Cube Holistic Wisdom – Innistrad Cube Review

Innistrad has a lot of cube potential, but choose wisely, cubers! Usman Jamil reviews the new set for upgrades to the cube.

As a set, Innistrad has brought upon many interesting ideas—double-faced cards such as Garruk Relentless and cards that wonderfully play on gothic horror themes. For cube, Innistrad has brought upon many powerful and unique cards and in this article, I’ll be covering the major cards that should go into many cubes, as well as others which shouldn’t.


Cloistered Youth | Unholy Fiend

This review starts with a card that is easily a staple in cubes. Cloistered Youth is another 1W creature that provides three power, which is perfect for white aggro decks that want to kill an opponent ASAP.

It was previously seen as a somewhat “necessary evil” for using 1W creatures because of the high density of creatures with WW cost like Soltari Priest and Soltari Monk, as having too many creatures with a WW cost puts pressure on white aggro decks to either be majorly white or mono-white due to their mana costs. While some of the 1W creatures previously used were suboptimal creatures, Cloistered Youth is definitely not one of these, as it’d be a great cube card even with a harder-to-cast WW cost from being a 3/3 without much of a drawback.

The Unholy Fiend being a black creature gives protection from Doom Blade-style effects, but it’s secondary to the creature itself being a solid creature with a drawback that is nearly irrelevant to aggro decks.

Divine Reckoning

Divine Reckoning looks like a card that’s a shoe-in for white control decks, as a Cataclysm-meets-Wrath with flashback. It’s not hard for a control deck to have bigger creatures than the opponent’s baloths and knights! But when you think about how the card actually plays out, it becomes much worse, as it requires the opponent to have three creatures to be better than an edict. Wrath effects also tend to be solid even when it’s just 2-for-1’ing an opponent’s 2/2 and 3/3 or killing a creature that has shroud/protection from your removal colors, and unfortunately, Divine Reckoning can’t do that either.

The flashback cost on it is nice as it can discourage the opponent from rebuilding forces, but it doesn’t render Divine Reckoning to be very good in many cubes. It can be easy to think about how you can set up a dream scenario where you keep a dragon/titan and the opponent just keeps a 2/2 or a 3/3, but this likely won’t happen as often as it acting as a suboptimal edict effect.

Fiend Hunter

Fiend Hunter is the cheapest 187 (creature that has an enter-the-battlefield trigger that destroys something else) for creatures in cube so far. Cards like Tidehollow Sculler and Leonin Relic-Warder provide some nice temporary tempo with a solid body, but Fiend Hunter may be closer to Mesmeric Fiend and its weak body than the solid bodies of Tidehollow Sculler and Leonin Relic-Warder, as both can attack easily and pile on damage quickly while disrupting an opponent, which Fiend Hunter can’t do as easily. Still, perhaps Fiend Hunter’s unique ability to clear attackers out of the way, in white no less, could make it worth using in mid-sized cubes. It may very well be good enough for smaller cube lists, but it’s likely not.

Geist-Honored Monk

Geist-Honored Monk inevitably compares to Cloudgoat Ranger, its closest analogue as it provides an army in a can with a decent body. Cloudgoat Ranger was initially underrated for cube and Geist-Honored Monk may fall into the same camp of being initially underrated but very solid.

Geist-Honored Monk’s tokens have evasion while the Monk itself doesn’t, whereas the Cloudgoat’s tokens gave Cloudgoat itself evasion and because of the ability for Cloudgoat to become a 5/3 flier easily, it may be better than Geist-Honored Monk. It can be easy to say that “when the Monk’s tokens die, the Monk itself sucks” but if you think back to when you’ve used Cloudgoat Ranger, how often do the Kithkins die without the Giant going with it?

Geist-Honored Monk has some really hard competition at five mana, as it has to compete with other solid cards like Gideon Jura, Elspeth Tirel, Rout, Baneslayer Angel, and Reveillark. If you’re supporting token strategies heavily, I would try to get Geist-Honored Monk into your cube, and I’ll be looking to do so in my cube, but on the same note, I don’t necessarily think that replacing Cloudgoat Ranger with Geist-Honored Monk is the right call, even if it’s an “easy change” to do.

Mentor of the Meek

Speaking of token.dec support, Mentor of the Meek is another solid addition for those decks. Mentor of the Meek’s initial stats of being a Pearled Unicorn aren’t very impressive, and because of that, combined with it requiring mana for you to draw cards, it doesn’t look like it’s a good card for aggressive decks, but that’s not really correct.

While Mentor of the Meek doesn’t help early starts very much, he provides a lot of reach in the middle to later stages of the game—white aggro decks have a lot of creatures that can turn into cantrips with the Mentor, and he essentially turns all of your one-mana two-power creatures into cantrips. It’s a common misconception from those who don’t support aggro in cubes to say “Those early creatures are bad; in the late game, Savannah Lions are just small creatures when the opponent has Dragons.”

While the opponent should probably be dead at the point where Dragons matter, Mentor’s cantripping lets aggro decks draw into overwhelming advantage and, if the deck is something like R/W, into burn to kill the opponent. There has also been some solid competition for white three-drops through cards like Mirran Crusader and Blade Splicer, but Mentor of the Meek should probably fit in well with those decks.

Midnight Haunting

Midnight Haunting is another card for token strategies, but it looks like it’s just under the mark of being good enough for many cubes. It compares favorably to Spectral Procession, another card that was very underrated when it came out, but its overall effect on a board state of two fliers doesn’t look like it is quite enough.

Mikaeus, the Lunarch

Initially when he was spoiled in the FTV: Legends box, I was very unimpressed. “Awkward Ajani Goldmane/Steel Overseer is awkward and not even an efficient X-spell/creature,” I thought and immediately dismissed it.

It wasn’t until Matt Kranstuber, aka “Kranny” from the In Contention podcast, tried it in his cube to success that I decided to give Mikaeus another look. On the latest In Contention episode, he tells a story from when an opponent wrecked someone with Mikaeus.

T1: Plains, go.

T2: Plains, cast Mikaeus for one, go.

T3: Land, Paladin en-Vec, go. EOT, charge Mikaeus up to two.

T4: Land, two creatures (let’s assume that they’re 2/2s), pump all creatures with Mikaeus (now at one), opponent is at 17.

T5: Land, pump everyone with Mikaeus, attack with the 4/4 Paladin and the other two 4/4s, win.

He said that the opponent died after that, so I’m wondering if another piece of the story was missing (since this leaves the opponent at 5), like an additional anthem effect, some equipment or if the two creatures were bigger than 2/2s. Regardless, it shows just how something as innocuous as Mikaeus can help power some really powerful starts without having to think in absolute best-case scenarios.

Mikaeus is also solid if just cast in the late game as something like a 5/5 for 5W—he’s not shattering any records for efficiency, but it’s a nice option for him to have in the later stages of the game, especially if you have no other creatures on the battlefield or in your hand. I initially thought that Mikaeus was just an awful creature, but give it another shot—if your cube supports white aggressive decks, he’ll fit right in.

Spectral Rider

Much like Elite Inquisitor, Spectral Rider is behind a long line of competition of WW creatures for cube. Spectral Rider’s intimidate lets it act like an odd version of Soltari Monk/Priest, and while dismissing it just because it’s not one of the best evasive creatures of all time isn’t a good idea, it pales even in comparison to other creatures like Soltari Trooper and arguably fliers like Stormfront Pegasus/Mistral Charger.  Much like Elite Inquisitor, there just isn’t room in many cubes for Spectral Rider because of the competition.


Back from the Brink

Back from the Brink compares to Debtors’ Knell, something that doesn’t provide much value upfront but promises to make up for it with long-term advantage. Back from the Brink can be nice to recycle creatures with enter-the-battlefield triggers since they can make up for the tempo and value lost by the card itself, but it’s generally not worth it. The potential upside on cards that don’t do much when they come into play like Debtors’ Knell or Future Sight is much higher due to the overall benefit, and when compared to other six-cost spells like Keiga, Upheaval, and Capsize (don’t be fooled, it costs six, not three), it’s no contest.

Cackling Counterpart

On initial glance, Cackling Counterpart looks like a bad Clone, but a more apt comparison may be to cards like Momentary Blink or Turn to Mist, as Cackling Counterpart performs similarly to how Momentary Blink did when damage still went on the stack. Cackling Counterpart’s main role isn’t to copy your own creatures, but instead to reuse enter-the-battlefield triggers like those on Aether Adept and Bone Shredder and to save your creatures from timely removal effects, but with an unfortunately higher cost than effects like Momentary Blink (especially with trick effects, as they get better as they get cheaper due to the surprise factor).  

It’s unfortunate that Cackling Counterpart can’t copy opposing creatures, as one of the nicest things about Phantasmal Image and Phyrexian Metamorph is the ability to foil reanimation and creatures that got cheated into play.

Granted, the instant speed allows for surprise blowouts by acting as a pseudo-untap effect on your giant tapped creature that attacked last turn. You can also cast it on a huge titan on your side so that you can attack with two of them, but are these scenarios worth using Cackling Counterpart? I would only suggest it if you’re really pushing blink style decks, but it doesn’t really fit the conventional blue decks, as control decks won’t really want to use a clone/blink like this with the few creatures that it runs (and typically, they’re legendary).

Delver of Secrets | Insectile Aberration

Delver of Secrets promises to be one of the most efficient creatures in the game, but it unfortunately doesn’t do very much in the spell-heavy decks that can easily flip Delver into Insectile Aberration, and even when it flips, it’s likely that the 3/2 flying body won’t do enough. However, it’s really solid for common cubes, where the 3/2 flying body is relatively big!

Invisible Stalker

Since it got posted online, people have been talking about how Invisible Stalker will be great in Standard since it can hold a Sword (usually of Feast and Famine) like a champ. However, while this interaction can be the cornerstone of a deck in Standard, this type of consistency won’t happen nearly enough in cube.

While you can draft both Invisible Stalker + equipment to make the Invisible Stalker shine like it may in Standard, the probability of getting the combination together is much lower than in Constructed formats where you can play with up to four copies of each card. Invisible Stalker loses a lot of value if it doesn’t get paired with equipment and in a color as powerful as blue. Is it worth using a card that only really gets value when you not only have the Stalker in your deck, but also have drawn both the Stalker and equipment in the same game? The best-case scenario may look very impressive, but it’s important to realize how often that scenario will actually happen, and this renders Invisible Stalker to not be good enough for cube.

Ludevic’s Test Subject | Ludevic’s Abomination

Ludevic’s Test Subject is a card that initially looked unimpressive, looking like either a Wall of Wood or a 13/13 that requires a ton of mana investment, but that’s a disingenuous evaluation. Remember when everyone thought that the Rise of the Eldrazi level-up creatures were bad because they were looking at the total costs incorrectly?

“Kargan Dragonlord is awful. It’s a hard-to-cast Grizzly Bears, and it’s a RRRRRR 4/4 flier that dies to everything? Forget it.” With both cards like Kargan Dragonlord and Ludevic’s Test Subject, the thing to focus on isn’t the total cost, but that both cards have value in both early and late stages of the game.

Ludevic’s Test Subject can get out of hand surprisingly quickly thanks to being able to “level up” at instant speed, so can protect the 0/3 (which is surprisingly solid against aggressive decks) with countermagic. I’ve seen games where someone cast turn 6 Test Subject, level up twice EOT, and then going all-in on turn 7 and ending the game soon after. Of course, this isn’t always the right play, and you have to gauge how quickly to level it. Also, unlike many other defensive cards like Wall of Roots, it has amazing value in the late game by being able to turn into a 13/13 very quickly with countermagic backup. When I was making changes to my cube, Ludevic’s Test Subject was my last cut, and it was a painful one, but I gladly recommend it to cubes.


Mindshrieker is an interesting card that can get big very fast. Its pump ability, though inconsistent, can provide an interesting dilemma since an opponent, even with a Dragon, may not be able to profitably block the Mindshrieker, especially if the opponent has a control deck with a lot of high-cost effects. Still, I don’t think I’d recommend it for many cubes right now due to its inconsistency, but it can be a nice creature for more aggressive blue sections.

Snapcaster Mage

Easily the best card in the set that performs well in cube because many cube instants and sorceries are stellar deals for their cost, especially in powered cubes with spells like Ancestral Recall and Time Walk, but even more innocuous uses like recycling black removal spells let Snapcaster Mage act like a Nekrataal with flash. Cards like Snapcaster Mage (and arguably Mindshrieker) may help bring about more aggressive blue sections that people like Kranny have suggested, similarly to how black was before the days of Vampire Lacerator. But we may need a few more of these kinds of aggressively costed, tempo-based cards before that strategy becomes “a thing” in many cubes.


Sturmgeist appears to be an upgrade to cards like Thieving Magpie, but the increased cost (when combined with the competition at five mana) and inconsistency in body size make Sturmgeist dubious for cubes.


Army of the Damned

Oh, how I wish the Zombies entered the battlefield untapped! If that was the case, the Zombies would let you stabilize easily. Cards like Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker and Sundering Titan that don’t end the game immediately usually do in the long-run, and Army of the Dead is odd because, unlike those other cards, it doesn’t do very much. But if unanswered, you’ll win the game when you untap, which makes the flashback unusual since it’s essentially another shot of winning the game if the first wave of Zombies didn’t win the game as is, but the high cost of both castings makes it awkward to use. It’s a unique effect, but due to it not really contributing much in terms of immediate effect (even if it’ll likely win you the game if you untap with the Zombies), I don’t think there’s room for it in many cubes.

Bloodgift Demon

When Bloodgift Demon was initially spoiled as a 4/4, it didn’t look like a very good creature, but when it was officially posted as a 5/4, it suddenly looked a lot better. It could be because it can kill a dragon in the air if need be or kill an opponent a turn faster, but the overall package is really solid: card advantage stapled onto an efficient body—even something like Graveborn Muse is solid with its Phyrexian Arena ability, and Bloodgift promises to be a notch higher. It’s a really a good creature and an arguable staple, the best 5-mana black creature, if only second to Shriekmaw.

Bloodline Keeper | Lord of Lineage

I really want this to be a Bitterblossom meets Graveborn Muse type of card. Four-mana black creatures in cube either tend to be either efficient big creatures (Plague Sliver, Juzam Djinn, Abyssal Persecutor), 187 creatures (Nekrataal, Skinrender), or miscellaneous creatures like Graveborn Muse and Braids, Cabal Minion.

Unfortunately, I’ve been becoming less of a fan of cards like Imperious Perfect and Rakka Mar: cards that can make armies at the cost of untapping, since, as annoying as the “no immediate effect if it dies before you untap” line is, it’s sadly true. However, none of those creatures had evasion, so Bloodline Keeper may be better on those merits, but like many other creatures that got pushed out by competition, Bloodline Keeper may be another in that vein.

Diregraf Ghoul

Diregraf Ghoul gives black its best one-drop creature, with a drawback that’s almost irrelevant. If you’re not supporting black aggressive strategies in your cube, Diregraf Ghoul should be what pushes your cube to finally doing so, as it’s a very nice shot in the arm for that archetype.

Liliana of the Veil

Black gets its best planeswalker so far and should be an easy include in cube. It’ll be much better in aggressive decks that don’t mind discarding cards and has been insane versus control decks, as both the discarding and the edict effect are excellent against opposing control decks.

Vampire Interloper

As mentioned earlier, cube designers need to make sure that they don’t have too many double-costed two-drops in their cube so that aggro decks aren’t under undue pressure to have perfect mana, but many black sections don’t tend to have that same pressure because of the strong 1B creatures like Dark Confidant, Dauthi Horror and Nezumi Graverobber. Recently printed 1W creatures like Accorder Paladin and Stoneforge Mystic (who suddenly became great in cube after Scars of Mirrodin block) so unless your cube in on the larger side and needs to have a lot of black 2-drops to have the critical mass to support aggro strategies, Vampire Interloper just isn’t necessary in many cubes, even though its drawback is mostly irrelevant.

Victim of Night

With Terror being phased out of many cubes because of the intense competition for creature removal effects, Victim of Night has a very low chance of making it into many cubes. If your cube is using three-mana, spell-based removal like Eyeblight’s Ending and Rend Flesh, Victim of Night should be an easy upgrade, as Victim of Night acts like nearly-unconditional removal, but the already existing removal options in black like Snuff Out, Doom Blade, Bone Shredder, and Dismember muscle Victim of Night out of a lot of cubes.


Brimstone Volley

It’s worth noting that five damage is an important ceiling in cube, as many red damage spells top out at four damage—making creatures with 5+ toughness like the Kamigawa dragons and creatures like Baneslayer Angel difficult to kill without 2-for-1’ing yourself, so Brimstone Volley offers some nice options for red cube decks.

Kenny Mayer says that it, in theory, Brimstone Volley should be a lot like Searing Blaze, as both are examples of cards that require some setup to use, but the payoff is generally worth it.

In theory, Brimstone Volley’s morbid shouldn’t be very difficult to hit since creatures tend to die a lot in cube, and red’s creatures tend to be on the suicidal side with echo creatures like Keldon Champion and Keldon Vandals and creatures that act as burn spells like Hellspark Elemental and Hell’s Thunder. In the time that I’ve been testing it in my cube, Brimstone Volley wasn’t consistently triggering when I wanted it to, but there weren’t many games when it was held stranded in my hand, if anything because 5 damage to the dome was a great deal to win the game. There are a lot of “2R 3 damage spells with upside” like Puncture Blast, Volt Charge, Fiery Temper, and Urza’s Rage and so far, Brimstone Volley has had a more relevant upside than either of those cards, so if you’re using some of those mentioned burn spells, Brimstone Volley should be an easy upgrade, but if you’re not, one of the less efficient burn spells could go for Brimstone Volley.

Crossway Vampire

Crossway Vampire is an example of a card that I wouldn’t have thought would be printed, especially without a drawback, but it still doesn’t quite make it into a lot of cubes, despite its potential power level as red tends to be crowded at the spell slot at 3-mana (and its creatures like Fire Imp and Ghitu Slinger act like burn spells). It’s another creature that I’m keeping an eye on as it has some really nice strengths going for it—a solid amount of power and a nice ability for aggressive decks. However, it’s an easy include for common cubes!

Devil’s Play

Is Devil’s Play the best non-earthquake X-spell in cube? Based on my experience with the card so far, I’d say so. The problem with a lot of the “Blaze with upsides” like Fireball is that while the upsides like Fireball’s ability to split or Demonfire’s hellbent abilities happen, it’s not terribly often when they do. In the time that I’ve tested Devil’s Play, the flashback has been more relevant than the upsides on other X-spells like Demonfire, Fireball, Red Sun’s Zenith, and Banefire. The RRR can definitely be awkward to reach, but you’ve got time to reach it.

Think about Firebolt and how it can look really bad if you look at it in a certain way. “Sorcery-speed Shock? Flashback that requires a ton of mana? No way.” While RR tends to be harder to reach in two-color decks than an additional 4, it still isn’t very difficult to reach, and the fact that Devil’s Play is an X-spell means that you’re not necessarily being punished if you draw non-red producing lands to fuel the flashback on Devil’s Play.

Devil’s Play also encourages using it on small creatures, as people may not want to “waste” an X-spell on an early creature like a Dark Confidant or a Noble Hierarch, and Devil’s Play helps make those “right plays” less painful.

Hanweir Watchkeep, Instigator Gang, Kruin Outlaw

The R/G Werewolves are interesting because they keep track of spells cast, a resource that generally isn’t tracked. The R/G Werewolves look like they’ll be best in two types of decks:

  1. U/R counterburn that don’t care about not doing anything on their turn, as their basic plan is to hold up mana for countermagic or possible EOT burn.
  2. Aggressive decks with a lot of mana sinks, either level-up creatures like Kargan Dragonlord, permanent-based burn like Stormbind or equipment (especially ones with high equip costs like Loxodon Warhammer or W/R decks with Stoneforge Mystic and Batterskull).

Instigator Gang may be the best out of all of these, as its 2/3 form isn’t bad, acting like an odd Hero of Oxid Ridge with a huge potential upside of being an 8/5 trampler that pumps all of your mana dorks/aggro creatures. Reckless Waif, on the other hand, promises to be the best Goblin Patrol ever, but its unflipped side is by far the worst. Regardless, I’m trying both of them to see how they play out in my cube, but if I had to guess, I’d say that Instigator Gang stays in my cube and on-deck binder for longer than the Waif.


Ambush Viper

In a color with combat tricks that require other creatures to be useful, this presents a nice addition to them by acting as removal without requiring another creature to be used. Even when not used as a 1G Rebuke for non-fliers, its 2/1 deathtouch body lets it attack pretty easily (and is a monster with equipment to boost its power). However, unlike Invisible Stalker, its value is still good even as just a 2/1 deathtouch attacker when cast EOT.


While Bramblecrush isn’t a strict upgrade to Creeping Mold, as Bramblecrush can’t destroy artifact creatures, the ability to destroy planeswalkers more than makes up for it, as green has a lot of ways of killing artifacts anyway, and aside from Beast Within, Bramblecrush is the cheapest way to kill opposing planeswalkers in mono-green. With its increased suite of targets, cubes using Creeping Mold can safely substitute one for the other, but even if you want to keep Creeping Mold and Beast Within in your cube, there should be room for Bramblecrush as well.

Creeping Renaissance

The cost and flashback remind me of Grizzly Fate, and it suffers a similar fate in my cube of being muscled out by competition. Creeping Renaissance can get 2+ permanents in midrange and control decks (usually it’ll be creatures), but don’t overestimate how often it’ll happen or that you’ll be able to get multiple planeswalkers out of the graveyard. I really want to like Creeping Renaissance, but I don’t see it being included in my cube because of the spell slots being pretty tight in green decks and green getting a lot of great cards lately, like both recent Garruk iterations. Still, if you’re promoting ramp/midrange strategies pretty hard in your cube, Creeping Renaissance may be worth a look, but many cubes won’t have room for it.

Garruk Relentless

Garruk Relentless is an odd card that gives a lot of really nice options—when I’ve used him in my cube, he played out as either a way to spam out 2/2s, or as a removal spell for things like Thieving Magpies and 2/2s and then either spamming 1/1 deathtouch Wolves (generally worse than the 2/2s) or acting like a pseudo-Survival of the Fittest. There isn’t much removal in green aside from Master of the Wild Hunt and Beast Within, so it’s nice for green to have another way to deal with utility creatures like Dark Confidant. All in all, a very welcome addition for green decks in cube.

Kessig Cagebreakers

Kessig Cagebreakers acts kind of like a Hero of Bladehold, but with a more variable attack trigger. Even if Kessig Cagebreakers is just attacking with two creatures in the graveyard, it is a solid deal as it gives seven power (like Hero of Bladehold) that sticks around if the maker died with more potential if you can get more creatures into your graveyard. Cagebreakers can be a nice curve topper for green aggressive decks as they should have plenty of creatures in the grave to turn into 2/2 wolves and a nice card for green midrange rock-style decks with creatures that act like spells (Shriekmaw, Bone Shredder.) Like Geist-Honored Monk, both have stiff competition at 5 mana, so I’m hesitant to put the “put this in your cube” stamp on the Cagebreakers, but if your cube can handle having another 5 drop in it, he’s worth using.

Mayor of Avabruck | Howlpack Alpha

At first, I dismissed Mayor of Avabruck, but I think that, of the deck types mentioned above for the werewolves, Mayor of Avabruck will fall more into the draw-go style of decks, where it can push out creatures with no other mana investment and can be protected with countermagic. Sadly, its 1/1 body doesn’t do very much. Whether it’s good enough depends on whether its 3/3 form that spits out wolves is good enough for G/U control-based or tempo-based (with instant speed) decks, or perhaps burn-heavy R/G decks. I haven’t had room for him in my cube due to his inconsistency, but it’s a nice card to provide some diversity to green archetypes, particularly for G/U.

Moldgraf Monstrosity

The Monstrosity is a nice step for green ground-pounders, as it’s a solid deal for the mana, has trample and some Wrath insurance. The randomness can be annoying and can make it so that you’re getting back creatures like mana elves rather than midrange/big creatures like Wurmcoil Engine or Deranged Hermit. It also unfortunately doesn’t play well on its own with traditional reanimation strategies using reanimation spells, but if you can load your graveyard with a high amount of juicy reanimation targets, the death trigger is really nice. In a game where I was testing the Monstrosity, the player had a Primeval Titan, a Fauna Shaman, another six-drop, and a Wall of Blossoms, returning the first two creatures after it died to a removal spell. It’d have been better if it got both six-drops, but that’s still a return on investment!

Unfortunately, it’s still not better than something like Myr Battlesphere. Come on Wizards. Isn’t the whole “huge creatures that are hard to deal with” supposed to be a green strength?

Ranger’s Guile

Ranger’s Guile lags way behind Vines of Vastwood, a card that could either turn a 2/2 into a Titan killer or a removal spell into a fizzle. The +1/+1 doesn’t do very much in rare cubes, and the loss of the Titanic Growth mode of Vines of Vastwood makes Ranger’s Guile not good enough for many cubes. It should be much better in common cubes, as power and toughness are much more concentrated, where power typically doesn’t go above four.


Olivia Voldaren

Like Bloodline Keeper, the “Dies to bolt and white removal” line still rings true, but her potential upside is much higher due to her not needing to untap since she can still kill creatures if you cast her with 6 or 8 mana. If she does untap, she can dominate a board state by killing other creatures and attacking for a ton, even when you are the one with other creatures.

The question with Olivia is how well she passes the “dies to removal” test and whether she’ll die before making an impact versus untapping and causing a major headache. I’ve found that these types of creatures don’t tend to last very long in my cube, but due to her potential upsides, she holds a lot of promise. She appears to be on the weaker side of B/R playables—I’m cutting Sarkhan the Mad for her in my cube, but see both as being at a similar power level.

Geist of Saint Traft

Although Geist of Saint Traft may not look like it, he’s another saboteur creature (a creature that does something when it deals damage to an opponent, like Hypnotic Specter or Thieving Magpie). Saboteur creatures without evasion like Scroll Thief, Augury Adept, and Dimir Cutpurse looked like they should be solid in cube, but their lack of evasion makes them a lot worse. Much like Invisible Stalker, Geist is nice if you can pump his power with a sword or give him evasion through a card like Elspeth, Knight-Errant, but he gets much worse if you can’t.

He is better than the other non-evasive saboteurs since even if he’s suiciding into a 2/2, you get a free Hell’s Thunder out of the deal, and he’s insane on an empty board state, as he provides six power for three mana, but those kinds of scenarios don’t tend to happen very often outside of control mirrors.

His hexproof is good if you have buffs like equipment to make it bigger, since it gives you time to wait for those buffs to come online, but the overall package seems suboptimal, especially with U/W getting solid cards like Venser, the Sojourner as of late.

Gavony Township

Gavony Township offers a “free anthem” for G/W decks that doesn’t take up a slot (at the cost of making colorless mana). The cost is relatively high for a Thrive effect, but the ability to screw up combat math without needing to devote a precious non-creature spot to it looks like it should be nice for cubes that can afford the slot—which is the main thing to address. If I were to use this in my cube, I’d use it in my G/W section, and the competition is way too tight for it. But if you’re using a more literal method of categorization where it’s in a generic land section and have a slot free, this should be a nice one for G/W aggro decks.

Kessig Wolf Run

Similarly, if I were to use Kessig Wolf Run in my cube, it’d be in the R/G slot (and it’s not better than Raging Ravine, sadly), but the card itself has some promise, as it can turn late-game creatures like Jackal Pup and Llanowar Elves into huge trampling creatures that demand removal without requiring a spell slot (which are at a premium in red/green decks as they’re generally burn or reach elements). Much like with Gavony Township, if you have a literal method of categorizing your cube or have room in your guild red/green land section for Kessig Wolf Run, it’s definitely worth a shot.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this trek through Innistrad for cube; it looks like one of the most interesting cube sets since Zendikar and Rise of the Eldrazi, and I hope that this article has given you some direction on what to use from this wonderful set in your cube.

May all of your opening packs contain Sol Rings!

@UsmanTheRad on Twitter
My blog, I’d Rather Be Cubing, featuring my powered & pauper cube lists: http://idratherbecubing.wordpress.com
Cube podcast that Anthony Avitollo and I co-host: The Third Power