CottonRhetoric's picture
By: CottonRhetoric, Cotton Rhetoric
Aug 08 2023 12:11pm

    Sneak Attack     Dream Halls

Cube updates are coming! What might be in store? I'm guessing not quite as large an update as last season's 80+ swaps, but let's consider the options.

Ryan Spain mentioned on Limited Resources when considering swaps he sorts cards into tiers—absolutely indispensable cards like Black Lotus, archetype definers like Sneak Attack, fan favorites that aren’t technically powerful like Eureka, experiments like Dream Halls, and so on. I’ll be here doing the same for all 540 cards currently in the format, with the ultimate goal of helping you predict what changes lie ahead.

These are my tiers, not Spain's, and I'm sorting by likelihood of being removed, from least (0.0) to most (10.0). These are not power rankings!

Standard disclaimer about these ratings being subjective, and me being knowledgeable but not authoritative or prescient. (I once thought Disenchant would never be removed.)








Cube's Core Identity (0.5)

These define the format, and they’re what draw people to the format. Removing them is unimaginable.

Swords to Plowshares Balance


Ancestral Recall

Time Walk

Mana Drain



Force of Will

Time Spiral

Dark Ritual

Demonic Tutor

Mind Twist


Lightning Bolt

Wheel of Fortune

Birds of Paradise

Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary



Black Lotus

five moxen

Mana Crypt

Mana Vault

Sol Ring

Library of Alexandria

Strip Mine (see below post-script regarding duals)

Time Walk  Demonic Tutor  Black Lotus  Strip Mine

Powerful, Iconic (1.0)

These are not technically required but are certainly expected. No replacements exist, and removing them would be both surprising and upsetting to nearly all players.


Snapcaster Mage

Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Mystical Tutor



Dark Confidant

Grave Titan

Liliana of the Veil

Vampiric Tutor


Hymn to Tourach

Inferno Titan

Llanowar Elves

Questing Beast

Primeval Titan

Sylvan Library

Teferi, Time Raveler

Fractured Identity

Dack Fayden

Ancient Tomb


Emrakul, the Aeons Torn

Chrome Mox


Grim Monolith

Umezawa's Jitte

Thoughtseize  Umezawa's Jitte

Archetype Standouts (2.0)

Whatever each card’s archetype is, that archetype wouldn’t be as successful without it. These cards are possible to remove, but doing so would require an intentional effort to weaken (or remove) an entire strategy. So, not expected, but not out of the question.

Mother of Runes

Stoneforge Mystic

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

Blade Splicer


Restoration Angel

Elspeth, Knight-Errant


Council's Judgment

Rona, Herald of Invasion

Suspicious Stowaway

Deceiver Exarch


Vendilion Clique

Narset, Parter of Veils

High Tide

Spell Pierce

Brain Freeze


Mana Leak


Frantic Search

Cryptic Command

Fact or Fiction


Mystic Confluence




Shark Typhoon

Putrid Imp

Graveyard Tresspasser

Archon of Cruelty






Toxic Deluge

Yawgmoth's Will

Tendrils of Agony

Wishclaw Talisman

Animate Dead


Goblin Guide

Eidolon of the Great Revel

Bonecrusher Giant

Goblin Rabblemaster

Laelia, the Blade Reforged


Chandra, Torch of Defiance



Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker

Chain Lightning


Fable of the Mirror Breaker

Sulfuric Vortex

Sneak Attack

Splinter Twin

Joraga Treespeaker

Tireless Tracker

Deep Forest Hermit


Garruk Wildspeaker

Natural Order

Nissa, Who Shakes the World

Green Sun's Zenith

Pest Infestation

Plow Under


Fallen Shinobi

The Scarab God

Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast

Kolaghan's Command


Grist, the Hunger Tide

Showdown of the Skalds

Leovold, Emissary of Trest

Lodestone Golem

Sundering Titan

Blightsteel Colossus

Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

Lion's Eye Diamond

Mox Diamond

Smuggler's Copter

Basalt Monolith


Memory Jar

Gaea's Cradle

Mishra's Workshop

Tolarian Academy

Brain Freeze  Reanimate  Sulfuric Vortex  Fastbond

Archetype Support (5.0)

Here is the first big skip in likelihood rating.

These cards are all good and fill out their respective decks. None are on the chopping block for removal, and we’d be surprised if MANY left, but we can count on a few going.

Student of Warfare

Thraben Inspector

Adanto Vanguard

Intrepid Adversary

Selfless Spirit

Wall of Omens

Adeline, Resplendent Cathar

Elite Spellbinder

Loran of the Third Path

Porcelain Legionnaire

Skyclave Apparition

Guardian of Ghirapur

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

The Wandering Emperor

Elspeth, Sun's Champion

Wrath of God

Spectral Procession

Baral, Chief of Compliance

Jace, Vryn's Prodigy

Phantasmal Image

Thieving Skydiver

Brazen Borrower

Emry, Lurker of the Loch

Phyrexian Metamorph

Urza, Lord High Artificer

Venser, Shaper Savant

Arcane Proxy

Force of Negation

Dig Through Time

Ancestral Vision

Gitaxian Probe

Chart a Course

Echo of Eons

Mind's Desire

Treasure Cruise

Dream Halls


Dauthi Voidwalker

Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia

Oona's Prowler

Midnight Reaper

Murderous Rider


Rotting Regisaur

Woe Strider

Braids, Cabal Minion


Ravenous Chupacabra

Sheoldred, the Apocalypse

Custodi Lich

Cabal Ritual


Snuff Out


Bone Shards

Imperial Seal

Collective Brutality

Recurring Nightmare

Bomat Courier

Grim Lavamancer

Dire Fleet Daredevil

Magda, Brazen Outlaw

Runaway Steam-Kin

Birgi, God of Storytelling

Seasoned Pyromancer

Rekindling Phoenix

Zealous Conscripts

Thundermaw Hellkite

Through the Breach

Faithless Looting


Light up the Stage

Fiery Confluence


Underworld Breach

Mana Flare

Arbor Elf

Elvish Mystic

Noble Hierarch

Ignoble Hierarch

Devoted Druid

Sakura-Tribe Elder

Sylvan Caryatid

Wall of Roots

Augur of Autumn

Courser of Kruphix

Oracle of Mul Daya

Whisperwood Elemental

Tooth and Nail

Heartbeat of Spring


Spell Queller

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

Baleful Strix

Thief of Sanity


Valki, God of Lies


Wrenn and Six

Escape to the Wilds

Lingering Souls

Expressive Iteration

Goblin Electromancer

Figure of Destiny

Lightning Helix

Wear // Tear

Nahiri, the Harbinger

Hydroid Krasis

Sphinx of the Steel Wind



Hangarback Walker

Walking Ballista

Retrofitter Foundry


Wurmcoil Engine

Myr Battlesphere

Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre

Karn, Scion of Urza

Everflowing Chalice

Lotus Petal

Mishra's Bauble

Sensei's Divining Top

Helm of Awakening

Coalition Relic

Sword of Feast and Famine

Sword of Fire and Ice

Worn Powerstone

Aetherflux Reservoir

Thran Dynamo

Kaldra Compleat

Mishra's Factory


Prismatic Vista

Rishadan Port

Urza's Saga


Unique Role, Medium Power (5.5)

These do things other cards don’t, whether it’s enabling a combo or hosing a specific strategy. None are indispensable, but they pull more than their own weight toward making cube a more diverse and fun experience.

Containment Priest

Lion Sash

Monastery Mentor

Recruiter of the Guard

Gideon Jura

Enlightened Tutor

Mana Tithe


Thassa’s Oracle

Glen Elendra Archmage

Vampire Hexmage

Shallow Grave

Imperial Recruiter

Greater Gargadon

Daretti, Scrap Servant

Red Elemental Blast

Goblin Bombardment

Scavenging Ooze


Eternal Witness

Toksi, Bearer of Secrets


Primal Command

Survival of the Fittest

Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas

Kitchen Finks

Lurrus of the Dream-Den

Vraska, Golgari Queen

Edric, Spymaster

Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath

Phyrexian Revoker

Solemn Simulacrum

Karn Liberated

ten signets

Lotus Bloom

Candelabra of Tawnos

Relic of Progenitus

Coercive Portal


Bazaar of Baghdad

Boseiju, Who Endures

City of Traitors

Containment Priest  Vampire Hexmage Mindslaver

Powerful or Swingy but Possibly Unfun (6.5)
**controversy alert**

Some of these are consistently stronger than cards in every above category. Some are powerful but inconsistent. Some are arguably not even as powerful as their reputation, but all raise concerns that cube may be less fun with them in it. These are hard to remove because being so powerful creates a lot of fans, but could removing them please more people than it upsets?

White Plume Adventurer

Palace Jailer
Parallax Wave



Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer


Craterhoof Behemoth


Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes

Oko, Thief of Crowns



Fan Favorites, Lower Power (7.0)

This is a tricky category because no curator wants to remove things people love, but as Ryan Spain put it, cube data doesn’t show love, only winrate, so they often get removed unwittingly. (When they do get removed, people complain until they get readded—italicized ones already have been!)

Arena Rector

Hero of Bladehold

Elspeth Conquers Death

Ledger Shredder


Trinket Mage


Riftwing Cloudskate

Time Warp


Yawgmoth, Thran Physician

Bolas’s Citadel

Goblin Welder

Young Pyromancer

Elvish Reclaimer

Ramunap Excavator

Deranged Hermit


Crop Rotation


Birthing Pod

Oath of Druids


Omnath, Locus of Creation

Golos, Tireless Pilgrim

Niv-Mizzet Reborn

Winter Orb

Crucible of Worlds

Dark Depths

Thespian's Stage

 Birthing Pod Dark Depths

Interchangeable (8.0)

These cards are fine, useful, even good, and there is no pressure to remove them. But they can get removed if Daybreak decides they want fewer of a repeated effect, or if a new set comes out with a similar version.

Esper Sentinel

Giver of Runes

Usher of the Fallen

Cathar Commando

Leonin Relic-Warder

Tithe Taker

Boon-Bringer Valkyrie

Iona, Shield of Emeria

Path to Exile


Winds of Abandon

Ravages of War

Seal from Existence

Sower of Temptation

Consecrated Sphinx


Inkwell Leviathan



Thirst for Discovery



Mesmeric Fiend

Fatal Push

Infernal Grasp

Hero's Downfall

Makeshift Mannequin

Bloodchief's Thirst

Inquisition of Kozilek

Night's Whisper

Monastery Swiftspear

Abbot of Keral Keep

Embereth Shieldbreaker

Kari Zev, Skyship Raider

Robber of the Rich

Bloodfeather Phoenix

Burst Lightning


Desperate Ritual


Pyretic Ritual


Seething Song

Purphoros's Invention

Mizzium Mortars

Jeska's Will

Reclamation Sage

Acidic Slime


Kogla, the Titan Ape

Avenger of Zendikar

Hornet Queen


Woodfall Primus

Utopia Sprawl

Huntmaster of the Fells

Knight of Autumn

Tidehollow Sculler


Ashen Rider

Maelstrom Pulse

Koma, Cosmos Serpent

Atraxa, Grand Unifier


Hero's Downfall 

Less Powerful, Less Loved Cards (8.5)

If I wrote this year ago, this category would be a lot longer. But frankly Ryan Spain did a phenomenal job of identifying and removing such cards in his May 2023 update, arguably more so than any prior cube curator.

March of the Otherworldly Light

Temporary Lockdown

Chain of Vapor

Blood Artist

Braids, Arisen Nightmare

Liliana, the Last Hope

Avalanche Riders

Past in Flames

Satyr Wayfinder

Springbloom Druid

Finale of Devastation

Court of Bounty

Eladamri's Call

Knight of the Reliquary

Mirari's Wake

Deathrite Shaman

Fiend Artisan

Timeless Lotus

Zuran Orb

Oblivion Stone

Knight of the Reliquary  Zuran Orb

Experiments (9.0)

I love experiments. Sometimes they pay off and get to stick around. Sometimes they flop and get removed. But we tried something different, and that helps keeps things fresh! Cube has enough flex slots to allow this sort of thing.

Loyal Retainers

Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle

Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite


Displacer Kitten

Agent of Treachery

Paradoxical Outcome

Cabal Therapy

Goryo's Vengeance

Chandra, Acolyte of Flame

Wrenn and Realmbreaker

Worldly Tutor

Force of Vigor

Time of Need

Pattern of Rebirth

Mayhem Devil

Orcish Lumberjack

Xenagos, God of Revels

Third Path Iconoclast

Saheeli, Sublime Artificer

Kenrith, the Returned King

Phyrexian Tower



As for the dual lands:

    Brushland     Creeping Tar Pit

There are currently ten triomes. Then each color pair has five duals: an Alpha dual (ie Savannah), a shockland (ie Temple Garden), a fetchland (ie Windswept Heath), a fastland (ie Razorverge Thicket), and a flex slot (either a creatureland, like Celestial Colonnade, a painland, like Karplusan Forest, or a sacland (like Horizon Canopy).

I like this system. The numbers are good, and most of the selections are good. It’s impossible to imagine removing the Alpha duals, shocklands, or fetchlands. I think the only tinkering I’d recommend is:

  • Use UB’s flex slot on its manland, Creeping Tar Pit, for to power level
  • Use GR’s flex slot on its sacland, for synergy with (Wrenn and Six)
  • Keep WR’s flex slot as the sacland, for archetype synergy, but use every other pair’s flex slot on painlands, for power level
  • Should future sets offer improved duals, of course the fastlands and flex slots would be the first to go, but I can’t imagine this happening very soon.


As for what cards to add,

The community already has listed a lot of these, so I'll be brief. What about Nether Void; is it really any worse than Armageddon? And we could add Polymorph, Tarmogoyf, Guided Passage, Copy Artifact, Null Profusion, Royal Assassin, Ashes to Ashes, Fire Covenant, and Hesitation!

Nether Void  Polymorph  Null Profusion  Ashes to Ashes

And I think I'll end all my cube articles by saying replace Mesmeric Fiend with Kitesail Freebooter. TYIA, best format, kiss kiss—love, Cotton