Cube managers are looking forward to strengthen the other five multicolored guilds with Gatecrash. And we are hoping to find a similar amount of interesting and possibly ‘cubeable’ cards that we have come to expect from Magic sets associated with the name Ravnica.
I’m not going to rate every card out of the set. I’m just going to comment on ones that I think will have an impact/other people think will have an impact/I want to make fun of. I will rate the cards on a scale of 1-5, with the following basic meanings:
- 5 — First pick quality in any Cube; high powered and/or flagship archetype cards (Sol Ring, Bitterblossom, Tinker, Koth of the Hammer).
- 4 — Good enough for the smallest Cubes (360); powerful, versatile, and/or top support cards (Lightning Bolt, ABU Duals, Vindicate).
- 3 — Good enough for medium-sized Cubes (450 to 540-plus); great support, redundancy, and archetype extension cards (Dismiss, Goblin Ruinblaster, Precursor Golem).
- 2 — Good enough in the largest Cubes (720-plus); very good cards that fill roles/provide support/have just been forced out over the years (Sigil of Distinction, Transcendent Master, Avenger of Zendikar, Jeska, Warrior Mage, Exclude).
- 1 — Not good enough for any reasonable-sized non-specialty Cube (Myr Servitor, Chimney Imp, Meddling Mage, Cancel).
As with any ‘evergreen’ format, all card evaluations need to be done relative to every other card printed. While some cards may be powerful in a vacuum, they may suck in Cube next to other older cards. With that in mind, I’m also suggesting cards that can be cut if you want to add these new cards.
Note: I reserve the right to change my opinions. I am never too proud to admit I was wrong on a card evaluation, or missed a card entirely.
Off we go!
While Blind Obedience will often be seen as a control card (and rightfully so against hasty red decks with a chance to recoup some life loss), I think it will actually function best as an aggressive card. Having your opponent’s blockers come into play tapped can be a huge asset; it makes your removal spells last longer (you can cast them later to clear the way) and restricts your opponent’s ability to win a race. On top of that, the extort mechanic allows the aggressive decks to get a little bit of reach whenever they under-drop themselves, cast their own removal/burn spells, and when they draw those low-impact 1- and 2-drops in the mid- or late game. That’s quite a useful tool for the aggro vs. midrange matchup weakness.
Rating: 2.5, for being a bit narrow. It could be as high as a 3 if your aggressive decks (especially something like White Weenie) are having trouble succeeding without taking drastic measures.
Three power for two mana is always tempting, which is why Blade of the Sixth Pride finds a home in a number of Cubes. As a strict upgrade to the cat, Daring Skyjek should find plenty of spots for inclusion in those Cubes. But what about those that don’t include the 3/1 vanilla? While not as good as Accorder Paladin, Skyjek’s inclusion point will hinge around one thing: How often will his battalion ability get triggered?
My initial reaction is not often enough, based on his place in an ideal efficient curve and his mana cost. If he is cast on Turn 2, his ability will likely not have a chance to trigger until Turn 4 at the earliest, and his one toughness makes him fragile enough to die to anything before that happens. I’m much more likely to include a battalion card that sees extra value soon after it is cast than one that is just an added bonus once in a while on a card I’m not currently playing. His ability isn’t particularly impressive in a token theme either, as he just gains some evasion. He just isn’t that daring to me.
Rating: 2, just to fill out the aggressive white curve.
Possible replacement for: Blade of the Sixth Pride. (Duh.)
I asked for an on-curve battalion card, and it appears! A non-embarrassing 3/3 for three mana, a (mostly) relevant battalion ability, and a narrow-at-best third ability all combine to put Frontline Medic up for Cube consideration. The card is an absolute monster in games in which your opponent needs to block for value, but I’m just not sure how much that happens in Cube these days except versus base-green midrange decks. I think the card definitely has some value and potential, but I just don’t think there is enough room for it until you start hitting cubes that are 600-plus cards deep because of the recent competition at the white three-drop spot.
Rating: 2, mainly because of the competition.
Whoa, a new aggressive Gideon who is cheaper than the original! Cool! What a shame that his name should be Gideon, Champion of Doing Nothing. Zero impact on his first turn on the table (unlike every other planeswalker who is in the Cube), the ability to turn into a non-evasive attacker after that whose size depends on the number of creatures your opponent controls (the more they have, the more danger Gideon is in of being shrunk/killed on the swing back), and an unrealistic ultimate that may leave you with a whopping 2/2 creature with which to attack. No thanks, GCoDN, you aren’t squeezing past the insane competition in white four-drops, let alone the planeswalker fours of Elspeth, Knight-Errant and Ajani Goldmane.
One-drop fliers that can have more than one power always warrant a look, and Cloudfin Raptor definitely has the potential to be large. The issue is playing it on Turn 1 definitely locks you in to having a curve of creatures in order for it to be any good. For that, this card definitely needs help from other colors, and you are going to need a strong support of the blue tempo archetype. If not, I wouldn’t bother with this card.
Rating: 2, if you support blue tempo strongly. Otherwise, 1.
Doubling your mana output with a single card is always a strong effect (see Mirari’s Wake, Gauntlet of Power, High Tide), so we have to consider Crypt Ghast closely. Unfortunately, the 2/2 creature makes it much more fragile than the above examples. Fortunately, you get extort as an additional benefit (and you should have plenty of mana to pay for it). What it comes down to, however, is whether or not you support the mono-black big mana/black mana matters deck. In that deck, you need as many chances to spike the archetype cards as possible or else you wind up with a mediocre black midrange deck, and only your opponents want that to happen. Include if you do, exclude if you don’t.
Rating: 3, if you support the mono-black archetypes. Otherwise, 1.
Just like all instant-speed edict effects, Devour Flesh deserves some consideration for inclusion because of the strength of the effect. The drawback on this one, however, really limits its use to controlling-type decks. For that, it doesn’t make my Cube.
Anyone else want to see this card in foil? I’m guessing it still won’t be as gross as a foil Pulling Teeth.
Anyone else think the art looks like when the spaceships came out of the clouds in “Independence Day”?
(Aren’t the monocolored cards awesome so far?)
A strict upgrade to Raging Goblin (don’t laugh, I’ve seen it!), Legion Loyalist is the kind of battalion card I can get behind. You can get the effect exactly when you want it without exposing the source of the trigger to sorcery-speed effects. The Loyalist is pretty weak as a Turn 1 creature; but his value rises significantly as a Turn Whenever creatures. Trample, first strike, and limited unblockability are kind of a big deal, but you only get one chance to kill your opponent with the effect (they will surely kill the Loyalist if they can live otherwise). I can foresee it being put to good use in a larger R/G aggressive deck.
Rating: I’m calling it a 1 for now, but it could be higher after more testing.
Finally, an auto-include! If you support aggressive green strategies, that is, since many Cubes are changing to ramp-centric strategies since the advent of the MODO Cube. Experiment One should swing for two on Turn 2 (the benchmark of a good aggro Cube one-drop) but it should only get bigger from there. If it can ever swing for three by Turn 4, you are way ahead of the game for an average one-drop. Add to that the ability to regenerate (and still grow again), and you have the makings of a solid Cube card.
Rating: 4, if you support green aggro; probably still a 3 if you play green creatures.
Possible replacement for: One-drops like Pouncing Jaguar or Jungle Lion if you are moving away from aggro; or sometimes awkward cards like Elves of Deep Shadow, Albino Troll or Great Sable Stag otherwise.
Here’s my problem with Gyre Sage: It doesn’t make any mana unless you spend mana. If you play a creature post-Sage, you are awarded one green mana. Play a bigger one after that (which will cost more), and you get an added mana per turn. Seems like a big hassle, when what I’m truly after in a mana-producing creature is to accelerate my mana production.
Too slow, even though its effect is inexorable. Turn 6 is way too late to have a positive enough effect on a game. I’m not a big fan of the toy soldier artwork, either.
A very good aggressive creature, Aurelia should be swinging and killing your opponent when it comes into play most of the time. By itself, if will swing for six in the air and still be available for defensive duty. My biggest issue is that most aggressive decks don’t want six-drops and control decks would never want Aurelia over something like Gisela, Blade of Goldnight. Besides the additional mana, I think Gisela outshines Aurelia on almost every front. Both grant your creatures the ability to do double damage in some way, but Gisela also protects you and your creatures because of the damage reduction. I’m going to stick with Gisela, personally, after losing/winning many games solely on her back.
While the angel herself is a bit average, her fury is not. With the ability to play a variety of roles, Aurelia’s Fury is a great tool for all kinds of decks with access to red and white mana. Tapping/killing creatures can be done offensively or defensively; most decks like preventing their opponent from casting a backbreaking spell during their upkeep; and sometimes you just need to burn their face. This is a great card that will only miss inclusion in small multicolor sections, behind Figure of Destiny, Ajani Vengeant and (possibly) Lightning Helix and another new Gatecrash card … foreshadowing!
Rating: 3, but could see smaller Cube play if the multicolored sections are big enough.
Now THIS is a Cube auto-include! All three modes are very useful in red and white aggressive or midrange strategies: four damage for two mana is a good deal and can kill a planeswalker in a hurry if you need it; indestructibility is great for preventing sweepers, Geddons, spot removal and combat trades; double strike can act as a removal/combat trick spell or a way to dome your opponent for a big chunk in combat. Two great modes and one decent mode, all on one card for two mana.
A card that is making a big splash in Standard, Boros Reckoner can certainly hold his own in Cube as well. Spitemare was always just a little too low in the power-to-mana ratio for Cube inclusion, but Reckoner takes care of that issue by being bigger and cheaper. Add onto that the ability to have first strike and the fact that red’s three-drops are a bit soft, and you have the makings of a solid Cube card. Don’t forget it is old school cool by being a minotaur, and that you can make all sorts of CSI-type puns (“I reckon that you’re gonna take some damage if you block or not”)!
Rating: 3, because there just isn’t room in most of the smaller Cubes. Good problem to have!
A 6/6 for four mana is no joke, even without evasion. But we have four-drops in black or white that are better, so why include a black plus white card that isn’t as good and has a drawback to boot?
Do you like questions? Can this exile all lands? No, but it can get planeswalkers? Does that matter? You can only choose one mode? Why is this better than Austere Command? It’s not?
A 5/5 for five that can dodge sorcery speed removal is decent. One that has a nice ETB ability that drains two life is better. And one that can re-use that ETB ability and still attack for five while dodging removal but has the option to play defense is the best yet. While not easy to cast, you get a pretty good finisher out of the deal.
Ha ha, real funny. Almost as funny as including it in my Simic guild pack at the prerelease.
An interesting card for sure, but is a 2/4 on Turn 4 that makes creatures after it larger worth the spot? Unfortunately, it does not have evolve itself, so you are stuck with the lackluster body. So how many on-color five-drops (or higher) make this guy abusive? Meloku, the Clouded Mirror, Deranged Hermit, Precursor Golem, Myr Battlesphere, Hornet Queen … I’m not sure there are that many others. With this in mind, I’m going to pass on Master Biomancer. I’m betting he has a ton of extra value in Cubes that have heavy token support.
Rating: 2, possibly a 3 with a lot of token support.
Value, as long as you have other creature of moderate size in play. Let’s see how it plays out:
Two-power creature in play: 3/3, draw three cards. Average value: seven mana. Not great, but certainly not embarrassing.
Three-power creature in play: 4/4, draw four cards. Average value: nine mana. Pretty good.
Four-power creature in play: 5/5, draw five cards. Average value: twelve mana. Pretty insane value!
I think this card is pretty solid, and is a nice addition to Simic Sky Swallower as another finisher in the two colors that love giant finishers the most.
Rating: A solid 3.
Not nearly as good as Boros Charm, Simic Charm actually has more in common with it’s Izzet cousin. It has three useful modes, all of which are slightly overcosted. As with any modal spell, we have to figure out if the sum of its parts are great enough. Unfortunately, combat tricks have fallen pretty far out of favor and the bounce effect is only for creatures. I’m not convinced it does enough for inclusion in standard Cubes, although the counterspell for targeted removal spells is decent.
Rating: 2, because I can see a desire to have more tricks in a Cube.
Possible replacement for: Coiling Oracle.
Cheap planeswalkers always deserve some initial consideration (well, ANY planeswalker, really), and even moreso when they only cost three mana. Domri Rade’s abilities all have to do with creatures, so you’re going to want it in a deck that has a creature count in the mid-teens. This is strictly an aggro or midrange planeswalker, and most of its work is going to be done with the first ability. Unfortunately, your deck will almost always be less than 50 percent creatures, so this ability seems mediocre. The second ability, while certainly relevant, isn’t spectacular but can double as repeatable removal. The ultimate will certainly win you games outright, but it takes a lot of doing to get there. While only full testing will tell how good this card is, I’m a bit skeptical to start.
The only cubable example of the bloodrush mechanic in the set, Ghor-Clan Rampager reminds me a lot of a former Cube card. But this card is much better than Colossal Might. A solid square-peg body in creature form (4/4 for four) combined with an uncounterable large pump that grants pseudo-evasion make the Rampager a solid addition to Gruul sections that like to attack…which should be all of them. For that reason, I don’t even mind the attacking-only clause on the pump!
I am not as impressed by this card as some because I think the only truly useful mode is the destroy a 2-power creature. While the other modes will occasionally be useful, overall this card is pretty mediocre. No thanks.
Moroii just got really jealous. Duskmantle Seer does great work in U/B tempo decks because he hits evasively hard, and provides extra reach on both ends through the card-drawing ability. While your opponent drawing cards is rarely optimal, at least this one has the capability to punish your opponent for hitting a big spell. With your cheap countermagic and disruption, Seer should be able to help you close out the game in a timely fashion. The more I think about this card, the more I like it.
Rating: 4, due to the shallow color combination.
Get the Gatecrash lands and play them, same as the Return to Ravnica lands. They should be the third cycle of lands to include after the ABU duals and fetchlands, which means they fit in virtually any size Cube.
Overall, this can be a disappointing set if you look at it in relation to Return to Ravnica or if you are looking for slam-dunk, home run, touchdown, goooooooooooooal-type of a first overall pick. There are actually a number of quality multicolor cards that help buff up some of the thinner guilds, even if the monocolored cards are a bit weak. Let’s hope the third set is as fulfilling as the first two!
May all your squares be three-dimensional!
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