Andrew Colman – The Puzzle Box: Real Traditional Brown Section

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Welcome to the Puzzle Box, everyone!

It has been an awesome Christmas season! Lots of family and food and beer. I’m lucky that my brother was the one to introduce me to Magic. I bring my cube and  we always fire couple of quick drafts after everyone has tired of each other. There was lots of watching the holiday cube while eating  Oma’s short bread and drinking some lambswool. Hope you had as much fun as I did!

We are coming to the end of our Puzzle Box building—we’ve got colorless this week and multicolored next week. I have seen a bunch of cool ideas from people on Twitter and in the comments section here on Brainstorm Brewery suggesting ways to continue with this series while sticking to the budget-yet-powerful theme. I had grand ideas of doing a “Pack to Puzzle Box” a la FMN Hero. But realistically, I’ve got school coming up again, then I’ll be heading to Europe for six weeks. From there I’ll be flying back and landing in Toronto, where I’ll engage in a three-year master’s degree at Trinity College at the University of Toronto.  All of this is to say that I don’t think I’ll have enough time to dedicate to getting out on a regular-enough basis to make that project worth while. Maybe after I’ve settled into a routine in Toronto and found a good  MTG scene I’ll engage in the “Pack to Puzzle Box Mission.” Or if I hear enough screams from the crowd maybe I’ll give it a shot. Lucky for me, chances of that are slim.

I’ll put it out again, if anyone out there knows where the good MTG scene in Toronto is,  please let me know.

Puzzle Box Artifact Section Ho!

I’ll start by saying it’s a good thing that we had some extra money from the red section left over. There was no way that this section could be $25. First of all, we’ve got more cards than the WUBRG sections and artifacts are inherently more expensive because they go in every deck everywhere ever.

The size of this cube is going to be really exciting for many reasons, but the colorless section is one that I am particularly looking forward to playing. Because we don’t have lots of the really broken stuff like the Mirrodin swords, Umezawa’s Friendship Ruiner (Umezawa’s Jitte), or  Batterskull, it means that underrated artifacts like Zuran Orb , Ankh of Mishra, and Mortar Pod will not be snap excluded from the a slot in a deck by the Jitte and will get some more regular play.

Luckily for us, there are some artifacts that are indeed very broken that do get to be included because of their banned status in most sanctioned formats. We get to include a card that could arguably be included in an extended list of the powered cards of Magic, the mentioned-in-previous-installments Skullclamp. Also, Tangle Wire is another of those absolutely backbreaking cards that we get to add to this list. If you have never resolved a Tangle Wire, let me take you through it.  You play it for three mana with four counters on it. You pass the turn and at the beginning of your opponents upkeep they have to tap four permanents. Your opponent probably does nothing and passes the turn, and at the beginning of your upkeep you remove a counter and tap three permanents, one of which is Tangle Wire, so only two pertinent cards. You pass and your opponent taps three permanents for a total of seven so far. You remove a counter and tap Tangle Wire and one other permanent for a total of three relevant ones. On your opponent’s upkeep, he taps two more bringing his total to nine. On your turn remove a counter, tap only Tangle Wire, and go on with life. They tap their last permanent bringing the total number of permanents they had to tap to ten while you only tapped three.

Bonehoard was an artifact that was tested out in many cubes when it was spoiled, but unfortunately, it ended up not being good enough for the very high-power cubes. Fortunately for us, our environment is not as powered and I think Bonehoard will benefit from that. It should be made better by another fringy inclusion in Mortar Pod. Mogg Fanatic and its black version, Fume Spitter, are amazing cards and Mortar Pod turns all of your outclassed creatures into a Mogg Fanatic. Green deck with lots of mana dorks that have outlasted their usefulness will turn into an extra few damage or spot removal for any X/1 creatures.

One of the concerns that I had at first was the Tinker target count—I was one short of what I felt was optimal. With only two, Sundering Titan and Myr Battlesphere, I did some digging and found Steel Hellkite. A 5/5 flyer with with a conditional Engineered Explosives is certainly no Blightsteel Colossus, but If you curve into it on turn three with a Tinker, you should be able to wipe most of their board the next turn and lock them out of the game. Of course, if you have a Wurmcoil Engine or Colossus feel free to swap it out.



A couple of colored inclusions that you’ll notice in this list are Squee, Goblin Nabob and Noxious Revival. Squee just does a great many colorless things. One of my favorites is pitching him to Fauna Shaman or Masticore forever and ever. He’s one of the best Skullclamp or Mortarpod targets. If you use your imagination, Squee will be on your side! As for Noxious Revival, Regrowth is good, and the fact that this only goes on top of you library is negated by the fact that it is free and instant speed. When you get miracles in your cube, they get way better in your opening hand when you have Noxious Revival in your deck. And if need be, you can blank your opponent’s draw step by putting something useless from his graveyard on top of his library as well.


Remember, shoot me some more ideas on what you’d like to see in this column going forward, either here or on Twitter @awcolman, and I’ll do my best to oblige.

As always, thanks for hangin’.


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Andrew Colman

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Andrew Colman

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    • Martin Coppersmith on January 4, 2014 at 12:01 pm
    • Reply

    Maybe I am old and BBS communique is passe, I assume you get more feedback via twitter.

    Anyways, I must say that everflowing chalice on thelist warmed my heart. I urge you to include mimic vat for pure abusive value. And if at the end of all this you have the $ left over, please add a Rings of Brighthearth. It’s much more pricey but it is only as abusive as the activated abilities in your cube.

    I don’t see anything here as brain melting as Orochi Hatchery into Xenagos with Rings on the field for each. Yeah, Xenagos is not a ‘mana ability’ – wtf Wizards.

  1. Hello again Martin,

    Sorry it took so long to get back on the other post, busy season we have upon us :)

    Couple of things.

    First one is Mimic Vat is indeed in the list it makes for some seriously fun times i agree.

    You’ve brought up a few design points with you card suggestions.

    Things you need to consider when you include a card like Rings of Brighthearth, I have seen cube that are modal cubes and combo cubes where many more of the creatures have activated abilities for the sake of all of them creating more and more complex games states. This would be a prefect artifact to include in that list because it would further complicate and make things more fun. However in our context the amount of creatures that interact favourably with it is at too low of a concentration for it to be useful enough, often enough.

    The same goes with Orochi Hatchery, It is generally going to be to slow for this cube list. However in the same way MMA interacted with thalids in green, snakes could be the main interaction in your cube design.

    As I said in the other reply, I would really like to collaborate with you on this project nad eventually share it with this Brainstorm community.

    you can email me at if you’re not on twitter you can email me at andrewcolman [AT] gmail [DOT] com if you’re interested of course.

    Thanks again for your comments!


    • Martin Coppersmith on January 5, 2014 at 8:42 pm
    • Reply

    Will do for certain.

    • Martin Coppersmith on January 5, 2014 at 9:25 pm
    • Reply

    Think I located an answer to my previously mentioned FUBAR on catagrizing cards. A combination of BREAD terminology and the content of as dated 19 December 2013 at 16:07.

    Almost like the intarwebz were waiting for me to ask the question.

    So I have 3 archetype catagories to track:
    A-card type (bread)
    B-deck style (as listed on k=wiki link)
    C-draft archetype/build (as in MM giants, zendikar RW landfall)

    (A)type: is needed so people can have a sense of familiarity in judging cards as they open packs and try to plan
    (B)style: is needed so that each persons preffered style of play and interaction is represented and faciltated
    (C)build: is a must because it is how you create identity for your cube and make a unique experience

    • Martin Coppersmith on January 7, 2014 at 2:47 am
    • Reply

    These are the mechanics included in MMA. Count is how many cards (regardless of rarity) have the mechanic and colors is what colors those cards are printed in. If a line has lower and uppercase letters then that emphasiises that significantly more of the cards are in those uppercase colors. Or perhaps, 2 colors have cards at rare and another has the same # of individual cards but they are common.

    count COLORS
    delve 3 ub
    domain 3 brg
    dredge 5 Gb
    echo 4 bR
    entwine 4 wG
    evoke 5 wug
    kicker 3 rG
    landcycle 6 wubrg
    mill 4 Ub
    modular 4 a
    pact 3 gbu
    persist 4 wubrG
    protection 3 !
    prowl 3 uB
    rebel search 2 wb
    retrace 4 wBg
    splice 5 ubR
    splitsecond 6 wUbRG
    storm 3 r
    sunburst 4 !
    suspend 16 wubRG
    walker 2 w.rg

  2. Kudos. Great put up

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