It was around Christmas time I decided to begin picking up the beginning pieces. I was drunk on the couch and click happy, my belly full of soup and wine, bundling the first 200 or so cards into a shopping card online.

No, wait. It was before that.

Hugh Kramer was having an I-Just-Won-A-PTQ party, back when spiking PTQ’s were still a crystalline moment, at a bar in south Williamsburg. My buddy Dylan was tending bar. Dylan used bulk Magic cards as coasters that night. I was at the bar fingering his tall, mostly sticky pile of old has-beens. Sean sits down next to me and after a piece of cake we decide to play mental magic.

(If anyone hasn’t played mental magic, its one of my favorite ways to kill time with stacks of old limited decks. Shuffle up a pile and dish out a couple cards to each player from the pile, which is now everyones deck. Each card becomes a wild card with the casting cost the only relevant piece of data. You must cast each card as any card in magic with the same casting cost. You also must know what it’s named, what it does. You cannot cast the actual card in your hand.)

While playing, I see a foil Enclave Cryptologist on top of Dylans coaster pile, and with a furtive gesture slide it into my pocket. That was the first cube card I acquired.


The cards start flooding my mailbox and soon I am at about 300 cards. I primp my cube tutor page and am constatntly phantom drafting it, thinking about the build. The constructing was brought to a head when each card that remained had an annoying cost attached to it, from rarity or EDH popularity. The big stuff was all that was left. I needed about 70 cards before the 540 would be complete.

So I put it away a few weeks ago, deciding to slowly collect the last steps. After all, there was no need to be hasty about it… getting a bunch of magic players together to cube isn’t easy, and I don’t have enough space to host an 8-man draft in my apartment anyway. It can wait. I can keep investing in Modern and take it slowly.

But that’s right around when my birthday plans became clear to me. I was graced with a Saturday off at work, and I knew right away what I wanted to do with all my fellow TDLers and Magic friends. There would be a drafting party. New formats, old formats… and cube!

I got a fire started under my ass and threw out the idea of finishing the 540 right away. 360 is just enough to draft with an 8-man, and got a great 360 I can put together. Running to the LGS to pick up the last of the cards I needed, I still came up a few cards short.

That’s when my friends stepped up. I was, last week, flooded with birthday donations to my cube, enough to finish it. The outpouring of gifts from my friends was something I haven’t experienced in… well, my entire adult life! I’m used to buying presents for myself on my birthday, or receiving one from my girlfriend. But now, with an amazing group of friends garnered through Magic, their kindnesses probably so simple to them, I was silently, inwardly moved by these little flourishes.

And so the day came and my friends got together to eat, drink, and draft the Magical cards. I was in ecstasy as everyone trickled in at 10am and began shuffling up my cube and making packs.

I have waited six months for this moment, when it would finally be my cube, my painting that everyone would explore.

We did one six man and one eight man. Here are loosely the decks I drafted.


Creatures (14)
Looter il-kor
Oona’s Prowler
Snapcaster Mage
Nezumi Graverobber
True-Name Nemesis
Gatekeeper of Malakir
Mardu Strike Leader
Sower of Temptation
Phyrexian Metamorph
Grave Titan

Spells (8)
Mana Leak
Living Death
Snuff Out
Malicious Affliction
Lands (17)
Evolving Wilds

This is one of my favorite archetypes to draft in cube. This kind of deck can lay down some efficient beats and stay ahead, or it can grind the opponent out with card advantage and removal. The deck came out medium. I was a Pack Rat and Baleful Strix short of what I wanted. Daze is also very good in this deck.

My cube is defined by being eternal, unpowered, and highly interactive. I love games that swing back and forth, without anyone ever having the full edge in the game. And each deck is capable of a nut draw if drafted and built correctly. For instance, my deck can Entomb Grave Titan and Reanimate it on turn 2. That’s pretty nutty.

I got smashed. We shuffled up and drafted with 8. My first 8 man for my cube!

Big Boros

Creatures (14)
Stoneforge Mystic
Soulfire Grand Master
Wall of Omens
Goblin Rabblemaster
Brimaz, King of Oreskos
Hallowed Spiritkeeper
Feldon of the Third Path
Hero of Bladehold
Hero of Oxid Ridge
Spectral Procession
Baneslayer Angel
Inferno Titan
Sun Titan
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite

Spells (9)
Umezawa’s Jitte
Mizzium Mortars
Burst Lightning
Ajani Vengeant
Elspeth, Knight-Errant
Gideon Jura
Lands (17)
Terramorphic Expanse
City of Brass

Sideboard (8)
Shrine of Burning Rage
Karmic Guide
Master of Pearls
Student of Warfare
Keldon Marauders
Wrath of God
Boros Charm

I remember my sideboard for this one, because my plan was to be a little transformative depending upon the matchup. I could put in some more aggressive creatures, or I could add some grindier cards for control matchups. This deck didn’t come together as well as I had hoped, but I still had a blast playing it. I wanted to playing against creature decks but I got smoked by controlly decks with Ugin, the Spirit Dragon and Upheaval. I was simply too slow, too midrangey.

Interestingly enough, while my cube supports aggressive decks quite well, only one of the guys at the table (Jesse of Casthaven fame) drafted an aggro deck. His deck was awesome: small white creatures, soft countermagic, 2 swords, and Giest of Saint Traft / Dragonlord Ojutai. He did well, but the rest of us slogged out longer, grindier games. It was a blast.

I asked everyone what they thought of my cube, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. This was the icing on the cake. Hearing everyone enjoy themselves with something I meditated over for six months was a huge boon to my love of being a new cube owner. I can’t wait to get everyone back together for another go round.

Oh, and i’ve been horribly sick since that day. Too much starch and beer. I can’t play good magic when i’m drunk.

Derek Gallen lives and writes in Brooklyn, New York.


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