Cube Archetypes – UR Spells/Prowess

Of all the parts of the cube UR is probably the part that’s changed the most since the earliest builds.

At the beginning there were the ill fated attempts at mono colour tribal themes (I could never make my mind up between merfolk and faeries for blue as I wanted [mtg_card]True-Name Nemesis[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Vendilion Clique[/mtg_card] to both make the cut, red was goblins which lasted longer but ultimately went too). Blue and red have both also had a pretty heavy artifact theme (this was in all the non green colours) at points in the past with cards like [mtg_card]Grand Architect[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Chief Engineer[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Megatog[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Pia and Kiran Nalaar[/mtg_card].

When the cube got its last big review and I decided to focus a lot more on the colour pair archetypes as the basis for the whole thing I was down to a choice of two real options for UR. Keeping and expanding the artifact theme (I might have gone this was had there been some more good thopter token cards in the style of Origins…maybe if we ever go to Kaladesh I might end up revisiting that decision) or going for a prowess style deck.

I settled on prowess as it worked better with a lot of the UR gold cards I liked ([mtg_card]Nivix Cyclops[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Hypersonic Dragon[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Melek, Izzet Paragon[/mtg_card] etc) and a few pet cards like [mtg_card]Talrand, Sky Summoner[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Young Pyromancer[/mtg_card] fitted better. [mtg_card]Jeskai Ascendancy[/mtg_card] in the three colour section, along with [mtg_card]Monastery Mentor[/mtg_card] in white were also a major motivator here as I’d like a jeskai Mentor/Pyromancer/Ascendancy deck to be a thing.

The backbone

Although this is the most spell heavy archetype in the cube (except possibly some builds of UW or Esper control) you are still reliant on creatures to stay alive and sometimes to win the game. The creatures are also the big indicators that this deck is viable in the cube.

[mtg_card]Young Pyromancer[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Talrand, Sky Summoner[/mtg_card] are probably the biggest draws to playing this deck. They turn all the cantrips and burn spells in your deck into board presence. [mtg_card]Monastery Mentor[/mtg_card] also fits into this deck, and it’s very possible to play a Jeskai version of this.

Spell recursion is also a significant component as keeping yourself from running out of gas, given that on average you have quite small creatures and may be quite reliant on prowess triggers. [mtg_card]Snapcaster Mage[/mtg_card] is, well…[mtg_card]Snapcaster Mage[/mtg_card]…enough said. The bombier version of this, in this cube, is [mtg_card]Charmbreaker Devils[/mtg_card]. As long as you can keep your graveyard intact you can keep triggering prowess and keep [mtg_card]Charmbreaker Devils[/mtg_card] big on the attack every turn.

The core of the deck though are the prowess creatures. Most of the good ones printed so far appear in the cube. [mtg_card]Monastery Swiftspear[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Abbot of Keral Keep[/mtg_card], are in red. [mtg_card]Jeskai Elder[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Jeskai Sage[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Jhessian Thief[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Mistfire Adept[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Sage-Eye Avengers[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Pearl-Lake Ancient[/mtg_card] (because you really need prowess on a 7-drop 6/7) are in blue. There is also [mtg_card]Soulblade Djinn[/mtg_card] with super prowess along with the aforementioned [mtg_card]Jeskai Ascendancy[/mtg_card].

The “creatures with prowess” section of the cube is probably going to get upgrades with almost every set from here on, with its new evergreen status. The 1R, 1/3, prowess vampire in Shadows over Innistrad is almost definitely going to make the cut due to being a good crossover card with BR vampires.


The other half of this deck is the spells (well DUH). You will generally want a few categories of spells.

  • Burn
  • Bounce and tempo
  • Cantrips and card draw

There’s plenty of burn spells in the cube and they are largely interchangeable. [mtg_card]Lightning Bolt[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Incinerate[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Lightning Strike[/mtg_card] aren’t THAT different (yeah, bolt is the best you can get and incinerate has a nice bonus…but strike is still 3 damage on a cheap card). [mtg_card]Mizzium Mortars[/mtg_card] is probably the most desirable just due to flexibility.

Tempo and bounce cards are rather interchangeable, there are a few cheap bounce and tempo spells which you can usually pick up fairly late. [mtg_card]Rush of Ice[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Clutch of Currents[/mtg_card] are recent additions which can give you a bit more board presence as well. The absolute best is [mtg_card]Cyclonic Rift[/mtg_card], but that is first pick good for any blue deck. It’s even worth splashing as the effect is that big.

The cantrip spells fit in here better than any other deck. [mtg_card]Brainstorm[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Ponder[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Preordain[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Serum Visions[/mtg_card] are all good for getting prowess triggers while keeping your hand full, plus they’re good for just digging to your better cards. The fetchlands are also available to combo with [mtg_card]Brainstorm[/mtg_card].

Sample decks


[d title="UR Prowess"]
1x Dragonmaster Outcast
1x Monastery Swiftspear
1x Abbot of Keral Keep
1x Augur of Bolas
1x Jeskai Elder
1x Jhessian Thief
1x Markov Blademaster
1x Prophetic Flamespeaker
1x Talrand, Sky Summoner
1x Thunderbreak Regent
1x Meloku the Clouded Mirror
1x Stormbreath Dragon
1x Charmbreaker Devils
1x Inferno Titan

Non-Creature Permanents
1x Jace, the Mind Sculptor

1x Lightning Bolt
1x Cyclonic Rift
1x Incinerate
1x Lightning Strike
1x Searing Spear
1x Scatter to the Winds
1x Dig Through Time
1x Clutch of Currents
1x Treasure Cruise

1x Volcanic Island
8x Island
7x Mountain

1x Battle Hymn
1x Birds of Paradise
1x Black Sun's Zenith
1x Blue Sun's Zenith
1x Coastal Discovery
1x Commune with the Gods
1x Crocanura
1x Deathbringer Regent
1x Elspeth, Sun's Champion
1x Eternal Witness
1x Fact or Fiction
1x Goblin Bushwhacker
1x Magma Jet
1x Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper
1x Pillar of Flame
1x Sakura-Tribe Elder
1x Slayers' Stronghold
1x Soldier of the Pantheon
1x Splinterfright
1x Tithe Drinker[/d]
[d title="UR Prowess"]
1x Goblin Guide
1x Monastery Swiftspear
1x Abbot of Keral Keep
1x Augur of Bolas
1x Jeskai Sage
1x Snapcaster Mage
1x Young Pyromancer
1x Jhessian Thief
1x Kira, Great Glass-Spinner
1x Mindsparker
1x Nivix Cyclops
1x Vendilion Clique

Non-Creature Permanents
1x Umezawa's Jitte
1x Bident of Thassa
1x Thassa, God of the Sea

1x Izzet Charm
1x Lightning Strike
1x Electrolyze
1x Volt Charge
1x Fact or Fiction
1x Pillar of Flame
1x Mizzium Mortars
1x Coastal Discovery

1x Scalding Tarn
8x Island
8x Mountain

1x Brainstorm
1x Celestial Colonnade
1x Claustrophobia
1x Coordinated Assault
1x Crosis, the Purger
1x Cultivate
1x Faithless Looting
1x Falkenrath Aristocrat
1x Koth of the Hammer
1x Lightning Helix
1x Liliana of the Veil
1x Mortify
1x Nemesis of Mortals
1x Ninja of the Deep Hours
1x Rush of Ice
1x Shaman of Forgotten Ways
1x Sublime Archangel
1x Sunscorch Regent
1x Sword of Body and Mind
1x Think Twice
1x Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

Next up: Shadows Over Innistrad, cube alterations!