Cube Draft Walkthrough: Grixis Control

Get your weekly Cube fix as Usman drafts the Magic Online Cube pre-Theros right after the Dragon’s Maze update.

In this video article, I draft the Magic Online Cube pre-Theros right after the Dragon’s Maze update.


As I mentioned during the draft, I tend to try to go for greedy control decks when drafting the Magic Online Cube. This draft was no exception, as it was mainly a Dimir deck with a few splashes. I feel that Ral Zarek came around a lot later than expected, and it was a very welcome addition to the deck.

Due to problems I’d been having with the Magic Online client not cooperating with me, I decided to go back to the style of commenting over the video in the replays.

Round 1

As mentioned in the video footage, there used to be a bug that prevented people from viewing replays if someone conceded, and although the bug existed for years, it seems to have been fixed (note that this was fixed before the recent fiasco of the MOCS and PTQ crashing, as noted in Brian Kibler recent article.)

Game 1

In this game, this deck performed by being able to grind out value in the later stages of the game, although some of it was fortunate circumstance that I did not have many for targets for his Acidic Slime and Mold Shambler. The opponent was in a situation where his threats needed to be able to race my Shriekmaw, and as these slugfests can come down to who can get the most value from two-for-ones, I was able to mitigate some of that potential value.

Game 2

One of the unfortunate things with the fixing of the concede replay bug is that mulligans tend to go through very quickly, so I’ll briefly talk about it here:


(Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker; Force of Will; Time Spiral; Mountain; Swamp; Swamp; Swamp)

This hand was a pretty easy mulligan, as I had no way to cast any of the spells in my hand and I’d need to draw two Islands to play anything in my hand. Even then my first play being a hard-cast Force of Will (unless I pitched Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker) followed up by a Time Spiral didn’t look like a good keep and as such was easy to throw back.

Although my opponent didn’t have a very aggressive deck, he was in the aggressor role in this game. This game can help to show how being able to have a clock backed by disruption can be a very good foil to a slow control deck since the Plow Under made it difficult for me to win the game after.

Game 3

As I mentioned in the footage, in retrospect I was very confused at why I didn’t play the Golgari Rot Farm and why I didn’t decide to go for the Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker plan since I could threaten to Stone Rain my opponent’s lands or steal whatever mattered as most of my opponent’s threats were creatures. Ral Zarek eventually did get there thanks to a 5/5 flier, but all in all it was a lapse in judgment to decide to go for the Time Spiral early.

Round 2


An arguably loose keep ended in disaster, as I had to pick a fight with my own Ancestral Vision due to my own Willbender and got buried in card advantage. Like in the last match, my opponent had a lot of two-for-ones, but he was able to utilize them while my development was stifled, so I died in short order.

Game 2

In this game, I was able to get a good amount of value out of Ral Zarek as a way to kill annoying things like Sower of Temptation, and it was able to act as a mana accelerant. Had the opponent not Dissipated the Venser on turn 4, I likely would have bounced a land as a way to force something through if I topdecked something good (which as it turns out was a Mountain.) 

Game 3

As was mentioned in the replay, Falkenrath Aristocrat was brought in to combat my opponent’s theft effects and to stymie my opponent’s methods of card advantage while providing a worthwhile clock (and helping me to cash in some creatures that may have lost value in the later stages of the game, like a Mesmeric Fiend that whiffed or a Grim Lavamancer that ran out of fuel). I could have also brought in Goblin Ruinblaster since the opponent had a lot of nonbasics, at least in game 1. The dearth of them in game 2 may have prevented me from bringing Goblin Ruinblaster, in and if that was the case, that was a mistake.

Round 3

Game 1

The deck did its thing despite some major blunders, like not getting Kokusho with my Demonic Tutor and not getting Ral Zarek with my tutor post Time Spiral. I have a feeling that my opponent may have forgotten about the Lotus Bloom, but I think that the Upheaval may have been a defensive one to not lose the game.

After that game I decided to bring in Goblin Ruinblaster since the opponent had a very high concentration of nonbasic lands and even though red was a splash it wouldn’t be terribly difficult to hit 2RR.

Game 2

Like in match 1, here is a screenshot of the hand that I mulliganed from this game:


(Swamp, Island, Island, Blood Crypt, Animate Dead, Force of Will, Goblin Ruinblaster)

This hand wasn’t as easy a mulligan as the hand in match 1, but I felt happy doing so since my hand didn’t have much action. I didn’t really have anything to reanimate, and Goblin Ruinblaster wasn’t pulling me in the direction of keeping the hand.

I thought that this game would be about controlling tight resources of mana, but it ended up being a lot more creature-based. I didn’t have the luxury of being as slow as I was in game 1 and died due to Squirrels (if only I took the Myr Battlesphere over Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker!).

Game 3

Unfortunately, my opponent got hit hard by the mana screw, and a hastily reanimated Kokusho held the fort as Nicol Bolas threatened ultimate while I had Force of Will backup; if even if the opponent had topdecked a land for Keiga, it would have just been Force of Willed anyway.

I felt that the deck performed pretty well, although I would have liked some more countermagic, even soft counterspells like Remand or Mana Leak. I hope that you enjoyed this draft and if anything have more respect for Ral Zarek in Cube.

May all of your opening packs contain Sol Rings!

@UsmanTheRad on Twitter
My blog featuring my updated Pauper and Regular Cube lists: I’d Rather Be Cubing
Cube podcast that Anthony Avitollo and I co-host: The Third Power