Shamim's Cube

I didn't actually make them on my own; a buddy of mine who's good at Photoshop made them for me a while back. Afterwards he just printed them out at Office Depot on some cardboard stock. I have zero familiarity with Photoshop and can't really help you out with specifics, but if you want to use the same template and customize it to your own liking, I can forward you the file that was used for it later today.

I have a friend like that too. He is a real treasure to the cube I run :p

Yeah that would be great!
Could you please share your current utility land list? Love the idea.

Sure, I'm currently at:

I've cut it down more in recent years. Found that while excess lands lead to more choices and customization, it just ends up being information overload past a certain point. Ended up keeping a handful of cycles and just single lands I liked. Of those listed, I'd say Ash Barrens is probably when I'd next move into the main cube if I open up a slot in my colorless section. It's just as good as either Terramorphic Expanse and Evolving Wilds (sometimes even better!) and has usually been a high pick.
A large part of my design philosophy stems from my experience playing EDH. While I spend the majority of my Magic engagement fiddling with cube and theory-crafting here, I'd say the majority of my actual time playing the game is via EDH sessions with my playgroup (especially in the last year). It has allowed me to evaluate and consider cards differently than I would have coming from a pure cube perspective. There's just more room to mess around with themes and niche cards to get an understanding of the density of effects you'll need to consistently accomplish a specific style of play.

We've been playing together for roughly 7 years to this point and over time we've slowly gone from piles of cards and big splashy spells to more efficient options in our more tuned decks. My main Karametra, God of Harvests deck has shifted from a big mana deck with an Enchantress subtheme to a robust lower CMC deck looking to break parity and close out games by either ramping quickly ahead or by deploying Stax effects to curb development and interaction before locking it up with some MLD. That's not to say everything is cutthroat now, I still have a few other decks at varying power levels, just that card evaluations are through a different lens than what I was utilizing previously. Where EDH used to be more of a home for cards that weren't Constructed worthy, it's gone through its own renaissance in the last few years with more care and attention put towards generating card advantages and maximizing your curve.

To that end, I've found a greater appreciation for a variety of cantrip and card smoothing effects. They're obviously not the most exciting or splashy inclusions, but having low CMC cards that you can fire off when there's a lull in gameplay to improve your card quality and draw is very important the higher your power level is. This is evident in higher powered EDH decks and finely tuned Constructed decks, and its also worth revisiting and considering in Cube.

When I first started posting here, I saw Jason's idea with the multi-Brainstorm set-up and gave it go in early iterations with a full playset in my 360 cube. They worked well when you could consistently get a shuffle effect to maximize value, and that definitely gave it the highest ceiling of these options, but I also noticed that getting Brainstorm-locked was a real thing and could really suck. This was more evident to me when I increased my cube to 420 and when I played EDH with cards like Aminatou, the Fateshifter and Sensei's Divining Top where I really wished I could just shuffle and/or pitch some of these dead cards to the bottom of my deck. To that end I've found cards like Ponder and Preordain to be more powerful and useful that I might have thought initially in early drafts of my cube.

I was looking more at the ceiling of a card like Brainstorm and thinking of all the cool things you could do in conjunction with other cards, but missed the very real case of casting the card in a vacuum and getting stuck. Sometimes you just want a shuffle effect or to just cantrip to thin your deck a little while improving your draws. Consideration should also be put into what different flavors of U/x decks might be interested in. With grindy {U/B} and {W/U} decks, being able to dig deeper and find your answers to threats is most imperative while {U/R} can get a little trickier with utilizing cards like Opt and Brainstorm for instant speed tricks.

What mostly made these thoughts re-surface was the printing of this card in Strixhaven:


This is an obviously powerful removal spell with a cheaper mode making it palatable to all B/x decks. I'd play it in EDH in a heartbeat, but is this something I really want for my environment? Much like the cantrips above, having a variety in your removal suite leads to mare varied possible play patterns. This is the most efficient variant of Vraska's Contempt and the like that we've seen and it goes into more decks, but I'm not sure if that's a good thing overall. If this card was printed when I first put my cube together it would have gone in with no questions asked with the lack of options at the time, but we've gotten a plethora of efficient removal spells in the last 5 years:

We're not exactly starving for this kind of removal. The question to ask when including a card like this is which decks do you want to give this to? It's easily splashable and can slot into all decks, but is that really where you want your unconditional removal to be? I feel like there should be more of an opportunity cost. Also, it's just more of an engaging draft process when cards aren't an auto-pick to fill a universal need like removal. For example, if I'm playing a low to the ground aggro deck I'm not playing Eat to Extinction most of the time and would vastly prefer the lower CMC options like Cast Down or Fatal Push to clear the way as I develop my board.

Having a 4 mana unconditional removal spell that only certain decks might be interested in, much like how Char is more appealing to aggressive decks that don't mind the self-Shock, might ultimately be better in getting the spells to the "right decks". Maybe that two life from Vraska's Contempt is actually what the U/B deck needs to stabilize for an additional turn cycle to flip a game around. The double black pips in cards like Hero's Downfall and Contempt might dissuade someone from picking them up on a splash without the right fixing available. That's not to say that there shouldn't be some great options for your drafters ala Lightning Bolt or Swords to Plowshares, just that there should be more of an inflection on what "problem" you're looking to solve with the inclusion of similarly powerful cards.

I quite like those decision points. Same with cards like Bloodchief's Thirst and Burst Lightning where you end up having to make the decision of whether its worth firing off early to pick off a smaller threat or to cash it in later when the game is further developed. I'm all for these cards that create greater decision trees, be it in the draft process or in the middle of a game with sequencing. Ultimately, I decided to stick with Contempt as it's been a solid performer for years now and has always ended up right where I wanted it to go; mostly in grindier B/x Midrange shells.

Making these kind of decisions has definitely led to me being more engaged in the development of my cube as a whole over the last two years and I've found it much more rewarding overall. Hopefully I'll be able to run a cube session again sometime in the next few months and see these changes in action!
After about 18 months, I was finally able to get around to hosting a cube draft (two actually) last week of August into early September. A couple of buddies from my college days and I have made it a semi-annual tradition to meet up for a week of backpacking/hanging out at a cabin up near Yosemite. Aside from interacting with nature and taking some much needed time away from work, the big thing we do is just play a lot of Magic ranging from EDH to Modern to drafting my cube a few times. I was finally able to get some real reps with the cube after being on the shelf for a long while. Finally get to see a year plus worth of updates and card swaps in action!

We were able to get in two drafts during the 6 days we were at the cabin after backpacking, the 1st draft was a 6 man and the 2nd draft was a 7 man with one of our friends flying in later in the week to hang out. Draft process was the usual with 3 x 15 card packs followed by a Utility Land Draft. And now, after two three four weeks, I’ve finally finished uploading decklists and a brief write up. Here’s what the rest of the table (that I didn't play) ended up with after the 1st draft:

Simic Slaw (Jeff - 1st Draft)

Jund 'Em Out (Reeves - 1st Draft)

Usually for a draft my goal isn’t necessarily to build the most powerful or greedy deck, but to try out new cards and strategies to see where they end up. As you can see by some of the decklists above, I can leave it to some drafters to force multiple colors while others might try to focus on build arounds. For myself initially I wanted to build out something a bit more adventurous, but I saw an early Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer and figured this was the perfect chance to see it in action. I ended with a kind of middling R/W Aggro deck that had a bunch of 1 drops and could curve out well, but didn’t have as much top of the curve reach that I usually want to see from an aggressive deck:

RW Aggro (Shamim - 1st Draft)

Still, this was the first time that many of my friends had drafted my cube in nearly two years, so I figured that now was as good a time as any for me to keep it simple with deckbuilding and see what other people could come up with. My goal was to basically play "fun police" with an aggressive deck that would keep greedier decks in check. Except that didn't quite work out as well as I was hoping.

Honestly my deck didn’t quite perform as well as I thought it would, but it was mostly due to really stagnant draws or rough mulls in many of my games. I think part of it was being very greedy with 14 lands, but also I think I made a mistake with some utility land inclusions that I could have done without. The few times I was able to curve out well the deck was very strong in establishing itself on board and applying pressure, but other times I’d just draw a clump of 4 lands or just run out of resources. It was a bit unfortunate but that just happens sometimes. In the 1st round I played against Will and his grindy U/B deck:

Dimir Midrange (Will - 1st Draft)

We split the 1st two games with me blitzing him early and then firing off a Red Sun's Zenith to push through damage, kind of get held up on board, but then topdecking RSZ again to finish him off with lethal damage. However, I got stomped by a board wipe the following game that kept me from being able to rebuild and get in the final points of damage while he 2-for-1ed me with Control Magic and a Dragonlord Silumgar. In game 3 I was off to a nice start but then he was able to stabilize with larger creatures and just completely outvalued me once the game kept progressing with cards like Hostage Taker. Once he was able to resolve a Walking Ballista with X = 3, he pretty much locked me down on the ground and I was unable to push through any more damage. Still, great match and it felt like it could have gone either way depending upon the draws we each had.

The 2nd match was against this GW Coco deck featuring Lurrus:

GW Coco (Yichin - 1st Draft)

Similar story where my quick development + burn spells picked off his board and put him on the backfoot in one game but then a midrange-y board development kept me from being able to put him in striking range in the other game. Game 3 again started off with a hot start for me, but then he stabilize with a Lurrus of the Dream-Den. Then he stuck a Maul of the Skyclaves on that bad boy and I couldn’t draw removal to save my life before he got in two hits in the air and effectively locked the game up. A 4 point swing in the air is just impossible to race as an aggro deck on the ground. Two hits? That's just game.

For fun I played against Leo who drafted a super greedy 4C deck that my deck should have feasted on, but instead I got stuck with mulls to 5 and got routed pretty quickly in 2 out of 3 games that we played:

4C Greed.dec (Leo - 1st Draft)

What's insane to me here is the audacity to play two Wasteland in this greedy pile. The funny thing was that I was the one who actually got punished as Wasteland knocked me off red mana after sniping my Den of the Bugbear while my other red source came from a Cavern of Souls on human. No burn for me I suppose. It was absolutely a mistake to keep them in for later games after remembering that he drafted 2 Wasteland from the ULD, but I didn't and I ended up paying for it handily by not drawing into another red source the rest of that match.

We had a 2nd draft a few days later, this time with 7 people, and I decided to get a little more adventurous with the deck I was drafting. This time around I decided to prioritize fixing in pack 1 and then use the rest of my picks to build a solid 3 color deck. Initially I was going for a midrange grindy UB deck after getting an early JTMS and Control Magic, but then I got some green fixing as well as a Hallowed Fountain so I was hedging towards splashing either green or white as a possibility. A bit after that I drafted a Gilded Goose and a Pernicious Deed so I went full on into Sultai colors. Partway through Pack 3 I saw some blue artifact support starting to come my way and decided to try a feeler on a few picks like Urza Lord High Artificer and Noxious Gearhulk. I passed a Tinker early in the 2nd pack but it was halfway through the pod and I was certain that it would wheel so I decided to keep picking up incidental artifact support to flesh out my deck and had it come back around. I ended up building a Sultai Artifacts deck (one that I didn’t even know was possible) featuring Tinker as a way to jump far ahead into either Myr Battlesphere or Noxious Gearhulk:

Sultai Tinkerer (Shamim - 2nd Draft)

EDIT: For whatever reason the deck formatting doesn't like me displaying my 5+ drops. The other cards missing above are Mystic Confluence, Black Gearhulk, Myr Battlesphere and Thought Monitor. I'll try and see if I can fix it up tomorrow, I don't really see anything wrong when I look it over compared to every other list posted.

EDIT 2: Thanks for the fix Kirb, all lists should now be accurate!

In the 1st round I got paired up against my friend Yichin who somehow also ended up drafting an artifact deck featuring Goblin Welder and Goblin Engineer with a U/W core with some high impact cards like Teleportation Circle and Angel of Invention:

Jeskai Assembly Line (Yichin - 2nd Draft)

There was a lot of interplay on both sides with both of our decks being a little slow to get going, but if the engines were set up correctly we could each pull off some explosive plays. In Game 1 I ended up facing down some gross loops with Goblin Welder and Cursed Mirror alongside Teleportation Circle to recur some artifact threats from the grave and slowly whittle down my life total with threat like Epochrasite to apply pressure and Perilous Myr to shock me as it comes in and out of the graveyard. In Game 2 I was able to punish him thoroughly with a Pernicious Deed for 2 that just decimated his board (killed two of his artifact lands!) and allowed me the time to rebuild and get back into the game with Urza, Lord High Artificer and Skinrender]. I jumped pretty far ahead once I stuck Mu Yanling, Sky Dancer (one of my favorite support walkers ever printed) and was able to create a 4/4 Elemental with flying to apply a ton of pressure. Some timely removal and rebuying with Eternal Witness let me clear the way and get in for lethal. Game 3 was a little less exciting for me as I kept drawing into lands as he developed his board out before topping it off with a copy of he Antiquities War. I was able to draw into some removal to try and stem the bleeding, but by the time the Saga had gotten its 3rd counter he still had around 25 power on board courtesy of a Teleportation Circle blinking a Whirler Rogue and I was unable to prevent lethal damage.

My biggest takeaway from that match was that Teleportation Circle is the real deal and being able to blink artifacts is highly underrated and something that I mostly glossed over on first read. Being able to blink a card like Cursed Mirror can allow for some downright nutty plays with any relevant ETBs with creatures that generate multiple bodies. Blinking an Epochrasite lets it return as a 4/4 instead of a lowly 1/1. Blinking Retrofitter Foundry (which is already a strong card) allows for double activations on a turn. You can even do super niche stuff like blinking an artifact land to keep mana up for a potential counterspell. Card is excellent and worth inclusion in a majority of cubes, doubly so if you have any blink subtheme.

In my second match I played against this grindy U/B deck drafted by my buddy Will who is addicted to playing Black decks in all formats and apparently my cube. I think this is like the 4th time I've seen a U/B deck from him. Anyways, here's the list:

Dimir Midrange 2: Electric Boogaloo (Will - 2nd Draft)

His deck featured a lot of removal, some 2-for-1s, and a minor reanimation subtheme hoping to bin and bring back a Sheoldred, Whispering One. He was able to grind me down in G1 with a sequence of removal spells and plays that generated a solid amount of card advantage including a Hostage Taker followed up by a Phyrexian Metamorph. G2 was in my favor with me finally being able to live the dream with an early Gilded Goose that allowed me to pull off a Tinker on the food token and turn it into a Myr Battlesphere that just locked the game after he couldn’t draw into removal. He fired off one removal spell to try and deal with it, but I had the timely Arcane Denial to keep him in check and close it out. G3 was a back-and-forth and I was able to pull off a value Tinker into a Thought Monitor + later follow it up with a Battlesphere, but he had the right answers at the right time to keep me in check. Unfortunately he didn’t have a way to apply pressure and I kept having my threats answered so it came down to a LOT of surveiling via Master of Death to dig deep until he eventually pulled off a win by decking himself and casting Thassa’s Oracle with back-up protection/recursion available. Not the worst way to go out, first time I've actually had an Oracle win in my cube. It was cool seeing how deep he was able to dig to enable the win-con.

Master of Death was super impressive to me by playing the exact role that I had initially envisioned for it. I was envisioning it to be another way to help pitch cards into the grave for a reanimator based U/B deck, but serving as a conduit to an Oracle win was a cool side benefit. Being a 3/1 gives it some actual blocking power and it’s really just a neat all-in-one package with a ton of tiny synergies that just work overall. Even outside of reanimator, I think it's just a super solid card for any UBx deck just by filtering the quality of your draws if you're able to deploy it more than once. Excellent support card, yet another gem from the cube goldmine that was MH2!

To wrap up the cube session, I just played another game for fun with my friend Jeff who was waiting for his 3rd match as two more of our friends were engaged in a midrange back-and-forth matchup. He drafted the RW Aggro deck that I was hoping for in the 1st draft:

Superior RW Aggro (Jeff - 2nd Draft)

Just completely tore my deck in half in the two (very) brief games we played. There were just a lot of ways to push through extra damage ranging from Hero of Oxid Ridge with the Battle Cry, jumping one of his attackers over with Elspeth, Knight-Errant, or even just a surprise Embercleave to push through lethal. Not a whole lot to discuss here, I got absolutely wrecked and was on the backfoot from the jump unable to set up before he fired off removal and burn to clear the way and close things out. Theoretically this is the exact kind of aggressive deck that should be available in any given draft pool to keep greedy manabases in check. You'd usually supplement it with something like Wastelands out of the ULD to keep decks honest. He ended up winning his 3rd match as well which gave him a cool 6-0 across both drafts with two very different decks (RW Aggro and Simic Slaw).

Bonus story: We had also had a Time Spiral Remastered draft where we went through a whole box and I had also played against Jeff. I think this was the 2nd round? We had both drafted decks that featured UGx with Suspend stuff, except he also had Venser, Shaper Savant which was pretty damn solid in that draft environment. He pretty much ended up drafting a better version of my deck and that became abundantly clear through two games, but the real kicker was in game 2 after I thought I got off to an insane suspend start. I was imagining a huge T6 that would culminate in a massive swing where I’d be able to get him with a few big hasty boys. Instead I got got by Mystic Confluence. A card that would have never existed in that time period due to sheer power. A time-shifted old bordered copy that somehow made it between dimensions all the way from a multiplayer set. I don't even remember what my timeshifted card was, but it definitely was not a Mystic Confluence. Anyway, I think it was two bounces and draw a card as the modes he chose to end my career. I don’t even remember the specifics of what was bounced; I was so shook by that that I had already given up any hope of winning.

Anyway, aside from the decks I’ve already posted above, here are a few other decks that I didn’t actually get a chance to play against:

Naya Coco (Leo - 2nd Draft)

Neat build, a Naya Coco list that had a similar GW core to the one from the first draft (and also features the Stoneforge package). I was only able to watch part of a game, but I did see the nasty line of Wasteland into Renegade Rallier into recurring the Wasteland to kill a 2nd land. Like I mentioned earlier, the GW base is pretty much the expected core of the Coco decks that are drafted in my cube with the plethora of white and green 3 drops available so it’s great to see drafters identify and be able to build out this deck in back to back drafts. I’m a really big fan of Maul of the Skyclaves as well after seeing it in action over these two drafts. Can really shift the momentum of a match by vaulting one of your dudes over ground blockers, but having the right answers will also leave it mostly stranded with a higher re-equip cost. Super solid.

5C Titans (Reeves - 2nd Draft)

Here’s another deck that went deep with the 5C manabase. Somehow even greedier than the other one, but it looks like Lotus Cobra, Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath, and the 3 mana ramp alongside the 5C pain lands are what held this together. Just an extremely midrange build that will probably out-value any grinder match, but I could see this folding to something like the RW Aggro deck I mentioned earlier if it stumbles early on. If we have one of these greedy decks in a session, with the drafter having prioritized fixing in the draft, then I think that’s a healthy enough place to be at despite my dislike of midrange piles. As much as I'd love to just see very synergistic decks come together following defined archetypes I've developed, letting drafters find their own way and have an archetype or deck that feels comfortable to slide into like 4C Midrange or generic UW Control is important as a designer. Also I need to consider that it might have just been our limited pool of 315/420 cards with 7 drafters just ended up with a nice sampling of the abundant fixing in my cube. I've definitely seen the flipside where we somehow didn't have enough fixing in the draft pool and many people just ended up with two color decks with many basics.

Third, and this might be a shocker, but it seems that Uro is just a pretty strong Magic card. I don’t think it’s anywhere near as busted or oppressive in Cube compared to Constructed with 4 copies in each deck, but even as just a super Growth Spiral it can do a hell of a lot to help with early development in this format. I don’t think it’s exactly a power outlier relative to my cube, but it’s definitely something I’ll keep an eye on in the future. At least it’s not as dumb as Oko, Thief of Crowns which took all of one game in our last cube draft pre-pandemic (I think it was Reeves who drafted it then as well). It took all of one game where he went T1 Birds of Paradise into a T2 Oko when I realized that I could do nothing to meaningfully interact and would probably just die to the immense value. For now though? Uro can stay as one of the main draws to UG for your final deck. It took many years for WoTC to figure out what to do for UG and while they definitely overshot it for Constructed, I think we're at a pretty good place right now for cube design as a whole.

Sultai Manly Lands (Hip - 2nd Draft)

Didn’t get to see much of this is acti0n but did hear later that Sylvan Advocate was the truth with that little bit of text growing his two manlands in Creeping Tar Pit and potentially Hall of Storm Giants to huge sizes. I remember when Advocate was first printed around 5 years ago I thought it was a pretty pushed card with its stats and upside, and that was true for quite a while, but nowadays I’ve come around to it merely being a fine card within current design standards.

Now for some brief ramblings since we’re on the topic of Advocate. A lot of former boogeyman that I was hesitant to include in earlier iterations of my cube 5+ years back are much more tenable nowadays given the gradual power creep we’ve gotten and the efficient tools we have to deal with them. I think of cards like Thrun, the Last Troll or Elspeth Knight Errant that were way above par in 2014 Magic, but aren't really anything out of the ordinary 7 years later. A 2/3 Vigilance is still a roadblock against a super low to the ground aggro deck, but unlike in 2016, there is just so much more potential depth to the gameplay with aggressive decks that they aren’t just shit out of luck if this resolves against them. Yes, it’s more difficult to get through as it’ll kill attackers, but that just means you need to prioritize where removal is headed to maximize damage output. For a long time I was against including Advocate type statlines, but I’ve definitely come around after thinking about what it presents on a gameplay level. I think players should have to make these sort of decisions. I also think it’s good to have cards that create certains “spikes” in gameplay to keep things fresh and interesting with combat. Not so much on the level of something super swingy that presents an answer me or die conundrum which isn’t great, but something like being able to resolve a 2/3 blocker on T2 versus a well-tuned aggressive deck present a very different game than one where you’re just blitzed out from the start and can’t mount any defense. That can be equally as frustrating as being stonewalled. I think with the tools we have nowadays across various archetypes with Aggro getting very efficient early game removal ala Portable Hole and the upsides being pushed on cards at lower CMCs, there’s just a different definition of what constitutes powerful in my environment. As such, including a ⅔ for two like Advocate or the new Tainted Adversary are just fine for me in my current configuration. As long as I can continue to provide my drafters with the necessary tools and potential options to deal with these types of cards, I think overall they’re a healthy inclusion and only serve to enrich interactions and deckbuilding decisions within my environment as a whole. In other words, I’m an advocate for the Advocate and it’s super sweet with any manlands you’re running. 100% worth it just to see the realization dawn on your opponent's face when that Creeping Tar Pit is actually a 5/5 unblockable that can close things out in 2 turns rather than 4.

So if you were keeping track through this report, I actually did not win a single match throughout the cube sessions but had a blast pushing nearly all matches (except RW Aggro) to G3. I’d say probably one of my worst showings, but as the designer most of the time I’m more excited to see what people can come up with with the environment I’ve laid out while I’m there experimenting and trying out cards instead. Previous decks I’ve drafted were MUCH more successful like WB Humans and UR Artifacts, but it looks like the stars didn’t quite align this time around.

I’m currently finalizing my pickups for Midnight Hunt and figuring out all the swaps/inclusions I’m going to be making. I think I might be at the point where a jump to 450 may be necessary with the number of sweet cards that I just can’t seem to find slots for within a 420 configuration. There are just way too many cool cards nowadays and I’m expecting another batch of stuff with the 2nd Innistrad set in a few months. I just know that cuts are going to be extremely tough by that point.

Oh man, I've had this report on the backburner for most of the last month as I slowly filled it out and uploaded + formatted the decklists. I can't wait until Cubecobra gets around to my request for Riptide Lab format as a deck export option, will save so much time when finishing up these recaps. Big part of the reason for this taking as long as it did to write up included being busy with work but also just dreading the process of manually formatting and linking everything for 13 different decks.

As always, thanks for reading! Hopefully there's less of a delay to my next cube draft and I can get another 6 man going before the end of this year.
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EDIT: For whatever reason the deck formatting doesn't like me displaying my 5+ drops. The other cards missing above are Mystic Confluence, Black Gearhulk, Myr Battlesphere and Thought Monitor. I'll try and see if I can fix it up tomorrow, I don't really see anything wrong when I look it over compared to every other list posted.
Great read. Love a good list dump and analysis. The Confluence play in TSR limited also seemed like a brain explosion move. Love it.

I fixed up your post to show the missing cards in your decklists. For future reference you were missing the quantities in front of those cards (and a Batterskull in an earlier deck). When editing that many lists it is easy to miss the simple things.
Thanks for the write up, always enjoy reading these "tournament reports". Yours especially because our cubes are on a similar power level.

I have a few questions/comments about cards/strategies that stood out (by there presence or absence).

Most decks seem to be 3+ colors. Have you considered the Triomes?
I've found them to be decent (neither exceptional nor garbage) gameplay wise, but amazing during the draft process where they open up a lot of possibilites (especially if you don't draft your whole cube and some duals don't show up).

Speaking of 3 color decks, how have cards like Cavalier of Gales played? Seems ambitious in those decks with the triple {U} mana.

Comparing your first RW aggro deck to the second one, the resiliency of the second one stands out. 2 planeswalkers, Mother of Runes, Dauntless Bodyguard, Selfless Spirit and Phoenix of Ash. Maybe more sources of resiliency could help support more aggro decks?
Sevinne's Reclamation is an awesome one that plays well in the GW lands deck, with Snapcaster Mage and the new Bloodthirsty Adversary.
An extra planeswalker could help here as well. Elspeth, Sun's Nemesis seems like a perfect fit, pumping your team, creating humans and being recastable.

That Jeskai artifact deck with Golos is just begging for an Urza's Saga! I've found the land to be a great build around in a lot of different shells and I think it would achieve similar results in your cube with a few more targets.

Thanks again for the report!
Thanks for the write up, always enjoy reading these "tournament reports". Yours especially because our cubes are on a similar power level.

I have a few questions/comments about cards/strategies that stood out (by there presence or absence).

Most decks seem to be 3+ colors. Have you considered the Triomes?
I've found them to be decent (neither exceptional nor garbage) gameplay wise, but amazing during the draft process where they open up a lot of possibilites (especially if you don't draft your whole cube and some duals don't show up).
The ideal for decks that are drafted in my cube are usually those that have a 2 color base with a 3rd splash for a handful of cards. Depending upon the fixing that the drafter ends up with, and how highly they prioritize it, I'd say that the majority of decks end up falling into this range. Other times they'll get sniped on fixing and have to slide into two color builds which is right in line with what I want.

The main issue with Triomes, for me, is that rather than enable 3 color decks consistently I feel like they'll only incentivize extremely greedy mana bases more in the 4-5c range. It would be more similar to when I had double shocks and double fetches even with the lack of access to a T1 play if you were to fetch for a triome on T1. I don't think this is something that I really want to introduce to my base draft, but the allowance I make for this is currently with the Squadron Land feature. If you draft a tri-color card like Siege Rhino, you'll get the associated Triome with it. It's kind of splitting the difference, but this is best way I can think of to ensure that a player gets the necessary fixing for their harder to cast tri-color cards. I haven't really dove into the inclusions of a bunch of tri-color creatures as the cycle is incomplete, but I'll likely revisit this sometime in the future.
Speaking of 3 color decks, how have cards like Cavalier of Gales played? Seems ambitious in those decks with the triple {U} mana.
I see Cavalier as mostly a card for strictly two color decks, either U/B or U/W where you're likely to trade removal/counterspells and whittle down resources before you can stick this and try to finish the game. I'm actually a fan of more restrictive costs to ensure that super greedy splashes aren't just readily available at all times for powerful cards. I sort of view it similar to reanimation targets where most decks will pass on it, but if a deck can play this card and wants it, it's likely that they'll get their hands on it. As long as there aren't too many of those, I think it's fine overall for my cube.
Comparing your first RW aggro deck to the second one, the resiliency of the second one stands out. 2 planeswalkers, Mother of Runes, Dauntless Bodyguard, Selfless Spirit and Phoenix of Ash. Maybe more sources of resiliency could help support more aggro decks?
Sevinne's Reclamation is an awesome one that plays well in the GW lands deck, with Snapcaster Mage and the new Bloodthirsty Adversary.
An extra planeswalker could help here as well. Elspeth, Sun's Nemesis seems like a perfect fit, pumping your team, creating humans and being recastable.
Pretty much. That was the main issue I had with my deck where an early blitz was great, but any kind of hiccup would just throw me for a loop. Aside from burn spells, I think my R/W Aggro has the least incidental reach compared to R/B or W/B Aggro that has way more chip damage potential. You really need that curve topper to tie it in together and unfortunately I didn't get to draft them, but Jeff obviously was more successful.

Reclamation seems neat and I do have a copy, might give it a run with the next series of updates. I'm just not sure if R/W is the deck that would be most interested in it unless they can bring back two impact 3s. I honestly see it having greater utility in something like the Coco decks that I featured earlier where you can get that 6 mana worth of value on the Flashback.

Sun's Nemesis is pretty neat, but I think I just prefer Knight Errant as a classic cube inclusion and because of the FAR superior art. Nemesis can definitely put in work, but I like limiting the planeswalkers in my cube to avoid midrange fiestas so I try to keep it to 2 options at max per single color. I'm more loose with inclusions in gold slots.
That Jeskai artifact deck with Golos is just begging for an Urza's Saga! I've found the land to be a great build around in a lot of different shells and I think it would achieve similar results in your cube with a few more targets.

Thanks again for the report!

Yeah, I think I will put one in at some point and I'll need to figure out additional 0 and 1 CMC inclusions to make it worth. The base mode of creating Karnstructs is more than enough the majority of the time, but Cube is obviously a different animal compared to Modern. I think I need like 2 more inclusions before I feel like it's a good inclusion for the main pool, probably put in a Mishra's Bauble for now. It's kind of on that weird precipice where it's a bit too good for a ULD selection, but not quite there for the main cube quite yet. I did end up opening up a copy with the MH2 draft we did so I can definitely give it a run at some point to see how well it works out.
Sun's Nemesis is pretty neat, but I think I just prefer Knight Errant as a classic cube inclusion and because of the FAR superior art. Nemesis can definitely put in work, but I like limiting the planeswalkers in my cube to avoid midrange fiestas so I try to keep it to 2 options at max per single color. I'm more loose with inclusions in gold slots.
I totally get that. I guess I was thinking of replacing Gideon Blackblade which is a bit more generic in my eyes. Sure he hits hard, but there are already some hard hitting cards in White and with the addition of Portable Hole and Prismatic Ending, his removal option seems less needed. I guess I am saying he doesn't help with White's weakness all that much.

Yeah, I think I will put one in at some point and I'll need to figure out additional 0 and 1 CMC inclusions to make it worth.
As you've said Mishra's Bauble is a good one. I was going to suggest Wayfarer's Bauble, but I don't see Emry, Lurker of the Loch in your list which really helps justify running some of these Baubles/spellbombs and such. Urza's Saga has been a clutch bridge between artifacts and lands in my cube, meaning that playing Green artifact based decks become a lot more interesting.
I totally get that. I guess I was thinking of replacing Gideon Blackblade which is a bit more generic in my eyes. Sure he hits hard, but there are already some hard hitting cards in White and with the addition of Portable Hole and Prismatic Ending, his removal option seems less needed. I guess I am saying he doesn't help with White's weakness all that much.
Yeah that's fair, but 3 CMC is kind of the sweet spot where it's viable for both W/x Aggro and Midrange. I like Blackblade having the flexibility of playing double duty as both a beefy 4/4 on offense but also capable of pumping a creature to be more effective in a midrange slugfest. He's just a really solid inclusion that's never been disappointing so I don't really see myself replacing him unless there's something that can push white in a cool direction. Unfortunately, as solid as Sun's Nemesis is, it doesn't quite get there for me. It's definitely strong enough for Aggro, but it feels middling in midrange at 4 CMC having to compete against all the other available options.
As you've said Mishra's Bauble is a good one. I was going to suggest Wayfarer's Bauble, but I don't see Emry, Lurker of the Loch in your list which really helps justify running some of these Baubles/spellbombs and such. Urza's Saga has been a clutch bridge between artifacts and lands in my cube, meaning that playing Green artifact based decks become a lot more interesting.
Yeah, Emry was a bit too niche and cute for my environment and never quite got there when I briefly ran here. The idea of it is great, but unless you have the fast mana or multiple options to enable something degenerate or value oriented, it's kind of whatever in a 1v1 match if you're just durdling around. If I had a slot to put in another artifact centric 3 drop, I'd probably go with something like Master of Etherium at this point. Just a better fit for the time of gameplay that Artifact decks tend to generate in my cube.
Haven't gotten in any more drafts, but I kinda splurged a little recently on a few cube updates. I've been a sucker for those old bordered foils ever since they started printing them again and have added a handful in my cube. The WPN promos for Scavenging Ooze and Dig Through Time were reasonably cheap, but I was hesitating on TSR ones with their limited supply and that insane foil multiplier. The only one I had picked up early enough was a Zulaport Cutthroat which didn't have as crazy a multiplier and made sense given EDH popularity. Wasn't really planning on adding others in the short term until I found a seller on eBay who had a few available that I was interested in and was willing to negotiate down a lump sum price. Was able to snag these goodies altogether for around 30% total off the average and had to jump on it:


And picked up a few non-TSR foils for two cards that I was planning to upgrade for a loooong time now:


One of my drafters asked my why I was still running Compulsive Research instead of Thirst for Knowledge in our latest drafts and I didn't really have a good reason, especially after the further development of my U/R Artifacts archetype, so I went ahead and made the swap with a copy from Mirrodin. Goblin Welder was one that I had my eye on for a while and I was able to find a seller that listed this one around $35 for a NM copy so I jumped on that real quick. I wish I could have picked up a foil Urzas Saga copy, and it's one I had in the back of my mind for years now, but it looks like there was a buyout on foils from that set in the last few months and I have no desire to pay that ridiculous mark-up. Still, this Judge Promo is a decent upgrade over the Duel Deck version with inferior art.

Foiling out my cube has been a continuous journey for years now. Initially I'd just pick up copies of whatever wherever usually from a draft or prerelease or trade, regardless of foil or normal copies, but at some point I realized that my cube is more like a collection of my playing Magic over the years. And to honor that I wanted to pick up my favorite and/or most memorable version of each card to preserve that history. There are a lot of memories tied into it ranging from various drafts and gameplay stories to the individual cards that I've acquired from various friends and at events over the years. The promo Languish I picked up during Origins Gameday where I lost to a buddy of mine in the Finals (Dragonlord Dromoka too strong). I've got the complete set of foil Shocklands that I picked up at a handful of California GP events over a year as I saved up while I was still a student. The foil Scourge Carrion Feeder I picked up at GP Vegas in 2019. I'm a fan of the new TSR Primeval Titan, but I'm not going to replace the GP Promo I've had for years now because it also marks the first time I had met a now good friend of mine when I purchased the card from him at an LGS.

A Modern Masters Dark Confidant I picked up at GP San Jose a few years ago which reminds me of a funny memory. There was a GP a year or two before that one where a friend and I were wandering around looking at vendors and found one who had MM boosters on sale. I kind of wanted to play the lottery but also knew my odds. I had really wanted to pick up a Bob for my cube for years but couldn't swing it with the price tag at the point during college when it was a pricey Modern staple. I decided not to buy a booster pack and then in the middle of us talking about it, some random dude shows up in front of us and buys a pack while picking the top pack that was sticking out from the pile. He opens the pack in front of us, my friend says imagine if he opens one right now. The guy jumps to the rare and it's a Dark Confidant. "Oh cool that's a Bob. Tight." and then he just walked away. Fuck my life.

Anyway, while I mostly purchase singles on my own instead of trading due to convenience nowadays, it's still a blast to go through my cube and reminisce about these memories over the years. For newer sets I usually pick up my singles about a month out from release and try to snag the bigger cards if I see them at a price point I'm comfortable with. I've only got a handful of longer term stragglers left at this point, only 4 cards to foil out now, but a few of them are likely to be white whales for me to pursue for a few years. The next major one I've got my sights on is a Foil Morningtide Bitterblossom, just keeping my eye out for a NM copy at a reasonable price. Hoping I'll have an update on that one sometime in the next year!
Wow these two are really pretty.
Blue and black cards definitely pop the most with the retro frame treatment. Part of it is the most additional detail that show up on foils with the black metallic pattern and the blue wisps whereas the Naya colors are mostly just solid shades.
Hi Shamizy,

I'm curious what your Utility Land section looks like now and possibly your plans with the rare Legendary land cycle from NEO?

Hi Shamizy,

I'm curious what your Utility Land section looks like now and possibly your plans with the rare Legendary land cycle from NEO?


Hello! I will be adding the entire 5 card cycle from Kamigawa as well as the tribal land doing an Unclaimed Territory impression. Aside from that it's mostly been the same over the last year and will be the following post Kamigawa:

That's 44 cards for now, I probably want to cut it down to 40 or 36 at some point but I'll need a few more drafts where I can note what isn't getting picked very often. There are just a lot more options compared to when I started to where a lot of these cycles need to be re-evaluated.
Hi Shamizy,

I'm curious what your Utility Land section looks like now and possibly your plans with the rare Legendary land cycle from NEO?


Update: Boseiju is way too busted as a card to be included in the ULD. I've come to this conclusion after seeing it in action briefly at prerelease and seeing it at the top of pretty much every list for every format review in the last week. It will almost always be a 1st pick for a G/x deck based on absurd utility and feels like an auto-pick. It'll be in the main cube instead, the rest of the cycle will remain in the ULD. The only one that comes close to main cube worthy is probably the new Eiganjo, but it's not quite on the level of Karakas so I think it's fine in the ULD for now. Honestly Boseiju being so much easier to reduce to a single pip with Channel just pushes it waaaaaay over the top.
Well, this is the first big blog post I've had in months and it comes along the heels of some big updates with the base composition of my cube. I've mostly been tinkering with my cube each set release with new cards and then putting it aside until I want to revisit it for the last 2 years. I don't get to play it nearly enough with work and hobbies and other life commitments, but it's a fun project to revisit with every new toy that gets printed. I want to say a big reason I've decided to delve deeper this time around is because I've mostly "completed" my cube over that time period and have mostly spent time on white whale foil pick-ups that I had put off for years. Finally got around to acquiring these cards over this year (will post pics in another blog post) which essentially "completed" the cube. But then Dominaria United came out shortly thereafter and reignited my interest in design, much like Modern Horizons did a few years back. I was finally given the tools necessary to build out the U/R Artifacts archetype that I had imagined back in Kaladesh. In this same manner Dominaria United gave me a number of glue cards, supplemental effects, and build-arounds that shored up a lot of different areas of my cube.

Dominaria's various card interactions and off-color kicker cards have made me want to dive deeper into the dense card inclusions and the glue I've deployed over the years to supplement and support archetypes. Interweaving pieces that promote playability across the spectrum and provide renewed support for archetypes that might not have gotten there previously have made me re-evaluate a handful of newer cards for inclusion as well as revisit old cards I've had sitting in the cube binder. A lot of the design choices with interactions made in the set inspired me to revisit my own individual card choices so I figured now was as good a time as any as I'm also planning out a recurring bi-monthly Cube/Magic day with my playgroup in the future. Stay tuned for more write-ups for cube sessions coming to a blog near you (this one specifically).

And with that, let's dive right in!

1. Reanimation Review

Ever since I first put my cube together in 2014, Reanimator has always been one of the toughest archetypes to tackle. It's certainly a fun archetype when things come together and there are fewer things as exhilarating as cheating out expensive spells ahead of schedule, but end up with a lot of glass cannon-y and lowkey parasitic deck choices to make it work. You want targets to be powerful enough that they are worth jumping through the hoops to cheat out, but if they're too game-warping then that's no good to me. I'm trying to create a cube where decisions matter throughout and some of the classic game-ending reanimation threats just run contrary to that design principle. I think the most egregious thing to me are cards that are included in lists purely for reanimation or other cheaty strategies where they're essentially a dead card to everyone else in draft. As such I try to keep it mostly limited to cards that should be accessible in at least one other archetype. My suite of big expensive creatures at 6+ CMC looks like this:

I think this is a healthy mix of actually castable creatures if a game drags out a bit and a handful of big boys to reanimate with evasion or a keyword that helps close out the game. I think the recent years of card design with a focus on efficiency and utility lower in the mana curve has caused a shift in what makes a target worth reanimating. Cards that might have been backbreaking in the past have become more manageable with efficient options lower in the curve and removal that can cleanly answer them. Still powerful to deploy ahead of schedule like say an early Inferno Titan, but not necessarily game-ending. They all advance the game in some meaningful way either via raw stats on a body or by producing an ETB with an impact. You could definitely construct scenarios where each can be back-breaking, but I don't think very many of these fulfill that in a vacuum where it becomes an oh fuck I guess I just lose type scenario. I think there are enough tools in my cube now with removal and incidental graveyard hate that are capable of keeping cheaty strategies in check. The variety of effects available from these payoffs also keep it interesting to me; certainly more engaging than slotting a bunch of Eldrazi and calling it a day. I'm really just trying to avoid having a majority of big bodies that are only viable in reanimator decks and I think I'm nearly there.

The artifact creatures in Myr Battlesphere and Phyrexian Triniform have additional methods to be cheated in with the likes of Goblin Welder and Daretti, Scrap Savant while still being cast-able in big mana ramp decks. The green creatures can be reasonably powered out via your typical ramp packages and stuff like Castle Garenbrig out of the ULD or serve as neat reanimation targets. The spiciest newcomer is Hogaak Arisen Necropolis who I think will introduce a neat semi-recursive threat (that cost isn't exactly negligible) that has homes in both the reanimator decks and with the self-mill deck that has gotten a big boost recently. More on that in the next section.

2. Revisiting the Bench

I've also decided to revisit a number of creatures that were either in my cube at some point or were stashed away in the back of my cube binder for an eventual try down the line. Any familiar faces weren't necessarily bad at the time of inclusion but they didn't quite get there for whatever reason. Maybe there was something else I wanted to try out at the time with the millions of sets released each year or maybe I just didn't have the support necessary to make it work as consistently. But now, with this big update that has introduced a lot of support cards across the board, it's prime time to revisit the following cards:

Rielle is still a card that I've always been quite fond of (who doesn't want to double draw off each loot?) but I put it on the sidelines as I was more focused on fleshing out my U/R Artifacts Archetype in the last 18 months or so. With a few tweaks here and there I want to say that we've gotten to the point where there is enough incidental support scattered through both blue and red that I can reintroduce a kind of spellslinger package as a secondary deck within U/R.

Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis has been a card that intrigued me from the moment it was spoiled. I have fond memories of that initial week where everyone was still calling Modern Horizons a commander set and overlooking a ton of new printings (myself included), but then someone broke Hogaak alongside all the new graveyard support. Within days you had dozens of videos showing off the insane board states and interactions between cards to power out that early Hogaak from the graveyard. I was visiting my cousin up in Seattle that week and he had been in and out of Magic for years, but we both watched some video on it and were fascinated by the complexities you could exploit in the game. Good times.

I like Hogaak as a dual reanimation target and graveyard deck payoff. A recurrable threat from the grave, despite the extensive delve cost, is a real powerful tool to have as evidenced by how dominate it was in Modern for a stretch. To help ensure more chances of setting yourself up for a successful deck, I've decided to try out Urborg Lhurgoyf (more on that below) as an additional proactive gravefiller and brought in my copy of Fauna Shaman as a way to set up big turns. That's another card that has been sitting in my binder for a long while, but I think we've finally hit the critical mass of creatures worth pitching to the grave and graveyard interactions to where the Shaman is more than worthy of its slot. Making simple swaps like taking out your 4 mana black exile spell of choice for something like Lethal Scheme or trading in that Sakura-Tribe Elder for a Satyr Wayfinder gives you additional avenues to help fuel decks where Hogaak can actually be viable.

Finally we're bringing back Khans Sidisi for a run with all this additional support for graveyard decks and a number of cards having been printed in recent years like Consider, Mire Triton, Sticher's Supplier which provide additional triggers to generate a 2/2 Zombie token. This card has never really been much of a power house, especially in comparison to the types of designs we get nowadays 8 years post-Khans, but it IS a fun card that has a unique effect on the game. The biggest issue with tri-color cards for years was the difficulty in actually deploying them on curve, but getting a fetchable triome with every other tri-color gold card I've deployed thus far (Kess and Siege Rhino) have greatly improved their playability in a final 40. Let's see what happens with Sidisi this go around.

The Raven Man wasn't a card that was initially on my radar but after reading up on other designers' views, seeing it in action in a handful of brews online, and seeing the stained glass version (incredible art), I've decided to give it a run. I think there are enough sources of incidental discard within my cube to where it's worth the inclusion. Being a human doesn't hurt either as that is a card type that matters in B/W decks as I've detailed many times before. I don't necessarily see this being a stone-cold staple for years to come, but I'm excited to see where it ends up being used and how my players can take advantage of interactions. Rewarding players for discovering interesting ways to exploit card interactions is one of my favorite things to do as a designer and Raven Man definitely gives them the opportunity to do so.

I've been trying to limit the number of ETB value creatures for inclusion over the years in an attempt to create more of a chessboard battlefield where more on-board decision-making is key. I try to limit the number of ETB creatures I decide to integrate into my environment, but Ertai just ticks a lot of boxes for me as a proactive flash threat that offers a ton of flexibility with what it can answer. I've never liked Subtlety for how limited it was with its window of interaction (also not a big fan of the play patterns from that cycle in general), but this feels more like a Venser, Shaper Savant mixed with a rattlesnake. I'm very much into that and the weird niche cases where you can kill your own little creatures to dig deeper in case you need to draw into something specific as an answer. Swapping it out for Hostage Taker seems like a fair move that opens up more avenues so I'm excited to try out a versatile answer that has a little more play to it.

3. Duplicate Voucher Update

Arclight Phoenix is a card that has interested me for a long time now, but I kind of just lost track of it once it was no longer a thing in Modern after the Faithless Looting banning. It wasn't until I was browsing through cubes a week back and came across Tjornan's cube which had a ton of draft enhancements where I saw Arclight as a pick 1 get 3 squadron pick. I'm not the biggest fan of squadroning copies of playable cards into one pick, but I'm completely fine with integrating something similar into my duplicate voucher system. Unlike Constructed, I think even bringing back just two Arclights in the mid-late stages of a match is pretty big game for the types of U/R spells decks that my cube has produced over the years. What you're really looking for are additional ways to deal damage after countering/tempoing out your opponents plays in the early-mid game. Deploying 6 power in the air out of nowhere to dome your opponent might exactly what you need paired alongside some chip damage and burn to close the game out. All I really need to introduce to make this more viable are a handful of ways to pitch cards into the grave via looting effects and concentrate instant and sorcery spells with some more low cost options. Maybe include some fringey cards like Lava Dart as a cute enabler. If I wanted it to be THE defining U/R deck then I'd probably need to get real deep with doubling up on many enablers (like they do in Constructed), but I think I like it more as a once in a while kind of deal. And with the voucher cards being available for use in other combinations, I never have to worry about a "dead" slot if the Arclight shows up too late in the draft to meaningfully build towards.

Full disclosure: I still don't think Urborg Lhurgoyf is very good as a standalone inclusion in a typical cube list. I'm just not very impressed by a creature that grows counting only your graveyard unless you have a ton of ways to just pitch cards to get it going. A single Boneyard Wurm doesn't really do it for me most of the time. However, this type of effect in multiples can be quite effective if you can chain them into one another. That's evident by any recent Standard brew you see trotting out these big old 7/8 Goyfs that just stop any action on the ground once you deploy a few. You can do something like play an early UGoyf to gum up the board and then a turn later kick a 2nd UGoyf into two sizable threats on board. Throw in other cards that help you pitch cards to the grave ala Satyr Wayfinder or tutoring up a body via Fauna Shaman? That's just gas. An average case scenario will make it much less impressive. Because I don't have a super dedicated graveyard archetype, I don't feel that these kind of cards can really take off like they could in an environment focused on those aspects.

However, this is why this duplicate voucher system exists; for glue cards and archetype cornerstones. This is the perfect scenario to test out the UGoyf and see if it'll actually work out like I think it could. The good part is that the ability to self fuel itself by milling cards into the graveyard synergizes with cards like Hogaak from the grave (also provides a green body for convoking!) or extra draws off The Gitrog Monster, any G/x Reanimator deck will appreciate more ways to self-mill to fuel the graveyard, and finally it fits right in with the returning Sidisi, Brood Tyrant that comes with a Zagoth Triome as a squadron pick to more easily ensure those off-color kickers. I think utility and flexibility will ultimately determine how long this sticks around, but we'll see where we're at in about a year's time.

This brings up the total number of card choices per duplicate voucher to 9, but I will be sticking to 4 total voucher cards within the cube. Judging by the success of the system in previous drafts, this should drum up even more competition for these slots and make them more valuable depending on the deck. I could definitely see an Arclight player prioritizing the 2nd copy much higher as part of their win-con versus a player with UGoyf who might just be looking for more pieces to flesh out a graveyard deck. That's exactly the kind of demand variance I'm interested in and hope to see in future cube sessions.

4. Every Part of the Buffalo

Beefing up the reanimation suite has also made me revisit options in dealing with those threats efficiently aside from straight up removal. Like let's say you're up against Hogaak as an example. Merely killing Hogaak will not be enough if there is still a board of small creatures to convoke it out again and enough fodder in the grave for the delve cost. In this scenario cards that exile ala the classic Oblivion Ring fulfill a greater role. Even a card like Oust, one that has come in and out of my cube throughout the years, has greater utility with the ability to tuck away big threats and sometimes even kill off an entire draw if the opponent doesn't have the means to re-deploy a card they might have cheated out. Stranding a card can be big in these kind of matchups where you might be the fair W/x deck trying to contend with explicitly unfair things. To that end I also like Cast Out which may not be the best in matchups where you're getting overrun with smaller creatures going wide against you, but the added utility of being able to cycle it away for a fresh card is always welcome. In a grindier match there is no greater feeling that being able to just cleanly answer a threat with a timely Cast Out and then untapping into deploying your own action. Bonus points being a card that can be cycled away at a cheap cost and can give you an additional Raven Man trigger.

Ledger Shredder is just a strong card on its own, but the ability to loot on a body as you set up bigger plays down the line is super useful as a support card. I like having a lot of cards in my cube that are playable and hold their own at their base, but can be exploited with various other card interactions for other uses. Like think about pairing this in a U/R deck with Rielle where you can turn instant speed card draw like Opt or Consider into virtual combat tricks. A card like Haughty Djinn plays the dual role of turning your cards cheaper to more easily enable consistent connive action but can also benefit from cards pitched to the grave to potentially grow even bigger. Don't even get me started on something like Frantic Search which just synergizes with so many different cards in this revamped package. Playing cards like Manamorphose let you push through with a free cycle/filtration of your mana, turn it into a small ritual with any cost reducer (useful for Arclight action!). How about Unearth playing multiple roles where you might use it for its intended purpose in buying back a relevant creature, maybe now you fire it off more willingly to just get another trigger, or you could just want to cycle it for a new card.

Flexibility is what I like in support cards and making these small tweaks here and there help promote a variety of interactions and deckbuilding decisions that reward my drafters. That's ultimately what I love about cube nowadays even more than cool new card designs; being able to build out a gameplay experience by exploring decisions and complexities that can be deployed. Sometimes, even more so than drafting and playing the cube myself, I enjoy just walking around from match to match seeing the kinds of decks and games that my drafters are running through.

Giving players the keys to the car and letting them explore on their own is very rewarding for me as a designer and I'm hoping that a lot of these changes both big and small lead to some fun cube sessions in the months to follow. Thanks for reading!
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New duplicate voucher has been mocked up by my buddy. I'll get around to printing them sometime in the next couple of weeks when I get to physically updating the cards in my cube. I've pretty much just had the last couple months of swaps just sitting around in a section of my binder for now, probably won't get a chance to actually draft with a full pod until later this year. Once we do, however, I'm looking forward to setting up a bi-monthly Magic day with my playgroup + other friends to get in more reps than I have in years past. Should be fun!

I'm also looking forward to getting a 10th card on there sometime in the next couple of years (in White or Blue hopefully) so that I can use this nicer looking layout at some point:

No rush though, I'm kind of picky with what I'd like to double up on so I'll just wait around until something feels right. Who knows, maybe we'll see it in The Brother's War? In any case, the more visible Doppelganger art the better.
Waiting on some cards to arrive before I get around to snapping some pics of shiny cardboard as promised last week, but I've been mulling around an update to 435 in the future. 420 is a real good spot for my cube where I have the density necessary for the archetypes I'm looking to support and I'm pretty happy with it, but 435 opens up the chance to explore supporting pieces and try out neat one-ofs to synergize with existing packages.

I did something similar a few years back when I bumped the cube up to 450 for a brief stretch where I could get 8+ drafters (many times 10!), but then brought it back down to 420 over the next two years as it felt a bit unwieldy with my typical 6 man pods. With a draft pool of 270, you'd just miss way too many cards in a 450 cube.

I'm 50/50 on actually making this jump, probably wouldn't do it until sometime next year, but I've been thinking about cards I want to try out. A lot of them have previously been in the cube, but there are a handful of spicy newcomers. Here's the shortlist:

We'll start with the milder inclusions. The Bonus Round will be a 5th copy of my Duplicate Voucher, hoping that will allow us to see ~3ish copies in a final 360 pool for an 8 man draft on average. I'm adding in a 2nd copy each of Fabled Passage and Prismatic Vista to increase the density of fixing lands. Fumigate will be in as a 3rd white wrath to maintain density, Volrath's Stronghold has been liberated from one of my EDH decks, and I wanted to add another mana rock so it looks like Prismatic Lens is back on the menu. Woe Strider is a fine 3 drop in black, gives me another sac outlet to work with, and it synergizes well with existing packages in my cube. My current options seem to lean more in an aggressive slant so this is a nice addition for the slower and bigger B/x decks. Embercleave is an obviously powerful card, not really much play to it as you just win combat every time, but I think its important to give players a blunt instrument to work with every now and then. Combat tricks tend to not translate over well into this format, but the Cleave keeps players very honest. This definitely pushes you more into R/W Aggro with an equipment lean, especially if you've picked up an early Stoneforge Mystic and have spent the draft on the lockout for payoffs.

And now, onto the spice!

Welcoming Vampire is pretty much what I wanted Bygone Bishop to be for a very long time. A 2/3 body in the air is solid if unexciting, but being able trigger on ETB rather that cast AND being able to draw rather than generate a clue is a big upside. Plays well in pretty much every white deck I can think of, no one is saying no to additional card draw, and it plays really well with blink decks once they set up engines in Thassa, Deep-Dwelling or Teleportation Circle. From playing an Aminatou, the Fateshifter EDH deck for years, I can say that while blinking cards for value is fun what you really need is to be able to dig into proactive action to actually push that advantage. The passive card draw from Welcoming Vampire lets you do just that (I actually play a copy of this in just about every one of my EDH decks with white in it) and it definitely pays off down the line. Bonus point for being a non-human that plays well by curving into Winota, Joiner of Forces!

Kappa Cannoneer is just a neat payoff card for artifact decks in my cube. It will definitely end games if it gets to stick around, but I see it as another blunt instrument in the vein of Embercleave. I'm all for introducing more of these to give archetypes a legit finisher option to close out games with. Windfall is mostly there to supplement cards like Rielle, the Everwise and Sheoldred, the Apocalypse. I like the interactions it has with each of those cards, how it can fit into those strategies by being used for additional value aside from filling up your hand, and I'm excited to get a foil copy with the upcoming promos later this year.

Purphoros, God of the Forge is back for another run as I just love the minigame of assembling a deck that can maximize the damage output. It makes any creature that generates multiple bodies more valuable, gives additional reach if you set up something like a Gravecrawler + Carrion Feeder loop, and can lead to very memorable sequences for my drafters. I have fond memories of a deck I drafted years ago that I'd love to be able to revisit in this current cube iteration:

Purphoros Thopter Shop

Chatterfang, Squirrel General helps me branch out a bit by fleshing out the token interactions I have in my cube. It plays exceedingly well with cards that already generate tokens, gives me more green bodies that can trigger cards like Purphoros or let me convoke out a Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis, and it plays very well with cards like Blood Artist and Brutal Hordechief that exist to give additional reach for decks that go wide. Not the biggest fan of Forestwalk, but at the end of the day this is a 3/3 body with no additional protections so it shouldn't be too difficult to deal with. Also I have a cool retro foil I picked up way back when that I never got around to using in EDH so I might as well. Exploration is mostly a filler card for now, though I do like the idea of assembling a G/W deck that features Welcoming Vampire +Felidar Retreat + drawing more cards and playing more lands. Expand to Abzan and throw a Gitrog into the mix or Naya to play a Wrenn and Six and that's exactly the kind of fair midrange value that makes Magic worth playing.

Finally, I've been looking for an excuse to try out Korvold, Fae-Cursed for a while now and I think with this 15 card module you get a ton of support that makes it viable as an inclusion. It'll be drafted with a Ziatora's Proving Ground as a squadron land. There are a lot of cards here and in the cube currently that allow you to take full advantage of that card draw engine and this is certainly a great reason to go into Jund colors as a drafter. In a 435 set-up there's a nonzero chance that we won't see it in a given draft pool, so the multicolor goodness can remain as an occasional treat for my drafters.

We'll see how all this works out next year after we get a handful of reps in, just wanted to get something down for reference in case this is all a fever dream in a week. I'll be sure to keep you all posted.
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put more cards in each pack when pods are smaller?

thopter shop looks like SO much fun!

I use Cubeamajigs and have the cube double-sleeved so the hard limit for a given pack is 15 cards. I tend to have the cube all pre-shuffled and packs ready to go the night before so we can just get started as soon as we set up.

I could theoretically go down some cards per pack and go up in total packs (which I've built out on Cobra for testing), but in practice it ends up being extra work for not much benefit.
Oh dang, it's really just 15? I had thought the consensus was 16 to 17.

I mean whatever works for you is fine I guess. Most draft boosters end up being 14 cards actual cards ignoring the basic land which is usually just the 15th final "pick" unless they're doing something different with that card slot (gates in Ravnica sets, snow basic in Kaldheim, etc.).

There's just a nice familiarity with a 15 card pack for an 8 man pod where you're used to a certain number of cards wheeling back around. Just feels like classic Limited to me.