Cube Archetypes – WR Aggro

The most aggressive archetype in the cube is red white. Red and white have the most one drop creatures (currently 6 in white and 8 in red), plenty of ways to get a blocker out of the way, temporarily or permanently, along with benefits to attacking with multiple creatures.

You do have the traditional problem of running out of steam if your opponent manages to stabilise but there are a few cards available that get you out of that.

Aggressive Creatures

The core of an aggressive deck are the cheap effective creatures. As mentioned one drops, especially two power one drops are a big deal for the deck with the bulk of your deck being at one, two and three CMC.

Soldier of the Pantheon is a good one to take in a cube as heavily multi coloured as this one. Firedrinker Satyr can be costly but has the benefit of being a one cmc creature that can trade up to take out a larger creature or a big toughness blocker. The life loss may become problematic but there are ways to mitigate that, especially in white such as Alabaster Mage and Nearheath Pilgrim for lifelink or just giving it first strike with Archetype of Courage.

At two mana the Battlecry creatures Accorder Paladin and Goblin Wardriver should be high picks when throwing your creatures at the opponent every turn. Firefist Striker is another one which benefits a beatdown strategy, keeping your opponents best blocker out of the game. Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit is another beneficial effect in a deck that has a lot of smaller creatures.

Boros Reckoner is another favourite card of mine. In Inn/RtR standard I ran it in a mono red deck with the good one drops, ash zealot, Hellrider etc. Blocking this guy is never fun. The hasty three drops Skynight Legionnaire and Viashino Firstblade also attack well on the curve.

Game Winners

Your top end bombs in this kind of deck are a lot lower on the curve than for other decks and you probably want fewer of them unless you go for a midrange build. Assemble the legion will eventually win pretty much any game given enough time. Aurelia, the Warleader usually wins the game the turn she hits the field. The big hasty dragons Stormbreath Dragon and Thundermaw Hellkite are good at ending a game quickly.

Although it lacks haste my favourite for this slot is probably Baneslayer Angel. It severely discourages attacking with anything less than huge the turn it comes down, has protection from a not insignificant selection of cards and keeps you in the game if the game drags on.

Staying Alive

This cube isn’t particularly big on combat tricks but there are a few good ways to keep your creatures alive through combat. Ride Down and Celestial Flare both get rid of a blocking creature. Ride Down obviously gives you more choice but in the early game removing the first creature your opponent blocks with is going to be significant. Flare also lets you remove a pesky attacker such as a creature with evasion if the game gets close.

Pyreheart Wolf and Iroas, God of Victory both give you evasion on all your creatures. Iroas also makes your creatures unkillable in combat so I can see games where I would intentionally not get to sufficient devotion to animate him if i think theres a good chance of a path/swords happening.

Legion’s Initiative is yet another of my cards I liked but never really found a use for (beginning to think the ideal format for me is “janky-ass casual 60 card constructed, a format which sadly was brutally murdered by commander). Wrath protection is pretty relevant in this cube between traditional wraths, red damage based sweepers, Black Sun’s Zenith, Deathbringer Regent etc there are a LOT of times you can hold a card up in the opponents hand by keeping Initiative on the table and two mana up. Re-triggering all of your enter the battlefield abilities is also relevant (re targeting a Banisher Priest or getting an extra card off of Abbot of Keral Keep are all on the plausible end of the scale…Extra attack steps with Aurelia are closer to magical christmas land, but it’s a nice place to visit)

A Sample Deck

This sample came out pretty much as you would expect. A pile of assorted cheap creatures, a couple of burn spells and a couple of top end cards (the top end being 4 or 5 in this case).

WR Aggro Tempo/Counters

Creatures (19)
Dryad Militant
Firedrinker Satyr
Goblin Guide
Mother of Runes
Accorder Paladin
Elite Inquisitor
Firefist Striker
Knight of Glory
Seeker of the Way
Alesha, Who Smiles at Death
Banisher Priest
Fiend Hunter
Fiendslayer Paladin
Mentor of the Meek
Monastery Mentor
Hero of Bladehold
Baneslayer Angel
Archetype of Courage
Eidolon of Countless Battles

Non-Creature Permanents (3)
Sulfuric Vortex
Ajani Vengeant
Chandra, Pyromaster

Spells (2)
Lightning Bolt
Brimstone Volley

Land (16)
Plains
Mountain
Sideboard (21)
Archangel of Tithes
Archetype of Aggression
Bloodfray Giant
Bonesplitter
Celestial Flare
Chandra's Outrage
Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch
Gavony Township
Gideon Jura
Gideon's Lawkeeper
Goblin Chieftain
Halimar Tidecaller
Hellrider
Honor's Reward
Inferno Titan
Mulch
Ray of Revelation
Scorchwalker
Skaab Goliath
Vampire Lacerator
War Priest of Thune

When I first built the cube I was perhaps overly concerned with aggro strategies being too dominant. As it stands they are viable but not at too many per table which is about where I wanted it.

Cube Archetype – UG Counters

Of all the archetypes in the cube UG +1/+1 counters is probably the one most dependant on one of it’s colours (green) and it’s multicolour section. Blue provides some good cards but not a huge amount of them. Luckily the odds are good that you will get these as they are rather low picks for other decks.

I actually incorrectly believed that this deck had won the cubes first real outing (possibly due to it absolutely steamrolling me repeatedly with  Gyre Sage > Fathom MageLorescale Coatl > Prime Speaker Zegana. I have since been informed that it came in in second place getting beaten in the finals by a deck I have sadly forgotten.

If you get the right cards this one, as you can imagine from the above, can turn into an almost unstoppable engine of grindy card advantage. Granted it can fall completely on it’s arse as well, perhaps more than anything but the tribal decks but that’s the gamble.

I would also say that it’s also probably the least “all-in” deck in the cube usually playing a tempo strategy with some late game inevitability.

+1/+1 Counters

There are plenty of sources of counters throughout the cube, the most common being evolve from RTR block. Most of the good evolve creatures are in, especially the ones with any kind of interesting effect (most notably Simic Manipulator‘s mind control ability, Gyre Sage‘s ramp and Fathom Mage‘s card draw). There isn’t really a huge deal to be said about the evolve ability.

There are a small number of monstrous creatures from Theros, most relevantly Fleetfeather Cockatrice, Arbor Colossus, Polukranos, World-Eater and Hydra Broodmother.

There are also creatures with incidental counter abilities such as Undergrowth Champion, Lorescale Coatl and Prime Speaker Zegana. If all things go well in this deck you should accumulate plenty of counters during the normal course of events without actually having to put too much effort in. The ultimate version of this is Master Biomancer.

This leads of course into why you should bother going out of your way to pick up plenty of +1/+1 counter generators during the draft…

Going Overboard

The payoff cards for +1/+1 counters are a little limited in the current build and something I’m looking to improve but you do get a few good ones.

Avatar of the Resolute scales through the game as you play more evolve and monstrous creatures and get’s silly if you have a Master Biomancer out.

Renegade Krasis is another entry on my ever expanding list of cards which I wished had worked in standard….or anything for that matter. In theory he should be pretty good here so long as you have plenty of creatures with counters and can keep up the flow of guys (combos nicely with Fathom Mage).

There’s also Vorel of the Hull clade who can take any creature with a reasonable number of counters on it and turn it into a potentially game ending threat. Like Renegade Krasis he also combos with Fathom Mage to get you burning through your deck.

A Sample Deck

Illustrating my point above this deck came out as a fairly normal UG midrange deck with plenty of draw and a counters theme (sticking Vorel does seem pretty good here, especially with a counterspell up).

UG Tempo/Counters

Creatures (14)
Fyndhorn Elves
Avatar of the Resolute
Gyre Sage
Shambleshark
Elder of Laurels
Elusive Krasis
Jhessian Thief
Lorescale Coatl
Simic Fluxmage
Tandem Lookout
True-Name Nemesis
Vorel of the Hull Clade
Aetherling
Hydra Broodmaster

Non-Creature Permenants (4)
Bident of Thassa
Kruphix, God of Horizons
Garruk, Primal Hunter
Karn Liberated

Spells (5)
Counterspell
Mana Leak
Dissipate
Dig Through Time
Treasure Cruise

Land (17)
Island
Forest
Sideboard (22)
Archangel of Tithes
Bitterblossom
Brainstorm
Coastal Discovery
Evolutionary Leap
Graverobber Spider
Jade Mage
Jeskai Sage
Kodama's Reach
Korozda Monitor
Mistblade Shinobi
Mizzium Mortars
Nylea's Emissary
Rally the Peasants
Rush of Ice
Satyr Wayfinder
Shaman of Forgotten Ways
Silent-Blade Oni
Snapcaster Mage
Thassa's Emissary
Tithe Drinker
Xenagos, the Reveler

In the next big round of changes this archetype will get a bit of refinement, hopefully with some new releases as it needs some more cards to make it clear that this is actually a thing to draft.

PS: This is Daghatar, FEAR HIM, FEAR HIM.

Daghatar the Adamant

Cube Archetype – WG Tokens

The token deck in this cube tends to play quite differently each time. In the example decks below it’s happened to come out as a chunky midrange deck in one and an almost mono white in another. In person the last time I played it it started the draft looking like a modern Abzan deck and picked up the most valuable token makers (particularly spirits) as the draft went on (with plenty of soldiers going to the Boros player).

It’s also one of the simplest archetypes to get into as you don’t need a particular signal that the archetype exists (such as a tribal lord for vampires or zombies) nor do you need any particular combination of cards to come out with a deck which is at the minimum viable.

Token Makers

In the earliest version of the cube there was a tribal sub-theme to each colour. In white it was soldiers. That never really amounted to anything but the bulk of the soldier cards stayed in as they’re mostly good and play well with Selesnya and Boros.

There are two soldier lords in white, Field Marshal and Captain of the Watch. Mass first strike from Field Marshal gives you a defensive buff until you can sufficiently swarm the opponent on the attack (there’s often a period in the mid game where 1/1’s can’t profitably get through the enemies blockers).

Precinct Captain, Brimaz, King of Oreskos and Hero of Bladehold all churn out soldier tokens on the attack to pump up your body count.

Martial Coup is one of the best cards you can have in a limited deck as a board wipe which doesn’t leave you a turn behind in reestablishing board presence is massive (speaking as someone who was Duneblasted on average twice a week for the whole time triple-khans was the draft format….blegh). It’s a high pick for any white deck but gets some bonuses in the token deck from Intangible Virtue, Doubling Season and if you’re lucky Elspeth, Sun’s Champion or Gideon Jura.

Spirits don’t really have any specific tribal support in the cube but are a big part of the token deck. Those little 1/1 flyers can easily grind out an opponent as long as you can defend yourself on the ground.

The big three spirit token spells are all in here (Midnight Haunting, Lingering Souls and Spectral Procession) along with Geist-Honored Monk. Anecdotally I have a peculiar soft spot for Midnight Haunting as back during it’s time in standard I won a copy of FTV: Realms in a standard tournament after winning the final due to running a full set of hauntings in my Esper tokens standard deck. It turns out flashing in Midnight Haunting to block a swinging-for-lethal Thundermaw Hellkite after it’s attack trigger resolves is pretty good when everyones forgotten theres an instant speed version of Lingering Souls knocking around.

There are also plenty of “misc” token maker around, including most of greens token makers. There are a couple of saproling makers (Jade Mage and Mycoloth), beasts (Garruk, Primal Hunter and Thragtusk), Eldrazi Scions (From Beyond…go on, splash Ulamog…ok more realistically Breaker of Armies could be very reasonably included) and other minor ones.

Lastly in colourless there is Orochi Hatchery. That one might be slightly more suited to the ramp decks but isnt a bad late game card to churn out a handful of tokens every turn where you don’t need to cast something (and it’s always nice to have something to maintain the bluff/mystery of whether thats removal/a wrath in your hand).

Unrelated aside: Armada Wurm looks like a giant penis. A giant armoured penis. Many jokes were made about this. That is all.

Going Wide

Although every colour in the cube has tokens to some degree green-white has the ways to really take advantage of that. At the top of the list is Doubling Season which is probably my favourite “does nothing on it’s own” limited card (the first time I ever got to play with one was in a modern masters draft where I was full on in the GW Thallid deck splashing black a tiny bit for….actually I can’t for the life of me remember now. But I was already in a good version of the deck with plenty of the better thallids including Sporoloth Ancient and Sporesower Thallid. Games effectively boiled down to durdle…durdle…durdle…dude I’m out of dice again can I borrow some extras.

Theres also a couple of populate cards, Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice (the star and ultimate removal magnet of my Conjuror’s Closet standard flicker deck) and Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage (THE mythic uncommon).

One of the big benefit’s of running a lot of token maker cards is that you gain an oversized effect from anything you run which impacts all creatures you control.

The most obvious card here is Intangible Virtue which is hard to remove, effectively doubles the power level of anything which makes tokens and gives you the ability to swing all out every turn without ever letting your defences down. Spear of Heliod isn’t just for the token deck, as any heavy white deck will probably want it, but it is disproportionately good here and has the benefit of pumping your cards like Precinct Captain as well. Tolsimir Wolfblood is a favourite card of mine which I missed during the years I was out of the game and never got to play with before drafting him in one of our cube nights.

Some of our planeswalkers also work particularly well in a token deck (well again any deck, but the effects are SO MUCH better here). Nissa, Voice of Zendikar pumps all your creatures every few rounds and Garruk, Primal Hunter draws silly numbers of cards while spawning some of the larger tokens in the cube. Ajani, Mentor of Heroes is also good here, throwing counters around liberally or digging for your Hero of Bladehold or Elspeth, Sun’s Champion. Off colour there is Sorin, Lord of Innistrad giving you a choice between lifelink tokens (and again in a slower deck lifelink is a valuable way to stay alive) or creating unremovable emblems.

There are any cards with battalion or pseudo battalion effects (there is quite a bit of crossover here into the Boros deck). Odric, Master Tactician, when you can trigger him, varies in power from “all my creatures are unblockable” to a one sided boardwipe if the numbers stack up right.

A Sample Deck

My first attempt at using the draft sim to get a token deck ended up with this, which while theoretically a token deck, is very much the opposite of what I imagined effectively being a ramp deck with various big X cost token makers and planeswalkers for value.

WGb Tokens Ramp

Creatures (13)
Birds of Paradise
Llanowar Elves
Kitchen Finks
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Flickerwisp
Hero of Bladehold
Siege Rhino
Thrun, the Last Troll
Rampaging Baloths
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Karn Liberated
Wurmcoil Engine
Hangarback Walker

Non-Creature Permenants (5)
Sol Ring
Orochi Hatchery
From Beyond
Nissa, Voice of Zendikar
Garruk, Primal Hunter

Spells (6)
Path to Exile
Hero's Downfall
White Sun's Zenith
Rampant Growth
Cultivate
Martial Coup

Land (17)
Gavony Township
Plains
Swamp
Forest
Sideboard (20)
Blind Obedience
Bloodgift Demon
Chromatic Lantern
Clutch of Currents
Containment Priest
Deathbringer Regent
Hooting Mandrills
Hymn to Tourach
Impulse
Accorder Paladin
Mycoloth
Mycosynth Wellspring
Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper
Surrak Dragonclaw
Titanic Growth
Tundra
Unburial Rites
Varolz, the Scar-Striped
Viscera Seer
Witchstalker

Then I had another crack and got an almost mono white deck splashing black and green (you could play it as straight black white but mycoloth is basically a token deck on one card).

Wbg Tokens

Creatures (10)
Doomed Traveler
Nearheath Pilgrim
Brimaz, King of Oreskos
Fiendslayer Paladin
Archangel of Tithes
Sublime Archangel
Mycoloth
Sunscorch Regent
Captain of the Watch
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite

Non-Creature Permenants (7)
Rancor
Bitterblossom
Intangible Virtue
Spear of Heliod
Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
Umezawa's Jitte
Orochi Hatchery

Spells (6)
Swords to Plowshares
Raise the Alarm
White Sun's Zenith
Lingering Souls
Spectral Procession
Martial Coup

Land (17)
Savannah
Plains
Swamp
Forest
Sideboard (21)
Alabaster Mage
Containment Priest
Drana's Emissary
Ghoulraiser
Gideon's Avenger
Goblin Chieftain
Ichor Wellspring
Inferno Titan
Knight of Obligation
Nightveil Specter
Obzedat, Ghost Council
Odric, Master Tactician
Primeval Titan
Rampant Growth
Seeker of the Way
Silverchase Fox
Skyknight Legionnaire
Strangleroot Geist
Talrand, Sky Summoner
Unflinching Courage
Yasova Dragonclaw

Definitely a hint this deck likes to spread into black (Lingering Souls flashback is a big part, Sorin, Lord of Innistrad is also a major player in that). You can also spread into red for Assemble the Legion and some of the mass creature effects. Young Pyromancer and Monastery Mentor plus the spell based token makers such as Hordeling Outburst and Midnight Haunting is also pretty nice.

I think this might also be the deck that most wants Loxodon Warhammer…however if I’m in the draft it’s one of very few cards I never EVER pass so you’d better open it.

When I played a variation on this in one of our previous drafts I found myself in abzan, running Abzan Ascendancy, Mortify and Putrefy which was nice (there is very little main deckable artifact and enchantment removal in the cube and having some cards like these can bag some unexpected wins, as it did for me that night vs a red white deck running both Soldier lords and Assemble the Legion.

Cube Archetype – RG Ramp

Green in the cube in the oldest versions was a bit of a mess. There were plenty of good cards but the attempt at an elf tribal sub theme caused it some problems.

I’m experimenting with the red green archetype deck being the big ramp deck of the cube. Green will provide the bulk of the ramp itself, with red providing a couple of one shot rituals plus a couple of creatures with mana effects.

The payoff for the ramp will be both some big bombs in the red green section, colourless bombs and reds high end and X spells.

Ramp

Green has a number of spells to search up basic lands or dig into your deck for them as is normal. There are also a couple of rituals in red. Geosurge jumps you up by quite a bit and Battle Hymn, depending on your deck, could easily be 6+ mana.

Green has a reasonable assortment of ramp creatures, a few elves and Birds of Paradise at one cmc, various creatures that search up a land such as Sakura-Tribe Elder and a couple of larger mana dorks that do any colour for creatures only.

Red has Generator Servant (I’m perhaps unduly fond of the idea of this being the last step in a turn 5 or 6 Ulamog or Kozilek with haste. A little silly perhaps but it would be cool) and Grinning Ignus.

Pay Off

Big spells are one of the ways to top out a ramp deck and in this cube these take the form of a selection of X spells. There is Crater’s Claws in red and Clan Defiance in Gruul. In addition to these there is the full “X Sun’s Zenith” cycles. Red obviously can serve as removal or go to the dome. Green is a little more utilitarian (the worst case scenario is fetching up more ramp creatures and that’s not bad). The ramp deck has the easiest time splashing off colour cards and the rest of the cycle are all possibilities here.

Titanic Ultimatum in Naya colours is another good option. Who doesn’t love killing their opponent with the worlds buffest llanowar elves.

Ramping out a great big fatty is the other traditional ramp win condition. There are a couple of strong ones in Gruul. Borborygmos Enraged and Omnath, Locus of Rage both have the additional benefit of providing value from any additional lands you may draw into or turn a late game Cultivate into something less frustrating.

In mono green there is also Giant Adephage (for fun) and Craterhoof Behemoth (for the massive game winning swing).

Support and Mana Smoothing

On top of mana ramp, with the way games go in this cube, you will want some ways to keep yourselves alive and Courser of Kruphix does a good job of this while smoothing out your draws or getting you lands out a little earlier. It also combos with Mina and Denn, Wildborn to improve your draws by quite a bit.

There are some creatures available which in some way draw a land on casting such as Solemn Simulacrum and Sakura-Tribe Elder which can be used to keep you in the game until you can get out a bomb as well.

Colourless

While you will be competing with other decks for these the colourless ramp cards  are a strong pick for this deck. Sol Ring is the best, and arguably a little too powerful for the cube. Fractured Powerstone is notable as it’ll be a much higher pick when I finally finish the full set of planechase planes and do a big multiplayer draft planechase event of some kind.

There’s also Thran Dynamo and Gilded Lotus to help power out the top end stuff.

Chromatic Lantern is there too but it is more a tool for a heavily multicoloured deck or for the guy who got a P1P1 Progenitus.

The earliest version of the cube contained a multicolour artifact subtheme. The idea was you drafted a heavily colourless affinity/modular type of deck and splashed cards from a couple of colours depending on how your deck went (perhaps Pia and Kiran Nalaar and Megatog from red for example). This never really worked however so in the newest builds I have removed it entirely.

The colourless slots have been replaced in part with some of the better Eldrazi. I’ve avoided the Annihilator Eldrazi as that effect isnt one I’m hugely fond of, plus I prefer the newer versions of the Eldrazi titans.

As an aside I intend to make Wastes available in the land box (I might throw in a couple of other colourless mana cards on top of Kozilek) but with a limit such as 4 per person.

A Sample Deck

RG Ramp

Creatures (12)
Elvish Mystic
Gyre Sage
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Zhur-Taa Druid
Mindsparker
Bloodbraid Elf
Ghor-Clan Rampager
Mina and Denn, Wildborn
Thragtusk
Craterhoof Behemoth
Void Winnower
Wurmcoil Engine

Non-Creature Permenants (5)
Sol Ring
Loxodon Warhammer
Gilded Lotus
Koth of the Hammer
Xenagos, the Reveler

Spells (5)
Farseek
Rampant Growth
Kodama's Reach
Crater's Claws
Clan Defiance

Land (18)
Mountain
10 Forest
Sideboard (23)
Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit
Ancient Grudge
Breaker of Armies
Coastal Discovery
Crocanura
Delver of Secrets
Doubling Season
Geosurge
Giant Adephage
Honor's Reward
Hydra Broodmaster
Jade Mage
Jeskai Sage
Martial Coup
Prophet of Kruphix
Purphoros, God of the Forge
Rancor
Ruric Thar, the Unbowed
Ryusei, the Falling Star
Satyr Wayfinder
Skarrg Guildmage
Think Twice
Titanic Ultimatum