Vintage Cube February 2022 Update

Posted in Magic Online on February 15, 2022

By Carmen Handy

Howdy, gamers!

New year, new Vintage Cube updates. For anyone newer to these updates, my name's Carmen Handy. I'm on the Play Design team here at Wizards of the Coast, and for about a year now, I've had my fingers in the changes being made to Vintage Cube. Some of the changes have been great, and some have been . . . learning experiences to say the least. The purpose of these articles is to provide a bit of transparency on the changes that are being made and the philosophies that are driving them behind the scenes.

There are a ton of changes with this iteration of Vintage Cube, so let's go ahead and dive into what you can expect, what to be looking for, and the direction in which things are headed.

Macro Shifts

It's no secret that the strongest things to do in Vintage Cube are generally blue cards and artifacts, with monocolor aggro frequently being open enough for each table to have one or two strong aggro drafters. This is a symptom of a couple of things, with some being more actionable than others.

  • Ancestral Recall
  • Time Walk
  • Sol Ring
  • Black Lotus

To put it bluntly: the strongest cards in the history of the game are largely blue or artifacts. There isn't much that can be done to address this on the side of cube design. Cubes are largely built out of cards that already exist, and there simply aren't ever going to be green or white cards that compete with Sol Ring and Ancestral Recall.

On top of being strong, a lot of these cards are also "generically" strong. This means that no matter what archetype you're playing, your blue deck is probably interested in playing Mana Drain, Ancestral Recall, and so on. Take green on the other hand; looking at the stronger cards in the cube, they aren't going to work in every single green deck:

This is because to compete with some of the stronger things in the cube, other colors lean more into synergy rather than leaning on raw rate. That's okay, but it means that some slots are going to have to be committed to more synergy-based cards for the sake of making a color combination more likely to hang against the stronger stuff that shows up in Vintage.

I use green as an example because it's the color seeing the largest update, and that's largely motivated by a desire to have more reasonably strong gold cards for the color.

With the last few cube updates, there's been a bit of dancing around the fact that the pool of generically stronger cards that Gruul and Selesnya have access to are comparatively weak when stacked against Izzet and Azorius. Some of the power in the latter pairs are rooted in the fact that the infrastructure is there for cards like Thousand-Year Storm and Dack Fayden to really shine, which brings me to the big change coming to Vintage Cube:

Lands as an Archetype

  • Dark Depths
  • Thespian's Stage
  • Field of the Dead
  • Elvish Reclaimer

Something we saw last year in a spotlight cube was the inclusion of Dark Depths as a combo piece. It isn't always perfect, but it does give a bunch of cards a chance to shine. Knight of the Reliquary, for example, is a card that ain't what it used to be. But now there are more spell lands in the cube, a land-based combo, and more than just power and toughness that incentivize people to play with Knight of the Reliquary.

Enabling this sort of archetype isn't free and does come with a handful of new additions to the cube that are for the sake of trying to lift non-blue cards, some of which can slot into some more midrange-y strategies. This includes some obvious stuff in the vein of Life from the Loam and The Gitrog Monster, but also some more subtle shifts, like the Horizon lands from Future Sight and Modern Horizons:

These are cards that are going to be able to slot into more decks while allowing more land-centric cards like Wrenn and Six and Crop Rotation to have more utility in decks that might not quite be going as far as being a lands deck. These cards are ultimately unexciting on the whole when only used with basic lands, so my hope is that finding ways to slot in some normal cards that synergize with these pieces will give them that extra push to get them into people's decks more frequently.

To be entirely frank, I don't believe that every single piece of the lands package is going to stand the test of time, but something this large warrants a bit of flexibility for the sake of discovering what does work. It's entirely possible the package itself doesn't play out as well as it does on paper, and I'm prepared to keep searching for ways to raise the stock of non-blue cards, even if it means continuing to play whack-a-mole with the rest of the reasonable-ish Selesnya Cards.

Black creatures

Over time, the other color that sticks out a bit to me as waning in utility is black. Outside of Reanimator, it's become harder and harder to have a successful black-based deck. This update to the cube is an attempt to get back to having more creatures in the early game and testing out which directions those cards can slot into other archetypes.

Some of the new inclusions are meant to be clear in their application. Vampire Hexmage works with Dark Depths and punches planeswalkers; Cryptbreaker is another fine-ish Reanimator enabler. The ones that I'm the least confident in are some of the recursive cards, a la Skyclave Shade and Bloodghast. In conjunction with some token makers, these cards can enable some archetypes that weren't quite there before or were at least somewhat close.

New additions Braids, Cabal Minion and Goblin Bombardment ideally give enough redundancy in meaningful sacrifice outlets with Smokestack and Recurring Nightmare for a new deck to be viable. A couple of slots can completely change what decks are possible in a cube, and I'm working harder than ever to try and let people play Vintage Cube in the way that's the most fun to them.

Satoru UmezawaSpirit-Sister's Call

This round of changes has some cards that are easier to build around than others at all kinds of different power levels. I'm going to keep my eye on what people are building around and what isn't making it onto the battlefield.

As always, I'm open to feedback on what is or isn't working, what's missing to help something clear the bar, and what you don't think will ever cut it. Some of the changes this time around are a bit more radical, but updating the cube is a constant balancing act. In a lot of ways, the cube is a love letter to the community, from the community, and I'm hoping it's well received this time around.

I'm looking forward to what comes out of this season and can't wait to see y'all in the queues.

Click for Full Cube List

Card Name Color
Giver of Runes White
Esper Sentinel White
Lion Sash White
Mother of Runes White
Student of Warfare White
Thraben Inspector White
Containment Priest White
Selfless Spirit White
Soulfire Grand Master White
Stoneforge Mystic White
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben White
The Restoration of Eiganjo White
Wall of Omens White
Leonin Relic-Warder White
Blade Splicer White
Skyclave Apparition White
Monastery Mentor White
Recruiter of the Guard White
Intrepid Adversary White
Adline, Replendent Cathar White
Flickerwisp White
Vryn Wingmare White
Silverblade Paladin White
Restoration Angel White
Hero of Bladehold White
The Wandering Emperor White
Karmic Guide White
Elspeth Conquers Death White
Baneslayer Angel White
Lyra Dawnbringer White
Sun Titan White
Spectral Procession White
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite White
Karakas White
Mox Pearl White
Condemn White
Palace Jailer White
Land Tax White
Mana Tithe White
Path to Exile White
Swords to Plowshares White
Balance White
Disenchant White
Spear of Heliod White
Oust White
Banishing Light White
Cathar Commando White
Council's Judgment White
Gideon Blackblade White
Ephemerate White
Armageddon White
Usher of the Fallen White
Ravages of War White
Damn White
Elspeth, Knight-Errant White
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar White
Elite Spellbinder White
Parallax Wave White
Wrath of God White
Elspeth, Sun's Champion White
Solitude White
Gideon Jura White
Adanto Vanguard White
Archangel Avacyn White
Iona, Shield of Emeria White
Thassa's Oracle Blue
Spell Pierce Blue
Baral, Chief of Compliance Blue
Daze Blue
Mana Leak Blue
Phantasmal Image Blue
Remand Blue
Snapcaster Mage Blue
Thieving Skydiver Blue
Counterspell Blue
Mana Drain Blue
Deceiver Exarch Blue
Pestermite Blue
Spellseeker Blue
Trinket Mage Blue
Shark Typhoon Blue
Force of Negation Blue
Narset, Parter of Veils Blue
Vendilion Clique Blue
Memory Deluge Blue
Gilded Drake Blue
Glen Elendra Archmage Blue
Jace, the Mind Sculptor Blue
Sower of Temptation Blue
Urza, Lord High Artificer Blue
Venser, Shaper Savant Blue
Mulldrifter Blue
Bribery Blue
Echo of Eons Blue
Tezzeret the Seeker Blue
Treachery Blue
Consecrated Sphinx Blue
Hullbreaker Horror Blue
Jin-Gitaxias, Progress Tyrant Blue
Upheaval Blue
Inkwell Leviathan Blue
Shelldock Isle Blue
Ancestral Vision Blue
Mox Sapphire Blue
Gitaxian Probe Blue
Ancestral Recall Blue
Brainstorm Blue
Mystical Tutor Blue
Ponder Blue
Preordain Blue
Brain Freeze Blue
Chart a Course Blue
Portent Blue
Miscalculation Blue
Time Walk Blue
Emry, Lurker of the Loch Blue
Frantic Search Blue
Show and Tell Blue
Thirst for Discovery Blue
Timetwister Blue
Tinker Blue
Fact or Fiction Blue
Mystic Confluence Blue
Turnabout Blue
Cryptic Command Blue
Gush Blue
Force of Will Blue
Mind's Desire Blue
Time Spiral Blue
Palinchron Blue
Treasure Cruise Blue
Dig Through Time Blue
Repeal Blue
Jace, Vryn's Prodigy Blue
Murktide Regent Blue
Sea Gate Stormcaller Blue
Suspicious Stowaway Blue
Brazen Borrower Blue
Time Warp Blue
High Tide Blue
Opposition Blue
Duress Black
Fatal Push Black
Inquisition of Kozilek Black
Thoughtseize Black
Cabal Ritual Black
Collective Brutality Black
Dark Confidant Black
Bloodchief's Thirst Black
Skyclave Shade Black
Custodi Lich Black
Mesmeric Fiend Black
Night's Whisper Black
Snuff Out Black
Wishclaw Talisman Black
Hymn to Tourach Black
Scrapheap Scrounger Black
Bone Shredder Black
Ophiomancer Black
Rotting Regisaur Black
Toxic Deluge Black
Hero's Downfall Black
Woe Strider Black
Murderous Rider Black
Nighthawk Scavenger Black
Damnation Black
Gonti, Lord of Luxury Black
Sedgemoor Witch Black
Liliana, the Last Hope Black
Ravenous Chupacabra Black
Braids, Cabal Minion Black
Shriekmaw Black
Bloodghast Black
Dauthi Voidwalker Black
Grief Black
Bazaar of Baghdad Black
Rishadan Port Black
Mox Jet Black
Dark Ritual Black
Entomb Black
Imperial Seal Black
Putrid Imp Black
Reanimate Black
Vampiric Tutor Black
Animate Dead Black
Demonic Tutor Black
Exhume Black
Oona's Prowler Black
Pack Rat Black
Shallow Grave Black
Infernal Grasp Black
Nashi, Moon Sage's Scion Black
Necromancy Black
Recurring Nightmare Black
Yawgmoth's Will Black
Liliana of the Veil Black
Makeshift Mannequin Black
Tendrils of Agony Black
Unburial Rites Black
Living Death Black
Grave Titan Black
Yawgmoth's Bargain Black
Massacre Wurm Black
Vampire Hexmage Black
Griselbrand Black
Mind Twist Black
Bitterblossom Black
Archon of Cruelty Black
Volrath's Stronghold Black
Bolas's Citadel Black
Goblin Guide Red
Goblin Welder Red
Grim Lavamancer Red
Monastery Swiftspear Red
Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer Red
Bomat Courier Red
Abbot of Keral Keep Red
Dire Fleet Daredevil Red
Bloodthirsty Adversary Red
Embereth Shieldbreaker Red
Runaway Steam-Kin Red
Young Pyromancer Red
Eidolon of the Great Revel Red
Char Red
Goblin Rabblemaster Red
Imperial Recruiter Red
Dockside Extortionist Red
Seething Song Red
Wheel of Fortune Red
Seasoned Pyromancer Red
Sulfuric Vortex Red
Avalanche Riders Red
Bonecrusher Giant Red
Hazoret the Fervent Red
Hellrider Red
Pia and Kiran Nalaar Red
Fable of the Mirror-Breaker Red
Fury Red
Thundermaw Hellkite Red
Destructive Force Red
Goldspan Dragon Red
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker Red
Inferno Titan Red
Strip Mine Red
Wasteland Red
Mox Ruby Red
Burst Lightning Red
Chain Lightning Red
Firebolt Red
Unholy Heat Red
Lightning Bolt Red
Abrade Red
Voltaic Visionary Red
Desperate Ritual Red
Incinerate Red
Red Elemental Blast Red
Goblin Bombardment Red
Pyretic Ritual Red
Underworld Breach Red
Light Up the Stage Red
Birgi, God of Storytelling Red
Daretti, Scrap Savant Red
Past in Flames Red
Sneak Attack Red
Chandra, Torch of Defiance Red
Laelia, the Blade Reforged Red
Koth of the Hammer Red
Splinter Twin Red
Through the Breach Red
Dragon's Rage Channeler Red
Fireblast Red
Wheel of Misfortune Red
Jokulhaups Red
Zealous Conscripts Red
Empty the Warrens Red
Faithless Looting Red
Mana Flare Red
Boseiju, Who Endures Green
Arbor Elf Green
Crop Rotation Green
Birds of Paradise Green
Ignoble Hierarch Green
Elvish Mystic Green
Fastbond Green
Fyndhorn Elves Green
Joraga Treespeaker Green
Llanowar Elves Green
Noble Hierarch Green
Birthing Pod Green
Oath of Druids Green
Regrowth Green
Sakura-Tribe Elder Green
Survival of the Fittest Green
Sylvan Caryatid Green
Sylvan Library Green
Wall of Roots Green
Channel Green
Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary Green
Cultivate Green
Utopia Sprawl Green
Worldly Tutor Green
Courser of Kruphix Green
Circle of Dreams Druid Green
Oracle of Mul Daya Green
Eureka Green
Life from the Loam Green
Natural Order Green
Kogla, the Titan Ape Green
Tovolar's Huntmaster Green
Primeval Titan Green
Augur of Autumn Green
Green Sun's Zenith Green
Finale of Devastation Green
Gaea's Cradle Green
Mox Emerald Green
Pest Infestation Green
Nissa, Vastwood Seer Green
Devoted Druid Green
Fauna Shaman Green
Elvish Reclaimer Green
Scavenging Ooze Green
Endurance Green
Whisperwood Elemental Green
Ramunap Excavator Green
Reclamation Sage Green
Eternal Witness Green
Garruk Relentless Green
Elder Gargaroth Green
Garruk Wildspeaker Green
Hexdrinker Green
Polukranos, World Eater Green
Questing Beast Green
Thragtusk Green
Acidic Slime Green
Hornet Queen Green
Deranged Hermit Green
Nissa, Who Shakes the World Green
Toski, Bearer of Secrets Green
Magus of the Order Green
Avenger of Zendikar Green
Craterhoof Behemoth Green
Woodfall Primus Green
Tireless Tracker Green
Heartbeat of Spring Green
Terastodon Green
Plow Under Green
Bloodtithe Harvester Black-Red
Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger Black-Red
Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast Black-Red
Kolaghan's Command Black-Red
Olivia, Crimson Bride Black-Red
Yorion, Sky Nomad White-Blue
Teferi, Time Raveler White-Blue
Fractured Identity White-Blue
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria White-Blue
Geist of Saint Traft White-Blue
Figure of Destiny Red-White
Lightning Helix Red-White
Showdown of the Skalds Red-White
Nahiri, the Harbinger Red-White
Wear // Tear Red-White
Tamiyo, Compleated Sage Green-Blue
Oko, Thief of Crowns Green-Blue
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath Green-Blue
Edric, Spymaster of Trest Green-Blue
Hydroid Krasis Green-Blue
Spirit-Sister's Call White-Black
Tidehollow Sculler White-Black
Lurrus of the Dream-Den White-Black
Vindicate White-Black
Ashen Rider White-Black
Manamorphose Red-Green
Wrenn and Six Red-Green
Halana and Alena, Partners Red-Green
Huntmaster of the Fells Red-Green
Escape to the Wilds Red-Green
Baleful Strix Blue-Black
Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver Blue-Black
Satoru Umezawa Blue-Black
Fallen Shinobi Blue-Black
The Scarab God Blue-Black
Kitchen Finks Green-White
Knight of Autumn Green-White
Knight of the Reliquary Green-White
Archon of Valor's Reach Green-White
Mirari's Wake Green-White
Goblin Electromancer Blue-Red
Dack Fayden Blue-Red
Expressive Iteration Blue-Red
Thousand-Year Storm Blue-Red
Expansion // Explosion Blue-Red
Assassin's Trophy Black-Green
Maelstrom Pulse Black-Green
The Gitrog Monster Black-Green
Grist, the Hunger Tide Black-Green
Vraska, Golgari Queen Black-Green
Progenitus Multicolor
Leovold, Emissary of Trest Multicolor
Omnath, Locus of Creation Multicolor
Sphinx of the Steel Wind Multicolor
Niv-Mizzet, Reborn Multicolor
Ancient Tomb Land
Badlands Land
Blackcleave Cliffs Land
Blood Crypt Land
Bloodstained Mire Land
Celestial Colonnade Land
Flooded Strand Land
Hallowed Fountain Land
Lavaclaw Reaches Land
Library of Alexandria Land
Urza's Saga Land
Mishra's Workshop Land
Prismatic Vista Land
Seachrome Coast Land
Tolarian Academy Land
Tundra Land
Arid Mesa Land
Botanical Sanctum Land
Breeding Pool Land
Inspiring Vantage Land
Waterlogged Grove Land
Mishra's Factory Land
Misty Rainforest Land
Mutavault Land
Sunbaked Canyon Land
Plateau Land
Sacred Foundry Land
Tropical Island Land
Concealed Courtyard Land
Copperline Gorge Land
Godless Shrine Land
Marsh Flats Land
Field of the Dead Land
Raging Ravine Land
Scrubland Land
Silent Clearing Land
Stomping Ground Land
Taiga Land
Wooded Foothills Land
Creeping Tar Pit Land
Darkslick Shores Land
Polluted Delta Land
Razorverge Thicket Land
Savannah Land
Horizon Canopy Land
Temple Garden Land
Underground Sea Land
Watery Grave Land
Windswept Heath Land
Bayou Land
Blooming Marsh Land
Nurturing Peatland Land
Overgrown Tomb Land
Scalding Tarn Land
Spirebluff Canal Land
Steam Vents Land
Verdant Catacombs Land
Volcanic Island Land
Fiery Islet Land
Deserted Beach Land
Haunted Ridge Land
Rockfall Vale Land
Overgrown Farmland Land
Shipwreck Marsh Land
Stormcarved Coast Land
Shattered Sanctum Land
Dreamroot Cascade Land
Sundown Pass Land
Deathcap Glade Land
Thespian's Stage Land
Dark Depths Land
Academy Ruins Land
Black Lotus Colorless
Chrome Mox Colorless
Everflowing Chalice Colorless
Mana Crypt Colorless
Mox Diamond Colorless
Mana Vault Colorless
Sol Ring Colorless
Azorious Signet Colorless
Rakdos Signet Colorless
Boros Signet Colorless
Simic Signet Colorless
Winter Orb Colorless
Crucible of Worlds Colorless
Tangle Wire Colorless
Lodestone Golem Colorless
Smokestack Colorless
Karn Liberated Colorless
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon Colorless
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger Colorless
Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre Colorless
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn Colorless
Lotus Bloom Colorless
Lion's Eye Diamond Colorless
Skullclamp Colorless
Eater of Virtue Colorless
Retrofitter Foundry Colorless
Gruul Signet Colorless
Lotus Petal Colorless
Orzhov Signet Colorless
Umezawa's Jitte Colorless
Coalition Relic Colorless
Sword of Body and Mind Colorless
Sword of Feast and Famine Colorless
Sword of Fire and Ice Colorless
Gilded Lotus Colorless
Batterskull Colorless
Wurmcoil Engine Colorless
Relic of Progenitus Colorless
Sensei's Divining Top Colorless
Dimir Signet Colorless
Phyrexian Revoker Colorless
Selesnya Signet Colorless
Dismember Colorless
Oblivion Stone Colorless
Phyrexian Metamorph Colorless
Memory Jar Colorless
Mindslaver Colorless
Cryptbreaker Colorless
Hangarback Walker Colorless
Walking Ballista Colorless
Emrakul, the Promised End Colorless
Golgari Signet Colorless
Grim Monolith Colorless
Izzet Signet Colorless
Smuggler's Copter Colorless
Porcelain Legionnaire Colorless
Basalt Monolith Colorless
Metalworker Colorless
Worn Powerstone Colorless
Karn, Scion of Urza Colorless
Thran Dynamo Colorless
Golos, Tireless Pilgrim Colorless
Kuldotha Forgemaster Colorless
Myr Battlesphere Colorless
Sundering Titan Colorless
Blightsteel Colossus Colorless
Coercive Portal Colorless

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