Gordon's Old School Archetype Cube

A couple of cards in the cube... and one Lord of the Pit, don't know why he is there.

A while back we had a tournament in Stockholm that was a bit special. The tournament was an invitational where all players that had placed last in an earlier tournament were invited, the Stockholm Rag Men.

The price for the tournament was an invite for this years n00bcon and as that was a pretty sought-after price I was afraid that some players may become to competitive for my liking. Therefore, I decided that we would do a cube draft, that way people wouldn’t build UR Counterburn, The Deck and more just to compete. Then there was the question of how to build the cube as I didn’t want it to be just another Old School Cube, we already have one of those in Stockholm.

Then I came up with the idea idea of an archetype cube. What I mean with an archetype cube is a cube built on old school deck archetypes where you not only draft the best cards, but instead need to try to draft an existing deck archetype in the format. Decks like Sligh, PowerMonolith, Eureka, White Weenie and more.

As the old school card pool is quite small this wasn't possible if you did it in the standard highlander way of building a cube. It's pretty hard to build PowerMonolith in a cube with only one Power Artifact and one Basalt Monolith.

Building the cube

So I started by listing a bunch of archetypes I wanted to support and then added the important cards for those archetypes. The next step was then to change at least some of the cards to less played alternatives. Like changing a Counterspell to a Power Sink, and things like that.

Then I cut some of the archetypes that used too many narrow cards, one example is Atog, that needs a lot of cheap artifacts to work.

Last but not least, I tried to trim and correct the specific numbers of each card. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to have 4 of each dual to make it easy to splash and play multiple colors. I also wanted to have 4 of each widely played staple as their would probably be more than one player at the table who wanted to draft those. A couple of examples are cards like Lightning Bolt, Swords to Plowshares and Serendib Efreet. Then we had cards like Millstone, that isn't a staple but can be played in very many decks. It is a great wincon for control decks, it is a must in Field of Dreams combo and Sylvan Library players would probably also want one. Therefore I needed more of them than I first thought.

The plan after that was to have 3 of each card that was important for an archetype, and 2 of each good card that neither was super important or a staple. The cards that only got one copy each were the fun offs, cards that don't really see much constructed plan but are cool and fun old school cards that should be in the cube. A few examples are Dragon Whelp, Royal Assassin, and Desert Twister.

I also decided to only have one of all the restricted cards, except for Chaos Orb. The reason for that one in particular was that some decks need answers to things like Moat, and also because it probably is the most old school card there is. Also, as Guardian Beast is in the cube I wanted it to be possible for people to get that combo.

And talking about Moat, there are some evil cards like that one, that many decks almost can't beat. So I decided to only have one of each in the cube. For example, you will only find one The Abyss and one Ali from Cairo.

This was the first plan at least, but it didn't really end up like that after I started to cut down the cube to 360 cards. After the cuts there weren't many cards that had 4 copies of them in the cube. I just didn't have room. The staples that got 4 copies each were Counterspell, Swords to Plowshares, Disenchant, Birds of Paradise, Sinkhole, Lightning Bolt and Fellwar Stone. I also needed to keep 4 copies of Savannah Lions and White Knight as white just has to few good creatures without Fallen Empires. 

The archetypes that I ended up supporting in the cube were the following: 

  1. Field of Dreams Combo
  2. Reanimator
  3. Eureka
  4. UR Aggro
  5. Sligh
  6. White Weenie
  7. Green Ramp
  8. Machine Head
  9. Ponza
  10. Guardian Beast/Transmute Toolbox
  11. Parfait
  12. Trick Deck (Underworld Dreams)
  13. Zoo/Erhnam Burn'em
  14. UG Berserk
  15. UW Control
  16. Artifact Aggro
  17. PowerMonolith
  18. CandleFlare
  19. Deadguy Ale
  20. Erhnamgeddon

You can find the cube list here. That is how it was at the time for the tournament.

How it played out

I wont write a tournament report but here are at least some pictures from the gathering and also 7/8 of the decks that were drafted. I'm pretty happy with the turnout and think the cube worked as I wanted with clear archetypes like Zoo, White Weenie, Ponza and Field of Dreams/CandleFlare (yes, that was mine) being played. 

The decks

Some pictures from the tournament



So, that is the story about the first version of the cube and how the first draft ended up. There are probably a lot of things that should be changed, and I have some ideas already, but I will keep them for myself for future blog post. Except for a couple of things: 

  1. TaxEdge probably should be an archetype in the cube.
  2. Some combo cards may need to be cut to 2 instead of 3.
  3. Maybe 4 Strip Mines, 4 Sinkholes and 3 Ice Storms are a bit borring according to some people (you can see what Seb thinks about that in the pictures hehe).


Do you have any ideas or suggestions for the cube, or just want to say what you think about it, please comment below.

Here is a link to the cube as it was for the tournament.

And if you want to do a test draft, you can do it here.