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Archetype Cube – Theme Breakdown

September 1, 2017

So a little while back I joined a XMage cube draft group on Discord, and had a chance to draft my Archetype Cube. Players wanted to know what strategies were good, so I made a Reddit post about it, and I think it’s worth having somewhere more permanent than Reddit. So with a little updating: here is a run-down of the deck archetypes in the cube and some representative cards in those decks.

Cube Archetypes

Major Archetypes

These are broad archetypes that exist in shards/wedges. Most decks will incorporate elements from one or more of these as a part of their strategy, even if they are more focused on a more traditional role like Boros aggro.

Many support cards have been cross-pollinated to be usable in multiple archetypes.

  • Artifacts – Centered in WUR, this archetype can be drafted as an aggro deck (Toolcraft Exemplar, Stoneforge Mystic, Porcelain Legionnaire, Grand Architect, Esperzoa, Spined Thopter, Pia Nalaar, Shrapnel Blast, Reclusive Artificer, Signal Pest, Chief of the Foundry, Ghostfire Blade, Cranial Plating) or welder/control deck (Auriok Salvagers, Razor Hippogriff, Riddlesmith, Padeem, Consul of Innovation, Inkwell Leviathan, Scrap Mastery, Hanna, Ship’s Navigator, Thopter Foundry, Bosh, Iron Golem)
  • Enchantments – Centered in WBG, this combines enchantress/constellation effects, Bestow abilities, and enchantment-based spells. Usually grindy (Sigil of the Empty Throne, Sphere of Safety, Palace Siege, Grim Guardian, Mana Bloom Sterling Grove, Pharika’s Mender), but can also combo with an Academy Rector package (Form of the Dragon, Saproling Burst, Dovescape) or be explosive (Hero of Iroas, Eidolon of Countless Battles, Ethereal Armor, Aura Gnarlid) or weird (Auratog, Demonic Pact).
  • Self-Mill/Dredge – Centered in UBG, this combines milling and dredging (Armored Skaab, Forbidden Alchemy, Stinkweed Imp, Darkblast, Splinterfright, Tracker’s Instincts) and Delerium/Delve graveyard payoffs (Body Double, Logic Knot, Liliana’s Elite, Necropolis Fiend, Raven’s Crime, Obsessive Skinner, Werebear, Ghoultree, Spider Spawning)
  • Counters (+1/+1) – Centered in WUG, this includes creatures that enter or gain counters, combined with anthems and other effects using those counters (Ainok Bond-Kin, Abzan Falconer, Stalwart Aven, Collective Effort, Cloudfin Raptor, Sage of Fables, Simic Manipulator, Cytoplast Manipulator, Ordeal of Thassa, Experiment One, Avatar of the Resolute, Cytoplast Root-Kin, Hardened Scales, Plaxcaster Frogling, Bred for the Hunt, Endless One)
  • Land-Matters – Centered in RUG, this has landfall, land-threshold, and land bounce (Fathom Seer, Sea Drake, Dragonmaster Outcast, Akoum Stonewaker, Devour in Flames, Scute Mob, Terravore, Centaur Vinecrasher, Omnath, Locus of Rage), Retrace, sacrifice, and discard (Countryside Crusher, Ember Swallower, Devastating Summons, Burning of Xinye, Wildfire, Titania, Protector of Argoth, Borborygmos Enraged, Worm Harvest, Call the Skybreaker, Waves of Aggression). Bonus points if you kill someone using Swans of Bryn Argoll as a draw engine.
  • Madness – Centered in UBR, this has enablers (Magus of the Bazaar, Overtaker, Riptide Survivor, Forgotten Creation, Cryptbreaker, Heir of Falkenrath, Undead Gladiator, Sinister Concoction, Furyblade Vampire, Arc Mage, Faithless Looting, Psychatog) and Madness abilities (Circular Logic, From Under the Floorboards, Reckless Wurm, Violent Eruption).
  • Sacrifice – Centered in Bwru (primarily in black), sacrifice creatures and other permanents for value (using Pious Evangel, Angelic Purge, Carrion Feeder, Disciple of Griselbrand, Nantuko Husk, Diabolic Intent, Rakshasa Gravecrawler, Collateral Damage, Barrage of Expendables, Falkenrath Aristocrat, Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim, Wretched Gryff). Gain more value with Mortician Beetle, Skirsdag High Priest, Quest for the Gravelord, Athreos, and Galvanic Juggernaut.

Minor Archetypes

  • Reanimation – In BWu, reanimate and recur (Order of Whiteclay, Karmic Guide, Adarkar Valkyrie, Eternal Dragon, Return to the Ranks, Corpse Connoisseur, Unburial Rites, Extract from Darkness, Immortal Servitude)
  • Life Gain/Drain – In BW, ping your opponent to death! (Ajani’s Pridemate, Suture Priest, Zulaport Cutthroat, Gray Merchant of Asphodel, Stab Wound, Ghost Council of Orzhova, Pillory of the Sleepless)
  • Blink – In WU, bounce around for value (Aviary Mechanic, Wall of Omens, Whitemane Lion, Aven Riftwatcher, Flickerwisp, Man-o’-War, Cloudblazer, Brago, King Eternal, Ephara, God of the Polis) with additional targets in other colors (Beetleback Chief, Arborback Stomper, Trostani’s Summoner, Baloth Null, Prime Speaker Zegana, Triskelion)
  • Spells Matter/Prowess – In RU, chain together a flurry of spells to kill your opponent quickly (Talrand, Sky Summoner, Docent of Prefection, Silent Departure, Abbot of Keral Keep, Kiln Fiend, Nightbird’s Clutches, Wee Dragonauts) or over time (Thermo-Alchemist, Guttersipe, Gelectrode, Sphinx-Bone Wand)
  • Token Aggro – In WR, swarm your opponent with tokens (Doomed Traveler, Master Trinketeer, Twilight Drover, Servo Exhibition, Sacred Mesa, Mogg War Marshal, Devastating Summons, Kuldotha Rebirth, Hordling Outburst, Rise of the Hobgoblins), draw cards (Bygon Bishop, Mentor of the Meek) and pump them up (Accorder Paladin, Consul’s Lieutenant, Reckless Bushwhacker, Ogre Battledriver, Dynacharge, Abandon Reason, Raid Bombardment, Legion’s Initiative).
  • Morph & Saboteurs – In UB, keep your opponent on their toes (Riptide Pilferer, Ninja of the Deep Hours, Willbender, Ruthless Ripper, Grim Haruspex, Zombie Cutthroat, Silent Specter) or control then lock them out of the game (Bane of the Living, Vesuvan Shapeshifter, Brine Elemental)
  • Traditional Aggro – In WGR, you’ll find more cards suited for traditional aggro strategies (Burning-Tree Shaman, Ghor-Clan Rampager, Advent of the Wurm, Call of the Conclave) and also some removal and other cards that punishes the more powerful permanent-based strategies in the cube (Polis Crusher, Destructive Revelry, Hull Breach, Aura Mutation, Wear//Tear)

Land Base

Lands in the cube are primarily multiple sets of original (Alpha) duals and fetchlands, as this will enable strong 2-color and 3-color decks with less impact on speed and life totals, as this is a cube designed with a little grind in mind.

Removal and Utility Spells in the cube

Most removal or utility spells (i.e. draw spells) in the cube is less either less efficient than in most unpowered cubes, and often pointed toward a specific archetype (though almost always playable outside of those archetypes). Most archetypes that a color supports is represented in some way with these spells. More efficient spells are chosen where the deck relies on casting multiple spells quickly (RU Prowess) or where the effects are narrow or with drawbacks (Nature’s Claim, Tragic Slip).

Feedback/Last Thoughts

If you draft the cube, please experiment during the draft. Do something that looks fun as well as powerful. My hope is that you are able to find ways to combine card combinations during the draft or your games in order to produce fun interactions. This is a complex draft format, not unlike Time Spiral, and players are likely to be unfamiliar with a lot of the cards in the cube.

I am mostly looking for feedback when cards feel too oppressive/unbeatable when both decks are running smoothly, or when cards are too ineffective within the deck they are intended for.

I’m looking to add a cycling theme going forward, likely spanning all 5 colors, since new support with the Amonkhet block seems strong combined with some of the older cycling cards/synergies. Some of these are already in the cube since they are very good on their own.

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