So i’m staring down a swarm of little red and white creatures. He moves to combat.

“Attack with everyone.”

I set up my blocks, the Flying Men Aven Skirmisher flies solely past my barricade. He taps out.

Volcanic Rush?”

Yep. This is gonna hurt.

Winds of Qal Sisma. Ferocious.”

He reads the card, then shakes his head, scooping up his board save the skirmisher.

“Hey guys,” I ask, later, over dinner down the street, “Where we doing this?”

We head to a bar slash sausage joint on Bedford Avenue with long picnic tables and long beer glasses, Set the streetlit picnic table with a psychadelic Grand Prix playmat motif, extract the black sleeved cards and begin randomizing packs to draft. There is nothing more I have come to love in playing casual magic than drafting a powered cube with friends, as there is no arena I have found that more celebrates and exemplifies the purity of power magic with the art of building a synergistic deck with the games most historically powerful cards.


When I came back to Magic, Justin routinely crash coursed me with his eternal cube. I had to grind through all the craziness Wizards has printed since I left the game 10 years ago completely blind. And this grind included planeswalkers, something new to my fresh game face, also. I missed so many cards: Stoneforge Mystic and Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Karn Liberated and Wurmcoil Engine. The excitement at first was an overwhelming electric current firing in my brain. I’d beg to draft Justin’s cube, but unless I drafted mono-red I usually got slaughtered. I was still too excited to be playing with the cards, rather than focused on winning the games at hand.

With time, experience bred clarity. Soon I was understanding what was happening and slowly evaluating how to synergize the cards together into decks. My skill in drafting cube paralleled in many ways my development in limited overall. With a lot of study, I began to build actual decks with a plan. Looking for what was open, not forcing things— except red sometimes— and finding the pieces in each pack.

Over the holidays last year I began secretly building a cube of my very own. I spent a great deal of time putting the list together until the details started to become blurry. So I put it down, and postponed the investment. I needed more time with limited still if I was to seriously think about archetypes. Then, in the mire of my salad days with Standard, my near readiness to invest in Legacy, and my completion of the major Modern staples I wanted… I was faced with a sudden and intense loss for how I would continue growing my Magic collection.

As it turns out, the answer I found was in finishing my cube. I’m still gathering the cards (mostly the expensive ones by now) and am looking to have version one up and running within a few months. Owning something I can always use, socially, when I want to is a real treat for a magic player with enough patience, resources, and discipline to manage such an enterprise.


I open my first pack, the cards thick in their sleeves and barely visible in the soft light. I thumb through the pack until I see the Time Walk staring back at me, next to a Snapcaster Mage.

You take the Time Walk. You leave the snap. Then you take a long swig of beer.

Things became certain quickly: Blue/White was open, and I was in.

Bant Control

Creatures (10)
Qasali Pridemage
Lotus Cobra
Stoneforge Mystic
Phantasmal Image
Trygon Predator
Restoration Angel
Glen Elendra Archmage
Baneslayer Angel
Sun Titan
Elesh Norn

Spells (13)
Sensei’s Divining Top
Spell Pierce
Ancestral Recall
Engineered Explosives
Counterspell
Time Walk
Coalition Relic
Jace Beleren
Oblivion Ring
Sword of Fire and Ice
Cryptic Command
Supreme Verdict
Gideon Jura
Lands (17)
Windswept Heath
Breeding Pool
Temple Garden
Tropical Island
Island
Plains

Sideboard (4)
Disenchant
Wrath of God
Clever Impersonator
Narset Transcendant

As with powered cube, its a haymaker fest of threats and answers. Turns out Elesh Norn and Sun Titan are more than enough to do the job. I went 4-0 with this deck. I drank beer, and more beer, and played like a god. I was throbbing as I drew my cards and cast my huge threats. I loved playing this deck, with these cards. I got another beer as everyone moved around to their next opponent.

I laughed, enjoying every game, no matter the outcome. I was playing like a kid, playing for joy and for the good hangs. It was pure magic.

After the draft we packed everything up and Justin and I made our way to a local bar for one last beer before we called it the late night it already was. We bullshitted about Limited, about my cube as it comes together. Justin even found a bunch of cards I need that he no longer has use for and is helping finish the cube faster. Turns out Cube owners look out for each other, too. This is gonna be a good ride.


 

Soon I will have my cube and will talk about the size, build, and archetypes throughout, as well as some of my pet cards.

Until then, i’ll be jamming cube and modern. Exited to share my cube with all of you, soon.

Derek Gallen lives and writes in Brooklyn, NY. 

 

 

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