Cube Card Spotlight: Whirler Rogue

     Welcome into the Cube Card Spotlight where I focus on singles. Each installment will highlight the function of the card, its application in game, the archetype it supports, and a special section. The special section will touch on interactions that did not make it into the other sections, possible alternatives (Might not be present for all cards), and any differentiated application for multiplayer if any. The card names in bold are cards that synergize with the topic card.


For those who want a quick run down of the post. 

Archetypes: Tokens, Flicker, Artifacts, Fliers, Tempo, Aristrocrats, Stax

Synergies: Flickerwisp, Restoration Angel, Cranial Plating, Anthems, Bident of Thassa, Edric, Chief Engineer, Disciple of the Vault, Storm the Vault, Recruiter of the Guard, Imperial Recruiter, Any Equipment, Reveillark, Winter Orb, Mesmeric Orb, Stax, Sharding Sphinx

Special Notes: You can tap Winter Orb, You don't have to target your own creature for the 2nd ability

Alternative: Urza, Lord High Artificer, Wing Splicer


    We begin with Whirler Rogue. Few cards have confused and impressed the cube community the way this card has.  Despite being a lower rarity, seasoned cube designers have been generally positive about the inclusion of this card in their cube at various power levels. Its popularity stems from the power and versatility of the card. Its rarity qualifies it to occupy space in peasant cubes. At the time of its initial printing, players were skeptical on whether or not the card was good enough to break into their cubes. At the time, it has to compete with blue cards like Glen Elendra Archmage, Sower of Temptation and Venser, Shaper Savant. When early adopters reported positive experiences with the card, its usage spread into the players' blue section, which is still the most stacked color in any cube.  This card has earned a spot in both of my cubes and will probably stay there for a very long time. 


    The ETB ability on this creature is its best feature and what gives this card its versatility. Without any synergies, the tokens generated make Whirler Rogue, as a whole card, resistant to single target removal like Doom Blade. The tokens are flying creatures which can be used to sneak in more damage or defend against your opponent's flier. Lastly, Whirler Rogue can activate its own ability if needed. Once you start combining it with other cards, that's when this card start really shining.

Flicker, Fliers

    With a strong ETB ability, one of the go to strategies is to just keep flickering/ blinking it. With each reapplication of the ETB, you are generating increased pressure by adding 2 evasive fliers. This also enables Whirler Rogue to use its ability multiple times. When  drafting for this deck, aside from Whirler Rogue, you will need to draft a density of ETB creatures. These creatures will act as your payoffs. To enable the play style, drafting cards like Flickerwisp, Restoration Angel, and Kiki-Jiki will let the deck pilot reapply the effects. The primary colors for this deck is white and blue, but there are options in the other colors and it'll be left up to the cube designer and players to get creative. As the deck pilot, the main objective is to overwhelm your opponent with value plays through reusing ETB effects and winning through combat damage. 

    This deck overlaps with Fliers and shares many of the same pieces. With Fliers, the deck pilot is aiming to overwhelm the opponents with flying creatures as they are difficult to block. Cards like Flickerwisp and Restoration Angel already have flying stapled on and would be organically included. Thus combined with Whirler Rogue, you would have aerial supremacy.  The concepts from the Fliers deck can be applied to the tempo deck as well.


 It should be noted that tempo decks are a difficult concept to define, but they focus on concepts that experience magic players understand. The main idea is that they are decks focused on generating both card advantage and mana advantage against the opponent. In a tempo deck,  Whirler Rogue contributes to the deck by invalidating single target removal and enemy blockers. Both of its abilities excel in this build and make it an immediate threat upon being played. Combined with cards like Opposition  or Edric, Spymaster of Trest and your opponents will have a nightmare of a card to deal with. 

Here are examples to help you better understand this card's role in a tempo deck. Example #1 how this card  should your opponent choose to kill it with a single target spell, you are still left with 2 flying threats and the other player is down a card. Example #2: your opponent plays Vampire Nighthawk to try and stabilize against you. You tap it down with Opposition  or make one of your creatures unblockable to swing through. This invalidates the mana and card spent to play Vampire  Nighthawk. In essence you disregarded the entirety of your opponent's turn as if you just took an extra turn.


Generating 3 bodies makes this card a great addition to the token decks. With the token decks, you have multiple routes you can build for. The route that comes to mind first is the Go Wide Aggro route in which you generate tokens with the intent to beat your opponents face in. Whirler Rogue's flying tokens are good in this regard as they can easily squeeze damage in. This deck wants 2 things: anthem effects and token generators. Running anthems such as Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Spear of Heliod make each token into a larger threat and amplify damage output to faster end games.  A single anthem means taking Whirler Rogue from essentially a 4/4 to a 7/7. White is typically the go to color for this deck, however anthems and token generators are available in the other colors. 

The other route for token decks is the Aristrocrats builds. This deck aims to use death triggers to generate advantage.  The deck build includes cards like Zulaport Cutthroat to ensure that there is always a trigger upon death. Combining this with cards like Viscera Seer to guarantee an avenue to getting your creature dying. Whirler Rogue contributes to this deck by creating 3 bodies, which translates to additional sacrifice opportunities. This deck is historically black for the sacrifice outlets, but the options in green and red have been growing such as Outpost Siege and Evolutionary Leap. Going one step, you also have the option of including  Smoke Stacks and Braids, Cabal Minion to shift towards a stax theme.

Artifacts Matter

The artifact aspect of this card should not be underestimated. The two tokens generated are artifact thopters and the activated ability on Whirler Rogue requires just 2 untapped artifacts. Players and cube designers can opt to run decks that are focused on generating as many artifacts as possible. Mechanics like Metalcraft, Affinity and Improvise all care about the number of artifacts in play. Examples of this are cards like Cranial Plating, Master of Etherium, and Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas. Whirler Rogue contributes to this strategy by increasing the artifact count by 2 with its thopters. The information above regarding tokens can be applied to the artifacts decks focused on thopter tokens. 

Special Notes

The 2nd ability interacts with any artifact, not just the thopters. This means that you will be able to tap equipment and other artifacts that don't need to tap to activate the ability. You will naturally already run these cards as Whirler Rogue and its token make excellent equipment carriers. Going further, you can use the ability to tap Winter Orb on your opponent's turn, so that your lands untap on your turn, while your opponent is floundering for mana.


With a body of 2/2, it interacts with cards that care about this stat line. Recruiter of the Guard, Reveillark, and Raid Bombardment are examples of cards that focus on this point. These cards are typically played in either the aggro or the flicker shell.


I would consider Whirler Rogue to be a budget alternative to Urza, Lord High Artificer.  They both function similarly in blink and token decks as they both generate a token. In the artifact decks, the function for both cards differentiate. Whirler Rogue lends itself to more aggressive artifact decks due to the tokens being flying and the threat of making any attack unblockable. Urza on the other hand fits into slower decks. Urza's token and Urza himself make for good blockers. He turns all of your artifacts into Sky Diamond and can use his 3rd ability to dump all of the mana he creates. That ability will always be relevant at any point in the game and functions well as a mana sink in stagnant game states to break the parity between players. That being said I would run both cards if possible, but if forced to cut one or the other, Urza would be a very difficult to surpass.

Wing Splicer
can be seen as a side grade to Whirler Rogue. They have similar functions in the decks they are placed in.   In these decks, this card shines with cards like Mirror Entity and Blade Splicer, which are commonly run in a lot of cubes. Wing Splicer's token will be a flying 3/3 golem. Versus 2 1/1 Flying thopter, this will be the better option. Despite the positives, I would still run Whirler Rogue over Wing Splicer. One of the glaring problems with Wing Splicer is that the card needs to stick around to maintain the token. The application of the activated ability from Whirler Rogue pushes it ahead of Wing Splicer.

Commander Cube Considerations

The one key thing to take into account is that you can make other people's creatures unblockable. Useful for stealing the monarchy and politicking. 

That's all for now, Thanks for reading.
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