Sunday, November 28, 2010

Draft Report - Nov 27, 2010

This week's 5-man draft standings were:

- RG Beatdown (4-0, 8-1)
- WU Aggro-Control (3-1, 7-3)
- WU Control (2-2, 4-5)
- WG Midrange/Control (1-3, 3-7)
- BG (0-4, 2-8)

RG Beatdown

6 Forest
7 Mountain
Treetop Village
Mountain Valley
Mishra's Factory

Jackal Pup
Hulking Goblin
Vinelasher Kudzu
Keldon Marauders
Manic Vandal
Jaya Ballard, Task Mage
Ohran Viper
Zo-Zu the Punisher
Flametongue Kavu
Wickerbough Elder
Siege-Gang Commander

Lightning Bolt
Burst Lightning
Living Wish
Call of the Herd
Crusher Zendikon
Sulfuric Vortex

I started drafting blue and white, but those colors disappeared quickly, so I figured I should change about halfway into the first booster, going to red/green. Some good aggro-aligned picks later, I was solidly in beatdown. This gave me time to take strategic picks, like those subpar 2-drops that were extremely important to the deck's gears, the ultra-aggressive Zo-Zu the Punisher and Sulfuric Vortex and some midgame fuel in Siege-Gang Commander, Call of the Herd and Harmonize. I had the option of going mono-red, but that would make me lose important components and force me out of pure beatdown, so I kept the deck red/green.

This deck was capable of some explosive draws, when they involved some combination of Jackal Pup, Bonesplitter, Mishra's Factory and Zo-Zu the Punisher. In most games, though, I'd deal some points of damage in the early game, then a few more with the midgame specialists Crusher Zendikon and Call of the Herd, and finally finish the opponent off with burn.

The first game, in fact, started like this: turn 1 Jackal Pup, turn 2 Bonesplitter, equip and swing for 4 damage, turn 3 play Vinelasher Kudzu, Mountain Valley and swing for 4 damage again, turn 4 play another land, crack the Valley, swing for 8 damage with the 4/2 Pup and 4/4 Kudzu. It had been a while since I last drafted beatdown, and I'd forgetten how much I like to play it.

WU Aggro-Control

8 Island
4 Plains
Urza's Factory
Emeria, the Sky Ruin
Sejiri Refuge
Faerie Conclave
Stalking Stones

Drifter il-Dal
Savannah Lions
Ghost-Lit Redeemer
Steel Overseer
Azorius Guildmage
Spiketail Hatchling
Looter il-Kor
Wind Drake
Aven Mindcensor
Galepowder Mage
Emeria Angel
Golem Artisan

Force Spike
Vulshok Gauntlets
Vulshok Battlegear
Crystal Ball
Paralyzing Grasp
Oblivion Ring
Soul Foundry
Control Magic
Tezzeret the Seeker
Mind Spring

I'd say this deck is mostly aggro-control due to those evaders that took most games, like Drifter il-Dal, Faerie Conclave and Spiketail Hatchling, combined with several tempo control elements, e.g. Force Spike, Sleep, Absorb and Repeal. The deck's late game, though, was quite good when it could get a Steel Overseer, Azorius Guildmage or Soul Foundry to stick. This kind of deck is hard to play since it offers so many options, but is also one that can get out of all sorts of situations due to its versatility and adaptability.

Too bad Tezzeret the Seeker was drawn very rarely - only when the game was already won. This was the right deck for it. Also, Dovescape was played for the first time and created weird situations, but it didn't seem to help its deck as much as make the game dynamics very weird.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Good Sets For the Cube (part 3)

The third and last part of an evaluation of all magic sets from the cube builder perspective.

Champions of Kamigawa, Betrayers of Kamigawa, Saviors of Kamigawa

If one counted only the commons and uncommons in these sets, they might have been the worst block for cubes, due to the very linear mechanics splice onto arcane, spirits matter and cards in hand matter. The rare legendary creatures, enchantments and lands, however, are typically modular and very welcome - see Meloku, the Dragon Spirits, the Myojins, Kiku, Masako, Kira, the flip creatures, Isamaru and others. Betrayers brings ninjutsu, Jitte and a few more rare legends. Saviors is a bit worse, feature a few more flip creatures, some good channel creatures and a lot of linear cards with the hand matters theme.

Ravnica: City of Guilds, Guildpact, Dissension

This block continues to improve the creature power level - which can be seen in Watchwolf, Vinelasher Kudzu, Dark Confidant and others -, and despite being a multicolor themed block, few cards care about which colors you play, being the most modular block since the terribly weak Masques. There are a lot of good mana fixers and multicolor enablers here, like the bounce lands and the signets, awesome multicolored and hybrid cards, and interesting mechanics - dredge, convoke, transmute and graft. The shocklands might be the best duals in history, too. The whole block is worth checking.

Time Spiral, Planar Chaos, Future Sight

Time Spiral block is my favorite one for cubes. Most card in these sets are highly modular. In Time Spiral, apart from slivers and a few things with suspend matters, the nostalgia theme brought a lot of legends that do unique things in one single set, such as Ith, Jaya Ballard amd Kaervek. The new shadow creatures coming back are nice as well. Do not forget to check the timeshifted cards, that brought several old favorites such as Call of the Herd, Gemstone Mine, Psionic Blast and Mirari, just to name a few. Planar Chaos keeps up the quality, in a much different way: the color shifted cards, eg. Harmonize, Mana Tithe and Damnation, the Magi that incarnate old artifacts, and alternative legends like Akroma, Angel of Fury and Mirri the Cursed. Future Sight is a great ending, bringing a lot of cards that do unique things, some mechanics that did not appear in any other set still and might never appear, and all sorts of interesting cards. Examples are Dryar Arbor, Ghostfire, the enchantment Magi and the Pacts.

Lorwyn, Morningtide

While is dislike the linearity of the commons and uncommons in these two sets, which go too deep into the tribal theme, the rares and mythics are very interesting: the Elemental Incarnations, the Hideaway lands, the Commands, the Planeswalkers, some legends (Brigid and Doran), Bitterblossom, Taurean Mauler, Reveillark and Thoughtseize. The evoke Elementals and Oblivion Ring are good commons, but the rest of the cards in lower rarities just don't make the cut, unless your cube supports tribal archetypes.

Shadowmoor, Eventide

These sets contribute a lot to the cube in the hybrid category, as expected. Cards as Spitemare, Firespout, Kitchen Flinks, Unmake, Boggart-Ram Gang, Oona and Kulrath Knight are good additions to most cubes. However, most hybrids only fit decks that are either monocolored or of the exact combination, as is the case with the Demigod and the Lieges. They will help shaping a cube that rewards monocolored decks, but is sort of awkward for limited. Many non-hybrid cards fall in this category as well, which is a pity given several of them are interesting and aggressively costed. The untap theme does not add much, and the -1/-1 theme is a bit too linear.

Shards of Alara, Conflux, Alara Reborn

Since this block revolves around 3-color combinations, most cards are automatically discarded because they require one of those 10 specific color combinations to work. 3-colored decks are uncommon in limited, and it's even more unlikely someone will be playing a specific combination. The 2-colored multicoloreds are bad comparing to those from Invasion and Ravnica blocks, so there is little to be found here. The Conflux domain theme is very impractical in limited, and even worse in high power cubes - getting all 5 basic lands is too awkward against good beatdown and control decks. What is decent in these sets are some unearth creatures, mana fixing (tri-lands, Noble Hierarch, Ancient Ziggurat, Rupture Spire, basic landcycling) and very occasional good cards such as Thornling, Banefire, Volcanic Fallout, Bloodbraid Elf and the planeswalkers. Alara is, though, a good block if your cube wants to force 3-color combinations. This might, however, not be a good idea.

Zendikar, Worldwake

Zendikar block is the most modular block since Time Spiral, apart from the allys part, which I greatly dislike. The non-basic lands introduced in this block are good additions (especially enemy fetchlands, manlands and, for the sake of budget, the 1-life taplands), as several landfall cards (Emeria Angel and Plated Geopede for instance), some traps and quests. Several other cards, both related (Scute Mob, Beastmaster Ascension, Burst Lightning, Stoneforge Mystic) and non-related (Seagate Oracle, Vampire Nighthawk and the new Planeswalkers) to the land/exploration theme also shine.

Rise of the Eldrazi

Rise is a good set to find cards for a cube. The Eldrazi cards are nice for the cube because they appeal greatly to Timmies and are playable in decks of any color. Some level up creatures, such as Lighthouse Chronologist and Transcedent Master, stand out as powerhouses as well. Many interesting cards, however, are unrelated, like Vengevine, Narcolepsy, Linvala, Flame Slash and Wall of Omens. Several rebound spell are good as well, for instance Consuming Vapors and Staggershock. Another set worth taking a good look, especially for slower cubes, or ones seeking to improve control.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Draft Report - Nov 20, 2010

This draft was small, just 4 people, so we decided to spice things up a bit and draft 4 boosters each instead of 3. The result were very powerful decks and weird matches that ended all 2-0, except for one. I don't quite get why, but apparently the power gap between them was bigger than normal.

- BR Control (3-0, 6-0)
- WU Aggro-Control (2-1, 4-3)
- WG Midrange (1-2, 3-4)
- UW/UB (0-3, 0-6)

BR Control

7 Swamp
7 Mountain
Strip Mine
City of Brass
Akoum Refuge

Murderous Redcap
Siege-Gang Commander

Everflowing Chalice
Flame Slash
Innocent Blood
Doom Blade
Chainer's Edict
Hymn to Tourach
Oblivion Stone
Acidic Soil
Arc Lightning
Hammer of Bogardan
Pulse of the Forge
Phyrexian Arena
Goblin Charbelcher
Quenchable Fire
Wrecking Ball
Diabolic Tutor
Slice and Dice

My BR Control was the most powerful deck I drafted in a long time. It had only two creatures (probably a record for the lowest in our drafts), rendering the opponents' creature removal nearly useless. It was very controlling, with discard (Blightning, Hymn to Tourach), burn, creature removal and a lone Oblivion Stone. It typically finished the game with two or three hits from Pulse of the Forge, Acidic Soil or Siege-Gang Commander, aided by Goblin Charbelcher and Hammer of Bogardan. Charbelcher, by the way, hit an unfair 10 damage at Kamila with 5 cards and a Mountain, despite being mostly a waste of mana in the other matches.

Discard was so important to avoid game breaking spells that, from all Diabolic Tutors I cast, all but one fetched Hymn to Tourach or Blightning.

WU Aggro-Control

6 Plains
8 Island
Thawing Glaciers
Arcane Sanctum
Coastal Tower

Goldmeadow Harrier
Wall of Glare
Youthful Knight
Kor Skyfisher
Wake Thrasher
Cloud Elemental
Hearthfire Goblin
Emeria Angel
Conundrum Sphinx
Sky Hussar
Ulamog's Crusher

Lightning Greaves
Scythe of the Wretched
Temporal Isolation
Puppet Strings
Grafted Wargear
Cage of Hands
Safe Passage
Pulse of the Fields

This deck wins mainly by deploying efficient fliers as clocks and then controlling the game from then on, being a classical aggro-control. Kor Skyfisher, Emeria Angel, Cloud Elemental and Conundrum Sphinx did well in that clock role, being sturdy and evasive creatures. The control package was small but efficient: Absorb, Compicate, Chastise, Pulse of the Fields, Puppet Strings and Safe Passage. The equipments were key to making every threat relevant too. Lightning Greaves, especially, annoyed the hell of my burn deck.

WG Midrange

9 Forest
7 Plains
Graypelt Refuge
Evolving Wilds
Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree

Essence Warden
Birds of Paradise
Quirion Elves
River Boa
Ohran Viper
Great Sable Stag
Wickerbough Elder
Loxodon Hierarch
Brigid, Hero of Kinsbaile
Indrik Stomphowler
Juniper Order Ranger
Archon of Justice
Krosan Tusker
Verdant Force

Contagion Clasp
Vulshok Battlegear
Oblivion Ring
Wing Shards
Serrated Arrows
Explosive Vegetation
Entangling Vines
Overwhelming Stampede
Strength of the Tajuru

This deck features some ramping to accelerate into powerful threats like Vigor and Verdant Force. Despite that, the medium creatures are probably the best part of the deck, from the card advantage machine Ohran Viper to the Naturalize-on-legs, Indrik Stomphowler. It is a good example of a midrange deck, even though it has a slight weakness to fliers - the removal has to be saved for them. Too bad Overwhelming Stampede did not show up, I feel it would have been awesome here.

There's also a counter theme in this list, using Contagion Clasp to boost cards like Juniper Order Ranger, Wickerbough Elder, Serrated Arrows and Vigor. This engine was only relevant in one game, but it helps the long-term effectiveness of the deck.


The deck's owner changed it from a UW flavorful deck to a UB build after two matches, so I think it's pointless to list it here. The deck has a cool infinite turns in Panoptic Mirror + Time Warp, some good control elements (counterspells and creature control), but lacked a main strategy - cards were scattered between aggro and control.

Two-Headed Giant

After all fixtures, we played two-headed giant twice, with 1st and 4th vs 2nd and 3rd. Zaca and I won both games by incremental card advantage, messing with reanimated and copied enemy Indrik Stomphowlers and Archon of Justice, while my deck controlled the opposing hands and threats. Acidic Soil was a huge burn spell, but most of the damage was delivered by simply attacking with medium creatures on a clear battlefield.

Good Sets For the Cube (part 2)

The second part of an evaluation of all magic sets from the cube builder perspective.

Tempest, Stronghold, Exodus

Tempest block continues the power level and card design evolution, and should definitely be checked. Shadow creatures are great for aggressive decks, and various other interesting cards appeared in this block. Tempest brought Aluren, Capsize, Corpse Dance, Intuition, Reanimate, just to name a few. Stronghold and Exodus also featured powerful and unique cards, like Carnophage, Ertai, Oath of Druids, Survival of the Fittest, Wall of Souls and Mox Diamond.

Urza's Saga, Urza's Legacy, Urza's Destiny

Urza block was a local maximum of card power. Even though the standard of that time was destroyed by some extremely powerful combo decks, the set's individual cards have great average quality, especially the blue ones. Some are quite unique such as Show and Tell, Greater Good and Smokestack, others are just staples such as Stroke of Genius, Powder Keg and Rancor.

Mercadian Masques, Nemesis, Prophecy

A huge drop in power level, with very few worthy cards that only appeared in this block. Cho-Manno, Revolutionary, Dust Bowl and Gush are some exceptions. The two smaller expansions are even worse, with practically only the Avatar cycle being decent.

Invasion, Planeshift, Apocalypse

Due to the multicolored theme, most cards, designed for a multicolored environment, probably won't work in a cube. The best ones are the good multicolored cards, such as Spiritmonger, Pernicious Deed, Mystic Snake, Fire/Ice, Void and Absorb. A few good green enablers for multicolor can be found, like Harrow, Quirion Elves and Fertile Ground.Other random good cards such as Flametongue Kavu and Fact of Fiction also exist. The rest is only good when playing 3 or more colors, or a specific combination of 2, so only multicolored focused cubes could profit from them.

Odyssey, Torment, Judgment

Odyssey is quite linear in its graveyard theme, so most cards simply won't fit a cube. Despite this, flashback is a non-linear mechanic, featuring great cards like Firebolt, Chainer's Edict and Moment's Peace. There are also good discard enablers to support reanimation and graveyard themes, such as Wild Mongrel and Compulsion. Finally, some random gems stand out, including Grim Lavamancer, Phantom Nishoba, Phantom Centaur and Faceless Butcher.

Onslaught, Legends, Scourge

The linear tribal theme makes these expansions not very remarkable for non-tribal cubes, but they contain some nice cards like the 3CCC legends (Visara, Arcanis, etc.), Ravenous Baloth, Siege-Gang Commander and Akroma. The overall creature power level starts improving in this block, as the mentioned cards show. If the cube will contain a good amount of morph, most good options here as well, such as Exalted Angel, Hystrodon and Bane of the Living.

Mirrodin, Darksteel, Fifth Dawn

Mirrodin is plentiful in good cards for the cube. Firstly, the high artifact count means there are several decent cards in a category that tends to be weak in cubes. Another factor is that equipments first appeared here, so there are plenty. Too bad the artifacts matter and affinity themes take up a good share of the cards in this set. Darksteel is even better than Mirrodin, featuring more modularity and lots of cool cards, such as Fangren Fistborn, Darksteel Colossus, the Pulses and Aether Vial. Fifth Dawn pushes too far into the prismatic theme, which won't fit most cubes - only those that support domain. There are, though, a few cards - mostly artifacts - that stand out, such as Eternal Witness, Wayfarer's Bauble, Engineered Explosives, Vedalken Shackles and Grafted Wargear.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Good Sets For the Cube (part 1)

What each set offers for a cube varies greatly. When searching for old cards to add to your cube, this post may help you by directing your search to the right sets. Or it may simply help you prioritize which spoilers you will look at first. This post is too large, so I'm splitting it in 3 parts.

Alpha, Beta, Unlimited, Revised

Considering only cards from these editions NOT appearing in fourth edition, we have here very unbalanced cards like the power nine (Moxes, Black Lotus, Time Walk, Time Twister and Ancestral Recall) and the dual lands (Taiga et al). That is, if your wallet can afford them. If, like mine, it can't, just skip these.

Fourth Edition, Fifth Edition, Sixth Edition

Even though the overall power level of these sets is low, several basic cards were introduced here, like Wrath of God, Pacifism, Armageddon, Lightning Bolt, Fireball, Earthquake, Giant Growth, Counterspell, Dark Ritual, Birds of Paradise, Howling Mine, Hypnotic Specter, etc. Others did not have such a long life and are not as known to new players, but are interesting and powerful, like Animate Dead, Ashes to Ashes, Balance, Desert Twister, Greed, Mana Flare, Mind Twist, Nevinyrral's Disk, Pestilence, Swords to Plowshares, Unstable Mutation. Worth taking a look to refresh your memory if you're an old school player, or to get to know how Magic was once, if you're new.

Seventh Edition, Eighth Edition, Ninth Edition, Tenth Edition

In these editions, the core set is designed to contain simple and general purpose reprints, so fewer interesting cards appear. These set are good to find roleplayers (cards that fill specific roles) and silver bullets (answers to specific decks/cards), and great for cubes that value simple cards. If you paid attention to the other sets, there will be no brand new cards here, but they are decent collections of playables, and a second chance to catch good cards.

Magic 2010, Magic 2011

Magic 2010 is similar to Seventh-Tenth Editions since most cards are reprints. However, the complexity level is higher and, for the first time since Alpha, new cards appear in a core set. Magic 2011 takes this even further, with less reprints and more brand new cards. The fact that core sets have no central theme makes most cards modular, so these two are great sets to find cube candidates. Some suggestions are: Safe Passage, Conundrum Sphinx, Acidic Slime, Baneslayer Angel, Doom Blade, Great Sable Stag, Master of the Wild Hunt, Sleep, Aether Adept, Ajani's Pridemate, Brittle Effigy, Crystal Ball, Fauna Shaman and the Titans.


An 85 card set in which every single colored card contains the word "artifact", meaning most cards are situational or linear. The ones that stand out were reprinted in some future core set (4th edition notably), except Mishra's Workshop.

Arabian Nights

A 78 card set which contains a few gems like Juzam Djinn, Library of Alexandria and Bazaar of Bhagdad. However, these cards will set you back quite a bit.


This one is much bigger: a 310 card set with plenty of underwhelming golden Legends and horrible cards. There is, however, a handful of interesting cards, like the World Enchantments.

The Dark

Another small set (119 cards) in which all decent cards are also in 4th edition. The only exception is Maze of Ith.

Fallen Empires

Yet another small set (102 cards) with a few interesting exclusive cards, such as Hymn to Tourach and High Tide.


Among the 115 cards of Homelands, only Roots, Serrated Arrows, Wall of Kelp and Giant Oyster may offer... anything at all.

Ice Age, Alliances, Coldsnap

Ice Age has an incredibly low power level, despite being a large set. Pretty much anything worth mentioning has been reprinted in a later set. Alliances, despite being a smaller set, offers more content, such as Force of Will, the "free" cards such as Contagion and non-basic lands (Lake of the Dead, Soldevi Excavations, Thawing Glaciers, Kjeldoran Outpost). This one is worth taking a look. Coldsnap, being a much later set, is superior in power level, but with the awkward linear snow theme, it contains only a few splashy and good cards, such as Ohran Viper and Counterbalance.

Mirage, Visions, Weatherlight

Mirage in a step up from Ice Age in terms of power and card design. The power level is still low though. Some flanking creatures might be helpful, as a couple of utility scattered cards, eg. Dissipate, Grinning Totem, Dream Cache and Hammer of Bogardan. Visions follows that trend, but with superior card quality (see River Boa, Impulse, Suk'Ata Lancer, Fireblast). Weatherlight is similar to Visions, featuring Gemstone Mine, Mind Stone, Rogue Elephant and Ophidian.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New Card Batch 2

I got lots of single cards and some sealed product in my birthday, and it was enough to do a good update to my cube. Also, a handful of old favorites is back.


Steel Overseer
Contagion Clasp - Introducing proliferate, hopefully the first of many.
Razormane Masticore
Fallen Askari
Cemetery Reaper
Augury Owl - Back by request.
Tezzeret the Seeker
Scythe Tiger - Buffing green aggro.
Garruk's Companion
Bestial Menace
Mishra's Factory - Essential.
City of Brass - Essential [2].
Strip Mine - Essential [3].
Crusher Zendikon - Back after a holiday. I missed a 4/2 trampler for 3 in red.
Ricochet Trap
Chandra's Outrage
Story Circle
Elspeth, Knight-Errant - I hope I don't regret this.


Energy Chamber for Clay Idol
Trip Noose for Fellwar Stone - Another Icy Manipulator for a constant 15th pick.
Orochi Hatchery for Mana Cylix - A game finisher for another constant 15th pick.
Golem Artisan for Neurok Hoversail
Runed Servitor for Tanglebloom
Triskelion for Worldslayer
Curiosity for Stifle - People were scared Stifle would be useless in their decks, so it rarely saw play.
Time Warp for Wind Dancer
Vigor for Panglacial Wurm - While the Wurm is unique in its "play from the library" clause, it had to cost less for that to be relevant.
Plow Under for Wild Leotau
Howl of the Night Pack for Jolrael, Empress of Beasts - I'm a bit skeptical about the effectiveness of a card that calls for monocolored in limited.
Verdant Force for Phantom Wurm
Troll Ascetic for Phantom Tiger
Decimate for Rhox Brute - Situational, yes, but only trying it will tell how often the situation comes up.
Kirtar's Wrath for Catastrophe - Armageddon is not fun, tokens are.
Burrenton Bombardier for Droning Bureaucrats
Kor Skyfisher for Kataki, War's Wage
Swell of Courage for Mighty Leap - We need effective combat tricks, so I'm taking out one that saw little love and trying one that may decide games.
Swords to Plowshares for Second Thoughts - This one is sad because I had to take out removal, but Second Thoughts might come back in the future.
Goldenmeadow Harrier for Suntail Hawk
Stormfront Riders for Unquestioned Authority - Authority is nice, but Riders is so awesome. Unblockability is too strong in my cube, I feel.


This week we tried a different way of drafting, which I'm calling anti-draft due to the lack of a better name. We start by giving each player three boosters as usual, and in each of them we do 15 rounds of passing. Passing consists of picking one of the cards in your open booster and passing it, then receiving the one passed to you by your neighbor from the other side.

The rationale behind anti-draft is that it avoids the frustration of passing a lot of great cards while still creating some natural color balance, and improving the overall deck quality relatively to sealed. We were five people, and two put together decks they were happy with, but the other three had trouble building their pools and decks..

Apparently, there are three main issues with this way of drafting:

1. Multicolored cards of combinations that no one was using were passed very frequently, to the point of almost locking the rounds when they approached the end, as no one wanted to pass a good card of a color someone was playing.

2. The table order affected too deeply the cards available - no one could go to a color that their "back" neighbor was playing, as no cards of that color were passed at all. Therefore, if your neighbor was drafting two colors, you were pretty much forced into the other three.

3. Nearly no bombs were passed, restricting each player to the ones he opened.

The final standings were:

- WG Control (4-0, 8-3)
- RG Beatdown (3-1, 6-2)
- UB Aggro-control (2-2, 5-5)
- WUG Control (1-3, 4-7)
- RB Control (0-4, 2-8)

Which was probably the first time we had a tournament with "transitive victories", that is, for any A, B and C, if (A won B) and (B won C), then (A won C), suggesting a higher power disparity between decks. The two that did better are detailed below:

WG Control

8 Forest
8 Plains
Jungle Shrine

Steel Wall
Ajani's Pridemate
Hand of Honor
Garruk's Companion
Troll Ascetic
Phantom Centaur
Stormfront Riders
Krosan Tusker
Phantom Nishoba

Accorder's Shield
Crystal Ball
Cage of Hands
Wing Shards
Squirrel Nest
Phyrexian Processor
Elspeth, Knight-Errant
Stunted Growth
Kirtar's Wrath
Orochi Hatchery

This deck controls the early game with white removal (Pacifism, Wing Shards) and good blockers (Phantom Centaur, Steel Wall), then sets up some inevitability engine such as Elspeth, Knight-Errant, Orochi Hatchery and Phyrexian Processor. Some nice internal sinergies include equipping Phantom Centaur and Phantom Nishoba making them immortal, or resetting them with Stormfront Riders.

How great Elspeth was actually worries me. The only planeswalker I had was Chandra Ablaze, which, despite being maybe the worst planeswalker printed, was an OK card. I just added Elspeth and Tezzeret the Seeker, and while I suppose Tezzeret is too situational to be dominant, Elspeth is a powerhouse. I don't want to do the first ban for power reasons, but the lack of answers for planeswalkers makes me worry they will kill the control archetype in the cube entirely.

Modern control decks require extremely general removal like Volition Reins, Maelstrom Pulse and Oblivion Ring. While I could improve on that category of removal, it's not numerous enough in the history of Magic to balance a singleton cube.

RG Beatdown

7 Mountain
5 Forest
City of Brass
Barbarian Ring
Rupture Spire
Kazandu Refuge
Treetop Village

Tin Street Hooligan
Quirion Elves
Boggart Ram-Gang
Ghost-Lit Raider
Jaya Ballard, Task Mage
Coal Stoker
Bloodbraid Elf
Flame Elemental
Indrik Stomphowler
Hoarding Dragon

Burst Lightning
Giant Growth
Vulshok Gauntlets
Chimeric Idol
Elephant Guide
Boar Umbra
Crusher Zendikon
Entangling Vines
Quenchable Fire

This deck is a beatdown that, even without strong turns 1 and 2, is capable of growing fast on turns 3-5 and dealing lots of damage suddenly with powerful burn (Browbeat, Staggershock, Quenchable Fire and Earthquake), equipment (Vulshok Gauntlets) and auras (Boar Umbra, Elephant Guide and Rancor). The mana base is dangerous with 37% of lands, and the suicidal City of Brass and Barbarian Ring, but that extra damage did not matter much when the opponent was the one under pressure.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Draft Report - Nov 6, 2010

7 people came over for my birthday draft. We missed some matches, but by the end of the night the standings were:

- UB Aggro (4-0, 8-4)
- Bw Control (4-2, 10-6)
- WRG Midrange (4-2, 10-7)
- UG Midrange(3-1, 7-5)
- WUG Midrange (1-3, 4-6)
- UR Aggro (1-5, 5-11)
- WU Control (0-4, 3-8)

Again there was balance, given that 4 out of 7 people were serious contenders for 1st place. Green seemed to pull people towards midrange, so maybe I should improve its early early drops to strengthen aggro and its defense to help control. Also, we used 16-card boosters instead of 15, with one nonbasic extra land in each. The rationale behind this change is that nonbasic lands help multicolored decks and reduce mana screw, some aspects in which I'm trying to improve my cube.

Bw Control

10 Swamp
5 Plains
Grand Coliseum
Thawing Glaciers

Dauthi Horror
Nezumi Cutthroat
Kitsune Blademaster
Hypnotic Specter
Murderous Redcap
Extractor Demon
Ascendant Evincar
Oona, Queen of the Fae

Innocent Blood
Last Gasp
Night's Whisper
Doom Blade
Hymn to Tourach
Sword of Light and Shadow
Cage of Hands
Oblivion Ring
Phyrexian Arena
Icy Manipulator
Faith's Fetters
Diabolic Tutor

I started drafting a monoblack control deck, but I realized any anti-black creature would ruin my day by itself, and since I was lacking removal anyway, I added a bit of white. The final deck had great disruption capabilities in discard and versatile removal, but lacked efficient creatures. Dauthi Horror and Nezumi Cutthroat were not at their best here, I'd rather have defensive guys in those slots, but they were my only 2-drops. Oona, Queen of the Fae and Sword of Light and Shadow, however, stole some games that seemed unwinnable, like one in which I had a starting hand comprised of 5 lands and Duress, and hit nothing with the Duress. I was being beaten by a Great Sable Stag when I found a Diabolic Tutor which fetched me Oona, stalling the rest of my opponent's offense long enough to mill him, who had overwhelming card advantage.

UG Midrange

9 Island
8 Forest
Treetop Village

Birds of Paradise
Great Sable Stag
Wall of Blossoms
Ohran Viper
Lorescale Coatl
Boggart Ram-Gang
Wickerbough Elder
Phantom Centaur
Meloku the Clouded Mirror
Spectral Force
Draining Whelk
Phantom Wurm

Ancestral Vision
Scythe of the Wretched
Memory Lapse
Remove Soul
Puppet Strings
Frantic Search
Paralyzing Grasp
Mystic Melting
Control Magic
Stunted Growth

Apparently UG is the combination of brute card advantage. This deck has the capacity to overwhelm the opponent by casting a neverending stream of threats. The four counterspells (Remove Soul, Memory Lapse, Condescend and Draining Whelk) buy time and protect board position, and the filtering, drawing and scrying capabilities make sure the deck finds answers when needed. Control Magic, Ancestral Vision and Ohran Viper are powerful card advantage engines, glueing together a great deck.

UB Aggro

5 Swamp
5 Island
Dimir Aqueduct
Faerie Conclave
Jwar Isle Refuge
Crumbling Necropolis
Rupture Spire
Soldevi Excavations
Gemstone Caverns

Flying Men
Lurking Informant
Merfolk Looter
Cabal Interrogator
Dusk Urchins
Phyrexian Rager
Dauthi Marauder
Undead Gladiator
Plague Sliver
Fallen Angel

Dark Ritual
Inquisition of Kozilek
Mana Leak
Chainer's Edict
Compulsive Research
Rend Flesh
Psionic Blast
Panoptic Mirror
Living Death

The first thing that stands out here is the mana base: 10 basic and 7 nonbasic lands. This helped the deck's mana base immensely, while also providing utility effects via Faerie Conclave and Soldevi Excavations. The creature suite is great, mixing aggressive staples like Fallen Angel and Dauthi Marauder with hand and library manipulators, like Cabal Interrogator and Merfolk Looter. Actually, I believe this deck to be aggro, but it stands on the fine line between aggro and aggro-control because of its disruption elements: Brainbite, Mana Leak, Repeal and Inquisition of Kozilek.