June brings us two gifts in the form of Core set 2021 and Jump/Start. We’re very excited to discuss what each of these sets potentially brings to the cube and what we’ve got our eyes on.
Phizzled: Aside from the neat creature type, this seems less powerful for a similar effect to Cavalry Drillmaster. 3/1 for 1W is not unreasonable, but lacking evasion or the ability to give evasion seems like a lateral move in comparison to most of our 2/1 and 3/1 two drops.
Omniczech: I can’t help but look at this and see a slightly tweaked version of Viashino Pyromancer. I’m honestly starting to wonder if passing on drillmaster was a mistake. While I’m not usually one to draft aggro, both of those seem like they generally support the aggro game plan while having non-zero bodies attached. If we’re willing to run Rimrock Knight // Boulder Rush, why not this?
Phizzled: Our white four drops remain crowded, but they don’t all have an impact on the battlefield the turn the come into play. Granting evasion is reasonable, but I think we would prefer something that offers a permanent boon or makes more bodies.
Omniczech: I think this will end games in retail limited with a reasonable consistency. I’m not sold on it for cube in the color aiming to overwhelm the board with smaller bodies, but I’d be down to discuss this if people feel passionately about it.
Omniczech: After the MTGO version of The Pauper Cube was made available, one of the comments I noticed a lot was how difficult artifacts and enchantments were to interact with. This isn’t Reclamation Sage, but I feel like there’s something worth discussing here, even at 5 mana.
Phizzled: 5 mana stuck out to me and was less than impressive. The body is categorically better than Kor Sanctifers. I think maybe if we’re interested in the effect, I’d point the group to Santifiers, which comes on board earlier if we need a chump blocker and offers flexible payment when we need to kill Pestilence.
Phizzled: Two mana removal that kills most of what ails White-X decks, at instant speed. This is so cleanly useful that I’m at a loss for what to say about it.
Omniczech: Immolating Glare is something I’ve cube in peasant environments before. This is most of the time an even better option. The fact this is unable to remove vigilant creatures is certainly a downside, but the number of times this will be dead vs the number of times you just get to nuke your opponent’s big dummy who’s keeping you back feels in favor of killing the big things. Big fan here.
Phizzled: As a variant on Gallant Cavalry, the 3/3 body is a nice perk, but the 5 drop spot in the cube is currently stacked. I don’t think this sneaks in.
Omniczech: At 5 mana, I really want to be doing things that are getting me close to ending the game in white decks. The fact that this is fairly generic top end that’s not just closing the doors on my opponent feels like it’s doing just slightly less than I want as a curve topper.
Phizzled: For three mana, the 0/3 defender is readily killed by a lot of the removal, but it offers an anthem effect continuously. I’d have to assume that on turn 3, if my opponent is forced to Bolt my wall instead of my Faerie Guidemother // Gift of the Fae or Seeker of the Way I’m feeling pretty good.
Omniczech: I think that if I keep this in hand until I’ve developed my board, it’s a nice little way to double spell and potentially close out the game. Dawnfeather Eagle and similar are nice when you’ve got the wide board, but this only costing 2 means it’s both easier to hit, and if you’ve been hitting your lands, easier to double spell with. I’m surprisingly pretty on board when it comes to this one.
Phizzled: A three drop that doesn’t do anything the turn it enters the battlefield and comes with a fragile body is the cost for (potentially) repeated card draw. If we were already playing Jhessian Thief, I would consider this as a fine Ophidian. I think the chances of drawing the second card are small, as things stand.
Omniczech: While I love an Ophidian effect, this body its stapled onto is both weirdly defensive and also bad at blocking. I like that it’s an attack trigger, but my excitement peters off pretty quickly when I see the rest of the card.
Phizzled: An evasive threat that has actual prowess, rather than near-prowess is actually a clear improvement over some of our option for spellslinger decks. I’m definitely interested in testing the Singer out.
Omniczech: Wind Drake isn’t where I’m trying to be in almost any cube. That said, the fact that this can pretty reasonably be a 3/3 for 3 with evasion with pretty minimal work has my attention. Definitely worth considering.
Omniczech: I love a good Man-o'-War variant. This is a bit closer to Mist Raven, but I really like this. The non-spirit clause is definitely a thing worth discussing, but with a total of 12 cards that either are spirits themselves or create spirit tokens, it does feel a lot like flavor text.
Phizzled: starting with the caveat (thanks, Stybs!) that bouncing a token is functionally killing it, this is both modes of Aven Surveyor at once. Being unable to kill the back half of Doomed Traveler is a minor flaw, and I can’t count Guardian of the Guildpact against any mono-colored control spell. I am chagrined for omitting it on first pass.
Phizzled: This might play like a less powerful Agony Warp. Is it powerful enough to replace a piece of bounce? Is it that kind of effect we want mono-blue to have? I don’t know the answer, but I expect it’s closer to “no” than to “yes.”
Omniczech: I think this is far too defensive of a card. The fact that it helps a blocker survive but also makes an attacker less threatening makes this read far more as a conditional partial fog than a piece of removal.
Phizzled: I’ve seen some interest in the Discord, but this card suffers from the Aura problem – it’s offering a two-for-one. The card draw at sorcery speed is, essentially, the cost of a Divination or Compulsive Research, or even Catalog. We already have access to Cartouche of Knowledge or Jeskai Runemark if we wanted an aggressive blue aura, and neither is currently in the cube. Do we need to revisit one of those instead of this?
Omniczech: As folks in the discord know, I’m not a fan of putting players in situations where they can easily be blown out. One thing that the Pauper Cube has always had is good ways to interact with creatures and therefore a lot of ways to punish people for playing auras. I see the appeal here, but I think it’s still a pass for me. That said I’d love to continue the dialogue surrounding this with the context of other, similar cards.
Phizzled: The buff is minor, but I imagine that lifelink and deathtouch options might turn a few games on their heads in sealed. I assume that deathtouch is the more likely choice, and if that’s true, isn’t Defile or another kill spell that doesn’t require you to have a creature a better choice for inclusion?
Omniczech: I think the modality here is its strongest aspect. Being able to convert a random creature that’s been outclassed at common to a removal spell is ok, you’re still 2 for 1ing yourself on raw cards but hopefully going up on mana. The lifelink mode lets you change math when racing with some big dumb idiot creature (let’s be real, I mean Gurmag Angler) in your favor. I’m unsure if those two modes are enough to get it there but I’m leaning more No than Yes at the current time.
Phizzled: a 3/4 for 4 mana is right around vanilla, so we’re looking at the frequency that we’ll want to trade an outclassed creature or token for a random card. I’d guess at random that we could do better, since we have Wicked Guardian, which might not kill our other creatures.
Omniczech: There’s some weirdness here but I’m loving this new wording for an aristocrats style card. The fact this allows you to cycle away either a creature in hand that’s unlikely to be cast for a while OR cash in some small body on the board is nice. 4 mana for a 3/4 that lets me dig on etb is fine, the question is how frequently the cost can be ignored as being a real cost.
Phizzled: This feels weirdly like an upgrade over Hired Blade to me. The threat of activation won’t be a game winner, but it offers more decisions, which appeals to me, and flash is already pseudo haste when you need it.
Omniczech: Hired Blade isn’t something I’ve seen people clamoring for more versions of in general conversation. I love me a good mana sink so there’s some appeal here for me, but I’m not sold on this in the least at the current time.
Omniczech: I think we’d be remiss to not discuss this since these types of effects rarely hit common. I don’t know why on earth this couldn’t simply be Zombify but I think that this is an interesting inclusion and I hope we see more of these type of reanimation spells costed highly enough to not encourage trying to bin large creatures on turn 1 and reanimate them to get the quickest uninteractive W possible.
Phizzled: We periodically get questions about reanimator, and it certainly is an appealing strategy in cubes with higher rarities. We lack an expensive top end that’s really worth cheating into play, and we only have a few ways to dump cards in the graveyard incidentally. Relativley few creature cards we have access to are truly backbreaking on turn 5. Maybe someone will present a killer argument during Q&A for why this would be the fun kind of unfair.
Phizzled: We have historically been cautious about black card draw, since it can tread in blue’s domain. A cheaper Altar's Reap is worth our time to discuss, even if it’s the wrong fit for our format right now.
Omniczech: I went on a bit of a rant concerning this card. I think it’s one of the best takes on this style of card draw in black, but at the end of the day I’m unsure where this is good apart from exactly in response to a removal spell. We will 100% be discussing this along side other black card draw effects in the Q&A
Phizzled: Remember when a red 2/2 for 2 mana came with a downside? The elemental pup is fair dog that can definitely do damage despite the presence of bigger blockers, allowing us to play Skewer the Critics et al for their spectacle costs, but the inflexible ping feels limiting. A hesitant preliminary pass from me.
Omniczech: I kinda like this. It’s a 2/2 in the early game, but if it’s just going to get eaten by a blocker you get to leave it back as a blocker and slowly clock your opponent out. I think that this is definitely one I want to see in the cube as it gets around the issue red sometimes faces that its attackers are chump attacking against certain decks.
Phizzled: This is a puzzle. At 4 cmc, making two 1/1 tokens isn’t a strong play. But it’s an instant. And the tokens have prowess in one of the colors we aim to have prowess triggers. I hesitantly like this, since we have Beetleback Chief. But one of the numbers is off, and I don’t feel confident about including it.
Omniczech: I read this and autocompleted the mana cost to 1R given that it makes a pair of 1/1s. Then I actually read it. 4 mana’s a lot for this effect and I’m not sure that this has the punch quite necessary for that CMC.
Phizzled: While I love seeing trample on threats for token decks, a mana cost for the sacrifice ability feels more expensive than it probably is. The fragile starting stats are a big detriment, even if the low mana cost and permanent buff are appealing. I’ll very much want to test this, but expect to be less impressed.
Omniczech: I look at this and I see a high mana investment Carrion Feeder. That said Carrion Feeder is my go to example of “Sac outlet I actually want to play”, turning bodies that were likely already dying unprofitably into a larger threat. Is the added mana to activate worth it with the built in trample? I want to say there’s probably diminishing returns but I’m eager to test this!
Phizzled: I’m starting to like these 3/2s for three mana. I don’t know if the two damage is worth it right now, but Viashino Pyromancer is a clear delight for our red ETB creatures.
This is a planeswalker deck card, and while we have precedent for adding one to the cube, some members of the Discord have noted that it can be a pain to get them, and others have been annoyed by the lack of foil printings.
Omniczech: Despite the frustrations with acquiring this card, I dig it. 3/2s are a comfort spot for proactive games of magic that require good decision making, and I feel if this does 2 to my opponent and trades for an x/3 or a removal spell, I’m happy with my 3 mana investment. I’m very in for this.
Phizzled: Four mana is steep, but I wanted to point out the clear upgrade WotC was willing to print to Hunt the Weak, which means we might see better bite/punch spells to continue upgrading out green removal suite in supplemental sets.
Omniczech: I agree, I’m not in on this making the cube but this is a promising new direction for green’s removal.
Phizzled: Our three drop ramp spells have historically been miserable top decks later in the game. Visionary offers another look at a card that might be worth casting, as well as the mana to help cast that card the next turn. Not a slam dunk, but there might be something worthwhile in this. I’m willing to test it.
Omniczech: I’ve been a huge proponent of 3 mana cantripping creatures with some level of utility. While we’re moving away from the over the top ramp archetype, I do think that the body on this combined with replacing itself on ETB is enough to have my attention, but getting you to your 5 drops or enabling a double spell turn seals the deal for me.
Phizzled: The worst case is a 3/2 trample for three, which green can already do. The best case involves distributing the counter and spreading trample love around. I’m not super impressed, but maybe I’m missing some +1/+1 counters.
Omniczech: Our shift of UG away from ramp and into a more tempo-oriented version of the color pair with some support for +1/+1 counters makes me consider this longer than I usually would. Static boosts for other creatures in it’s loosely defined tribe makes me curious what other have to say about it.
Phizzled: Scrying 3 is a lot of cards. I don’t know what the likelihood you miss on drawing a card is, but in most green based decks, intuitively it feels small that you couldn’t take a land and leave the instant or sorcery you need on top. I think I like this quite a bit.
Omniczech: I like this a decent amount. The obvious comparison in the cube for me is something like Preordain, and this is not Preordain. That said, Preordain is one of the best blue commons ever printed and arguably a mistake. I think that green decks will usually be able to make this into scry 3 and draw with fair reliability, and if you get to leave some good stuff on top for next turns draw I think you’ll be very happy with it.
Omniczech: I don’t think this is a serious consideration but I wanted to highlight two things. First, the modality on this is really neat and very close to me seriously considering it. Second, I for one appreciate the shift in art direction to very adorable critters and I think our good truffle-seeking friend here is just cute as a button!
Phizzled: I loved the art and was happy to see this spoiled, but wasn’t that pumped on first brush about including this modal creature in the cube. I guess if I squint hard enough, this is two thirds of what I’d be doing with Pulse of Murasa anyway? Does green currently want a three drop that is soft to aggro’s creatures but gains a handful of life?
Omniczech: A lot of folks in our community have pointed this out as one of the few new inclusions at common and drawn comparisons to Custodi Squire (generally unfavorable ones). I think that the fail case of a 3/4 for 4 is not where I want to be but I think this is worth talking about in the Q&A.
Phizzled: I guess once we hit four mana, our idealized deck has already sacced Wayfarer's Bauble and Mind Stone, and maybe Omen of the Sea. But in most games, I worry the ability to pick up an artifact or enchantment will feel like additive distraction to newer players hoping to hit the dream mode.
Phizzled: The new set of tapped dual lands offer quite a bit that the guildgates and non-Core tapped lands can’t for our cube. In particular, we potentially gain additional on-color duals for control decks that are really trying to fix their mana. Replacing a ten card cycle with five of these could also free up card slots to add more impactful spells to the cube.
I expect this to be a reasonable but significant portion of the Q&A.
Omniczech: I think that these are some of the biggest upgrades in terms of lands that we’ve seen in quite some time. The ability for a drafter to take these as another dual land as a base “fail case” is already equivalent to what they would be replacing, and any situation where you get to splash off of them is just gravy. I’m also incredibly glad that these are in every single booster so we’re not asking folks to buy 5 Ash Barrens styled lands that hit the market as the most expensive card in the cube. I think these are a slam dunk and my only worry is the amount of time spent discussing them in the Q&A.