What's a Cube?
Cube on Magic Arena is back and better than ever! For those unfamiliar, Cube is a curated, draftable, and phantom limited format—essentially a customized, often high-power limited set where the players don't keep the cards.
Cubes can be based around any concept, be it rarity (such as Pauper cube), setting (like sets featuring the plane of Ravnica), or just a collection of personal favorite cards and archetypes. This most recent incarnation, Chromatic Cube, emphasizes flexible mana costs and a lot of fixing. Whereas a traditional limited environment may only support two- and three-color decks, it's not uncommon to see all five colors represented in a single deck.
The Volume of a Cube is V=a3
Chromatic Cube features ten macro-archetypes: UW Blink, RB Sacrifice, RG Stompy, GW Tokens, WB Reanimator, UR Storm, BG Death, RW Magecraft, UG Lands, Five-Color Value. More detail on these (as well as the full cube list) can be found directly on the Wizards of the Coast website. While the archetypes exist to provide synergy and structure, it's exceptionally common for them to bleed into neighboring color pairs.
For example, the UW Blink archetype benefits greatly from dipping into green for Springbloom Druid and even black for Yarok, the Desecrated. Similarly, The GW tokens deck benefits from many of the red treasure token generators like Magda, the Brazen Outlaw and Captain Lannery Storm, especially to ramp to and pay off Divine Visitation and Parallel Lives. This synergy is even hinted at in the mana cost of Jinnie Fay, Jetmir's Second.
As mentioned above, the fixing in Chromatic Cube is particularly great with 65 dual lands, all 10 tri lands, and flexible five-color lands like Temple of the Dragon Queen. There's even Field of the Dead to pay off drafters that prioritize good mana. Fixing is even further subsidized via treasure generators like Big Score, Goldspan Dragon and mana dorks like Paradise Druid. Ultimately, drafters are incentivized to shoot for the moon, picking the most above-rate cards they can assemble.
Wait, What Does That Do?
Notably, Chromatic Cube takes full advantage of the Arena client and includes many digital-only cards designed for the Alchemy format. Some cards received buffs, like Shessra, Death's Whisper going up from three toughness to four. Others were nerfed, like Hullbreaker Horror losing its "can't be countered" text.
Several cards, however, are entirely new designs that only exist in the digital space, and they're extremely potent threats. Nightclub Bouncer is essentially a Venser, Shaper Savant that makes whatever it returns cost an additional mana to recast, wrecking havoc on the opponent's curve. It works exceptionally well with the blink support readily available in the cube. Back Alley Gardener is a three-mana 3/4 that tutors a random land from the deck into play when you cast your first creature each turn. Its above-rate body stabilizes the board and the repeatable ramp snowballs quickly.
Each color in the cube has some number of spells unique to (or modified for) the digital play experience. It's strongly recommended first-time drafters make sure they triple check the fine print as not everything is going to be as they remember.
Did I Do That?
Generally speaking, this cube pays off decks geared toward a midrange strategy. Removal is plentiful and while there are some aggressive creatures like Robber of the Rich, there isn't a critical mass to reliably dispatch opponents before their strategies take shape.
As such, it's better to prioritize opportunities for card advantage. Things that put multiple permanents into play such as Trostani Discordant, enters-the-battlefield abilities like Omnath, Locus of Creation, and resistant-to-disruption cards like Falco Spara, Pactweaver are ideal ways to out-grind opponent. Quite a few cards in the cube can recur themselves from the graveyard like Tenacious Underdog and Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath which are also very desirable.
Check out my deck list and video below from one of my recent cube runs!
I'm having a ton of fun with Chromatic Cube. As of the time of writing, I'm floating around a 70% win rate with a 56-24 record in matches. Ten drafts in and four trophies so far, with hopefully several more on the horizon. If you want to see me post my successful builds, you can check them out on Twitter @AdamECohen. I'll see you all next week!