Since the introduction of the Cube format, players have been creating and tweaking lists of their own. One of the most common—and controversial—ways that Cubes differ from one another is the inclusion of “power.” The definition of a powered Cube is a little vague, because many cards that would be considered inclusive of a powered Cube are not part of the actual power nine. Let’s start by defining what cards make a powered Cube powered.


The Power Eight
Note: I say the power eight instead of nine because I feel like Timetwister can be safely included in unpowered lists, and can help support more niche and interesting archetypes like storm which are often much better in unpowered Cubes. The rest of the group, however, are almost always included as a package deal, kicking off a “powered package.”

Library of Alexandria
Sol Ring
Mana Drain
Mana Vault
Mana Crypt

There are probably other cards that are on the power level to make a “powered” Cube, but I feel like almost every other card in Magic could be safely played in an unpowered environment if built properly. The decision to add power to my Cube was definitely a tough one, and one that I discussed at length with my playgroup. Ultimately we decided that the Cube environment for us was really just about playing with the coolest, most powerful cards of all time—and adding power supported that goal. Besides, how often do you get to first-pick a Black Lotus?

As with any major change to a Cube list, the effects of the change trickled down to every archetype and card. Rather than just mindlessly jamming power into the list, my group play tested over months and found that many other cards were a lot more fun to play now that power was added. For my article this week, I thought it would be fun to talk about the cards and archetypes that get much better with the addition of power.


Tinker and Goblin Welder
Tinker is a really fun card that was pretty much unplayable in my Cube before I added the power. I choose not to run all 10 signets to help preserve some of green’s color identity (ramp/fixing). My Cube ran a number of artifact fatties, but there just weren’t that many good, cheap artifacts to go fetch them with. The addition of the five moxen and Black Lotus gave me a number of new ways to make Tinker a viable archetype in my Cube. Likewise, Goblin Welder also suddenly became very playable and a really fun build-around card. The ability to tap him for three mana with a Black Lotus or repeatably churn out tokens with Myr Battlesphere is very fun and broken indeed.

Trinket Mage
Trinket Mage is pretty unplayable without power, with very few targets and most of them not being in blue’s game plan (Zuran Orb, Bonesplitter). The addition of all the low-cost, powerful artifacts that adding power gives you makes Trinket Mage worth consideration (after testing, we chose to cut him).

Gorilla Shaman/Karn, Silver Golem/Phyrexian Revoker/Kataki, War’s Wage
My Cube has always had Gorilla Shaman included, even pre-power, because red one-drops are still a hot commodity, no matter how marginal. Adding the moxen gave the Shaman a huge boost, allowing aggressive red decks to easily deal with the turn-two Tinker decks they so often lose to. Likewise, Karn, Silver Golem is a fun nostalgia-invoking card that can instantly off moxen with the flick of his wrist. This is especially useful when you are planning to Wildfire/Upheaval and your opponent can easily recover thanks to his moxen. We ultimately ended up cutting him when the list tightened back to 450, but larger powered Cubes could definately consider him. Phyrexian Revoker was an OK 23rd card previously, but now rises much higher as an answer for every deck to busted turn-two plays.

Both Tezzerets, Tolarian Academy, Metalworker
Adding the power nine made me pull the trigger on pushing a full-blown artifacts-matter archetype, and I couldn’t be happier with the change. Previously blue only had a few interesting build-around-me cards (Dream Halls, Opposition, Show and Tell, and Tinker come to mind), and these are all one-ofs. This package gave blue a really interesting game plan besides “boring control” and have led to some really memorable decks.

Chandra, the Firebrand
Chandra is an interesting card in Cube as she is one of the only playable Twincast-type effects, thanks to her versatility. The addition of two devastating spells in Ancestral Vision and Time Walk gave this planeswalker the extra ammunition she needed to warrant testing.

As you can see, including even a single card can have a massive ripple effect on the rest of the Cube and requires a lot of balancing to make it feel right. I’ll be back next week to discuss some of the other archetypes, but for now I’d like to open up discussion and dive into everyone’s first thing to do in Cube, first pick! Let me know in the comments what you choose and why!


Alex Kaminsky is one Magic player you don’t want to mess with. He has been playing since Ice Age, swinging in with his Polar Kraken against his Hebrew School peers. With a rich knowledge of the history of the game, and an equally rich collection of cards, it is a no-brainer that he is one of New York’s biggest Cube advocates. He currently lives on the hard streets of Brooklyn with his wife and french bulldog Urza.

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