Dig around a Cube forum long enough and you’ll inevitably find me praising Oracle of Mul Daya in one breath, and bemoaning its insufficient power level in the next. I love the effect, but 4-mana has Oracle hitting the board too late and competing at the most crowded converted mana cost in Cube. And for a creature you want to stick on the board, Oracle’s fragility is a crippling liability. Its 2/2 body ensures that it will take place in, at most, one combat step per game.
Enter Courser of Kruphix.
Courser of Kruphix is not strictly superior to Oracle of Mul Daya. You sacrifice the ability to play multiple lands per turn, which, while cute, wasn’t always highly relevant. By the time you hit 4-mana, your hand was often (nearly) depleted of lands anyways, and you were reliant on clumps of lands topping your library to take full advantage.
Courser more than compensates for this disadvantage. Firstly, it costs 3-mana. One of the tragedies of Cube design is that green, the color meant to be ramping with Elves to reach 3-mana on turn 2, has perhaps the least impressive assortment of 3-drops of any color. Currently, at 360 cards, I run the following:
Further, Courser’s ample (and flavorful, Magically speaking) caboose spares it from trading with lowly Rakdos Cacklers and provides protection against red’s assortment of burn spells.
Best of all, Courser has a ridiculous amount of play to it. Let’s run through some interactions:
These two are best friends for life, and Courser of Kruphix truly uses every piece of the buffalo. The obvious interaction is to stack your draws so that you always have a land on top at the start of your main phase, turning Sylvan Library into a personal Howling Mine. Beyond that, Courser gains you life, both by its trigger and by virtue of being able to actually block and absorb damage. Funnel that life gain back into Sylvan Library and you have a personal Font of Mythos.
Further library manipulation also benefits, and there’s even incidental synergy with something like Chandra, Pyromaster, as you can consider the top of your library before choosing which ability to activate.
Shuffle effects! These produce interesting decision trees. Do you hold that fetchland uncracked for the opportunity to shuffle in search of a land next turn? Keep them in your hand until the top of your library reveals a dud? If the top of your library shows a desirable card, are you willing to forgo playing your shuffle effect to ensure that you draw the card next turn? How does that affect your sequencing?
On Known Information
Design wise, bits of known and revealed information bring a fundamentally new dynamic to the gameplay. Cards like Gitaxian Probe and Augur of Bolas have spiced up games, as knowing part or all of your opponent’s hand allows for tactical maneuvering that’s normally not an option when you’re playing in the dark.
A word on etiquette: for a friendly, social format like Cube, I firmly believe that memory and the tedium of writing down revealed cards should not factor into the experience. Whenever a card is revealed to the opponent, we keep it face-up on the table behind our lands until they hit the battlefield, or the contents of your hand are otherwise obfuscated by something like Brainstorm.
My Own Cube
As you customize your Cube and develop unique archetypes, you’ll find that some cards fit your design like a glove. My Cube has a couple conditions that make Courser of Kruphix a perfect match:
1) I run two copies of each fetchland. This remains my most widely adopted design innovation, and people I’ve talked to who have implemented it swear by the improvement it makes to their environment.
2) As discussed in my last article I am currently pushing a life gain theme in my cube.
Although playing and cracking a fetchland only nets you a single life with Courser of Kruphix on the table, it does create two triggers. Further it provides yet another incentive to run the following combination in green/white decks:
The Selesnya guild now has a critical mass of cards that care about your land management, from Steppe Lynx to Knight of the Reliquary to Life from the Loam and the newest addition, Courser of Kruphix.
All told, I couldn’t be more excited to track down a copy. Courser of Kruphix, may I introduce you to your new 359 closest friends?
Jason’s Cube Discussion Forum – http://riptidelab.com/forum/