Spotlight Cube Series: Alt-Vintage Cube

Posted in Magic Online on May 26, 2021

By Luis Scott-Vargas

Luis Scott-Vargas plays, writes, and makes videos about Magic. He has played on the Pro Tour for almost a decade, and between that and producing content for ChannelFireball, often has his hands full (of cards).

Alt-Vintage Cube is available to play on Magic Online May 26 through June 2.


Both Gaby Spartz and I are Cube aficionados, and it's really cool to get an opportunity to have our cube featured on Magic Online. We have this cube in paper in Denver and love playing it when we can (more in the coming months than in the last year, I can tell you that). We can't wait to share it with you and would like to give you a little background on what's going in our version of Vintage Cube.

Our cube is a Vintage cube constructed under the following tenets:

  • High synergy – The cube includes plenty of cards that need other cards to operate at their best. That's not to say that there aren't intrinsically powerful cards, but synergy is a high priority.
  • High power – Making big plays is awesome, and so is playing with powerful cards. We've included the best cards in the game and aren't shy about it.
  • Lean and mean – You'll find fewer classic five-mana Cube cards and more one- to three-mana plays in this cube. The focus is on cards that do something, and many longstanding cube cards got cut because other cards are just more efficient these days (sorry, Mirari's Wake).
  • Fun – Some notable cuts from the cube (Fractured Identity, Bribery) were made because they didn't lead to particularly fun games and weren't that interesting during the draft process. In particular, Bribery punished decks playing cool creatures, and we chose to leave it out as a result.

The way our cube evolved was just based on what we enjoyed doing. We do think it's important to have a range of archetypes available, such as mono-red and mono-white to help keep people honest, but a lot of the small decisions we came to organically. I still remember when we decided to cut Bribery, after which we realized we could make similar cuts to cards like Fractured Identity. I'd never fault you for including those in your cube, but we've had the experience of those cards enough that we wanted to rotate in some new things instead. Let's take a look at some of the archetypes we've made sure to support.

Reanimator

Reanimator is a Cube staple and is well-supported here. This deck often touches blue for more draw and discard but can operate as mono-black or black-red as needed. Reanimator is the fastest combo deck when it comes together and is good at operating with the lowest amount of resources in particular.

You can mulligan to four or five and still have Entomb and Animate Dead by turn two, which makes the deck much more resilient than others. That said, it's also the most reliant on drawing specific combinations, whereas other combo decks can usually make something happen with most combos of cards.

Mono-Red Aggro

The original "Fun Police," mono-red is actually fast enough to keep up in Vintage Cube. We've found that land destruction elements are key, with cards like Wasteland and Strip Mine being very important. I'd like to note that I personally enjoy the challenge of playing against mono-red and have drafted the 17-Mountain deck plenty of times myself.

Mono-White Aggro

Mono-white in this cube has an emphasis on taxing effects and early pressure, alongside both Ravages of War and Armageddon. White is another deck that can crush unprepared opponents and is surprisingly able to play long games with the equipment package.

Green Ramp

Green ramp decks are always strong in Cube, as one-drop accelerants into powerful plays is quite consistent. This completes the monocolor triad, as red, white, and green are all tier 1 when drafted solo (blue isn't because it's so hard to get that many blue cards, and black isn't because black needs other colors to support it).

The best ramp decks tend to focus on acceleration and cards of mana value 6 or more, mostly skipping the four- to five-mana plays (since those aren't as effective at closing out the game).

Lands

This is one of the more fun archetypes when it comes together. It uses Crop Rotation, Wrenn and Six, Crucible, and Elvish Reclaimer to get value from Strip Mine and Wasteland, or to assemble the combo of Dark Depths and Thespian's Stage.

There are plenty of supporting characters, and this deck has a ton of different ways to go depending on which you get. The rough idea is to combine cards that let you play extra lands with cards that let you play lands from your graveyard or the top of your library and get value from special lands as often as possible. This is my favorite deck to draft in the cube, and it has all the fixings here.

Five-Color Niv

The five-color Niv deck really alters the drafting experience, and the more cards that do that, the better. This deck is a blast to play and is quite good if you pick up the key cards (chiefly, Niv and Omnath). The idea is to play a ton of gold cards, five-color mana fixing, and payoffs like Niv, Omnath, and Bring to Light.

Note that Bring to Light also has the mini-combo with Valki, and it's great if you can get both cards.

Artifacts

Artifacts, or blue-X, uses all the artifact payoffs and artifact mana to do big things. Urza often carries the deck, and it's the best Balance and Mishra's Workshop deck as well. This is the best big-mana deck outside of mono-green and even gets to take full advantage of cards like Balance, Upheaval, and Time Spiral.

Blue-Red Combo

There are a bunch of two- and three-card combos in blue-red (Sneak Attack, Splinter Twin, Narset/Hullbreacher plus draw 7s), and they often play like combo-control alongside the good blue disruption. This is likely the strongest deck overall when it comes together and is in many ways the archetypal Vintage Cube deck.

It turns out that if you have good card draw and good counterspells, there is no shortage of ways to finish the job, and compact combos fit nicely into these deck styles.

Blue-White Blink

Most of these cards are present in the usual MTGO Vintage Cube, but we added a few more blink effects and a few more payoffs. Playing and blinking value creatures is a good time, and this deck can land anywhere from aggressive to controlling, depending on the mix of cards.

Storm

Storm is somewhat of a trap when it comes to win percentage, but it is routinely one of the most fun decks to attempt. There is a lot of support for storm here, though the deck still isn't the best. It wouldn't be a cube I had a hand in without a robust storm deck, so just make sure you have good ways to generate mana before attempting this.

Graveyard and Sacrifice

Black is one of the toughest colors to get to work in Vintage Cube. This selection of black cards offers a bit of a graveyard or midrange sacrifice theme, which can do some powerful stuff. It's still not the best deck, but it gives black more of an identity than "splashable removal."

A Fine Vintage

Gaby and I really hope you enjoy this cube and would love to hear from you about it. Both of us are on Twitter @gabyspartz and @lsv, and we are hyped to see this cube in action.

We will also both be streaming it, and you can stop by on Twitch (same handles) this week, and we will undoubtedly be forcing the decks we love. Best of luck if you hop into the queue, and make sure to try out whatever strikes your fancy.

LSV

Full Cube List

Card Name Color
Kytheon, Hero of Akros White
Mother of Runes White
Elite Spellbinder White
Student of Warfare White
Adanto Vanguard White
Leonin Relic-Warder White
Selfless Spirit White
Soulfire Grand Master White
Stoneforge Mystic White
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben White
Tithe Taker White
Wall of Omens White
Enlightened Tutor White
Doomskar White
Blade Splicer White
Usher of the Fallen White
Flickerwisp White
Thraben Inspector White
Monastery Mentor White
Ranger-Captain of Eos White
Recruiter of the Guard White
Thalia, Heretic Cathar White
Vryn Wingmare White
Reidane, God of the Worthy White
Hero of Bladehold White
Linvala, Keeper of Silence White
Restoration Angel White
Archangel Avacyn White
Baneslayer Angel White
Maul of the Skyclaves White
Reveillark White
Sun Titan White
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite White
Iona, Shield of Emeria White
Urza's Ruinous Blast White
Gideon of the Trials White
Elspeth, Knight-Errant White
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar White
Elspeth Conquers Death White
Dauntless Bodyguard White
Elspeth, Sun's Champion White
Porcelain Legionnaire White
Mana Tithe White
Path to Exile White
Swords to Plowshares White
Isamaru, Hound of Konda White
Unexpectedly Absent White
Oust White
Balance White
Charming Prince White
Kenrith, the Returned King White
Council's Judgment White
Lingering Souls White
Spectral Procession White
Emeria's Call White
Armageddon White
Day of Judgment White
Wrath of God White
Giver of Runes White
Ravages of War White
Legion's Landing White
Felidar Guardian White
Skyclave Apparition White
History of Benalia White
Honor of the Pure White
Faith's Fetters White
Parallax Wave White
Ephemerate White
Spirit of the Labyrinth White
Aminatou's Augury Blue
Baral, Chief of Compliance Blue
Jace, Vryn's Prodigy Blue
Looter il-Kor Blue
Phantasmal Image Blue
Snapcaster Mage Blue
Deceiver Exarch Blue
Pestermite Blue
Trinket Mage Blue
Vendilion Clique Blue
Glen Elendra Archmage Blue
Thieving Skydiver Blue
Venser, Shaper Savant Blue
Arcane Denial Blue
Alrund's Epiphany Blue
Mulldrifter Blue
Riftwing Cloudskate Blue
Consecrated Sphinx Blue
Shark Typhoon Blue
Brazen Borrower Blue
Glasspool Mimic Blue
Narset, Parter of Veils Blue
Sea Gate Restoration Blue
Jace, the Mind Sculptor Blue
Phyrexian Metamorph Blue
Hullbreacher Blue
Ancestral Recall Blue
Brainstorm Blue
Spellseeker Blue
High Tide Blue
Mystical Tutor Blue
Spell Pierce Blue
Thassa's Oracle Blue
Brain Freeze Blue
Counterspell Blue
Daze Blue
Impulse Blue
Mana Drain Blue
Mana Leak Blue
Negate Blue
Remand Blue
Frantic Search Blue
Thirst for Knowledge Blue
Commit // Memory Blue
Cryptic Command Blue
Fact or Fiction Blue
Turnabout Blue
Force of Will Blue
Emry, Lurker of the Loch Blue
Mystic Confluence Blue
Dig Through Time Blue
Time Warp Blue
Gitaxian Probe Blue
Ponder Blue
Preordain Blue
Chart a Course Blue
Time Walk Blue
Sublime Epiphany Blue
Timetwister Blue
Tinker Blue
Thassa, Deep-Dwelling Blue
Mind's Desire Blue
Time Spiral Blue
Upheaval Blue
Miscalculation Blue
Echo of Eons Blue
Force of Negation Blue
Opposition Blue
Urza, Lord High Artificer Blue
Putrid Imp Black
Dark Confidant Black
Woe Strider Black
Mesmeric Fiend Black
Oona's Prowler Black
Vampire Hexmage Black
Bone Shredder Black
Sedgemoor Witch Black
Midnight Reaper Black
Ophiomancer Black
Phyrexian Rager Black
Gonti, Lord of Luxury Black
Burning-Rune Demon Black
Ravenous Chupacabra Black
Rotting Regisaur Black
Valki, God of Lies Black
Yawgmoth, Thran Physician Black
Skyclave Shade Black
Agadeem's Awakening Black
Shriekmaw Black
Grave Titan Black
Massacre Wurm Black
Tasigur, the Golden Fang Black
Sheoldred, Whispering One Black
Griselbrand Black
Liliana of the Veil Black
Smiting Helix Black
Bolas's Citadel Black
Dark Ritual Black
Entomb Black
Fatal Push Black
Vampiric Tutor Black
Cabal Ritual Black
Liliana's Triumph Black
Shallow Grave Black
Heartless Act Black
Corpse Dance Black
Dismember Black
Hero's Downfall Black
Soul Shatter Black
Bloodchief's Thirst Black
Duress Black
Imperial Seal Black
Inquisition of Kozilek Black
Reanimate Black
Thoughtseize Black
Collective Brutality Black
Demonic Tutor Black
Exhume Black
Hymn to Tourach Black
Night's Whisper Black
Bloodghast Black
Painful Truths Black
Wishclaw Talisman Black
Toxic Deluge Black
Yawgmoth's Will Black
Damnation Black
Tendrils of Agony Black
Dark Petition Black
Braids, Cabal Minion Black
Mind Twist Black
Animate Dead Black
Bitterblossom Black
Necromancy Black
Rankle, Master of Pranks Black
Recurring Nightmare Black
Brain Maggot Black
Snuff Out Black
Professor Onyx Black
Embereth Shieldbreaker Red
Fires of Invention Red
Goblin Guide Red
Goblin Welder Red
Grim Lavamancer Red
Monastery Swiftspear Red
Zurgo Bellstriker Red
Abbot of Keral Keep Red
Orcish Lumberjack Red
Earthshaker Khenra Red
Young Pyromancer Red
Conspiracy Theorist Red
Bonecrusher Giant Red
Bonus Round Red
Goblin Rabblemaster Red
Imperial Recruiter Red
Birgi, God of Storytelling Red
Rampaging Ferocidon Red
Seasoned Pyromancer Red
Avalanche Riders Red
Flametongue Kavu Red
Hazoret the Fervent Red
Hellrider Red
Pia and Kiran Nalaar Red
Glorybringer Red
Bomat Courier Red
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker Red
Shatterskull Smashing Red
Thundermaw Hellkite Red
Zealous Conscripts Red
Inferno Titan Red
Chandra, Torch of Defiance Red
Daretti, Scrap Savant Red
Koth of the Hammer Red
Flame Slash Red
Pyroclasm Red
Burst Lightning Red
Lightning Bolt Red
Abrade Red
Ancient Grudge Red
Desperate Ritual Red
Incinerate Red
Lightning Strike Red
Underworld Breach Red
Pyretic Ritual Red
Shrine of Burning Rage Red
Valakut Awakening Red
Char Red
Seething Song Red
Hidetsugu's Second Rite Red
Through the Breach Red
Fireblast Red
Chain Lightning Red
Faithless Looting Red
Firebolt Red
Rite of Flame Red
Mizzix's Mastery Red
Light Up the Stage Red
Rift Bolt Red
Wheel of Fortune Red
Fiery Confluence Red
Runaway Steam-Kin Red
Wildfire Red
Mana Flare Red
Sulfuric Vortex Red
Embercleave Red
Sneak Attack Red
Splinter Twin Red
Eidolon of the Great Revel Red
Arbor Elf Green
Avacyn's Pilgrim Green
Birds of Paradise Green
Elves of Deep Shadow Green
Elvish Mystic Green
Fyndhorn Elves Green
Ramunap Excavator Green
Joraga Treespeaker Green
Llanowar Elves Green
Noble Hierarch Green
Dryad of the Elysian Grove Green
Gilded Goose Green
Satyr Wayfinder Green
Vivien, Monsters' Advocate Green
Life from the Loam Green
Lotus Cobra Green
Paradise Druid Green
Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary Green
Sakura-Tribe Elder Green
Esika's Chariot Green
Sylvan Caryatid Green
Wall of Blossoms Green
Wall of Roots Green
Eternal Witness Green
Jadelight Ranger Green
Finale of Devastation Green
Nissa, Vastwood Seer Green
Reclamation Sage Green
Springbloom Druid Green
Crop Rotation Green
Questing Beast Green
Oracle of Mul Daya Green
Acidic Slime Green
Biogenic Ooze Green
Beast Within Green
Toski, Bearer of Secrets Green
Abundant Harvest Green
Thragtusk Green
Primeval Titan Green
Avenger of Zendikar Green
Hornet Queen Green
Craterhoof Behemoth Green
Terastodon Green
Woodfall Primus Green
Veil of Summer Green
Garruk Wildspeaker Green
Explore Green
Nissa, Who Shakes the World Green
Birthing Pod Green
All Sun's Dawn Green
Elvish Reclaimer Green
Turntimber Symbiosis Green
Channel Green
Kodama's Reach Green
Search for Tomorrow Green
Harmonize Green
Natural Order Green
Primal Command Green
Green Sun's Zenith Green
Fastbond Green
Survival of the Fittest Green
Sylvan Library Green
Heartbeat of Spring Green
Utopia Sprawl Green
Courser of Kruphix Green
Traverse the Ulvenwald Green
Bala Ged Recovery Green
Oath of Nissa Green
Tireless Tracker Green
Spell Queller Multicolor/Artifact
Yorion, Sky Nomad Multicolor/Artifact
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria Multicolor/Artifact
Teferi, Time Raveler Multicolor/Artifact
Soulherder Multicolor/Artifact
Thief of Sanity Multicolor/Artifact
The Scarab God Multicolor/Artifact
Atris, Oracle of Half-Truths Multicolor/Artifact
Fallen Shinobi Multicolor/Artifact
Baleful Strix Multicolor/Artifact
Angrath's Rampage Multicolor/Artifact
Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast Multicolor/Artifact
Kolaghan's Command Multicolor/Artifact
Falkenrath Aristocrat Multicolor/Artifact
Rakdos's Return Multicolor/Artifact
Wrenn and Six Multicolor/Artifact
Escape to the Wilds Multicolor/Artifact
Dragonlord Atarka Multicolor/Artifact
Phylath, World Sculptor Multicolor/Artifact
Manamorphose Multicolor/Artifact
Voice of Resurgence Multicolor/Artifact
Kitchen Finks Multicolor/Artifact
Knight of Autumn Multicolor/Artifact
Eladamri's Call Multicolor/Artifact
Lurrus of the Dream-Den Multicolor/Artifact
Ashen Rider Multicolor/Artifact
Fracture Multicolor/Artifact
Vindicate Multicolor/Artifact
Deathrite Shaman Multicolor/Artifact
Witherbloom Command Multicolor/Artifact
Binding the Old Gods Multicolor/Artifact
Maelstrom Pulse Multicolor/Artifact
Casualties of War Multicolor/Artifact
Growth Spiral Multicolor/Artifact
Bring to Light Multicolor/Artifact
Oko, Thief of Crowns Multicolor/Artifact
Prime Speaker Vannifar Multicolor/Artifact
Hydroid Krasis Multicolor/Artifact
Dack Fayden Multicolor/Artifact
Saheeli Rai Multicolor/Artifact
Prismari Command Multicolor/Artifact
Expressive Iteration Multicolor/Artifact
Lutri, the Spellchaser Multicolor/Artifact
Figure of Destiny Multicolor/Artifact
Showdown of the Skalds Multicolor/Artifact
Nahiri, the Harbinger Multicolor/Artifact
Wear // Tear Multicolor/Artifact
Lightning Helix Multicolor/Artifact
Sphinx of the Steel Wind Multicolor/Artifact
Kess, Dissident Mage Multicolor/Artifact
Leovold, Emissary of Trest Multicolor/Artifact
Omnath, Locus of Creation Multicolor/Artifact
Niv-Mizzet Reborn Multicolor/Artifact
Knight of the Reliquary Multicolor/Artifact
Vanishing Verse Multicolor/Artifact
Kozilek, Butcher of Truth Multicolor/Artifact
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger Multicolor/Artifact
Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre Multicolor/Artifact
Smokestack Multicolor/Artifact
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn Multicolor/Artifact
Karn, Scion of Urza Multicolor/Artifact
Song of Creation Multicolor/Artifact
Karn Liberated Multicolor/Artifact
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon Multicolor/Artifact
Phyrexian Revoker Multicolor/Artifact
Metalworker Multicolor/Artifact
Stonecoil Serpent Multicolor/Artifact
Lodestone Golem Multicolor/Artifact
Solemn Simulacrum Multicolor/Artifact
Golos, Tireless Pilgrim Multicolor/Artifact
Wurmcoil Engine Multicolor/Artifact
Myr Battlesphere Multicolor/Artifact
Sundering Titan Multicolor/Artifact
Hangarback Walker Multicolor/Artifact
Walking Ballista Multicolor/Artifact
Blightsteel Colossus Multicolor/Artifact
Black Lotus Multicolor/Artifact
Chrome Mox Multicolor/Artifact
Everflowing Chalice Multicolor/Artifact
Lion's Eye Diamond Multicolor/Artifact
Lotus Bloom Multicolor/Artifact
Lotus Petal Multicolor/Artifact
Mana Crypt Multicolor/Artifact
Mox Diamond Multicolor/Artifact
Mox Emerald Multicolor/Artifact
Mox Jet Multicolor/Artifact
Mox Pearl Multicolor/Artifact
Mox Ruby Multicolor/Artifact
Mox Sapphire Multicolor/Artifact
Mana Vault Multicolor/Artifact
Skullclamp Multicolor/Artifact
Sol Ring Multicolor/Artifact
Talisman of Conviction Multicolor/Artifact
Talisman of Creativity Multicolor/Artifact
Talisman of Curiosity Multicolor/Artifact
Talisman of Dominance Multicolor/Artifact
Grim Monolith Multicolor/Artifact
Talisman of Hierarchy Multicolor/Artifact
Talisman of Impulse Multicolor/Artifact
Talisman of Indulgence Multicolor/Artifact
Talisman of Progress Multicolor/Artifact
Talisman of Resilience Multicolor/Artifact
Tangle Wire Multicolor/Artifact
Talisman of Unity Multicolor/Artifact
Smuggler's Copter Multicolor/Artifact
Sorcerous Spyglass Multicolor/Artifact
Umezawa's Jitte Multicolor/Artifact
Winter Orb Multicolor/Artifact
Coalition Relic Multicolor/Artifact
Crucible of Worlds Multicolor/Artifact
Crystal Shard Multicolor/Artifact
Sword of Body and Mind Multicolor/Artifact
Sword of Feast and Famine Multicolor/Artifact
Sword of Fire and Ice Multicolor/Artifact
Scrapheap Scrounger Multicolor/Artifact
Worn Powerstone Multicolor/Artifact
Coercive Portal Multicolor/Artifact
Thran Dynamo Multicolor/Artifact
Batterskull Multicolor/Artifact
Memory Jar Multicolor/Artifact
Maze of Ith Land
Ancient Tomb Land
Arid Mesa Land
Badlands Land
Bayou Land
Bazaar of Baghdad Land
Blackcleave Cliffs Land
Blood Crypt Land
Bloodstained Mire Land
Blooming Marsh Land
Botanical Sanctum Land
Breeding Pool Land
Celestial Colonnade Land
Fabled Passage Land
Concealed Courtyard Land
Copperline Gorge Land
Creeping Tar Pit Land
Darkslick Shores Land
Thespian's Stage Land
Flooded Strand Land
Gaea's Cradle Land
Godless Shrine Land
Hallowed Fountain Land
Hissing Quagmire Land
Inspiring Vantage Land
Karakas Land
Mystic Sanctuary Land
Lavaclaw Reaches Land
Library of Alexandria Land
Lumbering Falls Land
Marsh Flats Land
Mishra's Factory Land
Mishra's Workshop Land
Misty Rainforest Land
Mutavault Land
Needle Spires Land
Overgrown Tomb Land
Plateau Land
Polluted Delta Land
Prismatic Vista Land
Raging Ravine Land
Razorverge Thicket Land
Rishadan Port Land
Sacred Foundry Land
Savannah Land
Scalding Tarn Land
Scrubland Land
Seachrome Coast Land
Shambling Vent Land
Shelldock Isle Land
Spirebluff Canal Land
Steam Vents Land
Stirring Wildwood Land
Stomping Ground Land
Strip Mine Land
Taiga Land
Temple Garden Land
Tolarian Academy Land
Tropical Island Land
Tundra Land
Underground Sea Land
Verdant Catacombs Land
Volcanic Island Land
Wandering Fumarole Land
Wasteland Land
Watery Grave Land
Windbrisk Heights Land
Windswept Heath Land
Wooded Foothills Land
Indatha Triome Land
Ketria Triome Land
Raugrin Triome Land
Savai Triome Land
Zagoth Triome Land
Dark Depths Land

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