Holiday Cube Updates

Posted in Magic Online on June 22, 2015

By Randy Buehler

Randy Buehler is a longtime Magic player, a friend of the Vintage format, co-host of the Standard Super League, and a lover of Magic Online Cubes everywhere. In November, working alongside Magic R&D, he led a complete redesign of the Magic Online Cube, resulting in the new Legacy Cube and its subsequent update.

This time, Randy and Magic R&D have set their sights on updating the Magic Online Holiday Cube! Read up on the redesign in the article below then go back to check out Lee Sharpe's latest article for details about upcoming Holiday Cube Events from July 8 through July 22.

Check out the updated Holiday Cube list.

Get the Holiday Cube and Mirrodin Block Phantom Draft Event details.

I am delighted that Wizards finally realized there is more than one holiday in the year, and we get to draft the "powered" cube on Magic Online during the middle of summer. My previous cube design projects have been centered around the Legacy Cube, and one of my goals has been to turn that into an experience distinct from this one. The project has gone well enough that they brought me in again, but this time the task is much easier. The Holiday Cube is already working quite well, and none of the themes require major surgery. Most of what I've done is make incremental upgrades by cutting unpopular cards and adding cool newly-printed ones.

The total number of cards changing is 52, but one card probably adds up to a bigger impact than the other 51 combined: we're cutting Time Vault. It's just too good, and too easy, and too dumb. Games involving Time Vault and any way to repeatedly untap it are kind of cool the first time you see them, and then the first time you draft that deck, but they're just not an interesting thing to bend the environment around for the long-term.

Time Vault may have been cut for being too powerful, but it's the only card that's not in this cube due to power-level concerns. In fact, we further embraced the "best cards of all time" theme by adding back Shelldock Isle and also adding in a collection of cards that are regularly played in Vintage but were not in the last version of this cube (Gush, Gitaxian Probe, Mental Misstep, Fastbond, Deathrite Shaman, Kuldotha Forgemaster, Treasure Cruise, Dig Through Time, and Monastery Mentor).

Meanwhile, there have been a lot of cool cards printed in the last year. In addition to the last three from the Vintage-staples list above, other newly printed superstars that made the cut include Siege Rhino, Alesha, Who Smiles at Death, Dragonlord Atarka, Gurmag Angler, Seeker of the Way, Narset Transcendent, Dragon Hunter, Soulfire Grand Master, Tasigur, the Golden Fang, Outpost Siege, Villainous Wealth, Dragonlord Silumgar, Whisperwood Elemental, Sidisi, Undead Visier, Mardu Woe-Reaper, Zurgo Bellstriker, Jeskai Ascendancy, Secure the Wastes, and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon.

Of course, figuring out what to cut is just as important to a cube update as figuring out what to add in. Luckily, Magic Online provides me with statistics on the average draft position of every card in the cube, both for the average drafter and also for those who win their draft. Cards with an average draft position of 13th, for example, are not just cards that won't help you win a draft but also cards that very few people even want to try playing with. I made heavy use of this list while figuring out what cuts to propose to R&D.

Here is a list of the ten lowest drafted cards in the previous run of the Holiday Cube. All ten of them have been cut from this incarnation:

Card Average Draft Pick
Manriki-Gusari 12.758
Frenzied Goblin 12.957
Ghitu Encampment 12.960
Diregraf Ghoul 12.961
Spikeshot Elder 12.982
Vampire Lacerator 13.231
Teetering Peaks 13.410
Phyrexian Negator 13.449
Carnophage 13.471
Sarcomancy 13.735

Many of those cards are black, so we added one mini-theme to black to make up for all the aggro creatures we cut: fast reanimation. Corpse Dance, Shallow Grave, and Makeshift Mannequin each allow you to put a creature into play from your graveyard at instant speed, which means they provide you with a way to "reanimate" even the creatures that would normally shuffle themselves back into your library (like Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and the other Eldrazi). We think (hope) this will add another dimension to Sneak Attack and Through the Breach decks, as well as more traditional reanimation decks. We also added a few more discard outlets and cut the Relic of Progenitus in an effort to help the reanimation decks compete with the other crazy combo decks that are possible.

I know data is fun, so here's the flip side of that "lowest drafted list." These are, in order, the 25 most highly drafted cards amongst players who go on to 3-0 their pod:

Card Average Draft Pick
Black Lotus 1.104326
Ancestral Recall 1.256185
Sol Ring 1.28695
Mox Sapphire 1.43465
Mox Jet 1.52243
Mox Pearl 1.568513
Time Walk 1.602301
Jace, the Mind Sculptor 1.625228
Mox Ruby 1.650553
Mox Emerald 1.903665
Mana Crypt 2.006652
Karn Liberated 2.101632
Library of Alexandria 2.132509
Mana Vault 2.175201
Mana Drain 2.196789
Umezawa's Jitte 2.340032
Time Vault 2.358019
Wurmcoil Engine 2.446577
Demonic Tutor 2.561988
Bribery 2.732429
Batterskull 2.736544
Mind Twist 2.805903
Grim Monolith 2.81257
Sword of Fire and Ice 2.887069
Treachery 2.917673

There are lots of blue cards and lots of artifacts, which shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who has drafted a powered cube before. The most highly drafted green card turns out to be Primeval Titan, at 46th. The first white card is Swords to Plowshares at 52nd. And the first red card? Well, it's also the first gold card on the list: Dack Fayden!

I feel pretty good about this update. I believe we have preserved everything that was already fun about Holiday Cube, upgraded the worst cards, and provided some new toys to play with. Feel free to let me know on twitter (@rbuehler) what other changes you might like to see in the future. Meanwhile, I will see you guys in the queues. Happy drafting!

Check out the updated Holiday Cube list.

Holiday Cube Changes


Entering the Holiday Cube
Dragon Hunter
Fiend Hunter
Mardu Woe-Reaper
Momentary Blink
Monastery Mentor
Secure the Wastes
Seeker of the Way
Soulfire Grand Master
War Priest of Thune
Leaving the Holiday Cube
Accorder Paladin
Aven Mindcensor
Containment Priest
Elite Vanguard
Elspeth Tirel
Imposing Sovereign
Kami of Ancient Law
Savannah Lions


Entering the Holiday Cube
Dig Through Time
Gitaxian Probe
Mental Misstep
Spell Pierce
Treasure Cruise
Leaving the Holiday Cube
Dungeon Geists
Grand Architect
Kira, Great Glass-Spinner
Memory Lapse
Old Man of the Sea
Serendib Efreet
Talrand, Sky Summoner


Entering the Holiday Cube
Corpse Dance
Gurmag Angler
Makeshift Mannequin
Puppeteer Clique
Shallow Grave
Sidisi, Undead Vizier
Tasigur, the Golden Fang
Leaving the Holiday Cube
Diregraf Ghoul
Master of the Feast
Phyrexian Negator
Vampire Lacerator


Entering the Holiday Cube
Alesha, Who Smiles at Death
Monastery Swiftspear
Outpost Siege
Punishing Fire
Zurgo Bellstriker
Leaving the Holiday Cube
Arc Trail
Borderland Marauder
Frenzied Goblin
Goblin Vandal
Molten Rain
Spikeshot Elder


Entering the Holiday Cube
Whisperwood Elemental
Leaving the Holiday Cube
Plow Under


Entering the Holiday Cube
Deathrite Shaman
Dragonlord Atarka
Dragonlord Silumgar
Izzet Charm
Jeskai Ascendancy
Mystic Snake
Narset Transcendent
Rakdos's Return
Siege Rhino
Utter End
Villainous Wealth
Leaving the Holiday Cube
Burning-Tree Emissary
Detention Sphere
Falkenrath Aristocrat
Gerrard's Verdict
Goblin Electromancer
Kiora's Follower
Nightveil Specter
Vraska the Unseen


Entering the Holiday Cube
Kuldotha Forgemaster
Staff of Domination
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Zuran Orb
Leaving the Holiday Cube
Aether Vial
Cursed Scroll
Molten-Tail Masticore
Null Rod
Relic of Progenitus
Time Vault
Voltaic Key


Entering the Holiday Cube
Grove of the Burnwillows
Horizon Canopy
Mana Confluence
Shelldock Isle
Leaving the Holiday Cube
Ghitu Encampment
Karplusan Forest
Teetering Peaks
Windbrisk Heights

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