[500] CCC - Casual Champions Cube

Besides that, it is red day!

Hellhound goes in for some extra landfall stuff and it's probably a better suited card for the aggro 1-drop slot anyway.

Toggo adds great snergy potential for both landfall and artifacts, while also being a goblin. Feldon supports both, artifacts and sacrifice heavily, while also dipping his toe (or half a leg?) into blink stuff for red. They're just much more interesting for this cube than the okay aggro goblin-drop and the pinger, that can be really annoying with an equipment.

Devastating Dreams was just the worst of my three Wildfire-variants, still potentially strong, but I don't think I really needed it. As much a I like Wildfire effects, I don't need to see them every draft. Mask of Immolation is an interesting tool for sacrifice, token and artifact decks.

Then I also replaced a good and a pretty clunky burn spell, with two hopefully good ones, that add up as minor spells/landfall payoffs. I also hve to admit that I just feel like the high-contrast, digital art of Firecraft looks weirdly incredible in the TSR old border.
It's not so much about it being a blocker, it's when the villain takes it out with a removal spell when you're tapped out and then you've got no way of getting it back/maintaining the advantage.

Depends what you want - I'd be happier with one of the token things myself. Have you considered something like:

Yeah, I'll probably add Marsh Flitter instead. I love the Ghoul too, but I tried my best to limit my life gain triggers to low amouns, so, the 3 or mor kida kills it.

Today is green day!

Okay, a lot is going on here. Essence Warden is the front runner of my try to establish green as a secondary lifegain matters color. Florahedron just was a painless cut, and I managed to add another ramp card with the next swamp.

Awakening Zone does both, tokens and ramp, and I probably should've never cut it. Imperious Perfect is a good card, but with so few elves it is just a token producer. Far less synergistic for sure.

Exemplar of Strength is another guy, that gives you multiple lifegain triggers, while just being a good aggressive 2-drop. I removed Destiny Spinner, since I decide to remove the very minor enchantment theme from green and just keep the handful of white cards, that work with "artifacts or enchantments", for the artifact deck.

Deathgorge Scavenger for Nyx Herald is almost the same reasoning. Adding a cool beater that can give you multiple lifegain triggers over one, that makes it look like there's an enchantment deck, while being only one of two payoffs in it's color. incidental gy hate is also cool.

My most controversial change is probably Nectarpot for Wall of Blossoms. Sure, the Wall is better. Maybe even in landfall/lifegain decks. But I already have a second Soul Warden in green now, I don't also want a second Wall of Omens, and I just really want to give that bug a try. If there is an environment where it could be sweet (as the nectar it's after), it would probably be this. Low power level, low creature stats and both landfall and lifegain being bigger themes (especially landfall in green).

I also would like to replace the sandwurm with something more exciting, but I couldn't really find another green 7-drop that excites me, so ... I added Sifter Wurm. If AFR and MH2 don't come up with a cooler toy here, it will probably do fine.

I think Genesis will be a sweet toy to make sacrifice.dec more interested in green, while also being nice for dredge and madness. Sylvan Might never got tested even, but it just doesn't seem great compared to my other combat tricks Briarhorn and Vines of Vastwood.

I will also add Dina, Soul Steeper to golgari. The plan is, that it makes green an interesting secondary color for both, black lifegain and black sacrifice decks.
I have surprising difficulties rating cards by agency. Despite that, I already made two changes based on that new point of view that @japahn has implemented into my brain.

Battlefield Raptor gets cut for Kitesail Cleric.

Cleric's slightly worse in 1-drop mode, but he adds bounce synergies and quite a bit of agency. Do I drop him alongside my 2-drop on turn three, or do I hope to draw land number 4 and hold it back? When I kick it, which creatures fo I tap?

Striped Riverwinder gets cut for Scourge of Fleets.

Well, this adds and removes agency I guess. You lose the cycling option, but I think that's worth it for getting riď of hexproof.

Well, now there is still a list of cards I suspect to be rather low agency. From this, I already removed a few that are super important for other reasons, so here are all cards I could see myself cutting for something with more agency:

I already have a few ideas, like replacing Sprout Swarm with sonething like Hunting Triad or removing Aberrant Researcher for Academy Elite, but I will wait until I've seen the whole spoiler of MH2 before making conclusions.

I'm also open for suggestions if anyone happens to have one :)
Some of the cards in that list don't seem that low agency from my perceptive. Or are low agency in a vacuum but contribute to nuanced, decision-rich gameplay when part of a deck. Satyr Wayfinder for example, might read like a pretty linear card, but the player gains a multitude of choices based on what is flipped, starting from "what land do I grab?" if more than one land flips, to all of the various ways they try to utilize the new cards milled into the grave.

Titanoth Rex is another example where the fact that it gives the trample token means that it's not always the most straightforward cycle (and cycling is pretty high agency). Do I cycle now and put the counter on my three drop? Or do I wait until I get a bigger dude out? If I cycle it too early, will my opponent find a way to exile it before I can reanimate? Etc.
See, I told you I'm having trouble evaluating this correctly. I'll gladly take ayfinder and Godzilla from that list. Especially the Satyr is kinda hard to replace, as a 2-drop, that mills you on entering the battlefield for a decent chunk, replaces itself and fixes your mana. And that's not taking into account the occasions where you mill Roar of the Wurm and Firebolt, effectively drawing three cards.
I strongly believe that high-agency cards are like salt. Adding them is a good idea up to the point where the game isn't quite enjoyable anymore. There is a lot to be said for having cards that are just straight forward (dare I say elegant?)

I am for example weary of that raptor->cleric swap. Tapping down two creatures can be game winning but most of the time you're just gonna play the cleric for W making the card more complicated (albeit a little more applicable) than it needs to be.

I guess what I am trying to say is:

1. High agency/decision density follows the principle of 'too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing'
2. High agency cards are at the risk of adding a lot of complexity for little actual benefit (i.e.winning maybe 2 games of 100). This is especially relevant for the draft portion of the game.

These are just some thoughts and I am still debating in my head whether or not what I am saying is correct, however:
As a drafter, I would probably want the simpler card.
As a player in topdeck mode figuring out what my odds are to break the stall I would definitely want the card that gives me more options.
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Totally agree it can be too much. Cards that are simple and high agency are the best, because they get around a lot of the issues with high agency cards. I really like the cards I gave as examples, Bolt and Counterspell, because they are high agency without being overwhelming.

Laddering your mana efficiency can be useful as well for that. Firebolt, for example is great because in the early game flashing it back is hardly ever a consideration, but it keeps an option open for you before you're in true topdecking mode. Mana sinks in general as nice for controlled amounts of agency. It's those options that can easily be shortcutted out until your hand gets thin.

Also, the level of agency in your cube is something hard to evaluate without actually running a draft. Careful not to overshoot :)
@Modin @japahn

Thanks for reminding me, you two, I've been guilty for overshooting things in cube design before,and your words might keep me from doing so once again.

That being said, I am a huge fan of elegant designs and have a natural preference for cards that have one clear purpose. Also, I should've stressed more, that I am running more cards, that are low agency, but no candidates for getting cut. I have aggro dorks (Savannah Lions), necessary archetype support (Territorial Scythecat) or beloved pet cards (Nightmare) that don't add many decisions.

Also, I think card draw is great too. Phyrexian Gargantua isn't very complex or difficult to play itself, but it refills your hand and thus gives you more options :)
Today I got to play with real magic cards for te first time in over 2 or even 3 months, because finally, my girlfriend and I had a little time for it. I was eager to test some new cards, but we only got one game done - WHICH WAS INCREDIBLY CRAZY AND TOOK ALMOST TWO HOURS

I was on {B/R} Sacrifice/Goblins
She was on {G/W} Abiding Grace/Lifegain


The game started slowly. She build up some defenses with Kazandu Nectarpod, who gained a ton of life this game. I managed to remove her better threats like Lathiel, the Bounteous Dawn or Ajani's Pridemate. Also, at some point, Mask of Immolation took care of her little engine pieces like Essence Warden. She played a Orchard Strider and pressured me enough to have me go down to 8 life before I could trade it away with some goblin tokens.

Soon I was building up a board with a growing Malevolent Noble and the odds seemingly switched in my favor. I beat her down from over 30 life to 14. I felt like the winner, but then she topdecked Death or Glory - with 10 creatures in the yard! I think she could've made more balanced piles, but it was admittedly very difficult. However, she got 5 creatures back, including Essence Warden and Ajani's Pridemate. Still put me in a losing position.

I've managed before to get a Haunted Crossroads into play, but it wasn't doing much for me. Yet. Then I drew Sling-Gang Lieutenant. This helped me to keep the Pridemate away from my life total. I just brought it back every second turn, while Valakut Exploration allowed me to still draw a decent amount of cards. And my board wasn't nothing either. I came back to the winner's road when I got my Wort, Boggart Auntie.

My girlfriend was on 45 life thanks to Essence Warden, Kazandu Nectarpod and Tireless Provisioner. Her Pridemate was already big enough to kill me twice with one punch. But Wort kept bringing back the Lieutenant, so I also healed a bit and staved off that very muscular cat. At some point I also drew Bastion of Remembrance. That was when I started sacrificing my pile of goblins. And even with just bringing back Sling-Gang I drained her for 6 every turn. Luckily, my life total was growing faster than her Pridemate, as she soon drew Faerie Guidemother. Pridemate hit me, but I was still at ~13.

She could exile my Wort with Fairgrounds Warden, but I still had Haunted Crossroads to keep my engine going. she also played and activated Evolutionary Leap, but it just found her a useless 1-drop. Her life total was decreasing further, close to the single digit area. I did my drain 6 eot. During her next turn she just played her topdeck forest, attacked with the always chumped Pridemate and passed. I did my drain 6 oet again. I untapped and sacrificed enough creatures to go for the kill.
I won.

Then she turned over the next card she would've drawn ... and it was Rambunctious Mutt. If she woud've used the Evolutionary Leap again in her last turn, she would've had a way to remove my Haunted Crossroads before I had the resources to get her to zero. And she still had a superior board AND I was close to milling myself.

This game was so incredibly close, we had this back and forth again and again. It seemed impossible to play everything correctly, yet we could see how a single mistake decided the outcome.

Probably nobody will read all this, but I just wanted to capture the fun we had :)
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Contemplating wether I want black to join temur's madness party. This post is mostly a note to myself, as I'm considering something along the lines of this package:

Okay, a big update is coming. There are three reasons for it:

1) Lifegain turns into a {W}-based pivot archetype. Was basically the last pair archetype in my cube in {W} {B} with only minimal support (but no payoffs) in {G}. I'm not a fan of pair archetypes really. Sure, you can work with mostly cards flexible enough, that they will work outside of that archetype, but at some point you will be running into cards like Ajani's Pridemate, who will act like an orzhov card in 98% of drafts then. So my plan here is to reduce the support for the lifegain theme in black, so far that only cards stick, that would be good enough even if the theme wouldn't exist. I increase the support in white to make cards like the Pridemate playable in {W/B}, {G/W} as well as any heavily {W} based deck.

2) Madness expands into {B}, the fourth color. I just love the madness mechanic and all the self-discard-rewarding things you can do with it and compareable designs. I also love all those decks, wether they are super aggressive or value orieted loot engines. Making this a 4-color-archetype is the right thing for my cube, I'm pretty sure, so I'll try my best to add non-parasitic support to black. That being said, with even more support in another color now, narrow cards like Arrogant Wurm become less narrow. It used to be a {R/G}-card, then it also became a {G/U}-card, now it's also a {B/G}-card!

3) Goblins are now mono {R}, but {B} gets zombies. So now I have two minor tribal themes (4 payoffs each) focused in a single color each.

4) Mignight Hunt came out. It also added a handful to the mix, although this set doesn't seem to have a large impact really.

Here come the changes:

Clarion Spirit > Cathar Commando
Sightless Brawler > Syndic of Tithes
Prowling Felidar > Attended Healer
Forsake the Worldly > Lunarch Veteran

I know many are fond of Clarion Spirit, and so am I, but I had to cut the two 2-drops with the least synergy with whites archetypes, to make room for those with Disenchant and cheap lifegain triggers attached. This also allowed me to cut Forsake to test Lunarch Veteran in addition to Soul Warden. And the healer is the necessary next lifegain payoff in white. Wish it wouldn't say "another", but still think it's the best option for my power level here.

Makindi Stampede > Search Party Captain

That's not only a more interesting tokens payoff but also a blink target and kinda an aggro reward too.

Nightveil Sprite > Covetous Castaway
Windrider Wizard > Overwhelmed Archivist

A little sad to see Windrider Wizard go, but I think these two disturb creatures will overall do more for my cube, for example acting as pseudo-madness cards.

Umara Wizard > Talrand, Sky Summoner
Just the Wind > Compulsive Research

In return I wanted to push blue based spells a bit with this re-addition of two old favorites. Talrand now comes in a sexy old border dress.

Vampire of the Dire Moon > Diregraf Ghoul
Malevolent Noble > Sepulcher Ghoul
Will-o'-the-Wisp > Undead Augur

Cutting some lifegain cards and other replaceables for the zombie deck.

Basilica Screecher > Heir of Falkenrath
Boot Nipper > Miasmic Mummy

Cutting some lifegain cards for madness outlets (also a zombie!).

Bloodthirsty Aerialist > Armix, Filigree Thrasher
Nightmare's Thirst > Necrogoyf

Cutting the more narrow lifegain payoffs for madness support, that seems more flexible too and even brings back a little artifact support into black.

Marsh Flitter > Gisa's Bidding
Sling-Gang Lieutenant > Graveborn Muse

I'm a bit worried about cutting two good blink targets here, but I think the two replacements are now more important.

Demonic Lore > Bone Shards
Strands of Night > Tortured Existence
Moment of Craving > Ichor Slick
Underworld Connections > First-Sphere Gargantua

Turns out black has more tools, that aren't parasitic, for a madness deck than I thought. I don't like the 4th 6-drop in black, but Gargantua is also a 3-drop, and Baleful Beholder probably will replaced one day anyway, when black has enough enchantment removal options to be picky.

Jeering Instigator > Arms Dealer
Living Lightning > Ardent Elementalist
The Flame of Keld > Electric Revelation

Red gets two upgrades with MID. Also, I had to add another mono colored goblins payoff. You'll see why further down.

Bala Ged Recovery > Llanowar Mentor
Reach of Branches > Arrogant Wurm

I want to try these again. Recovery is a good card but green cuts are hard. And Reach was a huge disappointment.

Wort, Boggart Auntie > Chainer, Nightmare Adept

With Goblins moving to mono red and Madness being in black now, I had to cut Wort, although she rocks. But Chainer will too, I think.

Deathless Knight > Desecrator Hag
Dina, Soul Steeper > Lotleth Troll

With lifegain becoming a white pivot archetype, the golgari support made no sense anymore. So I wanted to replace a hybrid (with the next best thing) and a gold signpost (with one for golgari madness!).

Note that dimir already has Psychatog to join Chainer and Lotleth Troll as black-X madness support.

Overall, the biggest goal with this update is to make drafting even more interesting and increase the deck variety even further. Two major themes (madness and lifegain) should now hopefully offer even more ways to build them, the little zombie theme adds another potential layer to black decks and the blue spells deck gets another build-around that's really worth going for.
Addition to the update post:

Oathsworn Vampire > Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia

Not sure when I had such a hard time evaluating a new card before. I am still a little scared by the high power level of lists that snap included Jadar. But I think he won't be better in aggro decks than a simple Mistral Charger. And for sacrifice synergies, he's a Reassembling Skeleton, that you don't have to pay mana for, but you can't sac it multiple times a turn. Kinda like an easier to interrupt Bloodghast, that also doesn't work if you mill/discard it. Honestly, that doesn't sound all that powerful to me.

Akoum Warrior > Revolutionist

I still have two other spell lands in red, and Revolutionist really convinced me in Jumpstart games. Just a nice way to connect Madness and Spell themes, and even hardcast, a 3/3 for 6 that draws you like an Incinerate seems still fine.
I am planning to increase the number of graveyard hate cards.

Cloaker should be a nice fit within the cube anyway. Scrabbling Claws is just a strong sideboard tool and the Archive could also be used for a really stupid and grindy self mill deck. you know, the kind of deck I love more than I should. Also, I think paying 4 mana total to shuffle an opposing yard away (not exiling it!) should be fine.

I also want to test Cosmos Elixir, as japahn seemed to like it quite a bit, and I'm all in for a colorless lifegain payoff, that can work all on it's own in a defensive deck.

I will most likely cut these cards:

The Underworld Cookbook
Flayer Husk
and something in white ... maybe Icatian Javelineers?

This is not final yet and more of a note to myself to continue thinking this through tomorrow.
Cosmos Elixir is kind of like Elixir of Immortality in that it's an alternate win con for control decks but has the small upside of actually being fun.

All joking aside, I think it's a really useful card to have in your environment if you need to buff control decks. It provides value regardless of whether you're ahead or behind, and your lifegain support is going to present some interesting opportunities to jam it into midrange decks that normally wouldn't be as interested in it. +1 to recommending it.
Following our discussion in the fight club thread I was looking for cuts to add Prismatic Vista, and I came to realize, that I actually had stil a few gold cards that didn't really need to be gold cards. So despite the already low number of gold cards (30) I chose to go lower and cut a whole cycle. I'll add ne card to each color than, 4 colorless nonlands and the aformentioned Vista. Here is what I am currently considering, with some choices being strict replaements and some not.

Time Wipe -> Akroma's Vengeance

Easy swap. There is no need to have a basic effect like this on a multicolor card for my cube's goals. The interaction with Archaeomancer was cool, but nothing you wanna see every other game - and there is still Evacuation.

Gallia of the Endless Dance -> Underworld Cookbook

The most painful cut here. Would not have done that on it's own, but I just had to chose between her and Stormbind, which is also great in aggro madness but also useful for other decks. And the Cookbook deserves a fair chance at east, before I cut it without ever seing it in a draft. Still painful, Gallia fits the aggressive madness decks much better and I altered her myself :(

Knight of the Reliquary -> Crucible of Worlds

Knight was never more than decent in play, not sure why. I am more hyped for Crucible and it's flexible applications.

Restration Gearsmith -> Dusk Legion Zealot

Again, I already run Gravedigger, Order of Midnight, Trusty Retriever and Desciple of the Sun as mono color versions, no need for a gold card here. I just want to keep a decent blink target in black. Another consideration was actually Vampire Spawn, whom I liked a lot in AFR draft - and here we have an environment with synergy.

Wood Sage -> Wand of Vertebrae

I like moving a tool from gold to colorless. If there is a cube the wand will work it's mine.

Izzet Charm -> Consider

No discard synergies, but I think blue and red are good to go. And I wanted consider in anyway.

Nyx Weaver -> Dawnheart Mentor

Not sure if I need to replace the Weaver with another mill effect after adding Wand. And I'm kinda intrigued by the Mentor.

Rally the Peasants -> You see a Pair of Goblins

Easy trade as well. Mono color instead of kinda gold, flexible instead of explosive kills outta nowhere. Will fit my cube better I suppose.

Dralnu, Lich Lord -> Prismatic Vista

I love Dralnu, but People didn't play him, and I can understand. The drawback is scary. I didn't feel like I have to replace him one for one, so I used his slot for the aformentioned land.

Rix Maadi Guildmage -> Darksteel Juggernaut

Again, I didn't feel like I needed to replace the Mage with another aggro 2-drop, so I'll just use this slot for thsis artifacts payoff I really want to try. I run it for a short period of time in an old iteration of my cube with half the amount of artifact support, and it wasn't horrible. I think this might be a sweet reward for going all in on the theme, and I could see him be nice in Wildfire decks too.

All of these are still open for debate or just me changing my mind.
I like the fact that you are replacing many of these multicolored cards with single colored or colorless cards. Adds a lot more possibilities in the draft when you don't have to splash for a basic effect.
Got a three person draft done yesterday with two old friends and had a lot of fun. We just played a bunch of rotating bo1 matches.

One friend tried to draft mono green a little too hard. His only payoff was Renata, Called to the Hunt. While he definitely got there with 23+ playables, his deck wasn't quite synergistic enough and got the least amount of wins. His best performers were Fauna Shaman, Honored Hydra and Gleancrawler, and he also pulled off the Noose Constrictor into Arrogant Wurm curve.

My other friend drafted one of the best landfall decks I have seen in action so far. It was bant and full of synergy. One game he went on his turn 4 with Lotus Cobra into Windswept Heath into Steve into Emergent Sequence. So he generated four extra mana from the snake alone plus the two from the ramp spells and put a 4/4 into play. He also got to cast Godzilla multiple times (and always way ahead of curve).

I however managed to get the most wins with my rakdos aristocrats deck. I already mentioned my Viscera Seer+Filigree Familiar+Phyrexian Reclamation combo, but I also produced dozens of goblin tokens. What didn't really work however were my two tribal cards Sparksmith and Ib Halfheart. What worked out incredibly well were my three threaten variants Act of Aggression, Malevolent Whispers and Temporary Insanity in conjuction with Carrion Feeder and the Seer. My opponents had many juicy targets :p
Instead of making black "just the 4th madness color", I decided to try a different approach. I'll keep all the cheap discard outlets, even ad a few more, but cut all the payoffs (with the exception of Necrogoyf and Ichor Slick, which are useful for other decks). I will than also remove the half-hearted zombie theme and add some reanimator support, to enable that deck as a black pivot archetype, that can merge with madness but also adds another option for my drafters.

These are my reanimation effects after the update. I'll aim for 4-mana with a little upside as the norm, but with the right up- and downsides cards can vary from 2-5 mana.

Exhume has the potential to be broken, but it is so unlikely, that you can really do it on turn two, plus the downside of giving the opponent something will often matter, especially considering the moderate fattie power level. I also don't think it's necessarily bad to let players dream big.

I've also increased my fattie count with these four additions:

that adds up to 12 mv7+ creatures that make sense to reanimate plus a few 6-drops that are still juicy targets, I hope this will be enough.

I was already heavy in discard outlets and the reanimation spells should be good value in other decks (sacrifice, dredge, ramp ...) too, so I hope to have added a funtioning, cool and non-parasitic new archetype.
To be honest, Life // Death worries me a lot more than Exhume, given that aggro isn't nearly as, well, aggressive in your format as in others. It's just an expensive Reanimate, and that's demonstrably broken in half. Maybe Back for More would be a better fit in the same colors? How often do you think T2 reanimation will be a thing? I'm not quite able to game out those probabilities from your list.
@Zoss there are three and a half cards in the whole 680 cards cube, that can allow you to discard a fattie on turn one: Faithless Looting, Insolent Neonate, The Underworld Cookbook and if you're on the draw and the opponent played a creature on turn one Bone Shards. So I'd say it's something that will happen very, very rarely. You not only need all the pieces in your deck, but have them within your first 9-10 cards. I also assume that the lifeloss will matter quite a bit in most match ups.

Luckily, all this isn't pure theorycrafting anymore. Yesterday I did a 2-person draft with my girlfriend, and I actually managed to draft a cool {U/B} reanimator deck.

CCC's first reanimator deck ever

I don't own all the cards for the package yet, so I expect this to become a little more consistent. Which is good, because it can be a tad stronger than it was yesterday. I even managed to splice Murder of Crows to Aether Searcher, but it wasn't enough. I did reanimate him but only later in the game, my only turn 3 or 4 reanimation was the Gargantua, which was a good play, but I still lost two good fights and went 0-2 against my girlfriends well oiled {B/G} Aristocrats deck. To be fair, while her Squirrel Nest+Nantuko Husk+Zulaport Cutthroat plan did work out, it really was her secret weapon Spitting Image that allowed her to copy my fatties and beat me with them.

But we did another game for the funsies and this time I got a great hand. On turn three I went with Frantic Search, discarding Aether Searcher, then also playing a Faerie Seer to ensure I'm not drawing Murder of Crows next turn, in which I then reanimated the robot with Diabolic servitude.

This is what I aim for to be a very good case for this shell. I on that game, but it wasn't over even after that incredible double fattie on turn four. My girlfriend's Foulmire Knight was keeping back the 6/4 and she even got a Chainweb Aracnir later for stalling the Crows. I could only get her last seven life points down after reanimating Ryusei and equipping my Necrogoyf with Zephyr Boots for three large fliers. It worked like I wanted it to work, my early combo gave me the upper hand and while I stayed in a winning position, it was still an open game for several turns.

Another positive note: The merging with other themes seems to work too. I never payed more than three for my Necrogoyf ad I could've added more Madness/Flashback/Disturb to further utilize all my discard outlets. That is incredibly important I think, since it makes it far less punishing if you don't quite get there with a full blown reanimator deck.
Sorry, I totally didn't finish my thought there--if T2 reanimation is fine with how rare it is, why not just make this card Reanimate and have done with it? I don't see ways to make it happen any earlier with this switch, and I'm assuming that Life is never intended to be played/is not a consequential card the overwhelming majority of the time. If that's the case, Reanimate is both simpler to parse and more fun to play for those big splashy moments (imo). If it's for a color balance issue, that's one thing, but I don't think Life // Death is really a Golgari card.
Sorry, I totally didn't finish my thought there--if T2 reanimation is fine with how rare it is, why not just make this card Reanimate and have done with it? I don't see ways to make it happen any earlier with this switch, and I'm assuming that Life is never intended to be played/is not a consequential card the overwhelming majority of the time. If that's the case, Reanimate is both simpler to parse and more fun to play for those big splashy moments (imo). If it's for a color balance issue, that's one thing, but I don't think Life // Death is really a Golgari card.
I have zero play experience with Life/Death, but I was hoping, that the green half would also see play, possibly even in nonblack decks, just like Fire and Ice do. Maybe decks with Anthems or as a kill with stuff like Zulaport Cutthroat or Goblin Bombardement? It can generate a lot of hasty bodies at least.
Persist is another 2 CMC option, but I think Life // Death is fine, and the life loss probably provides a bit more gameplay tension than the counter.