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.
|Mother of Runes||Delver of Secrets||Carrion Feeder||Goblin Guide||Noble Hierarch||Prophetic Bolt||Dimir Signet||Kjeldoran Outpost|
|Town Gossipmonger||Vapor Snag||Carnophage||Jackal Pup||Fyndhorn Elves||Electrolyze||Izzet Signet||Faerie Conclave|
|Doomed Traveler||Preordain||Sarcomancy||Bomat Courier||Llanowar Elves||Keranos, God of Storm||Boros Signet||Volrath’s Stronghold|
|Isamaru, Hound of Konda||Daze||Thoughtseize||Zurgo Bellstriker||Birds of Paradise||Psychatog||Rakdos Signet||Barbarian Ring|
|Savannah Lion||Force of Will||Duress||Monastery Swiftspear||Basking Rootwalla||Shadowmage Infiltrator||Orzhov Signet||Treetop Village|
|Icatian Javelineer||Force Spike||Inquisition of Kozilek||Mogg Fanatic||Search for Tomorrow||Baleful Strix||Simic Signet||Adarkar Wastes|
|Thraben Inspector||Ponder||Tragic Slip||Faithless Looting||Moment’s Peace||Lingering Souls||Azorious Signet||Underground River|
|Swords to Plowshares||Boomerang||Dark Ritual||Firebolt||Explore||Gerrard’s Verdict||Sensei’s Divining Top||Brushland|
|Land Tax||Cloud of Faeries||Contagion||Reckless Charge||Regrowth||Vindicate||Cursed Scroll||Sulfurous Springs|
|Path to Exile||Waterfront Bouncer||Demonic Tutor||Lightning Bolt||Sakura-Tribe Elder||Tidehollow Sculler||Black Vise||Karplusan Forest|
|Condemn||Merfolk Looter||Dismember||Seal of Fire||Satyr Wayfinder||Simic Sky Swallower||Ivory Tower||Caves of Koilos|
|Mana Tithe||Riftwing Cloudskate||Nantuko Shade||Mogg War Marshall||Strangleroot Geist||Trygon Predator||Chrome Mox||Battlefield Forge|
|Eight-and-a-Half-Tail||Augur of Bolas||Mesmeric Fiend||Eidolon of the Great Revel||Sylvan Advocate||Lightning Helix||Winter Orb||Shivan Reef|
|Wall of Omens||Remand||Dark Confidant||Earthshaker Khenra||Scryb Ranger||Pernicious Deed||Smuggler’s Copter||Yavimaya Coast|
|Silver Knight||Memory Lapse||Blood Artist||Ironclaw Orcs||Wall of Blossoms||Abrupt Decay||Spellskite||Llanowar Wastes|
|White Knight||Standstill||Scrapheap Scrounger||Keldon Marauders||Werebear||Spiritmonger||Ankh of Mishra||Temple of Enlightment|
|Seeker of the Way||Mana Leak||Black Knight||Abrade||Wild Mongrel||Putrid Leech||Scroll Rack||Temple of Deceit|
|Knight of the White Orchid||Impulse||Hymn to Tourach||Arc Trail||River Boa||Spell Queller||Powder Keg||Temple of Plenty|
|Knight of Meadowgrain||Miscalculation||Terror||Fork||Scavenging Ooze||Absorb||Mind Stone||Temple of Malice|
|Thalia, Guardian of Thraben||Serendib Efreet||Night’s Whisper||Magma Jet||Viridian Zealot||Reflector Mage||Loxodon Warhammer||Temple of Abandon|
|Valorous Stance||Vendilion Clique||Smother||Mizzium Mortars||Sylvan Caryatid||Court Hussar||Sword of Fire and Ice||Temple of Silence|
|Blade Splicer||Man-o-War||Chainer’s Edict||Pia Nalaar||Den Protector||Loxodon Smiter||Tumble Magnet||Temple of Triumph|
|Exalted Angel||Repulse||Sinkhole||Ball Lightning||Civic Wayfinder||Qasali Pridemage||Tangle Wire||Temple of Epiphany|
|Brimaz, King of Oreskos||Capsize||Nantuko Husk||Flame Javelin||Yavimaya Elder||Voice of Resurgence||Phyrexian Metamorph||Temple of Mystery|
|Promise of Bunrei||Vedalken Shackles||Gatekeeper of Malakir||Pillage||Troll Ascetic||Mirari’s Wake||Coalition Relic||Temple of Malady|
|Wing Shards||Compulsive Research||Vampire Nighthawk||Char||Eternal Witness||Loxodon Hierarch||Solemn Simulacrum||Azorious Chancery|
|Timely Reinforcements||Circular Logic||Undead Gladiator||Urza’s Rage||Courser of Kruphix||Terminate||Juggernaut||Dimir Aquaduct|
|Glorious Anthem||Think Twice||Hypnotic Specter||Hammer of Bogardan||Kodama’s Reach||Blightning||Serrated Arrows||Selesnya Sanctuary|
|Oblivion Ring||Counterspell||Slaughter Pact||Pia and Kiran Nalaar||Krosan Tusker||Bituminous Blast||Smokestack||Rakdos Carnarium|
|Restoration Angel||Ninja of the Deep Hour||Phyrexian Arena||Wildfire Emissary||Call of the Herd||Falkenrath Aristocrat||Masticore||Gruul Turf|
|Faith’s Fetters||Tradewind Rider||Stupor||Blistering Firecat||Polukranos, World Eater||Stormbind||Icy Manipulator||Orzhov Basilica|
|Wrath of God||Thieving Magpie||Recurring Nightmare||Hazoret, the Fervent||Ravenous Baloth||Bloodbraid Elf||Thran Dynamo||Boros Garrison|
|Parallax Wave||Master of Waves||Doom Blade||Hellrider||Phantom Centaur||Fires of Yavimaya||Nevinyrall’s Disk||Izzet Boilerworks|
|Armaguedon||Fact of Fiction||Diabolic Edict||Flametongue Kavu||Blastoderm||Burning-Tree Shaman||Wurmcoil Engine||Simic Growth Chamber|
|Wingmate Roc||Deep Analysis||Phyrexian Scuta||Goblin Ruinblaster||Oracle of Mul Daya||Fire/Ice||Triskelion||Golgari Rot Farm|
|Cloudgoat Ranger||Control Magic||Desecration Demon||Sulfurous Blast||Green Sun’s Zenith||Kitchen Finks||Duplicant||Mishra’s Factory|
|Archangel Avacyn||Opposition||Juzam Djinn||Stoke the Flames||Genesis||Boros Reckoner||Emrakul, the Promised End||Wasteland|
|Serra Angel||Cryptic Command||Nekrataal||Siege-Gang Commander||Deranged Hermit||Murderous Redcap||Sundering Titan||Rishadan Port|
|Baneslayer Angel||Careful Consideration||Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet||Stormbreath Dragon||Acidic Slime||Rakdos Cackler||Hangarback Walker||Krosan Verge|
|Sacred Mesa||Morphling||Makeshift Mannequin||Fireblast||Ishkanah, Grafwidow||Figure of Destiny||Walking Ballista||Terramorphic Expanse|
|Mastery of the Unseen||Meloku, the Clouded Mirror||Damnation||Pyrokinesis||Thragtusk||Evolving Wilds|
|Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite||Mulldrifter||Shriekmaw||Earthquake||Saproling Burst||City of Brass|
|Eternal Dragon||Stroke of Genius||Grey Merchant of Asphodel||Bonfire of the Damned||Plow Under|
|Decree of Justice||Draining Whelk||Hatred||Bogardan Hellkite||Avenger of Zendikar|
|Angel of Serenity||Upheaval||Kokusho, the Evening Star||Bedlam Reveler||Verdant Force|
|Akroma’s Vengeance||Profane Command||Wildfire||Tooth and Nail|
|Skeletal Scrying||Starstorm||Rude Awakening|
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.
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!
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!
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.
Incidentally, cards like Standstill become playable, but I wouldn’t mind adding a few more creatures!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!