Picky Cube Picks on the Horizon
Aiming to diversify beyond the obvious cube picks from Modern Horizons, this week Sancho attempts to dig a bit deeper to bring you ten card to try out from the set that some have dubbed Commander Masters, but which also has a limited environment akin to cubes.
Modern Horizons, the latest Magic summer specialty set, which is still not officially upon us at the time of writing, has been likened to cube. The set has more than two score different mechanics making it a worthy of being declared as a love letter to Time Spiral, and also deserving exactly the comparison with the diversity many cube builders try to implement into their homemade limited environments. However, with most cubes being singleton, the requirements for individual cards to fit into a cube are a lot stricter than what can work in a draft environment that allows for multiple copies of each card – at least without jumping through hoops of errata and house rules.
If your cube plays the cards as they read (or at the very least as their oracle text reads) some prevalent mechanics from Modern Horizons will almost certainly be disqualified from your cube. This is as much due to the limited number of playable cards you will be able to find and include as due to the parasitic nature of those mechanics. Said more straight forward: Slivers and Snow-cards are cool (the last ones literally, I suppose) but while they may work well for your Modern or Commander deck, your cube almost certainly won't benefit from those cards.
Shifty Ninjas on Bikes
Other mechanics such as cycling, ninjutsu and changeling often work fine as individual cards, whereas cards that are payoffs for the same mechanics will have a harder time finding a home in most cubes. Modern Horizons gives good support to several archetypes present in my own cube. New black goblins may revitalize my once upon a time prolific Rakdos (black/red) goblin deck, which by now has just one black goblin left and also strengthen its synergies with the Orzhov (white/black) tribal vampire/aristocrats deck providing more creatures to sacrifice, but even if some of those cards will make it to my cube, they did not make it to this list. On the other hand, Azorius blink is an archetype which enough other cube builders offers in their draft environment that I have chosen to include cards for it on my list.
To not only present the obvious cube picks here, I have put several limitations on my picks for the list. For example, this time there will only be one mythic, which does not mean, that
I am not planning on or at least considering trying out cards such as Echo of Eons, Hexdrinker and Serra, the Benevolent (whom I guess I already declared to be headed for my cube in one or two previous articles).
Other cards may be obvious picks for fellow cube builders while not being to my liking. The Horizon Lands (sorry, Canopy Lands, but horizon just makes so much more sense) bringing an entire enemy colored cycle of Horizon Canopy to the game won't make it into my own cube. I don't even include the original pain lands such as Adakar Wastes and Yavimaya Coast despite their ability to provide colorless mana for my cube's many Eldrazi. Swords and Talismans are also not on this list. Protection as found on Sword of Truth and Justice is a mechanic I am not too fond of in limited, and the ability to provide colored mana ramp, as for example Talisman of Curiosity does, is an ability I prefer to leave mainly to green with its various mana dorks.
All that said, here you have, in no particular order, ten interesting cards to consider trying out for your cube.
Winds of Abandon
As a sorcery speed removal costing 1W Winds of Abandon may just not be good enough for cube. There are so many other ways to remove creatures in the color and this one even gives your opponent ramp. On the other hand, flexibility is a good thing in a drafted deck, and being able to do a one-sided wrath later in the game could make this card worth giving a chance. The biggest risk of trying it out is that the gorgeous artwork could make the card harder to cut once you have put it into your cube.
By far the most expensive single on this list, Prismatic Vista is probably also the most hyped and least off-the-beaten-track card included here. The fetch land that can get you Wastes but not Underground Sea provides great fixing allowing drafters to splash extra colors at a smaller risk. Whether the universality of the card may end up pushing the card up to a ridiculous price if not already reprinted soon after Modern Horizons goes out of print remains to be discovered, but perhaps it is turns out to be a bargain picking up at its current price tag.
Deep Forest Hermit
Speaking of ridiculous prices, Underground Seas and reprints, let's look at the elephant in the room. Or the squirrels, as it may be. The general consensus seems to be, that Deep Forest Hermit is a strictly better version of Reserved List dweller Deranged Hermit making the new card come across a frontal assault on the intangible and ever elusive "spirit of the Reserved List" used by WotC to excuse themselves from not bringing us some variant of the original dual lands. Could the Winds of Change be blowing? Ok, let's not get our hopes too high. Back to the rodent-loving loners, I will definitely see if the two hermits can co-exist side-by-side in my cube or if one of the eremites has to go.
Hermits boost squirrels, but other tribes could need anthem effects too. In Orzhov colors vampires are light on lords and always on the lookout for new ways to sacrifice creatures for fun and value. Etchings of the Chosen provides as an anthem effect as well a sacrifice outlet in exactly Orzhov colors, but is it really the right way to boost vampires? Why not get a boost every time you sacrifice a creature or chump block some big dumb attacker instead? And what if I told you the effect comes with a funny illustration and humorous flavor text too? I will at least give Cordial Vampire a try and I think the friendly sucker will end up feeling quite welcome in my cube.
Is it a Bird, is it a Plane, is it Superman? No, Changeling Outcast is all of them. Or at least a Bird, since the two others aren't creature types in Magic yet. This cheap and unblockable shapeshifter may not look like much, but again, the flexibility the card brings to your cube is not to be completely ignored, if you have any tribal synergies at all. Personally, I look forward to taking this new wizard-human-vampire-squirrel-goblin-zombie-ninja for a spin.
And while we are at zombie ninjas, Fallen Shinobi is a card from the set which makes good use of the unblockable part of Changeling Outcast. For just 2UB you get to play the top cards of your opponent's library without any further mana cost. Add to that the five points of damage and I think that the card is at least worth considering for inclusion in some cubes.
Watcher for Tomorrow
A 2/1 human wizard for 1U is a hard spot to compete for. Snapcaster Mage reigns supreme at that spot and his effect plays sweet with a blink archetype. Put at a tenth of a percent of the price of the famous "Snappy," Modern Horizons lets you dig into your library instead of your graveyard for answers to your immediate situation. Watcher for Tomorrow does not give you the card until he leaves play, but that should be a formality for anyone drafting blink.
Making it even easier to dig through your library using Watcher for Tomorrow the set gives us the awesome blink-enabler Soulherder. If you ever wished that Conjurer's Closet could have a more friendly mana cost so you could put it into your cube – and perhaps also come with an ever-growing body, well here you go. Add to that the bonus of yet another creepy masterpiece from probably the most awesome contemporary Magic artist, and it's a deal that's hard to pass on.
Ok, one card at mythic rarity made it to this list. But of course, being the kind of player I am, it was neither spicy Seasoned Pyromancer or a hyper aggressive Hexdrinker, but rather a card that does nothing by itself. Unbound Flourishing may not be the flavor for most cubes, but if you have dedicated Gruul (red/green) to ramping into big hydras and direct damage spells with 'X' in the casting cost, this card need at least a test run.
Aria of Flame
Also, the last card on this list may end up being a trap. But again, Aria of Flame is just one of those funny red cards that I think belong in a cube, because it can both give you spectacular stories of wins and laughable defeats where you end up setting your burn or spells matter deck hopelessly behind.
Well, that concludes it for this list of not too obvious cube picks from Modern Horizons. If you have other suggestions for less than obvious cube picks for your fellow cube curators or thoughts on the list, feel free to share them in the comment section below.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.
Check out our Modern Horizons page if you're interested in picking these up before everyone else catches on!