Hello, everyone! It’s your resident Magic Online product manager again, and I’m back for Season 3 of Live the Dream Cube. So buckle up for the cube with the most gold cards, most mana, and most crazy interactions on Magic Online from November 24 to December 1.
We’re now in Season 3 of Live the Dream Cube being featured on Magic Online, and there are lots of changes this time around. It still maintains the promise of having time to set up impossibly complex and wild board states in a way that blends Commander and Cube. You can read up on the first season here and the second season here. Since its last showing, I’ve added cards from Strixhaven: School of Mages, Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, Modern Horizons 2, Innistrad: Midnight Hunt, and Innistrad: Crimson Vow!
Yet again, I teamed up with David White (@thrilryder on Twitter), and in analyzing the data, we found a couple of good data points to act on. To nobody’s surprise, blue is strong in an environment without Savannah Lions, and while I’m still not playing any 2/1s for one mana, the curve has been lowered ever so slightly, and aggro has been brought up a bit, as opposed to bringing blue down (which I only did a bit of). A lot of the ways aggro decks traditionally try to attack decks that don’t cast spells until turn four (other than by attacking faster) is by taxing, land destruction, hand disruption, and lots of other “unfun” ways. While I’m not saying this is a “No LD, No Counterspells, No Discard” cube, that sort of interaction is at a minimal here, so I helped out decks that actually want to attack by adding cheaper creatures, a couple Equipment, and creatures who actually have more power than their mana cost!
Another point revealed by data is that players often were hesitant to draft three-color cards that you’d want to play early, such as Mathas, Fiend Seeker or Offspring’s Revenge, even with about half of the decks drafted being three-plus colors. And yes, early is turn five in this environment. So, while I still certainly have themes, archetypes, directions, etc. for each of the ten color pairs, they are loosened up a little bit this time around. You don’t have to live the exact dream I’ve set out for you—it’s easier to find your own!
One way to help facilitate unique dream living is to weave each archetype together. In the very first version of this cube in the halcyon days of 2019, green-white was Enchantress, which did a cool, unique thing that you don’t get to see in normal Limited and led to fun turns. The problem there is that since the mechanic is so parasitic, only one drafter at the table wanted all the enchantments and enchantments-matter cards and nobody else did. That means there were no decisions being made with those cards, and the draft was on rails for that player.
What I’ve attempted to do here is let the themes breathe on their own but with most of the individual cards being somewhat attractive to other players. I primarily do this by having archetypes focus on a card type, but unlike enchantments, card types everybody wants. So, while the black-green archetype is now focused on planeswalkers, maybe a GX or BX deck needs a piece of removal badly, so they can take a planeswalker. This lets people make decisions about whether they want a lower synergy pick but a higher floor on their card, or they might want to plant their flag with something like Ill-Tempered Loner and play a card with a lower power level for this cube but with a much higher ceiling.
And here are the descriptions of the ten directions each color pair is whispering for you to follow. But you don’t have to listen to them, carve your own path! Per usual, mana fixing and ramp is the most important part of the cube, but we all have our “unpassables.” For me it’s Ral, Storm’s Conduit. It’s hard to pass characters you’ve cosplayed as.
Not only is this color pair introduced first, but it also remains the most winning archetype! There are plenty of creatures in all five colors with sweet enters-the-battlefield (or comes into play for us retro folk) abilities to take advantage of!
Sample Dream: Use Teleportation Circle to blink your Gyruda, Doom of Depths, find Sun Titan and bring back Charming Prince to do it all over again in your 60-card Yorion, Sky Nomad deck.
In this color pair, make your opponents regret what they drafted by daring to use their own spells against them! You’ve got the usual controlling focus here, but many creatures are evasive and steal things right from the top of your opponent’s deck. After all, they did it to themselves.
Sample Dream: Attack an opponent with their Chatterfang, Squirrel General you got from a Thief of Sanity, and ninjutsu in Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow, revealing a Spelltwine to cast your opponent’s Genesis Ultimatum.
Black-Red Sacrifice Value
This color pair is as efficient as it is menacing, with cheap creatures that are often used as fodder for your real haymakers. Tokens and your life are both resources here and can make life hard for your opponent. You make it even harder by taking your opponent’s creatures for your own nefarious sacrifice-related plans.
Sample Dream: Create two copies of Coercive Recruiter with Rionya, Fire Dancer and steal three creatures, attack with them, then sacrifice them to Yawgmoth, Thran Physician, while making copies of them with Nightmare Shepherd!
This color pair cares about one card type: creatures. “Smol” creatures to add mana, and “beeg” creatures to overpower the board. Most of your cards care about the most interactive card type, either by drawing cards when casting them or adding mana only to use with creatures. Time to teach those spell mages a thing or two about the red zone!
Sample Dream: Birds of Paradise into Somberwald Sage into Nyxbloom Ancient, giving you 24 mana on turn four.
Green-White Token Shenanigans
This color pair attacks! Almost all the planeswalkers make tokens, and you have a multitude of ways to make more tokens or enhance these tokens. Unlike black-red’s philosophy, tokens are our friends, not food, and you’ll easily find a way to lead your army of mild-mannered murder machines to victory!
Sample Dream: With Divine Visitation and Anointed Procession in play, cast Martial Coup with seven mana to Wrath the board, and make ten 4/4 Angel tokens!
While you won’t find Entomb or Reanimate in this environment, there are a great number of ways to bring back creatures from your graveyard at under retail value while controlling the board with efficient (for this cube) removal spells.
Sample Dream: Loot away Angel of Serenity with Smuggler’s Copter crewed by Priest of Fell Rites, then use the Priest to reanimate the Angel, nabbing the Priest and your opponent’s tokens.
Blue-Red Big Spells
This color pair is where true dreams are made. There are plenty of expensive spells in here to keep an Izzet mage busy, and plenty of ways to cheat in that annoying seven-plus-mana card. Also, you should copy said spells, because why not? Reality is your plaything, and the other colors only wish they were as cool as us.
Sample Dream: With The Mirari Conjecture’s third chapter resolving, activate the minus ability of Ral, Storm Conduit and cast Mnemonic Deluge on three cards in graveyards. I don’t really know what happens next, but I hope your opponent concedes!
The last two iterations focused on creatures in the graveyard. This time, we’re focusing on the hottest new card type around, along with black-green’s general propensity for removal. With half of your cards being removal, card advantage, and win conditions all in one, you’ll be walking all over your opponents.
Sample Dream: Destroy your opponent’s mana rock with Vraska, Regal Gorgon, then cast Doubling Season into Liliana, Dreadhorde General, and immediately activate her ultimate! Good
The most unique color pair in the cube is back! Get a creature that wants to be dealt damage, then cast a chonky damage spell (if you can draft one away from the blue mages) to, for all intents and purposes, win the game! In this intensive combo-ish archetype, wraths are wincons, you’ll target your own creatures, and Boros can do something other than just efficiently attack!
Sample Dream: Discard Star of Extinction to Faithless Looting, cast Boros Reckoner, then get lucky with Wildfire Devils to win the game on turn four!
There’s one card type every deck has: lands. This deck will both have and play the most! And in a cube that’s slower than Rise of the Eldrazi Limited, you’ve got the time to cast the big stuff. Oftentimes, games in Magic are decided by whomever has the most mana, so you’re a surefire candidate for victory. It doesn’t really matter what you’re casting, you’ll just be casting it first!
Sample Dream: Cast Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath.
Why be limited to up to four colors? Drafting every color as Richard Garfield intended leads to some of the most rewarding dreams around. To no surprise, this archetype wants mana fixing, so it can cast any of the sweet five-drops in the cube and use all the colors of the wind to assemble the perfect board state. When you move into five colors, you’ll always be playing as “The Home Team” in my eyes.
And those are just the fully supported archetypes! There are many other color combinations available to put your own spin on as you explore this wild cube. A couple of the dreamier build-arounds are:
I sincerely hope you all enjoy this final run of my Live the Dream Cube on Magic Online. My goal in life has always been to make people happy through games and the good they bring to the world. I hope this does some of that for you, and if it does, or anything I’ve done in the past has, please let me know. Magic is all about the gathering, so my hope is that this cube brings you and your friends and family together this time of year, as friends are just family you choose.
Be excellent to each other.
David McDarby, Magic Online Product Manager
@J_Beleren on Twitter
Linuka on Twitch