zaterdag 7 januari 2017

Top 10 Aether Revolt cards for Peasant Cube

Spoiler time! Kaladesh was absolutely amazing for my cube, let's see if Aether Revolt knocks the block out of the park.

First, let's look at the new abilities:

Revolt - When [this] enters the battlefield, if a permanent you controlled left the battlefield this turn, [do something]
Well, morbid is a fun ability. This looks a little harder to enable because it doesn't trigger off of your opponent's stuff even though this counts all permanents and self-bounce as well. Maybe if the triggers  turn out to be very powerful, or if the base cards are great on their own, but otherwise I don't think this is going to make waves.

Improvise (Your artifacts can help cast this spell. Each artifact you tap after you’re done activating mana abilities pays for 1)
As much as I want this to be great, 'artifacts matter' is just not a thing most peasant cubes are set up to  do. 

Top 10 Aether Revolt cards for Peasant Cube

10: Scrapper Champion (3R, Creature - Human Artificer, 2/2, Double Strike, When [this] etb, get EE. When [this] attacks, you may pay EE. If you do, put a +1/+1 counter on it)

Double strike is one of the more powerful keyword creature abilities in a vacuum. Makes the creature good in combat, and able to deal surprising amounts of damage with even the smallest pump. Generally, we don't get double strikers larger than the occasional 2/2 and if we do they're either rare or horribly overpriced. Still, a 3/3 for 4 (essentially) is not ridiculous or anything, but a 3/3 double striker is at least something to keep an eye on. As a bonus, it has a +1/+1 counter on it for synergy with different +1/+1 counter lords you might run.

9: Invigorated Rampage (1R, Instant, Choose one - Target creature gets +4/+0 and trample until eot, or, Two target creatures each get +2/+0 and trample until eot)

One of the better red combat tricks we've seen in a while. +4 Power and trample is quite a lot, and having the option of spreading it out is great utility in the face of removal, 2 chumped fatties and/or double trade-up in combat.

8: Untethered Express (4, Artifact - Vehicle, 4/4, Crew 1, Trample. When [this] attacks, put a +1/+1 counter on it)

Even after playing with Kaladesh for a while, I still don't feel like I have a firm grasp on how good vehicles are. What I do know, is that a 4/4 trampler for 4 that grows when attacking is pretty good and that Crew 1 is not very hard to do. I think this is good, but it might be even better than that.

7: Aether Chaser (1R, Creature - Human Artificer, 2/1, First Strike, When [this] etb, get EE, When [this] attacks, you may pay EE, if you do, create a Servo)

Most of us played Youthful Knight at one point or another and this is way better. It's good in the early game: hard to block, makes a 'free' 1/1. But, it still has value later on and even less aggressive decks will have use for this 2-drop because of the first strike. 

6: Gifted Aetherborn (BB, Creature - Aetherborn Vampire, 2/3, Deathtouch, Lifelink)

Obviously very good. More toughness than most 2-drops and two abilities to boot. The double black mana cost is a real drawback, although in this case it's a little less of a problem because Gifted Aetherborn has such good stats/abilities that it will still be good even if you play it on turn 4 (or even later).

5: Winding Constrictor (BG, Creature, 2/3, If one or more counters would be placed on an artifact or creature you control, that many of those counters plus one are placed on that permanent instead. If you would get one or more counters, you get that many +1)

This card should probably be a lot lower on the list, but I'm just very excited to try it out. A 2/3 for 2 is already above the curve (which it should be as a double colored 2-drop). The ability is super interesting and unique to peasant. Suddenly, Carrion Feeder gets 2 counters every time you sac a guy to it, Cytoplast Root-Kin becomes a ridiculous ball of durdly synergy and the #3 on this list gets way better. What's not to like? The only thing I'm 'sad' about is that I don't really support +1/+1 counters in black.

4: Monstrous Onslaught (3GG, Sorcery, [This] deals X damage divided as you choose among any number of target creatures, where X is the greatest power among creatures you control as you cast [this])

Green removal always makes me pause. Until now, I haven't really played any (at least not for longer than a couple of weeks), mostly because I think pump is a more interesting way for green to interact with creatures and I just didn't felt I needed it. However, this just looks like so much fun and value that I can't NOT run it. It's situational, so it won't be good in every deck, but in the right deck this is just a 5 mana plague wind. It even shores up the traditional weakness of green's removal by locking the power in on casting instead of on resolution, so it doesn't matter if your opponent manages to remove your biggest guy.

3: Ridgescale Tusker (3GG, Creature - Beast, 5/5, When [this] etb, put a +1/+1 counter on each other creature you control)

Back-to-back green 5 mana 5/5's with value for Kaladesh block it seems. The stats are good enough on their own, but it's so sweet to pump all your mana elves after ramping this out or just curving into this and out-sizing your opponent's board with all your men. It's not as explosive as Overrun, but way more versatile. Also: cue obligatory +1/+1 counter synergy.

2: Maulfist Revolutionary (1GG, Creature - Human Warrior, 3/3, Trample. When [this] etb or dies, for each kind of counter on target permanent or player, give that permanent or player another counter of that kind)

Holy crap this card looks good. It might not have the raw stats Skyship Plunderer does (although a 3/3 trample for 3 is certainly not bad), but the fact that it adds counters on etb is amazing, and again when it dies? First of all, you can't stop the ability by removing or blocking the guy (like with Plunderer). Second, it's in a better color for counters. Third, the combination of etb and sitting a little higher on the curve plays way better with the red +1/+1 counter guys like Gore-House Chainwalker. Imagine going 1-drop into Stormblood Berserker into this. Sounds good, right?

1: Skyship Plunderer (1U, Creature - Human Pirate, Flying, Whenever [this] deals combat damage to a player, for each kind of counter on target permanent or player, give that permanent or player another counter of that kind)

It might be a little boring to put this so high, but this is one of the more blatant powercrept cards we've gotten in a long long time. Traditionally, 2 power flyers for 1U can only block other flyers or have some other drawback or condition. This doesn't, AND has additional upside. Actually, in the right deck, the upside is absolutely huge. For the low cost of having to hit a player (oh hi there, natural evasion), you get to add a counter to a permanent. Play this after a turn 1 Vivid or Gemstone Mine? Never have color issues again. Serrated Arrows? I don't see this one ever leaving my cube. Ever.

Honorable mentions:

Fatal Push (B, Instant, Destroy target creature if it has cmc 2 or less, Revolt - Destroy if it has 4 or less)
Good, efficient removal, but this is something black already does very well. Still probably better than something like a Disfigure. Maybe I'm underselling it, because it will be able to hit and kill a big number of creatures in my cube and more with Revolt turned on. I just think it's better in other formats than in peasant cube.

Restoration Specialist (1W, Creature - Dwarf Artificer, 2/1, W, Sac [this]: Return up to one target artifact card and up to one target enchantment card from your graveyard to your hand)
I'm definitely trying this one. The raw stats are on the lower side, but the flexibility is nice to have especially because artifacts/enchantments are among the more powerful cards in peasant cube. I do run more enchantments than most though, so ymmv.

Foundry Hornet (3B, Creature - Insect, Flying, When [this] etc, if you control a creature with a +1/+1 counter on it, creatures your opp. control get -1/-1 until eot)
Will try to make room for this, because I like it as a build-around and a nice anchor in black for +1/+1 counter synergies. I don't think it's crazy good, but it looks fun.

Vengeful Rebel (2B, Creature - Aetherborn Warrior, 3/2, Revolt - target creature an opp. control gets -3/-3 until eot)
Revolt is likely harder to trigger than I want it to be, but I like that we get a card like this that's basically only good in aggro or midrange instead of being nuts against it.

Reckless Racer (2R, Creature - Human Pilot, 2/3, First Strike, When [this] becomes tapped, you may discard a card. If you do, draw a card)
Not a bad rummager. Has more impact on the board than Rummaging Goblin, as in: it's not completely useless in combat.

Wrangle (1R, Sorcery, Gain control of target creature with power 4 or less until eot. Untap it and it gains haste until eot)
Depending on your use of effects like these, this is one of the better Threatens. My cube has 10 creatures it can't hit naturally that Threaten can. Of course, any pump/equipment/aura will throw off the math. However, being a mana less than Threaten is a huge boon. So, if you use your Threatens mostly as a way for aggro decks to push through: Wrangle is your guy. If your Threatens are cute way to kill creatures with a sac outlet (or your cube has a lot of pump and/or growing creatures): stick with Threaten.

Narnam Renegade (G, Creature - Elf Warrior, 1/2, Deathtouch. Revolt - etb with a +1/+1 counter)
Likely a little too hard to trigger consistently in the early game, but 2/3 deathtouch for a single mana is great potential. The deathtouch makes it useful for a whole swath of decks.

Treasure Keeper (4, Artifact Creature - Construct, 3/3, When [this] dies, cascade)
I like it, and will try it out, but I'm expecting a 4 mana 3/3 that has variable upside when it dies is just a little slower to create value than I want.

Hidden Stockpile (WB, Enchantment, Revolt - At the beginning of your end step, create a Servo. 1, Sac a creature: Scry 1)
Super slow, but good continuous fodder for the grindy sacrifice decks that WB has available to it. Will try, but I can see it being too slow.

donderdag 5 januari 2017

2016 in review

With Aether Revolt almost upon is, I wanted to take a moment to look back at 2016.

Using my CubeTutor change log as a guide, I'm going to reflect on the biggest changes 2016 brought to my cube. I'll close the article with the top card added from each of 2016's expansions.

January  - Added painlands
After complaining about peasant mana-fixing for a long time, I decided to bite the bullet and add better lands - and with them break the peasant rarity restriction - to my cube. While painlands are not the best rare lands available, I chose them because the power level 'feels' enough like peasant. Arbitrary, I know.
At the time, I wrote "If the change is minimal, I'll revert to the uncommon lands. If it's huge, I'll keep them for a while." Apparently, I've been playing with them for almost a year now, and I still like having them. That said, the addition of the painlands has had less impact than I thought it would. Yes, mana is better. I especially wanted to make manafixing better for aggro, but painlands also makes greedy control decks faster. I think I will actually change back to the uncommon lands for a while to see if I will miss the painlands.

January - Double strike/pants and +1/+1 counters overlap
Both archetypes have been in my cube before, and have been a favorite in my playgroup but narrow. A year ago something clicked when I realized that the 2 archetypes play well with each other, making them less narrow to support.

January - Tried storm again
Against better judgment, I tried supporting storm again in my cube. The archetype has always been a fan favorite in rare cubes, after all.
According to my change log I changed back on March 9th, but I think that I made the actual change earlier. Like, after 1 cube session.
Reminder to myself: don't try again unless something ridiculous comes along.

April - Tribal synergies
When Shadows over Innistrad came out, and with it 2 actual Vampire 'lords', I started experimenting with tribal in my cube. Tribes are a huge part of Magic's history, casual and competitive, and one of the things lacking from my cube. Peasant highlander is not an easy place to support tribal.
After Vampires (black), Goblins followed (black/red). We did have a lot of fun with both, but during the year most of the tribes that I went deeper into were reduced, simply because the pay-off was not big enough to warrant going deep.
However, smaller tribal synergies have become something I keep looking out for. Small support for tribes has been one of the most eye-opening experiences I've had with my cube the last year. Having cards that care about creature types adds a lot of depth to the draft. Suddenly, cards gain or lose value based on something that's not the actual game text.

May - Enchantress
Finally Wizards of the Coast decided to give me something I've wanted for a long long time: a peasant legal Enchantress. Instantly, I made a 50-card change to my cube to incorporate one of my favorite archetypes of all time.
I must say, for people wanting to go the distance and having the space to dedicate to it, the archetype has been a blast. Like with Tribal, it gives the drafters a card type to care about that's not 'creature' or 'spell'. With a Mesa Enchantress in my deck, I will be drafting Journey of Nowhere over Swords to Plowshares, whereas that would otherwise never be the case.
Sure, my cube's bigger than most so I have more room to experiment without having to remove too many proven cards, I have a double strike/pants archetype that also wants some auras, etc etc. But, running more enchantments is easier than you might think. Removal is not hard to find in enchantment form, for example, and you can just cube Fertile Ground over Rampant Growth.

June - Removed +1/+1 counters again
While the archetype was fun, it just wasn't there yet. I wanted it to be, but it kept falling just short of good enough.

September - MADNESS!
Like with storm, I decided to go against rational thought to see for myself if the archetype was worth pursuing. I was looking for an archetype to overlap green, blue and red and this was the best thing I could come up with.
Turns out, it was about as good as we all thought it would be. Not very. It required too many pieces, at exactly the right amounts in decks, at exactly the right moment in games, to be better than most general decks on those colors. Madness' timing can make for awkward and suboptimal plays at times.
I removed all the madness cards from my cube, but I did keep all the red discard outlets and most blue/green/red cards that do something from/with the graveyard. As a result, Red/X graveyard decks (along with B/R Reanimate) have become a thing and are surprisingly good.

Oktober - The return of +1/+1 counters, with a vengeance
Kaladesh came out, and with it a couple of more cards with +1/+1 counters. Apparently, these cards where exactly the thing to push the +1/+1 counter archetype into playable/good range. I'm stoked for the next set, as the archetype can only get better (maybe even bleed into blue and black this time around).

Oktober - Big red
Red is my favorite color. It's also the color I've been having most trouble with in my cube over the last couple of years.
It has had 2 big identities, almost from the inception of my cube: aggro/burn and spells matter. While both are great decks, red has been falling short when compared to other colors. It's not that red is seeing less play, not at all! Red's burn makes it a perfect supplement in multiple decks, and the number 1 aggressive color. But with the move to more different decks, fringe archetypes and overlapping synergies, the other colors just feel a lot deeper and versatile.
2016 has seen more than one change to red where I changed 15+ cards at a time. All the above archetypes? Red had something to with them at one point or another. With +1/+1 counters and an increasing focus on graveyard support, I felt I was getting there with red.
Coincidentally, we have been having fun with multiple control decks lately but they were usually of the board-control pillow-fort-y type. I wanted something like the classic U/W decks with Wrath of God. Or, even better, R/X WILDFIRE! Control decks with big splashy finishers like Cruel Ultimatum.
Flame Wave and Inferno got added to the cube, and while we didn't have a lot of chances to cube in the last months of the year, initial tests are positive. Slamming down Flame Wave feels great.

Top cards from sets released in 2016
These are not necessarily the best cards in a vacuum, but my personal picks for most awesome for my cube.

Oath of the Gatewatch (Jan): Relief Captain
Shadows over Innistrad (Apr): Vessel of Nascency
Eternal Masters (Jun): Mesa Enchantress
Eldritch Moon (Jul): Curious Homunculus
Kaladesh (Sep): Armorcraft Judge
Conspiracy (Aug): Manaplasm
Commander 2016 (Nov): Ash Barrens

2016 was a pretty sweet year for my peasant cube. I've been moving into the archetype direction for a longer while, but 2016 felt like it started to show. The cube is in a great spot, with an enormous amount of playable archetypes, build-arounds and weird cards.

I really hope that 2017 can continue the trend af releasing awesome new cards and downgrading sweet older cards that give me and other peasant cubers more options than just power level.