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Quarterly Cube Update – Return to Ravnica (WUBRG and Colorless)

November 8, 2012

It’s the Return to Ravnica update, part deux.

With today’s update I’ll finish inserting any of the non-multicolor cards from Return to Ravnica I want to add into the cube, and cut cards as necessary.

On to the changes, starting with Colorless, and a random color starting point going around the wheel:

Colorless

Triskelion –> Chromatic Lantern

Best source of colored mana acceleration after Coalition Relic? Accelerates less, fixes more. It’s so good

Triskelion is fine, but is not a high-value card in terms of average effectiveness compared to other 6-mana creatures in the cube. With the trend of multicolor cards with intense colored mana costs being very playable despite that drawback, it’s hard for Triskelion to compete. Reveillark will just have to find other creatures to value-town with.

Red

Flame Slash –> Mizzium Mortars
Ghitu Slinger –> Guttersnipe
Ember Hauler
–> Ash Zealot

I’m eager to try out the Mortars, and it’s replacing a card with a cheaper base casting cost but no late-game upside. It should prove to be nearly as good early, and very good late in the decks that can Overload it.

Guttersnipe looks interesting for different reasons, as a build-around card that should perform best in red, black, and blue decks, where the high concentration of removal spells give plenty of ways of triggering the ability. The lower density of spells in white and green mean it will be less good there, but can still provide a bit of reach in aggro decks with those colors.

Ember Hauler is pretty nice actually, able to pick off small creatures, help take out large ones, and assassinate planeswalkers with low loyalty, but I’m putting it on the bench so that adding Ash Zealot doesn’t mess with red’s curve or increase the number of spells with double-red in their casting costs. The utility lost by its absence should be shored up somewhat by Ash Zealot’s aggressiveness and Guttersnipe’s ability to deal damage outside of combat. I’m treating the Zealot’s last ability as a sort of bonus – the card is plenty good enough without it.

Black

Fledgling Djinn –> Pack Rat
Sudden Death –> Ultimate Price
Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief –> Desecration Demon

Let’s face facts: Fledgling Djinn (and many other cheap black creatures) are just filler. Pack Rat is a limited bomb that has the capability to win the game on its own (albeit combined with the other cards in your hand as fodder), and has synergy with the cube reanimator archetype! Get in my cube!

Sudden Death is an unanswerable kill spell for, well, just too much mana nowadays. Ultimate Price should fill in cuves better, can kill larger creatures (like Titans), and isn’t necessarily horrible versus Mother of Runes, one of the few plusses Sudden Death had going for it. Ultimate Price won’t hit the new multicolored creatures in the cube, but it’s still a great Terror variant.

I’ve been wanting to try one of the huge undercosted black fliers for a while, but never had my hands on an Abyssal Persecutor before. Desecration Demon is similar, but doesn’t have a “you can’t win the game” clause. The ability to chump it with ground-based creatures looks bad (for the controller), but it’s really not a big drawback, certainly not worse than what you see on Blastoderm. And if your opponent has no creatures, for some reason (perhaps they paid the Ultimate Price already), they’re taking six damage or more in combat. Drana has been consistently good once she hits the table, but does tie up a lot of mana for her ability, and costs more up front.

Blue

NEW –> Jace, Architect of Thought
Repeal –> Cyclonic Rift

I mean, come on. It’s a Jace. It costs four. It protects itself with its first ability, and draws cards with the second. And it has a decent amount of loyalty for a blue planeswalker, too. Adding Jace without cutting a card seems like cheating, but I already have plans on expanding my colors by one or two cards in the next update. Blue justifiably gets an extra card early because it’s blue and it always gets nice things first. 😉

I really like both of the cantripping bounce spells in my cube (Repeal and Into the Roil), and though Cyclonic Rift can’t draw cards, it has a massive potential upside with built-in card advantage. I’m not quite sure which cantrip is the right one to cut for Cyclonic Rift, but I think I might value the ability to hit large creatures for a bare minimum of mana over the ability to hit non-creatures. On the other hand, situations like hitting an equipment mid-combat, or a planeswalker, are really important actions that give Repeal versatility. Right now, Into the Roil stays.

White

Decree of Justice –> Angel of Serenity

I’m a big fan of preventing my opponent from winning the game. A few angel tokens don’t have quite the same effect as one angel that Oblivion Rings up to three of your opponent’s best threats. These are both at about the same mana cost when hard-cast, and the Angel has blink and reanimation potential to boot.

Thanks for taking a look at my cube changes. Return to Ravnica gave a little bit in every color, and combined with the multicolor additions, turned out to be a really great set for cube.

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