Since this is a strict upgrade to Blade of the Sixth Pride, it’ll definitely make it into cubes running that card. I wasn’t – I
prefer the 2/1 fliers for the same cost – but Accorder Paladin is in a different class. Battle cry is a gift for the cube and (of course) is at
its best in white, which has the most developed token strategies.
I think this is basically an auto-include. The white four-drop creature spot isn’t exactly packed – once you get past Calciderm,
there’s nothing that sees an overwhelming amount of play in the cube. The Hero is pretty awesome if it gets to attack, and it dodges most red
removal – I see this guy having a solid place as a curve-topper in aggressive white decks.
Hero of Bladehold is the Mirran Prerelease promo, so there are two versions:
The composition is more or less identical, so the choice is between the more realistic and fan-service-y promo and the more stylized and slightly more clothed non-promo. The promo art has gotten a lot of criticism, and I’m not exactly sure why. Yes, you might think that
even a lady would want to wear armor, but that’s by no means unique to this card. I’ve seen a fair number of complaints about the fact that
she has visible ribs, but I don’t think her body type is crazy. Thin and muscular seems fine to me for someone whose job is badassery. I’ll
be going with the promo here – it should be a pretty foil, and who am I to say no to a horse that looks like a Cylon?
I love this guy. While it’s not risk-free, it’s a good disruptive beater. There are also a few cute tricks – either bouncing it with
the ability on the stack or reusing your own Saproling Burst, Triskelion, or Parallax Wave. I’ve been happy with Tidehollow Sculler, and I expect
this to be good as well.
While this card is a reprint and not for consideration in rare cubes, I just wanted to point out that the change of rarity makes it eligible for Pauper
Another really clear inclusion. Paladin en-Vec is a cube staple, and this trades a less relevant protection for hitting much harder. There’s some
sort of dream scenario here with Sword of Fire and Ice, but he’s a very solid creature on his own and exactly the type of card white wants.
Mirran Crusader is the buy-a-box promo, and here are the two arts:
Is it wrong to say that his face looks dopey when you can’t really see it? I like the normal art here – Deschamps does a really pretty
background, and the call-out to Phyrexian Crusader is neat.
At this point, there are basically infinite options for 5+ mana wraths. This one isn’t awful, but I’d run Akroma’s Vengeance, Martial
Coup, Austere Command, Hallowed Burial, Catastrophe, and Rout first, and I’m nowhere close to having room for all those. On the other hand,
it’s a reasonable choice if you don’t proxy and don’t have access to the older cards, and there’ll be times where it’s
better than any of the cards above. I’d say this is a strictly personal preference call.
This card has really grown on me since it’s been spoiled. At first glance, I thought it was another big finisher like Sphinx of Magosi that
couldn’t compete with the other options at the same cost. Between Keiga, the Tide Star, Palinchron, Frost Titan, and Sphinx of Jwar Isle, blue
isn’t exactly lacking for quality finishers, and the others are all more resistant to removal. But as long as your opponent can’t remove it
at instant speed, you’ll get to draw two cards – seems pretty good, for the almost-worst case.
Black Sun’s Zenith
This card is so sick! I think Wizards has done a great job with the whole Zenith cycle of finding effects that normally feel bad if you have to play
them early and more-or-less removing that tension. The only thing that I don’t like about this card is that I had to cut Decree of Pain to give
it a spot.
Black Sun’s Zenith is the Mirrodin Besieged Game Day Top 8 promo, so let’s take a look:
Both of these are really pretty, but I can’t say no to full-art and foil.
Probably the most obvious cube inclusion in the set. Just like in Standard, black decks in the cube can struggle against black creatures, and I see
this becoming the best piece of black spot removal. I also love the name – it’s like extra reminder text!
The effect is obviously really strong, but the competition for this spot and the colored-mana-intensive cost will limit how much play it sees in the
cube. I could see this making it into cubes that have room for a third or fourth black six-drop (after Kokusho, the Evening Star and Grave Titan),
where it will be absolutely devastating against aggro decks. In that sense, it has more in common with Sorin Markov than the other creatures –
hard to cast, but it turns the game in your favor in multiple ways when it comes down.
On to red! I’m testing this guy – I think battle cry is going to be very strong in red, which doesn’t normally get anthem effects and
can really benefit from pushing a few extra points of damage. He may not be an all-star, but red desperately needs redundancy in its one- and
Hero #2, on the other hand, has already proven itself to be very good. I’m happy to have hasty creatures in red without a drawback, and
his ability is surprisingly useful. I had him in an R/G aggro deck against a G/W ramp opponent, and he helped my team get through Myr tokens, Elspeth
tokens, and a chump-blocking Sakura-Tribe Elder. He’ll also be great against U/W decks with Wall of Omens, Wall of Denial, and the particularly
annoying Calcite Snapper.
Red Sun’s Zenith
Red Sun’s Zenith suffers the most from having a lot of competition. Red can’t support an infinite number of X-spells in the cube, as
it’s primarily an aggro color. However, I’m trying this in my paper cube in place of Banefire, which is less impressive in Winston draft. I
really liked Beacon of Destruction when it was in my cube, and this gives red a way around cards like Vengevine, Genesis, and especially Kitchen Finks.
Another card that doesn’t fit into the typical red aggro deck but is still strong enough to include. This is going to be a high pick for red
midrange and control decks and will also be relevant in aggro mirrors. I’ve missed Firespout in my cube, and I think the extra red mana is well
worth it for the ability to hit fliers and (occasionally) players or planeswalkers.
Green Sun’s Zenith
This card has also really grown on me. At first, I thought that the restriction to green creatures was too serious of a drawback, but this card is
going to be excellent in decks that have creatures at a range of costs. The G/W ramp deck I talked about earlier used this card to good effect, getting
a Sakura-Tribe Elder on turn 2 (off a Mox) and a Woodfall Primus later on. Green has a high number of utility creatures and another way to toolbox
those is very worthwhile.
I find this card tempting, but I haven’t included it in my own cube. If you’re running 16+ creatures, it’s better than Harmonize, but
I felt that number was unrealistic for a typical green deck. It’s something to keep an eye on though – when you build a green deck, ask
yourself if you’d want Lead the Stampede and then use that information to decide whether or not it’s worth a spot.
So excited about Thrun! This is exactly the type of card that green needs in the cube. The only problematic point is that the four-mana spot in green
is crowded already, but Thrun should make it in over Ravenous Baloth or Phantom Centaur. Thrun is of course a great card to take advantage of the
increasingly good equipment in the cube – I’m daydreaming about G/W with Stoneforge Mystic and Thrun.
I like this guy, maybe a little too much. I find that most of the time, I’m chumping with Sakura-Tribe Elder and then saccing it, and in those
cases, this guy is as good or better. There are obviously cases where you want to get a land immediately, but I don’t think those cases are so
overwhelming that the Emissary isn’t worth it.
Glissa is in an awkward spot. She’s clearly good, even without the second ability, but the cost is difficult – in many situations, she
won’t really be a three-drop. Furthermore, the competition in B/G is tough. Pernicious Deed and Maelstrom Pulse are auto, and Putrefy isn’t
far behind. Aggro decks would rather have Putrid Leech, while nostalgia and how-big-of-a-drawback-did-they-think-gold-was goes to Spiritmonger. That
said, I can see Glissa in cubes with a big gold section or a budget that leaves out the first two cards.
Glissa is a promo as well, so let’s look at the art:
I love Chris Rahn’s art. The lighting is gorgeous, and it’s an appropriately huge change from the original art, whereas Argyle’s is a
much more similar pose. I’m digging the languid-evil style, and I’d go with the normal version if I were running this.
Tezzeret looks too narrow for the cube at first, but he’s managed to stir up some interest. Part of that is the combination – U/B has some
good cards, but it isn’t as tight as B/R or B/G. I think Tezzeret’s best application in the cube will be as a Sarkhan the Mad for
artifacts. And since U/B doesn’t usually get haste, you might get some blowout plays game one.
His first ability definitely requires some building around – I’d estimate that a typical blue cube deck might have around five artifacts.
I’d want more than eight to run Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas, although the quality of your artifacts and the amount of card selection will affect
that as well.
Some cubes will be able to use him more effectively, though – it isn’t unheard of to have an artifact theme in blue, including the original
Tezzeret and Academy Ruins, and new Tezz would likely fit right in. I think his role comes down to personal preference and especially your willingness
to include a card that won’t be right sometimes but that will have an interesting effect in the right deck.
Andy Probasco discussed this guy
in the context of Tinker, and I can only agree – if you’re running Darksteel Colossus as a Tinker target in your cube, Blightsteel Colossus
should replace it. On the other hand, either one should really only be in your cube if it’s very large, or if you’re treating it as a pet
card. There are enough more castable Tinker targets that neither Colossus will be a cube staple.
What a cool card! I think about maindecking Pithing Needle from time to time, and this guy lets you do just that. The difference between Pithing Needle
and Phyrexian Revoker – not being able to hit mana abilities – will be relevant, but most of time you’ll be aiming it at an
equipment, planeswalker, or Opposition anyway.
The three guaranteed abilities on the swords – +2/+2 and protection from two colors – is enough to make them worth including. Sword of Fire
and Ice is so overpowered that there’s a tendency to think the rest of them are underwhelming, but I like this one. Discard isn’t always
relevant, but when it’s good, it’s very good. Likewise, the untap effect will sometimes do nothing, but even if you’re just getting a
free equip, many turns will get much smoother. I see this doing really well in blue decks, as it helps you bluff counterspells (or cast them), sort of
like a slow Palinchron or Treachery.
For a small set, Mirrodin Besieged has been sweet to the cube. These are the cards I think are worth considering – what about you? Has anything
surprised you in one direction or the other?