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A Comprehensive Guide to MTG Arena Cube Draft

A Comprehensive Guide to Arena Cube

DoggertQBones excels at cube so he's sharing his secrets with you! Whether you're just playing it for fun in the Arena Cube events or looking to get your as much wins as possible without losing a bunch of gold and gems, knowing what the top cards and archetypes are will be invaluable to you!

DoggertQBones excels at cube so he’s sharing his secrets with you! Whether you’re just playing it for fun in the Arena Cube events, looking to compete in the Arena Open, or looking to get your as much wins as possible without losing a bunch of gold and gems, knowing what the top cards and archetypes are will be invaluable to you!

Hello everyone! Today I’m going to go over one of my favorite Arena events ever: Arena Cube. Arena Cube is a combination of all the coolest cards ever released on Arena and bundled together for a fun, yet competitive Limited format. There’s a lot of people who are unfamiliar with Cube in general, but lucky for them, we have a guide on Cube drafting philosophy written some time ago that is still relevant now! If you want a general strategy guide to how to draft Cube, give that article a read.

If you want a full list of the cards in this iteration of Arena Cube, you can check out the full updated card list here, and the changes made since the last iteration! It’s also a bit old now, but you can check out my Arena Cube Draft Deep Dive where I show you all the picks, tell you what I went with, explain the reasoning why, and talk about anything else I was considering. Even if some of the cards change, the logic behind the picks should remain the same. Looking for more tips? Then check out my five tips to help you go infinite in Arena Cube Draft!

In this guide, after going over the Arena Cube event details, I’ll be focusing on the best archetypes in Cube and the key cards to look out for to see if that archetype is open. Happy Drafting!


Arena Cube Event Details

Arena Cube December 2022

The Arena Cube returns December 13, 2022, until January 1, 2023 with a refreshed card list!

In the Arena Cube, you open and pass around packs like a typical draft, but the card pool isn’t from a single Magic set, but rather a selection of some of the best cards available in MTG Arena. You can view the complete card list below to plan your strategies.

The Arena Cube is a Phantom event, so cards you draft are not added to your collection.

  • Duration: December 13, 2022 @ 8:00 AM PST to January 1, 2022 @ 8:00 AM PST
  • FormatArena Cube
  • Entry Fee: 4,000 gold or 600 gems
  • Match Structure:
    • Best-of-one matches (BO1): 7 Wins or 3 losses (whichever comes first)
    • Best-of-three matches (BO3): Three matches (regardless of wins/losses)

Rewards

Individual card rewards (ICRs) will be Historic cards not in Standard.

Best-of-One

WinsReward
7 Wins6,000 gold + at least 2 rare and 1 uncommon Historic ICRs
6 Wins5,000 gold + at least 2 rare and 1 uncommon Historic ICRs
5 Wins4,000 gold + at least 2 rare and 1 uncommon Historic ICRs
4 Wins3,000 gold + at least 1 rare and 2 uncommon Historic ICRs
3 Wins2,000 gold + at least 1 rare and 2 uncommon Historic ICRs
2 Wins1,000 gold + at least 1 rare and 2 uncommon Historic ICRs
1 Win500 gold + at least 1 rare and 2 uncommon Historic ICRs
0 WinsAt least 1 rare and 2 uncommon Historic ICRs

Best-of-Three

WinsReward
3 Wins6,000 gold + at least 2 rare and 1 uncommon Historic ICRs
2 Wins4,000 gold + at least 1 rare and 2 uncommon Historic ICRs
1 WinAt least 1 rare and 2 uncommon Historic ICRs
0 WinsAt least 1 rare and 2 uncommon Historic ICRs

Card List

You can check out the full card list and changes since the last version in the following places:


IMPORTANT NOTES FOR ARENA CUBE

embercleave_by_joeslucher
Embercleave Art by Joe Slucher

WHITE IS SOLID IF YOU SEE AN OPENING

White always had an issue where the cards were so vastly split in their applications. You can see White is open, but if the wrong half of White was open for you, you may not get the deck you wanted. Realistically, this is still the case more or less as right now you have the cards obviously geared towards aggro decks and cards obviously geared towards control decks.

With the previous iteration, I felt that they both got rid of a lot of bad/situational cards and mostly added to the aggressive side of White. Looking over the list, it seems that they backpedaled this slightly and there are more utility cards, but over all, it’s pretty split up into obvious camps. I would still be hesitant to go into aggressive White strategies if they don’t see open as I don’t see the color comfortably supporting multiple drafters, but it may be more tenable than before.

BLUE IS GOOD, BETTER THAN LAST ITERATION

In the previous iteration of Arena Cube, Blue was nerfed hard as they cut many of their best cards to nerf the Mill and “Big Spell” archetypes. While the best Mill pieces are still (rightfully) missing, it seems we have Torrential Gearhulk, Scholar of the Lost Trove, and Sublime Epiphany together to pick up the slack. This is one of my favorite archetypes, but far from the only direction you can go in Blue. Want to go counterspell control? That’s a fine option. Blue based Tempo? Another fine option as well.

While I’m not blown away by the power level of any of the Blue decks (beyond decks abusing Torrential Gearhulk and Scholar of the Lost Troves), it seems like a solid color that can support multiple players.

BLACK ACTUALLY LOOKS GOOD

For the vast majority of Arena Cube iterations, Red, Blue, and Green were insane, White was ok, and Black was pretty mediocre. Looking through everything, it looks like they’re getting much closer to balancing all of the colors!

Black’s problem has always been that it didn’t have many cards that drew you into the color on power level alone. As much as I love Thoughtseize and Gonti, Lord of Luxury, it’s not competing with Lightning Bolt and Embercleave on power alone. However, I think they made some major changes that address this issue.

First off, it seems they put back in a lot of the Sacrifice cards that were taken out last time to nerf Black. Since Sacrifice is Black’s best archetype by a mile, it’s good to have those back to make starting Black in a Cube a reasonable prospect.

Second, they actually added some really powerful cards to help with the power level discrepancy between Black and the other colors. I’m really impressed with Gix's Command, Liliana of the Veil, and Sheoldred, the Apocalypse in particular as new cards that could pull me into Black. Beyond those, you still have great options in both Sacrifice and otherwise to pull you into Black.

RED IS STILL EXTREMELY GOOD, BUT REIGNED IN A BIT

For most iterations of Cube, I had Red slated as the strongest color (not best necessarily, that usually goes to Green, subtle distinction), since it had the most powerful cards over all. That still very much seems like the case here as all the major hitters like Embercleave, Lightning Bolt, Bonecrusher Giant, Torbran, Thane of Redfell, and Chandra, Torch of Defiance (and more) are still here.

The difference though between this Cube and last, is that there’s a lot more “fluff” added. Red used to be pretty much just good cards, situational or otherwise, but they have added a lot of wonkier options to help get rid of the streamlined feel of drafting Red and make it not so free. Generally, you would just go aggressive with Red or just use the best Red cards in your base other color deck, but with them adding more Red cards that slot into other archetypes, getting cut Red by another drafter will be more likely than before.

Red is still extremely strong over all, but not easily supporting 3+ drafters is a big win for the health of the cube.

GREEN GOT THE RED TREATMENT

Green was almost always the best color in Cube as it was the easiest to draft, had multiple avenues to build towards, and had a host of excellent cards. This is still true, but like Red, a lot of random fluff seems to have been added in.

However, unlike Red, these fluff cards seem weaker than the Red fluff cards, leading to a lot more Green cards that are going to be extremely low picks for the vast majority of players. I like this change to Green as just forcing Green was a free roll for too long, so forcing players to have some sort of plan going into it is a big positive to cube balancing. Green will still be the easiest color to get into and draft, but it’s not going to be as simple as it was before.


BEST ARENA CUBE ARCHETYPES

venerated-loxodon-art-by-zack-stella
Venerated Loxodon Art by Zach Stella

MONO WHITE 

KEY CARDS

Mono White unsurprisingly, is one of the premiere aggro decks of Arena Cube. The deck looks to get on the board extremely quickly and overwhelm the opponent before they have a chance to enact their game plan. Although many people assume that Mono White and Mono Red play out and are drafted similarly, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Mono White’s greatest strength is also its greatest weakness, most of the cards you want are geared towards the early game.

The issue with this plan is that once the game starts getting towards turns 5+, you will start easily getting out valued every turn until you can either close (another issue Mono White can have) or you lose. Although this may seem like a massive downside, a good Mono White deck can easily win the game between 4-6 very consistently anyway, so assuming you can get most of the cards you need, this downside is completely mitigated by the power of your deck.

To summarize, the advantage of going Mono White is that it’s the fastest deck when you get the cards together, but you need to have a very low curve and this archetype won’t come together easily if someone else is also going for it.

MONO RED

KEY CARDS

Like Mono White, Mono Red is the other great Aggro deck you can get in Arena Cube. For better or for worse, Mono Red is generally a better Mono White. You can be almost as fast, you can grind way better, and the card quality is generally higher.

This may sound like I’m saying to always choose Red over White, but that’s not exactly the case. As I said before, since Reds card quality is so much higher, the chance of you fighting over the good Red cards is significantly higher than you fighting over the good White cards. Beyond Red being more highly drafted, Mono Red doesn’t really have any significant weakness. If you see good Red cards going late, I would heavily consider jumping in.

KEY SPLASH CARDS

I think there’s a big misconception that a lot of people have about aggro decks when drafting not just Arena Cube, but any Cube. I see so many people go for 2 color aggro decks where your colors are split down the middle, and that’s the easiest way to end up with an extremely mediocre deck. The sad reality about Cube is that you almost always can’t get the mana to work when you need to cast cheap cards that are different colors.

With that, I almost always opt going completely one color or to go for a very light splash of a color. If you decide you want to splash for a powerful card, make sure it’s a more expensive card so it gives you more time to find the colors you need to cast it. For Mono Red or Mono White, Angelfire Ignition and Showdown of the Skalds are more than worth the splash. They both only require one off color mana and both are insanely powerful.

Keep in mind though, if you’re looking to splash this, I would limit it to just one or two cards. Don’t start adding Lightning Strike to your Mono White deck.

BIG GREEN

KEY CARDS

Big Green is as straightforward as it is powerful, ramp a bit, play a bunch of good spells, win the game. On top of being one of the better archetypes in the Cube, it’s also very easy to draft. The only issue I stated with it before is that since it can be so easy to draft, it’s easy to fight over Green with other players at the table. The nice part about Green though, is that there’s a lot of good green cards and splashing for random good cards is relatively easy as Green is the color of ramp and color fixing.

The main issue with Big Green is that most of the decks lack interaction, so getting creatures that help you stabilize like Elder Gargaroth and Thragtusk are extremely important. Furthermore you have to remember to prioritize mid game bridges that can help defend you until you get into the late game, Lovestruck Beast is the perfect example of that.

RAKDOS SACRIFICE

KEY CARDS

I would say the best way to draft this deck is to take the universally best cards in the deck first and let the specific cards wheel. If key cards don’t wheel, you may be fighting with someone else and you should probably not try to win that fight. This archetype is not deep enough to support multiple players in it so be ready to switch out when possible.

However, if you’re able to get the pieces together, this is easily one of the best decks in the entire Cube as it’s extremely hard to interact with and can grind opponent’s into the dust, whether they are a fast or slow deck.

AZORIUS CONTROL

KEY CARDS

Although there are a lot of ways to build Control in Arena Cube, I think Azorius stands out as the best among all the color combinations. Having access to Wraths, cheap removal, and the busted Azorius cards makes it really easy to get a great UW Control deck together. The most underrated aspect of UW though is easily Approach of the Second Sun. A big issue Control can have in Cube is not having enough ways to win the game, but Approach functionally solves that problem single-handedly.

A well built Control deck can easily smash every creature deck and most midrange strategies, but will struggle against decks that are just back to back powerful cards. When drafting the archetype, make sure to prioritize early removal and counterspells higher than everything else. The easiest way to get a mediocre Control deck is that you have a bunch of payoffs, but not enough ways to live early in the game leading you to get run over constantly.

IZZET TEMPO

KEY CARDS

Izzet is one of the scariest archetypes when it comes together as it’s such a good blend of aggression and interaction that it’s easily capable of crushing any other archetype pretty handily. You’re predominately looking for cheap spells and threats as your ability to cast way more spells than the opponent can carry you to victory.

The main issue with Izzet is it’s the blend of two very popular colors to draft so it’s not going to be easy to get this together. That being said, a lot of the tempo based Blue cards can go pretty late so if this deck is going to come together, it’s going to be quite good.

5 COLOR SOUP

KEY CARDS

The last and potentially my favorite archetype in Arena Cube is 5 Color Soup. Unlike all the other archetypes, this is by far the easiest to draft as there’s two rules: take lands and take bombs. The goal of this deck is to have as much fixing as possible so any good card you happen across becomes playable. Furthermore, if you notice that a lot of the packs are missing lands, that’s a huge signal that someone else is going for this strategy as well and you can decide what to do from there.

Although it may seem like you’ll end up with a bunch of random cards, 5 color soup can very easily come together assuming you have enough fixing for it. The few issues that 5 color can have is that it can be hard to know when to know when to pick a land over a spell and since the deck is naturally slow, aggro decks can be problematic if you don’t have adequate ways to deal with creatures. Furthermore, we did lose some of the better cards like Chromatic Lantern and Elvish Rejuvenator so it does hurt the ability to go into the archetype for free. With that in mind though, the best way to approach this archetype is to be a blend of midrange and control. Have enough early interaction to not get run over, solid cards for the mid game, and big late game payoffs like Golos, Tireless Pilgrim, Field of the Dead, Approach of the Second Sun, etc.

Despite it no longer being a free archetype to draft since it’s caught on more, Soup is still consistently powerful and is easily the deck I drafted the most, and to the most frequent success, in Arena Cube.


CONCLUSION

Although I listed what I believe to be the best archetypes, realistically speaking almost, every deck in Arena Cube is more than viable if you draft correctly. Don’t be dissuaded to try out other Color combinations if they seem open and/or you just want to try it out. Arena Cube is meant to be fun first, but use this guide to get more acquainted with the format or to try and break even as often as possible.

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DoggertQBones
DoggertQBones

Robert "DoggertQBones" Lee is the content manager of MTGAZone and a high ranked Arena player. He has one GP Top 8 and pioneered popular archetypes like UB 8 Shark, UB Yorion, and GW Company in Historic. Beyond Magic, his passions are writing and coaching! Join our community on
Twitch and Discord.

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