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By: CottonRhetoric, Cotton Rhetoric
Dec 25 2019 1:00pm
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That age-old limited question: what do I take?? The answer is even harder in cube, when nearly every card is powerful.

I won't be asking "what would you p1p1 out of these fifteen," because in vintage cube, there are usually 6 respectable answers to that question. Bribery might be "better" than Goblin Guide, but p1p1ing the Guide is certainly justifiable and can easily lead you to a 3-0 deck.

Rather, I'll be splitting hairs with similar cards. For instance—

Let's say you're already in red aggro, you need a 4-drop, and you open a pack with all these. Which do you like best? (Obviously "it depends," but let's talk in general terms.)

Chandra, Torch of DefianceHazoret the FerventHellriderKoth of the Hammer

Cotton's thoughts: Since we're specifying aggro, I'm going Hellrider. If you're in a defensive deck, Chandra. And the other two are for aggro (only) when you need to fill out your curve. In non-vintage cubes, Koth becomes more attractive next to a Chandra, Acolyte of Flame.

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Now for white aggro. Which of these creatures?

Angel of InventionAngel of SanctionsArchangel AvacynBaneslayer AngelReveillark

Cotton's thoughts: None of them are that good. Most white aggro decks are fine skipping the 5-drop slot, unless it's for a Gideon Jura or Batterskull. Baneslayer Angel and Lyra Dawnbringer are sideboard-only cards. Avacyn is mediocre, Reveillark is worse than that, and the top two angels are justifiable if your deck didn't get there. Invention is of course better for go-wide aggro and Sanctions for the slower deck. The poll specified aggro, so I'll say Angel of Inventions. Maybe in the next cube season we'll have fewer than six of these clunkers. (And as for Baneslayer vs. Lyra: I know the point of these polls is to split hairs, but that one feels like splitting the molecules of a hair.)

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You're drafting 5-color control. Which of these do you take first?

Ashiok, Nightmare WeaverDack FaydenDaretti, Ingenious Iconoclast • Oko, Thief of Crowns • Teferi, Time Raveler

Cotton's thoughts: All five of these are super good. Any is a defensible vote. I think Dack might be the most universally impactful in vintage cube, although newcomer Oko is certainly a contender.

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For the artifact players—

Blightsteel ColossusBolas's CitadelInkwell LeviathanSphinx of the Steel WindSundering Titan

Cotton's thoughts: Like every poll, "it depends," put if you're making me pick one, Blightsteel Colossus. Bolas's Citadel is certainly more exciting (and better in storm). Of course, any sensible Tinker deck will have more than one target.

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Let's do a land one! I'll limit this to lands that can go in multiple decks, because asking to rank Bazaar of Baghdad against Gaea's Cradle is a little apples-and-oranges. Obviously one deck wants one and another deck wants the other.


Ancient TombKarakasLibrary of AlexandriaMishra's FactoryStrip Mine

Cotton's thoughts:
Ancient Tomb. All of these are welcome in almost every deck, except Mishra's Factory, but cube is a format all about speed. Skipping ahead on the curve without any real drawback to your deck or game is exactly what you want to be doing.

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Let's get morbid.


Ashen RiderGriselbrandIona, Shield of Emeria

Cotton's thoughts: I'd be surprised if Griselbrand didn't win. Not only for raw power level, but because he's even hardcastable in some games.

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Now for a simple value card, Flickerwisp.

Ignoring plays that rely on the opponent, like "A creature of mine that has been stolen with Control Magic," and ignoring creatures that cost 6+ mana, what is your...

Blade SplicerFaith's FettersGonti, Lord of LuxuryMulldrifterReclamation Sage

Cotton's thoughts: Lord of luxury? More like lord of the format!!

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Here's something people constantly debate without making any progress:


Ancestral RecallBlack LotusMox SapphireSol RingTime Walk


Cotton's thoughts: Reid Duke probably said it best: this one is fun to think about, but all of them are insanely powerful, give you a huge advantage, and are justifiable as a personal favorite. None of these picks are unreasonable.

But this is my column and not Reid's so I'm going to say Black Lotus.

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Looking into the future, which of these old cards do you think is the...


Fire CovenantFlashJokulhaupsNiv-Mizzet RebornPox

Cotton's thoughts: If I'm trying to be objective, Fire Covenant is probably the most useful without being oppressive/unfun like Jokulhaups. If I'm talking about selfish personal enjoyment, I'd love Niv, since cube doesn't have much direct payoff for going 5-color, and that's my favorite archetype. (Golos, Tireless Pilgrim doesn't really do it for me, though he has his fans.) Flash might be a little too narrow, and regarding Pox, vintage cube is the only cube not to care about mono black.

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WotC hasn't yet taken my advice to remove 2 or 3 of the 5 Sword equipments. Maybe they're waiting for some hard data about which the players like best?



Sword of Body and MindSword of Feast and FamineSword of Fire and IceSword of Light and ShadowSword of War and Peace

Cotton's thoughts: In a vacuum, drawing cards and binking planeswalkers is probably the most useful, so I'll say the RU one. I have seen the UG one steal some games (including a "battle of the titans" between trophy leader-board champions TeamJbro and Spiraling), but in general, "attack three times for the win" is not the most realistic plan.



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Many folks think UX is the best archetype in cube. And although the true strategy is just "pair blue with whatever non-blue color is open," which one do you most hope to be open before you start drafting?


Cotton's thoughts: To me, all five are basically an even power level. The question almost reads better as "which is your favorite" instead of "which is the objective best." But picking one... UG I guess? Mainly because that's the pair that makes best use of both Opposition and UpheavalOH I think I remember LSV saying he likes UR best and he's smarter than I.

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And last—

The anime community has "subs vs. dubs." The MtG community has...



Cotton's thoughts: Old, old, old, old, old.

I remember reading in an InQuest magazine (talk about old) how the artwork from the game's first few years is under a different contract than everything since, and costs WotC way more to reprint than to redo, but I'm not sure whether this pertains to cube. If so, the decision may be more practical than aesthetic.


Thanks for rocking the vote, and happy cubing!


I voted, but the polls didn't by JXClaytor at Wed, 12/25/2019 - 14:57
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I voted, but the polls didn't update :/

Are you sure? I tried a by CottonRhetoric at Wed, 12/25/2019 - 17:31
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Are you sure? I tried a random one just now and it showed when I refreshed the results.

Pretty sure it isn't showing by Paul Leicht at Thu, 12/26/2019 - 00:52
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Pretty sure it isn't showing results properly at least right away. It could be some problem with caching but I am thinking it's something else. I am looking at the article after voting on the first one (Hazoret was my vote) and it shows just one (Chandra).

Going to the strawpoll site itself allows you to vote properly and it then does register the vote here but apparently there is a problem with using it inside an iframe.

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