Legacy of the RailsList
Highball is the first cube to be built using the Thanos Approach to Cube. Cards were rated on a 1-10 scale based on their Unsupported Playability (UP) and their Supported Playability (SP). Cards with an Unsupported Playability of between 5-7 and a supported playability of between 6-10 were selected as the basis for the list. There are no more than 10 situational removal spells and cards specifically for archetype support that fall a little lower than this range. This is still a deck-not-cards format, so there were a few cases where running cards slightly outside the range was necessary for making things work.
Cube updates will be named after famous locomotive classes, and in very rare instances, famous one-off locomotives. The current version of the cube is build 1.0 Central New Jersey G3 Pacific. These engines are most famously known for pulling the luxurious "Blue Comet" passenger service running between Jersey City, New Jersey and Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Archetype Breakdown For Version 1: CNJ G3 Pacific
Azorius decks will usually be slow and controlling. They run counterspells, Banishing Light effects, and big finishers. There are multiple different ways an Azorius player can take their deck. While some will choose to build more traditional counter-draw decks, there are also Starfield of Nyx/Hanna, Ship's Navigator saga control decks that can be quite successful.
There are a few different routes a Dimir player can take their deck, ranging from a more aggressive tempo build, to a classic U/B control list. The running theme in Dimir is Discard, with plenty of looters and other ways to stock the graveyard. Drake Haven is this color pair's MVP. Reanimator and Laboratory Maniac decks in this color pair are also quite good.
Rakdos: Discard Aggro/Aristocrats
Rakdos is probably the most fluid of the color pairs. There are a lot of different directions a Rakdos player can choose to take their deck. However, many of them end at either Discard Aggro or Aristocrats. Rakdos Discard usually involves Flameblade Adept, The Flame of Keld, Bloodhall Priest, and Faith of the Devoted, along with other discard outlets. Aristocrats strategies usually revolve around either Tymaret, the Murder King or Goblin Bombardment. These decks also have a little bit of "sacrificing artifacts" synergy thanks to Pia and Kiran Nalaar and friends.
Gruul: Rhythm Aggro
The Riot mechanic appears on exactly two cards in Highball: Rhythm of the Wild and Domri, Chaos Bringer. Luckily, both of these cards give Riot to creatures. Gruul plays like either a ramp deck with Fires of Yavimaya, or a more traditional R/G aggro deck with a Counters subtheme. Hardened Scales is surprisingly good in this archetype. Legion Warboss is also a sleeper here. Gruul is also home to Molten Vortex/Life from the Loam decks.
Selesnya: Counting Counters
This deck puts counters on things. Hardened Scales, Travel Preparations, and Venerated Loxodon are all MVPs in this deck. Karn's Bastion and Evolution Sage also do a ton of work in this archetype. Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit is a good counters engine, and also enables many combos with persist creatures such as Kitchen Finks.
If my cube had a Pumpkin Spice Latte for an archetype, this would be it. This deck is a fairly run-of-the-mill aristocrats list. The biggest difference is that this deck makes prolific usage of the (good) afterlife creatures. Blood Artist is good as always, and Lingering Souls is here.Ministrant of Obligation, Orzhov Enforcer, and Tithe Taker all provide value beyond the grave in the form of tokens.
This deck does a fair bit of dredging, but the two-color builds usually end up as "regular reanimator" lists. Stock the graveyard with Dredge Cards or Discard Outlets, and then Reanimate them. Vivien's Arkbow, although quite good in U/G super ramp as a way to efficiently find finishers, can also act as a free discard outlet since it can be activated for 0. Underrealm Lich can also prevent you from losing the game by decking yourself. Any non-reanimator version of this list is best paired with either blue for Laboratory Maniac or red for Molten Vortex.
Step 1: Take an Arbor Elf
Step 2: Play Mana Enchantments
This deck wants to put enchantments on lands, make them better at producing mana, and then play fatties. Woodfall Primus, Ghalta, Primal Hunger are really good 4-5 turns early. This deck can also go big with draw spells like Blue Sun's Zenith and Commence the Endgame far earlier than it's counterparts. This deck can also bleed into a superfriends/counters theme thanks to Evolution Sage, Roalesk, Apex Hybrid and Flux Channeler in combination with Planeswalkers.
Izzet: Artifact Tempo
This deck plays a fairly normal u/r tempo game, but also has some synergies for artifacts. Whirler Rogue, Pia and Kiran Nalaar, Pia Nalaar, and Sai, Master Thopterist all entice players over to the gray side. Saheeli, Sublime Artisan also gives players an advantage when playing both noncreature artifacts but also other spells common in blue-red.
Boros: Mentor/Token Aristocrats
Boros can be built from multiple angles. It can come together like a base-red aggro deck adding in some powerful white splash cards like Lightning Helix and Boros Charm. It can put Pants on Mentors. Boros can also play an aristocrats deck with Goblin Bombardment and Token Producers. This color pair is the second-most-likely to get the Persist Combos to work, since it has access to Anafenza, Goblin Bombardment[/c] Finks, and Murderous Redcap. Dark-Dweller Oracle can also be used to convert random tokens into usable cards.
Most of these two-color archetypes can be mixed and matched with one another to great effect. For example, Gruul Riot and Simic Super-Ramp can combine quite nicely into a stompy ramp build. Jund Dredge featuring Molten Vortex is probably the best implementation of Life from the Loam in the entire cube. Esper Discard a great shell for Starfield of Nyx/The Mirarri Conjecture control decks. This is complemented with a Shock-Bounce-Manland Manabase, along with the Allied Fetchlands and Enemy Painlands.
Tips for Draft
-The Fetch Lands and Kitchen Finks are all great first-picks.
-Marrying an archetype pack one isn't always the best option.
-Narrow cards can wheel fairly often, but don't wait on them if they're important to your deck's function.
-Colorless cards are your best friend!