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Limited Analysis: Draft Holiday Cube 2014


If the number of queues firing is any indicator, the Holiday Cube has been an enormous success for Wizards with one of the highest take-up rates of the past year (the bonus Phantom Tickets probably dont hurt either). For Cube enthusiasts, there is good news and bad news. The bad news is that despite the addition of Power, mono-red and mono-white are still the best decks in Cube with win rate of over 59%! The good news is that they are considerably less played than in the Legacy Cube, so you're less likely to be caught by the fun police. With a win % of almost 60%, this is basically as close to broken as a modern format gets and since Wizaards is likely looking at the same numbers I am, I expect substantial changes to these archetypes in the next iteration of the Cube.

I blame LSV for the poor showing of other archetypes in the Cube. Just as LSV was responsible for ruining previous Cubes for everyone by popularizing the red menace, he made Combo/Storm look so easy and so much fun on stream that everyone wanted to do it. And like 5-colour in Khans of Tarkir and Spider Spawning in Innistrad, it became one of the strongest and most fun things to do in draft. A good Combo/Storm deck became more and more difficult to build, but that did not stop people trying to force it. The problem that these niche archetypes have is their fragility and they do not tolerate multiple drafters at the table.

Drafting mono-red is a much simpler proposition than combo with strong results.

On the next tier down we once again see the same archetype from Legacy Cube dominating: UR. UR gets access to all of the best combos: Through the Breach, Tinker and possibly the most consistent of all, Splinter Twin as well as the most broken individual cards.

When looking at the success of a combo, you want to look at the win % of the enablers rather than the finisher. Unsurprisingly, Splinter Twin itself has a win % of 81% and Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker with 72, % but it's the setup cards like Pestermite with a win % of 62% and Deceiver Exarch at 61% that are likely the true indicators of the combo's strength.

The numbers also seem to support the general consensus that Time Vault is the best single card in the cube with a win % of 68.5% on its own. The only other real contenders are Ravages of War and Armageddon, which of course are conditional. I expect these are the key to mono-white's win %. No-one else wants them and they are simply devastating to all those durdle decks in combination with any sort of board presence. Cutting just one of these from the Cube may be enough to pull back on white, where red needs much more substantial remediation.

As a shock to no-one, blue is grossly overdrafted with a whopping 60% of players choosing to include it in their decks. Green once again takes the biggest hit in the powered cube with it's glory not only stolen, but arguably done better by the mana rocks. Green needs to find a new place in this Cube and the numbers show it's likely to be in the more broken direction: Tooth and Nail, Natural Order, Channel etc. It's hard because the green Vintage and Legacy decks are either impractical to include (Elves, Infect) or green is relegated to a support color. Maybe this is the direction it should take; a Maverick-esque deck with the odd broken combo? Alternatively the tokens/overrun plan worked pretty well in MMA and it wouldnt take too much to make Overrun/Tromp a combo finisher along with Craterhoof Behemoth.

Overall I've enjoyed Holiday Cube more than the Legacy Cube, mostly because it just feels more like a Cube should. If Wizards wants to keep Cube a balanced format in the long term, I think it still has some way to go in addressing imbalances in both individual card choices and archetypes.


Games Analyzed
Last Updated

Game Length

Average Turns
Average Lands Played

Play or Draw?

Win % on the Play
Win % on the Draw


Mulligan to 6 5 4 3
Win % Average 39.06% 26.22% 16.56% 7.60%
Win % on the Play 37.45% 23.06% 13.48% 0.00%
Win % on the Draw 40.73% 29.77% 20.07% 0.00%
Games 24,099 4,032 598 79

Win Percentage by Color


Top Cards

Card Cost Games Likely Win %
1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn 15 601 91.00%
2 Craterhoof Behemoth 5ggg 1216 83.00%
3 Splinter Twin 2rr 1230 81.00%
4 Inferno Titan 4rr 1900 77.00%
5 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre 11 1013 75.00%

Top Commons

Card Cost Games Likely Win %
1 Counterspell uu 3417 63.00%
2 Memory Lapse 1u 3317 62.00%
3 Smash to Smithereens 1r 893 62.00%
4 Pestermite 2u 3158 62.00%
5 Mana Leak 1u 3762 60.00%

Top Uncommons

Card Cost Games Likely Win %
1 Tendrils of Agony 2bb 1326 73.00%
2 Electrolyze 1ur 2958 66.00%
3 Brain Freeze 1u 2047 63.00%
4 Fireblast 4rr 1192 63.00%
5 Deceiver Exarch 2u 2696 61.00%
See All Card Stats >>


Colors Win % Field % Games
uwr 55.59% 3.42% 5,413
ur 55.30% 6.19% 9,812
r 54.92% 4.06% 6,439
uw 53.15% 7.33% 11,613
w 52.97% 3.09% 4,895
bw 52.23% 4.72% 7,478
ubwgr 51.95% 1.65% 2,616
ugr 51.68% 3.00% 4,750
ubwr 51.42% 1.73% 2,736
wr 50.76% 3.20% 5,073
ubw 50.38% 6.02% 9,544
bwr 50.12% 0.78% 1,243
ug 49.64% 6.36% 10,077
ubr 49.50% 4.57% 7,240
ubwg 49.46% 1.68% 2,667
gr 49.27% 2.91% 4,609
uwgr 49.19% 1.21% 1,923
uwg 48.45% 3.04% 4,826
wgr 48.15% 1.35% 2,133
g 48.11% 3.94% 6,252
wg 47.87% 3.87% 6,139
ub 47.80% 6.81% 10,792
bwg 46.93% 1.94% 3,079
ubg 46.74% 3.48% 5,511
ubgr 46.57% 1.76% 2,781
br 46.48% 1.63% 2,586
bg 46.20% 4.20% 6,658
bgr 45.71% 1.18% 1,866
b 45.71% 2.18% 3,463
bwgr 45.63% 0.84% 1,328
u 40.57% 1.86% 2,948

* This is derived from replay data of drafts. This has the limitation of only seeing cards in play (you cannot see cards in hand in replays). This means there is a bias for expensive impactful cards. For example, Boulderfall is a very expensive (6rr) and impactful card. When you do play it, you will probably win the game (as evidenced by the high win percentage). However, we cannot see all the games where it was stranded in your hand and it cost you the game. Thus the data is a bit biased towards expensive, impactful cards.

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