The Best Cube Ever—Magic, How It Used to Be Played: The Has-Been Cube

December is the only time of the year where I really get to play casual Magic. There are usually no tournaments to play or prepare for, and most of my friends have a lot more free time. Those friends also don’t play competitively anymore, so Cube and wacky formats are our go-to experiences!

With that said, I take this casual time very seriously. I like to analyze everything in Magic, even what I characterize as fun when playing casual.

I simply don’t have that much fun playing regular Cubes. Vintage Cube here and there for the broken cards is fine, but I’m not the guy who plays Legacy and Modern Cubes for fun, especially when I have to read Commander cards I’ve never seen before…

Call me a purist, but nostalgia is my number one criteria when Cubing. A few years ago I wrote about a Cube I made, called the Has-Been Cube. Today, I will be revisiting this Cube I love so much—I’ve had nothing but awesome feedback from everyone who has played with it.

Now that I’ve played with it a ton and gotten feedback, I updated it to be slightly less has-been and a bit more iconic. In other words, I cut some of the unplayable stuff like Akroma, Angel of Wrath, and added classics such as Swords to Plowshares.

Here’s a text version of my Cube, sorted by colors and converted mana cost, but if you’re more of a visual person and want to contemplate the FBB versions of my cards, pictures are included in each color section below.

White Blue Black Red Green Gold ColorlessLand
Mother of RunesDelver of SecretsCarrion FeederGoblin GuideNoble HierarchProphetic BoltDimir SignetKjeldoran Outpost
Town GossipmongerVapor SnagCarnophageJackal PupFyndhorn ElvesElectrolyzeIzzet SignetFaerie Conclave
Doomed TravelerPreordainSarcomancyBomat CourierLlanowar ElvesKeranos, God of StormBoros SignetVolrath’s Stronghold
Isamaru, Hound of KondaDazeThoughtseizeZurgo BellstrikerBirds of ParadisePsychatogRakdos SignetBarbarian Ring
Savannah LionForce of WillDuressMonastery SwiftspearBasking RootwallaShadowmage InfiltratorOrzhov SignetTreetop Village
Icatian JavelineerForce SpikeInquisition of KozilekMogg FanaticSearch for TomorrowBaleful StrixSimic SignetAdarkar Wastes
Thraben InspectorPonderTragic SlipFaithless LootingMoment’s PeaceLingering SoulsAzorious SignetUnderground River
Swords to PlowsharesBoomerangDark RitualFireboltExploreGerrard’s VerdictSensei’s Divining TopBrushland
Land TaxCloud of FaeriesContagionReckless ChargeRegrowthVindicateCursed ScrollSulfurous Springs
Path to ExileWaterfront BouncerDemonic TutorLightning BoltSakura-Tribe ElderTidehollow ScullerBlack ViseKarplusan Forest
CondemnMerfolk LooterDismemberSeal of FireSatyr WayfinderSimic Sky SwallowerIvory TowerCaves of Koilos
Mana TitheRiftwing CloudskateNantuko ShadeMogg War MarshallStrangleroot GeistTrygon PredatorChrome MoxBattlefield Forge
Eight-and-a-Half-TailAugur of BolasMesmeric FiendEidolon of the Great RevelSylvan AdvocateLightning HelixWinter OrbShivan Reef
Wall of OmensRemandDark ConfidantEarthshaker KhenraScryb RangerPernicious DeedSmuggler’s CopterYavimaya Coast
Silver KnightMemory LapseBlood ArtistIronclaw OrcsWall of BlossomsAbrupt DecaySpellskiteLlanowar Wastes
White KnightStandstillScrapheap ScroungerKeldon MaraudersWerebearSpiritmongerAnkh of MishraTemple of Enlightment
Seeker of the WayMana LeakBlack KnightAbradeWild MongrelPutrid LeechScroll RackTemple of Deceit
Knight of the White OrchidImpulseHymn to TourachArc TrailRiver BoaSpell QuellerPowder KegTemple of Plenty
Knight of MeadowgrainMiscalculationTerrorForkScavenging OozeAbsorbMind StoneTemple of Malice
Thalia, Guardian of ThrabenSerendib EfreetNight’s WhisperMagma JetViridian ZealotReflector MageLoxodon WarhammerTemple of Abandon
Valorous StanceVendilion CliqueSmotherMizzium MortarsSylvan CaryatidCourt HussarSword of Fire and IceTemple of Silence
Blade SplicerMan-o-WarChainer’s EdictPia NalaarDen ProtectorLoxodon SmiterTumble MagnetTemple of Triumph
Exalted AngelRepulseSinkholeBall LightningCivic WayfinderQasali PridemageTangle WireTemple of Epiphany
Brimaz, King of OreskosCapsizeNantuko HuskFlame JavelinYavimaya ElderVoice of ResurgencePhyrexian MetamorphTemple of Mystery
Promise of BunreiVedalken ShacklesGatekeeper of MalakirPillageTroll AsceticMirari’s WakeCoalition RelicTemple of Malady
Wing ShardsCompulsive ResearchVampire NighthawkCharEternal WitnessLoxodon HierarchSolemn SimulacrumAzorious Chancery
Timely ReinforcementsCircular LogicUndead GladiatorUrza’s RageCourser of KruphixTerminateJuggernautDimir Aquaduct
Glorious AnthemThink TwiceHypnotic SpecterHammer of BogardanKodama’s ReachBlightningSerrated ArrowsSelesnya Sanctuary
Oblivion RingCounterspellSlaughter PactPia and Kiran NalaarKrosan TuskerBituminous BlastSmokestackRakdos Carnarium
Restoration AngelNinja of the Deep HourPhyrexian ArenaWildfire EmissaryCall of the HerdFalkenrath AristocratMasticoreGruul Turf
Faith’s FettersTradewind RiderStuporBlistering FirecatPolukranos, World EaterStormbindIcy ManipulatorOrzhov Basilica
Wrath of GodThieving MagpieRecurring NightmareHazoret, the FerventRavenous BalothBloodbraid ElfThran DynamoBoros Garrison
Parallax WaveMaster of WavesDoom BladeHellriderPhantom CentaurFires of YavimayaNevinyrall’s DiskIzzet Boilerworks
ArmaguedonFact of FictionDiabolic EdictFlametongue KavuBlastodermBurning-Tree ShamanWurmcoil EngineSimic Growth Chamber
Wingmate RocDeep AnalysisPhyrexian ScutaGoblin RuinblasterOracle of Mul DayaFire/IceTriskelionGolgari Rot Farm
Cloudgoat RangerControl MagicDesecration DemonSulfurous BlastGreen Sun’s ZenithKitchen FinksDuplicantMishra’s Factory
Archangel AvacynOppositionJuzam DjinnStoke the FlamesGenesisBoros ReckonerEmrakul, the Promised EndWasteland
Serra AngelCryptic CommandNekrataalSiege-Gang CommanderDeranged HermitMurderous RedcapSundering TitanRishadan Port
Baneslayer AngelCareful ConsiderationKalitas, Traitor of GhetStormbreath DragonAcidic SlimeRakdos CacklerHangarback WalkerKrosan Verge
Sacred MesaMorphlingMakeshift MannequinFireblastIshkanah, GrafwidowFigure of DestinyWalking BallistaTerramorphic Expanse
Mastery of the UnseenMeloku, the Clouded MirrorDamnationPyrokinesisThragtuskEvolving Wilds
Elesh Norn, Grand CenobiteMulldrifterShriekmawEarthquakeSaproling BurstCity of Brass
Eternal DragonStroke of GeniusGrey Merchant of AsphodelBonfire of the DamnedPlow Under
Decree of JusticeDraining WhelkHatredBogardan HellkiteAvenger of Zendikar
Angel of SerenityUpheavalKokusho, the Evening StarBedlam RevelerVerdant Force
Akroma’s VengeanceProfane CommandWildfireTooth and Nail
Skeletal ScryingStarstormRude Awakening
Demonfire

Before getting into the specific details, let me highlight some of the game play aspects that makes it great.

It Plays Like Magic Used to be Played

The number one thing that I dislike in Magic today is the snowball effect that almost every deck uses to take over games. This is when a card generates an advantage that gets bigger and bigger, which is usually impossible to come back from. Planeswalkers are the epitome of this trend.

In my Cube, games are more likely to be back and forth, because there aren’t any cards that must be dealt with immediately, and that gives players breathing space and much more interactive games. There are a few exceptions, and you might argue that Rude Awakening and Sundering Titan end the game on the spot. While that is true, you have to work really hard to cast these cards.

It’s Got Flashy and Exciting Plays That Are Not Broken

In a format like Vintage, cards like Force of Will are just absurdly good because it’s easy to build a deck to mitigate the drawback. In my Cube, I have these kinds of cards, but because of the nature of the gameplay, which tends to be quite fair, the drawback of casting free cards is arguably okay at best.

Get ready to flip the table from a Slaughter Pact, Foil, or Pyrokinesis… then, relax, get a sip from your drink, and laugh because that was actually fun.

Mana Denial!

I’m talking about fun and all, then I drop the words “mana denial”? The idea of including mana denial cards such as Sinkhole, Pillage, Boomerang, Plow Under, and Wasteland came from the Ravnica bouncelands. I really wanted them to be included in my Cube because they’re so much fun. In a regular Cube, they’re definitely not too good, but because the power level in my Cube is quite low and slow, it makes the bouncelands too good to resist.

I decided to add a bunch of incidental cards that could punish them. That way, they wouldn’t be too good. At the same time, it lets you play land destruction, which usually isn’t in Cubes, and that creates a new experience.

Last But Not Least

Because most of the cards in my Cube are not played anymore—that’s why they’re has-beens—it means that they’re not worth a lot of money. Building this Cube is rather cheap compared to others!

White

Building the original has-been Cube made me realize how bad white was back in the day. Finding enough cards that are generically playable is not easy. Adding iconic cards such as Swords to Plowshares, Path to Exile, Mother of Runes, Thalia, and such helped a lot.

I wish there were not as many double white 2-drops, but I can’t think of cards that are on-theme that aren’t Silver Knight, White Knight, or Eight-and-a-Half-Tails. Feel free to change it around if you have better ideas!

Blue

Finding enough creatures for blue is a real challenge, but it is the color’s nature to have mostly spells, so that’s not too big of a deal. This issue impacts Opposition because it means that you have to rely entirely on another color to get your small creatures or token producers.

I tried to fix that by adding creatures such as Cloud of Faeries, Merfolk Looter, and Master of Waves.

Incidentally, cards like Standstill become playable, but I wouldn’t mind adding a few more creatures!

Black

Note that the Plague Sliver should be a Juzam Djinn, but for the sake of my wallet, it’ll do just fine for now.

I love Aristocrats strategies and sacrifice-themed decks. Carrion Feeder, Blood Artist, and Nantuko Husk are there for that reason. I’m still trying to figure out whether that’s viable or not.

Black has an issue similar to white’s 2-drops. There are a lot of double-, even triple-colored cards. To reward players drafting black, I added Gray Merchant of Asphodel and so far it’s been great.

Red

Yes, you are looking at a Beta Ironclaw Orcs. As much as my friends keep laughing at it, most red decks need to play it because you need 2-drop creatures. While that might just be a testament of how bad red is, I really want to keep it as the aggressive color because that’s what red is. Slith Firewalker could be a replacement to the Ironclaw Orcs if you’re not feeling it.

Green

Cards like Strangleroot Geist, Troll Ascetic, Wild Mongrel, and Blastoderm are there to support an aggro green deck. I’m not a fan of forcing ramp strategies on people, but the tools are there if you want to play ramp.

Genesis is a card I could see cutting. I’m mostly just in love with it, but it’s hard to make it good without enough enablers.

Multicolor

The ratio of each guild is not equal and that’s because I strongly believe that white and red are the worst colors. Therefore, I tried giving them more options by having more hybrid and multicolor cards that can be in those color combinations.

Artifact

Why are you missing Signets, you ask?

Green signets that are not Simic are stupid. No one ever played them in the history of Magic and green has enough ramp. I kept the Simic one because most blue deck will play it.

It was not easy to find playable artifacts. In fact, Ivory Tower, Smokestack, and Sundering Titan are all easily replaceable. I can’t come up with anything that is on-theme, though. Again, if you have suggestions, comment down below!

Lands

I purposefully made the mana bad. There are no fetchlands or duals, because they kill the vibe of Old School decks that struggle with them.

I originally had the Alara trilands, but that just made everyone play 4-5 colors and that’s not what I want. I chose painlands because they are great for aggressive decks. Having another cycle that came into play tapped would just be too much.

Temples are one of the best designs in Magic and they happen to work nicely with bouncelands. The rest is straightforward. I chose one of each mono-colored land and rounded it out with some utility lands.

I carefully chose all of these lands to make mono-colored or two-colored decks more likely. Cubes where people always end up splashing a third color are a bit boring and unlike how Magic was usually played.

Most Importantly, a Great Selection of Basic Lands

I hope you enjoyed this brief break from serious Magic. Let me know your suggestions!

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