Peter's Mono-Plains cube (~450)

Cube Tutor Visual Spoiler

Now I'm on cube tutor, and I'm completely abandoning my Google doc.

TL; DR: Cube rules:

1) Plains are the only basic land. Other colors require you to draft the mana producers for them.
2) Skullclamp has errata to draw only one instead and Mouth of Ronom assumes your plains are actually snow plains.
3) Planeswalkers are killed (and reanimated, and granted protections) by anything that affect creatures. This skews their power level heavily downward. But with all the sweepers in the format, they were simply too dominant before this rule change
4) For eight players, draft 3 packs of 13. For six players, draft 4 packs of 10. For four players, Rochester with 5 packs of 8.


I had heard stories about a mono-blue cube (source unknown) that was pretty sweet, so that sparked an idea: what color would be the best for a mono-colored cube? I came up with white, mostly because of all the colors, it seemed like it could support the most meaningful interactions.

White + Artifacts provides access to:
  • Strong removal for every permanent type
  • Aggro creatures
  • Late-game trumps
  • Graveyard interactions
  • Strong defensive cards
  • Equipment
The only cube staples that are missing are counter magic and discard; powerful but universally loved methods of interaction.

The result is a very interactive, skill-intensive format that is really fun. You still get a lot of "only could happen in a cube draft" plays, and even though every deck is just white, you rarely get the feel of a "mirror match." Games are usually back and forth, people rarely lose to color screw (I've ran too many colorless lands before - that was embarrassing), and the format is surprisingly deep.

What does Mono-Plains mean, exactly?

It means the idea started as Mono-White before switching to Mono-Plains. As you've likely guessed, I've only sleeved up Plains for this cube. White is the color of mana you consistently have access to, but the other colors do exist in the cube. Their mana symbols are permitted (unlike having a mono-white commander). W/x hybrid cards are in. Phyrexian Mana spells are in. And if you manage to get, let's say, red man from Coalition Relic and play Gut Shot without paying life, you can.

All of the mana-fixing in the cube is 5-color, so there doesn't need to be any balancing of the non-white colors. That makes things easier on me, the cube designer, and simplifies things for the drafters as well.

Non-white mana can also be used for more than just phyrexian or hybrid cards. Currently, the goal is that almost all cards are "playable" with just white mana, but some cards get better with access to non-white mana: Off color kickers and flashback are the easy examples, but Sky Hussar is a great even if you can't cast him. Unburial Rites works from the yard, but with mana-fixing, you can use it twice. Scion of Darkness is near-impossible to cast; instead you cycle it and reanimate later.

Of course, the next extension of having access to non-white mana is for spells that absolutely require other colors of mana to be usable. From a game design perspective, a case could be made for adding something like Rolling Earthquake. It would be a very powerful card that requires you to have drafted the mana-fixing. However, because the cube was conceived as mono-white (before re-adjusting to mono-plains), I feel this would violate the flavor of the cube. Gold cards with White also opens up a whole can of worms. After much thought, I've decided to include gold cards, but extremely sparingly - only when the functionality is extremely unique. For now, this means the only gold cards are the W/X planeswalkers.

Primary Cube Themes:

Major Theme: Artifacts and Enchantments Matter: White has oodles of good enchantments, and plays well with artifacts. I made the extra effort to include high-powered cards in these types, and put in many Disenchant effects to match. As beneficial auras are still a liability to get 2-for-1'd, I did not include many of them.

Major Theme: Sweepers: If there is another thing White is really good at doing, it is hitting the reset button. Wrath of God has seen countless variants, and most are included. No board state is ever insurmountable, and caution must always be used when committing more permanents to the board. Of course, as sweepers become ubiquitous, cards that prevent or help rebound from their effects become more valuable. Furthermore, almost all sweepers are Destroy effects: most "anti-wraths" play around destruction and are useless against exile and/or tuck effects. Therefore, Hallowed Burial, Final Judgment and similar cards are intentional exclusions.

Minor Themes:

Tribal: White has various creature types that have gotten support, so Humans, Soldiers, Knights, and Rebels are just some of the creature types to show off their synergy.

Reanimator: White lacks the under-costed Reanimation tools of black, so the suite here is primarily to re-buy threats. Still, some discard outlets are provided to allow shaving a couple of turns off of playing bombs, if desired.

Equipment: There's a lot of it, and the power level is juiced. Works well both primary themes as it helps protect against creature sweepers, but artifact destruction is also readily available.

Lands: Because a draft can end with all castable spells, utility lands allow you to play with more cards that you've drafted. Therefore, any land which taps for 1 or W is automatically under consideration for inclusion. Lands are the hardest type for White to interact with, so care must be taken to ensure that no land is too powerful if left on board.

White Matters: Not so much a theme, but the power level of several cards are skewed due to mono-white, some enough to warrant inclusion (or exclusion) - Brave the Elements can be a blowout, Sunlance is left out. Strata Scythe gets alarmingly big.

Intentional Exclusions: Shadow, Fast Mana, 1 Sided White Hosers.

THIS CUBE IS A WORK IN PROGRESS. All cubes usually change with time, but I'm still willing to make major modifications at this point. I'm very open to suggestions, and although I've laid out my goals, my only hard and fast rule for this cube is "Plains are the only Basic Land." I'll consider any argument to cut or add cards to the cube, and I'm sure there are some gems I've missed, and some cards I have that are cruft and/or too good.

Jason Waddell

Staff member
Google Doc

Seeing as I just made some cuts from my cube and finally reconciled my google doc with reality, I figured this would be a good time to share my cube with everyone. I don't have time to do a proper write up right now, but I'll be sure to field any questions as best I can.

Cube rules:

1) Plains are the only basic land. Other colors require you to draft the mana producers for them.
2) Skullclamp is errata to draw one, Mouth of Ronom assumes your plains are actually snow plains.
3) Planeswalkers are killed (and reanimated) by anything that affect creatures. This skews their power level heavily downward, with all the sweepers in the format (before this rule change, they were too dominant).

Quickly though: the list is far from optimized. I've still got cards I want to test out and I'm always stumbling across new suggestions. When I expanded to 450, I was quite haphazard with my additions, and most of those additions reflect cards I had in hand; as it's been awhile since I've fired up my printer for proxies. I've made a first pass at cutting some cruft, but the list feels far from "final."

Oooh, neat idea!

What's the story behind the document color scheme?

I tried to look, but can you give a brief explanation of what your non-white cards are and the different fixers you have to support them? I saw Ajani Vengeant, but wasn't sure what else there was.
Oooh, neat idea!

What's the story behind the document color scheme?

I tried to look, but can you give a brief explanation of what your non-white cards are and the different fixers you have to support them? I saw Ajani Vengeant, but wasn't sure what else there was.

The doc's colors are for tracking which cards I own foil (yellow) and which are still using a simple proxy (red). Pretty close to foiling it out (and/or getting High-Quality foil proxies for big money).

My goal is that the only truly gold cards are planeswalkers - Venser, Ajani, probably Sorin soon too. Otherwise, each card should be "usable" with only access to white mana, but have a strong upside with acess to the other colors. Examples: Off color kickers in Dismantling Blow, Orim's Thunder. Off-color flashback on Lingering Souls. Fuse Split cards like Wear/Tear and Profit/Loss. Activated abilites like on Selesnya Guildmage. Macetail Hystrodon and Scion of Darkness both cycle and are reanimation targets. Unburial Rites requires either a discard outlet or the black mana. You could save yourself the life on Phyrexian Mana. Or make Flame Javelin cost less than six.

The other goal is that any fixing that is available is 5-color fixing. This way, you don't have to worry about what is potentially more useful: Tundra or Scrubland. And it makes it easy on me the designer, as I don't have to pay attention to the frequency of the non-white colors. So things like City of Brass, Coaltion Relic, and Darksteel Ingot are present to provide the other colors.


god this is wonderful. i've heard of mono-colored theme cubes (or guilds or w/e) but i've never read about how they're experienced. who plays them? who drafts what? what are the games like?

Eric Chan

Hyalopterous Lemure
Staff member
This seems insane. I love the idea. For monocolor cubes, I'd assumed that only it was only possible to do with blue, but now that I think about it, white can pretty much do it all, too.

How does signalling work? You can cast pretty much anything, so.. is it just a matter of picking an archetype, and sticking to it?
This looks like a ton of fun. And somehow seems even harder to build than a normal cube!
This has a huge card evaluation challenge and deckbuilding challenge rolled into one, since I would think the aggro-midrange-control rock-paper-scissors dynamic is even more important than usual.
The cube doesn't play super crazy; it's still magic. White can meaningfully interact with every permanent type, and it has good creatures up and down the curve. It plays well with and against artifacts which fill in some mechanical holes; and I decided to use phyrexian and hybrid mana without remorse.

As designed the cube offers your basic Aggro-Midrange-Control archetypes. With the glut of sweepers available to players, overextending is very dangerous: this means games rarely snowball away from you. Aside from fast-mana, artifacts and enchantments are mostly unrestrained in power level: so the available disenchant effects are essential removal. There's a lot of tribal synergy in white, with soldiers, rebels and knights having the largest gains.

Aggro players are typically either trying to lock up a win with an Armageddon, and/or play around Wrath effects (equipment helps here, but also several cards in the cube were included specifically to "counter" wraths). Control is typically of the ramp and tap out variety: playing sweepers and over the top bombs. Then there's plenty of value cards to build mid-range around. Other strategies include some reanimator, building an impenetrable defense with enchantments, and also some alternate win-cons with lifegain.

Of course, the beauty of the cube is that all those archetypes are in the same color, so there's nearly unlimited ways to make a mix of strategies work. It's hard to "signal" in the draft, and you've just got to pull the trigger on what's right for your deck. I tried to stay away from too many "boring" picks that are simply too overwhelmingly powerful to pass; but the cube's quirks make these cards different than in other cubes. Wurmcoil engine has caused many a groaner in "normal cubes" for being overpowered, but my cube is chock full of proper answers (he's still real good though, obviously). And of course, some cards have a skewed power level in this environment: Pretty much anything that had pro-white was left out, but instants that temporarily grant pro-white are still in (and very powerful). Strata Scythe has stolen its share of games, while Angel's Feather is a nice role-player for decks that want some extra life.

Even in its unfinished state, the cube is very fun to play. There's lots of stuff going on that feels very high-powered and "cube-like," but with enough differences to be appreciated as a different format. At my local store there's been a few skeptics, but everyone's become a believer after playing through a draft.
So upon further thinking, I'm going to talk about a couple of my favorite cards in the cube, in hopes that it better helps everyone understand how the cube plays.

Fencing Ace: For starters, he's got the most relevant race/job creature type - Human Solider - so he's likely to pick up bonuses easily. Double Strike is quite a potent ability, and obviously makes him a good candidate for picking up any/all equipment. Of course, I've also reinforced him for an instant speed blowout on more than one occasion. On the defense, he also trumps x/1, so it's not just an aggro card.

Time Vault: I'll save you the trouble of scouring my list: There are zero ways to abuse time vault in my cube. Still, it is a powerful tool for control decks that have stabilized: by setting yourself up for two turns in a row, you can milk planeswalkers, entrench your finisher and possibly even win the game.

Ghost Town: Dodges Armageddon and friends, which is huge. Also, helps you take a step back in land count when you want to use Weathered Wayfarer and the other Land Tax-type effects.

If you have any questions about specifics in the cube, be sure to pipe up and I'll gladly elaborate.

Chris Taylor

I think what we've all been wondering is: What does your basic land box look like? Is it all one art of plains, or many? Are they all foil? Or do you have 5 different plains arts which more resemble island/forest/swamp/mountains?
Because foiling out the commons and uncommons was relatively inexpensive, I knew I wanted to get all foil basics. Art wasn't a priority so long as they were all modern frame. I had several that I collected over the years, and was getting them as throw-ins for trades, along with some donations as well. Then the news hit that the Dragon's Maze pre-release would have the second promo card of Basic-Frickin'-Plains, so I've been collecting those, my goal is for 120 of them (that's 15 basics per player in an 8-man). I've gotten several from donations and trades, and I'm constantly monitoring ebay for deals on them. Managed to snag 60 Chinese ones for very cheap, so I'll be half and half foreign/english (The cube is otherwise all english, with only a couple textless cards).

Chris Taylor

I suppose if there's one card you can assume all your players know the rules text of, plains is a pretty good candidate :p
Dug up my cube's thread on MTGS that had been dormant for a few months. Surprisingly, much of the introduction was still relevant, so I merged and edited it into my OP. Happy reading!