Cube Card Spotlight: Cryptbreaker

   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.

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

Archetypes: Zombies, Tokens, Reanimator, Midrange, Madness, Graveyard

Synergies: Gravecrawler, Intangible Virtues, Gutterbones

Special Notes: N/A

Alternative: Pack Rat


Cryptbreaker is a card I do not hear a ton about from any sub community of Magic. The card has played well every time I got a chance to play with it and there's never been a moment where it felt terrible to play. The card is unique in function with only one other card feeling close. It serves as both an enabler and as its own reward card. When viewing each of the abilities it is easy to assume that the card belongs in Zombie tribal, but taking a step back the card is independent and functions as its own enabler and payoff. Being able to generate zombies increases your board presence, which is important for breaking board stalls. This becomes even more powerful when you can use the zombies to draw cards. Lastly, the zombie generation/ discard ability does not have timing restrictions on it, which means you can "flash" in the zombies. Combine this with cards that care about the graveyard like the recursive aggressive black creatures and this is peak value engine. Gravecrawler plays especially well in tandem. The card won't make an immediate impact, but the power is there.

The main problem with the card is that the baseline for the card  is really low. A 1 mana value 1/1 isn't going to do a whole lot on its own and you have to wait a turn to start using the token ability. This is easily overcame once you have access to the untap ability after one turn cycle. At this point, the card's utility goes way up and you're good to go.


The abilities on the card lend itself to be a strong enabler in various decks. Aside from being independently powerful, majority of its synergies are built off its discard ability. As with all discard abilities, this synergizes well with any graveyard strategy

Graveyard Strategies

Graveyard decks are a loose grouping of midrange decks that can come together in multiple forms, be it self mill, aristrocrats, reanimator, any variation of the three. What unites all of these decks is the common theme of using the graveyard as a form of game advantage. The deck is built on gravefillers and payoff cards. Gravefillers can take the form of either self mill cards or discard outlets. The payoff for these decks are pretty open. It can be as simple as returning cards to your hands as card advantage or be wild as reanimating your graveyard. The decks are typically grindy. Over the course of the game, you will be winning by either out valuing your opponents or some explosive play where you quickly drop a large threat that wins in a few turns.

Having an ability that discards a card makes this card automatically qualified for any graveyard oriented strategy. In the deck, Cryptbreaker will function as a graveyard filler. Discard as a graveyard method allows you to discard specific cards from your hand to the graveyard, this is great if you drew the cards you wanted in your graveyard. Discard is great for supporting reanimator and other strategies that care about specific cards in the graveyard. The card won't be overtaking games in this deck and when used properly you won't even notice the impact the card makes.


Madness decks are a specific variation of graveyard decks looking to take advantage of the act of discarding a card to generate advantage. They are built around 2 components discard outlets and cards that specifically have the keyword mechanic Madness. Madness is just an alternative casting cost that only occurs when a player is discard a card with madness. These cards do not follow timing restrictions when casted for madness, making them great for catching your opponent off guard. The archetype is a little narrow and your choices for madness card come every few years. This often why the deck will pair itself with hellbent/heckbent cards that reward players for having no/ one cards in hand.

When choosing your discard outlets, you typically want cards that discard as a cost to get more value off of the discard. Cryptbreaker is a great example of this as you exchange a card from your card for an instant speed 2/2 Zombie. Lining this up with madness cards and you are getting insane value. It should be noted that the madness card will resolve before your zombie does.


Token decks are also a midrange deck that focuses on generating and leveraging the tokens to build up value. The deck's highlighted features are a deep emphasis on token generators. Token generators are part of a ton of decks and what helps this deck stand out is how you use them. There are multiple routes to take this deck with some decks opting to go the classic beatdown route where you swarm the board with bodies to push through damage or using the tokens as sacrifice fodder to fuel aristrocrat strategies. Regardless of your approach, this will translate to you winning. 

Cryptbreaker serves as a token generator and a source of card draw. The card draw is important as it allows your decks to push through during grindy board states, which will be common in token decks. The tokens are respectably sized 2/2 Zombies. The larger bodies are a serious threat since they trade better and push damage faster than the typical 1/1 tokens. When played together with anthems and pump spells, Cryptbreaker becomes a much bigger threat that needs to be answered. Intangible Virtues is absurd in this deck as it turns for 


These are decks built around Zombies highlighting taking advantage of the cards and abilities that are unique to them. Zombies tend to be either a fast aggressive midrange decks almost looking like an aggro deck or a slower pace, grindy midrange deck. Zombies tend to have abilities that care about the graveyard either they use it for value or they recur themselves. Combine this with black's huge suite of removal and you have an annoying deck for your opponents to deal with. Unlike other tribal decks, creature density is not as important and you will be able to play a decent deck with a minimal amount of zombies.

Cryptbreaker is a card that is a major roleplayer in the deck. As mentioned already, it is both an enabler and payoff on its own. In this shell with support, this card exponentially becomes better. It can generate zombies, which is important for supporting cards that care about density like Dark Salvation and Cemetery Reaper. The card being a discard outlet allows you to take advantage of the graveyard synergies found in Zombies like Gravecrawler and Prized Amalgam. Lastly, the card draw ability is straight gas since you can activate it as much as the number of zombies you have available. This is insane since you can keep zombies up for defense, then use them to draw cards. All zombie decks will be happy to have this card in their piles.


Pack Rat is the only card I can think that functions similarly to Cryptbreaker, which is an enabler and reward card that makes tokens and functions as a discard outlet. This card is infamous for being obnoxious and game warping, which is often why I have opted to cut it from my cube. For those who have yet to witness the game plan with pack rat, it is relatively simple: play Pack Rat, keep activating the discard, win game. The card forces players down this route of continuously discarding cards as that is the optimal game plan. There is little incentive to do otherwise, leading to repetitive games. As long as any copy of Pack Rat remains alive, this game pattern will continue and ultimate take the game. This is why I chose for Cryptbreaker to remain where as Pack Rat has been cut. Cryptbreaker also fits into more decks and has more utility, though this does come at the cost of less raw power. 

Commander Cube Considerations

In commander cubes, it's a versatile option that will be desired by the same archetypes as mentioned above. The card is nothing to be amazed at and it does scale worse as there are more players to deal with. If you are looking for discard outlets, you will not be disappointed and in fact, I think this is one of thebetter options to choose from. This is one of the cards to pull players into zombie tribal if you support it or want to support it. This isn't a must run discard outlet, though I am bullish on it performing well. 


Similar to our last card, Combustible Gearhulk, this is a card that has been flying under the radar. The card isn't absurd and doesn't create huge swings in emotion. This probably why I forgot about it until I wrote the post regarding GB Graveyard, which prompted me to give the card a spotlight since I feel it is at solid spot and can fit well into many cubes.

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