The Dandy Cube (Chris Taylor's Cube)


Ecstatic Orb
See, this is what I had initially, and drafters said it was confusing!
I think your original version was a little more confusing than this tbh :) It didn't target, it didn't reference the chosen creature in the bullets but simply said "+2/+0", it had more option, and it had entwine ;)

Chris Taylor

Last time we drafted my cube, someone proposed a fun idea: whoever 0-3'd the draft got to submit a card to be added to my cube, and the 3-0 drafter got to submit a card as well, provided it wouldn't go in the deck they won with.

We've had some great suggestions so far, and I'm happy to report I managed to 3-0 a draft! Defeating the entire purpose of this system :p

So I guess whatever card I make for next patch first can't be for Golgari...card quality?
Nominally there were some delirium aspects to my deck, I had tarmogoyf and some other pieces but also both grapple with the pasts were in my sideboard.

However, all my rounds were won off cards that we all agreed (myself included) needed to be changed.

03 Phyrexian Skirgemaster.png
This card has some ISSUES. What I wanted was Skeletal Vampire circa 2023, but with an artifact angle so it could tie into the archetypes of my cube (and use an existing token)
However, usually a card that lets you produce tokens every turn doesn't start off as 4/4 worth of stats across 3 bodies for 4 mana.
This also lets you fog an attacker for 3 mana, much cheaper than other unbounded token makers that come to mind (Mobilization is 3, but they're grounded creatures and you don't get any upfront value, Jade Mage is closer but it costs 4 and doesn't give you fliers, etc)
So I played my game 3 against my round 3 opponent with this costing 5 to activate and it still bailed me out of losing boards unlike anything else in my cube.

Card's nuts.

Thankfully, it's got more nobs on it than a 200 year old tree, so I can apply any number of the following edits:
-ETB makes 1 thopter
-No ETB at all, bigger inital body
-ETB make a clue, to later convert into thopter
-Sorcery speed activation, to solve the fog problem
-Activate for 5, making the ability less of the value on the card
-Swap thopters for Servos
-Ability creates 1 token instead of two, letting you convert resources but not generate them
-Initial creature is not an artifact (This is less relevant than the above, but might happen)

03 Phyrexian Missionary.png03 Phyrexian Polemic.png\
One good thraben inspector deserves another, and we've already got blue and white ones, why not a black one?
Unfortunately Phyrexian Missionary actually got printed as a real card in between now and the last time I used this art on a 1 mana black creature with artifact synergies, so it needs a new name.
Polemic: Noun
-a controversial argument, as one against some opinion, doctrine, etc.
-a person who argues in opposition to another; controversialist.
Polemic joins Psychopomp of "words magic has taught me when I put them on a custom card"

This accomplished its goal of being a 2 mana mind rot that wasn't dead if the opponent was empty handed.
However, I think the ability to recur this is unnecessary. I had this and Lurrus, and while it never came together in a game that wasn't already over, it's backbreaking. I think this card is better served as a souped up Virus Beetle, both for simplicity and feelbads.

085 - Lush Gift.jpg
God as my witness I thought Abundant Harvest was an instant.
There's going to be a lot of cuts this next patch of most of the cards I've added that are basically instants/sorceries, but their typeline has something else on it for some reason (Tribal knockoff demonic tutor, preordain but it's a saga with 4 chapters on it for some reason, etc).

The extra types are fine, I'll add them where it makes sense, but it's not strictly necessary for delirium to function like I might have thought.

This card is solid! Not broken, not underpowered, just...solid.
It's a little annoying to face down a mostly infinite supply of 3/3s one at a time, I could probably live without the animated lands having hexproof, but I like it. I even threatened to ult it one game!

New ideas:
05 King Kogla.png
I need a new green 6 to replace Old-One Eye, and I do like exactly 50% of what's going on with Kogla and Yidaro: the first half.

Lastly, here is the design submitted by our 0-3 player. We'd gotten into a talk about the new red questing beast: Rampaging Raptor, talking about the merits of each card and reminiscing about when a card with too many disconnected words on the front side was the worst thing about modern magic design.
Here are their submissions:
Wrestling Beast.pngQuesting Yeast.pngRequesting Beast.png
I am apparently to choose my favorite of the 3 :p
I can edit it, but keep the spirit of the card intact, you know?

....what have I gotten myself into
Chris out here power creeping Abundant Harvest, what a chad
I am glad to hear that Blablen Blinspector and Wrenn&8 played well for you!
Good luck choosing a QB for your fantasy football team

Chris Taylor

Hey we did a Roto Draft of my cube!
Link to sheet (Highly recommend this template, huge props to Anthony Mattox for his work on this)

Ever a champion of both game design and my cube specifically, a friend of mine named Tom rallied our playgroup for a Rotisserie draft of my cube, something I'd never done before. Our group has done a few vintage roto drafts in the past, but I've always passed because it felt like something both too large to even begin to think about, and I wasn't really excited about the resulting decks.
ALL OF VINTAGE has this whole feel of not even knowing what is possible, which for some people might be exciting, but for me is why I started making a cube in the first place: a lot of magic is just kinda bullshit :p

The full details of each pick are in the sheet linked above. I started the draft off with Swords to Plowshares into Path to Exile, correctly identifying that the cards in contention with each other were the premium removal spells: the one part of my cube where there is both a lot of power and not a lot of density.
I followed up with blood magic (not quite goblin bombardment, and my format's premier sac outlet) to plant my flag in the otherwise unoccupied Aristocrats zone, and muddled my way through from there.

What I learned
After I had planned out what my ideal ending 40 cards would look like, I noticed that (surprise surprise) there were a lot of cards I wanted that nobody else cared about, so likely the first 30 odd picks of this draft could probably go to fixing, removal spells people might otherwise want, and sideboard cards, something I hadn't really thought of in my cube design. I tried to be sly, picking up Lion's Sash, a custom Unlicensed Hearse, and a few other exile removal spells I could play to take the graveyard hate I'd have trouble with while also getting cards I could play.

Turns out my cube is 450ish cards, and there's 7 of us drafting 45 cards each, for 315 total. That meant that the density of exile removal and graveyard hate I'd included to make random distribution cube drafts feel good and balanced was far overrepresented here where we could pick anything.
In the matches afterward I also discovered that this rise in overall card quality did increase the average toughness of the creatures I was pitted against, meaning the usually crippling repeatable 1 damage goblin bombardment offers were less effective than usual.
I still ended at a respectable 3-2 (April sadly couldn't play her matches), but the real success story of the draft was Tom's deck, a pile of the cube's strongest removal spells, tarmogoyfs and 2-for-1s. He lost a single game of the 11 he played, and submitted this as his "invitational card"
03 Planned Obsolescence.png
After conferring with Freyja (Our resident judge) chapter 3 should allow you to sac any number of artifacts, and throw each at a different target. This is intentional.
The idea here is that the artifact deck struggles with getting to the end game where all its scaling cards take over, and can often lack "loud" reasons to play black cards.
And as is tradition, hours after finalizing this design and adding it to my cube, Tom realized he completely forgot about Coalesce, everyone's favorite mechanic and wishes he'd just submitted something sweet instead :p

Panda got to submit a design as well, and was tickled by the squirrell synergy hidden away in my token deck (Deep Forest Hermit, Chitterspitter, and Chatterfang, Squirrel General). His request was to add on to this theme, perhaps something like Earl of Squirrell.
After struggling for a while with how in gods name you would balance a creature with Squirrellink (1g 2/2? Broken. 2G 2/2? Probably bad? 1G 1/3? Dangerous?), we eventually landed on this:
05 Squirrel Rampage.png
We borrowed the art from the secret lair Krosan Beast because honestly, where else are you going to find art this perfect?

Overall, I'd recommend a roto draft if you haven't tried one. We did ours asynchronously, but you can certainly bang the draft out on a saturday afternoon if people's schedules line up (ours didn't). There really is something to the "meta discussion" of just shooting the shit with your friends in between picks, and you can definitely learn something about your cube (even if that data is contextual).

We did also have a draft this Monday, I'll finish the writeup for that in a bit.

Chris Taylor

Draft notes:
-->03 Black Swordsman.png
I didn't really examine this design too much as submitted. A card like questing beast is well outside my wheelhouse, so I tend to trust and adjust.
Spiritually, this hit the nail on the head with basically having as much text as questing beast, but each line is much more impactful, there's no throwaway turbofog hate.
Also drop the "The": just Facebook (tm). It's not The Questing Beast after all.

I want to love this card but it's not getting there :( There is a lot of demand placed on a 4 drop and there's not that many good tokens to clone here. I can change that contextually, but we're still looking at a 2/2 flier for 4.
And as always, populate can only clone creatures, so spare clues don't help this thing get there.
Maybe I just need to make this into a more flexible 3 drop, maybe I just need to come up with something else?
Evaluate as if this is making a 1/1 on average, as sometimes (but not often) it's making a 2/2, and sometimes it's just "oh this is a small game, I'll head over to the sideboard now"
I think there are better things I can be putting in my small number of 4 drop slots than "a flier you can sometimes put in your deck"

078 - Bestial Mask.jpg
This card is kinda good, but it is also pretty out of place. It made a lot more sense with more +1/+1 counters and/or double strike creatures floating around my cube (I still remember my double rancor days, putting this on fencing ace when it equipped for {G}. Good times.)
It can probably retire.

I've decided to swap the full cycle of Animus lands (Thanks MSE Modern) for 80% of the full cycle of channel lands and Shatterskull Smashing. (Sorry Sokenzen.)
The way my cube's mana breaks down right now is that you're heavily incentivized to play somewhere between 2 and 4 colors, depending individual bravery and bias towards fixing. I like it that way, and the resultant gameplay has been great, but it really shows how out of place a creatureland that demands {2}{U}{U}{U} of you can be, so these were extremely niche picks.

For reference, I've also removed the basic land types off this cycle:
01 Ruins of Bladehold.png02 Lumengrid Causeway.png03 Ish Sah the Empty Vault.png04 The Quiet Furnace.png05 The Radix Pit.png
Mostly on the argument that fetchlands don't really need help being better.

These exist for the same reason the bridge cycle does in most cubes where they're present: they up the artifact count for delirium and artifact synergies, and can't be disenchanted to avoid it being wrong to play them.
I've also got....I think it's just Tezzeret, Betrayer of Flesh at the moment in there to animate them, giving you a cool combo you can assemble.

Lastly, we have one accidental snub and our latest round of inivitational winners:
Bothersome Scrapchucker.png
Our snub, this was submitted by Freyja, requesting a defensive black 2 drop, and I forgot to add it to this draft.
I'm a bit worried, but whatever this does it does quite slowly, so maybe it'll be okay.

Masterminds Unveiling.png
I actually 3-0'd this week (With mono white of all things! Praise the synergy between flickerwisp and prototype cards), once again defeating the point of this system. Nat here is our resident control enjoyer, and misses Sphinx's Revelation.
It's possible the restriction doesn't need to be there, but maybe 4 mana: kill something draw 2 is something I want to avoid on a spell that already scales so well.

And last but not least: Andrew submitted clockspinning but playable. We've made fun of his favorite card for years, and while I hear good things about time spiral draft (outside of Sprout Swarm), clockspinning never really made the highlights.
There isn't a dedicated counters deck in my cube, but the cards do exist. There is also one suspend card you can surprise people with :p
Also I'm honestly not convinced the floor of how to keep an izzet mage busy might actually be worth it in some contexts.
Or maybe this will ruin everything with the first planeswalker it touches. Who knows.
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Chris Taylor

When you feel priced into your design, but still don't want to change it
Black has felt frustrating: a sentence that was true in 2012 trying to build a cube, and in my cube today trying to get anything to mesh with Aristocrats.

I love the gameplay, but drafting Aristocrats is very boring.
1) You need a very small number of extremely narrow sac outlets (Goblin Bombardment, Blasting Station, possibly other cards, etc). Nobody else wants these, and you don't want 5 of them.
2) You might want some payoff cards like blood artist. Depending on the individual power level, you can go without, as they add a C to your A+B combo, so they don't really help you win games you weren't already winning unless they're good cards by themselves.
3) You want as many copies of the card gravecrawler as the cube designer will let you get your hands on. You can compromise by playing cards that aren't gravecrawler, but ideally you would like your deck to have 15 gravecrawlers in it. Possibly some number of lingering souls.

And yes, I'm joking around here, but it's true enough in a way to influence my design.
Point 3 is so egregious as to make red and white cards for this deck extremely hard to design or include, because they all just end up being lesser versions of the only black 1 drop you care about. Even if the gameplay is great (And I maintain that it is) the deck is extremely insular.

So I'm going to see if I can try something else. I've only had aristocrats in my cube for 11 years, I think we can take a break.

So what's that something else?
Well here's the interesting part: If we no longer need explicitly mardu aristocrats, then that hypothetically lets me shuffle around the other triomes in my cube and swap around what existing decks are doing, or add a new one (and I'll need to add at least one new one, come on now)

Before this change, I had this:

A side issue to this is that the Esper Artifacts deck always felt quite unfocused. All the payoffs never really worked until you had like 10+ artifacts in your deck, so there weren't really situations where you'd find yourself in the deck without completely forcing it.
Which sure, that's less bad than it looks, but I'd prefer people might end up there naturally.

Tom and Freyja suggested taking the deck in a more aggressive direction, in that picking aggro cards in these colors might provide an easier line in.
I'm also (minimally) displeased with temur prowess. The deck is very strongly blue red, so any 3rd color you add to it is mostly only going to detract from the overall identity. However, green offers the added frustration that you can't even get removal spells in your splash color, you have to settle for a berserker style deck that doesn't work well in my cube by adding berserk and blossoming defense.
I've added green prowess cards, but nothing that actually interested people.

Looking over the combinatorics:
-Mardu is the new direction for the artifacts deck
-Prowess is URx, ideally not green
-Tokens is mostly locked into Naya. Rabblemasters are excellent red cards I'd like to keep around for other reasons (even with aristocrats gone) and Jinnie Fay, Jetmir's Second is just such a chef's kiss of a magic card I'd like to keep it.
-Sultai Delirium comes for free with any wheel that inclues Mardu and Naya

So we always have Mardu, Naya and Sultai, plus either:
-Temur and Esper (current), or
-Bant and Grixis

Dom mentioned that Grixis prowess had the most good/cheap spells, though basically only Sedgemoor Witch as payoffs, which seems easier for me to fix than something as fundamental as my struggles with green.

So now I get to figure out Bant Something! (tm)

Now ima let you finish...
Before you say anything, I'm going to outline a few goals for Bant Stuff (tm):
1) Longer game deck (as opposed to shorter game deck)
We have a lot of aggressive decks in my cube at the moment. The token deck is a bit higher up on the curve than a traditional aggro deck, but you're primarily presenting threats and attacking. Prowess is about as interactive as an aggressive deck gets, but you're trying to end the game early. The artifacts deck is imagined as a more shrapnel blast, toolcraft exemplar affair, so it will fall into this category as well.

Delirium is the lone reactive deck at present, and I'd like to change that if possible.
2) Doesn't ask you to jam your deck full of one thing (for this reason I think say, Enchantress would be a bad fit)
My issue with the esper artifacts deck is that once you decided you were forcing it, all the drafting asked of you was "hey does this say artifact". Some number of the payoffs were artifacts themselves, but a lot of the other cards in your deck were determined by typeline, not function.

Prowess and tokens both ask you to balance A + B, but all of those are normal game pieces. Delirium is the gold standard here: you're looking for specifically as wide a spread of card types, threats and answers, etc as you can.
3) Asks more of you during drafting than "aggro" or "control"
This is my baseline for anything I'll put in my cube. A control deck isn't something you PUT IN your cube, it's something that emerges from the background radiation of there being interaction in your environment (something every environment needs!).
A flavorless aggro deck is just...the cheap cards.
I don't want my byline to be "hey, play these colors, and you can assemble a deck that is EXACTLY the sum of it's parts"

For those reasons, the following have been suggusted and dismissed:

Heroic: So Grixis is "cast noncreature spells!", Bant can be "Cast noncreature spells! The bad ones tho <3"? Lets not.
Enchantress: I forsee the same stack one card type drafting issue I had with Esper artifacts, but with even less board presence. Not sure I've ever seen this style of deck in a format without either a combo finish (something I'm categorically against) or being primarily hexproof based (something else I'm categorically against)
Blink: This actually comes back to the aristocrats issue, blink is primarily about playing aprox 3 cards that fit your theme (Ephemerate, Soulherder, and....Teleportation Circle?), and then a pile of generically good cards anyone would put in their deck.
Also: I'm not sure how I could signal this deck to be bant specifically? Where are the green enablers? Should I just cut all the black cards with ETB triggers? All of this seems insane.
+1/+1 counters: An old favorite of mine, it suffers from being extremely vulnerable to removal, and slow. It's a midrange deck in that early 2000's way of "I tried to build an aggro deck and failed". It's also fundamentally creature based, and people don't really put that many creatures in their deck to block with them.
Flash: Not so much a synergy deck as a lifestyle, this I think suffers from a visibility problem. You really don't want 15 brineborn cutthroats in your cube draft, and while it can feel like a cohesive deck if you do it right, you're again: just filling your deck with a pile of the same thing.

Ideas I think have merit:
Delirium, but among card types you control: There's whisps of this idea in the Neon Dynasty "if you control an artifact and an enchantment" cards, and there's a mechanic in MSE Modern called civilized which asks if you have a creature, artifact and an enchantment. It's got the draft benefits of delirium, but the cards needing to remain in play certainly makes it more vulnerable to your opponent.
You'd need to operate from the base assumption that people would have ~2.5 card types in play most of the time, so the 4-0 nature of delirium I think is a bad fit.
Maybe some cards that scale based on card types you control. You'd always have land, after all.

Cycling, more broadly: There's a lot of stuff that could interact with a pile of cycling cards. Draw 2 payoffs, actual cycling payoffs, discard payoffs, reanimator/living death type cards, graveyard mechanics,
As well, the new LotR landcyclers like Eagles of the North are powerful in a way my cube can appreciate, and I've also got cycling lands in place already.
There's a bit of tension in blue that prowess wants you to cast spells and cycling explicitly isn't casting anything (it's an ability), but that is also space that you can play with. Omen Hawker is quite good at cycling cards, for eg, and maybe there's something there.
I'm not sure how coherent it would be, but maybe I'm overthinking it.

Here's some cards I've been working on in the interim while I figure this out:
03 Carrion Cry.png
Hymn to tourach remains miserable to play against, but Mind Rot just isn't cutting it at 3. This is also much better where discard spells are usually at their worst, so I think it deserves a shot.

03 Death Charm.png
I love unearth, but it rarely finds its way into decks because it's so narrow. I managed to fix the same issue on Threaten by turning it into a charm, perhaps I can do the same thing here.
I love the cute little 3-2-1 countdown thing it's got going on, and I think (hope) the reduction from returning a 3 drop to returning a 2 drop will help steer people away from returning Laelia (Huh a lot of the does everything 3 drops happen not to be creatures recently huh? Fable, Wedding Announcement, Reckoner Bankbuster, etc) and steer them towards returning young pyromancer.
It's also possible I just shouldn't make the card worse.

03 Disciple of Yawgmoth.png
I tried this guy once, and he felt both a bit out of place and a bit aggressive for the esper deck, so I'm giving him another shot.

03 Rakish Bloodwitch.png
Might be too much, but as a 1 drop in the color you absolutely don't want as your base color in the prowess deck, I'm willing to give it a bit more juice.
Also fear is not just unblockable here, there's a ton of servos/thopters/golems etc lying around, and not just in the artifact deck.

03 Tidehollow Lich.png
This is a shaky add from MSE Modern. I like the idea of this as a singleton thing you can do, but it's also possible that this is just too much alongside a bonesplitter I've consciously removed a lot of the ways to interact with because they're normally hard sideboard cards.

07 Duergar Strikebreaker.png
Third Path Iconoclast actually shifted to be on the overlap between Mardu artifacts and Grixis prowess!
Also tokenshifting it so I don't have to add artifact soldiers to my token box.

07 Duneglass Ascetic.png
Here's another weird one from MSE Modern. Possible it should be upkeep, but I like the idea.
I don't love how artifact creature isn't communicated well by the frame, but I do love the art. This might change aesthetically between now and playtest.
I don't think there's much in my cube here, but you can use this to perma animate vehicles with big text boxes like Conqueror's Galleon, Weatherlightor Parhelion II.
Yo Colossal Plow time?

Anyways, that's what's been rumbling around in my head over the last little while. If you've got ideas, let me know!

The great thing about custom cards is you can always flesh out an idea to a whole theme, or tune cards up or down to your satisfaction.
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i do have ideas for you!

my favorite little emergent deck that i didnt see coming out of my own cube. blue's utility lands are STRONG and you can basically run a WU control deck that splashes into G for the land recursion. this shell can also become a bit of 4-5c control, the SEXIEST CUBE DECK IN ANY CUBE, since you are already getting lands matter stuff and slowing the game down.
here's some cards to give you an idea of the skeleton:

You can also glue this to Esper Artifacts with Urza's Saga, Academy Ruins, Urza, and some of the green cards that make food or treasure or clues.
A side issue to this is that the Esper Artifacts deck always felt quite unfocused. All the payoffs never really worked until you had like 10+ artifacts in your deck, so there weren't really situations where you'd find yourself in the deck without completely forcing it.
My issue with the esper artifacts deck is that once you decided you were forcing it, all the drafting asked of you was "hey does this say artifact". Some number of the payoffs were artifacts themselves, but a lot of the other cards in your deck were determined by typeline, not function.

My take on seamlessly incorporating artifacts into archetypes is that it's a general subtheme for the cube, not an actual theme focused in some colors. I see it like a pivot archetype where the pivot "color" in question is colorless. The enablers are found in the 5 WUBRG colors and give some unique spins on artifacts.

For example, a GW Urza's Saga deck might look like:

Whereas a BR one might go in another direction

Markov Harvester

The point is that you have colorless cards that reward you for running artifacts and because of the color wheel, this gives rise to unique decks based on the cards opened and the color combinations used. If you support ramp, then maybe your Green artifact deck looks like:

It probably takes a whole revamp of the cube as well as wanting to run artifacts matters. As mentioned, I really like it because since the payoffs are colorless, you are opening the archetype to all your colors and the decks drafted can vary greatly with the same payoffs.

I have 2 ideas for your Bant archetype: Ramp and Legendary matters

Piggybacking on blacksmithy's idea, Bant ramp looks fun!
1) Longer game deck (as opposed to shorter game deck)
Check! You want the game to go long to cast high mana value cards or make extra land drops.

2) Doesn't ask you to jam your deck full of one thing (for this reason I think say, Enchantress would be a bad fit)
Maybe check? I think you could build different flavors of ramp. Curving a Birds of Paradise into a Blade Splicer is going to feel a lot different than casting Land Tax then Sphinx's Revelation.

3) Asks more of you during drafting than "aggro" or "control"
I think you will find two camps. Creature ramp and noncreature ramp. Creatures will naturally be more aggressive, but maybe you can still make slower decks with them.

GW landfall

Green can recur lands, and White is surprisingly good at it too, so getting value from land drops seems trivial. High impact utility lands shine here as do your cycling lands.

UG GY lands

This one might be too close to Sultai Delirium, but there is a backup:

UG untap

UW lands to hand

Not quite sure on the payoff here. Discard effects will make good use of extra lands. Specific cards like Scroll Rack and Brainstorm will help you set up your draws. But also just hitting your land drops is a good way to make sure you have a lot of mana I guess.

Bant Legendaries

The fun thing here is that you can have a wide range of decks. This might be more subtheme than an actual archetype. Here are a few samplings that look fun for Selesnya

GW Legendary aggro

GW Legendary grind

GW Legendary planeswalker control

Can't comment on the customs, it's not my jam, but I had fun brainstorming something for your cube even if it falls flat! Thanks for posting your reports and thoughts.

Chris Taylor

Doesn't the ability overwrite the Vehicle's power and toughness to be 0/0? You still get the good ability, I suppose, which is definitely helpful for something like Parhellion II.
It does. There's not a ton of vehicles that are worth it after they're limited to being a 1/1 forever, but yeah Parhelion is one of them :p
I don't expect this to come up in my cube drafts, no

Chris Taylor

Not able to do the whole Grixis-Prowss-Bant-Something patch for my upcoming draft, so I opted to add a few cards to existing underperforming archetypes instead:
02 Guardian Construct.png
Only I could build a cube so fair the BLUE ARTIFACT DECK is weak -_-
The deck has a decent number of cards that say artifacts on them, but since I don't support ramp (Look ramp leads to very swingy games, and I hate drawing the wrong half of my deck) the actual gameplan is less coherent. It's mostly Karnstruct Spam...midrange?

Part of the issue is all the cards in the deck ask you to have like 10+ artifacts in the deck. This is all described a few posts back in my initial consternation about this archetype, which lead me to moving it into Mardu.
Maybe this requires less? I'm not even sure if this helps TBH

02 Surveillance Drone.png
This is super boring and probably solid. Look if you want your drafters to be happy, just add like thirty copies of Thraben Inspector across all 5 colors. Peak Gameplay :p
Shoutout to Trainmaster for pointing out Drone is an existing creature type! (Mostly on non-legendary eldrazi and the occasional artifact/mirrordin creature)

05 Cosmic Vessel.png05 Dessicated Hydra.png
TBH synergistic 1 drops don't usually provide like this. I think you're allowed to push a little harder in the non-intuitive colors for an archetype though.

05 Flourishing Weaver.png99 Growth.png
I figure if you've gotta pay for the counters, Luminarch Aspirant can afford to be a 2/2
TBH it's still probably worse
But this generates spells as well

05 Modruni Maro-Sorcerer.png
I think 4 toughness is less cool than 3 toughness ward 1, but it might be better

05 Wildsong Druid.png
Not sure Ward 2 is the right sprinkle to give it, but most green addons don't really fit (Trample, vigilance, etc)

05 Ritual of Fang and Claw.png
Snapcasterable Burning-Tree Emissary

Towering Might.png
Maybe this should be G1, maybe it should just be G, but I'm a bit worried about someone just flipping their graveyard over and swinging for like 16.
Just occurred to me that Candle Creeper can combo with Uro/Kroxa/Dreadnought. That card is amazing. I put a copy of it in my own list to replace Dauntless Bodyguard and I'm realizing "the long tail" of uses for phasing a creature out at instant speed. Sick card design for sure. Hope you don't mind me playing it, haha.

Chris Taylor

Just occurred to me that Candle Creeper can combo with Uro/Kroxa/Dreadnought. That card is amazing. I put a copy of it in my own list to replace Dauntless Bodyguard and I'm realizing "the long tail" of uses for phasing a creature out at instant speed. Sick card design for sure. Hope you don't mind me playing it, haha.
It's a sick one. I lived one game phasing out a massacre wurm in response to it's trigger one time. I also prefer phasing at base because it doesn't interrupt the work you've done on a creature like flicker, and it stops basically any removal spell, unlike protection/indestructible/regenerate.

Also, to you and anyone reading: STEAL MY CUSTOMS. “Good artists copy, Great artists steal”
Half these designs aren't mine anyways :p

007 - Dissolve the Bonds of Kinship.jpg
For reference any card with a name next to the rarity in the bottom left, that's the designer's name. (I used to do this via flavor text but that takes up card space)
It's a sick one. I lived one game phasing out a massacre wurm in response to it's trigger one time. I also prefer phasing at base because it doesn't interrupt the work you've done on a creature like flicker, and it stops basically any removal spell, unlike protection/indestructible/regenerate.

Also, to you and anyone reading: STEAL MY CUSTOMS. “Good artists copy, Great artists steal”
Half these designs aren't mine anyways :p

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For reference any card with a name next to the rarity in the bottom left, that's the designer's name. (I used to do this via flavor text but that takes up card space)
Okay, sweet. That's a really good idea! So many of my stolen designs are when I'd be trolling r/Custommagic for ideas. But I always ended up changing them quite a bit anyway. Cool way to credit the original person.

Chris Taylor

Also, highly recommend if you're drafting this with a semi consistent group:

I offer basically an invitational card to anyone who 3-0's or 0-3s a draft of my cube, with the stipulation that if you 3-0, the card you add can't be a card for the deck you won with :p
Much like the magic invitational used to do, I work with the player to design something that fits, and I've gotten both fully designed cards I didn't even need to change, but I've also gotten "I want a defensive black 2 drop, who has ideas?"

It's a great way to get your playgroup involved in the design of your cube, and adding things they like.

I haven't cut any yet but I think overclockspinning might not be long for this world:
024 - Overclockspinning.jpg
The submission was "Clockspinning but playable" and I'm not sure I can do that without just like, making it draw 2 cards or something stupid.
Also, highly recommend if you're drafting this with a semi consistent group:

I offer basically an invitational card to anyone who 3-0's or 0-3s a draft of my cube, with the stipulation that if you 3-0, the card you add can't be a card for the deck you won with :p
Much like the magic invitational used to do, I work with the player to design something that fits, and I've gotten both fully designed cards I didn't even need to change, but I've also gotten "I want a defensive black 2 drop, who has ideas?"

It's a great way to get your playgroup involved in the design of your cube, and adding things they like.

I haven't cut any yet but I think overclockspinning might not be long for this world:
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The submission was "Clockspinning but playable" and I'm not sure I can do that without just like, making it draw 2 cards or something stupid.
Depending on the texture of your cube, maybe something like "Replicate - Tap a creature" instead of Buy Back? I personally want to try this card now. I love proliferate but the flexibility this card has is a lot better. I literally just added Hex Parasite to the cube as a utility card simular to Vampire Hexmage but more flexible. No Depths Combo, just looking to give players some flexible way to pressure PW's, Jitte Counters, +1/+1 counters, or even hit the Valor counters off Intrepid Adversary. May be too cute.

I imagine giving Overclockspinning a way to really crank up/down some counters would be a huge buff. Maybe too strong if it combos well with Walkers?

I love the idea of an invitational card! I'll try that for sure.

How do you manage testing your cards? I'm usually on theorycrafting->Feedback online->Goldfish some games->Playtest online with a friend.

Chris Taylor

Yeah clockspinning is much too cute at a baseline. It's a combo card, and my format just isn't about that. If there were something you could actually do something powerful with, I'd cut it because I was people playing fair magic.
Andrew didn't suggest clockspinning because he thought it would be good, he did so because it's his favorite card and we keep telling him it's shit :p
And TBH, he drafted it last time we ran my cube, he got a prowess deck to put it in (2 mana, cast a spell? Not bad....) AND some number of his prowess creatures involved +1/+1 counters
Turns out those threats aren't resilient, so the deck didn't end up working :p

Mostly my testing is Theory > Ask online > In > Patch if someone complains.
I've been doing this for long enough (since 2006?) that my instincts are good enough to catch true outliers, and if something's too strong it's fable of the mirror breaker strong where it does a bit too much of everything, not ancestral recall strong where it's just like, 4 mana off what it should cost.

Chris Taylor

Notes from tonight's Draft

043 - Hunger Of Hadar.jpg
This feels like it's too strong. The number of tokens running around makes it REAL easy for this to be a 3 for 1, even if those 3 aren't cards you paid mana for.
I'm gonna make it a sorcery, open to suggestions if you have something clever.

074 - Rage Charm.jpg
Much in the same vein, this is a bit too strong.
The synergy between Arc Lightning to deal with small threats, and Threaten to deal with big threats, the draw 2 mode basically never gets used.
I'm changing the damage mode to only hit creatures, so if your opponent has walkers as their threats you might be picking the draw mode more often.

079 - Earths Dance Channeler.jpg
This card is a banger, but I noticed today it doesn't have a downside like Darcy does.

Chris Taylor


Not entirely sure this is the right wording I want for how to describe a deck, but I don't want to just put down "It's like ravager, IDK"
civilization??? yesssss nice one

to elaborate on the artifacts deck you might also mention something like "mass-produce artifacts and tokens to feed your engine"

Chris Taylor

Alright, well with some fire under my but from a surprise draft request from my playgroup, I have finally done the thing: I have changed the archetype wheel. As shown above:
-Aristocrats is gone
-Artifacts moved from Esper to Mardu, and is now a more aggressive deck rather than a midrange one
-Prowess moved from Temur to Grixis, which offers a much nicer package
-Bant is the remaining 3 color block, and is welcoming in "Civilization", a custom mechanic that rewards you for diversifying the types of permanents you control

So it's no secret that I like aggressive decks by nature. I've got a better idea of how they work and how to encourage them in a draft environment as a result, and the old artifacts deck ({U}{W}{B} ) definitely suffered from an identity crisis as a result.
Planeswalkers, tokens, Emry loops, there were a pile of half baked ideas and nothing that actually functioned coherrently as a deck EXCEPT piling every single card that made a karnstruct into your deck and hoping that was enough:

And when you did that, the deck was kinda alright. Urza's saga in particular is a powerful card, but the issue arises during the draft:
If the only way this deck works is via loading up on cards that REQUIRE you to have 15+ of artifacts in your deck to work, how do you ever end up there? You kinda just have to force the deck.

So in this new iteration of the deck, I'm trying to include a few more cards that operate well enough on their own, or only require a few artifacts.
And shrapnel blast. I do love shrapnel blast.
A lot of the karnstruct style cards are still there, but electrostatic bolt has a playable fail case, and Pia and Kiran Nalaar feeds itself.
I am mostly talking about the red cards because much of the white and black cards have remained the same, with some small changes to suggest a more aggressive lean.

Favorite new designs:

I'm running two Profane Sacrament at the moment. Most of my research into the affinity deck over the years proved that thoughtcast really was the key card to the deck, even if other cards usually got top billing.

We all know the spells deck is blue red at heart, but my cube's structure does obligate me to add a 3rd color to the mix in order to keep everything nice and evenly represented. Actually getting anyone to bother using that 3rd color has been a struggle.
White has a few prowess cards, but it's draft chaff all the way down outside of Monastery Mentor. It offers a decent suite of support spells in emerge unscathed and similar, but those are just niche applications of countermagic, something blue already brings to the deck.
There's token spells (Lingering souls triggers prowess after all), but again barring the actual ones that are amazing pound for pound on their own, it isn't adding much. The whole point of young pyromancer is that you don't have to spend cards developing your board, he does that for you, and lets you focus on sculpting your draw or removing your opponent's threats.

So while I love white in general, philosophically it wasn't a great match.

Green was that, but worse! Greens token making instants and sorceries are just worse, fewer and futher between. What's more, they tend to produce a single big token rather than spreading things out over multiple bodies, which is worse in the face of removal. The bigger body is better in the face of blockers, but my cube is more about removal than it is about blockers.
Green has protection spells, but they've still got all the narrow application problems that white's do. The good ones are also pump spells, and that can count for something, but it's not a huge draw in and of itself, given the performance of pump spells in constructed magic.
For pump spells to be good, they need to be REAL big. Think Become Immense, Embercleave, Berserk, Atarka's Command, or Temur Battle Rage levels of big, and even the power doubling ones are mostly targeting death's shadow, a card I don't have in here. The expected value of a constructed pump spell needs to be around 6 damage, not the 2-3 we see on green's pump spells like Giant Growth or Blossoming Defense.

Lastly, and this was the real nail in the coffin: green offers zero interaction. Even if I was running fight spells, prowess threats aren't the kind of creatures that brawl well: that's why your deck is full to bursting with disruption in the first place. This is something I can fudge with custom cards, but we're never hitting the level where green removal would be as appealing as red burn, for eg.

Black offers things that white and green do not. It's removal is high quality, so we don't have the green problem. It's protection spells (lets use Unearth as an example) are actually more broadly applicable than white's or green's, which is great. It's really helpful that your protection spell can be temporally displaced from your opponent's removal spell, in addition to also re-triggering any ETBs that might happen on the other, non young pyromancer cards you might be running.
You also get possibly the best MDFC in Malakir Rebirth as a more time restrictive counterspell, but MDFCs are at their best when sometimes you want them, and sometimes you don't, so this effect is perfect.
Also, and this might be odd to some of you: I just hadn't ran targeted discard for the last like 5 years. Zero thoughtseizes in my cube. Thoughtseize is a good card to play before AND after you cast your young pyromancer, so I've added two thoughtseize, two inquisition of kozilek, and we'll see where to go from there.
I've got a handful of custom variants I could try but they don't add a ton, and I think in the initial outing I prefer the clarity of constructed staples here.

Favorite designs:

Carrion Cry makes for a good Diet Hymn to Tourach, and Blood Drinker offers some overlap if your artifacts deck has the right support pieces in it.

Okay yeah, what on earth is going on here. Coming up with new decks whole cloth is hard, yo.
So a few posts back I asked for ideas about "Bant something", and this is what I came up with.

As a reminder, here's the goals:
-Reactive, or at least Midrange
-UWG, and just UWG. Blink was excluded for this reason, I can't actually imagine cutting all the black and red ETB creatures to actually take a hardline stance here.
-Wants a relatively even balance of enablers and payoffs. One of my frustrations with aristocrats, where you wanted 2-3 sac outlets, 0-1 copies of exactly blood artist because it was so over the top powerful, and everything else was just food. I also rejected an enchantments matter archetype for this reason as well, since you'd just be jamming your deck full of enchantments.

So: Civilization. I always liked how delirium made you interested in a balanced deck, rather than just jamming as many of a single card type or mechanic as you can.
Delirium does tend to bias away from permanents, since enchantments and artifacts tend to stay in play, where they don't contribute to your delirium count.
Taking this idea and flipping it on it's head wasn't initially my idea. It's a mechanic in a few Magic Set Editor (MSE) Modern sets, and has emerged as one of the existing archetypes in constructed over there. Technically their version is different, asking for specifically an Artifact, an Enchantment and a Creature, but many of the cards translate easily.
Their take on the mechanic is a much more linear aggro deck, with creatures that ETB create aura tokens front and center and a cheap double striking payoff for having Civilization active.

So I took to MSE Modern's version of gatherer, looked for inspiration in a query that literally singled out the words "Card type" in the rules text and.....found nothing.
Okay I found one card I could steal:

This card is origionally a lammasu, and there are two of those in magic, but I opted to change the creature type.
I also removed CARDNAME gets +1/+1 as long as you control another creature, that seems kinda unnecessary.

So I set out to making my own ideas:
01 Arbiter of Judgement.png
The first place I looked was delirium-esque "four+ or nothing" abilities. I initially asked for four card types, but honestly it felt weird reverse engineering that you'd always have at least one (land) no matter the card asking, so I swapped the count to "nonland card types" and just lowered the math. This certainly reads weirder on the second go around, but better on the first, which I think is where I'd like it.

In terms of this specific card, I wanted a resilient (ish) flier you'd play in a more controlling deck, so starting with serra angel was a good spot.
At present it's less that its ALSO a removal spell once you turn on Civilization, and more that it can kinda block anything, which is an odd play pattern. Maybe this becomes an attack trigger, maybe something else. Not sure yet.

01 Benevolent Guardian.png
Front Loaded Myth Realized. This thing isn't actually all that great in practice, realistically this ends up being a 2/2 or a 3/3 most of the time, which is fine but a bad spot for a creature with "champion a plains" on it.
I think this needs a little more time in the oven.

01 Imprison.png
Sideways glass casket. Civilization wants the odd enchantment, which is usually a less reliable form of removal, even if there's not a ton of disenchants in my cube to break this open. Here's where the math thing gets a bit weird, because I definitely want the rock bottom case to be 2MV here, but I'm okay with this at the moment.

You could just go for X and have rock bottom be 1, drop it down to W, but I also want portable hole in my cube for other reasons (decent in this deck no less) so I want this to be 1W to differentiate.

Possible I've gone too extra with the art + frame and this could stand to be a bit more normal.

02 Arcane Analysis.png
Blue's easiest X, but X++ if <Condition>. I'm happy quick study got printed, I probably would have felt priced into making this a sorcery before.

02 Education.png
Future-ish sight, It's a bit closer to something like Augur of Autumn given the strict limitation if you don't have Civilization.

Currently it's a touch awkward in that you can't cast an artifact creature if you control an artifact or a creature, so that needs ironing out. You also can't cast hard evidence at all, as much as it would help, but that seems less fixable with a wording change :p
"[...]if that card would produce a permanent with a type you don't control[...]"
No stop it, we've gone too deep!

02 Itinerant Scholar.png
This dude actually performed really well in the draft. I consider it a bit of a flaw this signals a blue artifact deck that isn't there, but I do have archetype cards and this card is decidedly not an aggressive one, so I think it's a bit more of a draft challenge than a bad signal.
The Civilization text does feel weird, but I'm okay with it for now. I want it to help you win if you're doing your thing, and I don't want to make it like, mill or something, I want to keep the cards all fighting on the same axis.

02 Whispergeist.png
Here's the biggest reach I've got. Does blue deserve ravenous chupacabra? Does blue even want ravenous chupacabra?
Obv this is less of a problem in a cube where there's one copy and everyone's playing a 2.5 color deck anyways. There's realistically no way someone's got a deck where this is the only removal spell because they should have zero: my cube doesn't let that happen. Even a base blue green deck (which doesn't happen that much) has splashed black or white removal plus the tier 2 removal spells I've included in your base colors:

102 - Tangleweed.jpg
Speaking of which, we did have a drafter get a bit confused by these.
None of the Civilization payoffs are so powerful you should be playing these over cards like swords to plowshares. I think that's fine, people don't need MORE reasons to pick premium removal highly, and one of the the classic lessons of drafting is "Don't let synergy get in the way of you putting good cards in your deck", but not everyone I draft with has learned that lesson.
Worth noting.

05 Garruk the Once Cursed.png
The initial version of this card was a creature that did the current -2 ability every end step.
Not only is repeated tutoring real boring gameplay wise, it's also super powerful. I had it as a 4 mana 2/5, so it was a huge aggro brick wall.

I do like the tutoring though, and I think a planeswalker minus ability like this is uncommon enough that it shows up but doesn't get old.
The rest is different levels of support for filling out Civilization. I chose monster role partially on theme, but also for being the other half of the sorcerer role token, which I'm already using due to spellbook vendor

07 Tyrael Shepard of Mankind.png
Okay so here's the wild one. You'll notice this is an invitational card, by the way :p
The prompt was "Bant planeswalker, Jennie Fae style mana cost, Civ Payoff". Andrew liked the idea of making enchantment tokens, and roles are basically the only way I'm willing to do that at the moment. Variable starting loyalty was another suggested idea, but honestly might be us overcooking the card, as I can easily see that real estate turning into a 3rd ability, having him just start at 3 and playing way better. Time will tell.

Tragic Arrogence is a great fit for this deck, and I felt this was a nice way to integrate it. I like Civilization cards being permanents, so I'm running cataclysmic gearhulk, but not OG cataclysm (no armageddons in this cube either) or tragic arrogence.

I also like that you can (if you play your cards right) play Tyreal and "ult" him immediately, or you can suspend 1 your sweeper.

Also don't @ me about Diablo lore, I know the lore you're talking about and I don't care :p
Custom planeswalkers are hard. You can either use an existing magic character and have a hard ass time finding art that hasn't been used already (Some promo materials, some fan art, but less than you'd get for say, "blue 2 drop creature", you know?) or you can make a walker of your OC which never ends up well. Tyrael at least fits into the magic ouvre.

More updates as I get ideas!
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Dom Harvey

How committed are you to Prowess being a part of the wheel in some capacity? I'm more optimistic for Grixis than for Jeskai/Temur but I wonder if there's a fundamental issue there