I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love cube drafting. It's probably my favourite way to play Magic these days. So when Wizards of the Coast announced the new Modern Cube for Magic Online, I couldn't wait to try it out.
Now, normally I pore over card lists and try and work out archetypes and things, but I have had two very busy weeks and have not had a chance. So I am going into this draft not having seen a single card in the list. I'm sure to make mistakes (and I hope you'll comment on what you would have done instead), but I'm counting out a bit of card knowledge and experience to see me through.
Pack 1 pick 1:
In my opinion, this was an easy pick. Nothing else in the pack really reaches the power level of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, so he was the obvious choice.
But what if Gideon wasn't there? Well, I would have looked at cards such as Inquisition of Kozilek, Burst Lightning or possibly Acidic Slime, but wouldn't have been terribly happy with those as a first pick.
Pack 1 pick 2:
This pack has some decent cards, namely Seeker of the Way, Vampire Nighthawk, Blade Splicer and Anguished Unmaking. The Nighthawk was going to be my pick initially, but I reconsidered. Seeing Blade Splicer as well as Emeria Angel made me think there might be a white-based tokens deck in the cube; after all, black-white tokens is a deck in Modern. I ended up taking Blade Splicer; the card gives you 4 power and toughness for 3 mana, and 3 of that power has first strike. It's a powerful card and allowed me to stick with white and see where the draft went.
Pack 1 pick 3:
Both Lingering Souls and Glorious Anthem confirmed to me that white tokens (and probably white-black specifically) was here. I took Lingering Souls, mainly as I figured it was the least likely to wheel.
So my first three picks are all white, and all focused on the tokens theme. I have essentially committed already, so hopefully I can stay in this deck.
Pack 1 pick 4:
No token generators or anthem affects here, so what else do I have? Thalia, Heretic Cathar certainly slows your opponent down, and she fits in the deck as a white creature; Day of Judgment is not a card I really want in a creature heavy deck; and Temple of Silence allows me to pay the flashback on Lingering Souls. In the end I went with Thalia for her ability.
Pack 1 pick 5:
This pack was a real tossup between Baneslayer Angel and Quarantine Field. I went with the enchantment on the fact I would need removal, and that the Angel didn't really further the token/anthem plan.
Pack 1 pick 6:
Good token decks normally need good anthem effects, and Honor of the Pure fits the bill nicely. Oust was also a consideration, but kept with the plan and took the anthem.
Pack 1 pick 7:
This pack had some interesting choices. Mikaeus, the Lunarch is a powerful creature in its own right that can also pump the rest of the team. Gideon, Champion of Justice is just plain powerful. Condemn is okay albeit temporary removal, and Goblin Rabblemaster is a token making machine if I want to move into red. It is probably too much to hope one of these cards come back, so the choice was hard. In the end I settled on Mikaeus; he can be played at any point on the curve, making him decent in the early game and better in the late game.
Pack 1 pick 8:
Silverblade Paladin would be okay in a tokens deck, but I was more interested in Archangel of Thune. If I end up with a bunch of random life gain effects she pumps the board very quickly.
Pack 1 pick 9:
Back to our first pack. I couldn't see me splashing enough red to warrant picking Chained to the Rocks, so took Burst Lightning instead. Though in hindsight, Canopy Vista probably should have been the pick.
Pack 1 pick 10:
As discussed earlier, Emeria Angel is a token generator, so it was a welcome pick.
Pack 1 pick 11:
I'm happy this wheeled, though I wasn't really expecting it too. Still, thanks other drafters!
Pack 1 pick 12:
Also happy to see this come back. It's my first source of black mana, and means I am on my way to being able to splash black if I end up being mostly white.
Here are the final pack 1 picks:
Pack 1 pick 13:
Pack 1 pick 14:
Pack 1 pick 15:
To recap, here is my pack 1 picks:
Pack 2 pick 1:
Although there are some very good cards in this pack, I was looking at three in particular: Ajani Goldmane, who's -1 ability is a permanent anthem; Kitchen Finks, which is an all-round good card; and Bitterblossom, which pumps out tokens like there is no tomorrow. Looking at my picks, I realised I already had a lot of ways to pump my guys, so I took Bitterblossom so that I could have a steady stream of guys to pump!
Pack 2 pick 2:
This pack was pretty bad for me. Reveillark is not a card that goes great in a token deck, though I might be able to get some value. That left me with... not much. I took Obzedat, Ghost Council in case I go heavier into black, though my thinking at this stage is I would be mono-white splashing black.
I will admit that I never considered Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, which was an obvious mistake. I was mono-colour for the most part, so would be able to generate a lot of mana. I also already had two X spells which would have benefited from that mana.
Pack 2 pick 3:
Pretty easy pack - it was either Brimaz, King of Oreskos or Cloudgoat Ranger. The only question was - which one? When in doubt, take the cheaper card, so Brimaz it was.
Pack 2 pick 4:
There wasn't a lot in this pack for me except Spear of Heliod, so Spear it was.
Pack 2 pick 5:
Again, another pack with not much in it. Although Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite fits, it costs 7 mana (and I had foolishly passed the Nykthos). I ended up taking Voice of Resurgence; it's a token maker, and the token would likely be quite large with all my other tokens. I just needed to find a way to splash green.
Pack 2 pick 6:
This pick was tough. On the one hand, I wanted Gideon's Lawkeeper as a pseudo-removal spell, something I was lacking. On the other hand, Marsh Flats is a great land enabling the black splash. In the end I took Marsh Flats.
Pack 2 pick 7:
I went back and forth on three cards in this pack: Imposing Sovereign, Dark Confidant and Hangarback Walker. The Walker had the most synergy with my other picks, so it got the nod.
Pack 2 pick 8:
Another close pick for this pack, between Collective Effort (which should be easy to escalate to get all three effects), Martial Coup to pump out tokens, or Godless Shrine for the black splash. In the end I went with Coup, simply because I had a lot of anthems and wanted a critical mass of tokens in order to make best use of them.
Pack 2 pick 9:
Back to the first pack, and this time I took Ajani.
Pack 2 pick 10:
It was at this point that I realized I had missed Nykthos earlier, and was very happy it came back around to me.
Pack 2 pick 11:
Another fine pick up.
Pack 2 pick 12:
Pack 2 pick 13:
It's possible I'll now play Elesh Norn, but I am not sure. I'll see how the rest of the draft goes.
Pack 2 pick 14:
Another welcome wheel.
Pack 2 pick 15:
Right. Two packs done, and let's see how the deck is shaping up:
All in all I'm pretty happy how this is coming together. With one pack left to go, I really just need to consolidate the plan and maybe pick up one or two more removal spells.
Pack 3 pick 1:
For me, this pack had Dictate of Heliod as an anthem, Angel of Jubilation as another anthem, or Monastery Mentor as a token maker. I took the Mentor as I noticed I had quite a few non-creature spells I was likely to play.
Pack 3 pick 2:
I really only considered Elspeth, Knight-Errant as the pick here, though Myr Battlesphere might have been okay as well.
Pack 3 pick 3:
I had three cards to choose here, and I really wanted all of them. Entreat the Angels is great if you can cast it for its Miracle cost; Path to Exile is removal I am sorely lacking in, and Fetid Heath is more sources of black. I took Path as I really did need removal.
Pack 3 pick 4:
Banishing Light is another removal spell, and is also the only card in the pack that fits my deck, so this was easy.
Pack 3 pick 5:
I didn't really want any of these cards, to be honest, so just took Bygone Bishop.
Pack 3 pick 6:
Much the same as the previous pack.
Pack 3 pick 7:
Mirror Entity is a great card when you have lots of small creatures. Great pick up here.
I'll quickly run through the rest of the picks:
Pack 3 pick 8:
Pack 3 pick 9:
Pack 3 pick 10:
Pack 3 pick 11:
Quite glad this came back.
Pack 3 pick 12:
Pack 3 pick 13:
Pack 3 pick 14:
Pack 3 pick 15:
I'm reasonably happy with this. The deck came together, with 7 potential anthem effects and 12 token makers. Let's see how it goes.
Game 1 got off to an ordinary start, with me mulliganing a no land hand into a 5 land hand then accidently hitting "Keep". My opponent played Heart of Kiran backed up with Pitiless Horde and got to work beating me down. I landed Emeria Angel and cracked Marsh Flats to get some tokens, and followed up next turn with Cloudgoat Ranger to create an army of 1/1s. I then drew Bitterblossom next turn to ensure I would have something to block Heart of Kiran with at all times. My opponent kept attacking, but the whole while they were losing life from their Pitiless Horde, and I just kept chump blocking. Eventually, their own creature killed them.
My opening hand for game 2 was much better, though I drew Entreat the Angels on the first turn, which was not helpful. The first play of the game was me casting Thalia, which my opponent killed with Vendetta. They then played Thunderbreak Regent and suddenly I was in trouble if I could not draw removal - something which my opponent had plenty of! Any creature I cast was killed quickly. They backed their dragon up with a Chandra Nalaar and a Boros Reckoner and I couldn't deal with them.
Game 3 was a rollercoaster of a game. I led off with Bitterblossom but got stuck with only one white source of mana, in a hand where all my spells cast double white. I was eventually able to find it on turn 6, by which time my opponent had cast Anger of the Gods to wipe out my Faerie army, as well as Chandra, Torch of Defiance. When they played Olivia Voldaren and started picking off my tokens I knew I was losing. I played Ajani and followed up the following turn with Glorious Anthem and Elspeth, as well as Nykthos, but I was still struggling. I was down to 4 life, and my opponent had a 6/6 Olivia as well as a Bloodgift Demon in play. And then I drew Martial Coup. I was able to cast it for 7, destroying all other creatures and, with a token from Elspeth, suddenly had lethal on board. I just needed to survive one more turn.
And that's when my opponent wiped my board with Ugin, the Spirit Dragon.
There was no coming back from that, and I soon fell.
Versus: Mono black splashing white
When your opponent plays a turn 2 Pack Rat and you have no answer for it, you know you are in trouble, and that's what happened here. They started generating new Rats each turn, but luckily I was able to blunt the attack with a Brimaz and a bunch of tokens. I then drew my trump card: Martial Coup. I attacked with everything I had, which included Brimaz, Hangarback Walker, Monastery Mentor, two Monk tokens and 3 Spirit tokens, all buffed by Glorious Anthem, which my opponent blocked with his four Pack Rats and a crewed Aethersphere Harvester, then cast Martial Coup for 5 to wipe the board (and get three Thopter tokens from Hangarback). My opponent simply conceded after that.
In game 2 I kept a slightly risky hand of four land (including Temple of Silence to scry with), two anthems and Martial Coup. Unfortunately my opponent used Duress on the Coup then played their own copy of Bitterblossom. I was able to get rid of the enchantment with Quarantine Field, but my opponent was beating me down with two Faerie tokens and a Liliana's Specter. I wasn't able to draw any answers and soon lost.
I lost my Bitterblossom in game 3 to a 1st turn Duress. I played Hangarback Walker into Lingering Souls into Gideon, while my opponent played Smuggler's Copter into Vampire Nighthawk into Guul Draz Assassin and Aetherspher Harvester. It looked like this would be a hard-fought game. I followed up with a Cloudgoat Ranger while my opponent attacked everything into Gideon in order to kill him, then played a Phyrexian Revoker. But, much like the previous match, I then top decked the perfect card: Dictate of Heliod, which I had sideboarded in. I attacked with my opponent at 17 life, and my opponent declined to block. I flashed in the Dictate and dealt 24 damage to them to take the game.
People sure do like black in this format so far... My opponent was playing a very similar deck to my round 1 opponent, having lots of removal and a few powerful creatures. I was able to get out an early Bitterblossom but my opponent just continued to pick off the Faerie tokens. No matter what I did, I couldn't get a creature to stick around. I bought myself some time by using Quarantine Field on their Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker but eventually fell to Olivia Voldaren.
I got off to a slow start in game 2, but thankfully, so did my opponent. They killed my early Brimaz but I was able to keep Thalia around and attacking for a few turns, and was able to buff my life total up thanks to Ajani. Eventually they killed Thalia with Ob Nixilis Reignited, which I then took with Quarantine Field. I was able to play Cloudgoat Ranger, which they killed, but left the tokens alive. Next turn I flashed in Dictate of Heliod - which I am now maindecking - and attacked for the win.
In the final game I got off to a great start when my opponent couldn't find an answer for Monastery Mentor. I was able to generate a ton of tokens with Lingering Souls, Banishing Light (on their Vampire Nighthawk) and Honor of the Pure. They were able to clear the board with Whipflare, but I followed up with Emeria Angel and lands. When I cast Spear of Heliod to further pump my creatures, my opponent conceded.
The games were quite fun, though I have to admit seeing nothing but black decks was a little boring. I plan on doing more though, as I had a blast playing the games. I recommend giving Modern Cube a try.