Saturday, January 12, 2013

Cube Blog: 24 OUT, 24 IN

I recently took another look at my Cube and decided it was time for a few changes. And these changes mostly had to do with the "cycles" of cards I chose to include, namely the Elder Dragons, Seals, and Decrees. I've also taken another look at how gold cards work in this format and a couple minor changes, but I'll get to those at the end.

Elder Dragons OUT, Invasion/Planar Chaos Dragons IN

I have a huge amount of nostalgia for the Elder Dragon Legends from the Legends set and while I think they were doing their job reasonably well, most of the time they were just too unwieldy. Another reason I chose not to go with Invasion/Planar Chaos Dragons before was because I was afraid they would be too powerful. Remember, this is supposed to be a format where creatures with morph are relevant. In the end, I decided to give them a chance.

Not only do I now have all 10 3-color combinations represented (instead of 5), but now drafting '5-Color Tribal Dragons' is actually viable. I can see someone drafting nothing but 3-5 dragons, mana rocks, split cards, and flashback cards and creating a very powerful deck. Also remember that there are 3 other dragons in the cube (Eternal Dragon, Imperial Hellkite, and Quicksilver Dragon) as well as changelings. There are very few fliers in the cube and each of these 6/6 dragons would threaten to end the game if they got a few good hits. Some of them also have morph-relevant abilities like revealing cards in your opponent's hand, bounce, and a focus on creature combat.

Also note that Rough / Tumble kills these dragons while the Elder Dragons were out of range.

Either way, the dragons are still the only cards that squarely promote 3-color decks and they are now the only straight up gold cards in the entire cube.

-Nicol Bolas
-Arcades Sabboth
-Vaevictis Asmadi

+Crosis, the Purger
+Darigaaz, the Igniter
+Dromar, the Banisher
+Rith, the Awakener
+Treva, the Renewer
+Intet, the Dreamer
+Numot, the Devastator
+Oros, the Avenger
+Teneb, the Harvester
+Vorosh, the Hunter

Seals and Decrees OUT

The seals had to go. They just weren't as flavorful as either split cards or flashback. Split cards and flashback both promote multi-color in a unique way where they have optional splashes. You could essentially run Assault / Battery in your deck with nothing but a Gruul Signet as your only green source and you would be totally fine with it. The seals did none of this.

The decrees were one of the last remnants of a cycling sub-theme that used to be in the cube that I got rid of long ago. I kept on holding onto them as "a way to go over the top in stagnant board states," but with a full set of swords and now 10 Invasion/Planar Chaos dragons (among other things), I think there are plenty of ways to punch through these board states without having to resort to the decrees. Now the only cycling cards left in the cube are 5 landcyclers. And these landcyclers are tribal creatures that fix mana. I don't think they're going anywhere.

-Seal of Cleansing
-Seal of Removal
-Seal of Doom
-Seal of Fire
-Seal of Primordium
-Decree of Justice
-Decree of Silence
-Decree of Pain
-Decree of Annihilation
-Decree of Savagery

Streamlining Gold

The only reason I had a "cycle" of 5 gold cards was for Venser, the Sojourner who has back-breaking synergy with any morph creature with a big body. The other four were only included to keep the colors of the cube balanced. As much as I like the synergy with Venser and as much as I like the idea of having a single planeswalker to make the chance of drafting him extra special, they've all got to go. Like I've said above, there are no straight up gold cards in this cube except for the Invasion/Planar Chaos Dragons now. This cube wants to promote use of colorless mana to cast creatures with morph and for players to have no fear in playing as many Odyssey & Innistrad utility lands as possible. The more gold you introduce, the more these things are harder to swallow.

-Venser, the Sojourner
-Silent-Blade Oni
-Bladewing the Risen
-Bloodbraid Elf
-Loxodon Hierarch

Bounce Lands IN
There are 2 reasons why I have 20 mana rocks in this cube: (1) To make it as easy as and consistent as possible for players to get to 3 mana to cast a morph creature on turn 3 and (2) to give players access to color fixing that allow interesting splashes in multi-color decks. The Bounce Lands from Ravnica accomplish both of these things.

+Azorius Chancery
+Dimir Aqueduct
+Golgari Rot Farm
+Gruul Turf
+Izzet Boilerworks
+Orzhov Basilica
+Rakdos Carnarium
+Selesnya Sanctuary
+Simic Growth Chamber

2 Innistrad Lands OUT, 2 Ravnica Lands IN
I love Innistrad, but I've never drafting the original Ravnica. Ravnica was released during one of my breaks from the game. That being said, both sets had a set of 10 utility lands of each 2-color combination. I briefly toyed with the idea of including all 20 in the cube, but decided to tighten up the list instead. That being said, I'm swapping out two of the Invasion lands for 2 Ravnica lands:

-Grim Backwoods
-Stensia Bloodhall

+Rix Maadi, Dungeon Palace
+Svogthos, the Restless Tomb

2 Flashback Cards OUT, 2 Other Flashback Cards IN
Because the seals and decrees are out and due to the introduction of 10 huge dragons, I felt like the cube needed a little more help in the removal department. So I'm making the following changes to the flashback list:

-Army of the Damned
-Dream Twist

+Chainer's Edict
+Silent Departure


And that's it for changes in this update; 24 cards out, 24 cards in. I think all of the changes are for the better and I'm going try and draft the Tribal Dragons deck as soon as possible. Also note that there hasn't been a single Return to Ravnica or Gatecrash card that has caught my eye for this cube. The charms are interesting, but are completely against what this cube is trying to do with early colorless mana and easy splashes.

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