I’ve always been the kind of person that tries to run before they can walk. This is especially true when it comes to Magic.

For the past week, Holiday Cube has been tempting me. Visions of turn two Blightsteel Collosus danced in my head. I thought about all the amazing archetypes I could draft. Massive Storm counts! Souped-up White Weenie! Completely abusive control decks! Reanimate random eight-drops for the win!

I watch a lot of MTGO streamers on twitch.tv. Some of my favorite regular Limited players—NumotTheNummy, Dzyl, and NovaSandler—have been mainly drafting Holiday Cube since its release. I ask questions in chat, take notes, and generally participate in more learning than I did in college recitations all of last semester. A lot of people make distinctions between fair and unfair Cube decks, but I rarely saw successful decks rely upon turn one gimmicks or really specific combos. Good drafters gravitated toward decks with a lot of utility and flexibility—a Magic toolkit, rather than a fickle one-trick pony.

The most represented archetypes were Storm and control-sacrifice decks, but even those were few and far between. Land destruction and board wipes were popular win conditions. As it turns out, Winter Orb, when used correctly, can do some nasty things.

I felt prepared. I went into my draft on New Year’s Day with a thick stack of notes and a pretty good idea of what I was going to do.

This is what my P1P1 looked like:


Nothing really stood out to me. Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas made a strong case because I’m unnaturally attracted to shiny Planeswalkers, but I had no idea how to use him, and I was a bit hesitant about committing so early. I end up grabbing Coalition Relic. Can’t go wrong with free mana fixing. And the charge counter mechanic seemed really cool.

The rest of the pack proceeded pretty normally. Here’s a roundup of my first fifteen:


I really liked the Fauna Shaman pickup. And I had three token generators in Thelonite HermitHuntmaster of the Fells, and Deranged Hermit. So ideally I would be commanding an army full of squirrels, saprolings, wolves, and strange old men. Toward the end of the pack, I picked Terminus because its shiny and All is Dust for similar reasons. A Signet and some fancy lands round out the beginnings of my deck.

At this point, I was leaning toward a sacrifice-based deck. I figured that a Smokestack would be really good given the amount of tokens I had. I could afford to pitch away a few woodland creatures, but hopefully my opponent would be forced to sacrifice some actually useful cards.


Well, this is the big reveal of my final card pool.

I ended up with a nice assortments of cards and nabbed the clutch Smokestack. I also managed to draft two really big unfair-enablers in Tinker and Channel. But my dreams of a turn one win are crushed by the fact that I’m unable pick any creature bigger than a Myr Battlesphere. Not bad, but not exactly an Eldrazi.

I rolled up my sleeves and started deck-building. After ten minutes of fervent prayer, I shipped this monstrosity:

GW Token Stax


At this point, optimism had morphed into a kind of quiet desperation. All I really want was one match win, which would give me enough Phantom Points to pitch toward another draft.

Match 1, Game 1:

Sneak Attack and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. No comment.


Some people lose gracefully. I lose to a giant flying jellyfish.

Match 1, Game 2:

Things actually started off a bit better for me. Mirari’s Wake resolved and provided me with an insane amount of ramp. I put Smokestack in play and ticked it up to two.

Right before he was to sacrifice his last few lands, I got Sneak Attack‘d again. Argh.

Match 2, Game1:


If you were playing as me, what would you do? Leave a comment below, because I can absolutely assure that your plan of action will be exponentially better than my line of play. Feel free to rub it in, too. After a beating of this magnitude, some verbal harassment would be pretty refreshing.

My turn two Lodestone Golem had my opponent on a pretty nasty clock. But I got greedy. On turn three, I tried to Channel my Spectral Procession, thinking I could cut to the chase and end things a turn earlier. Unfortunately, I forgot about my golem’s effect and end up paying eight life for three spirit tokens.

I imagined my opponent stifling laughter as he stabilized at seven health, cleared the board, and smashed my face in. Oops.

Match 2, Game 2:

I got my token generators into play, but ol’ Smokey was nowhere to be found. My opponent commented that my deck could really use some tutor effects, and I agree. I lose to his reanimated Griselbrand.

Match 3:

Somehow, these two games were an even more one-sided than the Sneak Attack affair, but at that point I was a bit frustrated and ready to accept my fate. An early Mana Vault and some nasty red beaters ticked my record up to 0-3.

I had trouble with my mana base throughout the series. Bounce-lands were really bad choices in a format filled with land destruction and untap-this-tap-that effects, and several times I ended up a creek without the appropriately colored paddle.

I don’t think I have the funds to support any more Holiday Cube drafts before the format leaves MTGO on Janurary 8th. But it’s safe to say that I was completely out of my element. I lack the card knowledge to find good interactions and archetypes. And I definitely don’t possess the mechanical skill and intuition to make the most of the powerful, hard to use cards I picked.

Getting crushed is always a bit disappointing, but I’ve been swallowing my pride a lot since I started playing Magic and this isn’t anything new. If anything, I’m a lot more appreciative of M14 and Theros, Limited formats that I can actually navigate and play with a reasonable amount of aptitude. I’ll greet the ol’ Gray Merchant of Asphodel first pick like an old friend.

Holiday Cube is almost gone. It’s been nothing but heartache for me, but I’ll be sad to see it go. I can promise that I’ll be around for some more high-octane drafting next time around.

The Hipsters’ resident scrub, Tony enjoys making bad plays and writing about them. He studies at the University of Pennsylvania and calls Philadelphia home. Find him at @holophr.

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