Throne of Eldraine Cube Set Review

Throne of Eldraine comes out in just a few weeks and is looking to be a really fun top-down set filled with great references and good cards. Today I want to look over the set and analyze what cards I think would be great in cube. This is a large set, so I won’t be able to discuss all the cards I find interesting but I’ll do my best to highlight the ones that are the most powerful or simply a good point of discussion. If you are curious about how I feel about any cards I haven’t discussed ask me in the comments and I’ll happily give my opinion. With that out of the way, let’s begin!

Harmonious Archon

 

Harmonious Archon (CELD)

White 6’s are starting to show their age, and Sun Titan, while it is still a great card, isn’t the powerhouse it used to be. Harmonious Archon offers us a 6 mana 10/11 in worth of stats and can give a +2/+2 boost to all tokens you control, while also stymying the size of your opponent’s creatures. Hearthstone has a very similar creature by the name of Sunkeeper Tarim which turns all other creatures into 3/3’s as an ETB and Tarim proved to be a staple in many Hearthstone decks. Harmonious Archon is always on which means that your opponent’s board is always full of 3/3’s with the archon out. What I like about Harmonious Archon is that it encourages building a deck filled with a bunch of small creatures that go wide so that when you cast this you can completely overwhelm your opponent. It encourages the drafter to play a different way, has a powerful effect, and can fill a spot in white’s curve that wasn’t that hard to get into in the first place. Harmonious Archon seems like a solid pickup from this set. Grade A

Realm-Cloaked Giant

Realm-Cloaked Giant // Cast Off (CELD)

Nothing can beat a 4 mana sweeper, but the competition for 5 mana sweepers is a lot less steep. After you play Fumigate, there’s not really much else that can reliably hit in the same rankings. Realm-Cloaked Giant offers a very real upside over the other variants by letting you draw a card. The card is always a 7/7 vigilant Giant which is something that only control decks would want but this makes it a powerful choice for these decks. The biggest drawback to this spell is the stipulation of not destroying Giants. Normally, this wouldn’t matter, but in a cube filled with all-stars such as the Titan, cycle Giants are more prevalent than one would think. Both halves of this card are relatively weak by Cube’s power level but it tries to make up for that by giving 2 cards in one. I don’t think this will break into every cube, but I believe it will be a solid option for larger cubes. Grade B-

Charming Prince

Charming Prince (ELD)

The 2 drop that can do it all. Many cubes are not ashamed to play Lone Missionary, and this card feels like an upgrade in almost every way. First of all, being 2/2 instead of 2/1 is a big toughness upgrade and keeps it dying from incidental pings. Gaining 3 life instead of 4 obviously isn’t as good, but it makes up for it in every other way. This is the ideal card for the flicker archetype as it is both an enabler and a payoff. If you see this card wheel you can safely assume that the archetype is open. However, even though it is the ideal flicker card, it doesn’t get pigeonholed into that archetype only. Aggro decks can definitely use a bear that scry’s 2 and control decks love to gain life and advance the board state. Not being exclusive to a single deck is what makes this card so appealing, and reminds me in many ways of Knight of Autumn. Grade A+

Giant Killer

Giant Killer // Chop Down (CELD)

Cubes have a distinct lack of creatures that can tap opposing threats and keep them locked down for turns at a time. This has been highlighted recently by Law-Rune Enforcer, which has been performing incredibly well for a lot of cubes. Giant Killer provides a tapper that is useful at any point in the game. My problem with this card is that it seems too highly costed on either side to actually seem that effective. Not many cubes are playing Legion’s Judgement and many tappers such as Gideon’s Lawkeeper have been fazed out because paying W each turn is too much, and Giant Killer is asking for 1W each turn. While the versatility is certainly nice to have, both sides are so weak that I don’t see this card making an impact. Grade D+

Brazen Borrower

Brazen Borrower // Petty Theft (CELD)

I think that many adventure cards struggle with being 2 overcosted cards that are stapled together in the hopes that it makes a good card. This is why I feel that Realm-Cloaked Giant and Giant Killer won’t make too much of an impact though. When the adventure is just as good as current options and even offers more I start to get excited. Brazen Borrower is always a 2 mana Into the Roil that draws you a 3/1 flash flyer. Neither half of this card feels overcosted, and while the creature side of Brazen Borrower isn’t as good as Vendilion Clique it’s still very comparable. Both control decks and tempo decks can make good value of either side which means it won’t be rotting in the last few picks. While Brazen Borrower isn’t the most powerful 3 drop Blue has ever seen, it is very respectable and is something I am excited to test out. Grade A-

Emry, Lurker of the Loch

Emry, Lurker of the Loch (CELD)

This card is extremely pushed. In a cube that supports artifact themes, Emry can serve as an enabler, card advantage, and recursion all in one for the low cost of one-three mana. The fail case on her is a 3 mana 1/2 that mills for 4 which is still valuable to a lot of decks, and the ceiling is getting a Mindslaver lock on your opponent. While not many cubes play Mindslaver these days, Emry is still a lot more viable as a card than something like Academy Ruins as she can enable her recursion and getting to cast the artifact rather than putting it on top makes her much scarier. While she is probably going to wreak havoc on constructed formats, in cube it’s a lot more difficult to break her. While she may not be broken in cube, she is still a fine card for any cube that plays The Antiquities War. Grade B-

Hypnotic Sprite

Here’s another card that I feel a lot of people may be sleeping on from this set. 3 mana counterspells are something that cubes are accustomed to playing, however, it is usually Cancel with upside. This card has a side that is both better and worse than Cancel. Being able to only target spells with CMC 3 or less means that you will only be hitting about half of the cube but costing only 2U makes it much easier to splash. The upside of this counterspell is that it draws a 2/1 flyer. These aren’t the best stats in the world, but guaranteed card draw makes this counterspell a great 2 for 1. I see this slotting in best in tempo where it can counter a removal spell and bring you another body to kill them with, but I don’t think control would be against playing this card either. We will have to see if a decent counterspell always drawing a 2/1 makes it a great counterspell. Grade B-

Rankle, Master of Pranks

Symmetrical effects are always fair, right? This card shares a lot of similarities with Braids, Cabal Minion which is an excellent stax piece that can lock an opponent out of the game. Rankle provides an immediate impact and a bigger body, but comes with slightly weaker stax abilities. These stax abilities also remind me of Liliana of the Veil, which is obviously a multi-format all-star. Getting to force your opponent to discard a card and sacrifice a creature in the same turn can be backbreaking, and once you untap with Rankle you can also start drawing cards and use them before your opponent can. Rankle has a lot of powerful abilities that can be broken in many different ways and will be a very interesting card for cube. Grade B+

Clackbridge Troll

 

By stats alone, this card is pretty strong. But obviously, stats alone do not paint the entire picture. Clackbridge is another in a long line of Desecration Demons although this time it is at 5 mana which is much more interesting for our lackluster 5 drop slot. Giving your opponent 3 goats is a huge amount of fodder for the Clackbridge Troll and means that in a vacuum your not attacking with Clackbridge until turn 8. However, the upside is by turn 8 you will have gained 9 life and drawn 3 cards. The first activation of Clackbridge is terrible, you paid 5 mana for 3 life and a card. But once you can start to destroy your opponent’s creatures, untap the troll mid-combat, or even cast a one-sided board wipe like Languish it’ll be really easy to take over the game. Grade C-

Murderous Rider

Would you play a Hero’s Downfall that drew you a card? You bet that I would, even if I have to lose 2 life in the process. The problem with previous variants of Hero’s Downfall has always been because of the sorcery speed of the spell. Never // Return draws you a card, but Return is bad and sorcery speed is worse. This maintains instant speed at the small, small drawback of 2 life, and gives you a way to get that life back with the creature half. If you can bounce this back to your hand you have another Swift End waiting to happen. I would even go so far as to rate this card as better than Hero’s Downfall because the creature half of this card gives it way more gameplay, and makes for a much more interesting card. Grade A+

Robber of the Rich

They made Robin Hood in Magic, but I don’t see him robbing any slots in cube anytime soon. A 2/2 with haste and reach is a strange combination because I guess when it’s a bad top deck in the late game it can block their flyer? Regardless, having haste is what makes this card playable as it can get in early and start storing cards for later. It’s not going to take long for this 2/2 to get outclassed, however, and by then you’ll have maybe 1-2 cards stored in exile. There aren’t that many other rogues in cube either, unless you want to get in with your Pestermite. The final nail in the coffin for this card is that casting cards from your opponent’s deck will never be as effective as casting cards from your own deck. This card isn’t bad, but it’ll do much better in constructed where you can fully support rogue tribal. Grade B-

Bonecrusher Giant

Bonecrusher Giant is the foil to Murderous Rider. While Swift End is a much better spell than Stomp, the Giant itself is a lot better than a 2/3 lifelink. What hinges on Bonecrusher Giant being playable is how good a 4/3 with mild protection is. The Red 3 drop slot in cube is packed, and breaking into that section means you need more than a slightly above curve body. Shock is nice upside, but I don’t know if it’s enough. This is a card that I will want to test, as it might surprise me just how useful stomp is, and how big a 4/3 actually is, but I’m not confident it will be a mainstay for years to come. Grade B

Questing Beast

This is easily one of the best 4’s green has ever seen (not that there was much competition). It’s keyword soup, has evasion against most tokens, can kill planeswalkers, and has another ability that everyone will forget is relevant until 2 turns after they fogged. Questing Beast is just generically powerful, and is hard to deal with in combat. Short of removal, Questing Beast will be able to play both aggro and defense extremely well, which is what midrange decks want to do. Deathtouch and vigilance is a great combo and honestly, I don’t even know why I’m still talking about this card, just run it. Grade A-

Kenrith’s Transformation

Now, this is a card that is extremely tricky to evaluate. On the one hand, this isn’t exactly removal as a 3/3 is still a beater. On the other, this is removal that says “draw a card” which as I’ve discussed with both Bonecrusher Giant and Murderous Rider is really good. Kenrith’s Transformation would primarily see play in decks where they can grow bigger than a 3/3 which is a great boost to midrange decks. A Wall of Omens/Wall of Blossoms can permanently block the 3/3 and if you follow this up with a Questing Beast your opponent is not going to be able to do much. And even in a worst-case situation, a 3/3 is still better for you than a Grave Titan. I have high hopes for this card, and I want to believe that Green finally got some decent removal. Grade B-

The Royal Scions

The Royal Scions is a card that is directly competing with the greatest thief in the multiverse for a cube slot. Outside of a powered cube, I personally believe that the twins are better. First off, The Royal Scions starts off at 6 loyalty which is insane for a 3 mana walker. At that stage in the game, there are very few things that can kill it. While their +1 doesn’t cast a Faithless Looting every turn, they make up for it by having a second +1 that is actually relevant more often than not. With Dack, the gameplan is usually to just +1 draw some cards, and repeat over and over and maybe steal a signet. With the Royal Scions, there is an actual choice behind which +1 to use and allows the card to see play in more decks. The ultimate is also more relevant than Dack’s which usually steals something right as it’s getting murdered. While the Kenrith’s may not be as good at churning through the deck, they offer much more choice than an enchantment that loots for 2 each turn. Of course, there is nothing stopping you from playing both. Grade A

Garruk, Cursed Huntsman

Garruk, Cursed Huntsman (CELD)

While the Kenriths compare to Dack Fayden, Garruk compares to Vraska, Relic Seeker. Is a 2/2 menace better than 4 power? Is drawing a card better than being able to kill enchantments, artifacts, and creatures? Honestly, all of these abilities compare really favorably to each other and at this point, I think it’s a matter of personal preference as to which one you play. Vraska plays extremely well and can threaten to ult in very few turns, while Garruk requires more setup to get to ult. I think I’d be interested to test Garruk, and I have a feeling that I would stick with him for a while. Making 4 power as a psuedo-plus is undeniably powerful, and while you get less selection in what you destroy, I’d much rather draw a card than make a treasure token. Grade B+

Oko, Thief of Crowns

Oko, Thief of Crowns (CELD)

Give me this card a year ago, and it easily would have become the number one simic card. Now, with Ravnica Allegiance out it can’t claim that top spot as easily. Plusing to six loyalty to start is strong, and the fact that food tokens are artifacts help a lot to make me more happy about the token. His +1 is very similar to Kenrith’s Transformation and is really dependant on the board state on whether or not it is good. A cute thing you can do with Oko is make a food token and then turn it into a 3/3 when you untap. In a deck that can make a lot of artifacts Oko actually seems really interesting as a way to make a bunch of 3/3’s. His ultimate is also really achievable and can force your opponent to play differently to keep their board from getting stolen away. He’s a very interesting card, and has a lot of unique play patterns to him that I find very interesting. Grade A-

Doom Foretold

The reason that I like Doom Foretold as a card is because it is a signpost card for stax decks. Forcing each player to sacrifice a permanent at each upkeep is a symmetrical cost that stax decks have been breaking for years. However, there are 2 key things about this card that make it less enticing for Stax. First, and most importantly, this card says the player can’t sacrifice a token. One of the best ways to break these symmetrical effects is with a repeatable source of tokens such as Ophiomancer or Bitterblossom. This means that Doom Foretold will be asking you to sacrifice real cards, which goes against the Stax gameplan. Lands aren’t even an avenue of sacrifice fodder which turns off Crucible of Worlds as another line. The second and more pitiful part of this card is that if you can’t pay the costs you’ll have to sacrifice Doom Foretold only netting you value as a repeatable sacrifice outlet. This card isn’t nearly as powerful as I would have hoped, but I still believe that a deck built around this can really abuse it and come out ahead. Grade B-

Stonecoil Serpent

An Endless One that has a lot more relevant keywords. Reach and Trample synergize well on a creature that can be played at multiple points in the game. A 1/1 chump blocker for their Baneslayer Angel is definitely valuable, and a 6/6 trample will get in there. Protection from multicolored is more likely to come up in constructed, but as we have seen with Soldier of the Pantheon, it is not a non-existent ability. I believe that it’s nice to have an X spell creature that can be cast at any point in the curve, and while it is not nearly as powerful of an X spell as Hangarback Walker or Walking Ballista, this isn’t embarrassing at 2 mana. It’s simple, it’s boring, but it’s good and can provide a great 23rd card in decks. If your cube is a really high power level, there’s a good chance this won’t see play in the average deck though. Grade C+

Conclusion

Throne of Eldraine was a set that during spoiler season didn’t strike me as a meaningful set for cube, but after looking through all of the cards today I have been really surprised at how good the set is. Adventure is proving to be an incredibly strong mechanic and will play great in cube. A lot of cards in this set are also generically powerful, which I wasn’t expecting. I think that there are a lot of great upgrades in this set, on top of a slew of cards that are just asking to be tested. If you have any questions about any cards in the set that I didn’t cover feel free to ask for my opinions on it. With that said, I hope you all have a great week and an amazing Tuesday!