Welcome back to Cube of Force, the article series where we build a Dungeons and Dragons themed Magic: The Gathering cube step-by-step. Last time, we looked at all of the various cards in Magic’s history with both direct and indirect analogs to Dungeons and Dragons (and there were a lot more than I originally thought!). Today, we will be digging extensively into the existing rogues and clerics that we want in our cube, expanding on the party subtheme we established earlier.
With over 300 cards that include “Rogue” in the rules text, we have our work cut out for us in narrowing it down. This is also probably one of the areas where, if you’re building your own cube, there is the most room for customization between my cube and another for this very reason. I tried to focus on creatures that expanded on what the cube is already doing, but also in adding creatures with our preferred types in the colors they were least supported to best insure all three decks can form a party if they so desire. In making your own cube, try to consider if your cube is trying to emulate Dungeons and Dragons the same way mine does, or if you want to approach this from a different angle.
One thing I wanted to ensure with the remaining creatures in the cube is they have a way to get in for damage against the archenemy. This is an area where rogues naturally excel with unblockable rogues like Slither Blade, Triton Shorestalker, Jhessian Infiltrator, and Invisible Stalker can do well. There are also several flying rogues such as Faerie Duelist and Faerie Vandal, with Soaring Thought-Thief being a flier that boosts your rogues. Even abilities that discourage blocking, such as Deathtouch on Tajuru Blightblade, are worth consideration here. This will be something I look at for other creature types, but I noticed the ability to get in for incremental chip damage was a common theme among rogues specifically.
Another area I noticed rogues could bring value to the table is in card advantage. A number of rogues reward you for attacking or dealing damage by drawing a card, which keeps your hand full so you can keep advancing your board state and holding up interaction. Vedalken Heretic, Cold-Eyed Selkie, Jhessian Thief, Stealer of Secrets, and Scroll Thief reward you for dealing damage, with Rankle, Master of Pranks actually letting each player draw a card. In the same vein as Rankle, Edric, Spymaster of Trest can give this damage ability functionally to every creature on the team regardless of type. Audacious Thief, Surveilling Sprite, Burning-Tree Vandal, Robber of the Rich and Anowon, the Ruin Thief also provide reliable sources of card advantage for you.
An interesting note for Anowon and Soaring Thought-Thief is that they reward only rogues you control, and not all rogues or all rogues your team controls. When you’re building decks with your teammates, you may want to consider cards like this and building one deck to “specialize” in a creature type more than the others to get optimal value. But don’t be afraid to still include some other creature types, or use changelings we added previously to ensure you still have a complete party.
Strangely, this is less of an issue with clerics. That is because there was a change in Wizards’ design philosophy over the years, with more recent cards rewarding only your creatures, and older cards often affecting all creatures in play that share a type. That makes cards like Battlefield Medic, Akroma’s Devoted, Doubtless One, Vile Deacon, and Profane Prayers able to be played effectively in decks that have very few clerics, if you know that your team has a reasonable number of clerics overall. These cards are all from Onslaught Block, so we can expect to see a similar trend when we look at Wizards next time as they were also supported in that draft environment.
With that being said, there are clerics who reward your deck for having more clerics in it. If you’re running Cleric of Life’s Bond, Daru Spiritualist, Expedition Healer, Cabal Archon, Taborax, Hope’s Demise, or Shieldmage Elder, you will want to ensure your deck has a larger number of clerics in it. Cleric tokens may also be an option thanks to Heliod, God of the Sun. You’ll notice these payoffs are entirely in white and black, making the our typical orzhov deck likely cleric focused.
One thing I was not expecting to find when putting together the clerics for this list was all of the various utility clerics, especially outside of white and black. Priest of Iroas can destroy a problematic enchantment in the late game, Cleric of Chill Depths is a solid blocker to hold back, and Harsh Mentor adds in chip damage as the archenemy activates the abilities of their permanents. I particularly liked Conclave Mentor here, since adding counters is one of the subthemes we established in the earliest stages of the cube. Likewise, we also wanted ways to untap permanents for our teammates, which we gain with Juniper Order Druid and Vizier of Tumbling Sands.
Odds and Ends
As of this writing, Modern Horizons 2 spoilers are underway. I’ve been keeping an eye on cards that would benefit our cube, and there are just a handful that initially stand out. Adding to our treasure subtheme, we have Strike It Rich and Fae Offering, which also supports our clue subtheme, and offers up food as a subtheme we can consider if we have room after Adventures in the Forgotten Realms premieres. Dungeons and Dragons does have food, after all.
Next time, we will take a look at Wizards and Warriors, hopefully wrapping up any major updates before Adventure in the Forgotten Realms premieres! Until then, be sure to check out our cube progress here! Until then, rock on!