A whole new kind of power!

Finally, after around 83 days of January – 32 of them with the January Plague anno 2024 – we are moving on! February is here, and so is a new year, that we are finally able to start to enjoy. What a treat!

And a treat it is! Because even though I think it is well worth it to celebrate the end of January, another thing is even more of an appropriate reason for festivities. 

My old friend Mathies, who lives in Malaysia, announced a couple of months back that he and his family were coming to Denmark for a couple of weeks. There would not be a lot of time to meet up, but he had negotiated a one-weekend-day free pass to enjoy playing Magic among old friends.

That day was yesterday, Saturday 3, February 2024. And what a day it was…

The crew and the crib

Okay, so I have known Mathias all the way from 2001 when we both attended the same Efterskole (a kind of boarding school). Back then we formed a strong group of friends that have grown over the years. One of those great people is Trolle, who I have mentioned several times here already (for example here and here). Another is Robin, who I have mentioned even more. Prag – another one of the Ballrups crew is also among these fine gentlemen, and then we even had a couple of other 20-some-years lasting friends join, even though they are not into playing Magic. Finally, Sigurd – a whole new awesome friend (even though from Ballrups) also joined.

What a party this was to be!

Trolle had willingly set his basement up for the menagerie, and around 12-o-clock the gang was gathered with cards, dice, beer, crisps, snacks and all the good mood and big expectations and gathering like this is able to inspire!

What the hell were we doing?

Good question – one I also asked myself several times throughout the day and especially in the small hours – but we will get to that.

Well, we played Magic of course. In this crew, Canadian Highlander is boss. As I have mentioned several times, it is a great format with a lot of powerful decks, plays and interactions. It is a very challenging af intricate format, but first and foremost it is a very fun format to play. 

This is the format Mathias had also been scrounging together his cards for, for the last couple of months, so naturally – as the day was pretty much to quench his thirst for some Magic Action – that is what we played most of the time.

I had not assembled a deck, as I knew we would be five players, and several of the other guys had more than one assembled (and I don’t have all the cards to really build something interesting). So I was both on a white weenie death and taxes kind of greatness, and not least a reanimator deck. Much fun was had!

After we had dinner, Sigurd joined us, and it was then it really started to go down in history as one of the better Magic-related gatherings I have had. Not only because Sigurd is awesome, but also because we were now six people and that meant it was time to give my new cube – a Vintage Draft Cube – a spin…

This is where the new kind of power strikes

I cannot recommend it enough. I know most of my readers are probably primarily playing Old School, and if that is the case, I would recommend that you spend some time playing for example Canadian Highlander or Commander, before you venture into a wrestle with a Vintage Draft Cube. It is an insane power level. But it is also an insane amount of text, you have to read and understand, thoroughly, if you really want a chance to truly matter in the draft. New cards have a lot of text. It is not necessarily something that makes them better designed (I rather agree with what Magnus writes here), but it definitely makes them stronger and it definitely increases the level of complexity!

I would gather Vintage Cubing is the most challenging way for me to play Magic, but it is also the most rewarding in terms of gameplay. It is almost impossible to play a game of Vintage cube decks, without something retarded happening. The new cards are simply a different power level, and the cube is basically an attempt to gather all the best cards in the entire 30-year history of the game. It really is crazy.

Apparently it is impossible to take a picture of six grown men, where all are looking just somewhat sane. This was the best I could do, I appologize for nothing Robin 🙂

And just as a sidenote, I had another Vintage Draft Cube some eight to ten years ago. When I decided to return it from the dead, almost none of the cards were strong enough to go into the new pile. That is saying something. The power creep is real. 

Okay, so there really isn’t that much more to say about it. We went at it, and my first 15 cards looked like this:

Of course I am a gentleman to open the Black Lotus, but at least there were around four other relevant first picks in this pack.

I was then handed a booster with a Lion’s Eye Diamond, so I thought to myself that I might as well try to see if I could assemble a storm combo thingy. This is never really the right choice for me, because apart from being really difficult to assemble the needed cards when drafting, you will almost always end up with a very difficult pile to maneuver too! But, you know…

I grabbed some things, but didn’t really get all, I wanted. In my second pack I opened another piece of power in a Mox Pearl. I also got an Underworld Breach at this point alongside some other relevant spells.

My third pack looked like this:

Yep. I am boss apparently. Opening three pieces of power… 

Anyway, three pieces of power is not nearly enough if the rest of the deck does nothing. I ended up trying to play these 40 cards:

The blitzed card in the middle is a Balance.

As you see, there is a lot of power potential, but there is no really good kill condition. Saheeli and Monastery Mentor alongside Lingering Souls, Third Path Iconoclast and Combustible Gearhulk is not really impressive in a storm deck. It turned out that the player to my right, Trolle, had also tried his hand in a storm deck. He was the one who sent me a Lions’ Eye Diamond. He did so because he would rather play the Wheel of Fortune in the same pack. Again, these are powerful things to play with!

When Vintage cubing, the really fun part is the draft itself, so we figured that we didn’t want to play three rounds, because then we wouldn’t be able to draft another deck 🙂… 

I ended up playing only one opponent, Prag, who had gotten all the cards for a artifact-based almost mono-blue Urza Karnstructs deck. It was really beautiful!

In our first game, I managed to do this in turn three…

I won. There is a reason this is called a “Vintage” draft cube. Sometimes it feels like you are playing vintage when doing these stupid things!

In the next game Prag simply had way too much pressure and counter magic for me to best. He was one mana away from being able to Mindslaver lock me! So cool in a limited environment! But he he found it best to simply beat me to a pulp with an unblockable, shrouded giant construct.

But then in game three Prag plays a turn three Wurmcoil Engine at a point where I have only some Lingering Soul tokens. This is exactly one of those plays that my measly win condition of trying to create some tokens would never be able to beat.

So this would quickly turn really nasty, if it had not been for my insane luck. I am able to play my fourth land, play Trinket Mage to fetch Black Lotus, play Black Lotus and Dark Ritual to play my 6/6 First strike (!) Combustible Gearhulk. This was a crazy line, and not exactly what neither Dark Ritual nor Black Lotus was intended for, but It did the job. Prag did not find much more pressure – or at least not in time, and I was able kill him with my Lingering Soul tokens in the end. What a game!

I am not entirely sure what the other four players had drafted. But it seemed like they had fun, and did stupid things. At least I saw Robin resolve a Living Death in his GB reanimator deck against a board full of Retrofitter Foundry tokens. That seemed like a great plan!

At this point it was late. Prag – as the wise man he is, decided to call it a day. After around 12 hours of sitting in a chair playing Magic, it was time. I completely understand. But I was crashing at Trolles floor anyway, and so was both Robin and Mathias – Sigurd is Trolles Neighbor – so why not take another quick draft? Right?


Of course we did. This time with four boosters of 12 cards, because we were only five people. This draft was a bit less powered, and because we were so few a lot of really strong cards kept circling and entire archetypes seemed to be uncalled for. 

I tried to do a red black midrange deck with a slight reanimator sub-theme, but as things would have it, it went more in the direction of a red black reani-sneak deck. Looking like this (with both the Sneak Attack, the Griselbrand and the Etali found in the last round of packs…):

This was a whole other experience than the last deck, obviously. I still wanted to do broken things, but it was in a very different league, and it really worked. It was a brutal and sometimes even oppressive deck! Sneaking in Atraxa drawing five cards with an Etali among them to also sneak in is just not okay.

But it is what you do, when you play with all the available power of 30 years of power creep. I ended up winning against Trolle on an artifact-based deck with Tolarian Academy, Urza’s Saga, Grim Monolith, Candelabra and a whole lot of other goodies that unfortunately didn’t really want to play. He screwed or flooded in two games out of three, and that is something this format really punishes.

The last game of the evening was against Sigurd, whom I bested in two games if memory serves. At least one of these games was very absurd with a stupidly great Atraxa and a lot of removal of his threats. Sigurd had drafted what looked like a really cool spell-slinger deck with some counters, some small creatures, removal and of course cards like Young Pyromancer and Third Path Iconoclast. But he didn’t have the counterspells at the exact right time, for example to counter my Sneak Attack. And those comes into play effects of Etali and Atraxa are just insane.

At around 2-o-clock we were done. Really done. But what a great, great day it had been. Seeing old friends you only get to see once a year or so is a special treat. Playing Magic, drinking beer and talking shit with them for around 15 hours is just otherworldly!

If you want to know more about what the vintage cube is, and how you draft it if you know what you are doing (and not like me…), I urge you to subscribe to my buddy Andreas Petersens youtube account ecobaronen: https://www.youtube.com/@ecobaronenMTG 

Until next time, remember to enjoy that January has finally ended!

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