Spotlight Cube Series – Classic Cube

Posted in Magic Online on August 18, 2021

By Ryan Saxe

My name is Ryan Saxe (@rcsaxe), and I am extremely excited to share my Classic Cube with the world!

My vision for this cube is "Powered Cube, but where the fast mana comes at a cost." Powered Cube is an awesome experience, particularly because playing with Moxen and the like feels special. My goal is to let players power things out early while making those interactions more engaging. In Classic Cube, Moxen and other early fast-mana cards like Sol Ring and Mana Crypt are replaced by cards like Lotus Petal, Crystal Vein, and City of Traitors. You can still power out a crazy play on turn one or turn two, but you also need to calculate the risks associated with throwing away resources to do that. This leads to an unpowered cube that plays out much closer to Vintage Cube than Legacy Cube.

On top of my initial vision for this cube, I have three other purposeful design decisions:

1. Let Players Discover

Classic Cube is a "classic cube," so it is mostly full of historically good cards. But that doesn't mean you can't come up with novel strategies in the draft. I've seen players use Fae of Wishes to grab Oath of Druids from their sideboard to mill their whole deck and take infinite turns with Nexus of Fate. This cube is seeded with so many mini combos that, if you pay attention during the draft, you can always assemble some secret sauce!

2. Archetypal Diversity

I believe it is important to support many flavors of any color combination, and I purposefully seed unconventional cards in order to change the texture of what different archetypes look like. For example, Azorius Control can look very different if it ends up with Approach of the Second Sun as a finisher instead of planeswalkers like Elspeth, Sun's Champion. Every card in the cube is there for a reason, which allows the drafter to pursue different perturbations of any archetype and express creativity.

3. Create Tension with Speed

While there are many sweet things to do in this cube, you cannot ignore the speed of the combo decks and aggressive decks. The decks in this cube will trample all over you if you can't interact with them. Prioritize having a density of cards low on the curve regardless of archetype in order to keep up with the speed of other decks. This has the benefit of having games feel intense right from the get-go.

Archetypes

Green Creature Combo

My favorite archetype in my cube is a green deck focused on assembling a combo with some creatures. I love this deck because it's all about playing a midrange strategy with good creatures while pairing that with tutors to assemble an "I win" button if the opponent can't interact. It is the perfect Birthing Pod deck!

There are way too many viable combos for me to put into this article, but the most common and supported variant is persist. Draft a creature with persist, a sacrifice outlet, and any of the following cards: The Great Henge, Vizier of Remedies, Melira, Sylvok Outcast, Good-Fortune Unicorn, Grumgully, the Generous, Metallic Mimic, or Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit. I should note that there are quite a few other ways to combo off with these cards, too. For example, Basri's Lieutenant can work instead of a persist creature alongside most of these.

This strategy is most commonly Selesnya with a splash, but basically any green color pair will work. Furthermore, if you find yourself playing half of a combo and have some tutors, it could be a good idea to throw in the other half: Any green deck that plays Devoted Druid and has some X spells can toss in Vizier of Remedies. Any deck that's playing Walking Ballista can add Heliod, Sun-Crowned, and at that point maybe Spike Feeder. Don't be afraid to speculate on half a combo in this cube!

Blue Control Combo

Blue control is an all-time favorite Cube archetype. In a cube with as many combos as this one, it's pretty common for a combo to be the win condition in a control deck. Rather than trying to win the game with something like an Aetherling, blue decks in this cube will control the board until they can do something powerful with their counter magic up. And it really can be anything. Throw a Splinter Twin and a Pestermite in your Izzet deck. If you have enough non-basics, play Thassa's Oracle alongside Tainted Pact. If you end up with Timetwister, then try and pair it with Hullbreacher.

There are a lot of combos in the cube, and throwing basically any of them in a deck with Preordain and Counterspell is rarely a bad idea.

Cheatty Combo

Out of all the combos in the cube, some have more support than others. The examples I gave above with Splinter Twin, Thassa's Oracle, and Hullbreacher are cool, but the combo pieces don't have enough redundancy to yield a hyper-linearized version of that strategy. Cheating things into play, however, has a pretty high density. There are a lot of large creatures to put into play, and lots of tutoring, card draw, and discard outlets in blue, red, and black. This deck should be viable and strong at every table.

Welder/Artifacts

Most commonly Izzet, but occasionally Rakdos, this deck is all about artifacts. Play as many mana rocks as you can and get a big artifact into play; or just cast Upheaval. One of the other benefits of this deck is that the strategy doesn't fall on its face without access to the expensive artifacts. Goblin Welder can gain good value off cards like Retrofitter Foundry and Chromatic Star. And as far as value goes, there is redundancy in Emry, Lurker of the Loch, Goblin Engineer, and Daretti, Scrap Savant. My main word of advice is not to forget about discard outlets, as getting the artifacts into the graveyard is the hardest part.

Izzet Spells

Thanks to the increased density of cheap red interaction and cheap blue cantrips, it is not uncommon to end up in an Izzet deck where most cards in the deck are instants and sorceries. This deck most commonly splashes white for Monastery Mentor but can also splash black with good enough mana to pair cards like Thoughtseize with Snapcaster Mage or gain access to Sedgemoor Witch.

The Rock

This is a Golgari midrange deck that often has ways to leverage the graveyard. Whether that is through Delirium, reanimation, or recursion is dependent on the cards you have access to. This deck very often splashes for gold cards like Bloodbraid Elf, Oko, Thief of Crowns, or Lingering Souls. Emrakul, the Promised End is often the best top-end if the deck is properly constructed to use it, and black comes with the tools to tutor for it. Additionally, there is a variant of this deck that is more heavily red to play Dragon's Rage Channeler and Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer on turn one.

Green Ramp

It wouldn't be a Classic Cube if it didn't support one of the most "classic" Cube archetypes: green ramp. Drafting all the mana elves and expensive creatures is definitely a viable strategy, although you don't have to go all in. I personally prefer to draft green decks with less top-end, less ramp, and more of the midrange three- to five-drops that I can play ahead of curve with mana dorks. This leaves me less vulnerable to situations where my opponent can remove my Birds of Paradise all while letting me gain an advantage via ramp. That is why my cube lacks Hornet Queen and Avenger of Zendikar and fills those slots with cards like Voracious Hydra and Garruk Relentless.

Aggro

This cube supports aggressive decks in three colors: white, black, and red. Given this, it is quite rare for nobody to draft an aggressive deck at any given table, and it's not uncommon for there to be two. Each color, including hybrid cards, has access to at least ten one-drops, so these strategies are reliable and fast. Each aggressive deck plays a little differently, too. Each deck also has a subtheme. This subtheme is rarely a key part to success with the archetype, but it's a cool thing to do when the pieces come together.

The white aggressive deck has classic tax-style cards like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Esper Sentinel. To compete past the first few turns, it can scale those up with cards like Benalish Marshal, cast planeswalkers like Elspeth, Knight-Errant, or close the gap for the opponent to come back with Armageddon and Ravages of War.

Humans subtheme: The white deck in this cube has a Humans subtheme, making Thalia's Lieutenant and Elspeth, Sun's Nemesis better than normal. Additionally, it can create some fun deck-building challenges to maximize Winota, Joiner of Forces.

Black aggro has been in my cube since its inception and has put up high-performing results forever. What black provides that red and white don't are hand disruption and recursion. Picking apart opponents' hands is one of the best forms of disruption in cubes of this power level. Pair that form of disruption with threats that are resilient to removal, and you have a recipe for success.

Aristocrats subtheme: Many cubes support a Rakdos Aristocrats deck, but it's a little different in this cube. Judith, the Scourge Diva, Goblin Bombardment, and Falkenrath Aristocrat are all fantastic splashes for a black aggro deck. Think of Blood Artist as an extension of black aggro rather than its own separate thing.

Red has the fastest variant of aggro: cast one-drops, cast burn spells, and finish the game with some resilient top-end like Hazoret the Fervent or Sulfuric Vortex. It's a classic Cube recipe, and it's a good one.

Artifacts subtheme: The introduction of Urza's Saga and the red Goblin Welder archetype creates a fascinating perturbation of mono-red. There are many cheap artifacts to play, the best being Equipment, and this helps turn on Dragon's Rage Channeler, too.


I am so excited to share this cube with you, and I hope you enjoy drafting it as much as I do. While I will be on vacation this week, I will still try my best to stream it on twitch (@ryancsaxe). Furthermore, I would love to hear all about your experience with the cube, so feel free to tweet at me (@rcsaxe) all week.

Enjoy!
Ryan Saxe

Full Classic Cube Card List

Card Name Color
Champion of the Parish W
Dauntless Bodyguard W
Esper Sentinel W
Giver of Runes W
Kytheon, Hero of Akros W
Mother of Runes W
Student of Warfare W
Thraben Inspector W
Usher of the Fallen W
Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit W
Charming Prince W
Containment Priest W
Luminarch Aspirant W
Seasoned Hallowblade W
Selfless Spirit W
Stoneforge Mystic W
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben W
Thalia's Lieutenant W
Vizier of Remedies W
Wall of Omens W
Benalish Marshal W
Blade Splicer W
Elite Spellbinder W
Flickerwisp W
Heliod, Sun-Crowned W
Monastery Mentor W
Ranger-Captain of Eos W
Recruiter of the Guard W
Skyclave Apparition W
Basri's Lieutenant W
Hero of Bladehold W
Palace Jailer W
Restoration Angel W
Archangel of Thune W
Solitude W
Secure the Wastes W
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite W
Iona, Shield of Emeria W
Elspeth, Knight-Errant W
Elspeth, Sun's Nemesis W
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar W
Elspeth, Sun's Champion W
Enlightened Tutor W
Ephemerate W
Mana Tithe W
Path to Exile W
Swords to Plowshares W
Timeless Dragon W
Unexpectedly Absent W
Oust W
Prismatic Ending W
Balance W
Council's Judgment W
Sevinne's Reclamation W
Armageddon W
Day of Judgment W
Ravages of War W
Wrath of God W
Approach of the Second Sun W
Portable Hole W
Banishing Light W
Oblivion Ring W
Cave of the Frost Dragon W
Emeria's Call W
Karakas W
Remote Farm W
Hard Evidence U
Brazen Borrower U
Emry, Lurker of the Loch U
Fae of Wishes U
Jace, Vryn's Prodigy U
Phantasmal Image U
Snapcaster Mage U
Thassa's Oracle U
Thing in the Ice U
Arcane Artisan U
Deceiver Exarch U
Glasspool Mimic U
Hullbreacher U
Pestermite U
Vendilion Clique U
Glen Elendra Archmage U
God-Eternal Kefnet U
Urza, Lord High Artificer U
Venser, Shaper Savant U
Ethereal Forager U
Torrential Gearhulk U
Inkwell Leviathan U
Narset, Parter of Veils U
Jace, the Mind Sculptor U
Jace, Wielder of Mysteries U
Force of Negation U
Force of Will U
Brainstorm U
Mental Note U
Mystical Tutor U
Opt U
Thought Scour U
Counterspell U
Daze U
Impulse U
Lose Focus U
Mana Drain U
Mana Leak U
Memory Lapse U
Miscalculation U
Remand U
Forbid U
Intuition U
Supreme Will U
Thirst for Knowledge U
Commit // Memory U
Cryptic Command U
Gifts Ungiven U
Mystic Confluence U
Nexus of Fate U
Dig Through Time U
Ponder U
Preordain U
Sleight of Hand U
Chart a Course U
Show and Tell U
Timetwister U
Tinker U
Temporal Manipulation U
Time Warp U
Time Spiral U
Upheaval U
Shark Typhoon U
Control Magic U
Opposition U
Treachery U
Saprazzan Skerry U
Shelldock Isle U
Tolarian Academy U
Bloodsoaked Champion B
Carrion Feeder B
Cryptbreaker B
Diregraf Ghoul B
Dread Wanderer B
Gravecrawler B
Gutterbones B
Viscera Seer B
Blood Artist B
Bloodghast B
Dark Confidant B
Dauthi Voidwalker B
Oona's Prowler B
Putrid Goblin B
Scrapheap Scrounger B
Skyclave Shade B
Valki, God of Lies B
Murderous Rider B
Ophiomancer B
Opposition Agent B
Sedgemoor Witch B
Woe Strider B
Grief B
Rankle, Master of Pranks B
Ravenous Chupacabra B
Yawgmoth, Thran Physician B
Shriekmaw B
Grave Titan B
Archon of Cruelty B
Griselbrand B
Liliana of the Veil B
Liliana, the Last Hope B
Dark Ritual B
Entomb B
Fatal Push B
Malakir Rebirth B
Vampiric Tutor B
Power Word Kill B
Tainted Pact B
Snuff Out B
Bloodchief's Thirst B
Bone Shards B
Duress B
Imperial Seal B
Inquisition of Kozilek B
Mind Twist B
Reanimate B
Thoughtseize B
Collective Brutality B
Demonic Tutor B
Exhume B
Hymn to Tourach B
Life // Death B
Toxic Deluge B
Damnation B
Necrogen Spellbomb B
Wishclaw Talisman B
Animate Dead B
Bitterblossom B
Attrition B
Contamination B
Necromancy B
Recurring Nightmare B
Agadeem's Awakening B
Lake of the Dead B
Peat Bog B
Phyrexian Tower B
Bomat Courier R
Dragon's Rage Channeler R
Firedrinker Satyr R
Goblin Guide R
Goblin Welder R
Greater Gargadon R
Grim Lavamancer R
Monastery Swiftspear R
Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer R
Zurgo Bellstriker R
Abbot of Keral Keep R
Bonecrusher Giant R
Dire Fleet Daredevil R
Earthshaker Khenra R
Eidolon of the Great Revel R
Embereth Shieldbreaker R
Flametongue Yearling R
Goblin Cratermaker R
Goblin Engineer R
Kari Zev, Skyship Raider R
Magmatic Channeler R
Young Pyromancer R
Feldon of the Third Path R
Goblin Rabblemaster R
Goblin Sharpshooter R
Hanweir Garrison R
Imperial Recruiter R
Legion Warboss R
Najeela, the Blade-Blossom R
Seasoned Pyromancer R
Hazoret the Fervent R
Hellrider R
Pia and Kiran Nalaar R
Wildfire Devils R
Fury R
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker R
Zealous Conscripts R
Inferno Titan R
Chandra, Torch of Defiance R
Daretti, Scrap Savant R
Firestorm R
Lightning Bolt R
Spikefield Hazard R
Tarfire R
Unholy Heat R
Abrade R
Incinerate R
Punishing Fire R
Searing Spear R
Through the Breach R
Chain Lightning R
Faithless Looting R
Firebolt R
Flame Slash R
Arc Trail R
Wheel of Fortune R
Fiery Confluence R
Pyrite Spellbomb R
Seal of Fire R
Goblin Bombardment R
Sulfuric Vortex R
Sneak Attack R
Splinter Twin R
Den of the Bugbear R
Sandstone Needle R
Shatterskull Smashing R
Arbor Elf G
Avacyn's Pilgrim G
Birds of Paradise G
Elvish Mystic G
Fyndhorn Elves G
Gilded Goose G
Hexdrinker G
Ignoble Hierarch G
Joraga Treespeaker G
Llanowar Elves G
Noble Hierarch G
Devoted Druid G
Fauna Shaman G
Hermit Druid G
Melira, Sylvok Outcast G
Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary G
Sakura-Tribe Elder G
Scavenging Ooze G
Tarmogoyf G
Courser of Kruphix G
Eternal Witness G
Manglehorn G
Ramunap Excavator G
Reclamation Sage G
Spike Feeder G
Tireless Tracker G
Esika's Chariot G
Nightpack Ambusher G
Polukranos, World Eater G
Questing Beast G
Voracious Hydra G
Deep Forest Hermit G
Deranged Hermit G
Thragtusk G
Carnage Tyrant G
Primeval Titan G
Craterhoof Behemoth G
Terastodon G
Woodfall Primus G
Garruk Relentless G
Garruk Wildspeaker G
Nissa, Who Shakes the World G
Vivien, Monsters' Advocate G
Worldly Tutor G
Once Upon a Time G
Chord of Calling G
Abundant Harvest G
Sylvan Tutor G
Traverse the Ulvenwald G
Green Sun's Zenith G
Life from the Loam G
Regrowth G
Pest Infestation G
Natural Order G
Finale of Devastation G
Birthing Pod G
The Great Henge G
Fastbond G
Wild Growth G
Oath of Druids G
Survival of the Fittest G
Sylvan Library G
Gaea's Cradle G
Hickory Woodlot G
Lair of the Hydra G
Turntimber Symbiosis G
Adarkar Wastes WU
Celestial Colonnade WU
Flooded Strand WU
Hallowed Fountain WU
Seachrome Coast WU
Tundra WU
Talisman of Progress WU
Teferi, Time Raveler WU
Supreme Verdict WU
Fractured Identity WU
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria WU
Creeping Tar Pit UB
Darkslick Shores UB
Polluted Delta UB
Underground River UB
Underground Sea UB
Watery Grave UB
Baleful Strix UB
Lim-Dûl's Vault UB
Talisman of Dominance UB
Master of Death UB
Notion Thief UB
Badlands BR
Blackcleave Cliffs BR
Blood Crypt BR
Bloodstained Mire BR
Lavaclaw Reaches BR
Sulfurous Springs BR
Rakdos Cackler BR
Talisman of Indulgence BR
Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast BR
Judith, the Scourge Diva BR
Kolaghan's Command BR
Falkenrath Aristocrat BR
Murderous Redcap BR
Copperline Gorge RG
Grove of the Burnwillows RG
Karplusan Forest RG
Stomping Ground RG
Taiga RG
Wooded Foothills RG
Orcish Lumberjack RG
Talisman of Impulse RG
Wrenn and Six RG
Grumgully, the Generous RG
Bloodbraid Elf RG
Dragonlord Atarka RG
Brushland GW
Horizon Canopy GW
Razorverge Thicket GW
Savannah GW
Temple Garden GW
Windswept Heath GW
Eladamri's Call GW
Talisman of Unity GW
Good-Fortune Unicorn GW
Kitchen Finks GW
Knight of Autumn GW
Caves of Koilos WB
Concealed Courtyard WB
Godless Shrine WB
Marsh Flats WB
Scrubland WB
Silent Clearing WB
Damn WB
Priest of Fell Rites WB
Talisman of Hierarchy WB
Lingering Souls WB
Lurrus of the Dream-Den WB
Unburial Rites WB
Fiery Islet UR
Scalding Tarn UR
Shivan Reef UR
Spirebluff Canal UR
Steam Vents UR
Volcanic Island UR
Expressive Iteration UR
Fire // Ice UR
Izzet Charm UR
Talisman of Creativity UR
Dack Fayden UR
Prismari Command UR
Saheeli, Sublime Artificer UR
Bayou BG
Blooming Marsh BG
Llanowar Wastes BG
Nurturing Peatland BG
Overgrown Tomb BG
Verdant Catacombs BG
Deathrite Shaman BG
Assassin's Trophy BG
Grim Flayer BG
Talisman of Resilience BG
Grist, the Hunger Tide BG
Vraska, Golgari Queen BG
Arid Mesa RW
Battlefield Forge RW
Inspiring Vantage RW
Plateau RW
Sacred Foundry RW
Sunbaked Canyon RW
Figure of Destiny RW
Rip Apart RW
Talisman of Conviction RW
Zirda, the Dawnwaker RW
Nahiri, the Harbinger RW
Winota, Joiner of Forces RW
Botanical Sanctum UG
Breeding Pool UG
Misty Rainforest UG
Tropical Island UG
Waterlogged Grove UG
Yavimaya Coast UG
Hydroid Krasis UG
Talisman of Curiosity UG
Oko, Thief of Crowns UG
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath UG
Irrigation Ditch WUG
Ancient Spring WUB
Sphinx of the Steel Wind WUB
Sulfur Vent UBR
Geothermal Crevice BRG
Tinder Farm WRG
Savai Triome WBR
Ketria Triome URG
Indatha Triome WBG
Raugrin Triome WUR
Zagoth Triome UBG
Leovold, Emissary of Trest UBG
Golos, Tireless Pilgrim WUBRG
Hangarback Walker Colorless
Lesser Masticore Colorless
Metallic Mimic Colorless
Phyrexian Revoker Colorless
Porcelain Legionnaire Colorless
Stonecoil Serpent Colorless
Metalworker Colorless
Phyrexian Metamorph Colorless
Solemn Simulacrum Colorless
Walking Ballista Colorless
Wurmcoil Engine Colorless
Myr Battlesphere Colorless
Ancient Stone Idol Colorless
Blightsteel Colossus Colorless
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn Colorless
Emrakul, the Promised End Colorless
Sundering Titan Colorless
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger Colorless
Karn, Scion of Urza Colorless
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon Colorless
Dismember B
Gitaxian Probe U
Chrome Mox Artifact
Engineered Explosives Artifact
Lotus Petal Artifact
Mishra's Bauble Artifact
Mox Diamond Artifact
Bonesplitter Artifact
Chromatic Sphere Artifact
Chromatic Star Artifact
Retrofitter Foundry Artifact
Sensei's Divining Top Artifact
Skullclamp Artifact
Altar of Dementia Artifact
Everflowing Chalice Artifact
Grim Monolith Artifact
Jinxed Idol Artifact
Lightning Greaves Artifact
Liquimetal Torque Artifact
Mind Stone Artifact
Pentad Prism Artifact
Smuggler's Copter Artifact
Umezawa's Jitte Artifact
Winter Orb Artifact
Basalt Monolith Artifact
Blasting Station Artifact
Coalition Relic Artifact
Crucible of Worlds Artifact
Grafted Wargear Artifact
Heirloom Blade Artifact
Sword of Body and Mind Artifact
Sword of Fire and Ice Artifact
Worn Powerstone Artifact
Thran Dynamo Artifact
Batterskull Artifact
Memory Jar Artifact
Mindslaver Artifact
Ancient Tomb Land
Ash Barrens Land
City of Brass Land
City of Traitors Land
Crystal Vein Land
Fabled Passage Land
Gemstone Mine Land
Grand Coliseum Land
Mana Confluence Land
Maze of Ith Land
Mishra's Factory Land
Mutavault Land
Prismatic Vista Land
Reflecting Pool Land
Rishadan Port Land
Strip Mine Land
Undiscovered Paradise Land
Urza's Saga Land
Wasteland Land

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