Category Archives: Card Evaluation

Card Evaluation – Skinshifter


  • can be bigger than almost anything early on
  • stays fairly relevant throughout the game
  • versatile modes of play
  • easy to play
  • poor man’s goyf
  • cheap!
  • looks like Jesus


  • Basically has an upkeep cost
  • Disrupts the curve if you want to beat early
  • tiny body

General Comments

Initally, I was really excited by Shinshifter when M12 was being previewed. I got all excited, because you could beat for 4 on turn 3 off your two drop, and it was all quite exciting. Then I realised that the upkeep cost is pretty irritating in a green deck. Most of my GX decks really like to play  a three drop on turn three, and a four drop on turn 4.  Unfortunately, in order to beat for maximum damage with skinshifter, you need to play your three drop turn 4, and your four drop turn 5, which isn’t as much fun.

My most common test I apply to most cards in cube (other than the vindicate verdict) is how it stacks up against other cards at that mana cost, in that colour. So skinshifter is in contest, probably, with Tarmogoyf, Rofellos, Lotus Cobra, the boas,scavenging ooze, wild mongrel, STE, fauna shaman, and a wall. Jesus might be able to displace the wall, although looking to other places, there are probably other cuts to be made for skinshifter in my cube (most likely farseek)

Verdict:450+ definitely, maybe smaller, needs more testing


Card Evaluation – Leonin Relic-Warder


  • 2 power for 2
  • silver bullet on a stick


  • CC cost
  • in a stacked section
  • no evasion

General Comments

I really liked Ronom Unicorn when it was in my cube. It was a cool bear, and it could just swing until my opponent played control magic or whatever, and then I could kill the annoying enchantment, in my aggro deck, without being 2 for 1d. So, in short, I really like Leonin Relic-Warder. He’s got a big tempo bonus, and if you play in a powered environment, he gets a lot better. Turn 2, take out your mox? Sweet.

I can see this guy having tons of value in any WX aggro deck, since  LR-W is on a body, which makes it a lot better for those decks than Disenchant.  Getting a body to beat down with, in addition to a silver bullet is the key value piece for this card. My problem with it is, is that white two drops is probably the tightest section in cube (except like,green four drops?), and so a CC card has to be insane to make it in. My current CC cards are Knight of Meadowgrain , Soltari Monk and Soltari Priest. I don’t think LR-W is on that standard, so it doesn’t make the cut at 360.

I’m sure there’s some benefit to the animate dead combo with this. I just can’t see it.


Blue Sky Thinking, and cube

I hate the phrase ‘blue sky thinking’. I also hate the phrase ‘thinking outside the box’.  Because they don’t tell you what they mean. They mean thinking without regular constraint. Thinking outside the conventional. Thinking with the dogma of the ordinary.


I’ll give an example. Back when Mirrodin Besieged was released, I cut Flickerwisp for Mirran Crusader. My reasons for doing so were triplicate : It had a low MD % , it had one toughness, and double strike was ‘unique’ like Flickerwisps ability. So I cut it, there was some sadness, but in the end, I was happy with the change.

Fast forward to now.  My cube is the best it’s ever been. So , I’m looking for ideas for cube, and I compare my cube to Mark Oberdries’ cube. Literally, I got his list up on screen, went through my cube in my hands, and wrote down every card he ran which I didn’t (he has to run some of these, I’m at a smaller size), but more importantly, I made particular note of the cards I ran which he didn’t. The main culprits stood out : Black Knight and Glorious Anthem.

Why were they still there? In my head, the old dogmatic voice – ‘To promote aggro in a colour, you must have a sufficient density of one and two drops to ensure the deck can curve out properly from as early as possible as consisntently as possible’, so I left Black Knight in. Glorious Anthem though, stood out. With Hero of Bladehold, Accorder Paladin and Soltari Champion at 2,3 and 4 mana, did I really need another anthem? Yes, and that’s why I’ve got Ajani. but after that, really? a fifth one? No. With the variety of superior choices, I saw no reason to take Glorious Anthem anymore, and so I sought for choices ; To Flickerwisp we return. Now, instead of the poor points I listed before, what’s good about it? It enables blink, an archetype which struggles in my cube. It can move blockers. It’s a 3 evasive power for 3.  It’s interesting. Boom. Does it matter that a few cubes have dropped flickerwisp? Of course not. Does it matter that I dropped flickerwisp? It used to, but I got over my mental block, and rediscovered a great card.

There’s not a huge point to a lot of my pointless rambling, but I have this advice for any cuber (cubist?) who is stuck for ideas of what to add to their cube. Defy convention.Think past what everyone is thinking, and reanalyse staples. If you don’t experiment, you’ll never know. It was a generally accepted fact that 3 per pair was the minimum you could go to in any size cube for multicolour, but I recently dropped to 2, and the results have been fantastic.

Cheers for reading,


Card Evaluation – Pianna, Nomad Captain


  • Anthem effect
  • Not an awful body


  • 1CC casting cost
  • No evasion

General Comments

I used to really like Pianna. White’s primary method of aggro reach is the anthem effect, and with a lot of tokens, it can get messy. I’m sure at some point, we’ve all played cloudgoat ranger with glorious anthem in play. It feels pretty good to play a 4/4 and 3 2/2s for 5. Maybe that’s just me. But yes, anthem effects are pretty powerful in cube, and in general. One reason I like playing anthems is that it allows you to up your damage significantly whilst not completely overextending yourself. The anthems I run in my cube are Soltari Champion, Glorious Anthem, Accorder Paladin,Hero of Bladehold, and, if you count it as an anthem, mirror entity. I find this is a good amount of anthems, and as you can see, Battlecry is pretty sweet as an anthem.

Pianna is pretty sweet. I’m not sure whether she makes the cut at 450 now, since Mirran Crusader is pushing her out,and her anthem effect is less valuable with battlecry about, but I wouldn’t blame anyone for playing Pianna at that size. Pianna’s main problem is that she’s got no WOW factor. She’s got no evasion, no protection, no insane-ness about her. She’s basically a 3/3 glorious anthem on the attack, which is fine. Trouble is, without that wow-factor, it falls short of the other three drops in white in cube. If you compare it to the other anthems, they’re all harder to kill (glorious anthem), have evasion (soltari champ) , cost little (accorder paladin) , or are broken off their face (Hero of Bladehold + Mirror Entity).  Once again, it’s a card which is good, but probably not good enough anymore.

Verdict : 500

Card Evaluation – Oblivion Stone


  • destroys ALL nonland permanents (‘walkers included!)
  • costs 3 + 5
  • in real world terms, pretty cheap (~$5)


  • In a very tight section
  • costs 5 mana to activate

General Comments

Wrath effects are powerful. That’s why they feature in cube so heavily. Each colour except green has some sort of wrath – even red, the aggro colour, has 3 in my cube – pyroclasm , wildfire and crater hellion. So it makes sense to get some colourless ones. Black is a powerful colour in many ways – it’s ability to neuter creatures is unmatched. When paired up with red, planeswalkers, creatures,lands and artifacts are nothing, since there are plenty of cards to deal with them in those colours.  There’s one problem supertype though – enchantments. O stone lets RB decks kill enchantments.

In UG, what’s the problem supertype? Awfully, it’s creatures. WB? Artifacts (barring disenchant). UB? Lands. Obviously there are exceptions to this rule, but in general, black can’t deal with artifacts and enchantments, red can’t deal with enchantments or big creatures, green can’t deal with creatures (other than with bigger creatures), white can’t deal with more than 2 artifacts / enchantments, and blue can’t deal with anything permanently short of countering it. Obviously this leaves gaps, which can be filled by the colourless section. O-stone really helps here, since it can destroy any problem permanents for a colour pair.

O-stone also has all the benefits of a conventional wrath effect – creating CA, coming back from a disadvantageous board. It can also be noted that due to it’s 3cmc, there’s some shenanigans with a blink deck and sun titan to be had.

Finally, it can be noted that in a really slow game, you can always drop some fate counters on a planeswalker and a couple creatures, then wipe and go to town on them! I would say I crack it without any fate counters more often than with fate counters.


Card Evaluation – Mental Misstep


  • ‘free’ , colourless counterspell
  • Specific targets
General Comments

In my cube, there are 52 targets for MM. Within those 52, there are some sweet targets ; I’d be very happy to counter a turn 1 Sol Ring,Land Tax or Mana Vault, and later, I’d be happy to counter Skullclamp, Rancor, StP or PtE. Some targets are less good. Whilst it’d probably put me up on life, countering a turn 1 elite vanguard feels pretty meh to me. I might actually try and find a spot for MM if it countered things with cmc 1 or less. That way, I’d be able to snag moxen, black lotus, and mana crypt, which I’d happily pay 2 life to counter.

The best case scenario for MM is to catch a Land Tax or mana accelerant turn 1, and thus screw up your opponents game plan. The worst case scenario is that your opponent isn’t running anything with cmc1, and it’s literally a blank for your deck. I can see an average scenario being that your opponent will drop one of their few cmc1 cards early on, and you haven’t drawn MM yet, leaving you with a dud. This is pretty much the worst case scenario, but I can see it happening a lot.

Another problem with it is that as you increase the size of your cube, you get more 1cmc cards, but their quality significantly decreases, making MM worse. As you get smaller, the quality increases, but the bar becomes too high for MM to make the cut.

Verdict : Just don’t.

Card Evaluation – Basilisk Collar


  • Cheap cost
  • Deathtouch on a weenie is pretty cool
  • Lifelink can make some fatties much better
  • Breaks the aggro mirror
  • Allows aggro weenies to kill midrange fatties.


  • Awful art
  • No P/T increase

General Comments

This card is actually pretty well summed up by it’s pros and cons. I don’t think I can articulate well enough that equipment in cube must give either a P/T boost, or the most ridiculous abilities imaginable. I don’t think Collar reaches the second requirement. I mean, if it were akroma’s memorial on an equipment, then I could see it. But lifelink and deathtouch? Nah, not crazy enough for me.

I think a lot of the time people focus on how you can use it to kill midrange fatties with your weenies in aggro. Hint : They’re not going to block. Unless you’ve whacked this on something which is pretty big already, they’re not going to block it. I mean, do I really care if my opponent deals me 2 and gains 2? I’ll just flatten his other creatures. On the other hand, it reminds me vaguely of the pegasi, in that the only cards which can block pegasi other than Thieving Magpie are big fatties, so it has pseudo unblockability, since who’ll trade their Sower of Temptation for your Pegasus? (hint: not me). In the same way, I’m not going to trade my Blastoderm for your 2/1 lifelink deathtoucher. It’s just not worth it to me. The difference here being that I will have blockers before 6cmc for creatures equipped with Basilisk Collar. The time Collar shines is when you can block something with it, and I’m pretty apathetic about things which are good for blocking (other than wall of denial).

I’m afraid that it doesn’t really compare to other equip. It doesn’t give a PT boost, so there’s no point comparing it to Grafted Wargear or Bonesplitter. So, what do you compare it to? The swords? Because it sucks next to them. I’m not sure what other equipment people are running, but I’m pretty sure this shows that actually, yeah, basilisk collar sucks. It’s fine as filler, but nothing beyond that in my opinion.

Verdict : 600