On the contrary, I think the more I've seen the more I've been impressed with Sheoldred, the Apocalypse
and the gameplay it brings to the table. So much so that I put in an order for a copy earlier this evening.
It's a perfect card for any kind of grindy black archetype centered in U/B or G/B and absolutely changes the pace of the game with that passive effect. A 4/5 with deathtouch for 4 mana is a great body to rumble with and gums up the board in a big way. That passive life drain stacks up real quick. Players will often fire off card draw in desperate attempts to dig and find a way to progress the game once they've stalled out, but an active Sheoldred paired alongside additional pressure could push them into the danger zone. And conversely any looting or card draw of your own just pads your life total and lets you pull yourself back up off the ledge if you've been under pressure.
If I'm on the other side, can I actually play this topdecked Seasoned Pyromancer
if it means I take 4 damage and go from 11 to 7? I definitely need to find a way out, but is this the best way? I've got some bodies to chump with for now, and I guess I can throw the Pyro under Sheoldred and more bodies later, but at that point I'll be down to 3 or 5. I still need to get there. Or should I try to topdeck a kill spell (do I even have one big enough?) to shoot this thing down and then stabilize with the Pyro? If they attack, do I have enough power to maybe trade with a 2-for-1 to get out from under this? That's the kind of stuff I like to see in games of cube; the generation of board states and situations that create involved gameplay. It's a lot more engaging to me than trying to port Constructed with extreme redundancies or deploy the big haymakers we've seen from shoddy MTGO cubes over the years.
And it's not like the opponent always has the perfect removal to escape at all times. You can definitely design with that assumption, but the "Vindicate
Test" has never been something that held much importance to me. In fact I'd go so far as saying that you're doing yourself a disservice if that's a criteria that still matters when it comes to design. There are so many strong cards printed today, especially at lower CMCs, that can have snowballing effects and synergies that end up demanding some sort of interaction. I can count many games over course of my cube's existence that came down to grinding games out after trading resources early to handle these kinds of impact cards. Sometimes you can't just have it all and something WILL stick.
Even better is if you've taken the time to thoughtfully curate your removal suite with a variety of different pieces of interaction that would allow cards like Sheoldred to get a chance to shine. For example, my suite of "removal" options in black that can kill single creatures (ignoring wraths) include the following:
A healthy mix of unconditional removal for threats along with other pieces of interaction that are more conditional. I can kill Sheoldred and the like with an Infernal Grasp
or Go for the Throat
, but maybe you'll just have an edict or way to take down smaller bodies instead. Sometimes you get stumped by that non-artifact clause when you're facing down a big Karstruct in an artifact deck. That's good! That variety is key in maintaining the importance of choice and sequencing for players throughout a game. It's the same ingredient that makes Limited fun where you can't just bank on ending up with 3 Murder
s in your draft deck. instead you might get Murder+ at rare ala Soul Transfer
, but the other variants might be a 5 mana sorcery that also gains you two life or a 2 mana instant that gives a creature -2/-2. That's what creates the tension and decision points where it might be better to hold onto that piece of premier removal and instead force the issue via combat and tricks to maximize resources. That, in my opinion, is the way that you'd want to tailor your removal suite rather than run every new Hero's Downfall
variant that we get every other set. It definitely keeps things fresh and more engaging in the long run. Like I play the hell out of Baleful Mastery
in EDH, but I didn't want any part of it for my cube when it was released because I didn't feel it necessary.
What I like most about cards like Sheoldred is that they make you re-evaluate card choices and what you can pair with it to maximize that ability. Firing off a Languish
with Sheoldred lets you pull off a Wildfire
impression. Hell, you could just play regular Wildfire as well in a grindy R/B deck. How about playing some protect the queen by firing off that Arcane Denial
and also doming them for another 4 damage? Definitely go back into the binder and see what might synergize now. I don't have room at the moment, but I'm definitely contemplating an expansion to 435 in the future that could include cards like Windfall
and Wheel of Misfortune
with how they interact with Sheoldred and stuff like Rielle, the Everwise
. Throwing cards into the grave can also supercharge something like a Haughty Djinn
or let me get closer to a win off a Thassa's Oracle
. I'd like to give drafters the chance to explore that sometime.
I won't get a chance to run a cube draft of my own for a while, but I'll be very excited to try and draft this alongside all the changes I've recently made. I think it's a great card, it's proven itself with tons of gameplay that has shown it to be quite impactful in a variety of different scenarios, and it's exactly the kind of "dense" card that gets me excited during a cube draft. Seeing it all come together with card interactions while extracting max value is what makes cube fun to me.