Furuset Open: Vintage draft with the Beta Cube

Two weeks ago I had the chance to meet up with some NOSMTG locals for a cube draft tournament. August was a good month as social life goes. It almost feels like we're reaching a semblance of normality. Normality with extra steps, sure, but still a world of difference compared to the start of the summer.

This particular cube had two things I usually don't write about here; modern era cards and proxies. So why use proxies when we own all the cards in the cube for real, and why gather the local oldschool crew for a draft with modern cards when we have proper old school cubes in the team? Well, mostly because of the swagger.

Pre-cube 93/94 constructed. Audun showing off swagger, as always.

But anyway, this post will have both some new school and some proxies, so be advised if you feel like sitting this one out. Though on the flip side, we'll look at a truly impressive fan project from the hearts and mind of old school players, so there's that as well.

And here's half a dozen Fungusaurs.

To better understand the general concept of the cube we drafted (The Beta Cube), let me start by briefly introducing another cube I have in the closet; The Space Cube.

In February 2007 Kelly Digges wrote an article on the WotC mothership for a "What if..." theme week, where the contributors discussed different "what if?" scenarios for MtG. Most of the scenarios were kinda simple, but Kelly Digges went all the way to envision a universe where the flavor setting for Magic had been Sci-Fi rather than Fantasy. In the article he showed a few cards and named a few mechanics for this imagined Space: The Convergence game.

A guy in Sweden, perhaps known mostly by his online handle Xerent, found the thought experiment very enticing and went on to try and actually create the game imagined in the article. With the help of local friends and a lot of contributions to the project through MTGsalvation initiatives, he created a full vintage cube where all of the cards were existing MtG cards but “re-flavored” to a sci-fi theme.

The cube got a pretty dedicated following, and was updated with new cards and tweaks all up until late 2015 by Xerent and passionate contributors. It is a very strange and amusing draft experience btw, as you basically know all the cards from Magic but have to try and realign your brain while reading them. A spoiler for all the cards is still up on the web for those who want to check it out.

The Space P9.
The Beta Cube doesn't re-imagine the base setting of the Magic universe like Space: The Convergence, but rather re-flavors every card in the cube as though they were printed in 1993. "What if everything was old school?" This cube was was the brainchild of a couple of different characters from different old school communities, and was finalized some time before n00bcon 11 last year (where you could see it being drafted at some side tables). The first version of the cube had Alpha-cut corners, and I believe around seven or so were made for the people who had invested time into the project. I had some (very small) inputs and suggestions in the later stage of the project; mainly nit-picking about proper 1993-era wording and complaining about too gratuitous art on a couple of cards. I had the option to get a cube as the project finished up, but for various reasons I had to opt out. Still, because Brother Markus Lundqvist is a way too generous dude, he still printed an extra, Beta-cut, cube which I surprisingly got as a gift in the mail earlier this year. Thanks a lot Markus, I really appreciate it!

When they did that first cube they also printed a Chaos Orb proxy with the "93/94 errata" btw, stating that it can only hit one card:

But the real thing is of course the re-imagined new-school cards with old school style. Behold 1993 era Vintage cubing:

What's the pick?

As intellectual property goes, printing a cube like this (or the Space Cube for that matter) is a very gray area. That is the main reason I don't know if I should properly credit the brains and craftsmen behind it here, as some people might (possibly) grumble about. But looking at this as the non-profit fan project it was, it is an awesome labor of love for us old fogeys.

So, Furuset Open, the draft tournament. It was hosted by local hero Michael "JohvalKing" Ahlberg, another expat from Sweden who has spend his last decade in Norway. He was one of the early adopters of 93/94 back in the late 00s, and before that a familiar face on the Swedish Vintage scene. All round good guy, and not the least a man with a truly spectacular nerd cave.

Yep, that's complete-in-box Snes games in the ceiling.

Jhoval is one those guys with a true love for the 90s nerd hobbies. He had a complete set of Alpha - before it was ridiculously expensive - because he liked the cards, and he actually plays his retro games rather than simply let them collect dust. One of the cooler recent additions to his interior was the original art for Moss Monster btw; the card and the name had a special meaning as the first place he lived in Norway was the city of Moss, and one of the first 93/94 tournaments in Norway had Moss Monster as the prize card. It's an awe-inspiring collection of sweet trinkets, and with an undeniable personal touch.

Our Patron Wizard.

The draft was sweet, as expected when in good company and with good brews. I had to switch away from my UGb Survival of the Fittest plan into UWb control a handful picks into pack three, but it worked out well enough. P3P3 Fractured Identity made at least a splash of white inevitable, and when the following picks were more Blade Splicer and Teferi than anything green of relevance, the pivot was a fact. And I guess I still had a decent enough Survival plan in the sideboard for certain matchups. I was surprised to find cards like Teferi, Time Raveler and Fractured Identity in the cube btw, as the Beta Cube I had some input on pre-dated those cards. Apparently this was a somewhat newer and updated version of the cube. Fun to see that they still work on it. 

This is the pile I ended up with:

No actual Power, but Mana Crypt should count. And Fractured Identity is probably Top20 cards in any cube, Power included. Other than that, it's a fairly boiler plate big mana control deck, wincons being Upheaval, The Scarab God, and possibly 23rd card Sun Titan.

Smashing face against Daniel's pretty damn awesome monogreen round one. Very intense matchup, but Fractured Identity on one of his walkers managed to steal game 1, and a ridiculously long game 2 was eventually locked by life drain from The Scarab God.

Jhoval is going full Metalworker on Andreas. Around the same time Audun gets a turn two Blightsteel Colossus on the play (via Tinker and a mox) in his first game against me. I somehow manage to win the next two against Audun while Jhoval's artifacts takes the game against Andreas.

Nerds, cards, and beer.

Jhoval vs Thorbjørn; the ringer of the day. It is a tight game, but Thorbjørn, who drafted a rock solid Death & Taxes list, manage to close out the win. In some ways, I'd rather face Jhoval in the finals as his deck appears to be a much better matchup for me. But in most other ways, it will be really sweet to face Thorbjørn as I actually somewhat care about winning today, and I know that he does too. On the rare occasions when I try to spike a win (which is more of a thing in limited than in constructed for some reason), it is always more intense when you know the guy on the other side feels the same way and won't let you have it without an intense fight.

Better lucky than unlucky. After a quick defeat game 1 (Basically Mother of Runes -> Thalia -> Bob -> Geddon), Fractured Identity flips the script game 2, and I have an opening hand with Mana Crypt, Signet and Daze game 3 to gain all the tempo. I am awarded Fireball shots and a glorious new Maze of Ith.

What is this, actually playable spoils? Straight into Project M with you.

With the games finished, we find ourselves swapping stories at a sweet Indian restaurant. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday evening.

Returning to casa Jhoval for some more games and shenanigans, I find myself drawn to his nerd cave. He's got the original Swedish rental for Super Probotector (known as Contra 3 in the US). I've never played the original on a console before, and he lets me go for it with Stian cheering on from the couch. In my fairly intoxicated state I somehow manage to beat it, and get that odd feeling of nerd accomplishment. Old-looking Magic cards and old games on an old television in good ol' company. Something rare and beautiful right there.

So, that was my first proper draft with the Beta Cube. A sweet project by some good people. Sorry about the strange new-school references this time, though I hope the sight of people coming together and playing Magic helps lighten the mood. Next time I think we'll review some very old school sleeves to balance the scales.


  1. Haha great read and amazing day, i hope we get to do this soon again :) if someone else want to host i can bring the cube aswell, i think it was 5 power cards that did not end up in the draft this time, and yeah was a close one against Thorbjörn, was 1 mana away from winning, some sweet plays during the day was attackin Audun with a Metal Worker, casting Fallen Shinobi and putting his colossus into play :D also against Andreas in a grindy game i finaly got to lock him down with emry lurker of the loch and Mindslayer taking all the turns in the world Muhahaha. Looking forward for next time were going to play // Jhovalking

    1. Haha, that's some spicy plays! Thanks again for hosting this :D


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