Dominaria United Cards for Traditional Cubes

 Spoiler season has ended for Dominaria United and now for the part where everyone mad scrambles to find which cards to include into their cubes. This is the first standard set in some time with the last one being Streets of New Capenna. Standard set cards are designed to be played in a traditional 1v1 environment and due to this design lens, there will be less breakthrough cards than from a multiplayer set like any commander product. From what was shown, I'm liking the aggro options that we are getting in the Jund colors and decent portion of this list will be in reference to them. 

The way I approach card reviews for cube is that I separate them into 2 categories: recommendations and cards of interest. Recommendations are cards that I think will play impressively in a large variety of cubes. These are what I would consider the slam dunk inclusions. Cards of interest will typically be cards that are interesting to play. They might need some build around to get going but could create a different playstyle or archetype in your cubes.They are also cards that are good in limited, but might be environment dependent. With each review of a card, I might also mention the color identity of the card in cube because of the off color kicker cost on monocolored cards, which makes these cards difficult to evaluate. 

The Short List
  • Shivan Devastator
  • Soul of Windgrace
  • Twinferno
  • Cut Down
  • Resolute Reinforcements
  • Cult Conscripts
  • Evolved Sleeper
  • The Phasing of Zhalfir
  • Guardian of New Benalia
  • Braids, Arisen Nightmare
  • Temporary Lockdown
  • Aether Channeler
  • The Elder Dragon War
  • Ertai Resurrected
  • Haughty Djinn
Cards of Interest
  • Two Headed Hellkite
  • Rosnakt, Heir to Rohgahh
  • Greensleeves, Maro-Sorceror
  • Lagamos, Hand of Hatred
  • Elas il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrims
  • Aron, Benalia's Ruin
  • Stenn, Paranoid Partisan
  • Meria, Scholar of Antiquity
  • Relic of Legend
  • Phoenix Chick
  • Pilfer
  • Tear Asunder
  • Battlewing Mystic
  • Phyrexian Missionary
  • Squee, Dubious Monarch
  • Archangel of Wrath
  • Serra's Paragon


Shivan Devastator  was one of the first cards to be spoiled and man did the cube community feel mixed about it. The main problem I noticed that kept showing up was the complain that the card wasn't interesting enough and the people are right. When comparing it to other cards available in the different mana slots, it didn't stack up the competition there. This is when it hit me that here this card shines is that it is extremely flexible. This card is minimally playable as a 3 drop 2/2 with flying and haste, but this can be 4 or 5 drop that you need to fill out your curve. This card makes mana flooding feel less bad while providing you with a playable option when you are getting mana screwed. Lastly, having flying and haste essentially makes this a Fireball that sticks around. I have a strong feeling this card will stick around for unpowered cubes. 

High recommendation.

Soul of Windgrace has a lot I like that I want to push in cube. At a bear minimum, he is not that impressive of a card being a 4 drop 5/4. With the prevalence of fetchlands, however I believe he will excel in most cube and I am excited to try him over Lord Windgrace. I like that he fits into land decks really well, but is independent. He is able to feed every land draw into his three abilities and get the land he discarded back to the battlefield to ramp you, which is absurd. He is able to gain you back 3 life, which invaidates most burn spells pointed at you, draw a card since you'll end up putting that land onto the battlefield, and make himself invulnerable, protecting himself from a lot of things. These abilities can be activated multiple times as well. The thing setting him back are the fact that he is a 3 color card, which is difficult to play. This is easily solve because the card is green. With green included, you have options such as Ignoble Hierarch and Cultivate that can easily make this card more playable. 

If you choose to play 3 color cards, I think this has the power as a midrange value card and it's why I'm playing it.

Twinferno is a card that is extremely flexible in cube because of the archetypes I support.  For my cube, I support both spells matter and prowess decks with both modes easily finding a home in a variety of decks.  The spell copy portion is well priced as similar effects tend to average around 2 mana. In slower decks, being able to copy your spells twice is pretty big in terms of card advantage. The double strike mode plays well in creature based decks looking to take advantage of your opponent's lack of awareness to sneak in big damage. Combine this with a large creature or other combat tricks and you have a card that will create salt. Each mode plays extremely well in Red Aggro decks since both modes can be used effectively. The cost of both modes is traditionally 2 mana and this hits that mark with the added flexibility.  

Cubes that support prowess or spells matter strats should take a hard look at this card, otherwise this is an easy skip.

Cut Down is looking like a card worth trying simply based on the fact that it's removal for 1 mana at instant speed. I did a look at my own cube and this hits about 2/3 of my creatures, which is a little more than 1/4 of my entire cube. My main issue with this card is that it will miss all of the larger threats, making it a bad topdeck late game. Also it is missing the ability to hit planeswalkers, which is a feature a lot of newer removal cards have. Still being able to hit all 1-2 drops, most 3 drops, and some 4+ drops makes this great for 1 mana. 

I would run this and see how it feels compared to Bloodchief's Thirst and Dismember.

Resolute Reinforcements seems like one of the easiest auto include in almost any cube. This is Raise the Alarm in creature form. If you know anything about Raise the Alarm, the card is crazy flexible in application and I expect the same lines of play plus more because it is a creature. I mention the  utility of Raise the Alarm in my post about BW Tokens. As a creature, this card has synergies with Sun Titan and flicker abilities now. For my own cube, this debate on this card for me is whether this replaces Raise the Alarm or another two drop.

Easy inclusion.

Cult Conscript has a lot of good going for it. At a baseline, it is another recursive aggro 1 drop in black. When compared to its competition, I think this card is a top 3 card behind Blood-Soaked Champion and Gravecrawler. The big reason is the activation cost and conditions. The only concern this card has is that it wants a non skeleton card to die under your control. This could be your opponent's turn or your own. Being able to bring it back on your opponent's turn makes it an amazing blocker since it will untap on your turn. The non skeleton portion of the cost is a non issue since most creatures just happen to be non skeletons. Combined these 2 aspects with the low cost of a 2 mana, which is the cheapest cost behind Gravecrawler's cost of one black mana, and you have an amazing creature.

Definitely running it, if I have to make a cut, it is going to be Gutter Bones.

Whenever I see a card that is in line with Figure of Destiny, I take a deeper look at it. Evolved Sleeper is no different and is an easy inclusion if you support black aggro. Each of the abilities are relatively easy to activate and enable this card to scale into different point of the game. In play, it seems like a great card to dump your mana into when you want to play more conservative or are running low on cards in hand. When compared to similar cards, the abilities are the cheapest we've seen on this type of creature. What is also different is that Evolved Sleeper does not actually get an evasive keyword. He does get deathtouch, making it a harder choice to block, but never unblockable. Lastly, his third ability is great since it grows the creature, while drawing you a card and is repeatable. This makes it a fine card to run in midrange decks as well.

Scaling threat thats playable in both aggro and midrange? Easy inclusion.
The option to boardwipe in blue for 4 MV is alone worth being considered. The Phasing of Zhalfir does have some competition because although Blue does not have any other destroy boardwipes, Cyclonic Rift and similar cards do exist and challenge the desirability of this card. If you are just looking for a board wipe, never forget that Arcane Savant allows blue to play off color effects inlcuding Wrath of God. When it comes to 4 mana wipes, the only other card I am aware of is Whelming Wave, which does effectively clear the board. The Skip Ahead is where this card will get a lot of it power. You can treat the first two chapters as temporary spot removal to take threats off the board or as a way to protect your board against your own wipe. Be aware that if you choose to "suspend" the boardwipe effect, you run the risk of the saga being destroyed before ch.3. 
With that mentioned, I'm am optimistic on this card as the baseline of the boardwipe is fantastic and the modality of Skip Ahead will give this card a ton of gameplay depth.

Run it on the merit of being a 4 mana board wipe in blue.

Seasoned Hallowblade is a card that already saw a ton of play in a variety of cubes and for the most part, Guardian of New Benalia seems to fill the same role, but better. Having Enlist creates more options for the player in how they choose to approach their attack steps. For this card, when you choose to enlist you also get a scry 2, which is big for aggro decks since you're not drawing as many cards, so each card you draw needs to count. Having the indestructible ability allows you to trade with other creatures, while also functioning as a discard outlet. 

Replaces Seasoned Hallowblade if you run it, strong inclusion otherwise.

Braids, Arisen Nightmare is a card I am really liking that there's a lot of versatility to what kind of decks she goes in. At a baseline, you could have a boring 3 drop 3/3, which is decent. Where she gets exciting is her passive ability, which is active the turn she enters. She demands that your opponent sacrifice a card that shares a card type with a card you sacrifice, otherwise they take 2 and you draw a card. She can even sacrifice herself with this ability. This ability is great in aggressive decks as it directly burns your opponents or tempos them on resources. With black aggro cards, they are able to recur themselves creating strong synergies with new Braids. In other decks, she can be used as a value engine to apply pressure on your opponents, much the same way as her previous black iteration. I believe that her whole package will make her a solid option for a large variety of decks and will be appreciated in stax and pox strategies.

Solid Value card that can get insane when properly support.

There's a lot to like and dislike about Temporary Lockdown. From my own experience Portable Hole is able to hit a lot of targets in cube for a good rate.This takes the ideas of Portable Hole and converts it into a boardwipe. This seems great in control decks that was to stabilize by turn 3-4. This is able to hit small creatures as well as any token including treasure tokens. The main setback for this card is that I am concerned about hitting my own permanents. If I opted to play this in a control shell, I am looking to include this mana rocks and stax pieces, which would get hit by this card. In additional when dealing with Aggro decks, Wrath of God should be available the next turn. There is a lot to like about the card, but the set backs restrict what kind of decks want to be playing it.

For me, I'm going to sit back and see how the cards are being played out.

RIP Man o War. Aether Channeler is the best variant of Man o War that I can remember. I've been looking to add Barrin into my cube since I am currently not running Man o War. The card has the same lines of play Man o War and more. Being able to choose between its three ability keeps the card always relevant and a strong choice for being a flicker target. The first ability is great as it creates a flying token that adds to you board state. The second ability allows you to bounce any nonland permanent to tempo back your opponent or let you rebuy any ETB effect that you want. The last ability draws you a card, which is great any point in the game. 

Solid card for most cubes.

The Elder Dragon War is a powerful option for red decks. Each of the three modes are strong at various points of the game, making this card relevant throughout. The card lends itself to fitting into a variety of archetypes. No matter the deck, every deck can utilize the dragon token created. It is a solid on cost body with evasion. Being able to always pick this mode makes it a solid baseline for the card with every additional mode being just gravy. Faster decks will opt to make the dragon, while  slower red decks can appreciate each of the modes to stabilize the board and sculpt a better hand. 

Modal 4/4 dragon for 4 with options seems like a huge win in a lot of cubes.

Ertai Resurrected is replacing Hostage Taker in my cube. There's a lot for me to like about this card. The card is a tempo blowout as you force your opponents to waste mana. At the baseline, Ertai is a 3/2 with flash, which is unimpressive since Wydwen is available with better stats and flying. However, having the flexibility to be played as a counter or a kill spell is what pushes this card so ahead. The card draw is a set back to this card and it's puts our opponents at 0 card advantage. Thinking ahead however, the card they receive is not that huge of an advantage for them if they can't play it, which should be your game plan as the tempo deck. Going further, Ertai's ability is an ETB effect, so this will have great synergies with flicker effects. Lastly, I've seen this mentioned and it seemsreally janky, but you can target your own stuff to draw that. This line of play is an example of the utility of this card. 

This seems like an easy card to run in cubes.

Haughty Djinn seems like an easy include for most cubes. He is clearly a card that wants to be played in a spells matter shell since he grows with every spell that is played and reduces their cast as well. Spells matter is a popular archetype to run in cubes already. His dependency on spells is not as big of an issue as it would be with other card types. This is because I noticed that most cubes' blue section will be typically be more noncreatures than creatures, namely instants and sorceries. Tempo decks appreciate this card as threat to protectas well. For myself, I support storm and spells matters already.

Solid Blue card that is playable is most U/x decks.

Cards of Interest

These are cards that I'm not planning to run, but they provide interesting effects that you might want to include in cube

Two Headed Hellkite is a solid control finisher that can take over game. Aside from this, it makes a solid target for fatty cheat strategies since you can get the draw effect from just attacking and as a 5 color card it is a viable target for color specific requirement. The downsides are that it is a 5 color card, which is extremely difficult  to cast and it doesn't have any protection, which makes it vulnerable even after going through the hoops to play this card. The card is not as devastating as some of the other options you have at the 5 mana slot.

Fun card to try out.
Rosnakht, Heir to Rohgahh is a fun card for me as a fan of heroic and aggro strategies. I like that it is a 1 drop anthem for aggro decks and is able to generate tokens that can benefit from the anthem. The main problem is that Signal Pest exists and does a much better job since it is harder to kill. The tokens themselves do not do much either. The card really suffers from being in a niche where it's not good in either situation.

Fun inclusion if you run heroic, other steer clear away.

Greensleeves, Maro-Sorceror seems like a strong inclusion into the lands matter archetype being a solid play at any point in the game. The card is able to fend off from planeswalker abilities (and wizards but how relevant is that?), which is a huge upside since some of the best planeswalkers are removal spells with upside. He also makes badgers when lands enter the battlefield.While I do have some land interactions, I am not running landfall and I do not feel that this card will hold up against its competition without the proper support.

He needs support to maintain his spot in cube. If you support landfall, I would say easy inclusion. If not, sitback and not worry.

Lagomos, Hand of Hatred is pretty sweet. He creates a 2/1 elemental with haste and trample during your combat steps, effectively being active the turn he enters the battlefield. The token he generates makes for solid to sacrifice since it will sacrifice itself anyways. What's holding the card back for me is that although I do run aggro in red and black, he does not play better than the option I currently run.

Solid option for aggro and aristrocrats, doesn't quite make it into my cube though.
Elas il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim is a solid option for BW midrange/tokens and rewards you for your creatures entering and dying, which is huge since that is my token colors. That being said, the baseline for the card is alright and it does need additional support. The card is unable to compete with my other options with Priest of the Fell Rite.

I like the card a lot but I can not justify its inclusion currently.
Aron, Benalia's Ruin seems like a neat card, however I feel that there are a lot of restrictions holding him back from greatness. As a 3 drop 3/3 with menace that can grow your board, I think he's fine. The trouble begins when you start taking a look at how to do that. He has a restrictive mana cost of WWB, which makes him harder to cast on curve. Secondly his ability to give your board counters has 2 hurdles to overcome: Paying WB and sacrificing another creature. This means at a baseline he will be that 3/3 with menace, which at that point you have better 3 drops to play hurting his prospects.

Cool card, but he is too restrictive.

Stenn, Paranoid Partisan is a weird card and it's very possible shouldn't been included for this list. The card is flexible cost reducer for all card types other than creatures and lands. This is great for decks that are built around certain gimmicks like artifact or storm rather than value decks trying to play a balance cards. The fact that he can bounce himself to change what he is reducing is a huge plus. The main setback is that he very likely will have a marginal impact when played since he is a 2/2 for 2 mana, which is not impressive when Giada is card.

This might be a better fit in commander cube, since it does little in traditional cubes.

Meria, Scholar of Antiquity has been described as Gruul Balanced Urza and honestly that might be that best was to describe her. Urza was able to function independently since she could create a token and use it for mana, which is not that case here. The other issue here is that you can only use nontoken artifacts to activate the abilities, so token generation is not as useful. The card seems like a house when it gets going, but it is going to need support. I don't think this card is there yet, but in time this might be something to consider.

I like the new direction they are opening up Gruul to, however there is not enough support to get it competitive yet.

Relic of Legends is another 3 drop mana rock, which is the baseline for producing any color. What sets this apart in the legends text, which is bound to be part of a combo if not already. Legendaries are an incidental part of cube and the legendary ability should be relevant in every deck. I am currently running Coalition Relic, which has done tremendous work in the decks that want it. This has the potential to be insane and it is dependent on the number of legendaries that you play, which will grow with time.

The more legendary creatures you play the better this card is, but I am not sure on the power of this card.  If you can use the ability more than once consistently, this might be the best mana rock at 3.

Phoenix Chick is an aggressive one drop that I'm iffy on because of the initial power and toughness. Having played Arena Cube, I better understand how important that 2nd power is since every point of damage counts. What I do like is that it has flying and haste making it hard to deal with and having an immediate impact in dealing damage. What's even better is that the card can bring itself back bigger and attacking with at least 3 other creatures. The big set backs though are that initial stat line and needing 3 creatures to bring it back.

Solid card, but I don't think it has enough extras when competing in that one drop slot in red.

Pilfer seems like the best variant of the 2 mana universal hand hate since it doesn't cost life like Agonizing Remorse.

Solid option for a hand hate package if you don't run the 1 mana ones.

Tear Asunder is another card where a lot of the excitement came from Powered cube designers. The card is able to exile enchantments and artifacts, which is a huge plus for against those decks. What makes this even better is that you can kick it with black mana and turn it into an Utter End, which is solid. Because of this, the color identity of this card is skewed. When considering this card, I would see it as a green card because the baseline is already playable. The added black makes it even better, but isn't the main reason to play the card. If you see it as a Golgari card, then you could categorize it has such. 

Solid card in an artifact/enchantment dense environment with the kicker just taking it to a strong place. Maybe a little confusing to categorize.

Battlewing Mystic is a card I'm torn on because I really like it, but there's a lot of reason to not run it. At its baseline, a 2/1 with flying for 1U is solid (I remember Welkin Tern being the gold standard). Adding that red kicker just made the card amazingly better because now, it can filter your hand or draw you 2 cards later. Had this card been printed a while ago( a long while), easy slam dunk. Now? too many options. When evaluation it as a blue card, Rattlechains and Spectral Adversary laugh at it and through the Izzet lens, it isn't much better. I currently can not justify its slot in my cube as of now, though in lower power environments I can see it thriving.

Not strong enough for midpower/high power cubes, but a solid card in a vacuum.

Phyrexian Missionary is a card I'm not too keen on, but the more I look at it the more I like it. A 2/3 with lifelink is a solid defense against aggressive decks and makes for a decent attacker as well for the cost of 1W. When kicked the card turns into a Gravedigger, which is not impressive, but always a solid option. I think the card's flexibility is something to be appreciated as it looks stellar in a midrange shell, but nothing too powerful. The card is fine as an independent white card. It doesn't need the extra black to compete.

A solid midrange and control card that can stabilize the board and create card advantage later in the game when played with black.

Squee, Dubious Monarch is another card in the growing list of Goblin Rabblemasters and friends. The card is banger for red aggro. When he is played, he represents 3 additional damage since he has an immediate impact the turn he enters the battlefield. He is able to continuously grow the board much like previous iterations. His setback when compared to the other rabblemasters is that he does not have a way to grow his damage like Rabblemaster or Legion Warchief. To make up for it, he is able to escape from the graveyard and continue the offense.

Solid option but competition is that slot is stacked.
I'm a sucker for a card like Archangel of Wrath. I like the baseline of a 3/4 with Flying and Lifelink. That alone makes it a solid blocker and attacker for all white decks. Add in the kickers and this card turns into a Siege Rhino or Inferno Titan. This isn't good enough to make it in The main problem is that it is in the 4 drop slot for white, which is one of the tightest spots in cube. This is the spot in cube, where the game makes it or breaks for the white players and this doesn't add to that. If you want to consider the kicker as part of the main reason to play this card, now it becomes a Mardu 6 drop, which makes it even harder to play with a minimal effect. The cards power level isn't good enough nowadays, though this can make it lower power cubes.

I like this as a 4 drop in lower powered cubes since it can stabilize games once it is played, but the 4 drop slot here has surpassed it.

Serra's Paragon is not a card that really stuck out to me, however I see it mentioned often. At a baseline, it is a 4 drop 3/4 with flying, which already makes it worse than the previous card. It is able to help you recur a permanent 3MV or less from your to he battlefield, which is powerful. You do have to pay mana for each of these, which is where I have the problem with the card since I am trying to compare it Sun Titan. To note, I do not have a ton of experience with effects like this, which is why I'm not too big on it. For myself, I see it as a Yawgmoth's Will on a body that doesn't work right away. Maybe in time, I'll change my mind, but for now, I'm not seeing the value of this card.

I'm not too excited about this card, but I know it has some merit as a recursion engine. This might stem from me not playng with Lurrus, thus I am hoping to play with this card to better change my mind.

The End Phase

Prior to spoiler season, I was downplaying this set hard thinking that WotC was going to play it safe with card designs. I'm glad I was wrong since there are a good amount of cards that I am interested in testing and I believe this set was phenomenal for lower powered environments. There were a lot of cards to fill out popular archetypes in both cube and commander. I am confident that this set and Double Masters 2022 are a solid foundation for a lot of new cubes. Make sure to pick up some of these cards early at your DMU prerelease to beat the early rush.

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