What’s New In Magic: The Gathering Online’s Vintage Cube

In a surprise twist, the Vintage Cube is back on Magic Online for two weeks. Ryan Overturf breaks down the changes to the Cube and what they mean for your games.

Workshop Warchief
Workshop Warchief, illustrated by Zoltan Boros

Bittersweet news today, gamers. I had several paragraphs typed up about the return of Vintage Cube Supreme Draft before checking in on the mothership to see that the plug has been pulled on what might be my favorite digital Cube offering of all time. The good news is that we’ll be getting a two-week run of regular Vintage Cube Draft, which I suppose is as good a consolation prize as any. The Supreme Draft run was planned with no changes to the Cube list, but with the change in format comes a small update to the Cube as well, so today instead of giving you the skinny on the most busted way to approach the most broken format, I’ll be going over the odds and ends of this update.

Before I get into the breakdown of the changelog by color, let’s review where the Cube was coming into this update. Here’s my article on the last update here, and my write-up on how those changes played. I have also updated my Cube Cobra page to reflect the most recent update.

All right, let’s get down to business!



Elspeth Conquers Death Gideon Jura March of Otherworldly Light


Prismatic Ending Glimmer Lens Unexpectedly Absent

On balance, I think white gains a little with this update. I was happy to play March of Otherworldly Light, and I will say that both Elspeth Conquers Death and Gideon Jura added more to the Cube than Guardian Scalelord and Boon-Bringer Valkyrie, but Unexpectedly Absent is among the most powerful white removal spells for Vintage Cube, and I’m very happy to see its return.

Prismatic Ending is more or less fine, likely a relevant sideboard option more than anything. There’s just too wide of a range of mana values that can come online quickly to happily maindeck such a card in this environment. Glimmer Lens on the other hand looks pretty sweet for white aggressive decks, and relevantly adds another card that every white aggro deck will happily play that happens to bolster Stoneforge Mystic’s numbers.



Blue Sun's Zenith Frost Titan Shelldock Isle


Lorien Revealed Svyelun of Sea and Sky Seal of Removal

Blue Sun’s Zenith was pretty weak, so I like the Lórien Revealed call to subsidize the three pitch spells in blue and seamlessly pad Dream Halls. I can go either way on Frost Titan, but there are a handful of blue cards I would cut over it, including Snap for its similarities to Seal of Removal, and I’ll say that introducing another bounce spell that doesn’t generate any value once again dips blue’s power level slightly. I will say that Seal of Removal is a potentially useful tool for decks looking to companion Lurrus, though. Regarding Shelldock Isle being cut, I can only imagine that the card is bugged, as it’s a high pick and, based on my experience, it must have one of the highest rates of play of any card in the Cube.

Svyelun of Sea and Sky is neat, but not a high pick and a card that doesn’t really play to blue’s strengths. One thing about the card for Cube, particularly a Cube that doesn’t support Merfolk in any meaningful way, is that you might read the card and assume that it has ward itself. I would be significantly higher on the card if this was the case, but it is not. As such, Svyelun looks like a decent card for Izzet decks to me, and one that will see more meaningful play as a blocker than an attacker otherwise.



Braids, Arisen Nightmare Noxious Gearhulk Soul Transfer


Phyrexian Fleshgorger Troll of Khazad-dum Sheoldred's Edict

Black gains the most from today’s update, with Braids and Soul Transfer being convincingly two of black’s weakest cards in the Cube, and Noxious Gearhulk being pretty inefficient regarding what it offers.

I love the Phyrexian Fleshgorger call as a reasonable-to-cast creature that does enough if you cheat it out. It will be a nice one to pair with Reanimate, Goblin Welder, and Ephemerate. I’m not as big on the Troll as Lórien Revealed, but it does enough to see play in Reanimator decks and can help them fix their mana provided that you have access to some Swamp dual lands. Sheoldred’s Edict is the sort of card I would mostly only aim to pick up on the wheel, but it’s powerful against creature cheat decks and reasonable against planeswalkers, so there are things to like there.



Birgi, God of Storytelling Jeska's Will


Squee, Dubious Monarch Oliphaunt Arc Trail

Jeska’s Will and Birgi were pretty much only playable in Storm decks, and while Birgi could be awesome in these decks, Jeska’s Will was kind of a replacement-level card even if you were in the right archetype to try to play it. Arc Trail is just the sort of removal spell that red decks are happy to maindeck, and the card is particularly brutal against green decks showing up with multiple mana creatures.

The Squee clocks in as the new weakest aggressive three-mana creature in the Cube, and there isn’t a lot more to say about the card, especially with sacrifice not being a supported archetype anymore. Oliphaunt is easily the weakest of the land cyclers entering the Cube, and isn’t one that I expect to play in this environment. It’s not a powerful card to cheat onto the battlefield or cast, though I suppose a multicolor Sneak Attack deck could use it to fix its mana or get in those last points in the odd game that Emrakul doesn’t fully close. I would expect to see the card go pretty late in the draft if you’re interested in it.



Acidic Slime Avenger of Zendikar Thragtusk


Outland Liberator Sylvan Safekeeper Workshop Warchief

I would have preferred to see Acidic Slime stay and Thrun, Breaker of Silence go in terms of diversifying green fives in the Cube and moving away from just attacking and blocking, but Outland Liberator is a pretty significant addition. Most opponents will have something to tag, and Frenzied Trapbreaker can really put the hurt on artifact decks.

I like that Sylvan Safekeeper adds a unique effect on a cheap body, though notably the card is not very powerful in this context, so it’s not a high pick for green decks. The card’s strongest use case for high-power formats tends to be protecting Marit Lage from Swords to Plowshares, so I could see it showing up in decks with Dark Depths combo, but I imagine I’d shy away from the card entirely if I didn’t have access to that combo or at least Gaea’s Cradle to capitalize on playing a lot of cheap creatures in my deck as well as making up for the mana lost to using the card’s ability.



Dragonlord Atarka Huntmaster of the Fells


Kogla and Yidaro

Huntmaster of the Fells was firmly replacement-level, though Dragonlord Atarka was a somewhat notable creature to cheat onto the battlefield or just cast out of green decks. Kogla and Yidaro is a mana cheaper and offers some modality with its cycling ability and I’d expect it to see play in most of the same spots, though whether I’m casting it with Gaea’s Cradle or putting it on the battlefield with Natural Order, I’d much rather have Dragonlord Atarka in my ramp decks.



Crystalline Giant Foundry Inspector Sword of Fire and Ice


Agatha's Soul Cauldron Mirage Mirror Lightning Greaves

There’s no love lost between me and Crystalline Giant and Foundry Inspector. I also don’t find Sword of Fire and Ice especially powerful in Vintage Cube, and while I like it more than the other two cuts, I didn’t play it with any regularity. These are all solid cuts.

Agatha’s Soul Cauldron opens up some possibilities, particularly in conjunction with cards like Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker. It requires you to be doing some pretty specific stuff and is a fragile card type that takes some setup, but it’s cool enough that I like the call. Mirage Mirror gets by largely on cool points as well, with Dark Depths combo potential putting it over.

Lightning Greaves is an odd call to me. Haste is a useful ability and shroud can be meaningful, but Vintage Cube is a powerful enough format that you need a mighty good reason to play cards that don’t do anything on their own. The most powerful pairings with Lightning Greaves in Cubes like this tend to be Metalworker and Kuldotha Forgemaster, and both are notably absent from the current list. Goblin Welder gives some reason to play the card, but I would really want to see Metalworker and Forgemaster along with the card to give more reasons to play it.

This update is much smaller than what we’ve seen recently, and nothing really fundamentally shifts with these changes, which is what you’d expect from a Vintage Cube changelog. While I’m personally sad to not be Supreme Drafting this week, I hope that everyone enjoys two weeks of Vintage Cubing! It’s sure to be a hit.