The Arena Cube is back! If you haven’t had the chance to play it yet, I highly recommend you log on and give it a try this week. The Arena Cube is the best limited experience on Arena, and it is unique to Arena too so you can only play it in limited periods of the year. Like any good cube the Arena Cube is updated and changed with each iteration, and this newest expression of the cube is quite a bit more powerful than the last time we saw it! The one downside to the cube is that the rewards are pretty low, so if you want to play it without draining your gold savings you need to get some wins. Today, for the first time, I’ll provide some advice for playing the Arena Cube and look at some of the archetypes that can be drafted in it. 


Tips & Tricks

  • The Arena Cube is now fairly powerful, and while it still doesn’t compare to the Vintage or Legacy cubes from Magic Online, some of the same concepts apply. This means that drafting an archetype and not just a colour combination is important, because good synergy will be needed to give yourself an edge. As well, dual lands go up in value because when all the cards are high quality it is worth taking fixing to make sure you can cast them. In the Arena Cube the lands are usually taken in picks 4 to 9, so if you get passed a desirable dual land in this zone you should strongly consider taking it.
  • I have found that switching and staying open while drafting is a little less important than usual because it’s not hard to find good cards. Although you may need to be flexible on your specific strategy, it’s still fine to commit to a colour or two early by taking cards with raw power. For example, The Scarab God is a good first pick even though it’s multicoloured.
  • Don’t forget that the alchemy versions of cards are now used in the cube! Alrund’s Epiphany and Luminarch Aspirant will be functioning a little differently than you’ll remember (but both cards are still quite good).
  • Monocolour decks are possible, although usually it’s best to have a small splash of another colour if you can secure some dual lands. The only exception to this is quick aggro decks, where the extra consistency of playing one colour is often worth avoiding a splash.
  • As with most cubes, make sure to prioritize cheap and efficient cards. While all the expensive bombs are tempting, good cube decks are formed by having a complete curve and a strong early game. Plus, there are a lot of bombs so you can usually pick them up easily enough near the end of a draft.


Below I’ll provide a quick introduction to each of the main archetypes in the cube:


Midrange is less common in the arena cube than usual draft formats, and even previous versions of the cube. Now that the cube is more powerful more people are becoming very fast or very controlling. However, there are still a good number of decks that can be described as midrange where you just end up taking the most powerful cards in your colours. One way that midrange decks can gain an edge is through ramp. When green midrange decks are able to play six or seven mana spells reliably this can push it over the top of other midrange decks and create problems for the control decks in the format. As well, inter-card synergy is important for these decks. If you find yourself drafting a midrange deck make sure to look for cards that work well with your other draft picks.


The Arena Cube features a lot of strong control cards, and this archetype has become one of my favourites in the format. Usually based in blue, control decks in the Arena Cube often actually resemble pure control decks from constructed formats. Counterspells, card draw, and removal are the basis for Control, and then you just need a few cards that can end the game. This isn’t hard to find, with cards like The Scarab God, Professor Onyx, and Hullbreaker Horror. Usually there are a few creatures worth including, but keep in mind that when you only play a few creatures your opponents will have removal saved up for them.


Just like in vintage cube, white and red aggro decks put pressure on opponents who are durdling. The key for aggro is to be quick and to be able to close games early, because the ability for opponents to come back is high. If you give an opponent one extra turn and they cast a Thragtusk the momentum can swing very quickly. I think that basically all aggro decks in the Arena Cube use red or white, but these can be combined with other colours as well. Black provides some recurring threats and good removal for blockers. Green provides some beef, and the ability to overrun an opponent’s defenses. However, the very best aggro decks are typically Boros – Sprite Dragon has won me many games in the format. Below is an example of a White Aggro deck I drafted that splashes for some red cards.



Based in red and black, this is one of the most fun archetypes to try in the cube. Red cards are usually used to discard creature cards to your grave, and then black cards are used to bring them back. Some of the best reanimation targets include Drakuseth, Maw of Flames, Sheoldred, Whispering One and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. The main thing to keep in mind if you are looking to draft this archetype is that there are only enough cards in the cube for one player per draft to get a successful deck. Don’t commit to this deck until you know it is unlikely that anyone else is drafting it.



Izzet spells is another solid archetype that usually one player per draft can achieve. The Arena Cube includes almost all of the most powerful blue and red spells from the Mystical Archive and Historic Horizons, and some pretty good payoffs for drafting a bunch of cheap spells. Sprite Dragon can finish games quickly, Lier, Disciple of the Drowned can provide huge amounts of value, and Young Pyromancer can create a huge board. Izzet Spells can range from being aggro to controlling, but often times a middle of the road approach is a good way to take advantage of all the great spells available to you. Below is an example of an Izzet deck I have drafted.



Azorius has a fairly strong “blink” theme in the cube, and if you can get your hands on cards like Soulherder, Yorion, Sky Nomad, and Charming Prince then you are well on your way to a highly synergistic deck that can defend and attack well. Cards like Skyclave Apparition and Alirios, Enraptured are examples of cards that provide a lot of value when blinked. This archetype often does well when paired with other colours, especially green. Blinking Thragtusk is an incredible way to end games and come back when losing. Blink decks often have the upper hand against aggressive decks, and when they go off they can even overpower strong control decks in the late-game.


Hopefully this guide helps you on your way in the last week of the Arena Cube! It is one of my favourite formats and definitely one of the best ways to enjoy everything Arena has to offer. Good luck, and happy cubing!

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