There will be times where your draft blows up in your face. It’s less devistating in cube than in other limited formats, since your 14th and 15th picks are actually playables instead of 5 mana stone rains and what not, but it’s still a pain. Sure, your hodge-podge pile of “good cards” can steal wins from the other decks because of good draws and having the super good bombs when you need them, but more often than not the decks with a purpose—i.e. Decks with clearly defined archetypes and strategies—will beat you as the cards within the roster work together to build awesome synergy and stack on Ws.
The other day I ran into this problem. Throughout the draft I was keeping my cards organized by curve (something I’ve been always trying to do; by maintaining my curve during the draft I can build the deck quicker and without revealing what I’m working with, keeping surprised on my side and keeping my on-the-fly draft thinking cohesive and fluid) and it looked like I was going into a green ramp strategy. By the end I noticed that I didn’t really have anything to ramp into. There was a batterskull and a Vorapede, but I’m not looking to make 10+ mana to ramp into 5 drops, especially since they’re at the top of my curve alone. The deck was looking bleak.
As I investigated further, I noticed that I picked up a decent amount of white aggro scraps since we’re not the most aggressively inclined group. The thing is, whenever someone actually makes an aggressive deck with a nice curve, they typically win. My roster was full of Soltari and some good-to-serviceable one-drops, and instead of being freaked out, it looked like I could deliver some pretty nice beatings.
Mother of Runes
Student of Warfare
Red Sun’s Zenith
Sword of Fire and Ice
Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
Molten Tail Masticore
x amount of Plains, Mountains, and Swamps
Stoneforge Mystic: Not too long ago, Stoneforge Mystic was only borderline playable. Since Mirrodin block 2.0 came out, Mystic gained 4 more targets and went from “fringe” to “fucking awesome.” While the Mystic’s targets are limited, they are all top-notch and cards that you want to tutor for and cheat into play. She’s low enough on the curve that you’re not overpaying for the broken effect and ability, and costing two allows her to fit in any strategy that wants weapons—which is any strategy that runs creatures, which is most of them in cube.
In this deck, Stoneforge Mystic was the centerpiece, the glue, the reason this pile came together. I strongly believe that having 3 weapons and no Stoneforge would’ve been a lot worse. There have been times where I felt having one less one drop or bomb wouldn’t have been the be-all-end-all, but when you need to improve on the base stats of a lot of your creatures and so many of them have shadow, having a 4th card that acts as a copy of any of your weapons and can cast them for way cheaper is pretty nuts.
I had what could be considered the perfect array of weapons for any situation. If I needed instant card advantage, I could get the Skullclamp and start digging deeper. If I wanted to remove a troublesome creature or planeswalker or needed to get around certain colors, I could grab the Sword of Fire and Ice. And if I just needed an early beater that outclasses pretty much everything early in the game, and can be cooly brought in and out with the 3 ability and Stoneforge’s, I could go and grab Batterskull. There is also the neat trick of playing Stoneforge, grabbing a weapon that I don’t actually need to make my opponent play one way, and then sneak in another weapon in my table to throw them off guard. They might not be worried about getting the face crushed if I grab skullclamp, so bringing in the Batterskull could outright win the game for you right there. I’m pretty lucky to have grabbed Stoneforge so early.
Gravecrawler, Boneshredder, Falkenrath, and Sorin: It seems odd in an aggressive deck to be splashing for a one drop, a piece of removal, and two two-colored bombs. There are two reasons I did this. First and foremost, I didn’t have enough playables. I spent a long time trying to justify playing green, but if I included any of it I’d either have to get incredibly greedy and play it as four colors, which wasn’t actually an option since I didn’t have any green duals, or I’d have to play the ramp strategy which was a no-go with my pile. For a long time I tried to make it a RW deck but it was…lacking. Once I put the black in, the last spots filled in pretty nicely. The second reason was that my fixing was good enough to justify it, and the black cards all filled roles that I wanted. I had enough black duals that hitting black in my first few turns didn’t seem like an issue. (Unlike with red which was more of a stretch.)
Gravecrawler was a one drop in a deck without a bunch. He is admittedly the worst fucking card in this deck, since he’s only a 2/1 that can’t block and has limited land to cast him, but I needed playables and a one drop is still a one drop. It helps that Gravecrawler into a WW soltari was a posibility because of the shrine and the scrubland. This deck had no real synergies with Gravecrawler, but if you remember from earlier, this deck was thrown together during deckbuilding.
Boneshredder was a nice kill spell that could get in for evasion wearing a piece of equipment or get eaten up to Skullclamp. There were other black players at the table, so he wasn’t the absolute best card I could run, and would’ve ran something red or another one drop instead if I could’ve, but he killed a lot of dudes and swung a decent amount when I paid for the echo cost. 2B can be asking a lot for a deck that is using its mana every turn, but if I don’t need the 1/1 flier than so be it.
Sorin is absolutely nuts and a reason to splash for black. With all my evasion guys and endless tokens, giving the emblem ends games quick. Having two Soltari out there that swing for 3 a piece typically leads to a GG within 2 or 3 turns of attacking. Even a bunch of Lingering Souls token, or just the regular Vampire tokens or actual creatures I had, were enough to bring the walls down. Sorin is awesome protection against wraths, and while the ultimate was largely irrelevant since I had more interest in making emblems than tokens, it was nice to have there.
Falkenrath Aristocrat was the sketchiest of the black cards I ran, since she costed both of my splash colors to play, but a 4/1 haste flier that can be indestructible and eat up a couple of my cards for extra damage was worth it. Getting my opponents into the red zone was fairly easy, but with a clear dearth of direct-damage except for Red Sun’s Zenith, I needed a way to close games out sooner than later. I played enough mountains that having one out on turn 4 wasn’t the craziest thing ever, but there were a couple games where an Aristocrat was a turn 6 or 7 play instead of right on curve. Still, it was nice having her, and she wore equipment like a champ.
Manic Vandal: Another fairly questionable card, he was pretty nice as my only piece of artifact removal. If I was heavier red it’d be less of a funky card, but since I was loosely splashing I wasn’t too sure if I actually wanted him. In the end I realized that all my opponents were playing a high concentration of troublesome artifacts, so I went ahead and main-decked him. He was fine; he carried a weapon, Falkenrath ate him up. Nothing super exciting, but he got the job done, which is why he is run.
All in all, this questionable deck kicked some serious ass, going 3-0 with only a couple game losses. Hopefully next time I draft aggro it’s on purpose!
If you’re new to cube drafting go check out our About Cube Drafting page