M20 Update

Hanged Executioner: A reasonably priced blink target in the color that wants it the most. It’s too bad I’m adding a card that makes two flying bodies at the same time I’m cutting an anthem creature, but I disliked Angel of Jubilation’s 1CCC casting cost and forgettable negative static ability which randomly hosed fetchlands, shocklands, horizon lands, and other sacrifice strategies that I actively want to encourage. There still are plenty of other anthems available in white. Cloudkin Seer: This is what blue wants to do. Cloudkin Seer 1) is a flying threat, 2) gets good value immediately by cantripping, 3) works with the repeating ETB effects theme (Flickerwisp, Brago, Soulherder, Angel of Condemnation, Panharmonicon, and Recurring Nightmare), and 4) triggers card draw matters effects like Sphinx’s Tutelage and Niv-Mizzet, Parun. I dislike decreasing the density of morphs by cutting Kheru Spellsnatcher, but leaving up 6 mana to unmorph was always a tough sell. Vilis, Broker of Blood: Black had room for one more giant reanimator target, and Vilis is excellent in that role. Vilis is an 8/8 flying Demon that comes with repeatable removal and card draw. Converting ANY life loss into new cards is a very powerful effect when you already want to pay life for your fetchlands, shocklands, horizon lands, Yawgmoth, Bitterblossom, Phyrexian Arena, Cryptbreaker, Asylum Visitor, Ob Nixilis Reignited, Wretched Confluence, or Night’s Whisper. Plus, anything that can damage “target player” suddenly gets new utility with Vilis — reconsider who you want to target with your Blood Artist triggers or your burn spells (for instance Lightning Bolt can be Painful Truths at the price and speed of Ancestral Recall). Vilis can also act as a rattlesnake to make your opponent hesitant about attacking you for non-lethal chip damage. The cut, Profane Command, was a great toolbox, but the recent addition of Finale of Devastation moves the role of inefficient-reanimation-spell-with-other-utility into a color that is better at making X huge. Voracious Hydra: This is a green removal creature that synergizes with both of green’s deeply ingrained themes: ramp and +1/+1 counters. Plus, it’s a new trampling friend for Corpsejack Menace and Kalonian Hydra to boost — I just love effects that double counters!
Angel of Jubilation > Hanged ExecutionerKheru Spellsnatcher > Cloudkin SeerProfane Command > Vilis, Broker of BloodWinding Way > Voracious Hydra

Back down to 540

Color balance is hard.
Seeker of the WayJeering InstigatorTajic, Legion's EdgeThought ErasureFleecemane LionDraconic DiscipleGrisly SalvageLingering SoulsButcher of the HordeDarigaaz Reincarnated

Evolution Sage: I want to go nuts with Evolution Sage and repeatable proliferate. The cut, Yasova Dragonclaw, didn’t synergize well with the big ramp archetype that Gruul, Simic, and Temur decks typically aspire to in this Cube.
Yasova Dragonclaw > Evolution Sage

My reasons for swapping Graveshifter in for Entomber Exarch are 1) 3B is easier to splash than 2BB, 2) the targeted discard mode was rarely used, 3) while powerful, I think that targeted discard in Cube is a net unfun experience, and 4) I like the story equity you get when Graveshifter being a Changeling surprisingly matters. For instance, in this Cube Graveshifter can have positive synergy because it’s a Vampire, Dragon, Angel, Zombie, Goblin, Warrior, Elf, Ooze, Plant, Horror, Kithkin, and whatever tribe Metallic Mimic currently is. In this Cube being a Human can be either a positive (for Bruna, the Fading Light or Falkenrath Aristocrat) or a negative (against Yawgmoth, Thran Physician or Stromkirk Noble). Unfortunately, controlling both Graveshifter and Ophiomancer is a nonbo, which is too bad because they often go in the same type of grindy deck. Overall though, I think this change is for the best.
Entomber Exarch > Graveshifter

Modern Horizons Update

Yawgmoth, Thran Physician: There’s a lot to love! Yawgmoth not only plays well with Aristocrats, but repeatable proliferate is great in the +1/+1 counter decks, the discard ability fuels reanimator, madness, and other graveyard decks, plus Yawgmoth is repeatable instant speed removal that draws cards for no mana! Yawgmoth turns the infinite persist combo with Kitchen Finks and a +1/+1 counter granter (Metallic Mimic, Anafenza, Archangel of Thune, Good-Fortune Unicorn, Rhythm of the Wild, or Master Biomancer) into not only dozens of life but also drawing almost your entire deck and sweeping your opponent’s board. Yawgmoth also wins with Redcap if you start the combo with at least half as much life as your opponent. Or Yawgmoth can hose your opponent’s persist at instant speed. The cut, Viscera Seer, was mostly there to fuel the persist combo and Aristocrats decks, but it compared poorly to Carrion Feeder and Yawgmoth is a better all around toolbox. Sling-Gang Lieutenant: This is a Goblin army in a can that plays well with Orzhov lifegain triggers, sacrifice themes in Rakdos/Black, and decks abusing Murderous Redcap (which happens to be a Goblin). Orzhov also liked the lifegain triggers from the cut Brutal Hordechief, but Sling-Gang Lieutenant is a better fit because Orzhov bleeder decks prefer to sit back on defense rather than all out attack. Seasoned Pyromancer: I love the ETB effect! The tokens are fantastic for Boros go wide and Rakdos sacrifice, the rummaging is great for Izzet card draw matters and Rakdos reanimator, and in the card draw is a good way to refill when hellbent or heckbent. The flashback getting value from other discard or dredge effects really puts Seasoned Pyromancer over the top. The cut, Dismissive Pyromancer, was meant as a cheap discard outlet, but it was slower than Seasoned Pyromancer and the rummaging cost mana. Winding Way: I like green cantrips that fill the graveyard. Compared to the cut, Grapple with the Past, I like that with Winding Way you 1) can put more than one card (an average of ~1.7 cards, but a ceiling of four cards for two mana!) into your hand and 2) can see four cards instead of three. I dislike that with Winding Way you 1) can miss entirely 2) can’t get back cards already in the graveyard 3) you must choose creature or land before seeing what is revealed. Overall, I think the higher ceiling on Winding Way is probably worth the extra variance. Good-Fortune Unicorn: Good-Fortune Unicorn fills the same roles as Juniper Order Ranger did in the persist engine decks and the +1/+1 counters matter decks. This was an easy upgrade because both decks want this effect as early as possible and they tend to have a glut of better options at 5 mana. Soulherder: Both Soulherder and Elite Guardmage promote the flicker theme, but I think repeatable free enablers are harder to find than ETB payoffs. I will miss how Elite Guardmage also fed into lifegain matters themes, but I like how Soulherder synergizes with +1/+1 counter themes and with other exile effects. Wrenn and Six: More decks want Burning-Tree Emissary than Wren and Six, but trying to abuse this with fetches, horizon lands, discard, and dredgers (especially Life from the Loam) looks like a really fun direction for Gruul and I want to test it out. Prismatic Vista: Fabulous card that will be a Cube staple. Prismatic Vista is almost always better than the cut, Prophetic Prism, because lands don’t take up a deck slot and this Cube lacks a coherent artifact theme. The exceptions might be when you need multiple light splashes or specifically have Brago, Greater Gargadon, or Pia and Kiran Nalaar, but overall I think this is an easy swap. Sunbaked Canyon: Easy swap. Boros loves a late game way to refuel and doesn’t care much about its own life total. Nurturing Peatland: This was a hard decision. I really want Nurturing Peatland because 1) coming into play untapped is a big deal and 2) it synergizes with The Gitrog Monster, Life from the Loam, Crucible of Worlds, Ramunap Excavator, and Wrenn and Six. On the other hand, 1) Golgari hates the life loss because it’s a go long grindy control deck, 2) Golgari doesn’t want to sac its lands because makes good use of having a lot of mana, 3) Golgari Rot Farm lets you discard a dredger or fatty to reanimate on turn 2 on the draw without missing a land drop, and 4) Garruk Wildspeaker and Kiora’s Follower love green lands that tap for two mana. However, Dimir Aqueduct and Simic Growth Chamber remain half-on-color options that allow for the same tricks and Golgari often wants to splash blue anyways. Fiery Islet: Izzet loves drawing cards and loves an untapped land, but it hates the life loss because it uses its mana every turn and its tempo-y style often leads to races. However, since there is no red/green horizon land (yet) to play with Wrenn and Six, I settled on four half-on-color horizon lands (including the original Horizon Canopy), two with green and two with red. I opted not to include Silent Clearing or Waterlogged Grove for now. While they are better than Scoured Barrens and Simic Growth Chamber in a vacuum, I have a “You get what you need” philosophy for the flexible land slot. In this Cube, Orzhov really wants the lifegain trigger, Simic really wants to ramp up its mana resources, and both want to survive until the late game against aggro. In terms of synergy, Kiora’s Follower, Garruk Wildspeaker, and Upheaval all prefer Simic Growth Chamber over Waterlogged Grove.
Viscera Seer > Yawgmoth, Thran PhysicianBrutal Hordechief > Sling-Gang LieutenantDismissive Pyromancer > Seasoned PyromancerGrapple with the Past > Winding WayJuniper Order Ranger > Good-Fortune UnicornElite Guardmage > SoulherderBurning-Tree Emissary > Wrenn and SixProphetic Prism > Prismatic VistaInspiring Vantage > Sunbaked CanyonGolgari Rot Farm > Nurturing PeatlandTemple of Epiphany > Fiery Islet

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