The 5 Dollar Fair 'Nuff Cube

Hey hi, so I recently started organizing a new monthly cube night with the girls and thought it would be fun to finally get a blog post going about my main cube. You can find the list here.

This cube started its life as the Card Kingdom Starter Cube 3.3, which I picked up shortly after getting back into Magic a couple years ago. Even with my limited game knowledge and cube experience at the time, I was really unimpressed with the list. Games were slow, high-curving, and incredibly grindy. Signals were messy and confusing. Many inclusions were straight up baffling. Games were often decided by who was able to draft the most power outlier six-drops.

I’m honestly sort of glad things went this way, because it inspired me to completely revamp the cube with my own design goals and vision for what a fun low-power cube can be. At this point, I have completely Ship-of-Theseus’d the cube into something unrecognizable, with only 45 cards shared between the two lists these days. Tuning this cube reinvigorated my passion for Magic and I’m very pleased with how far it’s come!

Design Goals
These ideas have constantly evolved over time. I’m always willing to bend or break these rules for the sake of including a beloved pet card or to make the cube a stronger whole, but these are the general concepts that have driven the design of this cube

Accessibility and Simplicity
Most of my Magic-playing friends are not hardcore fans. I play with a lot of lapsed players who loved kitchen table in high school, people who play casually on Arena, and folks who just started playing recently and only ever play the game through the context of my cubes. As such, it’s a high priority for me to limit complexity and make the cube as accessible as possible

This is also something I prefer as a player, even though I’m reasonably enfranchised these days. I think strategy games are at their most exciting when you can clearly parse all the information in front of you and have a strong understanding of what the consequences of your actions will be, and this has been a driving philosophy in how I think about cube design.

This doesn’t mean the cube is full of vanilla beaters and cards with only one line of text, but it does mean I’m very cognizant of where I’m spending my complexity points and avoiding cards with convoluted rules text. If the choice is between two similar cards and one is more elegant, I go with the simple one. If I think a keyword is too confusing on the first read of its reminder text (e.g. explore, amass, ascend), I avoid it.

Fair Magic
As an extension of the above, this cube is focused on fair games. Combat and value synergies are the core of the gameplay, and I want players to be primarily rewarded for their ability to evaluate novel board states.

This makes the cube a lot more accessible for new players, as combo-heavy environments are often overwhelming for newbies because it requires them to know that this card from 1998 and this card from 2003 are supposed to be drafted together to recreate this specific combo from a format they’ve never played.

Cheap Cards
I wasn’t aware of sites like mpcfill when I started this cube and I’m not a fan of grimy printer paper proxies, so every card in this cube cost less than $5 at the time I purchased it.

At this point I’ve broken this rule in order to include nice proxied dual lands, but I’ve maintained the $5 rule because it allows me to pick up a few new cards for the cube without having to spend a bunch of money on shipping for MPC proxies. Also the restriction, while ultimately arbitrary, helps me to narrow down the pool of possible inclusions and makes those decisions much easier.

Balance of Synergistic and “Good Stuff” Strategies
Sometimes you want to go all-in on your beautifully crafted aristocrats graveyard recursion engine deck, sometimes you want to just jam some strong guys into a midrange deck and beat face. My goal is to make both a possibility here. This is obviously quite tricky to balance, but has been successful so far!

Iconic Cards
Drafting and casting iconic cards is just fun. If the choice is between two similar cards and one has a more significant history or pedigree, I go with the iconic one. Yes, Noose Constrictor is better than Wild Mongrel, but the dog wins out because it’s a famous famous boy.

This familiarizes new players with cards they’re likely to see over and over, and helps to reduce the complexity for the more enfranchised players by letting them go “yep I know that one” instead of having to read every card in their packs.

Overlapping Themes Spread Across the Colors
I want players to be able to build archetypes within a wide possibility space of different color pairs, so I strive to find cards that let me spread my themes across the color pie. I also want cards that bridge the gaps between my themes as much as possible. For example a card like Young Wolf bridges the gap between sacrifice and +1/+1 counters.

Best Cards Would’ve Been Good In Standard In Like 2013
I try to avoid the excesses of modern design in this cube, and I want the top of the power band to be right around the power level of early 2010s standard. My heyday with Magic in high school was the 2010-2013 era, playing with the current sets at the time and a lot of stuff from the mid-2000s, so that’s the stuff that “feels like Magic” to me.

Thragtusk and Restoration Angel are high picks” type beat.

Decks That Feel Like Sweet Kitchen Table Decks
Ultimately, I want players to be able to combine iconic cards with weird junk rares and forgotten jank to build decks that feel like sick-ass kitchen table decks.

+1/+1 Counters

A fun, straightforward theme that’s simple for new players to grok. It’s also easy to spread across colors by just including a bunch of incidental counters throughout the cube, so players can just have solid cards that happen to use counters or go all in the payoffs.

The Graveyard

The graveyard is my favorite zone so it was a priority to include it as part of the core strategies in my main cube. Much of the cube is taken up with supporting the various aristocrats, self-mill, and discard strategies available. These types of cards are great at creating overlapping synergies with one another!

Spell Slingin’

Tempo spell slinger is another one of my favorite themes, and it’s a simple and evocative way to nudge new players towards that terrifying proposition of putting blue cards in their deck.


I remember the first time I realized that I could use exile effects to abuse ETB abilities and went whoaaaa that’s so cool. It’s great to watch other new players have that feeling for the first time.


Just a classic archetype that new players tend to gravitate toward, and a favorite of mine from high school. It would feel wrong not to include it here!

Go Wide

Another classic archetype that new players love. Who doesn’t want to make a bunch of little guys? Don’t you have a heart? This also has a lot of crossover with the aristocrats theme.

Good Ol’ Aggro, Midrange, and Control

Nothin’ wrong with keepin’ it simple sometimes :)

Things I Don’t Include Because I Think They Suck
I don’t hate every planeswalker (Liliana of the Veil my beloved), and I think they can be great as a sometimes food, but they introduce a lot of complexity and have a tendency to make games entirely about themselves. They just aren’t something I want to spend my complexity points on for this cube.

Double-Faced Cards
Boo hiss. Again, I don’t hate every double-faced card (cards with strong stories like Delver of Secrets and Thing in the Ice are pretty cool), but they introduce a lot of complexity and make drafting a huge pain, so I tend to avoid them altogether in my cube designs.

Permanents with Hexproof or Indestructible
I just do not find the play pattern of “thing you are literally not allowed to interact with unless you have this very specific answer” to be particularly fun. I much prefer stuff like Ward that gives a bit of protection, but doesn’t make something unanswerable to entire decks.

Color Hate and Color Restrictions
I just think stuff like “protection from red”, “destroy target non-black creature”, and landwalk just aren’t very fun in a drafted environment. Similar to the above, it feels lame for your cards to just not work against your opponent’s deck because of some arbitrary restriction.

Outside-the-Game Effects, Complex Tokens, and Other General Bullshit
I’m not a fan of stuff like venture, ring temptation, the initiative, etc. etc. etc. Especially in a cube environment where they aren’t a major theme, I just want the cards to do what they say they do without needing a whole separate thing to keep track of. I also try to keep tokens to one keyword or line of text and only include one type of noncreature artifact token (Treasures).

Irrelevant Text and Confusing Signals
I avoid stuff like Partner or cards that reference some mechanic that isn’t actually relevant to the cube (e.g: “If the sacrificed creature was a Vampire”, etc.).

Mana Fixing
I experimented with a variety of ideas for the mana fixing, from including a copy of every common fixer I could find (Evolving Wilds, Prophetic Prism, etc.), to allowing player to grab two untapped duals from the basics box, to just putting 30 Prismatic Vista in there. Ultimately I landed on a simple solution: 20 Ash Barrens, triple cycle of original duals. That’s it.

Ash Barrens is great. It’s (almost always) a bit more flexible than an Evolving Wilds, but not so powerful that players can just build 4-color piles with no consequences (which was an issue when I had the Prismatic Vistas in there). I also like just having a bunch of the same rainbow fixing lands in a cube, because it makes it so you don’t have to spend time reading what are ultimately a bunch of interchangeable cards. And original duals are just so simple and elegant!

“Why not fetch/shock/dual you heathen??” Have you ever tried to explain to a brand new player that they should pick up a Scalding Tarn for their red/green deck in the five minutes before their first draft? It makes you sound batshit.

Balancing Removal
My “put as many iconic cards in there as possible” philosophy got me into some trouble here back when I didn’t have as much experience with the game. Turns out there’s a reason they don’t print Lightning Bolt and Fatal Push into Standard anymore!

The removal density was also way too high here for a long time. I massively overcorrected for the Card Kingdom Starter Cube’s frustratingly terrible removal, and made control decks way way way too powerful. After a draft where the most experienced player in our group took all the blue, black, and red removal and fixing and absolutely crushed everyone in games that took like 30 minutes, I began severely tuning down the density and power of the removal.

These days I think things are in a much better place, although I think it could still use some tuning. Now that players are paying 2 and 3 mana to remove most things instead of 1 mana, I think it’d be okay to tune up the removal density just a bit again. During our most recent draft, it was a bit tough for players to get enough removal to make their decks function

Limiting Value Engines
Cards that just produce value turn-over-turn with little to no additional investment have consistently been the most common power outlier cuts to this cube. Cards like Ethereal Forager and Kess, Dissident Mage were a huge problem because they just produce so much card advantage without you really having to do anything besides play Magic. These days, I’m a lot more vigilant about not including these types of cards.

Draft Report for 11/24/23

Recently had my first big draft of this cube after months of just playing sealed with one of my friends, so thought it would be fun to finish this first post up with a draft report! This draft had 6 people, 3 of whom were brand new to drafting cube. Everyone told me they had a great time and they’re all looking forward to the next draft, so I think that’s a big success for the cube :)

Orzhov Aggro

This was my list and gave me my first 3-0 in any of my cubes lol. I started the draft trying to build Rakdos, but as soon as that Dauntless Bodyguard and Accorder Paladin came through on the wheel I knew that was the open lane. Had a few extremely fast starts with this deck, with multiple games opening with t1 Hopeful Initiate into t2 Accorder Paladin into t3 2-drop 1-drop. I think a combination of very good draws and the fact that a lot of the new players undervalued cheap creatures and removal led me to victory here. I do think this deck’s runaway success in some games led me to want to tune up the removal density just a tad. It was hard to compete with how fast this deck could be sometimes.

Izzet Spells

This friend and I have played this cube together quite a bit. This player has a tendency to get stuck on a particular archetype and force it in every draft until something new catches interest, and right now that’s Izzet spells. This deck went 0-3, and in our talks after the draft we discussed how it feels a little stuck between trying to play the permission game with counterspells and playing an aggressive tempo strategy. I think the fact that there were 3 other red drafters at the table made it hard to get the necessary burn spells and cheap creatures for this deck to work, and there probably should have been a pivot to another color like black or white here. However, I’m sure I’ll see another crack at it very soon.

The Maverick

This player is the most experienced in our group by far and regularly competes in Legacy and Modern tournaments. They were extremely excited to see old Standard favorites of theirs (“Been like a decade since I curved Deathrite Shaman into Thragtusk”), and kept going on about how cool it was to build “the maverick”. I got multiple “god this cube is so cool”s from them as they were looking through packs, which felt great!

This deck also had an insanely sweet synergy with Aron, Benalia’s Ruin and Scurry Oak buffing the whole team every turn by sacrificing squirrels to Aron. I was happy to see this player using the themes of the cube to their advantage, since they were the one who, in the past, would just take the busted removal and build the broken grindy control deck that made me nerf all the removal.


This player was brand new to drafting and didn’t do too bad all things considered! There’s definitely way too many expensive spells here but there’s a clear understanding of which cards have potential to be powerful together. With some more polish this could be a solid midrange deck!

Four-Color Midrange Aristocrats

This player didn’t know that they didn’t have to draft all of their lands because I forgot to mention the basics box (like I said, brand new players!), so they ended up with this 4-color midrange pile. For their very first draft, it’s not too bad, and there’s some cool grindy value stuff going on here with Woe Strider, Master of Death, and the other recursive dudes and sac outlets. I think this player has potential and will put together something strong once they’ve got a few more drafts under their belt.

Gruul Beatdown +1/+1 Counters

Another brand new drafter. While there’s some classic new player hallmarks here (why is Dragon’s Rage Channeler in your midrange deck, why is there a 7-drop in your deck with no ramp spells, etc.), the deck does display a basic understanding of what the Gruul beatdown strategy can look like. Again here, I think the curve is way too high and the new drafters generally undervalued cheap creatures and removal, but I think all three of these players will do much better the next time around. The fact that they were all stepping on each other's toes color-wise and pivoting is hard when you're new I think made it a little tough for people to put something together.

Overall, the most important thing here was that everyone had a dope time and wanted to come back for more. I’ll try to keep posting draft reports here as they happen! :)
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Cube looks indeed pretty awesome. Would love to draft and play it. There are some power outliers (resto) but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

One little note: You could be adding some less powerfull removal spells at 1 (Black not having any feels wrong to me). Dead Weight or Disfigure shouldn't be punished for Fatal Push's sins.

The thing I like least are the very imbalanced sections, especially for gold cards. I know, I tend to make a bigger deal out of it than it probably is, but 5 Izzet spells to 1 Azorius spell, I can't imagine that this wont impact drafts quite a bit if all those cards are roughly the right power level.
Cube looks indeed pretty awesome. Would love to draft and play it. There are some power outliers (resto) but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

One little note: You could be adding some less powerfull removal spells at 1 (Black not having any feels wrong to me). Dead Weight or Disfigure shouldn't be punished for Fatal Push's sins.

The thing I like least are the very imbalanced sections, especially for gold cards. I know, I tend to make a bigger deal out of it than it probably is, but 5 Izzet spells to 1 Azorius spell, I can't imagine that this wont impact drafts quite a bit if all those cards are roughly the right power level.
Re: power outliers, yeah Resto is definitely a card that I have considered cutting on power a few times and there's certainly a few others that are borderline too good (Timeless Dragon, Woe Strider, Master of Death, Blade Splicer to name a few). For now I think I'm okay with there being some stronger cards that pull people into different colors but the top of the power band is where things most often get cut from this cube so I'm always keeping an eye on stuff like this.

Re: 1 mana removal, I have literally had this exact same thought after the most recent draft and Disfigure and Dead Weight are on the add list right now haha. Finding 1 mana removal that works for the power level has been one of the main things I've been brainstorming for the past couple weeks and I've got a bunch of stuff I want to add in that vein before the next draft at the end of the month. Got a lot of Shock and Disfigure variants and stuff like Elspeth's Smite coming in the mail.

Re: color imbalance, yeah this probably does affect some things but it's just generally not been something that I really prioritize or care about. I have not seen it significantly affect the outcomes of drafts in terms of which colors get drafted more often. I used to care about this a lot and it made making decisions a huge pain, so for me I just focus on adding cards that I like and don't worry too much about the color balance. I know for some folks this would drive them crazy but for me it's like, something to consider but pretty low on my list of priorities. This most recent draft had one Izzet drafter even with all the gold UR cards so it's not a big concern right now. I would definitely like to have a few more solid Azorious cards if I can find em though.
The thing I like least are the very imbalanced sections, especially for gold cards. I know, I tend to make a bigger deal out of it than it probably is, but 5 Izzet spells to 1 Azorius spell, I can't imagine that this wont impact drafts quite a bit if all those cards are roughly the right power level.
I don't mind the gold section being unequal as much as you, but the White and Blue section each have like 7 or 8 cards less than other colors. Combined it does make it less likely Azorious decks will pop up. Up to GTM to decide if they think it's an issue (edit, they don’t!)

I think the cube has cool things going on and your play group seems to love it so that's fantastic. Still can't help myself to a few (hopefully constructive) comments.
Reclamation Sage: You have so few enchantments and artifacts that I wonder if this is worth it. If someone lands a Bolas’s Citadel, good for them!

Gnoll Hunter + Pridemalkin (as examples of my point): I get that you are supporting a theme, but you already options that do similar things better. I think these slots could be used to either support another archetype or do something unique (like a Burning-Tree Emissary for you Gruul decks or something).

I'd love to see a few more 2 drops in White. It can be an aggressive color, but it's going to be tough to curve out if the options are severely limited.

Have you considered any land recursion effects? You have the enablers for a cool land/GY deck, but nothing to recur them.
Never thought I would see the day! My little cube night has already gotten popular enough with my friends that this month I had to size the cube up to 450 to accommodate 10 drafters. You can see the full list of changes on my recent Cube Cobra blog post here (with a couple small adjustments since).

Since I had to do this on pretty short notice, a lot of these cards were just pulled from my bulk box and the maybeboard for this cube, so it's a bit all over the place and will probably require further tuning once I've gotten a few more drafts in with this bigger lad.

Some of the more focused changes include:
1. Adding a suite of power appropriate one-mana removal to slightly nerf aggro and give more options to control decks in the early game. This mostly includes a suite of Shock and Disfigure variants. I also slightly upped the overall density of removal in this update, since it was a bit hard to draft enough interaction in the previous draft.
2. Adding the Shoreline Ranger cycle of land cyclers. I like how these guys can fetch up the original duals in this cube and can provide early and late game plays for a wide variety of decks. They also play well into the "guys in the graveyard" theme in this cube. I thought about going with the LOTR cyclers for this but Generous Ent makes a Food token and I'm trying to stick to just the one trinket artifact token. I think these are perfectly viable at 2 mana in this cube since games are not lightning fast here.
3. Filling out a full cycle of manlands in every color pairing by adding some of the WOE/LCI restless lands.
4. Adding another 10 Ash Barrens to keep the fixing density around where I want it. I've been very happy with the fixing in this cube lately, players seem to be able to consistently build solid mana bases without 5 color piles being dominant. Folks are also able to draft 4 colors if they highly prioritize fixing, which I think is cool and fun.

Draft Report for 12/29/23
This ended up being a 9-person draft because someone had to cancel last minute, so we unfortunately had to have some byes, but folks still seemed to have a great time and the group continues to be very high on the cube. Got a lot of "Oh I love that this is here now!" from players who have drafted the cube a lot.

Gruul Beatdown Midrange

This was this player's first ever cube draft and I was really impressed with how well their deck came together. There's a solid understanding here of the power of cheap cards, which a lot of the other new players tend to struggle with. The curve is mostly very tight (I think the six-drop probably doesn't need to be here, probably needs a few solid threes or fours instead), and they got to make all kinds of sweet maneuvers with Orcish Lumberjack letting them dump out their hand onto the table. The more enfranchised players loved seeing Kird Ape, Experiment One, Scavenging Ooze and friends all in one place here. This was one of the fastest decks at the table and finished 1-1.

This is a deck style that basically always shows up in drafts, which I think is perfect for this cube.

Esper Control

This was my list. I tend to not be the most synergy-minded player and usually just try to build straightforward aggro, midrange, or control decks. This particular deck was able to grind out long games with a combination of Lingering Souls, Hangarback Walker, and the two manlands. The games where my opener had any combination of those cards were total washes.

Regarding Lingering Souls, I think this draft made me decide that that card probably needs to go. It doesn't really play into the themes of the cube all that much, and it's extremely hard to trade with favorably. Two drafts in a row now I have jammed it into strategically opposed decks and it has won me games that I probably should have lost. It might get replaced with its less glamorous little brother Midnight Haunting. There were a lot of "what the hell that's so good" comments whenever I flashed it back.

Regarding the manlands, I'm definitely keeping an eye on these in terms of power level. I like that they force games to a conclusion, which is important for a cube that can get a little grindy sometimes, but they are definitely some of the most powerful cards in the cube and they are pretty much a free roll. Players who prioritized them in this draft tended to do much better than players who didn't, although it's hard to draw a strict conclusion from this because the better players are also the ones who will recognize that if the format has manlands, your deck should probably have some manlands in it.

This deck finished 2-1, narrowly losing out in the finals to...

Grixis Control

Another sweet deck from our resident eternal formats aficionado. This player is basically the final boss fight of all of our cube drafts.

I was glad to see some control decks in this draft that were strong but not just able to answer literally everything, made me feel like the removal suite is in a good place right now.

There's a lot of cards here that I've been sort of unsure about keeping in the cube that this deck proved deserve their place. They got a lot of mileage out of Future Sight as the primary draw engine, a card that's been in the cube for years but never really seen much play until now. My last game against this deck nearly came down to decking because of it. Rionya, Fire Dancer and Geistblast were also very potent here (Rionya with Venser, Shaper Savant on the table was terrifying!).

Izzet Discard Tempo

This player has an intermediate level of experience and finished with a respectable 1-2, just narrowly losing out round 1 to my control deck. I think the main issue with this deck was the low density of cheap threats and the slightly-too-high density of spells. They had trouble getting out fast enough kills versus some of the grindier decks at the table, but I think with a few more aggressive creatures this deck could've taken down a few more games.

Was really happy to see someone building into the discard theme here! People usually seem a little afraid to go for it. Rielle, the Everwise was an absolute house in this deck.

Izzet Spells Tempo

This was this player's second cube night and I think their second experience with limited play since prereleases in high school. This deck did quite well (2-1), and I think a lot of the other players weren't prepared to handle the high density of chunky flyers in this deck. I think the curve is a little high for what this player was trying to do (Sphinx of Magosi probably belongs in a more controlling deck), but it won games so what the hell do I know.

I think this deck has the opposite issue from the other UR tempo deck, where the density of spells was a little bit too low. I don't think this player was able to trigger Sprite Dragon and friends as much as they would have liked. But I'm always happy to see new players branching out and trying something besides midrange_beatdown.dec, and this is a solid first crack at it all things considered.

4-Color Midrange

This player was brand new to cube night, but has been playing the game for over 10 years. They were excited to see some old favorites like Deathrite Shaman and Siege Rhino here. They told me that they first-picked Knight of the Reliquary (chad maneuver imo) and then decided to go all in on fixing to build the 4-color midrange pile dream. They ended up with like, twice as many duals as the rest of the table. This deck got them a 2-1 and a tie for 2nd place. Tatyova, Steward of the Tides was mentioned as being a lynchpin here, which was great to see because I've been trying to add more Simic cards that make people actually want to put green and blue in the same deck.

I'm not sure that the ramp package here is dense enough to support the Avenger of Zendikar, but otherwise this deck seems pretty well-built and sweet as hell.

Gruul Ramp Midrange

This player is relatively new to Magic and this was only their second time doing any kind of drafting. They ended up building a similar deck as last time (new players love to Gruul smash, we all know this). I think there's a marked improvement here over their previous draft, but the curve is still a little bit too high and there's a couple odd inclusions (what are you doing here Bedlam Reveler go home man you're drunk). This deck had a few rough games where it just passed turn for the first few turns because it wasn't playing enough cheap cards. Finished 0-2.

This player is still learning the ropes but seems to have fun with every draft anyway, and I'm looking forward to seeing them improve and branch out into other strategies in the future.

Orzhov Aristocrats Aggro

Another rookie player on their second ever draft. I think this deck is surprisingly well put-together for how fresh this player is. The curve is mostly solid, and there's a clear understanding of how the cards can fit together synergistically to create a greater whole. I love when people put a board wipe in their aristocrats deck, although this deck probably wanted something like a Drown in Sorrow to fit into its curve better.

This deck ended up 0-2, but I think it absolutely could have taken the sets it lost. I was really impressed with this deck construction overall!

Esper Blink Control

This player has only been playing Magic for a year or two, but has drafted this cube with me quite a bit. They were extremely pumped about this deck, excitedly talking about all of the nasty plays they were able to pull off by blinking Ravenous Chupacabra and Murderous Redcap to completely shut down their opponent's stuff. I was also happy to see this player finally able to build a deck around Soulherder, as it's one of their favorite cards. One player who lost to this deck said that they "got styled on". I didn't even consider Hidden Stockpile as a blink payoff, but I love that it ended up here. This deck finished 1-2.

I've talked with this player a couple times about learning to recognize which cards are specifically meant to go in aggro decks (e.g: Isamaru and Steppe Lynx don't really belong in this deck), but I'm not sure that I've been able to explain it in a way that made sense to them. I think they'll start to make these distinctions with more practice though.

Feedback Responses

Re: Rec Sage, yeah this is something I've gone back and forth on with this cube. Artifacts and enchantments are not a supported theme, and I've generally been cutting down on cards of those types that can just straight up win the game (e.g: cutting stuff like Citadel Siege). Most of the disenchant in this cube is stuff like Banishing Light that can hit other targets. I do want some amount of disenchant since I include a few vehicles, but yeah I can definitely see an argument that Rec Sage doesn't really need to be here. I will spend some more time thinking on this.

Re: +1/+1 counters stuff, yeah the density of this theme should probably be cut down a bit. It is a really popular theme with my players so I do like it to be pretty common and able to support a couple decks, but there's probably more than enough redundancy. Pridemalkin is a pet card that the group would riot about if it was removed (people love that damn cat), but there's probably some other stuff that could be cut. I'm lukewarm on Gnoll Hunter for sure, it was one of those "I need a quick replacement card that's not gonna break the environment and this was in the bulk box" adds, so it probably won't stick around for long. I do like that it supports aggressive midrangey strategies and incidentally supports the theme though. Burning-Tree Emissary was actually cut recently for being a little too strong.

Re: White 2-drops, yeah I will look into this! It's definitely a little thin. If anyone has suggestions for cards that would fit into the power level here for this I'd be happy to hear them.

Re: Land recursion, I'd love to hear your ideas for cards that could fit in here! I would definitely like to expand out the minor lands theme into a full-fledged deck now that I've got more space to work with

Thanks for reading my big dumb posts! :)
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This month I made some changes to the list influenced by some of the feedback in this thread. I appreciate y'all taking the time to read my posts and look at my list and have opinions about it.

White 2-Drops
A consequence of the sort of haphazard, "throw shit in there and see what works" approach I take to cube design is sometimes I accidentally gut part of the curve without realizing it lol. So here's a bunch of new white 2-drops to patch that hole. I spent like a whole evening looking at every white 2-drop ever printed to find these.

Lands Package
Wanted to build out the "lands in the graveyard" theme here from a little sub-theme into a full-blown archetype that people could build an entire deck around, so I spent an afternoon on Scryfall searching shit like "o:land o:graveyard" etc. until I found a bunch of cards that fit into the power level. Next draft immediately had a successful lands synergy deck, so this worked out great! Once MKM is out I can get Aftermath Analyst in the mix too.

Notable Cuts
A lot of the cuts here were just generic filler stuff that I knew I was willing to swap out for something more interesting whenever I needed to (Elvish Visionary has been in and out of here like three times for this exact purpose), but here's some of the more notable cuts:

Lingering Souls - Sad to see the boys go but this card is just too generically good to be interesting here. It's a shame because I do love the card and think it's badass but it lead to so many games where people were like "damn I couldn't do anything against that". And too many of my own drafts warped around playing Orzhov just to justify running this card and then winning with it.

Timeless Dragon - Also just too generically good. I love the design of this card but it's just not doing that much interesting stuff here to justify how free the value is. Plus it felt weird for white to have two plainscyclers and one of them is just cracked as fuck.

Restless Fortress and Restless Bivouac - Swapped these out for their less nefarious Battle for Zendikar/Oath of the Gatewatch counterparts. These were just a little bit too good on rate, and Restless Fortress in particular was just soooo goddamn grindy holy shit fuck that card it slows everything down to a crawl. It was in my own deck last draft and I was like oh my god FUCK this card bro.

Earthshaker Khenra and Radha's Firebrand - Just a little bit too efficient and also these two have massive walls of text and the juice doesn't really feel worth the squeeze since they're pretty generic. Aggressive red decks have consistently been a very powerful strategy here so I don't think cutting a couple off the top end will completely invalidate them.

Draft Report for 1/27/24
Just a small 5-person draft this month, had a couple last-minute cancellations. We ended up just running a round robin, so everybody got to play 4 matches and we got to have a good spread of different matchups here.

Mardu Aggro Recursive Dudes (2-1-1)

Easily the most efficient and well-constructed deck I've seen this player build. They've been playing for a couple years, but are still working on nailing down some of the particulars about how to construct a good curve and how to recognize which cards are defensive and which cards are aggressive. This deck was the fastest at the table, but also able to grind out late games with a combination of recursive creatures and Blood Artist effects. I was impressed that they managed to pull off such a fast deck while also being in three colors. They also were saying after a couple rounds that they were drawing too many lands and then received the forbidden knowledge of cutting to 16 in your aggro deck.

I had a hilarious game 3 against this deck where it was the final turn after we went to time and I was at 3 life and staring down a board with a bunch of small guys, Elas Il-Kor, and Lagomos and had to spend like 5 minutes sitting there trying to figure out if it was possible for me to block in such a way that I would kill LESS of their guys and not die to play for the tie game (there was not, I lost). This was this player's first time taking a set off me in quite a while and they seemed pretty happy about it.

This deck lost on tiebreakers in the finals to...

Golgari Self-Mill/Counters Midrange (2-1-1)

Just a solid midrange deck with a sprinkling of the themes of the cube to push it over the top. Basically the ideal Fair 'Nuff deck as far as my design goals are concerned. I love seeing people play into the self-mill shit because it's one of my favorite themes in Magic. Splinterfright so cool...

Kessig Cagebreakers is such a badass card man. One of the coolest Baneslayers ever imo. You see that thing hit the board and you're countin out that graveyard and you're goin ohhhh fuck. ooooohhhh fuck man. shit.

Experiment One was an all-star here. Every time I'm like "is it worth it to explain to new players how fucking stupid regenerate is", this card ends up in a deck and is sweet and I'm like well shit. Yes. It is worth it.

Grismold, the Dreadsower might be kind of terrible but everyone fucking loves it and keeps putting it in their decks so I don't think I'm ever going to cut it.

4-Color Ramp/Lands (2-2)

This deck is so funny man. There were multiple games where this player just kept a hand of like, four lands, four-drop, five-drop, six-drop. One of the most absurd curves I have ever seen in a cube deck, and it mostly worked! This deck was able to go way way way over the top as long is it didn't get aggro'd out. It was cool to see someone playing into the lands theme so soon after I beefed it up, and watching some shit like Blossoming Tortoise and Sun Titan with Avenger of Zendikar in play made me giddy. Truly the quintessential budget cube experience. Absolutely beautiful.

This deck probably at least could've gotten to the 3-1 if not the 4-0 but hit some ridiculously bad beats along the way. I won a set against this deck that I probably did not deserve where they just top-decked lands for like literally 8 turns in a row, while actively tutoring lands out of their deck every turn. We were dying laughing.

Azorius Tempo (1-3)

This player's first attempt at breaking out of the "new player who only drafts gruul midrange" archetype. There's the classic "first time tempo deck" mistake here of including too much countermagic instead of more cheap removal and cantrips, but the curve is pretty solid here and you can tell that they mostly get what kind of creatures belong in this sort of deck. I believe this was this player's first time taking a set off of a more experienced player, with a win over the lands deck that was described as "an absolute beating". I was really proud of this player for branching out and trying something new! Excited to see what they're able to do in the future. There was a lot of love and praise for Steppe Lynx in this deck.

Jund Midrange (2-2)

My dumbass first-picking Thragtusk: "Surely there won't be 3+ green midrange drafters at the table THIS time."

Not my best work lol. Immediately after the draft I thought "Oh I do not have enough trample or evasion here that's gonna be a problem" and then it was a problem. I had to close out so many games with Fling. I think I should've pivoted off of black here and focused on the Gruul cards, and I probably should've taken a few more big dudes to help me win late games. I think I was also a little heavy on the removal here, probably should've just drafted more guys instead.

Funniest game I had with this deck by far was vs. the Golgari deck. Two land hand. Turn 1 Mountain, Orcish Lumberjack. Turn 2 Forest, tap 2, sac Forest to Lumberjack, cast Thragtusk. Proceed to watch Thragtusk get removed immediately and never draw another land for the rest of the game. Lost in devastating fashion. I was cracking up the whole time. Karmically punished for gambling. This is what it's all about baby.

Some Takeaways
1. Grindy Games
Something I'm really starting to notice with this cube lately is that games often end up being pretty grindy and sets can take quite a while. There's a lot of ways to gum up the board with tokens and recursive creatures and the removal suite is pretty toned down. I don't necessarily think that this is a problem, a lot of players like these sort of longer games with lots of back-and-forth on the board, and it gives new players more time to feel like they got to do shit. And aggro has consistently been a pretty dominant strategy so there are definitely ways to punish it. But it is something I'm going to keep an eye on going forward and I might avoid adding more cards that make a lot of tokens to keep from making this more extreme than it already is.

2. Recursive Black One-Drop Singleton
I've got a suite of black aggro one-drop aggressive dudes with recursive abilities in this cube (Bloodsoaked Champion and friends), and I'm starting to think maybe I should just bite the bullet, pick a favorite of the four that I have, and break singleton on it. I like these cards because they can support an aristocrats or graveyard strategy while also providing black with some 2-power one-drops for more generic aggro builds, but keeping track of which of these has "enters the battlefield tapped" and which has "can't block" and the condition for each of them to be recurred and whether it goes to your hand or to the battlefield is maybe just not worth the trouble. Not 100% sure I'm gonna go through with this but it's something I've been thinking about for awhile and it comes up a lot since these cards tend to end up all in the same deck.

3. Black Three-Drops
Whoops I somehow ended up with only two mono-black three-drops in here somehow. Hasn't really been a problem because a lot of my black multicolor cards are three-drop creatures, but gonna fill in a few of these before the next draft.

Thanks for reading as always! <3
Reading your change logs and draft reports really gives me some inspiring thoughts for my own main cube. Kessig Cage Breakers and Blossoming Tortoise are exactly the kind of cards that speak to me.

Also, one question: Didn't your jund deck want some more beef in the 4- and 5-drop slots? And when they removed your Thragtusk turn two,did you at least get the token?

PS. How has Leonin Lightscribe been for you? I've just added it for my Borowess update among others, and I could imagine it ends up at the very top of my power band.
Reading your change logs and draft reports really gives me some inspiring thoughts for my own main cube. Kessig Cage Breakers and Blossoming Tortoise are exactly the kind of cards that speak to me.
Really glad to hear this! Cagebreakers has been in my cube since the basically the start and has always been beloved by my players. One of those cards that can do it's thing in most midrange decks but really shines as a buildaround. I love finding those forgotten bulk rares that play perfectly in my environment! :)

Tortoise was a big hit in it's first draft, I'm excited to see where else it ends up!
Also, one question: Didn't your jund deck want some more beef in the 4- and 5-drop slots? And when they removed your Thragtusk turn two,did you at least get the token?
Yeah I mentioned needing more big dudes:
I think I should've pivoted off of black here and focused on the Gruul cards, and I probably should've taken a few more big dudes to help me win late games.
And yeah I did get the token but then I just had a 3/3 and couldn't really cast anything else for the rest of the game so it wasn't even remotely enough. I needed it to stay in play and swing for 5 a few times or yknow, draw some lands lol.
PS. How has Leonin Lightscribe been for you? I've just added it for my Borowess update among others, and I could imagine it ends up at the very top of my power band.
Jury is still out on Lightscribe, it did end up in a deck this time but I don't think it was drawn very often so we didn't get to see it in play much. I am expecting it to be pretty high on the power band for me as well. I've been impressed with Balmor, Battlemage Captain which is a (somewhat) similar card so I expect Lightscribe to put in work. If it ends up in another deck soon I'll be sure to leave some notes on it.
Not a ton of notable updates for this month but I have made a few changes. You can see the full list here. Most of the cuts here are underperformers and/or cards that have been in the cube for a long time without ever making much of an impact.

MKM Inclusions and More Lands Support
MKM gave us a couple really cool mid-power lands cards with Aftermath Analyst and Worldsoul's Rage. I've also added World Shaper and Sprouting Goblin since they just recently showed up in the mail. This theme has proved really popular with my players since I started filling it out. I'm probably gonna make a few cuts from this section eventually since it's pretty dense right now and there's a bit more redundancy than is probably needed, but I'm enjoying seeing what people put together with it so far.

I've also added Not On My Watch from MKM. This card is just a total slam dunk here, really simple clean removal spell at a fair rate for this cube and with the type of restriction I like to have on a 2-mv removal spell. I'll also probably eventually find room for Rubblebelt Maverick and Hard-Hitting Question.

Black 3-Drops
Braids, Arisen Nightmare could potentially be a little too good but the card is extremely appealing and my playgroup just loves Braids as a character so I'd like to keep her around if possible. Original Braids was in here for a bit but didn't really have much of a home, interested to see how the new one plays out.

Liliana's Standard Bearer is pretty sweet here. I love the modality with this thing, it can act as wrath protection or a sac payoff or just a surprise blocker.

Cadaver Imp has been executed for his crimes (kinda shit and boring).

Sphinx's Revelation is probably pushing it on power level here but I think it's fun to rotate in some juiced shit every once in a while for some variety and then have someone crush with it and go hahahaha oh fuck that was a mistake woohoo whee anyway get this motherfucker out of here. This didn't show up in this month's draft so jury is still out on it.

Bonehoard has been in and out of here like three or four times but people always love to see it. I didn't really like having it in there as the only Living Weapon card but now that I'm also running Mortarpod again it felt right to bring it back.

Levitating Statue could be sweet in control or prowess builds but not entirely sold yet on if it gets there on power level. Definitely want to put it in a deck soon.

I'm probably gonna go back and forth like 2 or 3 more times on whether I'd rather have Raise the Alarm or Resolute Reinforcements here but I'm gonna stick with Reinforcements for now. I think it's cool to push a little bit of spells synergy in white but I think Reinforcements just works with a wider swath of the card pool at the moment.

The Beginner Drafter Cheat Sheet
This is something new I tried out this month that seemed to go over pretty well. The idea was to put together a quick one-pager reference sheet for brand new players to have as a guide for not completely trainwrecking their draft. The goal here wasn't to cover every possible theme or every viable approach to drafting, but just to give people some training wheels on how to build something that isn't a total disaster. I also wanted it to be brief and to-the-point to avoid overwhelming people.

You can find my first shot at this here.

Some of this has the potential to be misleading (obviously the beginner deck template is not remotely close to the only way to build a deck in this cube), so I tried to make it clear to new players that this is just an example and not a set of hard rules. I think this experiment overall went pretty well and I'm excited to keep tweaking it as I get more feedback on it from players.

Draft Report for 2/24/24
Had a full 8-person draft again this month with a couple brand new players!

Selesnya +1/+1 Counters Beatdown Midrange (2-1)

"I loooooove Imposing Sovereign!"

This deck was insane. This player LOVES the +1/+1 counters synergy and it was wide open here, allowing them to go super deep on payoffs and build a deck that crushed most of the other decks at the table by outvaluing the shit out of them. I had a game against this deck where Avatar of the Resolute came down as a 7/6 and I'm sitting there with all my piddly little aggro creatures going "bro I am so so so so fucked lmao". This deck had a strong combination of early game aggression and late game grind, making it difficult for the other midrange and aggro decks to take it down.

Hopeful Initiate is definitely going on the watchlist after the past couple drafts. It's probably just a bit too much value on a one-drop for this cube. It grows out of control pretty quickly. I like putting power into aggressive strategies like this, but this card might be pushing it.

Imposing Sovereign has been a total dealer the past couple drafts that it's been in. There's not a ton of cards that give the "hate bear" experience in this cube, but I like having a sprinkling of it with this and Vryn Wingmare.

This player has had my number the past two drafts, which is the first time they've beaten me in quite a while. They once again lost out in the finals to our most experienced player with...

Izzet Burn Prowess (3-0)

"I felt like I got away with murder this draft."

God damn this deck is so sweet. Izzet spells has been a constant archetype in this cube but I didn't really think that something that leans this heavily on burn was viable. These are some of my favorite moments with cubing, where someone puts together something that you didn't really think was possible and crushes with it. This players said that there were some turns where they were able to stack up like 7 points of burn damage and kill their opponent out of nowhere. I think this rules and I was happy to see such a cool deck take the 3-0.

Fireblast and Thirst For Discovery were both mentioned as cards that felt a little bit too pushed here, and they've both already been on the watchlist for a while, so I think they're gonna get swapped out for Char and maybe something like Quick Study respectively. I want players to be able to burn directly to face because it can be hard to close out games in this cube sometimes, but Fireblast is pretty out of bounds here on rate. Thirst has been part of my endless quest to find 2 or 3 Divination+ cards that people actually want to play, but finding the line between "too boring and shit to include" and "fuckin busted" with 3-mv card draw has been surprisingly challenging. At least I'll always have my best friend Mulldrifter.

Rakdos Aggro (2-1)

Another "extremely okay" showing from me lol. This deck did alright but I really needed to prioritize burn more in the draft, and I think my top-end was a little light to take on some of the grindier late-game oriented decks at the table. I got absolutely crushed by the +1/+1 counters deck, except for game 1 where I got to curve Phoenix Chick into Rakdos Headliner discarding Skyclave Shade and my opponent just immediately conceded.

My big takeaway from this deck was that the 1 and 2 drop slots for aggro in red are a little too anemic right now. Black and white are actually the stronger aggro colors at the moment because they have higher quality 1s and 2s. The 1-drop slot in particular has a little too much utility or synergy pieces like Bomat Courier and Phoenix Chick and not enough just, cards that kill your opponent dead quickly. So I'm gonna be building out those sections a bit in the next update.

Rakdos Aristocrats (1-2)

"I finally used the stupid card!" (Greater Gargadon)

This deck is pretty sweet, and one of this player's first successful attempts at putting together a tight synergistic package. There's the off-plan inclusions here and there (Rionya doesn't make much sense here), but overall this deck got to do a bunch of sick shit. I had one game against this player where they had Feldon of the Third Path getting Mogg-War Marshal back from the graveyard every turn and just producing tons of tokens that I could not break through.

Feldon of the Third Path is definitely a card I highly recommend to anyone trying to build these low-to-mid power synergy-driven cubes. It has so many cool things it can key off of, playing into graveyard, blink, artifact, reanimator, and sacrifice themes all in a tight package.

Lagamos, Hand of Hatred is another card that's been really beloved by my players. I don't think that last ability has ever been used but the recurring token creation and sacrifice trigger on it leads to a bunch of fun interactions and it can slot into a variety of different Rakdos builds with different goals.

There was a running joke with this player being absolutely convinced that Greater Gargadon is a terrible card and doesn't do anything, and it was hilarious to see them actually play it and build around it here and realize why it's so cool and potent.

Orzhov Graveyard Midrange feat. Special Guest Siege Rhino (1-1-1)

Just a solid midrange shell with a bunch of graveyard synergy sprinkled in for flavor. There's some cool stuff going on here with cards like Hallowed Spiritkeeper, Patch Up, and Trove Warden keying off the low mana curve and high creature count, combined with cards like Braids, Arisen Nightmare to fill up the graveyard. We usually see some sort of Abzan-centered midrange deck each draft but this particular version of it with all of the graveyard shenanigans hasn't really showed up before.

I was sort of worried that Siege Rhino would not really see play since it's not the easiest card to cast, but it has shown up in a deck in literally every single draft since it's been added lol. People just love the big guy.

Naya Lands Midrange (1-1-1)

"My plan was to play a bunch of guys and hope they don't die."
"I love the Bunnicorn!"

This player is pretty new, and it was really cool to see them trying out this synergistic lands package. I think this deck is a little bit stuck between a more aggressive game plan and a more grindy value engine game plan, but there's some sweet stuff going on here. Winding Way and Aftermath Analyst combined with cards like Knight of the Reliquary was sick to see.

Esper Control (0-2-1)

This was this player's first ever draft after picking up Magic a few months ago, so there's the usual iffy first timer choices here. This deck is definitely split between playing a low-to-the-ground aggressive early game while also trying to grind out some late games with a more controlling strategy. There's also not really enough blink payoffs here to justify the Soulherder inclusion. Still, there's some strong stuff going on here. The recognition that Shambling Vent and Celestial Collonade are powerful cards is a good move for a new player, and this deck has some really powerful late game bombs to deal with the faster decks.

Izzet Control (0-2-1)

(immediately after the draft) "I'm not sure if this deck is great or terrible."
"I got to do the cool thing once!" (blinking Man-o'-War with Golden Argosy)

Another brand new player. This deck is pretty decent overall, especially for a first attempt. There's a bit of a disconnect between trying to play a tempo-oriented spellslinger strategy and a control deck here, but there's a lot of cool stuff going on regardless. Future Sight was once again an all-star here, people really seem to love that card and the way it turns the game on its head.

Cards That Look Cool
Thought it would be fun to close out this month's ramble with a little show-off of some of the cool alt art and alt border cards I run in this cube. My philosophy towards "special" cards is that having everything be "special" is pretty overwhelming and confusing, but having a few cards that stick out adds depth to the experience and opens up the world of the game for people. So most of the cards in the cube use the regular-ass M15 or 8th Edition border, but I sprinkle in some cool weird shit to keep things interesting.

1-MV Alter Cycle
A cycle of 1-mana spells that have been in the cube for a long time and are unlikely to ever get cut, altered by one of my close friends. People absolutely love seeing these, they always get a big "oh WOW that's so cool" every time they get opened.. Extremely pleased with how these came out.

Mystical Archives
If Mystical Archive Faithless Looting has million number of fans i am one of them . if Mystical Archive Faithless Looting has ten fans i am one of them. if Mystical Archive Faithless Looting have only one fan and that is me . if Mystical Archive Faithless Looting has no fans, that means i am no more on the earth . if world against Mystical Archive Faithless Looting , i am against the world. i love #MysticalArchiveFaithlessLooting till my last breath.. .. Die Hard fan of Mystical Archive Faithless Looting . Hit Like If you Think Mystical Archive Faithless Looting Best art & Smart In the world

This is one of my favorite showcase treatments they've ever done. The border itself is cool but what really makes it shine is the sick abstract and stark artwork they selected for these pieces. Blows like every other showcase treatment out of the water in terms of wow factor, while still being easy to read and process.

Time Spiral
I remember seeing the futureshifted border for the first time when I was a teenager and thinking it was the coolest shit ever, and I love giving that feeling to other people. These things are great conversation starters for folks who weren't playing in the 2000s. "Why's this card look like it's from a sci-fi-themed game that died in 2004?" "Well you see there was this set called Future Sight and it was stupid as hell and also dope as shit". Definitely looking to add more of these in the future, don't have one for my Thornweald Archer yet.

The Planar Chaos border also rips but there's just not too many cards that use it that I want to include. But I like having this version of Harmonize as a very subtle hint that maybe there's something up with this card lol (I will one day defeat the color pie).

Old Border
I have a huge soft spot for the old border and try to include as many as I can that have grokable rules text. In general, I prefer actual old border cards and not the reprints they've been doing recently. Mostly because A) I think modern digital art looks weird in the old border and B) Part of the appeal of old cards is that they're, y'know, old. I do include a couple reprints from Dominaria Remastered though cause I'm one of the twelve people who played a bunch of that set (the old border Impulse from DMR rules).

I know a lot of people are white border haters, but the first set I ever owned cards from was 7th Edition so that's just what old cards look like to me. Plus 7th Edition has the best art for Rampant Growth and Sleight of Hand.

Misc. Special Treatments
Just a bunch of miscellaneous special treatments and alt arts, mostly ones I pulled from packs and included cus I thought they were neat. The alt art for Skyclave Shade kicks the shit out of the regular border one.

The Alesha, Who Smiles at Death and Bearscape are from the gay pride secret lair. I don't think Bearscape has been in a deck a single time but it earns its spot because like, fuckin look at it man holy shit. It goes all the way around the table and everyone is like "god damn this rules". It's basically a mascot for the cube.


Thanks for reading as always!
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This month's updates were primarily focused on beefing up the 1 and 2 drop aggro options in red. I also slightly cut down on the density of +1/+1 counters payoffs, since I felt like there was more than enough redundancy there. You can find the full list of changes here.

Updates are probably gonna be a bit more sparse in the coming months because I might be getting laid off soon lol. If I do any other massive updates for this cube in the future I think it'll likely be to size up again to 540 and maybe slot in an artifact theme or something.

Red Aggro

Spent a bunch of time digging through Cube Cobra, Scryfall, and the Looking for a card thread to find some good new options here (thanks gang!). There's a strong chance that Goblin Guide is pushing it on power level here and will end up getting cut, but it's an iconic and fun card to play with so I wanted to at least give the boy a chance. And it's not like it's the kind of card that is like, ruining someone's day if it ends up being too good, so the risk is relatively low.

Power Level Swaps and Cuts
Fireblast-->Char - Fireblast has had enough days in the sun at this point and is pretty out-of-bounds for what the rest of this cube is doing. Char felt exactly where I wanted it to be in this month's draft, so I think she's here to stay.

Thirst for Discovery-->Quick Study - Not quite sure that Quick Study is the proper replacement here, but this is the second time I've been like "haha whee let's put a Thirst in here" and then it's fucked shit up, so that bastard is gone for good. I've also added Waker of Waves as another form of card selection with synergistic upsides in blue.

Hopeful Initiate is also gone, card was just providing way too much value for way too little work and fit into almost everything.

Draft Report for 3/16/24
Nice little 7-person draft this month! Almost entirely made up of pretty new drafters and our most experienced player wasn't there, so the field was pretty wide open for this draft. Ended up with a really sick line-up.

Jund Lands Midrange (2-0-1)

(during the draft, turning to me) "Hey, is The Gitrog Monster good?"
"Yes, but ideally you want a bunch of cards that get lands back from your graveyard to make it strong."
(later, after playing a few games with it) "All it took was one sentence from you!"

Man what a sweet deck! This was only this player's second ever time drafting cube and they absolutely crushed with this highly synergistic lands package, combined with some extra graveyard payoffs to synergize with the mill cards. The lands deck has been a total hit with my players, showing up in every single draft in some form since it was added. This was the first time we saw it in Jund and it was so so so sick.

Worldsoul's Rage from MKM is definitely a card I think more people should be taking a look at. Having a Fireball effect on a card that also has this cool sideways synergy payoff is pretty damn unique. The card was extremely flexible in this deck, acting as removal, a finisher, and a massive ramp spell all on the same card.

"Does it ever stop feeling like 'dude, I'm soooo smart" when you cycle Ash Barrens on your opponent's turn? 'Cause right now I'm always like 'dude they have noooo idea what I'm doing'."

"I get why people like this game now."

This deck narrowly lost out on breakers to...

Rakdos Aristocrats (2-0-1)

My first time going all-in on a synergy-focused deck in a while, and I was really pleased with it. I got to make this deck do all kinds of cool shit, like blitzing my Tenacious Underdog out of the graveyard every turn and then saccing it to Witch's Cauldron and drawing two cards and draining my opponent with Blood Artist, or the last game of the finals where I used the treasures from Atsushi, the Blazing Sky to power out Greater Gardgadon for the kill. I really wanted to recur Priest of the Blood Rite with Alesha, Who Smiles at Death but unfortunately it was not meant to be. This deck had strong synergistic payoffs while also being able to play a solid low-to-the-ground midrange game when the synergies didn't come together.

The Raven Man is a card I definitely feel like more people should consider for low-power cubes. It's particularly sick here because of the high density of Ash Barrens, which let me do cool shit like t2 Raven Man, t3 2-drop cycle Barrens, t4 3-drop cycle Barrens, kill my opponent with the funny birds. And the second ability allows you to grind out late games against opponents who are relying on card advantage. Really cool and unique self-contained buildaround and payoff that I feel like should be showing up in more lists than it is.

Izzet Spells Tempo (1-2)

"My deck either did it's thing or did nothing."

A pretty sweet list overall! I think this deck is probably a little light on one-drops and burn to really churn out the fast kills that this type of deck likes to create, but there's a bunch of classic hitters here. Young Pyromancer really deserves his spot as the most beloved cube 2-drop of all time (no, really!). I think outside of some curve issues the synergies here are extremely sick.

Rionya, Fire Dancer was once again an all-star here, and definitely another card I think more people should consider for their lists. It has this really cool overlap between spells-matter and blink synergies that you don't really get on many other cards, it has high story equity, and it gets people's gears turning about the different ways it can be used. This player was stoked on getting to repeatedly blink Man-o'-War with it.

Unfortunately for this deck, Izzet spells was an extremely contested space in this draft...

Izzet Spells Tempo (0-2)

"I will learn to pivot I will learn to pivot I will learn to pivot."
"I must not choose the guys I must let the guys choose me." (this is a riff on a running joke in our group where someone will turn to another drafter mid-draft and just say "So what kinda guy you buildin'?")

Overall not too bad of a deck for this player, they are still learning the ropes in a lot of ways. I like the recognition here that the spells deck doesn't need to have nothing but spell-payoff creatures, and can just slot in some solid aggro dudes. There was a sick sequence against me where this player was able to use the Raging Battle Mouse ability to cast a free Bomat Courier.

This player probably mostly needs to work on card evaluation and understanding which cards are only supposed to go in very specific decks. The Kird Ape here doesn't make much sense and they were also running Orcish Lumberjack as just a 1-mana 1/1 for a couple games before figuring out that it should be cut. This is a pretty common speed bump for new players in my experience, so I'm expecting them to get there with a bit more practice.

This player was asking questions in our Discord after the draft about how to put together more focused decks and build things like aggro or control, so I'm looking forward to what they're able to do in the future.

Sphinx of Magosi should probably just get cut at this point. It's been in and out of the cube a bunch as just a kinda nostalgia piece that I know isn't gonna break the format when I need to quickly fill in a slot, but I think it's been kind of a trap for a lot of the new players who don't totally grasp that you can't just free-roll a six-drop in a deck not built to support it. And even in the decks where it's good it's not THAT good. I think I can live without it.

4-Color Spells Midrange (1-1-1)

"She just killed everything I played!"
"That bunny is beating my ass!"

This player is always so ambitious in a way that's awesome and hilarious. They're always trying to play like 4 colors and have all these weird cross-synergistic strategies. And they're somehow able to make it work a lot of the time! This deck ended up against me in the last round but wasn't able to close it out, but I just have to respect the gall to try to make 4-color aggro midrange spells-matter work. And then to actually make it happen somehow. Future Sam Black type over here.

The Izzet-based spells drafters at the table all absolutely refused to pivot out of the deck after it was clearly drying up after the first few picks. I was even in it for like picks 1-5 and then hard pivoted out once I didn't see a single cantrip for like 10 picks in a row. Stuff like this is why it can be tricky to design cubes around what new players are gonna do, because they simply do not make the kinds of decisions that experienced drafters do.

Azorius Tempo (1-1)

What an impressive deck for a brand new player! This player has only really drafted once before, years ago with a group of 3, so this was basically their first real draft and I was really surprised at how well-built their deck ended up being. Tons of great stuff going on here, with a strong recognition of which cards are powerful together. The curve is solid, the synergies are solid, overall just a very well put-together deck. The only real questionable includes here are Sphinx's Revelation and the blink stuff, since the deck is probably not controlling enough to warrant the Rev and doesn't have enough ETBs for the blink spells, but just the fact that a brand new drafter was able to identify and draft Azorius tempo of all things really blew me away. To skip past the "midrange soup" phase and go right into the "pretty solid synergistic deck with one or two questionable includes" phase is a hell of an accomplishment.

Wharf Infiltrator is another card I'd love to see more people try out. It's been a favorite of mine for a while. I like how it acts as a self-contained looter and discard payoff, while encouraging decks to skew in a completely different direction than most of blue's 2-drops. Really cool in Sultai-based graveyard strategies where you can discard your creatures for value, while also able to act as a powerful aggro card in a pinch as seen here.

Selesnya Midrange (0-1-1)

"Are you allowed to take cards that aren't good for your deck just because you don't want to play against them?"
"Yes, that's called hate-drafting."
" that okay??"

Another brand new player here! This person has only been playing Magic for a few months and this was their first ever experience with drafting. The most impressive thing to me here is how well this list shows off this player's card evaluation skills. To recognize that cards like Thragtusk, Restoration Angel, Blade Splicer, Treetop Village, Pelt Collector and Jewel Thief are in the upper echelon of power in this cube is no small task for someone so fresh to the game. I was looking through their decklist after the draft and just going like "oh damn you have this? oh fuck you also have this? dude you're nuts".

The main issue with this deck is just a curve problem. It's just way too heavy on 3+ drops without having enough early game plays and ramp spells to get to those big haymakers. So this player ended up having some frustrating games of being unable to cast all their stuff, but we talked quite a bit after the draft about where they can improve on this formula. I think this player is quite smart and has a solid grasp on the game for being so new, so I expect them to have an even stronger showing next time.

Thanks for reading as always! :)
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Yeah, those quotes are awesome. I just read two complete draft reports and those were part of why I did it.

Also, I would really like to talk with you about some card evaluations at some point. Our cubes do have quite a bit of overlap, I feel like we have a very similar power level when it comes to spells, but then I often come across some creatures I would be scared that those would tear my format apart if I'd add them.
Happy to talk about that stuff any time! I guess a few things to note:
-Most of my players are not super experienced! It's entirely possible that the cube is secretly a total unbalanced mess, but that just doesn't matter because the play is suboptimal and this is for my friends and not the Pro Tour. So I'm making a lot of choices based on how stuff "feels" (which has mostly amounted to limiting value engines).

-I don't mind having power outliers in here as long as they're fun to play with and not totally running people over. I think power outliers can be good for this kind of environment because they pull people in specific directions and lead to splashy, exciting moments.

-I myself am by no means a great Magic player, so I'm doing my best here with the knowledge I have!