Funnily enough, right after my first article was posted, Wizards soon had theirs posted as well discussing major additions to the official cube. Here is the link to it. Take a gander. http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/feature/223b Perfectly timed this may be, the addition of power and signets radically changes how people draft and how games play out.
Many of us have not had the fortune of playing with power. The relevance of certain pieces fluctuate depending on the format it is in whether it be Vintage or cube. To be honest, in cube there are actually ten pieces of power, the tenth being Sol Ring. Even the fabled Black Lotus is a joke when placed alongside Sol Ring. Consider this, Black Lotus is just a minor upgrade to Dark Ritual that costs one less and produces any color. Sol Ring allows the player to be ahead by two colorless every turn starting from turn 1, the moxen in comparison only make one colored mana.
Half of the power nine is fast mana while the other half is broken blue spells. Timetwister is the least powerful out of them, it is the sole build around me card. Time Walk while powerful for its cost does not do quite enough to be first pickable. Now onto Ancestral Recall, casting this card feels unreal and perverts your perception of other card draw spells. In my drafting experience, the only first pickables are Sol Ring, the Moxen, and Ancestral Recall. My ranking is as follows if they were all out of the same pack:
1. Sol Ring
2. Moxen (Sapphire would be my pick of the best one, blue is the best color.)/Ancestral Recall (I still have no idea which is better, Moxen or Recall.)
3. Black Lotus
4. Time Walk
Do not ever pass a mox or Sol Ring unless there is another mox in the pack. I have played in drafts where the mox nearly made an entire loop around the table. There is simply never enough, draft as many as you can get. Color? Who cares about the color it makes?
Playing with the moxen and Black Lotus isn’t as simple as you think it is. The timing of when to play it changes according to the different matchups. You should only cast them when you have a play to make with them, the surprise factor may catch many off guard. Unlike regular ramp where you have to wait a turn for lands to untap, playing the moxen has no drawback leading to lots of unexpected plays. Against decks with artifact destruction, don’t run it out there for no reason, play it when you plan to use it. Letting opponents curve out with a 1 drop, 2 drop into Viridian Shaman on a mox is a beating. Against discard and counterspells, you will want to play it out earlier to dodge them. Running Sol Ring out is usually fine because unlike moxen there is actually a mana cost to it. Adjust your play accordingly and you will be fine.
I love this quote from the recent Wizards article: “Briefly, there’s not a ton of mana fixing because too much mana fixing tends to make every deck at the table the same sort of three-color midrange deck that just wants to gain raw resource advantages via long, boring attrition fights. Eh well… the exact situation is happening right now except not with midrange decks. Signets are back and there will be a multitude of decks that depend on these artifacts to function. These are prone to lose to fast decks which can cripple their mana at an inopportune time. With more mana rocks floating around, the stock on cards like Viridian Shaman and Leonin Relic Warder shoot straight up. Sad news is that the issue with aggro has not yet been rectified so they won’t be winning too many games anytime soon.
The recent changes make certain cards better and others worse. Leonin Relic Warder and Manic Vandal look a lot more exciting in the main deck than ever before. Trinket Mage gets new toys to play with and is now better than Borderland Ranger, acting as both a toolbox and a mana fixer. Tinker and Upheaval become insane with the abundance of mana rocks. Worned Powerstone looks atrocious, unlike the other artifact mana, it comes into play tapped. Blue as a whole has seen a major boost, specifically the combo section.
One major hindrance to the enjoyment of cube online is the addition of prize packs which changes it from a casual format to a competitive one. Reception to the new additions is poor in general from what I have read on twitter especially in regards to power. Power increases the likelihood of having a non-interactive game. When prizes are on the line, losing to power is a major kick in the nuts. Games become more of a coin flip, does my opponent have it or not? I believe power adds more depth to the format but can also detract from the fun leading to many forms of negative emotion. Rage quits have officially increased as of the release of the new cube. I do not advocate including power if the player base cannot handle the possibility of having unwinnable games.
Next week I will most likely discuss balance in cube. As always feel free to discuss and comment on my cube or my article. Ideas for articles are always welcome. Thanks for reading.
I hope these sample hands that I post every article will inspire you to experiment more in cube.
Go big or go home.
*My apologies, the Wizards cube is actually 540 not 720 as I wrote in my last article.