Tesseract #6: RNA Cube Changes and Standout Cards
10 February 2019
10 February 2019
Tesseract #6: RNA Cube Changes and Standout Cards
Hello internet, and welcome back to Tesseract, the series that goes hyperdimensional on cube!
Last time, in Episode 5, I went over the large number of changes that were occuring due to Ravnica Allegiance, and then we had a lengthy single card discussion on Lone Rider Flip, a fun card that I feel functions somewhat as a build-around, but also as a generally good card depending on the way the cube is built.
In this episode, I will be discussing the updates to my cube from the past weekend. Normally, this would just be a subsection of a larger article, but the changes are vast enough and worthy of discussion to such a degree that it’s necessary to devote an entire article to it. I will begin by discussing what is leaving my cube and what is coming in, separating things off by color for ease of reading. Afterwards, we will discuss the small number of RNA cards that really went above and beyond their expectations over the weekend.
Typically, I like writing pieces that are more than just a seemingly self serving run down of my cube updates, and I had some other things I felt like discussing, but they were making this article far too long, so I apologize for those of you who might not be interested in my cube at all. Hopefully you will find future articles of more interest. Because the cube changes are a major part of this article, and because I feel it will be a lengthy one at that, I will be skipping the “catch-up” segment this go around. So without further ado, let’s get right into it!
Hero of Iroas - I was pretty excited for this when it got downshifted. I’m still excited for it, but it proved that no one wanted it over this past weekend, and I’m realizing the reason for that is that I’ve removed the incentive in my cube to have a +1 counter theme OR and enchantment theme in white. Whoops. I’ll try this guy again when one or both of those come back.
Mistral Charger - Mistral charger is no golden goose by any means. While a functional card in many decks, I needed to cut down on cards and my group decided this one could go.
Sandsteppe Outcast - This is one of many changes that I might get pushback on. Here’s a hot take: WHITE HAS ENOUGH OF THESE KINDS OF CARDS. Sandsteppe outcast has to go up against Glint-Sleeve Artisan , Attended Knight , Lingering Souls , Midnight Haunting , Ministrant of Obligation and more, and this one felt the least exciting to my group. I could see it come back in if +1 counters came back to white...but maybe even not then...
Cloudshift - Never a crazy card to begin with, cloudshift has lost a lot of favor as I’ve transitioned my Azorius section from blink or skies. Nobody wanted to use this as a combat trick or in response to removal, so it just got sided every time.
Hyena Umbra - I have a lot of love for this card, but I think it needs a reason to be played besides being efficient. While aggro decks are happy to play it, they’d be just as happy playing many other things, and the incentive to play enchantments has gone down some. I’ll bring this back in when enchantments come back into design.
Sunscourge Champion - This card has bounced in and out of my cube for a bit now. I like how it plays differently than most other White 3s. Bonus points for functioning to flip a lone rider!
Swift Justice - Speaking of bonus points for flipping lone rider, this is ALSO a card that can do that and...well, I’ll be honest. This one probably won’t stay in long, but with removing a couple white 1 drop spells I wanted to put another back in. This one is safe.
Overall with white, I tried to remove some of the chaff while also providing reasonable variance between the cards you can draft at all points along the curve. Yes, white is a token color. But it doesn’t need every card to make 1/1 fliers! With the cube being downsized, I knew I could stand to lose some cards whose effects are already elsewhere in the cube.
I also removed some of the vestigial organs of my +1 counter, blink, and enchantment archetypes that I’ve had in white in the past. It seems to happen without fail that some archetype specific cards get left over when I move away from an archetype, so it’s nice to audit myself every so often and really ask why each card is in my cube. You’d be surprised how often you end up saying to yourself “I really don’t know.”
Riddleform - Riddleform has been on the chopping block for a while now with me wanting to cut it and my group convincing me time and again to keep it in just a bit more. Over the weekend I was finally able to convince them that it just doesn’t perform at the speed or power level that other cards play at right now, and that the spells deck really doesn’t need the card.
Eldrazi Skyspawner - This is another one I worry will ruffle some feathers. I had maybe a 10 minute conversation with my playgroup about 3-drop blue creatures, where we discussed everything from Serendib Efreet to Vizier of Tumbling Sands . I couldn’t believe the fact that we ended up suggesting skyspawner was wanted the least of all of the cards mentioned by a majority of the decks that get built in my cube. It mostly came down to the fact that the deck who were happy with skyspawner were much happier with other cards at 3 in blue, while this card is maybe a C+ in most decks. I’ll admit that it still feels wrong to be cutting it, but time will tell if this is correct or not. I could easily see skyspawner coming back in at some point as a generic good card.
Murder of Crows - Murder of crows is a good rate for its mana, but it just wasn’t getting played. Control decks had better win conditions. Fliers decks have better and cheaper cards. Aristocrat decks would rather not be in blue. I’m not too upset cutting this card.
Opt - In a world where you can play most 1 drop cantrip effects and you’re cutting your cube down to a smaller size, opt is one of the weakest. Me and my group agreed that the instant speed on this was rarely relevant and certainly not enough to keep it in.
Essence Capture - Honestly the only reason this card got tested was because of me. I really want +1 counters to work and this seemed like a card that could help get it there. While it never saw any play over the weekend, I can recognize the fact that most decks don’t want such a situationally useful card. Maybe I’ll try it again at some point, but not right now.
Chemister's Insight - One of the overarching feelings that my playgroup and I got over the weekend was that blue needed 1 more card draw spell. I considered Jace's Ingenuity but then I remembered I reluctantly took out insight in the last update. I’m giving it another go and I’m going to see how it plays out.
Tempest Caller - I recognize how powerful an effect this card can be, and I know many cubes play this card for that reason. I felt as though some blue creature based decks could use another finisher or high-impact effect that wasn’t just “bounce your guy again.” This fits perfectly into that slot while also being an interesting blue 4. I feel like this card could secretly be a good simic card, where you can easily fill up the board with beaters and then tap the opponent’s side of the field down to get a surprise victory.
Cyclone Sire - This is yet another safe placeholder card. I wanted something to take the slot of Murder of Crows while being interesting in its own right. Cyclone sire has good stats, synergy with skies decks, synergy with +1 counters decks, has built in “removal protection”, and is a cool card on top of all that. This one might also be a secretly good simic card.
I’m fairly happy with my blue section right now. I’m still getting a feel for what kinds of cards are good in simic, but I also feel like I’m moving in the right direction with that. Giving blue another draw spell was needed so I did that. And overall I’m just trying to balance my number of Man-o'-War type cards. Maybe I don’t play enough right now. The thing I always worry about is a green player casting the same creature over and over while the blue player just out tempos them at every turn with bounce creature after bounce creature. I’m a lover of Unsummon effects, but I also know they can be frustrating to play against. Finding the correct balance for this is my main goal as a cube designer, and I also don’t want every blue creature to do the same thing.
Pharika's Chosen - The cube is getting smaller and more refined, and between this and Typhoid Rats , one had to go. I was surprised my group chose the rat to stay in over the snake. I was the only one in favor of keeping pharika’s chosen in between the two, but alas democracy prevails and I am a fair leader. I will discuss deathtouch creatures in further detail later.
Pale Rider of Trostad - I love this card’s art, and I honestly think that’s part of the reason why it stayed in my cube for as long as it did. I honestly do like the card as well, being an aggressive card in black, as well as a discard outlet. But honestly it’s just a worse Heir of Falkenrath Flip and the skulk is actually flavor text. Black also has PLENTY of 2 drop creatures.
Lotleth Giant - My fiance loves this card and it was a struggle convincing her it needed to go. While I’ve felt for a bit now that it wasn’t quite up to snuff, the truth became obvious when she drafted a GB deck that was attempting to fill the grave, and we as a group decided the deck needed to cut this card. Why? It just costs too much. The GB decks in my cube cannot afford to play both mana elves AND self-mill cards AND good cards on top of that, and if you’re going to play a large creature in GB you can just play Twisted Abomination . Spoilers, though, GB doesn’t need to play large creatures like that in my cube. It’s much more of an attrition based archetype and prevails through efficient small creatures. (this card is nuts in Meren edh though)
Fungal Infection - This is another card that reads so much better than it plays. 1 mana to kill a dork and give fuel for my Blood Artist deck? Sounds great! Unfortunately this card just ended up getting sideboarded most of the time and that sort of line of play never actually happened.
Skeletal Scrying - I’ve never really been a fan of skeletal scrying as I think it asks for just too much from the caster. I added it in originally as a “payoff” for a self mill deck. It was actually just a payoff for sideboards. I even played a Dimir reanimator control deck and even IT didn’t want this card...
Divest - The cube is getting smaller, and we don’t need 14 trillion hand disruption effects. This was agreed to be the worse of the bunch that we played.
Thorn of the Black Rose - I think this one kind of just snuck under the radar for me. It was missed. There, I said it! The card is quite good. Monarch is good. Deathtouch is good. Black 4 drop creatures that aren’t just another Nekrataal are good. This one should have just been inthe cube months ago. I’M SORRY.
Moan of the Unhallowed - MotU is a card I’ve played with for a majority of my time owning this cube. It was criminally underplayed back when it used to be in the cube, but I’m hoping it actually sees play this time. It’s just an incredibly efficient card for the decks that want it, which are the decks that play black and need a 4 drop because somebody else took Ravenous Chupacabra and Falkenrath Noble .
Grave Strength - Another card that I’ve played before. I honestly don’t have a lot of praise to say about this card, but I would love to see it succeed. I just wish it were instant speed, because then it would have a lot more play to it. Either way, I wanted to add in another self mill card that did more than just self mill, since (spoilers) I’m removing Satyr Wayfinder . But more on that later. For now, just understand that card may be coming out in the future, and I just needed a safe pick for a black card that wasn’t just another kill spell on some stats.
Minister of Pain - And at the risk of becoming a broken record, this is yet another card that I’ve played before. Black felt like it needed another decent 3 drop creature, and tokens were starting to feel a bit too good again. This is a nice card for a token deck in some cases, but it’s also very good against those same decks, all while being decent in a GB strategy.
The biggest thing I want to talk about in black is the fact that I’m actually very frustrated with the choices I have for it right now. Since removing aggressive 1 drops from the color (which I still stand by), I’ve found the options of playable cards lacking. Now I know people are going to hear that and think I’m crazy, so let me explain.
Black cards might be some of the absolute most powerful ones in Peasant. We still get access to some of the best single target removal spells in the history of the game. We still get access to some of the best reanimator spells in the game. We still get access to all the the various Nekrataal creatures in the game. And we get access to most of the greatest hand disruption effects in the game as well. So what gives?
The problem is that these cards are TOO good. Green decks just cannot compete because their creatures don’t stand a chance against tiny deathtouch creatures or 7 million Doom Blade effects. Midrange decks don’t want to play with cards like Temur Sabertooth or Imperial Aerosaur because they can just play Ravenous Chupacabra . Hell, why even be midrange? Pick up enough black cards and you can just play control every time!
I’m probably being a bit overdramatic, but my point here is that much like for bounce creatures in blue, I’m trying to find the right balance of removal effects in black so that green creature decks can still function. That isn’t to say that green ramp and midrange decks shouldn’t ever have a hard time against black removal - because they should. But rather that they need to have some play against them. And perhaps the way that can occur is by limiting the number of those kinds of effects in black.
So what’s the problem then? Well...black doesn’t have a lot outside of those kinds of effects, I’m learning. I honestly might try Tenacious Dead . That’s how deep I’ve been going to find cards that aren’t just bad aggro 1 drops or Doom Blade variants. Anyway, as you can probably tell, this dichotomy of Green creature decks vs decks that remove creatures is probably my biggest point of contention in my cube design at the moment. And this desire for more unique or interesting effects is what led me to playing cards like Grave Strength .
Anyway, let’s move onto red.
Goblin Glory Chaser - Saying we NEEDED to remove a red 1 drop might be a little overstated, but it definitely felt like 1 could go since the cube was getting downsized. I discussed them all in detail with my group and we came to the conclusion that glory chaser was probably the weakest of the bunch. If it ends up that it was a mistake to remove a 1 drop he can always come back in.
Goblin Instigator - Much in the same way white doesn’t need Sandsteppe Outcast due to the large number of token makers it has (especially at three), red doesn’t need Goblin Instigator due to the large number of token makers is has at 2. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this card, but it also wasn’t blowing anyone away. Maybe it will come back in if I need to push more token makers in red.
Kessig Forgemaster Flip - Most of the cuts to red came from the 2 drop creature section, which was insanely full. This card has been in the cube since its inception, and I do still like it. However, after discussing all of the red 2 drop creatures with my group we decided this was one of the more out of place ones.
Smelt-Ward Ignus - Smelt-ward ignus got to see a little bit of play in a gruul deck my fiance built during the weekend of drafts. Admittedly, though, it wasn’t all too exciting. I think this would’ve been good enough as a 2/2, but right now it just gets swept up with all the token removal effects that exist in my cube, while not being all that fantastic when it DOESN’T die.
Dinosaur Stampede - I wasn’t finding people taking and using this card. I loved that it was a Trumpet Blast with additional flavor text for dinos, but the whole dinosaur thing didn’t work out extensively. For right now, Dynacharge and others will be enough.
Bloodfray Giant - This and the following card are an attempt to give Gruul more reasonable creatures to play. Bloodfray is a nice midrange card. It’s fairly boring, but it’s also a lot of stats, and occasionally that +1 counter actually matters. This was a safe choice.
Shockmaw Dragon - I found this while looking through my old cards from when I first built my cube. Much like with the above, I wanted some larger red creatures for gruul decks, and I loved how this also had flying AND helped to take out opposing token strategies. Gruul players don’t want to take a turn off to Arc Lightning the opponent. They want these types of creatures.
Searing Spear - Easy out, then easy in. My players felt like the lack of instant speed burn was beginning to be a problem so I added this back in. Maybe Skewer the Critics won’t be as good as people think?
Overall, I think I’ve made pretty clear what my goals were with red. There were a few too many 2 drops, and this meant decks with a huge spike at 2 and then almost nothing after. This was pretty boring and led to bad gameplay. And then on top of that, Gruul was having a hard time finding cards it wanted in red. If I have a gruul deck with 3 or 4 mana dorks, I don’t want aggressive 2 drops from red. I want beefy 3s and 4s and up. I think the changes I’ve made will help with that somewhat.
Basking Rootwalla - Much in the same way Sandsteppe Outcast and Eldrazi Skyspawner are considered staples, the same is true for Basking Rootwalla . Having a 0 mana madness cost is something I wish mattered, and maybe this is my fault as a designer, but it never ever comes up. Sure, you could Frantic Search or Tormenting Voice this guy onto the field, but no one ever does this. And quite frankly I’m not sure they’re doing anything wrong by failing to do so. I love this card, for what it’s worth. I just don’t feel like it has been pulling its weight enough to stay in for now. Much like other cards I’ve spoken about, I would consider bringing this back in if there was good reason to do so.
Satyr Wayfinder - Me and my group felt like there were too many cards that felt like they were just there for self-mill. Satyr wayfinder can arguably do much more, being a chump blocker and a way to grab another land. But the fact is that no one was playing it for that reason and it was really only seeing play in GB reanimator and GB autumnal gloom. Even Death Denied decks don’t really want this kind of card, to be honest. And of all the cards that self-milled, this felt like one we could let go of without too much sadness.
Tishana's Wayfinder - Wayfinders are going down left and right! Tishana’s wayfinder is a fine card in a cube where fine cards don’t always cut it. I would much rather play Merfolk Branchwalker just about every time. There IS something to say about removing a +1 counter card in green when those are already a bit low, but I am hoping that will still be fine. We will get to that in a second. For now, just understand this card is needing just one more thing to pull me into wanting to cube it.
Acidic Slime - This and Wickerbough Elder feel like they are fighting for the same slot right now, given they are both effectively 5 mana naturalize creatures. Wickerbough is like a Conclave Naturalists that you can pay for in 2 turns. Acidic Slime is the same card, but trades better offensive capabilities for better defensive capabilities. Currently I think I’d rather green have more aggressive 4 and 5 drops to help push Gruul decks once they reach that point. I don’t know that I ever really want to play Acidic Slime in most decks - despite it being a totally good card based on rate. And overall, Green has plenty of naturalize creatures at the moment.
Curse of Predation - Both additions to green are going to be in the form of trying to push more +1 counters on creatures. Most creatures that innately have +1 counters are just a bit to low impact (much like tishana’s wayfinder is), and the best counter cards in green are ones like Ridgescale Tusker which grant your whole team counters. I’m hoping this once-rare curse provides a similar effect to tusker in that you can have a more “normal” green curve out deck that then can have counter synergy due to a single card. We will see. It may prove that taking a turn off for this effect is too slow.
Song of Freyalise - This will be the other green addition, and as mentioned it is also being added in to attempt to give green another means of gaining +1 counters. I imagine the times in which it is correct to play this on T2 are pretty slim, so it’s probably a card you play on T4 or so and hope to follow up with a fight spell or smaller creature in the same turn. Really it’s only in here for the “ultimate.” I’m interested to see how it actually plays out most of the time.
Green’s changed overall this time around are smaller than the other colors. The main thing I pushed for was to try to give some slight gains to +1 counter decks in Simic, but hopefully with cards that are good enough in Gruul or Selenya lists as well.
I feel like green’s biggest problem right now is a lack of resilience towards heavy removal decks and decks with lots of deathtouch creatures. I already touched upon this a little bit in the black section, but I’m learning that green ramp or midrange decks are struggling a little bit because of these reasons. In peasant, we don’t have Carnage Tyrant , Deranged Hermit , and Thrun, the Last Troll to push green midrange into a resilient space. Instead, we have Vine Mare , Plated Crusher , and Maul Splicer .
Now you may be saying “you don’t run any of those creatures so it’s obvious how you can fix this problem.” And if so, I would say I don’t disagree with you. Now, none of these cards fix all of these problems but that’s fine. I think in my next update I will be addressing this issue more than I am now. There’s just only so much change you can make before you go too far and are unable to think of how things will work.
Mistmeadow Witch - Because the blink archetype is taking a back seat in my UW section right now, so is mistmeadow witch. I like this card a lot because it allows for some cool control archetypes, but it doesn’t make sense to be here right now.
Sphinx of New Prahv - The first of 5 xxyy cards that didn’t make the cut. This card just doens’t do anything new or exciting. I didn’t really see play and I don’t forsee many circumstances where I’d really want to play this over Serra Angel to be honest.
Thought Erasure - Not really an exciting card by any means. As you will see, every multicolor pair is losing AT MINIMUM 1 card to go back down to 4 slots a piece, and for dimir, this felt like it would be the least missed.
Rakdos Firewheeler - I compared this card to Flametongue Kavu and I still stand by that comparison, because I do think the power level is fairly close. However, the draw of “finishing someone off” with this card didn’t really hold any weight as there were plenty of other ways to do such a thing in BR.
Collision / Colossus - This one surprised me in the worst of ways. I was really excited for this as the better second coming of Colossal Might , but the fact remains that this card was JUST colossal might. The 6 damage to a flier half never saw play, and it kind of makes sense given there aren’t many good targets for that in the first place.
When comparing this card to other cards in the Gruul section, I realized that Ghor-Clan Rampager is actually a better “split-card” than this one is. One half is an instant for GR to give a creature +4/+4 and trample until end of turn. The other half is a 4/4 trample for 2GR. Until this card came out I never really thought of it that way, and it shows which is better between these two cards.
Flower / Flourish - I don’t have a ton to say about this card apart from the fact that both halves are just a bit too weak. Split cards are nice because they add versatility, but neither side is worth it in this case. GW decks want an elf on one, not a Lay of the Land . And as one of my SIMIC players found out this weekend...it’s even worse than lay of the land (whoops!).
Basilica Bell-Haunt - While I love that this card can flip a Lone Rider Flip, overall it just isn’t enough to keep it around. I think it actually plays better than I expected it to, but it doesn’t really do anything synergistic or exciting in Orzhov, and I want that for my multicolor sections.
Golgari Findbroker - I had a long debate with my group about whether or not this card should be removed. They convinced me that this card is not bad and that GB decks love it. I convinced them that GB already has enough of this kind of effect that it doesn’t need a card taking up a precious multicolored slot. We ultimately ended up on a multi-card deal of Satyr Wayfinder and this coming out, and Pulse of Murasa , Grapple with the Past , and Nyx Weaver staying in. I think we all left that discussion pretty happy.
Gyre Engineer - Similar to the above discussion, we spoke at length about what should or should not be in the Simic section. I convinced them that gyre engineer, despite being quite good value for the rate, is not what a multicolored simic card should be. There are plenty of ramp or mana production effects in both green and (surprisingly) blue, and even in colorless with mana rocks, and this guy just gets swept up by a plethora of token killing effects.
Galloping Lizrog - We had to remove 2 simic cards because of wanting to bring a certain “good boi” back into the mix. It took a bit of talking, but we eventually realized that the average case scenario of this removing 1 counter simply made it a 5 mana 5/5 with trample, something that Trollbred Guardian already was roughly on par with. Removing 2 or more counters made it better, but that didn’t seem like something that would happen enough to warrant inclusion in the multicolored section.
Invert / Invent - This card saw no play during the whole weekend, unfortunately. But since an izzet card had to leave, we all decided this was probably the weakest or most out of place of the bunch. I wish the invent side were slightly more worth it as it’s kind of cool, but we just didn’t see it happening often enough. Worth noting how confusing the invert side plays out, what with the confusing wording and errata on top of that. blech.
Truefire Captain - Lastly, we have the boros card that was removed, and in this case it is the xxyy card yet again. I really didn’t get to play with this card in the correct deck. I played it in a mardu control deck and unsurprisingly it was pretty lackluster. That said, I also don’t think many boros decks would care to run this card when they have access to such other powerhouses like Flametongue Kavu , Palace Jailer , Keldon Champion , Heroic Reinforcements and Seraph of Dawn . And if they are REALLY aggressive, they may not want a 4 drop in the first place.
Thunderclap Wyvern - I’ve cubed with this card before and loved it. Now that fliers are a thing in my cube again, it can come back in. My playgroup and I felt as though UW skies were a good deck, but that there wasn’t much in the way of “payoff” for going into such an archetype. In my opinion, wyvern is probably the best UW skies payoff that exists. It’s good enough in just about any UW deck, but giving the whole team a buff - at instant speed mind you - is fantastic. 1-drop fliers like Healer's Hawk and Pteramander desperately needed such a buff so that they are actually worthwhile in skies decks.
River Hoopoe - The best boi is back! River hoopoe is one of my favorite simic cards and it feels great to have him back. I don’t have much to say besides the fact that this card is good, fun, and allows for cool gameplay.
Overall in my multicolored sections, we removed 1 slot from each for a total of 10 removed slots. 5 xxyy cards remained and 5 left, which is honestly better than I thought it would be. Okay, let’s finish up with the smallest and simplest set of changes in the colorless section.
Bane of Bala Ged - This one might surprise some people, but the fact of the matter is that there are several of these kinds of creatures available, and from my experience, it doesn’t really matter what their cost is if they are already 7 or more in my cube. Green decks honestly would rather play Pelakka Wurm or even Penumbra Wurm . Annihilator is an amazing ability, but I have never attacked with this card. Ever. And I’d honestly rather be playing Artisan of Kozilek or Ulamog's Crusher in the decks that want to reanimate something like this to begin with.
Runechanter's Pike - This sneaky little card has been a lovely staple of my cube for quite a bit, and I think most people failed to realize it’s not a peasant legal card! Yep, this has only been a rare. I yes, I knew that. This was originally included as a means of pushing UR spells decks while also being decent in control decks to turn blockers into win conditions. Overall I still love this card, but for the sake of consistency it is finally being removed so I can truly claim that my nonland cards are fully peasant legal moving forward.
Edifice of Authority - I drafted this card over the weeked in a dimir control deck and actually sideboarded it out because I didn’t want it. That was the final nail in the coffin for it is that was the entire reason why I had it in the cube to begin with…..rip.
Renegade Freighter - In the cube or out of the cube, this card has seen the same amount of play - zero. I had a player try to play it and then learned it can’t attack on the same turn. They lost. This card is pretty bad and the activation cost of crew 2 is the main reason why I think. Crew costs need to be really low for them to be worth setting up.
Whirlermaker - I added this card in for one of my main players as it was a very “him” card. He still loves the card, but we all agreed it wasn’t seeing enough play even from him to justify it staying in. The card is really fun but it is glacier-speed slow and doesn’t really impact the game much at all.
Nothing was added into my colorless section this go around. The changes that were made here were just an attempt to remove cards so that the size of the cube could be brought down to 420.
Outstanding Cards From RNA
Carnival / Carnage - So, how do you take a card like Blightning and make it more interesting? You do so by allowing it to also kill T1 mana dorks! I never cast this card over the weekend and felt like it being 4 mana ruined the blightning effect that it had, and the fact that it could also serve to completely destroy the early plays of a green deck or aggro deck was monumental to me. I love this card and I’d say it will end up being a staple of Peasant and possibly even unpowered lists for the near future. It’s just so damn versatile.
Frilled Mystic - This card is NOT the best of the entire xxyy cycle. That trophy probably would have to go to something like Crackling Drake or Sunder Shaman . However, this card went above and beyond where my playgroup and I thought it would. I think the negative comparison to mystic snake is probably warranted, but I also don’t get to play with mystic snake. This happens to be an elf which can sometimes be relevant with cards like Imperious Perfect , but just having access to a mystic snake type of effect was great for my simic players over the weekend, who were singing the praises of this card. The fact that I play with rare dual lands goes a long way to making XXYY costs less of a problem, and I think that would be the biggest difference between me liking this in my cube and other people NOT liking it in their peasant lists.
Light Up the Stage - What more can I say about this card that hasn’t been said already? Probably one of the most powerful red cards printed in quite some time, light up the stage will be a red cube staple for years to come. Every time I played this over the weekend, it was ridiculous. From giving reach to red aggro decks to gaining card advantage in non-blue control decks, this card shined time and again. Did you know you can even pump up a Crackling Drake since this spell exiles the cards? I just learned that. Wow.
Trollbred Guardian - Nothing else surprised my playgroup and I more than this card over the weekend. Nothing. Trollbred Guardian, or as I’ve been lovingly referring to him “The Troll Bread Baker”, is surprisingly powerful for Green midrange decks. A 5/5 for 5 that can grow larger on the next turn while providing a good benefit to other creatures was just...really good. I know you probably think I’m insane but honestly the card was just really really good every time I saw it in play. It’s really nice in the ramp decks too as it can be as large as a 7/7 trampler that is attacking on very early turns. It works really well with Ridgescale Tusker , and Rhythm of the Wild , and I’m hoping it also ends up working well with Curse of Predation and Song of Freyalise , but we will see. I guess ultimately what I’m saying about this card is that if you are running a peasant list with any sort of +1 counter theme in any color including green, you should try this card out.
That all for cards from RNA that really impressed me to the degree that they felt worth discussing. I want to add a disclaimer that there were many other cards that works very well that I didn’t discuss here, but that was due to the fact that they worked just as well as expected. Cards like Pteramander and Rhythm of the Wild and Fireblade Artist were good to great, but not so much more that it felt worth discussing them a second time.
And with that, I will leave you all for another two weeks. For those of you that read through every card in every section of this write-up, I APPLAUD you. I know it was a lengthy read - after all, I had to write it! I don’t anticipate doing such a lengthy and in-depth write up for every cube update, but ones of such magnitude as this require more of a deep dive approach so that I don’t have people assuming things like “ Eldrazi Skyspawner is a BAD CARD” or “ Grave Strength is an ABSOLUTE STAPLE NOW.” I also hope that those of you who are looking for further opinions on card from RNA got the further opinions you were looking for. And if there’s any card I didn’t speak about that you wanted to hear my thoughts on, please let me know in the comments below!
If you enjoyed what you’ve read, make sure to let me know either in the comments below, or you can find me on Twitter at @Spootyone. I’ve had some individuals ask about an archive for older articles and so that might be something I look to doing in the future. If I have updates on that, Twitter is the place to see those updates. Peace out, Peasants. I’ll speak to you again in 2 weeks.
First off, congrats on getting a fiance that plays magic! Many of us wish we were that lucky :)
Secondly, the cube is looking good right now. I don't think that cutting Sandsteppe Outcast was necessarily the right choice, but I can see why you came to the decision.
Here's my actual question: what direction are you taking G/B with the release of RNA? I get that self-mill and midrange are still major archetypes, but which are you aiming to be more predominant?