Over the past few weeks, I’ve written a lot about cube. While I’ve never considered myself a cube enthusiast, and certainly not an authority on the subject, I have really enjoyed talking to people about it. It seems to me that cube, alongside multiplayer EDH, is one of the most altruistic formats in Magic. Most cube creators I’ve talked to want to create a diverse drafting experience that caters to multiple kinds of players building a variety of archetypes. If something is imbalanced, they try to fix it. If cards aren’t being drafted, they will either support them more or cut them entirely. If Storm isn’t a supported archetype, they do their best to overhaul their cube until all games are won via Brain Freeze or Grapeshot. Well, maybe not the last sentence, but a guy can dream, right?

For the last interview I’m doing in the cube series, I talked to my buddy Phil about his power cube. I’ve had the pleasure of drafting this thing a number of times and have had success with all sorts of decks, from UW Control to 3 color Sneak and Show to a BUG Birthing Pod deck I drafted recently.

Let’s get down to business.

Shawn: What kind of cube do you have?

Phil: It’s a power cube. It includes some of the most broken cards in Magic—the power nine—alongside other powerful strategies. There are some gross combo decks but aggro, mid-range, and control are all viable.

How many cards are in it? How many players does it support?

It supports 8 players. There 390 cards.

How much is foiled?

Over 50%. Though a lot of stuff you can’t get foiled—duals, Workshop, power—so I have close to 70% of all possible cards in foil

Any doubles/duplicates?


I have two of each of the fetches. I didn’t want to run the check-lands since they aren’t great for aggro decks, and I didn’t want to run filter lands since they are cost prohibitive. I already had the fetches in my collection so I decided I would just double up on them. They synergize well with a lot of the cube and help the aggressive decks stay consistent so they can actually compete with the unfair decks. Cards like Steppe Lynx, Plated Geopede, and Bloodghast get a lot better with more fetches.

Rarity distribution?

I have no idea, haha. Let me check. It looks like it’s about 52% Rare, 12% Mythic, 18% Uncommon, and 18% Common. I didn’t think too consciously about rarity here, I just tried to put in the strongest cards for a variety of strategies.

What kind of game play experience were you looking to create?

One where there are enough viable archetypes that there is something for everyone. That’s why I decided to support Goblins and MUD, stuff that isn’t usually present in power cubes.

Best archetypes to draft? Best strategy for drafting?


Reanimator is really consistent in terms of the combo decks. Naya aggro and GW hatebears are the best aggro decks. The MUD/artifacts theme is a wildcard because it’s really powerful but not always consistent. I’ve powered out a turn two Blightsteel Colossus though. I won that game.

I purposely don’t support mono black aggro with all the shadow creatures. I see it in a lot of cubes, the MTGO Holiday cube included, and I think that most of the time it’s really bad. Black tends to be the worst color in a lot of cubes because you have a weird disparity between garbage aggressive creatures like Carnophage and stuff like Mind Twist, Death Cloud, and Damnation.

Goblin Piledriver

I also decided to support Goblins in my cube instead of your generic aggressive red burn deck. I realized that aggressive red creatures tend to be not great and decided to experiment by cutting stuff like Jackal Pup and Stromkirk Noble to put in Goblin Lackey , Goblin Piledriver, and other goblins. The archetype is definitely more fun than mono red burn, and more powerful if you have all the pieces.

Pet cards?


Goblin Lackey and Goblin Rabblemaster. Though most of the time I just end up drafting reanimator decks.

Let’s generate some sample packs and do some pack one/pick one’s.

Pack one/Pick one

Kitchen Finks
Cryptic Command
Lotleth Troll
Phantasmal Image
Zealous Conscripts
Sacred Foundry
Sigarda, Host of Herons
Lighnting Helix
Wooded Foothills
Baleful Strix
Stoneforge Mystic
Umezawa’s Jitte
Flooded Strand

Umezawa’s Jitte hands down. The card is insane in limited and doesn’t commit you to a color. If Jitte wasn’t there though I’d take Cryptic or Bitterblossom. Cryptic does seem like its restrictive in terms of mana cost but with all the fetches I think it’s very playable.

Pack one/ Pick one

Spinx of the Steel Wind
Enlightened Tutor
Abrupt Decay
Dack Fayden
Toxic Deluge
Gaea’s Cradle
Wurmcoil Engine
Inquisition of Kozilek
Isamaru, Hound of Konda
Mana Leak
Goblin Piledriver
Steam Vents
Phyrexian Metamorph

Either Gaea’s Cradle or Wurmcoil Engine. I think Engine is the pick since it’s powerful and fits into a bunch of different decks. What would you take?

Eh, I think you’re right about Engine being the pick, but I’m a big fan of cheap countermagic in this cube given all the powerful stuff going on, I might actually take Mana Leak.

You could probably get it on the wheel along with Toxic Deluge. Those cards tend to go a little bit later.

Alright, well, thanks Phil. I appreciate you taking the time to sit with me and talk about cube.

No problem, anytime.

Alright folks, that’s it for me this week. My sabbatical from tournament magic is over and I’ll be back to write about Modern next week. Thanks for reading.

At age 15, while standing in a record store with his high school bandmates, Shawn Massak made the uncool decision to spend the last of his money on a 7th edition starter deck (the one with foil Thorn Elemental). Since that fateful day 11 years ago, Shawn has decorated rooms of his apartment with MTG posters, cosplayed as Jace, the Mindsculptor, and competes with LSV for the record of most islands played (lifetime). When he’s not playing Magic, Shawn works as a job coach for people with disabilities and plays guitar in an indie-pop band.

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