Cube Spotlight Series – Core Set Cube

Posted in Magic Online on October 30, 2018

By Harper O'Neill

Hello, I'm Harper O'Neill (@imharperoneill).

I have designed many different cubes and have organized a weekly Cube night for the six years I've worked at Wizards of the Coast. I am the senior retail development representative for the Wizards Play Network, working with game stores to build communities and bring our games to life through organized play. My other credits include working on the Ravnica Guild Kits, as well as playtesting a myriad of other Magic, Dungeons & Dragons, and Avalon Hill games.

Today, I'm here to talk to you about the Core Set Cube, which you can play November 7 on Magic Online.

The Core Set Cube

Core sets are wonderful. They set the tone of that period in Magic's history. They provide a consistent reference point, a place to "check in" and see what Magic is up to in the broader sense. Looking through the card list for Seventh Edition tells a very different story than the Core Set 2019 card list, for example.

Core sets offer straightforward and flavorful play experiences, designed to cater to all types of players. They also happen to include some of the most popular cards ever made.

When designing the Core Set Cube, I wanted to be true to both the nature of core sets and the traditional Cube experience. I've taken the best of the best in terms of power level, flavor, and nostalgia. In doing so, I discovered a unique Cube environment that is a little more powerful than you might expect.

The basic design rules of this cube are simple:

  1. It only includes core set cards from Seventh Edition to Core Set 2019.
  2. It's 540 cards, singleton.
  3. It has its own personality.

I'm a big fan of limiting my selection pool for cubes and seeing what new experiences can come from it. We get to play in an environment with unique interactions and play with cards that are plenty good on their own but don't quite make the cut for a more traditional cube.

Of course, there wasn't room for everything. I've excluded a fair amount of the famous color hosers and some of the more degenerate bombs. However, you might find yourself on the receiving end of a mountainwalk attack from a bunch of buffed Goblins or find it hard to kill a gigantic enchanted creature (unless you came packing enchantment removal).

Core Themes

The Core Set Cube leans a little more on ten color-pair themes (and five monocolor themes!) that you can construct a strategy around. Many of the usual Draft archetypes are here, like white-blue control and red-white tokens. That said, these are not the only strategies available. Experiment with the card pool and discover new exciting strategies to try!

White-Blue Control

You have access to the strongest board wipes, paired with counterspells to keep the opponent at bay. How could you lose? But how do you win, you ask? Fair players might opt to swing in with their Frost Titan a few times, but the real champions will resolve Bribery and win with whatever the opponent has instead.

Blue-Black Reanimator

Draw cards and ditch big creatures to your graveyard, then reanimate them. How fast can you get a Demon of Death's Gate into play? This deck also works well with countermagic and some of the most powerful black removal options. Maybe you could take one of your opponent's cards.

Black-Red Sacrifice

There's no feeling quite like casting Threaten on your opponent's giant threat and either attacking with it or feeding it to one of your other creatures. Red and black both have small and recursive creatures that can stand to die a few times.

Red-Green Beatdown

Do you like to just cast huge creatures? We've got that, too. Apply early pressure with cheap beaters, then Overrun your opponent. If you want to go even bigger, try midrange instead! With plenty of acceleration, you can resolve a Bogardan Hellkite in no time.

Green-White Auras

Put Auras on things! Verduran Enchantress will dig you deeper into the deck while you make endless Angel tokens with Sigil of the Empty Throne. Put Angelic Destiny on a hexproof creature, like Troll Ascetic, and watch your opponent crumble under pressure.

White-Black Big Lifegain

With aggressive creatures running amok, this color combination has the tools to get itself out of reach. Double your life a few times, and put Archangel of Thune on your frontlines with a bevy of other life-gaining creatures. Dip into black for the game-ending Sorin's Vengeance. Take 10?

Blue-Red Spellslinging

Blue and red feature some of the more flexible cards that slot into a number of archetypes. Do you want to take a bunch of turns with Nexus of Fate? Would you rather sling powerful X spells like Mind Spring and Fireball? All-star cantrips like Ponder, Preordain, and Sleight of Hand help you keep the party going.

Black-Green Graveyard

Ach, Hans, run! It's the Lhurgoyf! Dump creatures into your graveyard and reap the rewards with huge graveyard scavengers and recursive payoffs like Bone Dragon. The value creatures in green mixed with efficient removal options in black adds up to a midrange deck that just keeps coming.

Red-White Tokens

Trumpet Blast is one of my favorite cards, so I had to include an archetype to enable it. Flood the board with tokens to go wide and destroy your opponent before they get a chance to stop you. Pump your team and get in for damage with classics like Glorious Anthem.

Blue-Green Value Bounce

Don't sleep on this one. Control the board and eke out value with the best enters-the-battlefield effects core sets have to offer. Sunken Hope will keep your opponent off balance, and beefy beaters like Stampeding Wildebeests crash in for damage while buying back your value creatures. How many times can you cast or copy Pelakka Wurm?


Due to the restrictive card pool, you'll notice that the Core Set Cube only has a small number of multicolored cards and mana-fixing lands. A side effect of this is that it has a lot of support for monocolor strategies. Each color has its own unique strengths, so don't worry if you end up with seventeen of the same basic land in your deck.

Mono-White Army

White wants to flood the board with cheap creatures and tokens, then pump the team up and plow through the opponent's forces. Some creatures—like Imposing Sovereign—also serve as ways to falter your opponent's efforts to slow you down.

Mono-Blue Artifacts

Core sets have some iconic artifacts, and they tend to work well with blue. Mana rocks ramp you to some of the bigger threats, or you could take to the skies with a brigade of Thopter tokens.

Mono-Black Swamps

Black likes Swamps. A lot of Swamps. Put Swamps in your deck and include other cards that care about Swamps! Straightforward. Super effective. Swampy.

Mono-Red Goblins

Goblins are the poster boys of red, and they're a lean, mean, face-smashing machine. Arguably the best Goblins we've ever made are in core sets, so get a piece of this action-packed tribe!

Mono-Green Ramp

Green ramps into beefy creatures. That's just what it does! Tower over your opponent faster than you can say "Forest, Llanowar Elves, go." You could also try building an Elf tribal deck if you fancy that instead.

20 Things to Try

  1. Put Angelic Destiny on a Gladecover Scout.
  2. Build an Elf or Goblin tribal deck with Elvish Champion or Goblin King.
  3. Combo off with Intruder Alarm and Krenko, Mob Boss.
  4. Cheat a Darksteel Colossus into play with Elvish Piper.
  5. Twincast and/or Reverberate your Inferno.
  6. Ramp into Wildfire or Destructive Force with mana rocks.
  7. Sacrifice a Reassembling Skeleton with Grave Pact in play. Then do it again.
  8. Put Counterspell on Elite Arcanist. Or Memory Lapse. Or Time Stop.
  9. Win the game with Liliana's Contract. (Adaptive Automaton is a Demon!)
  10. Build an all-permanent ramp deck with Warp World.
  11. Take the Door to Nothingness challenge.
  12. Cast Touch of Moonglove or Spirit Link on your Crypt Rats, and go to town.
  13. Loop Archaeomancer with Evacuation.
  14. Do something degenerate with Strands of Night.
  15. Gain 100 life off Beacon of Immortality and Alhammarret's Archive.
  16. Build a burn deck! Lightning Bolt, Shock, Pyrotechnics!
  17. Sacrifice every piece of a Mitotic Slime to a Fallen Angel for a solid +14/+7.
  18. Combine First Response with lands like Adarkar Wastes or City of Brass.
  19. Flood the board with artifacts, then cast March of the Machines.
  20. Force Spike an Earthquake. That'll show 'em.

That's all for now. I hope you enjoy this cube as much as I have and gain a fonder appreciation for the power of core sets. See you in the queues!

Core Set Cube Full Cardlist

Below is the full card list for Harper's Core Set Cube! The column is sortable by clicking its header. You can also narrow your search by typing a keyword into the Search box, then sorting within those results.

Card Name
Abbot of Keral Keep
Acidic Slime
Adaptive Automaton
Adarkar Wastes
Æther Adept
Ajani Goldmane
Ajani Steadfast
Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants
Ajani, Caller of the Pride
Ajani's Chosen
Alchemist's Vial
Alhammarret's Archive
Ambassador Laquatus
Angelic Accord
Angelic Destiny
Ant Queen
Arachnus Web
Arbor Elf
Archangel of Thune
Archangel of Tithes
Armored Ascension
Arms Dealer
Attended Knight
Augur of Bolas
Augury Owl
Avaricious Dragon
Aviation Pioneer
Baneslayer Angel
Banisher Priest
Battlefield Forge
Beacon of Destruction
Beacon of Immortality
Beacon of Unrest
Birds of Paradise
Black Cat
Blanchwood Armor
Blessed Spirits
Blinding Angel
Blood Seeker
Bloodfire Colossus
Bloodthrone Vampire
Bogardan Hellkite
Bone Dragon
Borderland Marauder
Bottle Gnomes
Brave the Elements
Brittle Effigy
Buried Ruin
Call to Mind
Captain of the Watch
Captain's Call
Caustic Caterpillar
Caves of Koilos
Celestial Flare
Chandra Nalaar
Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh
Chandra, Pyromaster
Chandra, the Firebrand
Chandra's Phoenix
Charcoal Diamond
Chasm Skulker
Chief Engineer
Chord of Calling
Chromatic Star
City of Brass
Cleansing Nova
Coat of Arms
Conclave Naturalists
Cone of Flame
Consul's Lieutenant
Consume Spirit
Covenant of Blood
Cruel Edict
Crusader of Odric
Crypt Rats
Daring Apprentice
Dark-Dweller Oracle
Darksteel Citadel
Darksteel Colossus
Darksteel Ingot
Day of Judgment
Deadly Recluse
Demon of Catastrophes
Demon of Death's Gate
Demonic Pact
Destructive Force
Devouring Light
Disciple of Bolas
Disciple of the Ring
Displacement Wave
Doom Blade
Doomed Dissenter
Doomed Necromancer
Door to Nothingness
Dragon Egg
Dragon Fodder
Dragonskull Summit
Drowned Catacomb
Druid of the Cowl
Druidic Satchel
Dwynen, Gilt-Leaf Daen
Dwynen's Elite
Elite Arcanist
Elite Vanguard
Elixir of Immortality
Elvish Archdruid
Elvish Champion
Elvish Mystic
Elvish Piper
Elvish Rejuvenator
Elvish Visionary
Ember Hauler
Enigma Drake
Ensoul Artifact
Enthralling Victor
Essence Scatter
Eternal Thirst
Evolutionary Leap
Evolving Wilds
Exclusion Mage
Exquisite Firecraft
Faerie Conclave
Fallen Angel
Fauna Shaman
Fell Specter
Fellwar Stone
Fertile Ground
Festering Goblin
Fiendslayer Paladin
Fiery Conclusion
Fiery Impulse
Fire Diamond
First Response
Flames of the Firebrand
Fleshbag Marauder
Flinthoof Boar
Force Spike
Forsaken Sanctuary
Foul Orchard
Foundry Street Denizen
Frenzied Goblin
Frost Lynx
Frost Titan
Garruk Wildspeaker
Garruk, Apex Predator
Gather the Pack
Generator Servant
Genesis Hydra
Ghirapur Gearcrafter
Giant Growth
Gideon Jura
Gideon's Lawkeeper
Gift of Paradise
Gilded Lotus
Glacial Fortress
Gladecover Scout
Glorious Anthem
Goblin Arsonist
Goblin Chieftain
Goblin Glory Chaser
Goblin Grenade
Goblin Instigator
Goblin Kaboomist
Goblin King
Goblin Matron
Goblin Piledriver
Goblin Rabblemaster
Goblin Shortcutter
Goblin Trashmaster
Grand Abolisher
Grave Pact
Grave Titan
Graveblade Marauder
Graveborn Muse
Great Sable Stag
Greater Good
Grim Lavamancer
Hammer of Bogardan
Hangarback Walker
Harbinger of the Tides
Harm's Way
Heliod's Pilgrim
Hell's Caretaker
Heroic Reinforcements
Hieromancer's Cage
Highland Lake
Hoarding Dragon
Honor of the Pure
Honored Hierarch
Hornet Nest
Hornet Queen
Hushwing Gryff
Hypnotic Specter
Icy Manipulator
Imposing Sovereign
Inferno Titan
Intruder Alarm
Invoke the Divine
Isareth the Awakener
Jace Beleren
Jace, the Living Guildpact
Jace, Vryn's Prodigy
Jace's Ingenuity
Jace's Mindseeker
Jace's Sanctum
Jade Mage
Joiner Adept
Kalonian Hydra
Karplusan Forest
Kird Ape
Knight of Glory
Knight of Infamy
Knight of the White Orchid
Krenko, Mob Boss
Krenko's Command
Kytheon, Hero of Akros
Leaf Gilder
Leonin Warleader
Lifebane Zombie
Lightning Bolt
Lightning Strike
Liliana of the Dark Realms
Liliana Vess
Liliana, Heretical Healer
Liliana's Contract
Liliana's Specter
Llanowar Elves
Llanowar Wastes
Loxodon Warhammer
Loyal Sentry
Macabre Waltz
Magma Phoenix
Mana Leak
Manic Vandal
Marble Diamond
March of the Machines
Mark of Mutiny
Mark of the Vampire
Master Decoy
Master of the Wild Hunt
Memory Lapse
Mentor of the Meek
Merfolk Looter
Mesa Enchantress
Might of Oaks
Militia Bugler
Mind Control
Mind Shatter
Mind Spring
Mind Stone
Mindclaw Shaman
Mirror Image
Mitotic Slime
Mogg Fanatic
Mogg Flunkies
Molten Birth
Moss Diamond
Mystifying Maze
Nantuko Husk
Nantuko Shade
Nature's Spiral
Necromantic Summons
Nexus of Fate
Nicol Bolas, the Ravager
Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker
Nightmare's Thirst
Nissa, Vastwood Seer
Nissa, Worldwaker
Obelisk of Urd
Oblivion Ring
Obstinate Baloth
Ogre Battledriver
Oppressive Rays
Paragon of New Dawns
Path of Bravery
Peel from Reality
Pelakka Wurm
Perilous Vault
Phantasmal Image
Phyrexian Arena
Phyrexian Plaguelord
Phyrexian Rager
Phyrexian Revoker
Pia and Kiran Nalaar
Pithing Needle
Plague Mare
Platinum Angel
Plow Under
Possessed Skaab
Prey Upon
Priest of the Blood Rite
Primeval Bounty
Primeval Titan
Primordial Hydra
Prodigious Growth
Quag Sickness
Quicksilver Amulet
Rabid Bite
Raise Dead
Raise the Alarm
Rampant Growth
Ranger's Guile
Ratchet Bomb
Ravaging Blaze
Ravenous Rats
Read the Bones
Reassembling Skeleton
Reclamation Sage
Relic Seeker
Remorseful Cleric
Remove Soul
Resplendent Angel
Returned Centaur
Rhox Faithmender
Rise from the Grave
Roaring Primadox
Rootbound Crag
Rukh Egg
Rune-Scarred Demon
Rupture Spire
Safe Passage
Sai, Master Thopterist
Salvager of Secrets
Sands of Delirium
Sanguine Bond
Satyr Enchanter
Satyr Wayfinder
Savannah Lions
Scab-Clan Berserker
Scavenging Ooze
Sculpting Steel
Scuttling Doom Engine
Searing Spear
Seedborn Muse
Sentinel of the Eternal Watch
Serra Angel
Serra Ascendant
Serra Avatar
Shadowborn Demon
Shivan Dragon
Shivan Reef
Shrapnel Blast
Siege-Gang Commander
Sigil of the Empty Throne
Sign in Blood
Silklash Spider
Sisay's Ring
Skilled Animator
Sky Diamond
Sleight of Hand
Smash to Smithereens
Solemn Simulacrum
Sorin Markov
Sorin's Vengeance
Soul of Innistrad
Soul of New Phyrexia
Soul of Ravnica
Soul of Shandalar
Soul of Theros
Soul of Zendikar
Soul Warden
Soulblade Djinn
Spectra Ward
Sphinx of Uthuun
Sphinx's Tutelage
Spiketail Hatchling
Spirit Link
Squee, Goblin Nabob
Stab Wound
Staff of Nin
Stampeding Wildebeests
Star Compass
Steel Overseer
Stitcher's Supplier
Stoke the Flames
Stone Quarry
Stormblood Berserker
Stormtide Leviathan
Strands of Night
Sublime Archangel
Sulfurous Springs
Sun Titan
Sunken Hope
Sunpetal Grove
Swift Reckoning
Sword of the Animist
Sword of Vengeance
Sylvan Ranger
Talent of the Telepath
Talons of Wildwood
Talrand, Sky Summoner
Talrand's Invocation
Telling Time
Temple Bell
Tenacious Dead
Tendrils of Corruption
Terramorphic Expanse
Tezzeret, Artifice Master
Thopter Engineer
Thopter Spy Network
Thorn Lieutenant
Thought Courier
Thundermaw Hellkite
Tidebinder Mage
Time Stop
Time Warp
Timely Reinforcements
Topan Freeblade
Torch Fiend
Tormenting Voice
Touch of Moonglove
Tower Geist
Trading Post
Treetop Bracers
Treetop Village
Triplicate Spirits
Troll Ascetic
True Believer
Trumpet Blast
Turn to Frog
Typhoid Rats
Underground River
Undergrowth Scavenger
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Vampire Nighthawk
Vengeful Pharaoh
Verdant Haven
Verduran Enchantress
Vernal Bloom
Veteran Swordsmith
Vine Trellis
Viscera Seer
Vivien Reid
Volcanic Hammer
Vryn Wingmare
War Falcon
War Priest of Thune
Warp World
Whirler Rogue
Wild Growth
Windborn Muse
Wood Elves
Woodland Bellower
Woodland Stream
Wrath of God
Xathrid Necromancer
Yavimaya Coast
Yavimaya Enchantress
Yeva, Nature's Herald
Young Pyromancer
Zombie Infestation

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