Note: Thanks to everyone who commented on any of the articles this week. It’s been really interesting reading about people’s ideas and opinions. If anyone wants to discuss anything further, please feel free to E-Mail me at [email protected] Thank you all again.
I was in Minnesota this week for my cousin’s Bat Mitzvah. I was honored by being asked to perform the Hagbah, the holding of the Torah aloft to the congregation. As I was embracing that sacred text, I pondered on whether I was being weighed down by the legacy of tradition, or just the very heavy paper and wood used (paper). I also took time to reflect on the teachings of Maimonides, the great scholar who, among other things, created a sequence of levels of charity, or in Jew-speak: tzedakah.
For example, giving food to a person you do not know and who does not know you is higher than an act where the giver and receiver both know each other. In this order, the absolute best tzedakah one can give is to teach people to feed themselves. In that vein, I was going to instruct my internet friends, whom I do not know, in the ways of ultimate victory.
But as I sat down and the ceremony started to drag, I reflected on the words of another philosopher, Scott Adams. Specifically:
“Beware the advice of successful people, for they do not seek company.” Ah, so true.
I was also to share a technique for making lots of money. Basically, it was a plan to dig for precious ore in the earth, but I’m afraid you cannot have it; it’s Mine.
So instead for this final Daily, I’d like to give some coverage to the funnest format of all time. Pure enjoyment, thy name is Cube Draft.
What is the Cube Draft? As the name would imply, it’s both a draft and a hexahedron with six equal squares as faces. More informatively, it’s a draft where every card is amazing.
You remember that MagictheGathering.com article where Beuhler talks about Limited pointing? 5.0 was the best and it would go in every deck, etc. Well in the Cube, a card needs to be 4.5 or better just to get in. There are lots of 5.0s, even some 6.0s and one 352.0. Quite literally, it’s all good.
Cube, to me, is hilarious. Stuff that would never, ever happen in any other format is commonplace here. Having to make a first pick is ludicrous. Cards that table are nuts. The power levels of the decks are off the charts, and yet every match is a struggle. What fun!
We were to have eight people draft, but we only invited five for some odd reason. Cubing out we were graced with:
*Danny Dan “Diamond” Diamant
*Washington State Champ, Owner of the Cube, StarCity Contributor, Established, and a Pretty Nice Guy, Brett Allen. [Write more, Mr. Allen. – Knut]
*Crazy Tony: Judge, Crazy, Mayer of My Heart.
*Ricky Boyes, The Crimson Terror
*and moi, Giver of Arbitrary Nicknames and Humble as a Rainbow.
5 players, 4 rounds, round robin style, playing for absolutely nothing. The Cube loves all!
1st Pack, 1st pick things start off tough. The relevant cards are Stroke of Genius, Arc Lightning, Simian Grunts, Rukh Egg, and Mox Pearl. Arc Lightning, while a personal favorite, just is not mighty enough for the first grab. Grunts is Green, so that’s a problem there. It comes down to Stroke or the Mox, and I take the Stroke. I realize later on I’m overvaluing it, and it ends up in my sideboard anyway. But onward:
Next pack is the choice between Kokusho or Psionic Blast. I waver on Kokusho for a good long time, but ultimately go with the Psi Blast to stay in colors and have something to TD for the win. This is not a format where you really need finishers, per se.
Third pack has a gift Opposition, with me passing Jugan Dragon, Two-Headed Dragon, and Ebon Dragon. The packs round out with moderate Blue cards, and a couple of White and Red ones. I’m still not taking Green on principle, and Black is fairly dry.
Pack two opens with some tough options. Serra Angel, Vesuvan Doppelganger, Future Sight, Academy Rector, or Wheel of Fortune. I figure Doppleganger or Future Sight will wheel, and Wheel won’t. But I want one of the White cards anyway. Both are good with Opposition, and I was short on people (monsters). I ended up taking the Serra because it’s excellent, as well as me personally not caring too much about Rector in play on their side of the table. And I thought there was a chance it would come back if the Blue cards didn’t.
The next pack was even sicker. Sword of Fire and Ice, Akroma’s Vengeance, Umezawa’s Jitte, and Winter Orb were the standouts, although honestly, the whole pack was gem laden. Winter Orb combos with Opposition of course, but I was still short on guys. Ultimately I went with the Vengeance, just as an out if things got too tough. If I couldn’t have many creatures, I didn’t want them to either. Just as a forum booster, which of the two equips would you rater have in your deck?
Third pick was the incredible Memory Jar, taken over Paladin en-Vec, Pernicious Deed (no chance I was going to take it of course, just an interesting card to have in a pack after the third pick), Mishra’s Workshop, and Hammer of Bogardan. With Memory Jar in tow, I was on the lookout for any Megrims that would float this way.
Paladin came back and I ended up with needed guys and some more utility. Isamaru and some two-drops in White gave me some early rush capabilities, even though there’s about 15 Wraths in the format. Seriously.
I open pack three. I saw Leonin Abunas, kinda eh. Mirror Universe was cute but probably not worth it. Raven Familiar would be quite useful, but I’m not looking for a 1/2 flier for the first pick. Oh wait, I know! I’ll just take Ancestral Recall. Easy enough.
Aside from that 352.0, I got a nice treat with a third-pick Armageddon, a pet card. A Lightning Angel was late too, and suddenly I had a deck that could win. Sure would have preferred that Mox Pearl over Stroke though. Would have gone great with the Land Tax.
Swords to Plowshares
Force of Will
Mother of Runes
Isamaru, Hound of Konda
Mishra’s Factory (the only card there are multiples of in the Cube)
SB: Dismiss, Misdirection, Stroke of Genius, Pacifism, Radiant’s Judgment.
Not bad huh? But check out the rest.
Genju of the Spires
Sword of Fire and Ice
Library of Alexandria
SB: Decree of Pain, Withered Wretch, Maze of Ith
Avatar of Fury
Slice and Dice
Kokusho, the Evening Star
Avatar of Woe
Red Elemental Blast
Hammer of Bogardan
Visara The Dreadful
Fires of Yavimaya
Birds of Paradise
Jugan, the Rising Star
Wall of Blossoms
Black Lotus (!!!)
Symbol Status (yeah, Un- stuff is in here too)
Survival of the Fittest
Grab the Reins
Wheel of Fortune
Seal of Cleansing
Johnny, Combo Player
Wand of the Elements
SB: Obliterate, Soul Warden, Mind Warp
Quite a collection, no? I’m told by those in the know that the key isn’t just raw power, but looking for little synergies within the decks. Treachery + Workshop + Mindslaver or Rukh Egg + Goblin Bombardment or Brett’s entire deck. Let’s see how the games played out, shall we? We shall.
Round 1: Crazy Tony
Tony’s deck was, alas, the weakest of the bunch. How weak was it? Well unfortunately, Tony managed the 0-4 in this four round event. But I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. Definitely one of the best give-and-take rounds of the day. Here’s how it played out:
Game 1: Isamaru gets in for a few beats. Tony kills it with Fire Imp, so I upgrade to Lightning Angel. Then Opposition. Then Armageddon. With Force of Will backup. Yeah.
Game 2: Mother of Runes is doing serious stopping duty. Ancestral Recall was…good? Again with the Lightning Angel and then Armageddon. In theory I could have drawn Opposition next turn, but Tony wisely scooped it up before the chance presented itself.
While this was going on, Danny D cast a turn 2 Jugan off a Black Lotus and a Sol Ring against Brett. Brett countered with Library of Alexandria and Ivory Tower, and actually managed to turn it around. I’m pretty sure that was the first time in the history of the game a turn 2 Jugan was cast, and if it wasn’t, I’m positive it was the first time it didn’t win. Not only did it not win, but Brett had enough life to cast Hellfire, sweeping Dan’s board away.
The next game Dan slips in a Symbol Status for 9. It’s enough little stati to hold off Juzam and Negator, and Rhox takes it home.
Game 3 Dan merely casts a turn 3 Jugan, but it goes all the way. Entertaining games to spectate, I assure you
Round 2: Dan
This was definitely one of the most interactive of the matches played. The first game, Dan does his standard quick Jugan maneuver, but I have the Swords. Later on I play Raven Familiar, then a morph. After that is a Doppelganger copying the Familiar, getting the effect. Then, with echo and doppel ability on the stack, I switch Dopps to the morph and pay its echo. FOR ZERO. The play of the year. Also, all that digging got me my Opposition and that was that.
Game 2 my Mother stops his offense cold, after I Plow Jugan again. Dan makes a rush with a big Symbol Status, but Mom is able to absorb a token a turn, and I stabilize at 3-4 life. (Two minutes after the match we realize that the Status tokens are colorless, but c’est l’vie).
Dan is still making a run at it, but I’ve got things pretty stable. Dan’s been getting silly with Survival, Intuition, and Yavimaya Elder. My big plan is to cast both Akroma’s Vengeance and Armageddon, wiping everything and hopefully decking him. This plan has to be put aside when Dan pays the echo on the Albino Troll, despite the Pacifism. It doesn’t really matter as I just kill him with Ancestral Recall two turns later.
Ricky’s crazy concoction is next. Horrendous mana, but talk about potential. Last round he played a turn 4 Mindslaver off the Workshop. Tony played his Phyrexian Processor in response, but it really didn’t matter. For us, I think I can safely say this match had a lot of swings, and it seemed we really affected each other every turn.
In our first game, Ricky gambles and keeps and Island/Workshop draw with Wand of the Elements and Jitte. All-in anyone? It works for a little while, as I’ve drawn the all 2/2 grip. When I get to 10 with my useless Land Tax I topdeck the Akroma’s Vengeance and wipe away everything, including Ricky’s Mirror Universe and element tokens. I think Serra Angel ends it.
While we’re sideboarding, Dan shouts out a turn 1 Future Sight. He won that one.
Ricky’s mana is pretty smooth in game 2. We’re trading cards, but I think Ricky has the edge in power with perfect mana. On turn 8 I play out my last two cards, Soltari Visionary and Memory Jar. Ricky’s turn is Treachery on the Visionary and Johnny, Combo Player. Cracking the Jar equals:
–Disenchant the Treachery
-Swords on Johnny
That’s a good turn! Next turn I randomly Ancestral into Armageddon and that’s that.
Round 4 is against Brett’s sick deck. Sick yes, but this was certainly no goldfish episode. Neither one of us had a clue what the other person was going to do next.
In the first, Brett starts off quick with a turn 2 Graverobber and a swinging Genju of the Spires. Luckily he stalls on lands, while my Land Tax threatens worse if he draws them. I pick up an Akroma’s Vengeance and decide to forego Tax and just try to collect as many of Brett’s graveyardable cards as possible. Eventually I pull the trigger and we’re back to square one, me +cards, him +life.
On phase two I have some early drops and a Force of Will available for hard countering. I have Persuasion in my hand, so any thing he plays will be countered, as I simply won’t have a chance for the rest of the game. He plays a persuadable Juzam and then Arc Lightning at my dome. I Force it. Untap, Persuade Juzzy, play Lightning Angel and make a huge swing. Through Urza’s Rage, Brett is able to get me to exactly two life on his turn. I take a point during my upkeep and swing in for the W. One game away…
Game 2 was what we in the business call a Sick Massacre. Library of Aleandria? No sweat. Ivory Tower? Sure, not a problem. But throw in Yawgmoth’s Bargain and we have ourselves a situation. If anyone is working on a Type 1 deck, Tower + Bargain work well together.
I give it a shot of course but Brett’s infinite life, infinite cards, infinite mana, and Masticore do me in. An expected result.
For the final game I gamble on a sketchy Blue-less but potentially amazing hand. The Islands don’t come for a while, by which time Blazing Specter and Stupor have done a number on me. My hand is Serra Angel, with 3 Plains and a Factory out. All I need is one land to get back into it. I draw Ancestral Recall. God, what a horrid topdeck! Brett attacks with Blazing the next turn and I have to discard Ancestral, causing me actual physical pain. The next draw is a Memory Jar and I’m done.
Final results: Noah, Brett, Dan all at 3-1. Ricky with 1-3 and my man Tony was short a win this time around. But in Cube Draft, everyone’s a winner. Beg borrow or proxy, I recommend it Cube to the world.
Well my friends it’s been a fun week. Support your local StarCityGames, and good luck to all true competitors.
Thanks for reading,