Happy Wednesday, gamers! This week in the U.S. we’ll be celebrating American Thanksgiving, and I will be living my dream of stuffing my face with mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. Cube enthusiasts worldwide will similarly get an opportunity to live their dreams, as the Live the Dream Cube is returning to Magic Online (MTGO) for its third run on the platform! Live the Dream Cube Season 3 will be live for a full week, and I’m here to tell you how to go about approaching drafting this unique environment.
I wasn’t yet regularly writing about Spotlight Cubes when the Live the Dream Cube was first introduced to MTGO, but my article on the Cube’s second run should be of some use to contextualize the updated list as I go over the changes today.
I would also recommend David McDarby’s article on The Mothership regarding these updates. And for one final reference point, I have ported the updated list to Cube Cobra for ease of understanding.
With several sets released since the last run of Live the Dream Cube, it’s not surprising to see a lot of updates. Still, I found it remarkable just how much has changed. There are 156 substitutions! In addition to the usual addition of the appropriate new cards as they’re printed, this update also reflects an attempt to make decks with an aggressive slant more competitive. With all of this in mind, let’s go over the changes by color.
Some of these are fairly minor quality-of-life upgrades, with Resurrection and Knight of the White Orchid turning into Late to Dinner and Loyal Warhound, but there are also many powerful aggressive white cards making their way into the spread. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar; Hero of Bladehold; and Intrepid Adversary are all Vintage Cube-caliber Mono-White Aggro cards and are relatively high picks even in the most powerful Cubes. If you want to draft an aggressive deck and/or a tokens strategy, then be on the lookout for all of these cards. Giver of Runes also shows up to add another white drop to aggressively slanted decks, though in this Cube you’ll be looking for haymakers more than role-players.
The most significant addition to white is undoubtedly the most powerful white card printed in recent memory, Solitude. Just an absolute house even in Vintage Cube, the card gets even better here, as you’ll basically always have time to cast the card for five mana. Additionally, the blink theme and cards like Teleportation Circle will allow you to just lock opponents out of access to creatures.
The card draw on Welcoming Vampire and disruption on Elite Spellbinder are also great, and on balance I believe that this update makes drafting white far more appealing than it was previously. I still wouldn’t go all in on a Mono-White Aggro strategy and would try to at least be midrange, but these new tools give these decks a lot more punch to actually close games before your opponent is able to live their dream.
Lastly, I find the inclusion of Gisela, the Broken Blade and Bruna, the Fading Light incredibly thematically appropriate. Who hasn’t dreamed of melding these legendary Angels? Just bear in mind that, even if you’re able to draft both of these cards, they’re much weaker than the other cards I’ve discussed in this section.
The changes to blue are less significant than the changes to white, and we actually see a good clip of powerful blue options like Agent of Treachery, Midnight Clock, and Arcane Artisan on the way out. This is not to say that the new additions are weak, just that blue isn’t getting the sort of fundamental shifts that we see in white.
Lier, Disciple of the Drowned and Mind Flayer both represent powerful forms of card advantage, and Lier is an “untap and win”-style card that gets more breathing room in Live the Dream Cube than it tends to in faster environments. If you’ve been paying attention to Standard lately, then you know what that card is capable of.
The most significant addition to blue is Jacob Hauken, Inspector. I’m bigger than most on this card for Cube broadly, and with a higher-than-average mana curve and less spot removal than you often see in Cube, I expect Jacob to be bonkers here.
More than any of that though, Sublime Epiphany is remaining in the Cube and is a convincing choice for Pack 1, Pick 1 overall on power level. Blue remains long on powerful options and in contention with green for most powerful color in the Cube.
First and foremost, shout-out to Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni, a card that I believe holds the record for being cut the most times from digital Cubes. Live the Dream Cube really was everyone’s favorite Rat Ninja’s best shot at continued inclusion, but alas, another L for Betrayers of Kamigawa.
On a more serious note, I like these changes to black a lot. All of the one-mana discard spells looked weak on paper and I was counting my Play Points whenever anybody cast a Divest against me in the previous iteration of this Cube, so those are great cuts. Adding some cheap threats and sacrifice synergies also gives players much more reason to go into black, which was previously the weakest color in the Cube.
Grief and Archon of Cruelty are two Vintage Cube-caliber cards that I would argue gain some points here, given how much better the proposition of just casting them at full retail from your hand is in Live the Dream Cube than in faster environments. I also see Liliana, Dreadhorde General as a solid haymaker for black decks, though not quite on the level of the Modern Horizons 2 updates.
I like seeing Sorin the Mirthless in the list, though I imagine with the higher average mana value here that you’ll be making 2/3s pretty often if you draft it, so it’s not necessarily at its best. Conversely, I do think that Bitterblossom is a high pick that will perform better here than in Cubes with more efficient aggressive support, as you’ll just be under less pressure on average, which makes it easier to leverage the tokens.
Black still feels like it’s in contention for the weakest color in the Cube, but it absolutely gained a lot with this update.
Similarly to white, we see some good aggressive support showing up for red. Young Pyromancer likely leaps off the page as the biggest addition for seasoned Cubers, though I would expect Magda, Brazen Outlaw to really excel in this environment. There are only so many cheap creatures around to block and there are both a powerful selection of Dragons and expensive spells to make use of the Treasure tokens that Magda generates. I’ve also found Laelia, the Blade Reforged to be an absolute heater even in Vintage Cube and it should perform very well here.
I’m looking at Manaform Hellkite and Goldspan Dragon to overperform here relative to their power level in other Cubes. Space for Manaform Hellkite is cleared out with cards like Hellrider and Koth of the Hammer not being appropriate for the environment, and should close games in Izzet decks extremely quickly, especially with all of the extra-turn effects. Goldspan Dragon is usually a little too expensive for red Cube decks and the Treasure tokens don’t often amount to much, but in Live the Dream Cube it climbs considerably in the red five-drop power rankings.
The upgrades to red are solid, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you could see some success with red and/or white aggressive decks in the updated environment, though I am still mostly looking to pair red with blue and/or green.
Previously Llanowar Elves was far and away the best Turn 1 play in the Cube. I guess that honor goes to Birds of Paradise now.
A lot of green’s updates are just lateral shifts in power, but unsurprisingly I would say to take notice of the Vintage Cube-caliber cards. No, I don’t mean Wrenn and Seven, though that one is probably pretty strong here. Rather, Augur of Autumn and Deep Forest Hermit are likely the two most generically powerful cards making it in, and Finale of Devastation also has some great card selection and game-ending power.
Untapping with Somberwald Sage seems really tough to beat, and I’d also expect Hornet Queen to perform admirably. The biggest addition relative to the environment is likely Nissa, Voice of Zendikar. The card is an awesome tool for token decks, but more generally three-mana threats with high ceilings perform very well in this environment.
I was previously very big on green and blue in this Cube and I see no reason to waver on this position.
I’m a fan of reducing the total number of five-color cards and allowing players a little more agency in their drafts. I’m also a fan of the Boros, Selesnya, and Golgari updates. We see additional aggressive options there and Golgari gains some planeswalkers with high floors. This increases the volume of “safe” picks in the Cube, which I find generally increased the comfort level of drafters.
The most significant additions here are going to be Hierarchs, both Noble and Ignoble, and Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath. David said himself in his preview article that casting Uro is a dream in its own right. It’s something of a nightmare for me, but the power level is obviously there and Uro is a difficult card to pass.
Everflowing Chalice will be missed, but Liquimetal Torque should make nearly every deck in this Cube and the other mana rocks are welcome as well. Live the Dream Cube may be the most appropriate Cube for Gilded Lotus that there ever was, and that card used to see heavy Cube play.
Both Swords should make meaningful additions to aggressive decks, and I’m particularly interested to see Sword of Hearth and Home in action here. That may be the best Sword for Commander and Live the Dream Cube is trying to emulate Commander gameplay, so you can expect to be similarly rewarded by the repeated Rampant Growth effect. Not to mention the power you can unlock by making use of the blink ability.
Nothing really to see here. Shelldock Isle is busted and was likely way too good, and Mirrodin’s Core is on the other side of that. I probably want Hinterland Harbor in my Uro deck more than Waterlogged Grove, so there’s not a ton to report there either.
I like the looks of the updates for Live the Dream Cube Season Three. I’m hopeful that aggressive decks can pose more serious threats in this iteration. I’ll likely give them a try, but I remain more bullish on eighteen-land Simic-plus decks and the “Mana and Stuff” archetype.