Greetings! Normally, I’m here talking about formats that get a lot more attention, such as Standard or Modern. However, with the holiday season just passing, I wanted to reflect on Magic Online’s brand new “Power Cube.”
For those unfamiliar to the Cube format, imagine the most powerful cards in the history of Magic together in a draftable format. Though it’s unfortunate that the cards will disappear post-draft, this also creates the opportunity to simply draft the best deck you can with some of the best cards ever printed. Although its time has just recently passed, here is the Magic Online powered Cube list.
The best thing about this format is playing with cards that rarely, if ever, interacted with each other before. Things such as hardcasting Emrakul, the Aeons Torn on Turn 2 via Channel, or even casting a Mind’s Desire with a high storm count in Limited!
Such interesting possibilities don’t automatically discount the need for great deck building, however. There are almost an endless amount of archetypes in this format. one draft, you could be turning Ball Lightning and Hellspark Elemental sideways in a hyper-aggressive Red Deck Wins list; in the next you could be reanimating Griselbrand for the win.
Don’t get me wrong, I love talking about cubing. But what I really wanted to share is my personal Cube list. I’ve been working on it for over three years!
Turning off the power
The first thing you’ll notice between my cube and the one on Magic Online is the lack of Power Nine and similar cards such as Mana Drain or Library of Alexandria. The goal I have for my cube is to avoid the unfairness that the one online offers. It can be fun to cast Exhume on Turn 2 bringing back Griselbrand or Sphinx of the Steel Wind, but only for one side of the table. That being said, there are certainly some cards in my cube that push the boundaries of what is fair or too powerful. Here are the most questionable:
Mana Vault – Going from one mana to five mana on Turn 2 is a pretty big deal. Its drawback is negligible and just screams powerful.
Channel – An obviously powerful effect when working together with an Eldrazi, expensive artifact or even an X spell like Devil’s Play. The drawback is not only do you have to pay a substantial amount of life to get any true value, but without multiple cards to abuse it, Channel can be more of a liability than anything. I recently added Channel to my cube to try it out; I may have to move it out if it proves to be too good.
Eureka – This offers another way to cheat large creatures or even planeswalkers into play with relative ease. But just like Channel, it can be quite useless without having enough big dudes to sneak in to play. If your opponent is on the same plan, it can be a liability.
Richard Garfield, Ph.D. – A completely unique card that I will talk about more a little bit later. Having the ability to turn every card you draw into the perfect answer is something not to be trifled with. Its only weakness is the fact that most times you will have to tap out for him and that he is only a 2/2.
Orcish Lumberjack – I’m sure you’re noticing a theme. The Lumberjack jumps you from two to five mana. The only restriction is you’re stuck with red and green spells, but something tells me you’ll be OK with that when it’s a Garruk you’re dropping on the table.
Tolarian Academy – This card has another big ramp effect. But without moxes, it’s more likely to ramp you from three to five than one to four. The clear drawback here is that without low casting artifacts or a low artifact count, Tolarian Academy is quite unplayable.
I have proxied up a set of Power alongside cards like Mana Drain to see just how they affected games. They made cards like Tinker even more unfair, and no matter what was in the pack, you had to take the Mox on principle. The nostalgia of having Power in your cube can be an alluring factor, but if that’s the only reason for having it you should probably keep it on the sideline.
Who left the Freezer Open?
Another thing you may notice in my cube is the “Snow” theme. After deckbuilding, all basic lands added to your deck are basic Snow lands. Having a snow theme allows my cube to have powerful cards that normally could not be played because of their snow restrictions. Let’s take a look at the current list of snow or snow-themed cards in my cube, along with some possible new additions in the future:
Cold Snap – Quite possibly the most powerful card added, Cold Snap offers a very quick clock. It’s also a hard card to answer because it is an enchantment. Every aggro deck should fall in love at first sight.
Scrying Sheets – If Coldsnap is every aggro deck’s wet dream, Scrying Sheets is what every control deck loves to have. Digging for extra value without using a spell is just fantastic. The fact that it gets snow permanents means even cards like Coldsteel Heart go to your hand. Speaking of which …
Coldsteel Heart – A good card to accelerate, it’s one of the few snow cards that can be found in the majority of cubes. Can’t really say anything more about the card — it ramps and fixes the mana!
Ohran Viper – This is probably my favorite snow creature. Good enough to trade with anything, it can also get you some extra cards before it trades off with something bigger. Being green means it will often hit play on Turn 2. This means most of the time he is at least netting you one card.
Into the North – This is essentially a slightly better Rampant Growth. The only difference between the two is Into the North can fetch up Scrying Sheets, which is a nice bonus if you can manage to draft the two.
Stalking Yeti – Everyone loves a Yeti. Stalking Yeti has a built-in Arena ability you can reuse by returning him to your hand. Slightly worse than Flametongue Kavu, the Yeti still has enough upside to warrant including.
Those are the current Snow-themed cards in my cube. I have been interested in adding some more, however, and these are the leading candidates that show some promise:
Rimebound Dead – Not exactly exciting on an aggressive standpoint, but Rimebound Dead offers is a cheap regeneration cost and cheap casting cost that would be useful in a control deck. It’s probably a little too cute.
Rimefeather Owl – Also known to me as Big Bird, this guy is massive because his power and toughness is equal to all snow permanents. On average he is probably a 12/12 flyer for seven. He has potential for sure and may be worth exploring.
Rimescale Dragon – He’s a little on the expensive side for a red card, but Rimescale Dragon does have the ability to take over a board by himself. An interesting dragon for sure, but there might be a better choice of dragon for the same cost.
Boreal Centaur – A solid aggressive creature that feels somewhat like a Flinthoof Boar that isn’t restricted to just RG to be good. It’s worth further exploring to see if the extra activation is worth having in the cube.
Boreal Druid – Just your usual mana dork with the exception of not adding colored mana, which makes him less playable than other mana dorks. Being able to go from one to three mana makes him good enough to include, however, and a strong consideration for the future.
Arctic Flats, Boreal Shelf, Frost Marsh, Highland Wield, Tresserhorn Sinks – Snow Duals can be a nice addition and give more value to Into the North. The issue I have is finding existing lands to cut because the majority have better value.
Mouth of Ronom – A decent card for control decks, you can even find it with an Into the North. My only concern is how expensive the activation is, but with no drawback it may be a good addition to have.
Chilling Shade – A most interesting shade that doesn’t require being mono black to enjoy the full effect of the card. This most certainly can be added as a great finisher for aggro and control decks alike.
Freyalise’s Radiance – A card that abuses the fact that you have to play with a majority of snow lands. This has a Winter Orb sort of feeling, but not nearly as good. It can be used as a good way to lock your opponent out while you beat them down with little green men. It may be worth taking a look at.
Gelid Shackles – Gelid Shackles has a weird Pacifism-esque effect at a low cost. Not being able to stop a creature from blocking means this is probably something that probably isn’t good enough to include.
Those 15 snow cards have the best chance to make a test run in my cube. Getting up to my goal of at least 10 snow cards means I need to add three of the cards listed above. I think the ones that have the best shot of sticking around would be Chilling Shade, Boreal Centaur and Mouth of Ronom.
Another unique and fun thing you probably noticed is that there are Unglued and Unhinged cards in my cube. These are in here not only as fun but are fair to play with. The whole point of the cube is to play with some of the best cards of all time. We can’t just leave out the “Un” cards because they aren’t tournament legal. Let’s take a look at the ones I currently have and some more that perk my interests.
Booster Tutor – A card that can be super powerful or super weak, depending on your luck. There are a couple ways you can play with this card. You can most definitely bust a booster pack and find a card. But most likely you will find the card you grab is not even close to the power level of cards available in the cube. For that reason, when you cast Booster Tutor in my cube you get to make a pack out of the unused cards from the cube and get a card from that. Pretty sweet, huh?
Blast from the Past – I really love the flavor on this card. Totally silly, average on power and every ability you can think of on one card. The most common use is just to cycle and pay madness. Having flashback gives it additional value later in the game.
Richard Garfield, Ph.D. – The newest addition to my Un section, this is also the most powerful yet. Being a 2/2 for five does give it vulnerabilities, but being able to wield spells to fit every circumstance is both fun and unique.
City of Ass – Here is a great mana fixer that gets a small extra value on certain cards. A good example is Devil’s Play you for 6½, next turn flashback for 4½. A fun card for sure with an average feel to it makes it a great choice, with some hilarious artwork to boot.
There are not nearly as many Un cards as Snow cards because I am most certainly being cautious adding these cards. That being said, here are a few others that are interesting to me and not too overpowered or funky to play.
Super-Secret Tech – An anthem effect that can benefit almost any deck. The drawback is I need to pimp out the cube even more than I already have. I’m not made of gold, but it certainly increases the playability of the card.
Snow Mercy – Technically a “Holiday” Card, but still goes under the category of a Un card in my books. It’s a Snow permanent, which is an automatic plus. The ability of the card is pretty good but not overwhelming. The hardest part about this card is going to be finding one.
Who/What/When/Where/Why – I had this in my cube and just recently cut it because of the lack of players taking the card. I enjoy the flavor and versatility of the card, but it really only shines in a domain deck.
Those three are really the only viable options without the cards completely spoiling the game. Cards like Jack-in-the-Mox are just too powerful, with the downside of being a bit too random for my tastes.
Make Cube Your Own
I hope you enjoyed a brief look in to my cube design and dissecting the power level of some of the cards. The uniqueness of my cube is just one of the many reasons why I enjoy playing with it.
There are plenty of different things you can do while making your very own cube to have a unique experience or just to be different than your buddies from your local shop. A good example of this would be a peasant or pauper cube. These are cheap and have a very low risk of having cards stolen from, which unfortunately is a thing that can come up playing with a cube with more valuable cards.
One type of cube that I’ve played with that I really enjoyed was a tribal cube. The green had elves and beasts; the black had zombies and vampires; and so on. I hope I have inspired you to create your own sort of cube, or at the very least improve on your own.
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