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By: SteveJeltz, Rev. David Wright
Dec 26 2017 1:00pm
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Vintage Cube:

Drafts and Archetypes

Ancestral Recall Inquisition of Kozilek Bazaar of Baghdad

So my first draft in the Vintage Cube I opened an Ancestral Recall, second picked a Inquisition of Kozilek, and then noticed that Bazaar of Baghdad came around 8th pick. Since I was already in the right colors to do it, and I was searching for a win condition, I moved into Blue-Black Reanimator.

When you're drafting Reanimator, its really important to have the sum of the parts: tutors, ways to discard, reanimation spells, and of course, fatties. If you can toss in some soft counterspells, card draw, or at least card selection spells, spot removal, and maybe a sweeper, you have the whole package. 

Here's some good example of the pieces you're looking for:

Tutors: Demonic Tutor, Vampiric Tutor, Mystical Tutor, Imperial Seal

Ways to Discard: Entomb, Thirst for Knowledge, Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, Bazaar of Baghdad

Reanimation: Reanimate, Animate Dead, Necromancy, Recurring Nightmare

Fatties: Griselbrand, Ulamog, The Ceaseless Hunger, Emrakul, the Promised End, Myr Battlesphere

Soft Counters: Spell Pierce, Force Spike, Mana Leak, Daze

Card Selection: Ponder, Preordain, Brainstorm, Chart a Course

Spot Removal: Dismember, Go For The Throat, Ultimate Price, Bone Shredder

Sweepers: Toxic Deluge, Damnation, Living Death 

So how did it do?

Round 1, I beat Mono-White hate bears by locking them out of the game twice, each time reanimating Iona, Shield of Emeria.

Round 2, I played against a hybrid, Red aggro deck, splashing for white. Game 1 I lost to Strip Mine / Crucible of Worlds lock. Not a combo I was expecting out of Mono-Red. Game 2 I got a turn-3 Emrakul, the Promised End off of Bazaar of Baghdad, Mana Vault, and Necromancy. Then in Game 3, I got a turn-3 Animate Dead on Emrakul, the Promised End again off Bazaar of Baghdad. Mono-Red made it close, but have a 12 or 13 powered "Flampling"  flier on turn 3 is just too much for decks without unconditional spot removal.

Round 3, I was playing against Jeskai Control. Game 1, I went for turn-3 Animate Dead on Emrakul, the Promised End from Bazaar, but got Izzet Charmed. Turn four I tried the same move with a Necromancy and met a Mana Leak, but I had Force of Will plus blue card. Scoop. In Game 2, they  played a Karakas making my 3 legendary fatties a bit dubious. Game 3 I tried to board in more control cards, but I got buried in Planeswalkers.

League Result: 2-1 

Badlands Emrakul, the Aeons Torn Polluted Delta 

Second draft... I open a pack without any power. Not wanting to commit to any archetype, I first picked a Badlands, followed by an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and a Polluted Delta. Hmm... looks like Grixis Goodstuff again. Take all the good cards and trust a win condition will come around. Could be a combo win like Splinter Twin. Or Reanimator. Or Sneak Attack. Usually some kind of control deck with disruption and some broken thing.

Grixis is kind of the default deck to me when I'm drafting since Blue is the best color in cube and Red and Black are the best support colors. Plus being in Grixis opens up all the various combo wins and "unfair" things you can do. Here's a brief summary of the various Grixis win conditions:

Infinity Faeries: Splinter Twin is #1. Other pieces are Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, Pestermite, Deceiver Exarch, Zealous Conscripts and Restoration Angel except the last one only combos with Kiki. Tutors, card selection, disruption, counters, and wait for the combo. Splinter Twin is the single card that gets you in the deck, but if you're in the colors you can always grab good stuff and see where it goes.

Sneak and Show: Sneak Attack is the card that makes this deck happen, but Through the Breach is your #2. Show and Tell is ok, but be careful because in league play you don't know from the draft what your opponents could have. The best cards to pair with Sneak Attack are the big Eldrazi, especially the ones with Annihilator and then also Blightsteel Colossus.

Tinker: A one-card win condition. Every deck plays cheap artifacts. Trade your Mox Sapphire for a Blightsteel Colossus and you'll be in happyland. Good backups are Inkwell Leviathan and Myr Battlesphere. Fits best in the "Brown" deck, an artifact deck that can also play Wildfire.

Reanimator: See my first draft. There is traditional reanimator and then there is Eldrazi. Notice the overlap though with other ways to cheat fatties. I could Sneak Attack my Eldrazi, but I can also Shallow Grave the big lady if I am careful with my triggers and leave mana open after a discard spell.

Wildfire: Blue / Red are also the basis of the artifact deck. Play all the mana rocks, Wildfire, Burning of Xinye, have fun. Also overlaps well with the Tinker plan, Kuldotha Forgemaster, and there is a surprising amount of similarity between the "Brown" deck and Storm.

So where did I end up this time in terms of win conditions? Sneak Attack with a small reanimator package. Take a look:

So how did I do?

Match 1: Game 1:My opponent is on Black / White fair stuff. I Duress them, discarding Lingering Souls, the only non-creatures spell in their hand. Normally this is a yuck, but I'm glad to see no disruption. They pay flashback Lingering Souls on 3 and Hero of Bladehold on 4. I play Sneak Attack on Turn 5, flashing in an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn which eats their lands and creatures except Hero. They attack. Next turn I flash in Wurmcoil Engine. Game 2: My opponent shows Sword of Fire and Ice and Sword of Feast and Famine off my Duress. I take the Blue / Red sword. I eventually die to sworded up tokens before I can cheat my big guys into play. Game 3: I use Dack Fayden to loot my fatties into the graveyard and cast Makeshift Mannequin on Emrakul, the Aeons Torn with the shuffle trigger on the stack. Scoop.

Match 2, Game 1: Opponent goes Turn 1 (Avacyn Pilgrim), Turn 2 Mox Ruby into Xenagos, the Reveler, Turn 3 Primeval Titan. I stabilize a bit by casting Makeshift Mannequin on an Inferno Titan. Until they power out an Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger... onto Game 2. I shoot their (Avacyn Pilgrim), use Dack Fayden to loot and Corpse Dance my Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Opponent has zero life and zero permanents left. Game 3: Opponent plays Llanowar Elves which I promptly Chain Lightning. Opponent plays Scavenging Ooze and Bloodbraid Elf. I Sweltering Suns. I Makeshift Mannequin a Sundering Titan to knock us both back on lands and Animate Dead an Inferno Titan. They can't recover.

Match 3, Game 1: Opponent is on Sultai. I steal their Simic Signet with a Kitesail Freebooter and then steal their Sword of Body and Mind with my Dack Fayden. They try to find an answer with Compulsive Research... and scoops. Game 2: Opponent leads on Turn 2 Mox Emerald into Leovold, Emissary of Trest. Nasty. Especially with how many looting cards I run. I immediately punt by trying to loot with Dack Fayden. My opponent equips their Sword of Body and Mind to Leovold. Not wanting to reveal my deck, I scoop. Game 3: I cast a Turn-3 Animate Dead on Sundering Titan after Duressing. They are short on lands, but finds exactly the mana for a Trygon Predator. The Predator eats my Titan, but loses two lands and I lose 1. I'm holding a Through the Breach and Emrakul, so I Demonic Tutor for a red source, just hoping I can also find land #5. I do. They do not have a counter. 3-0. 

Summary: If you don't know how to judge quality in the cube, stick with Red, Black, and Blue. While they are the three most drafted colors, they offer the greatest variety of decks and win conditions. And sometimes, like I did in Draft #2, you start by picking good cards and then just trust you'll find the win condition eventually. Look for the powerful cards that get you into one of these archetypes: Splinter Twin, Sneak Attack or Reanimate. are good ones. The decks are deep enough that having a few cards in your combo package can be just enough to surround them with flexible, good cards. 

Next Week: I'll be back with two more decks, two more archetypes and matches. Maybe I'll even play a green or white deck. 

Keep having fun out there,