The Pro Tour, #SCGMKE, And Cube Updates!

Jim Davis is one of the finer Cube constructors in the business! The Players Champion talks #SCGMKE, Pro Tour aftermath, and of course, the latest in new Shadows over Innistrad Cube inclusions!

SCG Tour <sup>®</sup>Milwaukee Apr. 30 – May 1!” border=”1″ /></a></div>
<p><i>(There is supposed to be a photo of myself in a Pittsburg Penguins jersey here, holding a sign that says “Let’s go Pens.” Unfortunately, while I’ve been keeping an eye out for one in between park hopping at Disney World, I have been unable to secure one for a photograph. Which makes sense, who would want a Sidney Crybaby jersey anyway? But rest assured, once home I will have no trouble finding one and my shame will be on display for all to see. My Rangers really let me down.)</i></p>
<p><!--- Ad used to be shown to select users here --></p>
<p>Oh well… on to more uplifting topics.</p>
<p>How about the Pro Tour, I heard they made some great changes to The Pro Player’s Club!</p>
<p>Hmm… boy am I glad I moved all-in on the SCG Tour<sup>®</sup> a few years back.</p>
<p>Regardless of all the garbage to come out of the Pro Tour, I want to give a huge congrats to my boy Steve Rubin on his win. It sucks that is has been overshadowed by someone’s supreme level of incompetence, but this finish is a long time coming for Steve. Steve is a fantastic Magic player and a great guy and he deserves this one. I couldn’t be happier with our new PT Champ!</p>
<p>Okay, how about something else that’s fun?</p>
<p>Hmm… what haven’t I really had time for lately…</p>
<p><div align=

Oh yeah… a Cube update!

I haven’t had any time since Battle for Zendikar to touch my Cube and there have been two sets released with a ton of potential Cube cards in them. Many are currently blowing up Standard, with a few having impact in other formats as well. Today we evaluate which ones will make the cut.

For reference, here is my Cube. If you would like to hear my detailed explanation of my entire Cube, check out my six article Cube Compendium.

While Thalia’s Lieutenant has been tearing up Standard lately, it may not seem like an immediate inclusion to the Cube. Don’t make that mistake. There are a ton of Humans in my Cube across all colors, so many so that Champion of the Parish is already an inclusion. Thalia’s Lieutenant is even more powerful than Champion of the Parish, and while the bar of entry for the two-drop is definitely higher than a one-drop, it certainly is going to make the cut.

Pushing tribal in Cubes is hard unless you want to make an actual tribal Cube, but the abundance of Humans across all colors has made it the only truly supported tribe in my Cube. Even so the support is light, with cards like Champion of the Parish and Xathrid Necromancer really being the only official support. Thalia’s Lieutenant happily joins those two and adds another great dimension to the Cube.

The Verdict: Welcome to the Cube!

A much more innocent-looking card than Thalia’s Lieutenant, Thraben Inspector almost doesn’t even look playable in Limited. Yet it has proven itself time and time again in Constructed already and is the definition of a great synergy card. Solid one-drops are hard to come by, and Thraben Inspector provides you with a reasonable body, a cheap upfront cost, the card back later, a good creature type, and even an artifact for use with artifact synergies. This is important in my Cube, as artifacts are a big factor and white is one of the most important artifact colors.

While not a stone shoe-in like some of the other cards talked about today, good one-drops are a must in my Cube. This means that Thraben Inspector is like to push one of the weaker ones out, and is a card I am excited to see in action. I love cards that are more than the sum of their part and Thraben Inspector is exactly that.

The Verdict: Welcome to the Cube!

While a card like Thraben Inspector is a great synergy card that will make the other cards around it better, a card like Declaration in Stone is just pure power.

There’s really not much to say about Declaration in Stone. It is a very powerful removal spell with a very reasonable drawback that makes it better in aggressive decks but still playable otherwise. This card is great and is a no-brainer inclusion.

The Verdict: Welcome to the Cube!

Man, white sure has it good in Shadows over Innistrad, doesn’t it? Having three shoe-in cards in a set for Cube in one color is absurd, and we still aren’t done yet. Up next is a card that I like a ton, but poses a very interesting question: “How easy will it be to get delirium in your average Cube deck?”

With no delirium, Topplegeist is a very modest card; a Suntail Hawk with mild upside is pretty ho-hum and not really a playable Cube card. However, with delirium Topplegeist is an extremely powerful battlefield presence for only one mana, that will make attacking and blocking extremely difficult for your opponent. Anyone who has ever seen a Sentinel of the Eternal Watch in play in Limited will know how powerful this effect is.

Unfortunately the delirium conundrum is one that is just going to require testing. There are a lot of fetchlands and artifacts in my Cube, so my initial thoughts are that delirium should be reasonable easy to obtain. If this is true Topplegeist is a great inclusion and the perfect example of a card with a lot of inherent power that may never find a home in constructed.

The Verdict: Maybe…

Ah yes, Shadows over Innistrad’s leading lady.

On the surface, Archangel Avacyn is a pretty well-suited Cube card. She is a very powerful card that is a tad bit awkward and challenging to build with. She’s fairly flexiable as well and a good top-end threat or finisher.

However, she has some pretty decorated competition.

I keep the curve of my Cube very lean, so a creature with a mana cost greater than three is going to have very high barrier of entry. The current five-drops in white are Baneslayer Angel and Reveillark, which are not going to be easy cards to unseat.

Avacyn is a card I am going to probably try, but first impression is that she is not going to make the cut.

The Verdict: Maybe…

Thing in the Ice is another fantastic Cube card. It is inherently very powerful and also requires some deckbuilding finesse to make work properly. This is a card that may be a bit too difficult to make work in constructed but is an awesome challenge in Cube while providing a huge payoff when it works. The fail-state of being a 0/4 for two mana also isn’t that bad either, which makes it a pretty clear winner.

Thing in the Ice is the kind of card that I love to have in my Cube and am always super excited to see what people will do with it.

The Verdict: Welcome to the Cube!

Falkenrath Gorger is a bit simpler than a card like Thing in the Ice or Archangel Avacyn.

It’s a 2/1. For one red mana. With no drawback.

Goodbye Firedrinker Satyr, we hardly knew ye.

I hope the madness ability comes up at least once in the next year of Cubing, that would be fun too.

The Verdict: Welcome to the Cube!

A slightly more interesting one-drop is Village Messenger.

Reckless Waif is a card that has been in my Cube for a while for a few reasons. The options at red one-drops are a bit thin, and it plays rather well in blue/red aggressive decks that want to leave mana up sometimes. Having a density of good red one-drops that are good in a variety of decks is one of the challenges of good Cube design.

So the question becomes, “Is Village Messenger better than Reckless Waif?”

On the front side getting in for that extra point of damage certainly counts for something, but the big difference is on the backside in the form of an extra point of power or menace. My gut tells me that Reckless Waif is still better, but I will be trying out Village Messenger as well. It’s also possible that the Firedrinker Satyr that got cut for Falkenrath Gorger is just better than both cards.

The Verdict: Maybe…

Some cards like Village Messenger are difficult to evaluate for Cube. They walk the line of just good enough and there are solid arguments for and against them.

Some cards like Chandra, Flamecaller are just slam-dunk inclusions.

Red has been lacking a great planeswalker for a very long time. I am very strict with planeswalkers in my Cube and there is only one mono-colored planeswalker in each section. While each other color has had a few very good planeswalkers fighting for that coveted spot, the red section has always been a chore to fill.

No longer.

Chandra, Flamecaller is everything you could want in a planeswalker. She’s a win condition that kills quickly, draws cards, and provides excellent board control. It’s very important to have interesting red cards in the Cube that aren’t just burn spells or one drops, and Chandra fits the bill.

The Verdict: We’ve waited long for you, and welcome to the Cube!

Goblin Dark-Dwellers is another interesting red card. Essentially the turbocharged version of Snapcaster Mage, Goblin Dark-Dwellers offers a unique effect that is not normally seen in red and can be good in aggressive and control decks alike.

However, it is also a five-mana sorcery-speed threat that requires specific conditions to actually do anything. Without a reasonable spell density Goblin Dark-Dwellers is a 4/4 for five mana and it’s possible that the payoff is not worth the low floor.

This is a card I am going to try but am rather hesitant about.

The Verdict: Maybe…

My love for Tireless Tracker started at the Prerelease, when I had one in each of my Prerelease Sealed decks. Tireless Tracker overperformed mightily that day, and has done so basically every time I have tried playing with it.

Tireless tracker provides so much value just for doing something you were going to be doing anyway (playing lands), and does so while also providing a well-costed body and an eventual huge win condition. There’s also a good amount of support for lands-style strategies in my Cube, which it slots perfectly into, as well as a high density of fetchlands. Lately there are a number of artifact synergies in my Cube which it can backdoor into nicely as well.

Tireless Tracker is awesome and an easy inclusion into the Cube.

The Verdict: Welcome to the Cube!

A less easy inclusion is the very powerful Traverse the Ulvenwald. Much like with Topplegeist, we have the delirium conundrum again. Without delirium, Traverse the Ulvenwald is Lay of the Land, and Lay of the Land is definitely worse than Suntail Hawk. However, with delirium Traverse the Ulvenwald is closer in power level to Demonic Tutor.

I am a huge fan of tutors in my Cube, as they allow you to build combo decks in a singleton format with reasonable ease. Even if you aren’t trying to assemble some sort of game winning combination of creatures the ability to tutor for any creature with no loss of cards is very powerful.

This is a card I expect to see a lot of in the future, especially in Modern and Legacy. For now it is a question mark in Cube, as it really must be extensively testing to see if it fits.

The Verdict: Maybe…

Is the card that has been terrorizing Standard since it was printed good enough for Cube?


The answer is yes.

The Verdict: Welcome to the Cube!

I am a huge fan of Jori En, Ruin Diver and am a huge fan in general of creatures that let you draw more cards. Jori En fits right into what both aggressive and controlling blue/red decks want to be doing, while also helping to support the cheap spell/prowess theme as well. Cards like Snapcaster Mage, Abbot of Keral Keep, and Delver of Secrets are the main draws, but it is support cards like Jori En, Ruin Diver help to bring it all together.

Jori En also just has the feel of a good Cube card. There are a lot of cards that are actually quite good overall but never find a home in constructed and Cube is their place to shine. My initial impression of Jori En is that she is one of those cards.

The Verdict: Welcome to the Cube!

Nipping right at Jori En’s heels is the vaunted Stormchaser Mage. Stormchaser Mage fits into the exact style of deck that Jori En promotes and feels like another shoe-in to the Cube.

As it stands I’m still not completely sold on Stormchaser Mage. Monastery Swiftspear is a fantastic one-drop, but when you add on another mana of a different color and only get +0/+1 and flying you begin to feel like you are getting ripped off.

Still the competition in the blue/red section of the Cube isn’t that tough, so for now they are both in. Stormchaser Mage is definitely on the watch list though and I will be closely monitoring how it plays.

The Verdict: Maybe…

Our last card is one that is not actually in Shadows over Innistrad or Oath of the Gatewatch, but one of that I have grown fond of lately. Kevin Jones was adamant about Bounding Krasis being great in the Bant Company deck and it took actually playing with it a bunch to finally see the light.

The blue/green section has always been a problem in my Cube, as while the other color pairs often have a ton of sweet multicolor cards fighting for slots it always feels like the blue/green cards just come up short. I’ve switched out the blue/green cards a hundred times over, with many different cards getting a shot over the years. I think I may have missed the boat on Bounding Krasis however and am happy to rectify that mistake.

The Verdict: Welcome to the Cube!

The Cuts

Of course, to add cards you need to cut cards as well. The opportunity cost of adding a card to the Cube is very high, as cutting cards is very difficult. I tend to lean towards a more liberal approach of adding cards, because the best way to find out how a card plays is simply to play with it. I can always cut the card later and put the old card taken out back in.



I would not be surprised if I end up taking out some of these new additions, but playing with them is the best way of seeing if they fit. I strongly suggest that whenever you are considering whether or not you should add a card to your Cube that you just throw it in and see how it plays. More often than not you will be surprised with the results.

Note to self: force U/R Prowess in my next draft with my Cube!

Challenge Thursdays

No stream this week, due to me being in Disney World.

Don’t look so freaked. It’s not like he’s Darth Vader or something.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t send me your challenges for next week’s Challenge Thursday on Twitter! Make sure you use the #JDCT, and tweet me your challenges for Standard or Modern; they can be deckbuilding restrictions, card build-arounds, whatever you want. Just make sure to be creative. I’ll also have yet another big announcement on my stream on Monday.

Aside from that though, you are not going to want to miss #SCGMKE this weekend.

Trust me, it’s gonna be huge.

SCG Tour <sup>®</sup>Milwaukee Apr. 30 – May 1!” border=”1″ /></a></div></p>
    </div><!-- .entry-content -->
    		<div class=