Theros Beyond Death Cube Picks


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

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

taranika, akroan veteran

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

whirlwind denial

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

the first iroan games

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

nadir kraken

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

storm's wrath

"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

shatter the sky

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

agonizing remorse

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

ashiok, nightmare muse

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.


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NYoumans(14.02.2020 18:18)

Nice article. I feel like Thassa and Taranika don't so much belong on this list. Thassa is parasitic to flicker decks, and those tend to be bad. Also, white is already stacked at 3cmc. Three quite solid cards that you did not mention are Woe Strider, Phoenix of Ash, and Underworld Breach (obv for storm). Anyhow, enjoyed it.

sanchonil(14.02.2020 22:11)

NYoumans : Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for your feedback.

You're probably right about Thassa, but I do believe at least at some point the share of creatures with ETB effects will reach a critical mass, I know blink is kind of a pipe dream still. Taranika I will try out to see how it plays out.

I totally love Underworld Breach and it will be tried out too, even if it may be a bit parasitic too ;) I look forward to seeing how it compares to Yawgmoth's Will in action.

The horror and the phoenix were both on my short list, and at I will probably at least end up testing Woe Strider of those two.

NYoumans(17.02.2020 15:29)

Sanchonil: Breach is bonkers, totally recommend it.

sanchonil(17.02.2020 22:09)

NYoumans : I will get a copy as soon as I am sure I don't already have one in a THB box that has yet to be drafted.

DerEineDennis(12.02.2020 22:07)

No Tectonic Gigant, eidolon of obstruction, intervention cycle, nightmare shepherd, dryad of elysian growth, omen of the sea, wolf willow haven, underworld rage-hound?

sanchonil(13.02.2020 07:49)

DerEineDennis : I did have to cut the list somewhere :)

Eidolon of Obstructing is of course best in a planeswalker heavy cube. Tectonic Giant was high on my list and will definitely get a test run.

Are you trying all these out, and what are you cutting to get room for them?

DerEineDennis(14.02.2020 15:33)

This is the reason I dislike top 10 lists.
Especially when talking about cube I think there is no real top ten because it's very dependent on what archetypes you support, what powerlevel etc.
A broader overview with consideration to what powerlevel would be more desirable imho.

I will try some of them, but this is dependent when I can get a hand on them.
For now I included Gigant and eberos intervention in my powered vintage cube.
On my list for inclusion arr
Eidolon, elspeth, ashiok, thassas intervention, omen of the sea.

This is my current list:
Https://cubecobra. Com/cube/list/fromotterspacecube

sanchonil(14.02.2020 16:37)

DerEineDennis : My top tens are by no means supposed to be the be all end all. They are purely for entertainment and of course quite personal, though not necessarily reflective of exactly which cards I will put into my own cube.

I usually write my top tens right when a set has been all revealed and because of that the lists are more about what I find exciting when first seeing it than something which relies on thorough testing and hypergeometric calculations or whatever. This time due to the number of articles produces about the set, I guess it came out a little later.

Like with so many other areas in the world of Magic articles can cater to people at various levels but never to people at all levels. I can recommend you Derek Gallen´s great cube review articles if you want something on a higher level - I suspect you already know of them though.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, your picks and your list :)

bigup(12.02.2020 08:00)

This is what i added to my 540 fully powered List:

Stormblood Berserker > Underworld Breach
Chandra, Flamecaller > Phoenix of Ash
Isareth the Awakener > Woe Strider
Shardless Agent > Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath
Winds of Abandon > Shatter the Sky
Spear of Heliod > Heliod, Sun-Crowned
Serra the Benevolent > Elspeth, Sun's Nemesis
The only card that will surely stay for long is underworld breach. This card is absolut insane!

sanchonil(12.02.2020 20:47)

Bigup : Uro I will probably only try out, if I should open one. I must say that Underworld Breach is a lovely card that I also have my eyes on for my cube. Thanks for sharing your picks and what you are taking out.

MeatyOwlLegs(12.02.2020 00:34)

I only added Ox of Agonas to further support a graveyard/reanimate theme in my cube. Most of the cards on this list are very good cards, but not one of them really makes me want to play with them.

sanchonil(12.02.2020 20:40)

MeatyOwlLegs : The Ox is an interesting choice too. A bit on the costly side though, may I ask what it replaced?

MeatyOwlLegs(12.02.2020 23:06)

Sanchonil: I cut Hour of Devastation since it isn't very exciting and red already has so much removal in my cube I don't think it is necessary. I think Ox of Agonas plays well in different archetypes. He is a great Medium Red/midrange card for card advantage since a lot of cards are valuable in the grave. And its low Escape cost (speaking of mana) even makes it a good card to pitch to something like Faithless Looting or being put into the graveyard by stuff like Grisly Salvage, Mulch, etc.

sanchonil(13.02.2020 08:01)

MeatyOwlLegs : I think the escape of the Ox would come up as rarely in my environment as the indedestructible part of Hour of Devastation does. But I do like the card draw of the Ox. Thanks for sharing.

MeatyOwlLegs(13.02.2020 12:06)

Sanchonil: Sure, you need a good graveyard theme in the cube to make the Escape relevant. But I am actively trying to incentivise that.
I try to stay away from keywords like Hexproof, Protection and Indestructible. I think it promotes big feel bad moments, so Hour of Devastation doesn't really have any use except for being a wrath against Planeswalkers and creatures.