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Welcome everyone. I hope you made your way safely into 2020 and got to play a bunch of Vintage Cube during the holidays. Last time I covered a lot of basics philosophies when approaching the format, so today it’s time to get a bit more specific. I will talk about which cards are powerful enough to not only draft highly, but also build around. I will wrap up the article with some unconventional archetypes that might help you when the classics are not open – or just something to try out in the last days of the cube.

Tinker
TinkerTinker is a good first pick, but it is not going to win the game on its own. When you pick an early TinkerTinker, you need to find at least 3-4 cheap artifacts and a big payoff before the draft is over. The obvious cheap ones are mana accelerants while cards like Baleful StrixBaleful Strix, Pia and Kiran NalaarPia and Kiran Nalaar and Thraben InspectorThraben Inspector also count. My preferred payoff is Myr BattlesphereMyr Battlesphere because it’s also hardcastable, but any of Inkwell LeviathanInkwell Leviathan, Blightsteel ColossusBlightsteel Colossus, Sphinx of the Steel WindSphinx of the Steel Wind or even MindslaverMindslaver will do the job just fine. TinkerTinker is good in any combination with blue which makes it very flexible.

Sneak Attack

This card is one of my favorite ways, besides power 9, to start a cube draft. When you have it early, you can prioritize Eldrazi, GriselbrandGriselbrand, Blightsteel ColossusBlightsteel Colossus and Woodfall PrimusWoodfall Primus, and most of the time you’ll get there. To make the strategy more robust, Through the BreachThrough the Breach and Arcane ArtisanArcane Artisan alongside Show and TellShow and Tell can be high picks. If you are really ambitious, comboing out with PalinchronPalinchron and Sneak AttackSneak Attack is a viable option for a cheeky Storm deck.

Channel

The natural (ab)use of ChannelChannel is with Eldrazi and huge artifact creatures, but ChannelChannel is even great with cards like Memory JarMemory Jar and UpheavalUpheaval. I’ve had most succes with Green-Black when picking ChannelChannel early because black lets me draft tutors to make my deck more consistent. Picking up good manafixing for Sultai also makes cantrips, SpellseekerSpellseeker and other powerful blue cards options for the deck.

Opposition

I don’t pick OppositionOpposition super high personally, but if you do, it usually pairs the best with green to make your mana dorks relevant in the midgame. Token generators like Deranged HermitDeranged Hermit and Biogenic OozeBiogenic Ooze rise in stock when you have OppositionOpposition in your deck, and so does green-blue fixing because you need to support a double blue card in your almost Mono Green deck. Tropical IslandTropical Island and Breeding PoolBreeding Pool are the best, but feel free to speculate on any green or blue fetchland during the first two packs because the payoff of getting another virtual copy of your Tropical IslandTropical Island or Breeding PoolBreeding Pool later is huge. Forest count also matters for Rofellos, Llanowar EmissaryRofellos, Llanowar Emissary and Nissa, Who Shakes the WorldNissa, Who Shakes the World.

Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Splinter Twin

Another great way to start a draft, Kiki-Jiki makes you look for PestermitePestermite, Deceiver ExarchDeceiver Exarch, Zealous ConscriptsZealous Conscripts and Restoration AngelRestoration Angel (but remember that only Kiki-Jiki combos with Angel). While looking for the missing combo pieces, I suggest picking up blue-red fixing, mainly because of Kiki-Jiki‘s steep manacost combined with the desire for double blue cards, and cantrips for consistency.

Alternatives to the Tier 1 Options

Sometimes you open a relatively weak pack with no obvious build-arounds and no broken mana accelerants, so you have to get creative. Here are some perfectly reasonable archetypes that are important to keep in mind, because the above tier one options will not be available to you every single draft.

Mono Red

Eidolon of the Great Revel
Goblin Guide
Sulfuric Vortex
Shrine of Burning Rage

If I open a weak pack and see one of the above, I will seriously consider painting the town red (Danish saying). If you first pick a card for Mono Red, but get passed a build-around or Mox pick two, don’t be too stubborn to stay open. When no one else drafts Mono Red, you will get a great version of it regardless of making a few picks to stay open. The perfect Mono Red deck contains a lot of one drops, a few powerful three and four drops like Goblin RabblemasterGoblin Rabblemaster, Koth of the HammerKoth of the Hammer and HellriderHellrider and burn to finish off the opposition. The manabase can usually include a couple of utility lands like Mishra’s FactoryMishra’s Factory and Strip MineStrip Mine and I would avoid splashes unless you open specifically Ancestral RecallAncestral Recall or Time WalkTime Walk and have three sources of blue.

Green-Black Graveyard Value

Recurring Nightmare
Shallow Grave
Deranged Hermit

If I start the draft with EntombEntomb or GriselbrandGriselbrand, but another drafter is also pickup up the Reanimator cards, I like going into a Black-Green Midrange strategy where the reanimation theme becomes secondary. Great cards for the archetype include Recurring NightmareRecurring Nightmare, Survival of the FittestSurvival of the Fittest and sometimes you can fit in a small instant-reanimate package with Shallow GraveShallow Grave and/or Corpse DanceCorpse Dance with preferably Emrakul, the Aeons TornEmrakul, the Aeons Torn as long as you have a way to put it in the graveyard. If you are lucky enough to have Recurring NightmareRecurring Nightmare, creatures with great enter the battlefield triggers like Deranged HermitDeranged Hermit, Bone ShredderBone Shredder and ThragtuskThragtusk will perform great. Pack RatPack Rat and Liliana of the VeilLiliana of the Veil are the best options to get cards into the yard, since they are great cards even on their own. You can also end up in this archetype if you start drafting Green, but learn that it’s not open for a full deck.

Blue-Black Steal Your Stuff

Gonti, Lord of Luxury
Thief of Sanity
Fallen Shinobi
Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni

This deck is not really synergy-based, but it is incredibly fun when it comes together. Aside from wanting manafixing and acceleration to power out your sweet plays, the ninjas need some cheap, preferebly evasive, creatures like Baleful StrixBaleful Strix and Looter il-KorLooter il-Kor as enablers. Blue and Black will allow you to play disruption like ThoughtseizeThoughtseize, Hymn to TourachHymn to Tourach and various counterspells, and hopefully you will round out the deck with Control MagicControl Magic and TreacheryTreachery for good measure. Beating your opponent with their own stuff is a great feeling, and I haven’t drafted this deck for the last time this season yet!

Wrap-Up

Aside from the options I talked about last time and today, there are tons of options and room for personal preferences in this format. Different strategies work for different players, so make sure to only use my articles as inspiration rather than treating it religiously like a bible.

Andreas Petersen

Andreas Petersen

Andreas is probably better known as "ecobaronen" on MTGO. After 2nd place of Team Trios #GPMadrid playing Modern he's heading to his second Pro Tour in Minneapolis this year. Andreas has an opinion about every constructed format except Standard.