sam's 450: the second coming

hello all, i'm back after a big irl magic hiatus!! i'm back to updating my cube semi-regularly now and i've been lurking the whole time i've been gone.

here's the list i'm working with at the moment, and i'd love to hear some feedback and suggestions on what i'm trying to get going here.

i'm trying to approach archetypes and synergy a little differently from my last giant, higher effort explain the 10 color pairs endeavor (i can't bring myself to do all of the fancy formatting), hoping to create more of a "web" for people to play around in. i'm aiming for a fairly high power level but i have removed much of the bombiest stuff that goes in every deck of its colors (Murderous Rider and Noxious Gearhulk and the like).

i don't know where i got this idea, but it's how i start every cube. i basically take 5 cards that are the perfect benchmarks of what you want the cube to be about, one of each color, and then build outwards from there. here's the 5 for this one.

probably my pettiest pet card, something i have to shape the format around. i need enough enchantments, some way to tease "reanimator" for enchantments (lay claim comes to mind), and to slow aggro to the point where decks don't die by tapping out for this. it informs how the whole cube is built, and is an "achievement unlock" to signal drafters.

blue was hard to choose, but i think thing is close. blue's a slower color, but i like being able to turn the corner in a dramatic fashion. means that cantrips need to be plentiful, and instant/sorcery density high.

the heart and soul of the black sac deck. aggressively slanted, provides a mana advantage, and is a gameplay and drafting puzzle. probably the most clear-cut window into what my ideal cube looks like.

this is a fairly new one, but it emphasizes red's focus on madness and instants and sorceries very well. impulse draw is just an awesome mechanic, and growing this thing quickly is something i want to enable.

my sweet sweet clue boy how i love you so. cares about land drops, makes extra permanents to sacrifice, self-enabled growing beater at a cmc that doesn't aggro interesting decks out of the game. big lynchpin piece in "artifact green". he's on the cover for a reason.

things i'm looking for specifically:
1. supplementing the clue/token/treasure theme, and are things like trail of crumbs too narrow? i tried to make a point to include nothing that requires a specific token type that doesn't already make it.
2. thoughts on 3 multicolors of each color vs. 4? i could probably make a cut from each guild but it would hurt a bit.
3. power band outliers, low and high. would love some more sets of eyes on the environment since i don't get to playtest much.
4. some more explicit combo support. i tried to have non-parasitic storm for a while (mostly mana doublers and untappers) but found it unfeasable. i'm thinking altar of dementia perhaps? really looking for adds that incidentally combo with stuff already in my format. i feel like there's some teshar, ancestor's apostle stuff i'm missing for sure.
5. some cuts in black. i really like my black section, and feel like there are probably some sacred cows since i have trouble cutting anything there.
6. is lifegain-matters a pipe dream? they've printed a boatload of support for it lately and i feel like it has legs.

and the big one,

7. the ship of theseus problem. i've been looking at this list for close to 4 years, and there are probably holdover cards from no-longer-supported-archetypes that stick out that i can't really see anymore. would love help cutting them.

really just looking to get back into cube discussion, so throw cards at me!! thanks for the cool place to discuss the best way to play magic.
doing some general housekeeping:


removing a smidge of removal density, and taking out some odds and ends that didn't really serve a purpose like Icingdeath. i'll miss jadelight, but she's kinda outclassed as a roleplayer, and husk is being replaced by two colorless sacrifice outlets because we already have woe strider as a black 3.


trying to support more artifacts, and added in a small urza's saga package. i'm interested in hearing some other tech picks for people that include Saga. maybe zuran orb if we're going super deep?
100% love the Saga and Trawler. They add a lot to the archetype and help justify running all of the Baubles and such.

i'm interested in hearing some other tech picks for people that include Saga.
More cantripping cheap artifacts really help the artifact deck tick and they can play well as draw smoothers in other colors too

Are some pretty common ones you don't have. As mentionned, I really like the Bauble, Star, Sphere and Spellbombs. They play well and enable you do to synergistic things. After that, The Wayfarer's Bauble is cool as a bridge between landfall and artifacts. Sacrificing itself opens up Emry, Lurrus and Trawler.
Chalice is a decent mana rock in itself, but definitely not essential. Top is cool with Bolas's Citadel and as a general draw smoother, if your players don't take too long with it.
Elixir is similar to your Codex Shredder. Can be clutch with Mesmeric Orb and such.
Finally, the Cookbook is a good discard outlet that floods the boards with artifacts. You already have so it would fit well!
You already have so it would fit well!
i actually have a clause for Asmo and GPG where if a card mentions another by name, you get them both when you draft it! I never really liked the tension of having to pray for both pieces to make a card functional if it was an effect i wanted, so i figured the mental overhead's decently justified.

definitely sold on the spellbombs, probably will just allot them to the colorless section. i've always been fascinated that people valued aether spellbomb so highly, but i guess just being a cheap artifact is worth it enough in some decks. top is something i have not considered because of the implications it has on match times, but depending on who my playgroup solidifies as, it ticks a lot of boxes that i really like.
made the cut to 3 of each guild slot last night at 5 AM, as well as a few misc others in previous days. seeing how i feel about it now


cutting a lot of blunt instruments, vestigal archetype holdovers, and nostalgia bait here. i am a bigger than average hydroid krasis fan i will admit, but ramp isn't as big of an identity in the cube anymore so it loses a lot of its signpostability i think. knight of autumn always felt a lot like using a guild slot on premium removal which didn't sit will with me, but it leaves me with three 2 drops as my selesnya slots. i mind it less than most but it's still weird. phylath's whatever, kroxa was probably too good (never got any games in irl), and queller signals a UW flash deck that isn't really there now that i've cut most of the curiosity effects.

scavenging ooze is a hard one to cut, but with more GY emphasis it feels like it's a little too oppressive. i'll miss the lifegain triggers and the safety valve, i think.

oh yeah and i put master of death in the colorless section because no gods no masters i do what i want and it's mostly discard fodder.

it comes as no secret that i'm using Inscho's format(s) a LOT as inspiration, including past iterations! i don't know how to @ people on here but thank u much for your exploratory work. a bunch of ins to the cube are gonna be familiar territory if you follow them.


trying to let green back into madness a bit, realizing that they don't need to have actual cards with the word madness printed on them. more trinkets/baubles for mr. mage and urza's saga, a second crucible of worlds effect, and golos as an additional artifact and blink target. will probably have to remove field of the dead but it's worth testing i think. epochrasite is one of those cards i cut at one point just cause it was ugly but it does everything. wish it had a foil.
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To tag a user simple put @ before their name, like this @inscho

First, I'm used to very high quality fixing (Double duals, double fetches) but I feel you don't run enough. Many of your archetypes would be more varied and fun if they could extend into a third colour and the quality of cards is such that I feel forced into a subpar two-colour deck more than reapong the benefits from it.

For comparison, I run 45+ fixing lands in 380 cards. You run slighty less at 450, about 40+. Furthermore, the majority of lands in my cube are useful to all drafters because you can use an off-color fetch to grab a dual you want. Your fixing also varies in usefulness and quality. For example:

All these cards are pretty weak compared to the rest of the cube and you cannot run them in aggro decks. Hence, aggro is hit with scarcity twice: It needs more fixing than control but there's actually less fixing for it. Sure, UB might not be the most aggressive combination but I can play a tempo game with the colours if I can cast my cheap spells.

I also believe fixing should scale with the power level of the cube and those cards are much weaker than other cards you have included, like Lurrus or Pia and Kiran Nalaar or Soneforge Mystic.

Lastly, like Nanonox says, running a bunch of Chromatic Stars is very handy. It improves your fixing and there are lots of decks that want them, from Jeskai Spells to Artifacts.
I would try to revise your white section (and adjacent ones) if you want to run Humans. I think you need more humans to support the tribal synergy. I would look into replacing some of the lesser non-human cards with human equivalents.

I also want to say I don't like

It's just so horribly narrow. The BBB madness cost is prohibitive, particularly with your fixing and paying 5 mana and sacrificing 3 creatures with the hopes you come out ahead is shaky.

Hope that helps!
a long awesome post i don't want to clog the thread with
wow this is awesome feedback! thank you much for the deep dive! you've correctly identified a lot of outliers here, some of which I'd had the blind eye problem with. the varied quality of fixing is a remnant from when I both had a substantially lower power level, and some archetypes that are no longer around (bouncelands for untap-combo and what have you). I will defend the sheltered thicket as an an additional way to make Wrenn and Six and Life from the Loamdraw cards, however. Terramorphic and co can and probably should probably be additional copies of ash barrens, something i've experimented with as high as 10 copies of to support the astral drift deck, or perhaps Prismatic Vista.

definitely going to take a look at the fixing section with some fresh eyes.

the humans are a sort of accidental archetype that's gotten worse as the cube goes on by virtue of me going "surely there's still enough, it's probably fine" as i change cards around. fixing this thing up feels a bit like pulling weeds, combing through all of the muck of previous iterations!

pariah is def a pet card, she's probably survived this long by virtue of having the word madness on her and there not being a ton of critical mass for that deck. worth a second look to be sure, especially with the removal of some prolific token-makers like Lingering Souls and Weaponcraft Enthusiast