Mastering the Art of Building a Pauper Cube in Magic: The Gathering

August 20, 2023 · Usair Arshad
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Listen up, planeswalkers! There's nothing more magical than gathering with your wizardly buddies for some sweet cube drafting action. For those still learning magic, cube is basically your own custom set of cards tailored to enable the most epic draft battles. Unlike random booster packs, you get to meticulously construct each card in your pauper cube or traditional cube to synergize perfectly.


Just picture the glory of drafting bomb rares and curating your own formats instead of being shackled to Standard. With a cube, the power is yours! While it takes some work assembling your cube, I promise the payoff is mana from heaven. This guide's got you covered from choosing a focus, selecting your card pool, balancing colors, organizing your cube, and playtesting drafts to refine your masterpiece over time.


So ready your card sleeves, fetch your lands, and prepare to make this cube build as smooth as an Opt. In no time, you'll have the perfect magic pauper cube or traditional cube ready for drafting warfare! Just follow along as I walk you through the steps for crafting a custom cube that will make Garfield proud. Let's do this!


Choosing Your Cube's Focus

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The first big decision is if you wanna go pauper cube or traditional for maximum draft thrills. Either can bring epic fun - just depends if you wanna sling commons or channel power with rares!


Traditional Draft Cube or a Pauper Cube


Do you stick to pauper and live that commoner life with your magic cube? Or do you wanna ball out with mythics and rares? Pauper cubes take more craft to balance but traditional lets you play with all the broken combos and bombs from Magic's history. Of course, you can mix both with a peasant cube too! Whatever you choose, just be sure to include plenty of removal and answers to keep games interactive. And if you go, pauper cube, be ready to do some research on staples to maximize the power of commons.


Determine your Cube's Power Level


Now it's time to set the power meter for your cube. Do you want blisteringly fast combo decks or big splashy spells? You can tailor the speed and strength through your card choices. Low power focuses on creatures and combat, while high power enables crazy infinite combos as early as turn 3. Or walk the middle path for a balanced experience. Just know that with great power comes great responsibility to not overdo it on fast mana and degenerate enablers. Leave some breaks on the power so games don't end too abruptly.


Pick a Theme


Themes help give your cube a unique flavor. Tribal cubes feature creature types like goblins or wizards. An artifact cube overloaded with Valuetown shenanigans. Or build around multicolor synergy with hybrid cards and charms galore. Even build your own set with custom mechanics! The options are wide open, so pick whatever magical theme sounds fun and makes drafting the cube a blast. You can even combine multiple themes, but be careful not to dilute the archetypes too much. The tighter your theme, the easier it'll be to balance and support in drafting.



Selecting Your Card Pool

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Now it's time for the fun part - picking out all the sweet cards to fill your cube! This takes some research and balancing to build a powerhouse pool.


Research Cards


Scour those Magic cards for heroes and spells to champion your themes! Look at cards that play well together and build on your archetypes. Comb through cubes online for inspiration too. Be sure to include removal, ramp, card draw, and fixes to smooth out games. And have an answer for most threats that could arise. Building that initial card list is a mix of crowdsourcing favorites and finding hidden gems yourself. Let your magic imagination run wild!


Color and Strategy


When selecting cards, think carefully about ratios. You'll want even numbers across colors so certain decks aren't always snatched up first. And support key strategies in each color equally so there are clear paths to build. For example include enough tokens, counters, and anthems in white to fully enable go-wide. And enough reanimation targets, self-mill, and fatties in black to turn on graveyard recursion. Players will thank you for giving each color room to thrive.


Mana-fixing Lands and Utility Cards


Don't forget the glue that holds decks together! Be sure to include versatile lands like pathways and creatures that smooth mana like Sylvan Caryatid. Throw in artifacts and colorless cards that play nicely with any strategy. These utility picks may not be flashy but they empower creative drafting and make games run smoother. You want drafters to have the tools to pivot into multiple colors if needed. And cards that stall the board or threaten any permanent are great hedges against getting cut from an archetype. So sprinkle your cube with versatile answers to take some pressure off drafting and don’t forget to check out the high-quality customizable playmats today.



Balancing Your Cube

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With wild cards selected, it's time to even out your cube's magic mana levels and craft synergies like a master wizard.


Balance Colors by Card Number


First up, audit colors to ensure fair card counts, curves, and removal suites. Give each color path to victory without warping power or speed. For example, blue and black get countermagic while white gains life stabilization. And make creature sizes even across colors at each drop. Print up card lists by color to compare. Adjust as needed until every color feels equally threatening come draft day. 


Build in Synergies


A cube thrives on themes that play off each other! Build in archetypes like +1/+1 counters and graveyard recursion that can crossover colors. And ensure every big threat has an answer too. Give red burn to counter green fatties. Enable white and blue skies to police each other. Perfectly balanced cubes make drafting and gameplay a joy. So weave themes together and put checks in place.


Playtest Your Cube


Once your cube is complete on paper, it's time to playtest! Get friends together for drafts and take notes on what cards over or underperformed. Did Reanimator run away with games? Do vehicles never get drafted? Observe it all then switch underplayed cards for something similar but stronger to boost unused strategies. Keep fine-tuning based on real experience until your environment hums perfectly in harmony. 


Adjust Curve/Ramp


As you play, pay attention to curves and fixing too. Too many bombs or low drops can slow games down. Ramp cards like signets can help smooth that out. And be mindful of multicolor cards crowding drafting - try to stick to mostly single mana if going for speed. On the other end, not enough fixing or 2 color cards makes drafting stale. So keep watch on these dials as you tune to sculpt the ideal speed and card variety for your players' enjoyment.


Cut Cards that Aren't Performing


Last but not least, axe any cards that consistently underperform or those that break the game. Even if you love a card, it doesn't deserve a spot if it's not pulling weight. And cut infinite combos and fast wins that end games before they start, unless that's your cube's explicit goal. Remember, fun first! Pruning draft chaff and playtest bannings keeps your cube focused on what really matters - sweet synergies and back-and-forth play. Looking to protect your cards in style? Check out our wide selection of custom sleeves featuring your favorite art and designs.



Organizing and Protecting Your Cube

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Now it's time to wrangle all those sweet cards into an orderly battle box ready for cube war!


Sort cards


First up, figure out how you want to sort your cube. Organize by color for easy finding during deck building. Or by rarity to make picking packs smooth. Alphabetical and casting cost work too. Whatever you choose, be consistent so players can navigate it. Consider sorting by archetype as well so support cards for themes like reanimator or counters are together. Well-sorted cubes make for smooth drafting.


Store cards in binders


For storage, you've got options like sturdy boxes, Binders with pages, or even custom-wrapped cubamajigs. Cheap deck boxes with dividers keep things neat and portable. Binders allow for showing off the goods. Fancy-wrapped cubes add flair. Just be sure your storage solution protects cards from wear and tear while making them easy to pull during drafts. I recommend our custom binders with perfect hards and standards for max safety. And don't forget lands too - neatly sorted stacks of basics in a box is A-OK.


Double sleeve cards


About that double sleeving - I can't recommend it enough for cubes! It really saves your cards from getting marked up by tons of playing and shuffling. At most clubs I see, people double-sleeve all their cubes. So consider perfect fit inners combined with solid outers with our custom double sleeves. It adds cost but keeps your cherished cards minty fresh after years of epic cube battles. An ounce of protection now saves heartache down the road if your lotus gets creased. So take it from me and sleeve up.


Using Proxies


If you just can't afford Power 9 or other pricey staples, don't sweat it. Printed proxies are a legit way to add powerful cube cards without breaking the bank. You can make nice-looking proxies on Mtggoldfish's custom card creator. Just be sure to own a real copy for sanctioned play and check that your group is okay gaming with proxies. I think it's wonderful that proxies make cubes accessible. Really helps shift focus back to fun gameplay and smart drafting rather than wallet size. Keep your deck safe and organized with our selection of customized deck boxes. Choose from a variety of colors, designs, and sizes to store your cards in style.


Drafting and Iterating on Your Cube

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Your cube is complete - now it's time for the real fun to start slinging spells and smashing faces in epic draft battles!


Host drafts with Friends to Test


Gather your spell-slinging squad and run that first draft! Observe what cards get snapped up fast and which barely make decks. Note any strategy or color that seems to dominate. Are players mana-screwed often or enjoying diverse games? The playtesting will reveal how your cube holds up to real drafts and gameplay. Don't be afraid to tweak as you go - cubes are a living, breathing organism!


Observe Cards and Strategies


Pay close attention to if certain archetypes like tokens or graveyard strategies never get touched while others like counters get fought over. Note cards that rarely make final decks too. This intel will pinpoint where to make changes to get your environment really humming. Maybe add more sacrifice outlets for the black deck. Or swap in an artifact theme if green monsters are hotly contested. Let the draft data guide you.


Boost Weaker Strategies


Use what you learned to start switching in better cards for weaker archetypes. If white aggro gets no love, try amping up equipment. Observe after tweaks if those strategies get more uptake. You want players rewarded for trying different things in each draft. Strengthen lesser colors and trimming hotly contested cards spreads the fun around. It's the art of balancing cubes for maximum enjoyment. 


Keep your Cube Fresh


Your cube never has to get stale! You can rotate themes, swap out weaker cards, or add completely new archetypes over time. When new sets drop, review them for any cool cards that support your synergies or fill needs. This keeps your environment from getting solved and drafted on autopilot. An evolving cube makes for endless replayability and discovery when you draft. So don't be afraid to keep iterating and tailoring it to your playgroup's taste.


Revisit Balancing Periodically


You'll never be totally done balancing your cube. New sets bring fresh tools and threats to the mix. Plan to audit for power level and make adjustments a couple of times a year. Maybe add mono-color pathways if the mana is rough. Cut a busted combo enabled from the newest set. Or up the removal if creatures are getting out of hand. Don't just set and forget your cube! Revisit it routinely to preserve balance and variety as Magic continues evolving the card pool. Display your love of gaming in style with a custom tabletop playmat! Our high-quality mats come in a variety of sizes and designs to decorate your game space.


Final Thoughts


And that's a wrap, planeswalkers! Now you're equipped with all the magical knowledge to craft your own pauper cube or traditional cube filled with your favorite cards and themes for endless drafting enjoyment. Remember, the real treasure isn't mythic or rares – it's the friendships forged and epic memories made slinging spells together.


Just don't forget sweet accessories from to store your cube and spice up game nights! They have the perfect custom playmats, sleeves, and deck boxes to keep your cube safe. A themed playmat featuring your cube's mechanics like artifacts or graveyard recursion makes card drafting even more hype.


And if you went the pauper route, grab some sleek sleeves to protect those essential commons that make up your pauper cube staples. An awesome cube storage solution like a custom cubamajig also shows off your drafting masterpiece in style. So go give your cube some slick accessories before battle – and of course, have fun crafting and clashing with your custom Magic: The Gathering cube creation!