I: Solving for Storm
Storm is problematic in Cube for X major reasons and a billion minor ones. Briefly:The Tempest said:At this hour / lie at my mercy all mine enemies.
-Storm is uninteractive. Few decks at the Cube table have the density of stack-based interaction, proactive discard, or permanent-based hate to stop the Storm deck once it finally gets rolling. This reduces a significant number of Storm games from “does he have the answer” to “will I pull it off”, to which the infuriating answer is “no, probably not”. The other player might as well ”F6” and go to the bathroom, or eat something. Because Storm fights on an axis traditional “fair” Cube decks don’t (and other unfair decks can’t compete on) we lose the delicate lattice of unintended synergies that builds the format we love, and instead play a worse version of the dullest Modern matchups.
This uninteractivity alienates new players, who often can’t identify where they went wrong (we’ve all seen the 5- and 6-drop-heavy wraths-and-dragons First Cube Deck almost as many times as we’ve rolled over it I bet!). Experienced players fare little better; either trying and failing to assemble Storm themselves or lacking the density of stack/hand interaction to compete, especially if the Storm deck Duresses first (as, to be frank, it should). There is room for an oblique and challenging combo deck in all of our formats, but when many of our playgroups meet infrequently (and the others draft often enough to experience these improbable feel-bads), it is our duty as designers to ensure our players enjoy the game experience.
-Storm is inconsistent. If you aren’t drafting every card in your cube, there’s a real chance you’re punishing your Storm drafter for literally no reason when they can’t get the critical piece they need. They’ll have a shitty night, and associate your Cube with shitty games. Even if they get a really strong Storm deck, it’s just not consistent enough, and if it is, nobody else has a chance (or fun).
-A viable Storm is difficult to assemble in draft, and diluting your Cube to the point that it’s a regular event is exceptionally disruptive to every other viable deck available[link to Poison Principle article]. Even then, the enablers that let it come together (kill cards, tutors, card-draw, big or fast mana, Power/proximate Power like Time Spiral or YawgWill) must be ‘just so’ or the deck will fizzle. As Cube designers, we should always strive to increase our drafters’ net fun, but significant trial and error have failed to introduce a more consistent, less alienating spell-based combo archetype.
I believe I have found it.
II: Killing (a) Superman
The biggest reason people play Doomsday decks is because of a chemical imbalance in the brain[...]After that, the main reason is that Doomsday decks play like intricate puzzles for you to solve. It’s the Extreme-level Sudoku of Magic. It’s the 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle that’s 60% sky.
Doomsday in Constructed was originally a Vintage combo deck that used Black Lotus to pull off some really quick combo kills. There's a Legacy port of it (using LED instead) which is where most of my knowledge comes from, but it's a different beast without Lotus and Yawgwill. The OG kill is Lotus into Doomsday with a pile of Recall, Lotus, Mana Vault, Mind's Desire, Beacon of Destruction for 20 damage - so elegant! - but Doomsday decks have killed in a number of ways, and it's this flexibility that I think makes it so well-suited for Cube.
As an agnostic combo tutor, Doomsday best enables either Storm kills at higher power levels or Laboratory Maniac self-mill in environments with less fast mana but serviceably tutors up Twin combo, Vault-Key, or any other multi-card game-winning interaction. In my environment it exists most frequently as a combo-control deck, which positions it to use either proactive discard or reactive counters to protect the combo, letting the combo itself slot nicely in as a (two cards of deck space) solitary control wincon. It's kind of like Nephalia Drownyard except you Doomsday and win the next turn.
But why on earth would you build this into your cube? Tyler above hits the nail on the head - if your playgroup has a 'combo hombre' (combombre), they'll find the archetype incredibly fulfilling and may end up building different piles all night. Navigating your opponent's plays, your deck size and life total, and choosing the right anti-hate is really, really cool, and the feeling of piloting a 'true control deck', where your whole 40 is combo, mana and answers is really thrilling to a certain kind of Magic player, even if they're not winning every game with the combo. (I actually take about a third of my wins with planeswalkers and value beatdown)
Storm is inconsistent, but Doomsday can function as a quintuple-tutor once you draw into it (and your draw spells function as both setup and combo for the Laboratory Maniac kill). Storm requires a critical mass of spells, mana and draw; DDLM is content to play cat-and-mouse and win with Villain's Lightning Bolt on the stack. Storm calls for a few cards no other deck really wants (and a bunch every other deck really wants); Doomsday wins with whatever you've managed to draft (and DDLM wins with Thought Scour or a cycled Unearth). Storm needs a suite of other cards in the drafted section of the Cube; Doomsday needs to show up alongside one or more combo strategies. Storm wears short skirts, Doomsday wears t-shirts.
Cube's Singleton (or largely singleton) nature means tutoring for your silver bullets is easier than drawing them, and tutoring multiple bullets is what DD Does Best. (#sorrynotsorry)
That these cards are much less poisonous than rituals and draw-7s hopefully hasn't escaped your notice. Instead of casting ten spells in one turn (a niche Magic strategy) you want to be able to draw six cards (much more accessible in control, or even Ux tempo). There's always the risk you won't draft a powerful enough version of the deck, but git gud, scrub - Doomsday condenses all the decisions you might make in a normal game of Magic down to one or two razor's-edge turns.
III: How to Doomsday
Prospero said:My library / was dukedom large enough.
Since DD is an agnostic tutor, it's helpful to build piles backwards, thinking about how much mana you'll have available, whether you want to DD and then pass the turn to ease those requirements (the extra card drawn is super relevant for LM, and if you absolutely need to hold up counters it can be better than rushing), and how (or if) you're going to protect your kill.
Obviously some people have exhaustive tables of potential weirdo Constructed lines (Chain of Vapor and Top let you do some messed up stuff) but you're essentially going to look at the resources you have, the kills you have available, and build a pile from the ground up getting you from A to B.
(If this is all a little overwhelming, we'll go through some example piles shortly, as well as a list of marginal cards that the archetype benefits from.)Doomsday's also interesting as a combo enabler in that you're not doing anything to your hand when you cast it, just your library and graveyard. Any spells already in your hand help you combo (freeing up flex space in your pile!) but Doomsday also searches your graveyard during resolution so if your fair spells are part of the combo you get to cast them as fair spells first!!! It also provides another angle (yard hate) to fight the more degenerate or inbred builds that will pop up. Unlike the all-or-nothing Storm decks of yore, Cube Doomsday decks can play the control game until they think it's safe to combo.
So in the Lab Man case, you need LM, mana to cast him, a way to draw your pile, and protection for Villain's meddling. Thought Scour is cool because it's not just 3 cards off your pile for 1 mana, it's valid protection against removal (thought scour in response, can't draw the card, win), so where you put it in the pile can depend on what you need it to do. Free spells or protection like Gush, FoW or Spellskite's activated ability make it easier to cast Doomsday earlier in the game, or win the same turn once you've developed your mana. Unearth can either bring back Lab Man after he's killed (dredged?) or be cycled for another card drawn. Top sets up your combo and then draws you into it. Flexible cards like these have been key to making DDLM combo-control decks work in my Cube, and might in yours too.
IV: Sample plays and piles
Alonso said:A kind of excellent dumb discourse.
You play some control, maybe draw some cards, make some mana sources, and then you cast Doomsday. We're doing Soft Doomsday here (I mentally divide the more combo-focused builds, particularly the ones with Dark Ritual, as ‘hard doomsday’) so let's assume we pass the turn and kill next turn or even the turn after that. This lets us draw 1 or 2 cards off our pile naturally, which is huge, because then we can build looser piles. Instead of 'draw six cards and you win', we just need to draw 4-5. It also means we're probably putting protection at the top of our pile so we draw it first and play out the rest of our Doomsday Clock while holding up Counterspell or whatever.
Remember for these examples that we're passing the turn and drawing into the first card naturally unless otherwise noted. If you've got a Preordain still in your hand when you cast Doomsday, that resilience should count for something, no? You get to go off a turn faster, and the tightest builds get to go off really early (esp. with Dark Ritual).
If you have an uncracked fetchland on the board, at the cost of 1 life and a shuffle, you can add a fetchable land to your 5-card pile and potentially draw out a turn sooner. Sensei's Divining Top and other on-board sources of card draw, however marginal, are great for responding to removal on LM, or for drawing you into your pile the turn you cast Doomsday (maybe your control opponent finally tapped out?). Dark Ritual lets you combo off as early as t3/4 against fast decks, and you can Doomsday it back into your pile since you'll be pretty mana-constrained that early.
The central idea is that Doomsday is an exciting combo tutor with its own strengths and limitations, but unlike other tutors, it's one that enables a number of different combo decks within the same sort of combo-control archetype.
There'll be a list of some piles to kill with here but I haven't finished them. I'm looking for critique on the article itself, anyway. Thanks so much for reading this far, I super appreciate it!
V: Some decklists
Miranda said:How many goodly creatures are there here!How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,That has such people in't!