Are you tired of the same blue Vintage Cube decks? The same green Legacy Cube strategies? Then you’re reading the right article!
8 years ago, I was Cubing for the first time. My friend had a shoe box (literally) with what we called a Cube. It was mostly the cards he owned that he liked—nothing had been balanced, and I’m not even sure there were an even number of cards in each color.
Yet, it was really fun. We got to draft decks we played in the past. There was an Enduring Ideal in the Cube and 80% of the time you played it you killed yourself because you didn’t have the combo and the protection—fun times!
Seriously though, what I enjoyed the most in that Cube was the nostalgia, getting to play with Wild Mongrel, Morphling, Royal Assassin, Exalted Angel, Jackal Pup, and Icy Manipulator again! (One could say I was not even born when these cards were played, but hey, I like to feel like an old-schooler, okay?)
But I see why Cubes are the way they are in 2016—a balanced environment is a lot more interesting and challenging when you play it over and over. I liked our old nonsense Cube because we drafted it so rarely that even though our options were limited, and either great or terrible, we had a good time once every few months. I’m sure that after 25 times we would be extremely bored.
That’s when, about 2 years ago, I wanted to bring back that idea and fix the issues. To adjust the replayability and, now that I own more cards, try to balance it some—but keep the nostalgia intact!
360 cards with the following criteria:
- Used to be played in Standard or Extended throughout the history of Magic.
- Is not played anymore in tier 1 Modern, Standard, or Legacy decks.
- Banned cards don’t count.
Basically, cards that aren’t played anymore, made obsolete by power creep.
Everyone that picks up my Cube gets a flashback and says something along the lines of “Arrogant Wurm was great, madness was so fun to play!’’
|White 47||Blue 48||Black 48||Red 48||Green 47||Multicolor 40||Colorless 42||Land 40|
|Akroma, Angel of Wrath||Aetherling||Black Knight||Arc Trail||Acidic Slime||W/U :||10 Signets||10 Bounce Lands|
|Akroma’s Vengeance||Aquamoeba||Blood Artist||Arc-Slogger||Arrogant Wurm||Absorb||Ankh of Mishra||5 Mirage Fetch|
|Angel of Serenity||Arcanis the Omnipotent||Bone Shredder||Balduvian Horde||Avacyn’s Pilgrim||Court Hussar||Black Vise||5 Shard Tri Lands|
|Armageddon||Augur of Bolas||Carnophage||Ball Lightning||Avenger of Zendikar||Dismantling Blow||Chimeric Idol||5 Invasion Tap Lands|
|Baneslayer Angel||Boomerang||Chainer’s Edict||Blistering Firecat||Basking Rootwalla||W/B :||Coalition Relic||5 Vivid Lands|
|Blinding Angel||Capsize||Contagion||Bogardan Hellkite||Blastoderm||Gerrard’s Verdict||Cursed Scroll||Barbarian Ring|
|Brimaz, King of Oreskos||Careful Consideration||Dark Banishing||Bonfire of the Damned||Call of the Herd||Tidehollow Sculler||Duplicant||City of Brass|
|Cloudgoat Ranger||Circular Logic||Dark Ritual||Chandra’s Phoenix||Civic Wayfinder||Mortify||Fellwar Stone||Dust Bowl|
|Condemn||Cloud of Faeries||Death Cloud||Char||Deranged Hermit||W/R :||Hangarback Walker||Keldoran Outpost|
|Decree of Justice||Compulsive Research||Desecration Demon||Demonfire||Elephant Guide||Goblin Legionnaire||Icy Manipulator||Krosan Verge|
|Doomed Traveller||Control Magic||Diabolic Tutor||Dwarven Miner||Elves of the Deep Shadow||Warleader’s Helix||Isochron Scepter||Mishra’s Factory|
|Eight-and-A-Half-Tails||Deep Analysis||Doomblade||Earthquake||Fyndhorn Elves||Boros Reckoner||Ivory Tower||Reflecting Pool|
|Empyrial Armor||Divert||Drain Life||Firebolt||Gaea’s Blessing||W/G :||Juggernaut||Temple of False God|
|Eternal Dragon||Draining Whelk||Funeral Charm||Fireslinger||Genesis||Watchwolf||Loxodon Warhammer||Terramorphic Expanse|
|Exalted Angel||Fact of Fiction||Gatekeeper of Malakir||Flame Javelin||Ghazban Ogre||Mirari’s Wake||Masticore||Volrath’s Stronghold|
|Faith’s Fetters||Forbid||Ghastly Demise||Flametongue Kavu||Giant Growth||Mystic Enforcer||Mind Stone|
|Glorious Anthem||Force Spike||Hatred||Fork||Heartbeat of Spring||U/B :||Mirari|
|Humility||Impulse||Hymn to Tourach||Genju of the Spires||Hunted Wumpus||Psychatog||Nevinrals Disk|
|Isamaru, Hound of Konda||Legacy’s Alllure||Hypnotic Specter||Goblin Rabblemaster||Imperious Perfect||Shadowmage Infiltrator||Phyrexian Metamorph|
|Kami of the Ancient Law||Man-O-War||Juzam Djinn||Goblin Ruinblaster||Kodama of the North||Undermine||Pithing Needle|
|Knight of Meadowgrain||Meloku, the Clouded M||Kokusho, the Evening||Hammer of Bogardan||Kodama’s Reach||U/R :||Powder Keg|
|Knight of the White Orchid||Memory Lapse||Makeshift Mannequin||Hellrider||Krosan Grip||Frenetic Efreet||Scroll Rack|
|Land Tax||Mental Note||Mesmeric Fiend||Incinerate||Krosan Tusker||Fire/Ice||Serrrated Arrows|
|Mageta the Lion||Merfolk Looter||Mutilate||Ironclaw Orcs||Moment’s Peace||Prophetic Bolt||Smokestack|
|Mana Tithe||Miscalculation||Nantuko Shade||Jackal Pup||Naturalize||UG :||Solemn Simulacrum|
|Oblivion Ring||Morphling||Nekrataal||Keldon Marauder||Oracle of Mul Daya||Trygon Predator||Sundering Titan|
|Order of the White Shield||Muddle the Mixture||Order of the Ebon Hand||Magma Jet||Phantom Centaur||Simic Sky Swallower||Sword of Fire and Ice|
|Orim’s Chant||Mulldrifter||Pack Rat||Mizzium Mortar||Plow Under||Gaea’s Skyfolk||Tangle Wire|
|Oust||Ninja of the Deep Hour||Pestilence||Mogg Fanatic||Rampant Growth||B/R :||Thran Dynamo|
|Parallax Wave||Opposition||Phyrexian Arena||Mogg War Marshall||Ravenous Baloth||Bituminous Blast||Triskelion|
|Pristine Angel||Opt||Phyrexian Scuta||Pillage||River Boa||Falkenrath Aristocrat||Tumble Magnet|
|Promise of Bunrei||Parallax Tide||Profane Command||Pyrite Spellbomb||Rofellos, Llanowar E||Blightning||Wayfarer’s Bauble|
|Pulse of the Fields||Power Sink||Ravenous Rats||Pyrokinesis||Rude Awekening||B/G :||Winter Orb|
|Sacred Mesa||Rainbow Efreet||Recurring Nightmare||Reckless Charge||Saproling Burst||Putrid Leech|
|Savannah Lion||Repulse||Royal Assassin||Rorix Bladewing||Scryb Ranger||Spiritmonger|
|Seal of Cleansing||Riftwing Cloudskate||Sarcomancy||Seal of Fire||Strangleroot Geist||Pernicious Deed|
|Seeker of the Way||Rushing River||Sinkhole||Shrine of Burning Rage||Sylvan Caryatid||R/G :|
|Serra Angel||Serendib Efreet||Skeletal Scrying||Siege-Gang Commander||Tooth and Nail||Fires of Yavimaya|
|Silver Knight||Snap||Smother||Starstorm||Troll Ascetic||Stormbind|
|Soltari Priest||Standstill||Stupor||Stoke the Flames||Verdant Force||Burning-Tree Shaman|
|Story Circle||Stroke of Genius||Terror||Stormbreath Dragon||Vine Trellis||Others :|
|Valorous Stance||Thieving Magpie||Tombstalker||Sulfurous Blast||Viridian Shaman||Spectral Lynx|
|Voice of All||Tradewind Rider||Tragic Slip||Urza’s Rage||Viridian Zealot||Figure of Destiny|
|White Knight||Trinket Mage||Undead Gladiator||Viashino Sandstalker||Wall of Blossoms||Anurid Brushopper|
|Wing Shards||Uphaeval||Unmask||Violent Eruption||Werebear||Loxodon Hierarch|
|Worship||Vesuvan Shapeshifter||Vampire Nighthawk||Volcanic Hammer||Whisperwood Elemental||Bant Charm|
|Yosei, the Morning Star||Voidmage Prodigy||Visara, the Dreadful||Wildfire||Wild Mongrel||Lightning Angel|
|Waterfront Bouncer||Withered Wretch||Wildfire Emissary||Yavimaya Elder||Sprouting Thrinax|
|Doran, the Siege Tower|
For white and colorless it was hard to respect my boundaries, because for some reason the options were really slim.
Also, you could argue that some cards were not even played back then, or that some of my choices are still played. Still, I did the best I could to keep to the criteria.
Roar of the Wurm, Zuran Orb, Darksteel Colossus, Anger, Buried Alive, Astral Slide, Frogmite and such were all cards I wish I could’ve put in the Cube because they’re so awesome, but they just require too many enablers or too much synergy, and it’s impossible to have it all in just 360 cards. Sometimes there would technically be enough, but if someone in the Draft is also incidentally taking the few discard enablers, you’ll end up not playing your Roar of the Wurm too often.
Even though I like where my Has-been Cube idea took me, one of the primary goals ended not really working as intended. I want to be able to reconstruct every old archetype, and I doubt it is feasible in a Cube. From that realization comes my newest concept.
Gauntlet of History
We’re cutting the Draft portion, which is one of the most exciting part of Cube—but don’t leave yet.
U/G Madness, Affinity, Necropotence, Jund, Faeries, Astral Slide, and Pros-Bloom—how could I possibly get to play these decks the way they were?
I’ll build as many old Standard dominating Magic decks as possible—at least 8—and everyone will pick one at random to play 3 rounds.
I will still establish some rules to keep it somewhat fair, so that every deck has a chance.
The same goes for exceptionally terrible decks—whatever red deck that was playing Dwarven Trader will not be making it into the gauntlet. There were some Standard formats that were much less powerful than others…
The sideboards will be as versatile as possible, not as built. There won’t be 10 artifact removal in Affinity’s sideboard, yet, I’m also not going to play a card that the archetype has never ever played.
Finding the best lists will be quite the challenge, I’ll pick lists that Top 8’d high profile tournaments, likely the ones that look cleanest (i.e., no weird 1-ofs).
I’ll track the winning record of every deck and use that to adjust the gauntlet by either putting more sideboard cards in other decks against the winning strategy or by completely replacing it with another deck.
I listed a number of potential contenders above. Here’s a more extensive list by formats:
- The Deck (Alpha-The Dark)
- Necro (Fallen-Ice Age-Mirage)
- Pros-Bloom (Mirage-5th)
- Stompy, 4c Mono-Black, U/W/R Control, U/R Control (Ice Age-Mirage)
- Mono-Red (Mirage-Tempest)
- Wildfire Artifacts, Sped Red, Stompy (Tempest-Saga)
- Accelerated Blue, Ponza, Stompy, Replenish, Bargain, Tinker (Saga-Masques)
- R/G Fires (Masques-Invasion)
- Psychatog, U/G Madness, Squirrel-Oppo, Trenches (Invasion-Odyssey)
- Wake, Mono-Black Control, Astral Slide, Goblin Bidding (Odyssey-Onslaught)
- Affinity (Onslaught-Mirrodin)
- Tooth and Nail (Mirrodin-Kamigawa)
- Solar Flare, Ghost Husk, Heartbeat, Zoo, U/R Tron, Owling Mine, Ghazi Glare, Gifts (Kamigawa-Ravnica)
- U/R Dragonstorm (Ravnica-Time Spiral)
- Reveillark, Quick’n’Toast, B/G Elves (Time Spiral-Lorwyn)
- Faeries (Lorwyn-Alara)
- Jund (Alara-Zendikar)
- Cawblade (Post-Ban) (Zendikar-Scars)
- Delver (Scars-Innistrad)
- Aristocrats, Junk Rites, Bant Hexproof, U/W/R Flash (Innistrad-Return to Ravnica)
- Mono-Black Devotion, Mono-Blue Devotion, U/W Control (Return to Ravnica-Theros)
- Abzan (Theros-Khans of Tarkir)
Which 8 decks would you choose if you had to make my gauntlet? And if you could build one for every format, which 22 would they be?