It's funny. I love Cube Drafting, but I'm not a huge Commander fan. The reason this is funny is because Cube is basically the Drafting version of Commander. You build a deck full of powerful one-of's and combos, and you get to play with big, splashy cards that you don't really get to in other formats. I think I would (and did) actually enjoy 1v1 Commander if it was more popular, but as it stands...
I love Cube Drafting.
That being the case, every new set provides an opportunity for new additions to Cubes, specifically my own Vintage Cube! I frequently get asked for my Cube list, so I'll post it here for your perusing pleasure:
Currently I'm missing about six cards that I haven't yet decided on yet, and maybe they can be found in Strixhaven! The main thing I want to do this week is find some cards that will either slot into Cube that may be similar to my own or replace existing cards. We'll also talk about cards that could replace cards in other Cubes as well where applicable.
Worth noting that I'm going to avoid adding or considering most "learn" cards. While some of them could be good, unless you want to add a bunch of lessons to your Cube that need to be drafted, a lot of them aren't going to live up to their potential, even if they do allow you to loot once as an alternative.
Well, there's a lot to cover, so let's get started.
This may seem unassuming, but compare it to Monastery Swiftspear. Casting one spell a turn shouldn't be very hard, it means this was a 2/3 for one mana, and it only gets better from there. I could see swapping this in for Monastery Swiftspear, or simply playing both in your Cube if your White aggro decks need another 1-drop.
If you have Planar Cleansing, this is just a more flexible version of that with an additional White in the casting cost.
White Death and Taxes decks are a popular archetype in Cubes, and this is a nice addition to those. It has a real Vendilion Clique feel. While it doesn't get rid of the card permanently, the opponent also doesn't draw a card, and taxing the card by two mana should buy you a good amount of time, especially if you're plucking away something like a Day of Judgment. I have Brimaz, King of Oreskos in my Cube, and I could see this being a reasonable replacement.
The card we're considering this over would be Luminarch Aspirant. Both of these creatures provide repeatable means of pumping creatures. Depending on how wide your deck goes and how many spells you can cast in one turn (two being pretty ideal), this might just be better. The downside is that the Aspirant gets to work immediately, and on its own, while the Lightscribe does need other cards to enable it.
Mila, Crafty Companion
When I said I really liked the design of MDFC's, I didn't think Wizards would add 20 of them to every set moving forward. I'm not sure I mind, but it is interesting to see a three-mana White creature on one side, and a six-mana Red planeswalker on the other. Mila is another great addition to existing White Cube archetypes, buffing all of your Gideons and Elspeths while also drawing you cards whenever any permanent you control becomes the target of a spell or ability, a la Leovold. For three mana and the potential to have access to a second card, this is a very good deal.
Meanwhile, Lukka, Wayward Bonder is a fantastic addition to a Reanimate archetype. It's not only a discard outlet that rewards you for dropping a fatty into the graveyard. It also lets you return things like Griselbrand to play for a quick attack and a hand refill.
I don't love that this costs four mana, but it might be a fantastic inclusion for storm decks. As a 2/2 at this rate, it reminds me a lot of Oracle of Mul Daya, which is another card that clears the top of your deck. Allowing cards like Gitaxian Probe to draw you two cards or Thirst of Knowledge to draw you four cards is a fairly good bonus. It's hard to take off a turn to cast this when it doesn't allow you the same, instantaneous bonus that Oracle does, but I could see it finding a home somewhere.
This is just a very good, very versatile card. It's good at two mana. It's good at three mana. At five mana, this is kind of like a Mulldrifter. It's a 4/4 that draws you a card when it enters the battlefield and bounces an opponent's creature. I don't know what this card could replace, but it seems like a fun addition.
This is likely one of the better Mastery cards in the cycle. Four mana to get rid of a creature or planeswalker, with only one color pip in the mana cost, is pretty much the Standard. Being able to exile the target is the next step up. Being able to cast this for two mana when absolutely necessary is just amazing. While giving your opponent a free card isn't the best, and one of the things I want to do least when playing Magic, this card feels like an auto include, replacing any sort of Eat to Extinction or Vraska's Contempt effect you're using.
While it's only a 2/1 instead of a 2/2, if you're playing Phyrexian Rager in your Cube, replace it with this immediately. The flexibility, along with the built-in graveyard hate, makes this a really solid 3-drop creature for Black decks.
This is a great replacement for something like Liliana, Dreadhorde General, and if you have storm in your Cube, this is basically a Tendrils of Agony on a stick. If you untap with this, it's very likely you're winning the game, as casting even something like three cheap spells is a twelve-point life swing. If you have a hand full of rituals or wheels, this card is going to overperform. And that's without even using either of her activated abilities.
I could also see this replacing Thousand-Year Storm, as the effects are similar and if you're casting enough instants or sorceries for them to be relevant, both cards are ultimately going to have the same effect. The only difference is that Professor Onyx has a built-in win condition, whereas with Thousand-Year Storm you may still need to find one.
I think any creature that costs less than four mana and has evasion is worth consideration. The primary reason for that is allowing you to sneak in Fallen Shinobi when you have four mana. Sedgemoor Witch is actually a great replacement for Woe Strider. Both creatures are 3/2's for three mana. The witch, however, has evasion in the form of menace, and costs the opponent three life every time they target it. While Woe Strider does enter the battlefield with an 0/1 creature and provides a sacrifice outlet, the witch has the potential to make numerous 1/1 creatures if you're able to untap with it. I think both creatures have their pros and cons, but I can count the number of times I've escaped Woe Strider on one hand. I really think the menace here makes all the difference.
There were no colorless cards or lands that really stood out for powered Cubes, unfortunately. If you're using the original Shadows Over Innistrad lands, like Port Town, the cycle is now complete for you. While this week I covered the White, Blue, and Black cards that stood out, next week we'll take a look at the rest of the cards, including Green, Red, and Multicolored. As you may have noticed, I'm including the MDFC cards within their front card's color identity.
That's about it. I'm really curious if you guys think I missed anything or if any cards from Strixhaven stand out for you when it comes to Cube Drafting. Definitely let me know in the comments below. Thanks a ton for reading, I love you guys, stay safe, and I'll catch you next week!