Hey guys, Bernardo Santos here and today I’ll talk about my recent MOCS tournament.
The result wasn’t what I wanted but I always enjoy these tournaments and the formats were really cool and refreshing from mostly only playing standard for the year. This was my third time qualifying for this tournament and if you like older formats you should definitely try to play this new showcase format: It’s the best Magic Online has to offer and you can play whichever format you like the most to try to qualify.
For this year the formats of the finals were Vintage Cube Draft and Modern and I prepared a lot for both. Even if it didn’t work out I still want to share my process with you and what I figured out.
I’ve played a lot of Cube in the past on Magic Online but it was always for fun. Playing Cube for higher stakes made me try to get better at it and understand it more. This Cube has a lot of variance as power cards like 《Ancestral Recall》, 《Black Lotus》 and 《Sol Ring》 are incredibly broken and will give you huge advantages if you open them. But you can still win without power you just need to know what archetypes exist and what are the specific cards for them that will make your deck that much better. Below you’ll find my personal ranking of the best 5 Cube archetypes in order.
1. UB Reanimator
I think this is the deck that has it all. It can do some broken things really fast, it’s consistent and even has access to the best disruption. The most important creatures to reanimate are 《Griselbrand》 and 《Iona, Shield of Emeria》 (you should pick them highly) but I also really like 《Grave Titan》 since you can sometimes cast it and works around 《Karakas》 which is really strong against you.
There are a lot of good enablers to put big creatures in your graveyard: 《Entomb》 is the best one but the blue ones also see more cards to try and find your missing pieces and are really important too: 《Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy》, 《Chart a Course》, 《Looter il-Kor》, 《Thirst for Knowledge》, 《Frantic Search》.
This is a deck who really wants tutors for consistency as you’re looking for the missing piece so 《Mystical Tutor》《Vampiric Tutor》 and 《Imperial Seal》 are cards you actively want. As for interaction you really want 《Thoughtseize》 as it can protect your combo slow them down and also be an enabler but other discards are fine and the blue soft counters are also really good to buy you time or protect your threats.
2. Mono White Aggro
Why would you Draft a fair deck in a broken Cube? Well, the question is more about Power vs Consistency. White Aggro tends to be one of the most consistent decks on the format.
Most of the decks in the Cube can win the game out of nowhere, but they usually need to draw well or they stumble a bit until they can execute it, and here is where White shines disrupting and pressuring at the same time.
This is a deck that can only handle one player at the table so you need to look out if it’s open (luckily it usually is) and most of the cards you want will table allot since they don’t fit in other archetypes, so you should play with that, for example a 2-drop creature can be better for your curve, but you can pick removal over it and let the creature table.
The best builds of the deck usually have a good mix of threats and disruption/removal, so you normally want around 16-17 creatures, a max of 16 land, 6-7 removal and 1-2 other effects like anthems, equipment or 《Armageddon》.
When you Draft the deck, you should look out for drafting first the cards that other people may want like 《Swords to Plowshares》 or 《Oblivion Ring》, the best threats like 《Gideon, Ally of Zendikar》, 《Thalia, Guardian of Thraben》, 《Skyclave Apparition》 or 《Mother of Runes》 and then look out to fill your curve in the most aggressive way possible.
3. Mono Red Aggro
This is another very strong deck, it is less disruptive than its white cousin making it a little weaker against the best combo decks but it makes up for that by being faster and extremely punishing if you stumble even a little against it.
The most important cards are the 1 drop creatures as you need to come out of the gates as fast as you can and these add up the pressure extremely quickly: 《Goblin Guide》《Figure of Destiny》 and 《Monastery Swiftspear》 are probably the better ones but they’re all decent and you should pick them highly.
Other than the one drops some of the most important cards for this deck are 《Eidolon of the Great Revel》, 《Sulfuric Vortex》 and 《Shrine of Burning Rage》; these cards are just really heavy hitters and they diversify your threats making you less vulnerable to combo(3Eidolon) life gain (vortex) control/sweepers (shrine).
You don’t want to play too many 4 drops but most of your decks will want some and they are pretty strong the best ones are 《Koth of the Hammer》, 《Hazoret the Fervent》 and 《Chandra, Torch of Defiance》. You want to mix in some burn spells in this deck as they give you the reach you need if they can control your creatures or can take blockers away but you need to find the balance between them and your creatures/threats.
As far as Blue Red goes, I think one mistake people usually do is to lean towards a more controlling role rather than a more tempo aggressive one. While I think that the blue red combination has all the tools for you to end up with good decks in both ends of the spectrum I’d much rather be playing with 《Goblin Rabblemaster》 and 《Monastery Swiftspear》 than 《Cryptic Command》 and 《Frost Titan》. Ideally, though you don’t need to go 《Goblin Guide》 deep, but you get the idea.
You generally want to keep a good balance between picking good Blue-Red Mana Fixing, 1 or 2 mana efficient instant or sorcery spells such as 《Gitaxian Probe》, 《Lightning Bolt》, 《Chain Lightning》, 《Ponder》, 《Preordain》 and payoff cards for those cheap spells like 《Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy》, 《Snapcaster Mage》, 《Sea Gate Stormcaller》, 《Dreadhorde Arcanist》, 《Young Pyromancer》 etc.
《Ancestral Recall》 and 《Time Walk》 are the absolute best power you can open due to the combination with the payoff cards, and If I am lucky enough to open any of these I will go as deep as playing 《Expansion/Explosion》 and 《Goblin Dark-Dwellers》 as payoffs as well.
The Splinter twin Combo cards are also at premium in this archetype and I will pick them even if I’m already in the third pack. The combo is just really strong if they have to react to your pressure and they are always afraid of it making you win games you wouldn’t win by just them playing around it. 《Pestermite》 and 《Zealous Conscripts》 still play very well the tempo game plan that your deck is trying to achieve which is a good reason to pick them.
In no particular order, cards such as 《Remand》, 《Spell Pierce》, 《Brazen Borrower》, 《Vendilion Clique》, 《Venser, Shaper Savant》, 《Daze》, 《Force of Will》/《Force of Negation》 (if you have enough blue cards) and other tempo oriented cards should help you to finish your deck.
5. Ux Control
For the blue control decks, the most important part are the cheap counterspells: they allow you to interact early and not get rushed, buying time for you to take control of the game against aggro decks. They also allow you to interact with combo decks that go over the top of what you’re doing. 《Mana Drain》, 《Counterspell》 and 《Force of Will》 are the best of the bunch if your mana can support them but 《Miscalculation》《Force of Negation》 and 《Mana Leak》 are also really good, even 《Remand》 and 《Spell Pierce》 are cards you actively want but they are a little worse.
You usually need at least 2 or 3 to have a solid control deck otherwise you’ll just lose to the combo. The most common pairing with blue for control is white as you get to deal with pesky permanents like planeswalkers or powerful enchantments with cards like 《Oblivion Ring》 variants 《Council’s Judgment》 and even 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》 or if you’re lucky 《Fractured Identity》. You also get access to 《Wrath of God》 effects in white which help you catch up against creature decks. That being said you can pretty much pair blue with any other color as the important part are the counterspells and card draw and it’s very easy to splash for a powerful planeswalker or another type of effect you want in this Cube.
There are still a lot of other cool and viable strategies in Cube and it’s the most fun magic format in my opinion. There are green ramp decks that can splash pretty much whatever they want, storm decks with so many variants like 《High Tide》, red based, black based, the 《Strip Mine》 deck which is basically ways to find 《Strip Mine》 and play it back from your graveyard with cards that allow you to play extra lands per turn completely stopping your opponent from playing; 《Tinker》/《Tolarian Academy》 decks which can be really good too etc. It’s such a rich format and you can do so many things that you should definitely try it and I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy it.
For Modern, I decided to play Heliod Company as I think it’s the best deck in the format and even though it didn’t go my way I would definitely play it again. Here’s the list I played at the MOCS.
Deck List: Heliod Company
I think this deck is really well positioned and just generally strong. I actually think it will be a good modern deck for a very long time. I only played 3 《Spike Feeder》 due to magic online reasons where you can’t really gain infinite life but in real life I would play the full 4 and cut a 《Conclave Mentor》 for it. Some lists play 《Archangel of Thune》 and it’s a fine card with a lot of synergy in this deck and another way to infinitely combo with 《Spike Feeder》 but I felt it was a little win more and not exactly what I wanted for the deck but it’s an ok choice.
The strength of this deck is that it has a lot of infinite combos in a creature deck shell which makes it actually good against decks like 《Death’s Shadow》 or Jund. It’s also very good against aggro decks as you do play 4 maindeck 《Auriok Champion》, 《Spike Feeder》, and you can infinite combo for life off of just one 《Collected Company》.
You also just get to play maindeck 《Skyclave Apparition》 which are very good in format and just a great card overall: they allow you to not worry about annoying little artifacts or enchantments that would stop you or threaten you almost for free. You have a lot of good match-ups in the top decks and only 2 that I think are unfavorable in Uw control and Tron. You’re favorite against Ur Blitz, Burn, Jund Shadow, Amulet Titan Dredge and close against Jund and Eldrazi Tron.
I’ll explain my sideboard choices
I think he’s a fine choice as a threat against both Uw and attrition matchups like Jund or Shadow.
I wanted a card that could really get Uw sometimes and choke is really powerful making them sometimes just straight up lose to it.
Mostly for the Tron matchup, you definitely need them but they also have some utility against Storm and Amulet.
Another value threat against control but I think one of them can be replaced for a third 《Veil of Summer》.
A removal for big creatures which can be fetched by 《Ranger-Captain of Eos》 I think it’s worth the inclusion but nothing special.
You want some form of cheap removal for the mirror or even against Blitz to kill that pesky 3-3 flyer.
I think 3 can definitely be the right number as it just doubles against 《Thoughtseize》/Removal decks and U control one of the most broken sideboard cards in Modern.
I was actually more afraid of the mill than graveyard strategies and while this is worse than 《Rest in Peace》 against those I think the versatility is worth it.
Here’s the part everyone likes: Sideboard Guide.
Even though my result wasn’t particularly good, I had a lot of fun playing these formats again and I hope some of the information I learned can help you whatever the reason you’re playing.
Thanks for the support and until next time!
Bernardo Santos (Twitter)