Shamim's Cube

I think the painlands are a very elegant solution, but require the proper power level. Painlands proved themselves for the past while in standard (even in control decks), but again, power level appropriate. For the higher power level, the truly good cycle are the filterlands. Being able to fix from C to DD is sweet, and they've still got that {c}. The ULD seems like a good outlet for {c} costs, in any case. The spell lands are a great source of {c} there.

Elegant is probably a bad choice of words on my part. I think it's more that Painlands just aren't as universally vaunted or useful as the other options I have available. My cube is pretty high powered, so drafter naturally assume that there is an appropriate level of fixing to match. You want to be able to play the cool deck you've drafted without running into fixing issues on the way. The fetch/fetchable dual dynamic solves this. What about manlands? They give you a threat that is immune to sorcery speed removal and allows for you to have plays if you've run out of gas in hand. Painlands are just sort of an eh, I guess so pick if you aren't an aggressive deck. Pinging yourself just to access a certain color is a real cost in my cube where you might be facing down an aggro blitz of recursive Gravecrawlers or Bloodsoaked Champions wielding Bonesplitters. I think ULD has just been the easiest solution in this case.

The only issue with filterlands is that they further push goodstuff 3-4c decks to the forefront. There's minimal cost in the inclusion of these lands and they give you amazing fixing. That was an issue when I was at 360 and 405; the amount of fixing in the cube was simply too good. People didn't have to prioritize lands useful to their decks because they just assumed that they could make it up later in the draft (which was often the case). At 420, I have it such that a person can construct a 3C-4C build if they prioritize the right fixing and enablers through draft instead of just somehow winding up there thinking yeah, I've got enough lands, might as well play this color too. There's just more satisfaction in building a deck when you've had to make the decision between picking up a fixing land and yet another threat. Can I splash this double CC card? How can I play this Cruel Ultimatum? How do I ensure this Sidisi, Brood Tyrant on curve?

So I don't think Filterlands would be a good idea alongside double fetch/double fetchables, it's just too easy at that point. I just think there needs to be some tension in the draft in regards to fixing. It just leads to more fulfilling experiences in my opinion (be it in cube or retail limited).

I hope the players realize all that. They might not do what they should do, and will end up doing what they think they should do. Does that problem ever materialize in drafting? This may be largely playgroup dependent, but it definitely angled me towards only including a select couple.

Luckily my play group is pretty experienced and plays quite a bit of Limited. Most of them can quickly identify archetypes and slot themselves right in over the course of a draft. Like, if they see a Bearer of Silence, they know that it's meant to be an aggressive card first and foremost. It's an easier (I guess?) to cast Gatekeeper of Malakir edict if you kick it or just a flying 2 power beater. Sometimes it's just a right call to play a one drop into Bearer on T2 and then curve it into a T3 Nissa, Voice of Zendikar and grow the team. Or even just equipping it with a Bonesplitter on T3 and bashing away for 4 in the air isn't too shabby a play.

The only times I really need to explain anything is if I've implemented something new (like Delirium or Artifacts). I often give a quick overview of new adds before a draft since we usually only cube once or twice a month. Just having a critical mass of effects to support a given theme is usually enough for them to get the picture one or two packs in.
So with Kaladesh and the upcoming Aether Revolt, we're getting access to a lot more artifact support than we've seen in recent years. I wasn't explicitly supporting an archetype centered around artifacts before this (aside from UB Tezz that came together with forcing from pack 1 onwards), but I spent part of the last week working on my list and making Grixis Artifacts more viable.

Grixis Artifacts

The biggest thing with any given theme are the payoffs and drawing someone into that given archetype. For the longest time, Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas was meant to be that draw but he never really shone unless you stuck to a REALLY specific gameplan in most lists. Most of us don't run busted fast mana or have access to power, thus Tezz doesn't shine as much in typical Riptide lists. This block may have changed things:

These are actual late game finishers that Tezz is capable of digging towards; finally an actual payoff. Most of the time, I would be plussing Tezz hoping to hit anything relevant, not really digging towards anything specific aside from maybe a Myr Battlesphere or a Batterskull. Now we've got three good options that can help stabilize the board. Additionally, we had been lacking support pieces for a while to curve into Tezz. You can't just tap out for a 4 mana synergy piece with no way to protect it, and we were given these:

Filigree Familiar does a great job of giving you some breathing space as a life buffer, roadbloack, AND replacing itself with a drawn card once you trade it off. What I'm more excited about is the Contraband Kingpin who is tailormade for this strategy. The 1/4 body is blocking just about everything from T1-T3 and giving you a legitimate wall in the face of especially aggressive decks, Lifelink is a sweet bonus to buffer yourself into the later game, and best of all it scrys on the ETB of any artifact. This means that dropping a Perilous Myr to gum the board, returning that Epochrasite to play, or simply playing a Seat of the Synod will fix your draws; a great bonus for any controlling build. The only thing that would have made this card any better were if it itself had artifact typing.

We can't forget about the newest mechanic from KLD either in Crew. The likes of Smuggler's Copter and Cultivator's Caravan gives us two interesting options that slot into this archetype while being roleplayers elsewhere. The copter is viable in pretty much any deck from aggro to Delirium based mill. These cards allow us to address the issue of playing "do-nothings" as well in cube giving us options that can turn into legitimate threats in subsequent turns.

Next, I looked into expanding this strategy into red decks and ended up with a more loot-centric strategy making use of the following cards:

The artifact decks splashing or centered around Red are more focused upon cheating in cards from the grave by exchanging them with Welder or Daretti. The easiest way to accomplish this is to just play around with looting effects like Tormenting Voice or Faithless Looting to stock up the grave with targets before making the swap (and you get to draft some more tech-y removal like Fiery Temper). Combustible Gearhulk is clearly the powerful of the 3 Grixis Gearhulks on curve (and with the least ETB impact), but I still believe that it's a very powerful effect if cheated into play early. Imagine the following curve:

T1 Land, Chromatic Star
T2 Land, Tormenting Voice to pitch away Red Gearhulk
T3 Thopter Engineer, make a body
T4 Daretti, -2 to swap the thopter or star for the Gearhulk

All of a sudden there's a very choice here between a free Treasure Cruise or taking maybe 4-5 damage to the face and then facing down a giant hasty 6/6 with first strike. Bonus points if you're playing Bedlam Reveler in the deck to make for some really painful decisions for your opponent.

Finally, a lot of us are already running a good amount of looting effects scattered through our blue and red sections which only serve to supplement this theme further. We can set up spells to flashback with Torrential Gearhulk on a big turn, pitch Combustible or Noxious Gearhulk to the grave to bring back with Daretti, or just set up for some Goblin Welder shenanigans cheating out an early Myr Battlesphere. That Academy Ruins in your Utility Land pile is looking quite a bit more appealing now, right?

Finally, the greatest thief in the Multiverse has better targets to steal than ever before:


In all honesty, I may have just built this archetype so I can live the dream of stealing a Skyship. Yeah, I think that's about right. I think we've got quite a few more goodies in store come the next set (maybe even dual colored Gearhulks) and we should be able to fully flesh out this archetype handily. Try it out!
The first actual cube games I've played in months, figured it was worth a post/update.

This weekend we had a family gathering at my relatives and I brought my cube along since I figured it would be pretty boring for the most part. I wasn't wrong. Two of my cousins and I ended up quilt drafting three 8 x 8 grids and jamming the decks we made. A refresher on quilting:

When you can't fire an actual draft with a pod of 6-8 people, another method for smaller groups (2-4 people) to get their fix is quilting. The process is very simple

1) Shuffle up your cube (perhaps with my method listed in my blog) and deal out cards in an N x N grid, usually with N = 8.
2) The cards should be laid out in a grid with each card positioned 90 degrees rotated from the previous and perpendicular to the one next to it.
3) Each player may only choose a card that has a narrow edge exposed, alternating picks between players.
4) As more cards are picked up, you'll unlock cards deeper into the grid. You usually want to draft around half the grid (so 32 picks in a 64 card quilt) before laying out a new one. Repeat for 2-3 quilts to ensure quality pools.

For added difficulty/more fun/randomness, you can set up a quilt with only the outer edges visible and the inner cards flipped down until the narrow edge is exposed. Enjoy!

We ended up with the following lists:

UBg Recursion

Temur Rampzarek (Me!)

Boros Aggro

All of the decks were pretty evenly matched, though the UBg Recursive deck was extremely hard to grind through if it managed to wipe you early and set up either Stronghold or Meren to loop back value creatures. The RW deck could have an explosive curve out with aggressive creatures and timely removal along with ways to grow the entire team with the likes of Mikaeus and Collective Effort. My ramp deck was capable of powering out an extremely early Atarka on T4 depending upon how effectively it could stick dorks and ramp. Quick thoughts:

  • On quilting in general: I think it's a great way to introduce newer players to your list who might not be as familiar. Throughout the draft process, I was able to discuss and explain certain picks with my cousins since it was all on the board. We obviously spend way more time tinkering and familiarizing ourselves with our lists than our drafters get the chance to play, so being able to guide them partially during the process of drafting and give hints with open information available was great. I could point out synergies, potential combos with card combinations, and explain basic concepts like how many lands they want to run in a given archetype and when to splash. I loved seeing the "level up" moments in the middle of games when they would work their way through the right line of play or figure out how to best sequence their plays. We often forget that cube drafting is usually information overload for players who aren't as well versed in Magic gameplay so it was a nice change of pace being able to guide players with this draft process.
  • Mikaeus, the Lunarch should be played in more lists. He's a fantastic anthem on a stick and can flip boardstates after just one timely activation. At one point in a game there was a board assembled with a Monastery Swiftspear, Seeker of the Way and Mike himself with two counters on the board for RW Aggro. They then untapped, played a Blade Splicer and a Reckless Charge on the Golem token, and buffed the team with Mike. That was an attack for 14 out of nowhere that was then followed up by a topdecked Thalia's Lieutenant to grow the humans and another Mike activation the following turn to cash him in. I'm a huge fan of giving aggro different avenues of attack and Mike fits incredibly well into the mold of the go wide then go tall archetypes many of us have integrated into our environments.
  • Ajani, Caller of the Pride is the perfect aggro walker. That -3 did incredible work threatening to end games out of nowhere if the defending player made a misstep or made the mistake of ignoring him. In one game, the UBg deck had a commanding board presence but made the mistake of not leaving a Baleful Strix back on defense since he saw that the coast was clear and could end the game in two turns. The RW deck had run low on gas and had most of the board wiped away with only Ajani left. The next turn he topdecks a Selfless Spirit with a Reckless Charge in the grave ready for flashback. I was on the sideline viewing and since my cousins didn't play Magic much, I straight up hinted to him that he might have a line to win right then and there but didn't give any hints. After he went through his options everywhere, he realized that he could cast the Spirit, flashback the charge, then cash in Ajani to deal 10 and exactly lethal.
  • I'm not a fan of the Experience mechanic from C15 and I've avoided most cards, but Meren of Clan Nel Toth is the exception as the poster child for GB Recursive decks and my absolute favorite Golgari card. She's a card that I will actively splash for in any deck that can support her. The recurrable Gravedigger effect alongside value ETB creatures and deathtouch creatures that mostly traded up and defended the fort was incredible. There were a handful of games where I thought the UBg deck was out of gas and then a Meren that survived a turn could drastically flip the game and stabilize the game at even 2-3 life by rebuying a used up Skinrender or Baleful Strix. I'm glad I brought her back a while ago, she is an incredible card that doesn't just end games upon cast but can string together enough value if left unencumbered to stabilize and lock up games.
  • Silas Renn, Seeker Adept was a card that I wasn't able to make room for initially but I decided to give him a run this time after shaving a few cards in my UB section. He performed way better than I expected. Deathtouch is an incredibly underrated keyword in cube and being able to present a roadblock against powerful threats in the 3-4 cmc range who can flip game states is invaluable. I especially loved that he could rebuy a Strix or even a Phyrexian Metamorph off a successful hit. Players just don't want to trade away their more expensive or impactful creatures to a smaller Deathtouch body thinking that they can just take the chip shots and figure it out later. Bad idea! Being able to untap, get a free chip shot for 2 and then follow that up with a removal spell to clear the creature they were hoping to protect anyway is a major swing. Additionally, that Artifact subtype helps to support any on color Delirium themes.
  • Speaking of evasive bodies, Manlands are still great. I think ever single one of the BFZ lands is at the perfect power level for cubes and the tandem of Creeping Tar Pit and Hissing Quagmire closed out many games for the UBg deck after wiping boards and trading one-for-one.
  • Mardu Strike Leader is a creature that I kept on the sidelines for a while now but brought him back because I missed that effect. Dash is still just as good as it was before by granting you those sorcery proof threats that can hit-and-run without a board commitment. He definitely wasn't in the deck that I'd usually run him in, but there were a number of games where the Dashing baited out a commitment on the board from the opponent before they were punished by a timely Languish or Damnation. And then the Strike Leader continued his raids in future turns. After adding more ways to grow tiny bodies across multiple colors with recent updates to the cube, I think his ability to flood a board with tokens is more impressive than ever before.
  • Now for my deck, Temur Ramp, I just want to say that Crystalline Crawler is one hell of a card. I think it can be absolutely busted in certain environments, but in mine it has been right about where I need it to be. Being able to ramp into a solid 4/4 or even a potential 5/5 that can bridge you to your payoffs MUCH earlier than typical Rampant Growth sorcery effects is amazing. There was one turn where I followed up the Crawler with a Verdurous Gearhulk, put all of the counters on it and grew it to a 7/7, attacked with it into a clogged board, then removed counters + tapped dorks to cast a Dragonlord Atarka to destroy the board. Rishkar, Peema Renegade also put in quite a bit of work speeding up the process to an early Atarka or Skysovereign on the board.
  • Finally, I decided to give an old favorite a run again in Ral Zarek. When I ran him more than 2 years ago he was an okay card without an abundance of fast mana available in my environment and was mostly just a value walker. He wasn't really a particularly powerful or compelling card. I think that has changed with recent sets and how he interacts with so many different cards. With the addition of BFZ Manlands in the last year, his +1 ability to tap something down is better than ever. There were two turns where he tapped down a Hissing Quagmire to clear the way for attackers and also untapped something relevant (usually a land) to generate extra value. Having Rishkar put counters on guys and then use that to ramp into threats while having Ral there to untap them and have them available as blockers or attackers was a very cool interaction I hadn't thought up initially.
All in all, a pretty decent cube session and I got to see basically three draft worthy decks in action with great fixing and multiple lines of play. I highly recommend quilting if you end up with 2-4 players and can't fire up a real draft.
Got a chance to quilt again with two other people yesterday, we each ended up drafting two decks and kind of round-robined them to get a feel for each:

Purphoros Thopter Shop

Mardu Braids

Bant Aggro

Turbo Temur

Esper Control

UB Control

I got a chance to play once with all but two of the decks, had the most fun with the Turbo Temur and Purphoros Lists. Their gameplans were just so different from what the other decks were trying to do and could quickly flip the switch when necessary. The best thing about quilting is that I get to actively draft and take a look at newer cards that I've added/old cards brought back to the cube. It's always nice to go back and revisit cards that have been relegated to the sidelines and see if they've gotten any better. This time I got in some valuable testing with these (all of which I'll cover in more detail later):

  • The Purphoros deck was incredibly resilient all night long. Makes sense with so many creatures capable of creating/leaving behind bodies upon death. There were a number of games where the correct call was to sandbag creatures and earlier plays until Purphoros was deployed to take full advantage of the multiple bodies ETBing. This was a bit of a risky strategy against the aggro decks, but cards like Pia and Kiran Nalaar did an amazing job of catching up and stabilizing the board. Sometimes, with an Anger of the Gods in hand, the right call was to just play possum by deploying the bare minimum of creatures onto the board prior to wiping the board. This did backfire spectacularly in one game that I'll cover in a bit.
  • The biggest takeaway from playing the deck was that Recruiter of the Guard can be absolutely incredible in the right build. There were so many targets to search up all throughout the curve from value drops like Hangarback Walker to game closing anthems in Angel of Invention. You could tutor up 10 creatures in that list, that was incredible flexibility on a stick and it did amazing work in a variety of situations from stabilizing the board to picking up multiple bodies on a stick to maximize Purphoros triggers.
  • From a raw power perspective, I think the Mardu Braids deck was the best of the night. Great manabase, threats all over the curve, and great synergies located throughout. The token-making abilities of Young Pyromancer, Hanweir Garrison and Goblin Rabblemaster broke the symmetry off Braids's Stax ability. Bloodsoaked Champion and Scrapheap Scrounger also contributed bodies to the cause by recurring and grinding out value. Alesha was able to take advantage of multiple creatures with 2 power coming back and attacking out of nowhere, the most disgusting of which was recurring Fulminator Mage to take out key pieces of fixing on back-to-back combats.
  • Kari Zev, Skyship Raider leads to some interesting combat phase decisions. No one actually wants to trade with the recurring monkey token ever, but that usually ends up being a free 2 damage. Kari herself ends up being very difficult to block with the Menace + First Strike which on first glance was a strange combination but works out really well in practice. Any 1 toughness creatures is rendered useless as a potential blocker, you need to have at least two blockers anyway because of menace, and often times the defending player can't muster up the right blocks. Like, any tokens opponent is downright screwed if they've been producing a bunch of x/1 creatures and hoping to gum up the board and buy time. She and Ragavan were able to force in 3 damage far more often than I expected. Backed by removal, they make the combat math very difficult for opponents. I'm a big fan of hers and I'm pretty happy that we got such an interesting two drop.
  • Yahenni, Undying Partisan put in some pretty good work throughout the night. The 2/2 body with haste isn't all that threatening, but she can quickly get out of hand backed by removal. There was a turn where the defending player cast Hordeling Outburst hoping to buy a little time, maybe tank a hit or two from Yahenni before stabilizing, but an Arc Lightning quickly changed that scenario and grew her into a monstrous 5/5.
  • Herald of Torment seems like a card that has greater utility nowadays than ever before. It was first printed 3 years ago with Born of the Gods but was a middling aggressive card in an archetype that didn't quite have enough support to shine. In three years we've gotten a plethora of impressive aggro cards to bolster these archetypes. If you were to bestow a Herald onto either of the previous two cards I just covered, that creates some insane swings out of nowhere that are very difficult for opponent to block profitably. How do you deal with a 4 power menace flyer with first strike? That'll just eat up my entire cloud of Thopters. Wait, if I block this giant Yahenni with anything, it'll only grow BIGGER? Even going beyond that, slapping him onto a card like a Goblin Rabblemaster lets the army-in-a-can take to the skies and take full advantage of that combat boost from suicidal Goblins. Additionally as an enchantment creature he provides a valuable subtype for any aggressive Delirium shells that might feature Grim Flayer (which is also another great Bestow target).
  • Bant Aggro was capable of some insane hand-dumping starts with all of the cheap creatures and early drops. In one game against the Purphoros deck, it pretty much went nut affinity draw and dumped the entire hand onto the board by the 3rd turn. Something like Hierarch, Warden, Experiment One, Lotus Cobra and then a Nissa. Closed it out shortly afterwards. The only real issue it had was getting blue mana since there were very few ways to generate it.
  • Greenwheel Liberator didn't really shine all that much due to a lack of fetches in this build. There is the fun interaction with Brago, King Eternal however in the later game. Since Revolt only checks upon something leaving the battlefield, cards like Liberator and the new Rallier fit in extremely well into Midrange-y Bant shells. Brago is especially nutty with a developed board that includes Nissa, Voice of Zendikar.
  • Turbo Temur was a pretty ambitious deck to draft, played a weird subgame of trying to power out an Emrakul while maintaining control of the board in the meantime. It did it's job well enough, cast Emrakul in roughly half the matches. The other half were just ramping into finishers or ways to dominate the board with threats like Polukranos and Sarkhan.
  • It was a little strange playing Greenbelt Rampager as a 3/4 wall when most decks would utilize it as an aggressive creature, but it definitely held down the fort early in this particular deck. Unless there was a suspended Search for Tomorrow, there weren't really any other T1 plays
  • Renegade Rallier is a great card. I think that was already obvious to most of us with our double fetch manabases, but that single line of play is just such a huge boost in tempo for the Rallier player. A lot of times against aggressive decks it was a body to block with + ramping by one to get to the late game even quicker. With things like suspended Search for Tomorrow and Courser of Kruphix allowing for those land drops off the TOL, hitting all of the necessary lands to power out late game threats was almost trivial. I am incredibly excited to play with this guy in a Pod deck or more aggressive GW Aggro shells with great two drops.
  • Centaur Vinecrasher was enabled with the abundance of rummaging effects in red and fetches. I saw it rebought from the grave twice and it usually hit the ground as a 4/4 or a 5/5 trampler which is a fine rate for a 4 drop. I think it's a solid roleplayer that can slot into a variety of archetypes, great synergies with any cards that make use of discarding cards like rummaging, +1/+1 counter themes, and any additional land-based strategies.

I guess this will be more of an SCD since the card that I was most interested in revisiting this weekend was:

He's obviously been a strong combo card in powered lists with Recurring Nightmare bullshit interactions, but he was on the sideline for a long for me because I didn't think he was quite worth it. I just didn't have enough effects to take advantage of his recurring body effectively and there were other options at 3 cmc in red that I wanted to try. I can't remember if I ever actually cubed him in the past, but I thought that after the various discard and loot effects I've added in the last year he would have greater utility in my list than ever before:

In addition to already existing synergies with:

With that mass of effects to take advantage of his immortal body, I think Squee as discard fodder is well worth inclusion. He was great in Turbo Temur just as a means of smoothing out draws and helping to draw into more relevant spells through rummage effects. Even the worst mode of being a recurrable blocker for 2R wasn't awful with the gameplan being to just stall until the later game. I think he'll be most powerful in UR decks in the majority of cases just as permanent loot fodder for the mass of effects they've got. I could definitely see him teaming up with Laboratory Maniac in a future super loot deck. I imagine that we would be even better in any cubes that are explicitly pushing madness themes.
I went back down to San Diego this weekend to take care of something on Thursday, decided to stay through the weekend. Most of my friends from college are still down there so we mostly played Magic this weekend. We were planning on drafting a different cube on Saturday, but plans fell through, so we went with mine. We needed to fill in a few more spots so I left an open invite post on the university club page and surprisingly got 4 more people who wanted to draft. With my 420 cube configuration, we decided to run a 4 round 10 man tourney with packs of 14. Lucky for you guys, I've got a full TEN decks to feature! These were the top two decks:

Izzet Tempo [Bertran]

Mardu Humans (Me!)

And other decks:

4C Plsgodwork [Will]

Bantrakul [Jerry]

Sultai Rashmi [Albert]

Rakdos Twenty Ping [Daniel]

GW Pod [Kenny]

4C Goodstuff [Nolan]

Boros Go-Wide[Leo]

Gitrog Rites [Henry]

One new thing I tried out this draft was squadron picking in the main cube based off Onderzeeboot's free tri-land per tri-color idea. I went with the following pairs:

I labeled the squadron cards with green stickers in opposite corners to signify the pairs, ULD draft picks with red stickers. Anyone who is doing either or both in their cubes, definitely get stickers. It simplifies the process of inventorying the cube after a draft and made the concepts of ULD and squadrons more intuitive for people who were new to my cube. I may end up also labeling whatever cards I have multiples of in the cube with a different color sticker in the future and make some info card to explain all three at the beginning of future drafts.

Additionally, a friend of mine recommending that we try out the site Challonge to set up the tourney once I knew that we had 10 people. It completely simplified the tourney process and gave us an easy to use and follow bracket during the cube session. Assuming you have a laptop on hand (not sure if mobile friendly), I think it's definitely worth trying.


Now, with the help of Challonge and having actually recorded my cube matches on a lifepad for once, I can present a mini-tourney report:


With 10 players and 3x14 packs, that meant that the entire cube was going to be drafted, I went with a P1P1 Bloodsoaked Champion and had the humans come my way. It started off firmly in BW as I got all of the Bloodsoaked and Champion of the Parish copies come my way, but then I got some cool red cards I wanted to splash for so I branched out a bit. With 14 card packs and a 10 man draft, it was harder to wheel certain cards in a given archetype, but I was luckily the only aggressive drafter on my side of the table(s). I had the initial gameplan of just being a low to the ground aggressive Mardu deck (though without any burn coming my way in draft) with Braids, Cabal Minion out of the side as a means of denying resources and shifting to a stax-y build with Tangle Wire if necessary. I knew this deck would have a very limited window to get games within striking distance without burn, so I prioritized small aggressive bodies in draft. I think my only regret was not picking up a Godless Shrine at some point as fixing was VERY hard to come by with a table full of drafters experienced with my cube's offerings. I was hoping to snag the Cavern of Souls in the ULD but I had a mid-round pick and it was snapped up very early.


I'm paired up against Daniel, a new player to my cube who was pretty happy with the RB deck he drafted up. I win the die roll, go on the offensive VERY quickly with a T1 Champion of the Parish followed by a T2 Monastery Swiftspear. He plays out a Bitterblossom which I think is pretty good for me since it's an extra point of damage per turn. He Thoughtseized me shortly after that revealing a hand with lands and a Thalia's Lieutenant. Strips the Lieutenant from hand, but I draw into Alesha, Who Smiles at Death and just curve out and beat him down. He landed a Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet at some point, but I have the Anguished Unmaking in hand ready to take care of it before it would have flipped the entire game. The threat of recurring a Thalia's Lieutenant to grow the team leaves him no outs on a later turn. I didn't really get to see much of what else he had.

My SB plan after G1 was the following (the usual swap if I was going to be on the draw in most games). Exemplar is awful in most matchups where you're on the draw, but insane if you pull off the T1 Exemplar T2 Bonesplitter. Took out the artifact lands b/c it turns out that they're not just cool alt Plains and Swamp and you can get smacked by a Wasteland. I was quite sad after that game. Anyways, even though I had seen Bitterblossom, I thought that if I was able to keep applying pressure and forcing blocks, the Braids would still be enough to run him out of resources so I could continue beating down.



Game 2 played out a little different with him on the play and me without any T1 creatures to deploy. He sticks the early Bitterblossom, I'm still feeling good about it though as I draw into Champion of the Parish and begin to develop the board. I get in for a few points after deploying a Bloodsoaked alongside the Champ, but then he sticks a Purphoros, God of the Forge on the board. All of a sudden, the advantage shifts drastically in his favor as he starts to stick threats and use some hand disruption to rip away my curve. He plays an Ob Nixilis Reignited not long after and after killing my biggest guy just starts to plus on following turns. At this point I'm too far behind so I scoop it up.

G3 I sideboard back in my Exemplar package on the play and get off to a quick start with T1 Champion of the Parish, T2 Bloodsoaked + Swiftspear. I have him on the backfoot the entire game, he doesn't stick a threat till T3 at the earliest iirc and I have Goblin Heelcutter in hand to help stagger a blocker and force through lethal.


I win the die roll and in the first game I just curved out with a Bloodsoaked Champion on T1, another threat on T2, and I locked him with a Tangle Wire on curve to keep beating in. He had played some dorks and fired off a triple mode Collective Brutality to take care of the Bloodsoaked, gain and drain 2 life, and also strip away removal spell from hand. Bought a little bit of time, but I later dropped a Mardu Strike Leader and dashing + filling the board with 2/1 bodies just allowed me to continue applying pressure with creatures and close it out.

Game 2 was more interesting because I had a lack of mana in hand for the colors I needed to curve out early. I had red and black sources, but two white cards stranded in hand. I had some early plays with Bloodsoaked Champion and Monastery Swiftspear to apply pressure, but he had begun establishing a board with dorks and early drops. He was unwilling to trade off a dork early because he was also stuck on lands and needed to ramp out a bigger threat. As a result, he just took a few chip shots as I whittled him down. He did stick a Pernicious Deed on the battlefield (came out the SB) which kept me from wanting to commit any more creatures to the board (had an Alesha sitting in my hand). Luckily, I had equipment in Bonesplitter which allowed me to suit up a big Swiftspear that he had to begin chumping because it would have brought him at too low a safe life total. Even with a chump block, he had reached enough mana to play out The Gitrog Monster whose 6/6 body could shut down the suited Swiftspear on the other end. That was until I played and equipped a Grafted Wargear the next turn. The prowess trigger made Swiftspear a 7/5 for the turn and I was more than eager to offer the trade and clear the giant roadblock. He instead took the damage and fell to 6. On my next turn, he blows up the Pernicious Deed for 3 and kills everything but the frog on board, I play out Alesha to start rebuilding my board and apply pressure. He doesn't draw into lands and the Gitrog Monster starts eating up his mana-base one by one on subsequent turns.

However, I'm unable to hit my 4th land and really get him with a Braids, Cabal Minion stranded in hand along with a Falkenrath Aristocrat. I can't really attack into a giant 6/6 with Deathtouch capable of just giving its best impression of The Abyss. I was leading in the game 13-6, but then he began to draw into lands and re-establish a board. I take a hit for 7 on a turn, drop down to 6, and then I'm forced into chump duty with subsequent small creature drops to avoid Gitrog just outright winning the game on a lethal attack. He fetches a few times in subsequent turns to hit land drops and also draw into more of his deck with Gitrog, dropping himself down to 3 in the process. Having not seen any burn from me in the previous games, I guess he was just trying to race and force me to have it or just lose, which was definitely the right play. At this point, with his board, I'm dead on the next turn no matter what I do with only one blocker back. I tap the top of the deck praying for a 4th land that comes into play untapped, draw my card and take a peek....and it's City of Brass! I quickly untap, play the City, deploy the Aristocrat and attack for the win. Phew!

There were other games still going on in the round so we played a 3rd game for fun in which I saw the full power of his deck on display. He curved out this time quickly while I played a middling game that wasn't as aggressive out the gate. He managed to set up his disgusting boardstate with Gitrog, Titania, Gonti, other bodies and even a Delirumed Ishkanah which just completely locked down the board. I was very glad that I didn't face this half of the deck in both games because I'm not sure if I would have won. I don't actually think I can punch through Ishkanah quickly enough if it brings along friends, maybe if I had a Hero of Oxid Ridge in my deck. This and the UR deck were probably my two favorites of all that were drafted tonight.


This round I played against a go-wide Boros deck that probably won earlier matches via aggressive play with 2s and 3s, but I was just quicker with a lower curve of 1s and 2s. I won the die roll in this match and started off with a nutty T1 Champion of the Parish into T2 Champion of the Parish + Swiftspear. He was like wtf is this shit and took a quick 4 damage when I swung on T2, then untapped and deployed a Porcelain Legionnaire and paid two life. It was a good call in buying time, as I can't really attack into a 3/1 with any of my current attackers. I untap T3, no attacks into a 3 power first striker, and instead I deploy a Tangle Wire and he just goes what the actual fuck. The game is closed out pretty quickly after that; he just can't get out from under that lock with my growing threats that can just attack from under the wire.

The second game goes a little differently with a slower start from me as he gets to set up his board and keep me from chipping in for damage early. Turns out that Smuggler's Copter is just a really really good card to play on curve. Who knew, right? I cannot punch past the removal he ends up drawing to contain my threats, he keeps getting to chip me down with other creatures and the copter, and he ultimately deploys an Angel of Invention which just locks up the game with the anthem, additional bodies and the lifelink.

G3 I had a good start to the game with T1 Champion of the Parish into T2 Kari Zev, Skyship Raider and got in for two. He plays out a Thalia, Guardian of Thraben T2 hoping to serve as a roadblock for my Champion and/or eat up Ragavan tokens, but a T3 dashed Goblin Heelcutter lets me get around the Thalia for a big hit of 8 to drop him from 17 to 9. The next turn I think I played out another threat rather than going with the Heelcutter again and just attacked with Kari Zev, looking to get in for a ton of damage the following turn. He misplayed by Magma Jetting Kari and blocking with Thalia, forgetting that Kari also had First Strike (we both forgot she had menace and remember after the game was already over, what a wonky card) and they traded. The next turn he played out a Legionnaire and had another blocker, I technically had lethal on board if I counted the Heelcutter and swung with all, but I played it safe and instead Anguished Unmaking'd the Legionnaire. It just didn't seem right that he was so nonchalant about my board. It was a good read as he had a Stoke The Flames in hand that would have flipped the board state with correct blocks. He does manage to Stoke one of my relevant attackers and set me back on my clock, but I closed it out two turns later after he couldn't find any other ways to produce enough blockers on the board.


Sadly, there wasn't a whole lot to write about here as I got curb-stomped completely by a sweet U/R Tempo build (both lists at the top of this post!) that was capable of populating the board with good blockers and had various pieces of cheap burn to reliably 2-for-1 me or just pick off my threats before they became relevant. I couldn't clear an early Young Pyromancer in G1 who ended up creating like 4 tokens before I was just overrun.

The 2nd game I don't think I was able to reliably stick a threat and it got out of hand very quickly with an active Jace VP flipped and other good creatures. He just kept either killing or countering my threats, the toughest blow being when he countered my Mardu Strike Leader at a discount with Baral on the board. Once he had the ability to rebuy his spells and burn while locking up the board with a Grim Lavamancer and various sources of other damage, it just wasn't close.


Some general observations from the cube session:
  • For the ULD this time, I tried a squadron option for sets of cards. One was a triple pack of Wasteland, the other was WUBRG Artifact lands. After not seeing Wastelands as popular a pick as I was hoping for in the main cube (420 was just not consistent enough), I moved my copies into the ULD. I set it up with the condition of the player having the option to use up multiple remaining picks in one go if they wanted to pick more than one in that squadron pile (Ex. in R2 if there are two cards in a given squadron you'd want, you just us up your picks, R1 use up all 3 and sit out, etc.). It worked out well enough and was easily understandable for everyone that paid attention as I laid it out. I'll likely pick up a 4th Wasteland someday and set it up as a 2/2 selection in different piles because I can't really imagine most decks that would want the full set of 3 unless they went Mono-Red or something. With the addition of stickers (thank the lord), it made the set up simple and easy understandable with a clear indication that these lands were "special" and separate from the normal cube.
  • The squadron picks in the main cube worked out well enough, there wasn't much confusion at all after I explained it. I'll probably make it such that players just see me after main draft to pick up their extra land in the future. Good call Onder!
  • For the longest time I was unsure of how the cube complexity would be navigated by new players and this time we had 3 brand new drafters. One of them was new to drafting in general but got a good idea of how things worked, the other two had no trouble navigating through (one of them was the winner) and figuring out which cards they wanted for their builds. I'm quite happy that archetypes were able to be cleanly identified and buildarounds were able to be worked with via draft even for brand new players (everyone else had drafted at least once). Tells me I'm doing something right at least.
  • I'm pleased with the fact that there was a fair representation of two, two and a splash, three, and 4c decks within the cube draft. The small tweaks I've been making little by little over the last year and half with CMC changes and working on the landbase have been paying off. I am completely fine with people drafting a multi-color monstrosity if they drafted with an eye towards prioritizing fixing, but I'm not cool with that being the default as it was in earlier iterations of my cube at 360. I'm hoping that Wizards doesn't make us wait too long for the 2nd half of the Battlelands cycle (though it'll prob be 5 more years) because I really think they are the answer to fixing goodstuff default. The interplay they create with sequencing is great, they favor two colored decks and builds to play most optimally, and they are fetchable duals with a different decision to make. I was never a fan of playing ABURs because there was no real play to them, Shocks are great but two cycles was a bit much, and Battlelands have actually been an elegant and effective solution thus far.
  • From what I saw from quickly glancing over the tables, all but one deck was able to do what it wanted, so that's good news. And that one deck was due to trying to play an archetype they had seen in a previous draft, but was unable to gather enough critical pieces to complete. I was able to glance over and see wonky board states like a Warden of the First Tree with like 6 counters on it, a Kalitas turning a combat phase into a net gain of 3 more 2/2 bodies, and even the Gitrog/Titania engine assembled. Just a good showing for various decks and strategies I've been weaving together the last year.
  • I really think that 420 is the sweet spot for archetypal representation, a critical mass of fixing, AND enough variety such that drafts do not become stale. When I ran 450 for a little while, it was a bit too unruly and fucked up various archetypes by missing a critical mass of necessary cards for certain decks. If we're only seeing 4/5ths of the entire set-up, there's definitely a good chance of variance just screwing with you and leaving you with pieces of key fixing or payoff cards just landing in unused pile in a standard 8 man draft.
  • The only new card I saw in action today (mostly b/c I had copies of everything else and tried them out) was Baral, Chief of Compliance. Goblin Electromancer didn't quite cut it as a gold card and a fragile body, but putting that ability upon a 1/3 in a single color AND the additional counter/loot ability is amazing. That UR deck took full advantage of it alongside Young Pyromancer shooting off bigger spells on the cheap, creating a small army of tokens, and even chipping in for 1 on most occasions with my x/1 creatures on board. The nastiest thing was a mainphase Fact or Fiction for 2U when he was clearly applying pressure and ahead. That was just so much card advantage that early in the game and he was STILL able to potentially leave up a Mana Leak with an extra land untapped. Great card, an amazing addition to any UR Spellslinger archetype.
As always, thanks for reading, let me know if you have any thoughts or comments!
"plsgodwork" I whisper as I pick a Canopy vista to add to my Jeskai deck. Counterspell weeps.

Trinket Mage for one target is real style. I could see flushing out the options there a little.

I think at least two decks in this draft would love a Dread Return. Card is sweet.

These decks look great, and very creative.
"plsgodwork" I whisper as I pick a Canopy vista to add to my Jeskai deck. Counterspell weeps.

Trinket Mage for one target is real style. I could see flushing out the options there a little.

I think at least two decks in this draft would love a Dread Return. Card is sweet.

These decks look great, and very creative.

Actually 3 targets, Seat of the Synod and Tree of Tales from the ULD among his lands ;)

I have tried Dread Return in the past and kept it in for long stretches, but it consistently underperformed for me. Exhume is the fair Reanimate, Living Death is the "oh shit thats why he tossed those good cards im fucked" combo-y payoff, and Unburial Rites is just a nice two shot reanimation spell. The slots for sorceries and instants have also become really tight with the last few sets that I'm not sure which swap I'd make if I want to revisit it (which I prob will sometime this year). I'm always on the lookout for good reanimation cards though, the problem is that too many just don't quite get there at my power level.
Actually 3 targets, Seat of the Synod and Tree of Tales from the ULD ;)

I have tried Dread Return in the past and kept it in for long stretches, but it consistently underperformed for me. Exhume is the fair Reanimate, Living Death is the "oh shit thats why he tossed those good cards im fucked" combo-y payoff, and Unburial Rites is just a nice two shot reanimation spell. The slots for sorceries and instants have also become really tight with the last few sets that I'm not sure which swap I'd make if I want to revisit it (which I prob will sometime this year). I'm always on the lookout for good reanimation cards though, the problem is that too many just don't quite get there at my power level.

Completely forgot about those!

That reanimation suite does seem nice. My power level might be just lower enough that the 'fair' side of dread return is at least palatable as is, which may help make the difference. Dunno. Know it pairs super hard with Sidisi.
Was able to fire off a 6 man draft yesterday, decided to go with a quilt draft. We created two 9x9 grids and split ourselves into 2 separate pods of three. Only the outer ring of cards was face-up, the inner portion was all flipped upside down. Until a card had an edge facing out into an opening, it was left as hidden information. Like usual, the only cards that could be picked in any given round were those with either the top or bottom (narrow edge) exposed outwards. Each pod went through 14 picks on each quilt before scooping up the rest and laying out another one and both pods through 3 quilts for a total of 42 picks for each player.

I'd say that this format is less like a draft and more like a sealed variant and depending upon what the quilt reveals, you could sometimes end up with the very best version of a given archetype. It becomes easier to plan future picks that are revealed on the quilt if you know that those in your pod aren't within your given colors or archetype. We ended up with six pretty solid lists:

Emrakul Ungiven [Me]

UR Kiki Combo [Bertrand]

Jeskai Tempo [Leo]

5C Cruelty [Kenny]

GW Midrange [Alex]

4C Pod [Nolan]


Early on, I didn't have a whole lot of exciting picks available so I just settled on a Watery Grave with my first pick. I didn't really have a good direction for my deck with my first 5-6 picks, mostly filler cards here and there like Fyndhorn Elves and Mind Stone until I saw a Living Death. I then looked into more looting effects and ways to put cards into the graveyard and lucked into things like Mesmeric Orb and a Grim Flayer, but no real big payoffs. Near the end of Quilt 1 I picked up cards like Ob Nixilis Reignited, Hissing Quagmire and Dragonlord Silumgar so I was leaning more into a Sultai Control build and was going off of the Living Death plan. Then when we laid out Quilt 2, I saw a Liliana of the Veil that would work great with both Flayer and Living Death and snapped it up. It was until we were a few cards in that I saw the card that I'd be building around.

Emrakul, the Promised End was flipped up midway through my Quilt 2 (around pick 5-7) and I immediately went all in on it. I already had decent support and if I focused on enablers and strange card types, I thought that I could cast it for 7-8 with regularity. ULD having Artifact Lands available also helped. I managed to snag a Volrath's Stronghold somewhere along the line so I had the possibility of playing the Mesmeric Orb subgame to push creature types into grave and hope to be able to cast a cheap Emrakul from hand or recur from the graveyard if necessary. Later on I got cards like Control Magic to help me branch to the late game by buying time (and potentially getting another tough card type into the graveyard via creature removal/combat), Walking Ballista with the sweet Artifact-Creature dual typing and a way to keep pace with aggressive starts, and Crystalline Crawler as another means of ramping out a quicker Emrakul. I even managed to pick up an Exhume and Traverse the Ulvenwald to help supplement a reanimator backup plan.

I ended up with probably the most amazing Delirium shell I could possibly have made. The only thing that would have topped it off were if I had seen Ishkanah Grafwidow at some point or had additional support with something like Grapple With the Past. Other than that, deck operated like a fucking machine. Incredibly efficient and powerful, all my trades in combat, removal spells and perceived "losses" of key creatures or permanents just helped to fuel my late game into Emrakul.

The decks drafted by each pod ended up being the following:

Pod 1: UR Kiki Combo, Emrakul Ungiven, GW Midrange
Pod 2: 5C Cruelty, Jeskai Tempo, 4C Pod


In the first round I was paired up against the 4C Pod deck and had no clue what I was up against since the drafter was within the other pod. They started off pretty decently by putting out threats and establishing a board presence little by little as I kind of durdled for the first few turns by fetching up a Sunken Hollow on T1 and then bolting myself to get an Overgrown Tomb on T2 in order to kill a potential threat in Voice of Resurgence with a Grasp of Darkness. At some point he plays out a Bitterblossom, but I follow it up with a Pernicious Deed in hand that I crack for 2 the next turn to sweep his board away. I then play out a Vault of Whispers post Deed (which would have been blown up) and Hissing Quagmire the next turn, but I don't really have a whole lot of cards to actively play in hand with 3 mana. Emrakul is stranded there needing around 10 mana to be deployed with 3 card types (Land, Instant, Enchantment) in the graveyard. He uses Kolaghan's Command to blow up my artifact land (4 types) and recur his Voice before playing it out again. I Control Magic the Voice to get a blocker and hope to cash it in at some point for a token and just buy some more time to draw into lands. I do not draw into a 5th land yet but still manage to deploy a Crystalline Crawler with 3 counters on it which gives me a virtual 11 mana for Emrakul at this point (3 counters + 4 lands + 4 types). The next turn he plays out a Murderous Redcap to shoot down the Voice, giving me a token. I draw into an untapped land and excitedly play it, activate the Crawler to put a 4th counter on it, remove them all to add 4 mana, tap my lands for an additional 5, and then count up types (Enchantment, Artifact, Land, Instant) to deploy my Emrakul with him at 14 life.

Up to this point, he had no idea what my deck was trying to do. I Mindslaver him, look over his hand with Burn and other cards and he's sitting there kind of dumbfounded and decides to scoop before I get to do anything. It was awesome.

Game 2 was a little different in that I didn't really get a chance to go all-in on Emrakul Ramp because I didn't see it at all. I ended up playing a more midrange-y gameplan at this point and played removal to answer early threats, stuck and cracked a Deed on a turn to help clear the board, then presented a Crawler with 3 counters again. This one was promptly killed on site, but that was fine because I was hoping to bait out a kill spell or removal to clear the way for a Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet to help me stabilize a bit. We chip back and forth for a little, Kalitas dies to a removal spell, and I'm at 5 while he's at around 9. He plays more of a value game this time around and is able to generate some action through cards like Filgree Familiar, a Renegade Rallier and Goblin Dark-Dwellers and some burn spells, but I manage to steal it at some point with Control Magic and wack him down to 5 on an attack. I have a Walking Ballista in hand, 6 lands and some Manland on the board, but I can't really find an opening to kill him at 5 life if he goes wide enough. He also sees that as his route to victory and deploys a Pod and some other threats, then goes super wide with other bodies and Pods up the chain paying 2 life before ending the turn with no mana up. I just show him the Ballista in hand and 6 mana and he scoops them up.


I'm paired up against Jeskai Tempo this time around and he's already seen the Emrakul that happened at our table so he's ready for it. I haven't seen any of his deck yet so I'm not quite sure of what he's working with. I drop T1 Fyndhorn Elves and a T2 Mesmeric Orb and we play the strange game of minimal creature deployment and milling which seems to work in his favor leaving up counter mana most turns and only tapping out for Tamiyo, the Moon Sage and using the +1 on my Elves. I use that opening to deploy a Verdurous Gearhulk and go with 4 counters on the Elves to create two meaningful threats. We fall into a weird subgame where I can't really attack past into Tamiyo easily with mana and Colonnade available to block and the +1 locking down a threat every turn. Eventually, we're at the point where we are both running low on cards in library and he's since deployed Geist of Saint Traft and a Vendilion Clique. I think at some point he Cryptic Counter + Tapped me to get in for a huge chunk of 9 damage with Tamiyo up near her ultimate. I draw into a Dragonlord Silumgar and it looks like I might be able to do something if I steal the Tamiyo, Ult it and shoot my Essence Extraction at a ton of bodies to stabilize my life total. But then I read the card again and sadly Tamiyo's Ult is not the same as Bantmiyo's Omniscience and I can't really do anything relevant with the Ultimate because I'll die either via damage through Clique + Geist + Angel + Colonnade or deck myself next turn.

Game 2 I completely side out the Mesmeric Orb + Essence Extraction to bring in Hero's Downfall and Remand. I think I used the Downfall at some point but it didn't take much as I mostly just curved out and was able to fill up my grave for Emrakul shenanigans off a Crystalline Crawler that was deployed when the shields were down as he answered other threats. My Mindslaver Turn consisted of casting a Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and then casting Miscalculation on it, and Wastelanding his Hallowed Fountain to take him off WW and put him down to 3 lands with Fumigate and Archangel Avacyn stuck in hand. He can't do anything with his turn other than play out another land. I untap, play Verdurous Gearhulk and grow Emrakul to a 17/17 and swing to bring him down to 1 and turn off any potential topdeck City of Brass or Fetchland. He doesn't get a 2nd white source untapped and I win the game.

Game 3 I bring back the Mesmeric Orb. I start the game off by playing out a shock and Fyndhorn Elves, T2 deploy the Orb + a tapped land to set up the mill standoff. He deploys one of the Thalia in his deck, I Essence Extraction it when I get the chance and we're not really doing a whole lot either way. I self-mill some big dudes, he counters another threat, but I have a Living Death in hand and wait for him to tap low enough to deploy. He does so in a later turn and I flip the board and bring back Dragonlord Silumgar, Gearhulk and Tasigur with nothing on his side. He calmly untaps and Fumigates them away. We mostly play draw-land-go for a bit until I get the chance to cast a Traverse the Ulvenwald with many card types in the grave. I tutor Emrakul, can't quite deploy without another land, but I take the opportunity to play out Liliana of the Veil and Ob Nixilis Reignited in subsequent turns. He doesn't use up a counterspell on them because of the Emrakul coming along soon and thinking he can keep them in check with manlands. I draw into Remand soon and pull off one of the greatest plays I've ever made in Cube by casting Emrakul and leaving up two mana, having my opponent try to Dissolve the Emrakul, and then Remanding the Emrakul while on the stack to get the Mindslaver trigger and keep the Emrakul. It's at this point we realize that he had a potential kill since I had 3 card left in library with a Compulsive Research in hand. That would have decked me and won the game. Instead, I kill him two turns later.


In this round, I play against a five color deck that just seemed like it picked all fixing early in the draft and then picked up and played whatever it wanted to. Surprisingly, it didn't seem to stumble on mana in the games that we played. In the first game I was on the Orb Mill plan again and had a Living Death in hand that I was hoping to set up for a big turn later in the game. That plan fell apart as I saw him stock up his grave with relevant threats and good ETB effects while I wasn't really hitting much (to be expected with so few creatures). I spent some time using Control Magic and removal to keep his threats in check until we got to a point later in the game with him running low on cards left in library. Even then, he had assembled a pretty decent board and put me down to 3 life where I would be dead the next turn. I think there may have been one too many loots with Copter in the early game because he passed to me with one card left in his library. I paused, quickly scanned his graveyard, and saw that he had a Baleful Strix. I fire off the Living Death, he's forced to draw his last card, and then he's out of cards when it comes to his draw step.

In game 2 I figure that he'll be playing around Orb more heavily and can't rely upon it so I side it out like usual and bring in some more removal. Nothing relevant happens much in the early to mid game with myself mostly fetching and setting up my mana base and him pecking away at me down to 13. We're at a point where I've cast Emrakul and taken his turn with him at 18 life and an active Sylvan Library and Sorin, Grim Nemesis. I make him take 8 from the Library to drop him to 10, O-Ring his own Sorin, then crew and attack Copter into Emrakul and loot away a relevant card and make him keep a land. I present him one turn to deal with my finisher or lose. I believe he topdecks the Sower of Temptation to steal my Emrakul and completely flip the tables on me. I answer his card with my own Mind Control effect with Dragonlord Silumgar to take back my Emrakul. Then he plays a Banishing Light to exile my Silumgar and regain control of Emrakul and hits me with the Sower + two tokens he had gotten from an earlier Lingering Souls (I'm at 5 life). He draws and casts a Bloodbraid Elf, however, and just beats me down for the final points of damage.

Game 3 mostly consisted of me trying to stick a Mesmeric Orb to try and ride that to victory, but that was quickly answered by an Oblivion Ring. I then thought that I needed to set myself up for a Turbo Emrakul since I wasn't about to win a beatdown race, but I wasn't really drawing into relevant cards. That was until I flipped a Gifts Ungiven off the top and fired it off for this pile:

And I let my opponent agonize over the split and make the decision. I get the land + Emrakul and I deploy a Walking Ballista on 3 (thanks to the Temple) and fire it off in the face of an incoming Banishing Light to give me two more creature types. I topdeck a land the next turn and am able to cast Emrakul and close out the game shortly thereafter.

ROUND 4 (Finals!)

I get paired up against the same drafter who wrecked my Mardu Aggro deck from a month back with UR Kiki and have to play against nearly the same deck in the Finals. Oh, except now he has also got Pestermite so there are two ways to infinite combo kill me. Most of the 1st game was spent with me trying to play around the combo later in the game and trying to stick threats in the mid-game, but he usually had the counterspell or some means of dealing with it. The only real threat I managed to stick was a Verdurous Gearhulk and he had already countered my other threats and even used Torrential Gearhulk to flashback another counter. I distributed the counters 2 and 2 between my Gearhulk and another creature and thought I'd be able to begin beating down, but in comes Dack Fayden and steals my guy, the other creature gets bounced, and I'm looking at a Go For the Throat in my hand and thinking FML. I promptly lose the game not long after after finding an answer for one creature but still getting beat down thoroughly.

Game 2 is more interesting as it becomes the Orb Mill battle again and I'm able to stick an early Tasigur, the Golden Fang and apply some pressure. It is dealt with promptly and I start to tap out to self-mill more aggressively with a Traverse the Ulvenwald in hand to hopefully turbo out an Emrakul. He mills out Kiki-Jiki at one point, so I no longer have to worry about the combo. But because of that and a few other creatures in graveyard, my Living Death in hand is a mostly dead card that I won't be casting anytime soon. He has a Ral Zarek just ticking up continuously in the meantime and reaches 7 loyalty, but ends up not ultimating it and just playing it safe. I try to make him pay by playing a Dragonlord Silumgar and stealing the Ral. He has no countermagic in hand, but he does have an Into the Roil to stop me. I draw into an Emrakul. I play out my turn and put him down to 13 life through attacks and cast it, but come to the realization that I'm going to deck out on my draw step with 5 cards left in my library and 6 tapped permanents. I scan my graveyard and see the Volrath's Stronghold starting right at me so I can't tutor it up with Traverse to set up anything at all. I look through his hand to figure out if there's some way for me to survive, but he has only one blue source on 4 or 5 mana and I can't deploy any combination of Ral Zarek + Pestermite or Pestermite + Phyrexian Metamorph to keep myself alive. I couldn't even use Dack Fayden to steal away my Artifact Land because that would put me on 5 tapped permanents which would still lose the game on draw step. If there were another blue source I think I had an out, but no good here. Still, great games all around!


Quick Hits and Thoughts:
  • I was originally planning on just doing 4 packs of 11 each for the draft process, but then quickly realized that that was probably not enough cards viewed to allow for people to construct meaningful or powerful decks. Any given draft pool would only have a total of 264 cards, and any given player would see a maximum of 51 unique cards in each pack. That's just way too few when my overall cube if 420. I think quilting was the right choice here as it led to less filler in decks, some more interesting decision-making with an open information format, and the ability to really plan out and craft synergistic payoffs.
  • If you're planning on quilting anytime soon, make sure to flip the inner cards upside down. For my pod we were able to finish up Quilt 1 quickly since we planned out picks ahead of time on the fly and thought through other options. I don't think that was the case for the other pod as they took REALLY long to finish their 3 quilts. We changed from a completely flipped open info quilt in the first round to ones with only outer cards available in the subsequent two and those went much quicker. I guess after a certain point there might be some information overload for certain drafters, worth seeing what your playgroup prefers.
  • Being able to consistently cast and deploy Emrakul, the Promised End is an absolutely insane option to have. I don't think there will ever be a Delirium deck as packed as mine in a traditional 8 man draft, but damn was it a blast to play. It was a fun puzzle to try and figure out the way to deploy Emrakul for a reasonable cost and most everyone I Mindslavered was relatively fine with it. Not as obnoxious as it was in Standard and there's more set-up than you'd think. It was more or less my only win condition aside from grinding people out in the late game with beats + walker control. I still think it was just fair as a win-con and there were even times when I just couldn't do anything all that crazy with certain hands and boardstates. I don't imagine that I'll see a Sultai deck as all-in on the plan like this in any normal 8-man draft, too many of the more versatile cards would likely be snapped up elsewhere.
  • On that note, Crystalline Crawler is incredible. It's kind of ridiculous being able to ramp yourself from 4 to 9 mana over one turn cycle and presenting itself as a ritual on legs. I was really lucky to get as much on color fixing and valuing it as highly as I did throughout the draft, I think the card is far less impressive if you end up casting it with two colors versus three. Even though I was able to do a ton of work with it in many matchups, I still feel like it's mostly a fair card at my power level because you're putting most of your eggs in one basket. There is definite blowout potential and Aggro decks (of which there were none in this field) can heavily pressure you early, but if you manage to untap? It opens up a world of possibilities. I'm looking forward to someday using it to play a T5 Cruel Ultimatum. Just don't get it snatched by Dack Fayden.
  • Walking Ballista is a damn good Magic card. Like most people, I underrated it when I first saw it spoiled, but being able to represent a ping, Shock or even Bolt on a stick gives you so many options in actual gameplay. I'm just waiting for the day that I can play a Verdurous Gearhulk and just create my own machine gun of death that just eats blockers and shoots people to death. Being able to curve out and keep x/1 and x/2 creatures in check, keeping your opponent from wanting to deploy them at all, is an amazing gain in tempo. It has some sweet interactions with cards like Volrath's Stronghold to rebuy a pinger on a stick, allows you to easily set up Delirium at instant speed, and it also is an excellent mana sink and topdeck in the late game. It just scales way more effectively than I thought it would, excellent card.
  • I forgot to write it down on my notes as I played, but I did manage to fire off Gifts Ungiven another 2 times in previous matches but I do not recall the exact cards that I had picked. Most of the time it was just to fill the graveyard with card types for Delirium and/or early Emrakul. Gifts is more or less a package deal with reanimation cards and it does a good job helping the Graveyard decks branch from the GB base into blue for more payoffs and ways to fill up the grave alongside looters. I think the card will get even better with the release of AKH and a the new Liliana right on curve and ready to reanimate a threat that you dumped in the grave. Please give us a sweet reanimate-able creature this block that isn't retarded strong like Griselbrand.
Had a 3v3 Team Draft on Friday, we went with 4 packs of 13 and a ULD. We ended up with these sweet decks:

Azorius Midrange [Leo]

GB Aggro [Shamim]

4C Pod [Jerry]

RG Monsters [Ryan]

Mardu Recruiter [Nolan]

Grixis Artifact Control [Addison]

The teams were GB Aggro/4C Pod/Azorius Midrange vs. RG Monsters/Grixis Artifact Control/Mardu Recruiter.

In the first round I was paired up with the Grixis Arftifact Control deck, an archetype that I had been working on for a while after KLD was released. The deck was very grindy, it had only 3 actual creatures as you can see from the decklist above, and we split the first two games. In one game I came out the gates quickly with early aggressive creatures, a Bonesplitter and Rancor, some removal, and a Plague Belcher to keep applying pressure. In the other game, I ran into the buzzsaw that is Liliana, the Last Hope which stranded two x/1 creatures in my hand as I was trying to dig my way to an out that I never found. In game 3 I knocked him all the way down to 5 life before he stabilized completely and overran me in the late game as my aggressive creatures were lacking considerably in the face of a Myr Battlesphere/Daretti, Scrap Savant engine online. It wasn't until I was uploading the lists above that I realized how useless Shriekmaw was in this matchup.

In the 2nd round I was matched up with Mardu Recruiter and G1 wasn't all that exciting and he was stuck on lands and I just curved out and stomped him. Game 2 was more of a contest as his removal and threats lined up very well with mine and he was able to flood the board with bodies via Mardu Strike Leader and various token producers. There was a pretty gross turn where he created a 2nd Strike Leader with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, swung, and just flooded the board with new bodies to block for him the following turn. In the third game my threats were a wee bit too resilient for him to cleanly deal with and recursive beaters wielding Boneplitters carried me to a win in G3.

The 3rd round wasn't particularly close as I was completely stomped by the RG Monsters deck. In the first game he ramped out Polukranos quickly, followed it up with a Flametongue Kavu, and I was left twiddling my thumbs with bodies on the ground that couldn't attack profitably and were incapable of blocking on the other end. The 2nd game was a quick-nongame as an early Wasteland kept me off of black mana as it took down my Overgrown Tomb and I didn't draw into a 3rd land for the rest of the game. If I had seen just one more land, I had enough removal and reactive cards in hand to keep the board relatively clear of bigger threats until I could start deploying my creatures.

My team ended up finishing 3-4, we couldn't finish the final two matches as the LGS was closing up and our friend was done with judging for the night. The best performing decks from the night were Azorius Midrange and Grixis Artifact Control, both of which were 2-0 before we had to pack up for the night. Pretty happy with the quality of the decks that were constructed, hoping to get in another session soon with a couple more Amonkhet inclusions. Liliana, the Last Hope was a recent pickup and she performed very well holding down the fort against Aggro and also being able to recur key threats/put targets into the graveyard for Daretti to bring back. That was probably my pick for deck of the night.
Haven't drafted in a while (hoping to change that soon), but I did do some extensive work with my cube over the weekend. I dunno how often you guys have done it, but I just resleeved my cube for the first time since I put it together around 3 years ago.

I had Red Dragonshields and Perfect Fits before for the entire cube, landbase and ULD (420 + 150 + 40ish). The PFits were mostly okay if a bit yellowed after 3 years of use, but the DShields definitely gathered a bit of grime and got sticky over the years. There were little pieces of dirt sticking to random places and I didn't really want to go through any cleaning process. So this time around I went with Black DS Mattes and Perfect Fit Hards. The PF Hards take up more space in my cube box (I've since moved my lands to separate Ultra Pro Deck Boxes for easier storage and organization during drafts), but I think it's well worth it. My basic lands are now stored like so, way easier to just pass around a box of lands for people to pull from instead of directing them to a pile on a table:

As for the Perfect Fit Hards, they feel sooo much more secure than normal PFs did. These actually feel like they're protecting the cards better, slightly thicker plastic and all. Foils (for those of you who like to pimp out their cubes) also pop out WAY more with the PF Hards:


This is the set-up I have for labeling which cards are special during the draft. It helps to signal new drafters which cards I'm doubling up on during the draft, which cards will get them an extra land as a squadron pick, and finally which lands are in the ULD. It has made cleaning up and storing my stuff WAY easier post draft instead of having to sift through piles of cards to see if some ULD or squadron card was forgotten. I just stick the stickers into the left corner of the PFs for cards within the actual draft (so that players can fan through the pack and easily note them) and on the right for ULD and squadron lands to easily pull them for storage:


I mostly just lay out the disclaimer of hey this cube breaks singleton here and there (mostly with lands), lay out the little marker card in the middle of the table as I set up the ULD also, and I tell them to keep an eye out for the yellow sticker if they're curious on doubles during the actual draft (like with fetches and enemy shocks):

I also took a picture of the squadron picks that I'm currently running within my cube. I like how it's looking right now, haven't really had any confusion from drafters yet. Prior to this, the issue I had with explicitly 3 color cards were that almost no one wanted them later in the draft while early picks are almost always spent on being open and versatile. I never saw them being used, this just gives a little more incentive towards drafting these cards and sometimes they just take them to get the land itself. I don't mind either way. I just tell them to see me after drafting is complete and hand them the accompanying land:


All of my ULD has the red sticker label in the right corner, easy to sift through a deck and pull them out for storage as soon as we're through:

Overall, I really like how it's looking now. Still have to air out the sleeves and get in reps so that they aren't flying all over the place, but I'm liking the feel of it. If you're going to go through the weekend long process of resleeving and redoing your cube anytime soon, I recommend the combo of PF Hards and DS Mattes.
Love to hear about the new hot tech when it comes to sleeves and stickers. This is way better than how I'm doing it. The five deck boxes for basics is a super idea, and those foils really do pop.
It's been a long while, but I recently got to do some cubing with some friends over the last weekend when we took a trip up to Yosemite. We were staying at a cabin up north and our days mostly consisted of hiking through the park, sightseeing around the area, then coming back home to jam some Magic and board games. All in all a pretty great weekend.

I had had packs of 15 built prior to running this draft and so we just ran with what was already present. As a result, mana bases were a bit wonky and most everyone fell into 3+ color decks with light splashes because of the abundance of fixing. In future 6 man drafts, I'd probably go with 4x11 packs instead to better simulate the typical drafting experience. For the most part everyone ended up with a playable base of cards, but due to a lack of seeing a ton of the cube (we drafted 270/420), it was obvious that some archetypal payoff/support cards would be missing. That said, here are the lists from our first session:

Abzan Midrange [Shamim]

Temur Black [Nolan]

Mardu Midrange [Yichin]

RG Ramp [Leo]

Graveyard BUG [Will]

Jeskai Control [Jeff]

  • I went with a P1P1 Ghalta, Primal Hunger to try and see it in action, but was unable to get to many of the ramp or reanimation cards to help turbo it out early. Still, the one game where I saw it and was able to cast it was where it did its job admirably by quickly closing out the game. My opponent actually had to chump-block with a Dragonlord Atarka that combat! The only real situation where I could see it being an awful card is your literal topdeck after a massive boardwipe in the mid-game, but then again there aren't a whole lot of cards that thrive in that spot if you're on the backfoot. I could see Ghalta being cast reasonably in the 6-8 turn range on average, it becomes trivially easy if you are allowed to curve out with a ramp deck. Further testing will show whether it's worth keeping in, but I like it as a ramp/reanimation payoff card in the meantime.
  • Search for Azcanta made its debut and what do you know, a means of filtering your future draws and flipping into a spell land turned out to be great. I can't think of anything especially incredible it did when I saw it in play, but it was a great way to grind out the late game if two decks had been trading resources to that point. It does have certain synergies to exploit with a card like Sidisi, Brood Tyrant and does allow you to push more card types into the grave to enable delirium. Mostly it's just a means of filtering your draws if you plop it down on T2 and you can't really find much of a problem with increased card quality in a format like Cube.
  • Hadana's Climb was actually a really cool enchantment helping to grow creatures to a size where they could rumble and push in some extra damage while the flipped side can just close out games in a hurry. That drafter actually managed to flip and double up the power of their Atarka, which was pretty disgusting. I think they were already ahead at that point but still, nothing more thrilling that beating face with a 16/16 trampler right?
  • My favorite of the lists from this batch is probably the Jeskai Control build, but then again I'm just a sucker for any deck packing a wrath and creature removal. I've been a pretty big fan of Archangel Avacyn ever since it was first printed, just a great way to close out the game and plays right into control's gameplan by usually picking off a dude on a flash-block out of nowhere.
Here is the second session, which we ran back right after the first. Used the rest of the 150 cards that weren't in the previous draft pool already 15 card packs, made a few others from the first pool to fill out the other slots. Fewer 3 color builds this time, I have a feeling that the previous pool might just have ended up with a higher concentration of fixing:

Esper Living Death [Nolan]

GW Titania [Yichin]

Grixis Control [Shamim]

Bant Tempo [Jeff]

UB Taking Hostages [Will]

Jund [Leo]

I'm pretty happy with how my Grixis Artifacts deck came out, gave me time to try out a handful of cards that I had added in my last few updates but never got a chance to see in action:
  • Kess, Dissident Mage is an incredibly fun card to play with. Being able to rebuy early removal or any kind of card draw you might have is incredibly good, there is no Snapcaster/Dire Fleet targetting where your opponent can disrupt you, and it's just a nice body at 3/4 flying to help stabilize boardstates. Ideally you'll want a deck with cheap removal and burn spells to maximize her effectiveness. I see her pairing incredibly well with decks running smaller wipes in the form of Anger of the Gods, Radiant Flames or Sweltering Suns to help stabilize boards. Being a 3/4 makes her big enough to rumble in the air, hold down the fort against most flyers in that CMC range, all the while still being vulnerable to higher costed burn (I have most 4 damage burn at 1RR) to make her manageable. Just a very well designed card, infinitely more castable than Cruel Ultimatum had been for me (though far less memorable).
  • Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast was a card that I was a little worried about when first printed due to his ability as a straight up kill factory, but it seems that that was a bit misguided. He's good at churning out artifact bodies and sniping down guys, but he doesn't really have a major impact board-wise as soon as he hits. He's about the perfect powerlevel for a support walker in an artifact centric shell, I'll likely be keeping him in as a unique Rakdos card that isn't just all about pushing forward Aggro builds. My highlight of the night was actually ult-ing him after I was made to discard a Combustible Gearhulk to the +1 from Liliana of the Veil on the previous turn. I made 3 copies of the Gearhulk and nugged my opponent for lethal after flipping over some 2-3 cmc cards alongside a Blasphemous Act.
  • My deck was pretty solid, a good representation of the core of the Grixis Artifacts archetype I'm trying to push. I would have liked to see some more reanimation effects alongside looting for cheaty action or the likes of Noxious Gearhulk or Herald of Anguish as payoff cards.
  • My favorite deck of this batch was probably the UB Taking Hostages build. Hostage Taker is a very very good card when you have the window to cast, steal, then re-cast the hostage. The primary gameplan was to value-grind the opponent down and steal their creatures, secondary seemed to be establishing a lock with Sheoldred, Whispering One. They did live the dream (kind of) by going T1 Thoughtseize, targetting themselves to discard Sheoldred, then T2 Exhume with only Sheoldred coming back down. They also Control Magic'd my Kess at one point in a game where I was forced to kill my own creature after they had generated some decent value off a rebought Gitaxian Probe and Brainstorm in back to back turns. Also copied my Duplicant at one point with their Phantasmal Image to exile my Duplicant so that I couldn't enable a bit of a loop with Academy Ruins + chump blocks with the body.
After speaking with part of my playgroup on most of the drive back down to San Diego (like 7 hours), I'm going to revisit/try out a few cards in the near future, most notably these:

Drafters wanted to see more ramp support available and I wanted some other artifacts to cheat out early. The Angel is mostly just a value card to help give finishers for a UWR type deck and the Initiate is to provide some more W/x Aggro support since it seems like that archetype was very underrepresented this time around. Not sure if that's a product of the 6 man pods or a lack of archetypal density in the pool, but I've also been pretty meh on a handful of white 1 and 2 drops and it's worth swapping out stuff to try out new things.

Might try out squadroning a few other cards as well in my next draft, been thinking about these:

For these cards, it's more of an effort to make sure that these archetypes end up with a critical mass of effects/cards to do what they need to do. For instance, Drake Haven is a card I've completely ignored/forgotten about since AKH but realized that there's now a critical mass of cycling and looting effects throughout my cube + ULD to actually enable it to be a viable card. I just don't think that one copy is enough to make that deck a reality, especially in a pool featuring a max of 360/420 cards. The same can be said of Pod and Company, I've had a few drafters in the past tell me of how they wanted to go into those decks and build around them but didn't end up with enough pieces or enough of a density to make it work.

As for Experiment One and Goblin Welder, both cards have been solid as singleton copies but I just wanted to replicate their gameplay effects without having to utilize an additional slot within the cube. I can see some fun GW Aggressive builds being viable with the additional Exp One, maybe even a splash or straight UG for some Hadana's Climb shenanigans? For the Welder I just want an additional copy of that effect that doesn't suck. Trash for Treasure isn't good enough, Tinker seems like it would be absurd in my environment, and Trading Post is too durdly and doesn't quite get there for what I want. Ideally, they would make a 3cmc creature that can ETB and give a one-shot effect of the Welder/Daretti artifact exchange ability (maybe as a 2/1 or 2/2?) someday, but until then I guess I'll try this out. Welder being powerful but fragile gives me hope that it won't be too game-warping or flat-out stupid to go up against.

I'm planning on making a handful of sweeping changes throughout my cube leading up to Dominaria in a few weeks (I'm stoked for artifacts support with that big Djinn and new Karn), probably looking to cutdown on explicitly gold cards or tighten restraints here and there. I haven't really deep-dived into fine-tuning my cube in a long while, but I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully I can get in a few more sessions in the near future and have more to share.

BONUS: A few pics that I really liked from my trip that I wanted to share:



Haven't posted anything in a really long time, but I might actually have a cube draft fire in about two weeks so stay tuned for that! For this post, however, I think I'm just going to touch upon a few cards from 2018 that I thought were interesting and lay out some shells/combinations within my cube that I wanted to touch upon.


There were a number of great new cards spoiled this year, but I think the White suite of creatures did the most towards expanding the suite of cards for already established archetypes. Dauntless Bodyguard is yet another one of the dime a dozen 2/1 cards we’ve been getting the last few years, but I’m a fan of the protection this offers to saving a more valuable threat on the board. A semi-modal card that goes from generic 2 power 1 drop to a spell attached on a body in a deck that is all about maximizing pressure while running low land counts is excellent.

In addition to that, Bugler also helps with buffing up those low to the ground agro decks by providing actual card advantage in white! Human typing helps pump up your Champion of the Parish or Thalia’s Lieutenant right on curve and even lets you dig for another creature to keep the train rolling. I like the sheer number of cards that it’s also able to pick up on curve outside of just white, like the following options:

Just an awesome card, can’t wait to see it live in action sometime soon.

Finally, you have the Convoke cards in Venerated Loxodon and Conclave Tribunal helping you to go tall after going wide and to clear out problem cards efficiently. Loxodon essentially eats up a turn of attacks, but that’s a small price to pay upgrading your board of two 2/1s to two 3/2s and a 4/4 if you were to do this on curve. Conclave Tribunal lets you turn small dudes who have become roadblocked in a given boardstate (say two 2/1s against a Courser of Kruphix) into fuel for an O-Ring. You could legitimately play out a land and a small guy on that turn, use them as fuel for the Tribunal to clear a blocker, and still leave you with active bodies to get in some more damage. Not having to take up a turn to deal with a threat while you could be going wider is an amazing bit of tempo play. Tribunal is probably my favorite O-Ring variant ever printed. I like how both of these are equally as playable in W/x Aggro and more Token driven archetypes as well, I expect them to be featured in my cube for a while.


I haven’t been really big on U/x tempo strategies in the past, but Marauder made me want to revisit them after seeing it in action during Rivals prerelease. Solid on-curve body, the triggered ability being able to negate a blocker is pretty sweet, and it’s got relevant typing and evasion to boot. I don’t really have an aggressive WU shell to take advantage of it, but I see it being a great inclusion to more tempo orient U/R builds will burn and bounce available all across the curve. It works very well with something like Young Pyromancer or the new Murmuring Mystic by allowing those tokens to actually punch through a real card if blocks present themselves.

Speaking of which, Mystic was an absolute house in GRN Limited and I think it’ll be really solid in most cube environments. That 1/5 body is so bizarre and blocks so many aggressive creatures on the ground cleanly. Looking over my removal suite, unless it’s a straight up destroy a creature spell, it’s actually quite obnoxious to face down from the other side of the board. Those tiny 1/1s don’t seem like they’ll be much of an issue, but once they start pecking away at you and you aren’t able to do anything on the ground, it can quickly become a hassle to play through. I’ve always found most of the archetypal spellslinger cards to be too cute to actually be functional (aside from the GOAT Young Peezy), but this one gets right in the sweet spot for me.


Isareth is a fine card and I got to witness how powerful it was firsthand as I got completely stomped by a Grixis deck during the M19 Prerelease that used it to recur things like Exclusion Mage and Salvager of Secrets for Sift. The 3/3 Deathtouch body is respectable and I find the ability in general to be kind of underrated in cube settings. You’re not going to be cubing Typhoid Rats in the majority of our cubes, but attaching the keyword to a decent body and giving it some extra reach in some form seems like a great deal for a creature. Trading it up with any of your opponents impact creatures higher up the curve is just a plus.

Midnight Reaper is the 3 drop I’ve wanted in black for the Recursive Black Aggro decks for years. It generates card advantage, provides another okay body at 3/2 for 3, and it’s a zombie on top of everything. Being able to suicide charge Gravecrawlers through and give your opponent the conundrum of letting through damage or blocking and letting you draw into more gas is everything I’ve been looking for. We’ve had multiple versions of the value generating 3 drop for aggressive B/x decks, but I think this might be the most impressive one to date by far. Grim Haruspex never quite got there, Ruin Raider was okay but mostly meh, but this one can turn your smaller bodies into cards and even replaces itself when it dies. Just a very solid card.

BW Aggro


Holy shit, that’s a lot of new two drops! I like how each of these creatures introduces interesting lines of play for a color that has been, for the most part, defaults to single-minded aggressive strategies. Daredevil gives you a solid body in the early game that can push through damage and in the late game turns into a virtual two for one the majority of the time. Dismissive Pyromancer was one that I overlooked on first glance through the entire set, but the more I thought about it with its dual activated abilities and relevant typing, the more it grew on me. I like giving aggressive decks tools to let them branch into the late game and a rummaging effect on a bear is just fine with all the excess mana that low curve decks might end up with in the mid-later portions of a game. Being able to just clear out a big body once things slow down or just representing an on board trick to keep your opponent from thinking about deployment is excellent. In that same vein, Goblin Cratermaker offers similar opportunity as a Shock for creatures on legs or a means to deal with problem artifacts or something like Karn, Scion of Urza. We’re used to getting aggressive bodies at this cmc in this color, but I’m all about this additional utility on red bears. Please give us more of these!


One of the bigger issues that I see being common for G/x Ramp strategies in Cube is playing out dorks, beginning to ramp towards a big creature ahead of the cuve, but then being set back heavily by something like a sweeper or well timed burn spells. Once you reach that point, you’ve probably ran out of gas in hand and are left relying upon topdecks to rebuild something and maybe somehow reach your big creatures. The effect stapled to Whisperer’s body has been around for a while, but I’ve normally seen it in the 6+ mana range for creatures. I think this is the first time you have a reasonably castable version that you can then curve into relevant threats right on curve, which opens up a lot of exciting possibilities. Instead of blowing it all on your own shot, you can at least try to recoup some card advantage with this guy. Draw some dorks late in the game? Turn them into another card right away and start churning towards something relevant. Equally at home in midrange strategies as well, I think it’s just a very good card.

I’ve written about her previously and have had good experiences with her to this point, but Ghalta, Primal Hunger is the green ramp payoff/reanimation target I’ve always wanted. It’s just a big dumb creature that can end games quickly if you get it to stick on the board. Curving into it after playing big creatures is great, early reanimation makes it a tough to deal with but fair target that won’t lock you out of a game. I much prefer her to the variety of ETB value big dudes most cubes deploy as their go-to target to cheat/reanimate/ramp into play early.


Within the gold section, we’ve gotten a handful of interesting offerings to work with. Knight of Autumn is yet another modal spell which you can’t really complain about, but I do like the various options available on it allowing it to play a variety of different roles. Gain life + 2/1 body versus aggressive decks or become a 4/3 and Naturalize vs. something midrange-y seem like awesome utility.

This newest iteration of Saheeli is one of the most interesting UR artifact cards I’ve seen in a long time. Having built a commander deck with her at the helm, she’s just insane if you can untap and power out something ahead of curve or chain into a two spell turn. Ticking towards an ultimate by popping out 1/1 bodies which also help fuel the other +1 ability is just wild to me. On that same note, I think Brudiclad has a lot of potential as well and also serves as an interesting target for Goblin Welder or Daretti, Scrap Savant to bring back into play. That ability to change tokens FOREVER is nuttier than you’d think. Realistically, curving Pia and Kiran Nalaar or Whirler Rogue into it gives you some interesting lines of play where you can decide to beef up on the ground with a bunch of 2/1 Myrs or take to the skies with Thopters galore. I’m pretty happy with both of these new tools to play with.

UR Saheeli

Grixis Artifacts

Finally, I’ve been waiting for new Boros cards for a while now since that color has been quite boring and GRN certainly delivered. Sure, it's more Aggro stuff, but I appreciate some variety by introducing the ability to go vertically that is typically not available for aggressive decks. I was a big fan of Mentor in Limited and I think it translates quite well into Cube. Tajic can represent a ton of damage coming down as a hasty threat and buffing one of your guys up, you might be clocking in for 6+ over two turns if you can back it up with the correct removal. Aurelia is far more interesting and brings such a cool element of play to it by serving as a mentor for other creatures, being able to take to skies and push through evasive damage, or even granting a boost and helping to make smaller guys evasive. It introduces pump-spell like elements to a format where (at a higher power level) those kind of spells don’t really find a home all that often. My preference when drafting my own cube is to go into hard control or heavy agro and she is the card that I am most excited to play with.

RW Aggro

Oh yeah, I also backed and received the Cubeamajigs reuseable packs through Kickstarter in the mail a couple days ago and have since set up my cube with them. They're pretty sweet and I think they're available for sale soon. I'll post up a short review with pics for those of you who might be thinking about picking them up in the near future.

Hoping to fire a draft in about two weeks at FNM, keep your fingers crossed for an actual cube report!
You know, I actually had a cube draft fire some months back with 8 drafters and I think I have pictures of the decks assembled that night, but I can't for the life of me remember how that night went or who won. I'll post up decklists at some point once I find them and if my memory somehow returns, but honestly I just wanted to post about the cards we've gotten from WAR and MH thus far that have gotten me going again with cube design. I'm also in the midst of designing an EDH cube that I'm hoping to complete over the summer which has got me looking at a ton of cards and reconsidering a multitude of interactions and how I can make things work. For the first time in months I'm very inspired to revisit cube design and I'm going to take advantage of this with a handful of write-ups.

When I looked over my list again recently, I realized that there were a handful of archetypes that have been ever present and have had the support necessary to thrive, but there are also many half finished ideas here and there that I might have started at one point and just left remnants of without revisiting them. With the printings of so many interesting cards over the years and with the tendency to tinker more than actually play in between sets, I'm left with many individually strong cards that can be shaped into a certain archetypes, but I've gone away from synergistic playing style that was my initial goal when I first constructed this 5 years ago. Over the next month or so I'm hoping to tinker around and get back to these roots with my design and what better way to get it going than to revisit some cards and archetypes right here?

The archetype I've been most proud of is W/B Humans which I wrote about in depth a little over two years ago. This archetype will never be leaving my cube, it plays pretty consistently with payoffs and enablers, and you can transition it into a W/B Stax build featuring the likes of Braids, Cabal Minion or into a straight up Mardu Humans build by branching into Red and snapping up utility lands in the ULD to help fix your colors. This is the standard I'd like for the majority of archetypes in my cube; where there is a clear 2 color base but there are riffs within that build for other archetypes and there is support allowing for the branching of a third color. There should be one centric color (White), secondary color(s) that can back up the initial theme you're going for (Black/Red), and there should be pieces that are viable in other strategies that might overlap in this color (Bloodsoaked Champion and Gravecrawlerfor Stax). The archetypes that I'd like to revisit with the upcoming release of MH1 are UG Counters, UR Artifacts, RG Lands Matters (feat. Wildfire!), and WB Tokens. I'm going to start with a look at UG, I'll revisit the others in other posts over the course of this week as I think of things to jot down.

UG has been a problem spot for me in cube for a long time. There are strategies that work at a lower power level, but there are some major issues with the pair in that it has defaulted to a counters subtheme in many sets but hasn't had the power level to really hang for a long time. I don't think you necessarily need a plethora of powerful cards within a given archetype to make it function, but you need the right cards to grant you the critical mass necessary to give it the base to hang around with other powerful strategies. UG was kind of in the middle for the longest time as a supporting color to already existing decks, but mostly functioned to fill in the curve with generic goodstuff cards like Mulldrifter or Eternal Witness. Straight up ramp can be performed more effectively within RG, but I think the introduction of counters and additional card draw + payoffs has given UG some real legs it can work with. Specifically these cards have interested me:

Zegana is a solid if uninspiring body, but I mostly like that it will draw you a card in decks that have a counters theme going and it functions as a lord that grants trample but also as a mana sink that can turn into a win-con of its own. The biggest issue I've seen with ramp decks is running out of gas or ramping really hard without a payoff readily in hand or having it be answered right away. This card allows you to keep the gas flowing by drawing a card, functions as a win-con on its own, and is a perfectly reasonable on curve play even without drawing a card. I think there's good potential here having added the likes of Merfolk Branchwalker and Jadelight Ranger to provide a natural means of curving out with this. Additionally this plays well with other cards that are pre-existing in the cube promoting incidental counter synergies like Experiment One and Rishkar, Peema Renegade.

Hydroid Krasis was actually the big reason that I want interested in revisiting this archetype. I love the modal options of being a better Mulldrifter at 6 mana and a huge win condition if you go off an ramp extremely hard. Flying and Trample is a dangerous combination and I feel like this guy gives you a great reason to stay centered in UG. It's also a great curve topper in something like RUG ramp that gives you a different option alongside Dragonlord Atarka as a finisher. Being that this is an X-cost spell, for once the big ramp payoff isn't also a stupid strong card to reanimate early.

Continuing the theme of mana sinks, Biogenic Ooze gives you an outlet to generating bodies with excess mana and will continue to grow them after the fact with the end step trigger. I love having threats on the board that can impact the game and shift the board state as a self-contained engine. It's on a different axis, but it's part of why I loved Raid as a mechanic back in KTK on cards like Mardu Strike Leader and Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury. It was a means of applying continuous pressure without having to commit to the board in such a way that a wrath effect would undo all of your work. Much in the same manner, the Ooze lets you create bodies that will gum up the ground and will eventually function as a win-con all on its own. Triple G makes it a tough inclusion in greedier builds, but allows it to function as a sweet card to get out ahead of curve in any G/x ramp strategy. I have high hopes for this card.

Commence the Endgame is more of a finisher for control decks, but I see it as a fun instant speed option with some partial synergies here in UG. It gives you a flash threat, you should have a bunch of gas in hand ready to rock, and I see the base case for this being around a flash 4/4 which I'm perfectly fine with. A 4/4 that draws you two cards is completely fine in just about every U/x strategy and it will get nutty in anything that can grow it beyond that point.

Callous Dismissal was a card I didn't think much of until hearing LSV on Limited Resources refer to it as a smaller Man-O'-War variant. I was completely sold after that. It's a token that enters with a +1/+1 counter, can curve right into a variety of cards I'm hoping to feature in this archetype, and it helps you to promote tempo oriented plays while leaving behind a body. This isn't going to be the most amazing card in the deck, but you need a mass of key roleplayers and I see this doing the job just fine while limited your opponents ability to develop on board before you plop your bigger bodies on T4/T5.

Finally, we have a pair of of the newewalkers from WAR featuring designs and effect I've been a fan of but could never really justify a card for either. Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner is a mix of Kiora's Follower (how apt) and one of those various check for power then draw a card enchantments in green. Neither card by themselves is all that appealing to me, but in a tidy package they'll function quite well together. I like that Kiora rewards you for playing your big beasties and can untap them to defend her in a pinch if necessary. Being able to untap any above rate dorks like Incubation Druid or Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary (stupid powerful, but I like throwing my playgroup a bone every now and then) will make things go wild in a hurry. Vivien bring the Yeva, Nature's Herald effect but also grants Vigilance and Reach to your creatures allowing you to aggressively pressure your opponent with big guys while protecting her on the other side. Granting flash gives you so many chances to gotcha your opponents and opens up a variety of cool untap and play scenarios. I also like that her -2 gives you a form of card advantage that is very very green. I'm a big fan of these new static walker designs we had in WAR. I hope we see them ever so often because they give us such interesting changes to typical play with their enchantment like effects on the board while being interact-able.

A few sample lists:

UG Ramp

UG Ooze and Ahhhhs

Temur Ramp

I was on vacation this past week near Yosemite visiting the national park, going on a backpacking trip for a few days, and also hanging out in a cabin with a handful of friends of mine from my college days. It was a pretty sweet week and one of the best parts was that I got to play a lot of Magic in our downtime at the cabin. While we mostly played EDH for a hours, we did manage to draft my cube twice (first with a 6 man pod, the other time a 4 man quilt draft) and I've compiled the lists for the first draft + have a brief report. First of, here are the lists:

Jund 'Em Out [Reeves]

Bant Control [Yichin]

GW Little Kid [Jeff]

Jeskai Wildfire [Leo]

UR Artifacts [Shamim]

UB Reanimator [Will]

In this draft I actually started out with a Liliana, the Last Hope, Zulaport Cutthroat and Blood Artist thinking that I would slot into some grindy B/x creatures build trying to win off triggers, but I stopped seeing them come my way so I sort of hedged into UR with some basic burn and good cards like Sower of Temptation and Counterspell. I started seeing some non-committal artifacts heading my way and decided to look into UR payoffs to see if I could make the Artifacts deck I recently implemented work. I started seeing more of the cards wheel around the table and settled into the archetype once I drafted Daretti, Scrap Savant and The Antiquities War. I was able to pick up some big artifact bodies to hopefully cheat in early in Myr Battlesphere and Scuttling Doom Engine, but unfortunately I wasn't able to pick up many ways to actually loot them into my graveyard to enable early reanimation via Daretti so I was usually just hardcasting them. Not bad, but not really where I wanted to be when I was drafting them.

My first match was against an interesting Jeskai Wildfire deck which I didn't know featured Wildfires until it happened. It just seemed like a typical Jeskai Control type list but the first Wildfire effect caught me completely. The drafter was looking to use wrath effects and tempo plays to keep the board clear before sticking a few walkers and riding them to victory. In the first game he caught me completely off guard and I couldn't recover in time once he stuck one of his walkers on the board. In G2 I was able to flip the tables with an early Retrofitter Foundry that ended up playing way better than I was expecting. My expectations weren't too high for this durdly looking artifact, but it got the job done by giving me the ability to stick bodies on the board early and cash them in during the latter portions of the game for bigger bodies that could actually pose a threat. Just having a 1 drop card that can generate value through the early portions of the game without having me commit resources from hand was very underrated and really helped me to apply pressure with multiple small bodies. I stuck a copy of The Antiquities War on T4 that drew an answer the turn before it was set to go off, but that allowed me the opening to stick a bigger threat and close the game out. Game 3 we both got off to nice starts by sticking threats onto the board, but I think my opponent miscalculated with his Wildfire turn because I was left with a Foundry and two lands which was enough for me to rebuild and apply pressure. The game was still extremely tight until the end when he was able to cast a very cheap Ore-Scale Guardian to crack in for 4, but I had a Sower of Temptation in hand able to gain control of it and swing out for lethal on the crackback the following turn.

My second match was against a mostly traditional UW control deck splashing a little green for a few cards. Again, I was able to lead with an early Foundry (which was followed by wait what the fuck does this card do?) and curved out into creatures like Pia Nalaar and Whirler Rogue giving me extra Thopter tokens I could then cash in for 4/4 constructs to close out the game with. He then decided to side into a kind of blink package which included the following cards:

And I just got completely wrecked this second game after an avalanche of card advantage (Soulherder blinking Zegana is kind of disgusting) culminating in casting Emrakul and decimating my entire board + hand. Thankfully there was one turn where he played the Image targetting a large Soulherder and prior to straight up getting buried in card advantage on End Step I was able to sac an artifact with Pia Nalaar to target the Image and kill it. Still, got Emrakul'd and rekt. Sadly G3 wasn't nearly as exciting as I curved out and he stalled on lands and I closed it out pretty quick with my board + a Scuttling Doom Engine staring him in the face and repping 6 damage in the face of a board wipe.

In the final round I played against a UB Reanimator list that was pretty disgusting with its efficiency and answers. G1 wasn't much to write home about; there was an early reanimation of Aetherling with a blue mana up and some removal spells helped clear the way otherwise as I couldn't get my board set up in time. His deck was just extremely grindy so I knew that my best bet was probably to just sideboard into something completely different because there was no way that my late game could match up to his. I swapped to an RB aggro deck by swapping out the majority of my deck and ran the following:

RB Aggro [Shamim]

I got off to a really quick start and was able to chip in damage with some aggressive bodies, he traded some removal with certain creatures, then I landed a Legionnaire I was able to equip with a Grafted Wargear. I was able to get in for one clean hit for 6 damage to push him down to 9 life. He was able to answer my play by stealing away my Legionnaire with a Hostage Taker, but the following turn I was able to topdeck an Exquisite Firecraft and the flurry of Firebolt + Lightning Bolt + Firecraft was enough to close it out. Game 3 wasn't much to write home about as I kept a greedy hand with one land on the draw, needed to hit the 2nd to get going and I missed it for two turns before I end up conceding. Afterwards he shoes me his opener and he had a disgusting hand that would have hard countered my curve with removal + Skinrender + Hostage Taker anyway.

These new cards in my cube all saw play during this session:

  • The Antiquities War has been around for about a year, but it wasn't until my recent U/R artifacts update that I went back to give it a try and it came through fantastically for my build. It pairs especially well with artifact lands from my ULD allowing you to set up for a big turn that will often have 15+ power on board ready to close it out. The original UB Tezz always felt a little too narrow to me and it wasn't exactly in the correct colors, but War has less of a color commitment and doesn't ask nearly as much of you deckbuilding wise. It's a great card for the archetype and provides a must answer sequence for your opponent if you manage to curve out with rocks or bodies that generate artifacts.
  • Man-O'-War is a good Magic card, one that costs 1 fewer mana and generates a smaller body is also good. Who knew? Dismissal is pretty much what you'd expect it to be; just another card to help generate some tempo. Being a spell is relevant as it pairs nicely with any U/R spellslinger strategies you might be running and is a great follow-up play to a T2 Young Pyromancer. Bouncing any non-land permanent should not be underrated either, having my Antiquities War that was set to go off be returned to my hand was downright crushing.
  • Mu Yanling, Sky Dancer ended up being pretty much what I expected as a solid roleplayer for more controlling decks that doesn't exactly take over the game, but provides enough value and defensive presence to help branch in to the late game. I had imagined the play pattern being more akin to +2 then -3 ASAP to drop the 4/4 flyer, but the drafter who was playing it ended up just using the +2 multiple times to slow me down before they had stabilized the board then had subsequent turns of making 4/4 flyers to close out the game. I think she's a perfectly reasonable walker to be running that slots into various strategies. Something to definitely keep track of while on board, but won't swing a game wildly in the favor of one player.
  • Ransack the Lab is just a solid filtering effect that is extremely common in Blue, but not something that Black gets access to very often. Very good card for any reanimator type strategies, also just great at digging deeper into your deck. I see this card being sweet in any B/x deck that doesn't have access to the looting effects in Blue. Living the dream of pitching stuff like Gravecrawler and Bloodghast in an aggressive deck is definitely something I can't wait to do.
  • The Guardian ended up being pretty sweet in the Wildfire deck. Being able to cast a hasty 4/4 flyer for 2-3 mana is just an amazing rate and as long as the card ends up being 3-4 mana on average, I think it'll stick around for a while. I'm not the biggest fan of the 5 CMC dragons in red due to their size and abilities to completely warp a game on curve, but I think that the 4/4 base bodies is right where I need it to be in order to line up effectively with the removal in my environment.
  • I didn't get to see the Voracious Hydra in action, but the drafter told me that the card was solid for them all night. I definitely like it more than Polukranos who was pretty much just a stat monster with an activated ability that felt more win-more than anything. I like the modality of big body with some evasion in Trample or a fight effect when you need it. I think this card definitely has more play to it and being able to pull double duty as an average play of 4/5 w/trample or kill spell + body is sweet. I also see this being an awesoma mana-sink in the late game once you've fully ramped and need some kind of payoff creature to close the game out.
  • Soulherder was just as sweet as I thought it would be, rebuying ETB effects and drawing cards is all that Magic players have ever wanted. I had initially missed the weird interaction with Zegana, Utopian Speaker but once I realized that it was pretty much a giant Wall of Omens that could attack and also gave a big Soulherder trample I was very impressed. I can't wait to see this in action in a super dedicated blink deck curving out with things like Venser, Shaper Savant and Cavalier of Gales. Such a tidy little package to promote an archetype in a single card, excellent design. The only complaint I have is that it doesn't fly. It should definitely be able to fly based off the art, right?
  • Golos was a fine play for my artifact deck, the 3/5 body is miles better than the anemic 2/2 that is Solemn Simulacrum and will actually buy you the time to be able to branch into the late game for your bigger creatures. Being able to tutor up high impact utility lands like Academy Ruins was excellent. I really want to play it in a 5C list sometime and activate the ability multiple times. Maybe in a sweet blink deck with Soulherder in the future? I will live this dream someday.
Finally, the biggest takeaway from this cube session?

Retrofitter Foundry is an amazing card that should see play in more lists than it currently does. It looks durdly on the surface, kind of reads like Trading Post on first glance, but the ability to untap itself allows you to set up nice chains where you come out with an extended board presence without having to use resources from your hand. In the late game this is invaluable as both players have been depleted of resources through various exchanges and you just need something to do with your excess mana on board. Topdecking lands doesn't even feel that bad because you still have a means of generating value on board for cheap. That's a very underrated aspect of mana sinks that can generate board presence, especially in the context of an environment like cube where the power level is elevated compared to a typical constructed format. This card is especially disgusting when you consider the number of creatures we've gotten in the last few years that incidentally creates Servo and Thopter creatures:

The one mark that might go against this card is that there is very little opportunity cost to running it in a variety of decks. I would probably play this in all but the most aggressive decks packed full of low drop creatures, but even then it's not even a bad card with the cost of generating another body being so low. It's just a very good card in a nice tidy package that will absolutely shine in Artifact decks but will also serve as a solid roleplayer in a variety of others. I also think that the ability to generate a 4/4 by saccing a Thopter might be a little too strong. A 4/4 is a real body, should usually cost around 4 mana, but with this engine you can just turn any you had lying around into legit finishers. They probably should have been 3/3 golems like on the custom that Chris made for his nerfed version of the Foundry, that probably would have made more sense. I do see why they pushed it a bit as it was made for commander and many of those cards (ex. Flesh Carver, Fractured Identity) have to scale power-wise into an environment where you might just be playing 1 vs 3 in some games.

It's up to you whether you want something so universally adaptable if you prefer to have more clearly defined cards per archetype, but for my environment I see this sticking around for a very long time. The results from this cube session, and the other that I'll be writing about later this week, have made me a believer.

TLDR; If you're not playing it, try out Retrofitter Foundry. It's pretty neat.
I enjoy checking out your cube since it is high powered and that is what I am aiming for.

I have a question on a few cards that you play that I had cut because they were a bit too powerful.

Ramps and provides beefy tokens really easily. She seems particularly busted with Wildfire. Has she been oppressive?

One of my favorite artifact fatties, but with Welder, Daretti and reanimation it seems excessively powerful. Do you run more exile effects to keep it in check or is it manageable on it's own.

Same as above but easier to cast and with ETB value in case it gets removed immediately.

Thanks in advance for the info!
I enjoy checking out your cube since it is high powered and that is what I am aiming for.

I have a question on a few cards that you play that I had cut because they were a bit too powerful.

Ramps and provides beefy tokens really easily. She seems particularly busted with Wildfire. Has she been oppressive?

One of my favorite artifact fatties, but with Welder, Daretti and reanimation it seems excessively powerful. Do you run more exile effects to keep it in check or is it manageable on it's own.

Same as above but easier to cast and with ETB value in case it gets removed immediately.

Thanks in advance for the info!

I haven't seen Titania and Wildfire assembled yet as the Wildfire package was a recent addition, but seeing as my cube is at 420 so you miss out on 60 cards every session (even more when we cube with less than 8) I don't see it coming together all the time unless my savvier drafters begin to target that particular archetype early and get the payoffs. Honestly, I also like throwing my drafters a bone every now and then with something potentially busted just to see what happens. If this becomes too consistent (like Sylvan Safekeeper + Titania was for a while), I'll probably cut the less interesting piece. I don't think this will be an issue though because I've found both the Wildfires and Titania to be cards that players just like to pick up on their own. Titania is strong enough in a shell that can't really abuse her like Wildfire could with things like Fetches in the main cube and Wasteland(s) from the ULD. Additionally, with cards like Life from the Loam, Crucible of Worlds and the new Wrenn and Six present, I see her being picked even higher than usual. I could see that being overwhelming sometimes, but I'm totally fine if someone comes up with that deck every now and then and gets to combo off.

Seeing as my power band is pretty high, she's a strong but not unstoppable force in games. She could be a big issue in a lower-powered environment depending upon what checks and balances you've integrated. The removal and interaction in my cube is powerful enough to keep that in check and honestly she's usually a kill on site target for most drafter. I'd say the biggest things keeping her in check are how quickly aggressive decks can apply pressure, how controlling strategies can go over the top against her, and the plethora of efficient removal that matches up with her.

Ancient Stone Idol hasn't seen a ton of play yet, but I could see the issue you're outlining. Still, it take a bit of set-up to get going with looting effects and having relevant swap targets. I'd be more worried if I had something like Tinker to tutor it up from the deck, but I think having it in the graveyard is just fine. It can be dealt with through exile effects and some artifact removal here and there so I'm not too worried about it. Usually my drafters will adjust in G2 and G3 if they get rocked by it early and learn to hold onto certain types of removal depending on threats they'll go up against. I'll definitely keep an eye on it though.

Battlesphere has been fine for me ever since its inclusion in the initial draft of this cube. Yes, it can take over a game every now and then when brought into play early, but that's no different than any above rate threat you play ahead of the curve. I've found it to be fine for the most part and fair in the vast majority of scenarios because the enablers to get it out early usually get targeted pretty early in a game. If the enablers are around? I've seen some nasty loops with Welder + Daretti + sac outlets. It can flip a game really quickly.

If you're playing at 360 I'd definitely revisit some of these cards if things come together too consistently, but I've found that the jump to 420 for me (450 was too big) is what solved a lot of problems.
Unfortunately I don't have a cube report for you guys with current COVID conditions, but I figured now was as good a time as any to get to reviewing some Cube supplies that I picked up last year and have been using for a while now.

Specifically I picked up the CardBearer carrying set and Cubeamajigs reusable cube packs. Both were Kickstarter campaigns that I backed and I'm pleased with both of them thus far, couldn't be happier with either of them. There's a lot of big images so I'm just going to plug the majority of them into spoiler tags and briefly touch up on each of them. First, let's start with the Cubeamajigs.

Cubeamajigs are pretty much just reusable cube packs with pretty art to add a little flair to your cube set-up. I think they're most useful in giving you the convenience of storing and readily generating packs for your play session. They're great for keeping things organized, easy to carry around, and they minimize the chaos of having to clean and pack away everything at the end of a night. You'll end up with a small pile of them while games are happening, but they're easy enough to pile away on top of eachother until the end of the night when you fill them up again before taking them home with you.


As you could see in the first image, there's a flap mechanism to "lock" the pack down such that things aren't loose. When assembling the packs for the first time you have to make sure to fold and create the creases everywhere necessary to ensure that it comes out correctly. Just grok it once on your first pack, then repeat for the next 20+ and you're good. It's pretty straightforward.

The flap mechanism is a little flimsy, and I did bend one like an idiot when I was first making these, but as long as you aren't super rough with it you should be able to bend and lock your packs into place by inserting it into the square opening on the bottom flap. Once you do so, they're sealed well and you can't really open them without undoing the whole flap. Easy enough to slip in a finger and undo, though I've had players confused on how to open them the first time. A little demo is usually good enough.


What I like most about these packs is that they are the perfect size for a double-sleeved pack of cards. I use DS Mattes and KMC Perfect Hards which are noticeably thicker than your typical Perfect Fits. The good news is that 15 cards fit just right into a cube pack and the snug fit has the added bonus of helping to get the air out of any new sleeves!


All in all they've been excellent for me and they've been the best way to easily distribute and organize packs for cube sessions. I usually just shuffle up and have everything ready at home, assemble packs, and then we're ready to start as soon as everyone has gathered up. I backed the initial Kickstarter and gifted a set to each of my friends who own a cube and they've all been pretty pleased with them from what I've seen so far. These feel like they're going to last a real long time and be in my cube forever.

Next up I've got the CardBearer which is an all-in-one carrying case. It comes with 3 parts; the Quiver for carrying a playmat, the Library for storing your cards, and the Nexus as a handy lightweight carrying bag to carry other things. I don't really use the Quiver that often except if I'm bring a playmat to place in the middle of the table for display purposes so I've usually just got the Nexus + Library combo set up (the duo is referred to as the Archivist).


The exterior and interior of the Library are made of some kind of polyester material, pretty sturdy. The interior of the Library has a decent amount of space and has more than enough room to fit your entire cube. Their online estimates list the following capacity measured in different mediums:

- 2000 Unsleeved Cards
- 1200 Sleeved Cards
- 1000 Double-Sleeved Cards
- 12 x Deck Case 80+
- 6 x Deck Case 100+
- 48 Cubeamajigs Packs

I think some of these might actually slightly undershoot it, I adjusted their 39 pack estimate to an actual 48 from when I filled it up.


For myself I have my main cube in those purple Cubeamajigs shown in the image below in the bottom two rows. Each row can fit up to 16 packs, hence 48 max capacity. I've also got that smaller deckbox filled with extra sleeves, the larger one filled with my tokens, and a few empty cases in case any of my packs were to break for some reason.


Next up is the Nexus. It's small and compact with just enough room to fit 6 regular Ultra Pro deck boxes and locks into place with a clasp on the front of it.


The 6 deck box limit is just perfect for my basic land boxes + Utility Land Draft.


The two pieces "connect" to one another with a groove piece on the top of the Library and bottom of the Nexus that line up when you stack them on top of eachother.


And there's a side-lock mechanism to plug them into place. There's a button that you press to release past the clasp on the side of the Library.


When it's all put together you have something like a vertical suitcase that's easy to carry around and don't need to worry about falling apart or accidentally opening up and tossing your cards everywhere.


Both have been pretty great for me to this point, they do their jobs just fine and have made carrying around my cube for events so much easier than in the past. Everything is organized and easy to distribute, no hassles when setting up or cleaning up. Being able to just store the entire cube away in a ready-made set and just grab and go has saved me a lot of hassle in terms of preparation. For Cubeamajigs, if you're looking to pick them up, I recommend just buying the bulk sets since individual packs at $3 are very overpriced while 25 for $30 sounds about right for what you get. The CardBearer is a little pricier with the Archivist duo being $99, but if you're looking for a nice box that seems like it'll last a lifetime, I think it's well worth it for the convenience it offers.

If you're interested in purchasing either of these you can take a look at the CardBearer here and Cubeamajigs here, both are based out of Canada.

NOTE: I am not affiliated with either of these companies, though they should probably pay me based off how much I praise and recommend their products to anyone with a Cube. I'm just a satisfied customer trying to spread the good word about two good fucking products. Hell, I liked them so much that I ended up buying another Archivist + set of Cubeamajigs for the EDH cube I've been working on this year.
After a period of malaise when it came to cube design, and the fact that I woke up for some reason at 6AM this morning when I don't have work until 10:15AM, I've become reinspired to post a detailed write up and I'm going to focus on two cards I love from Ikoria that you should take a look at!

Most of the time when I'm headed to bed I'll play some MTGGoldfish video in the background on my laptop to help me fall asleep, for some reason the jank and content help me get to sleep since I don't need to play close attention. The majority of the time it's Commander Clash or some other banter driven video, but lately I've just playing whatever they've been putting out. The few times I've actually paid attention before drifting off to Never Never Land there were two cards from the most recent set that stood out to me and caught my eye from this set that I wanted to dive into a bit deeper: Rielle, the Everwise and Winota, Joiner of Forces.


Rielle flew a little under the radar during spoiler season around these parts, but I find this card absolutely incredible as a fulcrum to help branch various archetypes and serve as a signpost that U/R can support a spellslinger-y archetype. The absolute worst case is an 0/3 for 3 which straight up sucks, but one or two looting spells later and it can be a sizeable body on the ground while generating you crazy amounts of value and card advantage. I really like cards that help point you in the direction of a given shell instead of being an explicit PLEASE DRAFT ME I'LL BE GOOD obscene payoff. It might just be the type of designer/player I am, but when I see a card like this it just gets my Johnny senses tingling and the wheels turning to make me think of the various ways I might be able to generate the highest amount of value and maximize its impact.

The obvious things to note are that Rielle is straight up gas with any looting effects you might deploy in cube. The base rate for a decent cantrip is usually 1 mana to have some kind of card filtering effect + the chance to draw a card. Explicit looting cards in cube environments usually are centered in the 2 CMC range allowing you to dig about two cards deeper into your library for two mana. That's about the going rate for inclusion where it's cheap enough to have an effect without using up too many resources from hand. Rummaging away one card to pick up two fresh ones is where design has locked in as the normal going rate with things like:

All are instant or sorcery spells, all cards that help fill the graveyard, and all these spells can serve to help deploy Rielle as a normally sized 2/3 or 3/3 on curve or allow for her to generate large amounts of card advantage if you untap and deploy them in later turns. Aside from the cards listed above, here are a number of other cards with incidental synergies that are already included in a large number of cubes:

Aside from that, these looting effects can also help bolster your decks by offering resiliency in other ways aside from pure card quality. How about generating more value from the graveyard via things like escaping a Phoenix of Ash? How about flashing back a Firebolt you pitched off a Looting a few turns back to push through the final two points of damage? Oh, they actually have more life than that? Get back that Reckless Charge and hit someone for 10+ with this hasty grandma brandishing a giant ladle!

I see her slotting readily in a U/R spellslinger deck or a more counter-tempo style deck that I've had come together in my cube various times in the past. I've got sample decks that she can slot right into ranging from a basic UR shell from 2018:


The more popular and versatile Kiki-Control featuring a possible combo finish I've had in my cube for the last few years:

UR Kiki Control

Or my most recent drug of choice that I just can't quit in the UR Artifacts shell I worked on through the middle of 2019 after the releases of WAR and MH1:

UR Artifacts [Shamim]

A possible deck list in 2020 featuring Rielle (and one I am very eager to draft) could be something like the following:

"U R a Pyromancer"

To promote even greater support without taking up too much real estate, it might be worth it to revisit a few cards to introduce more incidental looting effects that you might not be playing currently. I've re-added these two cards that I had been pleased with in the past and expect to see in some zany combinations in future:

I just feel like the opportunity cost of including Rielle in your cube is very low for a card that can be very versatile and interesting for your drafters to play with.

Also, this gives a great avenue to make alternate win-cons like Thassa's Oracle or Laboratory Maniac more enticing by giving a possible avenue to get there. I can just imagine the deck assembling something like Baral, Rielle, a bunch of looting effects and counterspells to churn through and protect itself before finishing off the opponent with an alt win-con.

This is just a fantastic card that I can't wait to mess around with and see in action. I hope to draft it someday and report back!

Next up is Winota, a card that has been gross in current Standard cheating out things like Agent of Treachery way ahead of the curve, but could serve as a great top-end for R/W aggressive strategies.


In your typical environment you don't have the insane ETB effects on humans at higher CMCs like you do in constructed currently. Hell, I thought AoT was mostly just a Limited bomb and some EDH bullshit for my Aminatou, the Fateshifter deck, but clearly you just needed to play a janky pile of colors, include uncastable bombs in your 60, and just have above rate threats that all need to be answered across the curve to bewilder and punish opponents. Fun and interactive Magic, just a great job by Wizards R&D. Joy.

Moving on, I think Winota has the potential to be a great top-end for RW decks or serve as a kind of signpost for drafters on what makes RW different from offerings like RB or WB aggressive decks. As you all know from my posts over the years, I'm passionate about making aggressive decks stand out in a cube environment because they help keep the plethora of midrange piles and goodstuff drafting in check. If you're going to include powerful threats from current Magic design that are generically powerful and useful, you need to be able to keep players honest through constant pressure. Aggro is the great balancer in a cube environment and I've been a firm believer in that from the time I saw Waddell's post on Recursive Black Aggro many years ago.

The one thing I've had some issues with is defining various aggressive color pairs. There should be a clear identity and cards that help to denote this. In my cube BW is meant to be a more a human centric deck with disruptive elements and recursion (for which the new General Kudro of Drannith is a great signpost), RB tends more towards an Aristocrats style deck with more sac outlets and pinger effects in Goblin Bombardment and Judith, the Scourge Diva, but I didn't have a good means of defining what separated RW till now. What is the differentiator between an RW deck that has a bunch of humans and a WB deck? Is it just the suite of burn spells vs. Blood Artist reach? I just want a more defined identity here.

I've messed around with RW Token decks with Purphoros in the past (and I might revisit this at some point) for a big RW theme leaning more towards midrange, but those always felt a little lacking if you couldn't assemble your engines consistently. Having your major payoff card start at 4 mana and require follow-up plays on subsequent turns was sometimes too slow to get going against more refined gameplans.

Luckily I think Winota can fill the gap here as a curve topper for RW Aggro with a sizeable 4/4 body, an effect that lets you get ahead on the board and continue applying pressure, and requires your opponent to interact proactively in order to deal with her. She can just as easily slot in as a midrange offering in bigger RWx decks as well as the 4/4 body means that she isn't purely an aggressive card. There are a ton of great playable non-human creatures in RW that curve into Winota currently that you don't need to go out of your way for inclusion your lists:

In addition to that, we have a bunch of humans that create a buddy that isn't a human and slot in excellently across the curve:

Now how about payoffs? This is where I think we have the greatest chance to show off our design chops as cube designers as you can totally cap the potential payoff of Winota by limiting the options that can be flipped as your top end "sneak" targets. You don't need a massive advantage generated by stealing any permanent forever ala AoT in Standard, a hard cap of flipping something like a Zealous Conscripts is still a fantastic card to deploy at instant speed a turn early. How about a surprise double-strike combat trick Soulbond from a Silverblade Paladin that was 6 draw steps away? Thalia's Lieutenant to grow your team permanently? Maybe even something as innocuous as a Fiend Hunter to temporarily whisk away the biggest blocker on the opponent's side of the board.

Winota has me excited to revisit cards that I haven't tried in years like Geist-Honored Monk which has always been a card that I've been fond of. Also it has beautiful art and I have a foil copy that I want to get some use out of. That's probably my bigger reason to want to try it out again now that I think about it. Regardless, she plays well with Winota and also generates non-human bodies so it's right on theme!

A possible Winota deck topping out with her at 4 mana could be a very typical RW shell, but now you have the added bonus of sometimes being able to push your opponent to the brink if they don't bother interacting with you early on:

Winota Aggro

I also like the tension Winota creates in regards to cards like Wrath of God and tinier wrath effects against aggro like Radiant Flames or other damage based sweepers. Midrange decks also can't just plop their above rate 4/4 or just hide behind a steady stream of value generated by walkers with Winota on the board threatening to flip the board state. I just love introducing more tension in these kind of match-ups because I truly feel that aggro is on the short end when it comes to representation and diversity in cube environments. Another plus is that she actually gives the colors a form of card advantage that feels very Boros in its implementation.

I hope that she's at just the right power level for my environment but time will tell whether I've pegged it correctly or grossly underestimated her power level. In any case, I'm just happy to have a Boros option that will actually be an exciting pick to build around early in the draft process!


Phew, that was quite a bit to finish writing up and I really need to reach out to the fine folks at CubeCobra on implementing a way to export decks in ready to post format on Riptide. I feel like half my time was spent just reformatting the cube deck display. Hope this post inspired you to give these two a second look if you're playing at a similar power level.

Thanks for indulging my cube ramblings, please let me know what you think of these two cards!
Dear Shamizy

Can you tell me a little about how you made those Duplicate Vouchers and how I can make something like it?

Kind regards,
Dear Shamizy

Can you tell me a little about how you made those Duplicate Vouchers and how I can make something like it?

Kind regards,

I didn't actually make them on my own; a buddy of mine who's good at Photoshop made them for me a while back. Afterwards he just printed them out at Office Depot on some cardboard stock. I have zero familiarity with Photoshop and can't really help you out with specifics, but if you want to use the same template and customize it to your own liking, I can forward you the file that was used for it later today.