Tis the season and the MTGO Vintage Cube is back for another round. This week I’m going to talk about my thoughts and opinions on round of the Vintage(holiday) cube. A lot of what I’m going to talk about is my personal experience with it and I can only imagine that will change from person to person. I’ve been cubing by myself and with a couple friends over the past two weeks and here’s my thoughts on it.

It’s great exposure for the format!

Since Magic Online started running Cube events years ago, we’ve seen many different versions and iterations including this years ‘You make the Cube’ contest held only a couple months ago. Wizards seems more then happy to keep giving people more and more exposure to the format in many different ways. No matter how much you or I like the card choices or design there’s no doubt it’s nothing but good for the format we all love! Its something I look forward to throughout the year and is honestly the only reason I play Magic Online. I love Wizards always bending the stencil and trying out different things from Vintage, Legacy, Legends, You make the Cube and even just changing a bunch of cards between releases, I’m always happy to see it.

Time to experiment

My favourite thing about any the online cube is being able to draft cards I would have never even thought about trying in my own cube. I’m sure a lot of cube designers/players like myself only cube with one or maybe two different cubes, limiting how much exposure you get with other cards. Being able to play the online cube gives everyone a chance to try out cards they might of written off or thought weren’t good enough. After playing different versions of the cube, its inspired me to try out new cards whenever I can after having different experiences online, trying out cards that seemed maybe gimmicky or cards I thought were too narrow.

Seeing a different perspective

With the MTGO Cube being accessible to everyone, its great to see how other players look at the same cards. Being able to watch all kind of Magic players draft it on Twitch, watching their process and how they evaluate each card differently is great to see different opinions on cards I’ve cubed with for years or cards I’ve never even considered.

With all that being said though I do have a few things that bug me about the whole experience.


-No swiss drafts

This time around we don’t get the option to 8 man drafts with 3 rounds of Swiss, we’re limited to either single elimination or leagues. The vintage cube is a very powerful environment with a pretty high amount of variance in a lot of these powerful strategies, and it feels pretty bad to spend more time drafting and building to then lose to Show and Tell (or something like it) 2 games in a row. It might sound frivolous, but it happened more then I’d like to admit. Cube leagues always have a ton of players (something like 3000 players) so the odds of playing someone in your draft pod are slim to none, making hate drafting useless. With no incentive to hate draft, picking the most powerful card is always the best choice. Between that and being able to play against the same cards or sometime even the same deck, leagues aren’t my favourite but the one I play the most. It might just be me but part of the allure of cube is it being a singleton format.


-Intentionally nerfing red aggro and balance

A couple of updates ago, Wizards released the top performing cards in cube, and not surprisingly at the time, almost all of them were red. Aggro decks were running rampant beating almost everything in sight. A lot of people playing the MTGO cube preferred to play fun or more interesting strategies, making them weak against the consistent mono red menace. Wizards wanted to keep it more ‘balanced’, so they intentionally swapped some of the better aggressive red cards for less aggro focused or ‘interesting’ options slowly making aggro less and less playable. That along with the huge swell of artifact mana (about 31 of them) pushed aggro to the brink of playablity. With all the incentives to play midrange/big mana decks, aggro has a hard time staying alive. With the abundance of mana artifact, midrange decks are able to deploy bigger creatures to help take over the board just as fast as red can try to overwhelm it, while control decks can start playing wrath effects a turn or two sooner. I’m not saying all aggro is dead (Sulfuric Vortex is still one hell of a card), white has more staying power with cards like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Spirit of the Labyrinth and Vryn Wingmare to slow down the more unfair decks. White has a better curve, removal and sideboard options to be the superior aggressive deck (at least in my experience).

I also noticed that blue doesn’t have all that many counterspells. Choosing to play Mental Misstep and Spell Pierce over more common cards like Memory Lapse, Condescend, Negate or Miscalculation. Choices like these and the changes to red make it seem like Wizards is trying to create the most fun environment they can. Obviously they want people to enjoy their MTGO experience and be enticed to play as much as possible and I think the Vintage cube does a great job of it. I’m sure everyone has their own problems with it, but as a whole I’ve had a great time playing it.

All in all, my only real beef with the cube is the lack of a regular swiss tournament. I look forward to the Legacy cube returning in the new year and hopefully another ‘You make the Cube’ contest. I didn’t enter the first time but look forward to a chance to submit my own. So what did you think of the Vintage Cube? Let me know in the comments!




One Response

  1. Anonymous

    Agree about the leagues. Felt bad drafting an orzhov deck and getting wrecked by a sword of light and shadow in round 1 and then again in round 2.


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