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By: SteveJeltz, Rev. David Wright
Sep 14 2017 12:00pm
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Thoroughly Modern Cube

By SteveJeltz  

Liliana of the Veil  

Pauper can wait. It's Cube Week!  

So, Wizards has decided to spoil us again. Not quite as sugary sweet as the Vintage Cube. But the Modern Cube is still full of plenty of sweet play, even if it is just a bit too fair. I'm about 5 or 6 drafts in so far, and even though my overall record is only about 55% winning percentage, I still have a pretty good impression of what's going on here. So the following are a few archetype based notes on what to expect when you go Modern Cubing.  


1. Life is fair.


Splinter Twin


Conspicuously Absent from this Cube  


With extremely rare exceptions, you're not going to die in this Cube to out of nowhere two-card combos. There's no Splinter Twin, no Tinker, no Natural Order, no Storm cards, no cheap tutors, no Time Vault, no Mishra's Workshop. Not even CopyCat. Yes, Kiki-Jiki is still in the Cube to play with his friends Pestermite and Restoration Angel, and I suppose Zealous Conscripts, but the absence of Splinter Twin and other redundant pieces like Deceiver Exarch or even Saheeli Rai and Felidar Guardian make the threat of combo kills far less intimidating

2. Mono Red Got Neutered 

Firedrinker Satyr


Currently serving time in the penalty box for stealing too many cheap wins. 


In the old iteration of the Modern Cube, Mono Red was by far the dominant aggro deck and the fun police of the format. I happen to love Mono Red, but I know many others hate it and find its presence boring. I happen to think that a good Mono Red deck brings a healthy balance to the format since it prevents a Midrange / Control arms race which is what we see in big mana cubes without a relevant aggro presence like the Legendary Cube. Mono Red lost 6 of its one drops leaving only 5 in the whole 540 card Cube. Sure, it still has Goblin Guide, and a bunch of good 2-drops, but without enough 1s to consistently curve out, mono red is at best a tier 2 deck now.

3. Green has by far the best turn 1 plays

Noble Hierarch


Still the best turn one Modern Cube play available. 


Even though Red got punished in this iteration of the Modern Cube, look at all the great turn one accelerants green gets:

  1. Arbor Elf

  2. Avacyn's Pilgrim

  3. Birds of Paradise

  4. Elves of Deep Shadow

  5. Elvish Mystic

  6. Joraga Treespeaker

  7. Llanowar Elves

  8. Noble Hierarch

  9. Search for Tomorrow

  10. Utopia Sprawl

Additionally, Green also gets 10 more 2-mana accelerants,  making it possible to support multiple green drafters in a single pod.

4. The mana rocks are incredibly powerful.


Mind Stone


A super innocuous top pick

Even though we don’t get color specific mana rocks like the Signets or Talisman, the ones we do get give non-green, non-aggro decks a major improvement to get those Planeswalkers and other big haymakers down a turn earlier. Here’s my priority list of the mana rocks in this cube:

  1. Coalition Relic

  2. Everflowing Chalice

  3. Prismatic Lens

  4. Mind Stone

  5. Chromatic Lantern

  6. Coldsteel Heart

  7. Sphere of the Suns

  8. Star Compass

  9. Hedron Archive

  10. Gilded Lotus

  11. Palladium Myr

The reason I'm cold on the big ramp cards is that Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger is the only Eldrazi in the cube. I generally prefer the 2 CMC mana rocks to the others except that Coalition Relic is as the closest we're going to get to Worn Powerstone in this cube. You would think I would like Palladium Myr by that logic, except that it dies to everything. Chromatic Lantern, in spite of its inefficiency, shines that it allows you to safely run 3-5 color decks, even using your fetchlands for mana without sacrificing them!

 5. The rest of the Modern Cube feels like a Midrange / Control arms race. 

Elspeth, Sun's Champion


Still annoying after all these years. 


You can play two colors. Or three colors. Or even 4 or 5 color green. You can play Mono black devotion. Still, if you’re not on Red or White-based Aggro, you’re probably trying to ramp into Planeswalkers and haymakers. The only questions then are:

  • Who gets to drop theirs first?

  • Whose top end is better?

  • Do you have disruption, counterspells or removal to not lose to their haymakers?

The Planeswalkers and haymakers that have really impressed me include: Liliana, the Last Hope, Tamiyo, the Moon Sage, Ajani Vengeant, Karn Liberated, Wurmcoil Engine, Dragonlord Silumgar, Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, Avenger of Zendikar, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, Elspeth, Sun's Champion, Hero of Bladehold, and my personal favorite, Zealous Conscripts

My Conclusion


 Do something more powerful than your opponent. Get there faster. Play two-mana counters like Rune Snag or one-mana disruptive spells like Despise. That’s my advice for this cube. 

Bonus Content:

Here’s the Modern Cube deck I drafted tonight: 


I was a couple playables short of a good green ramp deck, but I ended up with a lot of white in my sideboard since that was consistently open as I was being cut from green. So I started each match with the green ramp deck, mulliganed to draw my accelerants, and hoped to get lucky with either the Overwhelming Stampede or one of the seven drops. Then every game two, I sided into the Green-White Aggro deck. Again, it was a sub par build, but it had a ton of good one drops. Sometimes they don't draw their wraths.


So, how did I do with the classic mistake of of splitting between two sub-par decks instead of sticking to one good one?



Nice writeup! I love cubes by CottonRhetoric at Thu, 09/14/2017 - 18:08
CottonRhetoric's picture

Nice writeup! I love cubes :D
My favorite archetype is 4 or 5c with tons of nonbasics. Different fun and powerful every time.