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.