Modern Cube On Magic Online: What’s In? What’s Out?

After over a year out of the rotation, the Modern Cube is back on Magic Online. How will this two-week Limited MTG experience differ from last time?

Hall of Storm Giants, illustrated by Alex Stone

I don’t know what the weather is like where you live, dear reader, but it’s firmly soup season here in Minnesota. The bitter cold of winter hasn’t reared its ugly head just yet, but it’s just around the corner, and the appeal of spending time indoors grows as daylight shrinks. It’s a great time to grab a blanket and draft a digital Cube. Luckily for me, the Modern Cube returns to Magic Online (MTGO) today for a two-week stretch!

Carmen Handy has been in charge of the MTGO Cube updates as of late, though credit for the updates for this run of Modern Cube go largely to Aaron Sorrels. I remember seeing Aaron around back in my coverage days, and he seemed like a pretty smart guy with very nice hair. Check out his article on the Cube’s updates on the mothership for the breakdown of the philosophy behind his changes. For an easier look at the Cube, I’ve also ported the list over to Cube Cobra.

It’s been over a year since we drafted the Modern Cube, and as such the changelog is long. The last update was at least after Modern Horizons 2, but a full year of Magic releases is at least comparable to one Horizons set. The Modern Cube has also been under a lot less scrutiny than the Vintage Cube, so it makes sense to see some fundamental shifts when the Cube gets its occasional update. This update puts a high emphasis on strategies that work or have worked in Modern Constructed, with a more specific emphasis on facilitating combo decks. Everything looks like a huge step in the right direction at a glance, so let’s break the Cube down by color to see what’s going on!



Blessed Alliance Mirran Crusader Ranger of Eos Eidolon of Obstruction Hidden Dragonslayer Maul of the Skyclaves Condemn Martial Coup Elspeth, Sun's Nemesis Fairgrounds Warden Seal of Cleansing Brimaz, King of Oreskos Banishing Light Honor of the Pure Glorious Anthem Silverblade Paladin Quarantine Field Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite Sunlance Cloudgoat Ranger


Ephemerate Heliod, Sun-Crowned Felidar Guardian Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit Vizier of Remedies Lion Sash March of Otherworldly Light Farewell The Wandering Emperor Brutal Cathar Cathar Commando Wedding Announcement Adeline, Resplendent Cathar Intrepid Adversary Benalish Marshal Extraction Specialist Serra Paragon Elspeth Resplendent Fateful Absence Kabira Takedown

White has upgrades to cards near the middle or bottom half of the Cube’s power band, with some attention to keeping things tame at the top of the power band as well. Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and Quarantine Field were both standouts for white with pretty uninteresting play patterns, and they make enough sense to cut. Meanwhile, upgrading Fairgrounds Warden to Brutal Cathar and getting newer staples like Intrepid Adversary into the spread are the sorts of things that bring the Cube closer to 2022 Magic.

White will remain a bit better at midrange things than full-on beatdowns with these updates, but standouts like Adeline, Resplendent Cathar can really turn up the heat in the beatdown department. Worth paying a little more attention to are the combos that have been opened up to white drafters. Heliod, Sun-Crowned plus Walking Ballista; assorted Felidar Guardian shenanigans; and a few avenues to persist combo are all open now. Getting access to some card selection and creature tutors will often be as important or more important than getting the combo cards themselves, so be mindful of that as you approach drafting these decks.

It is rather unfortunate that the Cube’s constraints exclude cards that are only legal in Eternal formats like Swift Configuration, as every bit of combo support helps when we’re talking about looking for a handful of things in a 540-card Cube. This makes Devoted Druid and Vizier of Remedies a bit less desirable than they would be in a Cube that could support all the different combos, but they’re worth keeping in mind all the same.



Gadwick, the Wizened Tempest Djinn Pull from Tomorrow Essence Scatter Hard Evidence Sea-Dasher Octopus Spark Double Careful Consideration Inevitable Betrayal Harbinger of the Tides Mass Manipulation Rishadan Dockhand Suspend Vizier of Many Faces Master of Waves Dissolve Disallow Cyclonic Rift


Aether Channeler Haughty Djinn Silver Scrutiny Remove Soul Consider Ledger Shredder Make Disappear Memory Deluge Lier, Disciple of the Drowned Malevolent Hermit Hullbreaker Horror The Reality Chip Fading Hope Thassa, Deep-Dwelling Murktide Regent Archmage's Charm Neutralize Nexus of Fate

I’m incredibly angry that I just typed “Out: Essence Scatter, In: Remove Soul.” That’s strike one, Sorrels.

These changes also are mostly upgrades across the board, as well as some additional combo support. For blue, these combos come in the form of taking extra turns. Lier, Disciple of the Drowned is a way to get some extra use out of a Time Warp, and Nexus of Fate is a sort of one-card infinite-turns combo with extra steps.

I love seeing the blue devotion stuff get the boot, and equally love using Archmage’s Charm as a payoff for drafting a mono-blue or nearly mono-blue deck. I don’t quite understand how Delver of Secrets survived this update, and needless to say I will continue to contend that it’s one of very few pitfalls to drafting blue in this and many other Cubes.

It’s pretty odd to see Pestermite without Deceiver Exarch, though considering the Modern ban I’m not surprised to see no Splinter Twin. Pestermite is firmly okay at wielding Equipment, and is more something to watch out for as a potential Kiki-Jiki combo. I imagine these combos will perform best when featured alongside Vivien on the Hunt.

Hullbreaker Horror has underperformed my expectations in Vintage Cube, though the more likely a player is to just play seven lands and still have a healthy life total, the more brutal the card can be. In this Cube, just casting Hullbreaker Horror is a big deal. Seven mana is a lot, but I expect both it and Nexus of Fate to be huge players with this update.



Sheoldred, Whispering One Gray Merchant of Asphodel Noxious Gearhulk Griselbrand Gifted Aetherborn Vampire Hexmage Clattering Augur Mind Shatter Phyrexian Obliterator Persist Ob Nixilis Reignited The Eldest Reborn Nighthawk Scavenger Murderous Cut Pack Rat Kitesail Freebooter Liliana's Mastery Rotting Regisaur Whip of Erebos Heartless Act


Carrion Feeder Viscera Seer Dread Wanderer Bloodsoaked Champion Blood Artist Zulaport Cutthroat Putrid Goblin Village Rites Deadly Dispute Unearth Lolth, Spider Queen Evolved Sleeper Braids, Arisen Nightmare Power Word Kill Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia Tenacious Underdog The Meathook Massacre Graveyard Trespasser Henrika Domnathi Infernal Grasp

With this update, there’s actually a strong draftable black aggressive deck in this Cube. Some of the strength here will come from having sacrifice payoffs and access to bombs like The Meathook Massacre, but I’m actively excited about drafting Evolved Sleeper in this Cube. I will say that I’m quite cold on Village Rites and Deadly Dispute. The other decks are going to be long on powerful individual cards, and you want the big payoffs like Yawgmoth, Thran Physician rather than a lot of fiddly noise.

Mind Shatter was one of the bigger draws to black in this old Cube list, and its exclusion looks to be another quality-of-life improvement as the Cube moves away from isolated haymakers stacked in piles of cards towards supporting more cohesive decks. I’m also a big fan of removing the medium-powered Reanimator stuff that tended to either be over- or underwhelming while producing few quality games.

When drafting black in this Cube, just pay mind to drafting cards that can actually generate card advantage. Knight of the Ebon Legion is a solid addition to a well-constructed deck that can fight through removal, blockers, and sweepers, but your Bloodghasts, your sacrifice outlets, your planeswalkers, and your other card draw effects like Yawgmoth are going to be the heroes of successful black decks in this environment.



Embereth Shieldbreaker Pia Nalaar Rekindling Phoenix Storm's Wrath Faithless Looting Goblin Cratermaker Dreadhorde Arcanist Kaleidoscorch Flametongue Yearling Crater's Claws Purphoros, God of the Forge Exquisite Firecraft Gut Shot Lava Coil Sweltering Suns Flame Spill


Fable of the Mirror-Breaker Squee, Dubious Monarch Jaya, Fiery Negotiator The Elder Dragon War Rabbit Battery Bloodthirsty Adversary Reckless Impulse Chandra, Dressed to Kill Fanatical Firebrand Fury Chandra, Fire Artisan Risk Factor Lava Dart Thundering Rebuke Radiant Flames Goblin Bombardment

The cuts here are great. That was quite a selection of barely playable cards. Not all of the new additions are exciting, but Bloodthirsty Adversary and Fable of the Mirror-Breaker are two awesome new cards that significantly raise red’s stock. Goblin Bombardment is also a huge deal, and is one of the better things to combine with The Meathook Massacre.

When approaching drafting red in Modern Cube, it’s very important to remember that Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer is much stronger in Vintage Cube than it is in Cubes like this that tend to involve a lot more potential blockers where maindecking spot removal pays much better dividends. The red midrange and combo decks are quite a bit more appealing than the beatdown decks, barring having a cohesive Sacrifice shell.

I’m somewhat perplexed to see Risk Factor enter the Cube. It’s a kind of fine card for Arena Cube, but it’s pretty contextually weak and is the sort of card that players often categorically overvalue. Maybe the card was added because players love punisher cards so much? I liked the card well enough when I was speed-running Arena Cube, but it’s a medium card that mostly only works in aggressive decks.



Whisperwood Elemental Yavimaya Elder Toski, Bearer of Secrets Primal Command Nyxbloom Ancient Rift Sower Collected Company Garruk, Primal Hunter Terastodon Lovestruck Beast Foundation Breaker Gemrazer Plow Under Sylvan Anthem Tooth and Nail Wolfwillow Haven Thrun, the Last Troll


Deep Forest Hermit Elvish Visionary Utopia Sprawl Turntimber Symbiosis Titan of Industry Circle of Dreams Druid Vivien on the Hunt Voracious Hydra Cultivator Colossus Hexdrinker Outland Liberator Cavalier of Thorns Kogla, the Titan Ape Abundant Harvest Finale of Devastation Explore Temur Sabertooth

A couple of cards that I love are on the outs here, but if I ever see another Yavimaya Elder or Thrun, the Last Troll in my life, it will be too soon. Most of the cards making their way in are upgrades on power level, with the reintroduction of Utopia Sprawl being something I’m a bit skeptical of. I suppose it’s just a card that sees and has seen a lot of Modern play, but it’s fairly easily the scariest opener in the Cube. Removing Plow Under is another quality of life thing, especially as bouncelands enter the Cube, but it is one that I will miss.

Abundant Harvest is another card that hasn’t quite lived up to my expectations, but I’ll happily play it in green decks that are trying to play a little lighter on lands. Temur Sabertooth might look like a head-scratcher, and honestly it’s a pretty weak card, but the idea is it can return Eternal Witness to your hand to take infinite turns with Time Warp. I don’t think I’d play it just because I had those two cards which I would obviously play, but that’s a thing that you can do.

Green ramp coupled with adequate haymakers and ways to generate card advantage still looks like one of the best things to get up to in Modern Cube, and that’s a strategy I would aim to employ often while drafting.



Dream Trawler Geist of Saint Traft Spell Queller Fallen Shinobi Nightveil Specter Atris, Oracle of Half-Truths Immersturm Predator Rakdos's Return Mirari's Wake Knight of Autumn Wilt-Leaf Liege Trostani Discordant Domri, Anarch of Bolas Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice Expansion Saheeli, Sublime Artificer Electrolyze Find Binding the Old Gods Priest of Fell Rites Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy Prime Speaker Vannifar Progenitor Mimic Valki, God of Lies Geyadrone Dihada Sundering Titan


Dragonlord Ojutai Raff, Weatherlight Stalwart Soulherder Kaito Shizuki Drown in the Loch Hostage Taker Falkenrath Aristocrat Ob Nixilis, the Adversary Mayhem Devil Queen Allenal of Ruadach Eladamri's Call Good-FOrtune Unicorn Ajani, Mentor of Heroes Halana and Alena, Partners Boros Reckoner Galvanic Iteration Saheeli Rai Fire Gloomshrieker Vraska, Golgari Queen Cartel Aristocrat Coiling Oracle Tamiyo, Compleated Sage Bring to LIght Obosh, the Preypiercer Kess, Dissident Mage Omnath, Locus of Creation

More quality-of-life improvements here, with a general emphasis on increasing power level and adding some key combo cards as well. Fallen Shinobi and Valki, God of Lies are the two cards on the outs for being some combination of too powerful and not fun, though I am a little sad to see Valki leaving as Bring to Light enters if we’re trying to offer degenerate things that are legal and played in Modern Constructed.

A lot of these cards speak for themselves, and I’m most curious where Galvanic Iteration will fall in this Cube. I was one of the few players who actively enjoyed playing the card alongside Alrund’s Epiphany in Standard when you were allowed to do so, though having a decent volume of spells that you actively wanted to copy was significant for these decks. Copying Unexpected Windfall was a very common play to set you up for future turns, and it looks like it’s kind of Time Warp or bust for real payoffs in this Cube. Copying a removal spell or a draw spell are both fine, though not necessarily better than discarding the card for value. I’ll give the card a chance, but I’m not expecting it to live up to the power ceiling that we saw the card reach in Standard.



Sword of Light and Shadow Sorcerous Spyglass The Immortal Sun Chromatic Lantern Sword of Truth and Justice Mimic Vat


Reckoner Bankbuster Unlicensed Hearse Stonecoil Serpent Mind Stone Jinxed Idol Blasting Station

The reintroduction of Mind Stone is the big story here, with fast mana being a little more supported in this update as the power level of the Cube increases. Blasting Station is also a serviceable sacrifice outlet for when you miss on Goblin Bombardment.

Mimic Vat is definitely a more fun card than Unlicensed Hearse in Cube, and it has interactions that make it more powerful in some contexts as well. I kind of hate Unlicensed Hearse as a Cube card, but it also makes sense to give the new cards some time to see how well players like them and how they perform.



Shelldock Isle Cabal Coffers Shatterskull Smashing Treetop Village Barkchannel Pathway Blightstep Pathway Branchloft Pathway Brightclimb Pathway Clearwater Pathway Cragcrown Pathway Darkbore Pathway Hengegate Pathway Needleverge Pathway Riverglide Pathway Tectonic Edge City of Brass Mana Confluence Gavony Township Fabled Passage Westvale Abbey Mishra's Factory


Hall of Storm Giants Hive of the Eye Tyrant Den of the Bugbear Boseiju, Who Endures Indatha Triome Ketria Triome Raugrin Triome Savai Triome Zagoth Triome Spara's Headquarters Raffine's Tower Ziatora's Proving Ground Jetmir's Garden Xander's Lounge Seachrome Coast Darkslick Shores Copperline Gorge Razorverge Thicket Blackcleave Cliffs Secluded Courtyard Botanical Sanctum Inspiring Vantage Spirebluff Canal Blooming Marsh Azorius Chancery Dimir Aqueduct Selesnya Sanctuary Rakdos Carnarium Gruul Turf Orzhov Basilica Boros Garrison Izzet Boilerworks Simic Growth Chamber

I’m a bit hesitant to play a bounceland alongside so many other great lands that enter the battlefield tapped, but I do like the nod to the fact that bouncelands have showed up in Constructed Modern quite a lot! Okay, they’ve done so in exactly Amulet Titan, but still.

More than that, the removal of the Pathways and reintroduction of fastlands is a combination of a power level increase and a quality of life improvement. Triome fans get their day as well. I also love using most of the Adventures in the Forgotten Realms creature-lands, and specifically excluding Cave of the Frost Dragon for being horrible. I’d prefer to see Lair of the Hydra over Boseiju, Who Endures, though, as Boseiju is more of a card you play because it’s free, whereas Lair of the Hydra is actively powerful to open a game on.

On balance, I’m a fan of this update. The Cube is moving in a more cohesive direction, and I’m excited to see where things go from here. I’m a bit wary of decks that go hard on generating extra mana and taking extra turns, but what else is new? A ton of cards were changed in this update, and it’s nearly impossible to do that without changing a bunch more cards after seeing how the new format shakes out. I’ve got a big pot of soup on, and I’m ready to explore.