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  • posted a message on Underplayed, underapreciated cards (sleepers)
    Maelstrom Wanderer

    This is another card that we shouldn't sleep on. Its not hard to get Temur colors in ramp decks - especially with Birds, Noble or any 3-5 1 CMC mana dork, you can usually get temur in the late game off a splash from a GR ramp, UR ramp UG ramp etc.

    Double Cascade gets around the problem of payoffs being answered by countermagic, sweepers, removal etc.

    It can also cascade into removal/ haste of Wanderer + Creatures
    Posted in: Cube Card and Archetype Discussion
  • posted a message on [VOC][CUBE] Occult Epiphany
    Discard outlet that advances your tempo is hard to come by. Thirst for Knowledge is a great effect, but taking turn 3 to pay 3 to loot sets you too far behind.

    The other thing is cube decks (unlike modern/ legacy) often curve into 4-6 drops because of card availability. In general, a 6 drop is traditionally a 4 for 1 - Extra draws in the late game is invaluable.

    I will add a few more selling points:

    - Spells matters decks are lower to the ground and will often want to discard lands - I made a firm commitment against 1 CMC cantrips worse than Preordain. I do not want my blue section to be entirely cantrips/ counter spells and I find my blue decks are often splashes and lack the turn 1 mana commitment.
    - Answer based decks have excess cards that are bad in the main - looting is often a plus. Especially great with cards like Crucible/ Wreen/ Life from the Loam where cube decks lack good looting/ extra lands a turn style effects.
    - Instant speed creatures are great answers against planeswalkers
    - Endurance has proven in eternal formats - less as grave hate as more that a 3/4 reach body is great at ambushing attackers
    - Win-Con for infinite mana combo + Thassa's Oracle (fringe, but nice to play a payoff that is good midgame)
    - I would like to see more mainboard able X spells - Goblin/ Baral does reduce X cost spells. Helps to push them a bit more into mainboard for non storm decks.
    Posted in: Cube Card and Archetype Discussion
  • posted a message on [VOC][CUBE] Occult Epiphany
    Quote from asmallcat »
    I don't really like that this is always card disadvantage and a lot of the time you're gonna get like 2-3 spirits.


    3 CMC, discard 2 to draw 2 + make 2 spirits isn't really card disadvantage.

    I don't think this card is for everyone - but if you have Polymorph/ Reanimator in your cube, this is a good card.
    Posted in: Cube Card and Archetype Discussion
  • posted a message on The Boon Cycle Challenge
    Hey sorry if this is Necro (Cube forum allows this). I think we can all agree the original Boon cycle with Bolt, Ritual and Recall was good, but Giant Growth and Healing Salves is unplayable.

    I think White should be:
    W - Instant
    Put 3 1/1 Solider Tokens onto the field

    G - Instant
    Put a 3 CMC or less creature from your library on too the battlefield.
    Posted in: Custom Card Creation
  • posted a message on [CUBE]Hallowed Spiritkeeper
    I gave Spiritkeeper a second shot after Aristocrats/ Persist are major archetypes in my cube.

    The problem with this card are:
    - Double white - The aristocrats decks are often tri color and often never black white.
    - This is great to sacrifice off Birthing Pod/ Recurring Nightmare or tutor off Survival of the Fittest, but I find those are usually win-more situations.
    - There are a lot more exile style effects than before.
    - 3 CMC is stacked - Especially with Grist/ Oko, this role is a lot more restrictive.

    On the other hand, I would love to have a creature that reads something like:

    2 Colorless, 1 White for 3/3, when it dies, create 2 spirit tokens. If you have 4 or more creatures in your graveyard, create 4 spirit tokens.
    Posted in: Cube Card and Archetype Discussion
  • posted a message on [CUBE] Kuldotha Forgemaster
    I find its too narrow and too weak.

    Ilharg, the Raze-Boar was already problematic as it was too easy to remove / no haste. However, its 6/6 body is relevant vs aggressive deck and its upside does make up for it.

    This has none of the above.

    I think the artifact deck has sufficient redundancy with mana rocks, Saheeli, Urza to ramp into threats. But if you feel thats not enough, there is a lot of support in artifact reanimation in addition to the traditional Welder/ Daretti.
    Posted in: Cube Card and Archetype Discussion
  • posted a message on [MH2][CUBE] Rift Sower
    Personally I’d run Utopia Sprawl and Wild Growth over this card. Having the mana on turn 2 seems crucial for these effects.


    I would too - I actually run all the 1 dorks. I just don't play the traditional 2 dorks.
    Posted in: Cube Card and Archetype Discussion
  • posted a message on This or That discussion.
    - My experience with Carrion Feeder is primarily in Aristocrats/ Persist decks and I think its very good. I personally would opt for Carnophage as you don't have too many cards to take advantage of the enchantment-creature like Kor SkyFisher, Polymorph etc.

    The life loss from Sarcomancy isn't irrelevant either and I find adding a card like Sarcomancy/ Carrion Feeder might mislead your drafters.

    - Trostani Discordant just feels really bad

    - Doom Whisper has performed fairly well for me - the Surveil has been decent actually. He's just been rotated out of my cube for me to give Ob Nixilis another shot.
    Posted in: Cube Card and Archetype Discussion
  • posted a message on [MH2][CUBE] Rift Sower
    I think most people forget suspend creatures have haste.

    You can think of mana dorks as "Suspend 1". This is no Birds of Paradise, but I think its much better than a turn 2 dork as it opens up the mana for turn 2 for a Talisman or 2 drop. I find playing nothing on turn 1, then turn 2 dork has just been too slow.
    Posted in: Cube Card and Archetype Discussion
  • posted a message on Underplayed, underapreciated cards (sleepers)
    There are two cards I think people should not sleep on:

    - Rift Sower
    - Blackmail

    Suspend creatures have haste. I always think of a mana dork as suspend 1, as it only produces mana on the following turn. This is suspend 2, which is not the worst. This is no Birds of Paradise, but I think this is slightly better than a 2 CMC dork as it does open up your turn 2 mana for 2 drop or Talisman.

    Blackmail has been surprisingly good in testing - I've found it fairly good in both attrition decks that just want to 1 for 1 the opponent and its done fairly good approximation of Thoughtseize in the 3-4 turns to remove disruption from the opponent.
    Posted in: Cube Card and Archetype Discussion
  • 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
  • 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
  • posted a message on Unga Bunga
    I think of Green stompy as a slightly bigger Zoo deck that curves around 3-4 while Unga Bunga is a green midrange deck that curves around 5-6 drops.

    Maelstrom Wanderer has been really good for me - its very easy for a ramp deck to splash a third color off its dorks, the cascade is insane and somewhat viable for a ramp deck to setup and the haste/ cascade gets around counter spells/ planeswalkers.

    I find no matter how you slice the threats, hyper ramp struggles as counter spells, burn, sweepers etc. I found its best variants are always the ones that play a few 3-4 threats like Courser/ Tireless Tracker/ Uro in addition to some fatty cheat spells in addition to some top end threats.
    Posted in: Cube Card and Archetype Discussion
  • posted a message on [WAR][CUBE] Ilharg, the Raze-Boar
    I played this guy for a bit and he's what I consider a good not great card - he fills a very long list of roles:

    1. Fires archetype - I incidentally have Generator Servant and Rhythm of the Wild for Big Red/ ramp, Storm, Persist etc. Provides a payoff.

    2. WildFire archetype - survives wildfire

    3. Shallow Grave / Goryo's Vengeance archetype - great instant speed reanimation target

    4. Polymorph Archetype - I feel I want some redundancy for Sneak Attack/ Through the Breach.

    5. Ramp/ Reanimator - Not the worst target to ramp/ reanimate into - could provide instant speed kill the following turn.

    I think what would push him over the top is extra redundancy for Fires/ Instant speed reanimation - but I'm a bit reluctant to make room for all this.

    I'm thinking the alternative could be playing a card like Spellskite as a way to protect fatty cheat threats, creature combos, artifact decks from Pest Infestation/ Fiery Confluence.

    As of late, I'm happy to have him as a backup piece for those decks.
    Posted in: Cube Card and Archetype Discussion
  • posted a message on [SCD] Living Wish
    This was something I was thinking about today as well.

    I been looking for a black cut today and I noticed I had way too many black 2 drops and Vampire Hexmage has been getting worse and worse and really doesn't play with in a lands deck.

    I'm reluctant to cut Dark Depths combo right now. I'm thinking one way to keep to combo is to add Living Wish where the drafter can grab Dark Depths or Thespian Stage or any undrafted card from their pile or any basic land.
    Posted in: Cube Card and Archetype Discussion
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