Category Archives: Magic General

M12 – Notable so far

Firstly, it’s good to be back! Exams are finally over, so I’ve got about three months until I have any more work l; Plenty of time to play some magic, and tinker with the cube!

M12 is looking to be a pretty sweet set so far, with some good cards in most colours.

White

Angelic Destiny– 2WW – Aura – Enchanted creature gets +4/+4 , flying and first strike. When ~ is put into a graveyard from play, return it to your hand.

Firstly, we can actually consider angelic destiny, despite being an aura – it’s got a rancor ability, so there’s less chance of a 2-for-1.  Yay! The actual benefits of the aura are pretty good, turning a 1/1 into something that’ll trade with baneslayer. The benefits for aggro are high – a permanent +4/+4 and evasion on an outclassed weenie could easily give enough reach to win. In midrange, it’d substantially increase the clock against control. In control, it’s of little use.

The main problem with Angelic Destiny is that it costs exactly the wrong mana. White 4 mana is one of the most stacked sections in cube, running wraths, and geddon’s and some of whites best creatures. It could probably be of use in cubes which dont’ run mass LD, since it opens up a slot in 4cc, or in very large cubes, which are loose enough to have large 4cc sections, or dragon cubes, where it’ll allow one titan to fly past another.

Verdict : Dragon cube / 700+ / no mass LD cubes.

Gideon’s Lawkeeper – W – Creature – W, T : Tap target creature, 1/1

A goldmeadow harrier reprint. Surprisingly useful in larger cubes and pauper cubes, but nothing hugely special for regular cubes. Versatile, but too low in power level for most of us.

Verdict : pauper / 800+

 

Blue

Jace, Memory Adept, Planeswalker,3UU, 4, +1 : Draw a card, mill for 1. 0:Mill for 10. -7: Anyone draw 20 cards.

First new pwalker in the set.  Anyone can see it’s ridiculously powerful, ending a game two turns after it’s played. The first ability is useful if you’re on the ropes, allowing you to draw some gas, a la jace 1.0 . Not awful, but probably won’t get played unless you’re behind, looking to draw a wrath or a blocker.

The second ability is the real deal though ; the fastest clock on any planeswalker yet.  If you can protect it, your opponent has 2 turns to deal with it, since they lose the beginning of their third turn.  If you’re crazy, you can also use it to enable graveyard shenanigans, but unlikely.

The final ability is pointless outside of EDH, since by the time you reach it, your opponent will have milled themselves. Cute, if your opponent runs some time spiral shenanigans, but short of that, useless in cube.

I can see Jace making it at 500, certainly. My problem is, blue is so tight, that running it at anything less looks more and more debateable. Maybe 450, but by that point, all bets are off. Not good enough for 360.

Verdict: 500+

Phantasmal Bear , U, creature,whenever it becomes target of a spell or ability, sac it, 2/2

A 2 power 1 drop in the only colour it wouldn’t be good. Useless even in tempo decks, this is technically junk. however,in the far off future, this could be used, with other 2 power 1 drops, in a true blue aggro deck. For now, it’ll have to cry in the corner

Verdict : Don’t.

Phantasmal image, 1U, creature, whenever it becomes target of a spell or ability, sac it, when it comes into play, it clones a creature ,0/0

It’s like the makeshift mannequin of clones! outside of targetted removal, the illusion drawback isn’t terrible. I’m not going to list all the benefits of a clone that costs 2, since I’m sure you can imagine them.

Verdict : 400+, maybe even smaller.

Red

Chandra’s Phoenix , 1RR,creature, flying, Whenever an opponent is dealt damage by a red instant or sorcery spell you control or by a red planeswalker you control, return ~ from your graveyard to your hand, 2/2

Boom! Great new red card. A monocoloured skyknight legionaire which recurs itself. Works great with chandra 1.0, counter burn or any deck with plenty of burn. Adds a huge amount of value to all the divisible damage cards in red and redblue. A great source of reach for aggro, and can act as a recurable block in weird red control.

Verdict: 400+, maybe smaller

Crimson Mage, 1R,creature, R:target creature gains haste til EoT, 2/1

A nice red two drop, not overwhelmingly powerful, but adding haste to some creatures is pretty sweet. I’m not sure whether giving your stuff haste is worth disrupting your curve, but I see it more being used to cast your creatures when you’re not curving out, speeding up your deck.

Verdict : 600+

Stormblood Berserker, 1R, creature, bloodthirst 2, can’t be blocked except by 2+ creatures, 1/1

I can see this being really, really good. Providing you played a one drop, this is a 3/3 with some evasion, for 2. If you can consistently drop a one drop, then it’s a staple. I’d say it’s better than Ember Hauler, maybe even better than that.

Verdict: 400+

Green

Skinshifter, 1G, creature, G:~ becomes a 4/4 trampler, 2/2 flier or 0/8 til EoT, only activate this once a turn, 1/1

Man, this was meant to be the green morphling, and I’m disappointed, The only time this card is good is turns 3 and 4, and after that, it’s medicore. Especially considering it’s disrupting your curve on those turns, when you want to be dropping key creatures in green. I appear to in the minority on this one though, since there’s been a huge amount of support for it in the cube forums. I’m not optimistic.

Verdict : 550+

Overall, so far there are some really sweet cards coming out in M12, but I’m not sure how many will crack my cube.  It’s a lot of good news for people with slightly larger cubes, since there’s going to be lots of stuff for them in this set.

Thanks for reading,

Sexy.

 

Advertisements

Milestone

Hey!

I just wanted to thank everyone who reads this blog, as it reached 1000 views yesterday! Yaaay!  (props to whoever actually googled ‘sexy 360 cube blog’ – you da man!)

I wanted to celebrate this in a weird way ; I myself am not a good magic player. Heck, I’m probably on the poor side of average. My knowledge of cube is satisfactory, and within a cubing community, I like to think I’m on the good side of average. In my efforts to improve as a player, I’ve recently been reading a lot of articles about magic in general, and I just wanted to share some with you, since some of them have changed how I think about the game, whereas others were just useful tips.

In general, these are just abstract guides about playing magic, but some of them have real implications for cube. I also understand that most of you will be able to read these and say ‘herp a derp, that’s obvious’ but for a new player, or an intermediate like myself, these are actually pretty useful.

Is that your card? by The Ferret – He deals pretty sweetly with how you shouldn’t judge cards based on a one-time blow out.

The Tao of Silent Bob – Ken Collier quickly describes 10 mistakes most players make. Whether some of them are really mistakes or style points is up to you.

The Philosophy of Fire

Who’s the Beatdown? – Probably the most important article I’ve read in a long time.

On the Clock pt. 2 – Zvi Mowschowitz describes the benefits of playing faster,and how to do so.

Mmmmmmana…Five rules for avoiding mana screw – Exactly what it sounds like.

Tempo and Card Advantage – Eric Taylor describes tempo perfectly, and explains the real value of card advantage.

Seven Coins – I actually prefer the latter half of this article, but it’s full of useful information.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy the articles,
Sexy.


New cards – First M12 spoilers!

As some of you may know, we have our first M12 spoilers

First off, we have Chandra’s Phoenix!

A good few people are pretty excited about this phoenix, and I can confidently say I’m not one of them. As a 2/2 hastey flier for 3, it’s actually pretty good. The recursion is pretty gravysome here. Whilst it’s good in RX aggro to help it out after a wrath, and it has cute synergy with Chandra Ablaze, this card is just a little short of the mark for me. A 2R cost might just push it, but this doesn’t seem better than Fire Imp, Hell’s Thunder, or the Vandals, I would really like a more aggressive 3 drop for red. I just don’t think this phoenix is it.

Next is the ‘hexproof’ treefolk – Dungrove Elder!

2G

Creature

Hexproof (trollshroud)

X/X

X=number of forests you control.

Hexproof is powerful. We know this, because Troll Ascetic and Thrun are almost crazy with how good they are sometimes. But with dungrove elder, casting it on the curve, it’s disappointing. Would you play a 2G 3/3 hexproof? Because I’m not 100% sure I would. Especially since it’s not a 2G 3/3 hexproof. It’s actually costed at GGG, because thats the only way this card isn’t awful casting it on the curve. In this way, I think it suffers from Phyrexian Obliterator Syndrome – it could be good, but it doesn’t matter, since it has the ridiculous cost. In my cube, I’m not looking for a 2/2 hexproof for 2G, and I don’t think anyone else is either. Pass.

Finally it’s the awful yet awesome card : Gorehorn Minotaurs

2RR

3/3

Bloodthirst 2

Let me put this out here now. This card isn’t good. I’m not going to tell you this card is good. An unreliable 5/5 for 4 isn’t great in red. I mean, Blastoderm and Calciderm are cool, but this really isn’t the same breed. What this card IS, is encouraging. Why? Because getting a 1R 2/1 bloodthirst 1 is both powerful and perfectly reasonable. Because Bloodthirst can allow for good, cheap aggro creatures. A really weak area for red is its 2 drops , and I for one would love a cheap bloodthirst creature. It’d be sweet, to say the least.

For more information, and to see pictures of the latter 2 cards., see the Wizards’ announcement here.


New draft format – Winchester Draft

Winchester draft has been around for a little while though, although it’s more commonly known as Nassif draft, after the play who supposedly invented it.  Winchester is to winston what rochester draft is to a regular draft.

The way it works is as follows. Each person takes 3 boosters,and shuffles them up. If you’re like me and use closer to 4 boosters for a regular winston, do so here. Each player then places a 2 cards face up next to each other, so there are 4 cards laid face up. The first player then chooses one of those piles and takes it. Then each player puts down a card on each of their piles. Then the next player picks a pile. And so on ad nauseam.

I really like the idea of Winchester for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s less luck based that winston, in that you’re not going to get a sick topdeck of SoFI or anything, which happened surprisingly frequently here. This is also quicker, since all piles are always face up. Thirdly, I like that it scales better than winston if you have more than 2 players.

For more information, you can see the original article on the mothership

Thanks for reading,

Sexy.


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.


Set Review – New Phyrexia

Hi there! As you probably all know, Christmas came early this year when Matignon and Wafo-tapa spoiled the entire of new phyrexia a couple weeks early, giving us all a chance to completely reason out how awesome new phyrexia is as a set.

Rankings

5. 360 staple. Get this in somewhere

4.Very cubable, should make most cubes

3.Cubeable. I wouldn’t blame anyone for running it

2.Filler

1.Jank.

Colourless

Karn Liberated – Man, is this guy tight or what? Coming down with 10 loyalty, the ability to defend himself, and with possibly the most powerful ultimate of any planeswalker any printed, Karn is no doubt powerful. My only worry about it is that 7 is a lot to cast, and I don’t know how it’ll do in a 360 environment, but it’s certainly strongly worth testing. 4.5

White

Blade Splicer – 4 power over 2 bodies for 3 is pretty good, and it works nicely with reveillark and blink combos, but, saying that, I don’t think it’s fairly to evaluate it as 4 power, since a 1/1 just isn’t relevant in cube, so it’s basically a 3/3 first strike for 3 in my books, but I might be wrong. 3.5

Cathedral Membrane – A powerful effect, but not one I , nor anyone else I know, is looking for in their cube. Might gain value in slower cubes. 2.

Chancellor of the Annex – By the time this gets played, the ability shouldn’t matter, so unless it’s reanimated, you’re literally paying 4WWW for a 5/6 flier. For 1 more mana, you get akroma, and that doesn’t make it into my cube.2.

Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite – Again, it’s costs like a tank, and whilst it can win games, I don’t think anyone is looking for a 7 mana creature which doesn’t win the game for you. Short of a reanimation target, I don’t want this. 2.

Forced Worship – A control only pacifism. Pass. 1.

Inquisitor Exarch – Not too bad, might make the cut at 1W, but at WW, I’d rather have knights or soltari dudes. That being said, in another colour, it might make the cut. 2.5

Marrow Shards – Control only card, and not even a good one. 2.

Master Splicer – 5 power for 4 isn’t as good as 4 power for 3, and when you only get 3 power if your 1/1 dies, I’m not impressed. 1.5

Phyrexian Unlife – Might as well read ‘when this comes into play, gain 10 life, when it leaves, lose 10 life’. Could easily see play in larger cubes. 2.5.

Porcelain Legionaire – Undoubtedly the best red card in the set. No, really, since this card is best turn 2 for 2 life, or turn 1 off a moxen and 2 life, it’s a phenomenal aggro card in any colour. 3 power for 2 mana is a cubeable deal as is, but first strike means that 1 toughness becomes much less relevant. The versatility of it is just gravy. Best card in the set. 5.

Puresteel Paladin – Too often this is a hard to play bear, and even when it’s not, it’s not very good.1

Shattered Angel – Look at this. Then look at BSA. Then look back at this.1.

I’m not very excited by white, but there are certainly a few cards here with great potential.

Blue

Mental Misstep – This isn’t legacy, there aren’t enough 1 cmc spells to make this worth it. 2.

Phyrexian Metamorph – I’m still out on this one. I’m not sure how much better this is than clone, but I know it’s better. I’m just not sure if the increase in awesomeness makes this work at 360. 4.

Psychic Barrier – A hard to play Remove Soul, like the 1 life matters.1.

Spined Thopter- a 2/1 flier for 2 in any colour is fairly exciting, I guess, but I don’t think it’ll be as useful as people think, and it loses a lot of relevance late game, unlike Porcelain Legionaire. I might be wrong though. 3.

Vapor Snag – Better than Unsummon most of the time, sucks if you want to bounce your own creature though. Wouldn’t blame anyone for playing it though.2.

Wing Splicer – We get 4/4 fliers for 4 these days, I don’t need a weaker version.2.

I didn’t even bother with most blue cards here, since there’s a lot of infect with blue in this set. Most of it is awful, and the only cards I think deserve looking at by the majority are Spined Thopter and Phyrexian Metamorph

Black

Despise – Ostracize, but with some bomb targets thrown in. Worth testing in some cubes.3.

Dismember – kills more targets than go for the throat, and can be even cheaper. I can see this replacing Disfigure, Last Gasp, Sudden Death and even Snuff Out in some cubes. Might be 1BB too often though.4.5

Entomber Exarch – It just costs 1 too much. As is, not good enough.2.

Geth’s Verdict – Very exciting for pauper cubes, but we’ve got better alternatively in regular cubes. Wouldn’t run it til well into the 700s. 2.

Life’s Finale – If you only support black control, or you’re at 600 or more cards, I can see running this. As is, it’s not good enough for 6 mana. 2.5.

Phyrexian Obliterator – If you support monoblack as an archtype, then this is probably your second best card of the set. In a near mono black deck, this can pretty much win you the game in a lot of matchups, and will singlehandedly win against any heavily green deck. However, CCCC is a ridiculously rough cast, and I can’t see casting it in a reasonable timeframe in a normal cube short of Dark Ritual or Black Lotus.3.

Praetor’s Grasp – This seems to get better the smaller your cube is, but at the same time, the tighter black gets, and I’m not sure at what size I’d want to run this. It’s a really cool effect as a reasonable cost though, so it’s at least a nice card.2.5.

Sheoldred, Whispering One – This card is almost so so good. If you could give it some ability to dodge removal, it’d be amazing, providing one sided Abyss effect. It even has evasion, and passes the vindicate verdict. Trouble is, at 7 mana, it has to win you the game where it is, and I can’t see it doing that. Some people are testing it though, so I could be completely wrong. It’s definitely the best praetor though.2.5.

Vault Skirge – It takes 2 turns to be as good as Suntail Hawk. If you don’t play it as Awful hawk, it’s a more difficult to play Mourning Thrull. Pass.1.

Black had some cool cards, they all just costed a tiny bit too much. A good removal spell, and some pretty cool cards in there though, so I like black in this set.

Red

Furnace Scamp – Again, this card could’ve been so good. It could’ve been great as a 1 mana mudbutton torchrunner, or if you could’ve sacced it any time, or at sorcery speed, or at any time for 2 damage, it could’ve easily found a place in my cube. As is though, it’s too conditional, and a 1/1 for 1 isn’t good enough.1.5.

Gut Shot – Usually, free burn is awesome, but 1 damage isn’t relevant enough.1.5.

Moltensteel Dragon – 4 for a 4/4 flier is par these days in blue, and  I don’t see why I should be paying 4 life for my creature to be easier to kill in red. I could easily be wrong though, but I doubt it.2.

Priest of Urabask – Colourshifted version of Priest of Gix. I don’t know if red can use the mana any better than black can, but it looks cool. 2.

Slash Panther – A 4/2 for 4 haste is pretty cool, but I don’t think it edges out other competition at 4cc. Might be good for pauper cubes though.2

Urabask the hidden – I’m split on this one. On one hand, the haste element isn’t hugely relevant, since haste is best in aggro, and this comes down at the end of your aggro game, where haste isn’t as useful. On the other hand, it’s a 4/4 haste for 5, which is reasonble, which in turn reduces your opponents blockers by slowly them down in topdeck mode by a turn. It also provides another creature other than SGC for red aggro to curve into. I’ll split it at 3, and let others test it out.

Volt Charge  – Might be useful in pauper cubes, but 3 for 3 isn’t efficient enough here unless I can divide is (a la arc lightning, arc trail and forked bolt).2.

Whipflare – A pyroclasm clone is great for cubes that want it. 3.5

Green

Beast Within – Probably the contentious card of the set. Obviously, a cost 3 mono coloured vindicate is insane, but the downside, a 3/3 elephant, is surprisingly hard to deal with. Usman Jamil reported that whilst it was great to BE something whilst you’ve got a 4/4 on the table, those situations are surprisingly few and far between. I was hoping it’d work like you were downgrading threats, like Jace, Ankh of Mishra, BSA into a 3/3, but it turns out a 3/3 is pretty hard to kill, and can easily create card disadvantage for you if you have to use a card to kill the token. Finally, it can be useful to upgrade your own cards, like turning excess land into an instant speed blocker. 3.

Brutaliser Exarch – like Mold Shambler, but exchanges the versatility of coming down as an elephant for 4 for the ability to tutor for fatties. Easily worth testing, 4.

Corrosive Gale – Useful as a hurricane clone, I haven’t decided yet whether it’s better or worse because it doesn’t hit players.2.5.

Fresh Meat – Might replace caller of the claw in some cubes. 3.

Leeching Bite  – More removal in green. This can allow your 3/3 to trade with a 5/5, which is pretty cool in my book.2.5.

Mutagenic Growth – free pump is cool, and could easily see play in some lists.2.

Noxious Revival – A slightly better reclaim, but it can also be used to screw your opponents topdeck late game.2.5.

Thundering Tanadon – This has been rated pretty highly by some people, but I gotta say, it’s awful. I don’t want to pay 4 life for something which is only slightly above the curve in some colours, and not very special in green.1.

Green isn’t great, and is mostly full of confusing comparisions for me.

Artifacts

Batterskull – This is possibly the coolest, most unflavourful card in the set. A 4/4 which can make your weenies huge is awesome in my cool, and when it starts dodging removal, that just makes me grin.5.

Caged Sun – I don’t think the extra 1 is worth the difference between this and gauntlet of power. If you want a card like this, run gauntlet of power.1.

Hex Parasite – It looks like it could be really badass, but as is, I’m not sure how good it is. I think it depends how many cards without counters you want to remove there are in your cube. If you can regularly rely on your opponent to have a ‘walker, then I guess it’s a great card, but I couldn’t reason that this card could ever be consistent.2.5.

Lashwrithe – If you support mono black, it gets really good, and if you get heavy black decks, I guess it’s good. If you don’t, skip it.3.

Myr Superion – All I have is terrible dreams where this comes out turn 2 off a joraga treespeaker. 2.

Spellskite – It’s like a Kira, Great Glass Spinner, but worse, since it has no evasion, and only eats 1 spell for the team, rather than 2. can however save you from X spells.2.

Sword of War and Peace – Just equip it to Mirran Crusader and win. The last of the cycle, with some pretty cool abilities, and some crazy protections. 5.

Overall, artifacts were okay for an artifact block ,getting 2 autoincludes, and some fairly okay filler cards.

Overall, New Phyrexia looks like it hasn’t good 100 million great cards for cube, but those it has got are instant staples. I can see running Sword of War and Peace, Karn, Porcelain Legionaire et al until I give up magic, so I’m pretty happy with this as a set.

Thanks for reading,

Sexy.