There’s a new columnist for SCG cube, and it’s Justin Parnell!
Here’s Justin’s inaugeral article – where he discusses his cubing manifesto
There’s a new columnist for SCG cube, and it’s Justin Parnell!
Here’s Justin’s inaugeral article – where he discusses his cubing manifesto
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,
Generally speaking, there are two things I take into account when making a change my cube : Holism, and Power.
Power is defined by the raw power of the card. Time Walk is incredibly powerful, Woodfall Primus is very powerful. The power of a card is it’s potency to do something insane, or to break a rule of magic. Obviously these are very rough guides of what power is, but you get the idea. To me, power is always a positive value, from 0 , like bog hoodlums, to 10 , ancestral recall.
Holism is a greek word, meaning that the cube is different from the sum of all it’s cards. In layman’s terms, it’s how well your cube functions as a set. This means how well certain cards come together to form archetypes, whether you’ve got enough artifact hate, whether you’ve got a varied metagame. There are varying levels of holism in a card as well. For example, Darksteel Colossus is negatively holistic, since almost no deck will ever be able to run it.
Flickerwisp is a very interesting card in this way. You have a fairly high powered card, an evasive 3 power for 3, which can temporarily remove a blocker. However,you can also use it to blink your own creatures, to abuse their ETB/LTB effects.
For most cards, you have to find a balance. Tinker is a very powerful card, and can have an archetype built around it. The trouble comes when your deck is bad when you don’t find tinker, and I think that’s the kind of ‘build-around’ card which should be lost in cube. Build-around cards can define your cube in a rotisserie draft, where they can be abused to their fullest extent. Tinker is a good example of a build around card, where you’ll try and draft some massive artifact creature to cheat into play early ; However, if you don’t run many robots in your cube, Tinker will lose value. Upheaval and Wildfire encourage you to draft low casting mana artifacts, but in a powered cube, these are likely high picks anyway. The ease with which you can build around a card, given it early, is a factor in it’s place in cube.
An example of a powerful ‘build-around’ card which shouldn’t be in cubes is Oath of Druids. OaD shouldn’t be run in cubes because it encourages you to run very few creatures, which is pretty hard in green, and then relies on you drawing OaD. Without OaD, you’re probably left with a GX control deck, which isn’t necessarily bad ; UG control gets played fairly regularly here, but rarely any other type of GX control arises, so you can assume your GX control deck won’t be very good.
As you can see, for the most part, it’s pretty easy to see the balance between how a card interacts with the rest of your set, and how powerful a card is when it doesn’t come together. Then there are some harder examples. Tezzeret, the Seeker, for example, should be incredibly powerful the smaller your cube gets ; he can tutor up moxen, sol ring, and can untap them at will, functioning as a garruk, but with better ramp. On the flip side however, the value of tutoring these cards decreases as you go down in size, since there’s a higher density of them anyway, and the relative power level of your blue section increases faster than the power of tezzeret targets. In the same way, Ranger of Eos should get a lot better as your cube gets smaller, since there’s a higher density of powerful one drops, like Kird Ape, or Isamaru. The trouble is, as you get smaller, the number of cards at any given mana cost decreases too, so when you reach 360, where RoE should be at it’s best, it’s not as good as the other heavyweights at 4 mana in white ; Calciderm ,Hero of Bladehold and Kor Sanctifiers. I’d actually say RoE isn’t too far behind though, so hopefully it’s time will come.
Some entire cubes choose to be more holistic than powerful. Tribal cubes, artifact cubes, and other theme cubes are testament to this. Your cube is a set of your choosing ; that’s basically the definition. You need to find a balance between how powerful the cards you add are, and how well those cards interact as a set ; Where that balance is will define your cube, and how enjoyable it is for your group.
Thanks for reading,
Ho ho ho!
I performed poorly in my prerelease, going 3-2 in a 30 man event. Oh well! M12 has provided us with some nice goodies, although generally fairly light on cubeable cards, there are some gems in the dirt.
For the purposes of this, I’ll only be covering the new cards.
Alabaster Mage – I really like this cycle, and it’s a pretty good cycle. A 2/1 for 1W is standard, and it’s ability is great in the midrange vs aggro match, or the midrange mirror. The body means it’s still relevant in the aggro too, so it kinda reminds me of lone missionary. Sadly, white two drops are stacked, so this won’t make the cut in mid – small sized cubes. Perhaps if the activation cost was lower, it’d make the cut, but for now :
Verdict : 900+
Angelic Destiny – Ultimately, this is basically a midrange card. I can see it being sweet in aggro too, but turning your Troll Ascetic into a huge angel is the strength of this card. Like alabaster mage above, however, it suffers from being in a very very stacked section of cube, and I don’t think it’s powerful enough to displace wraths, geddon, moat etc. It also suffers that it’s not got rancors ability ; in fact, rancors’s ability is strictly better – Rancor gets returned if the wearer is exiled, bounced , or dies, whereas the angel auramancer has to die for it to recur. That takes it out of the list of considerables to me.
Gideon’s Avenger – This badman reminds me a lot of Taurean Mauler – it’s a lot better in multiplayer. It’s fairly sweet, but too dependent on my opponent. If it’s going to be a serious problem for my opponent, they just won’t attack. it’s a great midrange card, and can break a stalemate. The problem is, I don’t know anyone who’s looking for a midrange only card.
Verdict : 800+
Gideon’s Lawkeeper – Very divided opinion of this. I’m a big fan of Goldmeadow Harrier, so I quite like this. It’s great news for pauper cubes, and it’s great news for cubes which run Goldmeadow Harrier, because now they can run two! yay!
Verdict : 600 + , pauper
Grand Abolisher – I actually got one of these in my prerelease, and it was very solid. Thing is, is that a lot of decks really just won’t care about it. It forces your opponent to make moves which were otherwise not optimal , like killing your creature on their turn instead of yours, but not a huge amount. It won’t make it into smaller cubes, since it’s not as good as the soltaris or knight of meadowgrain, but if you include sideboard-only cards in your cube, this hoses blue, a LOT. If it were uncounterable, it’d be even better, but it stops Icy Manipulator, it stops counterspells, and it stops the uncertainty you get playing blue.
Verdict : 700+
Timely Reinforcements – I got this in my M12 prerelease, and it was certainly my MVP. It’s a great card for slower decks, since it blanks a a turn or two of damage, and the presence it gives you no the board is not awful. The problem is , is that it requires you to be losing to be used for maximum effect ,and you have to really be losing – using one mode or the other isn’t worth it, it’s only good when you get both modes. Unfortunately, this inconsistency makes it a lot worse – if it did both all the time, we’d all be very happy, but due to it’s conditions, a miss from me.
Verdict : 900+
Nothing for most cubes here, but there’s plenty to tighten up the big cubes with.
Frost Breath – A decent removal spell in blue. Two creatures for two turns is pretty fair for 3 mana, especially at instant speed. I don’t know a huge amount about pauper, but I imagine this is at least passable in a pauper cube. I rather like it, but I’m not sure it’s necessary in such a deep colour as blue.
Verdict : 1000+ , pauper
Jace, Memory Adept – This is the fastest clock in blue. If you have a choice of Morphling, Jwar Jwar, or Jace to have in play early on, Jace is easily the best. Jace wins in 3 turns flat. Morphling and Jwar Jwar both take 5, and Jwar Jwar even comes down a turn later. There isn’t a huge amount to say about Jace, other than that he should probably replace a blue finisher in your cube, since that’s the function he holds. Jace is also like Sorin, in that he only has one ability – the ultimate is nothing outside of EDH or crazy multiplayer, and the + ability should only be used if you’re struggling to protect jace for any reason. Heck, if you can only get 2 activations off jace, you can still kill your opponent by just stalling and letting themselves draw themselves out. Let’s say you’re on the play, and you’ve cast Jace on the curve. Your opponent has drawn 4 cards, plus their opening hand, so they’re down to 29 cards in their library. Mill them, pass the turn, they’re down to 18 cards in their library. Next turn, same deal, they’re down to 7 cards in their library. At this point, Ancestral Recall is your weapon, or Baby Jace. They can kill jace now, and you can just stall to victory. I underested Jace at first, but like the others, Jace is insane.
Phantasmal Bear – No. This card is bad. Don’t be tricked by the fact it’s a 2/2 for U. Heck, even if it were a vanilla 2/2 for U, I wouldn’t include it. Including a single aggro card in a control-orientated blue section is like removing a card from your blue section. Blue isn’t currently at a stage where true U aggro is possible, only U tempo, and U tempo doesn’t even want this.
Verdict : Just don’t.
Phantasmal Dragon – It’s a plague sliver / blastoderm / calciderm for blue! Auto include, right? No. Bad! Blue has no need for easily to kill beatsticks. Blue has awesome four drops, awesome five drops, and awesome six drops. I can see it coming in possibly in the smaller large cubes (about 600 cards), but to be honest, blue is so deep, there’s no need for this.
Verdict : 700+
Phantasmal Image – Pretty sweet. A clone for 2 mana is insane most of the time, especially when you either use it as a kill spell for a legend, negating kokushos and yoseis and all those other horrible legends, or you can copy somethnig with hexproof, and enjoy a cheaper creature, or you can steal someone’s CIP ability, which is always fun. I can imagine copying a skinrender, or a shriekmaw, and going to town. There’s a huge amount of scope for this card, and the effect is usually so expensive, the drawback shouldn’t matter.
Verdict : 450+
There are some fairly cool cards in blue this set, but only Jace and the Clone variant are top picks. Interesting, but not busted.
Onyx Mage – Coming back to this cycle. Black aggro struggles in larger cubes , and this could help it out a little. On small bodies, deathtouch is like pseudo evasion. Your opponent can’t chump block, and that’s actually surprisingly useful. I’d also run this in pauper, perhaps.
Verdict : 550+ , pauper
Well, black sucked. Kinda.
Chandra, the Firebrand – Here’s the jackpot! Chandra is easy to play, with only a single red mana symbol, which works in her favour. Her +1 is either a very very slow clock, or used to ping off some weenies. Not a great ability, but certainly useful. The -2 ability is pretty sweet ,since the worst you can copy is some cheap burn, which might be enough to give you the win. At the other end of the spectrum, double wildfire sounds bonkers, and doubling an X spell seems awesome too. Don’t forget you can also copy multicolour cards, so terminate or lightning helix can be copied for awsesome fun, or double Plow Under would be unreasonable, and double timewalk is bonkers. Her ultimate is powerful, yet flexible. You can use it to kill a walker, kill 4 creatures and go to the dome for 6. Alternatively, you can wipe the board and swing ftw. I’m not sure what most people will cut for the new chandra. I pondered on the old chandra, but they perform very different duties.
Verdict : 360
Chandra’s Phoenix – Another sweet card. A colourshifted Skyknight Legionaire would’ve made it into a lot of cubes, but giving it a method of recursion is wonderful. I’m not sure where the flavour is with this card, but I really don’t care. This is a great source of reach for red decks, and gives red a second way to get through wrath effects. Even bonkers with Survival as a second Squee, or to make Chandra Ablaze vaguely playable.
Stormblood Berserker – I’m of the opinion this is a sleeper in the cube community at the moment. In a hard aggro deck , this card is nuts. As we’ve seen from Accorder Paladin and Pork Leg, 3 power turn 2 is very very good, especially on an easy to play body. Now Wizards give up this, with evasion! If you think you can reliably play this in a deck turn 2 or 3, you should get it in your deck. If your cube produces red hard aggro regularly, then this card should easily be in. It’s a great feeling to go moutain, one drop, plains, swing, berserker, but it’s still very good if you’re attacking off a 2 drop. Hell, I think I’d still be happy to play this turn 4 off some burn in a lot of decks. Once you add the fact that red has very few good two drops, and only two great 1R drops, it almost seems absurd to me people aren’t running this more often. I could be wrong running this at 360, but it doesn’t feel like it.
Verdict : 405
Red has some sweet cards in this set. As a general rule, it’s looking like the new core set format is good for red.
Garruk, Primal Hunter – The more I look at this card, the more obscene it seems. Pumping out 3/3s every turn seems pretty awesome in itself, since Elspeth for C less only makes 1/1s, and she’s a top-tier cube card. The – ability seems incredible in a midrange deck, where you can easily run out of cards. The ultimate is the deal-breaker though. Short of a wrath effect, or Maelstrom pulse, I see very very few scenarios in which your opponent can last more than a turn or two after that ultimate has gone off. There are two problems with this garruk. Firstly 2CCC means he might not come down til you’re at 6 or 7 lands in some games, and that also makes it harder to ramp into him with artifacts. Secondly, it’s not best to ramp into garruk with artifacts, since when that ultimate goes off, you want as many land as possible out to make it boom. The only thing I really want to change about this garruk though, is that the wurms don’t have trample. Still, this garruk is a great ‘walker, huge power, horrible cost, perfect.
Garruk’s Horde – This is surprisingly unhorrible. It has trample, which is almost necessary. The creature playing ability is pretty sweet, but the only problem is the lack of passing the vindicate verdict.
Verdict : 800+
Primordial Hydra – *whistles* I really don’t know what to make of this card. If it has any sort of protection ,it’d be an auto include. the problem is, if you’re playing it early, like turn 3, it’s incredibly tiny, an awful turn 3 play, and gets eaten by red removal. At bigger sizes, it gets huge, but it still eats removal like a bitch. I don’t know, if you run a removal light cube,this is awesome. My problem with it is that it’s too slow and small early, and it doesn’t pass the vindicate verdict like a ‘real’ fatty should. However ,it is certainly a cool card :3
Verdict : 600+
Overall,green only got the ‘walker, but there’re no gaps in green, so finding a cut for this will be hard enough.
Overall, there are very few auto includes in M12, and only the three walkers are slam dunks. My advice would be, wait, spend your cash on some cards you’re otherwise lacking, or pimping your cube, and wait til the insane prices on the ‘walkers drop. Unless you think one of them is the next JTMS.
Thanks for reading,
Wrath effects have been around since alpha ; heck, the very name ‘wrath effects’ is after the most well known of the bunch – Wrath of God. In my cube, I run 18 of these effects in my cube, and most of them are easily first or second pickable, and all are vital to a lot of strategies.
These effects are ostensibly symmetrical, if you cast wrath of god, you have to lose your creatures as well, if you play armageddon, you lose your lands. Through careful deck construction and clever play, the asymmetry is lost. The most basic example is a standard wrath play – your opponent goes one drop ,two drop, three drop, and you follow it up with a wrath. You’ve generated card advantage, since you have no creatures, and the effect is asymmetrical. This kind of asymmetry can be forced with all of these effects – replay stuff after upheaval, have a good board position with armageddon, have manafacts out with wildfire , whatever. Value is gained through the asymmetry of wrath effects.
Wrath effects are a vital part of a control decks armoury. They allow a deck to gain easy card advantage, and survive into the late game, where they can start dropping fatties. Against a midrange deck, wrathing away 2-3 creatures can be game winning for control, since these creatures will be usually be pretty large, and a couple swings would probably give the midrange player the win. It’s a common skill in magic to judge how likely it is your opponent can wrath, and how many creatures you can play before you’re ‘over extending’ – leaving yourself in a position where a wrath basically loses you the game. As a general rule of thumb, I’d say that four or five nontoken creatures is probably the maximum you should play at any time, in order to avoid giving your opponent incredible card advantage.
It’s a skill in magic to judge when to wrath. It used to be that you could wrath away two creatures, and whilst you wouldn’t have gained a huge advantage, it was CA. Three or four creatures, you wouldn’t feel bad about wrathing. However, in recent months, with the advent of even more ridiculous equipment and increasingly powerful four drops, decisions have become harder. In a game where a decent mid-sized creature can easily be big enough to be game-threatening, wraths start functioning as just protection-skipping removal. In short, I think as midrange strategies get better, redundant wrath effects become over-costed and unnecessary. Then again, as more of these midrange creatures get shroud,wrath effects may become more necessary , as conventional removal fails.
Thanks for reading,
We’ve all been there. You’ve been working on your cube for months, you start playing, and you think it’s all great. You’ve got all your revised duals, your multicolour section is tiny and tight, and archetypes are varied and balanced, to most degrees. How can you judge what needs to be changed?
Well, arguably, nothing needs to be changed if your cube is running smoothly, but if you’re cube is good, but not great, here are some easy tests for your cube:
Creature ratio test
This is mostly a simplified version of a test described by Mark Oberdries in this article . It tests whether you have the correct ratio of aggro to midrange to control creatures in the cube for each theatre of play to be viable. It’s based on the premise that an aggro deck might run 12-16 creatures, in order to secure that it drops a turn one creature, a turn 2 creature etc, whereas a control deck might only run 5-8 creatures. Of these 5-8, maybe 2 will be ‘control only’ cards (which tend to be finishers), and the rest will be midrange or utility creatures. Therefore, you need way more aggro creatures than control finishers, and midrange cards fall somewhere in the middle. In his article, Mark outlines that you should have 3 aggro creatures to 2 midrange creatures to 1 control creature in your cube. My trouble with this is that it’s pretty hard to define each creature within it’s archetype here. I mean, Elite Vanguard and Steppe Lynx are clearly aggro cards, and Sphinx of Jwar Isle is clearly a control card ; The problem comes when you have to classify cards like Mother of Runes and Llanowar Elves. They’re good in control, midrange, and (some) aggro decks. Where do I put them?
This lead me to simplify the test greatly. Instead of it being a 3:2:1 ratio of aggro creatures:midrange creatures:control creatures, it’s a 3:2:1 ratio of 1-2 drops :3-4 drops:5+ drops. This removes any subjectiveness, and should mean that your cube shows up more favourably. My cube has a 71:61:27, or 3:2.6:1.1. This means that I should see that my cube is pretty midrangey, which has proven to be the case. According to this test, I should lighten up on the 3-4 drops in favour of a few more 2-3 drops. This might come from red, where I’ve been looking to change 3 or 4 cards for a while now.
The Terminate Test / Vindicate Verdict
This is a test devised to check the value you get when you play a creature. There are two variants – the terminate test and the vindicate verdict. One checks how much value you get out of a creature if it’s instantly terminated, the other checks it’s value if vindicate is played on it at the nearest oppotunity byour opponent. I won’t go into great detail about them, since I’ll just be repeating this post here. Long story short, a four drop can fail these tests if it’s powerful, but it’s a point in their favour if they do pass it. five drops have to be pretty powerful to be included if they don’t pass the test. I think the only five drops which don’t pass the test in my cube are Meloku and Baneslayer. Finally, I don’t think you can run a 6+ drop in cube if it fails the vindicate verdict. The bar has been set very high for these creatures, and mediocre ones aren’t good enough. I think you could justify it if you had a 10/10 trampler for 6, but anything smaller than that won’t make it.
Guild deck search
This is actually a great way of checking cards, but it gets weaker dependent on your size, with it being strongest at multiples of 360. The idea is that you take each colour pair, and you make a deck of what that colour pair is good at. This could easily be boros aggro, GR ramp, UR counterburn, BW control etc. This should use up 230 cards of your cube. At 360, this is just under a third of your cube undrafted. At about 500, you could make shard decks, so you could have about 30% of your cube undrafted, and at 720 ,I’d probably just make 2 decks for each pair.
Then, you search through your remaining 30%. Why didn’t they make the cut in your deck? Are they too narrow? Are they too weak? A common reason they haven’t been MDed is that they just don’t fit the archetype. I mean, Crater Hellion might be left behind because you’ve make 4 aggro decks and a counterburn deck, none of which Crater Hellion is a shoe-in.
The main question you have to ask is : Would this card usually make it into XYZ deck I’ve made? For instance, if I were making the perfect boros aggro deck, I might leave out Goblin Patrol and Jackal Pup because I had Elite Vanguard and Savannah Lions. This isn’t because Goblin Patrol and Jackal Pup are bad, it’s just that the other cards are better in this situation. If you can’t fit a card into any of the decks you’ve made, it’s probably time to give that card the heave-ho.
Cube mana cost test
See, I’m not sure how this test works, or what maths it’s based on, but as long as I’ve been cubing, this test has been there. Apparently, the average cmc of your cube is proportional to how fast your cube is ; A higher average cmc means a slower cube. This makes sense, because if you have a lot of 1 drops, and therefore a very fast cube, the cmc will be lower. What I don’t understand is why the target number is 3. According to most cubers, it’s a good thing to have your average cmc under 3, and it’s a bad thing to have it over 3. This is general for your entire cube, and for each section, where red, black and white should be under, and blue and green could be slightly over.
This is a pretty cool way of looking at your cube and finding cuts. Instead of laying your cube out by converted mana cost and creature/noncreature, sort it by each archetype it supports in each colour. Put all your black discard together, all your white weenies, all your red burn etc etc. Then, you should be able to see which areas of your cube are under/over subscribed. Obviously some of these sections are larger than others ; red burn will probably be bigger than red LD, for example.
This is also useful if you want to find a cut. If a sweet new discard spell has been released, sorting like this will allow you to either find a cut in an area with lots of redundancy, or allow you to upgrade a card in another section.
I should also mention this can be run in reverse. First, write down what each colour is good at. So for blue, this might be card draw, counterspells, bounce and stealing other colours stuff. Then, sort each colour into these groups as best you can. You’ll probably be left with a small section of cards. Some of these will be broken, like Land Tax, some will be colourshifted, like mana tithe, and some will be awful, like Dawn Charm.
Know any other tests to pull on your cube? Write about them in the comment section!
Thanks for reading,
There are a lot of ways to build a lot of sections in cube. Blue can have artifact-matters subthemes, with academy ruins, tolarian academy, and tezzeret the seeker, or a tempo subtheme, with Standstill, Spellstutter Sprite and Ninjas, or just run more control redundancy, like extra draw effects or more counterspells. Green can be completely devoted to ramp, and run lots of mana dorks, or it can be focussed on the midrange side of green, and run 12 cards at 4cmc, or it can have aggro and land destruction sub themes. The theme I run in black is black aggro, and I think it’s exceptionally powerful.
Firstly, black has 3 2 power 1 drops, which is the same as white and green. These are the bread of aggro, and 3 is a good number to have, so there’s nothing wrong there. The butter to that bread is decent 2 drops, and black has some doozies. Firstly, Dark-freaking-confidant, probably the third best black card in cube (after Mind Twist and Recurring Nightmare). It’s card advantage on a stick ,and it does it whilst being a 2/1 for 2. There’s also dauthi slayer, oona’s prowler, and bloodghast backing it up, providing evasion/recurring potential. If you’re supporting a more monoblack role in your black section, Nantuko Shade can be completely sick here.
Black has probably the best aggro support in cube. Bitterblossom, Sinkhole, the 100 million black discard spells – all counter towards your aggro deck being ridiculously pro. I mean, get a suntail hawk every turn for 2 mana? Boomtown! LD at 2 mana? You’re havin’ a laugh! Discard my hand for 4 mana? Good joke right? These sound ridiculous, but they exist in black, and they’re excellent aggro support. Even old classics like Dark Ritual can break games.
Black has ridiculous curve toppers. A lot of people say that blacks main strength is midrange, and this allows for some great 3-5 drops. If you’re super super low curve, Hypnotic Specter is a beast from hell against some decks. Playing against a GW deck with few fliers, this can seal a game pretty tightly. Other classics include undercosted fat (plague sliver), card advantage engines (shriekmaw and graveborn muse), awesome reach (ob nix), and an archetype definer (Braids).
I think one possible reason why people don’t run black aggro in there cube is that whilst there’s plenty of support for it, there’s actually not a huge number of good aggro creatures in black. There are enough for a 360 cube, and probably enough for 450, but as you get higher, the quality of aggressive black creatures diminishes and diminishes, and as we all know, you need a lot of redundency for aggro to work.
I guess I’m in the party of ‘do not get’ with black aggro. It’s got better support than most colours,and can partner up with white and red really, really well. I hear if you run a tempo blue section, and an aggressive black section, the UB tempo/aggro deck is the most powerful deck in cube.
So, if your cube is 500 or less, you’re having trouble supporting aggro, or you’re just feeling like a change, give black aggro a try. It’s powerful, and versatile, and I can highly recommend it,
Thanks for reading!