Brirro's Variant Cube

Welcome to my cube! I've been lurking here for the past year while building my cube up to this point. Today I have finally decided to join the community and share my cube! It is still in relatively early stages of development, but I love working on my cube. The link embedded in the title of this post is what I currently own, and what I draft when I get together with my group. This cube is where I put the cards that I will be buying once I get the money for them.

Goals:​

My primary goal with this cube is to have an enjoyable drafting environment that can continue to be enjoyable while using any number of variants. More on the variants below.
I'm willing to use any type of card, from DFCs, Un-set cards, and I am also okay with one-off mechanics. The biggest limiter for my cube is simply my budget, as I am about to start college, my money is a little tight, but I am also not against saving up for expensive cards.

Archetypes:​

Some of these need some more work.
WU: Blink, Tokens
UB: Ninjas, Reanimator
BR: Wildfire, Midrange, Reanimation/Ficker
RG: Big Creatures
GW: Tokens
WB: Stax, Tokens
BG: Reanimator
GU: Flash
UR: Spells
RW: Aggro
Some of these have been drafted more than others, so I don't know if there is enough support for everything.

Azorius:

Blink: Reuse ETBs to gain an advantage over your opponents.


Tokens: Make an army, swing for the win.

Boros:

Aggro: It's Aggro. No one in my group has played this yet, so I don't know if it's a viable strategy.

Dimir:

Ninjas: Swing with cheap evasion creatures, and then sneak in your ninja army. This archetype has been pretty awful in my testing, so I am working to try to make it better.


Reanimator: This is slowly being supported less and less, so this archetype probably won't come together.

Golgari:

Reanimator: Discard big threats, and bring them back from the yard for cheaper.

Gruul:

Big Creatures: This archetype is just ramp and big dudes, a "purely" creature-based strategy without very much complexity.

Izzet:

Spells: Cast spells and get value... I guess. This archetype has not been updated in a while, it might need a little work.

Orzhov:

Stax: Take symmetrical stax effects, and make them asymmetrical.


Tokens: Make an Army and swing for the win.

Rakdos:

Wildfire: Who needs lands or creatures.


Reanimator/Flicker: This archetype really plays out as more of a graveyard-based flicker deck.


Midrange:

Selesnya:

Tokens: Make an army and we've been through this before.

Simic:

Flash: Nothing you want to counter? Just flash in a threat instead. My power level seems to of gotten a bit too high for this archetype, but I enjoy it a lot.

Now for the namesake of the cube, the Variants!

Vanguards​

Vanguards were made to get people to start playing on Arena. They were insanely overpowered and balanced horribly. They released 4 series of these vanguards starting all the way back in 1998. I had no option of playing with these cards when they came out as I was not yet born, but while designing this cube I stumbled across them and wanted to give them a home. I do not currently own of all them, but I am working on it, I own 8 of the 33, but I have been focusing on buying the more expensive ones first.
I want to try to incorporate these vanguards into my environment more than any of the other variants, but I have not really started to get to the meat of this, because I've been trying to make my current archetypes work better.
A lot of my cube is going to need to change to get this to work, and I'm hopefully going to start the process soon.
I've done one draft with these, each player getting a random one of what I own, and most of the people I was playing with forgot they existed during their matches, so I didn't really end up with useful data.

Planechase​

There are many options for drafting with the plane chase cards, and I will cover the 3 options that I am considering.
1. Normal Drafting - Give each player a pack of 10 planes to draft from. Each player will construct a 5? card Planechase deck from the planes they drafted. From there the game is played as usual, except with the Planechase rules.
2. Eternities Map - When playing Eternities Map I remove the draft of planes altogether, just shuffle all the planes into one pile, and then play how it normally goes.
3. Random Plane - Before the draft begins a random plane will be chosen, and all of the games will be taking place on that plane. This one came from this Cubecobra Article.
I do not currently own all of the planechase cards (only owning ~10 of them right now), but I am working on buying more of them.

Archenemy​

I have never played archenemy, so I don't know how games normally play out, so preparing the Archenemy variant for my cube has been pushed back for future me to look at. Archenemy sounds fun, and I've seen many Archenemy cubes, I also feel like it's less interesting than the Vanguards and Planechase, but I could be completely wrong.

Conspiracies​

Many cubes include some of the conspiracies, and many people agree that some of them are too powerful. The power of them is a concern with my cube, but compared to Vanguards, I don't think they are the best cards in the cube. What is Backup Plan when compared to starting the game with 10 cards using Tawnos.
I think that the conspiracies can add a lot to the draft, and also have some interesting synergies.
Gerrard is often considered pretty weak because of how slow he is, starting the game with only 3 cards in hand. Combine Gerrard with Backup Plan and now you start the game with 7 cards, and a decent ability. I do not know the ruling for how those cards actually work together, as far as I am aware there is no ruling and will probably not be one, so that is how I am going to play it. If I am wrong let me know!

Heros​

I think the heroes have the potential to play similarly to the conspiracies but perhaps a little more balanced. I'm sure many of these cards can be very powerful, maybe too powerful, but I have not gotten around to testing these just yet.

Ante​

Ante is a long antiquated mechanic, where the winner of a game would get a random card from the loser's deck. While it no longer has a home in magic anymore, I think that cube would be a perfect place to house it. Simply put, before each game each player removes a random card from their deck and puts it up for ante. Whoever wins the match, gets all the cards put up for ante, and those cards are added to their card pool.

Challenge Decks​

With many other variants that need support, I'm going to include minimal support for these. They are intended for a smaller pod, as more of a puzzle rather than competitive games.
Garruk the Slayer - To challenge Garruk, simply take your deck and play a match against him. He uses one of his loyalty abilities every turn, and whos ever 'life' reaches 0 first loses.
Horde Deck - To face the horde deck, everyone will draft their decks as normal, and then join in on a cooperative battle against the horde deck. This is my horde deck, but any horde deck will work. I have also not tested this yet, so some modifications might need to be made.
Theros Challenger Decks - Similar to the Garruk Challenge Deck, but instead of fighting Garruk, you fight one of the challenger decks made for Theros.
Just don't ask me how to draft by yourself for Garruk and Theros decks.

Closing:​

Does anyone have any tips for balancing the cube? I know that playtesting is the most important thing, but my group doesn't meet too often and I would like to try to help the balance more between our sessions.
Thank you for reading this post and for all of the feedback and suggestions!
 
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Hey man, welcome to the forum. I'm new here too, but I thought I'd chime in with some impressions. Very cool idea for a cube, gives it a lot of flexibility and freshness without needing to carry too many extra cards.

The overall design certainly looks like a challenge. It must be hard to support so many different variants with the same base - especially since they are very different ways of playing MTG (Vanguard + Conspiracies are OP power magic, Archenemy and Planechase are multiplayer focused, Challenger decks are more of a puzzle). If it were me, I would be really sure that there really is demand for so many variants - especially since you say your group doesn't meet up that often, so they may not need as much going to keep things fresh and interesting, or they might benefit from being able to work out How To Cube Good before adding too much additional complexity on top. As alternative might be to pick one or two variants and build the cube towards working with and without the additional cards. Then you can add stuff incrementally instead of all at once.

For the Vanguards, I think it would be very reasonable to make some custom ones (or errata existing ones) - as you say, they're really old and not really all that balanced. So why not make some better ones! Gerrard might be pretty good if he started with 4 or 5 cards in hand, or had to pay mana to get the bonus draw or something. Trying to balance broken Vanguards with also-broken conspiracies seems very risky - you're just as likely to end up turbo-charging OP Vanguards a you are to balance out the UP ones.

I think Ante in Cube is very cool, since although it sucks to lose your best card it's not actually permanent and adds an extra layer of competition. I have also seen people do "graffiti ante", where the winner gets to physically draw or write something on the losing ante card - it adds a lot of texture and memories to the physical cards, but you obviously have to be ok with them being defaced! However, almost all of the actual "ante cards" look basically unplayable, apart from Contract From Below which is obviously bonkers. It's cool to add them to the draft, but I can't see anyone actually playing them so it seems like a waste. You can jut play for ante without the extra baggage - or Custom cards could be the option here as well! But ultimately if you're not a fan of the variant, why support it?

To address your final question - what about the cube seems unbalanced and in need of fixing? If you're crushing every draft is that because your other players are making suboptimal picks? Building suboptimal decks? Or make suboptimal plays? You might want to think abut removing inconsistent cards/archetypes (renanimator and storm are often like that), or simplifying some of the cards or archetypes - are ninjas not working because the cards are bad or because the player piloting it doesn't know what to draft for it?

One thing I found when I first started building a cube was that I found it easy to over-support and over-power archetypes I felt were very clearly defined. E.g. tokens is very simple (make tokens, make anthems) which makes it easy to have too much of a good thing, compared to a more vague theme like "Big creatures gruul smash". Plus, tokens gets support across multiple colours, which other theme do not so there's more density equating more consistency. For example it's entirely possible ninjas doesn't work out because neither blue nor black have much support for evasive tempo strategies - they have to support renimation, tokens, flash, spells matter, Stax, and blink instead.

Hopefully some of that will be helpful, and I'm not trying to just be a downer. I honestly think the cube list (both current and projected) look basically fine and fun, and the variants are a cool idea, I just think a bit more restraint or focus in some areas would be beneficial.
 
Thank you very much for the reply!
I think that my group is perfectly content with my cube with no variants, so adding them is not at all necessary, however, I'm posing it to myself as more of a design challenge than something I need to do to keep the cube interesting. So I would like to try and give it a shot even if it doesn't work out super well.
Custom Vanguards/Errating Vanguards sounds like a great idea. I will probably end up doing that, but I want to at least attempt to keep them vanilla at least for now. If I do end up changing/making custom vanguards I could see trying to model them more off of Ral's Vanguard instead of the older ones.
Trying to balance broken Vanguards with also-broken conspiracies seems very risky - you're just as likely to end up turbo-charging OP Vanguards a you are to balance out the UP ones.
I can see this happening, I will need to keep my eye on it. I think in general(not true for all of them), lots of the best vanguards have you starting with extra cards, whereas some of the worse ones(again, not true for all of them), generally have fewer cards in your starting hand. I think that maybe Backup Plan could work here, as a way to bring starting hands lower than 7 up, but also a card that higher starting hand sizes don't necessarily want, as it reduces their hand size. I can see this causing more problems, but I would like to try it.

I do like the idea of Ante in cube, I was just trying to say that I found Ante less interesting than playing with planechase or vanguards, but thinking on that now I think that by just not including the underpowered/overpowered Ante cards, it actually sounds like a lot of fun! My main reasoning for wanting to include them was because they "can't" be played anywhere else, so I thought cube could be an interesting spot for them. I might still try to include Jeweled Bird thought, and maybe just errata it to be a sacrifice ability when not playing ante.

My question regarding balancing was less of an x and y are too good, but more of a is there anything I can do to help balance it, while not being able to playtest it often.
are ninjas not working because the cards are bad or because the player piloting it doesn't know what to draft for it?
The time I remember the most with the ninjas is when I was piloting it, and it was one of the drafts that I went 0-3. The biggest problem I was seeing then was I was getting a lack of evasive creatures, with my group picking cards like augury owl very highly, so I was left with ninjas, and only a few evasive creatures. In my planned updates list, I've tried to help this a little, with slightly narrower cards, for example spectral sailor as a cheap evasive creature, without an etb, while still potentially seeing play in a flash deck. But I'm also not 100% sure how a tempo deck aims to win, so maybe I'm off the mark with this one.

Thank you for all of the help!
 
Time for some musings.
I really like the vanguards, so I'm going to work on incorporating them into my cube some more.

While vanguards are incredibly powerful, because everyone gets one, and they are always active, I think that it somewhat balances them. For example, if I had Sol Ring in my cube, it would be the best card in it by far, and whoever drafts it has a large advantage. Now let's say instead everyone gets a Sol Ring, it would end up similarly to commander, whoever draws their Sol Ring gets a large advantage. How about everyone starts with their Sol Ring in play, everyone would have an equal advantage(assuming decks were built for it). It's the same with vanguards, assuming that the vanguards included are roughly balanced, would mean that everyone is roughly on the same playing field. Is my thinking with this correct, or am I completely off base with this one?

The next thing on my mind has been an MTG Salvation post from 2011, the post covers potential archetypes that each vanguard would work in, and I count 13 of them that work well in an aggro deck. But looking over the vanguards I count 5 that start with over 30 health, and one with 29. Maybe I'm also wrong with this, but I don't think that aggro can beat someone starting with 30 life very easily. Maybe this problem could be fixed by supercharging aggro, but that causes the problem as there are vanguards that start with 15 or less life. I think the solution to this problem is just removing or errataing the vanguards that cause problems.

I found this article, which has rankings for each of the vanguards, the list is probably not perfect and might be different in my cube environment, but I think that starting with the 16 vanguards from B+ tier and below. My problem with that is Urza and Oracle both have life totals close to 30, which might wall aggro. I am still going to test them, and I will report my finding once I manage to get together for a draft. My other idea for aggro dealing with higher life totals is maybe having a larger top end, maybe an Inferno Titan could help close out one of those games.
 
First off, I love how you support a ton of different draft experiences! I agree with your points about Ante cards playing much more interestingly in Cube than in any other format. Graffiti ante is new to me as well, so thanks for introducing me to that one, Ecophagy!


For balancing the cube and specifically for balancing archetypes, I would look at "standard" cube examples and examine what cards tend to cluster together to get a better sense of what hangs on what power level.

Archetype-level thoughts:

Ninjas: This is a much lower-powered archetype than the rest you advertise, generally speaking, but I think the biggest problem with this archetype is the lack of things to do on turn 1 in Blue decks. You have a total of four proactive 1-MV spells in Blue (Opt, Preordain, Faerie Seer, Consider), meaning that aggressive starts in Blue are going to have a rough time. On that note, I'm a big proponent of customizing your mana values to reflex where cards will actually be played on the curve (ex. Condescend will, in reality, cost {1}{U} or {2}{U} rather than {U}; as such, leaving it in the MV 1 slot won't help you extract information from the table or the summary statistics that CubeCobra automatically generates).

If you really want to juice Ninjas (and who doesn't?), I'd recommend 1) adding a few more MV 1 plays in Blue and 2) adding Ninjas that affect your opponent's board. The former is easy to achieve with things like Judge's Familiar, Spectral Sailor, [neat, you already did this one!] or cantrips, but the latter is a little more subtle. Specifically, I'm worried that your current version of a Ninjas deck just doesn't run enough disruption to make it play like a tempo deck. Things like Okiba-Gang Shinobi, Dokuchi Silencer, or Throat Slitter can really kick this deck into high gear. (Sidebar: why isn't there a ninja that Duresses on hit yet? And no, Biting-Palm Ninja isn't it because you can only do that once.) Things like Grave Titan also just end any aggro deck's plan, so trimming the top-end down might help lower-curve decks. I've found that lower-strength high-MV cards will end the game just as well while giving aggro decks a bit more breathing room.


Izzet Spellslinger: Adding more cantrips will also help this deck! Hard Evidence is premium, for example, and would go great in a Bant Glare of Subdual deck.


Aggro: Honestly, it's a bit of a combination of thing keeping aggro from thriving here. First, I'd recommend playing aggro and beating the socks off of everyone. However, I think your cube could benefit from a few swaps. Wall of Omens is a pretty hard stop for aggro; Spirited Companion is a lot more manageable. Swords to Plowshares and Path to Exile are powered-cube levels of removal, but I don't see any great dedicated aggro cards past MV 1. Your removal could stand to be a little more expensive; spending 2 mana vs. 1 is fine if you're killing a Griselbrand, but it's a lot less okay against Isamaru.


RW: Assemble the Legion and Glory of Warfare are midrange/control cards, not aggro cards, and Goblin Trenches isn't much better. The latter could have a place in aggro decks in lower-powered cubes, but I think that your cube is just too high-powered for these to have an effect in those decks. At this point (I know that reanimator may be on its way out), your aggro decks have to deal with a Exhumed Grave Titan on T2 some percent of the time, and I don't think these cards will cut it. Adult Gold Dragon, Angelfire Ignition, and Winota are my top-ends of choice for RW aggro. Feather. the Redeemed is a good choice as well. On that subject, I'd recommend freeing yourself on specific multicolor section sizes; I've found it quite liberating to just have roughly four cards per color pair and a total of 45ish.


Specific card-by-card thoughts:

Pack Rat is incredibly game-warping, and it pushes out a lot of strategies. Ninjas can't thrive when they're always blocked by bigger creatures. I'm sure you *can* make an environment with both that's balanced and fun, but I suspect it will be difficult to do so.

Burning of Xinye / Wildfire are traditionally paired up with either planeswalkers or artifact- or enchantment-based ramp that provides color pips to help break symmetry. As of right now, you have little of the first and none of the second, meaning that this is going to skew towards control decks rather than the combo-control decks seen in most cubes. Also! Feel free to break singleton, especially if it's exactly the same effect on both cards. There are advantages and disadvantages either way.

Speaking of which, I would personally pick one between Unsummon and Fading Hope just to simplify things for my drafters. Neither is bad, but unless singleton is a goal (which is fine!) it can often be a feelbad to have the strictly worse version of an effect.

Careful Cultivation is an interesting card that does a ton of things. Does it work with Wildfire? Genuinely curious, as I've loved the versatility (and the art, if I'm being honest) but have yet to find a home for it in my cube.

Chandra, Flamecaller is another very controlling Red card. I wonder if you might be choking out the aggro decks between this/Wildfire/Burning/Toxic Deluge/Living Death/Upheaval/Day of Judgment. Which, congrats! You have a ton of removal for a first cube here.

Court of Grace seems VERY strong, and is likely better than most White-containing multicolor cards. Monarch is a busto mechanic in 1v1. Palace Jailer is also very strong; I believe LSV has called it one of the strongest cards in Vintage cube.

I like to classify Realm-Cloaked Giant as a MV 5 sorcery in my cube. Also, it's another wrath!

Mirror Entity is stronk.

Rhythm of the Wild is a cute way to make Finks/Redcap persist combos a RG deck. Nice find!



As for Gerrard + Backup Plan, what makes sense to me is that you draw one hand of three cards and one of seven, but remember that Gerry still reduces your maximum hand size to four! Great for those reanimator decks you mention, though, and a cool interaction to support.


This isn't comprehensive, but I think you're trying to do something really interesting by including all of these powered cube faves in a more traditional synergy background. Excited to see what you do with it!
 
Graffiti ante is new to me as well, so thanks for introducing me to that one, Ecophagy!

Apparently it's sometimes called "scribble ante" and originally is from an ancient casual format called 5-colour. I remembered it from this very old article (alongside a tremendously defaced Umezawa's Kitten Kabob): https://www.mtgsalvation.com/articles/15419-hip-to-be-square-the-cube.

It honestly looks like a lot of fun if you can stomach the "damage". Maybe in a pauper cube!
 
Thank you very much for the reply and all the advice!

Blue Tempo: I've added quite a few more turn 1 plays for blue, with my favorite being blurry beeble, along with adding a few more ninjas that affect the board, so hopefully, the Ninja deck will be able to come together now. I've also added in a few more cantrips for a total of 6, which might still be a little low... but hopefully that will help Ninjas and Spells thrive.

Aggro: I've changed my white removal to 2 cmc instead of 1, and also increased my wraths to 5 cmc instead of 4. I've also revamped my boros gold section, I have no idea what I was trying to do with those cards. I've also tried to make my white 2's and 3's a little better in an aggro deck, so hopefully, that helps it as well.
I've found it quite liberating to just have roughly four cards per color pair and a total of 45ish.
I really like keeping my gold count low, I often only get to draft with 5 or 6 people, and gold cards are very often last picks. I already have a hard enough time cutting cards, so cutting ~10 more for golds would be hard.

I really like pack rat, and maybe I should remove it, but I'm going to try to keep it for now. I don't think anyone in my group has main decked him yet either.

Wildfire: I have 5 colorless rocks which might be low, how many rocks does the deck really need to thrive, and do you think that having more than 2 copies of this effect would be beneficial? I've been able to make the deck work with only 2 copies, along with some spells to help dig for them like faithless looting. As for careful cultivation it could definitely work with wildfire, putting it on a 2 toughness creature would allow it to survive, though I ended up cutting it for vivien's arkbow as I think it helps the flash deck a little more, however, I do want to try to get it back in the cube at some point.

Persist: I didn't even realize that Rhythm of the Wild would work with the persist guys. I have very few sac outlets in my cube currently, can the persist "combo" work fine without them? I think they work with my current sac outlets (Birthing Pod, Evolutionary leap, Greater Gargadon) to generate a good amount of value.

I completely forgot that vanguards also changed max hand size. Backup plan still provides card selection along with being able to get cards into your graveyard easily which still makes it pretty strong though. I'll include backup plan when I do my test on the vanguards to see what it can do.

Maybe in a pauper cube!
Maybe one day I'll make an unsleeved pauper cube just for this!

I've ordered quite a few cards, I'll post the changes here once they arrive!
 
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Aggro: I've changed my white removal to 2 cmc instead of 1, and also increased my wraths to 5 cmc instead of 4. I've also revamped my boros gold section, I have no idea what I was trying to do with those cards.
To clarify, your choices weren't bad! WR control is a ton of fun, it's just not helpful when you want WR to be aggro.

I really like keeping my gold count low
Sorry, I was unclear--I'm not advocating for 45ish gold cards specifically, but I am a fan of not worrying too much about Orzhov having 3 and Simic having 4 cards, for example. This also means that I can take 3+ color cards like Siege Rhino into account in the above calculations.

I really like pack rat, and maybe I should remove it, but I'm going to try to keep it for now. I don't think anyone in my group has main decked him yet either.
Try it out and see :) Frankly, if any cube is going to be able to handle the Rat, it's one with conspiracies and vanguards, so it's possible that it's fine. What I'm more worried about is the possibility that it's miserable when it's good. Your abundance of sweepers might have hedged against it, though, so taking those out of the ecosystem might make it a terror. Food for thought!

Wildfire: I have 5 colorless rocks which might be low, how many rocks does the deck really need to thrive, and do you think that having more than 2 copies of this effect would be beneficial? I've been able to make the deck work with only 2 copies, along with some spells to help dig for them like faithless looting. As for careful cultivation it could definitely work with wildfire, putting it on a 2 toughness creature would allow it to survive, though I ended up cutting it for vivien's arkbow as I think it helps the flash deck a little more, however, I do want to try to get it back in the cube at some point.
2 copies is probably fine, Karsten math means that it'll show up fairly regularly on curve. If having different names attached to the same effect helps, then go for it, I just don't like the aesthetic and wanted to broach the subject of breaking singleton.

Re: density of rocks, I am the wrong person to ask.

And I agree that Careful Cultivation would be perfect in this sort of deck! It's a cool card that I haven't been able to make work, and I'm glad to see it has legs here.

Persist: I didn't even realize that Rhythm of the Wild would work with the persist guys. I have very few sac outlets in my cube currently, can the persist "combo" work fine without them? I think they work with my current sac outlets (Birthing PodEvolutionary leapGreater Gargadon) to generate a good amount of value.
Yeah, that can get pretty gross pretty fast. I think you might need a payoff of some sort if you want to do the degenerate combo bit, but it's a cool interaction I'd never seen before.
 
To clarify, your choices weren't bad! WR control is a ton of fun, it's just not helpful when you want WR to be aggro.
I do like playing the more controlling WR decks especially with Assemble the Legion, but I do think the more aggressive choices fit better for what I want boros to be doing.

This also means that I can take 3+ color cards like Siege Rhino into account in the above calculations.
This is tempting, I've been wanting to try and fit in Siege Rhino ever since I saw this Rhystic Studies video. With my recent addition of the 10 trilands (soon to be upgraded to the "10" triomes) it might even be castable!

I’m also perfectly fine with breaking singleton if needed but if I have the opportunity to keep it singleton with Wildfire and Burning I would prefer it that way. As for rocks, maybe I'll try adding in Fractured Powerstone as another rock that can also help with planechase later. I suppose testing is going to be key here.

I'd also like to avoid too degenerate of combos, but a freshly suspended Greater Gargadon + Murderous Redcap + Rhytm of the Wild can still kill someone at 20 life, which seems pretty good.

Rhythm of the Wild + Wildfire. There's your degenerate persist combo deck. ;)
Found the deck I'm forcing next draft!

And as always, thanks for all the advice!
 
You don't even need to have a fresh Greater Gargamel to make the Redcaps go off! Just hold priority and you can make it work even if it only has a single counter.

Greater Gargadon is a crazy card.
 
This is tempting, I've been wanting to try and fit in Siege Rhino ever since I saw this Rhystic Studies video. With my recent addition of the 10 trilands (soon to be upgraded to the "10" triomes) it might even be castable!
Siege Rhino is always a good choice. It's a very good card.

I really like pack rat, and maybe I should remove it, but I'm going to try to keep it for now. I don't think anyone in my group has main decked him yet either.
I think if you're doing degenerate stuff Pack Rat is fine.

When people talk about the game warping effect that Pack Rat can have, they're usually basing their analysis on experiences in Return to Ravnica limited, Lower Power and MTGO style Cubes, or Return to Ravnica/Theros standard. In these formats, the rat was really good. Pack Rat thrives in slow environments where removal is not very prevalent. If Pack Rat dies right away every time it gets played or the game ends before one can make four or five rats, it's just not that great. In retail limited, the removal density is pretty low and the power level of the removal is often worse. You can't beat a pack rat if your removal suite consists of "wonderful" cards such as Launch Party and Avenging Arrow. Meanwhile, although many Cubes tailored in the same vein as the MTGO Cubes run powerful removal like Swords to Plowshares and Lightning Bolt, they usually don't have enough of these cards to make beating a pack rat viable. Likewise, the slower games that type of Cube usually facilitate make it easier for the rat to come online and stay online. In a similar vein, a lot of lower-power Cubes still have the slower games that facilitate a powerful Rat, but don't run all of the powerful removal that keeps it in check, meaning the card ends up being more trouble than it is worth.

In Standard, pack rat was almost completely absent for the first year after it came out. High power level decks featuring cards such as Thragtusk, Huntmaster of the Fells, Restoration Angel, and Geist of Saint Traft dominated the field, while efficient removal like Tragic Slip and Pillar of Flame could effectively dispatch any rats left running around. However, when the cards that kept Pack Rat down rotated out of Standard, the Rat was able to take a key position as an inevitability engine in mono-black devotion decks, backed up by card draw from Underworld Connections and reach from Gray Merchant of Asphodel. Here, the Rat was able to hold a commanding position in many games, and it played a key role in the dominance of mono-black. The other best deck in the format was Esper control, which got to play Supreme Verdict, the best answer to Rat in the format. However, after Rat rotated from Standard, it really hasn't seen much play in eternal formats. The removal is just too good for it to thrive. It occasionally sees play in Duel Commander and Canadian Highlander, as well as in some Mono-Black Pioneer lists, but as a whole, Pack Rat has just never found a home in the eternal formats.

If you want to keep Pack Rat around, it's probably fine since you seem to be building at a higher power level and your removal suite seems to be of roughly the right power level to keep it in check. You probably would want to increase the number of removal spells in the environment a little bit, but there are lots of great options you can play that dilute the environment at all. Consider cards like Portable Hole, March of Otherworldly Light, Prismatic Ending, Bloodchief's Thirst, Eliminate, Burst Lightning, and so on.
 
The main issue with Pack Rats is the issue with Thopter Foundry+Sword of the Meek or Oketra's Monument+Kor Skyfisher — once you get the "combo" online, it leads to some pretty repetitive play patterns.
Exactly this. Sure it might not immediately run away with the game.... if it's powerful enough to include in a format, it's often the best thing that deck can be doing most of the time. So the rest of the game is just racing [hand size turned into rats] versus [answers to rats]
 
I got together with 2 other people and we played some sealed out of the cube! I went 2-0 with a WG/u ramp deck. I only lost one game of all my matches when I conceded before they could crack their Ashnod's Coupon (Didn't want to drive to a Mcdonald's at midnight). One of my friends played a pretty cool Soverign's Realm Glare of Subdual deck and went 1-1. The last person was playing Rakdos stuff? I think they were aiming for aggro, but didn't quite get enough playables, and went 0-2.

You don't even need to have a fresh Greater Gargamel to make the Redcaps go off! Just hold priority and you can make it work even if it only has a single counter.
I completely forgot that the stack existed when I wrote that, yeah, Greater Gargadon is so cool.

In Standard, pack rat was almost completely absent for the first year after it came out. High power level decks featuring cards such as Thragtusk, Huntmaster of the Fells, Restoration Angel, and Geist of Saint Traft dominated the field, while efficient removal like Tragic Slip and Pillar of Flame could effectively dispatch any rats left running around.
I love learning about what cards were like when they were in standard, and what other formats they have been played in! It really lets me appreciate them, and some of my favorite cards in the cube were "fun" in standard from what I've heard, e.g. Thragtusk, and Siege Rhino.

The main issue with Pack Rats is the issue with Thopter Foundry+Sword of the Meek or Oketra's Monument+Kor Skyfisher — once you get the "combo" online, it leads to some pretty repetitive play patterns.
Exactly this. Sure it might not immediately run away with the game.... if it's powerful enough to include in a format, it's often the best thing that deck can be doing most of the time. So the rest of the game is just racing [hand size turned into rats] versus [answers to rats]
I didn't think of this... It's not necessarily that the card is too strong, but when it goes online it can become overly repetitive. I'm going to keep it in for now, I want to see it in action a few times, but I'm definitely keeping my eye on it.


And now for the changes I've made.

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Idk about inquisition, it might be a little too powerful, and it gives out a lot of information, probably won't be staying in for too long.
If I removed something I shouldn't have, let me know and I'll try to reinclude the card!
 
I haven't had a chance to draft since the update as one of my friends from out of state (who doesn't know how to play magic) has come to visit, so not very much cube recently.

If you enjoy those, you'd probably also like Workshop Warchief.
Workshop Warchief does seem like a fun card, the obvious comparison is with Thragtusk, but not creating the token when leaving the battlefield makes it worse with the flicker effects I have in my cube. I'm not against adding him in, but I'm not quite sold, if anyone can sell me on it, I'd be happy to include it.

Here is the data from my last draft! This was before the update, so some things are out of date.

Golgari Stuff?










I think they took me telling them to run 17 lands as 17 basic lands... They ended up going 0-3 this draft.

Bant No Win-Con










This deck also went 0-3. It had very few ways of winning.

Mono-Red Aggro?










This deck went 1-1 (wasn't time for a third game). They were trying to force red aggro but didn't get enough playables.

Boros











This deck went 2-1 (only lost to me). Based on its record it looks like it was pretty strong, but the other decks made were not very good, so idk.

Gruul Big Stuff











This was my deck, I went 2-0 (didn't have time for the last game). I think it was a pretty well-put-together deck overall, I ended up taking lots of damage early in the game, but once I stabilized I could finish the game pretty quickly. Against the Boros deck, I managed to keep a solid board presence after 2 board wipes.

Overall it looks like my group might need some more practice with drafting the cube. It also seems like my group doesn't draft fixing very highly I'm going to try and arrange a draft soon, I'll post the decks and results here later.
 
I've finally managed to get people together to draft the cube again! Since that draft, I have moved off to college, so hopefully, I will be able to find a playgroup, otherwise, the cube is probably going to be pretty stagnant until I can test it more during breaks.

Here is the data from my last draft!
Some of the cards in these decks are not in the cube, as Lore Seeker was used to open a Modern Horizons 2 pack.

Simic










This deck ended up going 0-3, just being the simic deck.

Bant Flicker










This deck was a bit of a meme, running 7 Forests for a chance to cast Hornet Queen. It did pretty well overall, going 2-1.

Rakdos Good Stuff










This was my deck, I was pretty much the only one in Red or Black, so I ended up with a ton of powerful cards. I went 3-0. I also won many games with just Pack Rat so sad to say, but he's out of the cube for now.

Artifacts?












It was this player's first time playing the cube, so they got to sign a basic land! They ended up going 1-2

I've made quite a few changes to the cube since my last post. One of the big changes is that I have finished upgrading the mana base! I now have all 10 Shocks, Fetches, and TriCycle Lands! I've also made a few more changes, which can be viewed below. A lot of the new blue and green cards I've included to try and push the Flash archetype a little bit further, so a lot of these changes are in testing. Also finding cuts for all of these cards has been very painful, so many of the cards I removed, I still really like and am not opposed to putting them back into the cube. On that same note, I am considering upping the cube to 450 if I can find a playgroup in college.
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