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From my “You Make The Cube” submission.


Posted September 23, 2016 by Usman in Uncategorized

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Posted July 6, 2016 by Usman in Uncategorized

Another [insert time,] another [insert pauper cube thing]   3 comments

Eternal Masters got fully shown and, as of this post, it hasn’t been released yet and doesn’t release for another few days.  But since they’re all reprints, all of the cards are in CubeTutor, so I updated my list.

I wrote my first article over 6 years ago (wow does time fly) and a few months later,  in July 2010, I created my own pauper cube to see how I would tackle that format and see if I could improve on that concept, as pauper cubes were still very new at the time.  It’s mostly been a side project as people generally don’t get as excited for pauper cube as they do “regular” cube.

I tend to update my regular cube frequently (despite not reflecting it in CubeTutor lists) and even despite decreasing numbers at ye olde LGS, I’ve been maintaining both lists regularly, as we do pauper cube at the end of the month and as Eternal Masters came out, it was a good time to update that.

In the past year, I did a big “reboot” of my pauper cube and I’ve been very happy with the results so far.  Like with my regular cube, my initial pauper cube experiences with other cubes were shaped by cubes with weak aggro support and I’d found similar things with pauper cubes that I’d drafted back then and sometimes in cases with pauper cubes that I’ve drafted in the past few years – and worked to make that not the case in my pauper cube.  Here are some examples of some 3-0 decks from drafts that I’ve had recently:

pauper - 2016 05 31 RG

pauper - 2016 04 12 Jund

pauper - 2016 02 23 RW

Pauper - 2015 12 02 GBw

Pauper - 2015 11 25 W

I don’t tend to draft this cube as much as I’d like to, but I’m pretty happy with how it’s turned out, as cards that people tend to think of as dominant like Capsize and Rolling Thunder really haven’t been in this iteration and it feels like this iteration of my pauper cube is a significantly different iteration now from when I’d windmill slam generic value dudes like Gravedigger.  As noted by the dates in the screencaps, this encompasses many months (I haven’t really blogged about the pauper list, or really anything here lately) and as such, there are some cards that I don’t currently run, but in that time period, from November 2015 to now, it’s all pretty much the same ideology that’s been driving it.

However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to look at how I want to customize and change the format (as unfortunately, there’s a general thought process to want to say “card X is good, card Y is bad” for changes to a list rather than wanting to curate a cube as a draft environment, as a card not being in a list should not be considered as thinking of a card as bad, nor dismissal of its worth in a cube.)  Here are some thoughts and some goals that I want to look into.

  • Although I’ve liked how some of the artifact/metalcraft cards have been, I’ve felt that I could push them further.  I’ve seen those cards used more as a “side project” rather than a full-on artifact deck.  Some test runs in CubeTutor where I forced that deck left me unsatisfied with how deep that theme is running.  Some time ago, I talked with Kranny about when he creates a cube list with power as a palate cleanser, as he noted happiness with some of the artifact cards like Ardent Recruit and Galvanic Blast.  Due to that, I’ve pushed artifacts (and included cards like the artifact lands) but going by his ratios, I’ve got some ways to go to making artifacts more of “a thing” in my list.  I haven’t seen a lot of lists use artifact-centric cards, so I’m in pretty unfamiliar territory, but hey, that’s what I did in the old days – as I remember discovering Soltari Trooper for my cube back in the day when searching Gatherer for white cube 2-drops.
    • This then begs the question that, say if I want to add 20 cards, where would they come from? Multicolor’s a pretty tight ship at 2 per pair (noting hybrid as different, per blog post, as there’s 3 of each color represented by WUBRG except for black, which has 2) and there’s not really much room elsewhere.  WUBRG?  Is that worth it?  Some cards like Neurok Stealthsuit, Horned Helm, Byway Courier and Confront the Unknown can help to organically help push artifact cards, but is it worth it to push it harder?For example, the above mono white 3-0 deck had 9 artifacts.  The drafter said that Ardent Recruit was a 3/3 about 50% of the time, which is pretty nice, but I feel that I can push that further.  I’m hoping for some more Investigate cards on the level of Thraben Inspector (which unsurprisingly has been great, even in decks that don’t care about artifacts) but that’s asking a bit much; but a few solid role-players could really help.  I haven’t used cards like Sanctum Gargoyle, Faerie Machinist, Pyrite Spellbomb and some others, but these cards may help with pushing that identity.  But it doesn’t feel like I have quite enough artifacts to run cads like Faerie Machinist, as I’d want around 13 artifacts to run it in a deck, and I don’t feel like I’m at that yet.

      Still, I think this experiment for artifacts has been going pretty well and it’s a good first step.

  • Ironically, I want to make draw-go more of a deck (none of the pictures above are of that archetype; it’s a small sample size, but something I’ve noticed not just amongst 3-0 decks.)  A lot of that deck’s historical strengths – hard counters and wraths are seen much less in pauper, and I’ve been weighing what I want to do for that deck.  Re-introduce cards like Glen Elendra Sentinels, Nephalia Seakite and the 4U 3/3 flash fliers as things to do on the opponent’s turn/ways to supplement counterspells/Mystical Teachings and other things to reward the drafter for drafting a deck similar to BU Faeries (in Lorwyn x3/Lorwyn x2+Morningtide.)
    • In that vein, I’m going to look to push more “value” strategies like the aforementioned draw-go strategies.  There’s definitely ways to do so – like re-adding morphs like Skinthinner and Shaper Parasite and cards like the new “flashback” creatures from SoI (Ghoulcaller’s Apprentice, Dauntless Cathar,) and I’ll be looking to how to shape that aspect of my pauper cube.
  • Find out how far I want to push the black “aristocrats” identity in black.  I’ve loved cards like Nantuko Husk and their synergy with cards like token producers.  It’s more of how I want to support those cards in other colors, like if it’s worth putting in cards like Dragon Fodder, Krenko’s Command, Gather the Townsfolk, Fists of Ironwood (that on a Husk seems absurd) and others like Dregscape Zombie.
  • Whether cards like Siege Wurm, Living Totem and Kavu Primarch are worth using in green, especially if using the aforementioned Husk-friendly cards.

But yeah, I’m very happy with how my pauper cube’s been going; if you haven’t drafted one before, give it a sample draft or two with the Cube Tutor list.

Regarding Eternal Master’s additions to it, I’ve only had one draft with it and I forgot to seed the packs with the new cards like I usually do.  Oops.  Oh well, to the cards themselves: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted June 6, 2016 by Usman in Uncategorized

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Usman’s Shadows Over Innistrad review on GatheringMagic.

Posted April 24, 2016 by Usman in Uncategorized

A non-set release update?!   1 comment

Yep, I did a (small) change to my list.  🙂

I got to thinking of colorless sources to integrate {C} cards more easily and in my article review of OGW, I talked about some of the colorless mana fixers.  Some of the more frequently cited sources are painlands and filters, etc.

I hesitated on including another land fixing cycle to my list since it seemed like it wasn’t, for lack of better terms, necessary.

However, this wasn’t really based on anything quantitative, just a general “feeling” and realized that data trumps “feeling” handily and thought to include another cycle of {C}-friendly lands to accommodate for cards like Thought-Knot Seer.  A few days later, I remembered Andy Cooperfauss’ article for cube land fixers (it seemed he misread my article on signets as he thought my POV on signets was the opposite view that I had and still hold – tl;dr are not “too good” nor detrimental to a cube environment.)

I ran the numbers on the 3-0 decks since recording them and found that the average amount of non-basics was 4.63 in those decks.  Adding another cycle (cutting some non-basics to do so, but the overall # will increase) will almost assuredly increase this, but I’m interested in what this is going to do to my cube environment as a whole.

As noted in the last blog post (and I’m guessing I should put a FAQ or something like it) – cutting a card isn’t a decree that a card is awful/jank/strictly bad not close but a card needs to be cut to include others.  I only cut 5 colorless/land cards since they’re all pretty tight right now and the ones that were cut felt the most expendable/redundant.  I did a similar approach to cut 1 of each from WUBRG and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised to see those come back (since they’re all good cards that have performed well), but all of these were similar where they were in slots with high competition and their roles were covered by other things in their mana range.

-Ajani, Caller of the Pride
-Into the Roil
-Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath
-Goblin Bombardment
-Greenwarden of Murasa
-Blinkmoth Nexus
-Mimic Vat
-Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
-Sword of the Animist
-Tectonic Edge
+Mystic Gate
+Horizon Canopy
+Kessig Wolf Run
+Sulfurous Springs
+Sunken Ruins
+Cascade Bluffs
+Battlefield Forge
+Fetid Heath
+Llanowar Wastes
+Yavimaya Coast

The general idea for what lands to choose were as follows in this hierarchy:
RG and GW: Kessig Wolf Run and Horizon Canopy/Gavony Township were mainly included because of their raw power level and that they help {C}. Out of all of these lands that I put in, Wolf Run intrigues me the most (I ran it before and am interested to see how it works now.)
Other Green lands: Generally opting for painlands so that green decks can get access to t1 fixing for mana elves.
Other Blue lands: Generally opting for Hybrids for UU costs that are seen in this CMC slot.
Other Red lands: Generally opting for painlands so aggressive decks can hit 1-drops easier.
Other White lands: Generally opting for hybrids due to high WW costs in the color.

Posted February 2, 2016 by Usman in Uncategorized

I actually updated my cube!   Leave a comment

In case all… 3 of you may have noticed, I’ve been pretty awful about actually updating my blog list and cube.  I guess there’s a theme there, eh?  🙂

On the podcast, it’s been a running joke that I never seem to update this blog aside from crack-a-packs.  I’m going to be changing this, utilizing it more for list changes and content that I’ve created, like my 2-part review (colorless and non-colorless) on OGW, the podcast review and my guest appearance on the “What’s In The Box” podcast.

I host weekly cube drafts and frequently make changes to the list (usually on the Tuesday before the draft, if not several times) but my Cube Tutor list stayed unchanged.  I saw somewhere that my list on CT hadn’t been updated since April 2015 and that’s just abysmal.

So I did a complete reset on my list since I figured it’d get me to finally get it up to date.  Well, it worked.  It’s up to date now.

Before BFZ, I did a reboot of my pauper cube (which I’m looking to get updated on CT as well) inspired by the recent Modern Masters 2015 set, where things like affinity/Metalcrafts are things and while my regular cube list didn’t go as far on that, it got me to doing some changes in sections.  As discussed on the podcast, one thing I did was cutting multicolor to 2 per pair (I have hybrid separately because they play different roles than multicolor as being a boon rather than a drawback, which I posted about last year.  Unfortunately, CT doesn’t really account for this, so it looks like some multicolor sections are wonky) to account for new colorless cards.

I’ve always talked about how cube design isn’t so much a compilation of the best cards and how it’s about crafting a draft environment featuring powerful cards.  People sometimes see a card being removed from a cube as being “not good enough,” and while sometimes cards do get cut because they aren’t, this ignores things like crafting an environment (because after all, wouldn’t an on-deck binder just be pointless, then, if not to re-visit cards that were cut for reasons other than solely for power reasons and for environment crafting?)  Because of that, sometimes list updates will be trying things out, rather than it being a decree of a card being bad, but I’ll likely put that in updates.

Thanks.  🙂

Posted January 29, 2016 by Usman in Uncategorized

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Posted January 20, 2016 by Usman in Crack-A-Pack, The Third Power