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 set up our party to go investigating for some treasure. Today, I want to look at adding as many cards with direct analogs from Dungeons and Dragons as we possibly can. We started this last time with the addition of Sleep, but now we can dig into that theme a little deeper.
Unlike previous articles, there wasn’t a good way to research this based on mechanics alone as this was a strictly flavor focused update. So, I took to Twitter and asked my friends what they could come up with, and we have some spicy entries to dig into. But, before we look into the additions, this update had a lot of cards we will NOT be including I still want to highlight.
The fact of the matter was, some of these cards were either too narrow in design, or too incompatible with our cube’s themes, to include. While it’s true that DND has spells like Wall of Fire, Wall of Water, Wall of Stone, and Wall of Ice, we have four strongly supported creature types and not a lot of room for creatures outside of those unless they do something else the cube wants. Earthbind and Whirlwind are both useless if the archenemy isn’t playing out fliers, while Divine Intervention seeks to end the game in a tie and Time Stop literally just ends the turn. Gust of Wind is really designed for a deck with lots of flying creatures. Heal, Blight, Ice Storm, Contagion, Frost Bite and Spellbook just weren’t the right fits, and cards like Heroism and Insight were too narrow. The only card in this category I considered that I still cut was Sneak Attack, which does harken to a classic rogue feature, but is designed to capitalize on powerful, impactful creatures where most of the cube is midrange, lower impact creatures.
Moving on to the cards I did include, there was an interesting selection of possibilities just based on the attributes and skills from the character sheet. Strength in Numbers represents the Strength attribute, Words of Wisdom and Cowed by Wisdom stand in for Wisdom, and Charisma was a direct match for Charisma. Moving from attributes to skills, we have near matches such as Commune with Nature and Nature’s Claim, Acrobatic Maneuver, and Stealth Mission, with more precise matches like Sleight of Hand and Deception.
There were also several Dungeons and Dragons items that had corresponding cards, which even expand on our equipment subthemes. While we were able to include basic equipment like Short Sword and Greatsword, there were also more unique gems like Grappling Hook and Bag of Holding.
Even more than equipment, the number of cards that directly or closely translated spells was impressive. We get access to solid damage spells like Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, Firebolt, and Fireball. There were utility spells like Darkness, Hallow, Jump, and Raise Dead. The interaction and removal we gained from cards like Counterspell, Smite, and Shatter also go a long way toward balancing out the cube’s previously creature-heavy layout. That being said, while there were lots of additional spells in this round, the cube is still looking to be very creature heavy, and the next two articles are going to only further complicate that issue until Adventures in the Forgotten Realms premieres in July.
But before we add all of those creatures, there was one more analog to a DND mechanic left I wanted to cover- Dash. In DND, the Dash action lets you forego using your action to move a second time, effectively letting you move twice as far. The MTG version of this mechanic takes a different spin, letting a creature enter the battlefield, attack with haste, and retreat to your hand (which sounds a lot more like the aforementioned Sneak Attack, but the flavor is still pretty close). I wound up adding a total of six creatures with Dash that had relevant creature types to the cube, most notably Mardu Strike Leader, which makes additional warrior tokens, and Flamerush Rider, which can copy the best attacking creature your team has on the battlefield.
Odds and Ends
With the release of Strixhaven and Commander 2021, we received some additional cards that tie into themes from our previous articles. Prismari Command, Sudden Breakthrough, and Monologue Tax all add to our treasure subtheme. I also came across Together Forever in this set, even though it was originally printed in Battlebond. We have at least a few counter synergies in the cube so far, and being able to recur creatures for the team sets up white as a viable support color in the cube.
This cube is an ongoing project planned to be completed with the release of Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. You can track progress on the cube here. Next time, we dig into part one of our major creature type updates with Rogues and Clerics! Until then, rock on!
Paul, the Rocking Bard