Brothers' War full spoilers are out and that means it's time to go over all the cards I'm considering for my Possibility Cube!
In this post I'll be writing about all the cards from Brothers' War that people are talking about or should be talking about for an unpowered unrestricted cube environment in the context of my personal cube, the Possibility Cube. I know I missed my pauper cube post for Dominaria United, but I've just been a little busy due to landing a new game design job! For now the plan is to do a double pauper post for DMU and BRO. Let's get started.
Lay Down Arms
The Good: Oust has proven to be a great removal spell in my environment and Lay Down Arms has the potential to be that but better in some situations, that's certainly enough to get me intrigued. The prevalence of tokens nowadays also factors into this card's power, just as we see it do so with cards like Oust and Prismatic Ending.
The Bad: Unless your cube has great dual fixing, I don't see this card being very good in a non-monowhite deck. While Fatal Push has a good number of targets, it turns up a dead draw more than I'd like and I think turning it into a sorcery knocks it out of contention.
The Verdict: I think I'm good on 1-mana white removal spells and this is less appealing than the others I run. A pass for me but I can see this card being very good in some environments and I may just come back to it if I see it perform in other cubes.
Loran of the Third Path
The Good: White finally has Reclamation Sage and it comes with upside! The vigilance is actually quite the nice bonus as your opponent really doesn't want to trade with this in combat. The activated ability is also very intriguing. You get first crack at having the card on a fresh turn, but I'm honestly unsure when exactly it will be correct to activate. There are also some sweet synergies if you have the chance to draft Karakas or a Leovold variant. In any case, Reclamation Sage is an all-timer in cube, this rate for a 2/1 that kills a mana rock or something better on ETB is just rock solid.
The Bad: It is true that white has other good options that green doesn't necessarily have, cards like Skyclave Apparition for example. White 3s are also getting very crowded and a lot of people want the most aggressive/disruptive 3-drops for the white aggro deck.
The Verdict: I will be running this, I've been looking to cut 3-mana Thalia for awhile and I think this is a great addition. Overall I'm very glad we have this option for cubes.
The Good: Savannah Lions with card advantage upside, this will surely see play somewhere in cube. It has good typing too which can be important in the right environment.
The Bad: So there's actually quite a bit I don't like about this card. Ideally, you want this to just be a Savannah Lions because the game you're activating it isn't going to be a game going well for you. That isn't necessarily a bad thing but the ability also just isn't very good at catching you up and at that mana cost it's highly likely to be your whole turn. Looking at only 4 cards means you will definitely sometimes whiff and even when you hit, a random cmc 3 or less creature isn't generally what you need to catch up.
The Verdict: I know some people are very high on this card, but I'm a little more lukewarm on it. I will be replacing Skymarcher Aspirant for it, but to me that's simply taking the place of the worst Savannah Lions I'm running and I'll actively be looking to replace it in the future.
The Good: Luminarch Aspirant has proven to be one of the best white 2-drops in my cube, often compared to a 2-mana planeswalker. The same ability on a 3-drop with an additional p/t may just be good enough. Nearly 40% of my cmc 3 or less creatures are soldiers as well, so the other ability can certainly be relevant.
The Bad: I'm unsure if this effect is worth a 50% increase in mana. While the baseline is a 3-mana 4-power threat, aggro decks value those a lot less than a 1-mana 2-power or 2-mana 3-power threat. Mirran Crusader is by no means unplayable, but it has definitely been well pushed out of my cube. Even Gideon Blackblade has become a lower pick than it use to be.
The Verdict: I would not scoff at seeing this in a cube and would certainly draft it in my white aggro deck, but it doesn't quite make it for my cube. This is a nice option to have and may even be good enough for my cube, but I think with this set we've finally gotten to the point where you can't possibly run every good enough 3-mana white card without the slot being too glutted. Honestly, I think it's glutted in my cube already.
The Good: I know a lot of people happily run Fateful Absence and this is arguably on the same level. A 2-mana instant speed answer for any permanent is awfully efficient, even if it's only a tempo advantage rather than hard removal. I honestly think it will be a toss up how often it will be better to give your opponent a clue or their card back with a 2-mana tax, this is certainly better at hitting a token. Interestingly this also serves as a "bounce" for your own creatures as the tax won't apply to you.
The Bad: I personally don't quite run Fateful Absence as happily as others. With the amount of planeswalkers in my environment I really need cheap ways to answer them and that's where I run Fateful Absence, I don't really value it as non-planeswalker removal very highly. I only run a handful of doomblades nowadays, with all the efficient options I'm really only interested in the absolute best 2-mana 1-for-1s. Unexpectedly Absent does what this does way better in my opinion and this is unfortunately much more akin to Fateful Absence.
The Verdict: Pass for me. If I did run it, it'd be in lieu of Fateful Absence, but for the role of planeswalker removal I'd rather them get a clue. I expect this to see play in some cubes so I may reevaluate if I see it play well elsewhere.
The Good: And yet another white Phyrexian Rager with upside. While double strike synergies aren't nearly as good as the advantage flying gets you with Inspiring Overseer, this card absolutely slaps if you blink it. A 3/3 with double strike is no joke and blinking is something you'd actively be trying to do to your Phyrexian Rager anyway.
The Bad: It's quite underwhelming if you're not blinking it and without evasion you'd most certainly want to be doing something else in the white aggro deck.
The Verdict: Phyrexian Ragers are rarely straight up bad in any environment and there are some fun and powerful things to do with this one. Unfortunately I doubt I can find room to test this, my white 3s are too many already and I really want to run this next one.
The Good: A 3-mana 3/3 that pushes its and another creature's damage through is absolute gas. The fact that it can give itself vigilance or lifelink when it's alone on the battlefield or if the extra evasion isn't needed is also great. With the non-prototype cost being as low as 6-mana, Baneslayer mode will definitely come up here and there.
The Bad: Just about all my current white 3s pass the Vindicate Test and this does not, but honestly being a bit of a Baneslayer matters a lot less at low cmcs, this thing will start taking over the game fast enough that I really don't mind this downside. You can't blink this with Restoration Angel which is probably the saddest thing about the card.
The Verdict: I think this is a slam dunk for me, I'll definitely be playing this. Even with no other creatures this is a 3-mana creature attacking with evasion for a 6 point life swing, I'm down for that floor. The 6-mana mode, the artifact synergies, and the blink synergies are all relevant gravy on top as well.
The Good: So blue gets its own Rabblemaster, a bit slower, more evasive, and the option to draw cards at some point. If you're supporting the blue tempo deck, this is the kind of 3-drop you want to see.
The Bad: While I love blue creature-based tempo decks, they're a little too fair and slow to get going in my cube and that sums this card up as well.
The Verdict: A pass for me but I'd love to see this in a lower powered environment where the cube is specifically supporting a deck for it.
Teferi, Temporal Pilgrim
The Good: This card is sweet. While the token the -2 makes may not be super impressive if you don't have immediate card draw, it can potentially be a 4/4 with vigilance the next turn and it threatens to only get bigger. A pair of these tokens for 5-mana is some nasty pressure, anything more out of this and you're looking to snowball fast towards a victory. Curving into this after a Jace, the Mind Sculptor is the absolute dream but there are plenty of ways to quickly get Teferi out of combat range and buff the token into a big threat.
The Bad: It's hard to be upset with this card but it is a bit expensive I suppose. It's not the most powerful planeswalker, but I have trouble thinking of any buff that wouldn't immediately push it to broken. I will say I've not been impressed with 5-mana walkers who have a simple "Draw a card." as a loyalty ability, but I feel like you're here for the -2 and static ability in this case.
The Verdict: I see this getting pushed out at some point, but Mu Yanling, Sky Dancer has not been performing well in my cube so I think I'll make the swap. I imagine this being very good in a lot of environments.
The Good: A lot of people like Sea Gate Stormcaller in their vintage cube but I've always hated that you had to cast both Stormcaller and your spell in the same turn. Arcane Proxy lets you split up its mana cost and that of the spell you're copying and that's well worth the extra mana. Cast your spell on curve or whenever you need it and forever have the option to cast it again with Arcane Proxy later. It should also be noted that it works well with any suspend cards with a mana value of 0.
The Bad: Like Stormcaller, this is a proactive card that relies a lot on the cards you draw around it. While your options will increase as the game goes on, I wonder how often you'd rather just have an Aether Channeler instead.
The Verdict: I wouldn't think twice about including it in a powered cube, but I'm not sure it's good enough if you're not rebuying Time Walk or Ancestral. You really want this to be a 3-mana Ravenous Chupacabra but I think it will most often be a more selective Phyrexian Rager. I have some easy cuts in blue currently so if I pick one of these up I might just test it.
The Good: A 3-power unblockable for 3 is a rate we don't often get. Your opponent passes the turn and you didn't need to counter anything? Spend your 3 mana and now you've got a 4-turn (very likely 3-turn) unblockable clock. The 6-mana activation can also be very good if the game's gone grindy, although to be fair I wonder how grindy it can be with a 5/4 unblockable on the loose.
The Bad: You don't get much for the upfront cost and investing in it is quite risky for just life total pressure. This card is quite bad in the face of removal.
The Verdict: I'm not really looking for a tempo blue beater like this, but if your cube is, I think this is one of the better ones.
Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor
The Good: Edric, Spymaster of Trest has shown this effect to potentially be very powerful, however being both blue and green made his deck come together none too often. Gix, however, comes in only black and even has an extra p/t giving him a better chance of connecting with your opponent himself. Black has a lot of low in the curve creatures and really all they do is get in there, now each one that can is a card off the top of your deck. If you can draw 2 cards off of Gix, you've more than gotten your money's worth.
The Bad: The floor of this effect is quite low, there will be times where this simply doesn't do anything. I'm optimistic with the suite of creatures I run in black, but it will need some testing to see how often this is a dud.
The Verdict: Like I said you really need to test this card to see how consistent it is in your environment and I plan on doing just that. Opposition Agent has been quite underwhelming for me so there will be an easy goodbye to that.
The Good: This may just be a black Fact or Fiction and I'm not saying that because of the little piles game you get to play. Instant speed, splashable, draws you 3 cards, and fuels the graveyard? That's a recipe for success, the only thing it misses from Fact or Fiction is the guaranteed answer when you need something specific.
The Bad: If you do need that one answer off the top of your deck, it is true that you'll never get it with this card unless your opponent screws up. It will basically always be correct for your opponent to give you known information unless that known information is the answer you need. Really there's no selection at all and this will play mostly as "Draw 3 cards. Mill 3 cards."
The Verdict: This is a strong card advantage spell, you don't get the selection I'd want but 3 cards at instant speed for 4-mana is certainly good enough in a lot of cube environments. I think I'll find room to at least test this one.
The Good: I think this is the best Shade ever printed, +1/+1 is a hell of a repeatable buff for a single mana investment and I don't recall it ever being a generic cost. The threat of activation will give this pseudo-unblockable and any mana you know you're not going to use converts to extra damage. If your opponent is forced to block, you can spend some mana for some good ol' 1-for-none removal. A Fireball on a stick will also just sometimes be lethal. Oh yeah, the random graveyard hate will be very annoying on occasion too.
The Bad: Honestly I think this card is great, I can't really think of environments where it would be bad. It can be punished with removal, but that's going to generally be a you mistake.
The Verdict: I think Nantuko Shade's power has been lost to history and people are underestimating this card. Just writing this I'm convinced that this is simply a slam dunk in most any cube and I will be running it.
The Good: On rate stats with evasion and lifelink is a nice start to a 3-mana beater. The fact that it's almost always going to get in a "hit" with its ward ability makes this very appealing. I've been fairly okay with Sedgemoor Witch's floor and I think this card's floor is quite a bit higher. While not the first choice, this also serves as an acceptable reanimation/tinker target and it's always nice to fill multiple roles.
The Bad: It feels rather average wherever you play it. I can see this getting cut from many decks for simply not working towards a specific game plan, it's just a generically good beater.
The Verdict: I don't know, I'm feeling a little lukewarm on this but I think it would be good. I think I'll just have to test this one.
The Good: Scrapheap Scrounger has been good for me as a 2-mana 3-power card that can slot into white or red aggro with some splashable upside. This could possibly serve the same role. It's recursion also reminds me of Skyclave Shade, a card I've been quite happy with. If you can be recurring this for BB your opponent is going to be having a rough time too.
The Bad: It hurts that it can't be cheaply recurred with any consistency and the extra toughness on Scrapheap Scrounger actually does a lot to push damage through.
The Verdict: I don't think this quite gets there in the face of the other options we have. If you support black aggro, you might happily run this just for the density.
The Good: Bonesplitter is a great aggressive card and, in black, for one more mana Transmogrant's Crown is that but when your equipped threat dies you draw a card. That effect is very much worth the extra initial mana investment.
The Bad: I really don't think this gets there with an equip cost of 2 and I don't think I want an aggressive equipment that requires a color that's not white or red. It's one thing to double the mana cost, the effect should be pretty powerful to warrant that and I do think this does it. But to double the equip cost you'll be paying every single time you want to equip? The equip 1 is exactly what makes cards like Bonesplitter or Heirloom Blade so good.
The Verdict: I really like this card so I may try it out as a black equipment, but a word to the wise, I really wouldn't run this in any deck that wasn't base black.
Feldon, Ronom Excavator
The Good: So I've been rather down on 2/2 hasters, but I think this is my favorite of them. This is going to do its thing chipping in for 2 damage a turn and when your opponent lands their 3/3, it either continues to do its thing or they block and you get a card with selection. It's also not exactly a dead draw later in the game like the other 2-power hasters.
The Bad: I think I'd still rather have 3-power and a way to push that damage through than I would 2-power and haste, but like I said the replacing itself goes a long way.
The Verdict: I'll be testing this card, I think I'll cut Soul-Scar Mage for this as it has not been performing as well as my other red aggro creatures.
Mishra's Research Desk
The Good: I remember when I played Think Twice in modern so I have a soft spot for this effect, this is however Think Twice with bonus selection and the ability to split the first cost between turns. It's always good to be on the lookout for playable 1-mana artifacts nowadays too because they become a lot better with Urza's Saga.
The Bad: The selection probably isn't good enough to make Think Twice get there, you probably will be doing better things than this with your mana.
The Verdict: Doesn't make it for me but this is a nice bit of tech for lower powered environments that I haven't seen many people talking about.
Phyrexian Dragon Engine
The Good: Mirran Crusader is one of my favorite cards and while it was probably in my cube for too long, it was never embarrassing to play. Add on an unearth mode that draws you 3 cards and you've definitely got my attention.
The Bad: Again I don't think this is among the best options for aggressive 3s and you can only play so many. It's not even unique in nabbing value in the graveyard.
The Verdict: I will be passing on this for my cube but I think this would certainly do well in a number of environments.
The Good: A 1-mana modal cantrip or removal spell is certainly worth considering. Fight effects are generally the worst kind of removal but 1-mana plus upside is generally where you want to be with them.
The Bad: If you regularly read my posts you know I value modality a lot less than raw power and it's no different here. While I think this would be very nice in lower powered midrangey cubes, I think it falls off pretty hard in higher powered environments.
The Verdict: Not for me but a good choice if you value modality.
The Good: Now this is some modality I can get behind, there are some pretty powerful combinations here. 8 power and toughness split between 2 bodies is a decent floor for a 6-mana spell and tutoring lands can always be powerful depending on what you've drafted. The first option will only be for when you need it but it's nice to have and can potentially be a huge lifepoint swing.
The Bad: 6 mana is quite a lot, Primeval Titan has been pushed out of my cube and this probably isn't as good.
The Verdict: This is a nice option for some environments but doesn't quite make it for mine. I know I'll be picking this fairly highly when it shows up in Arena Cube.
The Good: This is just some really nice, cheap artifact/enchantment removal. It's the same total cost as Naturalize but you can split it up over multiple turns, it exiles, and it gains you to life. Of course you also get whatever utility having a creature grants you.
The Bad: There are a lot of noncreature artifacts I want to blow up with my artifact removal and I imagine that is the case for a lot of cubes.
The Verdict: I fear this will never make the maindeck in my cube and that's something I specifically want to avoid for my includes. However, I expect this to play pretty well if you want a Naturalize effect.
Legions to Ashes
The Good: So in singleton cubes this might as well be a Maelstrom Pulse that exiles, although it's quite sad against clones. Being able to answer any permanent is generally worth 3 mana, I still like O-ring in my cube because people will draft it just so they know they have an answer somewhere in their maindeck or sideboard for anything they might encounter. I'll also say that I like this more than Anguished Unmaking, you generally play that on your turn anyway and the 3 life honestly hurts quite a bit.
The Bad: I recently cut Maelstrom Pulse because it's just so dang boring in a multicolor slot. Also while I explained why I value something like an O-ring, it is true it's less efficient than other removal and I might want something more from a card that commits you to 2 colors.
The Verdict: I'm going to pass on this but it's perfectly fine removal in most environments.
Third Path Iconoclast
The Good: Young Pyromancer finally got the upgrade to a noncreature trigger! Even if it required an extra color to get there it's well worth it. The 1/1s are even artifacts for some great incidental synergies. I think a lot of us have been waiting for this one for some time.
The Bad: It did require another colored pip, but Young Pyro was generally played with blue anyway so it's hard to complain.
The Verdict: Slam dunk of the set, I've been playing with Young Pyromancer since I first started playing magic and I'm excited to play with an upgraded version in my favorite format!
The Good: There's a lot of value to be had out of this 6-drop. A 5/4 that draws you 3, or draws you 2 and gets in for 6 trample, or draws you 1 and mind rots your opponents, or just about any combination of effects is going to be really nice. Even in the worst case scenario where your mana isn't cooperating, a 5/4 that draws you 2 is still a 3-for-1.
The Bad: This is a 6-mana creature that really sucks to cheat into play. A 5/4 body for 6 also leaves a lot to be desired. I would almost always want to cast this for 6 blue and I don't know how realistic it is to do that consistently.
The Verdict: I don't think I'll test it but this card is certainly funky. It's not as good as any 6-drop I currently run, but it's not far off and I think it it could be an absolute monster in the right environment.
Portal to Phyrexia
The Good: So at 9 mana this is most definitely a cheat target via Tinker, Show and Tell, and Goblin Welder in my cube. What I like about it with Show and Tell is that you don't get got by your opponent having something better than you and I like it with Welder because looping a triple edict is a powerful lock.
The Bad: This card doesn't win on its own and that's a bad sign for something you're jumping through hoops to cheat onto the battlefield.
The Verdict: This card seems like a lot of fun but it's not consistent enough for me to consider it for my cube.
Argoth, Sanctum of Nature
The Good: Castle Ardenvale had a good run in my cube before I cut it, upgrading the token to a 2/2 is definitely interesting. Field of the Dead doesn't need to produce more than a single 2/2 a turn to make an unending horde no control deck can deal with.
The Bad: A sorcery speed activation is rough but not the end of the world. This will also generally ETB tapped. Honestly the mill 3 gives me a bit of pause, of course graveyard synergies are a dime a dozen but on an active you want to do over and over.. you only got 40 cards in your deck.
The Verdict: I'm pretty happy with my suite of lands, but I might swap out Treetop Village for a bit just to test this. Like I said, a 2/2 every turn can be very powerful when it's on card type that has little interaction against it.
And that's a wrap for Brothers' War! This set seems to be great for cube in general and even has a good amount of testables for my personal cube. We also got some long awaited gems in Loran and Iconoclast. I'm quite happy with this set and can't wait to cube with all the new cards. Let me know if you think I missed anything worth talking about and stay tuned for considerations for my Pauper Twobert (I promise this time!). Thanks for reading!