The Vindicate Verdict / Terminate Test – What it is, and why it matters

What is the Terminate Test?

The terminate test is a measure of how much value you can get from a creature. A frequent play in cube might be to play a creature,and have it immediately nuked by Go for the Throat, Doomblade, or, with it’s namesake, Terminate. The test checks how much value you got from play a card and having it immediately killed. This is linked to how much your own card just turned into a time walk for your opponent. Terminate is used because it’s cheap, powerful removal, and fairly analogous to other good black removal.

How do you pass the terminate test?

There are 5 ways of passing the terminate test:

  • costing less than 4
  • enter the battlefield ability
  • leaves play ability
  • an out of play ability
  • not dying to terminate

Why does costing less that 4 = a pass?

At 5 and 6 mana, you’re trading down a huge amount. A 4 mana, you’re still trading down a lot, but we’ve got to ignore that. At 3 mana, you’re barely trading down, and your trading-down-ness is counteracted by their holding mana up.

Why is etb abilities a pass?

etb abilities pass because you’ve gotten value from the card. They’ve terminated your Cloudgoat Ranger? You’ve still got kithkin. They’ve nuked your Shriekmaw? You’ve 2 for 1’d them, and so on.

Why is leave play abilities a pass?

Like etb abilities, you’ve still gotten value from your card. Whether its CA from Reveillark, or huge life swings from Kokusho, it’s passed the test.

Why is an out of play ability a pass?

The only example I have of this is Genesis. These have value because you’re actually benefiting from them killing your creature, and so you’ve gained in value.

Why is not dying to terminate a pass?

This is a bit easy, but if it’s got protection from black, shroud, indestructibility or something, then obviously terminate is useless against it, and therefore your creature has nulled a lot of removal. The other way it can pass in this way is if it has persist, like Murderous Redcap or Kitchen Finks.

What’s wrong with the terminate test?

Most removal doesn’t have a no-regen clause, so creatures which regenerate don’t pass the terminate test, despite the fact they’d beat most removal. Also, instant speed removal is less common in the cube than people think, so it’s not hugely valuable in this respect.

What is the vindicate verdict?

The vindicate verdict is like the terminate test, except Terminate has been replaced by Vindicate. So it’s a test which measures the value you get from a creature if your opponent casts vindicate on it in his/her first main phase.This allows regenerators to pass the test, and cards which have abilities that trigger on your opponents upkeep.  Rather importantly, it allows creatures with haste to pass the test, which was a pretty big flaw in the terminate test.

The important thing to remember with these tests is that they’re not the be all and end all. Obviously, a creature which is a 6/1 shroud for 6 with no evasion passes the terminate test and vindicate verdict, but it’s still nowhere near good enough for cube. On the other  hand, Baneslayer Angel passes neither test, and gets through on raw power. As always, they’re a tool, and should be treated as such,

Thanks for reading,

Sexy.

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