Epic Cube Experiment 8
After much self-reflection and research, I have begun to purge my cube of the weaker elements. Originally sitting in the 830s range, I have reduced the count to 780 which is a sizeable chunk. As a cube designer you soon learn that the hardest thing to do is make cuts. Adding takes little to no effort but cutting is an entirely different matter. My cube has seen constant growth up to this point with nothing to keep it in check and I felt that it was time to put an end to that. A lot of the cuts have been with me since the beginning which is why it was exceptionally hard to make that decision.
Out of all the colors, white has undergone the greatest change. I have removed most of the double mana symbol creatures, not only in white but in black and red as well. Most cubes have already done away with them; I had resisted the urge to do so up till this point. The knights constantly wheeled and were generally late picks as a defensive control card. They rarely saw play in their intended roles as aggressive beaters that would blank certain strategies. Often the knights would languish in the sideboard until they became relevant to the matchup. A major hindrance to seeing maindeck play are the double mana symbols that prevented them from consistently coming down on turn 2 outside of white weenies. Even with the inclusion of ample amounts of fixing, turn 2 is not a guarantee. When played off curve, they don’t compare well against 3 drops and beyond. 2 drops in white is experiencing a trend of moving towards a single white and a colorless. This makes the cards more enticing and easier to curve out with. I have retained four double white creatures which includes Leonin Relic-Warder, Knight of Meadowgrain, Eight-and-a-Half-Tails, and Precinct Captain. Leonin Relic-Warder is a sweet Oblivion Ring that can beat down. The other three are just the cream of the crop of double white two drops. Their abilities make them relevant in more matchups.
My gold section in the past was serious unbalanced, Selesnya was by far the deepest and best guild. Currently I have imposed a ten card limit for each guild. Some guilds had trouble getting to ten while others were overflowing with goodies. The new system is still flawed though a step in the right direction. I didn’t set a lower limit because there were a lot of sweet cards I wanted to keep in. A cube cannot handle a high density of gold cards, they all turn into late picks. Previously I had included many weaker cards like Watchwolf, Loxodon Smiter, and Putrid Leech. They were all just vanilla creatures that I had added with the intention of strengthening aggro but I think the cube can do without them. By restoring balance in gold, I hope to do away gold infested packs, thereby increasing overall power level.
Lands are some of my favorite permanents in Magic. They let me cast all my absurd costing spells, Cryptic Command followed by Sigarda, Host of Herons. I was concerned about the overabundance of land fixing leading to a glut of three or more colors midrange and control decks that my group is especially fond of. As I wanted to keep multicolor aggro viable, I chose to remove some of the come into play tapped lands. My candidates were the trilands and vivids. These function best in slower decks. Signets were not due to the fact that I wanted to maintain a certain density of artifacts for the artifact deck. Also they served as good fixing. Many cubers have attributed the issue of overabundance in manafixing to signets but their cubes do not support the artifact archetype. Without a concentration of artifacts, Tezzeret and friends can’t function reliably.
While I have never been a major advocate for sideboard cards, I have received feedback from my group about the lack of artifact hate. I am surprised by this result myself, personally I did not feel that was the case. Every cubeable maindeck artifact hate card has already been included. My only real choice is to run narrow answers in Disenchant and its variants. As all veteran cubers know, too many can hurt the health of the cube by diluting the power level of packs. This was a big issue regarding the MTGO cube. Artifacts in cube are some of the most powerful cards ever printed, even more so for powered ones. Moxen, swords, and jitte to name a few. Without sufficient answers, artifacts will run rampant making the cube experience less enjoyable. That is not something I want to happen. Including narrow hate is the lesser of two evils. All the hate are instant speed, I find sorcery and onboard effects to be awkward. Instants add an additional element to the combat step similar to pump spells by knocking off equipment which are the major targets. Batterskull is immune to most forms of sorcery speed hate unless tapped out, having instant speed makes it somewhat easier to kill. It is typically impossible to deal with unless there is a trump.
The numbers for each color has been reduced to 94 from 102. I have spent a fair amount of time analyzing other cubes of similar size. As cubes increase in size, the proportion of roleplayers increase as well. So the power level decreases since you don’t see archetype staples as often. Staples form the basis of your decks. While my group and I love powerful cards, we also want variety in our drafts. 225 is the perfect size for the 5 of us, unfortunately that requires me to trim a lot of the less powerful cards that we have come to love. Our group barely plays any Magic outside of cube, it is one of our few opportunities to experiment with wacky interactions. We are all Spikes at heart and cube is the perfect place to channel our competitiveness.
In the last couple of months I have been avidly posting on the mtgsalvation cube forum. In spite of the many off putting rumors about the forum circulating, I decided to set foot there. To my pleasant surprise, the majority of the cube forum posters are polite and well informed. It is a good resource for discussing cube particularly for those living in areas without any other cube owners. But don’t listen to everything they have to say, sometimes their reasoning is flawed. You may find me posting there under the username Chisinf. Please comment and discuss as always.
Go big or go home.