Cube Drafting

After the second day of the StarCityGames.com Open Series, legacy portion, my buddies and I went back home ready for more magic. We broke open my cube with anticipation and started randomizing it. We decided to try using five packs of nine cards for the draft, as I’ve seen that recommended multiple places now for drafting with only a few people.

Draft 1

The first draft I started by first picking a Thoughtseize. Upon looking at the second pack my eyes got big and my mouth must have hit the floor. I did a double take. I was looking at a foily Jace, the Mind Sculptor, but I didn’t own a foil Jace! My friends saw my face and started laughing. Apparently the foil was a gift for my upcoming birthday, and my brother-in-law had slipped it in surreptitiously to surprise me. A surprise indeed. Needless to say, I picked the Jace and promptly forgot whatever else was in the pack. I ended up picking up Riftwing Cloudskate, Crystal Shard, Sword of Light and Dark, Greater Gargadon, Angel of Despair, Dread Return, Animate Dead and some other card draw and reanimator support cards along with a couple burn spells. The deck was ok, but it seemed like one of the other guys was picking up cards in my archetype as well, so it wasn’t nearly as strong as it could have been.

Round 1 vs. Anthony

Game 1

My opening hand had Jace, Animate Dead, Greater Gargadon, a few land and Riftwing Cloudskate and I was on the play. I got the unholy idea of not playing anything, discarding the Gargadon, and then animating it in two turns. And, like most hair-brained ideas I get when playing Magic and should ignore, I fell for it. My turn two I discard the Gargadon, and on his turn three he casts Necromancy targeting the Gargadon in my graveyard. I promptly scooped. Apparently, Anthony was picking up all the other blue and black cards and had also made a u/b deck in the reanimation archetype. The takeaway lesson is this: hair-brained ideas usually aren’t worth following, especially if you have no prior information to guide you. Not knowing what was in his deck really came around to bite me.

Game 2

The second game I stuck to a much more normal plan of simply playing lands and building board position. I was able to stick Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Sword of Light and Dark, and a suspended Riftwing Cloudskate this game. Once the Cloudskate had the equipment attached, he basically won me the game.

Game 3

This game played out pretty strongly in Anthony’s favor, if I recall correctly. I don’t remember much happening on my side other than a Cloudskate and the Sword and using my card draw to attempt to find answers to his threats. He was able to nullify my few threats and control the board.

Round 2 vs. Hans

Game 1

This was a case of my deck merely being too slow for his deck. I had a decent draw, but he had a solid Naya aggro build with an early Wild Nacatl and a turn three Wooly Thoctar. Just brutal.

Game 2

This game was slightly longer than the first game, though no less brutal. His creatures far outnumbered the number of answers my deck had, and I fell underfoot of his army.

Results: 0-2

I definitely need to get better at drafting. It’s something I love doing, yet don’t do very often, especially with the cube. Looking back, there was an abundance of red burn and creatures running through the packs that seemed to get picked up late or last. Had I read the signals early enough I would have been better off going into a strong red and to disgard the pursuit of the reanimation archetype.

Draft 2

This draft started off with me grabbing an early Birds of Paradise and Vengevine. I had passed a Darksteel Colossus in the first pack that never came back. I started picking up some good blue control spells and then in pack three I saw Polymorph. I’m a sucker for that archetype, so I bit. I then picked up an Awakening Zone, Novablast Wurm, Sphinx of Jwar Isle, Life // Death. In the end I was able to craft a decent Polymorph deck with enough controlish elements to potentially make it work.

Round 1 vs. Anthony

Game 1

I wish I remembered these games a bit better, but I remember him getting some early white creatures down and putting some pressure on me, but I ended up getting my Sphinx of Jwar Isle to stick and was able to win on his back.

Game 2

This game felt much the same as the first. My deck delivered cards to control the board and allowed me to win on the back of the Sphinx and Vengevine.

Round 2 vs. Hans

Game 1

This turned out to be one of the most epic games I’ve played. Hans ended up drafting a very controlling Grixis deck complete with Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker. I got down a really early Vengevine. He Terminated it. I Polymorphed into my Sphinx, he blew it away with Damnation. I got Novablast Wurm on the board, and he made me sacrifice it with Diabolic Edict. This went back and forth until I had him to around 3 life. My board was empty, so I cast Call of the Herd and then flashed it back. I was hoping one of my two elephants could connect for the win. On his turn he cast Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker with lots of mana still open. He blew up one of my lands to put Nicol Bolas to 8 loyalty and then destroyed both tokens with a couple black spells, following that up with a creature. I was in trouble. I had drawn, played, and had every creature in my deck destroyed. My hand consisted of Reality Spasm and some land. Nothing in hand that would actually help me against Bolas. I was also low on life, so if Bolas didn’t kill me outright, the creature staring at me from the other side of the board would finish the job. I untapped, drew my card for the turn, and got a little giddy. I had drawn Life // Death. I had forgotten that I had the card still in my deck. I had something like 10 land on the board. I cast Life, and attacked with my 8 animated land for the win. The game felt awesome for how interactive it was and how much each play seemed to matter. All told I will remember this game for a long time.

Game 2

After the first game, this one was a total let down. I kept an ok hand, but soon started missing land drops and my deck couldn’t handle his creatures and efficient removal. I did a quick death.

Game 3

This turned out to be another very interactive game, similar to the first. We just had a lot of back and forth action/reaction play. He kept drawing into his removal at the right time. He had several creatures on the board and I Polymorphed into Novablast Wurm. Again, the Diabolic Edict cut the wurm down to size before it could blow up the world. Disappointing. I just couldn’t get a big threat to stick long enough to swing things in my favor and Hans won the game.

Results: 1-1

This draft was much better, as I felt that I read the signals right and was able to draft an archetype I was familiar with and knew how to play passably well. I really can’t wait to break out the cube again, but likely it will have to wait until another get together later in the year. I plan on taking better notes next time so I can be more accurate and actually remember more details. Until then, I hope you get to enjoy cube drafting on your own. If you haven’t tried it, find someone that has a cube or build your own. It’s a very rewarding experience.

Father, husband, programmer, gamer. Magic: The Gathering enthusiast who enjoys playing and discussing the game with anyone who is willing.

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