It’s Commander week at Hipsters of the Coast, and I’m delighted to discuss the cube potential for cards from Commander 2015. It’s worth noting that this is perhaps the first Commander release which doesn’t have an obvious chase card for Legacy (Scavenging Ooze & Flusterstorm in 2011; True-Name Nemesis & Toxic Deluge in 2013; Containment Priest in 2014). Accordingly, no one deck looks to spike in price, which is great for folks who want to buy these decks to actually play with them. This also means we don’t have one obvious deck to look at for new cube fun, but that’s hardly a problem.
I won’t be limiting myself to only the usual cube that’s a melange of the most broken and powerful Magic cards; there are more types of (and in my opinion, more interesting) cubes than that. However, I will expect a reasonable standard of power from my cube potentials.
All that said, here’s a bunch of cards that you may want to consider including in your cube (or your friend’s cube, or lobbying for inclusion in the MODO cube)!
Mystic Confluence is most likely the best Cube card in Commander 2015. At its absolute worst, it’s Jace’s Ingenuity, a card which isn’t terribly strong, but is a fine cube inclusion for a lower powered cube. However, this card is so much more—it is to Jace’s Ingenuity what Cryptic Command is to Dismiss: even if most of the time, they’re the same card, the options you’re offered make it nuts.
Mystic Confluence can be a tempo finisher, a one-sided wrath, a double-drawing Dismiss, or even a really, really bad Counterspell. It can slot into a variety of blue decks and have all of its modes be relevant in each archetype. The options it provides make it definitely worth trying out in your cube.
Clones are popular in cubes, though Clone sees far less play than Phyrexian Metamorph, Phantasmal Image, and Sakashima’s Student. Gigantoplasm may just join the list of solid clones with upside; not only do you get to copy the best creature on the battlefield, but you have a mana sink and the ability to improve the creature (note that the power/toughness buff doesn’t end at the end of the turn).
Verdict: Quite good
Meren of Clan Nel Toth is a relatively simple creature: she’s got a reasonably efficient body, dodges a lot of removal, and draws you a card every turn (and will rarely reanimate something for you). I’ll give her a shot, since she’s a card advantage engine in a color combination that’s very good at filling and abusing its graveyard. Plus, she does something different, and different is good in my book.
Verdict: Worth a shot
Karlov of the Ghost Council is interesting in a Soul Sisters/lifegain archetype for a lower powered cube. There’s a lot of support for BW lifegain from Battle for Zendikar alone, so if you’re looking to build a budget cube or employ unusual themes, I’d toss the elder Karlov in alongside classic Aristocrat and Soul Sisters cards (like Blood Artist and Soul Warden) and see what comes of it.
Verdict: Worth a shot (if you’re willing to try some unusual archetypes)
Fiery Confluence says one thing: deal 6 damage to your opponent (okay, and occasionally it says “destroy target Batterskull and deal 4 damage”). Unlike Mystic Confluence and Wretched Confluence, the buffet of choices you’re offered has no synergy (and there are substantially better and inexpensive Slagstorm and Shatter effects). This is a fine monored finisher, but monored doesn’t exactly lack for four mana finishers (though this one doesn’t rely on attacking, as most red four drop finishers do).
Verdict: Replace Hero of Oxid Ridge, if you haven’t already (it’s neither good nor interesting enough).
I’m torn on Wretched Confluence. It’s a worse draw spell than Mystic Confluence, but it’s in a color with less access to draw. Its removal mode is also worse than Mystic Confluence‘s, since it can only kill small creatures (or you have to spend multiple modes to kill one medium-sized target, which is just bad value) and can’t counter spells. It makes up for this by letting you draw creatures from your graveyard, a slow but powerful way to gain card advantage.
I’d like to try out Wretched Confluence, but I have no idea what black five drops are worth cutting for it. If you play Ambition’s Cost, Urborg Uprising, or Ribbons of Night, you could shave ’em to try this out. Otherwise, this card will have to work hard to justify itself in a cube.
Verdict: Probably not good enough
Just as with Fiery Confluence, Righteous Confluence isn’t a flexible spell: you’re playing it to make tokens. The problem is, even if you’ve got a strong token/wide theme, Righteous Confluence is worse than Increasing Devotion, Geist-Honored Monk, and Cloudgoat Ranger (none of which is expensive or busted). There’s not much need for more five mana token creators. Perhaps I’m undervaluing a pair of 2/2s and a Demistify, but I’d be surprised if that’s what white really needs.
Verdict: Not worth it
If you’ve got a multiplayer cube, Grasp of Fate is perfect for you. Otherwise, it’s worse than Oblivion Ring, Banishing Light, and Council’s Judgment—and you almost certainly don’t need a fourth identical effect.
Verdict: Only worth it if your cube is multiplayer. If it is, awesome!
That’s most of the new cards I think are worth talking about (and really, a lot of of ’em aren’t exactly shoo-ins). Mystic Confluence, Gigantoplasm, and Meren of Clan Nel Toth are the only cards I’m really excited about, but that’s not so bad for a product not aimed at the cube community. That said, there’re a few cards I left on the chopping block that I feel I ought to address quickly.
- Kalemne, Hero of Iroas is a simple card: she’s a four drop designed to kill opponents. She’s no Hero of Bladehold, but if you’re looking to play a Boros card that’s not a burn spell or Ajani Vengeant, she’s worth giving a try.
- Great Oak Guardian is an unusual Overrun/combat trick. It’s probably neither good enough for ramp nor cheap enough for aggro. I’d only recommend running it if you really like Briarhorn.
- Verdant Confluence is a sweet card for Commander, but not good enough for cube.
- Magus of the Wheel doesn’t strike me as playable. Red decks don’t really want a non-hasty 3/3, nor do they want a five mana Wheel of Fortune with summoning sickness. Even the option of both cards leaves much to be desired.
- Ezuri’s Predation is a neat Plague Wind variant. Perhaps it’s a worthy ramp target, but it’s in the weird position of only being particularly good if you’re in the ramp mirror or stabilizing against aggro.
- Rite of the Raging Storm is hilarious for monored. It’s a lousy finisher, but it’s like Shrine of Burning Rage—they need to answer it or they’ll eventually die to it . . . unless they have a Tundra Wolves.
It’s also worth noting that Commander 2015 contains a lot of great reprints worth snagging now, if you don’t have them already:
- Sun Titan
- Phyrexian Arena
- Inferno Titan
- Caller of the Claw
- Chameleon Colussus
- Ohran Viper
- Prophetic Bolt
- Basalt Monolith
- Coldsteel Heart
- Fellwar Stone
- Worn Powerstone
Many of these cards aren’t particularly expensive, but they may not be easy to find offline, either. It’s always nice seeing such cards increasing in circulation and I commend the Commander precon for reprinting so many old or underprinted cards.
That’s all for today. Three Commander cards are definitely getting a slot in my cube and the rest would require some reshuffling of archetypes and/or power level to earn their slot. Do you agree with these decisions? Have I overvalued or overlooked cards? Please share your opinions in the comments. And, as always, thanks for reading.
Zachary Barash has been playing Magic on and off since 1994. He loves Limited and drafts every available format (including several that aren’t entirely meant to be drafted). He’s a proud Cube owner, improviser, and game designer (currently going for an MFA in Game Design at NYU). He has an obsession with Indian food that borders on being unhealthy.