Last night I decided to try out the Holiday Cube on MTGO. I’d heard it has very powerful cards and you could build all sorts of strange combo decks with it. Well, since I don’t really play combo and I have huge holes in my card knowledge, I didn’t expect much… except I won the pod. Way to go me.
Actually, I probably only won because my opponents had even less understanding of the cube than myself. At least I read this article by Conley Woods. Based on that I decided I’d force a monored aggro deck. At least I know how to play that (although I’m not saying that’s easy, just that I have plenty of experience with those).
Then my plans were immediately wrecked… Here are all my picks with comments (on most):
For those who don’t know what a cube is, its basically a set of cards compiled with some expertise. Then boosters are made from those cards and drafted. There are lots of different kinds of cubes (I have a pauper one with all commons), but this one is a powered cube, meaning its a collection of the best cards available. Of course, this is both subjective and depended on the environment. Terror is a great card, but probably not in Mirrodin which was the last block it was seen in. Anyway, the cube does have P9 and so forth, so it is very powerful.
Note that the picks are marked with a red border. Its pretty thin, so you’ll have to look for it, but its there.
Okay, so this pack had plenty of good picks for my chosen strategy, but it also had the most powerful card ever printed. Which way would you go? I went with Jace. That can’t be a bad bet. Although, I was fairly certain blue was going to be pretty contested color, I thought I’d have a pretty good start with the Jace. It can (and did) win games on its own (well, with blockers). Actually, Jace won all games I drew him. Opponents got it off the board ones, but with Oblivion Ring for which I was ready. More on that later.
Smaller Jace, but still an excellent choice. Gave me gas and kept me in the game many times.
I was tempted to go with the Revelation, just to cast it once in my life, but Sphinx is just so good. Also, at this point I wanted to take all the good blue out, so that I’d discourage people on my left to blue. Vapors was another possible choice for me, because if I tried to rely on the two Jaces, I’d have to protect them and getting rid of creatures two-for-one is a good start.
Mystic Snake ended up in my deck, but I didn’t cast him once. Going green wasn’t a good idea in general, but I was misled by certain cards. Actually, I ended up not resolving one green card in the tournament, although I had several in the deck. In the last few games I sided them out completely, which was actually a very good idea.
… and here we go with a third color. Also, not making things easy for myself, it has double colored in the mana cost. Of course. Still, Gideon did some work, winning at least one game where I was able to wrath the board twice in a few turns and finish my opponent off.
Tarmo was what seduced me into playing green, which was a mistake. I would have been better off with Old Man or maybe Meletis. Linvala seemed like a fine choice, but would have been useless in the matches I played. Well, except for being a flying 3/4 for four.
I almost took Thalia without thinking, but gladly I did give it a second look and took a key card. Worked great with my planeswalkers and kept me alive a bunch of times. Opponents did have a tendency to overcommit, which I often encouraged by not playing a second white source until right before Wrathing.
Frank Karsten says he likes to value lands very highly. At this moment, when I was going to play three colors with two of them having very heavy double colored requirements, that felt very right. Turnabout would have been a great choice as well, especially in the second match where my opponent played Winter Orb, but since I had my superfriends, that Winter Orb ended up pretty much losing to his own orb.
A great card for some decks, if you can cast it early. In this deck, not so much. Ended up in the sideboard and stayed there. Funnily enough, if I had gone with my initial plan of monored, this pack would have certainly given me nice cards. I could’ve first picked the Goblin Guide and I would have had great choices here. Apparently no-one was drafting red.
Again, could have had great monored cards, but I took the hound just in case I needed to board something cheap in against aggro.
I did consider playing the Whipcorder, but in the decided against it. Would have been a good defensive card, but I also noticed in the games that the mana requirement was pretty bad for me.
Knowing there were plenty of swords going around, as well as Bonesplitter I took this as a sideboard card… and promptly forgot to board it in.
Basically a cheaper version of Whipcorder from two picks ago, but I ended up putting this in my deck. Wasn’t much use for it though, because I never did have the mana needed.
Would have been great in a more aggressive deck, but not in this one.
Too bad I couldn’t play her. Superfriends weren’t as super without her.
Plenty of interesting cards for a more aggressive deck, but since I was going for control I took Mana Drain… and a good choice it was. Besides being able to counter keycards, it let me cast many things earlier than I should have been able. Not that I could fully exploit it because of my debilitating color requirements, but a couple of colorless more on turn three is very, very good value.
Going with our Superfriends theme… although Elspeth was the last one to heed the call. Again, a more aggressive white build would have had a field day here.
Well, this was part of my folly of trying to go for Bant, whereas I should’ve picked Sower of Temptation, or maybe Unexpectedly Absent, or maybe even Disenchant, which would have probably made mainboard.
Probably should’ve taken Flooded Strand, but went with Hallowed Fountain. Probably because I didn’t read all the way through the cards. This would have been a better choice just because Hallowed Fountain probably had better chances of wheeling.
I was hoping to wheel Mirran Crusader. Riftwing Cloudskate would have been an excellent choice as well. However, at this point I was sort of desperate for fixing and felt like I had to take what I could.
I thought about hatedrafting the Revoker, as it had the potential to wreck my strategy, but fixing won again. I did end up seeing the Revoker used against me once, but that player named some creature, probably Fleecemane Lion to disable the monstrosity, if I remember correctly.
In hindsight, I should have probably taken the Efreet, which I loved back in mid 90s, but I though the Treetop Village would combo well with my Wrath of God.
Relic-Warder was a very good choice, because there’s plenty of artifacts and enchantments to hide. It was nice to take out an Oblivion Ring that had exiled my Mind Sculptor.
Knowing there was an Emrakul in the draft hatedrafting Eureka seemed like the right move, but I could also use Force Spike, so took that. I don’t remember using it once, though. There just weren’t openings. I could have probably crafted my game better around it, but this is the downside of not fully understanding these older cards.
Elder for mostly hating on enchantments and artifacts. Didn’t play it though, although maybe I should have at some points in the tournament.
Disenchant would have probably been better, but after just picking the Elder, I thought I’d go for muscle. Also, Sphinx is very good with Mind Sculptor, since I can know when to not fateseal myself and when to brainstorm, if needed.
If I had had any good enchantments or artifacts, Tutor would have been the choice, but since I didn’t, I went with the Wayfarer as a potential fixer. I never got to tutor with him, but since he can get any land, not just a basic land, my opponents were very afraid of him and actually manascrewed themselves just to not let me use him, which was actually a great use for him, since I didn’t have like Strip Mines or Academy Ruins in my deck.
Double green meant I wouldn’t ever play this, but playing either of the other cards was even less probable. Although, if at this point I’d have known about the Winter Orb, I might just have taken the Boilerworks to combat that.
Well, I did have some one-drops… but ended up not using him.
I thought this would be a great card, but wasn’t. It would have been in some other deck. This was the only green card I actually managed to cast in the tournament, but I had forgotten about the Glen Elendra Archmage my opponent had on the battlefield, which just prompty countered this. Then again, I was severely manascrewed and already low on life, so I was not expecting to win that game in any case.
Plenty of great choices, but I went for the fast mana. It often felt bad, because my mana was already very awkward and I had so much need for colored mana, but it ended up being good. Moxes aren’t considered some of the most powerful cards for nothing. Even here, where it was far from optimal, it worked very well. However, looking at the pack, the opportunity cost might have been too high. I did let Archmage, Planar Cleansing and Rout through my hands in the hopes that at least one of them wheels… and one did. Gladly.
At this point I should have dropped the green and taken the Shackles. Compulsive Research would have been pretty good too. I went with the Karakas, just because I had seen some nasty legendary creatures in the packs, like Emrakul in the first pack, Sheoldred just previously and Griselbrand in the same pack.
Catastrophe would have worked fine, but I ended up going with Brainstorm. It isn’t that good if you can’t reshuffle your deck, but it still works fine.
Not much hesitation here. Miss Baneslayer is just that great. Can win (and did) on its own.
Probably should have taken Stillmoon Cavalier first, but I ended up taking the Legionnaire because of my awkward mana, which the Cavalier would have made even worse, although in the end the Cavalier wheeled and I was glad to get it. Its actually a very strong card and gave more value to my mox.
Not much to choose from. I went with the Chronicler, which I’ve found useful in EDH, but not really here. Left it out of the mainboard, although I did side it in in the latter games, when I took out all green because my opponent had a Strip Mine.
The best removal spell ever. Hard to argue with that.
I didn’t have much to flashback, but I didn’t have much to tutor for with Trinket Mage either.
A great wheel. Was actually very instrumental at least once, when my opponent gathered a huge army to try to get rid of my Mind Sculptor through my defenses. He did wait too long anyhow, but when he finally did attack, I needed to wrath right after attackers had been announced, because I had a Consecrated Sphinx I wanted to utilise and he had a Strangleroot Geist, which would have attacked my Jace without any blockers otherwise. It was a key move which enabled me to ultimate Jace and win in a few rounds.
Not much to choose from, so I decided to take the paladin, mostly to board in against red aggro, but no-one was actually playing that, as far as I could see. Still, boarded this guy in when I took out green.
Continuing with my subtheme of knights… and there was nothing else in the pack.
This pick did have the role of being a diversion for Phyrexian Revoker, but not much more. He was actually in the sideboard and I put him in the main when I felt I needed more bodies. I just can’t remember why.
In hindsight I’m glad this wheeled. It was integral several times. The flexibility is great, but the protections were also very good plenty of times. Like when he kept jumping in front of Archangel of Thune a number of times, thus stopping her from gaining life and giving away the counters.
Nothing to see here.
Strange to see something this powerful this late.
All in all, I didn’t really like my deck, but that’s probably because I shouldn’t have put green in. It would have been much stronger with better mana and some of the cards I didn’t take because I went for the green. Of course, its hard to know this mid-draft, but I shouldn’t have been so keen to use the green cards I got.
Oddly, Tarmogoyf was pretty much useless. Not enough cards in graveyards, and when there were, they were all creatures. I guess I should have foreseen this.
The deck itself looked like this:
Again, probably should have put Paladin en-Vec, Aeon Chronicler and maybe Mirror Entity into my deck and dropped the green altogether. Although I didn’t have any cards that produced solely green, which means taking them out and putting something else in wouldn’t have eased my manaproblems at all.
I lost one game in all three matches, always to manascrews. I guess that doesn’t matter, because I did always win the other two games, but if the dice would have fallen just a bit differently, that wouldn’t have happened. On the other hand, I wouldn’t have gotten my Mind Sculptor either. (Not that I really “got” it, because it was a phantom draft, meaning I don’t get to keep the cards, but anyway.)