Greetings, Cube enthusiasts! This week marks the release of the Doctor Who Commander decks, and as such, I’ll be writing on these decks and what stands out from them as most relevant in the wide world of Cube! The Commander decks released in tandem with Standard-legal sets tend to only produce a very small number of cards that stand out for Cube to me, but the Universes Beyond Commander decks we’ve seen so far have offered applications for all kinds of different ways to play Magic, which I personally love about them. I’ll be doing my usual top 10 list today, but first I’d like to touch on some themes from these decks and more unique design spaces that they explore.
A handful of cards reference historic spells in these decks, with legendary creatures being specifically called out as both a sub-theme of historic and a general focus for both Commander and Magic broadly these days. Sagas are an awesome card type that we’ve come to expect more of every year, and artifacts offer a deep theme to explore, which makes historic intriguing space to explore in Cube.
There’s a ton of overlap in ways to make all of the aspects of historic apply in Cube, and K-9, Mark I stands out to me as being very useful specifically in this space. Cheap legendary creatures gain more and more appeal for Cube all the time, and there’s something really exciting about a Cube where casting Turn 1 K-9, Mox Amber, and Emry, Lurker of the Loch is a potential opening!
The time travel mechanic allows you to modify the number of time counters on permanents you control as well as your suspended cards. The suspend mechanic usually isn’t in abundance in a given Cube, but time travel does open up more meaningful ways to approach using suspend as a theme. If nothing else, a Cube inspired by Time Spiral block would gain a lot by using cards from this release, and from both Modern Horizons sets while you’re at it. Such a Cube would generally lean more on cool things than powerful things, which is arguably the most fun space to explore.
If you’re interested in powerful things, though, I do have one quick honorable mention before I get to my Top 10 for broader Cubeability…
Now let’s get to the list!
10. Dan Lewis
Dan Lewis isn’t an especially powerful card, but a two-mana 2/2 with a relevant creature type and supertype opens up a lot of potential synergies. I doubt it’ll show up in all that many Cubes, but I do want to invite Cube designers to take a look at all of the cards that make Clues, Food, Blood, Treasure, and all of the other incidental artifacts that show up in the average Cube game. Dan Lewis won’t be great everywhere, but it definitely has some homes.
9. Sarah Jane Smith
Sarah Jane Smith is a lot like Dan Lewis in that both cards are asking something of the environment, but doing so from the starting point of being relatively cheap to cast and having relevant types. I like Sarah Jane Smith a bit more because investigating has more potential to snowball advantage, and it matters less that the card doesn’t have any kind of in-game ability. For example, Dan Lewis would be much more appealing if the card had haste, whereas Sarah Jane Smith isn’t hurting all that much from the absence of first strike.
A Cube that cares about historic at all probably has some way to exploit Clues, and really, just sacrificing them to draw cards is a pretty good exploit! Legendary creatures and Sagas are also becoming more incidental over time, so it doesn’t take much to put this card over.
8. Jamie McCrimmon
Jamie McCrimmon doesn’t fit as well into the average Cube as the previous two entries, and is entering the world of Cube at just as crowded if not more crowded of space on the mana curve, but the card has two things that I believe make it more worth mentioning. The first is that Jamie McCrimmon has a useful combat ability, trample. The second is that making successful green aggressive decks in Cube is more reliant on new cards than making successful red or white decks that care about cheap creatures.
Green “legendary creatures matter” is a space that I’ve been eager to explore ever since the printing of Kolvori, God of Kinship. Jamie McCrimmon also curves beautifully into an old favorite of mine in Surrak, the Hunt Caller.
7. Dalek Drone
Dalek Drone isn’t exactly exploring groundbreaking space, but there are quite a few things to like about the card. Flying plus menace is a great pairing of evasive abilities, and being an artifact creature opens up more synergies that you’d see on regular old Ravenous Chupacabra.
Admittedly, gaining life on this sort of effect is historically more powerful, being more at home in midrange and controlling decks, but making the opponent lose life does make this card more at home in aggressive black decks. Five mana is a little steep for aggro decks, but clearing a blocker and making an opponent lose life is kind of like giving Dalek Drone haste. Similarly to Jamie McCrimmon, I see this card as more relevant for adding more to aggressive black decks, which are less supported by the existing card pool than controlling ones. The card is rather simple, but there’s something here.
6. Heaven Sent
Heaven Sent provides you with an infinite stream of card draw!… over time… at about three mana per card… This is maybe more of a riff on How to Keep an Izzet Mage Busy than anything else, but this card has a lot of potential in any Cube that can take advantage of incidental artifacts and/or cares about casting historic spells.
Heaven Sent isn’t an inherently powerful card, but it would be a bomb in a lot of retail Sealed Deck environments that I’ve played, and it greases the wheels for a lot of synergy-driven decks. I might be a mark for loving this card, but that doesn’t make me love it any less.
5. Trial of a Time Lord
What if Parallax Wave cost one less mana, and to make up for it was much, much weaker? Trial of a Time Lord can’t tag opposing tokens or be used to blink your own creatures, but in an aggressive mirror, this is still a potentially massive breaker! Not only do you blink your opponent’s best creature out of existence for three turns, but for the next two turns, you get a temporary reprieve from whatever other creature they might commit to the battlefield!
Seeing as the creature is exiled only as long as Trial of a Time Lord remains on the battlefield and not as a matter of some separate trigger, you can only get so fancy with Flickerwisp here and can’t cause a total blowout as you could with The Princess Takes Flight. Ideally you have a plan to close the game quickly if you’re casting Trial of a Time Lord, and the card is something of a three-for-one if you do.
4. Astrid Peth
I’ve highlighted a couple of cards already that play well with incidental artifact tokens, and Astrid Peth does that while also generating such tokens immediately and over time. If nothing else, this card is a slam dunk for Game Objects Cube.
Astrid would be more powerful if the trigger gave you Treasures or Clues, but the second ability is what puts the card over on an individual card basis. It’s tough to block a creature that can suddenly have an uncertain number of additional +1/+1 counters. It’s also worth noting that gaining life with Food also helps stem the bleeding from a potential crack-back from the opponent. Astrid is slightly unassuming, but I believe the card to be quite strong.
It’s difficult to evaluate the power level of Blink. I think it’s pretty clear that the card is a little weak and slow for Vintage Cube, but it does give you four effects that are worth at least half a card. I’m no math genius, but that has to count for something!
Blink is very likely to swing advantage on the battlefield in your favor over time, and while your opponent will have an easy way to ignore Alien Angels as blockers often enough, they are still pretty valuable attackers! This is the sort of card that I think has a very fun and pretty powerful effect, and I’d like to see it in environments like Arena Cube. It also adds a lot to Cubes that care about historic by making so many artifact tokens and being a Saga itself.
2. The Flux
There are quite a few four-mana red cards that exist in similar space to The Flux, slowly generating card advantage over time with “impulsive card draw”, as they call it. The card compares generally unfavorably to Chandra, Torch of Defiance, but there will be games where your opponent controls multiple creatures where The Flux would actually perform better.
Six turns is a lot of time to wait, but six mana is a massive boost, especially after a few turns of generating card advantage. The Flux is the sort of card that makes me wonder what I can do with it, and the possibilities here are pretty large. Even something as simple as finally cracking all of my Heaven Sent Clues excites me, and I would always be happy to see this card in a pack.
1. Weeping Angel
You might think that a card with Weeping Angel’s art should have flying. I would agree with you, but the card and I assume the lore do not. That said, flashing in Weeping Angel provides a clean answer to even the largest and most hexproof or indestructible creatures. Again, provided that they don’t fly.
Turn over turn, Weeping Angel will suffer from the drawback of the opponent being able to turn it off as a blocker by casting creature spells, but this won’t always be an option, and through discard or counterspells, there are tools for Dimir decks to save Weeping Angel from opposing removal, all while being able to attack the opponent or their planeswalkers with a vigilant creature that is quite unpleasant to block!
I always find myself thinking that Dimir has a more powerful and deeper roster of gold cards than it does for Cube broadly, and being an artifact with flash that serves as a powerful removal spell makes Weeping Angel well worth noting.
I don’t know much about Doctor Who, but it’s clear that the people behind these decks are very passionate about the series. Universes Beyond continues to produce home runs for fans of their respective IPs and Magic alike, and I’m really excited for Magic’s future.