Cube Update – Magic 2011

Magic 2011 introduced a lot of new and powerful cards to consider for the cube. I’ve been able to put my hands on most of the ones I wanted to include in this update, so it feels like time to go over my additions. Not every change is related to Magic 2011, but I’ll just go over those as well.

White White

I’ve gotten some recent acquisitions that will make white a bit overall. I’m trying to bolster the white aggro achetype more, as most of the times white’s been drafted in my cube, it’s either been used in a control archetype or as a support color.

Sun TitanOut: Academy Rector
In: Enlightened Tutor
I like Academy Rector but Enlightened Tutor is cheaper and more flexible when it comes to tutor targets.

Out: Deathless Angel
In: Sun Titan
Deathless Angel seemed like a good card when I added it to the cube, but it pales in comparison to Sun Titan. They have comparable stats and mana cost, but Sun Titan continues to be powerful with no further mana cost while the Angel requires a heavy commitment to white in order to run at its strongest. The Titan is also good in multiple archetypes, as it allows you to return any permanent at three converted mana cost or less. This plays into weenie, land destruction (using Strip Mine, Wasteland or Tectonic Edge in my cube), and combo strategies quite well.

Out: Humble
In: Miraculous Recovery
I think reanimation strategies are better than psuedo removal. Humble can be good in certain situations, but it’s power level varies a lot with the game state. Being an instant makes Miraculous Recovery very strong, as it allows you to put up surprise blockers or reanimate creatures at the end of an opponent’s turn.

Out: Loam Lion
In: War Priest of Thune
I like the War Priest better than Loam Lion. The Lion requires you to be in green to be at its best, but the Priest at worst is a bear and at best helps clear annoying enchantments from the board. The fact that it’s a may ability is also a really nice feature.

Out: Oblation
In: Silver Knight
I don’t know if others run Oblation, but I’ve always liked the card so I may find a way to fit it back in at a later date. It’s a decent tool that nets you card advantage and can protect assets by putting them back in your deck. For now I’m bringing back the Silver and White Knights to bolster the white weenie plan.¬†However, this slot may be better filled with Kor Firewalker in the long run. I’d love to hear your thoughts on Silver Knight vs. Kor Firewalker, or just on the white weenie archetype and card choices in white that help make that a desirable archetype to step into.

Out: Harm’s Way
In: Orim’s Chant
I think Harm’s Way would be much stronger in a cube that only ran commons and uncommons. It will stay on my short list of cards that may make it back in, but Orim’s Chant is just much stronger over all. When combined with Isochron Scepter you can simply shut your opponent down. Harm’s way is generally a situational card that mostly rode the bench in my cube.

Out: Conqueror’s Pledge
In: White Knight
Conqueror’s Pledge is decent, but I felt that white was creeping too high in the mana curve. No one I’ve drafted with so far has opted for a white weenie strategy, so the White and Silver Knights should help make that archetype more appealing.

Blue Blue

There are several blue cards in M11 that are just fun that I’ve included in this update. They just also happen to be very good while being fun. I’ve also refined blue’s card drawing with some better spells.

PreordainOut: Legacy’s Allure
In: Conundrum Sphinx
Legacy’s Allure feels a bit slow most times, so I’m pulling it in favor or a more fun card like Conundrum Sphinx. The Sphinx can be abused with Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Brainstorm, Ponder, Preordain, Crystal Ball and more, but it is great on its own too. It provides a neat little outlet for those magical moments when amazing things can happen in games.

Out: Recurring Insight
In: Jace’s Ingenuity
While Recurring Insight can draw you more cards overall, I like the instant speed that Jace’s Ingenuity runs at. Harmonize is a great card, and making it instant speed is just gravy. I also feel that Jace’s Ingenuity will see more play in the main deck than Recurring Insight would.

Out: Scrivener
In: Stormtide Leviathan
I have long loved cards like Scrivener, Anarchist, Izzet Chronologist and Surreal Memoir. However, I feel that blue was in need of a good finisher that rewarded being a blue player and punished those who weren’t. Stormtide Leviathan definitely fits the bill, and acts as a Moat in addition to it’s great stats and unblockability. I’m considering bringing in Call to Mind as the new “Scrivener” in blue, but I need to find something that needs replacing first.

Out: Treasure Hunt
In: Preordain
Treasure Hunt isn’t mediocre. At worst it is a two mana cantrip, and at best it draws you past a gigantic land clump in your deck. That being said, I think that Preordain is on the level of Brainstorm and Ponder. It’s not better than them, but it fits in the same family. Consider it Ponder’s kid brother. Currently all three will be running in my cube, though we’ll see whether that’s too many of a similar effect.

Black Black

Grave TitanOut: Faceless Butcher
In: Reassembling Skeleton
Faceless Butcher has some nice combo potential, and is a solid card on its own. Combining it with bounce effects akin to Crystal Shard is infamous. That being said I’m bringing in the Reassembling Skeleton to improve black’s consistency. Having a creature with regeneration that can block and not die is nice, but having a creature that can die and keep coming back is better. The Skeleton has combo potential of its own, so I don’t feel like I’m losing too much compared to what I’m gaining.

Out: Okiba-Gang Shinobi
In: Grave Titan
The Okiba-Gang has come into and out of my cube a couple of times already. It’s effective converted mana cost is four, and it fits nicely in the hand destruction archetype that black has. In a cube running commons and uncommons only, the Okiba-Gang is just nuts. It’s easily eclipsed, however, by Grave Titan. There’s no contest in my mind. The Titan nullifies a lot of removal by it’s size and color. It also drops a ton of creatures onto your side of the board for the low low cost of attacking. Add to that the new rules on deathtouch and your opponent will no longer generally want to block with multiple creatures. Grave Titan wins games all on his own.

Red Red

I’ve focused on adding some flexibility to red, as well as a couple of choices that fit in the flavor of land destruction. The Inferno Titan is on my list for inclusion but I haven’t had an opportunity to get a hold of one yet.

Destructive ForceOut: Jackal Pup
In: Ember Hauler
I am hesitant to pull Jackal Pup. It’s a classic and is a solid player in the red aggro archetype, so I may find a way to fit him in another slot. That being said, Ember Hauler should add a little flexibility over Jackal Pup in that it can function as removal.

Out: Browbeat
In: Manic Vandal
Browbeat is one of few red spells that can actually draw cards. I think the wording on the original made cards like Browbeat, Breaking Point, and the like hard to understand and thus hard to appreciate. However, I wasn’t seeing Browbeat get much play, so I’m siding it out for a while for Manic Vandal, who adds some utility. I also run an equal number of artifacts to cards in a single color in my cube, so there’s more possible targets for the Vandal to hit on average.

Out: Molten Disaster
In: Destructive Force
Molten Disaster was very analogous to Comet Storm. Having split second was great, but Comet Storm can hit multiple targets and in my mind that makes it a stronger card. I’m also running Banefire so the Disaster doesn’t really feel necessary. I’ve been trying to add some cards to my cube that promote land destruction strategies, as they don’t get much love. It’s a more unpopular strategy to play, but I don’t feel that I have too many land destruction effects for the size of cube I have. I feel that to remove land destruction is to deny an important aspect of Magic, or any resource-based strategy game. Balanced strategy games provide ways to acrue, exchange, and destroy resources. It’s a vital part of a well balanced resource game, and I feel that too often it is demonized. I think it is considered un-fun because it can take away those random moments that make Magic magical. You can’t top deck your answer and cast it for the win if you have no mana to cast it. However,¬†I feel that land destruction is an important archetype to maintain as it keeps greedy deck building somewhat in check.

Out: Splinter Twin
In: Obsidian Fireheart
Splinter Twin may come back in sometime later, as I’m fascinated by cards like Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Heat Shimmer, but it didn’t seem to be getting any love so it’s out. That being said I think Obsidian Fireheart is awesome both in flavor as well as mechanics. Since I recently acquired one, it’s going in. There will hopefully be some land burning in the future.

Green Green

I had a lot of changes in green again. When Rise of the Eldrazi came out I overhauled green quit a bit. More changes are being made as Magic 2011 brought some great green creatures to the table.

Fauna ShamanOut: Borderland Ranger
In: Sylvan Ranger
The reason for this change is really that Sylvan Ranger operates a turn earlier than the Borderland Ranger. I debated running both together, and may still do so, but I felt that it was close to putting two of the same cards in the cube. Really, both cards are pretty equal, but the art in Sylvan Ranger helped tip the scales for me.

Out: Hidden Gibbons
In: Fauna Shaman
Since I originally based my cube off of Evan Erwin’s, I sometimes try out cards that he’s running in his cube. I know for a fact that he plays his cube far and away more than I get to play with mine, so I adopt ideas from other people’s cubes a lot. Hidden Gibbons is an interesting card, and sometimes can reward you greatly if you can play it on turn one or two. However, with the current lack of Survival of the Fittest in my cube, the arrival of Fauna Shaman spelled the end of the Gibbons. The Shaman is just on another level. I’m still planning on acquiring Survival of the Fittest, but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

Out: Khalni Hydra
In: Joraga Treespeaker
The Hydra was put in previously because I have a gigantic Timmy streak. However, the Treespeaker is just far better in limited environments and fits in more than mono-green decks, unlike the Hydra.

Out: Kodama’s Reach
In: Cultivate
I don’t generally put two of the same functional card in my cube, so I’m bringing in Cultivate as I had it in foil, while I haven’t been able to find the Reach in foil. Same card is the same, or something like that.

Out: Momentous Fall
In: Mitotic Slime
Momentous Fall has fallen. It’s a solid card, but for the cost you want to use it on a beefy creature. However, I’ve found that whenever I wanted to use it it would be putting myself at disadvantage on board which pretty much negated the life gain.

Primeval TitanOut: Omnath, Locus of Mana
In: Obstinate Baloth
Omnath is an interesting and flavorful card. However, I don’t think that it was a very consistent card. It’s very weak if you play it early as it dies to any removal. If played late game it can help with gigantic spells or blocking, but the lack of trample made it hard to finish. I think it’s strongest in the middle game, when you can protect it from a Shock or Lightning Bolt with extra mana. I think the Baloth will be a much more consistent card, and provides Green a way to combat hand destruction strategies. It also pairs with the Ravenous Baloth well, giving green a little bit more in-color interaction which might help out more green-centric strategies.

Out: Realms Uncharted
In: Primeval Titan
Realms Uncharted is so underwhelming. I wanted this to be Magic’s gift to lands; the second coming of Gifts Ungiven, but sadly Gifts Ungiven it is not. I thought that it’d be an interesting cube card at the very least, but so far it’s been about as fun as wilted lettuce. Primeval Titan fills the role so much better and it comes on a 6/6 trampling giant that appears to be angry at everything, making everything much more exciting; especially when compared to wilted lettuce.

Out: Centaur Glade
In: Krosan Tusker
The Glade is a solid card. However, I felt shamed that I didn’t have Krosan Tusker in my cube. You have to sink nine mana into the Glade before you start seeing returns, and it’s only good if you get to activate it more than once or twice. The Tusker, on the other hand, is useful early game to fix your mana and it’s not a dead draw late game as it can come down as a 6/5, which is nothing to sneeze at.

Colorless Colorless

I expanded my Artifact / Colorless section in the cube by five slots, which matched pretty well with the number of artifact cards I wanted to make room for.

Crystall BallIn: Brittle Effigy
Brittle Effigy is a simple, yet elegant card. Your opponent won’t attack into this, and if they do you can take their biggest guy out for good. Trinket Mage can tutor for it which is making me want to put Trinket Mage back into my cube.

In: Crystal Ball
Crystal Ball is a very strong card in limited environments. I would be crazy not to put this in the cube. Virtually a Preordain every turn (if used at the end of your opponent’s turn or during your upkeep), it lets you sift through your deck to find gas while discarding the chaff to the bottom of your library. I think this will be in the cube for a long time.

In: Elixir of Immortality
This card can help keep you in the game longer, or return your threats to your library so you can reuse them. Very much a utility card, yet it serves an important role in some archetypes. It can also be searched up with Trinket Mage if you run that in your cube.

In: Sword of Vengeance
Akroma’s sword is the most exciting piece of equipment in this set. It’s not quite as good as Sword of Fire and Ice, but it’s slightly better than Behemoth Sledge or Loxodon Warhammer.

In: Temple Bell
I think I’d run this over Howling Mine or Font of Mythos if I had to choose. Temple Bell allows you to control when you draw the cards, hopefully allowing you to gain the advantage from the extra card, rather than giving your opponent the advantage.

I would love it if you would leave feedback or comments. I’m very interested in learning about other people’s cube philosophies and card choices. Let me know where I’ve missed the mark in your opinion, or why my choices are good or bad. What cards in Magic 2011 did you include or are planning to include? Have I missed something that should absolutely be included?

Father, husband, programmer, gamer. Magic: The Gathering enthusiast who enjoys playing and discussing the game with anyone who is willing.

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Posted in Cube, MTG

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