Abe’s Crap Cube

Cemetery Gate
I’ve always enjoyed alternate formats for which I build my own card pool. I have a collection of almost every card ever made from which to draft. I enjoy Type Four, in which you build a stack from which to draft. Similarly, Cube is right up my alley. A lot of other players like it, too, and they do a much better job of explaining the concept. Usually, I stay out of the article-writing for this topic.

A while ago, an article on this site caught my eye. It was written by Bruce Richard, and you can check it out here. The idea was to assemble a Cube of full sets of Homelands, Fallen Empires, and other winners, and then draft the results. I thought that having a Crap Cube was a great idea, so I began to build it.

It took a while to assemble it. It required a new way of looking at my deck stock. What cards were crappy, and what cards would be good in this format in unusual ways? What cards look better in a Crap Cube than they actually play? After poring over the results, I now have assembled the first draft of my Cube. I thought it would be fun to show you this Crap Cube project.

Before we begin, here are a few operating principles I had:

  • Hosers that are really bad are not included. If a card hoses a color but still has value, it is considered, but pure hosers are not. For example, Krosan Constrictor is one of my green creatures. It’s always a 2/2 against any foe. But something like Flash Flood has no place in my Crap Cube. Neither does a really broken Choke.
  • Combo cards that tend to be very narrow and thus have no role in Limited are not included. Sure, I could toss in stuff like Darkest Hour or Mana Severance, but unless we have cards in the Cube that work with them, they shouldn’t be played. I do include some enchantments to be built around.
  • Shaman's Trance
  • Cards that are worthless in Limited due to their nature don’t fit. A perfect example of this is Pack Hunt. Obviously, in a Draft format that is Singleton, Pack Hunt is going to suck. Ditto for cards like Mirror Gallery.
  • Cards that were created for a narrowly defined metagame and suck outside of it don’t count. It might be fun to add in Shaman's Trance, but it was made for one specific metagame. If my Cube doesn’t have enough flashback cards to make it count, I should skip it.
  • Some cards are so bad they should not be included because they do nothing without a lot of work. I want the Cube to be playable. Cards such as One with Nothing and Mudhole are just too much even for this.
  • Because I want cards to be playable, I added some good colorless ways to make or find mana. I have City of Brass, Thawing Glaciers, and other good cards for mana. I needed these to be colorless because it’s hard to add things to green like Birds of Paradise and Cultivate without really pushing green to the next level. I pulled some amazing cards such as Gilded Lotus or even Darksteel Ingot because they were too much. I think I struck a good balance.
  • Fifty percent of each color must be creatures

Now, this is my first draft of the Crap Cube. After playing it, I can make changes. I also don’t own some cards that would be in here, such as Mercenaries, Personal Incarnation, Vigilance, Flight, Lance, Fanatical Fever, and more. I found that blue and red have a rich history of really crappy spells and creatures, but white and green don’t tend to include creatures that are similarly impoverished.

For example, consider a white creature in my Cube. Because it sucked so much, it received a lot of hate from fans everywhere for a few years for being in the core set. It’s Eager Cadet. I had so many 1-drops in red that had disadvantages that I had to pull some. Mons's Goblin Raiders would be an improvement over these guys. Look at Crazed Goblin as an example. It’s a 1/1 for 1 that has to attack every turn. That wishes it were as good as Eager Cadet. White’s most infamous 1-drop is massively better than what other colors have. The fact that the weaker white and green creatures look bad compared to other white and green creatures does not mean they will look so bad outside that vacuum. It’s tough to find really bad creatures for this.

Mystic Melting
This is also true for some spells. Consider green’s Naturalize ability. I need to give it some ways of fighting artifacts and enchantments. What do I give it? It looks like the worst contenders are things like Mystic Melting and Molder. I went with the Melting because I had a bunch of life-gain in green already. Neither of those is that bad. Similarly, compare one of white’s worst pinpoint removal spells against one of black’s: Excise versus Wretched Banquet. One of those is clearly better than the other.

I also decided to emphasize a few themes. One is legendary creatures. I have some classic, old-school legendaries here to ready to bring out the suck. Cards such as Jasmine Boreal and Tobias Andrion are here to play for you. With this legendary theme, I included one enabler—Sword of the Chosen—and one disabler—Hero's Demise.

Another theme is “five colors of fun.” I included three domain cards: Exotic Disease, Wayfaring Giant, and Matca Rioters. I also have two cards that like a deck with many colors: Minotaur Tactician and Cetavolver. So, every color has one of these gifts. Then, I added Fusion Elemental, Fist of Suns, and Tek. That’s not a large number of cards to reward the strategy. You can add Tek or the creatures to any deck that has two colors. But it gives the Cube a few ways to move.

I also have a bit of an enchantment theme. I actually need a few more crappy Auras, such as Lance, Fylgja, Dark Privilege, and/or Fear, which are on my short list.

Okay, now that you know my rules and issues, let’s see the Crap Cube. We’ll sort alphabetically by color and by creature-versus-noncreature.

Fanatical Fever
The total brings me to 400 cards. It’s 60 of each color and 30 creatures and spells within that color. I have 35 multicolored cards, with 20 creatures and 15 other. Included are 8 lands and one colorless spell. The remaining 56 cards are artifacts, and 13 of those are creatures. Because of the large number of noncreature artifacts, the overall Cube is less than half creatures by a little bit. 400 cards are enough for an eight-person Draft with some variance in the card pool.

Notes: The Smelt should be a Shatter. I don’t own any Shatters—I kid you not. Also, that Demystify should be an Illumination, and when I acquire one, I’ll swap it out. Also, I don’t own a Stream of Life, which is what Nourishing Shoal is currently replacing. Those are changes I know for sure. When I find some other really bad cards for this, such as Whip Silk, I’ll replace duplicate cards such as Natural Spring (too many life-gain spells). Similarly, I’ll pull a +1/+1 counter spell in green for Fanatical Fever when it arrives.

Well, I hope you enjoyed seeing my version of the Crap Cube in its infancy. Let me know what you think!

See you next week,
Abe Sargent