Editors Note: While normally we get a Magic the Gathering update from K. Zolnoski, we have a special treat this time with a piece from her husband, Roy Zolnoski, regarding A Momir Basic Cube Variant at an Intermediate Level.
An Article by Roy Zolnoski:
I’ve played Magic the Gathering for 20 years. I’ve played many different formats and environments, from the most casual tabletop games with my family to Standard, Modern, Legacy and Vintage tournaments. One of the most unusual formats I’ve played is Momir Basic. In this article I’ll explain what that is and how I constructed a Momir Basic cube for family game days.
Momir Basic is a casual format first played on Magic Online, based on the “Momir Vig” Vanguard avatar. Each player plays an identical deck of 60 basic lands, 12 each of Plains, Islands, Swamps, Mountains and Forests. During each turn, you can play one land. If you choose to, during one of your main phases you can tap any number of lands and discard a card to create a token that’s a copy of a creature with converted mana cost (CMC) equal to the number of lands you tapped. So on turn three if you tap three lands and discard a card you get a token that’s a copy of a creature with a converted mana cost of three.
The fact that you’re creating tokens has a number of implications. First, when the creature dies it does go to the graveyard but then basically disappears. You can’t reanimate creatures out of your graveyard. Also, you’re not casting a spell when you put a creature into play so counterspells and anything that interacts with spells being cast is completely useless. Last, bounce or return to hand effects in this format have the same effect as exiling a creature. The creature can’t return to your hand because it’s a token, so the token basically goes “poof” back to wherever it came from.
When playing Momir Basic in Magic Online, when you put a creature into play the system gives you a random creature across all the creature cards ever available in online. The quality of creatures varies widely at each converted mana cost. At the one slot (creatures with a converted mana cost of 1) you have everything from mana producers to extremely aggressive and undercosted creatures to nearly useless walls or underpowered creatures from older sets. Because this makes the variability of games extremely wide it can lead to very unbalanced games if one player gets lucky and “summons” better creatures.
I tried Momir Basic online several times but the wide variability of creature quality makes the games too unbalanced for my tastes. The winner tends to be the first player to get lucky and find a bomb. When I created my cube I decided to keep the creature quality consistently high. Not every creature is “broken” or overpowered, but I didn’t want there to be any duds in my cube. Oh, what’s a cube? A cube is a generic term for playing with the best cards in Magic, regardless of format legality. Cube drafts are drafts done with the best cards, including the Power Nine if you cube draft online or with rich friends. In my case, since I’m creating a Momir Basic cube I am restricted to only creatures. I wanted a variety of converted mana costs from one to 10. No Power Nine needed nor other expensive non-creatures like Bazaar of Baghdad or The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale.
To me the most fun part of a Momir Basic cube is seeing the interactions between creatures that you would never see otherwise.
Here are some highlights of my Momir Basic cube, by converted mana cost, with some commentary on each. Rather that waste a lot of space here describing each creature I’ve included links to their official description in the Gatherer site so you can read more about any creature you’re unfamiliar with. Hopefully this will give you some ideas if you’re considering building a Momir Basic cube.
Converted Mana Cost = 1
I worked hard to make the 1 spot worthwhile. I don’t want to make every 1 drop be acceleration but I want the creatures to be useful. Still, the best 1 drops are acceleration like Birds of Paradise, Noble Hierarch or Llanowar Elves. I do have some other useful 1 drops like Grim Lavamancer, Elvish Skysweeper (most of the late game threats are flyers, including Emrakul), and Sedge Scorpion. Sedge Scorpion is interesting because the player who gets it is usually disappointed at first, but later in the game is usually saved by it when it takes out some huge attacking creature.
Perhaps the most powerful 1 drop in my cube is Legion Loyalist, which reads “Whenever Legion Loyalist and at least two other creatures attack, creatures you control gain first strike and trample until end of turn and can’t be blocked by creature tokens this turn.” Because every creature in this cube is a token, this makes your attacking creatures unblockable. Not bad for a 1 drop.
Converted Mana Cost = 2
Creatures at CMC 2 are often very aggressive creatures like Watchwolf. However, a highly aggressive strategy is difficult to pull off in the cube because generally your opponents are also playing a creature each turn. So my 2 drops are a mix of utility creatures and aggressive creatures. Some highlights:
- Many slivers, including Muscle Sliver and Heart Sliver. I have mixed feelings about Slivers in the cube because it’s difficult to assemble more than a few different ones, but I’m not quite ready to take them out yet.
- Suture Priest – creatures are always leaving and entering the battlefield, so this little guy gets increasingly annoying as the game goes on.
- Skirsdag High Priest – creatures are often dying so you can wind up with quite a few 5/5 Demons.
- Blood Artist – He gets broken very quickly, particularly if you wind up with a token generator like Verdant Force. At the very least he makes combat a very dicey proposition for your opponents, which can buy you enough time to build your army.
- Waterfront Bouncer – while it costs you a card when you use his ability, this common gives you the ability to kill any other creature that you can target.
- Myr Superion – nothing like a 5/6 for two.
Converted Mana Cost = 3
- AEther Adept – an example of how powerful bounce is in this format. She’s almost wasted at the 3 spot since you’d really like her later in the game to deal with bigger threats.
- Temporal Adept – another blue creature that can kill anything it can target in this format. She does cost UUU to activate, which illustrates the importance of thinking about what lands you play and which you discard. Generally it’s good to get at least one of each land type in play to take advantage of activated abilities later on.
- Wayfaring Temple – it hasn’t happened yet, but this guy is going to get out of hand. If he deals combat damage you get to “populate,” which means making a copy of a token creature you control. Since all your creatures are tokens, he can copy any creature.
- Courser of Kruphix – guaranteed to get you an extra land and life each turn. Seems good.
- Burnished Hart – decent generally, but in this format he jumps you from playing a 4 drop on turn four to playing a 6 drop.
- Terravore – maybe the best 3 drop in the format. His power and toughness are equal to the number of lands in ALL graveyards, and he has trample. In a four player game he could be a 10/10 or bigger when you put him into play.
- Edric, Spymaster of Trest – if you get a flyer early, this guy can give you huge card advantage. Card drawing is just as important in this cube as it is in other formats. Giving you an extra card a turn allows you to keep playing land and keep working your way up the mana curve, past the 7 spot where you would run out of cards in hand without skipping a play or drawing extra cards.
Converted Mana Cost = 4
- Desecration Elemental – since no-one will ever play a spell, he’s an 8/8 with Fear for 4 and no drawback.
- Witch Hunter – another way to kill any targetable creature.
- Phantom General – generally an overcosted way to boost your tokens, but since every creature you control in this format is a token he’s actually quite powerful here.
- Boldwyr Heavyweights – another 8/8 trampler for 4 with no drawback, at least in this format.
Converted Mana Cost = 5
- Gahiji, Honored One – seems only OK but after the first time he came up we realized how good he is in a multi-player game. He boosts not only your creatures but also other player’s creatures as long as they are attacking an opponent of yours.
- Vulturous Zombie – we’ve seen him get to be over a 20/20 late in a game when lots of combat occurs. Even without combat he will grow almost every turn as your opponents discard lands to get creatures.
- Xenagos, God of Revels – there is a big debate in our cube about Xenegos and whether or not he’s too overpowered. Opinion is split right now. I’ve tried to include enough bounce effects to offset cards like this, but there is no doubt that Xenegos is very strong, particularly if you get a creature with Annihilator later in the game.
Converted Mana Cost = 6
Six is where the creatures really start to get powerful. You have the Titans like Primeval, Sun and Grave as well as dragons including the classic Shivan, newer threats like Kokusho, the Evening Star, and the Invasion block series of elder dragons like Rith, the Awakener. The faster you can get to six mana, the better.
- Deathbringer Thoctar – he generally draws fire as soon as he hits the table but, if allowed to live, he will get very big very quickly in this format and could take a player out just with his counters.
- Meglonoth – another creature that may be too overpowered, believe it or not. Because he has vigilance he allows you to attack the weakest player each turn and still leave a blocker that makes combat on the ground generally a losing proposition.
- Mist Dragon – while not the most powerful 6 drop, his zero-cost ability allows you to annoy the living daylights out of your opponents. Not that we would ever randomly make Mist Dragon fly or not fly at the end of a player’s turn. No, we would never do that.
- Princess Lucrezia – acceleration at the 6 spot would normally be ludicrous, but here it allows you to jump to 8 during your next turn and ideally get to the precious 10.
- Dragon Broodmother – one of my oldest daughter’s favorite cards, and quite powerful. Generating flyers during every upkeep gets out of hand quickly.
- Sun Quan, Lord of Wu – I love this card because whenever a new player sees it, at first they are confused and then very happy. Since no other creatures in my cube have horsemanship it means your creatures are unblockable. Sun Quan might eventually have to come out of the cube but so far we’ve been able to kill him quickly enough to not allow things to get out of hand.
- Primeval Titan – immediately jumps you from six land in play to eight, setting you up to get to 10 faster than any of your opponents. If he lives long enough to attack you’ll have at least 10 lands in play and a huge advantage.
Converted Mana Cost = 7
The 7 CMC pile is noticeably smaller than 4 through 6, and the piles get much smaller from here on out. Again, I focused on high quality creatures for this cube and some of the higher casting cost creatures in Magic are basically crippled (I’m looking at you, Leviathan).
- Altar Golem – by the time he comes out he’s often at least a 15/15 in a three or four player game.
- Archdemon of Unx – one of the creatures with synergies that you’d never see in another format. Spore generators or Verdant Force become even better with the Archdemon in play.
- Thraximundar – as in any format where you can actually get him into play, he’s very powerful. His sacrifice a creature ability gets around protection or hexproof.
- Angel of Serenity – unlike normally, the three creatures she exiles can’t come back again because they’re tokens.
- Hamletback Goliath – he’s been so big before we’ve actually lost track. He was at least a 45/45 the last time he came into play.
Converted Mana Cost = 8
We have even fewer creatures available here, but some are game changers.
- Sanguine Praetor – normally he’d never see play due to his casting cost, but here he can be a board sweeper in the right situation.
- Utvara Hellkite – if you somehow get this with Dragon Broodmother, the game tends to end very quickly.
- Kederekt Leviathan – often the late game turns into players who are behind digging through the 8 pile, hoping to hit this board sweeper. He will permanently remove every other creature from the board and leave you with a 5/5. His Unearth ability doesn’t come into play here, but the reset button he provides is more than enough.
Converted Mana Cost = 9
I only have 12 creatures in this pile. Sometimes we do run out if multiple players are able to get past seven lands in play, but we’ve decided to risk that rather than putting underpowered creatures here.
We include the green, blue and red Bringers here. The Bringer of the Red Dawn is very powerful and might be the best 9 drop. After much debate, we dropped Bringer of the Black Dawn. I argued that being able to find an extra land of your choice every turn in order to activate abilities like Temporal Adept was worth the life loss. Others in the family vehemently disagreed so I agreed to remove the black Bringer. Poor misunderstood Bringer.
Converted Mana Cost = 10+
There aren’t many good creatures at 10 CMC or above so I decided to just make one pile. A pile for 12 or 15 would just be too small. Having one pile for all creatures at 10 CMC or more increases the variability of this small pile but I think that’s OK.
- Progenitus – revealing Progenitus with my oldest daughter in the game always prompts her to launch into a ten minute tirade about how “Protection from everything” is far from “Protection from everything.” This was a bitter, bitter lesson she learned a few years ago when I used Damnation to kill everything, including Progenitus.
- Pathrazer of Ulamog, Spawnshire of Ulamog and Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre – Ulamog’s come into play ability doesn’t trigger since you’re not casting him, but Annihilator creatures end the game quickly one way or the other. Either you have enough other creatures to kill your opponent quickly, or the other players gang up on you and take you out of the game.
- Emrakul, the Aeons Torn – the big boy, the one all of us are hoping to get when we get a 10. Again his come into play ability doesn’t trigger but a 15/15 flying Annihilator 6 is good enough. I’m still waiting for someone to also have Xenagos, God of Revels when they get Emrakul.