Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Cube Card Spotlight: Worldknit

Welcome back for another episode of Cube Card spotlight. I'm your host, Plaid Magic and today we'll be discussing a card you can't even put in your deck



Rules Text: 
(Start the game with this conspiracy face up in the command zone.) As long as every card in your card pool started the game in your library or in the command zone, lands you control have "Tap: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool."


The Rundown: 
A draft manipulator extraordinaire. If this comes out in pack three of a draft, it's probably a dead card.  If you get this pack one, this is the definition of a build around me.  You need to actually play with ALL of the cards you drafted, but your lands can be tapped for any color mana.


Power Level: Powered/Unpowered - Environment Dependent

Cube Tutor Stats as of Today (8/31/2015):
Pick: 5555
Pass: 26741
Pick Percent: 17.2%
Cube Count: 1474

Collective Pros:
  • All the fixings
  • "Free" effect. No cost in terms of slot in deck or mana
  • Enables multi-color interactions that might not be possible outside of this card
  • Basically unremovable effect

Collective Cons:
  • Must play with all cards drafted
  • Close to a dead card in pack 3
  • Warps drafts, good cards that might otherwise wheel may not, affecting other strategies

  • Chromatic Lantern
  • Prismatic Omen
  • Joiner Adept

Verdict: Incredibly unique draft and format warping skill intensive "card".  Experiences of this card in cube range from amazing to toxic.  The general consensus is that if you run conspiracies in your cube, try it out, if only for a short time

The Discussion

flclreddiI encourage every person that likes conspiracies / wonky / powered cards to try this in a draft at least once. It is a crazy good feeling to be able to draft any cards you want, and the best cards, without color restriction.
That said, I think that anyone with half a brain that P1P1's Worldknit should win almost every one of their games, provided they draft correctly.
It is a toxic card for cubes. You take it early and try to make it work. There are a few things that result from this:
1) You pick the best card in every pack. This means that on average, you win games because the quality of your cards are just straight up better than the quality of your opponent's cards, with relatively few exceptions.
2) In the event that the cards aren't spectacular, you just default to picking lands. This makes your deck more efficient, and makes everyone else's decks more inefficient, without needing to know what colors people are going.
3) You end up with 2-3 bad cards per pack on average, but with a carefully constructed curve of awesomeness, it doesn't really matter.
4) It takes the fun out of the drafting process, not only for you by making every decision a pretty easy one, but by weakening the card pool for literally everyone that isn't you.
I recently put Worldknit into my cube as a filler spot and test card, and one of my friends picked it up in the middle of pack 2. Even that late, he was able to make it work, grabbing leftover cards that were extremely powerful but too color intensive for others to play [stuff like Necropotence and some hybrid cards]. He said it was one of the most fun drafts he has ever had, but there were a number of cards in his deck that I figured would have tabled because of color restrictions but didn't. It really messes with predicting what will come back around to you.
End Verdict - test it out if you like, but if you're serious about a traditional cubing experience, I'd stay away from this and other conspiracies.
FlemePretty much what I wanted to say, but more eloquently put. I agree with everything except the final verdict of not including other conspiracies. I feel that Power Play and Backup Plan (that I both run, and have for months now) are both fine. They're powerful for sure and they're usually high in the pick order but the decks running those have also never won a draft (I've kept track) so I've decided to keep them.

hubayGoing to go on a slightly surprised rant here: backup plan decks have never won a draft? I have to say I'm very skeptical. It's not an auto-win by any means, but in my group's power cube the consensus is you pick it over sol ring or lotus. The card is absurd.
It probably decreases in value as the power level of your cube decreases, sure. But in power cube it gives you stupid, stupid draws. Storm, twin combo, tezzerator nonsense, channel decks all become dangerously consistent. Aggro decks don't have to worry about flood. multi color goodstuff or control decks can hit the right curve.

FlemeI've kept track. Those decks have gone 2-1 but have literally never won a draft in the 20~ some drafts I've done (not all have had Backup Plan obviously, being 720 after all).
I can see it being absolutely broken in 360 powered, but for 720 unpowered it has not been so good as to warrant removing it although I've considered removing the conspiracy cards to free up some colorless space but never because they've been too good.
hubay Gotcha - I can definitely see that making a big difference in how broken it is.
FannyBabbsThanks for the discussion on Worldknit. Somebody recently told me it was pants-on-head broken in cube and I just couldn't see it. 5 Color goodstuff decks just aren't that degenerate in my experience. It never occurred to me to hate-draft lands to lower your amount of durdle-picks and have an actual deck.
That being said, I think ruining the actual draft environment is the more crucial reason I would never run this card. If you are drafting with 8 people, sure it probably doesn't derail things badly enough, but I regularly draft with 4-5 and even one person fucking around can really trash signals for the rest of us.
SocksofGranduerAre you kidding? If I drafted this card, I would be drafting every dual I could find. The biggest drawback of worldknit is that you have to run every card you draft. The best way to help mitigate that restriction is to draft as many non spell cards as humanly possible to keep your total count low.
ScottRadishThis is the problem with this card. The correct stategy is to draft as many lands as possible. I've seen Worldknit decks running as little as 51 cards. The deck becomes super consistant, and everybody else is left without fixing.
CrazyMike366I think it's at its most interesting in a large cube where you can't predict whether or not it'll show up and in less powerful cubes where synergy and archetypes are at a premium.
wox1510This card is a trap.
The downside of having to play sideboard cards and last picks really dilute the threat density of your deck. To have any kind of consistency, you need to draft a ton of non-basic lands to keep your card count respectable, and once you have all those lands, you don't need world knit anymore.
The way to make it work is to take it early, and then take ALL THE PLANESWALKERS!! This is the only situation I've seen where the worldknit deck is stronger than a 40 card deck from the same pool.
Last thing to remember during draft: just because you took it doesn't mean you have to play it.
Edit: I guess that was Wox the player talking. Wox the cube owner says that if enough people in your playgroup want to make it work, then it can go in pretty much any cube. It does need a ton of nonbasics to be most effective, so make sure your cube has them. It works quite well with Strip Mine and Maze of Ith
C0L0NEL_ANGUSI have nothing constructive to add because I've never played with this card. But I will say though, I think it looks like a lot fun if you pick it very early...
FlemeI feel like it skews the draft too much to be an actually good card to cube. First, you're either stuck with a 70~ card deck or you're drafting all the lands which nullifies the fact that your lands are already producing all the colors. Either way you're in a trap - you choose between lower quality cards since you're prioritizing picking all the lands to cut your deck size down or alternatively you're picking all the midrange goodness you can get your hands on and sacrificing consistency by having a huge deck.
Add to that the fact that the Worldknit player, whatever approach they choose, is actively screwing every other drafter by either taking cards from all decks that people send wheeling and would be likely to wheel if it wasn't for the 5-color goodstuff guy or alternatively they're ruining everyone elses draft by taking all the lands to bring their deck size down.
Either way it seems that the inclusion of this card serves nothing but to ruin the drafting experience for the whole table and as such I would never include it in cube unless it's specifically a conspiracy cube (I have no issue with conspiracies otherwise and do run 2 myself as well as some conspiracy cards).
I've also heard of house rules where one can draft Worldknit and play it with a 40 card deck which straight up makes it more busted than Sol Ring, and coming from me that's saying a lot.

silaswI think there's a lot to be discussed about Worldknit. Some people think it's too powerful, some people think it ruins the draft. I still like it, but I'm willing to be swayed to the other side.
First of all, the power level of Worldknit depends heavily on the composition of the cube. The more narrow cards there are in the cube, the worse it gets. It's interesting to see Worldknit players get stuck with dedicated aggro cards and dedicated control cards in the same deck. Also, people will say that it's best to take as many lands as possible; that depends on the strength of the mana fixing in the cube. Shocklands, for example, are worse than basics for the Worldknit player.
People who play Worldknit decks usually say it's fun, but it's also basically easy mode. However I disagree with the argument that it screws up the draft for everyone else. Drafting is only interesting when there's some overlap between the cards different players want. If each player has a color to him/herself, the draft is totally uninteresting. Worldknit ensures that at least one player overlaps with every other player.
In the past, I've found that Worldknit decks perform about average, maybe a bit above average. I look forward to testing it more.
transcensionistThis has really underperformed in my group. Even decks that drafted a ton of lands to compensate the total cards in the deck struggled to do well. And our guy that wins nearly every week tanked when he tried the worldknit deck. I see the potential, sure, but compared to just drafting a 40 card synergy deck this seems much harder to pull off.
ErikulumWorldknit is a fun card... but quickly gets old, is a dead card when not opened in the first pack and, like others explained, negatively affect the drafting experience.
That said, I'd recommend adding it to your cube, if you haven't already tried it, it's fun for a while.
americanextremeThis card is highly skill testing. Bad drafters will miss evaluate what they need and have a very bad decks. Excellent drafters can have a power level and consistency that has never been seen. I particularly like this card because it forces the play of cards that might not otherwise be seen. And the combinations of cards can be really weird but funny.

Cube Card Spotlight: Ruinous Path

Welcome back for another episode of Cube Card spotlight. I apologize for the delay, but it was a national holiday, so... I'm your host, Plaid Magic and today we'll be discussing a popular vote winner that has not yet been released, scheduled for the much anticipated and hyped set Battle for Zendikar. Lets get a step ahead of the game with this one, shall we?

Ruinous Path



Rules Text: Destroy target creature or planeswalker

Awaken 4 - 5BB(If you cast this spell for 5BB, also put four +1/+1 counters on target land you control and it becomes a 0/0 Elemental creature with ahste. It's still a land.)

The Synopsis

Category: Removal

The Rundown: 
At this CMC, this is a pretty interesting piece of removal. So you have a sorcery speed [[Hero's Downfall]], or an expensive mono black Dreadbore in the early game. You do, however, have the topdeck option in the late game of a nice tempo swing. Awaken 5 for the 5BB seems much more reasonable, but since the non-awaken cost of this card is 3, I still think the possible upside outweighs the down.


Power Level
Unpowered, singleton

Cube Tutor Stats as of Today (9/8/2015):

Card not yet released....

Collective Pros:
  • With 4 possible iterations of execution (creature, creature awaken, plainswalker, plainswalker awaken), There is some interesting versatility here
  • Mono Black
  • Added affect of giving late game kill spell more swing, and utilizing excess land
Collective Cons:

  • Depending on cube build, Creatures and plainswalkers may be too restrictive, and this underperforms compared to an acidic slime or nekrataal
  • Possible upside is so late in the game that it may be irrelevant
  • Mid game spot removal or late game blow out, but not exciting in either role.


  • DreadBore - Same effect in Rakdos for 1 Mana less
  • Hero's Downfall - Same effect, instant speed
  • Netrataal - Removal Plus Body
  • Silence the Believers - High CMC removal with options

Verdict: An effective sorcery speed reprint of Hero's downfall, with possible late game upside.  Its not a good swap for hero's downfall, but in larger singleton cubes, the upside may be worth the inclusion, running alongside Downfall and Dreadbore.

General Argument For Inclusion:3 CMC sorcery speed Creature or Planeswalker removal is very often what Vindicate functions as most of the time.  The upside of Vindicate being a Kill-All spell is what earns it a slot in cubes, though non-creature, non-plainswalker removal is not terribly common, so adding this spell with a possible late game option of replacing your opponents biggest Planeswalker or creature threat with your own 4/4 is unlikely, but possible, for the downside of not being able to remove artifacts, Lands or enchantments.

General Argument Against Inclusion:
In a small cube, there are better options.  Working toward efficiency in removal, Hero's Downfall, Dreadbore, Vindicate are probably going to be better options in most cases, even though only one of them is mono black.  If you have a spot open for a black removal spell, and run a lot of Planeswalkers, this might be an option, but otherswise this doesn't make the cut.

The Discussion

ChirdakiIf Hero's Downfall didn't exist I would probably run this. As it stands I am not going to include it at this time. Having superfluous functional reprints that are IMO much worse because of sorcery speed does not a cube list make, despite the bonus at turn 11-12 / whenever you hit 7 mana.
I did mark it down to look at again once the set is released. However I have no other cards written down at this time...not sure if I am happy or worried about that.
Rogue_DiplomacyFor seven mana at sorcery speed I want something with a little more punch. I'd compare this to Silence the Believers. Mid game spot removal or late game blow out, but not exciting in either role.
SinibusUSGCards that are described that way always end up being better than they're given credit for at first. Not saying it makes the cut, but hearing it described that way is something of a (positive) red flag for me.

flclredditYep, I think I'd almost always rather have Hero's Downfall.
PlaidMagicAlso, keep in mind the value add here is the option. A 7 mana spell should certainly be more powerful, but you have two modes, each slightly worse than a single mode spell at the cost, but that's the cost of having options
FannyBabbsI like this card a fair amount, but being Sorcery speed makes the front half pretty bland, and the back half is fairly unexciting for the mana. I get that it's greater than the some of it's parts, since it's just a mana sink for when you need it, but I feel like the upside of Awaken isn't big enough to justify the downside of Sorcery in most small-medium cubes.
In larger/multiplayer cubes, this card seems ok. Not exciting, but nice to have around. I think in terms of versatility Awaken is less potent than Strive or Flashback, which puts this pretty solidly in the NO camp for me, outside of the largest cubes or cubes with 20+ walkers. I'd love to be wrong, though.
UncleMeatWorth it for larger cube counts simply because there are only so many spells that remove planeswalkers but in my 360 cube I'm planning on leaving this one out. Instant speed is critical and the 4/4 you get from Awaken just isn't a very large threat in a high powered environment like cube.
ggop_Sorcery speed is what kills it here. Like Chirdaki said, Hero's downfall is more often than not better just because of instant speed.
Assuming you get to seven mana, comparatively at six-seven mana is where you want to be ending the game or considerably shifting the board (cards like Elesh Norn, Angel of Serenity, Massacre Wurm, Consecrated Sphinx, etc) so compared to those cards it is fairly lacking even if you get a 2-for-1. In 540 when you need more good removal, I can see this being a very reasonable inclusion since the 2-for-1 is just enough IMO.
If you're at a 540 list or higher I can see this being an include and no one would bat an eye.
FlemeI'd argue that the sorcery speed "killing it" argument is a bit unfounded. Why is it that a sorcery speed spell that does the same but costs BR is more playable than this? I'd also be curious on what the percentage of Vindicates is that hits creatures or PWs? If I had to venture a guess, it'd be in the 70's. I mean I know that it's an answer-all which is why it earns its place but let's face it, most of the time it hits creatures or walkers. At Sorcery speed and in two colors at 3 cmc.
We all also play Chainer's Edict while Diabolic Edict is the same spell at instant speed. Who here has flashed back Chainer's to get that justification? We might as well be playing Geth's Verdict to get another instant edict at 2 CMC but we justify keeping Chainer's for the flashback and 1B being more efficient than BB.
I'm not holding my breath on resolving Ruinous Path for the Awaken cost even one tenth of the time, just like I'm not drafting Chainer's Edict just so I can flash it back. I feel like this card is great removal and just the fact that it hits walkers at 3 CMC while also being an answer to creatures makes for a good card.
ChirdakiI don't particularly like Dreadbore either, I think it is perfectly defensible to run Terminate instead. The vast majority of the time the instant speed is going to be far more relevant. So as a result Dreadbore doesn't make many main decks for us. I don't think you can run both Terminate and Dreadbore in a Rakdos section. Like if they printed another Dreadbore there is no way that would be included.
I still have Dreadbore in as more of a sideboard buffer against card types but that doesn't mean it is right to run Dreadbore over Terminate. It's just something I live with.
Chainer's Edict still has an effect at two mana, you don't need to get to 7 to have any kind of bonus. The mere presence of the opponent at 6 lands with a Chainer's in the yard can make me rethink whether I want to play something onto an empty board.
I guess it comes down to is I do not mind running arguably worse / flexible removal spells at the two mana slot, but at the three mana slot I expect more from my cards. Especially when an almost identical card already exists and its an instant.
At 540 obviously.
ggop_I agree, kills it is a little too harsh of a term. If I had to refine my comment I would instead choose to say "doesn't sell me" or something less severe. The reason why I think it's relevant is because it's too similar to hero's downfall.To me, this is an issue where it isn't with chainer's/diabolic edict simply because I prefer the sacrifice effect over "target" even if it is at times ineffective. The redundant absoluteness of both Downfall and Ruinous Path are a conflict for me and why I am not immediately jamming it in my cube.
FlemeSure. Cube size definitely does play into it and if I were at your size or lower, I don't think I could find the room for this card. It's a perfect and a natural inclusion at 720 which is why I'm here speaking favorably of the card but I know full well that it's not an all-star. It's a piece of removal and at that I don't think it can ever be very exciting but at least in the context of my cube, this is a playable card.
FlemeI think the spells to compare it to are Dreadbore, Vindicate and Hero's Downfall. Sure, it's clearly more narrow than Vindicate and technically costs 1 more than Dreadbore and slower than Hero's Downfall but the fact of the matter is that it's still a good spell. I don't think it has an advantage over Hero's Downfall in most cases but you can play it in just black or Bx rather than being WB or BR. (Comparing to Dreadbore/Vindicate - and don't take this as me berating Vindicate, I think that's one of the top spells in cube.)
I don't foresee it being cast for the Awaken cost very often but I also imagine that the times that it's relevant, it's actually quite nice to have that 4/4 left behind after you've removed their threat.
Planeswalker removal is at a premium. Black has straight up 1 spell in Hero's Downfall that takes care of walkers while being an otherwise playable spell. Other colors aren't much better (and some are in fact worse off) so I am gladly including another piece of PW removal that also doubles up as creature removal even if it's slower than Hero's Downfall. I'm already looking to include all 3 of the Planeswalkers from BFZ and already run a good number of walkers, so additional answers for them are always welcome.
For me, this is an easy inclusion and I'm glad that it's going to be a BaB promo which means that an alternate art shiny is going to be made available
ChirdakiWhat is your walker cap? I am no sir'ing all 3 walkers...well I may run Ob Nixilis for a short time more because I hate the 4-5cc black section than I like Ob. But planeswalker creep is a very real thing.

FlemeIt is a very real thing and I haven't actually set a hard cap for myself and Analysis page currently reads 37 (which I think doesn't count for the 4 Origins walkers I have in) for a total of 41, or 5.1% + 0,6% density. You have 4.3% + 0.4% in yours.
I'm looking to cut Elspeth Tirel (she's a vestige) for new Gideon who I think is an absolutely great cube card with all abilities being relevant. If one thinks of it as a creature it threatens 7 damage on turn 5 and you can just cash it for an anthem straight up which I think is nice. Also just making bears every turn is often good enough. I find new Ob straight up boring of a card as far as design goes (I mean to draw and lose life or to kill a creature is as demonic as it gets but it's bland) but there's no denying there's power in the abilities. If the card remains on the table for more than 1 turns I consider it a good card and while for some that might not be good enough, it is for me.
I understand how some would not be inclined to include Kiora but it fits into my way of thinking about Simic and I'm looking to make that list into:
Lumbering Falls (0)Coiling Oracle (2)Edric, Spymaster of Trest (3)Shardless Agent (3)Mystic Snake (4)Kiora, the Crashing Wave (4)Kiora, Master of Depths (4)
After the release. 2 of the same PW is a bummer but I think both those fit into tempo/ramp/goodstuff that I'm looking to define Simic as and in 720 there's a very real chance of both cards not occurring in the same draft anyway. As for new Kiora as a card - I feel like she plays really well with a rampy tempo deck that I want Simic to be. The card advantage from -2 is pretty real and assuming you "get there" off a mana dork, you can play her on turn 3 and untap a dork + land, leaving countermagic or other interaction up.
Anyhow, on the topic of 720, I always feel like I need some redundancy and I while I usually keep the mantra of "no strictly worse" cards in the cube, I'm not ready to agree that Ruinous Path is strictly worse in a lot of spots. I mean on the face of it there are a lot of times where I'd draft this over Dreadbore or even Vindicate (when I'm not in those colors) and those are great spells that I would never mind having and that already is a merit to Ruinous Path.
I also noticed that due to the "high" number of walkers combined with the fact that I do have a bunch of token generation across colors, I'm also adding a Doubling Season in there. I have a bit of loose space in most of my colors for a little fun for the drafters and seems like that one card would make for an effortless inclusion for the player who wants to attempt Gxx superfriends or just give value for the green player. Mana Reflection hasn't been great so one piece of jank makes room for another.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Cube Card Spotlight Vote Week of 9/7

Reddit /r/MTGCube Card spotlight Vote Which cards should be reviewed in the cube card spotlight
Feldon of the Third Path
World Knit
Goblin Bombardment
Sagu Mauler
Shrine of Loyal Legions
Nivix Cyclops
Linvala, Keeper of Silence
Consuming Vapors
Sheoldred, Whispering One
Please Specify:
Poll Maker

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Cube Card Spotlight: Splinter Twin

Welcome back for another episode of Cube Card spotlight. I'm your host, Plaid Magic and today we'll be discussing the card that had the most votes in the previous spotlight vote

Splinter Twin


Enchantment - Aura

Rules Text: Enchant creature Enchanted creature has "Tap: Put a token that's a copy of this creature onto the battlefield. That token has haste. Exile it at the beginning of the next end step."

The Rundown: 

The namesake of a modern T1 deck, along side it's mirror breaking buddy, this card is exploited for its ability to combo off with a <4 CMC creature that can untap itself and go ~infinite, pooping out little copies. I think there are two ways to look at this card: As a combo piece/game ender, or as a "fair card" that has an incremental tempo gain and an interesting effect. That said, the 2-for-1 may hurt when using this as a fair card when the creature i's enchanting gets the DBlade.


Power Level:

Cube Tutor Stats as of Today (8/31/2015):

  • Pick: 21967
  • Pass: 117448
  • Pick Percent: 15.76%
  • Cube Count: 3227

Collective Pros:

  • Cool Effect
  • WinCon

Collective Cons:
  • To enable the combo, you need to add cards that are barely cubable without it
  • Can be a draft trap
  • Without the combo pieces, it's fairly underwhelming


  • Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker - Requires more commitment in R, but combo's off with more cards, including those that are separately playable (Restoration Angel most notably), and the Doom Blade hurts less.


An underwhelming "Fair" card, and best used as a piece of a package.  The package involved, includes some cards that are also underwhelming.  Auto-losing to combos is something not all cube groups are ok with.  If you run the package deal, ensure that you also double up with Kiki, or break singleton.

The Discussion

Twin is a value card even if it doesn't get to resolve its infinite combo although when one drafts it, it will be for the combo. It's sort of a tricky card in that while it would net value with the various ETB creatures one would usually be cubing, those ETBs don't really exist in red (Siege-Gang?).
Still, enabling the combo is cheap as far as design space goes since it (I'm talking Kiki+Twin here) requires Restoration Angel, Exarch, Pestermite and Zealous Conscripts. Out of those cards Kiki, Resto and maybe the Conscripts would be played on their own in other decks and I really don't think Pestermite and Exarch are viable to be played on their own in a cube setting. Sure, we've seen some control decks use Exarch as a blocker/combat trick to buy themselves time but I would rather have better creatures in those slots if it weren't for the combo. I mean, a card like [[Mizzium Meddler]] would be a better trick than that, I feel, and that's not a card I would run anyway.
So, since the combo requires you to commit 6 cards out of which at least 3 are quite playable as is, Twin/Kiki combo is an easy inclusion to cubes and imo should be there. UR tends to be a less played combo even if it's completetely viable and I think it's good for that color pair to have a trick like this up its sleeve. Assembling the combo isn't easy with singleton cards either, so I feel that it's completely balanced too. In my cube we've had people try assembling the combo but so far we've not seen it happen.
Conclusion: The combo requires a couple of very narrow cards that wouldn't otherwise be cubeable in a powerful format but since it takes so little space to include, it's a safe inclusion to cubes to help players have more incentive to go UR.

For the record I run Pestermite with no Twin. May be a relic of cubeing for the last 6 years or however long it has been but it still pull's its own modest weight and gets in for 2. Exarch on the other hand nah.
I don't mind Twin that much as you mentioned the two points. Not viable in red and comes with a hefty RR commitment. Playing Exarch as a +1 enabler isn't that bad as Exarch is still serviceable as blue defense.
Personally Twin combo evokes the same sort of salt that something like dying to Jace Memory Adept does. I hate that I can tap out at a healthy life total and just die from turn 3+, very shitty. Also the main reason why I don't play modern is that it is filled with those super UN-interactive types of decks, Summer Bloom, Twin, G. Vengeance, Tron, its all dumb goldfishing. Better believe that wouldn't be in a format I cultivate.
Kiki is like not playable at all. RRR haste bear, if there are no good targets for Twin in red, why would I play a harder to cast worse version.

Do you mean super uninteractive modern decks? And to be honest, Modern Twin moved away from being an uniteractive combo deck with the loss of ponder and preordain and has become more of a combo control deck.
Yeah UN-interactive, let me go re-read/fix that.
Regardless the format as a whole upsets me, even Infect. It feels like unless you are playing like Grixis control (and even if you are sometimes) you have almost no if any relevant game decisions before you die or goldfish a win.
Thank you very much for bringing this up, I was hoping someone would. While we have a couple of goldfish wincons, they are usually two card combos, expensive, but the individual cards are there because they work outside the combo. IE, we have a counters matter cube, so you could technically draft Trike and Mike, or Thune Feeder combos but Triskellion, Michaeus The Unhallowed, Archangel of Thune and Spike Feeder are definitely fine cards in our cube outside of those combos. We really try to strive for interactivity in our cube, which honestly is my biggest personal issue with these "Package" pieces. That's the reason we support what we call "Stormish" in our cube for U/R, we don't have any storm cards, just more of a spells matter subtheme where the pilot can gain substantial incremental gains by casting/recurring spells, but no dead cards or goldfish interactive play is involved.
I agree with the sentiment that kiki combo brings people into UR - i drafted it at my last cube night and won one match with Taldrand, a card i was pretty certain is totally unplayable and was my 23rd card.
I currently run Talrand but he is very medium yes. I have a hard UR player in my group so I generally don't need incentive to add cards for that combo. Generally Keranos is all you need for most people in my group. Talrand will remain until an interesting creature is printed around that CMC.
Don't give up on Kiki! I like Kiki more than twin for two big reasons.You can switch what is copied. Splinter Twin is combo or bust, but Kiki can value copy all sorts of ETB effects like Mulldrifter, Nekratal, Thragtusk, without locking you in to a specific one.He can be in play before the copy target. Sticking in only red, turn 4: FTK, 5: Kiki+ FTK token, 6: Inferno Titan + Titan token. That's a line available to Kiki that's not available to Twin.I know the mana cost is rough, but I also know that a cube mana base can handle it. He plays well in any two color deck that has ETB effects.
Oddly enough I play Pestermite with no twin, but I DO play Kiki. RRR is a bit much, and he doesn't see a ton of play, but we see more kiki value than kiki combo. Mulldrifter, Titans, other neat stuff. Turn 5 Kiki into Turn 5 titan, copy the titan, swing gives you 3 titan triggers in one turn, and that's really cool.Kiki combos really well with Imperial Recruiter, fetching him up at first then you can copy recruiter to fetch other good things. Red doesn't have a TON of great kiki targets, but Rcruiter, Flametongue Kavu, Siege-Gang Commander, Zealous Conscripts (obv), Inferno Titan, and even to some extent Abbot of Keral Keep are all perfectly fine things to copy with him.
Splinter Twin is currently sitting in my on-deck binder... right next to Kiki-Jiki, Pestermite and Deceiver Exarch...All were in the cube in my original build, and stayed in for quite awhile. But as I powered down my list (I took out Sol Ring, Balance, True Name Nemesis and some of the cards that needed one or two other cards to function, like Progenitus/Emrakul/Blightsteel) and cuts started getting more and more tight... I eventually took out the Pestermite/Kiki combo.I'm slowly dragging (some of) my playgroup into cubing, so having infinite dudes insta-wins led to some feel bads.I do still run Zealous Conscripts however.
I'm not sure i agree that twin requires you to play "barely cubeable cards." Its possible i over estimate exarch / pestermite , but both seem perfectly viable in aggro/tempo and sometimes in control. Conscripts is good in aggro and as a way to steal walkers or a show-and-telled eldrazi/blightsteel. And just like in modern, any opponent who sees eother half of the combo will live in fear of it, playing around the combo.One advantage of kiki , which you allude to, is that he works well with pod and tooth and nail.
That's what these discussions are for! I guess the question i would pose in response is, do you/would you run PM or DE in a cube without Twin? We had Pestermite in our cube, but it just never made maindeck. That's our cube/group.
I think pestermite is best in a fairy-style shell (disruptive aggro, not necessarily the tribe). It's good in a geist+swords deck because it flies, can flash in, and beat down. U/R beats is also a thing, and it performs well there. Definitely not an all-star, but a good role player.Exarch seems like it would be a pretty low pick unless you're in peasant. He can't really beat down, and there are much better defensive creatures out there.Basically, If i was forcing twin and didn't get kiki/twin, I would probably run pestermite but not exarch.

TastierPestermite is great in UW and UR aggro/tempo.

Pestermite is a great card that makes it into most of my blue decks. Deceiver Exarch is definitely a lot worse and only makes my cube because of Splinter Twin / Kiki-Jiki

I'm with the rest of these folks, I play Conscripts, Pestermite, and Restoration Angel in my cube all of which I played without either Twin piece (even though right now we have Kiki in).
I'm always happy to play Pestermite in a tempo deck where I can hold up mana for countermagic and then flash him in, and it's a great way for blue to clear a blocker for an attack which can be very relevant.
I wouldn't run Pestermite or Deciever Exarch without the Twin-combo present, but I will play them in decks that are not trying to to Twin, as they are fairly decent tempo creatures.
I also think it is wrong to set Twin and Kiki up against each other, I would play both, or neither. Redundancy is the number one factor to make combo viable, and so having two enablers is a must. With Twin/Kiki + Pestermite/Exarch/Conscripts/Resto in my 540 unpowered, the twin-combo comes together fairly well once every 4-5 drafts - but it never feels overpowered or unfair. I think it is perfect. (Also, Imperial Recruiter is very good in this deck, as it can tutor both Pestermite/Exarch as well as Kiki, so it adds a lot of redundancy).

Pestermite tends to make U/R and U/W tempo decks in my cube. Its not the strongest pick, but it does its job in slowing down the opponent from responding to your board.
Exarch isn't in my cube, but it just looks underwhelming outside of its combo.
This also technically works on Zealous Conscripts, but something has seriously gone wrong for your opponent if you can either cast both in one turn, or cast conscripts and have it/you survive until next turn.
I ran Kiki over Twin because the reasons you mentioned and its added flexibility. With kiki, you can choose a different creature next turn if it somehow survives and the game isn't over. You are kind of locked into creating a copy of the same creature with Twin.

Splinter Twin doesn't need to be used in the combo to be amazing. Putting it on Venser gives you a soft lock, and using it on things like Muldrifter or Snapcaster can generate huge card advantage. Sun Titan and Acid Slime have also been used. It often gets picked up in our U/R builds, but it has been played in builds without Pestermite.

For these reasons though, I like Kikki a lot more because, despite the RRR cost, Kikki makes facing removal much better and is a better late game top deck.

Pros: Risky incremental value card.
Cons: Randomly ends games for no good reason when paired with otherwise unexciting cards. Doesn't actually 'combo' with anything commonplace besides Zealous Conscripts, so it could be safe to include without support but it's basically a worse version of Mimic Vat, an already borderline card.
Verdict: Garbage outside of dedicated combo cubes or cubes looking to mimic Constructed environments (modern). I try to two card game-ending combos in cube for the most part... while cute the first few times it gets really fucking old to randomly lose a game you were in the driver's seat of just because your opponent got his rocks off (see: every repeatable mill card in limited ever).

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Cube Card Spotlight: Thassa, God of the Sea

Welcome back for another episode of Cube Card spotlight. I'm your host, Plaid Magic and today I'll be taking advantage of this thread and asking about a card I have argued about for a while.

Thassa, God of the Sea

Legendary Enchantment Creature - God

Rules Text: Indestructible As long as your devotion to blue is less than five, Thassa isn't a creature. (Each Blue in the mana costs of permanents you control counts toward your devotion to blue.) At the beginning of your upkeep, scry 1. 1U: Target creature you control can't be blocked this turn.

The Synopsys

The Rundown:
So, here we have an enchantment with upside. Low curve, and doesn't affect the board immediately, but has upside every proceeding turn. Top deck efficiency increased by 50% with the auto scrye. Added plus side of making creatures unblockable is not nothing. This card is certainly no chump, but there is downside, which is what I wanted to bring up here. I'm sold on it, but my co-cube creator has some valid arguments. Even if it never "Turns on" it's powerful and hard to get rid of. Is that good or bad? You decide.


Power Level
I think this certainly could be/is included in powered cubes.

Cube Tutor Stats as of Today (8/31/2015):
Pick: 23933
Pass: 128540
Pick Percent: 15.7%
Cube Count: 3972

Collective Pros:

  • Cheap toolbelt card
  • Indestructible
  • Topdeck fixing
  • Evasion Enabler

Collective Cons:

  • Difficult to provide non-specific answers for other players, unless its "turned on"
  • Doesn't affect the board immediately
  • May signal to players that devotion is supported, even if its not
  • Generic "Good Card" in a color full of good cards, but doesn't fit any specific strategy
  • If reaching devotion is required for this to work in your cube, it may not be a good option unless explicitly supported

  • Monastery Siege - Similar in terms of CMC, being an enchantment and having multiple modes, one of which is topdeck filtering.  This is, however, one or the other and chosen when cast.  There is definitely an argument here, especially if you simply don't want the possibility of that 5/5 Indestructable body on 3.
  • Jace Beleren - I like that as ab alternative as well, but it comes down to what you're looking to do.  Card advantage and topdeck filtering are not the same, so its up to the cube builder
  • Whirler Rogue - So here's a 4 CMC that drops some flyers, so we have an effective 4 points of power on the board for 4, two points of which have evasion (either via flyers or tapping them to give the rogue unblockable).  This is pretty cool, plus it scales with bigger threats as you drop them, but if the goal is topdeck fixing, this doesn't get you there
  • Crystal Ball - Though it doesn't help evasion, this certainly helps the topdeck
Overall, this is a very hard card to compare, as it's a Blue enchantment that has auto topdeck fixing and evasion as an activated ability.  That is a unique combination by itself without even mentioning the indestructibility and possible body.

Verdict(Compliments of Fleme):
The strength of Thassa is indeed the value she gives through a variety of ways. She's seldom turned on in my cube (with 40~ + guild cards in blue permanents) but still contributes to wins and is a great card for the cost. The times she's turned on are just gravy but the other two modes are plenty in making her a staple card. You can't really afford to run cards that grant just unblockability, or scry 1, or are a 5/5 indestructible but all those in one? Yes please.

I absolutely love cards that do a lot of things in one package - commands, modal spells and cards that just do a lot of things well and fit in a lot of decks are just the types of things that make for interesting cube cards.

The Conversation

Thassa is the type of card people should be embracing. It is part of a new age style of finishers. They come down early, provide incremental advantage and then just win the game through relatively easy devotion gating. There are a ton of UU blue permanents and even if you are not a blue based deck the unblockable ability can do work.
I hope more of these types of win conditions come out in other colors over the next few years. Needing to get to 8 mana to resolve a win condition + keep mana up is not easy.
The strength of Thassa is indeed the value she gives through a variety of ways. She's seldom turned on in my cube (with 40~ + guild cards in blue permanents) but still contributes to wins and is a great card for the cost. The times she's turned on are just gravy but the other two modes are plenty in making her a staple card. You can't really afford to run cards that grant just unblockability, or scry 1, or are a 5/5 indestructible but all those in one? Yes please.
I absolutely love cards that do a lot of things in one package - commands, modal spells and cards that just do a lot of things well and fit in a lot of decks are just the types of things that make for interesting cube cards.
I run all 5 of the mono color gods for flavor reasons, but Thassa is certainly good enough to run without that consideration. The biggest selling point is her activated ability, which will make short work of your opponent with even the most minor of threats.
Add to that the incremental value of scrying every turn and your odds of victory should increase dramatically.
Card selection is so good. I hate that I had to cut the temples to make my non-basics faster and I'm just anticipating cheap (CMC-wise) and effective scry-cards from BFZ to include just to get more "casual" card selection going.
This card has been a workhorse in my group's cube. It almost always makes its way into a deck and does its scry thing. The incremental advantage is almost invisible, but it adds up. It almost never becomes a creature; partly because blue is usually low on permanents, and partly because getting there makes it prone to white removal. The games where it's memorable is when the activated ability pushes something dumb through (like Wurmcoil).
Comparable cards are tough because the combination of abilities is pretty unique, but these came to mind: Monastery Siege, Jace Beleren, Whirler Rogue, Crystal Ball
I don't currently run Thassa, and while originally that was for price point back in the early days of Blue Devotion, I've often considered and then passed over it when buying new cards.
I want to like it, I do. But I find devotion is just too hard to reach in blue. Yes, there's some double-blue permanents out there, but blue is just not a color which focuses on committing tons of permanents to the board. Without the devotion side of things, it's too low-impact as a 3-drop to keep the blue decks alive against more aggressive decks. And against control decks it's even harder to maintain devotion. Even if the Scry is nice, I feel like I'd rather just draw cards.
Thassa just feels like it's not good enough at doing the things any given deck wants it for. It's a very cool, even goodcard, but it's like a B-level card that plays as a D in most decks, and doesn't play as an A in any.
I don't like this card for cube for a couple of reasons. For me, the most important reason is that it is just a "good card" but not a card for any particular deck. There are plenty of good cards, especially in blue, so I'd rather play something that's an all-star or something that's good AND fits into a specific strategy.
Second, I think it's only marginally powerful enough. The effect is fine, but you need a few turns before it equals the power of even something like Thirst for Knowledge. Thirst is a great example of a card that is played in some cubes and not in others that I would rather play over this. They are both fine, if unexciting, cards on their own, but Thirst plays much better in its deck (artifacts) than Thassa does in hers (blue devotion? blue tempo?). I'm mostly speaking from an unpowered perspective, where I see Thassa making the cut around 540+.
I think a lot of people have or will cut Thassa in the future.