What follows are the updates I made to my cube with respect to Scars of Mirrodin. I’ve previously talked about some or all of these cards as potential includes, but I finally found time to acquire some cards and make some changes. This likely isn’t the last update to my cube for Scars of Mirrodin, as I’m missing some cards I really feel should be in here, but I’m including the majority of the updates I was wanting to make.
Captain of the Watch puts nine power on the board in four creatures. It seems like it’d be a tough choice to beat, but I think Sunblast Angel is just as powerful as the good Captain. For the same amount of mana I get a 4/4 flier that potentially decimates my opponents side of the board. I don’t have a strong tribal theme in my cube, but if I did have a decent soldiers theme then the Captain would be the stronger choice and I’d have to find a different card to cut for Sunblast Angel. White is pretty stacked at the high end, so making room is getting pretty hard. Pristine Angel was one I considered cutting, but she is just so very hard to cut.
I don’t yet own an Elspeth Tirel, so I don’t have to find a spot for her. In the meantime I’m sure white will be fine with Elspeth, Knight-Errant, Gideon Jura, and Ajani Goldmane. I’m not sure what I’d move to make a spot for her anyway, as white is pretty stacked. Honestly she’d likely take Ajani Goldmane’s spot. I really like Ajani, but I feel that he has been outclassed by basically every other white planeswalker, even though he’s awesome all by himself.
Volition Reins does the same thing as Take Possession, for the most part. It costs one mana less, but is more strongly “blue” than Take Possession. You lose split second, which is handy when you’re facing possible removal or counters in response, but you gain the ability to untap and potentially use the permanent you steal. I perceive this to be a little more dynamic. It also helps lower the mana curve a little bit. My blue section has been creeping upwards in the mana curve over the last year as I’ve made changes.
I’m swapping out the arguably more fun Conundrum Sphinx for the one, Argent Sphinx, which has a slightly elevated chance of survival. Blue decks generally love their artifacts and I feel that metalcraft is very possible to achieve in my cube. It does have one less toughness so it is vulnerable to a lot more removal, but the potential ability to pull evasive manuevers around that removal is tough to overlook.
Mesmeric Fiend really hasn’t seen much play in my cube. It’s a good card, but there is so very much removal in the cube that it hardly makes a real difference. Replacing it with solid removal seems to be a good thing. Grasp of Darkness can remove most early to mid-game creatures and will hopefully help make black more tempting to play.
I feel a little bad about removing Visara the Dreadful, as that card has been in my cube since I first built it. However, it sees next to no play. I don’t know if it has to do with how much she costs to play. It doesn’t seem that would be the case. Whatever the reason she doesn’t see a lot of play, I’m trying out Skinrender in her place, which feels like it should be a solid card. If it turns out to not be enough I may switch over to using Royal Assassin in the slot.
Sulfur Elemental is such a strong sideboard card against white aggro that I’m hesitant to pull it. But, that’s also the reason I want to move it out; it’s mostly been a sideboard card in my cube. I’m replacing it for now with Arc Trail which is a strong card in it’s own right and should see play in the main deck or many if not most red decks.
The namesake of this blog, Surreal Memoir, just hasn’t been cube-worthy. The random element really kind of kills it for me, and there are other more efficient or effective ways of returning instants. As it stands, I prefer Mnemonic Wall and Izzet Chronarch over the Memoir due to the fact that I am left with a blocker after the dust settles. Koth of the Hammer costing four also does the Memoir no good. Koth is ridiculous in limited and the Memoir is the weakest red card at four mana in my cube. I still love the name, but the card itself has lost luster in my eyes so it’s time to say good bye.
In my bid to give red some better evasive creatures I’m throwing in the Kuldotha Phoenix. Even without metalcraft it’s a fairly efficient red flyer. With metalcraft it is just really cool. KAKAW! Lord of Shatterskull Pass can be powerful, but the amount of investment needed to get from mediocre to powerful is just too much. In between he’s simply a vanilla wall that is wide open to getting hit by any number of removal spells. He’s just been lackluster. The Phoenix provides another hasty flier to join the likes of Rorix Bladewing.
Exchanging one combo card for another here. Channel can lead to some really amazing starts, but I think the Wave will prove to be more interesting. It’s just catching on in standard and I think it is a really neat way to explode onto the board in limited. Genesis Wave gives green something new and exciting to work with.
Venser really was undervalued when he was first spoiled. I think people are onto him now, though. He can play roles in multiple archetypes and his ultimate is a real kick in the pants. It’s easily my favorite of the three planeswalkers introduced in Scars of Mirrodin. Removing Teferi’s Moat to make a spot for him really wasn’t a tough choice for me. The Moat is a great card, but it leads to less dynamic games, in my opinion.
Out: Memory Jar, Epochrasite, Obelisk of Alara, Eldrazi Conscription, Triskelavus, Sapphire Medallion, Emerald Medallion, Pearl Medallion, Jet Medallion
In: Steel Hellkite, Ratchet Bomb, Wurmcoil Engine, Argentum Armor, Mimic Vat, Origin Spellbomb, Darksteel Axe, Mox Opal, Horizon Spellbomb
There’s a long list to go through here thanks to this being a revisit to the plane of Mirrodin. The first card, Memory Jar, is a classic and was recently reprinted in From the Vault: Relics. Steel Hellkite just seems to be more relevant to a limited format and is a game ender. He can be played in any color, has colorless firebreathing and is a Ratchet Bomb on wings.
Ratchet Bomb adds another way to take care of any permanents your opponent might play, including planeswalkers. Epochrasite is a neat little creature, but his cute ability to grow pales in comparison to Ratchet Bomb.
Wurmcoil Engine easily deserves a place in the cube. I don’t think I need to extoll his virtues much. I think you’ll continue to see a lot of this guy in constructed decks. There are a lot of wrath effects in the cube and Scars of Mirrodin brings even more of them. This makes cards like Wurmcoil Engine and also Mitotic Slime really, really good.
The next change was an interesting one. I really like Eldrazi Conscription, but I wanted to give [card]Argentum Armor a try and it seemed like the most natural choice for the swap. The mana cost between the two cards is relatively similar, and their effect is somewhat comparable. Sadly, there aren’t many ways to quickly get either into play on the cheap in my cube, as both of them have seen or are seeing constructed play as part of combos that got them into play essentially for free. In general, I like equipment better than auras as creature removal usually doesn’t destroy the equipment. This probably explains the dearth of auras in my cube. I think that the Armor should be relatively easier to play than Conscription just due to six mana being an easier number to reach in an average game.
Triskelavus has been idly sitting around in my cube for a while now. It’s a very good creature, but I think that Mimic Vat holds a lot of untapped potential. Most of that potential is sitting in your opponent’s deck as well. You also have a chance at reusing your bombs every turn if your opponent kills them. I have been having fun just thinking up potential scenarios in my head where the Vat is involved in some crazy hijinks. I’m really looking forward to drafting it. There are so many good creatures with enters the battlefield triggers that can be abused in any color that it’s bound to be interesting.
I was running four of the five Medallions from Tempest as poor man’s Moxen. Don’t ask me why I wasn’t running all five. Somehow I forgot to acquire the Ruby Medallion when I got the others. This turns out to not matter as I’m pulling them for the following four artifacts: Origin Spellbomb, Darksteel Axe, Mox Opal, and Horizon Spellbomb. I think all of these are fine examples and are better than the Medallions. Origin Spellbomb fills a nice little niche in white as it provides a suprise blocker and card draw. Horizon Spellbomb provides mana fixing to any color for a good cost and rewards having access to green with some extra card draw. Green doesn’t have much capacity for drawing cards outside of Harmonize, so this little card fills a couple of holes. Then we have Darksteel Axe. It’s a fairly straightforward card. I really love Bonesplitter, and I’ve come very close to adding Trusty Machete to the cube. Some people may compare Darksteel Axe with Trusty Machete, and I think that is a fair comparison. Sometimes the toughness granted by the Machete would be more important than the extra power provided by the Axe. The reason I’m going with the Axe is purely for the indestructibility. Survivability is important in the cube, as it packs a lot of removal. The last of these replacements is Mox Opal. It’s one of three metalcraft cards I’m adding to the cube with this update, but it is itself an agent to achieving metalcraft. I really love anything with Mox in the name. Too bad I don’t have the means to own a set of them. All four of these cards are cheap artifacts that can be found using Trinket Mage as well, which only makes that guy more insane. I don’t want Trinket Mage to be a first pick necessarily, but it’s definitely riding as a high pick for me after this update.
The reasoning here is pretty simple. I want to trim down on the multicolor glut after the last couple of blocks. I’m testing out the new dual lands and making room for them by removing the tri-lands from the Shards of Alara block. I may bring them back later, as they’re very good, but I’m currently trying to push two color decks and consistency over easy access to all colors. In the near future I plan on reducing and tuning my multicolor section as well, so this is the beginning of that push. I’m interested to see how the Scars of Mirrodin dual lands fare, but I have a gut feeling that they’re good and that a lot of people have been undervaluing them so far.
Well, this is the end of another long post. Overall I’m nearly done with the Scars of Mirrodin changes. I have a few cards I would like to acquire, such as Elspeth Tirel, and I’ve probably missed a few cards that others will no doubt find to be good includes. If you think I missed something, leave a comment here or send me a message on twitter @surmem.
Here’s a question I’d like to also ask of you. Would you rather I do small posts more often, or continue with this type of longer post? I know that I personally seem to gravitate to reading shorter blog posts by others due to constraints on my time. Shorter posts would likely be easier to write as well, so I’m considering breaking what I write about into smaller and more manageable chunks. What do you think?