So we recently discussed how anyone can build a cube, and how a budget limit doesn’t prevent you from building an incredible experience. This time out, I want to touch on the format of one of my own cubes to illustrate how to start building your own.
“Peasant” has a particular meaning for sixty-card decks – it’s usually a deck built from common cards, supplemented with a handful of uncommons. In Cube, it’s pretty hard to keep that ratio in place, so when we say “Peasant Cube”, we’re really just referring to a cube composed entirely of cards that are common or uncommon. It’s also referred to as “CUbe” in places. What makes these great to build is that half the cards you want to use are probably already in your binder! So let’s look at one way to go about constructing a peasant cube, starting with white.
Usually, a card is considered legal for Peasant Cube if it’s had at least one printing at either common or uncommon rarity. So cards that were originally printed at common or uncommon and have since been upshifted in rarity are legal (like Pelakka Wurm), and cards that have started out as rare or mythic but have been downshifted are also legal (like Undead Gladiator). If you only have a printing with a rare or mythic symbol on it, that’s okay – it’s still allowed.
We’re going to try and stick to a curve for both creatures and non-creatures. We want to categorize cards according to their color identity, so anything with an activated ability or cost in an alternate color belongs out in the gold section (we’re looking at you, Momentary Blink and Lingering Souls).
We’re on a budget here, so for this article we’re not going to consider cards worth anything more than $3 (well, as of the time of writing this article, anyway … if only we could future-proof against spikes in card value)!
Finally, we’re aiming to build a 360-card cube, so we want to stick to the traditional 50 white cards, split between 25 creature and 25 non-creature. Rather than just mindlessly smashing together the top 50 cards, the best way to really tie a cube together is to use 20% of each color to tie the draft archetypes together, smooth out the curve and have a little fun. This means we’ll begin by looking for the twenty best creatures and twenty best non-creatures, and then pick and choose the last five of each ourselves.
What Makes a Good Peasant Cube Card?
So, we want to fill out the white section of a Peasant cube. What on earth makes a good card in this format? We’re pretty much talking about the cream of the common and uncommon crop here, so there are two big hints in how to pick a good one:
- Is it a staple in Vintage, Legacy or 1v1 EDH? Any card that can hang with the best rares and mythics in its environment is a pretty safe bet for a good card.
- Was it a high draft pick in the Limited environment for its release set? Or was it an absolute house at Pre-Release? Chances are that it’s a good Peasant Cube card too.
Now, we can look at something like MTGGoldfish’s current metagame decklists for the tournament / metagame staples – but there are literally about five white cards that make the list. For the high Limited picks, we could go off something like Frank Karsten’s ChannelFireball pick orders – but he only goes back to Theros, so we’d miss out on all these cool old cards that could make the list. So how do we find a decent list of cube-worthy commons and uncommons?
Fortunately for us, CubeTutor has us covered. It started out as a site to manage and test-draft your cube with, and there are now more than 40,000 cubes stored on the site. Even better than that, the site maintains an easily-filtered Top Cards List, giving us the ability to look at which Peasant-legal cards are run in the most cubes. And given that cubes of every size and shape are recorded there, the cards at the top of our list are going to be the ones that are eternal staples or Limited all-stars – exactly what we’re looking for. So, ready? Let’s go!
Staring at the top 20 white common and uncommon creatures on CubeTutor gives us the following:
- Porcelain Legionnaire
- Mother of Runes
- Wall of Omens
- Doomed Traveler
- Fiend Hunter
- Kor Skyfisher
- Accorder Paladin
- Cloudgoat Ranger
- Seeker of the Way
- Elite Vanguard
- Gideon’s Lawkeeper
- Banisher Priest
- Mardu Woe-Reaper
- Serra Angel
- Thraben Inspector
- Steppe Lynx
- Kor Sanctifiers
- Savannah Lions
- Lone Missionary
You might recognise a few of those cards up there – Mother of Runes and Flickerwisp are firmly in the eternal staples list. And Cloudgoat Ranger and Serra Angel are both pretty infamous as Limited finishers. The rest show a strong bent towards a White Weenie archetype. Will the spells back that up?
On the non-creature side, CubeTutor hands us the following twenty:
- Oblivion Ring
- Swords to Plowshares
- Path to Exile
- Journey to Nowhere
- Faith’s Fetters
- Spectral Procession
- Raise the Alarm
- Banishing Light
- Mana Tithe
- Enlightened Tutor
- Gather the Townsfolk
- Intangible Virtue
- Gods Willing
- Triplicate Spirits
Well, that’s certainly more White Weenie – this time the token variety. Along with a heap of removal. There are a couple of cards in there that are going to blow our budget – let’s take care of them as we round out our fifty white cards.
Sticking to the Budget
Out of the forty cards we’ve highlighted so far, only two are over our $3 threshold – Path to Exile and Enlightened Tutor (Mother of Runes and Wall of Omens just scrape under, as of the time of writing). We’re not exactly going to be able to replace them with something similar but cheaper, so we’ll just pick the next two non-creature cards out of the CubeTutor list that are under $3 a copy. That gives us Midnight Haunting and Temporal Isolation.
Looking at the Curve
Okay, so we now have twenty creatures and twenty spells. Let’s check what our mana curves look like – this not only helps us to ensure we’re not too unbalanced with the casting costs of our selected cards, it also helps us to narrow down what we should be adding in our last ten cards.
If we look at the casting costs of of our creatures, we currently have a curve of 8-5-5-0-2-0 (meaning we have eight creatures with a converted mana cost of 1, five with a CMC of 2, five with a CMC of 3, and so on). We’re supposed to have a curve that evens out around CMC3-4, but we’re definitely not doing that here – we’re loaded with aggressive White Weenie creatures, and have gaping holes at CMC4 and CMC6. When we’re adding our last five creatures, we want to think about finishers that play well here.
The curve for the 20 non-creature spells is 6-7-4-1-0-2. Again, this is loaded with a lot of cheap removal and token production, and have a big gap around the CMC4-5 mark. When we’re adding our last five spells, we want to try and fill this hole.
Looking at the Draft Archetypes We Already Have
When considering what we want to add, we want to think about where we’re already strong. We currently have a pretty ridiculous suite of CMC1 White Weenie beaters, as well as a large number of token producers. Pretty much anything that buffs our small guys up, or helps us produce tokens, is going to make white play small, fast and angry.
Having Fun with the Final Adds
So here’s where we get to have fun and freewheel a bit as cube designers. We know roughly what is strong, we know roughly what sort of CMC we’re looking to fill, and we know roughly what sort of archetypes we’re looking at. So it’s time to work within those limits creatively.
Firstly, let’s add our last five creatures. We’ve worked out that we want cards that play well with tokens or White Weenie. We know we’re trying to fill holes in our mana curve at CMC4 and CMC6. And we know we want to stay under our $3-per-copy budget. So let’s try and add three CMC4 creatures and two CMC6+ finishers. At CMC4, there are two walk-up starts in Celestial Crusader and Goldnight Commander – they are both capable of buffing our smaller guys in effective and unexpected ways (sometimes to game-winning effect). Finally, let’s have some fun with the last of the three – Guardian of the Guildpact is very hard to deal with, and will still get buffed by the other two creatures we’ve just added. For our two CMC6+ finishers, Sentinel of the Eternal Watch was an Origins Limited first-pick, and Subjugator Angel might give us an on-the-spot win (especially if we start blinking it with some of the blink cards we already have). That’s a pretty good mix, and it gives us a more sensible mana curve of 8-5-5-3-2-2.
Now for our last five spells. We want to do something similar here, aiming to fill slots at CMC4-5. So let’s add three CMC4 spells and two CMC5 spells, once again aiming to encourage White Weenie and token strategies. At CMC4, Retreat to Emeria was almost custom-built for us – it lets us choose between the two archetypes we’re encouraging at any given moment. Field of Souls is another great token producer, and Valor in Akros is basically a second Goldnight Commander effect. At CMC5, we find another Limited all-star in Knightly Valor and a great instant token producer in Take Up Arms. This gives our spells a curve of 6-7-4-4-2-2, which is again quite low, but still okay.
The Final Product
So we’ve now got our fifty cards! The best part about this list is that, while it’s full of strong removal and known Limited finishers, about 75% of the cards here are straight out of the bulk bin. If you haven’t got half of this stashed away in your boxes, your local card store sure will.
Our Peasant Cube’s white section now looks like the following:
So that wraps white up. I hope that’s given you some ideas on how to construct your own white section of a Peasant cube! Is this definitive? Absolutely not. Go right ahead and replace half the bombs in here with your own 20 pet cards! I’ll be back next time to talk blue!
Martin first caught the Magic: the Gathering bug at university in Australia in 1995, just as Fourth Edition was released (naturally just missing the era of opening dual lands in booster packs). One degree, career, marriage and two kids later, he is still slinging cards across a kitchen table with friends and is spreading the infection to the next generation via cube, EDH and multiplayer formats.