Full Force drafting is a series dedicated to forcing archetypes in draft formats. Join me every Thursday as we learn the ins and outs of the most recent Magic draft formats. (But not this week!)
The Vintage Cube is back on Magic Online and it’s time to draft from some of Magic’s most powerful archetypes ever. The voting this week ended in a three-way tie, so I chose a personal favourite; Black/White Hatebears. It’s not the deck I like to play the most in Vintage Cube, but it’s generally unknown and criminally underrated.
In Vintage Cube there is always the spectre of supremely powerful cards and combos like Splinter Twin, Sneak Attack, Tinker, Storm, and Channel that can kill from a non-existent board state. You need to have a plan of attack against that power, like being faster (mono-red aggro for example), or countering their key spells. Why is this important? Because Hatebears excels at besting these decks.
The reason I like the Hatebears deck so much is that it can punish a lot of the most powerful archetypes in two different ways. First, it should be built for speed. You won’t be as fast as a mono-red deck, but you should definitely be applying constant, fast pressure through cards like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Vryn Wing-Mare, Tidehollow Sculler, etc. This is important because once you need to close out a game fast once you’re ahead. One miracle top-deck can end your run so you need to give your opponent little chance to recover. The other line of attack and the reason I like the deck over something like Mono-Red or White Weenie is the disruption.
This disruption can come from your creatures, like the ones I just listed above, but also from premium discard spells like Mind Twist, Hymn to Tourach, and Thoughtseize. The combo decks have an incredible amount of power, but they often trade that power for fragility. You can’t play your hand full of Eldrazi if your Sneak Attack just got hit by Thoughtseize. You can’t get a turn two Blightsteel Colossus when your only artifact for Tinker got discarded by a Hymn to Tourach. A good early Hymn or Mind Twist can be an auto-win in more matches than you suspect and following it up with aggro cards that continue to hurt their hand or board is back-breaking.
Since disruption is so powerful in Cube that’s how I prefer to enter into this deck. If I can find an early Mind Twist or Hymn, I’ll keep an eye out for other early hate. I’d value staying black early to stay open so other discard spells or cards like Mesmeric Fiend or Brain Maggot will be picks over a lot of more traditionally powerful white aggro cards. The cards that start drawing me specifically to the white are removal or hate specific to white like Tidehollow Sculler, Vindicate, Oblivion Ring, Leonin Relic-Warder, and Thalia.
White aggro tends to be fairly easy to pick up so I don’t value it too highly over effective hate, with the exception of Monastery Mentor and maybe Hero of Bladehold. Monastery Mentor in particular is fantastic pressure for the deck because once you play it, every non-creature hate or removal spell you have doubles as a creature and a pump. If you can follow up an early Mentor with even two removal or discard spells you’re almost certain to lock up the game.
The last card that I want to talk about is Recurring Nightmare, since it doesn’t seem like it fits the mold of the deck. It’s not aggressive and it’s not disruptive, but it’s still worth picking up. It gives the deck incredible staying power and late game reach. It also improves your matchup against control and midrange/aggro decks since you’ll often end up with a Boneshredder, Skinrender or Nekrataal in your sideboard. It also has some combo potential with cards like Collective Brutality, Bitterblossom, Reveillark, and Monastery Mentor and can give you outs to being a Reanimator deck instead, giving you flexibility in your draft. Pick it early and often, it’s rarely a disappointment.
Next week I’ll continue into the Vintage Cube, with a new archetype chosen by you, the viewer! Just vote in our poll below, or check out my previous articles on Cube Storm and Green Ramp! Happy Holidays!
Full Force Cube! What should we draft? Already covered Storm, Green Ramp, and BW Hatebears
— Ilyon (@IlyonMTG) December 21, 2016