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 Colorless Land
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.

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!


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.

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!


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.


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!


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