Happy new year, family! I’m sure I type for everyone at Strictly Average when I say I hope your 2019 is a safe and prosperous one!
At this time of year, it’s steaming hot down here in Australia, so it’s only appropriate that as the heat reaches its peak here, we’re talking the color red! Let’s look at what makes a good red section in a peasant cube!
First, The Rules Again
But firstly, all of the previous Peasant Cube on a Budget articles were last year! Let’s remind ourselves of exactly what we’ve got up to so far.
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’re not even going to entertain thoughts of this being the definitive 360 cards to shove in a peasant cube (but it’s hopefully a good start)!
We’ve already had articles on white, blue and black. Today, we’re going to add red to the pile.
Red is 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 red section, we want to look for 25 creatures and 25 non-creatures.
Starting off, we are looking for the top 80% of our 25 creatures. This means that we want the top 20 creatures off the CubeTutor Top Cards List that fit all of our criteria. These ended up being:
- Young Pyromancer
- Flametongue Kavu
- Monastery Swiftspear
- Mogg War Marshal
- Keldon Marauders
- Lightning Mauler
- Stormblood Berserker
- Gore-House Chainwalker
- Plated Geopede
- Jackal Pup
- Hellspark Elemental
- Avalanche Riders
- Kiln Fiend
- Torch Fiend
- Goblin Bushwhacker
- Manic Vandal
- Frenzied Goblin
- Mogg Fanatic
- Borderland Marauder
That’s a pretty good mix – lots of staples, a fair bit of red aggro. We’ve got a couple of different archetypes we can lean into with this list of cards.
I have a feeling the top 20 red non-creature spells could turn up the heat a bit… It looks like the following on CubeTutor:
- Lightning Bolt
- Faithless Looting
- Magma Jet
- Burst Lightning
- Lightning Strike
- Chain Lightning
- Brimstone Volley
- Seismic Strike
- Rift Bolt
- Searing Blaze
- Dragon Fodder
- Arc Lightning
- Arc Trail
- Hordeling Outburst
- Flame Slash
Well, that was about as hot as we expected it to be! Seventeen of the twenty are burn spells! Might be good to add things that don’t do direct damage in our last five…
Sticking to the Budget
One of the other great things about red? Just like mono-red decks in tournament formats, sticking to a budget here is easy. All forty of our cards are under the $3 limit we set ourselves! As of the time of writing, Lightning Bolt is absolutely on the bubble – the 6th Ed, M10, M11 and Modern Masters 2015 copies are all somewhere between $2.98 and $3.01 a copy. But you can still get one for under $3, so it stays in our list.
Looking at the Curve
As always, we’re trying to at least maintain some semblance of a mana curve with the cards we’ve chosen. Let’s take a look at where we sit so far with red, with one eye on the fact that red is traditionally cheap, fast and hot!
Our list of twenty creatures has a mana curve of 5-11-2-2-0-0. Well, we were expecting it to be cheap and fast, but that’s a heck of a lump at CMC2. We might need to smooth that out a little. And we’ve got zero finishers, too. Even one at CMC5 and CMC6+ would be a good thing.
Our twenty spells have a mana curve of… wait for it… 6-7-6-0-0-1! And that outlier is Fireblast, which you probably cast for free most of the time anyway! Now that’s about where we expected it to be. We might want to consider some more expensive spells, but to be honest, it would also be perfectly fine to keep the curve looking the way it is if that’s how we want red to play.
Also a quick note on Rift Bolt here – I’ve classified it as a CMC3 spell above, but it’s perfectly valid to classify it as a CMC1 spell as well in this exercise. It’s often resolved for its Suspend cost, so it’s more commonly only cast as a CMC1 spell, and some folks like to slot it in with the other one-drops for that reason. If it makes a big difference to your mana curve, it’s probably worth considering.
Looking at the Draft Archetypes We Already Have
As expected, red has been hot and fast. Anything we add is going to want to be either a card that supports red aggro, or something that plays nicely with it all (such as a Guttersnipe-style card for all the instants and sorceries, or some Goblin Tribal stuff to play with all the Goblins that are already there).
Having Fun With the Final Adds
So we come to our final five adds for our creatures and our spells. For the creatures, we probably want to bump a couple of CMC2 cards off the bottom of the list first, as 11 is a lot, and we could probably do with a few more CMC3 guys as well as finishers. Getting the odd CMC1 guy wouldn’t be a total loss either.
So let’s say we remove the bottom two CMC2 creatures? That would be Borderland Marauder and Torch Fiend. That leaves us looking for seven more creatures that are not CMC2. The next seven off CubeTutor’s list that fit our criteria are Beetleback Chief, Goblin Heelcutter, Reckless Waif, Splatter Thug, Foundry Street Denizen, Reckless Bushwhacker and Keldon Champion. A great set of cards! But still no big angry CMC5+ finisher. If we drop Keldon Champion off the bottom and find the first CMC5+ thing, that turns out to be Gathan Raiders, which will turn into a 5/5 behemoth pretty easily with the way we’ve set red up. Not my kids’ personal favorites in Charging Monstrosaur or Shockmaw Dragon (who are both further down the list, and perfectly acceptable finishers), but this probably fits our archetypes just as well if not better, so let’s go with it. That leaves our creatures with a curve of 7-9-4-4-1-0, which is just about perfect here.
For our spells, we’re looking for five non-direct-damage spells. CubeTutor hands us Act of Treason, Tormenting Voice, Smash to Smithereens, Empty the Warrens and Krenko’s Command. Nice! I know, strictly speaking Smash to Smithereens is direct damage, but it’s performing a purpose here, so I’m okay with it! Our red spells now have a curve of 6-10-7-1-0-1. That’s probably about where we want it, given we want to burn things off the table with cheap spells.
The Final Product
So we have our fifty cards! Red is such a wonderful, straightforward color when it comes to things like this – we barely had to tinker with the curve, we knew we were going to be playing aggro and burn, and every single card we stared at was under $3 a copy. Red delivered, and it delivered a whole pile of cards that you’ve probably got sitting around in your collection already.
Our peasant cube’s red section now looks like the following:
Okay, red is complete! I trust that your new year will bring a lot of fun cubing! I’ll be back next time with green!
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.