By Kenny Hsiung
Going over a draft pick by pick in the vintage cube. Here you can see the entire draft, pick by pick in the viewer. In this draft, we drafted a sick re-animator deck and actually took Entomb (the best card for our deck) 1st pick out of pack 2, over Sol Ring (the best card in the cube).
The opening pack was not great. For me, the first pick options are: Reanimate, Savannah, Bayou, Ledger Shredder, and maybe Talisman of Dominance. The 3 most non-committal options are obviously the mana sources, whereas the Ledger Shredder (in my opinion) only really plays well in a mid-range blue deck with creatures that want to attack, and Reanimate is one of the best reanimate spells for the re-animator archetype, which also (in all previous cube iterations) has been both my favorite and best performing archetype.
Our pick 2 pack 1 options are not great either. The only 3 real considerations for me in this pack are Ertai Resurrected, Remand, and Time Warp. Remand is clearly the best card, however, in nearly all of my reanimator decks, I am almost never passing the turn and leaving mana up – this is because the deck is built in a way in which you are trying to reanimate as quickly as possible, meaning you are basically always tapping out. Ertai is new to the cube, and I wanted to give it a try, even though he seems quite slow at 4-mana. Time Warp is cool and all, but doesn’t fit into this archetype. If I were trying to stay open, I would take the tri-land (Zitora’s Proving Ground), but we already know from my committing first pick that I was at least semi-forcing this archetype.
Here we get the slam dunk Archon of Cruelty, one of the best possible reanimate targets in the cube. I really wanted to take Watery Grave, (almost all of my reanimator decks are base black with blue splash) but the Archon was just too good for me to pass up. We ended up tabling the Ashen Rider (which got played). Our deck ended up with pretty bad mana (2 come into play tapped U/B dual lands only).
Easy Necromancy pick, over Imperial Seal (the worst of this kind of tutor by a long shot), Liliana, the Last Hope, (significantly worse than Liliana of the Veil in this archetype and generally as well) V-Clique (great card which I am not happy about playing in my reanimator decks because its double blue and not what we want to be doing), and Mana Leak (another great card, but again, we don’t typically want to be passing and leaving mana up).
Easy Bone Shards over Dismember (filler removal that I wouldn’t be thrilled to be playing) and Kogla (very mediocre potential reanimate target). Being able to use Bone Shards as a 1-mana discard outlet is obviously also great.
Here we pick up an excellent discard outlet in Bazaar of Baghdad, over nothing pretty much.
Here we had a choice between Grave Titan and Noxious Gearhulk. Both excellent reanimate targets – I ended up going with the Titan because he’s just always performed so well for me.
Nothing of use pick 8 or 9, as these cards went straight into the sideboard. At this point in the draft I was thinking that I would be extremely displeased with my deck if I had to play either one of these cards in my final deck.
We ended up getting at least Ashen Rider which was nice.
2 more cards that will get put in the sideboard.
At this point, not looking great, as our last 8 picks only yielded 1 potential playable card.
I know I might catch a lot of shit for this but, at this point, I was fully committed to Reanimator, and this is the literal best card in the cube for my deck. No regrets.
Just looking back at this pack, I am just now seeing that there was a Frantic Search (which is obviously great in reanimator as it helps you dig and lets you discard your targets). I must have missed it because I didn’t recognize the art, but Dark Ritual helps us do broken things as well (and ended up playing well also).
Spellseeker is a great pickup for this deck as it tutors for both reanimate and entomb, and can also be sacrificed to recurring nightmare (which will become a part of this deck later).
Not a great pack for us, but we took the best card for our deck. Fact or Fiction is playable card advantage that also puts cards into our graveyard, but quite slow at four mana.
Here I elected to take Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth over the Massacre Wurm reanimate target. Urborg works with Bazaar of Baghdad in that it makes it so that you aren’t missing your land drop for the turn if you draw the two cards together. Typically, you play Bazaar as a spell, since it does not tap for mana.
Lotus Petal helps us ramp into busted draws. Sower is fine, but somewhat slow and not really what we want to be doing.
Suspicious Stowaway is a great cheap way to loot. We ended up tabling Atarka from this pack, and it ended up making our deck. At this point we did not have any of the instant speed reanimate spells yet, (Corpse Dance/Shallow Grave) so there was no consideration for Ulamog.
Shallow Grave, which we ended up playing, over not much else. Yawgmoth’s will with dark ritual is interesting but that’s the kind of thing we would want for a storm deck, not our reanimator deck.
Our mana was already terrible at this point in the draft, with our only “fixing” so far is a single Lotus Petal. For this reason, I knew that I would be highly unlikely to play City of Traitors, and took Survival instead.
Not much for us in these later packs. I would not be happy if I had to play either of these cards in the deck. Shinobi is good, but you want to be attacking.
We didn’t end up playing the Sower of Temptation but it’s a decent sideboard option against the mirror match sometimes.
We did end up playing Atarka, however.
2 Reanimate spells in this pack with one being the newly added Life/Death. I chose to take Animate Dead since the mana cost is the same and while it can be Disenchanted, we don’t have to pay life. In hindsight, maybe Life/Death was the better play as it can be tutored with Spellseeker (I think?)
Finally, a U/B dual land. Not great, but I’ll take anything I can get my hands on at this point. Definitely not interested in diving into red for Sneak Attack given our current mana situation. Inferno Titan is also a great reanimate target, but my main focus at this point in the draft is picking up some duals so that I can cast my spells.
When I saw this pack I first thought I was probably going to take the Recurring Nightmare, but then I read the newly added Flash. Flash is perfect for our deck as we have numerous creatures with powerful come into play abilities, and this essentially puts the creature into the graveyard so that it can immediately be reanimated. One game, I flashed Ashen Rider into play and instantly got the effect twice, since Ashen Rider’s ability also triggers on death.
Rona is preferred over Chart a Course. At the time, I didn’t think that Recurring Nightmare would table, (it did) Rona is also a creature that can be sacrificed to it.
Excellent cheap creature that can be used with Recurring Nightmare as well as an efficient discard outlet. Looking back, I just realized that Arid Mesa can fetch the tri-land that we picked earlier (Raffine’s Tower), and probably should have taken it trying to table the Imp.
Another tri-land for us, over Corpse Dance (which tabled), and Woodfall Primus, which is both an excellent reanimation and Flash target.
Collective Brutality over Wishclaw Talisman, as an excellent discard outlet/hand disruption/removal spell.
Dauthi Voidwalker is just an excellent card overall, and typically a nightmare for most decks to play against. I wasn’t sure if I was going to end up playing it in this deck, but it did end up making the cut.
Another cool reanimate/Flash target that is new to the cube which I wanted to try out. Elesh norn is also great but doesn’t have quite the same powerful come into play effect.
I took Timetwister with no intention of playing it. I was very happy to see that Recurring Nightmare tabled obviously.
Nothing interesting or playable for our deck picks 12, 13.
Both of these are playable in our deck, however, we didn’t end up playing either.