Theros Beyond Death Cube Picks
- Sancho Napora
Maintaining a cube is a Sisyphean task starting over with each new set. But we neither see that as a great tragedy nor react stoically aloof just because the power level of Theros Beyond Death does not tower above Mount Olympus. A Dionysian frenzy ended with ten favorites.
Saying that Theros Beyond Death has a somewhat lower power level than most Magic releases from the previous year is hardly controversial. On top of that, quite a few of the interesting cards from the set require a cube with a heavy enchantment theme to work optimally. Since few cubes have that, none of those cards made it onto this list.
Still, a lot more than ten cards were on my initial list, and I will probably end up trying out at least twenty or so cards in my own cube. While you can find many opinions and worthy arguments about which cards are the top Cube candidates from a set, nothing beats actually trying to draft and play the cards yourself and seeing how they work out.
Here are my picks for the Top 10.
10. Now You See Me …
Stop trying to make blink happen, the chorus sings. Yet many a tragic hero of cube building is lured by the sirens to set their sails straight for the treacherous rocks of the blink archetype. And perhaps it is not a complete act of hubris. Modern Horizons gave us Soulherder, and now Theros Beyond Death gives us Thassa, Deep-Dwelling.
If it is not overdone, blink enablers themselves bring nice spice to any cube where a good portion of creatures have abilities that trigger when they enter or leave the battlefield. And sometimes getting a 6/5 indestructible sea God on top is not too bad either.
9. The Comeback Kid
Elspeth, Sun's Nemesis is yet another powerful white planeswalker, and as such she bores me just a little. Fairly she should be higher on this list, because I am sure that she will turn out to be quite awesome with the new escape mechanic and everything. On the other hand, perhaps she should not even be on the list because she will get her fair share of exposure here and there and everywhere.
That said, should I open an Elspeth while drafting the set, she will at least get her day in, oh well, her day in the sun in my cube.
8. Today We Are All Gideon
With the floor of being a 3/3 vigilance for 3, Taranika, Akroan Veteran may not be quite the powerhouse that you want for your own cube. On the other hand, all the additional text on the card makes for an interesting read and to me this is exactly the type of creature that needs to be tested before it is either rejected or included.
Making little Gideons out of various white 1-drops at the very least sounds kind of cute. You can even use it to make Kytheon, Hero of Akros // Gideon, Battle-Forged indestructible, until you get to transform him.
7. No, No, No, and No
3-mana counterspells are not to everyone's liking, and Whirlwind Denial has been likened to everything from an expensive Flusterstorm to Disallow. While it does hose storm, if your cube should be supporting that contentious archetype, it is worth remembering the targeting restrictions of Flusterstorm that do not apply to Whirlwind Denial. Compared to many other 3-mana counterspells, Whirlwind Denial also has the advantage of requiring less commitment to playing blue.
6. Doping for Durdlers
Citius, altius, forties — or if that is all Greek to you, Latin though it may be — faster, stronger, higher. Not surprisingly, Sagas made a comeback in Theros Beyond Death and among the new cards of the popular enchantment subtype The First Iroan Games takes the gold medal as the most all-over-the-place card of the set.
Because the different disciplines the card competes in all have their audience, I think it will be worth its marathon length of four chapters. Being playable on turn two in any self-respecting green deck, it qualifies for the finals in my Cubelympics. On a tangent, since the word Saga comes from one of those tongues the Greek would call barbarian, let's see if we'll get a corresponding Winter Games Saga when we finally get to visit Kaldheim in a future set.
5. Lower than Olympic Limbo
Straight from below and perhaps higher placed than both its name and its effect warrant, comes the Nadir Kraken. While the Greek gave us the foundations of geometry, the concepts of zenith and nadir are indeed Arab. And the mythological Kraken belongs to the lore corresponding to the plane Kaldheim. But that's all hairsplitting, so let's leave that part to the Sword of Damocles.
+1/+1 counters are a subtheme in many a cube, and so are token creatures. Nadir Kraken works with both and it is worth noting that the token here are tentacles, which is just cool. I can't wait to see those tentacles spoiled, even if the word tentacle is not Greek either.
4. Clearing the Air … and the Ground
"Pyroclasm" is surely more Greek in its roots, and with Storm's Wrath you get not only one but two Pyroclasms for the price of two. And you only spend a single card plus you get the added bonus of taking out planeswalkers. The ability to clear the board of an aggro opponent even if they have played a top of the curve creature such as a Glorybringer is not bad at all.
Storm's Wrath may just become a staple sweeper for many cubes looking to explore the more control-oriented side of red. While it won't finish off your opponent such as a well-timed Earthquake can do, it won't kill yourself either.
3. Kill 'em All
White does not lack sweepers. But most white sweepers cost 5 mana or more, which often make them too expensive to cast when facing a fast aggro deck. If your cube already has Wrath of God and Day of Judgement and you still feel it lacking in the kill-'em-all department, then Shatter the Sky is worth testing out. Yes, your opponent may get to draw a card, but that may easily be less of a downside than having to wait that extra turn to clear the board or two or three, accounting for all those times you don't make your fifth land drop by turn five.
2. Thoughtseize Without Regrets
If you fear that it would cause you excruciating regret, or should we say Agonizing Remorse shelling out around €20 to buy a Thoughtseize for your cube, this could be just the card for you. No, it is not Thoughtseize, since it's not as easy to cast on turn one, and you cannot use it to put a reanimation target from your own hand into your graveyard.
On the other hand, for one extra generic mana you get to pay 1 life less to cast it and €20 less to acquire it, so there's that. And even if your cube already has a Thoughtseize, you might just want to include this new piece of hand attack for redundancy.
1. Welcome to My Nightmare
I recently cut Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver from my own cube, and was hoping for some interesting new cards to support a blue-black control strategy. At 5 mana and with somewhat classic planeswalker abilities of defense, removal, and hopefully winning the game, Ashiok, Nightmare Muse may not be a seminal design. But it's a solid card and more fitting for what I like to see this color pair do than any previously printed blue-black planeswalkers. A much welcome addition to my cube.
Taking a stand on which cards from any new set are cubeable sometimes feels like opening a Pandora's Box due to the obvious idiosyncratic nature of cube building and the differing views involved. But with my approach to cube curation being one of enthusiasm rather than solemnity, I gladly expose my Achilles' Heel, and as always, I look forward to reading any comments on what I missed and why you disagree with my picks.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.