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A Holiday Update

While I’ve been handling a lot more than normal, including things not related to Magic, I haven’t been leaving my cube behind. While my quest to “fix” red will have to wait a little bit longer, I did make some updates to my cube across the board.


  • (A) Added Tumble Magnet to replace (WB) Unmake – I was originally considering Blind Hunter here, but the life draining effect and flying body is very valuable; Unmake is tougher to cast and difficult to put into a deck other than true white-black. Tumble Magnet has been feeling better and better with more play.
  • (A) Added Sylvok Lifestaff to replace (BG) Elves of Deep Shadow – The mana bug never felt right and doesn’t feed into BG as much as I’d have liked it to. The Lifestaff seems epic for any deck planning to trade creatures; the cheap power pump is also very nice.
  • (A) Added Paper Tiger to replace (UG) Gaea’s Skyfolk – Skyfolk was very underused and hard to cast for just a 2/2 flying. Paper Tiger is an easy-to-cast 4/3 for any deck; the “drawback” is largely marginal.
  • (A) Added Rock Lobster to replace (UR) Razorfin Hunter – The value of “pingers” is fairly low, this one is the most difficult to cast. Rock Lobster is an easy-to-cast 4/3 for any deck; the “drawback” is largely marginal.
  • (A) Added Scissors Lizard to replace (RW) Squee’s Embrace – The Embrace didn’t live up to the hype and led to awkward 2-for-1 situations. Scissors Lizards is an easy-to-cast 4/3 for any deck; the “drawback” is largely marginal.
  • (L) Added Smoldering Crater to replace (UW) Azorius First-Wing – First-Wing was very underused and hard to cast for just a 2/2 flying. Crater is a cycling option for many decks.
  • (L) Added Slippery Karst to replace (UW) Silver Drake – Drake’s “gating” was often too much of a drawback even as a 3/3 flying. Karst is a cycling option for many decks.
  • (L) Added Remote Isle to replace (UB) Recoil – Recoil never felt great except when as a very situational Vindicate; Isle is a cycling option for many decks.
  • (L) Added Polluted Mire to replace (UB) Mystical Teachings – the targets for Teachings aren’t as exciting or worth spending the mana and Teachings to go get; if it could hit sorcery cards (like Fireball) it would fit right. Mire is a cycling option for many decks.
  • (L) Added Drifting Meadow to replace (RB) Riot Spikes – Spikes never did what you wanted it to do and was rarely a useful “pump” effect. Meadow is a cycling option for many decks.
  • (TRI) Added Crystallization to replace (RB) Goblin Outlander – The Outlander was a lone holdout from a time long ago in cube development. Crystallization is a great removal piece in color pairs that can appreciate it.
  • (TRI) Added Stormscape Apprentice to replace (RG) Colossal Might – Might makes right except that everything else is usually a two-for-one within red-green. The Apprentice is a tapper that comes down very early and can also damage without attacking.
  • (TRI) Added Nightscape Familiar to replace (RG) Giantbaiting – The number of times Giantbaiting was a blow out on turn three I can recall on one hand; it just didn’t work as desired. The Familiar helps fuel the longer game of UB, and serves as a way to make lethal burn come down faster in BR; regeneration is nice, too.
  • (TRI) Added Sangrite Backlash to replace Sigil Blessing – Blessing just never worked out, and very rarely served as anything other than an awkward Giant Growth. Backlash is everything Riot Spikes wanted to be.
  • (TRI) Moved Wild Nacatl from GW to TRI.

As you can see here I added a section of tri-colored cards, one for each allied color arc: RGW (Wild Nacatl), GWU (Crystallization), WUB (Stormscape Apprentice), UBR (Nightscape Familiar), BRG (Sangrite Backlash). We’ll see how this section shakes out in supporting multicolor but being more flexible than true tri-color cards.

Some other updates to “color” artifacts were made as well. Four of the five spellbombs added last update were swapped to a more interesting and useful card:

I’ll be picking up where I left off with the “The 360 Question” series sometime shortly. Until then I hope these changes are something you’ll enjoy reviewing and trying yourself!

The updated online breakdown and downloadable spreadsheet are ready was well!

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  1. December 31, 2010 at 1:08 PM

    I pretty much agree with all of this update. 🙂

    I initially thought ofusing the Bant Familiar (Sunscape Familiar) instead of Crystallization, the latter is mostly a Pacifism, but the question is whether an awkward-casting cost Pacifism is worth it… and I think in commons, the answer is yes.

    I’m not a huge fan of Grixis Familiar or Sangrite Backlash, but they’re the best options in those triads. Grixis Familiar should work well in the Grixis/UB decks (I don’t know if it’ll see much play in BR aggro.)

    It does pain me a bit to see Squee’s Embrace go, but I’ve never seen it really live the dream… or do much, but that may be from lack of data moreso than card disappointment.

    If I had to make a suggestion on something else, I’d consider taking out AWOL for Totem-Guide Hartebeest. Yeah, I know I keep harping on how awesome Hartebeest, but that’s because it’s great! 5 toughness is huge in the format and white decks will typically have at least 2 targets for it.

    Minor nitpicks aside, rock solid. 🙂

    • December 31, 2010 at 1:12 PM

      No busting me about Recoil or Mystical Teachings?

      I, too, like Totem-Guide Hartebeest, but the fact that it costs five mana seems annoying. I’m looking at figuring out a clean way to test individual cards without having a full commitment to them and it’s something I’ll write about soon. The Hartebeest is my first pick to test to fit in.

  2. January 1, 2011 at 7:32 AM

    Lanxal here. Usman totally directed me to this cube with one of his articles. Big fan, big fan.

    What’s your experiences been with Shrieking Grotesque? I was interested at what others cards you left behind when cutting Unmake, and it caught my attention. How has it been for you?

    Chiming in: I totally agree with Usman. Hartebeest ain’t bad. xD

    Also, if you are including the Hartebeest, what are your thoughts on Pillory of the Sleepless to make it better? As Usman said, awkwardly-costed Pacifism aren’t bad by any stretch of the imagination.

  3. Sanders
    January 21, 2011 at 12:50 PM

    I need my fix…..because 5000 weekly articles aren’t enough!!

  4. Pluckmyeyeout
    January 24, 2011 at 2:03 PM

    I played a sweet G/B aggro deck this weekend with 3 of the cycling lands (Polluted Mire, Slippery Karst, Barren Moor). Yes, they were on color, but they fit perfectly in a 16 land deck with mostly 1 & 2 drops…

    Basking Rootwalla, Carnophage, Jungle Lion, Wild Dogs, Vampire Lacerator, Pouncing Jaguar, Blind Creeper, Dauthi Horror, Nezumi Cutthroat, Pit Keeper, Ruthless Cullblade, Corrupted Zendikon, Gravedigger, Disturbed Burial, Last Gasp…

    That was some of my deck from memory, and more than once I had to forgo a 1st turn dude to play a tapped land. In fact, I think more often than actually cycling them I played them tapped, but I was really pleased with having them as options for that deck.

    • January 24, 2011 at 2:07 PM

      That’s one of my personal favorites to draft. Solid creatures, recursion, and removal is a solid recipe to cook up.
      Glad to hear cycling lands feel right; I know they’ve help provide better late picks when color-skewed packs get picked clean.
      Thanks for sharing!

      • Jesse
        January 25, 2011 at 9:10 AM

        Plus Corrupted Zendikon on a cycling land is teh tek.

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