Do you like Cube? Raise your hand! Do you like Commander? Raise the other hand! Now clap your hands together! Lots of people have been rocking Commander Cubes recently, so I figured I'd give you an update of the one I told you about roughly a year ago in the column.
In the first column , I created a Commander Cube and wrote about the Cube and my experience here on SCG. Well, obviously, I have updated this thang numerous times over the year.
There are some Cubes online with various ideas on how to run a Commander Cube. Mine exists in real life, using my own card stock, and as such it is sometimes limited a bit by what I actually own. There are a few places (such as equipment) where we don't have some of the powerful but expensive stuff.
Anyway, it's a year later, and I've gotten a chance to play around with it, as well as add some cards from Journey into Nyx, Born of the Gods, Theros, Commander 2013 and such. Today I'll have a full list of all of the changes I made in the Appendix, as well as the current Cube.
We basically had seven categories of additions or removals from the Cube. So let's look in at the changes I made, and why.
Not Powerful Mid- or Late-Game - One of the major suggestions compiled by those who played the decks is that there were too many early-game cards that just weren't that powerful or useful later on. So, for example, I pulled stuff like Ticking Gnomes, Choking Tethers, Cryptic Annelid, and Bottle Gnomes. They just didn't give enough. I also was encouraged to include more powerful and expensive threats and cards, so in went things like Akroma's Memorial, Blightsteel Colossus, and Take Possession. Give the people what they want! They want more swinging stuff, so let's accommodate that.
That does not mean that I'll ignore the early game, just that people wanted the splashier stuff. The best example of this is Recoup. Recoup is pretty solid. You can play it reliably, and also include it as a powerful adjunct to several draftable strategies. But instead of people drafting and running it, they didn't like it that much, so instead Past in Flames is making an appearance, which has already been turned into fun powerful stuff. Personally, I think Recoup is the better choice, but I'm not the only one playing the thing.
Because folks want the big stuff, I have tried to accommodate that more with the new version of the Cube. I still included some new cheaper utility creatures such as Joiner Adept, Viridian Zealot, Ogre Battledriver, and others.
I Didn't Own the Card - Some changes came about because I acquired an extra copy of the card. I picked up a Blue Sun's Zenith and pulled Concentrate for it. Similarly, I used my store credit here at SCG to acquire a few Steel Hellkites, one of which immediately was subbed in for Junktroller.
After the release of Modern Masters, I was able to pick up some Adarkar Valkyries on the cheap. Previously they had high price tags, but that plummeted. As I was pulling out all of my morph stuff at the same time, it went in for Exalted Angel without any issues. (I also pulled stuff like Zoetic Cavern, Root Elemental, Theolonite Hermit, and Mischievous Quanar.)
We Need More Legendaries - When you draft your Commander Cube, you want to insure that people can have enough choices to facilitate a legitimate draft. Who will be your standard-bearer?
Sometimes I just added in good legendary options to flesh this out. For example, in went Skullbriar, the Walking Grave for Spider Spawning. I loved the Spawning, but it was a casualty of my war to include more legendary critters. Other additions included Damia, Sage of Stone; Zur the Enchanter; and Ruhan of the Fomori. We also increased mono-colored choices too, so in went stuff like Ink-Eyes and Azami.
After playing the Cube a few times, everyone unanimously agreed that we wanted more legendary dorks in order to increase your chance of flipping the right legendary creature. In addition to replacing some cards for legendary bodies, I also decided to add in a few legendary cards without the need for yanking out other stuff. They included one of each god from Journey into Nyx, Theros, and Born of the Gods; one full cycle of legendary creatures from Commander 2013; and Horde of Notions. Another addition of 21 solid commanders to the Cube helps to flesh things out.
We Wanted New Stuff Too! - People constantly wanted to get the new hotness to experiment with. Obviously, some cards were downright essential additions. We had to add in Prophet of Kruphix, Dictate of Erebos, Restore, Tempt with Immortality, and Hammer of Purphoros. From little guys like Satyr Wayfinder and Kiora's Follower all the way up to the big stuff of Colossus of Akros and Hythonia the Cruel, we have some fun additions!
Everybody wants to experiment with newly released cards. Keeping a Magic player from playing new cards would like keeping a monkey from eating bananas on a banana plantation. One hotly desired banana was actually Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. The first person to draft it was building a deck around Thassa right after Mono-Blue Devotion became a thing. That deck worked pretty well, and people quickly embraced the idea for the future.
Another freshly released temptation folks were looking forward to was Courser of Kruphix, but I don't think anyone has flipped it yet. We'll see what happens when it's drafted. I just added the Journey into Nyx cards a few days ago, and I hope to play it soon.
The Card Didn't Work Out - A few times, cards just didn't work out as planned, so they got pulled. Seal of Fire just didn't play well; most creatures aren't threatened by it, so it doesn't have a major impact on the board, like it used to. So I decided to add in the perfectly reasonable Word of Seizing instead.
Sometimes the theme never worked in play. No one drafted Tribal Flames highly. If you got lucky with it in a five-color deck, then it was a nice prize, but otherwise it was either a two-mana sorcery Lightning Bolt or Shock. (See also: Etched Oracle.) Similarly, we had cards with themes that were unreliable, such as Captain Sisay. You can't guarantee how many legendary creatures you'll open, let alone draft. So I pulled her for Tolsimir Wolfblood, who doesn't need as much to work.
Another card that just didn't work was Zombie Infestation. It was the two-for-one card trade that kept it from getting played, even in decks in which it worked conceptually. A deck with some reanimation and beaters just stayed clear, a sign that it didn't belong. Managing a Commander Cube is a work of art, and requires some massaging.
I think Jayemdae Tome is disrespected, because you usually have the mana to draw the card, and there's are only so many Staff of Nin/Mind's Eye effects to go around. But no one wanted it. It doesn't matter that they would destroy mine when I played it, because of how good it was, it didn't teach them. So I pulled it.
Improved the Card - Just a few times, the new card is just flat-out better than the old one. You could make an argument for Concentrate versus Blue Sun's Zenith, but Dissolve is just flat out better than Cancel. Control Magic (acquired via Commander 2013 product) is just better than Mind Control. I would argue that the vast majority of the time, in a limited format like this, Silence the Believers is just better than Brainspoil. (Which Gild replaced initially, and then was immediately pulled after two months in the Cube for the new hot guy).
Note that Grand Arbiter and Master of Etherium were included in order to gently push that pro-artifact theme as well.
There have been lots of great cards printed in the last year for Commander generally and that work well in the Cube specifically. If you haven't had the chance to play a Commander-oriented Cube, why not make one and get your Commander on, Cube-style?
Below in the Appendix will be a full list of changes and a link to the Google doc with the full Cube in its current state. Feel free to use and abuse it!
Appendix A - Current Commander Cube
Here is the Google Doc of the current Commander Cube: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3lq-7iHH1E_M3NuMWhGUjVmaVE/edit?usp=sharing
Appendix B - All of the Changes
List of Commander Cube Changes:
IN: Ruhan of the Fomori for Rakavolver
IN: Marath, Will of the Wild for Woolly Thoctar
IN: Ogre Battledriver for Kuldotha Firefiend
IN: Liliana of the Dark Realms for Zombie Infestation
Post- Born of the Gods changes:
Post Journey into Nyx Changes: