regrowth, is really nice and allows you to more easily go into green as a heavier color instead of as a splash.
Keldon Marauders: This guy is necessary for your red aggressive decks. While he doesn’t stay on the board for too long, he guarantees you 2 damage, and if you can land a swing in then you’re getting a pretty decent amount of damage for 1R. At that spot in the curve, he’ll trade with most creatures that get in the way, allowing your later spells to get in and do work. He’s an alright option for any deck that uses ETB abilities to its advantage, like shard/nightmare/vat decks, as you can keep on hitting the two damage over and over to slowly clinch a victory. Marauders is pretty great, even if he seems underwhelming at first glance.
Mana Tithe: Do you play around a single plains? The printing of Mana Tithe has made some players ask this question and incorrectly get it wrong. Better yet, most players ignore the one plains if they haven’t seen it yet and will play right into it. Mana Tithe goes in a variety of white decks, giving some non-blue decks a counter option that will really throw the opponent off. In an aggressive deck it’s very nice too, making your opponent use all their mana to deal with your spells will leave you many opportunities to Tithe away their spells. Mana Tithe is a card I would play in cubes of all sizes; maybe not the smallest, but it’d be a strong consideration and probably still make it in.
Mire Boa: The Boas are both very sweet, as blue and black are splash colors that find their ways into a lot of decks in addition to being the main show. Putting an equipment on an unblockable, regenerating 2/1 can end games quick. Mire Boa is good in faster decks, decks with lots of equipment, and at worst it is a top-notch sideboard option. Regeneration is a tough mechanic to play through at times, and regenerating for G frees up your mana to cast other spells. Boa is another great Cube card, one I’m always happy to see in a list.
Piracy Charm: See funeral charm from the Time Spiral article, but add some details about it being cool to give blue creature kill and instant speed discard.
Seal of Primordium: If you’re looking for an additional Naturalize in your green section, look no further. Like Seal of Cleansing, it’s nice to have the option to cast this early and use it as a free spell later on. You’re broadcasting your play a little bit, but sometimes it’s worth it if you have plays lined up for all your next turns. In addition, you can do cool things with Seal and Sun Titan, clearing all your opponents artifacts and enchantments on the board. I don’t think green is exactly lacking in naturalize effects, what with the actual instants and all the Naturalizes-on-a-stick in the color, but this is an excellent option if you’re looking for more.
Stonecloaker: While he will mostly be a sideboard player, he is a great one. Easy to cast, sizable body with evasion, and two abilities that you’ll want to manipulate, Stonecloaker does some cool things. In the Venser/Galepowder decks, he acts as a way to get more value out of your ETB creatures. With flash, you can set up an attack by him and another play in the same turn without worrying about your opponent clearing the board, or if they do try to clear the board you have the Cloaker handy. Against graveyard based decks, he’s great at pinpoint removal, repeatable if you decide to bounce the Stonecloaker over and over. If you want a graveyard answer in White that has some other utilities, Stonecloaker is a good choice.
For a smaller set, there are a decent amount of cube cards available. As always, if I missed any let me know in the comments. Tomorrow I’ll take a look at the final set in the block, Future Sight. Or I might not. Thanks for reading!