My Innistrad Review for Next Level Cubes

(Kurze deutsche Zusammenfassung: Ich erkläre, welche Karten aus Innistrad ich in meinen Kartenpool aufnehme und welche nicht, und warum.)

This is my card evaluation of Innistrad for the purpose of creating Next Level Cubes. I’ll talk about which card I’ll add to my personal collection – which, nowadays, consists exclusively of cards to build Next Level Cubes with – and why or why not I choose them.

I will talk about these cards in the order they appear in the Innistrad Card Image Gallery, so that you can easily look them up.

There are certain groups of cards I do not consider for my card pool for general reasons. I will list those cards with the others, but generally only with a short comment. This applies to the following kinds of cards:

1) Planeswalkers. I believe Magic in general, but especially in limited, is a better (albeit possibly not better-selling) game without planeswalkers. Anyway, they are prime examples for cards which draw way too much attention to themselves in a draft duel.

2) Double-faced cards. While the transform mechanic itself is certainly interesting, Wizards completely failed to deliver it in a way that makes those cards draftable. (Actually, they just didn’t bother to try.)

3) Tribal cards referring to humans. Since I build my cubes from cards originating throughout all of Magic’s history, there are just too many old cards having this subtype without having it written on them. Also, outside of Innistrad, humans exist in all five colors in large numbers, making them unsuitable for a tribe which isn’t explicitly multicolor-oriented (like slivers).

4) Adverse tribal effects. I have found that cards negatively referring to creature subtypes (protection from kavu, can’t be blocked by zombies, destroy target spirit etc.) add a little more complication to gameplay with cards from different Magic eras than they’re worth.

5) Card naming. Apart from the fact that most of these cards play poorly in cubes with only one copy of each card, I often play with people not knowing the contents of my cube by heart. I prefer to not bother them with this kind of card.

6) Milling. While dedicated self-mill is fine, milling as a winning condition tends to lead to non-interactive games.

7) Enchant player cards. This is, admittedly, a matter of personal taste. I might reverse my stance on those someday when I get used to this ugly expression – and when the cards showing it get more interesting. So far, neither of the two has happened.

Note that, although I value variety in my card pool, I will not keep two cards I consider too similar (so I can keep the size of my collection at a managable level – a little under 4000 different cards, that is). Therefore I will often state I prefer one card to another, implying that they vie for the same slot in my card pool.

Interestingly, I found that I want exactly one third of the non-reprinted cards from Innistrad for my collection – quite a high number! (Also an indicator that I might’ve really enjoyed drafting this set if Wizards hadn’t ruined it with the DFC.)

Let’s start with the white cards:

Abbey Griffin: NO – I prefer Armored Griffin.
Angel of Flight Alabaster: NO – a bit too powerful recursion for my taste.
Angelic Overseer: NO – refers to humans.
Avacynian Priest: NO – refers to humans.
Bonds of Faith: NO – refers to humans.
Champion of the Parish: NO – refers to humans.
Chapel Geist: YES – excellent simple creature with an attractive subtype. A shame that it pushes Thunder Spirit out of my collection.
Cloistered Youth: NO – DFC.
Dearly Departed: NO – refers to humans. (Also, I don’t like continous abilities from the graveyard.)
Divine Reckoning: YES – an interesting global effect less backbreaking than Wrath of God and better to play around. Good choice for a higher-rarity flashback card.
Doomed Traveler: YES – A usable one-drop generating interesting play decisions.
Elder Cathar: NO – refers to humans.
Elite Inquisitor: NO – adverse tribal effect. (A pity – a great card without the protection!)
Feeling of Dread: NO – I prefer Momentary Blink for the Azorius flashback slot, and both colors have better tap choices.
Fiend Hunter: YES – this kind of effect plays well in limited, and this is a clean execution.
Gallows Warden: YES – nice tribal spirit card able to stand on its own. Can be used as a common.
Geist-Honored Monk: YES – powerful, but not too powerful, having synergy with spirit tribal and token themes.
Ghostly Possession: NO – Gaseous Form always played badly, and this is worse.
Intangible Virtue: NO – I’m not a fan of cards specifically pumping tokens. I feel tokenness should be a disadvantage.
Mausoleum Guard: YES – great “bigger brother” of Doomed Traveler. (Or great white version of Symbiotic Elf, if you prefer.)
Mentor of the Meek: YES – good, but not overpowered source of card advantage influencing draft and deckbuilding decisions.
Midnight Haunting: YES – great companion to Raise the Alarm.
Mikaeus, the Lunarch: NO – a bit too strong for my taste.
Moment of Heroism: YES – exellent combat trick with interesting bonus.
Nevermore: NO – requires card naming.
Paraselene: NO – while there’s nothing wrong with the card itself, in the bigger picture, I want my global enchantment sweeper in Green (Tranquility). White has Purify instead.
Purify the Grave: NO – embarassingly weak. I will avoid creating extreme environments where you might actually want to play such a card.
Rally the Peasants: YES – nice Boros flashback card.
Rebuke: YES – good, simple removal, replaces Just Fate because of clearer wording.
Selfless Cathar: YES: another useful one-drop creating interesting play decisions.
Silverchase Fox: NO – I prefer the easier to use Kami of Ancient Law, which also happens to have a useful creature type.
Slayer of the Wicked: NO – adverse tribal effect.
Smite the Monstrous: NO – there’s nothing wrong with Reprisal that this card needed to fix.
Spare from Evil: NO – refers to humans.
Spectral Rider. YES – simple, strong evasion creature with an unusual angle.
Stony Silence: NO – I hate cards preventing players from using a significant portion of their deck.
Thraben Purebloods: NO – not a fan of the combination of expensive and defense-oriented.
Thraben Sentry: NO – DFC.
Unruly Mob: YES – simple, interesting card.
Urgent Exorcism: NO – adverse tribal effect.
Village Bell-Ringer: YES – nice surprise effect on a useful creature.
Voiceless Spirit: YES – excellent simple creature pushing out Pegasus Charger due to a more useful creature type.

Blue:

Armored Skaab. YES – great, simple enabler.
Back from the Brink: YES – very nice and fun lategame card that is not overpowered.
Battleground Geist: YES – nice tribal spirit card able to stand on its own. Can be used as a common. (Yup, I copy/pasted that from Gallow Warden.)
Cackling Counterpart: YES – being an instant makes it more intersting than most other Clone variants, only copying own creatures keps its power level in check. Great higher-rarity flashback choice.
Civilized Scholar. NO – DFC.
Claustrophobia: YES – good, simple pseudo-removal for Blue. (Limited plays badly when creature removal is unavailable for some colors.) Pushes out Dehydration and Mystic Restraints because of being the most elegant version.
Curiosity: REPRINT – a great card already in my pool.
Curse of the Bloody Tome: NO – milling / Enchant player.
Delver of Secrets: NO – DFC.
Deranged Assistant: NO – I prefer Millikin.
Dissipate: REPRINT – another great card already in my pool.
Dream Twist: NO – milling, embarassingly weak, and Mental Note is a nicer choice anyways.
Forbidden Alchemy: YES – nice Dimir flashback variant.
Fortress Crab: YES – great simple card.
Frightful Delusion: NO – plays horribly most of the time.
Grasp of Phantoms: NO – I feel adding a mana and an eight-mana flashback cost to Time Ebb isn’t going well with this tempo card. There’s better choices for blue flashback.
Hystercial Blindness: NO – I prefer Turn the Tide, which will in most situations do the same job, but you might actually have the mana to cast it there.
Invisible Stalker: YES – on small creatures, hexproof fits well. Pushes out Silhana Ledgewalker (I feel the combination of evasion and hexproof doesn’t fit green.)
Laboratory Maniac: NO – alternate win conditions belong in limited even less than in constructed.
Lantern Spirit. YES – pushes out Fleeting Image, since it plays better, Spirits needed that flyer more, and it works great with spiritcraft.
Lost in the Mist: NO – 5-mana counters are beyond embarassing.
Ludevic’s Test Subject. NO – DFC.
Makeshift Mauler: YES – simple theme-enforcing card.
Memory’s Journey: NO – another one of those embarrassingly bad hate cards.
Mindshrieker: NO – milling, and way too random. Oh, and too powerful.
Mirror-Mad Phantasm: NO – naming a card – okay, not the biggest issue here. Plays horribly (not the same as being weak) in limited.
Moon Heron: NO – I prefer Phantom Monster.
Murder of Crows: NO – card is okay, if a bit strong, but I don’t want to make Air Elemental obsolete, which is a perfectly fine card.
Rooftop Storm: NO – not useful in limited.
Runic Repetition: NO – plays too strangely for my taste. Quiet Speculation and Call to Mind give me all I need.
Selhoff Occultist: NO – milling. (Also, don’t want to make Blind Phantasm obsolete.)
Sensory Deprivation: YES – nice, simple pseudo-removal for Blue.
Silent Departure: YES – useful blue flashback spell, plays way better than Grasp of Phantoms or Dematerialize.
Skaab Goliath: YES – while I would have preferred an UU-cost so that people wouldn’t splash for a blue fatty, and cannot really get behind those stats – at least not on this card – it’s a servicable evolution of Makeshift Mauler.
Skaab Ruinator: YES – this will be strong, but not broken in limited and serve as a flagship for the skaab creatures.
Snapcaster Mage: YES – a simple, efficient creature working well with an instant/sorcery theme. Pity it’s such a constructed house and will be expensive to acquire.
Spectral Flight: YES – just the Aura I’ve been waiting for years for.
Stitched Drake: YES – another good, simple creature showcasing the skaab mechanic.
Stitcher’s Apprentice: NO – while its possible applications are obvious, it’s just too weird to deserve a slot in a cube.
Sturmgeist: NO – not a fan of cards encouraging players to keep many cards in hand.
Think Twice: REPRINT – and another one already in my pool.
Undead Alchemist: NO – milling.

Black:

Abattoir Ghoul: YES – Black needed another simple first strike creature, and this has a nice, but not too relevant bonus.
Altar’s Reap: YES – being an instant makes this a cool card, while Skulltap was practically unplayable.
Army of the Damned: NO – thirteen tokens? Are you kidding me? Great example for a card which reads well, but plays horribly.
Bitterheart Witch: NO – I don’t use curses, and even if I did, I’m not sure I’d want a creature tutoring for them.
Bloodgift Demon: NO – just too strong for a black 5-drop. Actually, too strong in any color, but Black shouldn’t be leading the pack.
Bloodline Keeper: NO – DFC.
Brain Weevil: NO – too weak.
Bump in the Night: YES – a little weak, but Rakdos shouldn’t be only about creature removal, and this should play interestingly.
Corpse Lunge: YES – nice removal enforcing a theme.
Curse of Death’s Hold: NO – enchant player. (Also, too strong.)
Curse of Oblivion: NO – enchant player. (Also, too weak.)
Dead Weight: NO – I prefer Disfigure. (I would have taken a Wring Flesh Aura, though – power reduction makes more sense on an aura.)
Diregraf Ghoul: YES – great weenie enabling fast limited decks. Pushes out the slightly underpowered Carnophage.
Disciple of Griselbrand: NO – either embarassingly weak or annoyingly strong, with too little middle ground.
Endless Ranks of the Dead: NO -. way too complicated for a card that simply produces zombie tokens.
Falkenrath Noble: YES – great simple creature that is stronger than it looks.
Ghoulcaller’s Chant: NO – actually, a good tribal design, but I don’t want to make the simple, elegant Raise Daed obsolete.
Ghoulraiser: NO – I avoid additional randomness on cards whenever possible, especially when they hold up the game. Cadaver Imp and Gravedigger work fine.
Gruesome Deformity: NO – too weak.
Heartless Summoning: NO – just not a limited design.
Liliana of the Veil: NO – Planeswalker.
Manor Skeleton: NO – while I like a few haste creatures in Black, they shouldn’t be paired with mana-intensive abilities.
Markov Patrician: YES – simple, useful creature.
Maw of the Mire: NO – so land destruction is now at five mana. That’s beyond ridiculous.
Moan of the Hallowed: YES – excellent flashback design.
Morkrut Banshee: YES – pretty powerful though, but Black should have a few cards like this.
Night Terrors: YES – from my perspective, a reasonable upgrade to Coercion.
Reaper from the Abyss: NO – way too powerful.
Rotting Fernsnake: YES – useful vanilla creature. Pushes out Dross Crocodile due to slightly more useful creature types.
Screeching Bat: NO – DFC.
Sever the Bloodline: NO – asking for card names, and thus unexciting in my cubes. Also, hitting 7 mana feels a bit too swingy with this effect for my taste.
Skeletal Grimace: YES – wonderful simple, yet useful aura (unlike the unplayable Regeneration).
Skirsdag High Priest: NO – too little middle ground between sitting there useless and dominating the game.
Stromkirk Patrol: NO – just boring and underwhelming. 5-mana-drops should bring a little more to the table, especially since I design my cubes very conscious of mana curves, so that the difference between four and five mana is usually felt a bit stronger than usual.
Tribute to Hunger: NO – I prefer the simpler Diabolic Edict.
Typhoid Rats: YES – wonderful one-drop.
Unbreathing Horde: NO – I prefer Soulless One, being less complicated and able to grow after it hits the table.
Unburial Rites: YES – nice Orzhov flashback card.
Vampire Interloper: YES – wonderful simple, useful creature.
Victim of Night: NO – adverse tribal effect.
Village Cannibals: NO – refers to humans.
Walking Corpse: YES – just what zombies and Black in general needed.

Rot:

Ancient Grudge: REPRINT – which I don’t use, since it’s just too harsh on people using artifacts.
Ashmouth Hound: YES – close decision, since this is quite an unexciting attacker. However, I realized it’s a decent blocker as well, and the Elemental tribe could use another red 2-drop which didn’t accelerate like Smokebraider or Brighthearth Banneret.
Balefire Dragon: NO – winning with one attack? Obviously. Not.
Blasphemous Act: NO – no reason to use this complicated and often unusable card over Chain Reaction.
Bloodcrazed Neonate: NO – I wish I could use this, but a 2/1 for 2 mana that must attack is just too bad. Tattermunge Maniac is fine, Hulking Ogre is fine, but this needs to start out as 3/1 or maybe 2/3. (Or just drop the must-attack clause.)
Brimstone Volley: YES – great use of the graveyard theme.
Burning Vengeance: YES – I came to the conclusion that this will be worth playing often enough without dominating too much. Nice incentive to and reward for playing a few more flashback spells.
Charmbreaker Devils: NO – I hate the randmomness, but this will often recur the same spell each turn anyways. Which ist much too strong.
Crossway Vampire: YES – great simple creature, and a useful red vampire.
Curse of Stalked Prey: NO – enchant player. Also, a bit strong.
Curse of the Nightly Hunt: NO – enchant player. Also, I don’t like how it takes away play decisions from the opponent. A roughly similar, but fairer card I use is Bedlam, by the way.
Curse of the Pierced Heart. NO – enchant Player. Fine otherways, but not exactly needed. (I use Honden of Burning Rage and Copper Tablet, for example.)
Desperate Ravings: YES – nice Izzet flashback card. Not too big a fan of the randomness, but it’s okay.
Devil’s Play: YES – admittedly strong, but not too strong. (X-burn-spells tend to be a tad less impressive in my cubes, because there are few standoffs, and thus they are usually used as mana-intensive creature removal.)
Falkenrath Marauders: YES – roughly marking the maximum power level I want red 5-drops to have, I guess. Nice how they do not make Geyser Glider obsolete.
Feral Ridgewolf: YES – nice simple creature with a convincing take on red trampling.
Furor of the Bitten: YES – great aura to enable fast decks.
Geistflame: NO – I prefer Engulfing Flames.
Hanweir Watchkeep: NO – DFC.
Harvest Pyre: NO – too weak to justify eating up so much of an important resource in a graveyard-oriented environment, and way too weak and weird anywhere else.
Heretic’s Punishment: NO – weird, complicated, random, swingy – there’s really very little I like about this card.
Infernal Plunge: NO – the far superior Dark Ritual is barely playable in limited.
Instigator Gang: NO – DFC.
Into the Maw of Hell: NO – just too expensive creature removal, even with the small bonus. I use Fissure.
Kessig Wolf: YES – another useful simple red creature.
Kruin Outlaw: NO – DFC.
Night Revelers: NO – refers to humans. Also, I don’t like to make Fomori Nomad obsolete, but I would have, if not for the human reference, since I desperately need useful red vampires.
Nightbird’s Clutches: NO – too unexciting for a red flashback spell, and in general I prefer Unearthly Blizzard.
Past in Flames: NO – Too unwieldy in limited.
Pitchburn Devils: YES – a bit small for a 5-mana creature, but its revenge effect makes it interesting.
Rage Thrower: NO – this is really too fragile for a 6-drop.
Rakish Heir: YES – because vampires need more usable tribal effects, and this is a nice one, and branching out into red seems interesting. Hopefully in Dark Ascension there will be more usable red vampires.
Reckless Waif: NO – DFC.
Riot Devils: NO – I prefer Minotaur Warrior, which is at least a warrior.
Rolling Temblor: NO – not the kind of effect I like with flashback. Volvanic Spray is a much better alternative.
Scourge of Geier Reach: NO – even if this is big, it will be awkward to attack it into blockers whose death will shrink it. Being an unexciting attacker, it will too often be held back as a blocker, and I don’t like it when 5-mana creatures are primarily used for blocking. Also, it will probably be unfun when establishing a better board position shrinks it.
Skirsdag Cultist: YES – useful utility card. Will push out Tar Pitcher from my collection since I have more than enough goblin tribal effects.
Stromkirk Noble: NO – refers to humans. Really a pity, it’s such a nice one-drop, and a red vampire.
Tormented Pariah. NO – DFC.
Traitorous Blood: YES – I’ve decided to replace Threaten with this, since that little extra punch is just what this effect needed.
Vampiric Fury: YES – I’m desperate for useful vampire tribal effects, and this works.
Village Ironsmith: NO – DFC.

Green:

Ambush Viper: YES – excellent small creature that can be used as soft removal.
Avacyn’s Pilgrim: YES – nice card to support a Selesnya theme.
Boneyard Wurm: YES – since Black stole Green’s Lhurgoyf with Mortivore, I have waited for something like this.
Bramblecrush: NO – because I don’t use planeswalkers, this is actually inferior to Creeping Mold, and I want Green to kill artifact creatures.
Caravan Vigil: NO – morbid doesn’t make much sense to me on this card. I’ll keep the perfectly usable Lay of the Land instead.
Creeping Renaissance. NO – no matter what cube: This would nearly always return creatures. Too many of them. Even without the flashback. While it would have been nice to have more green flashback cards which do not produce tokens, this is off-limits. Restock is strong enough, and most of the time inferior.
Darkthicket Wolf: NO – I initially wanted to replace Rootwalla with this. But then I realized that this is mainly a 2-drop which will often get through unblocked, while Rootwalla is a 3-drop that will often actually get pumped. I think Rootwalla plays more interestingly, and I already use Wild Mongrel and Skinshifter.
Daybreak Ranger: NO – DFC.
Elder Laurels: NO – this is a creature which will nearly always make the deck due to its reasonable stats, and then unreliably, but in too many situations, completely dominate the board. I prefer the humble Nantuko Disciple, which is a little less mana-efficient and a lot less effective, but still a very strong card.
Essence of the Wild: NO – overpowered and boring.
Festerhide Boar: YES – great War Mammoth upgrade. But I’m not sure I’ll use it as a common – it seems really strong to me.
Full Moon’s Rise: NO – werewolf tribal is really not an option without double-faced cards (and thus, without werewolves).
Garruk Relentless: NO – DFC & Planeswalker.
Gatstaf Shepherd: NO – DFC.
Gnaw to the Bone: NO – another of those embarassingly weak flashback cards.
Grave Bramble: NO – adverse tribal effect. Also, not sure I’d like a 3-drop defender to be that big.
Grizzled Outcasts: NO – DFC.
Gutter Grime: NO – this takes way too much time to get a Bestial Menace effect.
Hamlet Captain: NO – refers to humans.
Hollowhenge Scavenger. YES – reasonably costed big creature, nice but not too strong morbid bonus. Much more fitting as a common than Festerhide Boar.
Kessig Cagebreakers: NO – too strong.
Kindercatch: NO – being a bit bigger than Vastwood Gorger or Barbtooth Wurm doesn’t justify a GGG-cost. I’d rather use Ancient Silverback.
Lumberknot: NO – Algae Gharial is fine, but on a big creature hexproof is too strong. Hexproof for the little ones, shroud for the big ones.
Make a Wish: NO – not interesting enough to justify the random effect.
Mayor of Avabruck: NO – DFC.
Moldgraf Monstrosity: NO – Green has an astonishing number of choices for its 7-slot. This one is too strong.
Moonmist: NO – refers to humans, and needs double-faced cards.
Mulch: REPRINT – while drawing onepoint-something lands is not especially exciting, green has few reasonable ways to fill its graveyard with creatures, so I’ll get a copy.
Naturalize: REPRINT – in heavy use, of course.
Orchard Spirit: NO – I prefer Treetop Rangers, since (although this might be surprising) Elves need a 3-drop whose main function it is too actually attack more than spirits do. (Also, the Rangers can pass by spiders, which this spirit can’t.)
Parallel Lives: NO – I don’t like to push tokens that explicitly.
Prey Upon: YES – great green pseudo removal, pushes out Hunt Down.
Ranger’s Guile: NO – the +1/+1 bonus isn’t interesting enough to make this more appealing than Vines of Vastwood, and there are more interesting mini growth effects (Silk Net, Battlegrowth).
Somberwald Spider: NO – another defense-oriented 5-mana creature.
Spider Spawning: NO – has the same problems as creatures: 5 mana for a mostly defensive effect do not make for good gameplay. Also, I neither like tokens with uneven stats nor with abilities other than flying.
Spidery Grasp: YES – three useful effects rolled into one, great combat trick! White gladly gives up Inspirit for this.
Splinterfreight: NO – Boneyard Wurm is fine. This is over the top.
Travel Preparations: YES – card is interesting enough I’ll keep it in addition to my favorite Selesnya flashback card, Thrill of the Hunt.
Tree of Redemption: NO – a four mana wall that stops anything (without evasion) but kills nothing is unexciting. Some potential two-digit lifegain later in the game is annoying. Weirdness may cause excitement when you read a card, but very seldom leads to exciting gameplay.
Ulvenwald Mystics: NO – DFC.
Villagers of Estwald: NO – DFC.
Woodland Sleuth: NO – a much worse Gravedigger effect on a slightly tougher creature is not at all worth the randomness. Know what, Eternal Witness is completely fine in limited. Really.
Wreath of Geists: NO – I prefer Exoskeletal Armor. A situational aura is allowed the extra oomph.

Multicolor:

Evil Twin: NO – flavor aside, this is essentially a complicated Mind Control effect (okay, sometimes you might want to clone your own creature). There’s nothing wrong with the card, but I can make better use of ts slot in a cube.
Geist of Saint Traft: NO – this is too much punishment for an opponent who isn’t able to block once or twice. Too good a creature to have hexproof.
Grimgrin, Corpse-Born: NO – even with the frontup payment, sacrificing your worst creatures to destroy your opponent’s best creatures while attacking with a growing fatty is too far out.
Olivia Voldaren: NO – utterly bonkers in limited.

Colorless:

Blazing Torch: REPRINT – not used due to adverse tribal effect.
Butcher’s Cleaver: NO – refers to humans.
Cellar Door: NO – too weak.
Cobbled Wings: NO – Neurok Hoversail has nicer stats (works with the bauble theme and isn’t quite as easy to move between attackers and defenders, which I prefer).
Creepy Doll: NO – another 5-mana defensive creature, and also using a coin flip, which is absolutely taboo for me.
Demonmail Hauberk: NO – too unwieldy. Equipment that lies around not equipping anything is not fun. Piston Sledge at least attaches itself once for free.
Galvanic Juggernaut: YES – the original Juggernaut updated to modern creature standards. Strong and fun card.
Geistcatcher’s Rig: NO – too much variance for my taste. Give me either a consistently strong effect (Duplicant) or a consistently mediocre creature (Obsianus Golem) instead.
Ghoulcaller’s Bell: NO – milling, and too weak.
Graveyard Shovel: NO – too weak. Just use Scrabbling Claws.
Grimoire of the Dead: NO – absolutely no middle ground between horribly bad and game-ending spectacular.
Inquisitor’s Flail: NO – I like my equipment less complicated. This is usable, but I’ll always prefer something simple like Leonin Scimitar or No-Dachi.
Manor Gargoyle: NO – and another defense-oriented 5-mana-creature. And overpowered to boot.
Mask of Avacyn: NO – giving hexproof to bigger creatures (or growing them while giving them hexproof) is not a good idea.
One-Eyed Scarecrow. NO – completely invalidating a flying strategy is too much on a reasonable 3-mana blocker.
Runechanter’s Pike: NO – Equipment doesn’t mix that well with an instant/sorcery theme. I wouldn’t use a slot for this.
Sharpened Pitchfork: NO – refers to humans.
Silver-Inlaid Dagger: NO – refers to humans.
Traveler’s Amulet: NO – functional Wanderer’s Twig reprint. I prefer Wayfarer’s Bauble, Mycosynth Wellspring or Expedition Map anyways.
Trepanation Blade: NO – milling. Also, very random and on average quite weak.
Witchbane Orb: NO – a bit too narow even if I did use curses.
Wooden Stake: NO – adverse tribal effect.

Lands:

Clifftop Retreat: YES – this is a great manafixing cycle, now that it is complete.
Gavony Township: NO – a bit weak for a land giving colorless mana in a deck which requires at least two colors. I prefer Vitu-Ghazi, the City Tree.
Ghost Quarter: REPRINT – there’s nothing wrong with Strip Mine in a cube. Really.
Hinterland Harbor: YES – this is a great manafixing cycle, now that it is complete.
Isolated Chapel: YES – this is a great manafixing cycle, now that it is complete.
Kessig Wolf Run: NO – Skarrg, the Rage Pits is a much better choice.
Moorland Haunt: YES – Just worth its inclusion in an Azorius deck outside of a graveyard theme. (It’s a bit counterproductive here.)
Nephalia Drownyard: NO – milling, and even if it was just self-mill too narrow for me to keep it – I want my 2-color-affiliated lands to be useful whenever I push their color combination, not only within an additional mechanical context.
Shimmering Grotto: REPRINT – I prefer Rupture Spire, Evolving Wilds, City of Brass or Mirrodin’s Core, because they don’t make all spells for which their colored mana is used more expensive.
Stensia Bloodhall: YES – just good enough to warrant its inclusion.
Sulfur Falls: YES – this is a great manafixing cycle, now that it is complete.
Woodland Cemetery: YES – this is a great manafixing cycle, now that it is complete.

(Edit, several months later: Read also my reality check on this review!)

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11 Comments on “My Innistrad Review for Next Level Cubes”

  1. arcanion Says:

    Thanks for posting this. It’s strange, since i don’t play cube myself iam still very interested in your card evaluations of a new set. Hope you keep it up!

  2. arcanion Says:

    Oh and i made a few notes while reading your list, but lost them. Still, i wonder do you really think the blue spell that gets a exiled flashback card back is too good? It seems rather narrow to me and only late game dependend. I think its a cool card to have around.


    • Maybe I expressed myself badly due to not being a native english speaker, but I didn’t mean to say this spell was too good in any way:

      “Runic Repetition: NO – plays too strangely for my taste. Quiet Speculation and Call to Mind give me all I need.”

      I just find it weird to get back cards which should’ve left the game for good, thus I prefer cards interacting with flashback in a more usual way, like pulling them out of your deck (Quiet Speculation) or simply returning them from your graveyard (Call to Mind).

      While Runic Repetition, in contrast to Call to Mind, gives you the opportunity to cast a flashback spell 4 times instead of 3 times, I really don’t see it as overpowered at all – actually, it is more likely to be too weak, since most flashback costs are extraordinarily high, so that you might sit on an unusable Runic Repetition for quiet a while.

      While admittedly it doesn’t do quite the same thing, I believe Quiet Speculation is actually a lot stronger than Runic Repetition.

      • arcanion Says:

        Ok should have looked that one up again, I think i misremembered your reason to not play it. Thanks and I agree with your post.

        But I have another card: Geistflame. You said you prefer Engulfing Flames without giving a reason. Can you explain why? Does the “no regeneration” clause matter more for you in your cubes than the ability to target players? I think Geistflame is pretty straightforward and “cleaner” than Engulfing Flames while Flames can be a more interesting option than simple burn in the right meta.

        Enchant Player cards are like global enchantments..but i understand the term is a bit strange. And most are not really interesting and fun so I can understand you don’t like using them.


        • While I value elegance highly, Engulfing Flames gives me (the cube builder) an important tool. An environment might want extra ways to deal with regenerating creatures. Also, the existence of Flames leads to more interesting gameplay, since in some situations you will actually use them just for the prevention of regeneration (e.g., Horned Troll blocking your Fomori Nomad).

          In contrast, targeting players is a minor option on Geistflame, not exactly an interesting interaction and, ultimately, in all probability still plentily available for Red in any cube. This color really has no shortage of spells being able to damage your opponent directly.

  3. schmirglie Says:

    Ich wollte nur anmerken, dass ich den Insider verstanden hab, obwohl ich den Gerwald gar nicht kenne. Bin auch stolz auf mich!


  4. After carefully analyzing the available card selection, I actually had to revise my stance on Mulch.


  5. Two more changes of mind (to be expected, since the set isn’t even out yet): I’ll use Travel Preparations in addition to Thrill of the Hunt, since it will probably play very well and deserves a spot, and I will use Bump In the Night instead of Nettling Curse – Rakdos is in need of a few more cards which do not kill creatures, and if I am willing to go to the lower end of the playability spectrum, Bump still plays more interestingly than the Curse, which just isn’t that different from Contaminated Bond.

  6. arcanion Says:

    Me again :-)

    Don’t you like Make a wish? I think its a pretty interesting take on Divination – in green. Divination is also “random draw” (most of the time, if you don’t have ponder or other manipulation).
    Isn’t it a cool green card draw variant?! Reusing you graveyard stuff is a green thing and one mana more than Divination is only fair, since green isn’t supposed to have the same card draw spells as blue and having a smaller yard than library (most of the games) makes it somewhat better.

    Looks fair and cool to me.


    • I have no problem with the power level of Make A Wish – if anything, it is a bit too weak for my taste. Returning cards from your graveyard compares favorably to drawing cards from your library, since you get to chose what you “draw”, and since you usually do not return lands (which are typically less desirable to draw). On the other hand, returning cards is not as unconditional as drawing, since you actually need to have something desirable in your graveyard to use it (and, to a lesser extent, because your opponent may interfere with your graveyard). Also, returning does not “dig” for cards you need but haven’t drawn yet (at least not without the help of other cards).

      Make A Wish actually lacks most of the typical strengths of returning cards from your graveyard, while having most of their weaknesses, due to the randomness. I just don’t think it plays that well. My main reason not to use that card, however, is the physical logistics it requires. They’re not insurmountable, of course, but for me to accept them, the effect has to be worth it, and Make A Wish just doesn’t cut it.

      It’s not that I had a shortage of cards with similar effects in my pool: I use – for example – Regrowth, Eternal Witness and Restock for graveyard recursion, and there are cards like Lead the Stampede, Kodama’s Reach or Harmonize for green card draw.


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