Sunday, January 20, 2013

Cube Blog: Converted Mana Cost Matters

In the past few days, I've probably swapped out 50+ cards in the cube and all of those changes can be traced back to the Invasion & Planar Chaos Dragons:

In short, converted mana cost now matters more than ever because there are 10 game ending bombs that can all be cast once a player hits 6 mana. Each dragon is on theme for the cube through Imperial Hellkite, each dragon has an ability that only triggers after attacking (creature combat focus), and each dragon represents the only strictly 3-color bomb in each of their 3-color combinations (pushes the multi-colr theme). All of these reasons have filtered down and translated into drastic changes in the contents of the cube and the overall flow of the games.
  1. 1cc Elves are OUT - Llanowar Elf, Fyndhorn Elf, Elves of Deep Shadow, and Birds of Paradise are all out. It was just too fast & easy to power out a dragon when a player went 1cc elf into mana rock. These decks were a turn or 2 ahead of the curve and they had to go.
  2. 2cc Elves are IN - There may be 20 mana rocks in the cube already, but green still has access to interesting 2cc acceleration & splash possibilities in the form of Qurion Elves, Druid of the Anima, Urborg Elf, and Priest of Titania. Druid of the Anima and Urborg Elf represent the only form of non-elf acceleration that can tap for 3 colors of mana. Priest of Titania represents the only non-elf acceleration that can tap for 2+ additional mana.
  3. 3cc Creatures are OUT - In the past I tried to avoid adding creatures with a hard casting cost of 3, but now I completed gutted the entire cube of all exceptions I used to allow. This include cube favorite such as: Fiend Hunter, Vendillion Clique, Cabal Archon, Laboratory Maniac, Doomed Necromancer, Armored Skaab, Geralf's Messenger, Rotlung Reanimator, Arms Dealer, Goblin Matron, Elvish Archdruid, Fierce Empath, and Timberwatch Elf -- they're all OUT. The 3cc slot is now strictly reserved for creatures with morph. On turn 3, I want both players to be laying down face-down creatures as consistently as possible. Now, there are still exceptions like the rebels, Skaab Ruinator, and Squeen, Goblin Nabob, but every exception left in the cube either has an alternate method of entering the battlefield or has an alternate function.
  4. 6cc+ Creatures are OUT - After adding the dragons and recognizing that they were the top of the food chain in this cube, it was time to remove all competition from the 6cc slot. Geralf's Mindcrusher, Ancestor's Chosen, and Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni all had to go.

Next, there has been a drastic increase in the amount of removal in the cube. The dragons were just too powerful and more answers to the dragons were necessary. I decided to open up the floodgates to all on-color flashback spells (instead of limiting it to one spell per color). The following additional flashback spells are all IN:

  • Ancestral Tribute
  • Deep Analysis
  • Dream Twist
  • Grasp of Phantoms
  • Army of the Damned
  • Dread Return
  • Moan of the Unahollowed
  • Sever the Bloodline
  • Firebolt
  • Devil's Play
  • Rolling Temblor
  • Creeping Renaissance
  • Moment's Peace
  • Parallel Evolution

Roughly 1/6th cube has been swapped out in this latest round of changes and you can be sure that I'll be posting more Cube Blogs about these changes later. But in short, the cube has become more powerful, removal has been increased, and the flow of the game is now even more of a priority.

I think the inclusion of the Invasion & Planar Chaos Dragons was a change for the better mechanically, but viscerally, I also have to say that it's very interesting knowing that the only straight up gold cards in the entire cube are dragons. So whenever you crack open a pack and see gold peeking from the side and you sift through the cards, you immediately know that you have a 6/6 flier that warrants consideration in your hand. They represent a strong color commitment, they all trade with each other, and they're all worth it.

Finally, in a cube that already has many themes & sub-themes, the 10 viable game-ending dragons represent a brand new archetype in the cube: 5-Color Dragons. With the help of the increased removal, it's entirely possible to pick up 3-4 dragons and begin grabbing every single mana rock & removal spell that comes your way.

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