Spotlight Cube Series – Artisan Cube 2021

Posted in Magic Online on October 12, 2021

By Chris Kronenberger

Hello, I am Chris Kronenberger, and welcome to my Artisan Cube 2021.

Upkeep

Back in 2012 while in college at Ohio University, a group of friends and I were cubing around 2–3 times a week and wanted to branch out from the traditional Legacy or Vintage cube. We looked for a cube that was not only easily acquired but also versatile so as not to feel shoehorned into the traditional cube archetypes. We had played a few monocolor cubes, but they did not seem to scratch the itch for extended periods of time. We started off with a cookie-cutter Peasant (common/uncommon) cube that had a weekly evolving and rotating list. Based upon Eric Klug's Peasant Cube, we initially stuck with some more defined archetypes, such as reanimator, aggro, Red Deck Wins, Green Ramp, and White-Blue Control—the usual suspects.

As we continued to jam the cube, albeit perhaps too much, we began to not directly control the flow of the cube and allowed it to evolve naturally. Power level was something we struggled to contain and eventually had to make some bans. Old-timey uncommons that became rares like Library of Alexandria and Sylvan Library were the first bans after some intense late-night arguments on design philosophy. Some newer cards began to join the ban list after repeated abuse, such as Pelakka Wurm, Feudkiller's Verdict, Palace Jailer, and some recent planeswalkers.

One of the more interesting tidbits to come out of playing a Peasant cube was the ability for some OGs of Magic to continue to shine in the era of power creep. Cards like Mother of Runes and Ancient Hydra tend to end up in the 3–0 bracket to our surprise. This is one of the major draws to this cube, as the power level is substantially lower than a Legacy or Vintage cube but more balanced. Cards of old that have fallen out of favor tend to shine, and new cards find a charming home alongside their predecessors.

Before we delve into the card list, I want to point out that this cube has an emphasis on synergy, beyond mere archetype, that is usually not present in powered cubes. When you draft your typical powerful cube, you tend to take the strongest card, but in this cube, you are afforded a considerable amount of flexibility. That flexibility shines in developing a cohesive strategy beyond a typical structured deck. Rarely does a single card shift the game in your favor; instead, a few wise plays with the culmination of your deck working together are the key to victory.

Combat

The white-blue archetype has a high emphasis on creatures with enters-the-battlefield abilities and ways to reuse them. Mistmeadow Witch can overtake games with all the support these colors have to offer. This is one of many archetypes that can go wide in this cube, but it can also go over the top of a congested board with flyers.

You also have all the typical control tools; however, you are lacking the mass removal spells that white-blue often employ. This forces the control archetype to also maintain a board presence of creatures to avoid falling behind, such as Wall of Omens, Sea Gate Oracle, and Control Magic.

Tempo-based blue-black decks rely on card advantage from cards like Ingenious Infiltrator and keeping the board small and managed with efficient removal like Cast Down and counterspells such as Memory Lapse.

There is also, of course, Blue-Black Control, which can use tools like Crypt Rats to create extreme advantage when a board gets crowded. Finishers like Possessed Skaab and Dinrova Horror will close the door shut!

The reanimate tempo decks can take advantage of cards like Looter il-Kor, large cycle creatures like Void Beckoner, and big targets like Ulamog's Crusher to create excellent value and pressure out of nowhere.

Black-red fits beautifully into the sacrifice archetype. There are plenty of valuable creatures to sacrifice, such as Shambling Ghast, Dusk Legion Zealot, Mogg War Marshal, and many payoff cards like Zulaport Cutthroat and Hissing Iguanar. This archetype is resilient and full of reach thanks to War of the Spark's Mayhem Devil. Black-red can develop a threatening and synergistic board early in the game. Watch out for Grafted Wargear, an often-missed sacrifice outlet.

Red-green has an inherently high number of creatures for their mana value. See Untamed Kavu, Ahn-Crop Crasher, and Iwamori of the Open Fist. Your opponents will often feel bullied by your large and aggressive creatures, complemented by your suite of red cards full of reach like Fireball to finish them off.

I would like to point out that it also has some combo potential with Grumgully, the Generous and persist creatures like Kitchen Finks and Murderous Redcap when paired with a sacrifice outlet (Goblin Bombardment) to dominate games with synergies as well.

Green-white flourishes in this cube with its ability to overwhelm the board with hordes of creatures and smother opponents with Nest Invader, Clarion Spirit, and Skymarcher Aspirant. Look for cards like Ridgescale Tusker and Overrun to end games as you have immense potential for fast mana, with cards like Avacyn's Pilgrim and Fertile Ground opening the door quickly for Trostani's Summoner or Titanoth Rex. You should care little about your opponent since you'll simply be outdoing them!

The sacrifice synergies that are familiar in red-blue are very present in black-white as well with Fleshtaker and Doomed Traveler. While this archetype may not be as fast, it has more tools to interact with Cast Out and Zealous Persecution and creates a larger board presence with Battle Screech.

You can also play a control role in these colors with tons of high-value creatures like Firja, Judge of Valor and removal like Tragic Slip. Sentinel of the Eternal Watch is on my watch for being too powerful for this cube, as is Vampire Sovereign. I see these cards used to boost this archetype and allow it to be competitive with some of the other color combinations.

My personal favorite color combination, blue-red may be best fit to play a tempo role here. The archetype is full of spells that replace themselves, such as Electrolyze, Exclude, and Repulse, and creatures that deal direct damage to your opponent, such as Electrostatic Field, Thermo-Alchemist, and Guttersnipe. And finally good 'ol value with cards like Cloudkin Seer, Fire Imp, Ninja of the Deep Hours, and Jhessian Thief.

Be no sleeper on this color combination's ability to shift into a full-on control roll as well. Rise from the Tides may be too good, and this archetype makes full utilization of it.

Black-green has staying power and a knack for never running out of things to do with cards such as Centaur Glade. Baloth Null is a great embodiment of how this archetype packs a punch with its large body, yet fully invests in the turns to come. It's hard to out-grind this archetype when utilizing cards such as Masked Admirers and Slimefoot, the Stowaway. This may be the most resilient color combination in the whole cube.

Boros is well known for its constant aggression and reach. I would like to point out that this archetype is full of synergy and capable of a huge amount of damage out of nowhere to end games. Flame-Kin Zealot has immense potential to do just that. Goblin Heelcutter will force through all kinds of unexpected damage, and efficient creatures such as Adanto Vanguard and Cathar Commando will keep you ahead from start to finish!

Tatyova, Benthic Druid is another card on my radar that may be too powerful; however, it's a long-needed piece for this archetype. It exemplifies this archetype's ability to establish a formidable board presence while creating absurd card advantage. When playing green-blue, you weave a beautiful web of fast mana with Utopia Sprawl and Arbor Elf, board presence with Merfolk Branchwalker and Watcher for Tomorrow, and good ol' card advantage. Green-blue is an archetype that loves to splash and opens the door to unlimited possibilities with the likes of Etched Oracle and Path to the World Tree!

End Step

My goal with this cube is to create games that are engaging and rewarding to play in, where there are vast possibilities for fixing in multiple colors and bountiful synergies that run across many color combinations. I want to make sure players have access to the tools they need to combat the powerful synergies that their opponent is capable of! I want deck building to be challenging and making the cut to 23 playable cards a long and hard decision. This cube is about balance, and when balance is achieved, you can play Magic in harmony.

Click here for the full cube list

Card Name Color
Dauntless Bodyguard W
Doomed Traveler W
Gideon's Lawkeeper W
Mardu Woe-Reaper W
Monk of the Open Hand W
Mother of Runes W
Skymarcher Aspirant W
Thraben Inspector W
Usher of the Fallen W
Adanto Vanguard W
Ambitious Farmhand W
Cathar Commando W
Clarion Spirit W
Daring Skyjek W
Daxos, Blessed by the Sun W
Fearless Fledgling W
Knight of Grace W
Mistmeadow Skulk W
Seeker of the Way W
Shepherd of the Flock W
Soltari Trooper W
Stormfront Pegasus W
Thunderous Orator W
Wall of Omens W
Whitemane Lion W
Aerial Responder W
Ardenvale Tactician W
Fairgrounds Warden W
Farsight Adept W
Fiend Hunter W
Flickerwisp W
Martyr's Soul W
Porcelain Legionnaire W
Priest of Ancient Lore W
Stonecloaker W
Archon of Absolution W
Coalition Honor Guard W
Glimmerpoint Stag W
Guardian of the Guildpact W
Kongming, "Sleeping Dragon" W
Relief Captain W
Rhox Veteran W
Visionary Augmenter W
Cloudgoat Ranger W
Elite Scaleguard W
Sentinel of the Eternal Watch W
Shepherd of the Cosmos W
White Dragon W
Ephemerate W
Gods Willing W
Harm's Way W
Path to Exile W
Swords to Plowshares W
Blessed Alliance W
Kabira Takedown W
Pride of Conquerors W
Raise the Alarm W
Sejiri Shelter W
Make a Stand W
Midnight Haunting W
Sunlance W
Splicer's Skill W
Timely Reinforcements W
Battle Screech W
Makindi Stampede W
Settle Beyond Reality W
Spectral Procession W
Triplicate Spirits W
Intangible Virtue W
Journey to Nowhere W
Temporal Isolation W
Minimus Containment W
Oblivion Ring W
Cast Out W
Conclave Tribunal W
Faith's Fetters W
Cloudfin Raptor U
Delver of Secrets U
Siren Stormtamer U
Spectral Sailor U
Brineborn Cutthroat U
Curious Homunculus U
Hypnotic Sprite U
Looter il-Kor U
Skaab Wrangler U
Thought Courier U
Watcher for Tomorrow U
Alirios, Enraptured U
Cloudkin Seer U
Eldrazi Skyspawner U
Jhessian Thief U
Kelpie Guide U
Latch Seeker U
Man-o'-War U
Mirror Image U
Overwhelmed Archivist U
Sea Gate Oracle U
Archaeomancer U
Inga Rune-Eyes U
Mist Raven U
Murmuring Mystic U
Ninja of the Deep Hours U
Whirler Rogue U
Wing Splicer U
Mnemonic Wall U
Mulldrifter U
Murder of Crows U
Pondering Mage U
Riftwing Cloudskate U
Umara Wizard U
Jetting Glasskite U
Wretched Gryff U
Condescend U
Force Spike U
Opt U
Repeal U
Counterspell U
Into the Roil U
Jwari Disruption U
Mana Leak U
Memory Lapse U
Miscalculation U
Negate U
Remand U
Remove Soul U
Exclude U
Forbid U
Ghostly Flicker U
Neutralize U
Repulse U
Silundi Vision U
Supreme Will U
Chemister's Insight U
Dismiss U
Fact or Fiction U
Gitaxian Probe U
Preordain U
Serum Visions U
Chart a Course U
Scour All Possibilities U
Compulsive Research U
Talrand's Invocation U
Tidings U
Boon of the Wish-Giver U
Rise from the Tides U
Treasure Cruise U
Legacy's Allure U
Medomai's Prophecy U
Ominous Seas U
Fall from Favor U
Control Magic U
Time of Ice U
Carrion Feeder B
Ecstatic Awakener B
Foulmire Knight B
Gnarled Scarhide B
Shambling Ghast B
Dusk Legion Zealot B
Eternal Taskmaster B
Kitesail Freebooter B
Knight of Malice B
Lazotep Reaver B
Novice Occultist B
Order of Midnight B
Reassembling Skeleton B
Undead Augur B
Vault Skirge B
Wight of Precinct Six B
Zulaport Cutthroat B
Chittering Rats B
Crypt Rats B
Morbid Opportunist B
Nantuko Husk B
Pawn of Ulamog B
Phyrexian Rager B
Plague Mare B
Skullport Merchant B
Vampire Nighthawk B
Bone Picker B
Entomber Exarch B
Falkenrath Noble B
Graveshifter B
Mage Hunter B
Nekrataal B
Ravenous Chupacabra B
Skinrender B
Sling-Gang Lieutenant B
Thorn of the Black Rose B
Vulturous Aven B
Indulgent Tormentor B
Rakshasa Gravecaller B
Shriekmaw B
Syr Konrad, the Grim B
Vampire Sovereign B
Blitz Leech B
Noxious Dragon B
Phyrexian Gargantua B
Twisted Abomination B
Gurmag Angler B
Void Beckoner B
Darkblast B
Disfigure B
Malakir Rebirth B
Tragic Slip B
Cast Down B
Heartless Act B
Ultimate Price B
Dismember B
Poison the Cup B
Umbral Juke B
Makeshift Mannequin B
Murderous Cut B
Bloodchief's Thirst B
Inquisition of Kozilek B
Reanimate B
Agonizing Remorse B
Night's Whisper B
Call of the Death-Dweller B
Pelakka Predation B
Read the Bones B
Moan of the Unhallowed B
Zof Consumption B
Animate Dead B
Bastion of Remembrance B
Elspeth's Nightmare B
Necromancy B
The Eldest Reborn B
Enslave B
Fanatical Firebrand R
Frenzied Goblin R
Goblin Bushwhacker R
Lightning Berserker R
Reckless Waif R
Stonewright R
Village Messenger R
Aether Chaser R
Burning-Fist Minotaur R
Electrostatic Field R
Embereth Shieldbreaker R
Flame Channeler R
Goblin Cratermaker R
Goblin Instigator R
Lightning Mauler R
Mogg War Marshal R
Orcish Hellraiser R
Rimrock Knight R
Thermo-Alchemist R
Viashino Pyromancer R
Young Pyromancer R
Acolyte of the Inferno R
Ahn-Crop Crasher R
Alpine Guide R
Anax, Hardened in the Forge R
Cunning Sparkmage R
Fire Imp R
Guttersnipe R
Hissing Iguanar R
Sulfur Elemental R
Thopter Engineer R
Tome Shredder R
Weaver of Lightning R
Ardent Elementalist R
Beetleback Chief R
Flametongue Kavu R
Goblin Heelcutter R
Ancient Hydra R
Charging Monstrosaur R
Syr Carah, the Bold R
Doomskar Titan R
Lava Serpent R
Red Dragon R
Burst Lightning R
Gut Shot R
Lightning Bolt R
Spikefield Hazard R
Abrade R
Incinerate R
Lightning Strike R
Searing Blaze R
Brimstone Volley R
Kazuul's Fury R
Slaying Fire R
Stoke the Flames R
Magmatic Sinkhole R
Explosive Welcome R
Chain Lightning R
Faithless Looting R
Fireball R
Firebolt R
Forked Bolt R
Arc Trail R
Dragon Fodder R
Pyroclasm R
Rolling Thunder R
Arc Lightning R
Fight with Fire R
Hordeling Outburst R
Rift Bolt R
Goblin War Party R
Throes of Chaos R
Shower of Coals R
Slice and Dice R
Weaponize the Monsters R
Goblin Bombardment R
Arbor Elf G
Experiment One G
Fyndhorn Elves G
Kessig Prowler G
Llanowar Elves G
Dryad Greenseeker G
Elvish Visionary G
Fynn, the Fangbearer G
Heir of the Wilds G
Kraul Harpooner G
Merfolk Branchwalker G
Mother Bear G
Nest Invader G
Outland Liberator G
Prosperous Innkeeper G
Saddled Rimestag G
Sakura-Tribe Elder G
Tangled Florahedron G
Untamed Kavu G
Wall of Roots G
Civic Wayfinder G
Reclamation Sage G
Springbloom Druid G
Thrashing Brontodon G
Wolfir Avenger G
Briarhorn G
Druid's Familiar G
Iwamori of the Open Fist G
Masked Admirers G
Oakhame Adversary G
Pack Guardian G
Professor of Zoomancy G
Sarulf's Packmate G
Seed Guardian G
Wickerbough Elder G
Acidic Slime G
Arborback Stomper G
Keeper of Fables G
Nessian Asp G
Owlbear G
Ridgescale Tusker G
Great Oak Guardian G
Honey Mammoth G
Hooting Mandrills G
Beanstalk Giant G
Greater Sandwurm G
Howling Giant G
Bookwurm G
Titanoth Rex G
Blossoming Defense G
Mutagenic Growth G
Vastwood Fortification G
Grapple with the Past G
Clear Shot G
Invigorate G
Khalni Ambush G
Pulse of Murasa G
Defend the Celestus G
Savage Swipe G
Emergent Sequence G
Epic Confrontation G
Bala Ged Recovery G
Search for Tomorrow G
Harmonize G
Struggle for Skemfar G
Trumpeting Herd G
Overrun G
Roar of the Wurm G
Rancor G
Utopia Sprawl G
Wild Growth G
Fertile Ground G
Squirrel Nest G
Centaur Glade G
Mistmeadow Witch UW
Talisman of Progress UW
Reflector Mage UW
Soulherder UW
Elite Guardmage UW
Cloudblazer UW
Baleful Strix BU
Talisman of Dominance BU
Shadowmage Infiltrator BU
Ingenious Infiltrator BU
Possessed Skaab BU
Dinrova Horror BU
Rakdos Cackler BR
Talisman of Indulgence BR
Terminate BR
Mayhem Devil BR
Murderous Redcap BR
Garna, the Bloodflame BR
Domri's Ambush GR
Ground Assault GR
Talisman of Impulse GR
Firespout GR
Grumgully, the Generous GR
Ghor-Clan Rampager GR
Avacyn's Pilgrim GW
Qasali Pridemage GW
Shanna, Sisay's Legacy GW
Talisman of Unity GW
Good-Fortune Unicorn GW
Kitchen Finks GW
Trostani's Summoner GW
Fleshtaker BW
Talisman of Hierarchy BW
Zealous Persecution BW
Mortify BW
Firja, Judge of Valor BW
Unburial Rites BW
Izzet Charm RU
Talisman of Creativity RU
Electrolyze RU
Crackling Drake RU
Ral's Outburst RU
Thundering Djinn RU
Talisman of Resilience BG
Catacomb Sifter BG
Leyline Prowler BG
Putrefy BG
Slimefoot, the Stowaway BG
Baloth Null BG
Lightning Helix RW
Sacred Fire RW
Talisman of Conviction RW
Sunrise Cavalier RW
Flame-Kin Zealot RW
Heroic Reinforcements RW
Coiling Oracle GU
River Hoopoe GU
Talisman of Curiosity GU
Shardless Agent GU
Frilled Mystic GU
Tatyova, Benthic Druid GU
Path to the World Tree BGRUW
Signal Pest Colorless
Lesser Masticore Colorless
Ornithopter of Paradise Colorless
Clockwork Servant Colorless
Farfinder Colorless
Filigree Familiar Colorless
Pilgrim's Eye Colorless
Skittering Surveyor Colorless
Etched Oracle Colorless
Treasure Keeper Colorless
Staunch Throneguard Colorless
Bane of Bala Ged Colorless
Meteor Golem Colorless
Artisan of Kozilek Colorless
Ulamog's Crusher Colorless
Bag of Holding Colorless
Bonesplitter Colorless
Trusty Machete Colorless
Zephyr Boots Colorless
Coldsteel Heart Colorless
Isochron Scepter Colorless
Mind Stone Colorless
Mortarpod Colorless
Prismatic Lens Colorless
Shrine of Burning Rage Colorless
Shrine of Loyal Legions Colorless
Sky Skiff Colorless
Grafted Wargear Colorless
Heirloom Blade Colorless
Heraldic Banner Colorless
Loxodon Warhammer Colorless
Renegade Freighter Colorless
Bomat Bazaar Barge Colorless
Hedron Archive Colorless
Icy Manipulator Colorless
Serrated Arrows Colorless
Untethered Express Colorless
Azorius Chancery UW
Sejiri Refuge UW
Tranquil Cove UW
Dimir Aqueduct BU
Dismal Backwater BU
Jwar Isle Refuge BU
Akoum Refuge BR
Bloodfell Caves BR
Rakdos Carnarium BR
Gruul Turf GR
Kazandu Refuge GR
Rugged Highlands GR
Blossoming Sands GW
Graypelt Refuge GW
Selesnya Sanctuary GW
Orzhov Basilica BW
Scoured Barrens BW
Silverquill Campus BW
Izzet Boilerworks RU
Prismari Campus RU
Swiftwater Cliffs RU
Golgari Rot Farm BG
Jungle Hollow BG
Witherbloom Campus BG
Boros Garrison RW
Lorehold Campus RW
Wind-Scarred Crag RW
Quandrix Campus GU
Simic Growth Chamber GU
Thornwood Falls GU
Seaside Citadel GUW
Arcane Sanctum BUW
Crumbling Necropolis BRU
Savage Lands BGR
Jungle Shrine GRW
Nomad Outpost BRW
Frontier Bivouac GRU
Sandsteppe Citadel BGW
Mystic Monastery RUW
Opulent Palace BGU
Archway Commons Land
Ash Barrens Land
Cave of Temptation Land
City of Brass Land
Evolving Wilds Land
Gateway Plaza Land
Mirrodin's Core Land
Mishra's Factory Land
Myriad Landscape Land
Rupture Spire Land
Shimmerdrift Vale Land
Temple of the Dragon Queen Land
Terramorphic Expanse Land
Thriving Bluff Land
Thriving Grove Land
Thriving Heath Land
Thriving Isle Land
Thriving Moor Land
Vivid Crag Land
Vivid Creek Land
Vivid Grove Land
Vivid Marsh Land
Vivid Meadow Land

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