Pack 1 Pick 1 #29

Another pack 1 pick 1! (, amirite?) Instead of jib-jabba, let’s get pick-packin’! (I am so sorry.)


Fellwar Stone
Calcite Snapper
Acidic Slime
Path to Exile
Vivid Grove
Wall of Omens
Hero of Bladehold
Force Spike
Glen Elendra Archmage
Gifts Ungiven
Purphoros, God of the Forge
Vampiric Tutor
Garruk Relentless
Courser of Kruphix

The cube list:

This is a strong pack. I am considering Felwar Stone, Acidic Slime, Path to Exile, Hero of Bladehold, Glen Elendra Archmage, Purphoros, Vampiric Tutor, Garruk Relentless, and Courser of Kruphix. The rest of the pack is mainly roleplayers; an argument could be made for Gifts Ungiven, but that argument will not be made by me.

Felwar Stone is the most underwhelming of the picks in a vacuum, but in my cube where there are no signets then artifact mana needs to be prioritizes if that’s the type of deck you make. Felwar Stone is like a first-mode-only Everflowing Chalice that can sometimes fix your mana. The main reason it’s good is that it gives non-green decks a way to ramp from 2 to 4, which is huge. A blue deck dropping a turn 3 Jace or Glen Elendra Archmage will hold its own against a lot of different decks. In this pack Stone is probably not the pick as there are just better cards to be chosen, but there is someone out there probably interested in the stone and I can understand why.

Acidic Slime is a personal favorite, and easily my favorite of the ETB-destroy-artifact variants. (Reclamation Sage is quickly moving up to battle for the top spot, but that’s another article.) Slime is so great because you pretty much always have a not-your-own target, something that Uktabi Orangutan or Indrik Stomphowler cannot claim on their own. There are many times you will want to hit their lands too, as there are many problem lands running throughout all cubes. If you have a Crystal Shard or Recurring Nightmare at hand, Acidic Slime becomes that much more disgusting. A strong card, probably not the best pick here because there are better green cards, but it would be sweet to take one of the other green cards and have Slime wheel.

1 mana removal spells are strong, and Path to Exile is no exception. There are many packs where Path would be the best and safest pick, as so many decks want to splash an easy-to-cast piece of removal that hits almost everything. Giving them a land can suck, but it’s better to force your opponent to have the next threat than it is to not play Path and let them keep beating. Behind Felwar Stone I think path is the safest since it makes the most amount of decks and gives you a reason to splash white if you aren’t there, but I’m less inclined to pick amazing removal if there are amazing threats or planeswalkers also available.

While I’m less high on Hero than when it first came out, Hero of Bladehold is still an utter beating if you’re allowed to untap with it. By itself it’s a 7 power beater on attack, and with other creatures you add more and more damage with the Battlecry. Hero does die to quite a bit and acts like a lightning rod, but in the right deck you can force your opponent to waste removal-removal-removal on the first three turns and then watch them frown as they’re out of gas. In this pack I’d take Path if I’m taking a white card as I like easier to splash cards and game-changing 4-drops are not scarce in cube. Hopefully this changes into the Holiday Cube and I can wheel it in the last 5 picks. This happened a surprising amount.

Glen Elendra Archmage, a card I’ve talked about a lot, and for good reason: SHE’S REALLY GOOD. Two negates attached to a flier as a mimimum is super solid. Resetting that persist trigger any amount of times means you’re probably locking out your opponent from casting relevant spells. Glen Elendra is one of the higher considerations for me because: 1) it’s blue, 2) it’s easily the best blue card, and 3) it’s one of the best card in the pack. If I don’t take it here, it’s worth noting that I’m passing it.

The more I play with Purphoros, the more I like it. Ignore the devotion/creature part—that is a bonus and it does happen, but the most important thing is doing 2 damage any time a creature comes into play. That means blink shenanigans, tokens, regular-old creatures all shoot shocks. The other day on the modo cube I was facing a deck that had me down to 4 life and dead on board. Purphoros was the only reason I won that game, as I was able to do 20 damage to them in one turn. 20! No other card in cube except maybe like Upheaval would’ve saved me there as my opponent definitely had the reach to kill me. The quality and diversity of what the other cards in the pack do means I probably don’t take Purphoros, but I would have to think hard if it wheeled from this pack.

Vampiric Tutor, to me, is the best card in this pack. Cube is a place where most all the cards in your deck are high-quality, and having a 2nd copy of any of them left in your deck is really strong. You lose a card and you take 2 life, but by being instant speed you can find what you want at the end of your opponent’s turn after they’ve made their main phase plays and then get the best card for the best situation. A single black is easy to splash, and I feel like a tutor is worth splashing. Vampiric Tutor is a front runner.

Garruk Relentless is a front runner as well. Garruk is great as he acts as removal in green, which is extremely rare, on top of being a threat generator. Once you flip him, he becomes almost like a Survival of the Fittest with the overrun option at the end. Probably the best part is that he costs 3G, letting many decks splash him and giving so many decks the options of using a card as a continual stream of threats until you feel the need to kill something. Garruk Relentless loses points because there are other strong green cards in the pack, but being easy to cast certainly helps.

Finally there’s Courser, who gives your green decks card advantage on a fairly cheap big-body while gaining you life. Courser lives through a lot, attacks through more, and if your life is of the concern, then the incremental one a turn will help considerably. The biggest drive is playing lands off your deck, which is kind of like drawing cards. Broadcasting to your opponents what is coming off is not stellar, but when that information is better for you to know then your opponent then it’s real easy to sculpt a win.

What would you choose? Let us know in the comments, and thanks for reading!

Pack 1 Pick 1 #28

Let’s do another pack 1 pick 1!


Mana Tithe
Restoration Angel
Sylvan Caryatid
Thirst for Knowledge
Shivan Reef
Lone Missionary
Vivid Creek
Prophetic Bolt
Braids, Cabal Minion
Jace Beleren
Path to Exile

The list:


This is quite the pack. I’m considering half the pack, though not all cards are made equal in that grouping. For likely choices, these are my options: Tundra, Upheaval, Restoration Angel, Sylvan Caryatid, Braids, Cabal Minion, Jace Beleren, Path to Exile, and Shriekmaw. The lands I didn’t mention aren’t nearly strong enough to consider; Lone Missionary is filler or a niche sideboard card; Thirst for Knowledge is kind of underwhelming in an unpowered cube; Mana Tithe is sweet but I’d never take it first; Pestermite belongs to a specific deck that is crazy to assume is open at this point; and Prophetic Bolt is kind of boring and expensive here. Beyond that, everything is up for grabs to some degree, and I’d like to go through and consider the pros and cons of each.

Tundra is a safe pick with some upside. Duals are great if you want to stay open, and UW duals are some of the best as splashing for white removal or playing blue in general can be a good call. I am also a fan of drafting UW, as you can either go with a tempo or control build; in both of those decks, Tundra is great since it’s important to be able to cast your spells when you need to in cube as you can’t afford to sit around as your opponent goes through their hand and deck. In this pack Tundra is not the best option as you are passing some top-tier white and blue cards. The blue cards would be a signal to me to go into blue, and the white cards here are easy enough to splash that it would be shocking to see them return in an 8 man draft. Taking Tundra and immediately launching into UW could be crazy, as it’s better to read what is passed to you then what you pass since the people on the right will be supplying you with a majority of your packs and reads.

Upheaval is a classic cube card that has always been powerful, but it’s much more of a commitment in my cube where the powered and fast-mana starts are less abundant. (As an aside I’m considering removing signets as they are really powerful compared to the non-signet ramp available for an unpowered cube, but that’s a conversation in another day.) You need to prioritize the artifact ramp as you see it or go into UG to really see Upheaval’s power in most games. In blue control decks Upheaval is fine as a pseudo wipe, but against a lot of decks you will still need to go through with all the bells and whistles that the original early game presented you with. Upheaval is powerful enough that it’s one of the stronger contenders here, but it’s less of a slam-pick in my cube than it would be in a powered cube such as Sky’s. Regardless, I would be completely OK with taking it here and can definitely end up with a sweet deck.

The more I play with Restoration Angel, the more I love it. A 3/4 flier for 3W with flash is already pretty beefy. She’s a surprise blocker or EOT-attacker a good amount of the time, and then when you flash something with an ETB effect you’re actually swimming in a tub full of gravy…because she’s gravy…get it? Sorry.  ANYWHO, cube is full of creatures that do stuff when they come into play, with enough in white that you’re not relying on other colors to make it useful such as Opposition sometimes does in blue. (Master of Waves has helped support Opposition for me; I can understand the reservations some may have with playing a Cloudgoat that murders your kitkins when he leaves, but Master of Waves has been way more powerful in practice than theory.) As a splash Restoration Angel totally works well; a single white is so easy to reach by 4 mana in cube where fixing is abundant. Restoration Angel, like the Path and Shriekmaw, keeps you the most open while still giving you a card that “does stuff” i.e. gives you a powerful effect to work towards supporting or including. Restoration Angel is one of my top choices here.

A big problem in green is keeping the 1-2 land hands that “work” because you have that elf or Wall of Roots that will help you reach your Cultivate/Rampant Growth/what-have you, and then watching that hand and subsequently the game crumble as your opponent bolts or STPs your guy and your draws are terrible. Sylvan Caryatid has given green an option to work around this problem while also performing other roles. At a minimum, a 0/3 body is enough to stop aggression, but adding any color mana reliable on the next turn lets you figure out your future plays much easier. As the only green card in the pack, it sends a clear signal that is worth noting and if you get passed green good stuff you can all but guarantee a second pack that continues to bloom. The sick, ramp-player-4-eva in me would have a hard time passing Caryatid in this spot, and Caryatid is definitely a top contender. Being just a ramp card without giving me a unique or powerful way to interact with my opponent’s board and mess with their lifestyle makes me sad to pass so much good stuff, but Caryatid at least lets me cast my big things without really caring what my opponent is doing. Likely not the pick, but wouldn’t be surprised if it was.

Braids, Cabal Minion is either loved or hated. People either think she’s soul-crushing, or find her kind of useless. Obviously I think she’s great because I’m considering taking her here, but compared to all my other options she’s one of the biggest commitments to a deck. The Braids deck—which uses tokens, recurrable permanents, and an early/faster board to peck away at them as they struggle to stay afloat to take the game away by applying a symmetrical effect in an asymmetrical way—is menacing and kind of like a bully, holding your opponent down by the neck as you give them little slaps to death. There have been games where the turn 4 Braids on the play resolves and your opponent has 3 lands and doesn’t draw a replacement. She is not good against every deck, but where she shines she shines hard and the more focused you are on the Braids/Pox package, the easier it is to still use the attrition to win against other fast/”fast” decks. In this spot I don’t take her as I like to side towards more conservative picks regarding my mana when the power level of my choices are similar. Like, if Jace, the Mind Sculptor was in this pack I take him every time because he’s that much better than what my other options are. But nothing here jumps out as so-much-better, so a more versatile or powerful card would be a better choice.

Jace Beleren is the blue Phyrexian Arena; this is a compliment. Draw 3 for 1UU sounds like a great deal, and Jace is that and more. (More drawn out, but still.) If you choose to tick him down to death, he is a draw 3 for 1UU, as previously stated. If you want to let your opponent draw one every once in a while so you can keep on drawing, he can net you more value if not some life gain from your opponent attacking him instead of you. And if you have the game on lock without a typical win-con that attacks for damage, Jace’s + ability will mill most decks by that point when you can reach a point to activate it. Jace is like Braids here in that I’m more likely to take a different or more powerful card because of how much of a mana commitment it is, but I am a moth at times with magic and blue can be the light that shines the brightest. (Ignore previous “green-4-lyfe” mumbo-jumbo.)

Path to Exile can be worse than Swords to Plowshares, but we’re comparing gold to platinum here. Fairly unconditional removal of a creature permanently is highly sought after when graveyards can be abused in an abundance of ways. Against reanimator or regrowth decks killing the threat cannot be enough when they return it soon after. At one mana it’s easy to keep open, and one of the best pieces of creature removal. The drawback is not negligible and definitely is worse than giving your opponent life, but there are many points where they can do nothing special with that basic land and giving them that card in the form of a land is a sweet trade. Path to Exile is a safe pick here and a top consideration, but probably not the best one.

Shriekmaw is really two spells: a sorcery doomblade, and a 3/2 fear doomblade for 5. The first part is nowhere close to cubeable at this point, but that ability attached to a creature with evasion is awesome. Being black is so much better for Shriekmaw as you have graveyard shenanigans that turn Shriekmaw into a 2+ for 1. I feel that Shriemaw is kind of underrated since the five-mana version is kind of expensive for a 2 toughness creature, but perhaps I’m delusional. It can be dangerous to splash for Shriekmaw as the real black deck will nullify his ability, and if they can somehow blink or bounce their non-black creatures then there are times where you are forced to destroy your own creature—that is shitty. But that is also quite rare. Shriekmaw is great. Shriekmaw could be the right choice here, but I don’t know—it’s a tough decision!


Ultimately I think I’m going to take Restoration Angel. Upheaval has the higher upside, but Restoration Angel comes down faster while also giving you the option to blow out your opponent in so many different ways. Caryatid is the only green card and a strong one at that, but Restoration Angel is enough stronger to make it a no contest.


What would you take? Let us know in the comments, and thanks for reading!

Pack 1 Pick 1 #27


Another pack 1 pick 1, this time with a different cube—mine! After refreshing about 10 times with power finding its way into the pack as the obvious pick all 10 times, I decided to switch over to my unpowered list that I’ve been slowly putting together for years now. At some point during this past summer, I finally pulled the trigger and dismantled my pauper cube, taking all the relevant commons from that and combining them with the cards I’ve gathered for my cube threw trades/draft prizes/etc. The cube is finally at a point where I’m not too embarrassed about its contents. There are still cards I feel like I need to get for it, but it’s at a point where it feels like the power level is where I want it to be. (Note not “powered” but “power level”. I love powered cards and playing with them, but I wanted my cube to be a dedicated unpowered environment, which means no Sol Ring/Mana Vault, even though they are cheap. The ceiling for power level is probably Jitte/Skull clamp/Grim Monolith, amazing cards you’d even take high in a powered environment but able to be dealt with or slow enough to not blow an opponent out consistently on t1-t3.)


Inferno Titan


Scalding Tarn



Into the Roil


Wrath of God

Phyrexian Metamorph


Zealous Conscripts

Arcane Denial

Wickerborough Elder

Small Pox

Garruk Wildspeaker

This pack contains some stellar cards going in many directions. The cards I’m considering, in no particular order, are: Inferno Titan, Scalding Tarn, Armageddon, Opposition, Wrath of God, Phyrexian Metamorph, Damnation, Zealous Conscripts, Smallpox, and Garruk Wildspeaker. There are a lot of different directions I could go here, and it’s tough to say what I would take first right off the bat.

Inferno Titan is a big beating machine. Easily red’s best finisher, it’s a massive ability that can Wipe Away boards and life points at a reasonable-to-cast cost. If I’m in Wildfire or any big-red strategy where you’re not going aggressive, then Inferno Titan is the finisher I pretty much always want. Big red decks aren’t always popular, and with no Sneak Attack in this cube it’s likely I could even wheel the Inferno Titan with a potentially better red card in the pack. If I’m looking for a finisher here, Inferno Titan is probably my best option, but I’m still less inclined to take red cards early that aren’t super aggressive.

Scalding Tarn is an amazing land since blue decks often want to splash burn for removal, and having fetches is generally a good way to stay open. Not only will Scalding Tarn fit nicely in any blue or red deck that wants to find dual lands, but any random dual lands I pick up with either red or blue will help me fix my mana and make splashes easier. If I have a badlands and I’m playing UB, I play that badlands as it allows my Scalding Tarn to find black mana. Typically I try not to take land fixing this early if there are first-pickable bombs, but I can see the argument of wanting to stay open because it is important to see what people pass to you.

Armageddon hurts. Playing Armageddon and having a way to either have more of a board presence or a way to bring back your gone lands is game-winning. Armageddon is easy to splash, so in green ramp decks or other colored artifact-based ramp deck Armageddon shines. There can be awkward moments where you Armageddon and you don’t instantly win, but that issue seems to be more because of poor application and not really indicative of Armageddon’s power level. Armageddon is one of the better top picks in this pack.

Opposition is a powerful  build around effect that is supported within its own colors. Because I run opposition, I’ve decided to add Master of Waves since that’s an automatic 3 tokens. So far in testing I’ve been pretty happy with that couple, as even if they can remove the master you can usually tap down their entire mana base or their entire army, acting as a fog or Time Walk. If my cube was bigger that would be less of a reason to want Opposition, but at around 425 It’s not too unlikely to see both Master of Waves and Opposition in an 8 man draft. Meloku is also here, and nowadays she goes much later than she used to and could be passed to us. Usually I don’t like to force opposition since it can be awkward to make work if blue starts to get cut, though seeing no other solely-blue great cards in this pack could give me reason to pick it.

Wrath of God and Damnation are exactly the same card, but Damnation is the better choice in my opinion if you’re taking a wrath. The reason being that I have many more wrath effects in white than I do black, so if I do end up being in a white control build it’s not like I won’t be able to replicate the general effect of Wrath of God , whereas Damnation is the only pure-wrath that removes creatures. Living Death can sometimes be uncastable, and Death Cloud can require a lot of mana that you can’t afford to use because your hand or lands are needed. I don’t like taking a wrath here because that effect can be found in not only black and white but red as well, but it’s certainly not the worst pick out of the pack.

In most cubes Zealous Conscripts wouldn’t be considered in this spot but I support the Kiki Jiki/Splinter Twin combo, of which Zealous Conscripts is potentially the other half. With either one, Zealous Conscripts targets the Jiki/Twin’d creature, letting you make another copy, then another, then etc. until your opponent realizes your dead. This combo is my favorite to support because it’s easy, the cards involved can be played in non-combo decks, and I only have to include 3-4 meh cards that aren’t even that bad. Outside of that deck Conscripts is amazing as an aggro curve topper to pull away one of their blockers on an alpha strike, or in any mid-range build to pull and equipment or planeswalker over to get a free swing or activate. The best is when an opponent gets their planeswalker to the point where they can ultimate the next turn, and you take it and use it for your own. Thanks!

As an experiment I’ve been trying to support the Pox build, and Smallpox is a nice one there. Smallpox is great because at two mana and hitting everything for one, you can build your board to better abuse the ability. The pox deck is one you really have to go all-in for, but one that can deliver a beating by consistently attacking resources. I don’t think I’d take it here, but people with experience with the Pox build might know its power and take the Smallpox here.

Garruk is my 1b, as I love planeswalkers and he is incredible. As a mega ramp card, Garruk gives you at minimum two free mana. With City of Ass (hopefully coming soon) or bouncelands, Garruk becomes explosive, letting you reach 7-9 mana with easy the turn after casting him. If you need to put the beats then the 3/3s he makes can pack quite a punch, and his Overrun-ultimate is not hard to reach and activate after you play him. I also love green and find myself playing the color a lot, so I don’t really have a problem committing if I’m playing with people I know as they’ll know I play green. I play green a lot.

Phyrexian Metamorph is one of my favorite cards, and probably my pick here. Before I added all the equipment, Metamorph was a lot worse, but the stronger my cube has gotten the strong Metamorph is. There are so many bonkers creatures and equipment, and Metamorph can copy them in any deck. Not only is that effect something I want to use in just about every build I could make from this cube, but Metamorph’s phyrexian mana cost allows that  dream to come true. Not only do I think Metamorph is one of the best cards if not the best in this pack, it easily allows us to be the most open. I’ve taken Metamorph highly before, and I believe I’ll be taking it here again.


What would you choose? Let us know in the comments, and thanks for reading!


Pack 1 Pick 1 #26


P1P1-26(Sorry for the picture quality, technical issues led me to an MS Paint session. Also this is using Skyler’s Cube:

Welcome back! Today’s pack is full of good cards, and we’re going to get right to what I’d choose, but first the pack written out in case the images above don’t show:

Plow Under

Izzet Charm

Nevinyrral’s Disk

Sneak Attack

Battlefield Forge

Go for the Throat

Stomping Ground

Bane of the Living

Night’s Whisper


Spectral Procession

Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite


Lingering Souls


My inclination is that Lingering Souls might be the strongest card here, but there are a lot of other directions you can take that can reward you if you land in their archetype. Lingering Souls is an absurd card, pushing so much power into the air across so many bodies at such a miniscule cost. The flashback aspect of this card’s gold trait gives you multiple easy angles to play this card if you end up in white or a black card that can pitch cards from its own hand, either splashing black for the late cast or white because Lingering Souls casted twice wins a lot of games. I think in most scenarios this is my pick, but there are so many tantalizing other options that I’m such a sucker for that my preference can easily be swayed.

Elesh Norn is a fatty I’ll take p1p1 because of how unique she is. One of the most common things people say about cube is that there is so much fat that you don’t need to take it early, but there are creatures that warrant the early pick as they’re attached to an ability that is too strong to handle when it hits the field. If this was an Enchantment that had the same cost it’d be so much worse, but there are multiple ways to cheat in a creature like Elesh Norn. (This pack actually has two of them, which I’ll talk about soon.) The white praetor is Plague Wind on a stick. She tips the tides in stale mates, pulls you back into the game from far behind, and seals the deal with efficient ease when you’re ahead so your opponent won’t have another turn to draw their answer. Having the two other ways to sneak in the Elesh Norn makes me much more hesitant to take her here–especially since Sneak Attack is such a serious cog for its deck, the Sneak Attack deck–but she’s fine as a control top-ender as well. Vigilence lets her attack on her own, and that big booty and those formidable claws keeps her alive on most boards. If I wasn’t taking Lingering Souls here, I’m more inclined to take one of the cards that cheat my creatures in since it is true that fatties are a dime a dozen, but Elesh Norn is still hard to pass up.

Sneak Attack is the cheater with the highest impact. Playing Sneak Attack and winning either that turn or sealing the deal for the next few turns to be a cake walk is not unheard of, and those types of wins to me is what I want to do in cube. There’s no better feeling than Sneak Attacking a Griselbrand into play and drawing the rest of your creatures, which typically result in a scoop. Red is typically associated with blistering-fast builds, but this cube features cards like Inferno Titan, Bogardan Hellkite, and Siege Gang Commander, all which work nicely with ETB abilities and haste. Sneak Attack certainly doesn’t need red creatures either, so any fatty becomes playable, and there really are so many in cube. Taking the Sneak Attack and hoping that maybe Necromancy wheels is a play you could make since reanimator Sneak Attack builds are so good. Sometimes your opponent has an answer to the creature you placed in before you can attack, so it’s nice to have a back up play in case your attack goes awry. I would consider taking Necromancy here heavily, and if I wanted to go the cheating route a bit more conservatively I’d take Necromancy, but I feel in this spot it’s go big or go home.

Other than those cards, there are some you can make an argument for, but none I’d really consider. Stomping Grounds is a dual land and I might take it if I took the Sneak Attack and it wheeled, but I really only like taking blue or black duals super high since those are the colors I find myself wanting to splash for the most or having the highest reward for splashing. Plow Under is a crazy powerful card but I’m not as high as others on it. Go for the Throat is really good but a pretty boring first pick. The same goes for Condescend (most people won’t agree with me but I think Condescend is pretty incredible), the Disk (a bit slow and lets your opponent have too much time to play around), the Brainstorm (too much work to make good, so much worse without fetches), and maybe the Battlefield Forge I guess (fixing is fixing), though there’s no world where I ever take any of these cards in this spot.


What would you choose? Let us know in the comments, and thanks for reading!

Pack 1 Pick 1 #25

True-Name Nemesis Sneak Attack Sword of Body and Mind
Detention Sphere Diregraf Ghoul Celestial Colonnade
Golgari Signet Sublime Archangel Psionic Blast
Snapcaster Mage Upheaval Yosei, the Morning Star
AEtherling Phyrexian Rager Karn Liberated
This pack generated from, the MTG Deck Builder

This pack is from Sky’s cube. A link can be found in the cube lists section. (This pack was generated from the version.)

[mtg_card]True-Name Nemesis[/mtg_card] [mtg_card]Sneak Attack[/mtg_card] [mtg_card]Sword of Body and Mind[/mtg_card] [mtg_card]Detention Sphere[/mtg_card] [mtg_card]Diregraf Ghoul[/mtg_card] [mtg_card]Celestial Colonnade[/mtg_card] [mtg_card]Golgari Signet[/mtg_card] [mtg_card]Psionic Blast[/mtg_card] [mtg_card]Sublime Archangel[/mtg_card] [mtg_card]Snapcaster Mage[/mtg_card] [mtg_card]Upheaval[/mtg_card] [mtg_card]Yosei, the Morning Star[/mtg_card] [mtg_card]AEtherling[/mtg_card] [mtg_card]Phyrexian Rager[/mtg_card] [mtg_card]Karn Liberated[/mtg_card]


This is a seriously tough decision. There are maybe 5 or 6 cards which are unpickable here, which makes for a tough decision. Not that every pick is as good as others, and there are certainly wrong picks you can make from the 11 passable cards, but I could see some arguments being made. On the very edge is Detention Sphere, a good o-ring variant but one you can never take 1st as it is two colors. Sublime Archangel is chilling with the Sphere, as the angel is able to take over games through itself or pulling the strings on a smaller creature, but it dies to so much and is pretty average against a board that can block a single attacker on the ground or in the air with ease. Aetherling and Yosei are nice as finishers but are one of a million and on the back end of that mill to boot.

The cards I’m actually considering are Karn Liberated, Upheaval, Snapcaster Mage, Golgari Signet, Celestial Colonnade, Sword of Body and Mind, Sneak Attack, and True-Name Nemesis. I chose this pack to write on because there really wasn’t anything that caught my eye way more so than another card, and the top-end stuff is top tier and worth putting next to the cheaper spells. Staying open by taking a colorless card could be the correct choice above one of the million blue spells and they might not deserve a spot in the above list no matter what, but with so much blue in the pack it’s doubtful that 7 players go into blue. (Though if it’s cut hard the signal will be clear.)


True-Name Nemesis is probably the last of these cards I would take, to no fault of its own. TNN is stupid good and is way better in cube than it is in legacy where you often have way less time to land a TNN onto the board. While cube is fast you are rarely facing combo decks that have you dead in the first few turns and against the blistering fast decks True-Name comes down early enough to stop the bleeding against most starts. True-Name could certainly be better than a lot of the other cards I am thinking about, and even though it’s a three-drop TNN excels at every point in the game. For me, True-Name Nemesis is boring in comparison to what else I could be doing. A 3/1 that can be impossible to deal with is super brutal, and passing him means I could be getting hit in the face by a merfolk in my near future, but it just feels…vanilla. True-Name Nemesis is also beatable, getting crushed by edicts and wraths, so sometimes the all-in plan can falter before it starts. And though True-Name is perfectly awesome in a slower blue build, he’s much better in the blue decks that want to attack a bunch with their own cheap creatures, something that isn’t always up my alley.

Moving down the boring “blue” line is Celestial Colonnade, the pick I would make if some of the much-higher impact cards weren’t in here. Disregard me saying that True-Name would be my last choice, as Colonnade would definitely be. Colonnade is sweet and is a perfect finisher and fixer, giving you a free amazing spell out of a dual land the UW control deck wants regardless. Moving into two colors as splash or UW seems bad, and the power level of the other cards are high enough that they are worth committing to one way or another. Wheeling Colonnade would be sweet depending on what I do take, but it’s unlikely such a top-tier fixer will wheel.

Golgari Signet is cool and could be the right pick, but like with Colonnade I don’t like taking signets when the quality of the other cards I could take are so high. Cards like Karn, Upheaval, Sneak Attack, the Sword, and Snapcaster are all unique and are worth building around, giving your future picks more potential focus beyond being able to cast spells. Fixing is important, and more importantly colorless two mana ramp fits into every cube deck but the fastest of aggro builds, but the other cards provide such unique abilities and either are the centerpiece to or an importance piece of an archetype that are time tested to be dominating and a lot of fun, and I feel that carries more weight. Signet is good in the ramp deck, but Karn and Upheaval are some of the best reasons to be building that ramp deck. There are quite a few finishers, but there are that many more enablers to that deck on the lower parts of the curve as cubes are designed to support a draft that way, with the earlier spots on the curve receiving more places for cards. Some people will think this is awful; they could be right, so be it.

Snapcaster Mage is awesome and probably the best way to commit to a color without actually committing here, as he is easy to splash and in some decks worth it as the only blue card if your mana is good enough. (Hello, Celestial Colonnade wheel?) In unpowered cubes he’s awesome, but with the potential to crack an Ancestral Recall or Time Walk, his stock rises so much as you have all the more reason to take either one over a mox or something in a later pack. There’s a good chance that Psionic Blast wheels, and Snapcaster allows you to focus on taking spells in place of some permanents to really increase his value, along with other cards that work well with Snapcaster such as Crystal Shard or either of the Vensers. Snapcaster could end up being subpar depending on how the draft goes, and I don’t think I take it here, though I can understand if you would.

Sword of Body and Mind can be the most powerful card in action from this pack, and with all this blue there’s a high chance that the protection will be relevant. Swords are awesome and Body and Mind is probably my second favorite. Body and Mind has the consistently fastest clock of all the swords, finishing the game in 2-3 connections on average. The extra wolf is nice as you’re continually able to equip the sword until you win the game or they somehow stop you, a goal which they don’t have much time to achieve. Swords go highly, and there’s just about as close to zero chance as you can get to this one wheeling, but I’m still willing to pass the sword here for a card that can win the game just as well but is harder to come by. Swords do get passed and there are plenty to crack, along with other pieces of equipment. While all the weapons do different things and work in so many different decks, I tend to enjoy winning with either Upheaval or Karn more than I do with swords. The Upheaval and Karn decks can be really great with a sword, and sword is probably the best pick in leaving me open to any creature-based strategy, but like with True-Name Nemesis that’s kind of boring to me right now. Sorry, I’m only human!

Sneak Attack is the card no one is probably considering, but I love this card when the deck works. Sneak Attacking the win is so satisfying that it can be worth taking early on a lark. Sometimes you’re actually just dead, and then you Sneak Attack and voila!, you’re not dead, you’ve won and it’s the next game or match. That’s fucking awesome! But I am not feeling THAT crazy, and feel like the only two remaining cards, Karn and Upheaval, are much easier to build around and are either colorless or blue, which for me is pretty much colorless.

Between the two, it’s a really hard decision. Do I choose Upheaval, the card that ends the game with a harder boot stomp but is in blue? Or Karn, the more drawn out win but is just as fun in its own way with the added benefit of being a real colorless card? There is no easy decision here for me, but with a gun to my head I take Karn as staying open is usually the weighing factor when making a choice between two cards which are tough to truly differentiate. Playing with Karn feels like the planeswalker version of putting a saddle on the Death Star and taking her for a ride. Karn is also just straight up awesome against so many decks and can turn games around when he resolves, giving you repeatable erosion with the easy-to-turn game restart that is almost always a win for you and your Leylined board. Karn may not be the best pick but he’s one of my favorites plus being what I think to be one of the best colorless finishers. Upheaval is indeed a pretty close second and I do love restarting the game with me having permanents and my opponents having a full graveyard, and if I mulled over the decision further Upheaval could be the choice instead, but I’m OK with taking the Karn here and riding that train to funky town.


What would you choose? Leave a comment and let us know, and thanks for reading!

Pack 1 Pick 1 #24

Holy shit, these guys still make articles? Yeah, we do. We’ve been on hiatus, busy in the cayman islands with our swiss banks accounts, riding on yachts with models and such. OR we’ve both had crazy busy schedules and don’t want this to ever not feel like it’s fun, so sometimes a break is needed. Either way, we’re glad to be back, even if being back ends up being sporadic. ANYWHO…

It seems like the “worst” packs in cube tend to be the hardest to figure out a p1p1 for. Sure, what does a “bad” pick in cube really mean when all the cards were top-tier performers in their respective and current times, but there is always a ranking to be made and a pick to choose. Today’s pack, for a powered cube, is rather underwhelming, but it is by no means barren of powerful cards.

Huntmaster of the Fells Nevinyrral's Disk Deranged Hermit
Steam Vents Simic Signet Faithless Looting
Mystic Snake Vedalken Shackles Journey to Nowhere
Thundermaw Hellkite Glacial Fortress Badlands
Volcanic Island Baneslayer Angel Lightning Mauler
This pack generated from, the MTG Deck Builder

Huntmaster of the Fells

Nevinyrral’s Disk

Deranged Hermit

Steam Vents

Simic Signet

Faithless Looting

Mystic Snake

Vedalken Shackles

Journey to Nowhere

Thundermaw Hellkite

Glacial Fortress


Volcanic Island

Baneslayer Angel

Lightning Mauler


There is no card that absolutely jumps out at me, but there are a lot of strong starts here. Deranged Hermit, Simic Signet, Vedalken Shackles, and Thundermaw Hellkite are what I’m considering, with a passing glance made towards all the lands and the Journey to Nowhere. The lands are all cool, but the color-committing cards are all strong enough that I don’t feel like staying that open is an actual option here. You can never go too wrong with a U/X dual, since blue should be where you want to be most of the time anyways, but the cards I’m considering are strong enough that I don’t want to send too loud of a signal that I don’t want to be in those colors. The Journey to Nowhere is a premier piece of removal, but at sorcery speed, slight vulnerability in being an enchantment, and only hitting creatures you can do better for removal at p1p1 and overall do better for a choice.

Vedalken Shackles is the strongest of the serious contenders, but is actually the one I’m considering the least. This is by no means an actual knock on Vedalken Shackles in the right deck. Taking creature after creature and either slowly winning by attrition or quickly winning by an open board will crush most strategies, even in cube where the creature-light decks do occur. However, you are heavily committing yourself to blue, which even I find to be an issue at p1p1. Yes, being in blue is where you want to be in a powered cube, but if you’re drafting with people who know what they’re doing they probably realize that too. It’s not out of the question for a couple players to be in blue and a couple-few more trying to splash or force their way in there because there are so many no-question first picks in blue. Other than the mana sources you really aren’t passing any blue, which is nice, so there is the possibility that you’re cutting blue completely off for pack two, but that’s still a lot for me to jump so hard into the color right off the back.

Simic Signet is by far the most “boring” of the picks, but the card is super strong while fitting in a variety of decks. Other than hard aggro, there isn’t a cube deck that wouldn’t want a signet, especially one on-color. An off-color signet is most likely going to be a 23rd card at best, but when you’re on color with one of the colors and hitting with both as mains or a splash, then Signet can be one of the best cards in your deck in a silent way. While making extra mana seems a bit underwhelming when one of the colors is green, which can ramp away no problem, just the idea of having hard-to-remove mana ramp in just about any color or any deck is a pretty strong way to start the draft. Now there is just about any deck available for your first pick, and you can play off your passed packs much easier without risking being attached to a stupidly good card in a color that might not be available. I can understand not picking the signet, since there are multiple colorless rampers and there are stronger cards when placed into a vacuum, but when drafting you need to consider more than pure power, and Simic Signet has a lot going for it.

Thundermaw Hellkite could be one of the things you cast off a signet, but Thundermaw is great because you are probably playing it in any red deck. Thundermaw is obviously good in the slower, Wildfire/red control style decks. He’s a big dude that ruins the air and lives through the Wildfire effects, all at a pretty low cost of 5 mana considering you’re getting a 5/5 flier with haste. Thundermaw is also a stellar top-end in the red aggro decks that exist. Reaching 5 mana can be really tough there, and if you’re playing a hard aggro deck with ~15 lands he is probably not the best choice since in only the worst games with the unluckiest draws will you reach the 5 mana. If you’re running 16-17 lands in your aggro deck though, he’s perfectly fine as your 1 or 2 of 4+ CMC cards. Knowing our playgroup, who are all colorblind to red, Thundermaw would go last pick or something dumb, but I refuse to believe that’s right and should give red more respect.

In the least surprising choice for people who know my cube style, I’d probably pick Deranged Hermit. First of all, Deranged Hermit is green, a color I love. Being able to put out giant things while splashing all the other tools to make that strategy work is some of the most fun I can have playing magic. If every deck I ever made could just play 8 drops, I’d be OK with it, since I’m a huge fan of battlecruiser magic, at least when I’m the one piloting that ship. Deranged Hermit is a huge thing that is small itself but when he’s abused is an actual terror. Sure, there’s an echo cost attached, but in some decks that’s actually a bonus when you plan to bring that Deranged Hermit back. This is not the easiest Deranged Hermit pick ever, but it’s one I’m happy to make here.

What would you choose? Why am I so stupid? Let us know, and thanks for reading!

Pack 1 Pick 3

Another pick! This time we come in at the 4th pick of the first pack of a recent draft I had on cockatrice. (The list is below, along with my final deck from the draft.) The first three picks of this draft were easy. Sol Ring was the obvious choice, Worn Powerstone is a card I’m liking more and more and there wasn’t anything else that stood out in that pack, and I felt that with two artifacts Search for Knowledge seemed good, especially in a powered 360 cube where I not only want to be blue but will be guaranteed of at least having all the power in the pool. When I arrived at this pack, my options to stay open continue, but this was also a good opportunity to commit further if I chose to do so. The pack is as follows:


[mtg_card]Trinket Mage[/mtg_card] [mtg_card]Phyrexian Metamorph[/mtg_card] [mtg_card]Bloodgift Demon[/mtg_card] [mtg_card]Moat[/mtg_card] [mtg_card]Sneak Attack[/mtg_card] [mtg_card]Coalition Relic[/mtg_card] [mtg_card]Burning of Xinye[/mtg_card] [mtg_card]Lotus Cobra[/mtg_card] [mtg_card]Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre[/mtg_card] [mtg_card]Marsh Flats[/mtg_card] [mtg_card]Simic Signet[/mtg_card] [mtg_card]Mystical Tutor[/mtg_card]

The cards I’m seriously considering are Coalition Relic, Phyrexian Metamorph, Mystical Tutor, Trinket Mage, and Simic Signet, with the latter three much further down the list. The rest of this pack has goodies as well and I’ll probably wheel something. UW is a great color combination for Moat decks, but I’m not married to blue and wouldn’t take a new, double-colored spell here. Ulamog is great but he is one of a million fatties, and the same goes for Bloodgift Demon with the added benefit of being another color. I’d rather not commit to either of the red strategies here, and Lotus Cobra is not the ramp I’ll be picking in this pack. Marsh Flats is cool but again I’m not necessarily either color, and it’d be a treat if I ended up in either and the Flats tabled. These cards are not serious considerations compared to the previous 5 of Relic, Metamorph, Tutor, Mage, and Signet.

Simic Signet is good but can never be the pick here. If I’m trying to stay open, there are two much better cards in Metamorph and Coalition Relic that more that make up for costing 1 more. If I want to take a blue card, I think Mystical Tutor and Trinket Mage are better options as they more firmly commit and cut the color, as they are the only actual blue cards in the pack. There are also a multitude of other amazing cards, so maybe Signet wheels and I take it there.

Mystical Tutor would be cool and I’m sure there are plenty of spells I’d want to grab, but right now I only have the Thirst for Knowledge. While it’s super likely that if I stay in blue I’ll have plenty of spells to grab, it’s power level is still undetermined and the other cards have a higher presented ceiling. If Sol Ring and Worn Powerstone were something silly like Ancestral Recall and Mind Twist, Mystical Tutor is potentially a much easier pick because I have a 2nd copy of two high-impact spells. That’s not the case though, so Mystical Tutor is further down the list.

I rate Trinket Mage higher than most, but in a powered cube he’s like a blue Wood Elves that is larger and potentially grabbing a better ramper or utility spell. With Sol Ring as a pick, I know Trinket Mage will be grabbing a pretty sick card a lot of the time, and this early in the draft I can prioritize picks like Sensei’s Divining Top, Skullclamp, or even Relic of Progenitus from out of the sideboard to turn Trinket Mage into a much more versatile card. Trinket Mage could wheel out of this pack depending on what I pick though, as this pack is pretty stacked for all types of decks, and Trinket Mage needs a target to be good.

The pick is really between Phyrexian Metamorph and Coalition Relic. At the time, I chose the Coalition Relic, and I’m 50-50 on whether that was the right call. There were certainly games where having the Coalition Relic was much better as being the actual sick ramp card instead of a semi-dead card in my hand waiting for action to build instead of building it. But there were times where copying one of my giant things or other creatures on the field would’ve been better. With my fixing lacking with two lands being replaced by moxen, something I’m pretty comfortable with doing, the Coalition Relic allowed me to cast all my double-color-costed planeswalkers pretty early. Two moxen afforded me many opportunity to blow opponents out with early bigger ramp into way earlier planeswalkers and giant creatures.

What would you choose? Leave a comment to let us know, and thanks for reading!

1 Sol Ring
1 Thirst for Knowledge
1 Worn Powerstone
1 Coalition Relic
1 Mulldrifter
1 Frost Titan
1 Path to Exile
1 Preordain
1 Simic Signet
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
1 Consecrated Sphinx
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Ruby
1 Sundering Titan
1 Ravages of War
1 Wrath of God
1 Grim Monolith
1 Tundra
1 Karn Liberated
1 Counterspell
1 Batterskull
1 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
1 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
1 Tezzeret the Seeker
1 Faith’s Fetters
9 Island
5 Plains
SB: 1 Soldier of the Pantheon
SB: 1 Ajani Vengeant
SB: 1 Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
SB: 1 Imperial Recruiter
SB: 1 Stormblood Berserker
SB: 1 Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas
SB: 1 Student of Warfare
SB: 1 Inkwell Leviathan
SB: 1 Hero of Bladehold
SB: 1 Looter il-Kor
SB: 1 Underground Sea
SB: 1 Unexpectedly Absent
SB: 1 Unburial Rites
SB: 1 Man-o’-War
SB: 1 Inquisition of Kozilek
SB: 1 Searing Spear
SB: 1 Sword of War and Peace
SB: 1 Metalworker
SB: 1 Mishra’s Workshop
SB: 2 Swamp
SB: 2 Island
SB: 2 Plains

This is the cube list used

Pack 1 Pick 1 #23

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, it is that time again – time to crack open a pack and make some first picks.

Stomping Ground Dismember Daze
Naturalize Tropical Island Mana Crypt
Searing Blaze Massacre Wurm Ankh of Mishra
Omenspeaker Domri Rade Precursor Golem
Umezawa's Jitte Bloodstained Mire Figure of Destiny

For reference, the cube we are using for this “draft” can be found here on cube tutor.

This pack is fairly powerful. It’s one of those openers that everyone seems to love. The top options in my book are the colorless ones. Of the colorless cards, I consider [mtg_card]Umezawa’s Jitte[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Mana Crypt[/mtg_card] to be the most powerful. The other colorless cards in the pack are also very good, though. I consider [mtg_card]dismember[/mtg_card] colorless in my cube and for that reason, I’m comfortable saying that it is the third most powerful colorless card in the pack. [mtg_card]Precursor Golem[/mtg_card] is a card that I used to value much lower than I do now. Before, I thought of it as a blowout when my Precursor Golem got [mtg_card]doom blade[/mtg_card]d. Now, I just see it for what it is – 9 power accross three creatures for five colorless mana. If it eats a [mtg_card]lightning bolt[/mtg_card], so be it, its just a 1 for 1. Although, there are opportunities for getting blown out because of it – like, say, if your opponent casts [mtg_card]Recoil[/mtg_card] targeting your [mtg_card]Precursor Golem[/mtg_card]. [mtg_card]Ankh of Mishra[/mtg_card] is sick in any aggro list, and highly under rated, but I tend to find that committing to aggro on your first pick is a mistake. The lands in the pack are fine, colorless, options, though there are at least three other colorless options that should be taken over lands P1P1.

The colored cards in this pack, unfortunately, just don’t stack up to the power of cards like Jitte and Mana Crypt. [mtg_card]Domri Rade[/mtg_card] is pretty ill, but committing to gruul on your first pick is gahr-bajje. [mtg_card]Searing Blaze[/mtg_card] is a great card, but come on now…

The picks I find most defensible in this pack are Jitte and Crypt. Of the two, today, I am going with Jitte. The only thing you have to do to make this card good is to play creatures. Crypt is nuts, but plays a riskier game than Jitte.

What would you take?

[yop_poll id=”7″]

Pack 1 Pick 5

Doing something a little bit different today! After some comments suggesting we do something a little different than a pack 1 pick 1, I came across a forum-wide draft being led by CprlBeefpants on the reddit cube subforum. (Not sure of his name, frankly I wish I was named CprlBeefpants.) What is happening is that he is posting the packs one by one and whichever card has the most votes is the pick, and then the next pack, and etc. For this pick, these are the cards we have so far:

[mtg_card]Lotus Cobra[/mtg_card] [mtg_card]Batterskull[/mtg_card] [mtg_card]Balance[/mtg_card] [mtg_card]Flooded Strand[/mtg_card]

We’re pretty much open with a stronger lean towards white in my opinion.

This is his cube:
This is the thread where the original post was from:

And now, this is our current pack:

[mtg_card]Pernicious Deed[/mtg_card]




[mtg_card]Fellwar Stone[/mtg_card]




[mtg_card]Meloku, the Clouded Mirror[/mtg_card]


[mtg_card]Prismatic Lens[/mtg_card]


[mtg_card]Polluted Delta[/mtg_card]


[mtg_card]Grand Coliseum[/mtg_card]


[mtg_card]Sensei’s Divining Top[/mtg_card]




[mtg_card]Temple Garden[/mtg_card] [yop_poll id=”6″]


We don’t really know what we’re doing so far; we have a bunch of good cards, but there are conflicting strategies and there’s a chance we won’t play at least one of these cards. (The only way I see us not playing two is if we go GB after taking deed, but I don’t think jumping into a potential 3rd/4th color is smart.)

I’m really tempted to take one of the mana stones, but they’re pretty underwhelming. Fellwar Stone taps for colorless mostly, though there will be a fair share of games where it taps for one of your colors. Stone is actually really good in 3-5 color decks, since there is rarely a match up where it doesn’t at least produce mana in your deck. Prismatic Lens is fine but paying to fix your mana is asking quite a bit.

I don’t think Temple Garden is actually good here since there’s barely any other green or white in the pack other than the dual which is still pretty color specific and Pernicious Deed which suffers the same issues. Meloku is nice but not a reason for me to jump into blue compared to the other blue cards. I like Daze and kirk put up a convincing argument today about why it should be the pick regarding a UW balance type deck, but I’d rather take Meloku here. Polluted Delta is cool, for sure, but we could be devoid of blue from here on out. (I don’t think it’s a bad pick, but it’s a bit more speculative than what I’m comfortable with.)

Here I like Sensei’s Divining Top. Balance decks are great with Top because there are many times where Balance hurts you as well and you need to dig your way out of the mess. Top does a great job because it survives the Balance and lets us manipulate our deck to find cards. If we were heavier into blue I’d be less inclined to take top since blue pretty naturally does a good job of filtering as is, but a Flooded Strand isn’t enough of a commitment for me to say I’m definitely there. Top is also good if we get shipped green cards from here on out, since Cultivates and such shuffle our deck along with the fetches. After top I like any of the blue cards, and don’t think they’re bad picks at all.

tl;dr Sensei’s Divining Top. What would you choose? Leave a comment and let us know!