Magic Online Vintage Cube – June 2017 Changes Review
Woohoo! Vintage Cube is back!
From 21st June to 10th July, the most fun it is possible to have in Magic returns to Magic Online. And as usual, a few changes have been made. That list of changes, as well as the whole list of cards in the cube, can be found here.
If you’re not familiar with Vintage Cube, Rob Catton has got you covered.
As a cube aficionado myself, I thought I’d take a look at the changes Wizards have made this time around, and give my thoughts on whether they’re positive or negative.
OUT: Academy Rector
IN: Angel of Sanctions
This is a great change. A practically unplayable card has been removed, and a strong card has replaced it. Angel of Sanctions is welcome in White aggressive decks as a powerful and resilient top end that doubles as an answer for pesky permanents (even Emrakul, the Aeons Torn!). White control decks will also run this card for many of the same reasons, though it being sorcery speed does make it slightly worse. If only white could get an instant speed answer!
OUT: Faith’s Fetters
IN: Cast Out
Well OK then! Here’s the instant speed answer we were looking for, though it does replace a great card too. I LOVE me some Faith’s Fetters in my control decks, since that life gain can be really useful, especially against Mono-Red. Overall, this is probably an upgrade for white, since being able to cast this on end step is pretty powerful. Just one tip: if you run this card, don’t cycle it 95% of the time. A flexible answer like this is usually better than a random card off the top of your deck.
OUT: War Priest of Thune
IN: Gideon of the Trials
I actually think this is a slight downgrade. War Priest is a solid sideboard card, though not something I want to maindeck. Gideon just seems too low impact for me, except maybe as a 4/4 for 4 with upside in aggro decks. I guess it can do some good work against non-interactive Storm decks, but to me that seems a little narrow.
A weak card removed in favour of a strong one. I’m happy with this change. Commit//Memory is a flexible answer with some potential as a draw-seven too. I’ll start out by trying this in all my blue decks, especially ones with a lot of artifact mana.
OUT: Thing in the Ice
IN: Baral, Chief of Compliance
These cards have slightly different roles, so it’s not a straight swap. TiTi worked best in aggressive UR tempo decks, though in a pinch found a place in Control. Baral is solidly a control/combo card, with a lot more potential for brokenness. Overall, I like the swap since I prefer control and combo decks to tempo in Vintage Cube, and I think Baral is worth trying in any spell-heavy deck. His power has been made very clear by his prominence in 1v1 Commander.
IN: Fatal Push
A fairly straightforward swap here, with a weaker removal spell replaced by a stronger one. Having said that, I’d probably start Fatal Push in my sideboard most of the time, since you won’t be facing small creatures all that often, and revolt might not always be easy to trigger.
OUT: Puppeteer Clique
IN: Liliana, Death’s Majesty
Puppeteer Clique was not a card I was happy to have in my deck. You can’t really control what’s in your opponent’s graveyard, making Clique a little too high variance for my taste. Liliana on the other hand is stronger on her own, gains you incremental advantage and can be used as a reanimation spell in a pinch. This change makes a lot of sense to me and I’ll happily play Liliana in most black decks.
IN: Sweltering Suns
Not sure how I feel about this change. Roast is a mediocre playable removal spell for red decks, particularly for dealing with utility creatures or getting blockers out of the way while beating down. While it fits in pretty much any red deck, its lack of ability to damage the opponent really drags it down my pick order. Sweltering Suns on the other hand is far less flexible, only really being playable in ramp/control decks. That said, I do prefer this effect in decks like that, and the ability to cycle, though costly, does help. I foresee this being a pretty low pick most of the time.
OUT: Torch Fiend
IN: Harsh Mentor
Harsh Mentor has the ability to really hurt some cards and some whole strategies, such as [mtg_card]Library of Alexandria[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Splinter Twin[/mtg_card], so I like this addition to Mono-red, the ‘fun police’ of the cube. Be aware though, red’s ability to destroy artifacts is now limited to Manic Vandal, Ancient Grudge and Smash to Smithereens, so you may need to pick those slightly higher than you’re used to doing.
OUT: Birthing Pod
IN: Dissenter’s Deliverance
Green, on the other hand, gets more ways to blow up artifacts. Dissenter’s Deliverance has a really high floor, so I’ll probably end up running it in almost all my green decks. Birthing Pod is a trap in Vintage Cube, so on the one hand people won’t try and build pod decks which is overall a good thing, on the downside I won’t get any more free wins against those people.
OUT: Conclave Naturalists
A cheaper way of blowing up artifacts, but the inability to hit enchantments means that Green will have to lean on Reclamation Sage and Acidic Slime a little more.
OUT: Wolfir Silverheart
IN: Rishkar, Peema Renegade
Now this is an impactful change. Wolfir Silverheart enabled green decks to really put a fast clock on opponents or dominate combat in creature mirrors. Rishkar gives green a (slow) way to ramp and combines nicely with cards like Walking Ballista and Hangarback Walker, but those aren’t cards I want in my deck anyway. Personally, I’m not in favour of this change and would have much preferred to have Verdurous Gearhulk removed. Looks like in this case, some newer cards are getting showcased. I can’t really think of a deck where Rishkar fits other than a painfully fair midrange creature strategy, which is absolutely not where you want to be in this cube.
OUT: Villainous Wealth
IN: Leovold, Emissary of Trest
Leovold is an interesting card, and could conceivably enable ‘fair’ Sultai strategies to compete against more broken opposition. I suspect Leovold is good, though at the moment I can’t quite work out the type of deck I’d build around him. He definitely offers more than Villainous Wealth though, which was basically just a backup finisher for Storm decks.
OUT: Isochron Scepter
IN: Walking Ballista
I haven’t played a lot of Isochron Scepter in Vintage Cube, but I suspect I’ll play even less of Walking Ballista.
OUT: Theros Scrylands
IN: Scars/Kaladesh Fastlands
I like this change. The scrylands are playable, but not in every strategy, whereas I think I’d play a fastland in almost any deck I draft in Vintage Cube.
So how do I feel about these changes?
Overall, I’m pretty positive. I’m excited to try out some spicy new additions like Leovold and Baral, there are some solid role players like Liliana and the Fastlands, and some decent answers in Cast Out and Manglehorn. I’m a little disappointed in Wolfir Silverheart leaving, but it won’t damage any decks irrevocably.
My general advice would be to continue drafting Vintage Cube in the same way, as I don’t think any archetypes got a big power boost, and neither did any get a major nerf.
I for one am hugely excited about the return of Vintage Cube, and I look forward to seeing you in the queues!
George Alexander Miles