We’re back already, we’ve got a new set that truly does ask “how many words can you fit on a magic card?” and there’s some surprising cards showing up! Let’s see what the finale of the Phyrexian Invasion (part 2) has in store for the wonderful world of common.
Neveron: A bigger, meaner Fiend Hunter is an interesting addition. While the new templating lacks the blink degenerate synergy you get with Faceless Butcher (in short, you manipulate the stack to return the creature before you exile it permanently), I could see control liking this card.
Phizzled: I like this in the spot I’ve previously championed Sunblade Samurai for, but honestly it feels a little fiddly as a potential change. Trading the ability to gain two life for a non-basic plains could be impactful, but the removal ability is really the premium you’re trading that extra power and vigilance for.
Solset: I am glad to see white get this effect at common as it has become a staple of some limited formats. Without the plainscycling, I think the numbers are still too off for the effect, but having a 2 mana option really gives you some room. Still, as white is pulling a lot of our aggro weight, this might just be a bit too heavy for the official version compared to some of the other limited options we have seen at 3 and 4 mana.
Omni: the change here to Noble Templar is pretty nutty. This is one of the clear winners and I echo that it’s great to see this effect hitting common even if only at higher Mana costs.
Usman: I like that this can splash for itself, and while it’s not as much of a card that I’d like to splash as Imperial Oath, it’s still just a very nice “go big” type of card even if it plainscycles more often than cast. So glad to see Noble Templar powercrept to 2023!
Neveron: Strictly better Feat of Resistance, if only a little.
Phizzled: Reaching for a potential negative: there are times this will remove your equipment from your own creature, but otherwise, strictly better.
Omni: I think I maybe got additively distracted. I didn’t even parse that this was just a strictly better than. I’m down for a slightly wordier, but better version of Feat
Neveron: I’m still not sure what to think of these modular one-drops, e.g. Star Pupil, but this is probably the best one so far. It helps that it has some minor late-game utility by putting a counter on a more relevant creature.
Phizzled: Backup is an ability I haven’t figured out yet (hoping to prerelease after I’ve already written this). It feels like you’re giving the ability and haste if you apply it to a creature on the battlefield already, but at least a 1/2 isn’t completely outclassed if you play this on an empty board turn one. I guess if you squint moving the counter feels like yet another Doomed Traveler variant. I’m not sure this is exciting enough.
Solset: This is one of the best templating we have seen of this effect, and if it was colorless I’d be in. White however has plenty of better things to do with one mana not in the cube from Infantry Veteran to Steadfast Unicorn.
Omni: I’m inclined to agree with Solset here, I don’t love this as a white card, but I do love the play pattern of using backup to make a sacrifice attack a bit less feel bad, then putting the counters here and repeating it.
Usman: I love 1 drops more than the average human and I don’t think I like this much. It just doesn’t fit well into aggro’s gameplan and it’s just wonky elsewhere.
Phizzled: Same note, which means it feels like making a change just because this is the new card. It feels silly to need to make changes based on that.
Solset: Forgetting about GOTG, there are more cards in magic like Battle Screech and Cavern Harpy that care enough about the color of your own creatures, that golden is generally a very minor upside over mono colored. Likely a needed switch if you want best in slots, even if only by percentage points.
Omni: I am down for these almost imperceptible updates that do actually matter for us. We do also have the option of running both, but that feels like it might not be the best for us.
Omni: I joked that Pacifism might not be long for the cube, and here we are, there’s ANOTHER strictly better option. I’m not saying it’s time to axe the original, but we’re getting close for sure.
Neveron: I think it might be time for Pacifism to get a moment’s peace?
Phizzled: Congrats, Neveron. You’ve earned this golf clap. :golf clap:
Solset: These arrive just in time to keep Bonder's Ornament in check for the official cube. This is an obvious upgrade, and I for one welcome our new enchantment options.
Solset: The more I have drafted our cube, the more I have wanted some cards that are great in the sideboard, but can often still make decks. This thing is a fine Glory Seeker for decks maxing out the two slot, but when it kills the opposing pestilence and still draws another Glory Seeker, I think the white deck is going to love it.
Omni: I know we’re still a ways away from Reclamation Sage, but this gives me hope. I know there were folks hyped on the Naga in CLB and I think this is the actual configuration you want it in rather than a 7 drop, it’s still a disenchant that turns into a creature, it’s just not a 7 mana ask.
Neveron: Incubate is somewhat interesting in how it plays with our existing counter synergies, and the failsafe of just being a bear is… acceptable. The closest comparison is probably Kor Sanctifiers?
Usman: I really like this as a modal type of card that’s fine in the maindeck as an answer to problematic things, since we aren’t using a lot of artifacts and having this be a 2/2 as a backup mode isn’t bad. I think I probably maindeck this in the same decks that play the new Noble Templar.
Neveron: It’s an interesting card, that’s for sure. While the three-mana mode is overpriced, the one-mana mode is noticeably underpriced.
Phizzled: This giving you an early defensive play for :checks notes: Monastery Swiftspear on turns one or two is not insignificant. I really like this. I’m also not sure how it fights for a spot in the current cube list.
Solset: In our cube, I want the option for bounce to hit my own Mulldrifter after blockers are declared. This is fantastic early to buy you time, but I just don’t like the play pattern for us.
Neveron: With one blocker on board, this becomes an instant-speed Divination. That’s already pretty good. With two blockers, you can leave up counterspell mana and still cast this. It’s definitely one of my favorite “four mana draw two with set’s mechanic” spells.
Phizzled: I can’t get over Blue having access to convoke, yet. This plays better in non-mono colored decks, but shockingly, we account for that. I honestly might swap this in over something like Compulsive Research in my personal list.
Solset: I sort of hate evaluating how many variants of this effect we have. There are just so many good sidegrades. Still, looking at our current inclusions, I think this one just misses the cut for me. By the time I am looking to refill in Blue, mana is usually less important then selection or pure value, which our other options have. Maybe in a fast Izzet spells deck, this could be better. It is close enough that whenever I have a different draw spell, I am going to ask “how would this board state play if it had convoke.”
Omni: I think at this point I want something more on my inspiration effects like reuse or digging through a few more. I’m not sure that convoke is surpassing that “something more” barrier for me personally.
Usman: This may be best in decks like UW/UG that have a bunch of bodies out; the potential is definitely there to draw 2 cards on the cheap but that may just be best-case mentality.
Neveron: I’m not sure how good this is, but it seems somewhat decent. Getting to look at three cards and access to two of them seems good, and the instant speed is an upside over something like Strategic Planning, but is it good enough for the cube?
Phizzled: This is clearly better than Anticipate or the like, and as long as delve exists, there is some argument over Telling Time. Impulse digs deeper for an answer, when you need it, but if we can consistently use the card we bin, this shoots up in value.
Solset: No thanks. I need a lower cost or higher upside. Until there is a clear emphasis on blue graveyard, I just dont think this has enough upside at 2.
Omni: As one of the premier Impulse enjoyers since the late 90s, I do like this card, I just don’t think this is one we have a clear path to inclusion.
Usman: An eh out of 10. My initial thought was “another one of these?” when I saw this during preview season. Like with Meeting of Minds, I just think there’s better things that we aren’t already playing.
Neveron: It’s Aven Eternal but with a more straight-forward mechanic. Is flickering to make multiple bodies better than flickering to grow a single Zombie Army?
Phizzled: This feels like another potentially fiddly tweak. If the only reason to make the change is for a potential flicker interaction, I’m hesitant to do so. I am comfortable saying I prefer either option to the bird that makes a decayed zombie, though.
Solset: Again this is likely a minor improvement, which is a bit costly for keeping up the cube. We already have both Aven Eternal and Eldrazi Skyspawner for redundancy, and I doubt we need 3 of these. I rarely sac the Eldrazi for mana, so I think the extra toughness might be better, but it is close.
Omni: I do like the general mold of “3 power, some of it flying for 3 mana” creatures. I do like this being a bit better on defense if you’re flickering it, giving you another body feels more relevant than “the army is now a 2/2”. Sure to be a fun discussion for the committee.
Usman: I do think this is better than the bird that makes a decayed zombie (although I’d love it if we had the Alchemy version that had flash!) I think this is better than Eternal in decks that want to flicker it, since the main value of making the body is having something expendable, rather than having it as a 2/2 (even if creatures tend to run smaller in our world over higher rarity cubes.) Pretty solid though.
Neveron: Blue protection spells have been around for a while, be it Mizzium Skin, Shore Up, or Starlit Mantle. Saiba Cryptomancer feels like it’s probably better than most of those, and has the upside of also just being a Slippery Bogle with flash.
Phizzled: It’s very odd that there isn’t a creature like this in the cube already, but yeah, it fills that Spellstutter Sprite role and that’s not insignificant. One day Blue is going to sport a true aggro/tempo deck in the cube.
Solset: A new option to protect your Peregrine Drake while digging for ghostly flicker that plays well with all those synergies. I like this better than Faerie Duelist and maybe Callous Dismissal too.
Omni: I kinda dig this as a 1 mana Counterspell with a lot of text and another body. I will get a little heated the first time I lose a narrow race to one untapped island, but this feels like a fun include.
Usman: Phew, I thought that I was convincing myself that this was great because it had flash! I like this thing as a kinda removal protection/kinda trick. Certainly does a lot.
Omni: Welkin Tern has been lingering around as an almost playable card for a while now in my mind. Winder is just the much better version of Tern that not only dumps the downside but adds a pseudo vigilance trigger if it connects with your opponent. Only downside is that we already cut Death Parrot
Neveron: The biggest argument in favor of the Carnivorous Death-Parrot, prior to us cutting it, was always that it had an unmatched body at common. Zephyr Winder isn’t quite there, but it’s really close.
Phizzled: If the community is in favor of this, yes, I will save a kill spell for this guy.
Solset: I love how this thing gives your Mirrorshell Crab the vigilance it always wanted. Mayhem Patrol and Combat Professor have already shown how fun this type of effect can be in the cube. This will still be a hard cut.
Neveron: We already run Village Rites, and I’m not sure that we want a second. It’s fun to see a functional reprint with a more generically useful name, though.
Solset: This would need to replace something like Read the Bones, and I think the overall consensus is that R/B aristocrats have enough tools that we don’t need to double up on rites.
Neveron: There’s a debate in the Magic: the Gathering scene over the concept of whether a creature is a Baneslayer Angel or a Mulldrifter: is it something that can run away with the game if left unchecked but dies to Doom Blade, or is it something that gives immediate value? The Mauler is closer to the Baneslayer end of the spectrum, particularly in the 7/7 menace case, but being able to put two +1/+1 counters on a friend means that it’s rarely going to be completely ineffectual.
Phizzled: I think this suffers because Gurmag Angler and, to a lesser extent, Writhing Necromass, as both so much cheaper. Sharing its evasion is a potential game ender on the turn this is played, but maybe a Black-X deck just uses two mana and casts a kill spell anyway? I think this feels like a win-more card.
Solset: Once we get that common Zombify, this will go up for me. For the stock list though, I just don’t know if we need (spoiler alert) swamp cycling big boys for black.
Neveron: Incubators are fun, but having to spend two mana is a lot more than zero. Does the swampcycling put this above the Eyeblight Cullers, Girder Goons and Maalfeld Twins of the world? Given black’s ability to recur cards, I think it might.
Phizzled: I’m not as thrilled by these as I’d like to be. I don’t know why, but I’d prefer if this had an ability that could incubate from the graveyard. Maybe the prerelease will change my opinion on sinking the extra mana.
Solset: I am a fan of this card. Early game fixing that fills the yard so that you can get it back late game multiple times gaining value each time. This is a classic Rock style attrition card that I feel our Golgari wants. Not 100% sure what the cut should be, but I doubt it is Twisted Abomination.
Omni: This might be my “damn kids on my lawn” moment, but the number of people treating this like a better twisted abom during previews made me acutely aware of my back and knee pain. I think this is a fine card but I’m unsure how many 7 drops we actually need in the cube.
Usman: I do like this more than the other swampcycler, since gives some value if it eats some bolts, and the cost to make a 3/3 afterwards isn’t too bad either. It could be my love of big things that have modal uses though, but I do like this over things like Maalfeld Twins.
Neveron: It’s a strictly more menacing, and redder, Prying Blade. I’ve heard a lot of positive opinions about this crowbar, but also some concerns about how Equip 2 is a bit pricey for the effect when Goldvein Pick exists.
Phizzled: Of the two red equipments, this is the one I’m less excited about. My Red decks tend to run out of cards before mana. Menace is potentially big game as early game evasion. I’m not mad about the idea of it.
Solset: I am shocked how well this polled. Maybe I will be surprised once we see this in limited action. I think there are two or three other red equipments I would try before this.
Omni: I’ve been a fan of these style of equipment for a while and given that Goldvein Pick polls pretty well too, i think the general community agrees. That said I’m not sure if we want the red version or pick here if we’re to include one.
Phizzled: It seems like it’s always worth having a copy of the new two mana token creating spell on hand in case something changes about the cube, but lacking evasion hurts. This is worse than Forbidden Friendship and probably equal to Command and Dragon Fodder on most board states.
Solset: In our cube’s current configuration, this is better than command when it plays with Silver Drake, Cavern Harpy, and of course GOTG. I have Sparksmith in my mutation, so it’s a pass for my purchase, but for the official cube, I’d pick one up.
Omniczech: Well this is one we already know is solid, it’s just reckless impulse v2. The only question I have is do we want two copies of this?
Neveron: The question of functional reprints in singleton formats rears its head yet again. It’s a good card, though. “Until the end of your next turn” is a surprisingly long amount of time.
Phizzled: In a low-mana deck, yeah, we absolutely want two of them. But I think where we want the cube experience to be about seeing new cards periodically, it may be a bit much to see this particular card “draw” twice. I’m comfortable passing on it.
Solset: We have two Lightning Strikes and Savannah Lionss, so we are okay duplicates right? I mean, it is almost always better than Bitter Reunion. Still, I can see the argument that the upside is small enough that variety in a cube trumps pure power.
Neveron: It’s a decent target for counters, I suppose, but the real appeal is the aggressively priced graveyard activation. Something for both the graveyard deck and the counters deck, perhaps?
Phizzled: Vigilance feels so weird on early “aggressive” creatures, but since you really just want this to die in combat as soon as possible and buff some other creature, I’m willing to forgive the keyword.
Solset: This card is interesting enough in a vacuum, but I think I am looking for early ramp most of my green games. Getting in for 2 damage before having some midgame pump once I am out of plays isn’t a play pattern I think I need. I wouldn’t mind this card for the self mill synergies, but I think it might be a bit of a misfit.
Usman: My general concern for a lot of these small creatures that do something when they die/are in the graveyard is that they can just be ignored by the opponent, and it’s not really strong enough as a “rattlesnake” kind of card that the opponent has to treat like a Moat. I dunno.
Solset: I love the cost and word “permanent” on this instant, but the first time this whiffs I think you will want to rip it up. Maybe if it milled 3, or if it had a failsafe of “draw a card” if you can’t return the permanent. Still, this may be one to try out in your mutations an let us know how reliable it is.
Neveron: This card has been surprisingly good in March of the Machine limited, and kind of looks like a green Consider if you squint a bit. Most of your deck is probably going to be lands and creatures, so there’s a lot of hits, but the fail case will absolutely hurt.
Usman: There’s an Ari Lax tweet that compares this to Preordain and, while an exaggeration, is nice that it’s at least an instant. Failcase of gaining 2 life is a big oof, but I think our decks hit something most of the time. (I’m too lazy to math it but I’m thinking it checks out. 🙂 )
Neveron: For all the memes about it, Colossal Dreadmaw kills people. And for all that people grumble about Nessian Asp, it sure does keep an Errant Ephemeron at bay. Timberland Ancient has some uses even if it lacks immediate value, I think.
Phizzled: Trample is always appealing. Forestcycling is sometimes awkward, but when you’re aiming to end the game in (essentially) three hits, I think you’ve earned some grace. Five toughness survives most of the creatures we were worried about blocking, anyway, and Gruul Monsters decks are sometimes nice because they just are nice. I’m (at least hesitantly) a fan.
Solset: Reach and a lower cost makes this a really nice option over Greater Tanuki in my eyes. Spending turn 3 ramping has never felt good, but the green deck searching on turn 2 seems fine most of the time to ensure you are hitting land drops on turns 3 through 5 to outclass other decks. We could run this, the Tanuki, and Tusker. Then, the cut becomes harder and that might be too many land searching fatties without clear reanimation options.
Omni: I think we’ve finally found the upside that you could put on dreadmaw that actually makes me happy about the idea of running one.
Usman: Cycling and a decent body! I like this; more than Tanuki and Tusker. Still just a nice big thing for decks that want it.
Neveron: The secret mono-green aggro archetype is growing steadily, I see. It’s a very aggressive body that’s likely to have put three cards in the graveyard by the end of the turn it untaps, which feeds into the green graveyard synergies. Is this what we want, though?
Phizzled: If I could only choose one, I’d prefer the guard from Brother’s War that has the same body but Ward. If I can choose two, this is a pretty decent second choice. I note that we don’t currently include any of the Green 3/1 creatures for two mana, though.
Solset: I love this card, and plan to advocate for it. Ramping decks are fine using this as either an aggro speed bump that can improve your draws or an early pressure point that forces controls hand before you bigger threats hit. The slight self mill synergies for delve, threshold, and recursion are just upsides if you have them. I like this play pattern a lot more than many of our current green two drops.
Omni: I spent a long time being a hater on this card but I’ve come around. The 3/1 body is not one that i love to see on a creature these days but frankly here I’m not entirely sure I care about this thing being a touch fragile. I don’t want to claim to know how many surveils are equal to a card but this has gotta be close to that point.
Usman: Not bad, not bad. I wonder if it’s more a Selesnya/Gruul card than something to seed into mono-green, but Surveil is nice in a color that doesn’t library manipulate super often.
Neveron: Why yes, I would like a green Gravedigger. Our previous options were the fairly limited (and multicolor) Desecrator Hag and the situational Woodland Sleuth, so even if this card can’t be looped it seems pretty handy.
Phizzled: An expensive Gravedigger still functionally reads “draw the best creature in your graveyard” and Green decks sometimes have nice creatures. I think this suffers in that two of the creatures at its mana value in green both have trample, bigger bodies, and include the text “draw a card.”
Solset: There is no easy cut here, but it is a really unique effect in green that I think we need. I know a lot of drafters are fans of the hidden “bant blink” archetype, and this plays really well there too. Overall, limited archetypes are best if they are self-contained in each of their colors, and green has been lacking on true payoffs for all the ways it can fill the yard.
Omni: i dig that we’re now just getting the soft versions of eternal witness at common. I do want to see the version 3 iterations in the future but for now this seems like an interesting include even with that miserable death replacement effect.
Usman: My concern is that it’s pretty cost inefficient as a Sea Snidd body, but it’s probably ok in the decks that want to durdle and recycle things with ETB triggerss – it’s really nice with the landcyclers in the set, but I feel like I’m lower on this than most because of the size of its 3/3 body.
Neveron: Imagine the following: Turn 1 you play a one-drop creature. Turn 2 you play one of the seven two-mana spell in our cube that makes two creatures, and tap all your creatures to play this frog. It’s no Frogmite, but I appreciate how fast it goes.
Phizzled: I’ll admit, my best case scenario for this card was “it’s cute and it’s turn two” before I just read that. I don’t mind someone showing me a better way. Hopefully that play isn’t followed too often by Fiery Cannonade et al.
Solset: Not sure the aggro go wide deck is wanting to tap the team to get a free 3/2. If it was a 3/3 I think I’d be up trying it as a potential 2 drop for aggro decks that skip their first attack. Looks like it will have a sweet foil though.
Omni: This feels to me like the type of card that I’ll have to spend time thinking if it’s better than current colorless options. The art is very cute though : )
Usman: I want to like this, but these kinds of cards generally tend to look better than they are, since they require tapping resources that I want to be attacking with, and only having a 2 toughness means that it can trade with an opposing 2/2. I’m probably the target market for this, though.