A few months ago, I wrote about the 100-card, portable “Cuboid” I’d made to take with me to jam casual games on tournament weekends. That article covers all the different things you can do with the Cuboid (my favorite still being Mental Magic) and in it, I mentioned that I’d be looking to update it with more recent cards. That’s what I’m here to do today. Since the last article, I’ve played with my Cuboid at various events with various friends and colleagues, and have made some changes to the list. You can find the list here, and I’ll explain the reasoning behind each change below.
Ampryn Tactician was mainly there for Mental Magic, as a second 2WW card was important to cast sweepers and planeswalkers like Gideon and Elspeth. Considering that I get laughed at whenever this card is revealed to be part of a collection of otherwise all-star commons, it finally got the chop. Expedition Raptor is a replacement (and can still sweep the board with Fumigate or Hallowed Burial), and supports the tokens subtheme and synergizing with Ainok Bond-Kin.
Blue got a bit of a reboot. Multiple people talked about how Ponder and Preordain are on a whole different power level from all the other cards, and so sadly they got the axe altogether. Instead, blue gets more interaction with Will of the Naga, and another threat with Cloudfin Raptor. Augur of Bolas also comes in to support a blue-red “spells-matter” deck, as you’ll see.
I never liked Aven Surveyor all that much, but needed a 3UU card to act as Force of Will for Mental Magic. With the printing of Salvager of Secrets, I’m happy to have its effect replace Archaeomancer. This also makes room for Impaler Shrike, a card I’ve always liked a lot.
Black is the color that needed the least amount of work. I like black as a utility color in this Cuboid, with the unsplashable Murder and Evincar’s Justice still being good reasons to commit to the color in a Grid Draft. Caligo Skin-Witch is too sweet not to include, although I wish there was a playable 4BB common for Grave Titan and Yawgmoth’s Bargain in Mental Magic.
Red also changed up a fair bit. I didn’t like the token subtheme the Cuboid had previously—I’ll keep that to green and white—and with the addition of Ghitu Chronicler, I wanted to make more of a “spells-matter” deck available. Therefore, Tormenting Voice and Orcish Cannonade get the nod. Keldon Overseer is insane in Pai Gow, and no-one ever played with Rummaging Goblin anyway. Sparktongue Dragon looks insane on paper, so I’ll be testing it out as soon as M19 arrives!
Much like Ponder and Preordain—and much more obviously in terms of game play—Sprout Swarm was just too good. I like having “oops, I win” cards when playing Off-the-Top and Pai Gow, but this was a very oppressive card in every other format without any great answers outside of Evincar’s Justice. For that reason, Sprout Swarm replaces it as a late-game token enabler. Dawntreader Elk gets the chop for M19’s Ursine Champion, as green already has plenty of ramp/fixing.
Additionally, Primal Huntbeast was almost universally disliked by people I played with—hexproof isn’t a popular mechanic. Overgrown Armasaur also opens up the 3GG slot for Mental Magic, enabling some sweet planeswalkers, as well as bombs like Deranged Hermit. Finally, Garruk’s Companion replaces Swordwise Centaur, as I didn’t realize that the Companion had trample—I thought the Centaur was just a functional reprint. Oops.
Burning-Tree Bloodscale comes in for Branching Bolt, which proved to be a little inefficient, and Jousting Lance is a more aggressive piece of Equipment that may or may not be coming in due to my bias towards Knightly cards. I’m still pretty unhappy with the gold cards, however. I don’t like Deputy of Acquittals or Wee Dragonauts very much at all, but there aren’t great replacements. I’m hoping that the forthcoming Return to Return to Ravnica will have some new gold commons I can slot in here!
“New” Game Modes: Cubelet and Windfall
While playing with my Cuboid one time, I had someone suggest that I look at an old Gavin Verhey article from 2014 where he talks about some obscure formats he likes to play. Two of the ones he mentioned therein proved to be perfect for play with the Cuboid, too!
Cubelet was invented by LoadingReadyRun. Similar to Off-the-Top, in Cubelet you share the same 100-card library, although you have separate graveyards. Unlike Off-the-Top, all the usual (boring) rules about mana and lands and things like that actually apply—you can play any card in your hand face-down as a land that taps for all five colors. It’s a lot of fun to jam five-color hands against each other, and you get some pretty ridiculous interactions happening!
An alternative to this mana system is to use Brian DeMars’ Battle Box mana system. Each player has access to five basics and five taplands (I like giving one player ally-colored lands and the other enemy-colored). Remember that you only get to draw five cards rather than seven if you play this way!
After I discovered Windfall, it quickly became my second-favorite way to play with the Cuboid. Windfall, invented by Verhey and Jon Loucks, is basically accelerated Magic and can lead to some stupid board states very quickly indeed. My favorite ways to play Magic usually involve silliness rather than spikiness, and Windfall is perfect for that.
In Windfall, you may play any number of cards in your hand face-down as lands that tap for all five colors. On top of that, you draw two cards a turn (if you go first, you draw one rather than zero). This can mean playing 6-drops on turn 1, but that 6-drop can very easily be answered by an opposing Doom Blade, so the swings in this format are insane. It’s quick, fast, and heaps of fun. Even if you don’t have a Cuboid, try playing this format with any old stack of cards you have lying around. You won’t regret it.