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Cubing with Guilds of Ravnica (As Inexpensively as Possible)

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As established in the past, my goal is to create a cube including the best cards over the history of Magic: The Gathering, but at the lowest possible cost to myself. We’re not talking about foils today, folks – we’ll be looking at the least expensive version of each card in question.

Cubing inexpensively while still trying to pick up the best cards means early identification, periodic price checking, and lots of patience. In some cases, a card is fine to pick up while still in Standard, either because it sees no Standard play or not enough to greatly impact its price. That’s why early identification is important – why wait to pick up a card that belongs if you don’t have to? On the other hand, have you ever purchased a card for $10 or $20, not used it much, and then saw it for 50 cents months or years down the line? That's the kind of feeling I'm trying to avoid.

To that end, let’s take a look at Guilds of Ravnica. For reference, this is my current cube list. I’m not touching on reprints today, as they are probably already in tuned lists if they deserve to be. Onward!

White


I don't anticipate adding this to my cube, but this is kind of a cool sweeper to help White Weenie get out from under ramp decks. Supporting White Weenie is something I do, but it's not exactly a priority for me. At bulk pricing, if you want the card, you might as well get the card.


I think I lean more toward Oblivion Ring, but that might be wrong to do. With token makers like Lingering Souls in a lot of cubes, this could be a solid addition to white's removal package. Again, I don't anticipate adding it to my list, but as a cheap uncommon, there's no reason not to pick up a copy if you want.

Blue

Honestly, I'm not seeing a lot in blue that's worth considering. Nightveil Sprite is worse than Looter il-Kor and Mission Briefing is way worse than Snapcaster Mage, for example.

Murmuring Mystic

This is maybe the closest to being something that could help one go off in a combo-like fashion. It could be just the win condition that the Storm-deck-that-didn't-quite-come-together needs, for when you just can't string enough spells together to make an Empty the Warrens or Brain Freeze good. That seems like a rather niche role, though. It's also the kind of card you should be able to pick out of draft leftovers or buy for literal pennies.

Black


My first thought is to write this off for not being as good as Griselbrand, but then I noticed its {3BB} casting cost. That's a lot of power, toughness, evasion, and filtering for five mana. The problem is that it doesn't have an enter-the-battlefield effect that swings the game wildly. Griselbrand leaves you with seven cards if it immediately killed. This guy lets you ... set up your next draw step? If you live that long. Or you could dig for your reanimation target – only to not have enough life left to Reanimate it. On the other hand, this could be tough to beat when ramped out on turn three or four. I'm ultimately not likely to add it to my list, and I'm especially not interested at its current price tag of about $20. This is unlikely to have more than a dollar or two of value in the long term.

Red

Goblin Cratermaker

This is a nice, inexpensive utility card that can beat down or act as removal of various things. I think it will be taking Lightning Mauler's slot in my list. If Torch Fiend is still hanging around your cube, Cratermaker should definitely replace it. Find it in draft leftovers or pay some cents for it, whatever you want.


This is a less explosive version of Goblin Rabblemaster. I could see Warboss replacing Sin Prodder, Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh, or Dualcaster Mage in my list. At $2 to $3, this will look like a bargain if it catches on in Standard but will seem like a huge overpay when it rotates in a couple years.


You know, I've played this card a bit in RDW on Magic Arena and it overperforms in a big way. It doesn't take long at all for it to become a 4/4, and occasionally you attack for four damage, use the mana to play a couple other things, and have it back up to a 4/4 again by the time you're on your next attack. This card will absolutely be in my cube. At $3 to $5 retail, I'm not in any rush to obtain a copy, but I could easily see this replacing Gore-House Chainwalker or maybe even a three-drop. I expect this to eventually settle to bulk rare status – unless it catches on in Eternal formats, in which case all bets are off.

Green

I could mention Beast Whisperer, Kraul Harpooner, or Pelt Collector, but I don't think any of those cards are really good enough for a Powered Cube environment, though they may be worth considering in lower-power environments.

Multicolored

Guilds of Ravnica is a multicolor-focused set, so it's not too surprising that the mono-colored cards didn't offer much. Unfortunately, most cubes (mine included) don't devote as much space to multicolor cards as they do to mono-color cards. Thus, the difficulty to break into a cube increases for multicolor cards by a wide margin. These cards are going to need to be among roughly the best five in their color combination to make the cut. Let's get into it.


This is a great start in the top-five-cards-in-its-colors-of-all-time category. The Gitrog Monster and Garruk, Apex Predator are easy cuts for this, and I think you could make arguments for cutting Maelstrom Pulse, Pernicous Deed, or Deathrite Shaman in favor of Assassin's Trophy. Easy include for any cube.

At a current retail price around $16, when is the question that needs answering. I expect this to see play in every format in which green and black are played together, so this is never going to be a card you can acquire for cheap. I would not be surprised to see Assassin's Trophy behave similarly to Abrupt Decay from when it was in Standard. Namely, start at $20, drop to $5 at the lowest, and then slowly climb until it's reprinted. This is a card I'll be watching closely for the best moment to acquire.


Selesnya is generally pretty stacked with playables, but Knight of Autumn just does too many things to feel good about leaving out. It is seeing plenty of Modern play already and is currently right around $4. On one hand, that's a bargain for a card that's seeing Standard and Modern play. On the other hand, this is a non-mythic rare from a large fall set, so there's a lot of downward pressure on the price to come. Think Siege Rhino, which was a key player in a top Modern deck but could never get over $4 and is now less than $1. I couldn't fault you for buying now, but I'm sure a better price will be available before long.


Instant-speed tokens with lifelink are extremely powerful. This card's mana cost requires a hard lean into ramp or for the game to go long. I never like to count on the latter in Powered Cube, and I prefer fatties to something like this for a ramp deck. Add in a $10 price tag and you can count me out. This is flashier than Knight of Autumn, but I'll take a powerful and flexible utility card over an interchangeable finisher every day of the week. I don't think this is worth acquiring for Cube at a price of more than a dollar or two. I just don't think it can compete with Selesnya's deep bench.



Meh. I think these both require you to do too much work to be good. Before even checking their prices, I was expecting them to be too much, and they are. They're actually not as much as thought they'd be, and maybe that means players are catching on that not every planeswalker is playable anymore. It's not impossible or even unreasonable to build a spell-focused Izzet deck or a sacrifice-focused Golgari deck, but I'll stick to planeswalkers that are good on their own, thank you. If you are looking to acquire, I think $5 is a perfectly reasonable target and $3 is possible.

Response // Resurgence Integrity // Intervention

Status // Statue Find // Finality

The Boros and Golgari cards stand out as possibilities to me, but I'm not in love with any of the split cards from GNR for Cube. More testing may reveal differently, as there's a lot of cool utility effects and tons of flexibility here, but the power level is hard to gauge. For rares and uncommons, I'm looking for bulk prices exclusively for these cards.


That's it!

In summary, GNR doesn't offer a ton of obvious must-includes for Cube. We've got some nice multicolored utility cards and red's two-drop bench has added some depth, but ultimately, the set is more of a powerhouse for traditional Limited play than for Cube. No matter – Cube lives on, slowly but surely increasing in power level. Financially, almost all of these cards will be available for less than a dollar at some point, and that's where I intend to acquire them. The exception is Assassin's Trophy, where I'm aiming to acquire at a presumed low point of approximately $5.

In the meantime, we have a fantastic draft format to enjoy. I can't get enough of playing Dimir. What's your favorite guild in the format?  Have comments, questions, concerns? Want to harangue me for not even mentioning Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice? Go right ahead! The comments section is below.

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