Throne of Eldraine
This article is one of our set prospectives, a series in which we survey the Cube community about the cards they intend to play in their cubes from a particular set. Our survey is conducted between the set’s full-spoiler and official release and is meant to measure and document Cube designers’ first impressions of new cards.
This is the first article in an ongoing series of set prospectives. While I hope to significantly expand my outreach for future sets, I have collected information from 30 members of the Cube community about cards from Throne of Eldraine. All of the people I surveyed have either powered or unpowered cubes, varying in size from 360 to 720. In terms of power level, I would estimate that most of these cubes are in the Strix Scale 7+ range. In the future, I would love to extend this survey to Peasant, Pauper, and lower powered cubes, as well as to other parts of the community.
Throne of Eldraine is a great set for Cube by most standards. The median number of cards that rank 10 for each individual is 7, and the median number that rank 5.5 or higher is 12. This means that Throne of Eldraine offers most of these cube owners 7 solid cube-ables and 5 decent shots at includes. Even the person most conservative with their includes is cubing 6 cards from this set, but some cube owners are testing upwards of 40!
We can also interrogate how individual cards fare under the Cube community’s scrutiny. To do this, we can look at a card’s average ranking among all the people testing it. But it would also be useful to know how much the community disagrees on individual cards — after all, a card ranked 5.5 by ten people leads to a different discussion than one that is ranked 1 by five people and ranked 10 by five other people. They both share an average rank of 5.5, but in one case the community is agreed on the ranking and in another is very split.
We can measure the community’s agreement level by looking at the standard deviation of an individual card’s rankings. The standard deviation measures how far the rankings for a card differ from the average ranking. More contentious cards have higher standard deviations of rankings. As an example, the card ranked 5.5 by ten people would have a standard deviation of 0 while the one that is ranked 1 by five and 10 by five others would have standard deviation of 1 (the maximum standard deviation possible for this scale). For the purposes of our visualization, we’re graphing the “consensus” of the rankings, which is the inverse of the standard deviation.
It’s worth noting that a mix of high and low rankings is required for a high standard deviation, so it is impossible for a card to have both a high average ranking and a high standard deviation. The plot below shows these statistics for all of the cards that have more than 5 users testing the card. The size of the points show how many users are testing the card.
|Rankle, Master of Pranks||80.0%||6.5|
|Robber of the Rich||70.0%||5.9|
|Once Upon a Time||66.7%||6.8|
|Garruk, Cursed Huntsman||66.7%||7.9|
|Oko, Thief of Crowns||63.3%||7.6|
|The Royal Scions||23.3%||4.2|
The full, unfiltered table can be found here. I’ve identified three arbitrary clusters of cards that share common characteristics.
Cluster A is composed of cards that the community ranks highly and is very much agreed upon.
Despite having a low standard deviation, Realm-Cloaked Giant is an extremely contentious card. 11 cube owners are testing this card and uniformly think it is excellent, while the other 19 did not even consider it for testing. I myself am in this minority of 11; the idea of a wrath and a win condition wrapped together is very appealing to me. Only time and testing will tell who is right. The other cards in this cluster are the clear shoo-ins of Throne of Eldraine — cards the community agrees are strong includes. Cards like these are usually upgrades over cards that already exist in Cubes. Most curators I’ve talked with are replacing variants of Into the Roil with Brazen Borrower, and Murderous Rider is a much better version of Hero's Downfall, a card already cubed by many. Bonecrusher Giant and Questing Beast are powerful options over existing cards at their color and mana value.
Cluster B contains cards that are less powerful and more contentious.
Garruk, Cursed Huntsman, Charming Prince, and Rankle, Master of Pranks are the most popular cards in this cluster, with Robber of the Rich, Once Upon a Time, and Oko, Thief of Crowns being less popular cards with around the same average ranking. The strength of these cards can depend more on the cube type and archetype preferences. Charming Prince and Rankle, Master of Pranks, for example, function best in blink and stax decks respectively, archetypes that may not be large role players in every cube. Fabled Passage is being played by about half of those surveyed, but its average ranking is quite high. Wicked Wolf and Castle Embereth are examples of cards that only a handful of cube curators are testing.
Cluster C has the controversial cards of this testing season.
These are often cards that vary in strength depending on the cube. Embereth Shieldbreaker is a prime example of this — its strength is directly proportional to the number of artifacts in your cube. For powered cubes, it might be the best card in the set, but other curators may give it a low rating if its effect is less back breaking in their own environments. Order of Midnight and Blacklance Paragon are also contentious cards, and I suspect this is related to the presence or absence of black aggressive decks. Both are significantly better in cubes that contain black aggro, so cube curators that choose to not support this archetype may give these cards a lower rating. Anecdotally, I’ve seen the people quite divided on white tappers like Gideon's Lawkeeper. While Giant Killer is certainly among the best of these variants, many in the cube community still believe it to be below the power level required for inclusion. The Royal Scions is the lowest ranked card out of those being tested by more than 5 curators — this likely has to do with the stacked Izzet slot in powered/unpowered cubes and the fact that people think its second plus ability does not advance the gameplan of most UR decks.
I’ve been testing these cards for a few weeks now, and I have a few drafts under my belt with them. Here are some of my thoughts:
Oko, Thief of Crowns is being heavily underrated by the Cube community. This card has been nothing short of stellar in every single game he’s been played. His life gain is brutal against aggressive decks, and his ability to turn mana rocks into Elks is backbreaking against control decks. He even gives UG an out to decks that cheat out large creatures. I believe now that he is the best card from ELD, and quite possibly the best Simic card at the time of writing this article.
Rankle, Master of Pranks is good enough for high powered cubes. I was initially skeptical of this card and wasn’t sure it would have a large enough effect on games. I’ve since changed my tune. Unlike Braids, Cabal Minion, we’ve found Rankle to be excellent top end for black aggressive decks, and he’s still excellent in the Stax archetype. If Stax is an archetype you’re looking to support in a high-power cube, I might play both Rankle and Braids, but otherwise I believe Rankle is better.
Garruk, Cursed Huntsman is worse than I thought. While I hoped he might be green’s Elspeth, Sun's Champion, such a card is much worse in green than in white. While I would still play Garruk in almost any GB deck, I now think he is worse than most green planeswalkers at 4 and 5 mana and not a high pick. I do still believe that he is better than Vraska, Relic Seeker.
Don’t underestimate the strength of Adventure. With the exception of Giant Killer, which hasn’t seen much testing play so far, every adventure card has exceeded my expectations, even Order of Midnight and Embereth Shieldbreaker. I don’t think that every adventure card is playable, but Rimrock Knight and Foulmire Knight have moved onto my testing list as a result.
Robber of the Rich is an excellent red two for aggressive decks. I initially thought this card was great, so I may have confirmation bias in my interpretation of testing results. It’s exile ability has been relevant in many games, and the floor of the card is quite decent. Cube decks are full of cheap spells, so Robber has a decent chance of hitting something castable.
Witching Well has been great in an emerging UR artifact subtheme in my cube. I’ve always been skeptical of an artifact-matters archetype, as I’ve found that focused archetypes tend to do poorly in small, high-powered cubes where generic cards are excellent. Nevertheless, the printing of Urza, Lord High Artificer, Arcum's Astrolabe, and Saheeli, Sublime Artificer have encouraged me to try again. This deck is now quite powerful in my cube, and Witching Well is a piece of this archetype that exceeded my expectations.
Here is a list of various content sources on Throne of Eldraine for Cube. I do not vouch for the opinion or quality of these sources; I am merely presenting them so that you can make your own assessments.
- Cubism - Part 1, Part 2
- MTG Cube Blogspot’s ELD Preliminary Review
- Solely Singleton’s ELD First Impressions - Part 1, Part 2
- Path to Cube ELD Review
- Life Begins at 20 ELD Review - Rares and Mythics, Uncommons, Commons
- Wtwlf’s ELD (P)review
- Throne of Eldraine for Peasant Cubes
- Only on Tuesday’s ELD Set Review
- Steveman’s ELD Hot Takes
- SirFunchalot’s ELD Analysis
Ayara, First of Locthwain
Claim the Firstborn
Emry, Lurker of the Loch
Escape to the Wilds
Feasting Troll King
Gadwick, the Wizened
Garruk, Cursed Huntsman
Grumgully, the Generous
Kenrith, the Returned King
Oko, Thief of Crowns
Once Upon a Time
Order of Midnight
Rankle, Master of Pranks
Return of the Wildspeaker
Robber of the Rich
Shepherd of the Flock
The Great Henge
The Royal Scions
Thrill of Possibility
Torbran, Thane of Red Fell