[casthaven]Mindslaver[/casthaven] is a card that makes your opponent shoot themselves in the foot.

In powered cube, everyone’s got a bazooka, not a Beretta.

[casthaven]Mindslaver[/casthaven] has quickly been become one of my favorite win conditions in Vintage cube. Previously, I shied away from it, because if I wanted to spend ten mana, I could just cast [casthaven]Kozilek, Butcher of Truth[/casthaven], entwine [casthaven]Tooth and Nail[/casthaven], or have already locked the game down with planeswalker control. Looping [casthaven]Mindslaver[/casthaven] with [casthaven]Academy Ruins[/casthaven] required far too much mana and was laughable in cubes where you could just [casthaven]Time Vault[/casthaven] people to death. However, in this iteration of Vintage Cube, I’ve come around. Now, I gleefully control peoples’ minds and win with the legendary horror from Mirrodin. Here’s why I think it’s the sleeper hit of Vintage Cube.

Sleeper Agent

First and foremost, Mindslaver goes late. I routinely get [casthaven]Mindslaver[/casthaven] sixth pick or later and am happy to snatch it up. People don’t respect this card, and unlike cards like [casthaven]Library of Alexandria[/casthaven], [casthaven]Wheel of Fortune[/casthaven] or [casthaven]Bazaar of Baghdad[/casthaven], it’s not an old and obviously insane card. People know what it does and just assume that only a narrow kind of deck can use it. Which leads me to point number two…

Mindslaver goes in most decks. Almost every powered cube deck wants to take advantage of fast mana. [casthaven]Mindslaver[/casthaven] benefits heavily from this ramp, and unlike hyper-expensive cards like the Eldrazi, [casthaven]Mindslaver[/casthaven] or color-comitting cards like [casthaven]Griselbrand[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite[/casthaven], it doesn’t require you to cheat it out with [casthaven]Sneak Attack[/casthaven]/[casthaven]Reanimate[/casthaven] or have a dedicated ramp deck. [casthaven]Mindslaver[/casthaven] has a relatively low opportunity cost.

Rocket Launcher

Point number three: Mindslaver wins games. As I said at the beginning, [casthaven]Mindslaver[/casthaven] is a card designed to make people shoot themselves in the foot. In Vintage Cube, where everyone is doing busted things, you make people shoot themselves with artillery, not handguns. A resolved Mindslaver is often all you need to cripple an opponent badly enough to win the game.

Number four: Mindslaver combos beautifully with other (unpopular) cards. It does an amazing [casthaven]Time Vault[/casthaven] impression with [casthaven]Goblin Welder[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Daretti, Scrap Savant[/casthaven], two cards which generally go way too late and are quite powerful on their own merits. Yes, you’ve also got [casthaven]Tinker[/casthaven] and both Tezzerets to power out your Mindslaver, but those are popular cards you’re less likely to see. Yes, there’s also [casthaven]Academy Ruins[/casthaven], but that card is better at recurring your cheap artifacts than [casthaven]Mindslaver[/casthaven]-locking your opponent (something which requires a whopping thirteen mana if you’re hoping to do it every turn).

Sorin Markov

My fifth and final reason is a bit different from all the others, since it appeals more to Jennies and Tammies of the world than the Spikes: Mindslaver has an amazing, unique effect. The only other card with a comparable effect is [casthaven]Sorin Markov[/casthaven], a less powerful planeswalker and one you need to ultimate in order to get the [casthaven]Mindslaver[/casthaven] effect (and as we all know, ultimating a planeswalker is a rare effect that often leads to an immediate concession—[casthaven]Mindslaver[/casthaven] you’ll far more reliably get to activate and actually enjoy using).

A lot of the most powerful cards in Magic have very similar effects: they produce mana and draw cards at absurd rates or numbers, but they’re still doing familiar things (namely, producing mana and drawing cards). There are very few cards with unique effects. The [casthaven]Time Walk[/casthaven]s and [casthaven]Mindslaver[/casthaven]s of the cube world are outnumbered by the Moxen, the Signets, and the infinite draw spells (the more simple of which outnumber the more unusual draw spells like [casthaven]Fact or Fiction[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Yawgmoth’s Will[/casthaven]). Mindslaver is a rarity: a unique effect, and that in and of itself warrants some play.

New Frontiers

Hopefully you’ll all give [casthaven]Mindslaver[/casthaven] a chance, if you haven’t played with it already. In more general terms, I strongly encourage people to look at cards that they haven’t played before; you might just learn something before other people do. This can give you not only a competitive edge, but the joy of exploration and discovery. Or at least, it’ll lead to some really good stories, which is one of the best things you can take away from an experience.

And as always, thanks for reading.

—Zachary Barash


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.

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