As we’re in the lull before Oath of the Gatewatch, I’ve been playing zero Battle for Zendikar. For a variety of reasons, the set got very old, very fast for me. I expect Oath of the Gatewatch to reinvigorate the format (it’ll certainly change a whole lot, what with all the new mechanics and it constituting two-thirds of the Limited format) and look forward to playing with it this weekend.

Until then, I’ll just have to settle for cube drafting, and we just happen to be in the midst of a great time to cube. Not only did we just have weeks of Vintage Cube and have Legacy Cube
returning tomorrow, but I and my friends have a bunch of RL cubes to choose from. This past weekend, courtesy of SEC’s Derek’s Cube, I drafted one of my favorite cube decks ever, and it was a doozy.

Master Warcraft

I didn’t expect to end up with the deck I did. Granted, I don’t normally expect to end up in anything in particular (except that it’ll have excellent mana). My normal strategy for cube is to stay open and take fixing (which often leads to my being in the ‘multicolor good stuff’ deck). If a very powerful card or signal for an archetype shows up, such as Entomb, Sneak Attack, Tinker, or Bitterblossom, I’ll move in, but I rarely force anything. There are few archetypes I care enough about to force and I think forcing is very dangerous in a cube you’re not intimately familiar with—the archetype you force may not be as deep or existent as you expect it to be in any given cube.

With all that in mind, the draft began. I followed signals, I took fixing. I failed to follow signals, I took more fixing. I took a bunch of powerful cards and didn’t aim for any particular archetype. I ended up with a bunch of powerful cards, the mana to support them all, and a hybrid strategy. I end up in… in a multicolor good stuff deck. Shocking, right?

Four Color Token Aggro Control, Obviously

Lands (18)
Arid Mesa
Marsh Flats
Sacred Foundry
Clifftop Retreat
Steam Vents
Watery Grave
Lavaclaw Reaches

Creatures (9)
Geist of Saint Traft
Monastery Mentor
Vendilion Clique
Goblin Rabblemaster
True-Name Nemesis
Tradewind Rider
Sower of Temptation
Meloku the Clouded Mirror
Baneslayer Angel

Spells (13)
Ancestral Vision
Forked Bolt
Arc Trail
Lightning Helix
Sword of Fire and Ice
Cryptic Command
Jace, Architect of Thought
Planar Outburst
Elspeth, Sun’s Champion

This deck was pure joy. I combined one of my favorite creatures, Geist of Saint Traft*, with a slew of other must-answer threats and some of blue’s best countermagic. The deck had so many different angles of attack, through difficult-to-answer threats like True-Name NemesisBitterblossom, and Sword of Fire and Ice, through powerful planeswalkers, and through disruptive countermagic and removal.

*Geist hasn’t really been Modern playable in a year, I’m sad to say. I think the format just got too powerful, too fast, and too creature-heavy for the guy to be relevant anymore. But I miss playing him anyway.

I went 2-1, losing horribly to a ramp deck with Mishra’s Factory, Raging Ravine, and Strip Mine—cards which are all great against my Standstill—as well as Primeval Titan and Terastodon, cards which can just go over the top of my creatures and ignore my removal. I otherwise did quite well against non-ramp decks.

Nostalgic DreamsPlaying that deck made me nostalgic for the old days of Jeskai Geist, back before Khans of Tarkir came out and changed the world with Treasure CruiseMonastery Swiftspear, Dig Through Time, and Siege Rhino. Seriously, Khans may have changed Modern more than any set since Modern was created (yes, we had Deathrite Shaman and Snapcaster Mage, but I believe Return to Ravnica and Innistrad contributed fewer highly played cards to fewer colors and decks in Modern).

I want to go back to playing Modern aggro control. I want to stick a single threat, protect it (and stop combo decks) with countermagic, and power my way through opposing blockers with removal. Grixis Control has been close, what with powering out a turn 2 Tasigur, the Golden Fang, but Tasigur dies to a lot of commonly played removal, and the deck almost always tries to grind out victory through attrition, rather than a quick win.

Perhaps we’ll have a chance soon enough, with Oath of the Gatewatch.

Stormchaser Mage

I’m quite excited to see what Stormchaser Mage does to Modern. It could combine with some Delver of SecretsMonastery Swiftspear, and/or Young Pyromancer for a return to the old days of UR Delver aggro. It could slot into Patrick Chapin’s Temur Prowess deck from GP Okalhoma City. It could perhaps even go into a Jeskai prowess/aggro deck with Mantis Riderand Lightning Angel. It might even combine with Blistercoil Weird and Kiln Fiend for some all-in combo finish (though I have lower expectations of that). Only time will tell, but I’m excited to be there for it. Plus, it’s just in time for the Modern Pro Tour!

Here’s looking forward to a new Limited format, a new Modern format, and being one set closer to returning to Innistrad. And as always, thanks for reading.

—Zachary Barash

Zachary Barash has been playing Magic on and off since 1994. He loves Limited and drafts every available format (including several that aren’t entirely meant to be drafted). He’s a proud Cube owner, improviser, and game designer (currently going for an MFA in Game Design at NYU). He has an obsession with Indian food that borders on being unhealthy.

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