Hello, everyone, and welcome back to the Puzzle Box!
This week we are going to be looking at the red section substitutions as we continue building our cube to optimize it for the four-man format called Twos. If you have been following along, there is a good chance that you will have a pretty good idea of the swaps we are going to be making and the reasons for them. I am going to go through them card by card to give you a a solid foundation on how you can evaluate cards that are going to be released in the future, or just so you can go digging in the trove of cards we already have and find a hidden gem. Twos is a little-discussed format across the internet, so there are sure to be a pile of great cards for the format still out there.
If you are joining us part way through this series, you can go and find the introduction to this format here. It’s fast, really complex, and a lot of fun.
Let’s Get to the Cards!
[card]Torch Fiend[/card] —> [card]Forge Devil[/card]: Swapping out Torch Fiend for Forge Devil is easy here. It will be a theme in the red section to find lots of cards being swapped for ones that deal an efficient one damage to a creature. Because this is such a fast-moving format, cheaper creatures will be more valuable than more expensive ones. You’ll often find that those cheaper creatures have one toughness. So Forge Devil will always come down and kill a guy and proceed to be a good blocker because of his one power!
[card]Stormblood Berserker[/card] —> [card]Cunning Sparkmage[/card]: Stormblood Berserker is a really good card—it even stands up to the [card]Gut Shot[/card] test most of the time. But Cunning Sparkmage can blank an aggro player’s whole hand.
[card]Keldon Vandals[/card] —> [card]Taurean Mauler[/card]: Taurean Mauler will not be a 2/2 for three for very long. It gets the benefit of having two opponents to pump it up. It is very possible that it will be attacking for four or five on turn four. Regarding the cuts of all of the artifact-destroying creatures: I am working within the gameplay of the Puzzle Box. There are no backbreaking swords or fast mana artifacts. If you have decided to add those to your own cube, you are going to want to find a way to fit these creatures in, as they are important for the balance of the format. This may mean that you’ll need to move up from a 270-card cube.
[card]Blistering Firecat[/card] —> [card]Purphoros, God of the Forge[/card]: Blistering Firecat is alright, although it is in the Puzzle Box list as filler as we were shaving pennies to get under the $200 mark. With the Twos list, we are letting loose a bit. Purphoros is nuts and super fun! He deals two damage to each opponent whenever you play a creature. That turns every creature following the god into four damage. How about curving from this guy into [card]Spectral Procession[/card], [card]Lingering Souls[/card], or a few copies of [card]Empty the Warrens[/card]?
[card]Gore-House Chainwalker[/card] —> [card]Hellspark Elemental[/card]: Hellspark will almost always deal six damage. You’ll often have an opponent with no blocker and they will be discouraged from using a removal spell on something that is going to die right away anyway.
[card]Searing Spear[/card] —> [card]Lava Dart[/card]: Again, being able to do one damage twice, and more flexibly, is more important than being able to deal three damage all in one shot.
[card]Arc Lightning[/card] —> [card]Arc Trail[/card]: We have all seen Arc Lightning get a three-for-one in cube, and it is so good when it happens. So why am I swapping out an effect that we have been bending over backwards to get? Arc Trail is one mana cheaper and will often be a two-for-one. In Twos, you will just be happier getting a two-for-one a turn sooner.
[card]Fireblast[/card] —> [card]Flame Rift[/card]: Fireblast does four damage to an opponent while Flame Rift deals four to each player! Yes, this does mean that your team is taking eight as well, but if you have the red deck, you should be ahead on life so it won’t be a problem. The ability to sacrifice two mountains is less appealing in a faster format because you may not have the time to get out those extra lands. Also, you will certainly be playing sixteen land in this deck, so those extra lands might not be so extra.
[card]Char[/card] —> [card]Guttersnipe[/card]: In Twos, Guttersnipe is absolutely pack one, pick one material! This card, like so many others, specifies that it deals two damage to each player. So… counter that spell and four you, bolt that creatures and four you, loot faithlessly and four you, [card]Brainstorm[/card] and four you. Just tack on “and four you” to every card in your Izzet deck and smile. This card wins games!
[card]Wildfire[/card] —> [card]Slagstorm[/card]: Think of Slagstorm as a mini Wildfire minus the sac lands effect. Hmm, that’s not really a Wildfire. How about a red [card]Wrath of God[/card] that has the ability to deal six to each team for three mana? Maybe it’s just Slagstorm. This card can go in the red control deck and in the burn deck. Again, because all of our creatures are so cheap, the toughness is going to be low, so it will be rare that a creature survives through a Slagstorm!
[card]Sulfuric Vortex[/card] —> [card]Empty the Warrens[/card]: Sulfuric Vortex is worthy of pack one, pick one in regular Cube. We are going to swap it out for a card that highlights one of the fun parts of Twos. The teamwork aspect really shines with this card. Imagine that you draw this on your third turn and ask your opponents if they have anything they can do on your next turn. They respond with, “Oh, you have Empty?” and you reply with, “Yeah.” Then you both talk about how you are going to sequence your next turn or whether you should wait a turn because you think you can live for one more. All the while, your opponents are looking at each other trying to figure out it they can do anything. When you pass the turn, they get to have a discussion on what it is they are going to to do try and stop their impending doom.
Green with Anticipation
If you haven’t tried this format, take whatever cube you have, in whatever configuration, and give it a try! If you enjoy the experience, you should think about adding these Twos-specific cards as a subset of cards for your cube. This is what I am doing right now. The play experience is so much different when you have an optimized list for the format. I will post a Puzzle Box Twos list on Cube Tutor when this project is complete. Until that time, let me know if you’ve given it a try on Twitter. You can find me at @awcolman. Hope to hear from you soon!
Thanks for hangin’, everyone.