This past weekend, Magic announced that there would be a new product available titled Mystery Boosters, which would be doing something Magic has never seen before. The packs were first opened this weekend, and the cards inside were nothing like what we expected. Inside each of these convention boosters were specialty “playtest” cards which felt like brand new Un cards being printed out of nowhere. A lot of these cards look like they were designed specifically for cube, which is what I will be covering in today’s article and future ones, as I feel that these cards could add a lot to the cube experience.
Unfortunately, these cards are limited to convention boosters only, and will not appear in the retail boosters which will be coming in March 2020. This limited supply for such unique items has already driven up the prices by exorbitant amounts which keep these out of the hands of the average player who just wants to enjoy these cards. Because Wizards of the Coast is going to make these difficult to obtain, and considering that these are playtest cards, I believe that the correct way to approach these cards is to proxy them. If I end up adding any of these cards to my cube, I will just redesign them using a website like mtgcardsmith.com and print them off and slide them in a sleeve. If they ever upload higher quality images of the actual playtest cards, I’d print those off instead, but when all we have is crappy phone pictures or $30+ cards on eBay that aren’t even real cards, this is the best I can do. Let’s talk about the actual cards now.
I won’t be going through all 121 cards and will only be talking about the cards that are most interesting in cube. I’ll be going in alphabetical order, and will cover more cards in later articles. If you feel I overlooked a card that you feel is worth discussing (and I’ve already passed alphabetically) feel free to discuss it in the comments below. If you’d like to see all the playtest cards you can follow this link to take a look: https://scryfall.com/sets/cmb1?order=name.
CARDNAME gets +3/+3 and has flying, first strike, and lifelink as long as you have one or more emblems.
To start us off we get a very interesting card exploring brand new design space. I love that they made this card white as that is where we can get most of our emblems for very cheap. Gideon of the Trials, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, Sorin, Lord of Innistrad, and Serra the Benevolent can ultimate immediately or very quickly. As cool as this guy is, he seems much more suitable for a constructed environment than in cube. With only 4 cards that can enable him quickly enough to matter, he’s just going to be a grizzly bear for most games. Still an interesting design space, and I hope that they continue to push into this. Grade D-
Spark (Activate spark abilities by spending or giving yourself spark counters. Activate only one Spark ability per turn, and only as a sorcery.)
+1: CARDNAME gains lifelink until end of turn.
-3: Target opponent discards a card. You gain life equal to its converted mana cost.
There might be another card in the set that literally transforms you into a Planeswalker, but personally, I’m much more interested in Spark. This brings the phrase “life is a resource” to life, and provides a lot of power. This card seems like it will do best when played against a control deck, as you can just go to town with the -3 and often come out ahead on the exchange in life if they have to discard their big spells like Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. Against aggro, this is still a decent card because it’s absolute floor is still going to gain you one life per turn. Putting this on a 3/2 body makes it more fragile, but I’d rather it be like this as it is a lot easier to interact with a creature than other permanents. Very sweet card and I’d love to see Spark return as a mechanic provided it is balanced well. B
Edit: I have been corrected and told that this card does not use your life total for its abilities. Instead, you start at a spark count of 0 and can go up from there. This makes the card significantly less powerful but is still interesting nonetheless. This mechanic may end up being more parasitic than I would like and may not make the cut anymore. C
Until end of turn, cards you own that aren’t on the battlefield lose all card types, costs, names, and abilities and become red sorceries named Missle that cost R with “Missile deals 2 damage to any target.”
On it’s own, this card is not going to make it in cube. But given the right archetype, this is something that could shine or even excel. If this is your followup to Guttersnipe, you’ll be able to deal 14 damage in one turn. Any prowess creature could take great advantage of this card, and in a pinch, you can use your hand to trade one for one with everything. The difficult thing about this card is that it turns everything in your hand into Missiles, which plays poorly with Storm or cards like Arclight Pheonix. It’s still a one-card combo and might be worth considering if you have a prowess section in your cube. Grade B-
You may begin the game with CARDNAME in your graveyard. If you do, you lose 1 life.
This card is ridiculous, even in a singleton environment like cube. Getting this out on turn 1 for the low cost of swamp, Reanimate, and 7 life is one of the easiest combos cube has ever assembled. A vanilla 6/4 is no Griselbrand, but when there is literally no work involved to get this into your yard, it’s just free value. You don’t even have to reanimate this if you don’t want to. If you have the nuts of Dark Ritual, Entomb, Reanimate, go get a turn one Griselbrand, but for the many times you don’t an early 6/4 is often enough to end it on their own. The main problem with this card is that it seems like it was designed specifically for Reanimator, and doesn’t fit in as well anywhere else. This card can still provide a lot of benefits outside of reanimator, including deck thinning, being a free card in the yard for mechanics like delve, and still being above curve as a four mana 6/4. I kind of hope they never print this, as it would just be doing stupid things. A+
Command the Chaff
Look at target opponent’s sideboard. You may cast a card from that sideboard without paying its mana cost. Exile CARDNAME.
In retail limited, this card isn’t going to be hitting anything except chaff. In cube, this card will always have gas to target. Due to the nature of cubes being packed with incredibly powerful cards, Command the Chaff gets to look at 22~ cards all of which are powerful in their own right. With this in the pool, hate drafting becomes much more terrifying as the Blood Moon or Ugin you tried to get rid of can come back to haunt you. Being 6 mana makes this card really slow, and probably won’t make it in the more powerful cubes, but it’s still a really cool card that will make for some amazing stories. B-
Restart the turn, except with CARDNAME in exile. (First, return all cards to where they were as the turn began. For information from hidden zones like the hand, reconstruct as best as you can, and do the rest at random.)
This card is absolutely wild, would never see print, is a rules nightmare, and is extremely awesome! With this in hand, you can go so deep on specific lines and rest easy knowing that you have a panic button to fall back on. This card is playing on an axis that very few card games have ever explored, and is extremely hard to judge at a first glance. I feel like the effect it offers is very powerful, and will create the craziest stories when played. Grade A-
Evil Boros Charm
Choose one —-
- CARDNAME deals 2 damage to any target and you gain 2 life.
- Unblocked attacking creatures get +1/+0 until end of turn.
- Create a 1/1 colorless Spirit creature token with lifelink and haste.
This is a swiss army knife, both in how you can cast it and what it can do. It’s an anthem, a removal spell, and a creature all in one and can slot in mono-black, boros, orzhov, or rakdos. That is incredible versatility and while the individual effects aren’t busted, you should probably still be playing this card if you can produce any of the above mana combinations. I personally enjoy cards that can see play across a wide variety of archetypes, and this fits the bill better than almost any other card ever printed. A
Form of the Mulldrifter
When CARDNAME enters the battlefield, draw two cards.
You may cast creature cards from your hand as though they were the card Mulldrifter. (You can still evoke this way. They’re Mulldrifters.)
You ever just want to turn your Baneslayer into a Mulldrifter? If so then this is the perfect card for
Patrick Chapin you! Honestly, though, this card just looks like a lot of fun. If you draw a bad creature late in the game, getting to turn it into a Mulldrifter can help you get out of sticky situations. If this could turn any card into a Mulldrifter it would be incredible to make your excess lands 2/2’s that draw 2. This restriction keeps it from being a top contender, but simply playing this card will probably get a smile from your opponent. Grade C+
3, tap: Until end of turn, you may play one basic Plains card from outside the game.
We always have to talk about the one-mana 2/1. And this is one of the better ones I feel. Transitioning from the early game to the late game can be hard for a deck with a bunch of 2/1’s, and in cube you’re likely to have some powerful haymakers like Archangel Avacyn as your top end if you are playing white weenie. This card bridges the gap, because once it’s been outclassed on the board, it can start ramping you and turn on your big threats. It’s still a bad rate at which you get the lands, but I still think it’s quite good. B
Tap: Add colorless.
Legacy – Tap, mark one of CARDNAME’S unmarked nodes: Add one mana of any color.
When I first read this card I thought that it gave me one color per node. For example, if you wanted to add black mana two turns in a row, you would have already marked the node and not be able to add black mana anymore. That is not the case, however, and that makes this card absurdly powerful. For 5 turns in a row, you can add whatever color of mana you want. 5 turns down the line, you should have perfect mana, or already be winning the game. In its current form, this is the best City of Brass we have ever gotten and doesn’t have enough drawbacks for my taste. If it were limited to adding one color only once, I’d appreciate the design much more. A+
There are still a lot more cards to cover from this set, but I don’t have all the time in the world to do it in one article. A lot of these cards are very interesting (and some are absurdly powerful), but it is still cool to see them and I have a feeling a lot of them will play well in cube. These are cards that could never see the light of day in a normal set but are exactly the kind of cards we like to see in cube. I hope that Wizards realizes that there is demand for these cards, and offer an easier way to obtain them.
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