About Richard Bland
Richard is an English pro
player. He started playing Magic on a foreign exchange trip to Germany
in the dark days of Darksteel, and was running sick homebrew Shared Fate
decks at FNM while everyone else was playing affinity mirrors. While he
has learned better since then, he still retains a soft spot for combo
decks of all hues.
- Platinum Pro Player
- 98 Lifetime Pro Points
- 2nd Worlds 2011
- 2nd GP San Diego 2011
- 3rd GP Barcelona 2011
- 3rd GP Madrid 2010
- 2nd Great Britain Nationals 2010
Drafting with Richard - Holiday Power Cube Edition!
It’s a festive time of
year, so I thought I’d have some fun and showcase a MODO holiday cube draft,
and hopefully draft something fun and ridiculously powerful to do broken things
this holiday season. Let’s dive in:
Booster 1 - UD
Pack 1 pick 1:
My Pick: Treachery
First pick and we have a
lot to choose from. The most likely cards here are Treachery, Counterspell and Goblin Guide. I like Goblin Guide a lot in mono-red, but Treachery is both
better and blue, which is generally where I want to be, and fits into pretty
much all blue decks. Counterspell is great, and I always want counters in Cube,
but it’s not enough to pass on the control magic bomb.
Pack 1 pick 2:
My Pick: Karn Liberated
A pack of mostly utility
cards. Wasteland and Hymn are both very nice, and Keldon Marauders would have
gone nicely with the Goblin Guide had we taken it. But we took Treachery, and
so the pick is between Karn Liberated and... well, maybe Hymn. Karn is just so
powerful and easy to cast, however, and can win games single-handedly.
Planeswalkers are rarely the wrong pick in Cube.
Pack 1 pick 3:
My Pick: Mulldrifter
Sulfuric Vortex is there to
taunt me about what could have been for a red deck, but never mind, I have one
of my favorite blue creatures ever printed to cheer me right up. Mulldrifter is
a pile of value and rarely an awkward draw, and interacts with all manner of
cards well. Sword of Body and Mind is nice, but with Treachery and Karn, I feel
I’m not as likely to be going aggro as I am to want to draw cards.
Pack 1 pick 4:
My Pick: Thragtusk
A difficult pack, and one
that tends to show the preferences of the drafter. I am a complete sucker for
UG decks in Cube and will draft the make mana -> draw cards -> cast
things and win deck whenever the opportunity presents itself. Inkwell Leviathan, Thragtusk, Dismember and Sundering Titan are all options for me here
(and Thundermaw for the red deck). Inkwell, I think, is just less useful than
the titan at this point. We have some colorless cards in Karn, and more cards
that work well with Channel, and titan is just generally more impactful a play
than Inkwell. Dismember is a nice catch-all card that can go in any deck, but
the life drawback blunts its usefulness against the aggro decks where removal
matters, and I’m not sure I’d want it if I didn’t think I was going Black.
Besides, many creatures in Cube are at least partially resistant to 1-for-1
removal. In the end I take the Thragtusk, hoping to slide into UG mana ramp,
with a card that defends against aggressive decks and presents a decent clock
while fighting removal and allowing for bounce-spell shenanigans.
Pack 1 pick 5:
My Pick: Fyndhorn Elves
To make a UG deck work, you
need as much mana as you can get. Mana elves are exactly what I want, and
there’s not anything else in the pack to distract me from that. Arbor Elf is
pretty much just a narrower Fyndhorn, so I take the more reliable mana guy.
Pack 1 pick 6:
My Pick: Careful Consideration
Metalworker has the
potential to do busted things, but this deck doesn’t have any artifacts yet,
and Careful Consideration is an amazing card for a deck like this, which is a
little prone to mana flooding in the late game, and instant-speed potential
makes it great with counterspells.
Pack 1 pick 7:
My Pick: Birds of Paradise
A simple pick, Birds is
exactly what I want to be doing. Dream Halls is a little too deep for what I
want to be doing here, and Genesis Wave too permanent-based.
Pack 1 pick 8:
My Pick: Chandra Nalaar
Exploration really isn’t
the acceleration I want, unless I have odd things, involving Land Tax, going
on, and so I can choose either Firespout or Chandra here. Spout doesn’t play
well with my creature accelerators, so I take a chance on another decent
Planeswalker and keep a look out for mana-fix to support URG
Pack 1 pick 9:
My Pick: Ohran Viper
Many tempting cards left in
the pack. Now I have a clearer idea of what I want my deck to do, I can dismiss Genesis as too grindy, All Suns' Dawn as too expensive and Wake Thrasher as too
mindlessly aggro. Ohran Viper can already come down on turn 2 with my 1-drop
mana guys, and the combination of defensive card against aggro and Ophidian
against anything else is a great fit in the deck.
Pack 1 pick 10:
Thornscape Battlemage Buried Alive Guul Draz Assassin Keldon Marauders Winter Orb Izzet Charm
My Pick: Izzet Charm
Thornscape is a little too
cute for the cost, and I won’t likely kick it twice ever. Izzet Charm is always
going to be useful should I be playing red in the deck, and does an ok job at
all the things I want my deck to be doing.
Pack 1 pick 11:
Stunted Growth Steppe Lynx Student of Warfare Siege-Gang Commander Thunderscape Battlemage
My Pick: Stunted Growth
Siege-Gang is powerful, but
I’m worried my deck will already be weak to sweepers, and Stunted Growth gives
me something powerful to be doing when I hit 5 mana that doesn’t require a pile
Pack 1 pick 12:
Flickerwisp Reanimate Kami of Ancient Law Gideon's Lawkeeper
My Pick: Reanimate
Unlikely to play any of
these, but this is the most powerful and possible to splash.
Pack 1 pick 13:
Tangle Wire Fauna Shaman Bonesplitter
My Pick: Fauna Shaman
Not much of a contender,
but if I draft creature combos this might help, or if I’m really hurting for
Pack 1 pick 14:
Restock Gloom Surgeon
My Pick: Restock
Pack 1 pick 15:
Honor of the Pure
My Pick: Honor of the Pure
Booster 2 - PRM
Pack 2 pick 1:
My Pick: Time Walk
So here’s the power we were
promised! 3 pieces in this pack, as I count Library as power. Library isn’t an
ideal fit for this deck as it’s shaping up, as I’m looking to play ramp spells
early and won’t have 7 cards in hand in the mid-late, as well as a possible
3-color deck finding colorless mana less than useful. It’s still incredibly
good, but Time Walk is exactly what I want in a deck with Planeswalkers,
ophidians and big threats and is looking to win the tempo game. Mox Pearl is
fine, as are all moxen, but not on the level of the other power.
Pack 2 pick 2:
My Pick: Miscalculation
A cheap counterspell is
always welcome and it cycles in the super late game. Edric is also great, but
Pack 2 pick 3:
My Pick: Simic Signet
A tough pick. FoF is
obviously a great card, but mana accel is at a premium for this deck, and
signet also fixes. Ultimately, I decide I can replace FoF more easily than I
can the signet, and I have 2 card-drawing effects in my pile already.
Pack 2 pick 4:
My Pick: Garruk, Primal Hunter
Planeswalker, on-color, no
real competition in the pack. Ideal threat, really.
Pack 2 pick 5:
My Pick: Mana Leak
More counterspells, and
easy to cast, too. Nev’s disk doesn’t fit with our accel being permanent-based.
Pack 2 pick 6:
My Pick: Electrolyze
A harder pick, with no
immediate standouts. Hermit is pretty mediocre and easily replaceable as a
generic threat card. Ooze doesn’t quite fit in the deck’s plan, as it’s not a
win the game threat/mana or card draw/countermagic. I take a chance on Electrolyze
if the red splash fits
Pack 2 pick 7:
My Pick: Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary
A very late Rofellos is a
fine gift for the green ramp deck. GG might be a hard cast at times, but
tapping for 2-3 mana is absurd. Venser is a fine card but not enough to replace
Rofellos as the pick.
Pack 2 pick 8:
My Pick: Regrowth
Another powerful green card
to put into my pile. Remand is great, but the chance of regrowing Time Walk, Mulldrifter or Careful Consideration gives it the edge.
Pack 2 pick 9:
My Pick: Phyrexian Metamorph
Metamorph is a very
flexible card and can fit easily in the deck, ideally copying something like Mulldrifter or Thragtusk.
Pack 2 pick 10:
Cloudgoat Ranger Palinchron Plated Geopede Awakening Zone Edric, Spymaster of Trest Bone Shredder
My Pick: Edric, Spymaster of Trest
Edric tables, which is nice
to see. A great card, improving all the little mana guys on top of everything
Pack 2 pick 11:
Elite Vanguard Goblin Vandal Naturalize Godless Shrine Stupor
My Pick: Naturalize
A sideboard card over cards
I’ll not play. Hatedrafting isn’t all that relevant here.
Pack 2 pick 12:
Izzet Boilerworks Call of the Herd Stormblood Berserker Into the Roil
My Pick: Izzet Boilerworks
A nice late mana fix. Call of the Herd really is a bit outclassed these days. Into the Roil is nice, but
I’m going to be ok for spells.
Pack 2 pick 13:
Sulfurous Springs Black Knight Loam Lion
My Pick: Sulfurous Springs
All things equal a land is
a better hatedraft.
Pack 2 pick 14:
Hypnotic Specter Thelonite Hermit
My Pick: Thelonite Hermit
A possible playable threat
if I don’t find many big haymakers in the next pack.
Pack 2 pick 15:
My Pick: Willbender
Pack 3 pick 1:
My Pick: Bonfire of the Damned
Pack three and we’re
getting a clear idea of what we’re going to do with our deck. Lodestone Golem
would work well for us as a beater with added Sphere of Resistance, with our
acceleration making the effect less relevant on us. However, Bonfire is both
splashable and very effective in a deck that can make a lot of mana and relies
on creatures to get the job done. Overall I think it’s worth the risk to try
and play bonfire, as sweepers is something sorely lacking in this deck.
Pack 3 pick 2:
My Pick: Mana Vault
Mana Vault is exactly what
I want for getting out a turn 4 Karn Liberated or a turn 2 Mulldrifter.
Pack 3 pick 3:
My Pick: Woodfall Primus
The deck is a little
lacking in things to Mana Vault out, and Woodfall Primus is exactly the
resilient threat I need. Tarmogoyf is just a guy (in how many formats can you say
that with a straight face?) and Cold-Eyed Selkie is fine but too reliant on islandwalk
to make the cut
Pack 3 pick 4:
My Pick: Treetop Village
Everflowing Chalice and Mind Stone aren’t the best accelerants for the deck, as they don’t fix much in
the way of colors, and Treetop is a card that will help us close out games and
combat mana flood without taking a card slot.
Pack 3 pick 5:
My Pick: Mystic Snake
Counterspells are amazing
in Cube. Take them over nearly everything.
Pack 3 pick 6:
My Pick: Gruul Signet
A tough pick, but I’m in
need of the fixing badly, and I’m not sure how effective Oracle would be in a
deck that runs as many non-land accelerants as ours. Fingers crossed that Simic
Sky Swallower tables.
Pack 3 pick 7:
My Pick: Plow Under
Plow is an amazing tempo
play, and wonderful to Regrowth. Vengevine is just an efficient guy, and we’re
looking for game-winners rather than a beatdown curve.
Pack 3 pick 8:
A flexible card that fits
into our deck more than any other card here. Greaves doesn’t have many good
targets outside of the Ophidians.
Pack 3 pick 9:
My Pick: Lodestone Golem
Lodestone Golem tables,
giving Metamorph a very attractive copy target
Pack 3 pick 10:
Entomb Lightning Bolt Wild Nacatl Sylvan Library Goblin Ruinblaster Phyrexian Revoker
My Pick: Sylvan Library
Another massive gift.
Library was only narrowly not the pick before, and ensuring the deck maintains
its mana curve and a steady supply of threats.
Pack 3 pick 11:
Necromancy Mogg War Marshal Manriki-Gusari Bloodgift Demon Kargan Dragonlord
My Pick: Manriki-Gusari
An anti-Jitte sideboard
card is better than any of the alternatives.
Pack 3 pick 12:
Earthquake Sacred Foundry Putrid Imp Porcelain Legionnaire
My Pick: Porcelain Legionnaire
Earthquake isn’t going to
work in my deck as a sweeper, and Legionnaire might be a useful sideboard
against creature decks.
Pack 3 pick 13:
Nezumi Shortfang Cursed Scroll Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius
My Pick: Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius
I’m still in need of
threats, and while red-heavy, this is a pretty good one.
Pack 3 pick 14:
Deranged Hermit Simic Sky Swallower
My Pick: Simic Sky Swallower
A pair of nice finishers to
choose from, I take the one that’s harder to answer and more effective with a Mana Vault.
Pack 3 pick 15:
My Pick: Teetering Peaks
I end up with plenty of
playables, a not uncommon situation for cube draft, and a decision as to
whether a red splash is at all necessary. My mana base is not the sturdiest,
with minimal dual lands and the splashable spells, while nice, aren’t insanely
powerful. Cards like Rofellos, Garruk, Primal Hunter and Treetop Village,
encourage me to stay heavy green, and the entire point of a deck like this is
to get a fast start and cast something big early, so having mana issues is
going to be a big problem for the deck’s chances of winning. The Bonfire and Electrolyze
would deal well with any potential creature decks, and if the opponent is on a
mono-red plan, counterspells would be of limited use, so the red deck remains a
potential sideboard option.
I submitted the following:
|Converted Mana Cost|
Round 1 vs Juntti U/B/w
Game 1: I keep a promising
seven and plan for a second Forest off the top to hit Rofellos into Time Walk
and Signet then Lodestone Golem, but unfortunately, I fail to draw a land, and
have to cast Sylvan Library over acceleration. My first library view misses
too, so I have to burn the Time Walk and pay 8 life, but I finally hit land and
double accel out, following with a Karn Liberated on his Dimir Aqueduct.
I take more damage from my
Library to keep making land drops, then drop a pair of Lodestone Golems to get
My opponent leads with Dimir Signet, while I execute my gameplan of acceleration into Time Walk, into Regrowth. I fail to find a threat, however, and have to content myself with Careful Consideration before passing back. My opponent drops down some Lingering Souls tokens followed by a Frost Titan, which I manage to Treachery
for 7 mana, then drop down Garruk, Primal Hunter and Simic Sky Swallower while
holding up Miscalculation and locking down Dimir Aqueduct. Eventually the pair
of 6/6 beaters go the distance.
Round 2 vs Hiquaine (UW)
I make a somewhat
speculative keep with Sylvan Library, hoping to draw into something to do on
turns 3 and 4 from it. I find Rofellos on turn 3 while my opponent gets beating
with a Looter Il-Kor. Turn 4 Garruk, Primal Hunter with Mana Leak for his Dungeon Geists and a Sky Swallower follow up gets the swift concession.
I keep another fun hand.
My opponent starts with Isamaru, Hound of Konda, while I make a turn 3 Karn Liberated. These things are
not the same, and this game is a reminder to not try to play fairly in Cube, if
at all possible. I start working on his hand and trade off a Mulldrifter for
his Isamaru then Regrowth it back. He scoops again when Karn Liberated is at 15
loyalty and his board is 3 lands.
Round 3 vs (BW)
Game one I keep a rather
risky hand on the draw, with a turn 1 birds, lands and 5-drops. I hope to hit
another piece of accel or a 3-4 drop in the first 3 draw steps, but it is not
to be, and Hypnotic Specter and Bone Shredder on my Birds of Paradise leave me
too far behind by the time I can cast my Garruk.
I keep a much better hand
in the second, with acceleration into Lodestone Golem. I cast Mulldrifter but
fail to hit my lands afterward, while he plays some signets. I hold up
countermagic and keep bashing in with the Golem and Elf, and Mana Leak the Rout
when he plays it. A Mystic Snake on his next play was enough to tie the match.
In the deciding game I keep
a hand with Signet, Ohran Viper and Lodestone Golem, and draw into Karn and Timewalk. My opponent has plenty of removal, Nekrataal-ing my Viper and
Vindicating my Golem, but my Time Walk into Karn sticks and starts chewing up
his hand, forcing him to drop Mirror Entity and Hypnotic Specter. I exile the
Entity and play out Mulldrifter, holding Mana Leak up. Sadly, his next play of Bone Shredder gets around my Mana Leak, and puts my Karn low, but I Regrow the Mulldrifter and play it out again, holding up Mana Leak once more. As expected,
he chooses to not pay Echo and put it on top with Volrath's Stronghold, tapping
him low enough to have the Shredder fall to the Mana Leak. The time this buys
me allows me to find a finisher in Woodfall Primus and destroy the Volrath's Stronghold, ending his plans of clearing my board. With no recursion and
playing off the top of the deck against Karn and Primus, he concedes the match.
Thanks for reading, and