One of my favorite things whenever there is a new "eternal" set is to find cards that would be great additions to the Cube. By "the" Cube, I typically mean either the Magic Online Vintage Cube, or my own powered Cube which is a modified version of the Vintage Cube (only without Storm, because I think it's a lopsided archetype that requires adding a lot of very narrow cards to your Cube).
Well, the full set list for Commander Legends has been released, and I've been looking forward to going over it and seeing what new cards they have to offer. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that in these Commander sets, there are a lot of cards that will never see play in a Cube. Most of the time I have to search for all of the cards that don't say "commander" specifically, because those are typically too commander-centric to be relevant. Cards that say "opponents" are usually also going to be a little narrow, but there have been exceptions for this in the past, so I just leave it and trudge through.
That being said, this isn't a list of the cards that are the most powerful in the set; this is just a list of cards that catch my eye and that I wouldn't mind trying out in the Cube to see how they perform. Oftentimes my choices and preferences are based on cards that do big, splashy things, and one of my favorite Cube cards ever is Consecrated Sphinx. You'll see these qualities reflected in my choices.
There are a ton of monarch cards in the new set, which I love. I think monarch is a very powerful-yet-balanced mechanic, and I actually loved when it was added to the Vintage Cube through Palace Jailer. Palace Jailer quickly became one of the most popular (or unpopular, depending on how you view it) and powerful cards in the Cube.
The monarch mechanic gives decks or colors that may not have it the ability to draw cards, and it provides a really interesting tension for those decks that can't reclaim the throne, so to speak. Considering this requires combat damage, a lot of the more combo focused decks might not be able to attack that easily, which should benefit the non combo decks and give them more time to either fight back against the combo in question, or put enough pressure on to disregard it.
The first one of these I saw was Court of Grace, and I thought it was great. Then I got to the rest of the cycle, and realized they were all very strong. These all reward you for maintaining the role of monarch, but even if you can't reclaim the throne, you can still get rid of these enchantments to stop their effects. While I think these making you the monarch and giving you the upgraded abilities (4/4 flyer, 7 damage, etc.) is extremely powerful, the fact that they don't trigger until your next upkeep is great, since it gives the opponent a chance to deal combat damage or remove the enchantment altogether.
I think Court of Cunning might be the weakest, especially in Cube's with shuffling Eldrazi, but that being said, milling ten cards a turn, starting on turn three, is an extremely fast clock in limited, and I wouldn't be surprised if this was too powerful. (What an emotional rollercoaster, amirite?) You can clearly tell this was designed for a format where there are 100 cards decks and not 40 card decks. Playing this on turn one off a Black Lotus could indeed be back breaking.
Ultimately, having all five of these in the Cube could greatly encourage drafting some smaller, evasive creatures to make sure you don't fall behind.
As a 5/5 flyer for six mana, this is a bit of a high cost in the Cube, but making you the monarch is strong and preventing damage from causing you to lose life could literally win the game against certain decks. Think about how a Mono-Green deck deals with this or kills you outside of them having an Eldrazi. This could be a powerful effect that certain decks simply can't deal with.
Preventing your opponent from drawing extra cards is a common Cube ability, which you can find in such cards as Narset, Parter of Veils and Leovold, Emissary of Trest. This could easily replace Narset, especially if you're trying to encourage more creature combat due to additional monarch cards. Turning your opponent's Ancestral Recall into a Black Lotus for you is a very enticing proposition.
Okay, let's be honest: this is a big dumb idiot, it doesn't have evasion, and it costs 10 mana. But 10 mana is actually not a tremendous amount in the Cube, and a 10/10 can still win you the game. This one just happens to come with four free spells, so it feels more like a Genesis Wave or a Tooth and Nail. While you can't choose what cards you'll hit, it's safe to say you should be able to hit 99% of the cards in your deck including Tooth and Nail if you have it.
While this is still just a 10/10 with no protection or evasion, the amount of value you get from it should be considerable, and who doesn't want to cascade four times in a row?
While I don't initially think Kamahl is better than Craterhoof Behemoth, I could definitely see him competing with Craterhoof. Craterhoof is a Cube and Green deck staple, and Kamahl provides a similar effect turn after turn. That's not bad. If he survives, you can also make your lands 4/4s on the following turn. While I still Craterhoof rules the roost, Kamahl might be better if you only have something like two creatures on board. I'm not sold on it, but it's worth discussing.
Okay, sure, this is another super expensive card, but there are definitely cards in the Cube that this is worth using on. Specifically, I'm thinking of things like Cruel Ultimatum, Time Walk, Time Warp, Demonic Tutor, or basically any card with storm. Just like Kamahl, I don't think this is a slam dunk, but I would be remiss to point out the potential in a format with so much mana.
Another three-drop similar to Hullbreacher, this card is sure to cause frustration, shutting down everything from fetch lands, to Demonic Tutor, to things like Cultivate. This card is extremely powerful, and the fact that you can "play" lands with it is really just the icing on the cake.
This card is hugely interesting and it has a real Rotting Regisaur feel. Both cards act as discard outlets for whatever deck may need that, only this one lets you discard on command rather than every turn. Additionally, sacrificing all your other creatures at the end of your turn might not matter when you're playing a 6/5 for three mana. Just only keep this guy on board; again, some nice decision trees. Finally, the ability to give this to your opponent in order to wipe their board is great; you could even find a way to bounce it after the fact. This has a lot of versatility and seems quite powerful.
There were also two honorable mentions I had in the form of Aesi, Tyrant of Gyre Strait and Dawnglade Regent. These both seemed good, but not Cube-good. I still really liked their designs and, if they were cheaper, or had a greater impact, I could see them making the cut. I think one of the biggest questions you have to ask yourself is "would I play this card over X at the same cost" or "is this card better than X at the same cost in the Cube." There's a lot of competition and only so many slots, after all.
As you all likely know, I love Cube and it's basically my favorite format, so I love getting the chance to play with cards from these obscure sets since I don't really get to otherwise. I would love to know what cards you guys like from Commander Legends, or what cards you think I might be overlooking as Cube powerhouses. Be sure to let me know in the comments below!
Otherwise, that's pretty much all I've got for this week! Thank you as always for reading, I love you guys, and I hope you're staying safe; it's pretty dangerous out there. Be sure to use promo code FRANK5 for 5% off and I'll catch you next week!