The “40 Cents and Below” Cube: Everything Else and Enemy Color Pairs!

Written by Ezra Sassaman on . Posted in Casual Magic, Cube

The “40 Cents and Below” Cube: Everything Else and Enemy Color Pairs!

Ezra Sassaman

Ezra Sassaman has been playing Magic since he got a sweet Ravnica theme deck for his 12th birthday. Since then, he has been an avid follower of all aspects of the game. In his free time, he enjoys Cube-drafting with his friends in Bar Harbor, Maine.

Welcome back, Im here again to talk more about my 40 cents and belowcube. Last week, we discussed green and talked about the ally color pairs of the multicolor section. This week, we will finish up the multicolor section and discuss the artifact and land sections of this cube. After this article, we will have an entire 360-card cube! However, creating a cube such as this is an organic process. I’ll be sure to check in as new sets come out, rotations occur, and cards spike and dip in value. But first, the next installment:

ENEMY COLOR PAIRS

WB

Black sacrifices creatures. White makes expendable tokens. Its a match! Cartel Aristocrat and Hidden Stockpile combine well with Zulaport Cutthroat and Falkenrath Noble to finish off your opponent, either in a drawn out death or in a flurry of tokens turning into a huge, game-ending life swing.

Mortify is a versatile removal spell that can kill a creature, a pesky control magic effect from blue or an Oblivion Ring effect from white. Gerrard’s Verdict is also great against both aggro and control, challenging each one on its chosen avenue of advantage: it can undo an aggro decks direct damage or a control decks card draw.

BG

Catacomb Sifter and Reaper of the Wilds fit into the exact same kind of creatures dying mattertheme as Cartel Aristocrat and Hidden Stockpile. Why not make it a three-color deck and take advantage of it all? Lots of scrying will enable you to sift through your deck until you find a finisher like Zulaport Cutthroat or Falkenrath Noble. A good Abzan sacrifice deck will be able to make enough quick blockers and gain enough life to compete with aggressive strategies, while providing some inevitability and repeatable effects against control. A grindy, midrange deck like this traditionally has no particularly good matchups, but also no particularly bad matchups. If you are interested in drawn-out games where you have a fighting chance against anything, a black-green base is right for you.

GU

All four green and blue slots do the same thing: draw cards and make mana! Coiling Oracle, Tatyova, Benthic Druid, Spring // Mind, Urban Evolution combine to give any GU player access to the most fundamental tools of the game: cards in hand and lands on the battlefield. Tatyova really shines in combination with the bounce-landcycle from the original Ravnica block: you can have them return themselves every turn and put yourself ahead on both life and cards. If you would like to add a bit of strategic diversity and a way to actually win the game in this color combination, one of these cards can certainly be subbed out for Simic Sky Swallower, a great way to close out the game after ramping with green land-search spells.

UR

Blue and red often combine to create some kind of tempo advantage. Izzet Charm gives the wielder versatility to be used against any kind of deck, while Electrolyze, Brutal Expulsion, and Prophetic Bolt generate automatic card advantage. These instants and sorceries all protect your blue and red creatures and keep your opponent from adding to the board in any meaningful way.

RW

Red and white combine to make an extremely aggressive army. I showcased this in the cube by including quick, aggressive creatures like Honored Crop-Captain and Sky Terror as well as an efficient way to remove blockers, Chained to the Rocks. A good way to win the game involves sticking a bunch of aggressive one-drops (white has a plethora of 2/1s, while red has a few 2/1s and many creatures that can gain more power under some circumstances, such as Rigging Runner and Reckless Waif. Red burn spells can solve many problems for the white aggressive deck, which lacks early removal and a noncreature way to kill an opponent who has only a few life points left. While Condemn and Divine Reckoning are exactly the wrong kind of removal to feature in an aggressive creature strategy, cards like Burst Lightning and Magma Jet remove blockers and can go to the face. A monowhite deck that relies on creatures only can be foiled by an army of blockers or a single Nekrataal or Flametongue Kavu if the game goes later and your opponent stabilizes the game at three life. The red-white aggressive deck is more dynamic – at three life, your opponent must now answer your creatures as usual, but if they make a single misstep, they can die in a fiery flash to a Searing Spear or Incinerate.

ARTIFACTS

Many artifacts in cubes are devoted to mana production. A mainstay of many cube decks are the signets from the original Ravnica block. While I had originally planned to include this artifacts in this cube as well, some of the cycle remain in the price range while the pesky blue signets Azorius, Dimir, and Izzet fall out of the range. This trend proved similar for the Talismancycle in original Mirrodin as well as the Diamondcycle from Mirage: many members of the cycle are cheap enough, but one or two are not. The “Borderpost” cycle from Alara Reborn and “Egg” cycle from Odyssey do fall into the sought after price range, but they unfortunately do not put you ahead on mana early in the game. The appeal of the signets involves them serving double duty: mana ramp and mana fixing. There are a multitude of 40 cent and below artifacts who fulfill both of these roles at three mana, but at two mana I could only find a few that met all the criteria I wanted: Guardian Idol and Prismatic Lens. Although I did not want to commit five slots of the already small cube to the “Egg” cycle, I was willing to include some mana-filter rocks like Terrarion, Kaleidostone, and Prophetic Prism. Finally, Dreamstone Hedron makes a bunch of mana or draws a bunch of cards and that versatility and power means it is an acceptable rock, even at the expensive six mana.

In addition to the noncreature mana rocks, I included the creatures Millikin, Palladium Myr, and Pilgrim’s Eye as colorless ways to get more mana. Millikin has the added utility of filling up your graveyard for delve, hitting spells with flashback, or milling creatures that can be reanimated with cards like Phyrexian Delver or Diabolic Servitude. To maximize two-mana ramp cards, consider adding the Myr cycle from Mirrodin, a set of 2-mana 1/1s, each of which adding one of the five colors of mana. Other good options include Ur-Golem’s Eye and Sisay’s Ring, which are functionally identical.

The colorlessness of artifacts enables them to fit into any deck. Many, such as Porcelain Legionnaire and the vehicles Cultivator’s Caravan, Renegade Freighter, Fleetwheel Cruiser, and Untethered Express are at home in aggressive or midrange strategies. Vehicles have a huge upside in that they cannot be killed with sorcery-speed removal and sweepers, such as Flame Slash or End Hostilities. The downside of vehicles comes when they are left alone with no other creatures to crew them. If your opponent deals with all your other creatures, these empty transports will sit on the battlefield doing nothing and be unable to put your opponent under any pressure.

Some artifacts like Sunset Pyramid and Trading Post are at home in control decks, where they will guarantee you slow and steady card advantage if you are left in an otherwise even board state.

The creature suite of Razormane Masticore, Thopter Assembly, Meteor Golem, and Myr Battlesphere are great inclusions in big mana midrange decks (often green-based) as well as any control decks that seeks to draw out the game over many turns and put lots of lands onto the battlefield.

LANDS

There are many lands available in the desired budget range. The Tranquil Cove cycle from Khans of Tarkir is a great way to fix any color pair with very inexpensive lands. It gets slightly more tricky when we reach the bouncelandand trilandcycles due to pesky blue players (probably in Commander) forcing more demand on some lands in the cycles than the others. Nine of the ten members of the bounceland cycle from original Ravnica fit into the cube easily, at around $0.25 a piece, but Dimir Aqueduct is a bit above the 40 cent cube cutoff. In a similar fashion, Eight of the ten members of the friend and enemy wedge trilands from Shards of Alara and Khans of Tarkir are cheap enough, but Arcane Sanctum and Seaside Citadel are a bit over. In your own super cheap cube, you can decide for yourself how strict you want to be regarding members of cycles. I see no reason why a few cents here and there should break up a cycle that would otherwise be perfectly intact. If you want to be extremely strict, I can imagine playing the enemy trilands only and replacing Dimir Aqueduct with something like Jwar Isle Refuge or Dreadship Reef.

A combination of cycle that do work out perfectly, however, are the Memorial cycle from Dominaria and the original creature-land cycle from Urzas Legacy. For the memorials, the red one does not seem playable in this cube, so it does not make it in. For the creaturelands, Faerie Conclave is too expensive to be included in this cube, but the other four make the cut. I have combined these cards to create a cycle of Forbidding Watchtower, Memorial to Genius, Memorial to Folly, Ghitu Encampment, and Treetop Village.

There are also many good colorless creature lands to choose from. I have selected Dread Statuary, Foundry of the Consuls, Gargoyle Castle, and Urzas Factory. If you want even more creature lands, Stalking Stones and Spawning Bed are also decent choices.

Finally, I rounded out the cube with lands that can fix for any color: Aether Hub, Evolving Wilds, and Terramorphic Expanse and the vivid land cycle help out decks with three or more colors consistently find the mana they need to function properly. Aether Hub peaked as high as 4 dollars but ended up settling down to a price below 40 cents. Funny how that works. Also, it is interesting to compare the Hub to Tendo Ice Bridge, a card which pretty much does the same thing (I would even argue in a worse way). The Ice Bridge had been as expensive as $20 and settled down to a bit over 3 dollars. In any case, Aether Hub is an better inclusion for the very cheap cube because it has the added benefit of working with a few energy producers such as Aethergeode Miner, Aethertide Whale, and Aether Chaser.

Thank you for reading! The contents of the cube have been laid out. Next time, I was thinking about seeing how the standard rotation affects the price of cards from the Kaladesh and Amonkhet blocks and which Guilds of Ravnica cards would be good new additions. You can view my cube at http://www.cubetutor.com/visualspoiler/81062.

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