Tinkerer’s Cube Draft Enemy Color Archetype Breakdown

Experimental Overload Art by Lie Setiawan
Experimental Overload Art by Lie Setiawan

Time to wrap up my breakdown of the Tinkerer’s Cube Draft format! I’ve been having a ton of fun crushing in the draft queues and I believe that I can help you do the same! No time to waste, so let’s dive into the enemy color archetypes in Tinkerer’s Cube!

  1. Golgari Graveyard Matters
  2. Simic Ramp
  3. Boros Equipment
  4. Izzet Spells
  5. Orzhov Lifegain

Golgari Graveyard Matters

Golgari has a pretty simple game plan; play a bunch of creatures, fill your graveyard with them, and then kill the opponent with an insurmountable heap of value from cards like Spider Spawning and Izoni, Thousand-Eyed. What’s tough about Golgari is that there are very specific pieces that you need to acquire for the deck to run smoothly. That in conjunction with a lack of good acceleration and card advantage makes Golgari a significantly worse Rakdos in my eyes.

You’ll unfortunately need most of the following cards to get a busted Golgari deck together. Do keep in mind that while it is difficult to assemble, the deck is still great when it’s open. I find it to be a little much to include every card that’s great in a specific archetype, so for this article I’m only going to include the cards that are needed to facilitate the necessary synergies in the archetype. Everyone already knows that Esika’s Chariot, Seasoned Pyromancer, and Lolth, Spider Queen are all busted so there’s not much point to listing them over and over.

Cards you’ll want in order to have a solid Golgari deck:

Mill yourself a bunch, cast/reanimate an Izoni or Spider Spawning, and then win from there since there are only like three board wipes in the whole format. Keep in mind that Golgari always needs to be concerned with milling out, which makes something like Moldervine Reclamation incredibly powerful but also very risky. That’s why I prioritize Reclamation Sage especially highly in Golgari; you’ll almost always be able to pick up Moldervine Reclamation since so few decks can use it, which means that you’ll need a way to blow it up if your library every gets too low. Without Izoni and Spider Spawning this archetype doesn’t really work, so make sure you’re taking them both over literally every other card when you’re in this archetype. Also, don’t get fooled into playing these cards that seem synergistic, but are actually just trash:

Mindwrack Harpy: Sure it fuels Izoni and Spider Spawning, but it also give you no agency over your mills and potentially fuels whatever graveyard synergies the opponent has. You really shouldn’t have any issues loading up your graveyard with creatures in Golgari, and the fear of milling out is becomes all too real once you have this crappy Assault Griffin in play.

Ulvenwald Mysteries: So many of your creatures are going to be tokens from your big payoffs, which makes this clunky and underwhelming. Keep in mind that in Golgari you need a really high creature count, so the only non-creatures I want to play are removal and necessary enablers. Ulvenwald Mysteries is neither of those.

Vraska, Swarm’s Eminence: Vraska being bad surprised me because of how dominant it was in War of the Spark limited. I thought she would be good, but two deathtouchers for four mana just ended up being disappointing. Especially when there are great cards around like Samut, the Tested and Mayhem Devil that do a good job embarrassing one toughness creatures. Her static also pretty much only applies to the creatures she makes since the only playable deathtouch creature in thie cube that I can think of is Foulmire Knight.

Simic Ramp

Another set, another Simic archetype being defined by a bunch of random Growth Spirals and fatties. Simic has been unimpressive whenever I face it and when I draft it, so I try to avoid it unless I plan to go multicolored green. Having no access to good removal just leaves you at the mercy of whatever bomb your opponent plays, which is never where I want to be in limited.

Not to mention that every color has a great top end, which leaves Simic without much of an edge over the other archetypes. The one small edge that Simic does have is a couple powerful token support cards. Junk Winder in particular is messed up, so taking it pack one pick one could be a good reason to go into one of the worst color combinations. Here’s the cards you can’t sleep on if you want a chance at a decent Simic ramp deck.

Zendikar’s Roil is has been disgustingly good for me because of all the put extra lands into play effects. It’s like a five mana make your own Field of the Dead! Simic is pretty straightforward though because you pretty much are just trying to ramp out great creatures and then back them up with whatever interaction that you have available. That makes a card like Voracious Hydra particularly great in Simic due to the archetype hurting so badly for both interaction and a card that’s good at every point of the game. Also, don’t play these trash creatures even if you’re loaded to the brim with ramp:

Challenger Troll: Pretty much just a vanilla 6/5, which is an embarrassing play when other players are casting stuff like Mulldrifter and Cavalier of Thorns. 

Wayward Swordtooth: Doing nothing when you’re low on lands makes this way too inconsistent for my tastes. There’s just so few instances where this card will shine, and by the time you hit the City’s Blessing a 5/5 won’t even be the most intimidating threat on the board.

Scurrid Colony: This creepy cutie isn’t awful if you’re low on playables, but it was only okay in Strixhaven limited, so how do you expect it to compete when everyone’s decks are loaded to the brim with crazy good cards?

Boros Equipment

The winner of the worst archetype award goes to…drum roll please…Boros Equipment because it only has three good pieces of equipment! Nettlecyst is bonkers and Boros being able to utilize it the best of any archetype is one of the few good things about the strategy. Besides Nettlecyst, you have a couple middling equipment like Ancestral Blade, Bonesplitter, and Maul of the Skyclaves, but it’s hard to be an aggressive deck that relies on loading a creature up with equipment when every strategy is great at flooding the board and creating board stalls where planeswalkers and powerful enchantments take over. I personally never want to go for the equipment matters synergies that are being pushed, but if I were to be in Boros Aggro, I’d take these synergy cards highly:

It’s interesting because when you lay out some of the good Boros cards, it’s hard to imagine that it could be the worst archetype. However you ultimately get outclassed in the late game by every deck while also not being fast enough to get underneath most decks. Like I said though, Boros can still snag wins with busted cards like Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin, Nettlecyst, and Lorehold Command. Krenko in particular is unfair when paired with a Maul of the Skyclaves or one of the few pieces of good equipment, so keep that combo in mind. This should go without saying , but please don’t play bad equipment like:

Izzet Spells

From one of the worst archetypes to one of the best! Izzet is filled to the brim with great playables and strong synergies that are worth pursuing. When you’re in this archetype you’ll be looking to play every decent spell you can get your hands on because of how well they work with Young Pyromancer, Murmuring Mystic, Experimental Overload, Guttersnipe, etc.

Izzet has a bunch of random token generators too, so regardless of if you’re a spell heavy deck or not, you can fit lower power cards like Reconnaissance Mission and Grazilaxx, Illithid Scholar into your deck and have them be great. Other great synergy based playables for Izzet are:

As you can see, Izzet is loaded with great playables so in this archetype I prioritize value lands incredibly highly since getting enough playables is so easy. You have so many cheap spells and card draw that it’ll be easy to cast a ton of spells every turn and trigger all your spell matters cards over and over until you overwhelm your opponent with threats and card advantage.

Guttersnipe in particular shouldn’t be slept on! This feisty goblin kills the opponent very quickly, especially when it’s combined with one of the stupidest and best cards in the entire cube, Mizzix Mastery! I don’t know why they keep including this nonsense in every cube, but if you see Mastery just take it and put your opponents out of their misery. Regardless of spell matters cards, still avoid the weak instants and sorceries like:

Arcane Subtraction: Again, you need exactly a Mascot exhibition to play this otherwise I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole.

Just the Wind: There just isn’t much Madness support in Tinker’s Cube, and even if there was you’re only getting a random Unsummon out of the deal. Most creatures have ETB’s, so that isn’t even the most useful spell.

Alchemist’s Greeting: Pretty much the same reasoning as Just the Wind except when you can’t Madness it in it’s unbelievably clunky.

Orzhov Lifegain

Orzhov has been delightfully mediocre for me because of the lack of Blood Artist effects in the format. If we had Cruel Celebrant and Bastion of Remembrance with good ol’ Woe Strider, then it would be a different story, but as is Orzhov cards are decently powerful but still lack good forms of card advantage to stop the deck from running out of steam in the late game. I more or less try to draft a midrange pile when I’m drafting Orzhov, and I only consider including the crazy powerful lifegain payoffs like Ajani, Strength of the Pride and Heliod, Sun-Crowned because they’re powerful on their own. Here are my favorite cards for Orzhov Lifegain/Midrange.

Your objective in Orzhov should just be to end the game quickly with powerful fliers and lifelinkers while also draining the opponent with your Blood Artist effects, which you can trigger with your black removal and by creating a large board that forces trades from the opponent. You’ll be a dog to decks that have lots of interaction and also go over the top of you, but you should absolutely obliterate any deck that’s even attempting to be aggressive.

Keep in mind that Witch of the Moors is a bomb in this archetype and one of the main reasons to go into it. If she lives long enough to trigger once, you’ll immediately start grinding the opponent into the dust. The Haunt of High Tower has also been great for me since the game pretty much ends once it attacks. Turns out that much like traditional limited, Baneslayer Angels are nuts in Tinker’s Cube too! I know that Orzhov is supposed to be lifegain centered, but don’t be fooled into including these awful cards just because they synergize with your deck:

Griffin Aerie: It’s really hard to consistently trigger this, which means that most of the time it’ll just be sitting there doing nothing. Plus when you do trigger it, it’ll often be because you hit your opponent with some huge lifelinker, which means that you’re probably going to win soon anyways.

Abzan Battle Priest: Yes, it gets lifelink. However it’s also a 3/2 for four mana with no ETB. Steer clear of this stinker.

Undercity’s Embrace: Edicts just kind of suck in pretty much every cube and limited environment that they are part of, and Undercity’s Embrace is no exception. There are also so many random tokens lying around in this format that this is never going to kill what you want it to. Even if you consistently gained four I wouldn’t be the biggest fan of this.

Well, that about does it! Time to use this information to squash your fellow Tinker’s Cube competitors and stock up your account before Innistrad: Midnight Hunt is released. Thank goodness that rotation is around the corner and Eldraine is finally leaving. Not to mention that a new set means a new limited format, and the ones that have been coming out recently have been so good and that makes me believe that Innistrad will be the same! Oh boy I can’t wait!

As always, thanks for reading and happy drafting!

Chris Kvartek

While Chris Kvartek technically kicked off his career in 2012, he burst onto the scene in 2019 like few before him. With an early season Top Finish at Mythic Championship II and narrow miss for his second at Mythic Championship IV, Kvartek earned invitations to two more Mythic Championships through online qualifiers. He secured his second Top Finish of the season at Mythic Championship VII, and now this rising star must prove he can stay among the elite of professional Magic.