Cube Archetype – The Taxman Cometh (WB)

Completing the four black colour pairs is Orzhov. The basic concept of this deck is to put together a large bulk of cards which in various ways hinder your opponents. Effects include making your opponents pay more to attack or block, making them pay more to cast spells, anything with the extort keyword and effects which, in general, are just a bloody nuisance.

There are also a few exalted cards in these colours too to make combat less predictable for your opponent.

I’ve pulled ideas on what to include from decks like pillowfort, hatebears, death and taxes etc.

Disruption and removal

This deck doesn’t have the advantages of some of the other colour combinations in terms of card synergy (the tribal decks), grinding advantage (graveyard decks) or just silly hugeness (ramp) but what this pair does have is some of the best disruption in the cube.  Both colours have some of the strongest single target removal (I actually cut back on whites targeted removal while doing this as it was a little too good, I’ve kept Path and Swords as a “best in class” kinda thing).

Black also gives you plenty of options for hand disruption, the latest addition being Hymn to Tourach which now I’m increasing the cubes power level should be fine. I considered Cabal Therapy but outside of a constructed format the first cast is basically luck based which I wanted to avoid.

Also as is a theme in this deck you get many extra copies of the same effects bolted onto creatures, such as Fiend Hunter and Banisher Priest for removal and Tidehollow Sculler and Sin Collector for hand disruption.

Taxes and interference

Another section of this archetype is permanent which disrupt the general course of play for your opponent. I’m aiming for a variation on the sort of cards you would see in a WB hatebears/pillowfort type of thing.

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Vryn Wingmare punish your opponent for playing non creature spells. Ghostly Prison, Norn’s Annex and Archangel of Tithes all make attacking difficult for your opponent and are particularly punishing for any deck that wants to go wide, such as a GW tokens deck.

There are also a few cards to reduce the effectiveness of your opponents cards. Blind Obedience, Hushwing Gryff, Containment Priest, Aegis of the Gods, Spirit of the Labyrinth and Eidolon of Rhetoric all nerf or outright prevent something on your opponents side from functioning (the effects are largely symmetrical, but as is often the case in magic the person controlling an apparently symmetrical effect usually gets a disproportionate benefit from it).

Winning the game

All this is well and good but you do need to eventually be able to win the game. You could just throw in a Baneslayer Angel or a Grave Titan but there are some slightly more subtle ways available.

Exalted is the first way this deck has to win. Sublime Archangel turns just about any creature you can protect into a huge threat, plus there are a few extra sources of exalted triggers dotted throughout white and black including my personal favourite exalted creatures Knight of Glory and Knight of Infamy. Speaking of…

Protection is something I tried to keep to a minimum in building this cube and most of it is in this deck. The aforementioned knights, Soldier of the Pantheon and a few others have protection (there’s a little outside of black white but its either at the high end or fairly niche…except for Stormbreath Dragon which is basically trinket text unless you have a StP in hand and True Name Nemesis…because True Name Nemesis). You also get Mother of Runes, a card which just makes everything difficult for the other guy, basically blanking one removal spell or combat interaction per turn.

There’s also Pontiff of Blight to win without even attacking, Bitterblossom to gradually overwhelm your opponents with flyers (bitterblossom + pontiff + just about anything = fun).

Off-Colour/Crossover cards

This deck doesn’t have a great deal of synergy with other colours but there are some deficiencies which are helped by pulling cards from other colours. Green works particularly well as both the Selesnya (WG) and Abzan (WBG) sections have some big chunky creatures (such as Siege Rhino) and some good hate effects (such as Dryad Militant and Voice of Resurgence).

This may change as I’m thinking of heavily reworking the artifact deck (currently spread across all non green colours) into either UR or entirely replacing it with eldrazi.

An example deck

Realising I should really have been doing this with the other archetypes as I go (hmm….TO THE EDIT BUTTON…when I can be arsed), here’s an example deck.

This one came out a little low on spells but, the cards that come up are the cards that come up.

WB Taxman

Creatures (18)
Mother of Runes
Thrull Parasite
Alabaster Mage
Aven Squire
Basilica Screecher
Child of Night
Spirit of the Labyrinth
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Tidehollow Sculler
Banisher Priest
Drana's Emissary
Fiend Hunter
Hushwing Gryff
Sin Collector
Bloodgift Demon
Divinity of Pride
Treasury Thrull
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite

Non-Creature Permenants (3)
Blind Obedience
Spear of Heliod
Thran Dynamo

Spells (2)
Smallpox
Wrath of God

Land (17)
Plains
Swamp
Sideboard (22)
Black Sun's Zenith
Blood Seeker
Charmbreaker Devils
Eternal Witness
Farseek
Goblin Guide
Gurmag Angler
Hellhole Flailer
Jiwari, the Earth Aflame
Llanowar Elves
Moorland Haunt
Read the Bones
Servant of Nefarox
Siege Rhino
Sign in Blood
Spectral Procession
Stoneforge Mystic
Tandem Lookout
Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts
Unburial Rites
White Sun's Zenith
Windswept Heath

The complete list

BG Cube Subtheme (Graveyard/Morbid) - December 2015

White (21)
Mother of Runes
Soldier of the Pantheon
Aven Squire
Containment Priest
Elite Inquisitor
Knight of Glory
Suture Priest
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Aegis of the Gods
Spirit of the Labyrinth
Banisher Priest
Fiend Hunter
Hushwing Gryff
Vryn Wingmare
Eidolon of Rhetoric
Archangel of Tithes
Knight of Obligation
Sublime Archangel
Blind Obedience
Ghostly Prison
Norn's Annex

Black (13)
Thrull Parasite
Basilica Screecher
Blood Seeker
Knight of Infamy
Servant of Nefarox
Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis
Pontiff of Blight
Despise
Duress
Inquisition of Kozilek
Thoughtseize
Hymn to Tourach
Smallpox

Orzhov (5)
Tithe Drinker
Tidehollow Sculler
Drana's Emissary
Sin Collector
Treasury Thrull

On looking at all this I think the raw power level on some of the cards in this section is higher than most of the BG/BR/UB section but the cards in this section will be more fought over for generic good stuff decks, whereas the tribal or graveyard cards will be easier to pick up a larger number of the cards for.

Cube Archetype – Graveyard (BG)

Completing the Sultai/graveyard/zombies/sacrifice wedge of the cube is the Golgari graveyard section.

There will be some sacrifice effects, discard and self mill to fill up the graveyard and a variety of effects that make this desirable. Specifically the main pay off is “Creature cards in graveyards matter” in keeping with the old Innistrad Spider Spawning draft deck, although there will be other benefits too. Sacrifice effects, death triggers and undying all play into this theme as well.

This section, if you look to the full list at the bottom of the post, is quite a bit longer than some of the others. This is largely because of the number of cards from Zombies/Vampires and just general goodstuff cards that play well into this archetype. Murderous Cut  or Whip of Erebos are happy in any black deck, it just happens to have an even bigger edge in this deck. This also leads to the conclusion that the person going all in on the graveyard deck won’t have a ridiculously good card pool as many of these will be shared with the other black or green decks.

The All-In Cards

As mentioned before a lot of the relevant cards in this colour pair are just “good cards” which happen to fit into the deck, either through being improved by a full graveyard or just being generally good. There are of course a few cards which just don’t work if you’re not in “the graveyard deck”.

Spider Spawning (sad note: the spider spawning deck was always overdrafted back in the day of Innistrad draft where I used to play so I never actually pulled it off successfully) and Boneyard Wurm both do precisely jack if you have no creature cards in your graveyard. Splinterfright and Nemesis of Mortals are both at least viable in another deck but in both cases they would be overshadowed by most of the other options available.

Corpseweft, Deathreap Ritual and Deadbridge Chant all stand out as cards that work a lot better when the graveyard is being filled, or in the case of Deadbridge Chant when you can selectively pull stuff OUT of the graveyard (Deadbridge Chant plus Scavenging Ooze/Deathrite Shaman/some delve cards makes “random” a lot less iffy).

The Standalone Cards

Sheoldred, Whispering One is a great top end in both this deck and…well…any deck that can get to that mana cost (a rampy green deck could conceivably get this out early enough to be a major pain). Outside of green the cube didnt really have much if anything over the CMC 6 level in its early iterations. Having got some play in ive reached the conclusion that I can push that up a bit across all the colours due to its midrange silliness level.

Whip of Erebos and Birthing Pod are both grindy value engines that fit into any deck in the colours (although pod requires a bit more set up). If you happen to get both so much the better.

The exploit cards in black all fill your graveyard while giving you some form of value, while also playing very nicely if you end up in the 3 colour zombie/graveyard deck.  Given that Gurmag Angler made it into modern and just what Tasigur does everywhere he goes I don’t think any explanation is really needed here.

The Filler Cards

I haven’t worked out yet just how good Tarmogoyf will be in this cube. Outside of the full on graveyard deck I don’t really have a handle on how quickly the different types will get into the graveyard. There aren’t a huge number of enchantments and they won’t be dying that much, and there aren’t that many lands that will end up in the graveyard (I might improve the land section in the near future with wasteland, strip mine and some other higher power goodies). My intuition says he belongs mostly in the BG deck….I may be wildly and hilariously wrong on that though.

There are plenty of other less dramatic cards that play with the graveyard and theres not much to be gained by writing about them, and theyre also pretty interchangeable.

Honorouble mention for failing to make the cut goes to Grisly Salvage…It really SHOULD be in here, but im trying to stick strictly to the numbers in each colour section and I really like what’s currently in the Golgari section. Without breaking a cycle (charms, RTR guildmages, guild leaders, maze runners) or taking out Deathrite Shaman (the card that prompted me to actually make the cube in the first place) the only one that really fits to go is Dreg Mangler…He may not last much longer.

Crossover With Other Archetypes

As ive mentioned before (and I shant bother retreading here) there is a lot of crossover between this deck and the UB zombie archetype, and to a lesser degree with the BR vampire deck.

Evolutionary Leap is most intended here, but works pretty well in any creature heavy green deck. Blanking your opponents removal spells is always nice but if you can get any repeatable reanimation or token generation then this becomes a source of gradual card advantage too, especially in something like GW tokens.

The Off-Colour Bleed Cards

Unburial Rites might as well be a WB card. You would definitely want at least a small white splash just to flash it back. Timely Hordemate (assuming it survives the next round of cuts) fits relatively well if you have some aggressive creatures (might let you recur a small value creature like a Sakur-Tribe Elder). The token makers in white give you some fodder creatures for the sac effects but the best one for this deck is clearly Lingering Souls, as you can at least get some use if you mill it.

Other colours also have a couple of nice graveyard fillers, Forbidden Alchemy in blue and Faithless Looting in red. Both also have flashback which is a bonus in this deck.

The bloodrush creatures in RG also are a good way to up your creatures in the graveyard count. Pyrewild Shaman in particular is good as you can recur him for multiple triggers off of cards such as Blood Artist.

The Sultai selection also has some good options. Sultai Ascendancy improves your draws and fills the graveyard. Sultai Soothsayer gives you a good defensive body, card selection and also fills the graveyard. Lastly Sidisi, Brood Tyrant once again fills the graveyard and also gets you blockers and combos with anything else you have that mills you.

The complete list

BG Cube Subtheme (Graveyard/Morbid) - December 2015

Black (28)
Gravecrawler
Viscera Seer
Blood Artist
Sultai Emissary
Blood Bairn
Cemetery Reaper
Fleshbag Marauder
Geralf's Messenger
Nantuko Husk
Falkenrath Noble
Erebos's Emissary
Anowon, the Ruin Sage
Rakshasa Gravecaller
Shadowborn Demon
Sidisi, Undead Vizier
Silumgar Butcher
Mikeaus, the Unhallowed
Tasigur, the Golden Fang
Butcher of Malakir
Gurmag Angler
Sheoldred, Whispering One
Liliana of the Veil
Tragic Slip
Murderous Cut
Barter in Blood
Unburial Rites
Corpseweft
Whip of Erebos

Green (20)
Boneyard Wurm
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Satyr Wayfinder
Scavenging Ooze
Strangleroot Geist
Tarmogoyf
Eternal Witness
Splinterfright
Graverobber Spider
Lumberknot
Thragtusk
Vorapede
Hooting Mandrills
Nemesis of Mortals
Commune with the Gods
Mulch
Spider Spawning
Evolutionary Leap
Birthing Pod
Bow of Nylea

White (2)
Timely Hordemate
Lingering Souls

Blue (1)
Forbidden Alchemy

Red (1)
Faithless Looting

Golgari (11)
Deathrite Shaman
Korozda Guildmage
Lotleth Troll
Dreg Mangler
Nyx Weaver
Pharika, God of Affliction
Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord
Reaper of the Wilds
Deathreap Ritual
Golgari Rotwurm
Deadbridge Chant

Sultai (3)
Sidisi, Brood Tyrant
Sultai Soothsayer
Sultai Ascendancy

While I make changes to the cube I do a lot of sim drafts just to see if enough of a given archetype appears that it’s even a thing. This one so far has definitely come across as less “all-in” than the previous vampire and zombie ones. It comes across a little more like a grindy midrange deck. This doesn’t strike me as a bad thing but I do plan to come back and review this section post SoI.

Cube Archetype – Zombie Tribal (BUg)

Continuing in updating my cube to make the themes a bit more noticeable, today I’m looking at Zombies.

Originally this was the BG archetype but while there are a few good BG zombies there are very few straight up green zombies. There are however some BU zombies I’m quite fond of and some acceptable mono blue zombie creatures.

The BG “happen to be zombies, actually graveyard matters” cards will stay in and become part of a kind of 3 colour arc of graveyard matters decks (the black part of Rakdos vampires, Golgari sacrifice and Dimir zombies, plus Sidisi herself in Sultai can all to a degree mix and match).

The All-In Cards

Much like vampires we have a pair of lords, one mono black, one dual colour. Death Baron nearly made the cut over Lord of the Undead but I thought that in a primarily midrange/control cube which is designed to encourage big silly plays mass deathtouch could be a little on the OP side (or at least really annoying to play against).

Endless Ranks of the Dead and Lich Lord of Unx are both aimed at giving you a huge horde of zombie tokens. Endless ranks is dead outside of a heavy tribal deck and I do want a few cards like this in each theme.

The Standalone Cards

As expected for the titan cycle Grave Titan is a bomb in its own right. Liliana’s Reaver and Sidisi, Undead Vizier are both great in any black deck.

Mikaeus, the Unhallowed basically goes into ANY deck which has few or no humans. The undying is a little better in a deck with sacrifice effects but is still perfectly good in isolation.

Grimgrin, Corpse-Born is a little on the clunky side BUT is a huge trundling value engine as long as you can keep him fed (happy time occurs if you have a gravecrawler).

Army of the Damned is a card I glossed over as too slow and clunky when I first built the cube, but after playing it (and realising my concerns about rampant aggro were hilariously unrealistic) I decided I could push up the top of the curves and put in a few over the top items like this.

The Filler Cards

Deranged Assistant is an enabler for the graveyard cards in here (plus this isn’t a quick deck so every little helps). Havengul Runebinder obviously plays better the more zombies you have. The actual blue zombies all either fill or eat your graveyard (roll on Shadows over Innistrad for more blue zombies).

Black has a bit more selection, but zombies arent great at the sub 3 CMC level. Gravecrawler sits at 1 and is best used as combo fuel with sac outlets like Grimgrin. 2 has Blood Scrivener (not terrible if you ever manage to grind a game out long enough to empty your hand), Highborn Ghoul (blech, true filler) and Sultai Emissary (I really quite like this guy, I only just remembered he was a zombie).

Once you pass CMC 3 the selection opens up and we have the more interesting Nantuko Husk, Lifebane Zombie, and Ghoulraiser all having useful effects stapled on. We also have Rakshasa Gravecaller (conveniently makes zombies, plus one of my absolute favourites from DoT) and Silumgar Butcher (I’ll just sac this here Gravecrawler).

Crossover With Other Archetypes

Pontiff of Blight is great in the zombie deck (especially as its slightly slower to get rolling than some of the other decks and would be happy to gain a little extra life to stay in the game) but is intended mainly for the BW taxman deck.

Corpseweft gets a mention here also as its much more at home in the GB deck which will have a full graveyard a bit more often. UB cares more about getting its stuff back out (Ghoulraiser, Lord of the Undead, Gravecrawler, etc) and has less means of getting cards into the yard.

The Off-Colour Bleed Cards

Golgari Rotwurm, Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord and Lotleth Troll all serve as strong creatures with a means of filling the graveyard up (again, this is going to be Golgari’s thing) while also being zombies. In addition all our tribal lords synergise with at least one of these guys.

Dreg mangler is just a decent body with the benefit of working from the graveyard (Golgari is rapidly filling up with things I like too much to remove so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go at some point).

Varolz, the Scar-Striped is an honourable mention as he isn’t a zombie at all (although I briefly thought he was) but is a pretty strong addition to the deck regardless as both a strong sac outlet and a use for whatever youve put in your graveyard.

Sidisi, Brood Tyrant works as great in both the GB and UB decks, or a combination of the two, Lord of the Undead and Cemetery Reaper both love a full graveyard and there are some incidental self mill cards floating around the general Sultai section of the cube (such as Forbidden Alchemy, Mulch, Splinterfright and Nyx Weaver).

The complete list

BUg Cube Subtheme (Zombies) - November 2015

Black (22)
Gravecrawler
Blood Scrivener
Highborn Ghoul
Sultai Emissary
Cemetery Reaper
Fleshbag Marauder
Geralf's Messenger
Ghoulraiser
Lifebane Zombie
Lord of the Undead
Nantuko Husk
Liliana's Reaver
Rakshasa Gravecaller
Sidisi, Undead Vizier
Silumgar Butcher
Grave Titan
Mikaeus, the Unhallowed
Pontiff of Blight
Moan of the Unhallowed
Army of the Damned
Corpseweft
Endless Ranks of the Dead

Blue (9)
Screeching Skaab
Armored Skaab
Skaab Ruinator
Stitched Drake
Havengul Runebinder
Relentless Skaabs
Skaab Goliath
Deranged Assistant
Forbidden Alchemy

Dimir (4)
Diregraf Captain
Lich Lord of Unx
Grimgrin, Corpse-Born
Possessed Skaab

Golgari (4)
Lotleth Troll
Dreg Mangler
Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord
Golgari Rotwurm

Sultai (1)
Sidisi, Brood Tyrant

In the future I’d definitely like to improve the quality here and add a couple more early game cards. Innistrad 2 is pretty guaranteed to at least buff up the Vampire and Zombie tribes (hopefully not with some kind of parasitic ingest esque mechanic stapled on). In an unrelated aside I would love to see more werewolves too…I want modern werewolves to be a thing…I know it wont…but give me just a few more and I’ll try dammit (another decent 1 and 2 drop and at least the deck will be roughly the right shape).