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 Pox, Doomsday, Bridge From Below, but especially Necropotence. However for Cube purposes this newcomer is more accurately comparable to a the likes of Skullclamp, Phyrexian 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 Feeder, Attrition, 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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