It’s hard to write about something small in the world of Magic. Every day, pros and grinders alike are posting tournament reports; top sixteen at the pro tour, top eight at a GP, or a live-the-dream report on taking down the last PTQ on MODO. People who read these reports want data, sideboarding strategies, match-up notes. We want to glean important information, apply it to our own experience, and make it work for us. So with that in mind it’s a little weird to write about a low-stakes tournament. It’s difficult to explain the personal importance of a local event, an FNM or a game day, to a community of people used to pro tour coverage. It’s sort of like writing about winning a high school basketball game and trying to shop the article out to ESPN. Little things tend to get lost in the bigger scheme of things.

The thing that got me started on writing about Magic was top four-ing a game day event with a Maze’s End deck. In the scheme of things it was a small victory, I did well at a small local event with a fringe deck. To me though, it was important.

Today, I’m going to write about another small tournament, not even a sanctioned one. This is the story of eight friends cubing in a living room, breaking for pizza for a gratuitously long time, and singing along in falsettos to Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream”. It wasn’t the pro tour, but it was important to us. How important?



Anyway, we gathered at my place Sunday at noon. The plan was for seven matches of round robin and then a cut to top four. We’d draft three cubes. First pauper, then Ravnica, then power. After a beer run and ample shuffling we took our randomized seats (see this is a real tournament) and metaphorically cracked our packs. My pauper cube deck ended up looking like this:



Pauper Cube—UB Fish

Creatures (14)
Frostburn Weird
Errant Ephemeron
Fathom Seer
Nimbus Naiad
Aether Adept
Pilgrim’s Eye
Seagate Oracle
Trinket Mage
Okiba-Gang Shinobi
Mist Raven
Ninja of the Deep Hours
Spire Golem

Spells (7)
Soul Manipulation
Snuff Out
Serrated Arrows
Treasure Cruise
Lands (17)
Evolving Wilds
Dimir Aqueduct
Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Swamp

I’m a big fan of U/B Fish in my cube as there are a lot of ways to gain card advantage while also being reasonably aggressive. In my games I ninjutsu-ed in a Ninja of the Deep Hours and returned a Pilgrim’s Eye, I countered a creature with Soul Manipulation and returned a Mulldrifter to my hand, and Treasure Cruised for just one blue mana. There were some groans from the other end of the table. Here is a quick rundown of my games:

Round 1—Adam with RG Aggro (1-2)

Despite the fact that Adam only plays Magic once in a blue moon, every single time we’ve faced off in cube he’s beat me. This time was no different. Despite drawing millions of cards over our games, I was two-for-one’d every game by Branching Bolt and subsequently burned out on the following turns. Adam’s deck looked like this:


Pauper Cube—RG Aggro

Creatures (12)
Goblin Bushwhacker
Borderland Marauder
Perilous Myr
Keldon Marauders
Mardu Scout
Suq’Ata Lancer
Nessian Courser
Blood Ogre
Rumbling Baloth
Bramble Elemental

Spells (12)
Pillar of Flame
Prey Upon
Vines of Vastwood
Giant Growth
Flame Slash
Searing Blaze
Inferno Fist
Branching Bolt
Galvanic Arc
Brimstone Volley
Lands (16)

Round Two—Phil with RW Tokens/Aggro (2-0)

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve done a lot of work on the cube to support RW Tokens. While RW Aggro has been a deck since the inception of the cube, I wanted to push the token strategy as it is more competitive with the control/midrange decks in the cube that seek to one-for-one creatures. Phil drafted a deck that generated tokens through Triplicate Spirits, Gather the Townsfolk, and Mogg-War Marshal and sought to go over the opponent with Trumpet Blast or burn them out with Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning. Game one, Phil had a removal heavy hand and wasn’t able to pressure me enough throughout the game. After casting a Serrated Arrows, Aethersnipe, and a Treasure Cruise, Phil packed in his cards. Game two, I saw the Pestilence I had boarded in and he revealed a hand of Gather the Townsfolk, Triplicate Spirits, and Trumpet Blast. Here is Phil’s deck:



Pauper Cube—RG Aggro

Creatures (13)
Goldmeadow Harrier
Mogg War Marshal
Daring Skyjek
Goblin Legionnaire
Mogg Flunkies
Soltari Trooper
Soltari Visionary
Splatter Thug
Vulshok Replica
Kor Hookmaster
Vulshok Sorcerer
Soltari Lancer
Seraph of Dawn

Spells (11)
Pyrite Spellbomb
Lightning Bolt
Chain Lightning
Volcanic Hammer
Gather the Townsfolk
Trumpet Blast
Arc Lightning
Oblivion Ring
Triplicate Spirits
Lands (16)
Wind-Scarred Crag

Round Three—Paul with Br Midrange (2-0)

Paul built an almost mono black deck with evasive beaters (Dauthi Marauder, Bloodhunter Bat, and Liliana’s Specter), Swamps/devotion stuff (Tendrils of Corruption and Grey Merchant of Asphodel), and a billion or so removal spells. Paul had some pretty slow hands each game and I was able to demolish his hand with Okiba-Gang Shinobi one game and just out card him the other. I don’t have an exact decklist for Paul since he is the worst and didn’t take a picture.

I was pretty happy to at least 2-1 my own cube, especially given that I have drafted this thing more than my fair share of times. I did finish my games early enough to see Max demolish with a four color graveyard based control deck. He managed to go 3-0 with this thing of beauty:


Pauper Cube—Four Color Graveyard

Creatures (5)
Calcite Snapper
Gurmag Angler
Izzet Chronarch
Satyr Wayfinder
Sakura-Tribe Elder

Spells (19)
Ghastly Demise
Force Spike
Prismatic Lens
Drown in Filth
Prophetic Prism
Think Twice
Rampant Growth
Forbidden Alchemy
Rend Flesh
Crippling Fatigue
Mystical Teachings
Deep Analysis
Sprout Swarm
Lands (16)
Simic Growth Chamber
Lonely Sandbar
Jungle Hollows
Tranquil Thicket
Swiftwater Cliffs
Terramorphic Expanse
Gruul Turf
Snow-Covered Forest
 Snow-Covered Swamp
 Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Mountain

I’m not sure if it’s the Mulch, Drown in Filth, Satyr Wayfinder mill package or the six flashback spells or the lack of creatures or the presence of the convertible turtle but this is one of the coolest decks I’ve ever seen drafted in my cube. I’ve tried to make Sultai self-mill a real strategy and this seems to point toward the fact that I did something right.

For funsies here are two more pictures of decks from the pauper cube draft, the first is Garret’s RG Beats deck  and the other is Nik’s GW Little Kid deck:


Since I have a lot more to write, and I’m already over one thousand words, I’m going to finish up my tournament report next week. You’ll hear the harrowing story of me drafting every Keyrune in the Ravnica cube, playing the longest game ever against my brother, and 3-0’ing the power cube with a Birthing Pod deck. I’ll even share some embarrassing pro tour style trophy shots. Stay tuned.

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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