The Cube is a strange format at times. Sometimes you get beaten by a turn one Library or a well-timed Mana Drain, and there’s not much to say there. The best cards in the cube are really, really broken. Other times, though, you end up staring across the board at a card you didn’t quite appreciate. In this article, I want to talk about the cube cards that seem unassuming, but can dominate the game. I chose cards that weren’t highly ranked on the MTG Salvation cube forum, and that I see excluded from many lists. Let’s go!
Bridgid, Hero of Kinsbaile
People often look at my cube list and declare that Bridgid is underpowered. I usually look at suggestions pretty carefully, but that’s one case where I just don’t. Bridgid has singlehandedly won more games than I can count. She’s an absolute madman against token strategies and, you know, Kira. Nothing with less than five toughness can even swing in with an active Brigid sitting back to block. She makes combat a mess for your opponent, and if you need it- she can make a Cloudgoat fly.
Ith, High Arcanist
I see a lot of cubes that seem to struggle to find good stuff for the U/W slots, and for some reason, Ith gets no love. He really, really should. He’s Maze of Ith, but doesn’t cost a land drop, on a pretty much huge body that you paid two mana for. He complements UW strategies in a ridiculous way- he’s a wall that forces them to overextend into Wrath while stopping scary combat effects like Ashling, the Extinguisher or Ink-Eyes, and he can attack in the meantime. What more do you want?
I get the problem with Spitemare- there are a ton of good cards in WR multicolor like Ajani V, Lightning Helix, and Brion. But if you divide multicolor and hybrid, as I do, Spitemare definitely deserves a spot.
Aside: The reason it’s a good idea to include hybrid and multicolor separately is that they really accomplish different things. Multicolor rewards you with strong cards, at the price of a more tenuous manabase. Hybrid actually works the way Shadowmoor/Eventide were supposed to- it encourages monocolor decks. And often the effects you get from those hybrid cards are completely unfair in one color or both. Take Dominus of Fealty, for example. Why can blue give a borrowed creature haste? In monoblack, Unmake is hands-down the best removal you can have. Without a doubt, the best monocolor decks that have been built with my cube have used hybrid cards heavily, and I highly recommend including a fair amount of hybrid if you really want to push monocolor in you cube.
But back to Spitemare. There is a card that absolutely locks down the board when she comes down. She makes combat hugely problematic for your opponent, and in general she is going to either be a two-for-one if she dies in combat, or demand a quality piece of removal (like Swords or Terror) that your opponent might have rather saved for a bigger threat. If you’re playing her in a red deck, you probably also have mass damage effects like Earthquake or Pyroclasm, and just like Stuffy Doll, Spitemare multiplies those in a terrifying way. I’ve been impressed every time I’ve played with her, or against her.
Guardian of the Guildpact
This unassuming creature is a perfect example of the kind of card that turns out to be great in the cube, once you remember him. He’s not a constructed all-star or “best creature ever”, but he fits into any white deck and does a good job of it. In control decks, he infini-blocks to help you stabilize. In aggro decks, he’s nearly unblockable and ridiculous with any kind of buff. In a way, he’s a little bit of a hack- undoubtedly better in the cube than in his limited environment. There’s a lesson there- when you find other cards like that, with awesome abilities that are somewhat less good in their block, they can be really outstanding in another setting.
This is one that really baffles me- I’m not sure how Diabolic Servitude isn’t an auto-include. Seriously guys- it’s repeatable recursion. You can use it more than once! I… don’t even know what else to say. I absolutely think it’s a more relevant include than slow removal like Consuming Vapors, or one-time reanimation like Makeshift Mannequin.
Attrition is another one that I advocate on the grounds of it basically dominating the game nearly every time it shows up. True, it’s not as effective when your opponent is playing black or has creatures with shroud. In nearly every case, though, it means that you are constantly trading your worst dude for their best. Get a token maker in that deck- Bitterblossom comes to mind- and you are golden. Furthermore, there are a few other broken things to do, as with any sac effect- Squee, Bloodghast, Adarkar Valkyrie and persist creatures are all silly.
Shaper Parasite is on my list because his effect is so unusual for blue. Sort of like a Psionic Blast- totally out of color and thus totally welcome in the cube. Sometimes he’s just sniping a pesky Nezumi or Mother of Runes, but because his effect is on a body, he can also trade with a bigger creature as well. Win-win! I’m always happy to have this guy in my deck.
Squirrel Nest is my favorite type of card for the cube. It’s always playable- it doesn’t have to be part of a combo to be good. But when it is, it’s absolutely busted. Opposition/Squirrel Nest is the ultimate, but Attrition works too. Beyond those two, there are tons of effects that work well with Squirrel Nest- green Lieges, Deranged Hermit, Greater Gargadon, Garruk (two ways!), both Sarkhans… and I’m confident that your cube includes many others.
Sorry, other cards on this last- I saved my favorite for last. Erratic Portal is a card, like Squirrel Nest, that has a straightforward purpose that is Just Fine- namely, to slow your opponent down and save your dudes from removal if need be. Obviously though, the goal is not be fair at all. Instead, I want to put Erratic Portal in a deck with Reveillark, Mulldrifter, Siege-Gang, Broodmate Dragon, or basically any other good creature ever. Seriously, how long would this list be? It’s also part of an infinite turns combo with Time Walk and Witness…. and basically an infinite anything combo with Witness, actually. If you want to be a jerk, and I do, blend with Avalanche Riders and Karmic Guide.
In my opinion, this is the best part of having a cube- the part where you try out a new card, and realize that you can no longer live without it. What’s your favorite unsung cube hero?