Theros Beyond Death Cube Review: Red, Green, Multicolor

THB Cube Review: White, Blue, Black

Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded

Sneak Attack decks have gotten a lot of support in the past year, but none come close to the power of the original. Purphoros is neat for being an indestructible variant of Sneak Attack, but paying 3 mana to sneak something in and being restricted to red creatures and artifacts is very limiting. If you can reliably turn Purphoros into a creature he can be interesting, but I feel that paying 8 mana to sneak in something with restrictions is too much. B-

The Akroan War

This is one of the more interesting sagas from the set. Ideally, you’ll steal one of their better creatures, trade it off when they attack in phase two, and in phase 3 you can have a one sided board wipe. That’s a lot of value for one card, and is a good draw to red control decks. If you’re opponent isn’t playing any creatures though, this card is useless and it is slow and easy to interrupt. If they disenchant this card after you move to attacks, they can surprise block with the creature you just stole. For slower cubes I think this is a good fit, but not every cube wants this. C

Purphoros’s Intervention

I’ll go on record to state that I love Fireball effects more than the average person, but I do think that this card is probably the best Fireball cube is going to get. One of the problems with Fireball is how inefficient it is at killing creatures but this scales really well at killing creatures and Planeswalkers. If they ever get low enough you can slam in with a huge creature. I’m less high on Fireball effects than I have in the past, but I think that this one is better than most. B

Ox of Agonas

Without factoring in the escape cost, this card is mediocre. Cavalier of Flame has similar abilities and a better body for the same cmc, but the real draw on this card is the escape cost. 2 mana for a 5/3 that draws three cards is a lot more appealing. But 8 cards is steep and may be too high of a price for the average cube deck. In a cube with dedicated graveyard themes, this can be a great player but otherwise, I’d steer clear. C-

Phoenix of Ash

If you’re still playing Chandra’s Phoenix it’s probably time to replace it. The question is whether Phoenix of Ash is the right card to replace it. A 3 mana 2/2 flying, haste is unfortunately behind the times and the bad firebreathing won’t come up until late in the game. The advantage behind this phoenix is how easy it is to bring it out of the yard. 4 mana and 3 cards for a threat that never dies will eventually grind the opponent out if they can’t exile it. As resilient as this threat is, the amount of mana you have to invest in it makes it much less appealing to me than similar threats such as Rekindling Phoenix. B-

Tectonic Giant

Barring any board wipes, this card will get you some value no matter what. If you’re playing a fast aggressive deck this thing can hit for 6 damage each turn and can bolt the opponent as a final “screw you” if they remove it. On the other side of things, a slower red deck can easily take advantage of the draw effect and getting your choice between two cards is much better than traditional outpost sieges. Where this card fails is if you’re opponent has a 4/4 or bigger but it can still do a suicide run for the effect you want. B+

Underworld Breach

This card reminds me of Snapcaster Mage in a lot of ways. However, in order for this card to be equivalent to Snapcaster you need to cast at least two cards from the yard since this doesn’t come with a 2/1 body. This means at least 6 cards need to be in the yard and you need enough mana to cast multiple cards. With just Lightning Bolt this costs 1RRR and delve six essentially for 6 damage. Is that worth it? Potentially, but if this is only ever bringing back one card per use Underworld Breach isn’t going to do enough. B-

Irreverent Revelers

For powered cubes, this card is strictly better than Manic Vandal and is only mildly embarrassing when they don’t have an artifact. One should also consider running this as another copy of Manic Vandal, but with Embereth Shieldbreaker there isn’t as much need for density of this effect. If you don’t have a powered cube, I wouldn’t recommend running this as it won’t hit artifacts often enough to matter. B

Nylea, Keen-Eyed

Out of all the colors, green is the most likely to get enough pips to activate a god. To compensate for that, Nylea got the least interesting abilities in my opinion. Combining both halves of Duskwatch Recruiter into one card is certainly nice, but the advantage of Duskwatch is two mana. When the base effect costs four mana it comes down a little too late in the game. The reduction matters less, and it costs 7 mana to potentially replace herself. If this card were 3 mana I’d be all over it. I don’t think Nylea is bad, simply underwhelming compared to the other gods. C+

The First Iroan Games

Sagas are difficult to evaluate because we don’t get all the effects that is stated on the card at once. If this card was three mana for a 4/4 that drew two cards and made a gold token it would be absurdly pushed. But broken up into four segments it is significantly more difficult to say if it’s still worth it. If your opponent is able to interact before stage 3 and you don’t have any backup creatures, it wasn’t worth the card. But if you have a high enough density of 4 power creatures, this is probably worth it. B-

Arasta of the Endless Web

Ask certain peasant cube owners and they will tell you how awesome a 3/5 with reach is. Cube has not had a viable reach creature for a long time, and it is a big hole in green’s gameplan against evasive blue decks. Arasta is a card that may not seem like it needs to be dealt with, but is a massive pain if it’s not removed immediately. She brick walls aggro decks, and will make the control opponent second guess their Opt. I haven’t seen a lot of discussion on Arasta but I believe she has a lot of potential. B+

Nessian Boar

Do you need more 10 power creatures for 5 mana? Was Grothama and Gigantosaurus not enough? Well here we have another massive creature for cheap but the drawbacks on this card seem more steep than with the other two. Guaranteed draw for each creature that blocks Nessian Boar can create massive blowouts if they block with their whole team and then Doom Blade this. While it is a fun design, I don’t think the boar fits in traditional cube. D

Dryad of the Ilysian Grove

Chromatic Lantern is not really a cube playable card these days, but I still run it because of the potential it has for cool decks. Getting a second copy of Chromatic Lantern that has cross playability in other decks is really exciting. If someone is drafting lands and sees this, they get the choice to branch out into more colors. If they choose not to play a 4-5 color deck, however, this card becomes significantly worse. I’m ok with dedicating an artifact slot to support a neat deck, but it’s a lot harder to justify a slot in green. Regardless, as someone with a cube that can’t easily support 5 color decks (aka no signets/talismans) then I see promise in this card. B-

Chainweb Aracnir

It’s kind of weird seeing green get playable reach creatures, but here we are again with a playable one drop/five drop that hoses flying decks. My concern with this card is that it doesn’t just check the flyers player but punishes them. Just like protection from X color this card can singlehandedly shut down a flyers gameplan. While I do think this is a great one drop, it’s power level is dependent on the flyers in the cube, and could range from best card in the players deck to a vanilla 4/5. B-

Ashiok, Nightmare Muse

There aren’t a lot of finishers that are nearly as strong as Ashiok. Rarely we see walkers who + to create a creature, let alone one as big as a 2/3. We’ve seen how strong 6 loyalty can be with broko, and the ultimate can be achieved very quickly. The problem I have with the card isn’t with Ashiok, but with the competition surrounding it. Dimir is a stacked section, with all-stars such as Hostage Taker, Thief of Sanity, and Scarab God all coming out in just the last few years. Ashiok is powerful, and can compete with the likes of these cards but it is not a uniquely powerful effect that cube owners need to scramble for. B+

Klothy’s, God of Destiny

Klothy’s has three main states of play. 1st it’s a three mana indestructible dork which isn’t very impressive. 2nd it’s a Sulfuric Vortex that gains you life instead of having you lose life which is close to being broken. 3rd it does literally nothing. If it’s consistently doing the effect you need it to, Klothy’s is one of the most powerful Gruul cards ever printed. Not having total control over that brings her down, but cube graveyards are rarely empty which means her second state of Sulfuric Vortex will be on more often than not. I think Klothy’s is very good and should not be overlooked. A-

Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger

This is nearly a cheaper Blightning that draws a 4 mana 6/6 that can do it all over again. For just the etb, Kroxa is trading one for one which doesn’t make the cut in most cubes. But tacking on a huge 6/6 that has synergy with sacrifice outlets, getting milled/discarded, or flickered is great value and can provide a bomb for multiple different strategies. Initially, I wasn’t high on Kroxa but thinking about how he could perform in many different strategies turned me around on the card. B

Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath

Are you still playing Coiling Oracle? After this year, it’s probably time to take it back out to the common box. Uro isn’t a complicated card, but it makes up for that by being stupidly strong. 3 mana one time ramp isn’t good enough on it’s own, but gaining 3 life gives the player time to set up an Uro in later turns, and this card also combos with all the same things that worked for Kroxa. I don’t see this overtaking Oko or Hydroid Krasis, but it’s right up there with the best Simic cards. B+

Polukranos, Unchained

What can I say besides “I love big dumb idiots”. PollyK is an absolute unit and can eat anything on the battlefield and then come back and do it again. As much as I love Polukranos for my casual hydra deck, I don’t see this making the cut in cube. Spending 7 mana to kill something (and shrink the hydra!) isn’t appealing when I can just Doom Blade. And while it can come back, 6 mana and 6 cards is a lot just to get a 12/12 that gets chumped and shrunk. D+

Dream Trawler

If your UW section is in need of a powerful game ending card, Dream Trawler can certainly get the job done. It’s a pain to deal with, impossible to race, and draws a ton of cards. The thing about Dream Trawler is that you can get this effect in mono color for essentially the same price. Lyra is a powerful finisher for one mana cheaper, Aetherling is even more difficult to remove as long as they keep one mana open, and the finisher doesn’t even have to be a creature with the likes of Jace, the Mind Sculptor. While powerful it doesn’t bring anything to the table that UW sections desperately need. C

Kunoros, Hound of Athreos

Graveyard hate is an effect we never see in cube unless it is stapled to another good card. Rest in Peace only sees play in the most dedicated of graveyard cubes, but a card like Scavenging Ooze is a popular way to softly hate on busted graveyard decks. Kunoros is a card that plays much closer to Scavenging Ooze than Grafdiggers Cage. It has great abilities and is really difficult to deal with. If this were a mono white card I would slam dunk it. But, as a gold card, a mostly vanilla beater doesn’t bring enough to justify it’s slot. If the graveyard hate comes up at least once a draft I could see this being great, but otherwise it’s simply a 3/3. B

Shadowspear

It’s not often that we get one mana equipment and every time we do, I am intrigued. Shadowspear is no Bone Splitter, but I don’t think that this card should be compared to Bone Splitter. Shadowspear is great for any midrange deck that is trying to win a race, and can turn most creatures into threats. The second ability is largely trinket text, but isn’t entirely irrelevant and could save you in an otherwise unwinnable scenario. I disproportionately love equipment, and may be overrating this card but I have faith that it can perform well. B+

Conclusion

Theros Beyond Death is decidedly less powerful than the last few sets, but ultimately I am ok with that. After how crazy 2019 was I’m ready to settle back into getting a few powerful cube cards each set, with lots of fun and interesting toys to test until new cards get printed. What cards are you excited for in Theros Beyond Death? Did I miss anything that you wished I mention? Comment below and tell me how you feel about this new set.

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