It’s not often that I get to draft my cube, but every chance I get to do so is an exciting opportunity. Normally, it’s been a few months since the last cube draft and a lot of cards will have come out that I’ve put in my cube that I want to test. New archetypes will have been added, cards from the new set will be added to test, and there may be some ideas on how I can improve the overall draft. This draft had all of these things, I want to talk about how it went.
Setting Up the Draft
I knew I was drafting with a lot of people who had never played before, so before the draft, I set aside a bunch of cards that are specific to certain archetypes with the intention of talking about them as my players shuffle the cube. I would pull out cards such as Splinter Twin and Deceiver Exarch and talk about how they interact together. This was also an opportunity to talk about the new archetypes I had added, that I wanted to see drafted. These archetypes were:
Lands: Ramunap Excavator, Fastbond, Life from the Loam
Self-Mill: Over My Dead Bodies, Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis, Golgari Grave-Troll
Aristocrats: Cruel Celebrant, Yawgmoth, Thran Physician, Ophiomancer
Artifacts: Urza, Lord High Artificer, Retrofitter Foundry, Baleful Strix
Simic Flash: Prophet of Kruphix, Brineborn Cutthroat, Nightpack Ambusher
Obviously, there were a lot of new archetypes. But by telling my players beforehand, I was able to ensure that they would at the very least know that they existed and were good potential avenues for draft. Cube doesn’t work in the traditional limited sense where you can draft good creatures and removal and expect to do well. It’s important that you draft a deck with a strong gameplan, and by telling the newer players what exists in my cube, they don’t feel as inclined to go towards the golgari good stuff deck that always ends up getting trounced.
Another unique thing I did with this draft was giving all my players boxes for their cube decks. This ended up working incredibly well, as the boxes could have dice inside of them and at the end of the draft the players can just hand me their boxes with their decks inside and I can look at them and analyze what decks they made, and what they sideboarded. It worked out pretty well, although in the future I am going to put all the dice in one central location to make it easier to keep track of.
For this draft, I had the best possible problem. I got 9 players to draft instead of 8. Because my cube is a 360 (I’m in the process of updating it to 540), I can only support 8 players so we had a bit of dilemma. In the past, I’ve dropped out of drafting and watched from the sideline, but today I really wanted to draft so that wasn’t an option. What we decided to do was open up 3 Modern Horizon packs secretly and add them to the draft. The result was that we got to draft with 9 players, and a lot of the commons were forced at the end, but it worked well enough. I think I’d rather not pay 20 dollars the next time we get to 9 players and I’ll just ask if someone doesn’t want to draft.
I’ll start with the deck that performed the worst and end with the deck that went 3-0.
Abzan Reanimator Tokens 0-1
This is a deck that he got a chance to play once, and then had to leave and couldn’t participate in the rest of the cube draft. I notice that in the sideboard he drafted a lot of cards that put things in the graveyard such as Satyr Wayfinder and Golgar Grave Troll, which to me tells me that he thought that he could reanimate things by milling them into his library which is a pretty sweet take. Ended up not going that route, probably due to a lack of good reanimator spells (barring Recurring Nightmare of course) and went for a more grindy midrange plan. Would have liked to see the deck in action more.
Gruul Ramp 0-3
This deck was trying to go all the way, and play some of the biggest haymakers in my cube such as Omanth, Locus of Rage, Craterhoof Behemoth, and Avenger of Zendikar. Unfortunately, the deck ended up not getting enough ramp and wasn’t able to push out its threats consistently. Ramp has never performed that well in my cube, so I’m starting to think that may be my fault as the designer, and I’ll have to look into more cards that can support these decks.
Sultai Midrange Artifacts Bye 0-2
Just like the deck before this one, the goal is to get a fatty into play as soon as possible. Rather than playing dorks and lands, however, it plays mana rocks and Urza instead. This is a deck that I was really excited to see drafted as I want to see the power of Urza in action, but unfortunately this deck was just too slow getting off the ground. It got ran over by bears and zombies alike and was crushed before it could do anything meaningful. I’ve been planning on putting in a few talismans, and after seeing this deck in action I’m going to have to get them sooner rather than later.
Jeskai Twin 1-2
I like seeing this deck come around because it’s not very often that a deck pulls enough combo pieces to reliably pull the deck together. Despite this density, the deck only ended up winning one match. I feel that it had to do with not having enough protection for the combo itself. Saheeli would often get bolted in response to the combo going off and it would be over. I’ve heard a lot of other people have had success with Pact of Negation, and I think it might be worth trying out. But overall, I still think that the deck looks cool and I’m happy to see it pulled together.
UW Flicker Control 1-2
Flicker was another archetype that I recently started supporting, so seeing a deck in the first draft is very exciting. Bouncing a Reflector Mage every single turn seems to be pretty good, and I remember hearing an Armageddon get cast when I was a table away. With cards such as Tanglewire, this deck served as Stax lite as well which helped to compliment the gameplan of grinding value out of the opponent and denying them mana. This deck went about 50/50 in its games and looked like a blast to play.
UB Dead Bodies 2-1
Now, when I said that there was a green-black self mill deck, I expected more green than what I got here. Turns out, the deck doesn’t need green to be good. Discarding a Hogaak to a Pack Rat never felt so good. Over My Dead Bodies was a card that I added to both be silly and fun, but as it turns out it just happens to be an exceptionally good card, to the point that people who got killed by it were asking that it be cut from the cube after its first draft! Now, I’m not going to jump to conclusions and immediately cut it as it is a six mana build around enchantment, but it is a sweet card and I’m happy to see someone do well with it. I’m also going to keep an eye on whether green even gets played in this kind of deck, or if it’s pointless to even have green.
BW Aristocrats 2-1
Another deck that I wanted to see was Aristocrats, and this deck fulfills that to a T. Flood the board with tokens and drain the opponent slowly using cards like Cruel Celebrant and Blood Artist. One card that I was hoping to see in action, but unfortunately didn’t get drafted in the deck was Yawgmoth, Thran Physician, but the deck still performed well without it which is a good sign. One thing I noticed is that the 2 drop slot was pretty packed with powerful cards, so I might have to look into that in the future if this continues to be a problem.
Jund Lands 2-1
This is the deck I piloted, and holy cow does this deck do busted things. Last time I tried out lands in my cube, it proved to be a huge flop due to there not being enough support for it. I cut the archetype from my cube, but have always wanted to see it, so I added it back in again with the hopes that it would do well. Instead of doing well, I did some really stupid things such as making 3 bears a turn with Ayula’s Influence/Life From the Loam or getting 7 mana on turn 2 with a Fastbond/Life From the Loam (this was even with a one land hand!!) So far it has been really fun to do some stupid powerful things, but the deck tends to hurt itself a lot when doing its combos and is reliant on a few things coming together to work properly. Fastbond immediately got on my radar though for cards that might have to be cut from the cube for being too strong. Time will tell.
UG Flash “Not Aggro” 3-0
Last but not least, we have the deck that went 3-0. Flash is one of my all-time favorite mechanics, and I have been wanting to try it out in cube for the longest time. With M20 I felt like I could finally support it, and added the archetype. And for its first draft, it performed exceptionally well! Getting 2 Man-O’-Wars due to Modern Horizons adding another one to the mix was very helpful, and having a deck packed to the brim with counterspells and threats was very powerful. I faced this deck in the grand finals and he Ninjitsu’d in Mist-Syndicate Naga and killed me before I even had a semblance of a board presence. One thing I found very interesting was that he chose to sideboard Wilderness Reclamation, which tells me that it might not be good enough for the cube and might have to be cut. I do like it as density for the archetype at the very least. This deck could punish you hard for stumbling, had a great late game with Aetherling, and was piloted exceptionally well. It makes me happy to see Simic Flash in my cube, and even more happy to see it win its first draft.
Overall, the draft was a massive success! I introduced a lot of new ideas that all worked really well. Explaining the archetypes in my cube helped people to understand what was possible, giving them all deck boxes helped me keep track of all the cards at the end, and several of the decks that I talked about in my opening segment actually showed up in the draft! There’s a lot of cards that jumped onto the watchlist, mainly Fastbond and Over My Dead Bodies, and hopefully, I can get another draft in soon and see if they are actually busted or they just got really good decks. Every draft is an opportunity for change and growth and is part of the fun for cube. Thank you all for reading, I hope you have a great week and an amazing Tuesday!