Welcome back to our monthly discussion on how to create your own peasant cube on a budget! We’ve already had a go at creating a basic white section of our cube – today we’re going to look at blue.
First, The Rules Again
Let’s remind ourselves exactly what we’re doing here! We’re aiming for a basic 360-card cube. We’re going to fill it with cards that have seen at least one printing at a rarity of common or uncommon, and are at most $3 a copy as of the time of writing. We’re going to aim for an even color distribution in our cube, and we’re going to pick the top 80% of our cube off the Top Cards List at CubeTutor.com before filling out the last 20% with our own little quirks. And we’re not in any way going to pretend that this list is definitive – take this, run with it in your own house and then tear it to pieces to suit your own tastes!
Blue is one of those colors that is not necessarily evenly-balanced between good creatures and good non-creature spells – it tends to be much better in the spell department than the creature department. For this reason, we’re going to take our 50-card-wide blue slot and aim for a 17/33 split between creatures and spells, rather than the usual 25/25. Don’t worry if that leaves you feeling unbalanced – we’ll turn things around the other way when we get to green.
So that leaves us trying to fill out the top 80% of our 17-wide list of creatures – that’s 14 once we’ve done a bit of convenient rounding. Staring at the CubeTutor Top Cards List, the top 14 creatures that fit all of our criteria are as follows:
- Delver of Secrets
- Looter il-Kor
- Merfolk Looter
- Sea Gate Oracle
- Augur of Bolas
- Enclave Cryptologist
- Aether Adept
- Ninja of the Deep Hours
- Riftwing Cloudskate
- Deceiver Exarch
- Cloudfin Raptor
That’s a lot of card selection and bounce, and a couple of sneaky combo guys in Pestermite and Deceiver Exarch. I’m personally pretty pleased to see Cloudfin Raptor sneak onto the bottom of this list – it’s a high pick in my own cut-down kids’ peasant cube, and is particularly loved by the kids.
On to the spells, which will be a little more work. We’re chasing the top 80% of 33 non-creature spells – that’s 27, give or take. That throws us the following on CubeTutor:
- Mana Leak
- Fact or Fiction
- Treasure Cruise
- Compulsive Research
- Deep Analysis
- Control Magic
- Into the Roil
- Thirst for Knowledge
- Memory Lapse
- Mystical Tutor
- Force Spike
- Force of Will
- Serum Visions
- Gitaxian Probe
Ah, blue in its element – card draw, countermagic and a little bit of control. Just what the doctor ordered.
Sticking to the Budget
We’ve picked out 41 cards this time around, and we were pretty lucky that the vast majority of these are under the $3 mark in terms of value. Every creature in our list is under the $1 mark… but let’s not pretend that a card like Force of Will is going to be under $3 again in our lifetime! So we’ve got a couple of changes to make.
Force of Will, Mystical Tutor and Remand are clearly over the $3 mark. Preordain is nowadays over the mark as well – it hasn’t seen a printing since Commander 2015, and is obviously starting to get a little scarcer. As of the time of writing, Serum Visions is just underneath the $3 barrier so it stays. Picking the next four cards off the list in CubeTutor that are under our $3 threshold, we get Think Twice, Essence Scatter, Frantic Search and Spell Pierce – ironically two card advantage spells and two counterspells to match what we’re dropping.
Looking at the Curve
As per last time around, we’re trying to at least maintain some semblance of a mana curve with the cards we’ve chosen, so let’s investigate where we’re currently at with our two sections.
The creatures we’ve chosen have a mana curve of 3-3-5-1-2-0. We’ve got a bit of a hole at CMC4 in particular, where the only creature is Ninja of the Deep Hours – a card you could almost classify as CMC2 anyway (as you’re likely wanting to sneak it in for its ninjitsu cost most of the time anyway). It would be good to add a couple there, and maybe add some CMC6+ beast at the top of the curve too.
The spells we’ve picked out have a mana curve of 6-10-5-5-0-1. Again, a big hole at the top end here – that CMC6+ card is Treasure Cruise, which you’d likely never want to resolve for full cost anyway. So we’re going to want a couple of top end bombs here too.
A quick word about how we classify spells with X in their casting cost here, too, given we’ve just run into the first couple in Condescend and Repeal. Generally, when trying to throw X-spells into a curve, we assume X=3, as it’s going to end up close to the average casting cost of a spell in this cube. So Condescend and Repeal are listed under CMC4 above for the purposes of calculating our curve.
Looking at the Draft Archetypes We Already Have
Blue has been pretty simple for us, really – durdle with card advantage and counter a lot of spells. So really we want cards that are going to play nicely with those two things. Generally speaking, we’re going to be pretty safe picking things that interact with the drawing of cards, or the casting of instants and sorceries.
Having Fun With the Final Adds
Okay, let’s start with the creatures. We probably want two CMC4 guys and a top-end finisher, and we want things that interact with card draw and the casting of instants and sorceries. Straight off the bat, Murmuring Mystic jumps out at me as a card a lot of people have been having fun with in Guilds of Ravnica Limited, and it also happens to fit our brief. The other CMC4 slot has a lot of cards that could fit nicely (I’m a bit sad to be leaving out Whirler Rogue and Mist Raven in particular), but Archaeomancer has to be the card here – it’s going to retrieve the best spell in your graveyard, and can start performing some horrible stunts next to Capsize in particular late in the game. There are a number of cards we could put in as a curve-topper, but I have personal experience with Jetting Glasskite – you’ll have to trust me when I say it’s a terrible thing to be facing down, particularly when you know your opponent probably has a hand full of control spells while it’s smacking you in the face. All this gives us a curve of 3-3-5-3-2-1.
We’ve also got six spells to add, and we’re looking to add some big guns at the top end of the curve. Firstly, Mind Control was pretty much the next CMC5-6 card on CubeTutor’s list, and it was so broken at uncommon in the core sets that they had to stop printing it… sounds like a good excuse to me! Similarly, Confiscate is one slot higher in the curve, but it can take anything. Rise from the Tides is a sneaky good finisher that is again going to reward us for playing lots of instants and sorceries. And from here, the only other cards that people can agree on the worthiness of are generally card advantage spells – Tidings, Opportunity and Jace’s Ingenuity are the three with the highest rating. After this work, our spells have a curve of 6-10-5-5-3-4.
The Final Product
So we’ve got our fifty cards! Again, after cutting out the Force of Wills of this world, we’re left with a list of cards that you’re more than likely to have a large amount of sitting in your binders and boxes. Many of them have been popular enough to see reprints in Commander decks or Masters sets, so there are a lot of copies out there too. This really, really feels like a blue section as well – lots of control and card draw, just how a blue mage likes it.
Our peasant cube’s blue section now looks like the following:
Okay, so that’s blue done! I hope that tickles the control instincts of a blue mage or two out there. Now take this list of 50, tear it to pieces and build your own! Next time around, I’ll be back in black!
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.