Drafts can be predictable, depending on the player. Some people really like certain archetypes, or when they draft one color they want to combine it with another. For me, I like UB control/tempo style decks. The colors seem to compliment each other well: black provides removal, tutors, and reanimation for the creatures you destroyed or the ones you placed in your own graveyard, and blue provides the counters, card draw and, if you’re lucky, the control magic style cards. The deck you’re about to read about doesn’t have all these qualities in abundance, but it does bring some of them to the table, while also going to the top-tier for the bombs.
1x Mox Pearl
1x Black Lotus
1x Noxious Revival
1x Snapcaster Mage
1x Mana Drain
1x Azorius Signet
1x Diabolic Edict
1x Everflowing Chalice
1x Sword of Feast and Famine
1x Mimic Vat
1x Trinket Mage
1x Murderous Redcap
1x Profane Command
1x Sewer Nemesis
1x Careful Consideration
1x Control Magic
1x Unburial Rites
1x Mind Control
1x Bloodgift Demon
1x Wurmcoil Engine
1x Consecrated Sphinx
Trinket Mage: This is not a card for every deck—if you don’t have the targets, he’s unplayable. But even with only 1 Mox or another artifact with CMC 1 or less, he’s worthy of inclusion. Giving blue a way to ramp off of a 2/2 is pretty nice, especially when your ramp targets are Mox Pearl, Black Lotus, and Everflowing Chalice. While Trinket Mage, at face value, seems like a “boring” card, being able to grab the Mox to accelerate one or the Black Lotus to pull off your broken plays can swing a game around. It’s really nice when you’re holding one of the 5 or 6 drops in your hand and you can play Trinket Mage, grab your Mox/Lotus, and then drop the 5 or 6 drop the next turn and still have counter/Snapcaster mana open. If you have an unpowered cube, I wouldn’t consider Trinket Mage as an option; in a powered cube, I’d go as far as to call him a staple. (Trinket Mage done by Pendrell http://forums.mtgsalvation.com/member.php?u=12028)
Noxious Revival: This card doesn’t see a lot of lists, and that’s a shame, because Noxious Revival really is incredible. To give you perspective on my thoughts of the card: there are very few decks that I won’t play Noxious Revival in. While it is card disadvantage, being able to grab whatever out of your graveyard at instant speed at the often-paid cost of 2 life is amazing. Your opponent will spend a bunch of time dealing with whatever it is that they put into your graveyard, spending X amount of cards to remove it, and then bam, it’s back. Disenchant my Wurmcoil? Here he comes again, to join his 3/3 children. 2 6 drops in your hand an only 1 black lotus? Just kidding—Wurmcoil will be followed up by Consecrated Sphinx. The tempo you lose from not taking a card out of your deck is largely irrelevant, as whatever you should be grabbing from the graveyard will help you stabilize, if not put you back ahead.
Mimic Vat: This is the card I was least excited to run. My deck didn’t have a lot of ways to remove creatures without having to trade, which makes the Mimic Vat worse. Instead of being able to knock a dude off the board and underneath my Vat, I’m depending on my opponent’s plays to get guys got. Sure, I have a Diabolic Edict, which if there is a single creature on the board will work nicely, but if there are more than my opponent will probably put the least-damaging creature underneath the Vat. This was not an ideal Mimic Vat deck.
That being said, I had a decent amount of creatures that worked really well with Vat, and when Vat takes over a game, your opponent will have a tough time getting back to equal ground. Putting a Man-o-War or a Murderous Redcap can keep a lot of boards clean or put a clock on your opponent, or if I have a Clone under there I can keep on copying whatever ETB creature my opponent or I have on the battlefield. 3 mana can be a lot, but the Vat is already providing me board presence while denying my opponent theirs; building up spells in my hand while my mana is tied up is alright, and I have no problem pitching a fatty with the Unburial rites in the deck, or pitch the Rites itself. Speaking of Unburial Rites…
Unburial Rites: I’m starting to really like this card. Two reanimation spells on a single card is kind of nuts, and being able to pitch it for a cheaper reanimation can put you far ahead, especially if the Rites is pitched on curve. (Which, of course, I don’t really have a way of doing other than with Careful Consideration.) You can’t target your opponent’s graveyard, but that would’ve been too powerful to print for a new card, so it’s understandable. In this deck I had quite a few nice options to bring back, and even returning a Man-o-War to gain some tempo or a Snapcaster for some value is pretty sick.
My biggest issue with Unburial Rites was how many white sources to run. In the end I opted for 3: Mox Pearl, Azorius Signet, and a Plains. (With Trinket Mage and Black Lotus counting as well, to a point.) While 3 sources for 1 flashback card could seem to be too much, I wasn’t too thrilled with my only white sources being artifacts. Losing the Signet or Mox early on and having Unburial Rites in the graveyard was something to be worried about, but at the same time I didn’t have too many pitch options, so how often was I going to pitch the Rites instead of casting it for 4B at first? Eventually I decided that my mana was good enough to be able to run a plains, which was risky with two UU counters but I’d rather be safe than sorry.
Everflowing Chalice: There’s a bit of a running joke in my playgroup where if there’s a Chalice in one of the packs that I’ve seen, someone will make sure to assure me “don’t worry, it’s coming back” if I’m looking around the table, seeing where the packs are. I love this card; I probably shouldn’t, because it’s not super exciting, but I can almost always find room for a Signet, especially one I can play as a Sol Ring or Thran Dynamo.
Trinket Mage fetches Chalice, as previously mentioned, which is really nice. While not the strongest option, it is another target and makes running Trinket Mage worth it, even if it is inherently a bit weak. In Upheaval or big mana types of decks Chalice is really nice. Mana permitting, I can fetch Chalice and play it for one, or wait a turn and play it for 2 or 3. When I want as much mana as possible, being able to turn a colorless signet into an artifact that taps for 2 or 3 is versatility that I really appreciate. Worse come to worst, I can play it as a free artifact to sac to Tinker; yes, this is a fringe benefit, but it’s something to consider when you’re making the deck and you have the choice between a Signet or Everflowing Chalice in a pack.
Murderous Redcap: This was a bit of meta-gaming on my part. This deck was built in a 3-player draft, and I was able to see my opponent’s play their decks before I went. They bother had a lot of X/2 or less creatures, and Redcap traded with a lot of them while being able to shoot most of them as well. Plus, he was pretty good with Mimic Vat. I’m not the biggest Redcap fan, but I appreciate what he does and will be happy to run him in certain decks and match ups.
Mana Drain: There isn’t too much to say about this card about how I played with it or how it was used in this deck—I waited for spells to counter, then I countered them, then I played pretty big spells. Mana Drain is fairly cut-and-dry like that. What I want to do is make a PSA about the card: MANA DRAIN IS TOO POWERFUL FOR UNPOWERED CUBES! If you are making a conscious, non-budget decision to run unpowered cubes, which I respect as I think they can be more fun than power, then putting Mana Drain in is a big mistake. Sure, as a floor it’s only a Counterspell, but that’s the thing—the worst-case-scenario for Mana Drain is Counterspell! It’s crazy!
My big philosophy on unpowered versus powered is, if you’re choosing to go unpowered for ideological instead of budget reasons, then you need to remove broken enablers, such as Mana Drain, Mana Vault, Mana Crypt. Where is that line drawn? That’s where it becomes tougher. Is Grim Monolith too good? I say no, but I can see the argument. Is Jitte too good? You still need creatures, they still need to swing, and Jitte dies to Disenchant. But when you start including artifacts and spells that enable you on turn 2 and, potentially, turn 3 to blow them out of the water, things get icky. Does that mean Rofellos is too strong? No, you still need to do work by making a forest-heavy deck for him to be great. This is a stance that’s kind of jumbled in my head now, so the thought process definitely needs some work, but some time in the future I’ll sit down and write an article about powered versus unpowered cubes and what cards you should avoid for the latter.
Thank you for reading, and if you have anything you want me to write about or any ideas for articles, let me know! It’s nice to take an outsider’s perspective on what they like to read, so please don’t be shy and leave a comment.