Rise of Eldrazi was one of the best sets of all time for limited. Triple ROE is a ton of fun and, whenever I get the chance, I try to draft it. In addition, ROE is one of the better cube sets, with so many playables and fringe cards in the set to possibly include. Today I’m going to go through the set and look at the cards, talking about the ones that are borderline cubeable, all the way to staples.
All is Dust: If the artifact deck is a popular archetype to construct in your group, then All is Dust is actually quite incredible. Ramping up to 7 isn’t too hard when your deck is probably full of artifact mana, and a lot of your threats are also the same so they live through the wrath. All is Dust takes care of so much, from problem planeswalkers to random enchantments and just about every possible creature in cube. It still costs 7, which is painful, but if you run Oblivion Stone then All is Dust is worth considering as well. Tarmogoyf also enjoys All is Dust since it’s a Tribal card. (The common “tribal card” that’s included is Bitterblossom.)
Artisan of Kozilek: 9 mana is a ton to ramp into, more than is typically “reasonable”, but Artisan is a pretty sweet reanimation target, especially if you’re running Buried Alive. Cast the Buried Alive, grab Artisan and two other creatures, and then return two of them back when you reanimate Artisan. He’s also nice in the Sneak Attack deck as you can Sneak him into play to bring your dead fatties, and if you really want to go deep you Sneak him in response to a legendary Eldrazi shuffle trigger. I don’t think Artisan is good enough, but he’s a nice fatty for budget options or if your group wants to try something new. (EDIT: So this guy doesn’t actually do any of the cool stuff I thought he did. He’s definitely not that good then.)
Awakening Zone: I like this card a decent amount. Having chump blockers that nullify lifelink effects is nice, and a bunch of 0/1s that can hold swords can be super useful. If you can keep AZ out for a few turns too, it’s usually enough to ramp into whatever giant creature you’re looking to cast. The problem with Awakening Zone is that it’s kind of slow. 0/1s once a turn isn’t much, even if you can sace them for mana. If your cube runs a lot of top-end fat, then Awakening Zone should be a very nice card.
Consume the Meek: This card is an interesting one, as against some decks it eliminates just about every creature. There are probably better cards to stop an aggressive deck than Consume the Meek, with Black Sun’s Zenith having a similar effect that you can shuffle back in or Barter in Blood dealing with potential fatties. It’s a tough card to build around because Consume is only good if your opponent’s deck makes it good. I probably wouldn’t run this except in the biggest of big cubes.
Consuming Vapors: Vapors is a powerhouse that can swing a game quickly. Easy to splash, Vapors removes a creature and gives you some playing room while keeping that threat of killing the creature the next turn in the back of the opponent’s head. If they can’t afford it or it’s not beneficial, players won’t play their creatures into the empty board with a Consuming Vapors on deck, making Vapors act as a Time Walk. It’s important to remember the Rebound trigger, as it’s a may ability that is killer to forget. If I have a rebound card, I always place it on the top of my deck face-up so I know to do it before I draw.
Coralhelm Commander: If blue aggressive decks are a thing in your cube, then Coralhelm Commander should be a thing as well. A 2/2 for UU isn’t the absolute worst, but put two colorless mana into him and you have a 3/3 flier, and another two gives you a 4/4 flier that may randomly boost some other creatures. Coralhelm is a pretty simple creature, but aggro is a pretty simple archetype: play low-costed creatures with high relative power, turn them sideways, GG. Coralhelm doesn’t see a lot of lists, but a lot of players don’t support aggressive blue decks and would rather stick with the tempo route, and Coralhelm isn’t the best there since he takes up a sizeable amount of mana to get him where you want him to be.
Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief: Drana is pretty neat. She removes a lot of different creatures while swinging for a ton of damager in the same turn. Her biggest draw back is that she needs a target to user her ability, making her a bad solo threat, and the ability is kind of expensive, having to pay BB before you even consider her toughness. There are better 5 drops in black, but she isn’t the worst inclusion.
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn: Emrakul is the best and worst of the Eldrazi. He’s the best for all the obvious reasons—if you have any questions why, read the card real quick, or perhaps take your time with it. Emrakul is nutty. But he unfortunately costs 15, and he also unfortunately gets shuffled into your library when you put him in your graveyard. If you run the Sneak Attack/Show and Tell package, then Emrakul is a cool option as the “best” creature you could include; if that deck is fairly non-existent, make sure Emrakul is also non-existent in your cube.
Enclave Cryptologist: The “cheapest” looter also has the biggest upside. Spending a bunch of mana on what will always be a 0/1 is pretty painful, but eventually you’ll be straight-up drawing cards, which is super strong. Getting to that level is nice, and once he lived a few turns the extra cards should help sway the game to your direction. You can also keep him as a looter if you’re interested in filling your graveyard up, making him only a 3 mana investment. And, if we’re getting deep, he’s a Merfolk that gets the bonus from a last-level Coralhelm Commander.
Evolving Wilds: Another “boring” card, but I like Wilds a lot. Fixing is always extremely nice, and being able to get any basic land tapped can help out a lot. Running both this and Terramorphic Expanse might be too much, but if your players like getting greedy with their mana bases then it’s certainly something to consider.
Flame Slash: 4 damage is a lot, but not being able to hit players/PWs is kinda rough. The biggest benefit to splashing for red is how versatile the burn is, and this is super narrow burn. That being said, 4 damage is a lot and deals with a lot of the earlier creatures in Cube. In my experience with the card, Flame Slash is always one where players look at it and think it should be good, but it plays out worse in practice or it’s not good enough to make the more aggressive red decks. Not the worst option, and definitely worth a try.
Forked Bolt: While this card is not run in a lot of lists anymore, it’s a pretty neat mini-Arc Lightning. 2 damage isn’t a lot and Shock is a pretty horrible card to run, so it needs to do something special to make it OK at sorcery speed. While spreading out the damage isn’t mind-blowing, it is a nice option and makes it pretty close to consistently playable. In bigger cubes or cubes where aggro is a major problem, Forked Bolt is nice.
Gideon Jura: He’s nuts.
Goblin Arsonist: I’ve seen some cubes run him as an aggressive option or an additional Mogg Fanatic, but I think both of those cards are awful. While there are a lot of 1 toughness creatures, making them more utility-style creatures, I’d prefer my red 1-drops have the capability of doing more damage consistently. Also you can’t sac him as you please, so overall Arsonist is pretty awful.
Guul Draz Assassin: The MODO cube runs this guy, and I like him a lot. As an aggressive creature, he’s pretty nice. While a bit of a mana sink, Disfigure on a stick deals with a lot of the early creatures opposing decks could run, and once he’s much larger he makes combat a pain in the butt to figure out. GDA is kinda slow to get him to a spot where you want him, though, and if you’re actually all-out aggro then a mana sink that doesn’t do direct damage might not be what you’re looking for. With that considered, he’s been much better in play than I gave him credit for, and I think he’s worth a try.
Inquisition of Kozilek: An expensive common, if you’re looking for more Thoughtseizes in your cube then IoK is definitely worth considering. Inquisition falls under the same umbrella as Consume the Meek, but there are more nonland permanents that cost 3 or less than there are creatures, so it’s more likely that Inquisition will hit. IoK isn’t a card I’d be too thrilled to run, but it’s a fine choice if your playgroup likes those types of effects. CMC 3 or less tends to hit a lot.
Joraga Treespeaker: The green Sol Ring, Joraga is nuts. Once you make the initial investment, there’s very little reason to keep on leveling, and then it’s time to start casting big things. On your initial turn of leveling you can play a signet or more mana dorks, and then your turn three play means you’re casting 5 or 6 drops without issue. That is crazy! Arguable the best 1-drop green ramper, he’s a staple in cubes of all sizes.
Kargan Dragonlord: I’m not the biggest fan of the Dragonlord, but he IS good. In the mono red decks, I typically don’t have time to be tapping out to level up a dragon lord, especially since if you’re playing him on curve you really can’t get him to level 4 until your 4th turn, which is pretty awful. It’s nice having a 4/4 flier by then, but if you invest 5 mana to keep him at a 2/2 and your opponent removes him from the board, you’ve essentially done nothing for two turns in an aggro deck and should be losing the game soon after. Still, in the decks that can afford to pay the cost, perhaps the RG wildfire deck, he’s a nice early drop you can invest loose mana into until you’re able to make him an 8/8 flying, fire-breathing dragon of destruction. Hopefully they’ll make a better red 2-drop in the future.
Kozilek, Butcher of Truth: Kozilek is OK, but having your 10 drop die to a friggin’ Doom Blade is maddening. You spend all this time getting him into play somehow, and then he’s gone for 2 mana. If you don’t cast him or you aren’t able to swing with him, he does nothing as well. That being said, he is awesome otherwise, and only costing 10 means he’s a giant fatty that’s possible to ramp into. Like with Emrakul, if you run the Sneak and Show package, Kozilek is kind of necessary, especially since he’s the easiest to ramp into.
Lighthouse Chronologist: I wish this card was playable. Lighthouse Chronologist is probably the coolest card in the set. Cheap to cast, nice body, easy to level up, and an effect that, if you can make it work, is pretty unbeatable. Unfortunately, not really doing anything until level 7 is a bit of a liability, and while some blue decks might have the time, there are too many cards that remove him which nullify your mana investment that he is not worth playing. Maybe in the largest of large cubes. Maybe.
Linvala, Keeper of Silence: As a sideboard option, she is not bad. There are a lot of activated abilities on creatures, and a 3/4 body for 2WW is not bad. Only hitting creatures is pretty rough though, so Linvala is pretty much strictly a sideboard option. I’m not the biggest fan of sideboard-only cards, as it reduces the amount of playables different archetypes would want, but if you’re OK with that she’s worth an inclusion.
Lone Missionary: While kind of a lame duck, 4 life is a ton, and once you start blinking, bouncing, or recurring him, games become out of hand. I like him in Venser decks, and with Crystal Shard or Recurring Nightmare, you can give yourself a lot of life to work with. Also if you’re in a bigger draft, he’s a serviceable 2 drop that does well against the other aggressive decks to give you a chance with racing.
Naturalize: I like having a disenchant effect in green. It’s nice to be able to give green that ability at instant speed, and while there are other options, keeping it cheap without giving your opponent any benefit—like, 4 life—is simple, boring, and effective. Sometimes boring is what you want, as boring can win games.
Overgrown Battlement: While it won’t give you the extra green that makes this card appealing, Vine Trellis is an OK ramp card for bigger cubes regardless. 0/4 is a pretty sizeable body, and it gives the ramp deck a blocker that also increases the mana count for any given turn. In decks with Wall of Roots or Wall of Blossoms, Battlement becomes a lot stronger. The card is OK, but there are for sure better options to run at CMC 2.
Pelakka Wurm: Yes, this card was an uncommon. I think the Wurm is pretty sick. 7 life is so much, drawing a card is pretty nuts, and when you have the ability to do them both over and over like some decks can, your games start ending up in your favor more and more. Pelakka Wurm is a nice Natural Order target that replaces itself when it dies and gets in for a lot of damage, with 7 power and trample. While I don’t like it more than Woodfall Primus or Terrastadon, I think he’s a fine card and one of the best ramp targets for budget cubes.
Sarkhan the Mad: This guy is pretty neat. He acts like a Phyrexian Arena, or rather a Bob which hurts himself. 7 is a lot of loyalty, but that will drop quick if you aren’t drawing lands or he gets attacked. If you consider him less of a Planeswalker and more a short-term arena that can randomly turn your out classed creatures into 5/5 dragons, it’s a lot easier to justify his inclusion. Not the best card, but an OK option in larger lists.
Sea Gate Oracle: I think this card is pretty good. 1/3 is a pretty nice road block, and digging 2 deep and filtering one of those cards out is pretty nice. Sometimes you have two cards that you want, but you’re still getting at least one great option. Once you start recurring or bouncing him, you can go through your deck pretty quickly to find the bomb or answer you need to turn the game in your direction. He’s pretty easy to splash, though it would be an odd splash, but that’s good as he doesn’t require too much of a mana commitment and he’s a nice option early on for decks that are playing 3+ colors.
Splinter Twin: Including Splinter Twin is a conscious decision that requires you to put in Kiki Jiki, Pestermite, and Deceiver Exarch. I think combos in cube are a good thing, as having those glass-cannon style of decks promotes aggressive decks as a better option and punishes the super greedy decks that can emerge. While a bit flimsy, it’s entirely possible to assemble this combo and there are a variety of tools in blue to dig deeper to find the final pieces. The card also works nicely with Zealous Conscripts, but unfortunately you can’t use Restoration Angel to combo with Splinter Twin. If you want to run Splinter Twin Combo, then running the namesake card is a good place to start.
Staggershock: Staggershock is nice as it has a lot of different uses and versatility. You can get a 2-for-1 out of it, hit your opponent or his PW in the dome for 4, or split it up. I’m not sure I’d call Staggershock a staple, but it’s as close to one as I’m willing to go. Any red deck I play usual wants a Staggershock in it, as the card does a decent amount of damage for only 2R. It’s nice to play it EOT after your opponent drops two creatures SS kills, as it’s a bit of a surprise that wipes the board and swings the momentum your way.
Student of Warfare: I have no problem calling Student of Warfare a staple. Behind Mother of Runes, Student of Warfare is the best pure-white 1 drop. It’s pretty easy to get him up to a 3/3 first striker, a creature that most early drops can’t stand against. Once you make him a double striker, there are usually other threats on the board your opponent has to deal with as well, and a 4/4 double striker can at worst trade with just about anything. Even in my non-aggressive decks I’m inclined to run Student, as he’s a good mana sink that can randomly take over a game if you can drop him early.
Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre: Ulamog is the best of the legendary Eldrazi in my opinion. Being indestructible is so huge for your giant ramp creature, since Kozilek gets killed by nearly anything that can kill a 10/10. When you cast him, having that vindicate on a stick can be pretty nice. It’s not as nice in the Sneak Attack decks where you want to fill your hand up with cards from Kozilek, but you’re probably not casting Kozilek anyways so it’s nice not to get chump blocked by an Acidic Slime.
Vengevine: This card is sweet but unfortunately costs 4, so I could see him not making some lists. Is he better than Phantom Centaur? The Garruks? Chameleon Collosus? In certain situations, he is for sure better, and if you support aggressive green decks then he is an auto-include, but in the ramp decks a hastey 4/3 isn’t exactly game changing. Depending on the make up of your cube, Vengevine is an auto-include or one you want to take a moment to consider his usefulness.
Wall of Omens: 0/4 walls for 1X that draw a card tend to be playable. Bouncing and blinking him gains you some incremental value, and he’s a nice target for Sun Titan. A boring, but very playable, card.
If I missed any cards that you think should be on this list, let me know in the comments! And thanks for reading!