First off, I'd like to wish everyone a Happy New Year! It's that time of year again, and with that comes more Vintage Cube on Magic Online!
Cube is one of my favorite formats. Being able to combine Limited and Constructed into one powerful format is something that I truly love and am passionate about. I used to maintain a Modern Cube, since turned into a Stack because I don't have enough local friends to battle with, but Cubing in general is an area of expertise. Back when I had a weekly Cube event with my friends, I once had winning streak of eight consecutive weeks, beating out Limited master Frank Skarren multiple times.
This year, to keep you from tears, I'd like to talk about something special: the most underrated cards in the Vintage Cube that I see go criminally late in drafts. Hopefully I can help extend your Cube prowess and get you to think about some cards that you might be writing off in your mind.
The general problem I imagine that people have with this card is that if it's in your control deck and you play it relatively early, it will leave you with having to discard a bunch of cards. This card combos incredibly well with artifact mana, yet is bad against it and planeswalkers.
Balance is a unique card and one that I often will take very early if I am a white control deck. The power level on this card is through the roof and I will gladly start it in my deck and sideboard it out if my opponent is Storm or has a lot of artifact mana. I see this card go around in drafts, and it's possible people just aren't playing white control decks in the draft like I do, but the upside on this card is fantastic and it can get you out of many spots where any other card couldn't.
This is one of the most high-variance cards I have heard talked about in Cube. Some people question why this card is in Cube and others value this card extremely highly. I am in the latter camp. This card also combos very well with artifact mana and can thin your deck out speedily.
I always consider this in any white deck that I am playing, usually more so when I am playing control. I respect this card so much that I have purposefully missed land drops so my opponent wouldn't trigger it. I implore you to at least try this card in your deck because I think that you will be pleasantly surprised.
The Vintage Cube is unique in the sense that artifacts and enchantments are absolutely everywhere. Every deck sports artifacts, whether Moxen or Equipments, and Control Magic and Mana Flare-type enchantments are very popular as well. I've maindecked Disenchant in the past and it has saved me on numerous occasions. If I have a lot of card advantage and card manipulation, I definitely want a Disenchant in my Cube deck. At the very least, it is an amazing sideboard card.
This card is a very diverse answer and I see it go extremely late in Cube. I feel like people don't know that you can cast this card for X=0 to Time Ebb their planeswalker or whatever problem you are facing down. You can even set your opponent back a draw step! The fact that you can cast it for X=0 also means that it works well with Torrential Gearhulk. This is another unique card in white that I am very happy about picking up among my middle to late picks.
Perhaps the best castable white creature in the Cube. I say "castable" because Iona, Shield of Emeria is quite the reanimation target. Hero of Bladehold is incredible with artifact mana, and if it goes unanswered, it will win the game in as short as two turns of attacking. It's yet another card that I see very late in drafts that has me wondering if there are any white drafters at the table. I can't count the amount of times I have won with and lost to this card. Don't sleep on this one anymore!
Commit has easily been one of the most impressive cards to me in recent sets. I took it on a whim and ended up with a Torrential Gearhulk for the full combo. That being said, I actually used Torrential Gearhulk to cast the Commit side multiple times that draft.
Blue often can't answer resolved threats, especially planeswalkers. This card allows you to get things off the battlefield and deny your opponent future draw steps. If all else fails and the game isn't going great, you can cast Memory to try to get ahead. It can even disrupt an opponent's graveyard if they have good reanimator targets. This card does many different powerful things and I value cards like that highly in Cube.
While Consecrated Sphinx remains the best blue creature, Frost Titan is not that far off. People don't respect how backbreaking this card can be. It's essentially a 6/6 recurring removal spell that can target lands. Frost Titan is a very respectable win condition in any blue deck and one that I am very happy to have in my deck. Being able to lock down lands while having the built-in protection from removal spells can be quite savage. Untapping with Frost Titan in a blue deck feels similar to untapping with Consecrated Sphinx to me.
Phantasmal Image is great because it is so cheap. Being able to answer a reanimated threat like Myr Battlesphere or Sheoldred, Whispering One while being able to hold up countermagic can be utterly devastating. I feel like Phantasmal Image doesn't get enough respect, considering the amount of powerful enters-the-battlefield triggers and creatures in the Cube. Being able to copy those effects on the cheap is something a blue deck can really capitalize on. It also has the potential of comboing with certain cards like Sun Titan for added benefit.
This card requires a certain style of deck but is quite good in things like control that has cards you want to find and reanimator that can put creatures in the graveyard. Not only that, but it ensures that you are likely to draw a real card, as opposed to Griselbrand. I have gotten this card a few times and I think it might be going up in pick order for people, and I am not surprised. This card is absolutely great, and if you get it early, you can shape your deck around it.
I don't really understand why I get this card so late in my blue decks. It is the perfect threat against many decks in Vintage Cube, like the ones trying to Show and Tell or Storm you to death. Vendilion Clique not only provides interaction with those types of strategies, it provides a clock to pressure the opponent. This is one card on my list that I feel surprised that I have to talk about, but people don't respect it as much in Cube and I think you should!
Dark Petition is essentially Demonic Tutor. Whether you're Storm, which I think is the preferred spot for this, or you're control, Dark Petition is a great card for your deck. The one downside is that it requires that you have spell mastery to really make the card worth it. If you are a heavily spell-based control deck, Dark Petition should make your deck every time, and if you get it early enough in the draft, you can draft around it! I like taking powerful cards that have multiple avenues available, and Dark Petition is one of those cards.
Kitesail Freebooter has been insanely impressive for me. Having a second toughness and flying really makes the difference between this and Brain Maggot for me, although I do also have respect for Brain Maggot. I think Kitesail Freebooter is a card that will move higher on lists once people actually play with it, but they might associate it too much with Brain Maggot to give it a try. Give it a shot and get back to me. You might be pleasantly surprised!
The one downside of Oona's Prowler is that the ability can be used against you for opposing reanimator decks. Still, it's a great enabler that allows you to discard powerful creatures. It also is a reasonable threat by itself that the opponent must answer. This is a perfect example of a card for me that is better in eight-player queues than it is in Leagues; if you have reanimator cards in an eight-player queue, your opponent does not. I personally like playing in eight-player queues more for that reason, but Leagues are too practical to pass up most of the time, sadly.
A great Turn 2 play that can just run away with the game. If your opponent doesn't have a sweeper or creatures that need chump blocking, the Faeries are going to get out of hand. Further, this is one of the few tribal cards in the Cube that can help grow Tarmogoyf or work better with delirium if you somehow discard it to get it in your graveyard. I see Bitterblossom go around really late in a lot of drafts, and I don't really understand why. It's even good early against aggressive decks to provide much-needed chump blockers.
Another card that people just don't have enough respect for. It is a great win condition for black decks in Cube and is a devastating Turn 2 play that requires an answer. Much like in Mono-Black Devotion, an unchecked Pack Rat will run away with the game. Not only that, but it's a great discard outlet for reanimator decks. Cards like this and Oona's Prowler make me surprised Goryo's Vengeance isn't in the Cube, because they provide awesome ways to enable that card with Emrakul, the Aeons Torn or even Griselbrand.
Be sure to keep an eye out for Part 2 next week, where I'll go over red, green, artifacts, and lands. I might even have a very special gift for New Year's gift for all of you: a preview from Rivals of Ixalan.
And let me know what you think about my underrated cards in Vintage Cube. What are your picks?