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By: CottonRhetoric, Cotton Rhetoric
Nov 19 2019 12:00pm
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November 11's Mystery Booster Release Notes featured this thought-provoking excerpt:

Playtest cards aren't legal for play in any tournament format other than Mystery Booster Limited formats. On the other hand, we expect they will spice up a wide variety of casual games. Cube may never be the same.

They likely meant homemade cubes, not the official MtGO cubes, but this led many to wonder: why not MtGO cubes? With some programming finesse, most of these are possible, and many are downright desirable.

The bar for MtGO cube playability is quite high, so many cards won't be mentioned here, but following are my nominations for what I'd like to see, and where.

 

Animate Spell

   

Obviously a programming hurdle, but arguably worth it.

In vintage cube, mana efficiency is everything, and the mana this saves over Negate is worth the extra dude your opponent gets. Stopping your opponent's Tinker, Natural Order, or Yawgmoth's Will is the often the only way to win, and there are few ways to do so.

In Modern or even Legacy Cube, this sort of effect is less urgent, and the body is more relevant, so I don't think this would be helpful.

 

Baneslayer Aspirant

   

The real Baneslayer Angel is barely playable in VCube, save as a sideboard card against red aggro. So why am I recommending this?

Same as last card: mana efficiency. A two-drop and a five-drop are worlds apart in VCube. And the hurdle of getting an emblem is not as hard as in other formats. White aggro is already running Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, who can make an emblem the same turn he comes out!

 

Bind // Liberate

   

The first half is obviously great, in a format full of ultimates, Griselbrands, level ups, and equip costs. If you're thinking "We already have Nimble Obstructionist," the cheaper cost allows you to actually gain a tempo advantage, and find use on the earlier turns. And being colorshifted to green brings an ability to a whole new list of decks.

The bottom half is also useful. White decks already make use of Flickerwisp and Restoration Angel to get value out of such cards as Blade Splicer and Man-o'-War. Double up! And... cheaper CMC. I think I've said that last part before.

 

Bombardment

   

I'm still not a thousand percent confident about all of this card's rules intricacies, but if I have the gist of it right, this could be a powerful finisher in red aggro, comparable to something like Fireblast. RRRR to deal the last 6 damage is huge, not that the archetype particularly needs the help.

This is probably better suited for Legacy and Modern Cubes than Vintage, but I could see it in all three, frankly.

 

Bucket List

   

Three mana to draw a bunch of cards is not a bad deal, in a format where Painful Truths is perfectly playable.

This leans more toward Modern and Legacy cubes, where the games tend to go a little longer, but even Vintage could run it. Storm jumps out at me, but Kiki combo and UR control are not out of the question either. All of those decks can cast all five types listed, and they all appreciate card draw.

 

Buried Ogre

   

This can't be too hard to program, right?

Reanimator decks are all about finding that second half of the combo piece, and this does that for them, for free, for no cards, before the game even starts.

Granted, a vanilla 6/4 is demonstrably worse than a Sheoldred, but the certainty of it, and the knowledge it will never clutter your draw step, makes it worth it, which is of course the card's entire premise.

 

Command the Chaff

   

This would be so cool.

In any of the online cubes, your opponent's sideboard is guaranteed to be full of powerful things. Either they switched archetypes mid-draft, so they have good cards from the abandoned archetype, or they didn't switch, so they have more good cards for their current deck than can fit.

How many times have you drafted a 9+ mana creature in pack 1, only to find out later that there were no ways to enable it in packs 2 or 3?

This is great in the same way that Bribery is great. In other words, mostly in VCube, but still somewhat in L & M.

Please, WotC, PLEASE!

 

Everlasting Lich

   

Way too low-impact for VCube. In MCube, where combat is more relevant and turns are more plentiful, this is an Abyss-like threat that can even close out the game. But it is still answerable, notably by white's Path to Exile and Oblivion Ring type cards.

It would no doubt be a programming headache, which is a shame, because this just has the coolest flavor. (Unlike cards with indestructible, this one is ACTUALLY indestructible!)

 

Experiment Five

   

More than any other limited format, cubes have dual lands.

It's another M (and MAYBE L) Cube only card, but I like its grinding inevitability. Let's take a moment to consider its artwork. Is the snake the +1/+2 counter? Is each additional counter another animal stapled on?

 

Generated Horizons

   

Another "too slow for VCube" card, but at home in the other two.

The Forest token thing would be an extremely easy implementation on MtGO. Even the artwork of this card alludes to how well suited the concept is for the digital realm!

By the way: total combo with perennial cube inclusion Avenger of Zendikar (and, to a lesser extent, Courser of Kruphix).

 

Gold Mine

   

Am I misunderstanding this card, or is it just Tendo Ice Bridge with four additional counters?

If the latter, this is really good for every version of cube!!! Five-color decks are a constant aspiration of many drafters, and this is in a typical game far superior to City of Brass and Mana Confluence, both of which are already perfectly playable.

It even matches the game's existing flavor where one unit of gold equals one mana of any color. Perfect.

 

Imaginary Friends

   

The W and WB token decks are established in multiple cubes, and pack enough Anthem effects to make this a consideration. It might be too unreliable to match the Cube ethos of cards always being playable... but I wonder....

 

Impatient Iguana

   

This is exactly the type of strong-but-not-too-strong two-drop cube aggro decks should have. It's always playable, and getting enough 2's is a constant need of all aggro decks. Even when its bonus mode goes off, it's still far from broken, while feeling worthwhile. A hard line to tow.

 

Lazier Goblin

   

Shock would be playable, if underpowered, in any cube. This is just a tad better than that. Except it's only sorcery speed at first. At least it can dodge Negate, I guess?? This one definitely skirts the boundary of what qualifies for my wishlist.

I'd like to see this reprinted in a Standard-legal set, anyway, even if that isn't the focus of this article.

 

Mirrored Lotus

   

Here's (probably) a VCube only card, but it would be quite strong in VCube.

Storm wants it, obviously, and Storm decks could use a helping hand. But this is also playable in any sudden-win decks, from Sneak Attack to Natural Order to Kiki combo. Obviously control doesn't want it, but we've already justified its inclusion without them.

High risk, high reward. Perfect for the format that already runs Show and Tell and Eureka.

 

Planequake

   

Yeah! Where are all red's X spells? Most cubes have 1 or 2 Fireballs, it's true, but, where are all the other ones? Big red is an archetype, and it needs everyone's love!

Planequake in particular fills a notable hole in allowing red to kill two planeswalkers at once, which it's always had trouble with. As have most colors, really, outside the few decks that want Oblivion Stone.

Even if your opponent has only one planeswalker out, this still is better than most cards that kill planeswalkers, in that it's (usually) not a 1-for-1. Most planeswalkers grant an immediate benefit, so trading your Hero's Demise for their Jace Beleren still puts you at a disadvantage. If you manage to take out their Vendilion Clique along the way though, the equation shifts.

 

Priority Avenger

   

Another thing most cubes lack are hate cards. It makes sense, since hate cards are often too narrow to be highly draftable, but ones like this apply to so many opponents they're safe to maindeck.

Swords to Plowshares, Lightning Bolt, Terminate, Disenchant, Ancestral Recall... you get the idea. In the worst case, it's still a body with evasion.

 

Puresteel Angel

 

Tinker decks can always use a couple of things like this. And unlike Sphinx of the Steel Wind, this is also castable off plain old Metalworker, Tolarian Academy, Mana Vault, and/or Mishra's Workshop. Artifact decks don't always want to enable a WUB manabase, you know?

This wouldn't be the most broken artifact to Tinker into, but it is playable. The indestructible goes a long way, and note that its reset effect doesn't work like Karn Liberated or Lich's Mirror: you get to keep your permanents.

 

 

Scaled Destruction

   

Easy to program. I learned how to do this sort of thing in my Intro to C-Basic class back in high school. Do young folks know what C-Basic is? Am I out of touch with my target demo?

Wraths are good in cube. This particular wrath has the added advantage of being playable in creature-heavy decks.

(Voice of Ronald Reagan addressing Mikhail Gorbachev) Wizards of the Coast, program this card! Wait, come back, target demo....

 

Smelt // Herd // Saw

   

This one's mostly for VCube, where artifacts and must-kill creatures are rampant. In LCube and MCube, sideboard only, and rarely even then.

But in VCube!! This has so many worthy targets, against almost every deck, and the 1/2 bodies are unlikely to matter much.

 

Transcantation

   

This should be in all three cubes. And every constructed format. Yes, all of them. Pioneer, Standard, Masques block, all of them.

The templating would need updating, but really, not much!

It's a red Negate AND an emergency finisher in a pinch. How else are red decks supposed to stop Natural Order into Craterhoof Behemoth? This sort of power and versatility without being broken is exactly what the game has an unending need for.

 

Vazael, the Compleat

   

VCube's got better things going on, but M and L can use this. The last line of rules text would lead to a deep and entertaining combination of possibilities, even more so in cube than most other formats (excluding its native format of Mystery Booster draft).

 

Witty Demon

   

Cube is not only a possible home for this card, it's the best home for this card. Where else can you regularly draft so many playables beyond the minimum?

AND in what other format is the tutoring ability so relevant?

Wizards, I'm not joking here. Put this online. I'm really not joking.

 

Wizened Arbiter

   

In every cube, white has a surprising number of "silver bullet" sideboard-only cards. Disenchant effects, Vryn Wingmare, Timely Reinforcements, Baneslayer Angel....

Even Wraths and Armageddon are sometimes better starting on the sidelines. And you never know when a gamestate will make it favorable to swap your Swords to Plowshares for a random body.

 

Yawgmoth's Testament

   

Maybe.

Maaaaaybe.

This might be a little too corner-case, even for Storm, but it is good after a regular Yawgmoth's Will. The only reasons I'm really considering it are Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time (and, in the unlikely event that Necropotence ever comes back, Necropotence).

 

 

And that's the end of that! (Sorry, Stack of Paperwork.) But I would like to shift this article's focus for the second half: what other (non-playtest, regular-butt) cards might work well in cube? This is a topic Cotton Threads will know I've written about before (see sections 2–6), so this time I'll only include cards not mentioned in that one.

Following each will be any of three letters: V, L, and M, indicating which cube(s) I recommend it in. (I've learned how important that part is after I requested Eladamri's Call for VCube... without saying "only for VCube"... and WotC proceeded to add it in MCube, where it's nearly worthless.)

  • Return to Nature—How do you introduce anti-reanimator, anti-Snapcaster Mage, and anti-Yawgmoth's Will cards into the format without having them be narrow Tormod's Crypt-type cards? By stapling them onto an already good card like Naturalize! VL
  • Once Upon a Time—This has already proven its power in multiple formats and deck types. Cube would be no different, where decks are certainly interested in finding specific cards and smoothing out their draws. VLM
  • Questing Beast—An obvious "Hulk smash" type of undercosted, overpowered creature that the non-V cubes thirst for. It's also (by design) strong against planeswalkers, which are ubiquitous in cubes. LM
  • Return of the WildspeakerOverrun is too narrow, but what if it had a second mode? I think it's worth considering. LM
  • Bonecrusher Giant—File this under "obviously powerful." VLM
  • Murderous Rider—LBR, this is probably already slotted for multiple cubes. (I wrote this article before Novermber's Legacy cube came out. Was I right? I bet I was right. This is as much of a "duh" inclusion as when Ravenous Chupacabra was printed.) VLM
  • Lignify—Green hasn't got much removal outside of Beast Within. This would function quite well, as the 0/4 body is shrugged off by most of green's threats, and it would help them deal with such impossible threats as Sheoldred, Whispering One and even Blightsteel Colossus.
  • Artifact Mutation—I have to reiterate how frequent artifacts are in Vintage cube. I don't think this is too slow, either. Manic Vandal is playable in VCube! V
  • Bonesplitter—It doesn't get as much love as Jitte, Clamp, or the Swords, but it is honestly one of the better equipments. Red and especially white aggro would eat this up. LM
  • Quicksand—Maybe. LM
  • Empyrial Armor and/or Armored Ascension—Imagine either of these on a double striker! This gets a rare "VL," as MCube has a little too much creature removal to justify the risk. VL

And while I'm writing, here's an open plea to remove Dreadhorde Arcanist, Ranger of Eos, and Arclight Phoenix from L & M Cubes. They are all combo cards—without any combos!

Thanks for reading, and see you in the queues.

1 Comments

The point of Gold Mine (and by Cheater Hater at Sun, 11/24/2019 - 12:19
Cheater Hater's picture

The point of Gold Mine (and the other "Legacy" card) is that you only get to use it five times ever (for that physical version).