Rather than writing a hot takes about each card in the set, I figured I’d try my hand at doing an archetype showcase featuring the brand new, and returning mechanics of the set. This week, let’s start with Party.
I like Party. It’s a simple mechanic that introduces a new “tribe” that is already present in all of our cubes. Tribal decks are typically very hard to add to a cube, because it can make the draft feel on rails and is parasitic, but Party gets around this by simply allowing you to play good cards that already have the necessary creature type. Introducing party is similar to adding human tribal to cube, where all it takes for human tribal to exist is to add Champion of the Parish. Party does ask a few more questions than human tribal, as it is a lot harder to accidentally make half of your cube work with Party.
Breaking Party Down
Fundamentally, there are four parts of Party. Warriors, Wizards, Clerics, and Rogues. Each one of these tribes plays slightly differently from each other, but can be brought together through the party mechanic. Party is a 5 color tribe, having all of their characters appear in different colors. However, depending on how you construct the cube Party can be shrunk down to as small as 2 colors. Ideally, it should work best as a 3-4 color deck and decks that feature less of the entire party should still be able to benefit from having 2-3 of the tribe.
Another way to increase the density of Party is to add more tribes to the Party. Soldiers, Shamans, Druids, and Ninjas all belong in the flavor of Party and can allow for brand new strategies to emerge. If you are interested in seeing that played out to it’s fullest, check out this cube by /u/kinseki for a cube designed with this idea from the base up. https://www.reddit.com/r/mtgcube/comments/itwg14/an_experimental_zendikar_party_cube/
Another thing to consider is that the lower cmc a creature has, the more valuable it will be to the party. Agent of Treachery is a very powerful rogue, but I wouldn’t consider it a part of Party due to costing 7 mana. Changelings are another great addition to the Party, as they can fill in for whatever you may need. Relevant changelings may include Birthing Boughs, Changeling Outcast, Crib Swap, Mirror Entity, Universal Automaton, Unsettled Mariner, and Valiant Changeling.
It’s time to introduce the party.
Warriors know one thing, and they know how to do it well: beat face. Zendikar Rising has categorized warriors as a RW tribe, but actually warriors show up in green and black more often than white.
Red: 274, Green:179, Black:107, White:68, Blue:27
*excluding gold cards.
Warriors are a very common tribe and as a result, tend to have a lot of synergies with mechanics outside of their tribe. +1/+1 counters, tokens, and unblockable are very board focused abilities but it is what allows Warriors to do what they do best. If you do decide to add warriors to your cube, I’d recommend looking for warriors that feature mechanics or keywords that you would like to see show up in decks outside of tribal.
Warriors showing up this often throughout the entire color spectrum is great, because it is easy to seed a few warriors in colors you wouldn’t normally expect and allow a party deck to more easily form. Here are a couple of warriors you may want to consider including in a party cube.
Mardu-Woe Reaper, Glory-Bound Initiate, Cloudgoat Ranger, Bloodsoaked Champion, Mindblade Render, Zurgo Bellstriker, Goblin Cratermaker, Earthshaker Khenra, Najeela, the Blade Blossom, Goblin Rabblemaster, Duskwatch Recruiter, Den Protector, Champion of Lambholt, Dreadhorde Butcher, Gruul Spellbreaker, Honored Crop-Captain, Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist, Samut, Voice of Dissent, Winota, Joiner of Forces.
Wizards are another common creature type in Magic, but can come in much more flavors than simply killing the opponent. Wizards as a tribe like to focus on instants, sorceries, and drawing cards. Zendikar Rising has them pegged as a UR tribe, but much to my surprise again their supposed secondary color is actually their fourth most popular color.
Blue: 393, Black: 86, White: 59, Red: 55, Green: 23
In terms of gold cards, UR does come out in the lead with 32 cards but is only 6 cards higher than it’s competitors UW and UB. There is no doubt about wizards being a blue tribe, however many of the best non-blue spells tend to be red which is why Wizards are seen as a UR tribe. The combination of burn spells and prowess seen on many Wizards just tends to work really well together.
A wizards role in the party can be served by making all of the noncreature spells in the deck have more oomph. Tribal decks are better when they are mostly creatures, but some of the best payoffs for party are noncreature spells. Flashing them back or making them cheaper are all important elements that a wizard can provide. This tribe is another very deep tribe, so if you have other archetypes in the cube try to search for wizards that can perform those roles as well. Here are some wizards that may be a great fit for your cube.
Galepowder Mage, Mangara of Corondor, Benthic Biomancer, Baral, Chief of Compliance, Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, Snapcaster Mage, Watcher for Tomorrow, Cloudkin Seer, Exclusion Mage, Vendilion Clique, Venser, Shaper Savant, Murmuring Mystic, Viscera Seer, Dark Confidant, Vindictive Lich, Grim Lavamancer, Soul-Scar Mage, Heartfire Immolator, Burning Prophet, Dreadhorde Arcanist, Sylvan Safekeeper, Adeliz, the Cinder Wind, Boros Reckoner, Kess, Dissident Mage, Prime Speaker Vannifar, Reflector Mage, Rielle, the Everwise, Stormchaser Mage.
Clerics aren’t as abundant as the other 3 creature types, and adding them to a cube will require much more dedicated support. Clerics are the first of the tribes to actually fit the color pair that WotC decided they should fit in, with White being their most popular color by far.
White: 278, Black: 72, Green: 19, Blue: 15, Red: 7
Clerics can form an important role in the party by serving as protection for the rest of the party. They can slow down the game and give you time to find the rest of the party which allows for a much stronger late game with full-strength Party cards. Clerics work best in cubes that feature archetypes such as lifegain or aristocrats, but can still function well in an environment without them. These are the clerics that seem the best to me.
Mother of Runes, Giver of Runes, Soul Warden, Ethersworn Canonist, Grand Abolisher, Selfless Spirit, Vizier of Remedies, Academy Rector, Arena Rector, Venerated Loxodon, Deceiver Exarch, Priest of Forgotten Gods, Liliana, Heretical Healer, Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose, Twilight Apostle, Yawgmoth, Thran Physician, Custodi Lich, Harsh Mentor, Ramunap Excavator, Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim, Conclave Mentor, Geist of Saint Traft, Acolyte of Affliction.
Relevant new cards: Angel of Destiny, Archpriest of Iona, Luminarch Aspirant, Skyclave Cleric, Demon’s Disciple, Drana, the Last Bloodchief, Malakir Blood-Priest, Nullpriest of Oblivion, Cleric of Life’s Bond, Orah, Skyclave Hierophant.
Finally we have rogues, the sneakiest of the four. Rogues used to be in a similar spot to Clerics, but thanks to a ton of support in the last few sets Rogues have shown up in many different cubes. Rogues show up primarily in black and blue, with red not tailing far behind.
Black: 98, Blue: 88, Red: 59, Green: 17, White: 5
Rogues focus primarily on being unblockable, and more recently having flash and caring about mill. Rouges fit into the party by being constantly annoying for the opponent, and provide the necessary disruption for being successful. They are hard to block, and will continue to ping the opponent for damage throughout the game. This should be a good starting point for adding Rogues to your cube.
Ghostly Pilferer, Looter il-Kor, Merfolk Looter, Brazen Borrower, Pestermite, True-Name Nemesis, Whirler Rogue, Thieves’ Guild Enforcer, Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, Oona’s Prowler, Gonti, Lord of Luxury, Rankle, Master of Pranks, Robber of the Rich, Chevill, Bane of Monsters, Edric, Spymaster of Trest, Shardless Agent.
Relevant new cards: Glasspool Mimic, Merfolk Windrobber, Nimble Trapfinder, Thieving Skydiver, Acquisitions Expert, Nighthawk Scavenger, Relic Robber, Soaring Thought-Thief, Zareth San, the Trickster, Zagras, Thief of Heartbeats.
Assembling the Party
Great, we’ve got all the individual members of the Party seeded throughout the cube, but we still need a reason to put them all together in the same deck. This of course, brings us to Party. Let’s go over cards that talk about Party and see how they will play out in cube.
Clerics are one of the least supported creature types when it comes to party, so getting good Clerics is really important. Archpriest of Iona is, what I believe, a functional one mana 2/2. Following this up with another member of the party is not that hard to do, even without a dedicated party deck. Assembling the full party means that this will be a 4/2, and one of your other creatures will get flying and evasion which will quickly end the game. A very solid card, and a must-have for those supporting Party.
Journey to Oblivion is an interesting take on a Banishing Light variant. Potentially costing as little as one mana, this card has a lot of potential as a powerful answer to anything. In it’s worst case scenario, however, it is much worse than it’s contemporaries such as Cast Out. I don’t think Party on a removal spell is the best considering you usually need these when you are behind (and the same can be said for the black version Deadly Alliance) but these are good choices in lower power environments.
On it’s baseline, this creates a 1/1 which is decent but not cubable. But, at it’s ceiling it creates more tokens than Cloudgoat Ranger for one white less and lets your team swing with impunity. Even in it’s middle of the road cases, creating a couple tokens for having a few party members is nice and it threatens a huge alpha strike anytime you play a new party member. Combine this with a flicker strategy and you can get a ton of value. This is another valuable card for cubes wanting to implement Party.
An evasive 2/1 isn’t that relevant in most cube environments. Welkin Tern hasn’t exactly been tearing it up, and this rogue only gets evasion if you have a party member that turn. However, the return on this card is drawing several cards if you have a full Party. I’m not as keen on this effect because if you have a full Party, you don’t need to draw cards you need to close the game. Drawing cards can enable that but a lot of your creatures can still be blocked. The full Party effect is good enough, but I expected more from a conditional unblockable creature.
Rogues are in high demand, and a disruptive two drop is exactly what I’m in the market for. Acquisitions Expert isn’t as good in the early game as it’s contemporaries such as Kitesail Freebooter, but making the opponent discard the card and not giving them a chance to get it back can be more useful, and the longer the game goes on the more this becomes a Thoughtseize. While that’s not great in the late game, a relevant body for future Party spells is where the true value of this card lies.
Now this is the card that convinced me that Party has potential. This has the chance to cost less than a Demonic Tutor and cast a spell from your hand for free. Obviously Storm would go nuts with a card like this, but having to be tied to a Party does limit it’s busted potential. I try to evaluate Party cards as if they have two Party members, and at 3 mana a Demonic Tutor is still playable, and even helps to finish your Party. This card seems pretty strong, and also looks like a ton of fun to play with.
Clerics are one of the hardest creature types to support with Party, which is another reason why I’m very high on this card. On it’s face, a 2/1 drain for 1 is ok. Viashino Pyromancer sees some play even though all it does is deal 2 damage. However, getting a 4, 6, or even 8 point life swing for two mana is really powerful. I’d only consider playing this if you have other archetypes that could support it such as life gain or black aggro, but I do believe that not enough people are giving this card credit.
This is a tough card to evaluate. On one hand casting this for 2 mana and bringing back two creatures is insanely efficient. On the other, if you’re casting this for 2 mana and have 2 targets you are probably already winning the game. At the same time though, with a completely empty board I wouldn’t mind getting 2 creatures back from my yard for 6 mana even if that’s a little expensive. At 4 mana it really depends on what is in your yard. I’m trending towards liking it, but the more powerful your cube gets the less this card interests me.
At it’s baseline, this is a wizard that can do the Selfless Spirit for either hexproof or indestructible, and a 3/3 flyer. This is more than acceptable and is going to see play whether it has Party or not. When it does have Party, however, it gets to detain things for free and put a ton of pressure on your opponent. This is simply a strong card that features Party and I’m all for it.
That is a lot of keywords and is going to mess up someones day in limited. A 6 mana 4/4 flastetouch is not going to make the cut, but for 4 or even 2 mana I’m listening. The biggest crime against this card is that even with the wall of text it still doesn’t do much outside of attacking. Giving everything deathtouch is nice, and makes your team much harder to interact with, but this isn’t inherently doing anything broken. This is the game ender I mentioned Party needing, however, so if you plan on supporting Party this might be worth trying to fit into the cube.
Adding Party to a Cube
Party can either be a mechanic that you go super deep on, or you simply toss in a few cards that mention it and let your players build the decks. I want to go middle of the road on this and change my cubes layout to better support Party, while at the same time not going so deep that everything in the cube relates to the Party deck in some way.
First things first, I need to get my creature types sorted out. I fortunately already have plenty of Warriors, Wizards, and even Rogues thanks to me trying to support Rogues in the last update. My most dense tribe comes in at Wizards with 15 cards, Rogues 11, Warriors 10, and Clerics with 6. At a 360 card cube these numbers are fine but I can still pump them up a bit. Let’s start with Clerics.
With just a few tweaks I managed to get up to 10 Clerics in the cube, which still isn’t a lot but was easy enough to add without disrupting my major cube archetypes. Up next is Warriors.
This brings me to 14 Warriors and replaces many cards with sidegrades such as Mardu Woe-Reaper, or just strict upgrades like Najeela that should have already been in the cube. Outlaw’s Merriment can join the fun as well due to being a great card for the Party deck. Wizards turn.
These changes now have 17 Wizards in the cube. I was fine cutting Reflector Mage for another Wizard because this one cares more about Party, and I’m not cutting Spell Queller from my cube no matter what. Finally, we have Rogues.
I already had a pretty deep Rogue archetype so there wasn’t much to change here. Zagras was added as a 4 power flying haste that plays with the new archetype, but I still like Falkenrath Aristocrat so I’ll be keeping a close eye on him. Ransack the Lab for Coveted Prize is another one I’ll be watching, and it depends on how well Party performs.
With all of that being said, I ultimately only added 5 cards that care about Party. But if someone sees one of these cards in the draft, they will now be able to see cards in a new light that they otherwise wouldn’t have. Rogue tribal and Warrior tribal are both independent decks (thanks to Najeela and Robber of the Rich) but can be combined now. Many of the cards I cut were simply sidegrades but allow for a new archetype to flourish, and with Party being across so many colors I have no idea what to expect. Thanks for reading, I hope you have a great week and an amazing Tuesday!