Grotesque Hybrid: Casually Cubing Confusion

Hola ARG Magic community, with my competitive play results beings less than stellar there's no real reason to bore anyone with the fabled 2-2 drop kind of article. Cause let's face it, a 2-2 drop is just an article about side events or theory crafting based off the hows and whys of what could have been if matchups were different or if you didn't mull to 5 in that one game.

So let's focus more on the casual side of this Magic game we play. For many tournament driven players casual is not a type of Magic so if you'd like to change the article channel now I understand. But either way I'm more of the school of thought where enough experience just playing Magic will make you better regardless of the format. You never know, something you saw in a seven player free-for-all could be applicable later down the line when you're playing for top 8.

First up on the casual format docket we'll cover is my third time ever drafting a cube. Previous two experiences were with a Pauper Cube...which was awkward as hell to say the least. This time there were Revised Dual Lands, Power Nine, Planeswalkers...all the pretty bells and whistles of Magic's history.

So we pick our three packs and the pack 1 pick 1 for me was Umezawa's Jitte, figured I'm not going to try and build a Cube storm combo deck, so a creature with this would be fairly good. Then as packs got passed to me I saw Exhume, Reanimate and Sheoldred. At this point I figured it would be interesting to try a Reanimator deck, so I went picking very high casting cost creatures, and a few support guys and controlish planeswalkers (Sarkhan the Mad and Dark Confidant being allstars). Well here's the relevant cards I ending up drafting:

1 Sarkhan the Mad
1 Karn Liberated
1 Ajani Vengeant
1 Liliana of the Veil
1 Vampire Nighthawk
1 Thoughtseize
1 Reanimate
1 Exhume
1 Student of Warfare
1 Figure of Destiny
1 Gatekeeper of Malakir
1 Sheoldred, the Whispering One
1 Akroma Angel of Fury
1 Phyrexian Obliterator
1 Tombstalker
1 Umezawa's Jitte
1 Ranger of Eos
1 Oblivion Ring
1 Mikaeus the Lunarch
1 Hymn to Tourach
1 Dark Confidant
1 Tidehollow Sculler
1 Lingering Souls
1 Blood Crypt
1 Arid Mesa
1 Polluted Delta
7 Swamp
4 Plains
3 Mountain

Mirran Crusader
Thalia Gaurdian of Thraben
Phyrexian Rebirth
Searing Blaze
Nevimryaal's Disk
10 other ineffective cards

Pretty self explanatory on how it works, and yes Thoughtseize is effective hand disruption and also a possible turn 2 outlet on Reanimator combo. So the deck is oddly streamlined for being a three color "let's see what happens" kind of deck.

Round 1: Eric w/ U/R

Game 1 was a fairly grindy game. He Vendillion Clique'd an Ajani Vengeant out of my hand the turn before I was going to play it, and started hitting me with that, dropping a Consecrated Sphinx and having a very good control deck. If it wasn't for Sarkhan the Mad turning my Wall of Omens into a Dragon, and Karn dealing with his Sower of Temptation and Inferno Titan, the game could have been much different. Game 2 however I was nearly giddy, since this is casual and I tend to not play the same as competitive, I had Reanimate, Thoughtseize and Sheoldred in my hand, and 2 swamps. So that was an auto-keep. Turn two happens and I say "Tap 1 Swamp, Pay 2 Life..." and he was about to show me his hand until I said “No-no, on myself." Then I revealed, showed him what I was doing, asked for a response and got a grumbled no as an answer. However he did Gfts Ungiven turn 3 off a Lotus Petal and I let him keep a Mind Control and Kira, the Glass Spinner because I had Tidehollow Sculler in hand to steal that Mind Control. So even though I effectively started the game at 11, the 6/6 on turn 2 definitely helped to give me a nice advantage.


Round 2: Dylan w/ 5 Color Planeswalker Control
Game 1 I tried to play the control versus control game but saw that he just wrecked that dropping Chandra Firebrand, Garruk Relelntless, Jace the Mind Sculptor and Venser the Sojourner before I scooped to a follow up Acidic Slime that thanks to Venser was stone raining me at least once a turn. Since I placed him on not many creatures I figured Thalia would be nice. So I brought her in and timely Thoughtseize got rid of a Vorapede and I was on cruise control most of that game. Game 3 saw me bring in Sinkhole realizing that blue was very important for him. So a Sinkhole that only set him a turn back because he Life from the Loamed the Island back the next turn. But the little board stall managed to buy me enough time to land Karn and cause him to scoop due to being a little mana light.


So that was just a fun little cube draft, no prize attached to that one. Though I was very happy to see that my goofy little deck had enough synergy to just get there. After a very limited experience with Cube drafting I'm still a little on the fence on weather or not I enjoy it, but that one was fun.

Next that brings us to a fun casual throw down with my normal casual play group, very reminiscent of High School...except I don't suck as much. Now since the two decks I mainly pilot are U/W Delver and U/W/R Splinter Twin, so I didn't expect to live very long in these games because well...obvious reasons. Since my casual play group consists of two casual players, one semi-competitive and one flavor based semi-competitive player and a few newer people, the power level of my decks are usually much higher.

Long and short of it the games were ridiculous and when you have seven people playing, the games were extremely long also. Though I did force the game longer when I countered two Woldfires, but that was out of self preservation...and nothing else.This also leads to explain why I like Arch Enemy the best out of all the casual variants. Many casual groups do have a competitive player or two, or just the guy that can buy the best Arch Enemy evens the playing field quite nicely. Regardless of what the Arch Enemy plays, the idea of four on one is really an even playing field, even with the Arch Enemy cards included.

Unfortunately the three games the group got to play on a whole took like 6 hours, so there wasn't really much room for variants. Though amongst the madness there was an interesting argument that came up. The great combo debate began between me and my one flavor enthusiast Dave. He's got one insane artifact combo deck which even though it's Highlander style (means only 1 every card except basic lands) it's got about 10 different combo pieces and Clock of Omens to just speed his deck up something stupid.

So his point is that Splinter Twin is a more degenerate combo due to the fact that it's a two card combo. Whereas my point is that his deck is more degenerate especially in a casual format because it's much more difficult to deal with Artifacts than creatures.

I mean the prime point is the one time both decks were in a free-for-all together I had the oppurtunity to Splinter Twin about 3 or 4 times and the attempts were thwarted by Turn to Frog, Searing Spear, Lightning Bolt and Doom Blade. So perhaps my combo can go off quicker, but it's also easier to stop. And when his deck started to move the way he was killed was very literally forcing him to tap out, Time Warping for an extra turn and then smashing in for lethal. So if he didn't tap out because two different players attacked him (one of which got two attacks), than he would have most likely been able to stabilize and go infinite so to speak.

Now I was unable to get his deck list but the reusable aspects of all his cards, like Trading Post, Mana Vault, Bosh, Darksteel Forge, Bottle Gnomes, Clock of Omens, Sword of Light and Shadow, Helm of Obedience along with other cards I can't remember plus things I forgot existed due to the fact that Mirrodin made me hate Magic for a solid five years. So his deck might has well be called the Recycling Factory because he's got multiple ways to recur things for his deck.

The question this raises refers to how difficult it is to combat each deck., Which is harder to fight, the deck that you have to be nearly intimately familiar with over 50% of what the cards do, or the deck that goes " If any combination of Pestermite, Kiki Jiki, Splinter Twin, Deceiver Exarch or Restoration Angel come out...kill it"?

But remember folks, it's always fun to floop the pig.