Welcome back to Limited Edition. I mentioned in my last article that I enjoy Limited more than any other format. Let's take it one step further. While I enjoy Limited in all its forms, I enjoy it the most when it comes to Vintage Cube. I was planning to write another Kaladesh draft for this one but, when Wizards put the Cube up early, I jumped right in!
I also mentioned last week that I am a fan of staying open for the first 3-4 picks and working out where to go from there. That's not true when it comes to Cube. For me, at least, I try to find a card pick 1 or 2 that fits one of the defined archetypes and try to make that work. If I notice nothing coming for that deck I will abandon ship, but keep that in mind when you see the picks.
I also have this habit of looking at the usernames of people I am drafting against. In this particular draft, I happened to discover I was being passed to in pack 1 by none other than Swedish hall of famer, Olle Rade. No pressure!
Again, if you disagree with my picks, I encourage you to post in the comments! You'll be doing me a favour by helping me get better.
On to the draft!
Pack 1 pick 1:
Pick 1 for me wasn't particularly hard. I like drafting the green ramp deck in this format, and Joraga Treespeaker is an important piece of that deck. If Verdurous Gearhulk or Ugin, the Spirit Dragon come back around, even better.
If it wasn't for the mana dork though, what else is there? Knight of the White Orchid stands out for white aggro decks, while Vampiric Tutor for a Storm deck is also there. Chandra, Torch of Kaladesh was a little tempting being new to the Cube, but I settled on the Treespeaker.
Pack 1 pick 2:
The first thing I did with this pack is look to see if there is any support for my first pick, and I found it with Ancient Tomb and Sylvan Library. The Tomb fits better with the ramp plan, so I took it.
I also note the Animate Dead in the pack; if there was no ramp or support for my first pick, I would have taken that and looked at Reanimator.
Pack 1 pick 3:
Sticking with the plan, Traverse the Ulvenwald stood out. Plus being that I will be on the lookout for big dumb green creatures, if I could hit Delirium the Traverse could come in handy. However, I also already had two ramp spells, and Garruk, Primal Hunter is a decent though smaller ramp target.
Pack 1 pick 4:
At this point I'm now pretty happy. Survival of the Fittest is a great card for the ramp deck, especially in the late game where you might draw a late useless mana dork, which you can discard for something better. I did also consider Hangarback Walker as it could get big pretty quickly with all the mana I hoped to have running around, but Survival is just better.
Some may wonder why I didn't consider Tarmogoyf at all. Quite simply, it's not great in Limited. It's not necessarily bad... it's just not as powerful as other options.
Pack 1 pick 5:
This was a tough pick. All three green cards are very good; Awakening Zone and Sylvan Caryatid are ramp, while Scavenging Ooze is just a good creature and one I have had some success with before. In the end I settled on the Caryatid for the simple fact it was more ramp and could also let me splash if I pick up a bomb creature or spell in another colour.
Pack 1 pick 6:
Not much in this pack for me but the signet, so I took it. Again, more ramp and a possible splash.
Pack 1 pick 7:
Absolutely nothing here for me. I take the Villainous Wealth and wonder if I can pick up fixing to splash for it; with the ramp I am gathering I might be able to pull off some shenanigans.
Pack 1 pick 8:
This one was a close pick. Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre is a great ramp target, but does cost 11 mana. Polukranos, on the other hand, is a 4 mana creature that I'm not sure I want to play; I'd prefer to be playing beefier 6 and 7 drops. In the end I took the hydra for the simple fact I still wasn't sure how much ramp I would pick up, so it was safer. And, I reasoned, if I do happen to pick up a lot of ramp, his Monstrosity ability would come in handy as a mana sink.
Pack 1 pick 9:
Well, we didn't get Ugin, but the Gearhulk came back! Easy pick.
Pack 1 pick 10:
Pretty happy to see that the Sylvan Library came back as well! I did briefly consider Temple of Plenty here to go along with the Selesnya Signet we picked up earlier, but couldn't pass up the Library.
Pack 1 pick 11:
Well. Three packs in a row and we wheeled three cards for the deck. At this point I'm now confident the deck will come together quite nicely, especially if we can find some of the better ramp targets and ramp cards in the next two packs.
Pack 1 pick 12:
Pack 1 pick 13:
Thirteenth pick Awakening Zone for our deck? Thank you very much!
Pack 1 pick 14:
Pack 1 pick 15:
So after pack 1, our picks were:
I'm pretty happy so far. I won't be playing Firebolt, Sidisi or probably Villainous Wealth, and we need more ramp targets, but so far so good.
Pack 2 pick 1:
I'm not thrilled with this pack. I don't really want either of the green cards, though Seasons Past could be okay. I could also splash for Swords to Plowshares or take Sword of Light and Shadow, but I'm not keen on either option. I decided to take the fetchland in case of getting a black splash later, but I'm not happy about it.
Pack 2 pick 2:
Now we are talking! Three good cards for our deck in Noble Hierarch for ramp or Craterhoof Behemoth or Emrakul, the Promised End as ramp targets. I dismissed the Hierarch as I already had some good ramp, and went back and forth between the other two before settling on the Behemoth. 8 mana-end-the-game (usually) was too good to pass up.
Pack 2 pick 3:
Another ramp card that lets us get through our deck a little faster as well if we are lucky. And while Freyalise produces mana dorks, you have to be at 5 mana to start that, and I'd rather be doing other things at 5 mana.
Pack 2 pick 4:
Mana dork, nice and simple. We also now have 3 white mana producers so splashing white might be ok if we pick something up.
Pack 2 pick 5:
I have this habit of seeing Smuggler's Copter in this format at the moment. I am picking them up everywhere, in paper and online. But I am not taking it here. Instead, I'm looking at either Managorger Hydra or Lotus Bloom; I end up taking the Hydra as another body. (It's amazing how big this guy can get when you cast him on turn 2).
Pack 2 pick 6:
I'm not a fan of Thrun, the Last Troll in this type of deck, even though it is a good creature. I want to be playing bigger and better things. Heartbeat of Spring is the perfect card to allow me to do that.
Pack 2 pick 7:
Oh boy. Gaea's Cradle is absolutely perfect, especially if we can pick up some more mana dorks. Very easy pick.
We now have some very good ramp, so I'm starting to look for some end game cards to help us win, as we only have one (Behemoth) so far.
Pack 2 pick 8:
Another good card for our deck that can help us find our end game cards easily.
Pack 2 pick 9:
I'm not likely to play Oath of Nissa, but I won't be playing anything else in the pack either.
Pack 2 pick 10:
Pack 2 pick 11:
Pack 2 pick 12:
Pack 2 pick 13:
Pack 2 pick 14:
Pack 2 pick 15:
So now, cutting out the cards we are not going to play, we are left with this at the end of pack 2:
There are a couple of cards I'm already thinking of cutting (Traverse and Tarmogoyf) but we will see what pack 3 brings us. I'd still like more ramp targets as well, as we have plenty of ramp.
Pack 3 pick 1:
This pick was difficult, and I'll explain why. Like I said earlier when we picked the Gaea's Cradle, if we could find some more mana dorks we'd be very happy, and here we are presented with Elvish Mystic. But I'm also aware I don't have a lot of great ramp targets yet, and Karn Liberated is here too. I took my entire allotted time before settling on the mana dork and hoping we find some other big threat.
Pack 3 pick 2:
Ah, Thragtusk. One of my favourite cards to play with, and one of my least favourite to play against. Welcome to the deck. I will note that I considered Fastbond as well but needed the bodies to go with the Craterhoof Behemoth.
Pack 3 pick 3:
Well if it isn't the perfect card for the deck and one I was hoping would show up: Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary! This is one of the key ramp cards for the green ramp deck, and he decided to grace us with his presence. I'm hoping Dragonlord Dromoka will come back as well.
Pack 3 pick 4:
Not a lot in this pack so took the only obvious choice.
Pack 3 pick 5:
Another pack with a hard choice. Emrakul is the top end we are looking for, but at 15 mana, is it out of reach for even our deck? Quite possibly. Garruk Wildspeaker's ability to untap lands can help us as well, and Courser of Kruphix can help dig through the deck slowly. In the end I took the Courser.
Pack 3 pick 6:
An ok pick but does nothing to further our game plans. In hindsight I probably should have taken the Gilded Lotus.
Pack 3 pick 7:
I'm not sure why I didn't take Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx here as it would have been better, but I think I was looking for another body.
Pack 3 pick 8:
Here's a ramp target! I was happy to see Kozilek here as I was worrying that I was going to be relying on the Behemoth.
Pack 3 pick 9:
Pack 3 pick 10:
We should be able to splash the Pridemage should we need to.
Pack 3 pick 11:
Well, I hoped Dromoka would come around, and it did. Was quite happy with another big threat.
Pack 3 pick 12:
Pack 3 pick 13:
Pack 3 pick 14:
Pack 3 pick 15:
And was very happy to have this come back as well!
I'm pretty happy with the way the deck turned out. We have a few late game threats as well as ways to search them out, and also plenty of ramp to be able to cast them. Will also have some midgame stuff in case we find ourselves short on ramp or ramp targets. Let's jump into the matches to see how we do!
We are on the draw game 1, but we get off to a dream start with a hand containing Elvish Mystic, Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary, Heartbeat of Spring and Polukranos, World Eater. Our opponent starts with some Forests and a Tropical Island, but doesn't play anything very early while we curve out, even drawing into an Oracle of Mul Daya and Thragtusk. Our opponent plays a Garruk Relentless and a Garruk Wildspeaker but we have curved out nicely and take the game on turn 5. 1-0.
Our opening hand in game 2 is not quite as explosive, with a mana dork, Selesnya Signet, Courser of Kruphix and Green Sun's Zenith, but it's keepable and the Zenith can help us find our threat if we can ramp up. Unfortunately for us our opponent plays a turn 2 Rofellos themself and shows us they are on the same game plan. We start to flood a bit, drawing lots of ramp but no targets; our opponent casts a Reclamation Sage to kill our Courser, and then equips it with Sword of Body and Mind to give it protection from green. We manage to draw Dragonlord Dromoka but it's too late; we lose to being decked by the Sword. 1-1.
Game 3 we are on the play. Our opening hand is interesting: Ancient Tomb, Gaea's Cradle, Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, a forest, Selesnya Signet, Yavimaya Elder and Wolfir Silverheart. I was tempted to mulligan this, as it wasn't fantastic, but in the end decided to keep, playing the Tomb into the Signet, followed by the Elder on turn 2 and Wolfir Silverheart on turn 3, using it's soulbond ability with the Elder. I swung for 6, getting my opponent down to 14 and with my two creatures I had 14 power on board; unless my opponent could find an answer next turn, I would win. Unfortunately they did, using Dismember on the Elder (which was 6/5) to kill it. I was left with a 4/4 Silverheart but when the Elder died, I had drawn into Craterhoof Behemoth... I just needed to get the mana to cast it. As I was building up to it, my opponent played their Sword again followed by Nissa, Worldwaker, creating a 4/4 land with her first ability and equipping the Sword. They then played Garruk Relentless and created a token, but it was not enough; they were on 2 life and I was up to 8 mana, so cast the Behemoth and trampled over his blockers to deal 13 damage and take the match. 2-1.
Swinging for lethal
We are paired up with another green ramp deck again for this match, and our opponent gets off to a flying start. He goes Elves of Deep Shadow into Rofellos into Lotus Cobra into Verdurous Gearhulk, while all we have on the board are some Forests and a Sylvan Caryatid. Things are not looking good. We play a Polukranos, World Eater and our opponent does the same, but doesn't attack in as he had spread his Gearhulk counters amongst his smaller creatures. We activate Monstrosity to kill Rofellos and to keep him off of his ramp for a bit, which seems to work. Eventually we play a Managorger Hydra and our own Rofellos, but the opponent kills both of them with the Monstorsity on his own Polukranos. They are still unable to attack, however, and we seem to have stabilised for now. We follow up with a Wolfir Silverheart which we pair with Polukranos, and our opponent then copies with a Phyrexian Metamorph. I then play Heartbeat of Spring into Kozilek, and my opponent follows up with a Kozilek of their own!
The next turn is quite fun. We play Oracle of Mul Daya into Survival of the Fittest, discarding a mana dork to fetch Craterhoof Behemoth; the rest speaks for itself:
I'm not sure the opponent realised that Kozilek had trample at that point or he might have blocked with the Wall of Roots, but we'll take the win! 1-0
Unfortunately game 2 is nowhere near as much fun for us. We start off with a couple of mana dorks and our opponent reveals what his red splash is for: Bonfire of the Damned, which wipes the board. We never recover, drawing land after land after land while our opponent is also flooding... the board with creatures. Eventually he has a 13/13 Polukranos, an 8/8 Gearhulk and a bunch of small creatures and we have nothing and are only on 9 life, so it's on to game 3. 1-1
On the play, we cast Elvish Mystic into Managorger Hydra. Remember how I said how big he gets when you cast him on turn 2? We manage to get him to a 6/6 and then land Rofellos, while we have Craterhoof Behemoth in hand. Our opponent didn't answer Rofellos on their turn, so we untap with all the mana up we need. The bad news for our opponent is that he is on 17 life and only has an Acidic Slime and a Wall of Roots on the battlefield to block, so we swing with the team and hit them for 19 damage to take out game 3. 2-1
We start off on the draw. Our opponent mulligans and plays a Swamp, then passes; I breathe a sigh of relief that at least we are not in the mirror again! Meanwhile, we start off with a Joraga Treespeaker and pass back to our opponent, who draws and.... passes back without doing anything. Our hand is not ultra fast but hopefully we can capitalize on their slow start. We play a Selesnya Signet, Garruk Wildspeaker and Survival of the Fittest before our opponent does anything else, which is to discard Griselbrand; we now know we are likely playing against a reanimator deck. This is confirmed on the very next turn when they cast Exhume to bring Griselbrand onto the battlefield. We have played Polukranos and Thragtusk by this stage though, and I have Green Sun's Zenith in hand. The next turn looks like this:
While the opponent could have survived that turn, they conceded and we moved to game 2. 1-0.
Again we have a slowish hand but that includes an Elvish Mystic, Verdurous Gearhulk and Sylvan Library. We play the Mystic into the Library, while our opponent plays out lands and Grim Tutors for something. We cast Green Sun's Zenith to fetch Rofellos, which our opponent kills with a Skinrender. That's ok though, as the Library is letting us dig and we cast a Gearhulk (putting all the counters on itself) and a Thragtusk while the opponent searches for answers using Bazaar of Baghdad. We get lucky and they never find one, and they concede the game on turn 6. 2-0
Well, the deck certainly worked! You don't learn much by winning, but I like the way the deck played out and I don't think there were too many weak spots. Also, while I love draft leagues, I'm not sure facing the same archetype multiple times is as much fun, but with my busy life schedule I think I can put up with it for the convenience.
I'll be back soon with another draft, and I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter. Thanks for reading!