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.

Battle for Zendikar: The alternative set review

With yet another spoiler season drawing to a close I wanted to talk a little about Battle for Zendikar. I don’t have the patience for a full blown list of every card (and there are plenty of regulars who would do a far better job of it than I) so I’ve decided to cover a few different categories.

  • The cards I most want to play with.
  • The cards I least want to play against.
  • The cards I most want to get hold of a set of quickly.

The format I play the most is draft but this will lean into the realms of constructed as well.

The cards I most want to play with.

First up I’m very much hoping that I manage, at least once, to pull of a Black/Green Eldrazi Scion sacrifice Deck in limited. There seems to be a reasonable number of options to do this without getting lucky with rares, although I want to start a draft with Brood Butcher.

Another limited deck I’d like to pull off is allies with a hint of lifegain. I’m a great fan of limited decks capable of ending the game on a silly amount of life (I’ve had some 3xKTK Abzan mirror matches ending on 50 or 60) and Lantern Scout strikes me as one capable of pulling that off. The allies deck itself seems pretty fun, but I’m not convinced it wont be the thing that’s fought over in draft (especially given its quite heavily in white and where I play whites often over drafted, although that’s probably just us).

en_2VDtpv4Pu8 en_Yuxp4WpiVBWhen it comes to the properly big stuff…I haven’t actually played in an environment where this kind of thing was particularly viable (I came back to the game around New Phyrexia). From what I head Rise of the Eldrazi was a hell of a format but with the reduced number of Scions vs Spawn and the fact that they’re more combat relevant I don’t know if it will actually be viable to try and cast a ten-drop in limited. That doesn’t mean though that I won’t be giving it a go. I’m rather hoping to get a desolation twin or Ulamog win in somewhere along the line. Here’s hoping for something even bigger and sillier in OGW.

The cards I least want to play against.

There are certain kinds of cards that rub me up the wrong way in draft games. Usually they’ll be things that very rapidly turn a game into something extremely one sided. Sometimes these are overpowered cards, or hard to interact with “if this happens you’re done” cards (recently Sagu Mauler springs to mind). “Bad” cards are just as likely to appear here because magical Christmas land doesn’t look so good from the outside.

First mention goes to a pair of cards which, while not inherently unfair are going to reduce a lot of draft games which could otherwise have been turned around into one sided smash fests. While both of these abilities require the player using them to at least have a board position and preferably a stream of allies but when they DO work it wont be a feel good moment for the player on the defense.

en_TbbefA13VD

Swarm Surge gives me the same feeling of a game rapidly turning into crap. Given the amount of devoid, colourless and scions around I can see it not being that unreasonable to be utterly blown out by this from a fairly stable board. Although I do want to give this one a try, especially if I can get a scion heavy deck.

The cards I will want to get hold of quickly

With every new set that comes out I always prioritize the same 2 things, before anything fun like planeswalkers and bomby creatures. Lands and removal.

These…whatever the final decision on their name turns out to be…slow-ish fetchable duals…They’re far from exciting (a major theme of this section) but they’re what we have and if we want to play standard we’re playing them. And I doubt an extra fetchable dual will hurt in commander or a lower power cube like mine (once i add fetches of course).

As for man-lands I have a particular liking for the black/white one, especially given I’ll be needing a replacement for Temple of Silence in the warrior tribal deck. Oh yeah and whatever the horrendous Abzan deck of the format is I’m sure it’ll slot straight in.

Then there’s removal, since RTR came out I’ve always focused on getting the better rare removal. Mizzium Mortars, Abrupt Decay, Dreadbore, Hero’s Downfall and similar cards are almost certainly going to get used at some point and most pull their weight through standard and on into commander and cube beyond that.

en_rU0CrkrtQ7“Not quite Hero’s Downfall” is by no means bad. I played Dreadbore plenty, especially in my late beloved Mardu Vampires deck and this has a nice little potential upside to it.

en_m3i8eGb71O“That exact thing there can sod right off” will probably slot into every commander deck I make on the general principle that it will fill in whatever removal void the colour combination lacks. My mono-black demon tribal Ob Nixilis deck immediately springs to mind.

en_PitAVDWBFmSpeaking of Ob Nixilis, it’s Ob Nixilis. This new one doesn’t exactly break new ground, but…well it’s just a huge heaping pile of value on a card. Basically new Ob Nixilis is the card you would design if you wanted to explain the textbook examples of a solid planeswalker. At the absolute minimum he’s card parity, killing a creature or drawing a card to replace itself and if left unchecked will absolutely dominate the game. He isn’t too expensive, he has enough loyalty to survive a lot of pounding and his ultimate will win the game in short order.

en_cWrCnmEiuPOf course there’s a place for creatures too and I’ve taken a liking to Undergrowth Champion, particularly along with Avatar of the Resolute. I’m thinking of attempting to build up either GW +1+1 counters or going into Abzan for Abzan Ascendancy…yes and Siege Rhino. Alternatively you could go all in on mono-green with hardened scales, Managorger Hydra…maybe Den Protector.

en_pHF4madYgh

en_CxMQTpVtT3

There’s a bonus mention here for “All the Eldrazi” as all this colourless goodness is making me crave a 5 colour Eldrazi ramp EDH deck complete with all the Eldrazi legends (because sometimes casual is fun) and Progenitus as commander. All silly, all the time.

en_HxKuFRHVcg

Filling this sets desirable uncommon slot is Sylvan Scrying. Not a lot to say but I’ll definitely want to pick up a few.

en_weuqcuVvnw

Also in the desirable uncommon slot is Stasis Snare. While it’s not as universal as O Ring, “exile target creature” is still pretty good. Especially as a sideboard vs anyone unlikely to be able to easily get rid of it.

en_xM6S9h5ZDg

Scatter to the Winds is another “unexciting but playable” entry. This time “cancel with slight upside” makes a 3/3 in the late game. That’s by no means bad. I was quite happy with Dissolve and Dissipate and they were both fairly slight upsides. I’d happily play a couple of these in a deck that wants them.

And Finally…

Today’s honorable mention, the Battle for Zendikar special award for the card I will most come to resent opening in packs…

It’s a straight up tie…I couldn’t make my mind up between hard to cast, limited targeting mind control and a derpy limited effect enchantment.

prismarray exertinfluence

Granted I might be horribly undervaluing these but…I don’t THINK so.

I’m a little warmer to the other converge cards. Lose 3 and draw 3 is by no means bad and an adjustable Pyroclasm could be cool.

My rampant speculation for the next set is “Red will be pushed”. Every other colour seems to be getting nicer toys in this one so I’m going to go for a playable Chandra and a couple decent burn spells at the lower end (perhaps not a 1R for 3 burn but something to serve as constructed burn filler).