Personalizing Your Vintage Cube Draft

I love casual Magic. Whenever I don’t have to travel for PTs or GPs, all I do is play Eternal formats and Cube Draft with my friends. Usually we play Cube in teams, 3 vs. 3 or 2 vs. 2, based on how many people are available at the time.

Over the Christmas holiday, we started playing the Holiday Vintage Cube on MTGO so much that we decided to build it in real life, and after months of playing, we started making changes.

Just last week, we gathered all of our cards to put it together. It was draining and it took a lot of time, but it was definitely worth it!


What makes Vintage Cube so superior to Legacy and Modern Cube is the fact that you can do so many broken things. You can draft storm, a big mana strategy, you can just play completely messed up cards, and yet, you can still be aggressive and attack your opponent with little creatures.

You’ll see more combos in our list: Vampire Hexmage + Dark DepthsTime Vault + Ral Zarek/Kiora’s FollowerBounding Krasis and Village Bell-Ringer to power up the Splinter Twin/Kiki-Jiki, the Mirror Breaker combo, along with the newest Saheeli Rai + Felidar Guardian combo. Auriok Salvagers + Black Lotus / Lion’s Eye Diamond. And enough mana rocks to exploit as many artifact strategies as possible.

Let’s start with the best color.


Blue is the best color because it has the best draw card spells and it has the best interaction: countermagic. It’s important, though, to keep the countermagic count low, or it’ll ruin the Cube, making control decks too good, when they shouldn’t be in a format this unfair.

Control is still a viable strategy, though it’s very often too slow and clunky against faster or unfair decks.

Cyclonic Rift is a card that’s good in big mana decks like artifact decks or U/G decks.

Trophy Mage is similar to Stoneforge Mystic because you have the full 5 Swords to go get, and U/W Aggro-Control is a solid archetype. You also have other cool targets like Vedalken Shalckes and Coalition Relic, though Swords are usually the reason you put Treasure Mage in your deck.

Let’s continue with the second-best main color:


Crop Rotation is a way to boost the Dark Depths combo. You can still use it in artifact decks to go get Tolarian Academy, Mishra’s Workshop, Academy Ruins, or Inventors’ Fair, but it’s best in the Depths combo deck.

We chose to cut some mana Elves in exchange for ramp cards like Cultivate, Kodama’s Reach, and Farseek. While mana Elves are good with Natural Order, Opposition, and Survival of the Fittest, they do not fix mana properly, whereas the sorceries let you grab multiple colors, and even create card advantage in the case of the first two.

We also cut Genesis Wave. We didn’t like it much since it requires a ton of mana and we found Villainous Wealth to be better more often.

And now for red, a color that is good as either your main color or a support color.


We pared down the aggressive red cards. None of us liked the red deck much—we were more interested in doing broken things than casting Char or Roast. You can still go red aggro, but it’s more about creatures and Swords than burn spells.

Red is still a solid control support color, and U/R Control is probably the best control deck in the format.

The newest addition is Humble Defector, a card that synergizes very well with Saheeli Rai, Splinter Twin, and Kiki-Jiki.

Past in Flames is for to storm, a deck that often needs something to play after its rituals, and it also represents a way to win after you’ve gone off with Auriok Salvagers + Lion’s Eye Diamond.

We chose to put Red Elemental Blast in the mix. Since blue is always over-drafted, it is good to have something to keep it in check.

And now for black, a color whose primary strength is making unfair plays.


For a brief time we had Phyrexian Obliterator, Geralf’s Messenger, Nightveil Specter, and Lifebane Zombie—cards that made you move toward mono-black aggro. It turns out that none of us won any games with it, and we dismissed the plan after a bit.

You have to accept that black isn’t good at playing fair. It’s just about reanimator, storm, or control decks.

Dance of the Dead and Diabolic Servitude are just two more reanimation spells to pump up the archetype.

Rune-Scarred Demon and Noxious Gearhulk are two other good creatures to reanimate; the second can also be cheated into play with Goblin Welder or Daretti, Scrap Savant.

Another cool addition that synergizes well with artifacts is Herald of Anguish, a card that, when exploited, can take the game over quickly.

Last comes white, the weakest color among the 5:


We trimmed the white aggressive cards because White Weenie was even weaker than the red deck. The only real payoff for going white are the 2 Armageddons, when you can establish a board and then wipe away their lands to be left with a solid board to pressure and kill your opponent.

Another direction that white often takes is control, going U/W, Esper, or Jeskai with mass removal, spot removal, and Oblivion Rings.

We tried Academy Rector + Omniscience, but it was pretty disappointing and Academy Rector was always a dead pick otherwise.

White has a lot of cool targets for reanimator, such as Elesh Norn, Iona, Angel of Serenity, or Blazing Archon. The latter was added to provide more beef for the archetype.

We also like white’s hate bears. Therefore, we added Containment Priest and Ethersworn Canonist, two creatures that are annoying for some combo decks. Rest in Peace is a major hate card for Reanimator, a necessary evil when it’s such a good archetype.

Let’s not forget Felidar Guardian. In order to combo with Saheeli Rai and Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, it’s also effective with the many enters-the-battlefield abilities and planeswalkers in the Cube.

There was a little shakeup in the multicolor section as well:


Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast has rapidly become one of our favorite cards. Paired with mana rocks, it represents a removal spell from turn 3 on, and it can even protect itself. It’s just an awesome card that I’m sure will be popular in every Vintage Cube from now on.

In a format so driven by artifacts, Artifact Mutation is a good weapon to fight those decks.It lets you disrupt your opponent and create pressure for just 2 mana.

Kiora’s Follower is not only a mana dork, it’s also a cool combo piece with Time Vault to get infinite turns!

Leovold, Emissary of Trest is another new addition. It’s a powerful card that’s pretty hard to cast, but it is in the top 3 colors, so they’re colors that you often end up in naturally.

Magister of Worth is a new tool. I’m not sure if it really worth it, though it’s nice in a control deck or in a big mana deck as an answer to aggressive decks.

Saheeli Rai was a slam-dunk addition as a planeswalker that can combo off or generate value with the many artifacts in the format.

Tezzeret the Schemer replaced Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas. We were so impressed by the new Tezzeret with his very fast ultimate or his ability to remove creatures easily.

Rakdos Charm is another versatile card to disrupt the reanimator archetype, and should have applications versus any deck, considering that everyone has artifacts.

As I mentioned, everyone has artifacts! They make up the largest section in the Cube:


We wanted more 2-mana rocks, so we added Coldsteel Heart, Prismatic Lens, and Mind Stone.

We felt that Walking Ballista was needed, and we wanted to add even more artifact payoffs with Steel Hellkite, Staff of Nin, and Staff of Domination.

Expedition Map doubles with Crop Rotation to push Dark Depths, and Nihil Spellbomb helps Rest in Peace punish Reanimator.

Fleetwheel Cruiser was a nice addition. It’s good in any aggressive deck, but plays into the artifact synergies at the same time. We tried Vehicles other than Cruiser and Smuggler’s Copter, but we didn’t like any of them—crew 2 was definitely the ceiling.

Time Vault was removed by Wizards from this year’s Holiday Cube. That really hurts, since it’s a great card to exploit with fringe cards like Kiora’s Follower and Ral Zarek. It also synergizes well with Deceiver Exarch, Pestermite, and Turnabout, letting you take an additional turn without comboing off. Instead, we cut Tezzeret the Seeker. It was too broken with it and too underwhelming without it.


For a moment we had filter lands (Mystic Gate), though we replaced them and brought back Temples. Scry is such a powerful mechanic in a format driven by powerful cards.

Since we chose to include the full 10 Temples, we wanted to trim other tap lands, and the newest creaturelands were our choice since they are so much weaker than the Worldwake ones.

We always had check lands (Glacial Fortress) since they were often straight-up dual lands, and fixing was so important that we wanted to increase the number of lands.

Exotic Orchard is a nice land to have in your 3- or 4-color decks since it usually hits more than you think.

Inventors’ Fair is a new tool we added that works well with all the artifacts available.

Both Dark Depths and Thespian Stage made it in. It’s a powerful combo, but also easy to disrupt. A surprising way to abuse these two lands is with Primeval Titan—and it adds a lot of value to Prime Time.

Cube Draft is a wonderful format. It takes a lot of time to build and organize, but once you’re done, you and your friends will have an endless amount of fun!


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