Zendikar Rising is here and Modal Double Faced Cards (MDFC) are making a big splash to deck building traditions! I’ll be skipping over reprints likeLotus Cobra since cube designer’s already had access to it. With all that being said here’s my Top 10 Zendikar Rising cards I’m most excited about for cube.
Enchantment removal in black is something R&D has beenexperimenting withsparinglyover the past couple of years. This iteration comes to us in the form of target removal finally and as a common of all things. Feed the Swarm cracks the bottom of my list not necessarily for power but because of the uniqueness of the effect. The enchantment type is one that doesn’t pop up as often in cubes, but when it does it’s usually a card that needs to be dealt with. Black can finally do something definite about an opponent’sOblivion Ring,Sylvan Library, orMirari’s Wake. It’s pretty likely that all you’ll actually destroy is a creature at sorcery speed, and at a cost thatGo for the Throat orHeartless Act won’t ask of you. Testing will show if the versatility is worth the tradeoff.
Blue loves the spells matter archetypes andSea Gate Stormcaller fits right at home with many cards already in your cube. A cool aspect ofStormcalleris that she scales so well with cubes. High powered cubes will have access toAncestral Recall andTime Walk for huge plays while more modest cubes are happy to duplicatecantrips andburnspells. Her baseline stats of a 2/1 for 2 are mediocre so make sure you’re getting her full value by playing enough 1-2cc cost spells.
The only white card on the list. In “good stuff” cubes white has a lot of work to do before it looks as good as other colors. Those cubes are typically looking for hatebears and won’t be interested in what Aspirant has to offer. For everyone else though there are a lot of interesting things happening here. At the floor we have a 2 mana creature attacking for 3 the turn after you cast it, and then for 1 more every turn after. By turn five you’ll have attacked for 12 and reaching titan level stats. If you have a creature in play the turn it enters the battlefield you’ll get a “pseudo-haste” effect off the first trigger. Pile the counters up on an evasive or hard to deal with threat and build a monster. Once the opponent finds a way to deal with your bucket of +1/+1s they’ll still need to handleAspirant or they’ll quickly find themselves back where they started. Designers who play up the +1/+1 counters themes will have a hot new toy to play with and that’s whereAspirantreally shines. Cards likeBasri’s Lieutenant andMikaeus the Lunarch will be more than happy to see bonus treats get divvied out each combat step. A free +1/+1 counter every turn is a Planeswalker level of ability so getting that on a 2 mana creature is more than enough to peak my curiosity.
Who doesn’t love reanimator? Some random Grafdigger probably. I never took up that profession thankfully so I’m all about cheating death. Nullpriest isn’t going to be cheating much into play with a cost of 4BB after paying the Kicker but it will get you a lot of value if you’ve built your deck accordingly. You’re looking targeting creatures who cost at least 6 or more mana to be happy with the effect. Grave Titan,Griselbrand, andWurmcoil Engine are the usual suspects but don’t overlook cards with powerful ETBs likeMulldrifter,Stoneforge Mystic, andEternal Witness. Also, a 2/1 with menace and lifelink for only 2 mana means you can cast this early against aggressive decks and not be unhappy that you’ve done so.
For the powered cubes out there this is an auto include. You can’t steal aMox without paying 1 mana for the Kicker but it hardly seems like that’s much of a downside. There are a lot of scary artifacts out there andSkydiver lets you flip the script real fast. This is a permanent gain control effect as well so there’s no going back to the other team once this resolves. Unpowered cubes won’t see this shine as much but there’s still a piece ofequipment usually floating around or aSolemn Simulacrum orsomething. Base stats of a 2/1 Flyer for 2 is just fine for those lowered powered cubes as you’ll be able to keep opposing planeswalkers honest should you need to cast this unKicked.
We’re entering MDFC territory and of the 5 mythic ones I only have 3 on my list. Mostly because I thinkSea Gate Restoration andEmeria's Call have a rather weak spell half. For an endgame spell I want to try and win the game and blue one just draws more cards. The white one does make 8 power worth of creatures but it’s just so unexciting for the cost. They’re all fine but some are more fine than others.
All of the Mythic MDFC can enter as an untapped land if you pay 3 life. Lava Spiking yourself isn't nothing, but it is a choice you aren't required to make. Agadeem’s Awakening should likely win you the game the turn you play it if you drafted around it. There are a lot of synergies and combos in cube and being able to rebuy all your fallen soldiers at the end of the game will probably cause your opponent to concede on the spot if you catch them with aKitesail Freebooter orMesmeric Fiend in a giant pile of freshly awakened recruits. It’s worth mentioning that Awakening does not exile itself on resolution so getting back anEternal Witness orArchaeomancer will put this right back into your hand to cast again and again. The stars might need to align to get the most epic resolutions of this card but for those cases you just play it as a land.
The value of this card goes up a lot if you can pick it early in a draft. Sort of likeNatural Order orChannel you need to draft around this card to make it worth it. Symbiosis goes hand in hand with other popular green cards like the aforementioned Natural Order and Channel so it’s an easy include if you’re already supporting the archetypes pushed by those cards. Rofellos,Craterhoof, and thewholeEldraziswarm are waiting to see this get added to your lists.
Fireball. Alright, not quite. Buuuuut, it’s also a land. These MDFC are crazy powerful. This will probably be a land turns 1-4 but if you’re into the midgame and haven’t killed your opponent yet this will definitely help find the way. I think the most common scenarios here will be X = 3 or 4 and you’ll either knock two blockers out of the way or deal with a problematic planeswalker. That’s a pretty great ceiling for a lowly Mountain. Red is the color that cares the least about losing 3 life, as either you or your opponent will have actually won before it was likely to have mattered.
Zendikar Rising gives us cube designers so much removal to tinker with and I’m thirsty for anotherFatal Push. Kicker will be a lot easier to make happen than Revolt for most decks and we get to offJace, the Mindsculptor,Chandra, Torch of Defiance, or even aKarn Liberated. Downgrading to Fatal Push to a sorcery is fine. It’s not like Fatal Push didn’t feel like it had a timing restriction in most scenarios anyway. I think playing both in your cube is fine but if you’re supporting sacrifice archetypes maybe you push a little toward the Revolt card.
Posted on 09/27/20
Cale and Adam BATTLE! it out
Cale and Adam BATTLE! it out