Cube Night, 10 decks

Last night we replaced our usual casual draft with cube draft night.

We had a pretty decent turnout, ten this time, over six last time. This time I got the decks given back in at the end so I could have a look over what people made.

I can’t recall the exact order of the final results but the first and second place decks are at the end of the page.

NOTE: I’m Danny if you hadn’t guessed from the URL.

BR Aggro/Midrange: Two players turned out to be competing over the vampires and goblins and both ended up with a little of each (It doesn’t help that I really need to add an extra goblin lord and I’m missing one of the vampire lords so it can take slightly too long to work out that vampire and goblin tribal are things).

Adam: BR Aggro/Midrange

Creatures (19)
Legion Loyalist
Fire fist Striker
War-Name Aspirant
Rix Maadi Guildmage
Pyrewild Shaman
Markov Patrician
Solemn Simulacrum
Falkenrath Noble
Erebos's Emissary
Purphoros, God of the Forge
Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch
Bloodfray Giant
Falkenrath Aristocrat
Mogis, God of Slaughter
Manor Gargoyle
Shadowborn Demon
Thundermaw Hellkite
Gurmag Angler
Hangarback Walker

Spells (4)
Searing Spear
Rakdos Charm
Dragon Fodder
Dreadbore

Land (17)
Savage Lands
Temple of Malice
Blood Crypt
Swamp
Mountain

This deck worked pretty well losing only to my mono white aggro. I was unsure about the power level of True-Name Nemesis, but in this case it sort of enabled a hard counter based control deck in base blue, in a very different build to how I would have done it.

Jack: Bant Control

Creatures (8)
Jeskai Elder
Lhassa, God of the Sea
True-Name Nemesis
Vendilion Clique
Lavinia of the Tenth
Meloku the Clouded Mirror
Rubinia Soulsinger
Myr Battlesphere

Non-Creature Permenants (2)
Sensei's Divining Top
Sword of Light and Shadow

Spells (12)
Serum Visions
Planar Outburst
Feeling of Dread
Impulse
Essence Scatter
Counterspell
Dissipate
Scatter to the Winds
Cryptic Command
Force of Will
Blue Sun's Zenith
Sphinx's Revelation

Land (18)
Hallowed Fountain
Temple of Enlightenment
Temple of Mystery
Thornwood Falls
Tranquil Cove
Forest
Plains
Island

There’s a bonus synergy in this that I never realised was in there, which is Champion of Lambholt and Krenko, Mob Boss. I lost a game to that and nearly lost the round.

Rich: Jund Ramp

Creatures (17)
Llanowar Elves
Fyndhorn Elves
Blood Seeker
Pilgrim's Eye
Managorger Hydra
Champion of Lambholt
Erebos, God of the Dead
Temur Sabertooth
Hellrider
Krenko, Mob Boss
Throat Slitter
Jiwari, the Earth Aflame
Sek'Kuar, Deathkeeper
Grave Titan
Rampaging Balts
Omnath, Locus of Rage
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

Non-Creature Permenants (4)
Scythe of the Wretched
Thran Dynamo
Bow of Nylea
Garruk, Primal Hunter

Spells (4)
Go for the Throat
Terminate
Prey Upon
Crater's Claws

Land (18)
Crumbling Necropolis
Forest
Mountain
Swamp

This is the second deck that was slightly weakened by the two players switching between vampires and goblins part way through the draft. I don’t think it worked out too badly though as both players ended up with some strong stuff, just weren’t able to go all out on the tribal aspects.

Johan: Izzet Goblin/Midrange

Creatures (10)
Signal Pest
Goblin Bushwhacker
Snapcaster Mage
Mogg War Marshal
Goblin Wardriver
Goblin Chieftain
Goblin Rabblemaster
Oracle of Bones
Wurmcoil Engine
Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius

Non-Creature Permenants (2)
Sol Ring
Sword of War and Peace

Spells (13)
Ponder
Krenko's Command
Divination
Hordeling Outburst
George
Clan Defiance
Lightning Bolt
Brainstorm
Negate
Battle Hymn
Lightning Strike
Izzet Charm
Brimstone Volley

Land (17)
Mana Confluence
Steam Vents
Swiftwater Cliffs
Ghost Quarter
Forest
Islands
Mountain

Someone did manage to pull off a tribal heavy deck and that was the zombie deck. It’s not 100% tribal but it does have a good assortment of lords, token makers and some nice effects.

Martin: Dimir Zombies

Creatures (16)
Vampire Lacerator
Sultai Emissary
Servant of Nefarox
Lifebane Zombie
Geralf's Messenger
Diregraf Captain
Lich Lord of Unx
Cemetery Reaper
Liliana's Specter
Havengul Runebinder
Liliana's Reaver
Relentless Skaabs
Grimgrin, Corpse-Born
Keiga, the Tide Star
Vela the Night-Clad
Silent-Blade Oni

Non-Creature Permenants (1)
Corpseweft

Spells (5)
Think Twice
Murder
Far//Away
Moan of the Unhallowed
Barter in Blood

Land (18)
Nephalia Drownyard
Cathedral of War
Island
Swamp

Something went wrong with the round pairings and I ended up playing against this deck in round 3 instead of the eventual winner, but I really don’t mind because we had a seriously good pair of games ending in a tie in game three at closing time.

James: Orzhov Midrange

Creatures (16)
Knight of Infamy
Gatekeeper of Malakir
War Prist of Thune
Tidehollow Sculler
Fiend Hunter
Eidolon of Countless Battles
Brimaz, Kimg of Frescos
Flickerwisp
Sin Collector
Drana's Emissary
Athreos, God of Passage
Sublime Archangel
Restoration Angel
Molten-Tail Masticore
Tasigur, the Golden Fang
Abhorrent Overlord

Non-Creature Permanents (3)
Banishing Light
Chromatic Lantern
Ob Nixilis Reignited

Spells (4)
Honor's Reward
Unburial Rites
Black Sun's Zenith
White Sun's Zenith

Land (17)
Scoured Barrens
Plains
Swamp

I didn’t get to see many of this decks games but I saw some properly silly board states such as Thragtusk with a Batterskull and Sword.

Pete: Slightly Abzan

Creatures (14)
Dryad Militant
Experiment One
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Strangleroot Geist
Avatar of the Resolute
Vault Skirge
Farhaven Elf
Undergrowth Champion
Eternal Witness
Briarpack Alpha
Thragtusk
Vorapede
Blood Baron of Vizkopa
Hydra Broodmaster

Non-Creature Permenants (7)
Prophetic Prism
Hedron Archive
Umezawa's jitte
Sword of Body and Mind
Batterskull
Whip of Erebos
Karn Liberated

Spells (3)
Putrefy
Murderous Cut
Overrun

Land (16)
Mutavault
Forest
Swamp
Plains

Sadly I saw even less of this decks games.

Nate: 4 Colour Goodstuff

Creatures (12)
Mother of Runes
Vhitu-Ghazi Guildmage
Voice of Resurgence
Shaman of Forgotten Ways
Yasova Dragonclaw
Heliod, God of the Sun
Silent Arbiter
Prognostic Sphinx
Keranos, God of Storms
Lurking Automaton
Scuttling Doom Engine
Void Winnower

Non-Creature Permenants (5)
Ral Zarek
Ajani Vengeant
Eldrazi Monument
From Beyond
Primeval Bounty

Spells (7)
Rampant Growth
Wrath of God
Urban Evolution
Simic Charm
Lightning Helix
Selesnya Charm
Fact of Fiction

Land (18)
Temple of Plenty
Jungle Shrine
Mountain
Forest
Island
Plains

My deck made second place in the end. I will admit that this is a slightly refined version of the deck I changed to after a couple of games. The original tried to include a couple of nice green cards. I could have easily done a quite nice Selesnya build but would realistically have had to ditch Lingering Souls so I opted for the mono white with flashback cost in the end.

Danny: Mono White Aggro

Creatures (19)
Doomed Traveler
Elite Vanguard
Soldier of the Pantheon
Gideon's Lawkeeper
Containment Priest
Nearheath Pilgrim
Seeker of the Way
Knight of Glory
Azorius Arrester
Archetype of Courage
Monastery Mentor
Mentor of the Meek
Fiendslayer Paladin
Field Marshal
Crusader of Odric
Gideon's Avenger
Silverblade Paladin
Daghatar the Adamant
Knight of Obligation

Non-Creature Permenants (3)
Skullclamp
Loxodon Warhammer
Sword of Feast and Famine

Spells (3)
Midnight Haunting
Lingering Souls
Spectral Procession

Land (15)
10 Plains
Swamp
City of Brass
Evolving Wilds
Arcane Sanctum

The eventual winner, in only his second cube draft (in fact second draft full stop) is this grinding unkillable graveyard deck.

From what I’m told most games were won through clogging up the board with the regenerators and Tarmogoyf and then just waiting until some late game value engine could guarantee the win.

I saw at one point Deadbridge Chant reanimating a Pontiff of Blight. I’m told one game went long enough for Silence the Believers to be a one sided board wipe and another was one through just sitting on Sheoldred.

I do think that the deck could stand another graveyard themed one drop on top of Deathrite Shaman (who should get a boost when I add fetches) but it certainly works.

Ollie: Golgari Graveyard

Creatures (16)
Child of Night
Jade Mage
Tarmogoyf
Wolfer Avenger
Nyx Weaver
Graverobber Spider
Lumberknot
Korozda Monitor
Cudgel Troll
Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord
Garret's Packleader
Silumgar Butcher
Rakshasa Gravecaller
Golgari Rotwurm
Pontiff of Blight
Sheoldred, Whispering One

Non-Creature Permenants (4)
Nevinyrral's Disk
Deadbridge Chant
Liliana of the Veil
Vraska the Unseen

Spells (3)
Kodama's Reach
Ultimate Price
Silence the Believers

Land (17)
Forest
Swamp

The version of the cube which we played with was not 100% matching that in the online version but it wasn’t far off.

Interlude: Cycle Completionism Cube-builders OCD

When I started building the cube I had two big driving forces behind doing it. The first was playing with cards I liked but didn’t really have a use for only really playing commander and limited formats (i do play the odd bit of standard and modern but not as much as I’d like). The single card that most set this off was Deathrite Shaman as I had a set and had not really gotten any use since rotation (I used them a little in Inn-RTR standard Jund). A close second was the pack fresh Force of Will I had opened in an ice age/alliance/cold snap draft we did one night.

The second was that I like cycles of cards and outside of the 5 colour Progenitus commander deck I keep meaning to make you never really get to make use of a whole cycle in something. On top of that no matter how much you like a cycle most of the time there are only one or two playable in a given constructed format. Doing all this gave me a chance to make use of all the big cycles I liked without thought to format competitiveness.

The earliest build of the cube was in fact a lot heavier on cycles but quite a few got removed to make way for more archetype cards and to increase the power level in general.

That original build also had set amounts of different rarities of cards of each colour, a concept rapidly abandoned.

Titans

The first decision I made on the cube and it’s play style was that I wanted it to be big and splashy, more intended for games to go long and be full of commander style shenanigans.

In part I wanted the cube to be approachable to people who only play occasionally or very casually so the archetypes are all fairly direct (see a tribal lord, pick up cards of the same type etc) and some of the traditional cube staples like twin don’t really work for that.

With that in mind some of the first cards I picked to go in were the M11 titans. Anyone who knows the basic rules can read one of the titans and say “that’s powerful, I’ll take that first” and be happy with that pick later on. They’re also popular with experienced players and fit in any deck in the colour.

I also include an honourable mention colourless bonus card in this cycle: Wurmcoil Engine. It maintains the CMC 6, 6/6 mythic with powerful ability stats and it’s something I remember as part of that standard along with the titans (I jammed 4 in damn near every deck I played except bad RDW).

As a fun aside this is also something I’m fond of from a pimp perspective as I have an alt art version of each titan (don’t have the Wurmcoil Engine promo yet). The Grave Titan promo is in fact the card that brought me back into playing magic after many years off. A friend was playing the original Duels of the Planeswalkers on steam and I jumped in out of curiosity and got the ad for the promo real cards…I soon found a new LGS where I picked up way more than I intended to including the Grave Titan promo. I then spent most of the next three years in there until the shop sadly closed.

Star Dragons

Rolling back to the first time I played the game, Kamigawa block, I wanted to include the Star Dragon cycle. These ones haven’t aged as well as the titan cycle but they still pack a reasonable punch.

Kokusho in particular was a favourite of mine back in the day and one of the few things I got back then that was still in any particular way playable when I came back, once we passed the “what the hell is this” phase when I brought out my old decks (they were terrible but we all go through that phase).

I like to think that Ugin, the Spirit Dragon is an honorary member of this team.

Khans

When I was building the early versions of the cube I was drafting Khans of Tarkir   multiple times a week so I picked up a liking for 3 colour shenanigans.

There are, at present, almost no face down (morph or manifest) cards in the cube even though I’m a huge tarkir fan as for a while I planned a second cube including every face down or face down matters card ever printed. I had an attack of sanity however and that idea faded into the background. In the near future I shall probably add some in.

The Khans do fit fairly nicely into what these colour groups want to be doing such as Narset sitting between Spellslinging (UR) and Temp (UW).

Guild Leaders

The Return to Ravnica and Gatecrash mythic legendary creatures come from a time I played in a weekly standard league where I actually (unlike a lot here) played quite a lot of this cycle at one time or another, so this is another cycle with some memories for me.

Trostani was my favourite card in my Conjurer’s Closet flicker deck (it was very much like the reanimator deck just replacing Advent of the Wurm with Armada Wurm and the reanimation package with some more ramp and Conjurer’s Closet).

Niv-Mizzet was one of the value engine/win con cards in the UWR midrange deck I used occasionally (and more often loaned out). It was way more creature heavy than many of the decks in those colours at the time (it ran Snapcaster Mage, Boros Reckoner, Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius and some other value creatures on top of 4 Bonfire of the Damned and 4 Mizzium Mortars…take THAT aggro decks).

I attempted (and failed) many times to build a GB zombies deck, but I did get some fun wins sacrificing Thragtusks to Jarad, Golgari Lich lord. Some early (bad) versions of my vampire tribal deck ran Rakdos, Lord of Riots as a big beater before I got better cards.

Prime Speaker Zegana joined Trostani later on in RTR-Theros in a bant deck I made around Ajani, Mentor of Heroes (and Armada Wurm again). I also played a pretty standard BW midrange during RTR-Theros with Obzedat, Ghost Council (although blood baron was my favourite). Aurelia was in my first commander deck (Kaalia of the Vast, I’ve dismantled it since as I grew to find it a little too linear to keep amusing me, eventually I plan to make it into Zurgo Helmsmasher….with Aurelia again).

Lava, Borborygmos and Isperia are the only ones I never really made much use of.

Maze Runners

While I’ve played less with these than their Mythic counterparts I still quite like them and a fair few fit very nicely into their matching archetype (not that I’m that strict on cards having to match archetypes, especially in a big cube like this, plenty of room for just fun cards).

This is also the only cycle I’ve included where one (and possibly soon a second) is subbed out for a different card.

Melek, Varolz, Lavinia, Vorel, Ruric Thar, Tajic and to a lesser extent Teysa all fit into their matching themed deck. Mirko doesn’t really fit either his tribe or the theme but is a viable win condition in a control UR deck as all you need to do is hit a couple of times and you could conceivably in from there by stalling out the game.

Exava is on the chopping block at the moment as her ability just doesn’t work AT ALL with the other cards in these colours, which is a shame as I like her. She’ll probably be swapped with something else soon, possibly (another Innistrad 2 wishlist item here) for a new RB vampire legend to buddy up with Olivia.

This leaves the elephant in the room (or more accurately the turd in the booster pack)…You can probably see this coming a mile away…Emmara Tandris…I just can’t do it. Even though her ability actually fits the GW deck the only way shed get in is if I proxied a “fixed” version perhaps with “Affinity for Token Creatures” or with dramatically toned down cost and stats, maybe a 2GW 2/2 or even push her into a GW 1/1 (dies to everything but none of your other stuff does). But for now I don’t want to really play around with errata so she doesn’t make the cut. Her replacement is a favourite of mine, Tolsimir Wolfblood.

RTR Guildmages

The Return to Ravnica Guildmages are mostly in as fun multi colour cards but for the most part they do actually fit the themes of the decks they would be in. Duskmantle is the only one that really stands out as not being part of the deck.

The Pantheon

All 15 of the gods of theros are in the cube. There’s not a lot to say here except this was a cycle where I liked enough of them individually that I decided to put in the lot. There is a little archetype crossover in the minor gods (Iroas and Pharika spring most to mind but many of them fit tangentially into the decks such as Xenagos in Gruul ramp…doesnt directly ramp you but make everything you cast just that bit better). It’s only really Phenax who stands out as wrong as there are only really her and Mirko-Vosk as enemy mill, but like the maze runner she can be a mill deck win condition in a can.

It saddens me to this day that Chromanticore, god of Jank-ass 5 colour decks could be neither Legendary nor a God. Perhaps its for the best though, that double height type line would have been nasty. Maybe he could have been the first landscape orientation non split magic card. Now THERES a proxy.

Weapons of the Gods

This cycle made it in largely due to my irrational love for Whip of Erebos. Seriously I didn’t play a swamp for two years without a pair of these in the 75. And it’s in every black commander deck I play. And the cube.

Spear of Heliod is something I at least experimented with in standard. For a couple of weeks I ran a version of mono blue devotion that splashed white for a pair of Spear of Heliod and a set of Azorius Charms. The idea was that the Spear would keep my tokens alive when Master of Waves inevitably bit the dust. It was just slightly too clunky to work, as were most “splash a colour for x” versions of “hopelessly devoted to U” (come on wizards, bring back the silly deck names). Bident of course made it into all my versions of the same deck because why wouldn’t it.

Bow and Hammer are among the first cards in these cycles to purely be here for completion, not that either are terrible cards, they just don’t appeal to me that much personally.

Ascendancies

Another leftover from my massive amount of KTK drafts is my love for the ascendancy cycle. Mechanically I like what they all do but more than that they all, for me at least, define in a single card what each clan is all about. If you showed someone familiar with the game these 5 cards long before KTK was spoiled they could probably work out a lot both mechanically and thematically about the set which I think is quite cool. I’m a big fan of cards which kind of tell a story just through one card in isolation (not necessarily counting flavour text) and I’ve always thought these do well at that (the single best example of single card storytelling is of course…Desert Wooder).

Zeniths

The zenith cycles inclusion comes from the presence of Green Sun’s in FTV 20. I had a pair and had no real use for it as it was banned in modern and I wouldn’t want to run it outside of mono green commander (which I don’t have).

RSZ was also a card I was quite fond of (recurring fireball is never bad). The rest just slotted in nicely. USZ is just a big draw spell, nothing controversial there. BSZ is a great control card and WSZ fitted into the WG tokens deck.

I considered including an altered Lightning Shrieker, bearing the new name I gave it but sadly Dragon Sun’s Zenith wasn’t really good enough to make the cut.

Charms

The 10 guild charms and the 10 shard/wedge charms were all pretty much auto includes. The former in the very first build of the cube and the latter as soon as I decided to have the small set of cards in each 3 colour combination.

Of them all the only one that has any real personal significance is Izzet Charm, both one of my favourite cards and the only card I ever won a full playset of over a month of FNMs (it was also one of my favourite FNM promos so that was a nice month for me).

I think they’re all good to some degree and it’s nice to throw in some cards that give people more options in game, plus modal spells are almost never dead but still give you some of the niche effects of things like situational counter spells and narrow removal without being dead cards without the targets. I considered the dragon lords charms as well but those 15 card guild coloured sections are already chock full with more cards I want to include.

Swords of Chalk and Cheese

For me the swords hold a special place as the only set of cards I missed out on twice. As mentioned earlier when I first started playing the game it was Kamigawa block so I just missed out on the original swords, and as I didn’t spend much on singles then I ended up seeing them as the cool powerful cards I just couldn’t get my hands on.

When I returned to the game it was just before M12 game day so I had once again missed the boat on the new swords. I know I could have just ponied up and bought them but playing standard at the time there was always something else I needed for the league that bumped them down the list. It was only around the release of BFZ that I ever obtained a set and it was specifically to go in here.

Under Consideration: Tarkir Elder Dragons

Four of the cards in this cycle are almost definite shoe-ins. Dromoka and Silumgar are both rock solid cards despite not overly fitting into the archetypes. Ojutai is a fantastic tempo card/control finisher for UW and Atarka would make a great top end ramp target for the RG deck.

The thing is however that it would annoy me greatly to have the 4 cards without the fifth to complete the cycle and Kolaghan has an issue. Although it’s base stats and first ability are fine something severely bugs me about the concept of having a card in the cube where a significant chunk of the text is non functional. I may buckle under anyway and include it but it will be with a slight persistent sense of irritation.

(Commence Ramble: I did hear maro discussing this on his podcast and while I do understand his point that Legendary Creatures are not solely for commander I sort of feel that one member of a cycle of mythic legends which are obviously going to be desirable commanders isn’t necessarily the place for that logic. I would probably feel better about that ability if it were some random standalone guy or a creature which was obviously pushed to fill a role in standard or modern but to me Kologhan sticks out as out of place among the cycle).

Under Consideration: Manlands

The original plan for the cube was for ten two colour archetypes, five mono colour tribal sub themes and a multicolour artifact deck. Over time Iv’e cut back the mono colour tribal elements (as I go through each archetype they shall probably gradually fall back out of the cube…Zombies have become a full two colour deck, elves have been purged as a theme, I could never decide between merfolk and faeries for blue and that leaves goblins in red and soldiers in white and they shall probably become a supported sub theme of the RW aggro/battalion deck) to the point they effectively no longer exist. The artifact deck is rapidly fizzling out as in my tests I just can’t make it a viable thing without screwing up the actual proper archetypes.

There is an alternative option I’m considering which is making artifacts the UR mechanic but this would most likely be a lot of shoehorning to allow me to keep a couple of pet cards in (Pia and Kiran Nalaar, Atog, Megatog, Whirler Rogue etc).

Another concern is that the current mana fixing setup of Duals, Shocks, Fetches and Trilands doesn’t seem to appear quite enough for a heavy multicolour cube of this size.

This all leads me to the conclusion that I shall likely strip the artifact theme out and reduce it to just “some good artifacts that go anywhere” and use some of those slots to add an extra cycle of lands. I considered filters or temples but in light of the completion of the dual colour manland cycle I shall likely include these.

Broken Cycles

Although I clearly like to include whole cycles, perhaps to slightly to high a degree, there are a few isolated cards that came out of cycles.

The most prominent is Cryptic Command. That card in particular is one I like due to it’s inclusion in my modern UW Geist of Saint Traft deck but the others were from the time I was out of the game and don’t have any particular resonance with me.

Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and Sheoldred, Whispering One are both in but the remaining praetors haven’t really made the cut. I was considering Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger until I remembered that the card I was actually thinking of was Omnath, Locus of Mana.

 

Cube Archetype – WU Control/Tempo

Along with some of the cards from the previous WB section, WU will be a mix of control and tempo in this cube.

Card Advantage and Selection

Every control deck needs a way to avoid running out of gas, whether it’s card draw spells, 2 for 1’s or recurring effects in some way. You also want to have ways to filter your deck to get to the answers you need for what your opponents have done (control in this cube is pretty reactionary as there aren’t the resources to lock an opponent out of the game, this is a deliberate choice on my part as this is intended to be playable be the much less experienced). Blue is, obviously, the best colour for this, probably followed by black (and Esper control is a perfectly viable deck in this cube too).

Ponder, Preordain and Serum Visions are all traditional cheap card selection options. Slightly higher up the curve are Anticipate and Impulse. There’s also Thassa, God of the Sea for constant scrying, plus her second ability could be helpful in a more tempo focused build (getting your Jhessian Thief style creatures through).

For multiple card draw there’s Divination, Coastal Discovery, Ugin’s Insight and a few others. There’s also Bident of Thassa for the more creature heavy decks. Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time round out the top end. I don’t think it will be particularly difficult to fill up the graveyard enough to cast them at a reasonable time.

White doesn’t have a lot in the way of card draw in this, Mentor of the Meek does NOT fit this deck will if at all (he’s more for WR or WG). White’s card advantage comes more from the boardwipes or from generating multiple bodies off of a single card.

There are also a few creatures with selection and draw bolted on, such as Augur of Bolas and Omenspeaker. Snapcaster Mage also counts in a way as card advantage, letting you get back some spell or other.

There is Brainstorm (and Sensei’s Divining Top and Jace the Mind Sculptor) but if you want to make the best of it you’ll need to prioritise fetchlands as there are only a few ways to shuffle away dead cards.

Tempo

There are plenty of options in here to make a tempo deck in UW.

The classic tempo plays are bounce and tap effects, disrupting your enemy until you can either grind them out, assemble some form of game winning combo or land some unanswerable bomb (Geist of Saint Traft springs to mind, a card I love but haven’t yet steeled myself on putting in the cube…I can see some bad games coming from “here’s my unanswerable threat, come at me bro”). There are plenty of both in here. Feeling of dread is one of my favourite of these, and there’s a few others plus sleep, the king of “and now I’m swinging with everything” tap spells. Bounce has an assortment too, most notably cyclonic rift, the all star of the last time the cube was played in person (a UG counters deck with a crap ton of draw leading into a massive rift induced kerb stomp).

A tempo deck also wants to get the most out of its creatures and there are plenty in U/W with beneficial effects for this kind of deck such as Jhessian Thief and Aether Adept at the lower end. There is also Venser the Sojourner who works well with many of the value creatures in these colours (bonus points for locking an aggro deck out with Lavinia of the Tenth and Venser).

There is also a little sub theme of awaken with Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper and a small assortment of awaken spells. I’m also considering throwing in the 10 mainlands so that would be a little extra edge (there is also Ruinous Path in black).

Control

Differing from tempo there’s hard control. Most decks will be a mix of the two but you could build quite a hard “counters, removal, board wipes and win cons” style control deck and I think it would work. I do feel like this would be the time you would be leaning most into Esper for blacks removal (and possibly cards like Phyrexian Arena).

In a creature heavy format board wipes are absolutely essential and theres no shortage in here. Wrath of God is the classic and pretty reliably gets rid of everything. There’s also Planar Outburst and Martial Coup in white, both of which come with built in win conditions and the aforementioned cyclonic rift in blue (upheaval is a card I’ve left out as I’m leaning away from screwing that much with lands for now…maybe in the next round of changes. The power level might be allowed to increase as cards are released to improve the potentially weaker archetypes like zombies and vampires).

While there aren’t a huge variety of counter spells I’ve opted for the ones I think are the better ones. Counterspell, the pair Negate and Essence Scatter, Dissipate, Dissolve and Scatter to the winds along with a few others. There is also Force of Will. I admit that’s slightly out of place but It’s one of the more valuable cards I have and I have nowhere else it would really fit (opened last year in a paper draft, all nice and pack fresh).

Point removal isn’t the strength of this pair outside of Swords to Plowshares and Path to Exile…but they are pretty much the best point removal.

An example deck

This time I got a midrangey deck with some counterspells, card selection and chunky midrange creatures, backed up by an assortment of wrath effects.

The deck also dips into black for Merciless Eviction and Sphinx of the Steel Wind at the top end (I threw in Tithe Drinker too, but that’s only because I like it, not because it was a good idea).

WB Taxman

Creatures (10)
Containment Priest
Tithe Drinker
Brimaz, King of Oreskos
Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest
Grand Arbiter Augustin IV
Heliod's Emissary
Heliod, God of the Sun
Soulblade Djinn
Sun Titan
Sphinx of the Steel Wind

Non-Creature Permenants (4)
Ghostly Prison
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Gideon Jura
Tamiyo, the Moon Sage

Spells (9)
Preordain
Serum Visions
Anticipate
Dissipate
Scatter to the Winds
Planar Outburst
Ugin's Insight
Merciless Eviction
Martial Coup

Land (17)
Maze of Ith
Underground Sea
Plains
Island
Swamp
Sideboard (20)
Abzan Ascendancy
Ainok Bond-Kin
Alesha, Who Smiles at Death
Fact or Fiction
Falkenrath Noble
Forbidden Alchemy
Force of Will
Keiga, the Tide Star
Megatog
Midnight Haunting
Moorland Haunt
Murderous Cut
Norn's Annex
Shrine of Burning Rage
Steam Augury
Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas
Tower Gargoyle
Tragic Slip
Vorel of the Hull Clade
Zhur-Taa Druid

The complete list

Fun fact, the entire non creature contents of blue fits in here. Blue just loves control and tempo…it’s just to what degree does any card care.

BG Cube Subtheme (Graveyard/Morbid) - December 2015

White (32)
Gideon's Lawkeeper
Azorius Arrester
Seeker of the Way
Stoneforge Mystic
Nyx-Fleece Ram
Banisher Priest
Brimaz, King of Oreskos
Crusader of Odric
Field Marshal
Fiend Hunter
Flickerwisp
Gideon's Avenger
Monastery Mentor
Archangel of Tithes
Knight of Obligation
Restoration Angel
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Gideon Jura
Elspeth, Sun's Champion
Path to Exile
Swords to Plowshares
Celestial Flare
Feeling of Dread
Midnight Haunting
Rebuke
Lingering Souls
Spectral Procession
Wrath of God
Planar Outburst
Martial Coup
Pacifism
Oblivion Ring

Blue (59)
Augur of Bolas
Jeskai Elder
Omenspeaker
Snapcaster Mage
Tidebinder Mage
Aether Adept
Jhessian Thief
Mistblade Shinobi
Tandem Lookout
Vendilion Clique
Lhassa, God of the Sea
Master of Waves
Ninja of the Deep Hours
Thassa's Emissary
Meloku the Clouded Mirror
Prognostic Sphinx
Frost Titan
Pearl Lake Ancient
Jace the Mind Sculptor
Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
Brainstorm
Vapor Snag
Anticipate
Counterspell
Cyclonic Rift
Echoing Truth
Essence Scatter
Impulse
Mana Leak
Negate
Remand
Think Twice
Turn to Frog
Crippling Chill
Dissipate
Dissolve
Forbidden Alchemy
Scatter to the Winds
Aetherize
Cryptic Command
Fact or Fiction
Force of Will
Blue Sun's Zenith
Dig Through Time
Distortion Strike
Gitaxian Probe
Ponder
Preordain
Serum Visions
Silent Departure
Divination
Coastal Discovery
Sleep
Ugin's Insight
Curse of the Swine
Treasure Cruise
Claustrophobia
Mind Control
Bident of Thassa

Azorius (12)
Judge's Familiar
New Praha Guildmage
Azorius Charm
Lyev Skyknight
Roil Spout
Grand Arbiter Augustin IV
Skymark Roc
Supreme Verdict
Lavinia of the Tenth
Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper
Venser the Sojourner
Sphinx's Revelation

The recently spoiled Reflector Mage is going into this as soon as hes on cubetutor, hes just lovely. Throw in Venser, the Sojourner and your opponents best thing is never coming back down.