Hello and welcome to Only on Tuesdays! Today I am going to be starting a 5 part series, where I will be reviewing Guilds of Ravnica in the lens of cube, and see if the new cards have what it takes to compete with the legacy of Magic. I will be covering Boros first and moving on from there. Without further ado, let’s begin!
Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice
It is immediately apparent that Aurelia is a huge bomb. However, Aurelia is more than just a simple bomb and comes with a lot of choices that can make her really fascinating to play. Choosing what creatures to give the buff for the turn, while also considering how mentor might play into the equation can lead to some interesting scenarios. Most of the time, however, you’ll be targeting Aurelia, simply because a 4/5 Vigilance, Flying, Trample threat is usually enough and Mentor is just gravy at that point. Another great point in her favor is being able to survive Wildfire. Grade B+
One of the more unique cards to come out of the set, these kinds of effects don’t usually go on the same card. Sweltering Sun type of cards usually slots into a control deck, while giving all of your creatures Lifelink only seems applicable if you are attacking. If you are able to cast this with minimal damage to your own board it can lead to insane blowouts. Having two effects that normally contradict each other is pretty great for draft as it creates tension between the aggro and control player where they want the same card for different reasons. Unfortunately, giving all of your creatures Lifelink is usually not worth the card, making this a Sweltering Sun variant typically. Grade B-
A card I’ve always personally liked is Oppressive Rays. Being able to pay to ignore the enchantment is a pretty big downside, but in the right deck, you are killing them before they even get the chance to block. Similar to Oppressive Rays, Demotion is a very efficient card that can enable aggressive strategies. This allows you to stop them from stabilizing with an efficient creature and is cheap enough to also allow you to continue building your board. If you can outrace whatever they are playing, this can almost effectively play as hard removal. Grade C-
An excellent callback to Battalion, and a pretty efficient card to boot. Battalion was a really fun and powerful mechanic that lead to some great games, so I’m happy to see it come back. Most Battalion creatures simply pumped themselves up, allowing them to attack, but this guy replaces himself to fuel Battalion further down the line. A 1/1 is really fragile though, and by the time you can trigger it your opponent can usually block it really comfortably. If you can get multiple attack steps in, however, it is well worth the cost. Grade C
Integrity // Intervention
The immediate comparison for this card is to Warleader’s Helix. The difference between one point of damage may not seem like much, but as it turns out a lot of dangerous creatures dodge this card that wouldn’t survive a Warleader’s Helix. So is missing the one point of damage worth it for the other half of this card? Unfortunately, I don’t think so. A bad Giant Growth is still playable in limited, but in the realm of cube +2/+2 just doesn’t do enough on its own. I like the idea of having a more versatile Warleader’s Helix, but the other half doesn’t justify missing out on so many threats. Grade C
Goblin Mentormaster seems like an excellent new token maker for cube. One of the hardest things about Mentor is consistently having creatures that you can make more powerful. Fortunately, this Goblin provides all of the cannon fodder for you. This isn’t quite as fast of a clock as Goblin Rabblemaster, but not having to force all of your goblins to attack, and getting beefier tokens instead seems like a decent tradeoff. Goblin Rabblemaster is a fantastic card, and getting to play with his cousin as well is a very enticing proposition. Grade B+
Response // Resurgence
Split cards are amazing for cube designers because slots are so limited. Having 2 different options can make those cards more desirable to different decks. Response is a reasonable kill spell and will take care of almost any threat on the cheap. Every deck needs removal, and Response does the job well. The beauty in this card is that it also serves as a wincon. Resurgence can lead to huge swings and still leave your entire team back to block. Extra combat steps typically aren’t very playable in cube, but having this attached to removal makes it much more appealing. Ever swing with a Hellrider twice? Grade B
Seeing a bear with First Strike makes me really happy, as that is playable on its own. Mentor plays really well with tokens, making this guy a great card for any type of swarm deck. First Strike gives him a decent chance of swinging in uncontested, and Mentor can make your board a little more difficult to deal with. Putting some +1/+1 counters on him, or even just casting Giant Growth can also give him a lot of value to the rest of your team. If you want to try out Mentor in your cube, Sunhome Stalwart seems like a great place to start. Grade B-
Keyword soup is always exciting to see at such a low CMC, and she is packed with all of the good ones! Swiftblade Vindicator is a pretty mediocre card on her own, but with the right support can become a must answer threat. I value versatility in a card very highly, and being able to slot into multiple decks makes Swiftblade Vindicator a very tempting inclusion. Archetypes such as +1/+1 counters and equipment can really help to abuse keyword soup. A turn 1 Bonesplitter followed up by this is pretty scary. An excellent build-around card, and slots into a lot of cube archetypes really well. Grade B+
Tajic, Legion’s Edge
Another very interesting Boros legend, Tajic seems much more interested in Mentoring than Aurelia. For this reason I like Tajic a lot more as a cube card. Aurelia is excellent for winning games on her own, but Tajic requires a little more thought than just slamming him as soon as you can. Haste and Mentor go hand in hand with each other, and his unique ability can lead to some really interesting situations. Having another card that is similar to Selfless Spirit is really important for the aggro decks to have so they don’t just fold to a Pyroclasm or a Wildfire. As a pure bomb, Aurelia is much stronger, but I love the gameplay around Tajic and I believe he will lend himself to more interesting games of Magic. Grade A-
Boros got a lot of interesting cards this set with my favorites being Tajic, and Swiftblade Vindicator. Both cards can lead to interesting deck building and gameplay decisions and should make for some really fun games of Magic. Tomorrow I’ll be talking about Izzet and what they bring to the cube. Thanks for reading, and have a great week and an amazing Tuesday!