Cube Draft is an engaging and rewarding way to play Magic. The Holiday Vintage Cube will be available on Magic Online from Wednesday, December 22 through Wednesday, January 12th. In this Deep Dive, I’ll be giving my thoughts on the MTGO Vintage Cube, and outlining a recommended strategy which I find to be competitive, enjoyable and which leaves you open to a variety of archetypes.
Through all of this, remember that Cube is designed to be fun and customizable. So if you find any part of this Deep Dive to reduce the amount of fun you’re having with Cube, then you’re totally justified in ignoring the advice, or skipping the section altogether. Take what you like, and leave the rest behind. This format is all about going in the direction you want to go.
Along those lines, I’ll start with my most important Cube Draft tip. Trust your vision for your deck. Think about how you’d like your finished product to look, and take the steps that will get you to that goal.
One player might like Riftwing Cloudskate while another likes Hexdrinker. The importance of “Which card is better?” pales in comparison to the importance of building towards a cohesive deck with a clear game plan. It’s fun to power rank the cards (and don’t worry, you’ll get plenty of that in this Deep Dive), but most of that stuff goes out the window by the time you reach pick three or pick four.
If you have three decent players leaning over the computer screen, I think that on average, any one of the three drafting individually winds up with a better deck than all three trying to draft as a committee. The reason is that an individual envisions a particular deck, and makes picks consistent with getting to that finished product. Even if they don’t do a perfect job, I think they’ll have a better outcome than the confused pile of cards that results from taking each individual pick as a discrete question.
The Magic Online Vintage Cube is as powerful as you’re likely to get, in just about any draft format. It occupies a strange middle ground where you’re still playing Limited, yet the power level of certain decks and draws will be more aligned with Vintage and Legacy Constructed play.
All of the most powerful cards in Magic are represented. There’s a ton of fast mana, and plenty of game-winning combos available. No card in the Cube is bad (at worst, they’re specific to certain archetypes, or are sideboard material).
When Moxes and Black Lotus are involved, the action can start right from turn one. More realistically though, you should be looking to do something powerful (or defend yourself from something powerful) by turn three. Any slower than that means your pacing is off, and you’re at risk of being buried before you can get your feet underneath you.
Having a lot of fast mana increases the value of expensive cards relative to midrange cards. You don’t want to be the one fiddling around with three-drop creatures when everyone else is racing to Sneak Attack or Upheaval.