I’m so excited to have my Classic Cube on Magic Online!
The final list I submitted can be found here, and there will be an introductory article to the Cube and archetypes on the mothership tomorrow. In order to provide unique and useful content without stepping on the toes of tomorrow’s article, this piece is dedicated to secret synergies.
You see, my Classic Cube is filled to the brim with combos, but some of them are subtle. My goal today is to share some sweet stories, and let you in on some secrets in my Cube that you might miss if you fired up a draft without much research.
Oath of Druids is a staple of high-powered Cubes, and mine is no exception. Jam some massive creatures, especially Eldrazi, in a deck with Oath of Druids, and you have yourself a scary concoction. Oath is often referred to as a lower-tier “cheat” card in comparison to Sneak Attack and Reanimate because the deckbuilding restriction surrounding it is pretty high. Something I have seen in my Cube is Oath decks taking roles other than just “cheat something big onto the battlefield.”
Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath is a great card in some variants of Oath of Druids since you basically get a massive number of cards in your graveyard. Eternal Witness’s Regrowth ability becomes comparably close to Demonic Tutor. Venser, Shaper Savant can bounce itself back to your hand in order to guarantee another Oath trigger. There are a lot of midrange cards that can pair well with Oath of Druids, and sneaking in castable fatties like Wurmcoil Engine leads to good decks that aren’t so all-in on Oath of Druids.
Now, a solely midrange variant of this deck is cool, but not going to 3-0 the pod. However, you can push it further to something I have only seen a few times, but I also don’t know if I have seen it lose.
Jace, Wielder of Mysteries and Nexus of Fate are both reasonable Magic cards that are slightly overcosted if you’re using them fairly. However, if you have ways to churn through your library, they become combo pieces that aren’t dead draws without the other half of the combo, and that’s incredibly powerful. I have seen many variants of Simic Midrange and control that use Oath of Druids alongside either Jace or Nexus as their win condition. One of my favorite variants of this deck didn’t even start Oath of Druids, but instead had it as a Wish target for Fae of Wishes!
The “mill yourself to win” deck isn’t a deck you can sit down and expect to draft, but there are many ways to pull it off. Hermit Druid is one of my favorite inclusions, as it’s a solid card in any midrange deck or deck trying to leverage the graveyard. But it and Tainted Pact also provide some redundancy for drafting a high number of nonbasic lands and winning with Nexus of Fate; Jace, Wielder of Mysteries; or Thassa’s Oracle.
Alongside Nexus of Fate, I include Temporal Manipulation and Time Warp for a Taking Turns deck when it comes together. I enjoy supporting this strategy because Time Warp is just a good card for midrange decks and also supports infinite combos using already good cards. For example, God-Eternal Kefnet alongside Jace, the Mind Sculptor’s repeatable Brainstorm yields infinite turns. Ephemerate and Eternal Witness is another way to get infinite turns too!
Speaking of infinite, there are two main ways of generating infinite mana in this Cube. Vizier of Remedies plus Devoted Druid is the one you’re probably used to from Modern. Zirda, the Dawnwaker alongside either Basalt Monolith or Grim Monolith will do it too. Zirda is especially powerful as a combo piece that can be your companion, and it’s a lot easier to companion than you think. Here’s a short list of ways to spend infinite mana in the cube, but I promise there are more: Secure the Wastes; Urza, Lord High Artificer; Shark Typhoon; Finale of Devastation; Polukranos, World Eater; Voracious Hydra; Lair of the Hydra; and Retrofitter Foundry.
Wishclaw Talisman is my favorite Tutor printed in recent memory. It’s risky, but it’s also rewarding. I find it often plays closer to Demonic Tutor than you might think. Basically, if I activate it, unless my opponent is literally winning the game via their activation, giving me a second Tutor should put the nail in the coffin. However, there are lots of ways to mitigate the downsides to turn an already good card into a great card. If you Tutor up Opposition Agent, you can steal the Tutor from your opponent. And Goblin Welder or Goblin Engineer can sacrifice the Talisman in response to the activation so that your opponent never gets access to the Tutor. There are also, of course, planeswalkers that interact with artifacts like Dack Fayden and Oko, Thief of Crowns.
Part of the reason my cube has so many ways to leverage Wishclaw Talisman is that I have more “trinkets” than many Cubes. I love Spellbombs as interactive cantrips with artifact synergies, and Necrogen Spellbomb is probably my favorite. It’s secretly a discard outlet for Reanimator decks, but it also provides a soft-lock with recursion. If you can get your opponent hellbent, then alongside Emry, Lurker of the Loch; Lurrus of the Dream-Den; or any other repeated artifact recursion, you can activate the discard of the Spellbomb on your opponent’s draw step every single turn. I have won many games with this interaction, but it’s hard to see it until you get destroyed by it.
Feldon of the Third Path looks clunky, but it just does everything. Like the interaction above with Necrogen Spellbomb, Feldon facilitates some pretty nasty locks with cards like Grief or Vendilion Clique. It can also be pretty brutal with Venser. Repeated enters-the-battlefield triggers are no joke, but also not the most broken thing you can do with Feldon.
Feldon is also a great combo card. Any reanimation strategy or Welder strategy loves him. Alongside a discard outlet, he does a pretty good Sneak Attack impression for Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. He can also win the game by activating on Pestermite, which untaps Feldon, and then Feldon can target Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker to win the game. Don’t underestimate Feldon of the Third Path!
Looking at these, I bet you think I’m going to talk about some red Sacrifice deck, right? Wrong! I actually wouldn’t recommend a red-based Sacrifice strategy. If you’re going to draft Sacrifice, I would recommend it as a perturbation of black aggro, often splashing red for cards like Judith, the Scourge Diva; Goblin Bombardment; and Goblin Sharpshooter.
Actually, I’d like to shine a light on these cards to end this article with something that isn’t a synergy, but is very good to know that you probably wouldn’t know without me telling you. Around 38% of the creatures in my Cube have one toughness. That’s a lot. For context, the Vintage Cube on Magic Online has around 31%. This makes small removal spells like Tarfire a lot better than you would expect. It also means that Blasting Station, Goblin Bombardment, and Goblin Sharpshooter are a lot closer to generic good cards than you might think!
I really hope you enjoy drafting my Cube. Feel free to tag me on Twitter and show me your awesome Craft decks. Happy Cubing!