Hello everyone, and welcome to the Puzzle Box!
Here we are. This is it! This is the mutli-colored section of the cube, and it’s the last section to be posted. After today, anyone can come to this website and find a powerful and balanced cube for under $200. This is exciting! I’m just going to dig right in because there’s lot’s to be said this week.
General Notes on the Gold Section of the Puzzle Box
In this cube, the largest and most detrimental omission due to the financial constraints is the mana base. That being said, just because you don’t have all of the very expensive lands does not mean you won’t have a lot of fun playing this list. When I started building my own cube, I had only a few of the M10 check lands and ten Terramorphic Expanses as fixing—and it was an absolute blast to play. Why is that? Because you are going to build the best decks you can, they will be at balanced power levels, blowouts won’t happen, and games will just be fun. I would, however, recommend that the mana base is the first place you put any real money into this list. If you don’t already have the ten shocks, you can start by getting the M10 check lands as they are quite inexpensive. However you feel like acquiring the lands for cube is up to you. One thing I would suggest, though, is that you add them in cycles to keep things balanced.
Regarding the dual lands, and mana rocks for that matter, in our list I chose the best lands and mana artifacts within our price restrictions. Each archetype got one dual land and one mana rock—which one depended on the focus of the archetype.
Control and midrange decks such as Dimir, Azorius, Selesnya, Orzhov, Golgari, Simic, and Izzet got the Ravnica bounce land and its signet. Rakdos was the only guild to get its pain land and Mirrodin talisman. Gruul and Boros each got its corresponding pain land and signet. These two guilds are good for aggro but also for Wildfire deck. The pain land gives each deck the option for a turn-one Goblin Guide and a mana rock aids in breaking the symmetry of Wildfire and Armageddon.
I think it’s interesting how things ended up balancing out. You’ll find that the signets will be very high picks in this cube because of the general lack of fixing. What this might mean is that aggro decks will be happy to main deck a Pillage or Disenchant, because it could very well blow out an opponent that is relying on signets for fixing. I walked in late at my LGS one night and there was a six-man team cube draft going on. Two team members were looking at a decks and a comment was made that the deck just died to a Stone Rain because the mana base was so greedy. In our case, we don’t run Stone Rain, as there aren’t that many targets for it (compared to a normal cube). For this list, where the concentration of mana-fixing artifacts is very high, that comment translates rather well to Disenchant.
Lets look at the lists.
These colors are firmly rooted in control. There won’t be much opportunity for a U/W tempo deck because we’re missing cards like Geist of Saint Traft, Delver of Secrets, True-Name Nemesis, and Master of Waves. If you have these and would like to push blue tempo rather than control, that’s a good place to start.
Dimir’s cards are a little more flexible. Psychatog and Shadowmage Infiltrator are good cards to have in both U/B tempo or U/B control decks. This is a better color combination for tempo than U/W, mainly because there is so much instant-speed removal and more removal attached to creatures.
Rakdos in this list is pure aggro, mainly made up of above-curve one- and two-drops and unconditional removal. Fixing that is immediate and causes yourself damage: what more could you want? An obvious exclusion is Murderous Redcap. Add it if you’d like, but I wanted to keep this section as focused on aggro as possible due to the fixing that we have available to us.
Gruul is a bit of a mashup in this list. It has two one-drops and a Bloodbraid Elf. I included the two one-drops to help out aggro decks and Bloodbraid Elf because it’s a card I am extremely happy to have in my deck all the time! If you don’t like this section, there is certainly room for innovation here. Have at it!
Selesnya is by far the deepest guild as far as the quantity of quality cards. Luckily for us, Kitchen Finks was just reprinted and can be found fairly inexpensively. However, when Modern season hits, this may need to be adjusted as it could break our budget depending on if Reddit decides to buy it out.
I really like this selection of cards. Lingering Souls is very powerful and has thankfully been reprinted enough times to allow for its inclusion. I find Tidehollow Sculler to be a very fun and powerful card to play. Mortify is awesome removal with a sometimes-relevant second option. If I know that my opponent has a Curse of the Shallow Graves, I’m going to be happy this kills it!
This is an interesting section. In most lists, it includes removal spells and more removal spells, such as Abrupt Decay, Pernicious Deed, Putrefy, Maelstrom Pulse, and Vraska the Unseen. We can afford none of these, so we get to include all the fun creatures that other cubes don’t get to include! As Mark Rosewater always says, “Restriction breeds creativity,” and being creative is always more fun.
Simic is great because it lends us one of the very few combat tricks in the cube: Snakeform! Again, because of our monetary restrictions, we are going to need to include some cards that are not as good, but may end up being more fun. So are they truly not as good, even when more fun? Only you can say.
Izzet is the most shallow of our guilds. The one staple that we have in this guild is Ral Zarek, but he doesn’t make or break the section. Again, here we have room for innovation. If you would like to push U/x tempo you could add Frostburn Weird here. Use your imagination and see if you can come up with some fun things to include.
Here we have the home of aggro: one-drops and some burn spells. I would have included the Mirrodin talisman had it existed to help out aggro further. But I’m not sad to include the signet instead, because we have Wildfire in the red section. Not much else to be said here other than if you have an Ajani Vengent, you should get that guy in here because he is a pack one, pick one all day long!
And So It Has All Come Together
Everything about cube can be debated. I invite that debate in the comment section. Considering that I have $8 left from the $200 budget, you could easily call me out for not including cards like Murderous Redcap. However, I made sure each section got at least one or two of its non-budget inclusions and kept things at their lowest cost which I felt was in the spirit of this list.
I will be back next week to wrap up and reflect on this project and talk about some plans going forward. If you have any ideas of what you would like to see, please share them in the comment section. Or if you’ve been building this list as we have been going along, (and I know there is at least one or two of you), I would love to hear about it in the comment section. Or you can hit me up on Twitter @awcolman.
As always everyone, thanks for hangin’.