Cube Watch: Kaladesh Edition

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Kaladesh is fully spoiled, and that means it’s time for another Cube Watch. As always, the approach I take here is:

  1. I’m looking to expand my cube for the lowest price possible while still getting all the great cards I want. This means I’m not looking at foils, or in this set, masterpieces. If you’re in to pimping your cube, this stuff may be of interest to you, but it’s not the focus today.
  2. I’m aiming to pick up cards at close to their lowest price. New cards are usually overpriced due to lack of supply and increased hype, but they almost always go down. As such, I’ll be naming a rough price target—or indicating my willingness to pick up a card at its preorder price (though this is rare).
  3. I’ll mention commons and uncommons where applicable, but we’re not too worried about prices here: we’re talking a maximum difference between high and low of a few dollars, and usually only a few cents.

Enough intro; let’s look at the cards.

White

Lots of white cards of interest here, but very few slam-dunks.

Aerial Responder

It’s like Vampire Nighthawk but not. I don’t think this is really going to get a slot alongside identically costed cards like Brimaz, King of Oreskos, but it will probably be plenty good enough for C/Ubes.

Aetherstorm Roc

I’m not especially driven to put cards that use energy into my cube, although a few appear to be good standalone cards. This one is on the borderline of this status, but I don’t feel comfortable fully writing it off until playing with it. At bulk pricing already, if you’re interested, there’s no reason to not pull the trigger now, just in case this actually sees Standard play.

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Angel of Invention

This card isn’t bad at all, but can it replace Baneslayer Angel or Cloudgoat Ranger? What about Wingmate Roc, Revillark, or Karmic Guide? It’s extremely close on all of these, in my opinion. This is another card that will need testing. At just under $4, this could go either way, though I always lean toward the idea that cards will go down. Keep a close eye if you like the looks of this one.

Cataclysmic Gearhulk

Definitely a cool card, but the question of whether it is worth cutting another of the excellent five-drops in white remains. I’d be much more inspired if lands were among the permanent types in the card text. As is, I’m again saying that I’m going to need to see this one in action. At $6 for mythic, this could see a big price increase if white-based control is good in Standard, but again, I’m leaning bearish. There are infinite good high-drops in the world and only so many slots. For this reason, I’m aiming to get the Gearhulk cycle in the $2 to $3 range.

Fairgrounds Warden

Unless you’re running shenanigans related to the template change, this is strictly better than Fiend Hunter, which sees play in many cubes.

Fumigate

Maybe? Five-mana wraths are bad, but you will sometimes get that extra turn back in life. I’m leaning toward no, but it’s worth a mention. The $2 price is fine, but you should be able to get it for $1 eventually.

Master Trinketeer

This isn’t bad in control or aggro. But again, we’re comparing this to the likes of Brimaz and Monastery Mentor. At bulk pricing already, you can’t go wrong getting one for your on-deck binder at least.

Refurbish

Four-mana reanimates aren’t usually played, but this one is in an unusual color and could be of interest. Then again, I’ve never seen Resurrection in a cube.

Blue

The threshold to make it into the blue section is extremely high. Let’s see what we’ve got.

Glint-Nest Crane

If you’re running Augur of Bolas or Omenspeaker, you can (and should!) replace one of them with this guy.

Metallurgic Summonings

This strikes me as way too slow for cube—it’s a five-mana enchantment that does nothing upon casting—but I can’t deny how sweet it would be to go off with this thing. Ultimately, though, this is more likely to be an EDH card than Cube. This is a future bulk mythic, so the $2 it’s at right now seems high.

Torrential Gearhulk

I think this is the first card covered today that I’m more or less guaranteeing will get a spot in my cube. Think about how this compares to Snapcaster Mage and the total cost of flashing back something from your graveyard with Snapcaster—I have a lot to cover today, so while I’d love to wax poetic about how good this card is, I’m going to let you go through that thought process yourself. This card is great, and $5 could be a bargain if it is adopted in competitive play, which I expect to some level. (There is a small chance that not having access to sorceries will make this worse than I think, so keep that in mind as you observe the card in play.)

Black

Black doesn’t offer a lot for Cube in this set, which is sad, because unlike blue, black needs all the help it can get.

Demon of Dark Schemes

This requires way too much energy to be a good standalone card, and Massacre Wurm just seems more appealing for a similar effect at the same cost. Pass. I didn’t look up its price, but I predict it is a future bulk mythic.

Harsh Scrutiny

One-mana discard is always worth a look, and this one comes with a scry attached. I’m not sure it will make the cut in my cube—it is powered and tries to do broken, often non-creature-related things—but I think this will be a fine inclusion in more creature-focused lists.

Noxious Gearhulk

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a list that includes Dark Hatchling. Gearhulk is better that that in several ways, but how does it compare to cards like Grave Titan, Massacre Wurm, and Sheoldred? This is powerful, no doubt, but I’m not sure it outranks anything else black is doing at its top end. I’m definitely waiting to purchase at the current $5 price tag.

Red

Red has stuff.

Cathartic Reunion

I’ve never seen Tormenting Voice in a cube, and this nets you the same number of cards, but it digs deeper. I don’t expect it to make it into most lists, but it’s worth knowing about.

Chandra, Torch of Defiance

Yeah, this card is nuts. I’ll never buy a Standard planeswalker at its Standard-staple price, so I’m expecting to wait until rotation for this one to make it into my list. That said, if this starts seeing play in Modern, Legacy, or Vintage (each of which is less likely than the last), we could be looking at a Liliana of the Veil- or Jace, the Mind Sculptor-style always-going-to-expensive planeswalker. Keep an eye out for your opportunity to get yours at the best price, but it’s going to be a few weeks before you really need to start thinking about that.

Combustible Gearhulk

Letting your opponent have choices is never great, but this might truly be a no-win situation for them. Red doesn’t usually include a lot of high-drops, so you’ll have decide whether you want to make space for this. I think it’s definitely comparable in power level to Inferno Titan, though, so I’m willing to give it a shot. All these Gearhulks are around $5, and again, I’m bearish and aiming at $2ish, but I’m also aware of the possibility that any of them could be good and go up.

Madcap Experiment

This might be a fun card to have in your cube, but I’m not convinced it’s a powerful one. I’d like to see it played more than I would actually like to play with it. Bulk pricing is appropriate for a pickup here.

Pia Nalaar

Mono-red aggro used to hurt for three-drops, but the last few years has really changed that. This is no Goblin Rabblemaster, but it’s plenty playable. I don’t see any reason not to snap one up at 36 cents, where it is right now on TCGplayer. This card does a lot and if RDW is good in Standard, this should be a part of its success.

Skyship Stalker

I bring this up just so I can point out power creep. This would have been the money card of the set fifteen years ago or so, but today, it’s not even good enough for Cube. What are you going to take out? Hellrider? Koth of the Hammer? New Chandra? Avalanche Riders? Fiery Combustion? No, there’s no four-drop in red worth removing for this. Not unless you’re already digging deep for that slot.

Green

Green is as green as always.

Arborback Stomper

It’s like Thragtusk but for C/Ubes! (It is not good enough for higher-power-level lists.)

Longtusk Cub

This may be the best standalone energy card in the set. It’s only good if your cube supports green aggro (mine does not), but it seems like it could snowball pretty well in such a list.

Nature’s Way

Fight cards (although this technically isn’t one) generally aren’t good enough to make cube lists, but this is one of the more pushed ones we’ve seen. It’s worth keeping in mind if you’re looking for removal in your green section.

Nissa, Vital Force

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I’m not really excited by this card, but I have to imagine the power level is high enough to make the cut in most cubes. If anything, my concern with planeswalkers is that there are so many playable ones at this point. Before long, we’re all going to be drafting Super Friends. I’m not willing to pay more than $10 for this, and I’d really like to get it for $5.

Verdurous Gearhulk

This is like Wolfir Silverheart, except potentially better. Its design is so boring compared to the other Gearhulks, but this card is pushed. As such, it is about twice as much as the others, and not such a unique ability that I feel rushed to buy. I’m aiming for $2 to $3, just like the other Gearhulks, no matter how pushed.

Wildest Dreams

A three-mana Regrowth that can scale up seems worth a look. I wouldn’t pay anything more than bulk-rare pricing for it, but I like the card well enough.

Multicolored

Cloudblazer

I’ve first-picked Mulldrifter enough to know that this card is great. Azorius has a lot of very good choices for Cube, so some owners will have trouble making space, but this is clearly good enough based on power level.

Dovin Baan

Ugh, another Azorius card to make space for? This is a planeswalker that draws cards and protects itself. What more could we want? A better price, that’s what. I’m looking at $10 or less.

Kambal, Consul of Allocation

This is cute disruption for WB aggro to play against spell-focused decks (did anyone say Storm?). I’ve found Orzhov to be pretty shallow compared to other color combinations, so while I’m not super convinced this will be good enough, it’s worth more of a look than it might otherwise be. Definitely a card to pick up for bulk pricing and not a penny more, though.

Rashmi, Eternities Crafter

This card is awesome and it gets a slot. The end. At around $4 right now, I’m not opposed to picking it up right away, but I could see it as a $2 card if Standard players eschew it.

Saheeli Rai

I don’t think this is a very good card, but at three mana, it could be a lot better than it looks. Izzet is the deepest color combination for Cube, so clearing a slot could be a serious issue. I don’t consider this planeswalker to be worth buying for anything more than $5.

Artifact

Aetherflux Reservoir

Forget Tendrils of Agony; this is the future of Storm. (Not really, but I find this care subjectively awesome and feel unreasonably drawn to it.)

Bomat Courier

This card is weird. I don’t think it will make the cut, but it’s weirdness appeals to me. Look at all the cards an RDW deck can “draw”! (Buy for bulk pricing if you want a copy. It’s a 1/1.)

Chief of the Foundry

I don’t have enough artifact creatures in my list to make this good, but maybe you do?

Cultivator’s Caravan

I don’t think vehicles look especially desirable for Cube, but there are a few with decent payoffs. Three-mana rocks usually have to offer something a little extra to be playable in Cube (think Coalition Relic, Worn Powerstone, and Pristine Talisman), and this might be enough to fit that category. At less than $1, it’s certainly not finances that should keep it out of your list.

Filigree Familiar

It’s like a less-good Solemn Simulacrum, which is still quite excellent. This is getting a slot.

Fleetwheel Cruiser

Having trample just might make this good enough to include for aggro. The crew cost is pretty low. I don’t know. Having not played with vehicles yet, it’s hard to say whether they have any hope of being good enough for Cube. This will definitely be an area of focus for the prerelease.

Foundry Inspector

Maybe? Certainly if you’re supporting any type of metalcraft or affinity archetypes.

Skysovereign, Consul Flagship

This pays you off for playing it and for paying the crew cost, so I suspect it is the most playable of the vehicles for Cube. Again, I’m not convinced on vehicles at all, but this is the closest. I can’t say if $5 feels like a good deal until I play with it, or at least vehicles in general.

Lands

Spirebluff Canal

These lands are great and I’m thrilled to complete the cycle. I think they’re better than the M10 lands, which are currently in my list, so there’s a future upgrade to look forward to. The Scars lands all got to the $5 to $8 range during Standard, with Seachrome Coast hitting $20 as UW Delver dominated. Lands these days seem to settle in at a lower price, though. Maybe that’s power level, maybe it’s player interest, maybe it has to do with commonality. In any case, I’m aiming for around $3 each for these, but I’ll pay $5 if I have to.

Inventors’ Fair

This seems like a reasonable inclusion, especially if you’re trying to support some of the colorless mana cards from Oath of the Gatewatch. Lands that do things are great to include if you can find a slot for them, which will be the real trick for something so marginally okay.

All the Cards Fit to Cube

That’s it, I’m done. Comments, questions: you know what to do.

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6 thoughts on “Cube Watch: Kaladesh Edition”

  1. re: Angel of Invention

    When I’m tweaking my cube, I look to see what general strategies are enabled by different colors and try to select cards that work for multiple roles in different decks. Cards that play differently depending on which color combination you’re in, but can be used in either.

    That’s where Angel is awesome. W/U is usually a large flying creature type build, and R or B / U usually has a weenie or token theme. Angel is playable in BOTH strategies. That makes her an awesome card for the cube toolbox.

  2. in the cube community its been pretty unanimous that angel of invention is better than cloudgoat ranger and a lot of people have also cut baneslayer for it.

    Fleetwheel Cruiser is a beast. its an amazing aggro curve topper. it is the best vehicle of the bunch. Surprised you never mentioned smugglers copter as it is probably the next best. low crew cost for a 3/3 flying body that loots is great. The crew 3 on skyship has been problematic in testing but its still cubeable in some lists.

    cultivator’s caravan is a good swap for those still running darksteel ingot or chromatic lantern.

    I think your comparison of cloudblazer to mull drifter is a bit off. what makes mulldrifter great is the evoke ability. I feel like azorius is just too tight especially with the recent addition of spell queller and reflector mage.

    I like you budget/investment analysis though! cool article.

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  4. Missing and making my Cube

    Voltaic Brawler – great for Gruul agro and with a couple of the other energy cards making it great.

    Lathnu Hellion – trying it out but not convinced seems worse than Hells thunder

    Smuggler Copter – seems best vehicle, lots of token makers help crew it and avoids wraths.

    Some other comments on cards selected.

    I like all the gearhulks except White, Grixis colour ones help the artifact themes in my cube especially the Red one with welder and wildfire decks

    Green Gearhulk – this is making me re-evaluate the counters matter them I have tried for Selesnyia in the past. Will be trying it out again.

    5 drop angel I think replaces Cloudgoat now but I am not completely convinced. It is not good with Honour the Pure/Crusade if you play with them. If not then I think its an upgrade.

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