How has Condemn been for you? It's on the chopping block for me, and I'm trying to figure out if it's better than some other 96th card options.
It's the best at what it does. As far as control only removal goes, this card costs only 1, is instant, can hit any creature (that's attacking, but has no limitations like color, CMC etc) and "exiles" (no death trigger, hoses reanimation). If you think control doesn't need the help, it's cuttable, but the card fills the niche well.
Good update. I have some quibbles, but mainly, I just wouldn't cut Edric. I think he's clearly the #2 Simic card. He turns all your creatures into Ophidians. It's a really strong ability.
I believe you can have environments where he is #2, but it isn't naturally so. In this cube, with no green aggro or blue tempo, Simic decks are either ramp or combo decks that cheats super fatties. In both cases, Edric is really not what you want to be doing. It is in the wrong color pair.
After what was IMO an initial letdown for this block last set, we get a mighty set. This is a pretty big update, and remarkably a lot of the changes aren't just sifting in 23rd playables! This set, like the previous, didn't bring too much to guilds that needs them (Izzet, Simic and Gruul) but provides redundancy that is much needed in a 720 cards cube in several areas.
-Hidden Dragonslayer, +Tithe Taker
Dragonslayer was an inefficient benchwarmer. Tithe taker is probably just a different benchwarmer, but it gets a chance to prove itself. Taker is an anti-control card in two fronts. First, it taxes their counterspells. Second, it will leave a body behind after a mass removal. It also has positive/cute interactions with skullclamp, against edict effects etc. The downside is that the 2/1 body is very anemic and the taxing is meaningless against most of the metagame. Even worse, I don’t think white weenie decks struggle against permission to begin with.
-Thalia's Lancers, +Baneslayer Angel
Lancers are just too expensive. Finding Legendary targets is the easy part; making lancers worth a slot in the deck is not. 5 is too much mana for a tutor, and as a general value card it is low tempo. BSA is the same bomb it has always been. A great card against aggression, and a bad card against control as it fails the Vindicate test. As a five drop it is more playable and more potent, especially as red based aggro is getting better.
-Glorious Anthem, +Windbrisk Heights
Anthem is a bit win more. It requires board presence to do anything, and requires a lot of bodies. That limits its homes to just aggro and tokens. In aggro you have limited real estate for cards that are not threats nor answers, meaning Anthem has to compete with equipment and vehicles. That leaves the card to token decks, but even there it is weak and hard to splash. Heights is a different token payoff card. If you can trigger it, you are getting a “free” card. It is not really free, because the land comes into play tapped and activating it costs mana. Assuming you will take the most expensive card you see with hideout on the average case, and considering that aggro and token decks don’t have high curves, you break even on mana. As such it’s not really a tempo gain, but it is still free card advantage.
So how likely is triggering hideout? Heights has been tested before. It was cut more for lack of interest and maindeck play than lack of performance. Now token support is in an all-time high. Najeela, Legion Warboss, Leonin Warleader, Tezzeret, Artifice Master, Dovin (spoiler alert) and History of Benalia were all added last year. What makes me very confident about the card is how easy it is to flip Legion's Landing. Legion's Landing comes with its own token, and has a much higher floor than Heights though. Lands that enter the battlefield tapped are bad for aggro, so this change is far from a lock.
-Stalking Leonin, +Gideon of the Trials
Reswitch at the white 3 drop control support slot. No one attacks into Leonin unless it’s a bunch of tokens. Leonin demands an answer. Problem is, it is very easy to kill, especially with burn. Now if they don’t have an answer in hand you gained tempo, but that didn’t happen often as it is the kind of creature you want to play as soon as possible against aggression and it usually ate the first burn spell in the game. Because Leonin is so unreliable, it just delays the problem and doesn’t solve it. Your opponent will continue to amass an army and kill you once they draw burn. They have enough burn/other removals that this should happen in a timely fashion, and you still need a mass removal. Leonin itself doesn’t survive the mass removal though. I have yet to see Leonin attack, the 3/3 body is a minor part about the card as you don't play it to attack with.
Gideon has a stricter cost, but it a better tool for the job. It works better with mass removals, prevents damage from Purphoros and Sulfuric Vortex and even has uses outside of control. It is still unsplashable and relatively easy to kill, but an improvement nonetheless.
-Thirst for Knowledge, +Sphinx of Foresight
One card quality effect for another. Thirst has been in the cube since day one, but has fallen sharply in power. It is expensive and very rarely generates card advantage. Not only are some decks just too light on artifacts, others care about their artifacts too much to discard them. Thirst has been surpassed in all of its roles – we have better discard outlets in blue and better instant speed draw spells, multiple cards in both categories. Cheaper card selection spells, such as the freshman Portent, are seeing more play as well.
Sphinx is very reminiscent of Curator of Mysteries. I thought Curator would be cycled 90% of the time, but it’s pretty close to 50% in practice. A 4/4 flier turns out to be a handy thing to have as a blocker, as planeswalker pressure, or just as a way to speed up the clock when you need to close the game. Foresight has a better effect on the body, I don’t think Curator’s scry ever triggered. However, SoF does not have cycling and without cycling Curator would be unplayable. Fortunately, the free scry 3 from the opening hand is a very strong effect. It will make most hands with it keepable. It is best in combo-like decks such as Show and Tell and Tinker, but very good everywhere. It digs as deep as Preordain or Ponder, and you get to keep the flier in your hand (you can almost guarantee casting the sphinx if it is in your opening hand – self synergy!). Sphinx will be in your opening hand 17% of the time without mulligans, so it remains to be seen how well in will perform in reality.
-Exclusion Mage, +Sage's Row Savant
Blue needs cheap blockers to survive aggression. Omenspeaker is a very successful card here. Omeanspeaker and Savant are both cards where you do not care too much about the body if it dies in a trade, and they are not a disaster to draw late either. If the deck you are up against isn’t aggro, you still got a cheap, playable card that will bail you out of mana floods and mana screws. Omenspeaker is better, as it is a better blocker that doesn’t die to tokens or 1 damage from splittable burn.
Exclusion Mage fills the same role, but it is a more expensive card in a more competitive slot among all colors in the cube.
-Tormented Hero, +Gutterbones
Both warriors, both one drops, one is basically strictly better than the other. Tormented Hero is the worse black one drop due to having 1 toughness. Gutterbones returns to your hand, which can be useful if you have discard outlets.
-Isareth the Awakener, +Spawn of Mayhem
Isareth is too conditional. It costs double black, it wants you to have dead creatures, and they need to be cheap. She has a ceiling that is very hard to achieve and all told while it is value it is still slow and expensive. Spawn should cost 1BB most of the time. It attacks for 5 damage a turn, has evasion and is hard to kill. This is a serious upgrade for black aggro decks.
-Liliana, Heretical Healer, +Midnight Reaper
Liliana had the same problems as Isareth – black intensive, conditional, low impact when played. Black is a hard to color to splash, which limits its usage and performance. Out of 17 cards that cost 3 in black (creatures and noncreatures), 9 cost double black. This has to change. Reaper, besides being splashable, has a high chance of replacing itself. He acts as mass removal protection, discourages trading and has some synergies with cards like Skullclamp, Braids and the self-recurring creatures. He is even a zombie for minor synergies such as Gravecrawler.
-Wanted Scoundrels, +Bearer of Silence
I haven’t seen Scoundrels being played. I saw it maindecked a little bit, but that also didn’t happen much. A risky card that is not very appealing. With three new spectacle cards, and especially with Spawn of Mayhem, evasive two drops raise in value so Bearer makes a comeback.
-Earthquake, +Light up the Stage
There are a lot more red sweepers than demand for them, especially with two that are nearly strictly better. Light up the Stage is an effect we have never seen before. As most red decks are aggressive, it should cost 1 the majority of time. Note that you can play lands with it, and you can also play cards next turn, so in a low curve deck it should be easy to gain card advantage. Does red want this effect?
-Char, +Skewer the Critics
Two three mana, aggro only burn spells. Burn that costs three mana just isn’t that strong. Char is low on damage to mana efficiency, and on the damage per card axis cards like Risk Factor beat it not to mention creature three drops. Skewer evades this issue by costing a single mana a significant part of the time. Skewer is probably worse than Volcanic Hammer for general use, as it cannot remove blockers cheaply, or consistently kill anything on the second turn. That said, some aggro and burn decks will prefer it over hammer, and the more cards like Light up the Stage/Experimental Frenzy/Risk Factor are added to red, the more important the cheap mana cost will become.
-Deathgorge Scavenger, +End-Raze Forerunners
Scavenger is just a particularly bad card. It requires cards in the graveyard to do anything, and the net result is unimpressive. Green has three drops for days and they are all a level above this dino. Never better than a 23rd playable.
Forerunners are redundancy to Craterhoof Behemoth. The pump is weaker, so they win the game less often on the spot. However, the have a respectable standalone body, that plays both offense and defense, so they are an acceptable reanimation/cheat target. The boars are also better after a mass removal, or in general in any situation where Craterhoof does not win the game immediately.
-Garruk, Primal Hunter, +Vivien Reid
For a long time we pondered which of the two weaker green planeswalkers to cut for Vivien. Now we found a solution – we are cutting both. Garruk is showing his age. A 3/3 per turn is not as impressive as before. When the card came out, it wasn’t too long after Call of the Herd was playable. A stream of 3/3s was very hard to contain for control decks and very hard to surpass for aggro decks. Today a 3/3 is worth roughly around a body of a two drop. Garruk needs to create 3 tokens to be worth the card and mana. Of course Garruk can also draw cards, but that was rather rare and more of a luxury from what I’ve seen. In ramp decks there often isn’t a large creature on board the turn you play Garruk. The triple green cost seals it.
Vivien is a more boring planeswalker- she fits in the template of Ob Nixilis (and many others): first ability is card advantage, second is removal and third is an ultimate. What makes her good though is that she covers an inherent weakness in her color. Green has almost no spot removals, and while it has fat bodies on the ground, it is weak to fliers. Usually such an effect would be too narrow to see play. That is the first fliers-only removal in the cube, ever. Also, maindeckable Naturalize effects are always sought after from a cube designer’s perspective.
She is the first green control planeswalker, perhaps she can be labeled the first green control card. Green is terrible in the attrition long game, as it has no answers and in a long enough game you are bound to face something that will overcome you. Vivien is the best tool green has to tackle that problem, by providing repeatable removal options for a large portion of problematic permanents.
-Nissa, Vital Force, +Biogenic Ooze
An anemic planeswalker is how I’d describe Vital Force. She has a good powerlevel, but she is also never the suitable tool for the job. 5/5 haste is good, and rare in green, but without evasion not a win condition. Her ultimate is a way to gain card advantage, but late and very slowly. No strategy ever really wanted her, or needed her, nor did any opponent particularly fear her.
Ooze is overhyped IMO, but still a solid card that will likely see play for at least a few years. It passes the removal test and generates two immediate blockers. It is a great mana sink, something green ramp decks like. You often have excess mana with Gaea's Cradle and Rofellos. Ooze converts mana to a win. It also has the random synergy with the other loose ooze (pun intended) you may play. My reservation is not about powerlevel but playability – I think Ooze is underwhelming unless you plan on activating his ability, probably multiple times. With it being expensive and costing triple green, I think it is not a good midrange card. It will be good in ramp and super ramp decks (those that aim to casts eldrazis), so the card has its place, it’s just for a niche market and not mass appeal.
-Territorial Alosaurus, +Wickerbough Elder
Alosaurus is a failed experiment. Card is very underwhelming in both modes and not worth a cube slot.
Elder is another maindeckable Disenchant, an instant speed one no less. Another placeholder four drop, but one that is more splashable, more playable and more powerful. It is hard for your opponent to play artifacts and enchantments while it is in play, similar to how Glen Elendra Archmage plays.
-Geist of Saint Traft, +Dovin, Grand Arbiter
Geist is good but slots only in one deck that is very niche – U/W tempo. Dovin is a better tempo card and we do not have space for two cards to serve that niche.
Dovin is a bit underrated so an explanation is due why I think he is so powerful. He is like a Bitterblossom. Costs one more, and an extra color, but creates a token right away and gains life instead of losing it. We all know how strong flying tokens are, and he creates them repeatedly, for free and early. Quoting wtwlf: “Dovin is to token generation effects what Jace Beleren is to draw effects.” The loyalty gaining ability is very good in decks that go wide. With three attackers, it bumps him straight to ultimate. The ultimate is great Wrath insurance and a boon in slow games. It is better than Dig through Time. It is also hard to keep Dovin from ultimating by attacking, as attacking will leave you exposed to attacks next turn, which will increase Dovin’s loyalty back up. We also cannot avoid the cliché: three mana planeswalkers are often good cards.
Dovin is not a control card, but does have a few more homes than Geist. Dovin is good in token decks, with anthems and Opposition. It is good in Moat decks. It also has artifact synergies with the thopters (Academy, Retrofitter Foundry, Tinker to name a few). Overall I have high expectations of the card.
-Huntmaster of the Fells, +Ravager Wurm
Huntmaster is basically a low value card. He is best as an anti aggro card for ramp decks. It creates two blockers and gains two life, and that is solid value in that matchup. Against control, it is two bodies, one of them somewhat threatening and demands an answer eventually or a severe change of play patterns. Flipping is very rare, and becomes harder with time as the cube’s curve gets lower and cars get more efficient. It is not a threat – it is a speedbump or removal bait. Not really a bad card, but nothing special either.
The best card in Gruul is Atarka, and Wurm plays in the same space – it is a fattie for ramp decks, cheatable with Natural Order, searchable with GSZ and can be Sneak Attacked into play for value. There is definitely space for more cards that like that. It is 4 cards in one, and each mode will shine at some situations.
There are multiple catches though. A 4/5 or 5/6 body is not good at finishing games without trample or evasion. Electing fight + haste can be impractical against many board states, as the damage of the fight stays on the wurm, making blockers lethal. It does not destroy some of the powerful lands such as Gaea's Cradle.
-Azra Oddsmaker, +Judith, the Scourge Diva
Oddsmaker was only ever played as a discard outlet. It’s a good discard outlet, but that's too narrow for a gold card. As an offensive three drop, red three drops beat it very hard nowadays. It is hard to catch up on how strong red three drops have become in such a short time. In general though, eating a removal in response to the ability (or before the creature connects) really hurts and is a risky move as they can often see it coming.
Judith works well with the token theme in red and aggressive decks in general. Each creature can trade up with a blocker up to two more toughness than its power. A Courser of Kruphix now trades with a one drop. She pings elves with her trigger and provides value when facing a mass removal. The downside however is very real: she is only a 2/2 herself.
14 cards is a low amount in a 720 cards cube. In return it is fetchable by both Tinker and Natural Order. I am skeptical is will be used in such manner though as the threat is so low powered.
-Lavaclaw Reaches, +Graven Cairns
With Canyon Slough, Rakdos had too many lands that enter the battlefield tapped for a guild that is over 50% aggro. Reaches is far from a stellar land though – it will die to any creature in combat, including one drops. Nowadays every deck has utility bodies around due to creature power creep and the land’s value diminished. On the other hand, black and red have a lot of color intensive cards, more so on the black side. That is less important than just being a dual land that comes into untapped in those colors though.
Any particular reason why you chose to go with Midnight Reaper over Grim Haruspex? Is triggering on its own death worth the potential extra life loss you get with Reaper over Haruspex?
I play the card not as a build around, but as a flexible card serving multiple roles, and expect it to see play mostly in aggro. I'm enjoying the direction black aggro takes with cheap creatures that replace themselves.
If your opponent has several spot removals or a spot removal and a mass removal, Haruspex will be the first target so having a card insurance is often relevant. It's also an extra card against a mass removal. As a 3/2 Haruspex often couldn't attack or block profitably, with Reaper you are more lax and the body is a lot more useful in practice.
In aggro decks, the life loss should be minor. It's probably a bigger deal if Haruspex is played in aristocrats and stax decks. Then again, he is a fine fodder in his own right in said decks so I still think it is the better card. How many cards did you usually draw with Haruspex?
Also its a zombie
Well, to be completely honest, I don't remember Haruspex being all that great during it's short time in my 550 list. Mostly, I was just curious as to how important you thought the ability to draw a card off its own death was. Seems like that really does make a big difference.
This update is inspired by Serra, one of the most exciting cards in recent times. The rest are mostly cards from Ravnica Allegiance. I realized this update is a cycle afterward, but let's pretend it was intentional
-Gisela, the Broken Blade, +Serra the Benevolent
Massive upgrade. Gisela is a fine beater, but not a particularly strong one. Her obvious downside is dying to everything, including most burn, without leaving anything any value when answered. Lifelink makes her good against aggro, but then again red answers her easily. With two Baneslayers out she is less necessary.
Serra is the best card we have seen in a long time. She’s broadly powerful but also supports specific archetypes. Serra is an easy card to like at first sight, yet staring some more gets you deeper into love territory. She appears at first sight to just be a 2WW Serra Angel leaving a planeswalker behind. After two more turns she churns another angel. This is probably going to be her most common play pattern. The angel protects Serra very well, especially considering that it will attack for 5 damage next turn without exposing you to counterattacks. The evasive tokens are also great at killing opposing planeswalkers.
Using the second ability leaves Serra vulnerable. Even if she dies, a Serra Angel for 2WW is worth a card and reasonable tempo. Serra dying usually requires a burn spell, or an attack that cost the opponent a creature given Serra Angel is a big blocker in the air. Both are great outcomes for the price you pay. Serra might be the only planeswalker that is good tempo and value after just a single activation.
Her ultimate is achievable the turn after you play her. There are very few ways to win through it, barring answering every single creature your opponent has. That is a very tall task for decks without mass removals, and gets harder once manlands are involved. You may think that it is not that common to have enough defense to just deploy a planeswalker turn 4 and expect it to get no damage and you are correct. The flipside though is that you can expect your opponent to try very hard to prevent that ultimate, which means attacking Serra, even if it causes unprofitable attacks. With her having 6 loyalty she will likely survive as well, and with her +2 loyalty uptake she continues to be a threat. That is a big gain in life and tempo.
Her second ability is not useless, white has a few cards that make a large army of fliers such as Spectral Procession, Lingering Souls and Hallowed Spiritkeeper. This will also leave her with formidable 6 loyalty at turn 4. Serra is also a great win condition for Moat decks. Overall I expect Serra to be a top level planeswalker.
As a thought exercise I’ve made a list of ways to win through Serra’s emblem that don’t involve a mass removal or having more spot removals than they have creatures. Feel free to try and see if you can think of them all or find new ones.
-The Antiquities War, +Mesmerizing Benthid
TAW has no immediate board impact. That, combined with telegraphing the win condition made it to weak. Artifact decks do have problems sometimes with win conditions and finishing games, a problem somewhat shared with all blue decks and not solved by Benthid. But TAW is just not a reliable win condition at all. 4 artifacts threaten lethal, but they are so easy to block, and easy to prepare a defense for. It is a value card in practice, but one that is expensive and slow. Also, it is very narrow. There are cards in the cube that only go in the artifacts archetype, but most of them are all at least somewhat playable in a deck without 8+ artifacts. A low powerlevel is less tolerable on a very narrow build around card.
Benthid fills a gap blue decks have – board control. It is one of the better cards at keeping you alive against aggro and midrange. It creates three blockers so fares well against tokens and decks that go wide. Killing Benthid with burn or spot removals is also pretty impossible, having to kill two other creatures and plow through 9 total toughness. There are a few other illusions in blue that would further complicate answering Benthid. Brute force attacking into Benthid will cost a lot of time and mana. Against a singular threat Benthid blocks three times, and wastes their resources for two turns. The weakness of Benthid is to fliers.
Finishing games in blue is a real issue. Cards like Will Kenrith and Benthid are great at keeping you alive, but not at ending the game. I think Benthid is not as egregious as it is a relevant threat, mostly in the control mirror. A 4/5 hexproof is big enough to matter and he is hard to answer.
Benthid is a rare token maker in blue. The squid is good with Opposition, Recurring Nightmare and more.
-Graveyard Marshal, +Vampire Hexmage
A 3/2 body is not as impressive as it was. With more tokens and utility creatures lying around, it is pretty hard to attack profitably with those stats. Marshal also creates tokens, but only conditionally, expensively and slowly. The tokens even come into play tapped. Spending three mana on that is worse than any other card you have, and activating it twice a turn is hard in the aggressive decks that play it. The five mana 2BBB for a 3/2 + a tapped 2/2 is also subpar, not to mention black heavy. It is all free value on a 3/2 for BB, but I’d not play a 3/2 for 1B. Marhsal failed to impress.
Hexmage is primarily tool against planeswalkers. Not a glaring hole in black or anything, but planeswalkers are increasing slowly in numbers and WAR is about to include 36 of them. A good answer to Hangarback Walker.
-Harsh Mentor, +Rix Maadi Reveler
More for Mentor disappointing than Reveler being exciting. Mentor is highly dependent on your opponent’s board state. A 2/2 for 1R is unplayable. Reveler at its base is a 2/2 that improves your card quality a bit. If you have an empty hand it even draws a card. That is the base mode, and the card’s performance will be dictated by how that base performance is. It also has the spectacle mode. It’s in another color, expensive and conditional on several fronts but when it’s good it’s great. The final use is as a discard outlet. Much less relevant in red than black, but it’s rare to cut a discard outlet when you need one.
-Kessig Prowler, +Incubation Druid
Prowler doesn’t fit green. It would see immediate play in red, black or white but green has no aggro and no use of a 2/1 for G. It made few maindecks without Secrets of Paradise. Incubation is not a powerful card, but a very good fit for this cube. I expect decks that play him mostly for the 2 mana mode to value him low but super ramp decks to love him.
It costs 2 and ramps for 1, doesn’t bail you out of color screw and has a weak body which is overall nothing to be excited about. Adapting is also not efficient and removal prone. That said, it is a better than most ramp two drops when drawn late. A 3/5 body is relevant, both for defense and offense. For completeness’ sake, I should mention there are a few ways to give him counters cheaply, like Verdurous Gearhulk, Nissa, Voice of Zendikar and Rishkar, Peema Renegade. These are powerful synergies but rare and I believe risky enough as not to be worth building around.
This floor is good, but doesn’t stand out compared to other options in green. Land based ramp fixes mana and doesn’t die to removals, Sylvan Caryatid is safer and fixes, Devoted Druid and Lotus Cobra ramp for 2 mana earlier, Explore always draws a card and Wall of Roots is a better blocker. You trade early game consistency for some late game power which is overall not necessarily good enough to make the cut in cube.
However, he does provide three mana in one card and bridges the gap from 5 to 8 mana, a relevant trait for casting those 8 drops or eldrazis. One of the few playable cards that do that, along with Gilded Lotus or Nissa, Worldwaker. Druid is again more vulnerable, and is also slower, but it has a playable two mana mode which is a major advantage.
War of the Spark Update
It’s no secret WAR was a great set for cube. Even skeptics like me have at least several cards they like. I didn’t think wizards could pull the planeswalker theme off. Wizards introduced new innovations like hybrid mana planeswalkers and planeswalkers with static abilities. They even a few flavor home runs, and the set does feel like an Avengers: Endgame (go watch the movie!). A testament to how interesting and exciting this set it was the amount people discussed about it, and of course the length of this review (be warned!).
Overall the power level of the new planeswalkers is not high. Not a single card in this set is as strong as Serra the Benevolent. For that we will need to wait for Modern Horizons a month and a bit. What it lacks in top tier power level it makes up for in two categories of cards: needed effects and build arounds.
In the needed effects we can count a few iterations of edict effects. Edicts in cube are a necessary evil – against most decks they are pretty useless from very early on, as there are so many creatures with ETB effects and tokens lying around. In fact, edicts are decreasing in potency as the number of tokens grows. That said, the cube has some very tough creatures to remove without edicts, and strategies that can put them into play early. The Eldrazis, Inkwell Leviathans and True-Name Nemeses (yes, that’s the plural form) of the world need ways to answer them cheaply. While no single set can solve the problem, WAR does offer three different options of that effect in a pretty playable package.
In needed effects we can count another rarity – a maindeckable graveyard removal spell with Return to Nature. Another colorless six drop was printed, a land that can remove any permanent type and a cheap blue finisher that is tough to kill. We also got another Through the Breach effect, which is also a build-around.
In the build around department we have another Young Pyromancer, another green super ramp enabler and yet another red three drop token maker. Really hard not to get something for the deck you like from this set.
Is this the point where the proliferation of planeswalkers (pun intended) finally takes over the cube? I think not. Overall after this update there are 6 more planeswalkers than before, a drop in a sea of 720 cards. What does change more drastically however, is the powerlevel of the planeswalkers as there are 8 new planeswalker cards. As such there are also a few small touches in this update that are added as a preventative measure to answer heavy planeswalkers boards; if the need arises, more will be added.
Of course, not all new cards will survive. Planeswalkers are a notoriously hard card type to evaluate, with many attributes to consider; even Teferi, Hero of Dominaria was underrated when it came out last year. There is every reason to think planeswalkers with static abilities will be even harder to assess properly. As such, this update is pretty generous with the number of cards being tested. For newcomers – don’t expect changes that big every set! There are also likely some cards not tested here that are good inclusions, which will be added later if discovered.
I am adopting the article format of wtwlf – for every card there will be a quick summary, what I like about it and what I don’t. I was also a bit tempted to write about cards that didn’t make it in, as the set generated a lot of interest. I decided against it, as this write-up is already long and time consuming. I’ll consider it if there demand for specific cards.
-History of Benalia; +Gideon Blackblade Why history
History is slow and white intensive. It reminds me the most of Mardu Strike Leader. Usually one token dies to a random burn or other small removal, the other lives to attack once pumped, then stays at a 2/2 vigilance form. Technically card advantage, but a 2/2 vigilance is worth less than a card. Also, it happens slowly and has little defensive value. As we do not want too many cards costing double white, it makes sense to cut one. What I like about Gideon
It’s an above curve, hard to deal with creature. It aids the rest of your time, and eventually will be a powerful removal. He doesn’t die to sorcery speed creature removals, and creature destroy effect will not kill him even at instant speed. What I dislike about Gideon
It has no way to protect itself. While he’s durable to creature removal, he is very easy to attack to death and still dies to burn. The bonuses he gives cannot target himself and only last during your own turn, so they are only relevant when you have other creatures that are big enough to attack with. Gideon has very little defensive value, and as such combined the double white mana cost is a somewhat narrow card. He is not as good as Brimaz, and less broadly playable than Gideon of the Trials. Prediction
Gideon is a fine card that will be here for the close future. Just don’t try to jam him in decks where he does not belong, like control or superfriends.
-Exalted Angel; +Quarantine Field Why Exalted Angel
It sucks. Very expensive in both casting modes, unnecessary with two BaneslayerAngels around. We want white 6+ drops, but Exalted has a body that is close to a 4 drop and nothing but it to offer. What I like about Quarantine Field
It can answers several planeswalkers at once, which might be a needed effect now. It is also a high impact card in general in midrange mirrors. What I dislike about Quarantine Field
It has a bad base mode – a 2WW Oblivion Ring. Only decks that can reach high mana costs will want it, mostly WG ramp. It is decent at UW control especially with fast mana too, but everywhere else it is a sideboard or desperation card. It is also risky to put so many eggs in one basket – a Disenchant will return all the taken permanents back. QF was tried in the cube before and cut for narrowness. Prediction
I doubt it and Conclave Tribunal will survive. If planeswalkers are not a problem, Quarantine Field will get cut rather soon. In any case Exalted is gone forever.
-Curator of Mysteries; +God-Eternal Kefnet Why curator
Blue doesn’t need three 4 mana 4 power fliers. They are somewhat of a niche effect anyway, as blue midrange is not really a thing. I doubt any deck will ever want two such cards. Sphinx of Foresight is the better card; cycling compares to Foresight’s scry 3. Cycling is more frequent but far less powerful. The ongoing scry when in play is what breaks it in favor of Foresight. Even when left on defense he improves your draws significantly over the course of time and advances you that way. What I like about Kefnet
It is an oversized flier that’s hard to get rid of permanently and generates card advantage. The fifth toughness is a relevant advantage, as many effects kill 4 toughness creature specifically, from Languish to Flametongue Kavu. Blue usually has enough draw and manipulation to be able to redraw a Kefnet that was tucked to the top in less than 4 turns. Kefnet also has a very high ceiling with the copy ability, from double Fact or Fictions to double Plow Unders. It is even an infinite turns combo with Time Walk and a way to put a card from your hand back to the top of your library (Sensei's Divining Top, Scroll Rack, or Jace, the Mind Sculptor).
As a cube designer what I like the most is the inevitability. Blue decks often lack ways to finish the game. A card like Kefnet is pretty hard to answer permanently, so it is a reliable finisher. Games where the blue decks struggle to finish are usually very long and are a problem. This is one tool of solving it. When serving that role, waiting a few turns to redraw Kefnet isn’t a huge deal.
Like the Sphinxes, Kefnet is a finisher for Moat decks. If you have a sacrifice outlet, the blue god will prevent your mill death. What I dislike about Kefnet
In the usual deck, between creatures and planeswalkers, you don’t have that many spells. Half the spells you play in a control deck are useless when copied – counterspells, mass removals and most tutors. Most of the rest are too cheap for the mana reduction to matter, like Ponder or Duress.
As a finisher it is very slow. Kefnet doesn’t pass the Vindicate test – if he is killed before the ability is used you only go one-for-one, but the spells that kill/bounce him are cheaper than he is, so you net a tempo loss. Prediction
Kefent is good mainly for his body. I predict the ability will be used around once per game. The card is good but currently overrated; I might not play him if I have enough finishers.
-Anticipate; +Negate Why Anticipate Impulse is strictly better, and all the one mana cantrips we play are better. Yes, Anticipate is instant speed, but at two mana it competes in deck construction with mana rocks and counterspells. It is also the type of effect that when it doesn’t make the cut in your maindeck, will never be sideboarded in. What I like about Negate
Cheap counters are in high demand. Now when there are more planeswalkers than ever, Negate is better than it has ever been. What I dislike about Negate
It is still a narrow card. It is not fun holding it in hand when your opponent curves creatures. Prediction
Every deck has targets for Negate, but I don’t know if it is good enough for the maindeck. I hope it fares well; counter heavy decks took a big hit in this update from Teferi and Domri and need some help.
-Tamiyo, the Moon Sage; +Crush of Tentacles Why Tamiyo
Tamiyo is a contributor to the problem of blue decks not finishing games. She is technically a win condition if you have burn, but that is not always, not reliable and painfully slow.
Tamiyo is also weak. She used to be great in combination with mass removals. Tamiyo answered their best threat, forced them to overextend and then the mass removal blew them out of the game. Now when the cube is much quicker 5 mana to answer a single threat is unacceptable. What I like about Crush
It answers problematic board states, like multiple planeswalkers and token infested battlefields. It is also a win condition. Other cubes had success with it and we have never tried the card. What I dislike about Crush
Sometimes you will not be able to cast it for surge, and then it just delays the inevitable. An a single token is not a reliable finisher, and while 8 power is a lot, without evasion many decks can hold the ground against him for a long time. It is also annoying with Arcane Savant. Prediction
I expect this card to do well.
-Sage's Row Savant; +Fblthp, the Lost Why Savant
It was always a filler. What I dislike about Fblthp
It is just a 1/1 body, which is not worth much. It is rarely a card you actively want, so ultimately also a filler. Plus, he has negative synergy with crowds. What I like about Fblthp
Don’t be a victim of additive distraction – this is a blue Elvish Visionary. It is a way for blue decks to keep with the tempo of the game early without compromising too much on the late game or main game plan. Dusk Legion Zealot has been great in black, Visionary sees play more often than not in green so it is a good company to be in.
True, green and black decks have more synergies with small bodies. Green can sacrifice them to Natural Order, add mana with Gaea's Cradle, discard to Fauna Shaman or attack for lethal with one of many overrun effects. Black has Recurring Nightmare, Braids, The Abyss and more. Blue has Opposition, but nothing else, so it appears weaker.
I believe this is not the case. Blue is the color with fewest tempo-positive early plays. Blue doesn’t have cheap creatures. You can always play just more mana rocks and card selection, but that is a pretty safe way to die to aggro. Blue wants early blockers, but most contribute nothing to its gameplan. Fblthp does. We even play cards like Omenspeaker, which has a better body but is card disadvantage and therefore a sideboard card is essence. Fblthp is good early and good late. Fblthp becomes even stronger with this update, as it is of the few cheap blue ways to protect planeswalkers for an attack, and it is good against edict effects. Another point of comparison is to Coiling Oracle, which is most of the time exactly Fblthp. Yes, that is his floor, but he has a tougher mana cost and basically every simic deck plays him.
Fblthp can also carry a Jitte, crew Smuggler's Copter and die to Skullclamp just like any other creature, and if your deck has those cards, his value goes up. He has a nice synergy with Karakas.
For completeness’ sake, I will address his fluff text. There are a few ways to fetch Fblthp from the library, most are not worth the effort. His best synergy is with Shardless Agent, which will be rare by nature. Targeting him by your opponent is going to be rare, and will probably only be done when it wins the game or out of absolute necessity. A funny flip for your opponent’s Oath of Druids. You can shuffle your own Fblthp with dividable burn, though you’ll rarely want to do that. If you really want a reshuffle, say you are mana screwed and have a Courser of Kruphix on board, perhaps you must delay decking by a turn. Prediction
Fblthp is better than a few other cheap blue cards, so I expect him to stay for a long time. Sharpen your memes.
-Diabolic Edict; +Liliana's Triumph Why Diabolic Edict
Pure edict effects are sideboard material, see introduction. What I like about Liliana’s Triumph
She is a clean and cheap 2 for 1 when you control a Liliana. After this update there will be 4 Liliana cards in the cube, so the upside is relevant. It is also castable against Shalai, Voice of Plenty and doesn’t hurt you when your turn is taken over by Emrakul, the Promised End. What I dislike about Liliana’s Triumph
You cannot sacrifice your creature to fizzle a Treachery or to get rid of a Dark Confidant that’s about to kill you. Prediction
Targeting yourself with edict was extremely rare in practice, I don’t recall if it happened even once. For all intents and purposes it is an upgrade. It is still a narrow card, but maybe a deck with 2+ Lilianas will maindeck it. It is noteworthy that while edict effects are not always useful, instant speed discard effects are, as they can always be cast at the end of the opponent’s draw step.
-Ob Nixilis Reignited; +Liliana, Dreadhorde General Why Ob
Ob is slow and underpowered. I still like Ob, but it is a filler. There is limited real estate for midrange/control walkers, especially so in a color that wants the top end to be reanimatable targets. What I like about Liliana
She’s a great source of card advantage in grindy games. She is also yet another edict effect. Liliana is among the toughest planeswalkers to kill, as she can start with 7 loyalty and a blocker. She has some build around potential, or more likely just incidental synergy, with sacrifice effects in black, especially Recurring Nightmare. The tokens she creates will draw cards when they die, even if all they do is chump block to protect her you are advancing.
Against boards with few powerful creatures, maybe some that hard to target or kill the usual ways, she is amazing. Even if you kill some of your own creatures, you get to draw cards so the effect is asymmetric. Her ultimate is ridiculous. What I dislike about Liliana
The mana cost is a pain. She is very late to the party for the effect of her abilities. A Barter in Blood is nearly a mass removal turn 4, turn 6 it is very far from it. Decks that go wide are still very much her weakness. A 2/2 zombie token at that stage of the game is a chump blocker. She doesn’t work at all in reanimation decks, unlike competing creature versions. She is also an inefficient, slow win condition. She does nearly nothing offensively. Prediction
In control decks she is a desirable card; she is great against reanimator/cheat decks, and in the mirror. I believe the cube has a slot for a noncreature black control curve topper, but as a card she will always be tempting to cut over a creature that pulls double duty as a reanimation target even if she is at the same powerlevel as they are.
-Ire Shaman; +Ilharg, the Raze-Boar Why Shaman
Shaman got outclassed quickly in all fronts. Red three drops became amazing so the morph option is never what you want to do that turn. Red got better card draw effects in Light up the Stage, Experimental Frenzy and Risk Factor. Shaman didn’t make many main decks lately. What I like about Ilharg
It is an undercosted big evasive threat that is hard to kill. More importantly, it is another Through the Breach effect. Sneak Attack can really use more redundancy. With Ilharg you can abuse ETB effects repeatedly. It is also nice that unlike Through the Breach, it is not a dead card once you have Sneak Attack or Oath of Druids out (and vice versa). What I dislike about Ilharg?
Killing/bouncing Ilharg is still super easy and very painful. It will come back, but it still a one-for-one against you and a large tempo swing. Also, you do not get attack triggers, so eldrazis don’t work nearly as well with him. Karakas owns him hard. Prediction
It will be a lock for cheat decks, I am unsure about generic midrange decks.
-Goblin Heelcutter; +Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin Why Heelcutter?
Heelcutter is still a good card, but red three drops have exploded in power recently. I didn’t want to cut a non-aggro red three drop, although definitely Fire Imp is weaker. Heelcutter shares weaknesses and synergies with Krenko. Both are good with Purphoros, both are good against a single problematic blocker. Ahn-Crop Crasher still stays in the cube as another version of this effect. What I like about Krenko
It solidifies the red token theme, while still being a good aggro card. Like Hanweir Garrison, it attacks as a 2/3, making it more likely for him to survive combat. After an attack or two, he becomes hard to kill by blockers. While the tokens don’t enter the battlefield attacking, it does allow Krenko to play both offense and defense. The tokens are even goblins for some very rare Siege-Gang or Rabblemaster synergies.
Krenko is also abusive with pump effects. There are not too many in cube, especially so in red. Besides equipment, the new Domri, Purphoros pump (double synergy!) you have nothing. In white you have a lot more options, from anthems to Mirror Entity and Elspeth, Knight-Errant. In green you also have a smattering of cards that grant counters like little Nissa, Rishkar and Verdurous Gearhulk.
Krenko is worth the effort of building around, those synergies are beyond the point of ‘nice to have’. Consider a turn three Krenko into turn 4 Elspeth. That is 5 evasive power that leaves behind 5(!) blockers. What I dislike about Krenko
The kingpin is slower than other cards like him, such as Legion Warboss and Goblin Rabblemaster. Prediction
I believe the card is an interesting take on this effect, and between aggro decks, token decks, and decks that have ways to pump him, to see heavy play for a long time.
-Wolfir SIlverheart; +Nissa, Who Shakes the World
It’s the worst green five drop. Green five drops, creatures and non-creatures alike, are amazing. They are over-represented in the cube, both because of their high powerevel, and because green is shallow at the 6 drop section and downright bad at the 4 drop section. Silverheart requires another creature to function, doesn’t have or grant evasion and can blow you out against instant speed removals. What I like about Nissa
At very best case, she’s monocolored Mirari's Wake. Nissa is another card that ramps you from the five mana range to eldrazi tier. The ability to generate some mana the turn you cast her has historically been great on planeswalkers, from Teferi, Hero of Dominaria to Chandra, Torch of Defiance. She protects herself with her lands and she has high starting loyalty.
It is popular to compare her to Nissa, Worldwaker, as the card are very similar. Worldwaker is my favorite green noncreature five drop. NWSTW ramps even harder than her! Worldwaker can only untap forests, so she never fixes mana while NWSTW does. WW is capped at 4 forests, while NWSTW does not. Even if you have 4 or less forests on board, NWSTW ramps you by two extra mana over WW. And she ramps while creating creatures, not one or the other. What I dislike about Nissa
For starters, she requires a heavy green commitment. The lands she animates are very unimpressive at that point of the game, considering Garruk, Primal Hunter didn’t cut it. 3/3 vigilant lands die to every removal in the book, and cost you a land when they die. Worse, you must animate them to gain the extra mana. A mass removal would really hurt you then. Unlike Nissa, Worldwaker, she is a weak win condition by herself. As such she is limited to green-heavy cheat decks/super ramp only. Prediction
She’s really good at her archetype but I am unsure about her performance in general midrange decks.
-Selvala, Heart of the Wilds; +Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner Why Selvala
Green had too many three drops, and too many with a double green mana cost. Selvala is even narrower as she want to have a healthy amount of high power creatures for both her abilities. Even if you build correctly with her, the symmetrical draw will bite you back sometimes. She is not passing the removal test. Finally she is a bad topdeck. What I like about Kiora
She has a lot of loyalty, so it is pretty safe to assume she will survive for a while. If she draws a single card, she is pretty close to an Explore. Untapping permanents has a very high ceiling with cards like Gaea's Cradle, Mana Vault etc. She grants vigilance too to a single creature as kind of a floor. What I dislike about Kiora
Most decks, even in green, don’t have many creatures with 4+ power. I think she will on average draw less than a card per game, considering she is unlikely to draw any if she is drawn late. Most of the untap scenarios are win more in practice. A high loyalty is relevant only if she is a threat and the opponent wants to attack her. Prediction
I believe she will not be good enough. If she does, there is a good chance blue decks will play her heavily and she will move to Simic.
-Den Protector; +Vivien's Arkbow Why Den Protector
The card is slow and suffers from the strong competition at the green three drop slot. Unlike Eternal Witness, you cannot reuse the effect with Restoration Angel or Meren. As a topdeck, it costs 5 mana to regrow the card, probably meaning you can only cast it next turn. The card was an underperformer for a while. What I like about Arkbow
She’s a great mana sink late game, which turns your useless lands and mana elves to real threats. It’s also a good discard outlet, and has artifact synergies. What I dislike about Arkbow
First, it is always card disadvantage. Second, the whiff chance of the Arkbow is too high for low values of X, so it only a late game card. Even for X=5 or more, there is a very real chance to whiff unless the deck is particularly loaded with creatures with medium casting costs (as hitting a mana elf is not too far from a whiff either). In decks that need a discard outlet Arkbow is great, but green already has Fauna Shaman and Survival of the Fittest, and I am unsure if we need another. Prediction
I expect this card-disadvantage, mana-hungry card to underperform
-Nissa's Pilgrimage; +Finale of Devastation Why Nissa’s Pilgrimage
Three mana ramp cards are not too hot to begin with, and this doesn’t fix. It requires a deck with a healthy amount of basic forests. The spell mastery part is both very rare and not powerful. What I like about Finale of Devastation
It’s a Green Sun's Zenith that fetches creatures of every color AND searches the graveyard. Plus, it doubles as a win condition. What I dislike about Finale of Devastation
It is expensive. Green Sun’s Zenith is strong because it is a win condition late, but a fine spell early as well. Fetching a mana elf with FoD is just bad. It might be the case of Mind Twist and Mind Shatter where one is a top level card and the other unplayable. The 12 mana mode is not entirely useless in this cube, as we play some mana doublers, Cradle, Rofellos, Channel and eldrazis. That said, 12 mana is still well out of the average game even in those decks. Prediction
I want the card to perform, but I suspect it will go by the way of the recruiters and be mediocre
-Deglamer; +Return to Nature
A card like this is inherently a sideboard card, as it is dead if there is no artifact or enchantment around. It just got upgraded. The shuffle clause was mostly there for Wurmcoil Engine and Welder/Daretti. Sometimes the shuffle will bite you and would have been better as a destroy effect, although rarely. What I like about Return to Nature
Playable graveyard hate is very rare. There are many situations where it is good, such as against Lingering Souls, Snapcaster Mage and of course reanimator. It is a way to deal with The Scarab God. This makes the card much more maindeckable as it is good against a larger portion of opposing decks. What I dislike about Return to Nature
Even combined, there will be games where all three modes are not worth a card. As such it might still be a sideboard card. In any case it will be a card that wheels a lot. Prediction
Even if it turns out to be a sideboard card, it will be one of the better ones.
-Reflector Mage; +Teferi, Time Raveler Why Reflector Mage?
The weakest Azorius card. Mage is best at tempo decks, which are rare in Azorius. What I like about Teferi?
Teferi hoses permission decks very hard. The bounce guarantees the card is always relevant. Instant speed mass removals, on curve, are strong and now can answer haste creatures. Being able to play Council's Judgment on instant speed plays very well with your own counterspells. What I dislike about Teferi?
Besides permission decks, many decks don’t care too much about playing at sorcery speed. Keeping in mind that by playing U/W there are high chances you are a permission deck yourself, so the chances of facing counterspells from the other side of the table are lower. The number of sorceries played in the average deck is low, so the plus ability is weak. That leaves Teferi to mostly depend on the bounce ability that while being an okay floor, is far from amazing. If the opponent doesn’t care about the instant speed, they can just ignore Teferi from that point in the game. Prediction
Permission decks are the underdog and don’t need require hate cards too much. I believe Teferi is the weakest card in Azorius currently, and as such will be replaced eventually. Azorius is a stacked guild
-Ravager Wurm; +Domri, Anarch of Bolas Why Wurm?
She barely had any time in the cube, but she’s the weakest Gruul card. What I like about Domri
A Gruul card thatdoesn’tcostfourmana! As a three drop green planeswalker, it has a good chance to come online turn 2. It ramps, for both colors, which is a good start. The pump makes your mana elves relevant in combat and works well with the myriad red and green token makers. This will be the first time a fight ability is introduced to the cube, it gives Gruul decks a way to remove large creature. Obviously it also protects Domri. Finally, Domri is a strong punisher of permission decks. What I dislike about Domri
If you are on the back foot, domri is not the best at defending himself, especially if you have no creatures out. He’s not a standalone threat either. Domri is a pure support card. It is also hard to utilize all the different parts of him, as ramp decks will not have many creatures that will enjoy the pump and aggro doesn’t care much about his ramp ability. The pump is good for decks that go wide, but the fight ability is good for decks that go tall. Prediction
I believe this is solidly the third best Gruul card.
-Ral Zarek; +Saheeli, Sublime Artificer Why Ral?
Ral is very underpowered for his mana cost. He would’ve gone a long time ago if Izzet was more of a guild and less of a failure. What I like about Saheeli
A Monastery Mentor that cannot be killed by spot removal. Saheeli has all the synergies, almost literally all of them. She’s good with Opposition and Skullclamp. All red token decks love her. She’s works with, and generates, artifacts hence is attractive for the artifact decks. Of course mentor /Pyromancer /jace /snapcaster decks love her too. Between 5 loyalty and making free creatures, she has a good chance of protecting herself. Oh, and she also has an ability that while situational, can break the game in half. It can do anything from copying and granting pseudo-haste to titans, copying mana artifacts for a quick robot/Upheaval or just preventing your opponent to play planeswalkers or not leaving blockers by threat of activation. What I dislike about Saheeli
Unlike Mentor, she is not a win condition on her own. She has a lot of synergies, but really does rather depend on them. It is worth noting that unlike Mentor and Pyromancer, she can be a good topdeck late, depending on what you can copy. Prediction
With so many homes and a hybrid color, it is hard to see her not seeing action. Be conservative with her minus ability! It is usually better to just keep her with high loyalty to make more tokens. She is not like a normal planeswalker so I expect a lot of players to play her incorrectly initially.
-Simic Sky Swallower; +Hydroid Krasis Why SSS?
The two cards are comparable, and SSS is not very strong. SSS is a card for Natural Order and reanimator. SSS offers inevitability, so is good against control decks. It is not quick though and has low defensive value. It also offers no value if it is somehow answered. It is a serviceable reanimator target, but not something you actively want in that deck. What I like about Krasis?
A fattie that draws cards and gains life, this is a terrific mana sink. The card draw canot be countered, and your opponent will get nothing if they target him with Fractured Identity. Against aggro the lifegain is great. Krasis is good in multiple points of the curve. It might be exciting enough to make you splash blue in your green deck. What I dislike about Krasis?
It doesn’t work at all with any of the cheat effects. Not with Show and Tell, Natural Order, Oath of Druids and many others. Also works poorly with Shardless Agent. Prediction
This is a great ramp card, but works only with ramp. As there are at least two green ramp decks per draft, and the card appears to be fun, I believe it will see a lot of play and so is pretty secure for an uninspiring guild.
-Dragonlord Silumgar; +Enter the God-Eternals Why Silumgar?
I am quite vocal about my dislike of Silumgar. First, he is highly dependent on what your opponent has on the board. Against aggro, he will grab a target of low value to you, which is probably tapped, if it can block at all or maybe even has a lifeloss drawback. Against control it has few targets as issue number one. More importantly it just dies to removal without providing value. It is really good against midrange. But Dimir already has an incredible matchup against midrange usually. Silumgar is a card that is good in matchups where you are already in a good shape, and bad in your more difficult matchups.
It is not even a card that supports a strategy well. It is a bad reanimation and ramp target, as you do not want to play him turn three for lack of targets.
It is clear I dislike the card. I’ve even cut him from the cube before. But I’ve readded him since and he survived for a long time. Why then? First, he was effective. In the matchups where he was good, he was game-winning. Second, he was never truly bad, the floor of the card is high. Against aggro, he will remove their best attacker then block another, which is decent. It is also exceptionally good against cheat decks. Black and Blue lacked good six drops for a long time, now with cards like Will Kenrith, Noxious Gearhulk and Liliana, Silumgar is no longer the preferred six drop choice. What I like about Enter the God Eternals
A high value mix between Thragtusk and Flametongue Kavu. EtGE covers your greatest weakness as a Dimir control player – aggro. It is one of the best stabilizers, with 4 life, a blocker and killing their best attacker. Being on a spell is also a big deal for blue. This is the thing you want to agend (totally a word) with Double Stroke or name with Arcane Savant. It will be replayed with JVP and Snapcaster. What I dislike about EtGE
It is a sad card against low creature decks. This includes many control mirrors, reanimator/cheat decks and artifact decks. The mana cost is not the most convenient. The milling part is mostly flavor text. Amass is a weak mechanic. The 4/4 you create dies to a bounce spell. Copying and/or replaying EtGE will result in a single 8/8 token and not two 4/4 tokens. Prediction
It solves a real problem the color pair has, so I expect to a maindeck card that gets sideboarded out rather than the other way around. In the land of fair magic, this is a very good card.
-Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas; +Angrath's Rampage Why Tezzeret, AoB?
A supremely narrow card. It costs two colors and requires a heavy artifacts deck to function. In that deck the card is good, but is still not a build around. What I like about Rampage?
It is a playable edict (see intro). It can answer three permanent types for a very cheap price. What I dislike about Rampage?
You cannot choose what gets destroyed, mostly relevant for creatures. Dreadbore seems safer and better on average. Prediction
I am unsure about this card, but he is currently probably the weakest Rakdos card
-Heart of Kiran; +Mobilized District Why Heart of Kiran?
We have a few more planeswalkers this set. This is surely not enough to make this card good. The card suffers several problems. The first is lack of homes. The only deck that really wants him is superfriends, but that is not a frequent deck around here. Planeswalkers are high picks. The second problem is being a bit win more. If your planeswalkers survive, you are in a good shape. What I like about District?
It is the biggest colorless manland we have. Manlands are among the most played cards in the cube. They dodge sorcery speed removals, they passively threaten planeswalkers and they do not cost a precious spell slot during deck construction. What I dislike about District?
The mana cost is high. Mutavault is not a high pick, and District is usually a worse return on the mana. Without the cost reduction, the card is bad, and the cost reduction is unreliable. Prediction
I am unsure the card is needed. It very likely that adding two new colorless lands is too much, and that having three colorless manlands is too many. As such it will need to be better than Mutavault to keep its place. Even if MD doesn’t make the cut, it’s a card to keep an eye on as the number of planeswalkers and legendary creature keeps slowly increasing in number.
-Thought-Knot Seer; +Blast Zone Why TKS?
TKS is inherently narrow for the colorless cost. The only deck that can get that consistently is green, and some mana rock heavy artifact decks. Of those, only green really wants the card. It offers them an answer to instants and sorceries, which green doesn’t usually have. It is also a 4 drop, and green has sucky 4 drops. Every other color has better four drops than big-eye, unfortunately. If more colorless mana cost cards will ever be printed, TKS will be the first of the existing colorless cards that will be tested if the support is adequate. What I like about Blast Zone
A get out of jail card. It’s an answer to every permanent type besides lands, for every color. On a land. Ever wanted to kill that Jitte that wrecks your red aggro deck, that Opposition that locked you out of the game with your black deck, or True-Name Nemesis that kills you in, well, any deck? Now you can. On a land. What I dislike about blast zone
It cannot kill tokens, which is understandable but unfortunate. It is also expensive, and inefficient. As such it will be much better in midrange and control decks than anywhere else. That said, I fully expect some aggro decks to play it too as the rewards are vast and the cost of inclusion is low. Prediction
This has many hallmarks of a staple card
-Sphinx of the Guildpact; +Ugin, the Ineffable Why Sphinx
Sphinx didn’t live long in the cube. The card is very similar to Simic Sky Swallower above, read that paragraph while replace Natural Order with Tinker. What I like about Ugin
The best colorless six drop since Wurmcoil Engine. Ugin is a pile of value, with a colorless answer to most things attached as a floor. Ugin is the sort of card you want to ramp early into, be that with mana elves or Grim Monolith. The tokens are similar to Liliana, Dreadhorde General, except you know in advance which card you will draw. Ugin is pretty good at protecting himself. What I dislike about Ugin
The first ability is additive distraction. It will rarely do anything, as six mana is too late for ramp. That said, it will be relevant in a deck with eldrazis. Using the removal ability leaves Ugin with very low loyalty. Against boards that go wide he is not strong. Lastly, he cannot answer colorless permanents, including most artifacts. Prediction
A card like this will see play. He might be a bit underpowered