Hello, I am Chris Kronenberger, and welcome to my Artisan Cube 2021.
Back in 2012 while in college at Ohio University, a group of friends and I were cubing around 2–3 times a week and wanted to branch out from the traditional Legacy or Vintage cube. We looked for a cube that was not only easily acquired but also versatile so as not to feel shoehorned into the traditional cube archetypes. We had played a few monocolor cubes, but they did not seem to scratch the itch for extended periods of time. We started off with a cookie-cutter Peasant (common/uncommon) cube that had a weekly evolving and rotating list. Based upon Eric Klug’s Peasant Cube, we initially stuck with some more defined archetypes, such as reanimator, aggro, Red Deck Wins, Green Ramp, and White-Blue Control—the usual suspects.
As we continued to jam the cube, albeit perhaps too much, we began to not directly control the flow of the cube and allowed it to evolve naturally. Power level was something we struggled to contain and eventually had to make some bans. Old-timey uncommons that became rares like Library of Alexandria and Sylvan Library were the first bans after some intense late-night arguments on design philosophy. Some newer cards began to join the ban list after repeated abuse, such as Pelakka Wurm, Feudkiller’s Verdict, Palace Jailer, and some recent planeswalkers.
One of the more interesting tidbits to come out of playing a Peasant cube was the ability for some OGs of Magic to continue to shine in the era of power creep. Cards like Mother of Runes and Ancient Hydra tend to end up in the 3–0 bracket to our surprise. This is one of the major draws to this cube, as the power level is substantially lower than a Legacy or Vintage cube but more balanced. Cards of old that have fallen out of favor tend to shine, and new cards find a charming home alongside their predecessors.
Before we delve into the card list, I want to point out that this cube has an emphasis on synergy, beyond mere archetype, that is usually not present in powered cubes. When you draft your typical powerful cube, you tend to take the strongest card, but in this cube, you are afforded a considerable amount of flexibility. That flexibility shines in developing a cohesive strategy beyond a typical structured deck. Rarely does a single card shift the game in your favor; instead, a few wise plays with the culmination of your deck working together are the key to victory.
The white-blue archetype has a high emphasis on creatures with enters-the-battlefield abilities and ways to reuse them. Mistmeadow Witch can overtake games with all the support these colors have to offer. This is one of many archetypes that can go wide in this cube, but it can also go over the top of a congested board with flyers.
You also have all the typical control tools; however, you are lacking the mass removal spells that white-blue often employ. This forces the control archetype to also maintain a board presence of creatures to avoid falling behind, such as Wall of Omens, Sea Gate Oracle, and Control Magic.
Tempo-based blue-black decks rely on card advantage from cards like Ingenious Infiltrator and keeping the board small and managed with efficient removal like Cast Down and counterspells such as Memory Lapse.
There is also, of course, Blue-Black Control, which can use tools like Crypt Rats to create extreme advantage when a board gets crowded. Finishers like Possessed Skaab and Dinrova Horror will close the door shut!
The reanimate tempo decks can take advantage of cards like Looter il-Kor, large cycle creatures like Void Beckoner, and big targets like Ulamog’s Crusher to create excellent value and pressure out of nowhere.
Black-red fits beautifully into the sacrifice archetype. There are plenty of valuable creatures to sacrifice, such as Shambling Ghast, Dusk Legion Zealot, Mogg War Marshal, and many payoff cards like Zulaport Cutthroat and Hissing Iguanar. This archetype is resilient and full of reach thanks to War of the Spark‘s Mayhem Devil. Black-red can develop a threatening and synergistic board early in the game. Watch out for Grafted Wargear, an often-missed sacrifice outlet.
Red-green has an inherently high number of creatures for their mana value. See Untamed Kavu, Ahn-Crop Crasher, and Iwamori of the Open Fist. Your opponents will often feel bullied by your large and aggressive creatures, complemented by your suite of red cards full of reach like Fireball to finish them off.
I would like to point out that it also has some combo potential with Grumgully, the Generous and persist creatures like Kitchen Finks and Murderous Redcap when paired with a sacrifice outlet (Goblin Bombardment) to dominate games with synergies as well.
Green-white flourishes in this cube with its ability to overwhelm the board with hordes of creatures and smother opponents with Nest Invader, Clarion Spirit, and Skymarcher Aspirant. Look for cards like Ridgescale Tusker and Overrun to end games as you have immense potential for fast mana, with cards like Avacyn’s Pilgrim and Fertile Ground opening the door quickly for Trostani’s Summoner or Titanoth Rex. You should care little about your opponent since you’ll simply be outdoing them!
The sacrifice synergies that are familiar in red-blue are very present in black-white as well with Fleshtaker and Doomed Traveler. While this archetype may not be as fast, it has more tools to interact with Cast Out and Zealous Persecution and creates a larger board presence with Battle Screech.
You can also play a control role in these colors with tons of high-value creatures like Firja, Judge of Valor and removal like Tragic Slip. Sentinel of the Eternal Watch is on my watch for being too powerful for this cube, as is Vampire Sovereign. I see these cards used to boost this archetype and allow it to be competitive with some of the other color combinations.
My personal favorite color combination, blue-red may be best fit to play a tempo role here. The archetype is full of spells that replace themselves, such as Electrolyze, Exclude, and Repulse, and creatures that deal direct damage to your opponent, such as Electrostatic Field, Thermo-Alchemist, and Guttersnipe. And finally good ‘ol value with cards like Cloudkin Seer, Fire Imp, Ninja of the Deep Hours, and Jhessian Thief.
Be no sleeper on this color combination’s ability to shift into a full-on control roll as well. Rise from the Tides may be too good, and this archetype makes full utilization of it.
Black-green has staying power and a knack for never running out of things to do with cards such as Centaur Glade. Baloth Null is a great embodiment of how this archetype packs a punch with its large body, yet fully invests in the turns to come. It’s hard to out-grind this archetype when utilizing cards such as Masked Admirers and Slimefoot, the Stowaway. This may be the most resilient color combination in the whole cube.
Boros is well known for its constant aggression and reach. I would like to point out that this archetype is full of synergy and capable of a huge amount of damage out of nowhere to end games. Flame-Kin Zealot has immense potential to do just that. Goblin Heelcutter will force through all kinds of unexpected damage, and efficient creatures such as Adanto Vanguard and Cathar Commando will keep you ahead from start to finish!
Tatyova, Benthic Druid is another card on my radar that may be too powerful; however, it’s a long-needed piece for this archetype. It exemplifies this archetype’s ability to establish a formidable board presence while creating absurd card advantage. When playing green-blue, you weave a beautiful web of fast mana with Utopia Sprawl and Arbor Elf, board presence with Merfolk Branchwalker and Watcher for Tomorrow, and good ol’ card advantage. Green-blue is an archetype that loves to splash and opens the door to unlimited possibilities with the likes of Etched Oracle and Path to the World Tree!
My goal with this cube is to create games that are engaging and rewarding to play in, where there are vast possibilities for fixing in multiple colors and bountiful synergies that run across many color combinations. I want to make sure players have access to the tools they need to combat the powerful synergies that their opponent is capable of! I want deck building to be challenging and making the cut to 23 playable cards a long and hard decision. This cube is about balance, and when balance is achieved, you can play Magic in harmony.