Hi! I’m what you’d call a cube enthusiast. I’ve invested about four years into understanding the best format in all of Magic, especially the process of exploration and iteration. What I mean is, I love to build and refine my cube, which I guess most cube owners do. I’ll be writing about cube theory and practice here, so if that’s an agreeable headspace, welcome.

With that said, Throne of Eldraine looks excellent for cube owners. It’s full of new and unique cards; many of them are strong enough to be meaningful—without being too dominant—inclusions for every power level, or “environment.” I will be evaluating the cards which I believe will, or at least should, be tested and/or included in everything from Vintage all the way down to Peasant cubes.

Some of these cards will become cube staples. Others may find themselves fulfilling more niche roles, freshening up a sometimes-tired assortment of threats and answers. Others will fade, or fail. Whatever your cube environment may be, I think new cards are always a good opportunity for discussion, and I’m looking forward to exploring Throne of Eldraine’s impact on our cubes.

I will break down my card evaluations by addressing their relevance to most of the ‘styles’ of cube:

  • High Power – This can refer to anything from fully powered Vintage cube to most Legacy environments. Your environment exploits cards like Sneak Attack, Opposition, Upheaval, Gaea’s Cradle, and Balance.
  • Low Power – This can refer to some Legacy environments, but is probably closer to a Modern Magic power level. Many of these cubes are centered around creatures and planeswalkers, or sweet build-arounds.
  • Peasant – This is for any cube which only plays commons and uncommons. This can also be relevant to Pauper cubes.

While I might not address your particular environment, I think these “styles” are delineated well enough that you should be able to take away something that applies to you.

I’ll go in color order, WUBRG, then Multicolor and Colorless. After each color I will give a final “rank” of the top couple of cards for high power, low power, and peasant environments. I will not be handing out grades, so you’ll just have to do some reading.

I’ve already reviewed White, Blue, and Black, which you should read too!

Okay, so without further ado!

Robber of the Rich

Magic’s scorching hot take on Robin Hood has enough going on to at least warrant consideration. Regardless of how you feel about Red two drops having reach, well . . . here we are. I guess it’s all that robbing of things while upside down and those exemplary archery skills.

Anyway, I still have no idea how I feel about Robber of the Rich in cube. Sometimes we suffer from Best Case Scenario Mentality when envisioning a cards performance. This card is a dangerous place to apply that mentality. The flavor of “stealing” your opponents next card off their library is awesome, but it only applies when the opponent has more cards than you do. While this can easily happen on Turn 2 in an aggressive Red deck, there’s never a guarantee. And the further the game progresses, the less the odds are you’ll trigger him as, off the top, Robber of the Rich is merely a 2/2 haste (reach!) for two mana.

If you do get Robber on the battlefield early, you’ve got a chance at stealing and casting something sweet. And if you do trigger Robber early you can expect to have to trade off or suicide him into a larger creature in order to gain access to your stolen goods. This can be worth it, I think, if the spell is good enough. Unless of course you have another rogue in play!

Here’s a quick list of powerful, playable rogues: Brazen Borrower, Edric, Spymaster of Trest, Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, Gonti, Lord of Luxury, Grenzo, Dungeon Warden, Grenzo, Havoc Raiser, Looter Il-Kor, Merfolk Looter, Notion Thief, Oona’s Prowler, Pestermite, Rankle, Master of Pranks, Shardless Agent, Thada Adel, Acquisitor, True-Name Nemesis, Whirler Rogue, and Bitterblossom.

Notice something? Basically none of them are Red. That’s awkward.

So, my conclusion has been woefully inconclusive so far. Still, test this in every cube that will allow it. I’m giving Robin Hood a shot at becoming a solid role player in my cube, and I hope you do too.


Of the Legendary Artifact cycle in Throne of Eldraine, Embercleave is by far the best. I have been unbelievably impressed by this card. When we tried Berserk or Temur Battle Rage, we were exposing ourselves to getting blown out by removal or bounce. With Embercleave we don’t get punished nearly as hard for committing. If they kill your creature, you can always equip something else next turn, turning each of your creatures into game-ending threats.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of playing with double strike plus trample before, let me tell you something: it makes combat almost impossible for your opponent.

The drawback of the casting cost has been a non-issue so far and, if anything, actually makes for more interesting combat steps. You often end up on the winning side when you flash in Embercleave, which is nice, but watching your opponent wonder why you attacked the way you did and then slowly realize what’s coming is priceless.

Will this be a cube staple? Yes, but I’m not sure if fully powered Vintage cube is the best place for it. I could be wrong, but for me there it seems to only fit into Mono-Red and you’d rather have finishers that don’t rely so much on combat. Anything below Vintage, however, and this is a windmill slam.

Torbran, Thane of Red Fell

Historically, the Red four drop slot is brimming with excellent creatures and planeswalkers. So if you’re the new kid in town and bellying up against stalwarts like Koth of the Hammer, Flametongue Kavu, and Hellrider; you’d better bring something truly special to the table. I think Torbran, Thane of Red Fell will not only earn his slot, but will be a meaningful upgrade for everyones most favoritest deck in cube: The Fun Police.

Torbran is probably most similar in design to Hellrider, as his bonus damage has virtual haste the turn he comes down. However, unlike Hellrider, his static bonus applies to any Red source. So your burn spells will hit that much harder, too. He’s also slightly harder to kill at 2/4, incentivizing you to both keep the pressure on, or simply sit back and throw fire at the opponents face when combat is no longer an option.

Additionally, Torbran makes many of Red’s more powerful cards utterly devastating: Sulfuric Vortex now dealing four a turn, Thundermaw Hellite hitting fliers for three, or Fiery Confluence capable of dealing up to 12 damage (!!) if you so desire.

Test him in any cube that’ll support Mono-Red as a strategy and you’ll be happy you did. If it were up to me, this card would be in the MTGO Vintage cube this holiday season.

Bonecrusher Giant

Another adventure card, another rock solid two-for-one.

Bonecrusher Giant is amazing. Stomp is a fine card, similar to Magma Jet. While the scry two on Magma Jet can matter, so can damage prevention in the right environment. Now tack on a beefy 4/3 body with a relevant text line for aggressive decks, and we got a real cube staple on our hands. Honestly, if both sides had no extra text, just a two mana deal two, then a three mana 4/3 creature this would probably still be good enough.

There’s not much more to say about Bonecrusher Giant, really. If your cube will allow it, cut a two mana burn spell, and replace it with the giant immediately. I expect this card to be a cube staple going forward. What an excellent, excellent card.

Fervent Champion

While it’s possible to support Knights enough in Boros that Fervent Champion has some upside, I think you’re sacrificing too much to make this card merely playable. I would advise against testing Fervent Champion, except perhaps in a low power cube with a heavily supported and aggressive Knights theme.

Irencrag Pyromancer

The sheer number of Red and Blue “spells matter” engines and payoffs are overflowing for us cube owners. Irencrag Pyromancer is another interesting payoff to try out in lower-power environments. The failstate of a three mana 0/4 wall is miserable, however, so make sure you can support Irencrag heavily with repeatable loot/draw effects. If your cube wants high synergy, this new Izzet card is for you.

Claim the Firstborn

A one mana conditional Threaten has a place in Low Power and Peasant environments that support sacrifice themes, but nowhere else. You’ll know if your cube wants this card.

Embereth Shieldbreaker

Is this card better than Manic Vandal? I think so, and it’s no surprise really. That you can pay for both sides of this card on separate turns, especially in powered cubes against early moxen, is where all the power lies. This might be in the top three best cube cards in the set for Powered environments. Once we get to lower power levels, it drops off a bit for me; but if you need or want this effect on a creature then Embereth Shieldbreaker is the best version we’ve ever seen.

This is an immediate slam dunk for all High Power environments, less so for Low Power and Peasant cubes. You’ll know when you want it.

Redcap Melee

I’m not sure this card is better than Flame Slash. Yes, instant speed is excellent, and it hits planeswalkers as well. But the drawback makes me reluctant to giving two thumbs up, or my stamp of approval, or whatever. Sacrificing a land, especially in the early game for a Red mage, can be the difference between curving out and falling flat. I wouldn’t recommend this as an inclusion anywhere, unless you specifically have a lands in graveyard matters theme.

Slaying Fire

This is our new Flame Javelin! The adamant on Slaying Fire is not necessary to warrant its playability. Think of it like Brimstone Volley. Sometimes you gotta work for your extra damage, but at the end of the day, it can be pointed anywhere—especially at your opponents face. A rock solid burn spell. Test this in all Peasant and Low Power formats, and if need be, up to a Legacy power level.

Rimrock Knight

Our little rock-riding adventurer is a sweet addition to Peasant and Pauper cubes who want to add some variety to their Red two drops. Boulder Rush works especially well with first strike and/or trample, but sometimes it just lets you get in for some additional damage. Another adventure creature that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Thrill of Possibility

Thrill of Possibility is, quite simply, Tormenting Voice at instant speed. This little change adds a surprising amount of flexibility, and as such warrants inclusion into everything from Peasant and Low Power environments, all the way up to High Powered cubes. While it might not crack into Vintage, I think Thrill of Possibility will easily become a cube staple wherever spells matter archetypes want to flourish.

Power Rankings—Red

High Power

  1. Embereth Shieldbreaker
  2. Torbran, Thane of Red Fell
  3. Robber of the Rich

Low Power

  1. Embercleave
  2. Bonecrusher Giant
  3. Torbran, Thane of Red Fell
  4. Robber of the Rich
  5. Thrill of Possibility


  1. Thrill of Possibility
  2. Embereth Shieldbreaker
  3. Rimrock Knight
  4. Slaying Fire
  5. Claim the Firstborn

Red has a good mix of new cards, with solid inclusions for all cube environments. A few powerful adventure creatures, and some solid additions to The Fun Police as the headliners. I’m very excited to see if Torbran earns his spot the Powered Red lists, how much fun we can have with Thrill of Possibility, and whether Robber of the Rich is able to get us our value.

Next week we go over Green, then finally the Multicolor/Colorless (and lands) cards the following week.

Thanks for reading!

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