Urza’s Destiny is definitely the weaker of the cube sets, but there are still excellent cards amongst the ranks. Thankfully there are not as many powerful Echo cards in this set, because I can only repeat the same things about Echo so many times. So let’s get to it then, shall we?
Academy Rector: This is a cool card which I have no experience with, but I imagine if you support it well then it could get absurd. The thing about Rector is you’re not looking to sneak something like an O-Ring or a Journey to Nowhere in. Yes, they will be useful at times, but at 4 mana you aren’t receiving the impact that’s necessary to take over a game, which is what you really want to do. If you’re running cards like Debtor’s Knell and Form of the Dragon, then Rector becomes a lot better as the Enchantment you’re bringing in is actually bonkers. If you print any more ridiculous enchantments, I could see Rector garnering more consideration, but as of now I’d pass.
Keldon Champion: Whether there is still merit to running the champion is up for debate; in the past few years, he has been severely outclassed. The thing is, Champion is really great; what is essentially 6 damage on a 4 drop, 3 of it coming guaranteed, is exactly what you want from your curve topping 4 drop. Unfortunately, there are 3 massive issues for Champion: Hero of Oxid Ridge, Koth of the Hammer, and Hellrider. All three of those are way better than Champion, and how many red 4 drops are needed to be run? In the larger cubes, he’s still great, but the smaller you go the harder it is to find room.
Keldon Vandals: Vandals is an OK option, not mind blowing but a cool combination of power and ability. Red wants creatures that destroy artifacts, and they want to deal a lot of damage. The cool thing about Vandals is he’s fine in all red decks, since 4 not only deals a lot of damage but can block so many other creatures. Echo is extremely tough, so sometimes he’s better in the slower red decks. I don’t think he’s better than Manic Vandal; even though he does way more damage, Echo is so brutal, and a 2/2 for 2R is fine when it destroys an artifact when it comes into play. I like Vandals in mid-to-larger sized cubes.
Masticore: I like Masticore, but I’m not sure how playable he is anymore. Not that he’s bad by any means, but if I’m going to be running a masticore, I’d rather run the grand daddy purps in Molten-Tail Masticore. (Who is severely underrated, but hey, keep passing him.) My biggest issue is how much does aggro need to be stunted? The mana commitment for the 1 damage abilities are too much, so a 4/4 that can ping for 2, regen for 2, and costs you a card each turn is kind of asking a lot. If you really want to stunt aggro, take some aggressive cards out and add sweeter slower/bigger cards, not run this guy. Again, I think he’s a fine option, but his time is passing.
Metalworker: The MTGO Holiday cube ran this guy, and I have mixed feelings. I loved drafting the Mishra’s Workshop deck, since mono brown was a thing other players didn’t draft and all the sweet, narrow cards for that archetype were wide open. The thing, though, is by the time you got Metalworker out—unless it was with a turn one workshop—your hand was usually lighter than what could abuse the Metalworker. You’re either falling behind while you’re waiting to go off with the worker, or you’ve already blown your load and there’s nothing to reveal. At the end of the day, I’m not the biggest fan of the Metalworker.
Opposition: I like this card a lot. UG Opposition is one of the strongest archetypes you can draft in my opinion. (Throw an Upheaval in there for good measure and your deck is unbeatable.) With any token or creature strategy, you can use your creatures to completely tap them out of the game, playing your own while you find your game-ender or wait for the moment where you can swing in for lethal. I think this card is severely underplayed in a majority of cubes, and I would run it in cubes of any size.
Plow Under: This is another card that’s severely underrated, thought Plow Under has always been a “classically” strong card as far as I can remember. In green it’s easy enough to ramp into this turn 3 or 4, and memory lapsing two of their lands should give you the space you need to play around, in addition to nullifying any shuffle effects they may be sandbagging or have on the board. Regrowth or Snapcasting this spell again can win your the game by default, as if they had nothing to do with 2-4 lands, they’ll certainly have nothing to do when they draw 2 of those lands again. This is another card that I would run in any cube of any size.
Powder Keg: I think Powder Keg is alright, but it faces stiff competition again Rachet Bomb. For all intents and purposes, they are the same in terms of when and how you can charge it up; you’re either going to charge them for the rounds or not, but it’s nice with Rachet Bomb to choose when and how. The cool thing about Keg is that it helps your own planeswalkers survive. If you have a deck with a bunch of ‘walkers, Keg’s value goes up. With that being said, Kegs and Bombs are usually used to stifle aggressive starts, so I’m not exactly sure how relevant the Planeswalker clause it, but it’s there and there are games where you can afford the time to wait around charging up your bombs.
Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary: I’ve always loved Rofellos since I first got back into magic. He is such a silly looking dude, and yet he’s so powerful. 6 drops on turn 3, 8 drops on turn 4…the heavier you are into green the nuttier Rofellos gets. In addition he’s a 2/1 for GG, not amazing but 2 power is 2 power and allows you to attack if you have nothing to ramp into. If your players don’t like playing big green decks, you’ll want to pass, but who doesn’t like playing big green?
Thieving Magpie: This guy has been outclassed. Take a look at your blue 4 drop section, and ask yourself if there really is anything worse than Magpie. The answer is “probably not.” It’s OK, but compared to the rest Magpie is super unexciting.
Thran Dynamo: It took me a long time to warm up to Dynamo, but after a recent few times taking the machine for a spin, I’m feeling toasty. 3 mana is a lot, and if your cube supports playing massive spells way earlier than you should, then Dynamo is pretty sick. Also, with Upheaval, every mana counts; there have been times where I couldn’t play my Gilded Lotus after an upheaval but a Thran Dynamo would’ve been fine. I’m still fairly middle-of-the-ground, since I played against decks that couldn’t compete with upheavaling for 8+, but I have faith Dynamo will continue to perform.
Treachery: Holy shit is this card a bomb. Control Magic is sick, and a free control magic is way better. I have been passed this card so many times—in real life and online—and I don’t get it. 5 lands. Untapped. For a control magic. This card is insane! I feel like talking about it more will end up with “good card is good” type of description, but believe me: this good card is GOOD.
Yavimaya Elder: Elder is pretty great. Getting 2 basics out of a Elder death thins your deck out considerably, and then getting that extra card is a nice bonus. Elder helps you fix your mana, hit your land drops, and dig deeper into your deck within a color that usually can’t afford that luxury. Nightmaring an Elder back and forth is incredibly strong as well. In my opinion, Elder is a staple.
And this concludes the Urza’s Block review! Thank you again for reading.