Last time, I covered most of the main blue archetypes, including the baseline “blue deck,” which does mesh well with some of the decks from today, so be sure to check it out. Today I am going to keep trucking on archetypes—I’ll break down Reanimator, Mono-Green, and one of the most fun of all archetypes, Mono-Brown.
This deck is heavy black, and in the case of the best versions, even mono-black (though blue-black and black-red are are more common than mono-black). It’s capable of some of the fastest draws in the format, and does a lot of sweet things that can overlap with the Sneak Attack deck.
Game Plan: Put a giant monster into your graveyard, then reanimate it.
- Entomb – This is bar none the best card for this deck, as it not only acts as a tutor for a fatty but it also puts it right where you want it. Entomb is like two busted cards rolled into one, and for only 1 mana. Once you are in the deck, you take this over anything.
- Griselbrand – The Griseldad is worth noting above the rest of the targets because he is by far the best. He lets you redraw to combo again even if he dies, and stabilizes the board almost every time. He’s also great to Shallow Grave/Corpse Dance, unlike Sphinx of the Steel Wind or Inkwell Leviathan.
- Tutors – Demonic, Vampiric, Imperial Seal: These are especially good in this deck because it is base black.
- Reanimate/Animate Dead/Necromancy – These are your go-to reanimation spells. They are cheap, bring the creature back permanently, and don’t ask much besides having a creature in the bin.
- Shallow Grave/Corpse Dance – These are more powerful due to haste, but require specific creatures to really work. You want Eldrazi (can cast these in response to the shuffle trigger), Griselbrand, and creatures with good ETB abilities.
- Recurring Nightmare – This requires small creatures like Putrid Imp, Baleful Strix, Looter il-Kor, and Mesmeric Fiend, but is more powerful when it gets going. Looping creatures with ETB abilities is sick, and it’s especially nice to sacrifice Woodfall Primus.
- Creatures – Elesh Norn, Eldrazi, Woodfall Primus, Sphinx of the Steel Wind, Titans: There are a lot of possibilities here, and you want a mix of finishers, disruptive creatures like Woodfall Primus, and one sweeper (Norn, Massacre Wurm, Inferno Titan).
- Discard outlets – Putrid Imp, Looter il-Kor, Frantic Search, Chart a Course (and many more). These are more plentiful than animates and creatures, so they are lower priority, but you do want these. The outlets that draw cards also increase consistency, which is nice.
- Dark Ritual – I normally don’t play this outside of Storm, but this deck is an exception. Ritual leads to some of your more busted draws.
The core of the deck is black, and blue and red offer various discard possibilities to supplement that. Red also offers Sneak Attack and Through the Breach, which are a natural fit in a deck with tutors and big monsters. This deck doesn’t need artifact ramp as much as other decks, so move that down if you are going this direction.
Note on Survival of the Fittest: I haven’t found traditional Recurring Nightmare/Survival versions of the deck to be great. Besides Survival, there are very few green cards that you actually want in the deck, so I usually stick to blue or red.
Ways to Get Into the Deck
- See an early Entomb or Griselbrand.
- Have a tutor or two and see mid-pack reanimation spells or discard outlets.
Besides broken cards, Entomb, Griselbrand, and tutors, this deck doesn’t have a lot of cards I like taking very early. I won’t usually start with a pick-2 Reanimate, and I’m not taking Putrid Imp or Woodfall Primus in my first few picks. But if you see a few reanimator cards in your first few picks, take generic good cards and note if they wheel. If they do, this deck is open, and can be quite good when it is.
This deck is better in Legacy Cube than in Vintage Cube because it doesn’t gain much from the transition, but it’s still a great deck when it’s open. This is also one of the easier decks to get proficient with, because, well, it’s mono-green. Take the green cards, and you will do a decent job (as long as you avoid traps like Master of the Wild Hunt or Thrun).
Game Plan: Use mana ramp creatures and artifacts to accelerate out a fast finisher or disruption.
- Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary – Rofellos is the best of the best when it comes to ramp.
- Channel – This makes Eldrazi appealing, but can turbo out cards like Karn or Ugin as well.
- Upheaval – Green also makes a great Upheaval deck.
- Natural Order – The OG Tinker is especially nice because almost every target minus Progenitus is castable.
- Craterhoof Behemoth – This is the best finisher by far, as it just ends the game whenever it hits the board. It’s a tier above all the other big green payoffs.
- Green Sun’s Zenith – This doubles as a threat and a mana accelerant, so it’s a valuable pickup.
- Oracle of Mul Daya/Courser of Kruphix – Oracle is much better, but both of these are great. Look for shuffle effects if you have them too.
- Mana dorks – Joraga Treespeaker, Noble Hierarch, Birds of Paradise, Sylvan Caryatid, Wall of Roots (and more): These are the crux of the deck, but there are so many that you don’t need to prioritize them above the game-enders.
- Card draw – Sylvan Library, Harmonize, splashed Fact or Fiction/Compulsive Research. You need good card draw and powerful finishers to prevent flooding out in your 24-mana-source deck.
- Finishers – Karn, Ugin, Eldrazi, Woodfall Primus, Progenitus, Primeval Titan, Avenger of Zendikar. Which of these you want depends on whether you have Natural Order, Channel, etc., but you do need a couple in order to make the deck work. They become more valuable as the Draft progresses, though I don’t usually take them super early.
- Land/artifact destruction – Strip Mine, Wasteland, Reclamation Sage, Acidic Slime, Primal Command. Unless you’re Hoofing them quickly, you are going to need to slow them down, and the best form of disruption for mono-green is to attack their mana.
Mono-Green isn’t as mono-colored as the name suggests, because green does allow you to splash easily. The biggest key to splashing is getting the green/X dual land of whatever color you want, because the deck does want 14+ Forests. Tropical Island is an insanely high pick as a result, because blue is the most common splash color.
Opposition is a special case. It’s mostly a subset of mono-green (though there is a blue-white Opposition tempo deck out there), and it’s one of the best cards for mono-green. If you get an early Opposition, the main changes you want to make to your pick order are that Tropical Island and mana dorks that tap for blue become critical (alongside fetches that get Trop), and blue cards like Remand, Mana Leak, Fact or Fiction, and Riftwing Cloudskate become viable picks. You also want to lean toward a creature-heavy deck, and Deranged Hermit becomes awesome instead of just good.
Ways to Get Into the Deck
- See an early Rofellos, Channel, Opposition, Natural Order, or Craterhoof Behemoth.
- See a 4th-6th pick Green Sun’s Zenith or Oracle of Mul Daya.
- Wheel green mana dorks or see them mid-pack.
One of the risks of this deck is that it’s pretty focused, and doesn’t overlap with many other decks. As a result, I don’t get into it all that often, though it’s good when it is open.
Fair warning: I love this deck, but it’s rarely the right deck to draft. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s a gamble that you’ll see the right cards, and even then it doesn’t always come together. It does do a lot of broken things when you have a good version, so have no fear that the power isn’t there.
Game Plan: Go super hard on artifact ramp, and use sweepers like Balance, Wildfire, or Upheaval to wipe the opponent’s board. It also has Tinker and Kuldotha Forgemaster for early giant artifact monsters.
- Upheaval – This is the best card for the deck (aside from broken cards). Metalworker plus Upheaval is just stone busted.
- Artifact ramp – Mana Vault, Grim Monolith, Mox Diamond, Gilded Lotus, Thran Dynamo, Signets, Worn Powerstone, and Coalition Relic are all cards you want as many of as possible.
- Metalworker/Mishra’s Workshop/Tolarian Academy: All of these cards are huge payoffs if you get there with 12+ artifacts. It’s a shame how early Academy tends to go, but the other two you can get mid or late.
- Draw-7s – Time Spiral, Memory Jar, Timetwister, Wheel of Fortune: This deck generates tons of mana, so drawing 7 is great for it.
- Tinker – Tinker is at its best in this deck since you have all the pieces naturally.
- Big Artifacts – Blightsteel Colossus, Sundering Titan, Sphinx of the Steel Wind, Inkwell Leviathan: You can turbo these out with Tinker and Forgemaster, or just cast them.
- Sweepers – Balance, Wildfire, Burning of Xinye: Despite Balance being overrated, it is very good in this deck. Artifacts don’t get counted, so you can dump your hand of mana rocks and set the opponent to very few resources.
- 4+ cost artifacts – Lodestone Golem, Coercive Portal, Solemn Simulacrum, Walking Ballista: If you have Mishra’s Workshop, all of these cards become very good.
- Tezzerets – Both Tezzerets are great in this deck, and almost always wheel.
- Mana denial – Crucible of Worlds, Strip Mine, Wasteland, Smokestack, Tangle Wire, Winter Orb: Attacking the opponent’s mana is a common theme here, and this locks them out nicely.
This deck tends to be near mono-blue, but often splashes 1-2 cards of various colors. You want room for good colorless lands, and because of all your random Signets, it’s easy to play all these sweet cards. I’ve played mono-blue with Demonic Tutor, Balance, Ancient Grudge, and Sylvan Library before.
Ways to Get Into the Deck
- Open with broken artifact mana. Sol Ring is a wonderful reason to force mono-brown.
- See a 5th-pick Mishra’s Workshop.
- Decide you want to enjoy grinding the opponent down, and force the deck (this is how I usually get into the deck).
I really enjoy playing this deck, since it’s a nice change of pace. It can be great, but can also misfire badly, so don’t blame me if you lose all your tickets.
I’m wrapping up this primer on Cube with my next article, where I’ll cover the two aggro decks in the format, and provide some final thoughts. See you then!