Cube: Innistrad

Posts here have been few and far between of late. Family life has been hectic, and we’re expecting our second daughter any day now, so my priorities have all been bent far in that direction, and I’ve been away from a keyboard outside of work hours for far too long.

That said, for Christmas I was fortunate to receive a very nice ZAGGfolio case/keyboard for my iPad. I’m hoping that this gives me the opportunity to work online much more freely and effectively. I’m actually writing this post using this keyboard, and all I can say is that it is truly a game changer for me. I love the touch interface of the iPad, but when it comes to writing long diatribes, or even emails consisting of  a paragraph or two, my thumbs start plotting cruel ways to kill me in my sleep. Now, I have the ability to actually write and do most things I can do on a full size laptop from my iPad. Why it took me 5 months to look into getting one, I do not know.

On to the cube. I’ve been spending a bit of time trying to figure out just what I will be bringing in for my Innistrad cube update. I have to say that Innistrad continues the trend of modern Magic sets containing quite a number of cards that are worthy of inclusion, or at least a fair shot at inclusion, in cube lists.

Land

I’m going to change up my usual approach and start with my changes to the land first. Innistrad brings the enemy colored versions of the M10/M11/M12 dual lands. I honestly really like these dual lands, as I feel that they help fix colors well but have the perfect drawback. I feel that including the full set of ten is essential to my cube, so I will be adding five slots to my land section.

Clifftop Retreat Hinterland Harbor

Isolated Chapel Sulfur Falls

Woodland Cemetery

Forbidden Orchard » Moorland Haunt

The Orchard has its uses, but in general I’ve found people not playing it due to the drawback. Moorland Haunt is a super solid card that fits into multiple archetypes.

Petrified Field » Kessig Wolf Run

Petrified Field has gone down in importance in my list over the last couple of updates. I don’t have a strong land destruction theme and thus getting lands that provide color fixing are much more important. This has been wheeling everytime we see it. Kessig Wolf Run gives red/green some finishing power, something it has really been needing. In the late game it turns every drop into a game ending threat.

Multi-color

Absorb » Geist of Saint Traft

Absorb doesn’t get played. Geist of Saint Traft will get played and is a great aggressive threat.

Rakdos Guildmage » Olivia Voldaren

The Guildmage is solid, but requires a harsh cost to take advantage of his abilities. While turning a dead card into a removal spell or a burn spell isn’t a bad deal, [card]Olivia Voldaren[card] is a much more solid card. You can kill opposing creatures while growing her, and you can simply steal the ones that are too big to burn out. No contest in my mind as to which gets the slot.

White

Orim's Chant » Mikaeus, the Lunarch

Outside of getting the nut combo of Orim’s Chant and Isochron Scepter, Orim’s Chant can slow your opponent down a bit, but on average isn’t going to impact the game as much as Mikaeus, the Lunarch will. Mikaeus turns your army of guys into a force to be reckoned with.

Sunblast Angel » Geist-Honored Monk

A slightly different bent on Cloudgoat Ranger, Geist-Honored Monk can gum up the ground while giving you an air force. It definitely feels good to land a Sunblast Angel and blow out your aggressive opponent’s entire board, but in general it takes a lot of effort to knock out more than one creature without taking a big beating. Time to free up the slot for a more aggressive creature.

Cataclysm » Mentor of the Meek

I’ve seen Cataclysm dropping off lists lately, and I agree with this trend. Balance effects need to be built around to really provide a good advantage. I’m pulling it in favor of Mentor of the Meek, which will provide aggressive decks a way to generate some card advantage.

Pulse of the Fields » Fiend Hunter

I’ve almost removed Pulse of the Fields several times now, and Innistrad is full of good white three drops, like Fiend Hunter. I was a big fan of Faceless Butcher, and Fiend Hunter has proven to be a nice piece of removal that can actually block decently, somthing that Faceless Butcher had a hard time doing as well.

Miraculous Recovery » Midnight Haunting

Miraculous Recovery‘s best asset is that it’s an instant. It sits high on the mana curve, and when you cast it you hope you are returning a creature with a greater converted mana cost. Midnight Haunting feels like it will be used in similar situations as Recovery, but it doesn’t require a creature in your yard.

Blue

Palinchron » Mindshrieker

This is a straight change up in favor of small, aggressive creatures. Palinchron is fun to cast, but doesn’t provide as much advantage as say, Consecrated Sphinx. I like Mindshrieker, as it can fuel your own graveyard shenanigans or help mill your opponent out while smacking them in the face. Seems good to me.

Tinker » Snapcaster Mage

I’m slaying my sacred cow, Tinker, this time around. I love Tinker something fierce, but I’ve been removing some of the bigger targets lately. It’s time to take it out, and what better to put in its place than Snapcaster Mage. I really love this card, and I’ve found myself playing it a lot in standard decks. I can’t wait to pick this up in a cube draft.

Inkwell Leviathan » Delver of Secrets

This is collateral damage from the Tinker change. The Leviathan is a really solid finisher. However, Delver of Secrets has been taking standard and legacy by storm, and even recently invaded vintage. You’ll usually find him accompanied in decks by his best buddy, Snapcaster Mage.

Black

Liliana Vess » Liliana of the Veil

I think this is a straight upgrade. I’ve tried Liliana Vess so many times, and I just don’t think it’s strong enough for the cube at its cost. Liliana of the Veil comes down early and protects herself. All important attributes of the most powerful planeswalkers.

Nezumi Shortfang » Bloodgift Demon

I’m not a big fan of Nezumi Shortfang, and I’m not sad to see it go. Bloodgift Demon is a pretty big threat and can give you card advantage at a cost, or can help ping your opponent for those last points of damage.

Silent Specter » Bloodline Keeper

I’m mainly trying to improve on the mana efficiency here. a 3/3 for 2bb vs a 4/4 for 4bb seems like a good upgrade. The Keeper will provides incremental advantage that improves the longer it is out. The Specter can really be devastating, but to really suprise your opponent, you end up 5bb. It’s devastating when it hits, but I think the Keeper will prove more consistent than the Specter.

Kokusho, the Evening Star » Sheoldred, Whispering One

Kokusho is a classic, but I’ve been trying to find a place to fit Sheoldred, Whispering One, and I’m trying to shake up some of the slots that have been static for a long time.

Fledgling Djinn » Diregraf Ghoul

The Djinn was decent, but didn’t play as well as I was hoping. Time to give Diregraf Ghoul a chance to shine.

Gatekeeper of Malakir » Slaughter Pact

The Gatekeeper is solid, but its color restriction is pretty heavy. Slaughter Pact is solid removal and should be a change for the better.

Red

Wildfire » Devil's Play

I’m pretty sure that Devil’s Play will prove useful more often than Wildfire has in decks drafted from my list. Devil’s Play having flashback gives it use in the early and mid game, with the potential to finish the game if it goes deep.

Rorix Bladewing » Instigator Gang

Rorix is another old favorite of mine that has been in my cube since I started it. I’m testing the DFCs out this time around, and Instigator Gang certainly has potential to end games quickly. We’ll see how it plays out in actual games.

Blistering Firecat » Kruin Outlaw

I’ve tended to have poor luck trying to run the Blistering Firecat in my decks. I’m hoping that Kruin Outlaw will be solid on average, as it’s upside is pretty sweet.

Magus of the Moon » Stromkirk Noble

Pushing the aggressive low end of red’s curve needs to include Stromkirk Noble. He gets by a lot of the humans that are running around these days, which can increase the length of his relevancy in a game.

Blood Knight » Reckless Waif

Reckless Waif is a nice one drop that can catch really put your opponent on the back foot if they don’t have an early game. I’ve run Blood Knight for a while now, but I’m ready to cycle him out. He doesn’t get played enough in my list, likely due to his color intensive cost.

Word of Seizing » Brimstone Volley

I haven’t had many people actually cast Word of Seizing. It’s been useful a few times, but it generally gets valued under aggressive creatures and consistent burn, so I’m giving the slot to Brimstone Volley. This slot will likely change, but Volley has great use in the early game and can finish things off nicely in the late game.

Green

Genesis » Garruk Relentless

Genesis has been in my cube since I started the list. I’ve found it to be a reliable card, but it’s been feeling almost too slow in my current list. Garruk Relentless brings a lot to the table; namely, tokens, removal, tutoring, and overrun. I’ve been trying to build it into all my green standard decks lately due to how much I like playing it.

Wild Dogs » Mayor of Avabruck

Wild Dogs is a classic, and it’s been in and out of my list a few times. I think that the Mayor is a solid, aggressive card for green. Before transforming it is a solid two drop, but after transforming it can really become overwhelming fast. If your opponent stumbles in curving out, this becomes something they have to deal with immediately.

Rampaging Baloths » Primeval Titan

With the advent of Kessig Wolf Run and the enemy colored dual lands, I’m bringing Primeval Titan back. The Baloths have been on my short list to cut for a while. The few times I’ve played it hasn’t left a good impression. With my cube list trending downward in manacost and upward in aggression, it comes down a little late and requires you to start flooding to really utilize it properly. It coincidentally plays great with Primeval Titan, but with them both having high casting costs you are likely already ahead if you can get them into play and rolling together.

Honorable mentions include Daybreak Ranger, and Caravan Vigil. Daybreak Ranger, Brian Kibler’s sleeper pick for Innistrad, has some great potential. Being able to pick off aggressive fliers early on is a great boon for green decks, whether or not they can ever take advantage of the transformed Nightfall Predator. This card is essentially in my “on deck” binder. I am fairly certain I will give this one a shot at some point. Caravan Vigil is one of my favorite green commons in Innistrad. If I could ever get around to putting together the common cube I’ve been planning on building, I’d likely include this card.

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

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