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    posted a message on Match up Analysis
    Hello Fellow Cubers!

    Today I will be going over a basic match up analysis and the role each archetype should play when facing a different archetype in constructed. I find these lessons are incredibly valuable and could be applied when drafting/ playing with various decks.

    Introduction

    Cube decks by extension are midrange in nature - Draft environments lack the consistency for linear strategies to foster and often the comprehensive answer suite required for pure control decks to function. In most cube environments, 40-60% of the drafted decks would be midrange decks with a curve of around 2-4 CMC spell.

    In addition, I would argue the most successful aggressive decks in cube resemble slightly more aggressive midrange decks in constructed.

    I found that the most successful aggressive decks in cube would frequently curve to 4-5 drops in addition to their 1-2 CMC threats. This is primarily because cubes do not offer the same consistency as constructed - It is very unlikely the draft 24 cheap 1-2 CMC burn spells/ creatures to build an all-in burn strategy.

    Despite having sufficient quality red, black and white 1 drops, I would argue it is very bad practice for cube curators to provide sufficient support for aggressive decks to frequently draft hyper aggressive decks with primarily 1-2 CMC spells.

    - 1 drop aggressive creatures are parasitic in nature
    - 1-2 CMC aggressive decks are a non-interactive in nature - I would prefer red decks that are more interactive in nature and curve into Hazoret, Rabblemaster, Chandra etc.
    - 1-2 CMC decks cannot take advantage of Moxen as well as their slightly more midrange counter parts.
    - The majority of the meta game in cube are midrange decks by nature and the slightly bigger red deck performs stronger in this meta game than an all-in red deck that relies on 1-2 CMC creatures

    Similarly, I would argue combo decks resemble slower combo decks in their post board configuration againster other midrange decks - i.e. Splinter Twin post board against Jeskai control.

    It is very hard to draft an all-in, hyper liner combo deck in cube, even if the archetype is full supported. Therefore, combo decks will need to play more interaction, alternative win cons along side their combo. For example, the UR twin deck with Twin + Kiki and 3 flash creatures, even in its best iteration, does not have sufficient support for an all-in combo and will need to rely on other finishers/ control spells to win.

    Therefore, I believe the match up analysis should focus primarily on how these decks interact against midrange strategies.

    Aggro vs Midrange Matchup Analysis:

    This matchup traditionally favors the midrange deck. The midrange's threats are often slightly bigger than the aggressive deck's threats and the aggressive deck isn't fast enough to go underneath the midrange stragety. I feel this is best exemplified by this matchup of Boros aggro vs Selesyna Midrange in Dragon's Maze Block Constructed:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7EwgJbjDZM

    The problem is the red deck's creatures are always slightly smaller than the midrange's decks creatures.

    These are three strategies for aggressive decks to win against midrange decks:

    1. Leverage the Red Deck's tempo to play cheap creatures and use removal spells to clear the way for their creatures to push damage. I feel this is best exemplified by the matchup between Red Aggro and Abzan Control in Pro Tour Magic origins where the red deck's 1-2 drops were able to consistency chip away for damage while a card like Roast was able to clear the opponent's threats:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UoKhuf66V5o

    * This is the plan the modern/ legacy burn deck would take against creature decks - board in Path to Exile (modern) and searing Blaze (legacy) and play more as a tempo deck.

    In the matchup between Abzan Control and Red Aggro, the Abzan Control deck had the answer for the threats and was able to gain 6 life from the Rhino, but the red deck's 1 drops were able to get 5-6 attacks.

    On the other hand, the matchup of burn vs creature decks is a race. The game will often break into two phases:

    - In the first phase, the aggressive deck will be able to chip in with their creatures and have their burn/ removal remove the opponent's 2 drops.
    - In the second phase, the midrange deck will have built up a stronger board presence and start attacking the burn player. The burn player will point their removal at the opponent's creatures, chump block with their 1 drops to buy more time to draw into more burn spells.

    In both scenarios, removing a turn 2 Tarmogoyf will allow early 1 drops to chip in damage but it will also remove the opponent's main source of pressure, often buying the burn deck 2-3 turns to draw into burn spells such as Lightning Bolt, Fireblast etc. to finish the opponent.

    2. Board into slightly more midrange strategy to fight the midrange deck more on their own terms. I feel this is best exemplified by the matchup between Red Aggro against Temur energy in the Worlds 2017 Finals. (The red deck lost, but I felt this matchup was incredibly well played)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-qJV5NtaUc

    Another example of this the Legacy Matchup between UR Treasure Cruise Delver and Shardless Bug. Traditionally the matchup heavily favors the BUG shardless deck for similar reasons as the Red vs Selesyna matchup above, but with the addition of Treasure Cruise in UR delver, the slower decks no longer had the definitive advantage in the late game and the aggressive deck could often aggro - tempo out the slower archetypes.

    The midrange deck is often required to lower their curve to avoid dying to explosives draws from the aggressive deck. This can be seen in game 2 of Mono Red vs Temur Energy - the red deck was incredibly explosive and won on turn 5, despite the opponent having interaction on turn 2, 3 and 4. The Temur Energy deck was not able to board into their haymakers, but the Burn deck could very easily board Chandra, Glorybringer post board in anticipation for a longer match.

    3. The red deck focus more on burn spells to burn the opponent instead of attacking.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhWXEKbtCiw

    * I would argue this isn't as effective strategy as 1 or 2. One thing to note is that if Patrick had Path to Exile in his sideboard, he can easily remove Knight of the Reliquary buying significant time for his Sulfuric Vortex, Grim Lavamancer to assemble sufficient burn to win the game.

    Using the examples from above, I would argue aggressive decks in cube should resemble these aggressive decks post board against midrange decks - they should be aggressive in nature, but would leverage their tempo advantage in cheap creatures/ removal to chip in damage but also to play late game haymakers Thundermaw, Hazoret, Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Treasure Cruise etc.

    They should ideally play 3-4 unconditional removal in the form of Path to Exile, Go for the Throat, FlameTongue Kavu etc. in addition to 3-4 heavy hitters in the form of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, Hazoret the Frevert, Chandra, Torch of Defiance in their mainboard configuration.

    The most ideal cards in my opinion are threats than can serve as both heavy hitters and answers to the opponent's blockers - The most ideal threats would be cards like Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Liliana of the Veil, Grist, the Hunger Tide, Oko Thief of Crowns, Palace Jailer. These cards are excellent removal options, but also provide late game advantage, especially if the side playing it has the tempo advantage.

    For this reason, I believe the best card for this role is Chandra, Torch of Defiance - her flexibility in providing reach, card advantage and removal cannot be understated.

    For aggressive players wanting to better understand this matchup, I watch these three matchups in detail:

    1. Red Aggro Vs Abzan (as posted above):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UoKhuf66V5o

    The red deck was able to 1 for 1 the Abzan deck using its Roasts/ removal spells and its cheap creatures dealt the majority of the damage despite the opponent gaining 6 life from Rhino + 2 from lands.

    2. Ramnup Red vs Temur Energy (as posted above):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-qJV5NtaUc

    In game 2, the red deck won on turn 5 despite the midrange deck playing to the board on turns 2-4. In game 3, the midrange deck couldn't curve into its aggressive finishers. Despite having an overwhelming lead with Longtusk cube, the Red deck drew Hazoret + Chandra and built an overwhelming board presence.

    3. Jeskai Control vs UR Delver:

    https://youtu.be/EPa5MnU3mfs?t=1941

    In game 2, the UR Delver deck played 5 Treasure Cruises (1 from Snapcaster Flashback). Post board, the Jeskai Control deck struggled to answer the Treasure Cruises as the UR Delver deck boarded in Dispel/ Spell Pierces. But at the same time, it also struggled to get its late game engine online as it needed to devote a significant amount of its resources in fighting the early aggression.

    Creature Combo vs Midrange Analysis:

    * Examples - Aristocrats, Melira Pod, Modern Company etc.

    This matchup is traditionally more even, but slightly favors the creature combo deck as it the card advantage, creature recursion loops will often out value the midrange deck.

    The best example of this matchup is the Melira Pod match vs Junk in Worlds 2014:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAs2ejp2zm4

    The Junk deck was able to remove the first birthing pod, but it wasn't fast enough to win and was buried by the birthing pod's card advantage.

    Similarly, midrange decks by nature can only disrupt the opponent's game plan, but cannot shut it down entirely.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0C4uOb8nOrk

    In this matchup, you'll see the Bant Company decks has moderate disruptive elements (mostly in the form of spell queller, reflector mage, and large blockers) for the Black-Green Aristocrats deck - It allowed the aristocrats deck to function almost unopposed and gave it time to assemble its Plan B (Drain the opponent) rather than its plan A (Attack the opponent).

    https://magic.wizards.com/en/events/coverage/2016wc/round-14-seth-manfield-vs-shota-yasooka-2016-09-03

    In this text based writeup, you'll see the Abzan deck focused too much on disrupting the opponent's combo but died to the opponent's main value plan.

    Post board, the creature combo deck will board out most (if not all) of their combo and board in 3-4 Path to Exile + value creatures/ threats to play a more midrange threat but use the threat of the combo to force the midrange deck to have to play against both strategies post board.

    * I personally would recommend against boarding out a combo in its entirely - I would shave some of the weaker elements.

    Ideally, against more creature heavy midrange decks, the creature combo deck should take a much more defensive posture, relying on incidental lifegain from Blood Artists, Kitchen Finks and blockers in addition to cheap removal spells to buy time to setup late game recursion loops with cards like Birthing Pod, Collected Company into Eternal Witness, card draw with Tireless Tracker to out value the opponent.

    On the other hand, against less creature heavy midrange decks (or even control decks), the creature combo deck should take a slightly more aggressive posture often leveraging their combo creatures to chip in damage in the early game. They should also board into more midrange threats such as Tireless Tracker/ Gideon Ally of Zenkidar as the opponent is likely more prepared to face the creature combo's Plan A (Melira/ Aristocrats etc) rather than the decks Plan B (Tireless Tracker, Gideon, Swords of X+Y etc).

    By extension, creature combo decks are not as fragile as spell based combos such as Ad Nauseam and could easily survive disruption - Often the creature combo deck will suffer in the early game from early discard/ removal, but will frequently top deck better than the opponent.

    It is very difficult midrange decks to win through active Birthing Pod, Recurring Nightmare, Survival of the Fittest loops.

    One of the best methods to achieve this board state is to play removal creatures (Shriekmaw) that can be tutored through the numerous creature tutors to answer's the opponent's early threats.

    For this reason, a card like Grist, the Hunger Tide in an aristocrats deck cannot be understated - it is able to answer the opponent's threats + able to advantage the aristocrats primary game plan.

    It cannot be understated the importance of an infinite combo in a midrange vs midrange matchup - The midrange deck is often required to answer all of the opponent's heavy hitters to win. For example, if the opponent has an Elsepth, Sun's Champion or Grave Titan on the field and the opponent has 4 solider tokens on their side of the board, the midrange deck without an infinite combo likely has lost. However, the midrange deck with the infinite combo can use the solider tokens to chump the Grave Titan for potentially 3-4 turns buying invaluable time to draw into tutors/ combo pieces to win the game.

    One of the important aspects of playing combo decks is a playing to your out mentally - For example, the Melira combo decks is much more fair than a storm cube. Its very important to not get demoralized if your opponent is massively ahead with Elspeth or Grave Titan - Its important to evaluate how many turns you likely have with your chump blockers. The saying is when playing with combo, you need to be comfortable with "flirting with losing".

    For combo players wanting to better understand this matchup, I watch these three matchups in detail:

    1. BG Aristocrats vs Esper Dragons:

    * This is a bad matchup for BG aristocrats given the Languish, Kalitas post board in the Esper Dragon's deck. (I won;t spoil the matchup). The BG Aristocrats deck was able to fight through some very problematic threats for the deck.

    The Esper dragon's deck did not perform well in the tournament and likely the reason the Aristocrats deck wasn't prepared for it. If LSV was able to have better answer's for the Esper Dragon's threats - Fleshbag Marauder definitely comes to mind, the Aristocrats deck could play a much longer game by chaining multiple waves of creatures using cards like Tireless Trackers, Collected Company, Duskwatch Recruiters.

    Draogonlord Ojutai presented a very difficult to answer threat for LSV.

    https://youtu.be/4bKTuIDOGWI?t=2456

    2. Abzan vs Abzan Pod / Jeskai vs Abzan Pod

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAs2ejp2zm4

    When Birthing Pod was online, the Abzan deck could not keep up with the value from Revelliark or Birthing Pod.

    https://youtu.be/WsoXl1_SC5Y?t=4394

    Similarly, despite blowing up all the Birthing Pod's lands + having a Porphery Node in play, the birthing pod deck had a chance.

    The key here is to understand the value loops with cards like Revellark, Birthing Pod, Recurring Nightmare, Yawgmoth, skullclamp ETC.

    - Birthing Pod, sacrifice Revelliark into Sun Titan can put 3 creatures on the field
    - Yawgmoth/ Skullclamp sacrifice 5 tokens draws 5-10 cards.

    3. Abzan Company vs Eye of Ugin Eldrazi

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wq_Z7dxYpwU

    This is the middle of the Eldrazi Winter - The Eye of Ugin Eldrazi deck was eventually banned. The Melira deck can frequently win through infinite combos but also Path to Exile/ Voice of Resurgance/ beat down.

    The key to this the Eldrazi deck (midrange) needs to prepared for both a more aggressive strategies (hence cannot board into haymakers) but at the same time it is often unable to break through the blockers the Melira combo deck puts out - It often takes 4-6 turns to win past Persist/ Dorks tokens/ Life gain, which gives the Melira deck too many turns to assemble its combo.

    Combo vs Midrange Matchup Analysis:

    This match up traditionally favors the Midrange deck as the midrange deck as most combo decks are relatively fragile and midrange decks are very good at breaking up their synergies.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSI48iQr7Cg

    In this matchup the, Abzan deck torn apart the Ad nauseam's resources using discard and won the game before they were able to the combo player was able to draw out of it.

    However, slower, less fragile combo decks in general have a slight advantage over Midrange decks as they often have late game redundany and the midrange deck's disruption is able to slow the combo deck, but unable to put sufficient pressure the win the game.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mcngasiX_o

    In this match, the Abzan deck had some disruption for the titanshift deck, but did not put sufficient pressure on the titanshift deck and ultimate the titanshift deck was able to naturally play enough lands + primeval titan (roughly 2-3 later if undisrupted)

    The key to this matchup is the midrange deck needs a combination of pressure + disruption. If they only have pressure, they are often too slow to win in time. On the flip side, if they have only disruption, the combo deck can often very easily play their land drops and draw out of it.

    There are several ways for the combo deck to win against midrange:

    1. Board Redundant/ alternative win cons that attack on a different axis:

    I feel this is best exemplified by this Amulet Titan deck:

    https://mtgtop8.com/event?e=9064&d=251633&f=MO

    The Abzan deck would often very remove the Primeval Titans through discard / removal. The Amulet Bloom deck would board into their package of 5-6 drops in addition to 3 Leyline of Sanctity to protect against discard.

    Similarly, the Reaniamtor decks of legacy would board into up to 3 show and tell as an alternative win con that does not use the graveyard but also as additional threats to overwhelm the midrange deck.

    2. Win through card advantage:

    This is slightly different from above, but the idea is the combo deck would play card advantage spells to overwhelm the midrange deck/ control deck.

    The best example of this is when Storm decks in legacy during the Miracles era of 2014 would board up to 3 Dark Confident/ Sylvan Libraries to grind out the opponent.

    However in both bases, the combo deck should play 2-3 answers to the opponent's disruption they cannot naturally win through - For example, the storm deck needs to play Thoughtseize for the opponent's countermagic, Abrupt Decay for the opponent's Counterbalance.

    In addition, the combo deck could also choose to play removal/ disruption of their own to reduce the pressure from the midrange deck.

    In general, the combo deck should not rely on a single axis but diversity their threats (i.e. Storm with Empty the Warrens Post Board in addition to normal ad nauseam line) to form the opponent to have answers to both.

    For decks like Titanshift/ Show and Tell, it is not disaster if the opponent counters their reanimation spell/ Primeval Titan - They simply trade 1 for 1. This is not as disastrous as the opponent Force of Will a Goblin Charblecher after the Belcher deck goes all in and spends 4-5 cards from their hand.

    3. Win through Tempo:

    For decks like UR twin/ UR Storm etc. the best way for the opponent to interact is play a removal spell/ counter spell in response to the combo.

    The best way to beat these forms of disruption from the midrange deck is for the combo deck to use the threat of their prevent the opponent from tapping out and using this as a tempo advantage.

    One example of this is the UR storm deck against UW control - The storm deck would often board into a slower package of Pieces/ Empty etc. They would attempt to build up resources for a combo win through heavy disruption usually with 7-8 lands on the field. On the other hand, the UW Control deck needs to leave open mana for counter spells/ removal etc and cannot play turn 4 Jace on curve without the threat of losing the following turn.

    Another example is the UR Splinter Twin deck - It would often use the threat of the combo to force the opponent to leave up removal for their combo and leverage this tempo advantage to win the game.

    In general, decks that have more disruption will put less pressure on the opponent. In general, cube drafters looking to draft storm should study the UR storm vs Jeskai Control/ ANT vs Miracles matchup in depth to analyze how to utilize tempo to win through disruption.

    For combo players wanting to better understand this matchup, I watch these three matchups in detail:

    1. Legacy Storm vs Miracles:

    https://youtu.be/SPitPk-qiaA?t=2070

    This matchup might be a bit more difficult to follow, but there is the idea. The Miracles deck has access to counter spells + the counter lock combo with Sensei's Diving Top + Counterbalance as well as grave hate. Its very difficult for the storm deck to win through a counter balance, even without Sensei's Diving Top.

    The storm deck is required post board to fight through two axis - CounterBalance Lock (Could be removed by Abrupt Decay) and Counter spells/ Surgical Extraction (Could be removed by Hand Disruption). This is traditionally a bad match up for storm for this particular reason.

    At the same time, the storm deck at its core is a critical mass deck - adding cards like Abrupt Decay dilutes its main plan and weakens its storm combo.

    (I'm not an ANT expert - this is a rough description). The ANT deck will board in 1-2 alternative win cons - Natural Tendrils, 1-2 card advantage engine - Additional Sensei Diving Top as well as 3-4 answers for counterbalance and Flusterstorm - Abrupt Decay + potentially Xantid Swarm/ Extra discard. They would board out their weakest enablers - Rain of Filth, 1-2 Cabal Ritual etc.

    During the match, the Storm deck would consistently threaten to kill the miracles deck on turn 3-4 - making it difficult for the opponent to land a threat. In both game 2-3, the miracles deck was reluctant to tap out for a turn 4 Jace and opted for EOT Entreat the Angels/ Snapcaster mage beat down with counter spell backup; This gave the ANT deck a lot of time to play land drops and assemble a hand able to win through multiple angles of disruption.

    2. Twin vs Blue Moon:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNqJTMrMXVw

    This is a matchup between the UR twin deck vs the Blue Moon Deck.

    In game 1, the Blue moon Deck had 2 Vedalken Shackles for the Splinter Twin combo. But it was unwilling to commit a Master of Waves / Snapcaster mage into combat as Deciever Exarch could potentially ambush those creatures. This gave the UR Twin deck a lot of time and as a result, the UR twin deck waited until it had 3 creatures (2 to feed to the Vedalken Shackles) plus a hand of counter spells to fight through the disruption.

    3. UR Twin vs Humans (Theoretical Matchup):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54u8lS411qI

    In game 1, the humans deck had difficulty attacking through multiple Deciever Exarchs, Tap Effects and removal and eventually died to the combo. In the later games, the humans deck was more prepared to fight the combo, but lost to its normal game plan .

    4. UR twin vs Miracles (Legacy) / UR Twin vs Abzan

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAB_zgQhKss&t=2113s

    https://youtu.be/t04UyWXKFaU?t=1557

    Twin is the best example of this. In both games, the opponent needed to prepare for both the combo aspect of the deck as well as the more fair control aspect of the deck.

    The key in both matchups is the tempo advantage the combo deck gained by forcing the opponent to leave open mana to protect themselves from the combo as well as the forcing the opponent to fight both the combo and fair aspects of the deck.
    Posted in: Articles, Podcasts, and Guides
  • 1

    posted a message on Match up Analysis
    Quote from Resarox »
    Great writeup, thank you!

    I wonder how the removal suite of a cube will curate the matchup advantages - obviously it will, but I'm more thinking about subtle differences like "exile" versus "destroy". Recursive spells and permanents only increase in density, and the strength of Force of Negation in Legacy to answer Life from the Loam, which before that point was close to unbeatable, shows the importance of answering a threat permanently.


    Permanently answering Life from the Loam is a pretty big plus, that's for sure - It definitely factors into my post board configurations. Before when I was playing blue deck vs Lands, I would like 3 Surgicial Extractions, now I would like just 2 + force of negation.

    I found having these simple heuristics significantly helped improve my win percentages against these matchups during constructed. I felt my heuristics (and understanding of each matchup) has been fairly weak for creature combo decks - hence my motivation for writing this article.

    I always go with the 3-3 rule vs midrange and 2-4 rule vs Control post board in constructed:

    Against Midrange decks I would like 2-3 answers to each of their threats + 2-3 sources of card advantage/ difficult to remove threat:

    For example:
    - Affinity vs Lands - I would like 2-3 answers to Life from the Loam, and 2-3 answers to Marit Liege and 2-3 difficult to remove threats
    - Affinity vs Maverick - I would like 2-3 removal spells for KoTR and 2-3 difficult to remove threats

    Against Control decks, I would like 2 answers to their worst threats (they are less likely to draw them) and 4 sources of card advantage/ difficult to remove threats:

    For example:
    - UR twin vs Jeskai Control (2014) - I would like 2 answers to Celesnial Colonnade, 2 counter spells, 2 burn spells (This should be in the mainboard) and 3-4 grindy finishers.

    On the surface, boarding in 1 Dismember and 1 Combust vs UW seems like a very odd choice. But after some game plays, being able to permanently answer the Jeskai Control's main threat (Celesnial Colonade) made the your finishers - Twin Combo/ Batterskull etc. much more threatening.

    The last part I find interesting is this heuristics is even applicable for Combo vs Midrange/ Control:
    - They would board in 2-4 answers for the each axis of the opponent's disruption
    - Board 2-4 alternative win cons/ card advantage engines.

    For example:
    - Legacy Storm vs Miracles -> +3 hand disruption/ Veil of Summer/ Xantid Swarm etc. +3 card advantage/ alternative win con - Empty the Warrens/ Dark Confident/ Sylvan Library/ Top etc.

    The other interesting part is we're seeing a lot of cases of the removal + card advantage being rolled into one card - in particular, Grist, the Hunger Tide by itself was able to improve modern aristocrats/ melira etc. by leaps and bounds. After a few games with Grist in cube, I found its strength is its rate, but how it was able to roll removal and creature generation/ grindy finisher into one package.

    Similarly, Veil of Summer can play both roles vs miracles etc.

    I found cards that can roll both the advantage + disruption into one have been incredible. This is the reason why I been evaluating previously under powered cards like Ob Nixilis Reignited. In a vacuum, its not great - but the role it can play for Aristocrats/ Melira might make him an incredibly good choice.
    Posted in: Articles, Podcasts, and Guides
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    posted a message on [VOW][CUBE] Includes & Testing Results
    Quote from Visserdrix »
    First time I can say i'm not planning on testing anything. Very disappointing set for one of the best planes.


    I was really hoping for a good sacrifice outlet for my Melira deck. Very disappointed.
    Posted in: Cube New Card Discussion
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    posted a message on Unga Bunga
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-DrxYm-9WM

    Thanks Matt for an awesome video.

    I seen this theory really caught on recently on MTG Salvation as an alternative for the green sections in Vintage Cube. I think its probably a good idea to open this as a thread for discussing Unga Bunga packages.

    In summary, the Unga Bunga theory aims to move the green section away from hyper ramp (ramp in Eldrazi or 7-10 drops) into a more midrange shell that curve ends at 4-6 CMC. The problem with hyper ramp is the deck is inconsistent as it could easily draw the wrong half of its deck, single threats as often too easy to answer etc.

    My personal thoughts on the theory:
    - I found hyper ramp to be inconsistent, but also very non-interactive. However, its ramp (mana dorks, Grim Monolith etc.) as well as its pay offs (Eldrazi/ Hornet Queen) are pretty good in other shells. There are good things about the hyper ramp decks. What I found is the primary game plan to revolve more around cards like Show and Tell, Channel, Shelldock Isle and often the backup plan is to hard cast the ramp targets. I have yet to see a successful hyper ramp deck that is entirely ramp and payoffs - Therefore, I would be interested in destroy hyper ramp in its entirety.

    - The problem I've complained extensively about is the difference in power level between 1-2 cmc mana dorks - I've thought about several ways to cut the 2 CMC dorks from my cube. I found cards like Kodama's Reach, Sylvan Cartaid are too slow but have been a necessity for supporting the necessary ramp for hyper ramp. I'm hoping introducing an Unga Bunga package can reduce the dependence on mana dorks - Green hyper ramp decks might need 8-10 ramp but Unga Bunga would play as low as 3-4.

    - The part I disagree with the video is there are examples of successful hyper ramp decks in modern/ legacy and that is Tron/ CloudPost. One of the reasons is they have uncounterable threats and utility lands. I think this could be replicated with cards like Maelstrom Wanderer, Shelldock Isle, Academy Ruins, Field of the Dead, Urza's Saga etc.

    I could see land tutors like Sylvan Scrying, Elvish Reclaimer, Knight of the Reliquary go up in value, especially if your cube naturally support Dark Depths already.

    - Questing Beast and Hexdrinker feels like the perfect cards for this archetype - the haste is incredibly good at racing combo/ rushing into planeswalkers and the level up is really good if the archetype does go into the late game/ also good in traditional ramp style decks. With this I like to give this set of cardsPrimal Adversary, ulvenwald oddity, Outland Liberator and Vengevine a try in the future.
    Posted in: Cube Card and Archetype Discussion
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    posted a message on This or That discussion.


    1. DRC is fairly very good.

    2. I would like to try Cematary Gatekeeper - its ability to punish your opponent for playing lands/ storm decks feels invaluable. It feels like a "build around" as you do need a bit of a graveyard package to really get it going.

    3. Oust is very good - it did drop off a bit with this package of good white 1 CMC removal - On Thin ice, Portahole, Solitude, Prismatic Ending etc. It used to be really high on my picks, but its still fairly efficient.

    4. I would say Barrin is stronger. From my experience if you have two cards - one with a restricted CMC but is stronger and one with a less restrictive CMC but weaker, its usually the more restricted CMC card that wins. In general I found that cube decks often have more playables than they need (especially with cards like Ragavan/ Uro/ Rankle etc. that could literally be played in any deck), the more narrow, but stronger options is always the better choice.
    Posted in: Cube Card and Archetype Discussion
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    posted a message on This or That discussion.
    Quote from armando.zuffi »
    1 - Endurance vs Briarbridge Tracker vs Cemetery Prowler ? What order ? Assuming I don't support much reaminate strategies

    2 - Hanweir Garrison vs Reckless Stormseeker vs Rampaging Ferocidon ? What order ?

    3 - Graf Reaver vs Wight ? For unpowered large cube that have lesser planeswalker density

    4 - Archmage's Charm vs Neutralize ?


    1. Endurance is pretty good - Flash + Ambush is great vs aggressive decks, great vs combo decks to play around sweepers.

    2. Menace has been an incredibly strong ability. However, I personally opted Garrison because I have an aristocrats/ Embercleave package in red.

    3. Wight's Life Drain feels mostly like favor text - I would give the edge to Graf Reaver. It can exploit itself to remove a planeswalker.

    4. I don't think a triple blue is playable in cube and on top of that, Archmage's Charm really doesn't feel that great. I would opt for a 2 CMC counter spell. I would almost never recommend playing a 3 CMC counter spell - Forbid is an exception. I'm not super onboard with it, but I could see it as a playable.
    Posted in: Cube Card and Archetype Discussion
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    posted a message on [VOW][CUBE] Reckless Impulse
    You could make the argument that Night's Whisper and Opt are good enough for my cube - and I will likely agree with you.

    But the problem I have with cards like this is they don't really add any value and feels like playing a Pendelhaven/ Great Furance/ Flagstone of Torkir.
    Posted in: Cube New Card Discussion
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    posted a message on This or That discussion.
    1. I'm not too excited about any of them - I think Manaform might be the most interesting of the group as it can potentially deal up to 6-8 damage on the following turn with a burn spell.

    2. Sorin probably.

    3. Duress is the best of the bunch, but it really depends on how unfair your environment is.

    4. I would opt for Plaguecrafter - I find FTK style creatures/ planeswalkers are the often the bottleneck for aristocrats.
    Posted in: Cube Card and Archetype Discussion
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    posted a message on This or That discussion.
    My short answer is Tainted Pact and Field of the Dead are a decent utility land/ black impulse at worst and a combo piece - Inverter Combo for Tainted Pact and Lands Combo for Field of the Dead at worst.

    Both playable IMO without their respective combo support.
    Posted in: Cube Card and Archetype Discussion
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    posted a message on [720][Powered][Alan Cube]
    Collected Company is another interesting card.

    The story is 1 CMC mana dork is night and day with a 2 CMC mana dork - the bar for 2 CMC mana dork should really be Devoted Druid (2 emergency mana + combo), Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary (often 3-4 mana). I do play Sakura-Tribe Elder, but i'm not 100% in love with him.

    There is a movement towards Utopia Sprawl and Wild Growth after the printing of Ignoble Hierarch and the full talisman cycle, we could remove all 2 CMC green mana dorks and replace them with a 1 CMC mana cost counter part.

    I ran the numbers after cutting all the 2 CMC mana dorks and I felt needed 2 more 1 CMC mana dorks, hence i added:

    - Jeweled Amulet
    - Deathrite Shaman

    in addition to the Utopia Sprawl and Wild Growth.

    - I feel Deathrite Shaman has the required threshold with Prismatic Vista, Sinkhole, Horizon lands, mirage fetches. It's not a perfect mana dork, but he could be very strong in a 3-4c deck that has 3-4 of these lands or in an aristocrats/ burn deck where his drain is relevant.

    - Jeweled Amulet has been advocated by some cube curators. Its not a perfect mana dork but it does a very serviceable job in the artifact.dec, storm or combo decks (which my cube plays a lot).

    This isn't to say I don't feel they're strong cards on their own - I personally could Jeweled Amulet as half a ritual and half a mana dork.

    Because Jeweled Amulet and Deathrite are only "half" a mana dork, I felt I needed to add one more and I thought about Arboreal Grazer as a possible candidate, but I felt his ceiling was too low (but also no one else in the community considered him).

    The alternative, I looked in the other direction and saw Collected Company - it allows you to potentially cheat 6 mana worth of spells for 4 mana + the instant speed is also relevant for catching up on tempo + assemble your combo. (This was an idea that was brought up in the Affinity forum post Mox Opal ban such that you can circumvent the loss of Opal with Goose + Company - but it didn't go too far there.)

    I also thought about Eldritch Evolution for a similar role - it may make an appearance one day.

    The idea is an aggressive or combo creature deck that normally would like to have 3-5 mana dork could play with 0.5-1 less (depending on the archetype) and play Collected Company and the deck would be equally good as if it had the 1 CMC mana dork.

    I also found with more removal creatures, especially for planeswalkers like Grist, the Hunger Tide, the aristocrats deck could play a more controlling game and could operate with fewer mana dorks.

    I extended this idea to Westvale Abbey and the theory is the aristocrats/ flicker deck would lose a 2 CMC mana dork (and hence they would have some slower draws), but this isn't as bad as their deck could play board stalls better than before.

    The idea is the majority of these decisions are based on calculations I've ran. The rough idea is have rough estimates for both the minimum and recommended number of enablers for each archetype. (Green 1-drops, Red 1-drop etc.)

    1. Strong enablers but are strong everywhere (0.5 Points) - Oko, Thief of Crowns - great for the artifact deck, polymorph deck etc, but you cannot expect this card to wheel at the same rate as Tezzeret or Hordeling Outburst.

    2. Strong enablers but narrow (1 Point) - Lion's Eye Diamond / Entomb - great cards for storm/ reanimator, but they are narrow and you can expect them to wheel to the player drafting the archetype.

    3. Weak enabler and also weak everywhere (0.5 Points) - Desperate Ritual in storm for example.

    4. Weak enabler but overall good card (0.25 Points) - Cultivate in storm for example.

    * The idea is if I determined I need 18 pieces of fast mana or 8 reanimation spells for storm/ reanimator to be consistent, I would need the numbers for my cube to roughly add up to that value.

    What I found interesting is there have been a lot of cards printed recently in the first category recently that allows me to cut a lot of cards in the 3rd and 4th categories and add a few more cards into the second category.

    I also don't claim to be an expert - but I like exploring and trying new things.

    But thanks for reading this! I really like these conversations.
    Posted in: Cube Lists
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