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).

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