Magic Online's Spotlight Cube Series has been around for almost exactly two years, and it is a hungry beast. I'm always looking for cubes that might fit our needs, so when I heard about an upcoming event in Wisconsin called CubeCon that was going to feature a lot of different cubes over the course of a single weekend, I reached out to them for a partnership. "Let's run a few of these cubes on Magic Online," I proposed, "and we can help out with prize support at your in-person event as well."
Sadly, recent events have made the in-person event unfeasible for the foreseeable future. However, Magic Online never sleeps, and no pandemic is going to slow us down. So, while the in-person event may be postponed, we're still going to be running two of the CubeCon cubes. And who knows—if you like these cubes, maybe when the event can happen, you'll be inspired to take a trip and play a weekend of Cube with dozens of new friends.
But for now, here's what's happening; starting next Wednesday, we're going to be running two weeks of spotlighted cubes featuring CubeCon offerings. This coming week (May 13–20), we have Gwen Dekker's Dekkaru Cube, and next week (May 20–27) will be John Terrill's Cultic Cube.
Digital Product Manager, Magic Online
Hello, I'm Gwen Dekker (@GwenDekker on Twitter). You may also know me as the founder and administrator for CubeCobra.com (@CubeCobra1 on Twitter), a website that helps you build and maintain your cube. I have been playing Magic since the release of Zendikar, and much of that time has been spent playing Cube. Part of why I think Cube is the best format is that it can be whatever format the designer wishes it to be. As a cube designer, my goals have always been to create an interesting Draft experience with varied but competitive gameplay. With that in mind, today I am sharing my Dekkaru Cube.
[Editor's note: The full Cube list can be found at the bottom of this article.]
One metric I always look for first when evaluating cubes is the "archetype focus." I like to think of this as a sliding scale. Some cubes will have very low archetype focus and might look like a pile of "good stuff." On the other end of the spectrum, you may have something like a tribal cube, where every card has been added with the explicit intention of belonging in a select number of strategies. With my cube, I've tried to find a balance where you don't necessarily need to draft a specific archetype to succeed, but there are a few "payoff" cards that heavily incentivize playing to a specific archetype.
In this cube, you can almost always default into a control, aggro, or midrange deck, but there are a number of archetypes you can opt into as well that I'd like to highlight.
This deck attempts to obtain value out of reusing creatures after they've died. Meren of Clan Nel Toth and Phyrexian Reclamation are powerful engines that can easily grind out a victory if left unanswered. Spider Spawning offers a unique build-around where the player is heavily incentivized for trading off creatures during the early to mid-game and then closing the game out with a massive Spider Spawning. Critical to the success of this deck is a density of relevant creatures to recur such as Acidic Slime or Murderous Rider.
A Cube classic, this control deck uses Wildfire and Burning of Xinye combined with mana rocks to gain mana advantage and keep the board clear of creatures. When drafting this deck, make sure to pick up as many mana rocks as possible. This deck is base-red, but it can play any color as the second for different flavors.
This deck aims to abuse the power of the flash mechanic to play the game on its own terms. Brineborn Cutthroat and Nightpack Ambusher are both powerful cards that reward the player for drafting a high density of instant-speed spells.
A deck we've all seen before, spells-matters looks to play a high density of spells and a couple payoff cards that can get value out of those spells. Murmuring Mystic is one the best cards for the archetype. It doubles as a payoff card and a really effective blocker against aggro decks.
The tokens deck looks to pair anthems with the ability to make a large number of bodies to get the most value out of those anthems. Hanweir Garrison, an impressive attacker on its own, becomes terrifying once paired with cards like Intangible Virtue. If you can't close out the game early, Increasing Devotion will easily give you the tools necessary to overwhelm your opponent.
Aristocrats decks pair sacrifice outlets with death triggers to build a powerful engine. This deck typically plays as a black-red aggro deck that uses cards like Blood Artist to provide extra reach if the opponent is able to stabilize. Other than the payoff cards, the core of this deck includes as many aggressively costed creatures as you can pick up.
Five-color isn't so much an archetype as it is the benefit that inherently comes from playing five colors. Golos, Chromatic Lantern and Birds of Paradise both enable playing many colors, but you will still need to pick up as many mana-fixing lands as you can. The payoff for this archetype isn't an interaction between cards but the ability to play any card you draft. Golos doubles as an enabler and a powerful payoff as well.
This base-black deck uses cards like Rankle, Master of Pranks and Smokestack to apply an incredible amount of pressure to your opponent's permanents. Add in a few token factories such as Ophiomancer or Dreadhorde Invasion, and you will quickly grind out your opponent.
Prime Speak Vannifar and Birthing Pod are two excellent build-around cards. When built correctly, they double as a way to allow you to have an answer for whatever your opponent is doing and to have a way to fetch whatever finisher you happen to pick up. Fauna Shaman and Chord of Calling are fun toolbox cards that operate in a similar space.
Like five color, this isn't an archetype, but I wanted to specifically highlight the payoffs for playing a monocolor deck. There are a few devotion cards that obviously benefit from being in a single color, but there are also a few cards that I consider to be monocolor payoffs, such as Benalish Marshal. In this cube, you can play any monocolor strategy, and there are a handful of cards that will reward you for doing so.
This base-blue deck looks to win by milling your entire library and winning on the spot with Thassa's Oracle; Jace, Wielder of Mysteries; or Nexus of Fate. Nexus of Fate does provide an instant win, as it will give you infinite turns after you mill your deck. You can also play Rise from the Tides as a win condition in its own right.
Utilizing one of the few combos in this cube, this deck aims to leverage the interaction of Leovold, Emissary of Trest or Narset, Parter of Veils with draw-sevens such as Windfall. After resolving the combo, it shouldn't be too difficult to close out the game from there.
This base-green deck looks to ramp all the way up to eight mana, and even further. Cards such as Mass Manipulation and Sandwurm Convergence act as excellent finishers, but if you're feeling even more ambitious, you could also opt for Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre. When drafting this strategy, make sure to pick up as many cheap mana-acceleration cards as you can find and try to have a plan for when you're paired against an aggro deck.
Mana dorks aren't just for the ramp deck. Playing aggressively costed midrange threats a turn or two early can create an enormous amount of pressure. This deck looks to utilize the efficiency of green's midrange threats with the power of mana dorks. When drafting this deck, prioritize mana dorks, and efficient three- and four-mana threats.
Monocolor aggro decks are only specifically supported in red, white, and black. Blue has few turn-one plays, and green only has mana dorks to play on turn one. On the other hand, red, white, and black have a healthy amount of aggressively costed one- and two-mana creatures. Each color provides different strengths: red is best at pushing through damage, white has the most disruption, and black has the most resilience.
Blink is one of the weakest-supported archetypes. Instead of playing a dedicated blink deck, you could splash these cards into a deck with a healthy amount of enters-the-battlefield triggers for extra value.
There are many more archetypes and variations to explore and try out. I'm very excited to share this cube with you, and I hope you have as much fun drafting and playing this cube as I have!