With M14 around the corner, and me gearing up my cube review, it is time to talk about one of the toughest things that Cube owners have to do on a regular basis. Cutting.

It’s a no brainer that adding new cards to your cube is one of the most fun and thrilling things about owning a cube. It is easy to fall into the trap where adding a few new cards without cutting old ones seems innocuous. What many novice cube owners fail to realize is that the actual number of cards in your cube is so incredibly tied to the balance and overall power level of the cube, that not maintaining a specific card count can easily de-power and unbalance your cube.

Let’s take two of the most common cube sizes, a 360 cube vs. a 450 cube, for example. The jump from 360 to 450 is 90 cards, and that may seem like a huge pile to shuffle in. Keep in mind that cubes typically have between 7-15 distinct sections depending on the design philosophy (colors, guilds, colorless, lands) that are balanced, so while 90 cards may seem like a big jump, you are really only adding a handful of cards to each color and section.

The impact of adding new cards is huge on specific archetypes especially. Let’s take our 360 / 450 example from above, and say we’re trying to support the reanimation archetype by running five reanimation spells. Let’s look at the breakdown of the chances that at least ONE of these five cards will be in your pool.

2 Drafters, 360 (76.5%)& 450 (67.4%)

4 Drafters, 360 (97.0%) & 450(92.3%)

6 Drafters, 360 (99.9%) & 450 (99.0%)

8 Drafters 450 (99.97%)

As you can see, the impact is greatest felt when only working with two drafters. If your cube is mostly drafted by smaller pods, the addition of more cards will weaken archetypes more. Now let’s look at a more relevant metric, factoring in the possibility that someone may have picked those cards before they get to you.

2 Drafters, 360 (75..1%) & 450(66.0%)

4 Drafters, 360 (95%) & 450(89.4%)

6 Drafters, 360 (99.8%) & 450 (98.5%)

8 Drafters, 360 (99.9%) & 450 (98.9%)

All math courtesy of Dr. Phillip Dituri, an actual doctor of combinatorics and fellow Magic nerd.

Not a huge drop, but a drop none the less. Now all these percentages are based on getting at least one reanimation card, but we all know one card does not a deck make. The chances of getting more than 1 obviously drop dramatically, making cutting and keeping your cube balanced for archetypes a very important factor for designers.

To prevent this power dilution, we must cut. And boy, sometimes it hurts. As a cube designer, the best favor you can do for yourself is buy a “bench” binder where you stash all the cards that were / could be in the cube. This makes cutting a little bit easier, knowing they are always on the bench ready to try out again. From a strictly power point of view, if you are trying to build the most powerful environment for your drafters, it is important to be “all business” with your cube inclusions, and not let emotions cloud your judgment. That Shivan Dragon might of put in some work for you back in the day, but these days all he does is last pick.

Don't worry Shivan Dragon, there is a spot for you in the bench binder.

Don’t worry Shivan Dragon, there is a spot for you in the bench binder.

A good strategy for figuring out good candidate for cuts is writing down all of the last picks in a draft. Have your drafters set aside their last few picks and keep a running list. If you end up with a list of usual suspects, chances are you have a good candidate for cutting. Keep in mind that gold cards tend to wheel a lot more thanks to their restrictive mana costs, so if you notice these going around a lot you can cut them a little extra slack.


Farewell, my kings. 

As a preview for next week’s M14 review, here are the cards I ended up cutting to make room for M14. Can you guess what cards made it to the cube in their stead?

Legion Loyalist
Keldon Vandals
Exalted Angel
Grand Abolisher
Massacre Wurm

And of course, the pick a pack! What would you first pick this week?



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