Ah holidays. It’s been a light week for Eternal results but here in America we’ve all been busy with holiday festivities. This is a time for community a time to gather with friends and loved ones around a table. This is a time to express thanks for our good fortune and for many to express disappointments. This is a time notorious for straining relationships and bringing out the worst in people – but also for fostering togetherness. I am of course referring to Cube Drafting.
Pack 1 pick 1:
My good friend Stefan tells me (immediately after the draft) that I overvalue Ajani Goldmane. To be fair it doesn’t scream first pick but nothing in this pack is particularly exciting. Guul Draz Assassin is a strong pick as well but Ajani is nice because it’s flexible a first-pick Ajani could put me in quite a few different archetypes – I’ve had success with U/W Control 5-Color Control W/B aggro and W/R aggro.
Pack 1 pick 2:
I was tempted to pick Koth here simply because I haven’t played with him yet and I wanted to see what he was capable of. I went with the “safe” pick of Balance which I’d later regret. The power level of Balance is quite high but I overlooked how specialized its role is. It’s really hard to cast a profitable Balance in an aggro deck so Balance here is cutting off almost as many options as the Koth would. That said there’s some great 5-color control cards in this pack that could table and Balance is an all-star there.
Pack 1 pick 3:
While it isn’t particularly sexy Chalice is a solid workhorse card. The most game-breaking cards in Cube tend to be four-drops or higher – Chalice is often as good as a Mox there and even better with the really high end stuff like X spells and large reanimator-style finishers like Akroma. Besides this there are no white cards in the pack and Balance plays nicely with artifact mana.
Pack 1 pick 4:
I’m forced to pick a new color here. Green looks the most open but I really haven’t liked the G/W decks I’ve seen put together and I don’t want to be pushed in that direction. U/W is great but those cards are kind of weak and blue gets heavily drafted here. The Banefire is kind of an awkward pick after shipping strong red cards in each pack. It’s the card I want in my deck the most though; it’s easy to splash and red isn’t the most popular here.
Pack 1 pick 5:
Pack 1 pick 6:
Normally I’d take Sacred Mesa or Rout here but I’m still not sure if I’m going to be aggressive or controlling and both of those cards have been underwhelming for me. I’ve seen other players get a lot of value out of Land Tax so I want to give it a try.
Pack 1 pick 7:
I love Avalanche Riders in an aggressive R/W deck though less so in 5-color. Picking this over something like Terminate or Razormane Masticore pushes me away from that Balance I opened earlier but leaves me open to take advantage of more aggressive likely-to-table cards in the next two packs.
Pack 1 pick 8:
Easy pick nice to see a red card this strong table.
Pack 1 pick 9:
This should very likely have been a Condemn. There’s only a small chance now I’ll be building a 5-color deck compared to a Condemn which is almost always runnable. This pack coming back crushes my unrealistic pipe dreams of that Koth tabling.
Pack 1 pick 10:
At this point I realized how much better my deck would feel with a Koth in it rather than a Balance. Having passed it I felt like an aggressive red deck was out of my reach. I should’ve realized though that a focused deck without Koth is still likely better than a meandering midrange-y Naya aggro deck.
Pack 1 pick 11:
Pack 1 pick 12:
See pick 10 above. I should definitely have just picked the Firecat here; Plow Under is a pipe dream in this list and probably not even as good as a Firecat anyway.
Pack 1 pick 13:
Pack 1 pick 14:
Pack 1 pick 15:
Nice! I’m a big fan of Jaya Ballard and after making some awkward early picks the fifteenth-pick Jaya makes me think that red is still a reasonable way to go even if someone else at the table is taking it.
Pack 2 pick 1:
This is more of me not being able to make up my mind. Monolith does what Everflowing Chalice does in a splashier more dramatic way. Grim Monolith is a great card that would be amazing with some of the cards I thought about taking but ultimately only looks good with my Siege-Gang. It’s a great card but Strip Mine is better for the direction Avalanche Riders took me.
Pack 2 pick 2:
X spells aren’t nearly as good in Cube as they are in regular Draft formats but they’re still very good. I wouldn’t mind at all getting some of those creatures in my deck but some will almost certainly table.
Pack 2 pick 3:
I love me some Figure of Destiny. It’s a one-drop and a late-game topdeck; this is everything I want from a card right now.
Pack 2 pick 4:
Hellkite Charger plays nice with the Grim Monolith I just grabbed but after getting the Figure I’ve finally decided to move my picks towards All-In-Red as I should have done much much earlier. The aggressive red deck absolutely needs one and two-drop creatures to function and Grim Lavamancer is a great one.
Pack 2 pick 5:
Nothing else makes sense here. I flirted with the idea of hate-drafting Bottle Gnomes but my deck doesn’t have enough playables yet to consider moves like that. Devastating Summons is a very swingy card; when you cast it it’s very likely to either lose you or win you the game. I don’t always have the guts to play those kinds of cards but that’s the nature of a red deck.
Pack 2 pick 6:
An interesting pick as Molten Rain Smash to Smithereens and Goblin Ruinblaster are all functionally very similar. While Smash doesn’t have a legal target as often as Rain it’s usually swingier when it does hit and it deals more damage for less mana. I’m a fan of Smash in most decks but in an All-In-Red deck like this it’s amazing.
Pack 2 pick 7:
Goblin Guide cements the new direction for the deck. The little guy has been my MVP more times than I care to mention. He only works in decks trying to win as fast as possible but he’s excellent in that role.
Pack 2 pick 8:
Since the last time I saw Ranger he’s gone from mediocre to strong with all these one-drops I have now. I’m happy to get him here even if my deck has been moving away from white cards.
Pack 2 pick 9:
Having a turn 1 play is so valuable in this deck.
Pack 2 pick 10:
Vortex is usually maindeck material in an aggressive red deck and can be one of the best sideboard options if it doesn’t make the cut.
Pack 2 pick 11:
If I had more burn Blastminer might be better here. As it stands I might want Hellkite as a finisher if my opponent stabilizes.
Pack 2 pick 12:
Pack 2 pick 13:
Pack 2 pick 14:
Pack 2 pick 15:
Pack 3 pick 1:
Black Vise is awesome turn 1 but my one-drops are much better than my two-drops right now and Ember Hauler is better after the first few turns. Blood Knight is an unexciting but serviceable card that’s just outclassed by Hauler here. Urza’s Rage wouldn’t be terrible to have but isn’t as good as any of the other options. Something nice from this pack should table.
Pack 3 pick 2:
Close pick here. Flametongue Kavu is great when it resolves but four mana is tricky. With the curve in this deck being so delightfully low Crusher’s filtering ability could be amazing for me. Crusher gets the nod on casting cost alone.
Pack 3 pick 3:
Emeria Angel is the best card I could potentially run but I think the time for white cards has passed. Geopede has a reasonable chance of tabling so I pick up the Zo-Zu.
Pack 3 pick 4:
Pack 3 pick 5:
This is the only deck Hellspark shines in. Honestly it might be time to retire the little guy from the cube.
Pack 3 pick 6:
A great card in this deck!
Pack 3 pick 7:
Pack 3 pick 8:
Pack 3 pick 9:
Things I’m thankful for this year: cards I want tabling!
Pack 3 pick 10:
It made it back around. Most other decks don’t want to touch the early drops like this but an aggressive red deck needs a critical mass of otherwise “meh” creatures.
Pack 3 pick 11:
Pack 3 pick 12:
A decent-to-strong sideboard card
Pack 3 pick 13:
Better than a Mountain with a Geopede and Lavamancer in my deck.
Pack 3 pick 14:
A possible though very unlikely sideboard option.
Pack 3 pick 15:
If my deck was only slightly different this would be an awesome fifteenth pick but I don’t quite think I can swing the white splash.
This draft converter created by
Figure of Destiny
Jaya Ballard Task Mage
Magus of the Scroll
Zo-Zu the Punisher
Order of the Ebon Hand
Uril the Miststalker
Ranger of Eos
It was pretty easy to build the deck once I decided to just go mono-red. Ajani and Cataclysm would be strong in my deck but the double white made them poor splashes. Ranger of Eos is a pretty fantastic card for this deck with the very high quality one-drops but it didn’t seem worth running white just for that. If I had a single mana fixer I would’ve been far quicker to run it. If I had a Plateau to pair with my Foothills I would’ve run him without question.
On a side note I usually tend to err on the side of “more lands” with my Cube decks most of the time running eighteen lands – but if there was ever an archetype to run sixteen or seventeen it’s this one and this list is particularly on the cheap side.
The deck would certainly be better if I had led with first-pick Chain Lightning second-pick Koth of the Hammer but I’m not entirely sure gambling on a red deck that early would be correct. Cube Draft differs from regular Draft by having a much higher density of playables. This means you’re more likely to be making cuts at the end of the draft than hunting for cards to run. This also means that signals are harder to read and you’re punished less for changing directions mid-draft. Of course the converse to this is that the cards you’re passing up when you “keep your options open” are that much stronger.
Round 1 – Kayleigh with G/W Aggro
We both mulligan and I keep a hand with no one-drop – not ideal but better than dropping to five. I curve out very smoothly with a turn 2 Geopede turn 3 Zo-Zu and a turn 4 Avalanche Riders. Unfortunately Kayleigh was well suited to stop that with a turn 2 Beastbreaker of Bala Ged turn 2 level counter and a terrifying turn 4 Paladin en-Vec. I decide to press the early advantage if I can as I won’t stand much of a chance on the defensive against that board. On my turn 5 I skip the upkeep on Avalanche Riders and play a Goblin Guide attacking with everything. Kayleigh kills off the Zo-Zu and Geopede taking minimal damage and I follow up going all in on a Stigma Lasher and a Devastating Summons for five – leaving me with no lands in play and no cards in hand. On Kayleigh’s turn she leveled the Beastbreaker to four making it Elemental-proof and cast an Eight-and-a-Half-Tails with no mana to use it. I drew a Mountain and played it.
If I attack with everything Kayleigh drops to four but I’ll lose most of my board. I’ll win on the next turn but if she draws even a single 1/1 blocker she’ll win. On the other hand if I just wait she’s far more likely to draw out of things before I do. So I crashed in and Kayleigh drew… Gaddock Teeg a blocker.
So of course I just drew my one out Dead / Gone and won anyway.
The next game plays out similarly with a less flashy end. Kayleigh plays a turn 2 Werebear turn 3 Paladin en-Vec but by the time she does I’ve played Grim Lavamancer Plated Geopede Jaya Ballard and a Goblin Guide. I crash my team into her superior blockers until she’s mopped them up at a reasonable twelve life but Jaya Ballard and an Incinerate deal twelve damage before she’s able to go on the offensive.
Round 2 – Ian with U/B Control
Goblin Guide comes down turn 1 and over the course of the game gives Ian a stunning six out of six lands. Unfortunately for Ian this means he also dealt twelve damage which along with a Blood Knight and Zo-Zu was more than enough to win.
Ian leads with Black Vise on the play which I’m able to quickly work out of. I get a turn 1 Figure of Destiny and level it up and play a Magus of the Scroll on turn 2. Ian plays a Metalworker on his turn and I spend my third turn burning it out.
I was later informed that the Metalworker would’ve killed me that turn. Left with no follow-up to a dead Metalworker Ian ran a desperation Timetwister which while turning Black Vise back on (which dropped me to ten all by itself) gave me more gas than it gave him. Ian had a Keiga the Tide Star which could’ve been trouble but I had drawn into my Dead / Gone.
Round 3 – Cole with U/x Grindstone
I keep a sketchy hand of two Mountains Devastating Summons Stigma Lasher Banefire Incinerate and Avalanche Riders. I get rather lucky and draw a Lavamancer on the play while Cole gets rather unlucky and falls short on early plays.
Quite the same as the first. Both of our hands are better this time; I lead with a Goblin Guide into Geopede and he has Smother and Remand to interact and plays out a Grindstone and Scroll Rack no doubt leading up to some horrifying turn. Luckily I’m able to get him to zero before this happens. A Devastating Summons for three is big this game letting me force through multiple threats in the same turn against a counter-heavy deck and win through his blockers.
Round 4 – Keith with G/R Tinker
Keith plays land Lotus on the draw and much to my delight I Smash to Smithereens it on my turn. Keith is not happy. I play creature after creature which he burns out with Chain Lightning Urza’s Rage and Firebolt – so this is the guy who has my Koth.
I think I have the best of him when we’re both low on cards and I slam down a Siege-Gang Commander. Keith however plays out a Defense of the Heart to force me to sacrifice some of my creatures. For some reason I can’t figure out simple math and don’t actually sacrifice my Goblins. Keith gets a Terastodon and Inferno Titan which will kill me in short order.
I’m rather excited to draw a Figure of Destiny which I have enough mana to pump over two turns. I can block Keith’s creatures in the meantime and come back for eight which will kill him! But he has a Fireblast which kills the Figure first.
Fireblast? Why didn’t I pick that?
In the next game Keith just plays way better cards than I can deal with. He has enough removal to slow me down until he can drop a Chandra Nalaar. He stabilizes at six. and I’m one Mountain away from casting a lethal Banefire I’m waiting on. That turn he casts Natural Order for Terastodon and cuts me off. I die quite shortly thereafter.
Round 5 – Andy with B/W Control
Andy starts off strong holding off my team with some 2/2s some removal and a Karakas for my Jaya Ballard. Ahead of me on life he plays out a Bitterblossom which starts pinging both of us. After playing out some mana I’m actually able to wrest some card advantage casting a Goblin Ruinblaster on his Orzhov Basilica and a Flametongue Kavu on a Tidehollow Sculler. At five mana I’m able to bring back a Hammer of Bogardan to hit an Emeria Angel that would have otherwise killed me. Just when Andy shrugged off my removal I ‘m able to Banefire for lethal
In the last game I’m just able to churn out threat after threat. I play a turn 1 Figure of Destiny which he follows up with a Nezumi Shortfang. I miss my third land drop but by attacking with Figure before using my mana he can’t profitably block with his 1/2 and I’m free to play a two-drop after combat. I follow up with a Stigma Lasher (which gets killed) an Ember Hauler and a Blood Knight. On turn 5 I’ve hit my fourth land for a Goblin Ruinblaster with kicker and he can’t dig out of it.
Round 6 – Stefan with Peppermint Schnapps
By this time my last opponent Stefan had passed out leaving me with the best overall record. Ahh the holidays.
Here’s hoping you have a Happy Cubesgiving as well!