Sometimes your first few picks have nothing to do with your final draft and you realize that you have to jump ship even if your first card is one of the most powerful cards in the format. In Cube the versatility of a lot of the cards makes this harder but sometimes that unfortunate circumstance does happen.
The draft that I'll be walking you through in this article is one of those drafts. In the last draft walkthrough article I did on the Magic Online Cube my recording software crashed during recording which prevented the draft footage from being shown. Thankfully this didn't happen in this draft so here it is to enjoy.
- 1 Sphinx of the Steel Wind
- 1 Wurmcoil Engine
- 1 Bogardan Hellkite
- 1 Gatekeeper of Malakir
- 1 Tombstalker
- 1 Akroma, Angel of Fury
- 1 Griselbrand
In retrospect I should have added the Unburial Rites and Decree of Pain over Tombstalker and Engineered Explosives as even though Unburial Rites would have ended up as an overcosted Zombify it works extremely well with the deck (and at almost every time in the draft I would have been happy to have the Rites in my hand). It also works well with the Dream Halls and Entomb.
I think I thought that I wouldn't be able to get what I deemed to be proper value from it since I only had two white sources in the deck but its base value was still good enough for the deck. Sometimes in Cube you have to run things in your deck that aren't at their optimal purpose which feels strange considering that a cube is made up of Magic's all-stars but worst-case scenario a five-mana Zombify would still have been fine in the deck.
That being said here are the matches involving this deck:
I probably should have just been dead in match 2 game 3—my only out was that my opponent didn't know that attacking with just Phantom Centaur was his path to victory. I got lucky since my opponent didn't see that path to victory. It was one of my hardest matchups archetype-wise (blue control with a Clone effect) as that deck can neuter what matters by Cloning my Reanimation targets countering my Reanimation spells and out-drawing me with two-for-ones (like the Acidic Slime) and draw spells. Luckily I made it out of that match alive.
My round 3 opponent told me after the final game that he had Ulamog so he could have put it into play with the entwined Tooth and Nail; I still had a good chance of winning that game as I wouldn't have had to sacrifice a finisher (since it wasn't being cast) and I had enough damage on board and permanents to sacrifice to Ulamog to win the race through big fliers (as Ulamog Deranged Hermit and Terastodon along with the latter two's tokens couldn't block my fliers).
Still it was really unfortunate that Tooth and Nail had the error that stopped the opponent from putting the big creatures into play but it seemed like a good matchup as his G/B deck didn't have much in terms of hand disruption. A Duress / Thoughtseize / Hymn to Tourach could have been ugly for me to face; I thankfully had answers to the Hypnotic Specter even if I played terribly against it!
I felt like this was one of the better iterations of the "cheat things into play" archetype in Cube that I've drafted—I would have liked some ETB creature hosers like Nekrataal Man-o'-War and Skinrender as well as one of the big-mana Grixis spells like Cruel Ultimatum or Nicol Bolas Planeswalker or another enabler like Tinker to be in my deck and a few more white sources to supplement Unburial Rites and Sphinx of the Steel Wind but overall the deck worked as an example of when the pieces come together for a Reanimator/cheat deck.
I did feel that I was lucky that I didn't face too much opposition from opposing planeswalkers (the round 1 opponent's Chandra the Firebrand didn't do very much and the second round's Garruk Primal Hunter was essentially a draw six) which would have been really bad for me as would have been some disruption from cards like Opposition or something like an Armageddon / Ravages of War / Plow Under supplemented by a quick clock.
I did face the Thalia on turn 1 which was an annoyance but my opponent's clock wasn't fast enough to pose a huge threat to me. That being said I was also pretty lucky to have Wurmcoil Engine Sphinx of the Steel Wind and Griselbrand as their lifelink was not only extremely synergistic (especially with Reanimate) but they all made the midrange matches much easier since getting an early Wurmcoil Engine was my path to victory in many matches.
It can be very tempting to be attached to your first few picks. Sword of Fire and Ice is one of the most powerful cards in Cube (to the point where people have cut it from their cubes for being too good versus red and R/U decks). Of course I disagree with this as decks should have enough answers to opposing threats like nasty equipment. At first it looked like my deck was on the aggressive plan but then it seemed like that well was running dry so I had to jump ship.
Thankfully a lot of the enablers fell into my lap during that draft—one of the most important things about Reanimator decks is having ways to dump big creatures in the deck and luckily I was able to get a lot of the good blue ones in my deck even at the cost of taking them over more objectively powerful cards. Because of this my first picks generally tend to be picks that belong to multiple archetypes with bonus points given to artifact cards like the Mirrodin/Scars of Mirrodin Swords as I can use those cards even if my deck goes in an unexpected direction (this deck being an exception of course!).
In my next article I'll be discussing some of the changes that were made for the latest edition of the Magic Online Cube (that will be used for the Players Championship) which included Avacyn Restored cards; this update holds importance as this is the first time that Wizards changed cards in their cube. I'll discuss how those changes affected the format and suggestions that I believe would help to improve the cube for when the cube is online again.
I hope that this article has given you some insight into Reanimation strategies and how the archetype works in cube.
May all of your opening packs contain Sol Rings!