This is the 10th entry in a series where I comment on and explain my choices for my limited card pool in detail. Here are my previous entries:
In this entry I listed a number of guidelines I follow when deciding which cards I want in my cubes.
Here’s a PDF you can open in a new window to look at the part of my list I’m taking about while reading:
And here’s a link to an explanation of the shortcuts I use in that list, if you need it.
[card]Flight Spellbomb[/card] and [card]Panic Spellbomb[/card] are the only survivors from one-and-a-half cycles of Spellbombs. I realized I didn’t need nearly as many of those, and found many of their designs not convincing. In the original cycle from Mirrodin, you mostly knew if you’d cycle a bomb or use it for its effect before the game even started – some effects were too weak to be worth a card, some were too good that cycling were a realistic alternative. Also, there was the issue of players using off-color Spellbombs, which was not what I had in mind when I included a whole cycle of them. The new Spellbombs from Scars of Mirrodin, on the other hand, are mostly useless without the right colored mana, which is good. The blue and the red one had the most interesting and elegant effects, so I decided to keep those.
Just like [card]Seal of Strength[/card] did with [card]Giant Growth[/card], so has [card]Seal of Removal[/card] shoved out the classic [card]Unsummon[/card] for being too similar. Not that these cards couldn’t coexist, but the spots for bounce spells are already crowded, and Blue needs only so many of them. [card]Silent Departure[/card], [card]Into the Roil[/card], [card]Rescind[/card] and [card]Time Ebb[/card] do everything I need, and let us not forget [card]AEther Adept[/card] and [card]AEthersnipe[/card]…
[card]Think Tank[/card] and [card]Strategic Planning[/card] obviously support graveyard-based strategies, but this is not their main function in my pool: I use them primarily for card selection (and I was really happy that Planning got reprinted, making it affordable!) Therefore they are not tagged „yard“ and „mill“ – unlike [card]Mental Note[/card], which is meant for environments with such a theme. I use Note over [card]Thought Scour[/card] on principle, because milling the opponent is one of the biggest no-nos in Next Level Cubes.
[card]Vow of Flight[/card] has some unnecessary and annoying text, and I’m not too happy with that card – all I really want is [card]Spectral Flight[/card] to cost one mana more. Granted, playing the Vow on an opponent’s creature will seldom lead to a win, and it’s certainly not too strong a „removal“ option for Blue, but sometimes players will be forced to do it and then probably watch a game they would have lost fast otherwise drag on a lot longer – until they still lose it. Still, this kind auf aura really needs to be there, and Vow is the best choice – [card]Zephid’s Embrace[/card] giving shroud is too much, and [card]Nimbus Naiad[/card] is a different, and very special concept. Of course, there is [card]Drake Umbra[/card], but that is another really special card, and sitting in a clearly different mana slot.
For me, [card]Sleight of Hand[/card] is the most basic 1-mana card selection spell, not using scry, and not involving putting cards from your hand back or shuffling your library.
The options for countermagic are overhwelming. In addition to permanent-based stuff (like [card]Daring Apprentice[/card] or [card]Lilting Refrain[/card]), I have no less than 8 monoblue cards which explicitly say „counter target spell“ on them in my pool, and a couple more which do similar things ([card]Mage’s Guile[/card], [card]Meddle[/card]…), and I still left out a good number of perfectly fine candidates, most noteworthy [card]Essence Scatter[/card], [card]Negate[/card] and [card]Mana Leak[/card], which lose out to [card]Counterspell[/card] and [card]Miscalculation[/card]; and [card]Dismal Failure[/card], losing out to [card]Dismiss[/card].
[card]Perilous Research[/card] is effectively a much better [card]Altar’s Reap[/card], so I took out the latter – there are still enough sacrifice synergies in Black. [card]Impulse[/card], however, had to go (a pity, since I had made the effort to get a somehow pricey version with correct wording) – it was just a bit too good. [card]Strategic Planning[/card] is a better fit, which pushed out the too similar [card]Compulsive Research[/card]. With [card]Mulldrifter[/card] gone, the elegant [card]Divination[/card] could return and fill that slot, but [card]Thirst for Knowledge[/card] still sports that kind of mechanic.
There were several options for a strong tempo card affecting more than one creature. I got away from [card]Undo[/card] and [card]Into the Void[/card] and returned to the slightly fairer [card]Sleep[/card], which can not be used just to remove tokens, counters and auras, and is an honest pure tempo play instead.
I love [card]Mind Control[/card] for nostalgic reasons (which go back to [card]Control Magic[/card] of course), but turning your opponent’s best creature against him is still too cheap at 5 mana. [card]Confiscate[/card] sits in the right spot, though.
I am a bit wary of any spell which draws more than 3 cards, but since my cubes never are as slow as Magic 2014 was, costing 6 mana makes [card]Opportunity[/card] not too unfair.