Holiday Cube, The Best Time Of Year

by Andreas Petersen on 24 December 2018, Monday

Andreas Petersen

Welcome and happy holidays to everyone. The Vintage Cube is on Magic Online for the next couple of weeks and it is for sure my favorite time of the year! Today I decided to share an assortment of tips and tricks to try and help you improve your win percentage in the most fun format of all time. I'm not gonna tell you how Moxen and Signets are good in the format because they let you cast your good card before your opponent, but hopefully I will get a layer or two deeper.

Creature Removal is Less Good

In normal Limited Magic, removal spells are at a premium and very important for your strategy. You want to stop a huge attacker or clear the way for your own army to finish the job. In Vintage Cube however, you look at Control Magic-effects like Dragonlord Silumgar and Treachery or all-round removal like Vindicate and Council's Judgment to add to your deck. Card advantage and flexibility are two very important abilities when you need to deal with everything from Wurmcoil Engine to various planeswalkers. However, don't feel embarrassed to put absolute premium removal spells like Lightning Bolt and Swords to Plowshares in your deck.

Soft Counters are Great 

Of course Mana Drain and Counterspell are great in a format of unfair things, but even the soft counters will put in massive work. This format is all about doing the best things the fastest, and saying 'no' will lead to some huge tempo swings. Add in the fact that a big play will sometimes leave the opponent with a tapped Mana Vault, a sacrificed Black Lotus or down the additional costs of Tinker and Natural Order, there is a way higher ceiling than a 1-for-1 for these cheeky counterspells. I won’t say you should draft them super highly but you should be happy when you can grab one of them on the wheel for your deck.

Fixing Might Come In Handy Later

Picking good blue fixing (fetches, dual lands, shock lands) early is a tried and tested strategy that many players are using, but there is one detail that I regularly see players overlook. Let's say you are firmly drafting a Blue-Black Control deck and see a Verdant Catacombs. You don't have any delve cards and don't need the shuffle effect, so you pass it in favor of a card you might sideboard in in an obscure matchup. What I'd rather do is pick up the Verdant Catacombs and hope for one of two scenarios. Either I want to pair it with Underground Sea or Watery Grave. You would want those anyway, but then you would have two virtual copies of them. In the other scenario I’d pair it with Breeding Pool or Tropical Island which would turn your Verdant Catacombs into a tri-land since you can get either a basic Swamp or Green-Blue dual land. 

The Secret of Red-White Stax 

A somewhat secret archetype you can succesfully dive into with the right setup. Let’s say you started the draft with some generic mana rocks and seem to only get the third-rate or even fourth-rate Blue cards. This could be cards like Riftwing CloudskateInto the Roil or other mediocre cards. Also you should pay attention if the powerful double-White costed cards such as 4-mana planeswalkers, Wrath of God and Council's Judgment are going late which is a great sign that no one is in Blue-White Control. You should take artifact ramp very highly and count on the above cards to wheel after reading the signals in the first pack. Do this even though a pair of off-color Signets looks bad compared to the Gideon, Ally of Zendikar you really want to put in your deck. Other than Wildfire and its twin brother Burning of Xinye, Red is adding Chandra, Torch of Defiance as well as Ajani VengeantKoth of the Hammer and some fillers to the deck. Great sideboard cards for Red-White Stax could be Armageddon against Control and Sweltering Suns against aggressive strategies. Keep in mind that once you've established that the deck is open, there can be huge upside in drafting a little bit of fixing in case you open Mind Twist or Ancestral Recall in the third pack. You will feel very clever when you gave up a Lightning Strike for a City of Brass and you end up getting rewarded.

My Default Strategy

I've been implementing this strategy for a few years and it's working surprisingly well. If you first pick a Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary and later realize that Mono-Green is not open or find the same scenario with Mana Drain and Blue, you can always try and pair your Green with Blue and end up with a respectable deck. Once you end up in those two colors, it's okay that you're not getting passed late powerhouses in your color. You really want to snap up Tropical Island or Breeding Pool because a lot of the premier Blue spells are double-colored (Mana Drain, Consecrated Sphinx, Opposition, UpheavalFrost Titan to name a few). At the same time you still want a high Forest count to support Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary and have enough sources to cast the Green ramp cards early on. This also means that you should prioritize fixing that gets you both colors, so note Sylvan Caryatid and Search for Tomorrow are suddenly better cards for your deck than Llanowar Elves. Of course Noble HierarchBirds of Paradise and Lotus Cobra are perfect fits.

Those were a few gems from my many years of drafting the Vintage Cube on Magic Online. If you disagree or you have some knowledge or a cool story to share, don't hessitate to reach out to me on Twitter. Merry Cubing!

This article was written by Andreas Petersen in a media collaboration with 

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