Category: Vibebox

[M14] Dark Prophecy Preview

By: VibeBox

dark prophecy mtg

Sometimes a mana cost alone is enough to pique interest among Magic players. The recently spoiled Dark Prophecy is a card seemingly designed to draw just such attention. Its triple black symbols splashed across the top, boldly vault it into the venerated company of such iconic cards as PoxDoomsdayBridge From Below, but especially Necropotence. However for Cube purposes this newcomer is more accurately comparable to a the likes of SkullclampPhyrexian Arena, and the scarcely played Greater Good.

On the surface Prophecy offers a tantalizing prospect, the opportunity to get value (and even gas in the tank) off of the commonplace occurrence of the death of our own creatures. In a color that’s focus is increasingly on recursion and value in its creatures already, this seems like a safe bet to find its way into many Black sections. However there are serious issues plaguing this seemingly promising prospect. The biggest among these is that of control, as we do not have the ability to activate this effect at will unless we’ve specifically set up board states to be able to do so with things like Carrion FeederAttrition, or Spawning Pit.

While this may not seem such a steep cost to entry, we must also consider that we are not able to end the effect strictly at will either. As long as Prophecy is in play every creature we control now represents a potential point of damage to us for our opponent that otherwise wouldn’t have been available. (Like Martial Coup wasn’t devastating enough) Trading Life for Cards is always a draw, but this is no Yawgmoth’s Bargain, and Black aggro decks already sometimes find themselves desperate to recoup some of their dwindling Life points lost to its own Dark Confidants and Carnophages.

The other major hurdle here is the issue of board impact. The triple black cost may be an eye catcher, but it’s also a burden. Prohibitive color costs are quick to draw the ire of Cube designers, and for good reason. No one wants to get stuck with one of their key cards in hand at the critical moment, so any card that demands such a strict cost must offer significant rewards the likes of Geralf’s Messenger. For our three Black mana Prophecy certainly offers a change in dynamics of the game, but in terms of concrete effects on the board promises very little. Anyone who’s been Pox‘d or beaten down with a Messenger will certainly attest to their immediate effectiveness, but even in some better scenarios for Prophecy the best we can hope for is to draw a few cards in a highly synergistic manner.

While it may pair well with the Blood Artists and Pawn of Ulamogs of the world, ultimately I fear Prophecy is a card that will too often fall flat and simply fail to have the impact necessary to cement its place among the staples of a modern Cube’s Black section. The allure of garnering game breaking card advantage will certainly earn Prophecy a Testing Slot at least, and while I sincerely hope I’m wrong, I portend a dim future for Dark Prophecy.

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[Top 8] Missed Design Opportunities: Multicolor Edition

By: Vibebox

With Gatecrash come and gone and another trip to the plane of Ravnica wrapped up, multicolor cards are prevalent in the Cube discussions of late. Serious card evaluation and play/cut recommendations are all well and good, but today I’d like to take a moment to look at some of the more disappointing products to come out of WotC. These are cards that could have been printed in a form that would see them becoming Cube staples and fell short, or perhaps took up the slot in the set that could have produced such a card. I’ve tried to avoid a whole class of cards that are interesting or powerful and would be playable save for that one extra mana tacked on, as this category’s denizens are numerous.

First up we have an Invitational card (r.i.p.). Augermage made brief waves when he was first revealed, but mostly by nature of being one of the long awaited player submitted cards. However, the end result was a far cry from the card Terry Soh had envisioned.


Oh, what could have been! This guy could be sitting pretty in most Black sections as an Aggro gem second only to Dark Confidant, but instead we have another middling contender in the deep pool of Rakdos cards.

I can certainly understand trepidation in the printing of such an efficient disruptor with a decent body, and it’s no surprise to anyone to see Wizards lean on tapping as a cost or adding mana. These tendencies are particularly grating in this case, though, because they go directly against the wishes of Soh himself, who specifically wanted an aggro two drop that had a shot at seeing Constructed play. The addition of an extra mana could have been overcome if the rewards were right, the addition of another color certainly could have still produced a playable card, and even the tapping activation could have been worked around.

So instead of paying two life to activate its ability (giving us Putrid Leech-like decisions to make), or costing a Red and a Black but having Haste to offset the need to tap for activations, we got the version with all three elements clumsily tossed on.

Supreme Verdict

I remember waiting for Dissension spoilers to roll in, and thinking “oh boy, I hope Azorius has an instant speed Wrath!”. I was prepared to pay five – perhaps even six – mana for an effect firmly affixed at four, purely because I thought it was a simple elegant design that could create interactive game decisions. Instead, we got Swift Silence.

Supreme Verdict is certainly a step up from Swift Silence, but again, we missed out. We got a halfhearted check on Snapcaster Mage, while Detention Sphere got the push in terms of power and flexibility. I may have been overly optimistic to hope for the instant wrath back in the days of old Ravnica, but it’s sad to see WotC continue to let the power of creatures outpace that of spells year after year.

Warleader's Helix

Lightning Helix quickly came to be a defining card of Boros, and I think expectations were high for the return to Ravnica to deliver more iconic cards like Helix and Electrolyze. Instead, we got the laziest possible option; a virtually identical function on a much worse card. They were apparently so desperate to capture the essence of what people expect from Boros that this isn’t even the only time in the set they blatantly go back to the well.

Lord of Extinction

Here’s a card with several factors working for it. It’s got a badass name, good art, and great flavor. This was a mythic that had people excited at first to see what this thing could do. But there’s something missing from this card and it’s glaringly obvious. Any number of options could have turned this guy into the spiritual successor to the rules nerfed Grave-Shell Scarab, but instead he’s just a turd out there.

Perhaps some sort of Necrotic Ooze or Death-Mask Duplicant effect could have made this guy a star, but now he’s just a faded memory, never to be seen outside EDH again.

Vanish into Memory

WotC said they wanted to do a “Top Down Design” card this time around for You Make the Card, and had the community first vote on a piece of art to use, then create a card around it. The art chosen is fine, and the Blink theme was certainly fertile ground to work with. However, at four mana and with such an awkward and disjoint function attached, this card was doomed from the start. Had this card been done right, we may not even be calling them Blink effects to this day, as Vanish would have predated Blink and perhaps established a precedent of “Vanish” effects.

Sire of Insanity

Stripping the hand outright while presenting a threat is certainly an intriguing prospect to a Blightning type of aggro deck. The effect can even be strong enough that Mindslicer saw play for a time. Even pitching your own hand is an interesting drawback to be worked around in its own right. If this guy had been anywhere near a playable mana cost he might be competing for space with things like Olivia Voldaren, perhaps even tearing it up with Blood Scrivener, but we got the version that costs six mana and still dies to a Char.

Cloven Casting

R&D talks a big game about color alignment and balance, but when you look at the color pie territory as it is functionally printed some Colors and Guilds are clearly missing out. (AHEMREDCARDSCAUGH)

Blue and Red technically love to get in on spell copying action, and it’s a shared point of interest between the two. The history of cards that actually accomplish this with any reasonable efficiency is painfully slim, though, and hasn’t been cheap or relevant since perhaps as far back as the first printing of Twincast. Cloven casting was a chance to use multicolor requirements to try to push this aspect of the colors’ identities into respectability. Sadly for Izzet fans everywhere, three extra mana seems to have inexplicably been tacked onto a card that already had a restriction and multiple color requirements. In a world where the relative power of spells is staggeringly low, this excessive cost is baffling.

Gruul Ragebeast

I hate to bring up another card that suffers mostly from mana cost, but this card could have been a dead ringer for both flavor and function in Gruul. At four or perhaps even five mana there may have been significant interest in this card, and it may have pushed for playtime the like of which Huntmaster of the Fells is seeing. Fight is a reasonable mechanic, and an increasingly relevant one in the new creature-centric dynamics of the game, and this could have been the card to personify it. Unfortunately, Ulvenwald Tracker will have to hold that distinction a while longer.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our look at what could have been, and I hope you enjoy our other [Top 8] Articles to come, as well as plenty of other great Cube content right here on

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[M14] Shadowborn Demon

By: VibeBox


Shadowborn Demon caught my eye almost immediately when I saw him in the spoiler for M14. It’s an interesting card because it bears some resemblance to many of the black creatures higher on the curve that currently see play. So called “187” creatures have been a staple of black for some time, and rarely do we see them with such loose targeting restrictions as this.

It also fits nicely into the Recursive Black Aggro archetype that has been gaining popularity, which makes it of particular interest. A Pox or Contamination deck may already be playing GravecrawlerBloodghastBitterblossom, or any number of other enablers to negate exactly this kind of drawback. However, we have to consider that sometimes the drawback won’t come into play at all given that these types of decks will often play an Oversold Cemetery based purely off the number of bodies it can flood the graveyard with, given its nature as an aggressive deck.

While not everyone supports these types of recursive themes, other decks like reanimator (which is always filling its yard with Ideas Unbounds and Frantic Searches) may well find him to be a playable body as well. I think he deserves a look, so let’s match him up against some other, more familiar options.

This is a card that’s seen play in most Cubes since its printing due in large part to its versatility coupled with a sufficient evasive body. The Demon has a far more threatening body, albeit with a less powerful form of evasion. (Though Fear gets continually worse as the proliferation of hybrid cards continues) That’s not all, though. He also offers 4 (!) extra points of toughness, as well as the ability to actually destroy the types of creatures that could theoretically block him (flyers), an ability Shriekmaw can’t boast.

Bloodgift Demon
Here is a card that was enthusiastically embraced by Cubers recently, and sports a similar body at five mana for five flying power. Here again, though, the new Demon has certain advantages. Two points of toughness may not be a staggering number, but it does put Shadowborn Demon out of Char or Fireblast range, a critical threshold when you’re on the defensive against an aggressive start from your opponent.

The Demon also offers value up front. Everyone loves a Phyrexian Arena, but it’s an up front investment for value down the line, and in a form that can become a liability at that. Often this is simply too little too late on a card that costs five mana. Shadowborn kills their most threatening attacker dead immediately and stares menacingly at their remaining crew with threats of blocking.

While I don’t want to downplay the significance of an increase from four to five mana, the returns here are undeniable. For one additional mana we’re now looking at not only a drastically bigger body, but real evasion. Our Demon friend plays equally well with Blink Effects, and does’t get blown out by any old Arc Trail from the opponent.

Still played in many cubes, poor Koko has seen better days. Power creep has turned a once formidable body with value into a sketchy proposition. For one less mana we get not only a better body with the same evasive properties, but we get our value up front instead of (like Bloodgift Demon) waiting for it to matter. An opponent with a Swords or similar exile effect will probably take the game from us if our stock is with KoKo, whereas the Demon stands a far better chance to have made the difference for us.

I believe that Shadownborn Demon compares favorable with all of the above, save perhaps Shriekmaw due in large part to his function as a Terror, and fringe value with sacrifice effects. In many modern black sections the drawback is more or less negligible, if not outright planned for. I have high hopes for Shadowborn Demon, and I think he deserves a chance in any black section that focuses on recursion, and many that don’t.

All told, I’d say that Bloodghast just made a new friend.

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