RNA Cube Set Review: Orzhov

The full spoiler has finally been released, and the set is looking fantastic. Ravnica is home to many powerful cube cards, and Allegiance is no exception. For the next 5 days, I will be going over every single guild and all of the cards that I believe are relevant for cube. I did the same thing with Guilds of Ravnica a few months ago, and it’s only fair that the other 5 guilds get the same treatment. Today I will be covering Orzhov, and what cards from the new set can compete in a cube environment.

Image result for orzhov symbol

Kaya, Orzhov Usurper

A 3 mana planeswalker usually signals very good things, but I can’t say that I am all too impressed with Kaya. Paying 3 mana for graveyard isn’t something I’m all too interested in doing in cube. Many decks do use the graveyard for incremental value, but Kaya is very rarely going to actually turn the tide of the game in your favor. When you could be spending 3 mana to cast Liliana of the Veil or a Vindicate, Kaya doesn’t really compare. Grade F

Seraph of the Scales

In terms of Ravnica Allegiance limited, this card is a huge bomb that cannot be easily dealt with. For a normal cube, however, this card is far less impressive. A 4/3 flyer is nice but isn’t really anything we haven’t seen before and having to pay mana to give it vigilance or deathtouch is not ideal. The one thing I really like about this card is Afterlife 2 giving you value even when the creature dies, but compared to a card like Sorin that can churn out tokens every single turn this angel starts to look less impressive. Grade C

Teysa Karlov

We finally get our Panharmonicon for the dead, and I am personally a big fan. Aristocrats is a really fun deck to pull off, and Teysa helps to push it over the edge. Looking at the typical cube, however, she doesn’t seem to actually trigger that often. Notable cards that she does trigger include Blood Artist, Flesh Carver, Doomed Traveler, and Sidisi, Undead Vizier. With a dedicated aristocrats theme in the cube, I can see Teysa doing really well, but in the typical cube, she just doesn’t do enough. Grade B-

Final Payment

This is a pretty interesting piece of removal. For the low cost of 2 mana, you get unconditional removal. Its versatility in what you need to sacrifice is awesome and gives lots of great choices to consider. This obviously goes great in aristocrat decks, and you can also be cheeky and abuse ETB’s by casting Journey to Nowhere on your own creature followed up by this. I don’t really see this cracking into really powerful cubes, but this seems great for pauper’s power level. Grade B

Imperious Oligarch

Imperious Oligarch is simply the common that is here to showcase the mechanic of the set. This common also happens to be really good. A Goblin Piker that can trade into a spirit token is serious value, and the ability to sacrifice it twice is huge for aristocrat decks. This card isn’t being considered for powered cubes, but for pauper cubes I am a huge fan of this card and would put it on the same level of Tithe Drinker. Grade A-

Tithe Taker

Death and Taxes is unsurprisingly very Orzhovian, and this card fits nicely into the mold. Taxing all spells on your turn is really nice, and making activated abilities such as fetchlands cost 1 is very annoying. This card does not tax nearly as well as something like Thalia, but leaving behind a token is appreciated. I don’t believe this card is going to make it into the average cube, and if you want to play this card you’re playing it because there are decks that can make good use out of Afterlife. Without that cross-synergy support, I’m not too high on this card. Grade B-

 

Revival // Revenge

Unearth is a really good card, and seeing one for 2 mana has me interested. Revival can bring back a lot of powerful creatures on the cheap, and is a really good topdeck in the later stages of the game. I’m sure nobody wants to see you bring back Brimaz, King of Oreskos on turn 7 once all of the removal has been used up. That brings us to the other half of the card in Revenge. Sorin’s Vengeance is a really good card because once you burn them down to 10 life one card can just finish them off. This card can never finish them off, however, it can create a massive swing in life points. Overall though, unless I’m winning the turn I cast Revenge I am far more interested in Revival. The added versatility is nice to have though and doesn’t detract from a good reanimation spell. Grade C+

Consecrate // Consume

Dedicated graveyard hate cards are typically out of place in cube as they don’t actually do all that much on their own. However, once you add incidental graveyard hate to an already good card it becomes much more playable in a cube environment. Consecrate // Consume might fit the bill for this. Having the versatility of killing their biggest creature, or exiling their Griselbrand when they aim the Animate Dead at it is pretty big game. It’s not the most efficient at either task, but the versatility makes it far better than it seems. If you are running both Anguished Unmaking and Vindicate, you might be able to try switching one out in favor of this. Grade B-

Angel of Grace

One of the first cards that I feel we can compare this to is Archangel Avacyn. For the same mana cost, we get a flash flyer that trades 1 point of power in exchange for vigilance. The other abilities are what we really need to consider. On one side we have a fog that can gain us 9 life from the graveyard. On the other hand, we have an angel that can give the entire board indestructible and Lightning Bolt everything. In a world, without Archangel Avacyn I would happily play this card, but I don’t see much reason to sleeve this up. Grade C+

Forbidding Spirit

A Ghostly Prison for one turn is not an effect I was expecting to see, but it’s interesting enough to still make me want to evaluate it. Ghostly Prison is such a powerful card because it asks aggro decks to either attack the opponent or develop their board state, instead of allowing them to do both. If they choose to develop their board state you Wrath of God them and they are usually finished. If they choose to attack you, the amount of damage they can do is usually small enough that you can easily stabilize. With Forbidding Spirit putting up the prison for only one turn, the opponent will usually just choose to develop their board state and then swing in for a ton of damage the next turn. Having a 3/3 is nice, and more relevant to more decks but in comparison to Ghostly Prison, I am not impressed. Grade D

Orzhov, unfortunately, did not bring very much to the traditional cube in this set. Many of the most powerful cards that were printed for Orzhov this set are just outclassed by older Magic cards. One thing that Orzhov did exceptionally well in this set, however, is support aristocrats. With the huge amount of creatures that have the Doomed Traveler effect that are also useful before the death trigger, aristocrats have never been this spoiled. This set might have convinced me to even put aristocrats in my own cube, especially once I review all of the Rakdos cards tomorrow. Thank you all for reading I hope you have a great week and an amazing Tuesday!

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