Drafting Splinter Twin in Cube

by Justin Robb on 29 December 2017, Friday

Justin Robb

 

Drafting Splinter Twin in Cube

Merry Cubemas!

That's right; it's the magical time of year when Vintage Cube is back on Magic Online to fill the void between Grand Prix. My favorite and most drafted archetype in Vintage Cube is Blue Red Splinter Twin, occasionally splashing white or black. Today I am going to go over how I draft this archetype and what cards make it tick.

 



Jeskai or Grixis

Splinter Twin is mostly a Blue-Red deck but can sometimes incorporate a splash. In previous cubes, I found myself often splashing White for Brago, King Eternal or Restoration Angel. Both cards work great with the creatures you already want to play in Blue Red. 

 

Demonic Tutor Vampiric Tutor Kolaghan's Command


Unfortunately, Brago has been removed from the Cube, and now I find myself splashing for Black instead. The Black cards we are looking at for this archetype are mainly Demonic Tutor, Vampiric Tutor, and Imperial Seal but occasionally include Kolaghan's Command or Reanimate.

Make sure to pick up those Badlands and Lavaclaw Reaches if you are planning on making this splash.

Now, how do we draft this archetype, what cards are we looking to draft to make it work?



Fast Mana

Fast mana is what separates Vintage Cube from the others.

Almost every archetype has access to some broken interactions that become supercharged when fast mana is introduced into the equation. Splinter Twin is no exception in this regard. When making draft picks, fast mana is simply the top priority.

 

Mox Diamond Sol Ring Mana Vault


All the Moxen are great with Splinter Twin including Mox Diamond and Chrome Mox. Mana Vault, Mana Crypt, and Sol Ring are good inclusions too.

I like to play Signets if they produce at least one color I am playing while I pass on the big mana ramp cards like Worn PowerstoneBasalt Monolith or Grim Monolith.




Counterspells

After fast mana, the most important pieces we need to construct the Splinter Twin deck are not the combo pieces but in fact counterspells. The efficiency of counterspells in this cube is what makes it possible to draft a slower combo deck like Splinter Twin.

There are only five combo pieces in the whole cube.

If you want to survive until you can cast that Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker you need interaction in the format of counterspells to stay alive.

 

Counterspell Cryptic Command Mana Leak Mystic Confluence Force of Will


Counterspell, Cryptic Command, Mana LeakMystic Confluence and Force of Will are the best counterspells available while Force SpikeSpell Pierce and Daze are still going to make the cut in almost all your decks. Commit // Memory is a new addition to the cube and so far, I have been unimpressed by it in this archetype.



Combo Pieces

This is the deck's namesake.

 

Splinter Twin Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker Deceiver Exarch Pestermite Zealous Conscripts

 

 

The Splinter Twin / Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker combo with Deceiver Exarch / Pestermite / Zealous Conscripts gives our slow Blue Red deck an instant combo finish that completely ignores your board position for a one shot kill. 

Do not expect any of the combo pieces to wheel. Most other cards in this article are interchangeable, but without the combo pieces, you may find yourself without any way to win! Be aware of the impact of Kiki-Jiki on your mana base when constructing your deck, triple Red is not trivial in a deck with Cryptic Command.




Card Draw

 

Ancestral Recall


Card advantage and selection helps us find our combo pieces and negate the card disadvantage of our fast mana. Ancestral Recall, Ancestral Vision, Dig Through Time, Fact or Fiction, Treasure CruiseCompulsive Research and Thirst for Knowledge are the premium card draw spells of the cube.

That said, don't underestimate the power of Ponder, Preordain or Impulse to smooth out your draws and find those combo pieces.

Chart a Course is another new addition to the cube, and this one has been very impressive to me. I can't believe how much this card wheels! Its great in basically all the Blue decks and in Splinter Twin you will often be getting full value out of it. 



Lands

As a general rule in Cube if there isn't a card in the pack I actively want I will take a dual land even one outside of my colors. This way your empty pack could still end up being useful in deck construction. 

 

Scalding Tarn Badlands Bloodstained Mire


As for Splinter Twin we are looking at picking up Blue Red and Black Red dual lands. In my experience Blue Black dual lands are taken very highly so if you are looking to play Grixis go for the Badlands and Bloodstained Mire instead. Any Blue or Red fetch land is a great pickup, not only will it be fixing your mana they also enable Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time



"Enters the Battlefield" Creatures

One of the problems of a deck with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Splinter Twin is what to do when you only draw one half of the combo. For this reason, I like my other creature slots in the deck to be ones with "spell-like" enter the battlefield effects.

 

Manic Vandal Snapcaster Mage Avalanche Riders

 

 

Manic Vandal is an actively great card in this cube and Manic Vandal with Splinter Twin on it can really ruin some players day.

The top tier of these creatures is Snapcaster Mage, Manic Vandal and Riftwing Cloudskate. Other creatures that I am looking to play include Imperial Recruiter to tutor the combo pieces, Phyrexian Revoker to name mana rocks, Avalanche Riders, Flametongue KavuAbbot of Keral Keep and Dualcaster Mage.



Filler - Utility Spells

Finally, to round out the deck, we have the utility spells. These aren't doing anything partially focussed on the decks game plan but are just good cards. These spells are the lowest priority when drafting and you will receive most late in the pack.

For planeswalkers we are looking at Ral Zarek, Jace Beleren, Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Dack Fayden. None are going to make or break your deck, but all are powerful enough to be playable all the same. 

For spells, you should end up with an assortment of Burn for creature and planeswalker removal. Abrade is another new addition that has been fantastic every time I cast it. Other than those, the symmetry of Wheel of Fortune and Timetwister is hard to break in this archetype, but they remain a useful reset button in the right circumstances.


Last Words

In summary that's Fast Mana > Counterspells > Combo Pieces > Card Draw > Land > Enters the Battlefield Creatures > Utility Spells. As always don't be afraid to deviate from this, especially as you go later in the draft and are just missing some specific pieces to finish off your deck.

What if my draft goes wrong? Sometimes, you will be drafting Blue Red but never seen any of the combo pieces, and that's ok! Part of the advantage of drafting like this is the ability to pivot into other Blue Red strategies. If your Splinter Twin plan isn't coming together considering going aggressive with Monsatery Swiftspear, Goblin Guide and burn.

If that fails too perhaps the option exists to picot into a more controlling stance focussing on using your counterspells to resolve threats like Karn Liberated or Consecrated Sphinx. In either situation, a deck of fast mana and counterspells can only go so far off the rails.


Splinter Twin is just one of the fun archetypes that you can draft in Vintage Cube. Cube is around longer than ever before this time so give it a go and don't forget to share those sweet decks on twitter. Until next time.




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