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Usman Jamil

Usman "The Rad" Jamil started playing Magic around the time of Revised and Fallen Empires, joining the mass of people who quit the game around Masques and came back to the game at the Betrayers of Kamigawa prerelease. Since returning to the game, he focused mainly on Limited formats and discovered the cube drafting format around the time of Morningtide. He has since become an expert in the fledgling format, through discussions, in-depth analyses, writing articles and maintaining a blog on the format at During his MBA studies, he focused on approaching Magic, especially cube drafting, from an efficiency and holistic-based point of view in a similar way that Japanese automobile manufacturers did in the 1980s. His quantitative and strategic background has given him a unique insight to the format. When he's not drafting the latest set or a cube, he is an active member of the cube community, sharing knowledge about the cube drafting format as well as providing occasional financial information on cubing and Magic.

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  1. How often do you consider the manabase when adding high-powered cards? I remember Tom said he didn't run Time Walk because the mana fixing in his Cube was such that any deck could splash the card easily. Does this factor into your considerations?

    Tom also attempted to force Monoblack to be a playable archetype by adding cards like Necro, Mind Sludge, Mutilate, etc. Do you ever do this? What about building in reanimation themes with cards like Entomb and Putrid Imp?

  2. @Douglaslinn
    YOur first question is about the problem with ease of splashing cards. This has always been a problem becasue you don't want 5cc to be the dominate deck in your cube. But at the same time you want there to be enough mana fixing for people to be able to build there two and three color decks. Though you do want to try to limit your splashable bombs like Time Walk and Flametongue Kavu and try to include more cards like Siege Gant Commander (Ideally you want 3 red mana when you play him). Also ramp up the non basic land hate with cards like goblin ruinblaster, wasteland, and the like so your players can't get away splashing for a bomb like timewalk.

    On the subject of reanimation. It's a tough deck to build in a lmited format where you don't have control over the cards you get. You need so much to get the deck to work. Reanimation, fatties, and a way to get them from your hand into your graveyard. Which is alot to ask for in a cube unless you carve out a significant niche of your black real estate speciffically for reanimation. Putrid Imp and Burried Alive are two great cards if this is something you want to do. It's also probably worth adding intuition into your blue section. Entomb is a good card outside of the context of reanimation. Being able to dump a Deep Analysis, Genesis, or Life from the Loam gives it quite a bit of value.

    On the subject of mono black. I know alot of players over at MTG Salvation have tried to get that archetype to work. BUt it's quite difficult. You would have to fill out a significant portion of your black section with "mono black" archetype cards. And most of the time quite a few of them are subpar. Mind SLudge? I'll just use mind twist in that slot, and if I want another there is always Mind Shatter. Mutilate? I'll just use Damnation instead, and if I want a second wrath in black I go to Decree of Pain. ANd at that you really only need 3-5 Swamps for Mutilate to be effective. At this point there just isn't a critical mass of great mono black archetype cards that exist yet.


  1. […] I have a new “Six Degrees” article up on Quiet Speculation as of today, as my articles will be posted on Wednesdays.  🙂  It’s part of a self-proclaimed trilogy of introductory articles for how to build a cube from the ground up, before going into the really juicy and complex parts of designing and maintaining a cube (in other words, like stuff that’s been on here.)  I also did an article on Evan Erwin’s on “letting go” of cards. […]

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