Since this is my first post on the Cube format, I feel I should elaborate on how I got into this format. I heard about Cube through Tom Lapille and Evan Erwin’s writing on the subject and found that the format appealed to me. My cube list was started from Evan Erwin’s list, and in general I have been fairly similar to his over time. I deviate a bit when I have a pet card or interaction I don’t want to get rid of. I’m pretty sure that his Cube gets played a lot more than mine, as my playgroup consists of people who no longer live close by each other. So, I’ve trusted his judgement and play experience in guiding the general direction my Cube goes. That said, I start modifying my Cube list the minute I have cards in my hand rather than waiting until the next set release.
Rise of the Eldrazi is out and already making an impact on Standard. Many set reviews have been published, but I wanted to cover the set’s possible contributions to the Cube format. Cube is a pretty subjective format. Some are built from the best cards of all-time. Some are built using only commons, or only out of Standard-legal cards. My personal cube is a mix of the most powerful cards (that I can afford to get my hands on) mixed in with a few personal favorites. That said, some of the cards I think will be great in my cube may be horrible in yours. Let’s get started.
All is Dust
This card is usually compared to Akroma’s Vengeance. However, All is Dust differs is some important ways. First, note that All is Dust makes each player “sacrifice” the permanents, while Akroma’s Vengeance tries to “destroy” them. All is Dust also hits all colored permanents, however it spares the artifacts that Akroma’s Vengeance hits. I think All is Dust is an important addition to any Cube whose build restrictions allow it. With all the planeswalkers running around these days, some solid answers are needed and this card provides a great answer for any color, albeit artifact-centric decks will prize this a bit more highly than other decks.
Eldrazi Conscription has been seeing play in Standard as part of the Mythic Conscription deck, which can bypass the high cost and put the enchantment directly into play. This, when cast for full mana cost, makes any creature a finisher. However, the ever-present problem with auras is the possibility you will be two-for-oned, possibly also giving your opponent a free time walk if you happened to tap out to play it. Since this is possible to play in a limited environment at full cost, I’d say that it might be worth giving it a shot in your cube. I personally will be adding this as it provides a way to break through with all that damage. The annihilate mechanic is also amazingly good.
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
Probably the most exciting of the Eldrazi to invade Standard, this has seen main deck play in a lot of Polymorph[card] and [card]Summoning Trap decks, which usually don’t get to take full advantage of all he offers. Then, there’s the esper deck featuring it in combination with Brilliant Ultimatum, which frankly was brilliant as the sorcery was pretty much a forgotten rare. The issues I see with this in a Cube is the casting cost. It’s not friendly with reanimation strategies, and fifteen mana is an awful lot. If your cube includes Polymorph, Summoning Trap, Tooth and Nail, or various other ways to cheat him into play, he may have a place in your Cube. It’s a splashy and cool card, but may be hard to actually get ways to play him out in every draft he shows up in.
Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
Kozilek, Butcher of Truth suffers (as does Ulamog) from the same anti-reanimation clause that Emrakul has pinned to it. However, at ten mana it is much more realistic that you will cast him in a game. He doesn’t have Emrakul’s tenacity in staying on the board. Cheap removal will win out against him, though, simply making him a Tidings at twice the cost which isn’t a total loss. If you can manage to attack with him then he’s completely worth the ten mana.
Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
Comparing Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre to Kozilek, I feel that Ulamog should have been the one that cost ten and Kozilek should have cost eleven. Drawing four cards seems more powerful to me than destroying a permanent, but I think this is a pretty subjective observation. Ulamog is just as easy to kill as Kozilek, making him a very, very expensive Vindicate should he meet cheap removal (Terminate. I think in general I’m open to testing the three Eldrazi namesakes, and whether they stay will depend on how highly they are valued, how often they make the main deck, and whether they can actually be cast. I feel that a good job was done in Rise of the Eldrazi to give the support necessary to be able to cast the Eldrazi, but in a Cube environment that isn’t likewise tailored to make them playable, I’m not sure they’ll have a place in the Cube long term unless you have a lot of Timmy’s in your play group.
This is a good mana-fixer that replaces itself when you play it. Prophetic Prism is an interesting variation on Prismatic Lens that I will be trying in my own cube, especially after I remove the Ravnica block “Karoo” lands and signets.
I like Evolving Wilds. It is a functional reprint of Terramorphic Expanse and I liked that card. We already know how good Terramorphic Expanse is, and I don’t see any reason not to essentially have two in my cube. They fix your mana and thin your deck, making them the common equivalent of the Onslaught/Zendikar fetch-lands.
I’m impressed with the artwork and borders on the new colorless cards in Rise of the Eldrazi. That said, I think I’ll need some playtesting before I know whether I will definitely be adding one or more of them to my cube. Rise does offer up some solid additions the other colorless areas; namely, land and artifacts.