donderdag 22 november 2018

Winds of Change

We're in the process of making huge changes to the set-up of the cube. There are currently three versions of my cube on CubeTutor. Since we're not entirely sure which of the styles we like best, I've listed them separately.

The latest iteration of my Archetype Peasant Cube. Guidelines can be found here and a rough list of archetypes that are supported, as well as example decks, can be found in this article.

Then, something happened. The shift came about when we felt the Archetype Peasant Cube (see below) was getting too narrow and diluted. To use a popular phrase, it felt like it was 'on rails' a bit. Drafting felt the same each time, we were somewhat burned out on the archetypes, and we kept trying to go deeper and deeper into archetypes to make them feel fresh again. 

The cube had gotten to a point where it had too many cards that were only playable in a certain deck and bad in another. The decks were so focused and linear that games usually ended in one deck 'getting there' and making swift work of the opposition that lacked a couple of pieces. We had gone too deep.

We needed a reset. So, I took apart my whole cube, and we started building afresh. Not with archetypes in mind, but power level. Instead of trying to find weird interactions and fringe cards, we went back to the roots of our peasant cube. 

The Average MTG Salvation Peasant Cube was a huge guideline (shoutout to users Phitt77 for starting the project and calibretto for making this year's version). Even with the amount of experience we have with peasant cube, we felt slightly disconnected from what's 'good' outside of our Archetype Peasant Cube environment.

A couple of drafts in, it became apparent that we had fallen into the traps that a lot of new peasant cubes fall into: we had too much removal. It was to be expected, as a lot of the better peasant legal cards are great removal. 

Apart from the removal, we had a blast drafting it. The drafting was way harder than with the old cube and deck building was even more difficult. With every card being so good, it was basically impossible to make cuts. The games felt harder as well, with a lot of interaction and both players continuously looking for little edges. 

We did some comparing between cubes on CubeTutor (which is a great function to quickly see what the differences between cubes are). We compared the Archetype Peasant Cube vs the Power Peasant Cube, and the Power Peasant Cube vs the Average MTG Salvation Peasant Cube. While we were happy with our new cube, we were sad not being able to include a lot of the cards we cut or were in other cubes. 

Then Ultimate Masters spoilers dropped, and gave us even more cards we wanted to cube with even though we knew they wouldn't crack a strictly 'Power' cube. What should we do? Should we keep the Power Peasant Cube or go back to archetypes? Is building 2 cubes a good solution, but that sounded like a lot of work and bookkeeping. 

We started discussing the possibility of just making a very big cube. This would give us the room to run both the power cards and more narrow cards. The narrower archetypes, like Enchantress or +1/+1, would probably not work. On the other hand, it would help with having too much removal in general. 

After a day or so of back and forth, we decided to try it out: 

This is how my cube sits in the box at the moment. It's at about 900 cards right now, but we're planning to grow it up towards 1200 in the near future.

I have no idea if and how long this version will last, but I'm very optimistic. So far, the variety is something that really pulls me, not a lot of drafts (or decks) will look the same. I also like how it invites drafters to find small interactions and synergies on the fly while always having a functional deck.

One thing's certain, changing things up is exciting.

dinsdag 25 september 2018

Guilds of Ravnica set preview for Peasant Cube

Set preview time! Let's get into Guilds of Ravnica

I run a loose grading scale, based on my personal interest in the card:

Slam it - The holy-crap-I-am-so-happy-they-printed-this card.
Cube - This card will go into my cube and I expect to be happy with it.
Needs testing - The card looks like it could be powerful, but may or may not work out.
Playable - Interchangeable with similar cards, depending on the flavor of the moment might see play.
So close - I want to play this, but it's probably better if I don't.
? - No idea what to think of this card.
Pass - Every card not listed here.

If the card is not on this list, you can assume I'm not interested (or forgot to list it)


Conclave Tribunal
Verdict: Cube
This is a slightly more than we normally pay for this effect, but it makes up for it by having a higher ceiling in certain decks. Convoke makes this more interesting to run, giving you a kind of loose build-around card that rewards token and/or swarm decks. I don't think I've seen a lot of cubes that don't support those decks in white.

Verdict: Playable
If you need a cheap removal spell, but you don't need more fuel for control decks. Sometimes you just need to throw aggro a bone. Shutting off activated abilities can be powerful.

Gird for Battle
Verdict: Cube
I think this is a pretty sweet little card. Two +1/+1 counters for a single mana is basically a mini-anthem that you can weave in between casting creatures. I might be biased because of my love for +1/+1 counters, but I think this will prove to be a very potent role-player.

Haazda Marshal
Verdict: So close
Man, I really want to like this card. It makes a lifelink token every turn, right? Attacking with this and 2 others is harder to trigger than I want something like this to be. I'd rather just play a card that makes a couple of tokens for immediate effect.

Inspiring Unicorn
Verdict: Playable
If you need another of this effect, it's playable.

Sunhome Stalwart
Verdict: Cube
Very efficient 2-drop. First strike is good without help, but gets even better when the creature gets pumped. And if this guy gets pumped, he'll make the rest of your team better as well. Also synergizes with +1/+1 counters. Very excited for this.


Chemister's Insight
Verdict: So close
Anything that can be cast from your graveyard has potential. This is a little slow, but the instant speed part makes it a lot better. That said, paying 8 mana and 2 cards (this and the discarded one) to draw 4.. I don't know.

Murmuring Mystic
Verdict: Needs testing
The Spells Matter archetype is a favorite in a lot of groups, and in mine. This might be a little more expensive than most finishers in the archetype, as you generally want to either cast one before you start slinging spells or cast spells in the turn you cast it to generate some immediate value. However, 1/1 fliers have the potential to close out a game really fast when it gets going. Plus, this being a 1/5 makes it a pretty decent defensive card to run out on turn 4 against aggressive decks. I think this might become a mainstay in my cube, but I want to see it in play before I get really excited.

Nightveil Sprite
Verdict: Playable
I'm not sure what to make of this. I've played Sigiled Starfish before, and it's been fine. This has a better body that carries equipment/auras better, and fits better in tempo decks. It also enables the graveyard a bit. On top of that, I have a thing for Spellstutter Sprite so the Faerie type always makes me sit up.

Sinister Sabotage
Verdict: Playable
Even though 3 mana counterspells are on the slow side, I've found the card selection tacked onto Dissolve good enough to make the card playable. This is slightly better.

Unexplained Disappearance
Verdict: So close
The scry 1 version of this wasn't good enough, so this will likely not be. The fact that surveil puts cards in the yard has me interested though, but I guess there are better cards for that.


Dead Weight
Verdict: Playable (reprint)
This was already playable, especially if your cube has Enchantment Matters stuff like mine.

Lotleth Giant
Verdict: Needs testing
Let me start by saying that I expect this not to be good enough. Having said that, I really want to try it out. There's a certain Golgari deck that has been very good in my cube that's basically all self mill, creatures and ways to get stuff back. The deck generally wins through attrition and incremental value, but can be slow to actually finish games. The Giant can be a fun way to burn people out, maybe even be the focus of a new version of the deck that aims to turbo-mill oneself and reanimate this guy twice with a pile of creatures in the yard.

Pilfering Imp
Verdict: Needs testing
This looks like it could be pretty good. It's selected discard if you need it, and a decent weenie if you don't. Even if your opponent removes it before you can activate it, your opponent is down a good card (removal). Also, it's adorable.

PlaguecrafterVerdict: Cube
A straight up better Fleshbag Marauder, except maybe if you care about Zombies or Warriors. This guy is good. The only thing holding him down is that the forced sacrifice sometimes just nabs a 1/1 token.

Price of Fame
Verdict: ?
How much mana is surveil 2 worth? I remember reading somewhere that scry 2 is worth about a card, and surveil is slightly better. Considering that, I think I'd be willing to pay 4 mana to kill a creature and draw a card at instant speed. The legendary clause might come up nowadays, too. I can imagine this seeing play and do well. On the other hand, maybe 4 mana is just way too much in an eternal cube.

Undercity Necrolisk
Verdict: Needs testing
This looks pretty powerful, actually. In cubes with a +1/+1 counter sub theme in black(/green, aka Winding Constrictor), this looks like a shoe-in. It's a little more expensive than I'd want, and you can only sacrifice creatures at sorcery speed. However, this can get big fast and is hard to block. This might be a fine finisher in creature decks.


Book Devourer
Verdict: ?
I just want to reanimate whatever the heck this is.

Electrostatic Field
Verdict: Cube
When I texted my friend 'how much of this effect is too many?', he replied 'never too many'. While I don't necessarily agree to that degree, I like this one a lot. Four toughness is just enough to be a good blocker against most early drops, which is exactly what the controllish versions of these spell decks want.

Goblin Banneret
Verdict: Playable
One-drops that are relevant in the later stages of the game are always interesting. This one can dish out a lot of damage when left unchecked, or at least trade up. The additional Mentor ability is just a bonus, but a very welcome one that should play well in my cube. It's still a tier/tier-and-a-half below the top red 1-drops, but it is very playable.

Goblin Cratermaker
Verdict: Slam it!
Holy crap is this good. Efficient stats, TWO relevant abilities (both Ember Hauler and Torch Fiend have seen play). You can't target players with the first ability, but you do get to destroy random Eldrazi. It even has relevant creatures types for those that are into that (*points to self*). I have to work really hard to imagine a peasant cube that doesn't want this.

Smelt-Ward Minotaur
Verdict: So close
This is one the other side of the Spells Matter spectrum from Electrostatic Field. The thing that does the Minotaur in is that you need both spells and creatures to take full advantage of it. It still might be decent in 'normal' aggressive decks to push guys through, but I think this generally falls short.


Arboretum Elemental
Verdict: So close
Initially I was higher on this card, but it's just a little too expensive to be really good. Even with three creatures out it still costs 6 mana, event though I guess if you can play creatures the first 4 turns and cast this on turn 5 you're pretty happy. I'd rather just play Overrun if I have that many creatures though.

District Guide
Verdict: Playable
This effect is very playable and has always been. If you don't mind down-grading the duals you run to Guildgates, this is obviously better than the other versions.

Kraul Harpooner
Verdict: Slam it!
Another windmill slam include. A 3/2 reach for 2 mana without drawback is - I think - unprecedented in green as far as raw stats go. And that's without mentioning it being a potential removal spell that gets better in certain archetypes. Pure gravy. I also need to bring up the fact that Warrior is a relevant creature type for me to really hammer it home.

Sprouting Renewal
Verdict: Playable
Not amazing, but the flexibility might give it a home somewhere.


Beacon Bolt
Verdict: Playable
On the one hand, re-usable removal is great. On the other hand, this is a sorcery and requires set-up. I think it's playable, but Izzet is such a stacked guild that this won't see a lot of play.

Beamsplitter Mage
Verdict: ?
This might have some fun build around potential in some cubes. I wish it was in Boros or Gruul as those colors both need the card advantage this gives and run more cards that work with it.

Boros Challenger
Verdict: Playable
I will probably end up playing this as one of the interchangeable Boros 2-drops that are slightly overstatted (3/2 or 2/3) and/or have a decent ability. This one plays well with +1/+1 counters, which makes me favor it slightly over other options for the moment.

Conclave Cavalier/Crackling Drake/Golgari Findbroker/Nightveil Predator/Truefire Captain
Verdict: Playable
Oh man, these are spicy. Great stats, great abilities. On powerlevel alone, every single one could see play. They're just very very hard to cast. Green decks might have an easier time than non-green decks, which makes me think those will see more play in cubes.

Glowspore ShamanVerdict: Playable
If it was only for my cube, I'd given this a higher grade. Satyr Wayfinder is better and easier to cast, but the aggressive stats on the Shaman are just so enticing. This is exactly what my Golgari sections wants to do. Other cubes might not want it as much, but for me the combination of archetype enabler + efficient beater is  enough to be excited about this.

Justice Strike
Verdict: Playable
Good card, just a little bland for my tastes. White has enough removal that most Boros decks will not need to run this, just like Rakdos doesn't need Terminate even though it's very good. I still prefer Lightning Helix over this for being able to burn people out and being insane in racing situations.

League Guildmage
Verdict: Needs testing
Both abilities are expensive, but potent. Especially the doubling ability is interesting. You'd need to build your deck around this, playing a lot of 1 and 2 mana spells, but that seems doable. This might just prove to be a very fun and powerful build around card.

Sumala Woodshaper
Verdict: So close
If only this was a mana cheaper. The effect is good, and something my cube would want, but 4 mana is a lot if the body is basically negligible. Being a creature does make it easier to reuse, but I don't know if that saves it.

Swathcutter Giant
Verdict: Playable
This looks like it could be a very serviceable Boros finisher. It should stabilize a lot of the board when it comes down, and makes short work of any token army if there's no anthem on the board. In a guild as shallow as Boros, I would not mind playing this.

Thought Erasure
Verdict: Playable
Where Boros is on the shallower end, I always seem to have a harder time cutting cards from Dimir. I think this is a good card, but for a guild card it's just shy of powerful enough but still quite playable.

Worldsoul Colossus
Verdict: Needs testing
As a crossover card between tokens, ramp and +1/+1 counters, this looks like a very good fit for my Selesnya section. I don't like that it doesn't have evasion, but the flexibility makes me want to try it out. In practice, it might also turn out to be just another dumb beater that's not good enough to make it into any deck.

Fresh-Faced Recruit/Piston-Fist Cyclops
Verdict: Playable
If you need another Boros or Izzet hybrid for your hybrid section, you could do worse.

Discovery // Dispersal/Integrity // Intervention/Invert // Invent/Status // Statue
Verdict: Needs testing
I'm having a hard time evaluating these. Flexible cards usually walk a very thin line of being *just* good enough that you're happy to run them in multiple different decks or being underpowered enough that you'd rather run a different card altogether. These hybrid/gold split cards have the additional quirk that they're hard to classify. Should you consider them hybrid? Full guild?
Dimir: Discovery looks good on its own, making Dispersal additional bonus. I think I'd classify this as hybrid.
Boros: I like both ends enough, but don't think I would run Integrity in a Gruul deck for example. I'd classify this as Boros.
Izzet: Here, the hybrid part is not something I would consider without the full gold part. This is in part because I have no idea how good this effect is. It's a single mana, so I'm sure it will come in very handy. The gold part though, might be very good. Getting 2 big spells at instant speed is a good way to close out a game for control decks. Straight Izzet card.
Golgari: Both are playable, but bland. This card will always be good in any deck with both G and B mana. Weirdly, the flexibility pushes is out of the guild section because Golgari is stacked and doesn't need more removal. I'm also not sure if this is better than Putrefy.
Selesnya: Not mentioned above, I don't think this is very good.

Rampaging Monument
Verdict: ?
The times where a four mana 3/3 was the gold standard have passed. Four drops also have the problem of generally being over-saturated in any cube. You can only run so many in your deck, and generally should have no problem picking enough up for your deck. However, this has +1/+1 counters to make it a colorless addition to those decks. But the real thing that has me interested is the build around potential. I like cards that care about unique things you don't see a lot. That's the reason I run a couple of creature-type matters cards, and have so many build around cards in my cube in general. This is the first somewhat playable card that cares about 'gold' cards. I think I will try this baby out, and see if I can add a little more hybrid cards in the process to help with the amount of multicolor without actually upping the amount of gold cards.


There we have it. The newest Ravnica set has quite a couple of interesting cards, something that was to expected. At the very least we get 2 staple-level cards in Goblin Cratermaker and Kraul Harpooner  which is always great. I'm very excited to start testing the cards from this set.

Top cards

Best archetype card - Murmuring Mystic
Surprise of the set - League Guildmage
'Best art' - Goblin Locksmith

3 - Subhome Stalwart
2 - Kraul Harpooner
1 - Goblin Cratermaker

zaterdag 3 maart 2018

Masters 25 downgrades review

Another Masters set, another exciting time of rarity downgrades. With Iconic Master being... less iconic than expected, Masters 25 did not disappoint.

Ancient Craving
Verdict: Pass
Ambition's Cost was already available to us. Not a bad card at all, but also not the first black card draw spell I'd add. The different versions that cost 2 or 3 mana and draw only 2 cards are slightly more efficient, even though the raw drawing power is less.

Balduvian Horde
Verdict: Pass
Pillaging Horde was downgraded in an online set, so technically available to peasant if you consider those (which I, and many peasant cubers with me, do). While the Alliances rare has a special place in my memories, a 5/5 vanilla for 4 with a largely uncontrollable drawback just doesn't really cut it anymore.

Ire Shaman
Verdict: Cube
The first 'real' downgrade of the bunch and it's a great one. A 2/1 menace for 1R is already not the worst floor of a card, and I wouldn't feel bad to play it turn 2 if I didn't have another 2-drop. Drawn later, it's card advantage in red (and becomes bigger). This makes it relevant in all stages of the game, a very very welcome quality for an aggressive card. The fact that it has a +1/+1 counter is icing.
I do want to mention that morphs, like 'free' spells, give a slight advantage to players familiar with your cube. If you don't mind morphs, this is an auto-include.

Iwamori of the Open Fist
Verdict: Cube
Contrary to Balduvian Horde, this 5/5 for 4 is worth it. Not only can't it be chump blocked, its drawback is almost nonexistent in peasant cube. My cube currently has 2 legendary creatures, and I can think of a small handful handful of playable ones on top of that. But even if your opponent does have a legend in hand, it's sure not to be a devastating game-ending bomb like Emrakul or Griselbrand.
Iwamori is probably at or around the powerlevel of Blastoderm, which most people consider a staple. You can target it, but laughs at chump blockers and doesn't fade away. The problem is that you can run only so many 4-drops. While I think it's near the top in power level, it's not very versatile. This means that it will probably see less play than it should.

Jalira, Master Polymorphist
Verdict: Maybe, format dependent
This is a very cool card and an effect we don't get much of. Jalira is a fun build-around that gives reanimate-style decks a different way to cheat out fatties. She asks for a different way to build a deck, which I consider a quality. However, it's quite a risk to build your deck around a card as fragile and slow as Jalira if it takes such a specific way to build your deck to reach the potential of a card. Talking about potential, the uniqueness of the card also makes it hard to gauge exactly how powerful it can be. I think it's solid, but slow. Interesting to add if you're looking for a unique engine-type card, but too clunky for most peasant cubes.

Kongming, "Sleeping Dragon"
Verdict: Cube
I was expecting a white anthem at uncommon in this set, but I was hoping for actual Glorious Anthem. This is still a good card and I'm happy we got it. Having said that, a static anthem on a creature can lead to reverse blowouts if it gets removed at the wrong time. Compare it to Pianna, Nomad Captain (an online downshift), who has a triggered anthem. The effect might be more situational, but removing Pianna mid-combat does not remove the pump. On the other hand, not having to attack with Kongming lets you attack more freely with armies of tokens to push damage through unfavorable defenses. Good card, just be careful with it.

Krosan Colossus
Verdict: Archetype dependent
A 9/9 is obviously huge, but so are both its mana cost and its morph cost. However, if you can circumvent either, this will be the largest thing on the board. It's still not the best reanimate target because it has neither evasion nor self-protection. This means it's basically a blink archetype card. Casting this face down and following it up with a Cloudshift or Flickerwisp is a lot of fun. So if you go deep on blink and want a less value-oriented approach, definitely include this.

Loyal Sentry
Verdict: Playable
Slightly better than the various green and black 1/1 deathtouch creatures, because it's better against abilities like trample and first strike. I don't think that white really needs more (different) defensive options as it already has removal available in various power levels and speeds, and a couple of decent blockers. But, this is not a terrible option if you want your removal to be more situational.
Don't forget that if you have a lot of instant speed blink (or even bounce), you can blink this with the trigger on the stack to keep it around.

Promise of Bunrei
Verdict: Cube
I played a lot of standard in the CHK-RAV standard, and remember Ghost Husk being a great deck. The deck was a black/white aggro deck that used Promise of Bunrei to take advantage of Nantuko Husk, Plagued Rusalka and Ghost Council of the Orzhova (and vice versa).
Every creature deck can use this as removal deterrent or dissentive to attack into your board. Once you put it into a deck that can both trigger it at will AND use the tokens.. the card is absolutely nuts. I don't think this card will ever leave my cube.
Note that the tokens are not white and do not fly though.

Shadowmage Infiltrator
Verdict: Cube
Speaking about cards that will likely be instant staples: welcome Jon Finkel. Barring maybe Baleful Strix (which might still be better), I don't think there are Dimir cards that come close to the power level of Shadowmage Infiltrator. It's the closest thing we have to a peasant legal Phyrexian Arena and a huge boon for each and every Dimir deck. Tempo, control, reanimate, it doesn't matter. Play this, feel good.

Undead Gladiator
Verdict: Maybe, format dependent
A card that has appeared often on downgrade wish lists, the peasant cube community wanted this for years. A mono black discard-outlet for reanimate, a cool value engine for grindy black control decks, and another card to get out of the graveyard for self-mill decks. Though, in the past years we received a couple of decent black discard-outlets in Call the Bloodline and Heir of Falkenrath, self-mill has a plethora of options and peasant has gotten more efficient cards for their control decks. I still think Undead Gladiator has a place as an archetype cross-over in cubes that are a little more archetype based, like mine. For other cubes though, I don't know. A couple of years ago, I would've told everyone to slam this into their cubes, but I think most cubes will find this too slow.
It's fun that we've been asking for this downgrade, and when it finally happens it might be too late.

Verdict: Playable
I had to double check if this really hadn't been printed at uncommon before, but this is the first time. Will-o'-the-Wisp is a classic, which might be the biggest reason for people to include this. I mean, it's not a bad card. It stops almost everything (barring trample and unblockable/shadow) for a single black mana each turn. While this is good, the cost of B each turn is not negligible. Basically, if you're looking for a black wall, this is an option. I don't expect this to go into tons of decks though.

Zada, Hedron Grinder
Verdict: Archetype dependent
Another cool build-around to finish with. If you set it up well, this is the kind of card that creates stories. The floor on the card, however is very low. I'm still undecided if I want to add it myself. On the one hand I like having cards like these, and I don't mind to just throw it into the cube and have it only work occasionally. On the other hand I'm slightly doubtful it will do enough even if everything comes together. If it's any good, it will be in cubes that support some sort of Berserk/pump archetype in Gruul. So maybe I should just try it.
Zada is more flashy than good, but I can see it going into some cubes.

Top 3 and conclusion

Masters 25 can be considered a hit in my opinion. Some overall good cards, cool nostalgic cards, and fun build-arounds. I'm looking to add between 6 and 8 cards from the set, which I'm very happy with. 

zaterdag 10 februari 2018

Treasure Hunting: Onslaught Block

Once in a while, I like to go over a subset of cards to see if there's anything fun/cool/good I (we as a peasant cube community) might have overlooked or forgotten about. Sometimes this yields nothing, sometimes I find a handful hidden gems.

In my post about the amount of cards per set, Onslaught block was far and away the smallest contributor to my cube with a sad 3. Since then, I made a couple of changes that salvaged the number slightly, but it's still not super high.

This brings up the question: is it because of the fact that the major themes of the deck are nor good enough (cycling matters and tribal are somewhat parasitic, morph is very slow), or did I miss something potentially good?

Let's go treasure hunting!


Cards currently in my cube from Onslaught (3): Nantuko Husk, Slice and Dice, Centaur Glade.
Other cards I've seen in cubes: Cycling lands, Complicate, Festering Goblin, Krosan Tusker, Naturalize, Pacifism, Threaten, Whipcorder, Wretched Anurid, Symbiotic Wurm (downgraded in Vintage Masters).

Astral Slide and Lightning Rift - Yeah, these aren't hidden gems per se, they're just really good cards. I'd love to play them, but that would mean restructuring a big portion of my cube for only 2 cards. Who knows, I might try them out sometime in the future, but the cost of inclusion is just too high.

Overwhelming Instinct - Green occasionally gets these 3 mana cards that *might* be able to draw you a card each turn if you meet a certain condition. In a tokens deck, this one seems doable, but three creatures is not a small cost. It also just feels wrong Military Intelligence is both cheaper and needs less creatures, and is in a color that wants it less.

Renewed Faith - For some reason I've always like this card. It's a sweet little control deck smoother that can put the game out of reach for your opponent in the later turns. In most cases you just cycle it and gain some life. Pretty good filler, but also somewhat unexciting.

Sparksmith - I've played with Sparksmith before, and it can be a really scary card. Even on its own it can be an annoying little pinger, but it also opens the door to snag a couple incidental goblins while drafting to start gunning down X/2's and X/3's. If you're looking for such a thing, this one is fun.

Taunting Elf - I don't think I mentioned this in my Urza block hunt. One of my favorite decks ever was a monogreen enchantress deck with 4 Taunting Elf in it. It looked to pump the elf to kill off all the creatures your opponent played every turn. Coincidentally, my cube runs a lot of auras. 


Cards currently in my cube from Legions (0): 
Other cards I've seen in cubes: Havoc Demon (downgraded in Eternal Masters)

Deftblade Elite - On a 1/1 that can save itself, provoke gets a blocker out of the way. Not unlike a Frenzied Goblin. The fun starts when you pump the p/t to be bigger than your opponent's creatures. Provoke even untaps a target, so this would actually be able to pick off creatures that your opponent attacked with. I can actually see this working out well enough in W/R or W/G pants decks in my cube that already seek to pump creatures. In those decks, the Elite even has the ability to do both. Taking a blocker out of the way of the pumped double striker isn't half bad. Question is: is it better than an ordinary tapper? Probably not.

By the way, I might be cheating a bit here. I do remember playing Deftblade and seeing it in other cubes back when I started my cube. 



Cards currently in my cube from Scourge (0): Carrion Feeder.

Dragon Breath - Giving haste to reanimated targets (or just to fatties) is pretty great. I don't think this is the best card in the cube to enable BR reanimate, but I still wanted to mention it because it has been used traditionally in combo reanimate decks.

Long-Term Plans - Totally forgot this card existed! My cube has been seeing a steady increase in build around cards, making tutors better. Mystical Tutor found its way back, we enjoy Razaketh's Rite  and my Dimir section currently runs Lim-Dûl's Vault. I guess this might not be bad as a straight up, as long as you *cough* plan ahead. It's quite unique as far as blue tutors go, because it can find anything. Third from the top isn't even that bad if the card is powerful enough to make an impact.

Top pick

In the end, I don't think Onslaught (the set) is as bad as it looked purely from a number-of-cards-included standpoint. A number of cards have been in my cube and can come back depending on if I think the cube might need them. Legions is a lot worse though. You'd think that a creature-only set would have a couple of great staples for cube, but most ones are either very narrow or just overpriced. Scourge is only slightly better. I mean, there are cards in the set that people actually play. 

The card I'm most likely to find room for is (drumroll):

Yep, I think I might actually add both. I don't expect them to be rock stars, but I like what they could do for my cube enough that I'm excited to try them.

Archetype overview

You have an archetype-driven cube, right? Well, what archetypes can I draft then?

Glad you asked!

This is going to be an overview of the archetypes that are supported in my cube today (Februari 10th, 2018). I'll try and update this post when necessary, putting obsolete archetype at the bottom in the future.
If you can click on the archetype's name, I wrote a more detailed post about it. Links to example decks go to decks drafted on my CubeTutor page. Some of the decks may have cards in it that are cut,  but still work well as example.

Let's get into it.

Before we start:
- Every color has enough support to be part of a generic 'goodstuff' deck of different speeds. This, in turn, means that you can draft aggro, midrange or control decks in every color combination.
- We try to have at least three different distinct archetypes/flavors available per color combination (in addition to, or overlapping, the goodstuff decks). Wherever possible, every guild has an aggro or tempo deck, a control deck and an 'other' deck. 'Other' decks can be midrange, combo or something else that doesn't really fall into the other two speeds.
- Archetypes are supported enough that you should be able to draft a 2-color version of it. While it's not strange to splash for a couple of strong cards, if an archetype is only viable if you have 3+ colors in your deck, it's out.
- We do try to overlap archetypes so you are able to switch colors or focus in-draft, even if you are building around a certain (non-gold) card. Overlap can be between guilds (like enchantress or +1/+1 counters) or in-guild (Golgari has a plethora of different graveyard options).
- Generally, if you see something in the cube, you can expect there's support for it.

Azorius (white/blue)

Flyers (aggro/tempo) - example deck
Heroic/double strike pants (other) - example deck

Dimir (blue/black)

U/B Mill (Psychic Spiral and/or other) (control/combo)
Graveyard value control Psychatog/Delve (control) - example deck
Reanimate (control/combo) - example deck
'Classic' bounce/discard (tempo) - example deck

Rakdos (black/red)

Discard (aggro/tempo) - example deck
Aristocrats/sacrfice (midrange/combo) - example deckexample splashing white
Reanimate (aggro/combo) - example deck

Gruul (red/green)

+1/+1 Counters/Warriors (aggro) - example deck
Pump aggro Berserk/Temur Battle Rage (aggro/combo) - example deck
Fires of Yavimaya (aggro/midrange) - example deck
Threshold/flashback (aggro/combo) - example deck w/Young Pyromancer 

Selesnya (green/white)

Tokens (midrange)
Enchantress control (midrange/control) - example deck
+1/+1 Counter (midrange) - example deck
"Bogles"/Double strike (aggro/combo) - example deck

Orzhov (white/black)

Tokens (aggro)
Aristocrats/sacrifice (midrange/combo)
Enchantment matters (midrange/control) - example deck splashing Goblin Trenches
Discard (aggro/tempo) - example deck

Golgari (black/green)

Reanimate (combo) - example deck
Slow dredge Spider Spawning (midrange/control) - example deck splashing red
Fast dredge delve/Hermit (aggro/combo)
Worm Harvest (control/combo) - example deck
Enchantress (midrange)

Simic (green/blue)

Threshold/flashback (aggro/midrange) - example deck
Miracle Gro-ish (control/combo) - example deck
TurboFog (control) - example deck

Izzet (blue/red)

Delver/spells aggro (tempo) - example deck, example without actual Delver
Spells control (control) - example deck
Mill combo (control/combo)

Boros (red/blue)

Tokens (aggro) - example deck
Double strike/pants (aggro/combo) - example deck, example with heroic/aura overlap
+1/+1 Counters (aggro) - example deck
Trenches/Land Tax (control) - example splashing blue

maandag 5 februari 2018

I just (don't) like it

After doing my 2017 in review, and coming to the conclusion that the last year was good but uneventful, I set myself the task of finding something new and exciting for my cube. While my cube was in a sweet place, I felt I wanted it sweeter.

The first thing I did after I found the time for a Rivals of Ixalan update was add both a life gain matters and a vampire tribal theme. I went up to 600 to save myself the trouble of cutting too many cards I liked.

It lasted a day.

Only a handful of test drafts on CubeTutor after the update, I already started looking for alternatives. Why did this feel off? We were stoked to add both a new archetype and a new tribe. It's not like there aren't other narrow archetypes in the cube, nor are all the archetypes super duper powerful. Then it hit me. We just didn't like most of the cards it required to set up. No feeling of joy when seeing them in the cube. Just a lot of 'meh'. Instead of adding excitement and spice, I took excitement away!

Maybe it sounds obvious. After all, cubes are designed to reflect the personal preference of their owners. Still, I was caught off guard by how important it was for me to like individual cards. Even before I really got to play with them. To be fair, both the life gain archetype and the vampire tribe didn't look that powerful to begin with. But the same thing can be said about other archetypes that I tried and surprised me.

Not sure where I'm going with this, other than that I (re)discovered that I think 'I just (don't) like it' can be a valid argument to cut or run something in your cube. Regardless if it's a decision based on power level, format health, nostalgia or even art. There's a consensus that running Sol Ring in peasant cube is a bad idea because it's too powerful. But what if a playgroup just gets really excited to play with the iconic card? I remember reading somewhere that someone didn't include a (good) card because the art freaked him/her out.

I just added Ravenous Chupacabra to my cube over Bone Shredder. You'd think that most cube owners should have an easy time to make this switch. I did too, but only because I the word Chupacabra is fun and after I realized I was able to play with Bone Shredder in my friend's Urza block cube.

In the meantime, I finished a pretty huge update to my cube and am super excited to see it play out. Some of the cards are probably bad, but I don't care because they do something I like.
That's my favorite thing about cube. It can be all the things that you, personally, enjoy about Magic.

woensdag 10 januari 2018

Stats and numbers: cards per set

Ever wonder what the best set or block for peasant cube is? Were the last couple of blocks less powerful, or are the old sets more impactful? I do, so I went and find out.

- This will count the number of cards from each set, not the quality (that's for a different day).
- Reprints and functional reprints are not counted.
- Masters sets cards are reprints, and as such are counted as coming from their original set.
- In most cases I tend to run the oldest version of a card (A/B/U not always included). The overall outcome will be accurate enough, but I'm sure something slipped through.
- Moment of counting is January 10th, 2018


The set with the most cards in my cube is: 

Khans of Tarkir (23 cards)

Contributing 10 lands helps tremendously, finishing the full cycle of tri-lands and life gain lands.
I had not anticipated this, but this means that Khans was even more important to my cube than even the highest number would suggest.

Runners up are: A/B/U and Magic Origins (both 17), Zendikar (16), Kaladesh and Odyssey (14), Return to Ravnica/Innistrad/Rise of the Eldrazi/Lorwyn/Time Spiral/Ravnica (13 each)

A/B/U didn't surprise me, as it has some of the more powerful cards and format staples. Origins did, but after checking it has a number of archetype enablers. I don't think other people have as much Origins cards as I do. Zendikar also has 5 lands, but the rest is not archetype specific. Kaladesh and Odyssey also score high because they featured archetypes I run: +1/+1 counters and graveyard matters, respectively.

Highest scoring 2nd/3rd sets are: Rise of the Eldrazi (13), Hour of Devastation (12), Avacyn Restored/New Phyrexia/Urza's Legacy (10 each)

It's not a surprise that the highest numbers of cards come from first sets of the block. What's also not a surprise, is that some of the highest scoring 2nd/3rd sets are standalone/bigger (Rise, Avacyn). Hour of Devastation scores just as high as its 1st set, Amonkhet, which is fun. Urza's Legacy comes from a very powerful block. And we all knew Phyrexian mana is broken: a whopping SIX of the 10 cards from New Phyrexia have it.

The sets with the least cards in my cube are:

Legions, Prophecy and Alliances (0 cards)

The first two are not a real surprise, because both are not exactly know for being super powerful. Alliances is weird, because I know I've run multiple cards from that expansion in the past and expect this to change depending on the current version of my cube.
There are also a couple of non-standard sets that yield 0 cards: Commander 2014, Starter 2000, Portal 3 Kingdoms and Unglued.

Runners up are: Eventide/Saviors of Kamigawa/Scourge/Coldsnap/Fallen Empires/Legends (1 each)

Also no surprises there, I guess. Most of them are small, some really mediocre. There are a slew of sets with 3 and 4 cards as well.

Lowest scoring big sets are: Legends (1 card) and Onslaught (2 cards)

Legends is, well, Legends. Filled with mediocre legendary creatures and confusing old cards. Onslaught had a couple of (semi-)parasitic or low power themes: morph, cycling matters, tribal. Also not a big surprise.

The block with the most cards in my cube is:

Khans of Tarkir block (32 cards)

Again, it's the lands that really put it over the top. At this point I wasn't expecting anything else, but I still think it's funny. I don't remember Khans to be especially powerful, nor do I have a real emotional attachment to it as far as single cards go.

Runners up are: Zendikar block (31), Innistrad block and Ravnica block (27 each), Lorwyn-Shadowmoor block (26), Amonkhet block (24), Kaladesh block (23)

Now, these are the real big hitters. I don't mean that Khans shouldn't be at the top, because adding 10 lands is very important, but 2 full cycles of 5 cards do make it easier to score high.
Lorwyn-Shadowmoor is also a bit of a cheat, because it's 4 sets (over 900 cards!), but that doesn't mean it doesn't deserve it either. It does make it especially remarkable that both Amonkhet and Kaladesh blocks (each ~450 cards) score so high. It might also have something to do with the fact that they're a lot newer, so time will tell if they keep their high score.
It does make a lot of sense that Zendikar, Innistrad and Ravnica blocks score so high. All three were powerful blocks, and all three are among my favorite draft formats.

The block with the least cards in my cube is:

Onslaught (3 cards)

Well that's not much. Maybe this is a fun block to go treasure hunting in for a future article. Like I wrote above, the theme's in this block were either somewhat parasitic or not very powerful. Still, I do love tribal in my cube and you'd think that at least another handful of cyclers would've made it in because it's such a great ability, but no.

Runners up are: Ice Age block (5), Kamigawa block (7).

Again, not a lot of surprises as both are not known for their overall power. To put it into a fun perspective: before including Rivals of Ixalan, Ixalan block already has 7 cards. Like with Amonkhet and Kaladesh blocks, I expect this to be partly because the cards are newer and need more testing. Cards overall are also just better designed.

Data per set

Ixalan block - 7+
Rivals of Ixalan - ?
Ixalan - 7

Amonkhet block - 24
Hour of Devastation - 12
Amonkhet - 12

Kaladesh block - 23
Aether Revolt - 9
Kaladesh - 14

Shadows over Innistrad block - 19
Eldritch Moon - 8
Shadows over Innistrad - 11

Battle for Zendikar block - 11
Oath of the Gatewatch - 3
Battle for Zendikar - 8

Magic Origins - 17

Khans of Tarkir block - 32
Dragons of Tarkir - 3
Fate Reforged - 6
Khans of Tarkir - 23

Theros block - 17
Journey into Nyx - 6
Born of the Gods - 3
Theros - 8

Return to Ravnica block - 22
Dragon's Maze - 3
Gatecrash - 6
Return to Ravnica - 13

Innistrad block - 27
Avacyn Restored - 10
Dark Ascension - 4
Innistrad - 13

Scars of Mirrodin block - 19
New Phyrexia - 10
Mirrodin Besieged - 4
Scars of Mirrodin - 5

Zendikar block - 31
Rise of the Eldrazi - 13
Worldwake - 2
Zendikar - 16

Shards of Alara block - 17
Alara Reborn - 6
Conflux - 2
Shards of Alara - 9

Lorwyn-Shadowmoor block - 26
Eventide - 1
Shadowmoor - 6
Morningtide - 6
Lorwyn - 13

Time Spiral block - 19
Future Sight - 2
Planar Chaos - 4
Time Spiral - 13

Ravnica block - 27
Dissension - 6
Guildpact - 8
Ravnica - 13

Kamigawa block - 7
Saviors of Kamigawa - 1
Betrayers of Kamigawa - 2
Champions of Kamigawa - 4

Mirrodin block - 20
Fifth Dawn - 7
Darmsteel - 4
Mirrodin - 9

Onslaught block - 3
Scourge - 1
Legions - 0
Onslaught - 2

Odyssey block - 21
Judgment - 5
Torment - 2
Odyssey - 14

Invasion block - 16
Apocalypse - 6
Planeshift - 2
Invasion - 8

Masques block - 10
Prophecy - 0
Nemesis - 5
Mercadian Masques - 5

Urza block - 23
Urza's Destiny - 5
Urza's Legacy - 10
Urza's Saga - 8

Tempest block - 20
Exodus - 5
Stronghold - 4
Tempest - 11

Mirage block - 12
Weatherlight - 3
Visions - 5
Mirage - 4

Ice Age block - 5
Coldsnap - 1
Alliances - 0
Ice Age - 4

Old sets - 11
Fallen Empires - 1
The Dark - 2
Legends - 1
Antiquities - 3
Arabian Nights - 4

Core sets - 42
Magic 2015 - 7
Magic 2014 - 3
Magic 2013 - 3
Magic 2012 - 6
Magic 2011 - 4
Magic 2010 - 2
Alpha/Beta/Unlimited - 17

Commander sets - 12
Commander 2017 - 2
Commander 2016 - 3
Commander 2015 - 4
Commander 2014 - 0
Commander 2013 - 2
Commander 2011 - 1

Casual Supplements - 7
Conspiracy: take the Crown - 3
Conspiracy - 1
Planechase 2012 - 3

Starter Sets - 3
Starter 2000 - 0
Starter 1999 - 1
Portal Three Kingdoms - 0
Portal Second Age - 1
Portal - 1

Un Sets - 3+
Unstable - ?
Unhinged - 3
Unglued - 0

Treasure Hunting: Urza's Block

Once in a while, I like to go over a subset of cards to see if there's anything fun/cool/good I (we as a peasant cube community) might have overlooked or forgotten about. Sometimes this yields nothing, sometimes I find a a handful hidden gems.

My friend and I are in the process of building an Urza's Block cube because that's the block we started playing Magic with. Looking at all the commons and uncommons again, made me wonder if I had overlooked something for Peasant Cube. (check out the Urza cube here, it's pretty awesome)

Let's go Treasure Hunting!

disclaimer: a glitch made me lose all the autocard links right after doing them. I don't have the time to do them all again at the moment, but I wanted to get the article out. So for the time being, I just linked the treasure.
(if anyone knows of a way I can autocard without linking everything separately, I'd love to hear it)


Cards currently in my cube from Urza's Saga (10): Disenchant, Zephid's Embrace, Duress, Exhume, Victimize, Diabolic Servitude, Arc Lightning, Fertile Ground, Worn Powerstone. I also run a functional reprint of Phyrexian Ghoul with another creature type.
Other cards I know people run: Acidic Soil, Cathodion, Confiscate, Dark Ritual, Corrupt (I think), Peregrine Drake, Pestilence, Rewind

Blasted Landscape - With the renewed attention cycle lands have gotten, may this be worth it for bigger cubes? The colored cycling lands are obviously worse than the Onslaught and Amonkhet ones, because I don't think I would run off-color cycling lands that enter the battlefield tapped. But what about an off-color cycling land that enters untapped? Aggro decks will not want this, but slower decks shouldn't find it too hard to run 1-2 colorless lands.

Exhaustion - Locking your opponent out of casting cards for a turn is very powerful, maybe even as close to a Time Warp effect as we can get. It doesn't tap anything, so you have to time it to get any effect from it. I can see this working out quite nicely in tempo decks.

Fog Bank - This is probably a card that's on people's radar, but I still wanted to touch on it. On paper, it always looks like exactly the card I want in certain decks. It blocks almost everything without dying, right? In practice, my opponent always seemed to have something to bypass this. At any rate, I think it's a decent card if you want it.

Priest of Titania - I'm not sure if people run this, but I've considered it may times. Paying two mana to play something that generates a mana is decent, even though it's not Llanowar Elves. Sure, it doesn't fix colors and can be destroyed, but jumping from 2-4 mana is something certain decks want. If you're going for consistency, play Wall of Roots or Devoted Druid. But, the reason I think Priest of Titania can be great for cube is that it gives you a fun little build-around without giving up much. Most ramp decks want Elves anyway, why not reward people by picking them up slightly higher and going nuts with Priest? I can even see full Elves tribal going together once in a blue moon with Priest and Imperious Perfect.

Symbiosis - This used to be nuts in its native draft format. It's not always easy to set up, but it can be back-breaking. Two mana is not a lot either for such an impactful spell. But, not every deck wants this and it's mainly good in matchups where creature combat is a thing.

Titania's Boon - Only if you're planning to go really deep on +1/+1 counter synergies. I found +1/+1 counter decks most effective when the creatures have native +1/+1 counters or your cards that put them on creatures aren't 1-shot effects. That said, this is not bad, and might be better than I give it credit for.

Windfall - I've played this, actually, but I still wanted to mention it here. It's the closest thing to Wheel of Fortune we have. It's just a little hard to use. In theory, this could be a cool refill card for aggro against control/midrange, and potentially for reanimate or other graveyard decks. I thought about mentioning Tolarian Winds (a card that has actually been played in constructed before), but decided it was too narrow, while Windfall also has uses outside of dumping your hand.


Cards currently in my cube from Urza's Legacy (10): Mother of Runes, Radiant, Archangel, Miscalculation, Snap, Faerie Conclave, Bone Shredder, Phyrexian Reclamation, Unearth, Rancor, Treetop Village
Other cards I know people run: Avalanche Riders, Frantic Search, Ghitu Encampment, Ghitu Slinger, Ostracize, Opportunity,

Cloud of Faeries - There are probably cubes this is in and I've played it before. I can think of 4 reasons to run this: Spellstutter Sprite, land enchantments (Wild Growth & co), storm (and other things that care about casting multiple spells each turn), flyers matter. If you support only 2/4, I don't think Cloud is viable, but I thought it was worth mentioning it as an archetype glue card.

Forbidding Watchtower and Spawning Pool - The blue and green ones are played often, the red one I've cubed as well. The white and black ones, however, don't get as much attention. It probably has something to do with them being purely defensive, and having to keep up 3 or 4 mana each turn to blank a non-flying attacker is often too big of a price to pay. I do think that at least Forbidding Watchtower might have some merit as a land/wall split card for control decks.

Simian Grunts - This was amazing in its native draft format, basically acting as green removal. I wonder if this has some merit in peasant cube as well. A 3 mana 3/4 with echo is not something I'm happy to run, but the flash part might be fun to try.

Tinker - If only the common/uncommon Eldrazi were artifacts. I'd love to be able to play Tinker. Although, Tinker would probably be too good if it was good.


Cards currently in my cube from Urza's Destiny (4): Sigil of Sleep, Keldon Champion, Yavimaya Enchantress, Thran Dynamo.
Other cards I know people run: Yavimaya Elder

Field Surgeon - Diversionary Tactics is still one of the most unexpectedly performing cards in my cube. Field Surgeon is obviously less good, but I can see it doing work in token decks. Imagine having a couple tokens and this in play, combat becomes a nightmare for your opponent. It doesn't solve hard-to-block creatures like Diversionary Tactics does, which probably makes all the difference. Man, I really wish this said 'creature OR PLAYER'.

Gamekeeper - This card has always intrigued me because it's so unique. It's the only green peasant-legal card that can put a creature from library to play. The fact that it's hard to control the outcome also makes it hard to evaluate. It's still just a 4 mana 2/2. If it dies and you hit a Llanowar Elves while milling removal or other premium spells, you give up so much. On the other hand, if you could build your deck where it's more likely to hit at least a 4-drop while filling your graveyard with stuff that you want to have in your graveyard.. I realize the last one is a total best case scenario, but it sounds like so much fun. The question remains however: what's the average?

Iridescent Drake - U/G Enchantment Aggro is one of my favorite archetypes to draft (I even wrote about it here). One of the inherent weaknesses of the deck is that it's somewhat fragile. Creatures with auras on them can turn every single enemy removal spell into a 2-for-1 for your opponent. This might help this problem a bit by re-using a premium aura spell, while also creating a flying threat. At the moment I don't think I run enough positive auras to make this consistently worth it, not in the least because it's also situational even if you do find enough auras for your deck.

Wall of Glare - Walls and good defensive cards are a tricky thing to balance in cube. You want slower decks to be able to stand up to aggressive decks, but you don't want to create an overly defensive format either. Against the right decks, this can hold off between 2 and 4 creatures per attack. If you pump it, or can prevent damage, Wall of Glare can stop upwards to entire boards. You do have to work for that to happen, making it somewhat of a build-around card. It also can't block flyers, is targetable, has 0 power and only goes into very defensive decks.
I can see it as a nice tool for defensive enchantment based decks, especially when you involve a card like Flickering Ward.

Top pick

The card I'm most likely to find room for is (drumroll):

dinsdag 9 januari 2018

2017 in review

Another year in the books. Let's look at what 2017 changed.

Using my CubeTutor change log as a guide, I'm going to reflect on the biggest changes 2017 brought to my cube. I'll close the article with the top card added from each of 2017's expansions.

February - Removed painlands
After about a year of inclusion, I didn't find the painlands to be worth breaking peasant for. Yes, they were good, but somehow the opposite of my expectation happened. I added them so aggro decks could have good manafixing without having to resort to EtB tapped lands. However, the painlands also enabled control decks to splash without slowing down their mana base. In a way, the painlands made aggro perform a little worse than before because control decks became more powerful overall.

February - Fleshed out double strike and +1/+1 counters
After adding another handful of cards for both archetypes, it looks like they're here to stay. Finally.

March - We finally get a true Anthem!
Glorious Anthem is one of those cards the peasant community seems to agree upon: this can safely be downgraded. Apparently, Wizards agreed. In a way. Still, it feels good to finally be able to include a true anthem in Gaea's Anthem. It might not be the real thing, yet, but it's close.
Also, almost but not really Mystic Snake: Mystic Genesis.

September - More spells matter, pants, red graveyard, reanimate, haste enablers
Like with double strike and +1/+1 counters, 2017 brought support for a couple more of our favorite archetypes.

Top cards from sets released in 2017
These are not necessarily the best cards in a vacuum, but my personal picks for most awesome for my cube.

Aether Revolt (Jan): Ridgescale Tusker
Modern Masters 2017 (Mar): Gaea's Anthem
Amonkhet (Apr): Scaled Behemoth
Hour of Devastation (Jul): Burning-Fist Minotaur
Ixalan (Oct): Chart a Course
Commander 2017 (Aug): Heirloom Blade
Iconic Masters (Nov): Mahamoti Djinn
Unstable (Dec): untested

2017 was a year of solidifying existing archetypes in my cube. After a couple big (archetype) overhauls in 2015 and 2016, the cube felt like it was in a very good place.

On the one hand, no big changes can be considered a good thing. We've found a good balance between power and archetypes, and there are enough different things to do without things feeling super hard to pull of.

On the other hand, no big changes means less fresh things to get really excited about. When deciding the top cards per set for 2017, from Amonkhet, Hour and Ixalan all the cards where solid but no showstoppers. I realize not every year can bring an Enchantress-level of excitement and overhaul to the cube, but I would've loved a little more spice.
This translated directly into less cube time. The past year, this resulted in a stint of playing more Commander, helping my friend build an Urza block cube (check it out on CubeTutor!) and drafting that a bunch of times, checking out Eternal card game.

I'm hoping 2018 lets me continue and solidify certain archetypes, while also bringing something new to fit in (Berserk has been included already). I'll also continue to look for hidden gems in older blocks, in the hope of finding something unexpectedly awesome.

Also, keep on coming with the downgrades.

Three months in: evaluating Ixalan

It's time to start making adjustments for Rivals of Ixalan.
I didn't get around to doing a set preview for Ixalan, this time was as good as any to do an evaluation of the last round of new cards before I go forward.

Cards I added

Adanto Vanguard
This was added as a piece for decks with auras, while also just being a decent attacker for any aggressive white deck. It has been playing out exactly as I thought. It's a fine card that can go into multiple decks and gets better in some. It's even a soldier for minor synergies there. If either lifegain matter decks or vampires as a tribe come back into my cube, this will also be a piece in those decks.
Verdict: Keep

Bishop's Soldier
Again, added as a good target for auras and equipment. It's a little more defensive than the Vanguard, and Grizzly Bears are slightly below standard nowadays. That said, it has been working out surprisingly well in decks that have pump. Even as a random 2-drop in white weenie decks with anthems, it's been decent. I've seen it boarded in against aggressive decks as well. The card surprised me, but I would not play it if I didn't have an aura theme. The same thing about vampires and lifegain applies here.
Verdict: Keep

Sheltering Light
Cheap protection spells are interesting and I wanted to try this one out. I didn't have very high hopes for this, and I was surprisingly unimpressed.
Verdict: Cut

Siren Stormtamer
Solid little card. 1/1 Flyers for 1 are sort of on the verge of playable anyway, especially with the flying matters cards in my cube. It chips in for a couple of points while protecting a more important target. That said, it's not that important/impressive that it's a windmill slam.
Verdict: Keep

Storm Fleet Aerialist
Again, a solid little card. I run enough aggressively slanted cards in blue that there's a decent chance this gets kicked. Playing a 2 mana 2/3 after turn 2 is still fine as well. However, I'm still not sure if I want this over any 2/1 flyer for 2.
Verdict: No strong opinion

Chart a Course
Good role-player. It supports aggression, but it doesn't need it. Because my cube has a lot of graveyard synergy, the 'drawback' of the card is sometimes even the preferred mode. The only downside is that blue doesn't have a shortage of card draw or looting, which means that it might get cut eventually.
Verdict: Keep


Rigging Runner
I'm a sucker for red 1-drops, and when they have +1/+1 counter synergy I can't help myself. This one has some weird tension though: it's not really a 1-drop. You want to play something else on turn 1, attack and then cast this (and another 1-drop). It's the first strike part that keeps it in for now, because there's more pump coming, which gives it a little value as a true 1-drop. In most cubes, however, I don't think this comes anywhere close to inclusion.
Verdict: Keep

Charging Monstrosaur
Pretty good card overall, one of the first red 5-drops I'm actually happy running. It also made me remember why I don't like a lot of the red 5-drops (or higher): red usually doesn't want a lot. Even a card of this quality. I'll keep it in because it really is a good card, but I can see cutting it when something else comes along or it just doesn't get picked up a lot because red doesn't want it.
Verdict: Keep

Merfolk Branchwalker
This one has been playing well. Sort-of-Scry 1 is nice on a 2-drop, it has some graveyard synergy, +1/+1 counter synergy and might draw you a card. Having said that, the fact that you can't control any of it makes it less desirable for my cube. We just don't see a lot of good-stuff decks, decks usually want something specific. I would probably snap-include a 1G 2/1 with a +1/+1 counter. We've concluded a while ago that for archetypes to really work in cube you need to run cards that are actually good and reliable in their respective archetypes. While Branchwalker is very solid, and I'm sure other cubes want it for this exact reason, it doesn't fill a reliable role in mine.
Verdict: Cut

New Horizons
The card I cut this for was a similar ramping land enchantment with a different bonus (can't even remember what it was). I've moved towards the enchantments over the sorcery ramp versions because of the synergy with enchantresses. When this came out I remember thinking: sweet it ramps AND can see play in +1/+1 counter decks. Wrong! There have been no +1/+1 counter decks that were remotely interested in this card. This should be a different ramp card.
Verdict: Cut

Sky Terror
Yeah, it's good. It does a couple things well for my Boros section: it's aggressive and plays well with pumping auras. On the other hand, it's can feel a little bland. In the end it's just a hard-to-block weenie. I mean, I run Jhessian Infiltrator as well (basically the same card), so I'm not saying I don't want to run it. Boros is not bathing in interesting cards anyway. But, if something better comes along, I wouldn't mind cutting this.
Verdict: Keep



While nothing spectacular, Ixalan gave my cube a handful of solid role-players. There are a couple of cards I didn't test yet that I can see myself trying, most notably Wanted Scoundrels and some of the vampire cards if Rivals makes me want to look into that tribe again.

When we get a tribal set, the chance that there are less cube staples is lower, so no real surprise there. However, I'm still a little sad that there are also no tribal build-arounds that make me want to see if I can support the tribe.