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By: CottonRhetoric, Cotton Rhetoric
Aug 24 2022 11:09am
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You know how when you draft vintage cube these days, every pack you look at is 30% unplayable? And the last 5 picks of each pack are nearly always dead? And for the first time in cube history, you're often scrambling to find enough playables, and you end up with builds you're not even happy about? If so, ask yourself: don't those all run counter to cube's premise of collecting the most powerful cards in the game's history?

Many of the changes to vcube have been improvements. Pest Infestation, The Wandering Emperor, and Red Elemental Blast were inspired additions. And looking over the change logs throughout history, so many bad cards have thankfully been removed. But the fact remains: the greatest format has been getting progressively worse, to the point where it feels frankly underpowered. Players are constantly asking themselves "why is this in the cube?" and, worse, "why is this still in the cube?"

But it's not too late to fix things! Here's how. 

1. Must-Removes

These cards simply do not belong in the format. They are wildly underpowered and/or lack any meaningful synergy.

 

Many of these were worthy experiments. There was once a time when I too thought Field of the Dead and Dragon's Rage Channeler would be good. But we've played with these cards for several seasons and they simply aren't.

Land Tax's only purpose (Scroll Rack) was removed years ago; neither black aggro nor sacrifice are supported archetypes and having two random cards for each doesn't help; Cryptbreaker is too slow and expensive a discard outlet compared to the many we already have; and Mesmeric Fiend is an expensive Thoughtseize with a downside (its fragile, functionless body). Kitesail Freebooter, now removed from cube, was the superior of the two; it could block 1/1s and its evasion enabled both ninjutsu and equipment. WotC removed the wrong one.

As for Sea Gate Stormcaller and Soulfire Grand Master: I know they combine with Time Walk. But they don't do much else. Contrast them with Regrowth and Snapcaster Mage, which combine with Time Walk while indeed doing much else. There's also the fact that you simply don't open Time Walk very often. And the fact that it's already quite good without being doubled. So do we really need two cards that do nothing but help it? They nearly always rot in your sideboard, and in the rare draft when you have reason to maindeck them, they usually rot in your hand. "But Stormcaller is also good with Ancestral Recall!" No it isn't. Drawing 3 cards is about as good as drawing 6 anywhere but the late game, and you usually want to free up that 2 mana to cast those cards you just drew instead of plopping down a 2/1 and discarding a couple of times.

As for the ones I didn't single out for commentary, all I can say is: have you seen them cast? If yes, you'll know how bad they are; if no, that speaks even more toward their badness, doesn't it? WotC: remove these 25 cards. Don't think; just do it. Before you do anything else, remove these cards from vintage cube. 

2. Maybe-Removes

These cards I suspect to be on the weaker side, but we'd need to crunch the data only WotC has access to.


Pow! Another 29 cards.

Academy Ruins' combo is so mana intensive that it's arguably not worth attempting; only the UB and UW manlands are truly playable; the lands archetype was worth a try but just doesn't hack it; Satoru Umezawa is wishful thinking and needs so much to go right; Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath is already barely playable, so there's no reason to keep its worse cousin Kroxa (and I say this as someone who loves jamming BR value).

Jokulhaups: I asked for it to be added myself a few articles ago, and I am glad we tried it (I even have a few hilarious screenshots of winning with it), but the experiment has run its course. We can take it back out.

The rest: they're not unplayable; they just don't seem that impressive to me. But like I said, data would need to be consulted. 

3. Less White Aggro

   

I could have hand picked ~14 white aggro cards most worthy of being removed and spread them across the above two categories, but I wanted to lump them together here to more clearly make the point: vintage cube needs less white aggro. We should absolutely support this important archetype, but it's already the highest powered and lowest picked archetype in cube (ask a trophy leader if you're skeptical), so do we really need this many cards for it?

The best way I can put it is this. Trophy leader Geeky Jackson made a tier list of white aggro cards in cube, and as you look over this enormous list, you will realize something. Even the lowest tier cards for this archetype are still perfectly good. That means there are too many of them. These are cards few to no other decks have a purpose for, so they really don't help the cube by being in it.

WotC already pared down red aggro to a balanced level; they should do the same for white aggro.

 

4. What to Add?

Up to 68 slots have been freed (depending on how many of my maybes are selected). This is poised to be the biggest update in cube's history! What do we do with it?

1. New archetypes. The current cube has two random sacrifice cards and pretends it's enough. What if they really gave the sacrifice deck substantial support? Or what if they tried something totally new, like an enchantress deck? Or big red? Or colorless mana cards?

 Argothian Enchantress

2. New buildarounds. At current, cube has almost enough support for each of these. Only a couple more cards could push any over the edge.

Flash Doomsday Pox Death's Shadow

These would need more concentrated effort than a couple cards, but are they worth considering?

Enduring Renewal Phyrexian Dreadnought Aluren

3. Support for existing cards. Bazaar of Baghdad is already in cube and already works with reanimation spells, but could we give it more to do? Maybe Golgari Grave-Troll, Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis, and so on? (I don't think Squee, Goblin Nabob or Basking Rootwalla are worth considering.)

4. Old favorites. We miss having these in cube! Many previous cuts have been restored (Birthing Pod and (Niv-Mizzet Reborn) are more notable examples). Why not these too?

5. New experiments. Maybe these will fail, in the tradition of Wheel of Misfortune and Mastermind's Acquisition. But maybe they'll be the next Pest Infestation! Let's consider trying:

Prison cards

Collector Ouphe The Abyss Chalice of the Void Sphere of Resistance Zur's Weirding Ritual of Subdual Standstill Silent Arbiter Constant Mists Drop of Honey 

Synergy cards

Bequeathal Pattern of Rebirth Squelch Arcbound Ravager Titania's Song Cabal Ritual ritual of the machine Helm of Awakening Isochron Scepter Copy Artifact 

Plain ol' value

Confiscate Fiery Justice Recoil Suffocating Blast Swerve Fire Covenant Ray of Command Rolling Earthquake Desert ashes to ashes

 

WotC, hear my pleas.