First, The Rules Again
But first, a refresher on what exactly we’re trying to achieve 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, as we’ve already joked about, we are in no way going to pretend that these 360 cards form the definitive peasant cube list (because it’s probably nowhere near, but it’s hopefully a good start)!
With black, we’re back to one of the evenly-balanced colors in our cube when it comes to the ratio between creature and non-creature spells. This means that in our fifty-card-wide black section, we want to look for 25 creatures and 25 non-creatures.
Starting with the creatures, we are looking for the top 80% of our 25-wide list – that’s a flat 20. Staring at the CubeTutor Top Cards List, the top 20 creatures that fit all of our criteria are as follows:
- Vampire Nighthawk
- Diregraf Ghoul
- Gray Merchant of Asphodel
- Blood Artist
- Hypnotic Specter
- Vampire Lacerator
- Fleshbag Marauder
- Phyrexian Rager
- Carrion Feeder
- Gurmag Angler
- Vampire Hexmage
- Bone Shredder
- Reassembling Skeleton
- Sibsig Muckdraggers
- Liliana’s Specter
Wow, that’s an absolutely classical black list, full of cards I love playing in this format. There’s a bit of removal in Fleshbag Marauder, Shriekmaw and Bone Shredder. There’s a bit of play with life totals thanks to Blood Artist and Gray Merchant of Asphodel. There’s a bit of discard with Hypnotic Specter and Liliana’s Specter. We can go aggro with Vampire Lacerator and Carnophage… so many different directions we can head with this!
So, let’s see which direction the non-creature spells pull us in. We’re chasing the top 20 non-creature spells. That turns up the following on CubeTutor:
- Doom Blade
- Animate Dead
- Hymn to Tourach
- Dark Ritual
- Go for the Throat
- Tragic Slip
- Ultimate Price
- Inquisition of Kozilek
- Demonic Tutor
- Read the Bones
- Murderous Cut
- Chainer’s Edict
- Sign in Blood
- Diabolic Edict
- Night’s Whisper
Wow, that is a lot of removal, with a light dusting of discard and reanimation. So it looks like we want Discard Control and/or Reanimator Control here. Certainly control of some type!
Sticking to the Budget
We’ve picked out 40 cards so far, and all of our creatures were miraculously under the $3 mark! It’s a shame we can’t say the same for some of our non-creature spells, though – we’ve got a couple of changes to make.
There’s no disputing that Reanimate, Inquisition of Kozilek and Demonic Tutor are well over the $3 mark. Lesser known is the fact that Dismember, Chainer’s Edict and Necromancy are also all over. So we’ve got six spells to replace. Normally, we’ve simply been picking the next so many spells off the CubeTutor list, but we’ve got so much removal in here already that it’s probably time to start ignoring them where they crop up – especially given that the next couple of spells in CubeTutor’s list that are under $3 are all removal spells (Snuff Out, Murder and Disfigure)! You can have too much of a good thing, ladies and gentlemen!
Ignoring the removal spells, the next six budget cards we see appearing in the list are Buried Alive (which just sneaks in thanks to its new Ultimate Masters reprint), Unearth, Dread Return, Victimize, Diabolic Servitude and Makeshift Mannequin. Wow… that’s a lot of reanimation all of a sudden!
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 4-3-6-3-2-2. This isn’t too bad a curve… it’s got a small hole at CMC2 that is probably worth looking at. The bigger issue is that we’re clearly interested in reanimation above, and the four creatures at the top of our curve are not exactly peak Peasant reanimation targets yet – they’re currently three cards you hardly ever resolve for their casting cost (Shriekmaw, Gurmag Angler and Sibisg Muckdraggers), along with Gray Merchant of Asphodel (who is fun to recur, but isn’t going to win you games by swinging). So we could do with a couple of really angry finishers along with some CMC2 guys.
The spells we’ve picked out have a mana curve of 4-9-3-3-1-0. Well, that’s the biggest spike we’ve seen in a mana curve so far. That’s obviously where a fair chunk of our removal is sitting- five of those nine CMC2 spells perform some type of removal. We probably want to drop our bottom two CMC2 removal spells and then pick seven new cards across the spectrum of the curve.
Looking at the Draft Archetypes We Already Have
Black sees us going pretty hard at removal and reanimation so far, and apart from a couple of decent finishers to reanimate, both of these themes are already pretty stacked.
A secondary archetype that we haven’t touched on a lot so far is discard – we’ve got some excellent discard spells in here already in Hymn to Tourach, Hypnotic Specter, Liliana’s Specter and Duress. If we can riff off those with some of our final cards, especially in the non-creature section, we should have a couple of different directions we can send black in as we draft it.
Having Fun With the Final Adds
Okay, we want to start with the creatures here, and we find ourselves looking for five, including a couple of Peasant reanimation targets and some CMC2 guys. Firstly, the finishers – high up in the list on CubeTutor is an absolute classic in Sengir Vampire (who will get to face down his old foe Serra Angel all over again), and a card that potentially throws seven power on the table in Rakshasa Gravecaller. Both of those guys only weigh in at CMC5 and are perfectly capable of closing out games for us.
We probably wanted to look at some creatures that helped out with discarding at CMC2, but the next three in CubeTutor’s list are all keepers – Gatekeeper of Malakir, Zulaport Cutthroat and Nezumi Graverobber… can’t really turn down any of those three! This puts our creature curve at 4-6-6-3-4-2 – pretty even, considering we wanted a couple of fat reanimation targets in the top end.
Now for the spells, and the first thing we wanted to do was to drop our bottom two CMC2 removal spells. They are Diabolic Edict and Ultimate Price.
We’re now aiming to replace them with seven spells that help a discard archetype, spread across every CMC except 2. CubeTutor hands us Despise, Mind Rot and Raven’s Crime as good discard spells, but that’s about where its list stops. Ostracize is also a perfectly-serviceable discard spell in this format. We probably also want to add Megrim and Raiders’ Wake to really give this archetype some punch. To fill out the top end of the curve a little bit more, they were silly enough to print Larceny at uncommon in Mercadian Masques, so it’s legal here. That gives us a curve of 7-7-5-4-2-0, and a pretty handy discard archetype to boot.
The Final Product
So we’ve got our fifty cards! We’ve tinkered with the amount of removal, discard and reanimation we’re carrying onboard, but this is still very much the type of pile that the average player has at least half of sitting around in their collections.
Our peasant cube’s black section now looks like the following:
Okay, black is done! That list looks like a whole bag of control fun – I’d love to draft that myself! Join us next time when things get hot in the kitchen while we look at red!
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.