This week I’m here to talk about my cube! I’m going to go over a bunch of frequently asked questions I get about size, card choices, archetypes and a whole bunch of other things. A lot of how a person evaluates cards is what kind of environment they play with. How I play and whom I play with affects how I look at cards and how I’ll evaluate them. I’ll leave a link to my cube down below.

What size is your cube?

450. I’ve experimented with as low as 360 and as high as 540, but 450 is my size of choice. At 450, we always draft just over half the cube (we always draft with 6 people), drafters get to see over half the pool, increasing the chance to see a good variety of cards and archetype support. When we tried 360 out, we found archetypes and specific decks too consistent. 540 was more interesting, it allowed me to play more ‘flex’ cards and interesting cards with all the extra space, what I didn’t like was having to force slightly less optimal cards to help decks and specific archetypes out.

Do you play Power?

I don’t play the Power 9 any more. I used to years ago but cut them along side a handful of other cards to flatten out the power level. Power 9 and the other fast mana that comes with it (Sol Ring, Mana Crypt, Mana Vault and Grim Monolith) create a lot of feel bad games. Power is fun to play with but never fun to play against. Your opponent starting with an extra couple mana or cards turns what should be an interesting game into a bad beat story.

Do you play a ‘Legacy’ cube?

No. I play Demonic Tutor, Memory Jar, Mystical Tutor, Skullclamp, Strip Mine, Survival of the Fittest, Tinker, Treasure Cruise, Vampiric Tutor and Wheel of Fortune at the moment. I’ve thought about trying out a ‘Legacy’ legal cube (Similar to Wizards MTGO Legacy cube) to have an excuse to not play certain cards (or sometimes budget reasons lol) but always just decide to cut or add whatever to help fix whatever problems.

Any specific exclusions?

Along with the Power 9, I don’t play the following cards:

Mana Vault

Mana Crypt

Sol Ring

Grim Monolith

Library of Alexandria

Mind Twist


True-Name Nemesis

Jace, Memory Adept (Could make a similar argument for Sword of Body and Mind)

Mana Drain

Like I mentioned before, the super fast mana makes games lopsided and don’t deserve being in an ‘unpowered’ cube. Cards like True-Name Nemesis, Mind Twist and Balance feel bad to play against, hinder drafting (can’t really pass) and aren’t all that fun to play. After cubing with them enough (some for years), I decided to cut them. My playgroup didn’t enjoy the experience with them so it was a pretty well received change.

On a side note I also limit myself to 2 Planeswalkers per colour or pairing. I started doing this a couple years ago when Green and White had a huge amount of cube playable Planeswalkers. Planeswalker is the most powerful card type in cube and the bar for entry is pretty low. You could easily make a case for about 85% of them and they’d probably be fine. I don’t want ‘super friends’ to be rampant in my cube, and I don’t want midrange/control matchups to turn into Planeswalker battleship.

What archetypes do you support?

I don’t play anything out of the ordinary. I don’t try to force an archetype per colour pairing (feels like I have to force in worse cards that end up being too narrow). Tokens and Reanimator decks are very common. I’m also a huge fan of ‘Build-around-me’ cards like Birthing Pod, Collected Company or Wildfire. None of these cards are uncommon or anything, I just like the idea that adding 1 card adds a whole new potential to deck building (if you play Necropotence, all you have to do is add Gray Merchant to your list to encourage mono black).

Do you play Conspiracies/draft matters, or other cards (un cards/custom)?

I do not play any Conspiracies or cards that have effects during the draft. I’ve messed around with some before, but quickly cut them. It might sounds cheesy but I feel they wreck the whole draft ‘experience’, turning it into more of a joke. I’m sure I’m the minority here but my friends haven’t made a case for them (yet). As for Un-cards or custom cards; I’ve tried a couple of them out in the past (never more then 1 at a time), but inevitably cut them. Fun a couple times, but that’s about it (I’m sure most people have tried Booster Tutor at some point).

How often do you add/test cards?

With every set I always try to add cards I’m a little skeptical on. I add whatever cards I’m initially impressed by, a few cards I think are close, and one or two more interesting cards but have less potential. I add new cards the more often we draft and I try to give then a dozen or so cubes before getting peoples opinions on them along with my own. Lately we’ve been cubing less so some cards I’ve been testing have been stuck in for a while and I haven’t really added anything new. Whenever I want to try a card out, I tend to just add it. Forcing myself to find cuts to try something new feels unnecessary. If it earns its spot over a couple weeks, I’ll find something to cut for it.

I also switch out well performing cards or archetype supporters from time to time to change the overall feel of the draft. I’ll add Mono Black Devotion, Human tribal or the artifact theme to give people different decks to try out. Or even smaller changes like swapping Jace Beleren for Jace, Unraveler of Secrets. Both cards are fine (with Beleren being the more polular one), but it’s interesting to try out small changes like this from time to time.

How many people do you draft with?

We always 6 person team draft. Draft with 6, build as teams, teammates can help with mulligans and sideboard advice, first to 5 match wins. I was introduced to it this way and it’s my favourite way to play. It’s the perfect balance of casual and competitive for my friends and I. We all enjoy the casual experience of cube, being able to draft and play whatever you want, but we still really want to win. This encourages hate drafting and drafting responsibly. I’ve ran a couple cube FNM’s in the past with a bigger list, in the world of swiss pairings, people tend to just tunnel vision on what they want to play and ignore drafting responsibly. It’s fun, but not as ‘competitive’. That being said, its fun to let loose from time to time (every now and then somebody’s the anchor of a team).

How often do you draft?

This number has changed a lot. From 3-4 times a week to once a month, the amount of players I have changes drastically. School, work, holidays, real life, something always come up. Right now I’d like to say we draft once every other week with my cube and could cube the same amount with another friends cube. Hopefully I’m able to get back to at least twice a week.

Do you run/have any pet cards?

Oh yeah I do. Right now I’d say Chandra, Flamecaller, Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast and Assemble the Legion are the ones at the moment. None of these cards are particularly bad, but generally against what I look for in these slots. For example I don’t run Olivia Voldaren or Rakdos’s Return because they aren’t good ‘Rakdos’ cards and Daretti is the same. I want my gold cards to compliment what the colour pairing does best in my cube, and both of these cards are more jund/grixis/mardu control cards then aggressive ones. I don’t mind bending this rule every now and then, but I don’t like to do it a lot. I originally wanted to add Chandra, Flamecaller because I loved playing it in Standard so much, but it ended up helping diversify red a bit (maybe I’m just trying to convince myself ).

Any plans for the future?

I actually haven’t gone over my cube thoroughly in a while but I plan to finally do it tomorrow and I’m really excited to go over it to make some cuts and additions! I’m going to try adding a ‘Delirum’ package this time around with Traverse the Ulvenwald, Ishkana, Grafwidow and Emrakul, the Promised End (Emrakul’s already in). Delirium is an interesting mechanic that I original wrote off for cube. It’s not the easiest to ‘support’ but a handful of payoff cards won’t hurt trying out. I also want to try running Cube FNM’s or events at the store I work at (Fusion Gaming) again. They went over really well last time and bumping my cube up to 540 gives me a chance to give more cards a spin. As for this article series, I want to start writing about more design stuff in the next couple weeks (archetype support/cube theory). I also want to give a quick update on how Aether Revolt cards have been performing after we get another couple rounds of cube in.

So with this out of the way, hopefully it helps give more insight on how I evaluate cards and what look for when looking for potential additions. Thanks for joining me on the Mana Base this week and I’ll see you next time!




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