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Tokens, tokens, tokens!

December 4, 2011

So in the spirit of Innistrad, and given the success stories of GW tokens being pushed in cube, I’ve decided to make an adjustment to the GW aggro decks, pushing the token theme. I’ve also decided to change up a few other cards that haven’t been seeing much play.

Eternal Dragon has been getting picked less and less often, and given I don’t have both sets of duals, it’s value is diminished a bit. It might have been more appropriate to mark this as a change between Sunblast Angel and Elesh Norn, but Norn is a great reanimate target as well as a find top end against the mid-range decks.

I’ve felt like there has been one too many white wrath effects in my cube the past few drafts, and the triple white of Planar Cleansing is what finalized this decision. Mikaeus is another move towards tokens, and an extra human for Champion.

As I mentioned previously, Sunblast Angel is on it’s way out. It just rarely ended up killing enough creatures, and the body wasn’t too relevant. The ever present effect of Elesh Norn will be much better I think. Geist is very similar to Cloudgoat, and has the added benefit of being a human. The spirits being fliers are great as well.

Griffin Guide is a lot better when you go “T1 guy, T2 guy guy, T3 Guide”, which doesn’t lend nearly as well to the token strategy. Midnight Haunting is similar to Spectral Procession, and I feel like it’s borderline good enough for cube, but with lots of anthem effects, and praise from other cubers, I’ve decided to give it a go.

Harm’s Way has always been a favorite trick of mine, as a psuedo burn spell/counterspell against the red decks, but it just often ends up being the former, and a shock just isn’t the greatest. It was between Harm’s Way and Condemn for this pick. Shrine against goes to the token strategy, but is also pretty decent in a control deck for control mirrors as something you can drop that will need to be dealt with.

Yadda yadda, more token stuff. Calciderm being the Abyss is usually helpful, but I like Emeria Angel as a control finisher too, similar to how Caw-Blade decks used it last standard season. Plus full art goodness!

More Anthem effects! I liked the concept behind Scepter, but it just usually never made the cut.

With Despise and Inquisition recently joining Thoughtseize and Duress, the targeted hand disruption has gotten a lot better, leaving little room for Unmask. The two Reanimate spells are based on discussions with other cubers about having them in regardless of a dedicated reanimate strategy. There are enough helpers that can lead to a reanimate deck without needing cards like Entomb.

Animate Dead going in for the same reason as Renaimate. Death Cloud works great with Planeswalkers, but there really aren’t any in black to take advantage of compared to the Wildfire/Planeswalker combo of red.

Massacre Wurm was supposed to come in and be like Sunblast Angel, but the triple black ended up being too prohibitive, and black didn’t need another finisher. Dauthi Horror helps push black aggro a bit, while still being playable in BW or BR due to the single black cost.

Wrench Mind is a card I didn’t know existed until recently, and the first time I saw it I wondered if it was cubeable. While there have been more artifacts seeing play in cube, at it’s worse it’s a two mana Duress for a sword of signet. It’s another aid to heavy black aggro as well.

Phoenix was another card many were excited for when M12 came out, however I was skeptical. I’ve come to realize that recurring it just once ends up being great value. Kruin Outlaw is in that awkward spot of being a mid-range werewolf, where your opponent will usually have a spell. It’s a lot easier to flip Reckless Waif or Mayor early compared to flipping Outlaw.

Ghostfire generally ended up being a 3 mana burn spell for 3. I think the ability to hit pro-red creatures only came into play once or twice. Brimstone Volley gives you the same damage to mana ratio when unkicked, but gives extra reach for the red decks.

Volcanic Hammer has always been so meh to me. Incinerate is already on the lower end of burn, but sorcery speed makes it even worse. I played mono red for a long while before the billion pro-red creatures in standard made me quit. The number of games that this card randomly wins are plenty, and the feeling of having a shrine on 10 is great.

Comet Storm just hasn’t been drafted much. I feel like I have more X red spells than most already, and this is the weakest one. Pyroclasm comes in as a little help against the new found tokens.

Demonfire almost was chopped when Red Sun’s Zenith came in, but it stayed. Unfortunately, Fireballs these days are just much better.

This change goes along with the Griffin Guide change. Exchanging bigger pump on one creature for less pump on all creatures. I was unimpressed with this anthem last time it was in cube, but we’ll see about this time with more tokens.

Another push away from green aggro being about dudes, as Wild Dogs and it’s ilk were rarely drafted, and if they were the decks usually were sub-par. Jade Mage is a great aggressively costed token maker.

Another reason to move away from the Moldervine Cloak/Elephant and Griffin Guide type pump effects have been the Scars swords. Three more first pickable equipment meant less room for these sort of enchantments. Imperious Perfect is a great threat on it’s own, and the token producing helps as well. The incidental pumping of Llanowar Elf creatures is also great.

Again, another triple mana symbol’d card getting the cut, and for that reason. Kodama was often a last pick and unplayed. Cagebreakers is a pet card of mine after playing the BUG mill yourself deck in block, but it’s also a green Hero of Blade Hold with just two creatures in the yard. The card combos even better with Survival, Birthing Pod and Fauna Shaman, three great green utility cards.

I wanted Exarch to be good, as it was another out to Planeswalkers in green. But it was just never played, as most green decks ended up just wanting a finisher to go over the top of the planeswalkers. The one time I did get to Vial it into play on upkeep to go search up a Hero of Oxid Ridge to lethal my opponent felt great, but that was the only time it saw play. Master of the Wild Hunt is another token creature, as well as decent removal in green.

Sadly, the little lion that could do everything but intercept is no more. The reason this is out is the same as Wild Dogs. Nest Invader has always intrigued me. It was one of my favorite cards during RoE draft, which is my favorite draft environment. The token ends up doing so many things, whether it be chumping to gain 5 life, ramping to a 4 on turn 3, or potentially getting in there with the most recent change.

Sprout Swarm is one of the biggest pain in the asses to play against, but it also is one of the most fun to play with. I’ve always loved it in C/UC cube, and decided to give it a go here. Again, more tokens! Crop Rotation was only barely played in three color decks, and I feel like there is enough fixing to justify cutting it.

Rampaging Baloths is practically a 7 already, so the mana costs here are even. Baloths was always fine, but the Queen combos well with Recurring Nightmare and more tokens are more tokens, even though this one most likely won’t ever be played with the rest of the token stuff. I love the 6 power flying for 7 mana, especially given the flying Typhoid Rats makes this great on offense and defense.

Angel of Despair has always disappointed me. New 7 drops Sphinx of Uthun and Rune-Scared Demon have better spells attached to them, and aren’t seeing play in cube. Armageddon is a much better attached spell at the same mana cost.

This is by far the saddest switch I’ve had to make. Fires is my second favorite card in my favorite color combination, and is also my roommates favorite card. But it just rarely gets drafted. It will always hold a special place in my heart. Burning-Tree Shaman is a great body on an aggressive card. I don’t know how relevant the triggered ability is, but I’m excited to find out.

One of the major pushes behind the new change to GW in my cube, Township is an absolute beating. Wizards really did a great job with the last few sets with lands (Enemy M10 lands, this cycle, Fetches, Worldwake Manlands, shards Tri-lands) and didn’t disappoint here. The fact that four of the five are seeing heavy standard play, and the 5th is seeing marginal play is outstanding. Loam Lion is the weakest card in the deepest guild in cube.

Let me know in the comments if I missed anything or you think I removed the wrong card. I’m definitely open to changes and ideas.

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