I have spent a significant quantity of time over the last few years constructing a Cursed Magic Cube, a Cube of Madness, and I am in love with it. I have always enjoyed off-color effects, and this cube, once fully constructed, will let me share the joy of this theme with the rest of the world. Please, come and join me as I walk through the decisions I have made and the cards I have chosen to create this wonderful Cube of Madness.
Dwell Within the Shift
The inspiration for this cube was my first experience with Mana Tithe , a white counterspell my brother had put in his extremely entertaining Conspiracy Cube, along with a looking at other non-blue counterspells. This led me to consider what the game would be like if it was played with all of the color bent cards in one space, with a color pie that was simply… broken.
This single thought led me on a quest that has taken years – often because I had to shelve the project for other interests – that is finally concluding. I have carefully chosen each card in every color in order to represent both the color bent cards but also to give the colors and decks a sense of purpose. There is no reason to play a cube if the games themselves aren’t going to be enjoyable as well. To achieve that, I decided on a theme that is decidedly out of scope for each color, yet also has enough cards that support that theme to be able to draft a deck or decks. Now, I and am now simply scouring my collection to locate the cards I own to know what cards I need to purchase.
There are many, many color bent cards for each of the colors. During the early days, there was much less structure to the game, and some of these cards were purposely created to bend the color’s abilities in a specific direction, others were created to fulfill a need in standard for a specific time, and others were simply design mistakes. I have read and stared at plenty of cards in this process, and I’m sure to be missing some glaring examples I should have seen, but somehow simply missed. Please, don’t assume I’ve seen a card if it’s not on my list. While many of them I will have, simply the chance that you have found something that fits delights me, and I would love to hear if it.
As I conceived the construction of the cube, I assumed that I would simply gather every single off-color card I could find, and slap them together into a cube, and call it good enough. As I mentioned above, this isn’t how designing a set of magic works, not by a long shot. As it turns out, I had to dive deeply into the concept of what an MTG set normally looks like, how the colors express themselves, and how I would have to painstakingly consider each card in order to fully crush the expectations of a player who drafts the cube and creates a deck to play.
While it came out as I was building the cube, This article, from 2018 was amazingly helpful. I tried to digest it as much as possible, as it tries to comprehensively explain every possible ability and mechanic and how it shows up in color pie. It is extremely detailed and contains so much information that it is difficult to consume, hard though I tried.
Complementing the color pie article, there was also information Mark had provided in a Making Magic sometime before about the percentages of creatures to spells for each color. I knew that this would be a convenient mechanism to help contrast the cube with a normal set, so I flipped the percentages to focus each color on a different facet than they normally would. Blue and Red, colors that are generally spell focused, would be upturned and have more creatures, while White and Green would have more spells. Black tilts a just a little more towards spells, being a generally balanced color. This does mean that the cube overall, would lean spell heavier on spells.
Including gold cards were significantly harder than the other colors, but I managed to find one that matched every combination in the cube, though some are larger stretches than most and others are normal cards that only fit because the color inversion works out that they supplement real cards and this Madness Cuve.
Artifacts take the cake for being the most difficult to include here because artifacts swing so wide in what they can do. I took 10 of them that were fun and janky and weird and tried to stick them in. If anyone has suggestions here, these would be most appreciated!
Now, let’s proceed to colors. If you want to check out the decklist and maybe give it a draft or two and let me know what you think, please do so! the list is here on Cube Cobra
Cube cobra list: HERE
In this alternate cube, Black is the color of aggro, control, stealing, and aggressive combat tricks and enchantment.
The creatures are focused on combat and lopsided trades, often reducing power (but not toughness!) in order to emerge victorious. Cards like Order of the Ebon Hand , Black Knight , and Stromgald Crusader lead the charge, with Uncle Istvan , Wall of Shadows, Sorceress Queen and Ghost Hounds holding defense. Creatures like Abyssal Hunter , Banshee, and Ghosts of the Damned assist with combat where needed, giving that final push. Most cards are straight forward, with very few deals that tend to be the halmark in black. There are cards with steep costs, but they are often cards that don’t have normal black effects anway. Cards like Bad Moon , Nocturnal Raid , and Desperate Charge push combat in your favor.
Black has also been given controlling elements with The Wretched , Krovikan Vampire and Enslave taking creatures from your opponents while Withering Boon and Dash Hopes counter spells, and Demonic Torment , Paralyze , Imprison, Oubliette , Seizures , and Melancholy play immitations of Pacifism
Overall, Black feels like it has the weakest theme. I have tried to create a kind of Black Aggro Control that seems fun, but I am not particularly confident. I’ll have to get feedback and test this out, specifically.
Red’s spells have taken on a very white function. It has a lot of non-dragon flying creatures, a number of taxing enchantments, stalling spells, and defensive combat tricks.
Creatures like Crimson Manticore , Goblin Glider, and Impetuous Sunchaser give the color a flying theme, but it can’t be forgotten that early red did some very strange things with cards like Dwarven Thaumaturgist, Soldier of Fortune, and Orcish Librarian, as well as having iconic cards that we’d never see today in the form of Rock Hydra, Eron the Relentless, and Uthden Troll.
In addition to the red flyers, red also used to have a bunch of walls that no longer fit the concept of the color. These huge, dunting blockers would simply be able to stall out attackers with their huge toughness stats, like Wall of Stone, Wall of Earth, and Wall of Dust.
Reds spells used to be focused on anything that could be conceived as part of battle. This ended up including very white style enchantments and instants. Spells like Aliban’s Tower, Ambush, and Lava Storm all make attacking into a red player extremely chancy provided they hold up any mana while enchantments like Mudslide, Total War, Heat Stroke and Invasion Plans giving control of combat to a canny red player.
Green, too, lacks flying in the color pie, so I made sure that around half its creatures have flying in the cube, using cards like Giant Dustwasp, Killer Bees, Bayou Dragonfly, and Scryb Sprites. There are also a number of strange creatures as well, like Elvish Scout, Elven Warhounds, and Yavimaya Ants that have out of color abilities or mechanics that make them stand out. The main focus of green in this cube, though, isn’t creatures, but the spells it has available.
I tried to pack as much card advantage as was possible into the cube, with Harmonize, Sylvan Library, and Life’s Legacy leading the way to make Green super card efficient. There are also plenty of powerful enchantments that provide either creature removal, direct damage, or other non-green effects. Cards like barbed foliage, and Elephant Grass deter attacking while lignify, and Utopia Vow act as pacifisms and Freyalise’s Winds simply keep targets locked down. Lastly, I took every possible direct damage spell I could find and ensured it was in here. Winter Blast, Unyaro bee sting and hornet sting, Sandstorm, and choking vines all show up to the party.
Green should play significantly different from real-world green, and I look forward to feeling it out. While I think black needs some work, and blue could use some real definition, I think that green has the most opportunity, a chance to really stand out from what it is today.
Blue was the hardest to figure out, and honestly; I gave up. Blue does so much, so often, that its impossible to figure out what is off-color and what is on-brand. Instead, I chose to create the most non-blue set of cards I could find within magic, creating the feeling of a new color.
This cube has blue playing battlecruiser. It has huge creatures like Vizzerdrix, Slipstream Serpent, and Sea Monster, who often require islands in play on one or both sides of the board in order to attack or even exist. Doing this is only possible because there are a number of ways to either permanently or temporarily change your opponent’s lands through cards like Sealock Monster, Tidal warrior and Reef shaman, enabling the strategy to be relied upon in almost every draft.
Blue has also been given ways to make sureyou don’t need to worry about the opponents creatures. It has plenty of removal spells and effects like Rishadan Cutpurse, Giant Oyster, Frozen Solid, Pendrell Flux, and Mana Chains. Finally, I tried to ensure that blue would have enough manage to cast their big monsters by including every little bito f ramp they do have, like Apprentice Wizard, Energy Tap and High Tide.
Blue is a complicated and difficult color because it simply has its toes in everything from trample to hexproof to flying and beyond. This is the color I am most happy with from a theme point of view, but I am disappointed in from a color bend point of view; I simply don’t think it’s ever going to be possible to form a color bent version.
White has taken over greens space as big, beefy monsters with land ramp that allows it to get those monsters out, but it also took some of blue’s control aspects as well. Where blue has to synergize with itself, white simply exists with big bodies coming down all through the game.
These beefy bodies tend to have trample, making chump blocking more worrysome, but also sometimes are simply massive, using cards like Quarry Colossus, Elder Land Wurm, and Dust Elemental to beat down on the opponent. Cards like Weathered Wayfarer, Knight of the White Orchid, andBoreas charger help get bigger and better cards out by pulling plains out and ensuring a steady supply of mana. There are also a few extremely evasive and durable creatures in the collection, like Alabaster Dragon, Calciderm, and Knight of the Holy Nimbus.
White also took a number of bounce effects and other controlling spells, and some really specific direct damage and unconditional destruction. Spells like Wave of Reckoning, Saltblast, Sun Clasp, and Stonecloaker help both destroy the opponent’s board and protect your own.
Blue and White, in this version, share a lot of similarities, though blue is more creature focused and white is more control focused. This leads to white having interesting interactions all game long with their spells protecting their creatures. It’s an interesting feel for the deck.
As I mentioned earlier, Each of the gold cards is here to try and represent the best of both colors represented.
Vhati il-Dal is a moderately sized card that has a transmutation effect on the power or toughness of the target creature. This fits the Black mentality of tempo and the green mentality of being able to directly damage it in order to kill it. It isn’t particularly unifying, but it is a very strange effect for both colors.
Delirium is a weird black-red combat removal spell, that has the normal red, but “twisted” black effect of forcing the creature removed from combat to deal damage to itself. I really like this card, and may end up getting a copy for a few of my Commander decks
Ramirez DePietro This card is expensive to cast, but as a 4/3 First Strike in black and blue, it feels completely off-color. It’s going to be hard to play, but removing it in combat, with blacks tricks and blues removal might be extremely hard.
Selenia, Dark Angel flies, unlike most of the black and white cards, but it does bounce itself, an effect that is now in both black and white.
Windreaper Falcon is a simple and small flyer, perfect for the green and red color combination. not much to say to this one.
Krasis Incubation This is blue and green pacifism, which is strange, which is strange, to begin with. Blue often does this by tapping down the creature, allowing you to get around the effect by finding a way to untap it. This card, though, if you’ve found a way to destroy the creature won’t change the board state as the enchantment itself can be u returned to your hand. There is a downside, but it seems minimal.
Hymn of Rebirth There isn’t a lot of graveyard manipulation in the cube, so it’s fantastic to me that by combining green and white, you can get a creature from any graveyard and put it directly into play. This isn’t something that comes along often.
Dracoplasm Dracoplasm is a strange card because red does do firebreathing and does do flying on dragons, but this is a shapeshifter where you have to sacrifice all the rest of your creatures? It simply feels off. I wish there was a better R/U card, to be honest, but I don’t think there is one that is so far off-color while also being a creature -something that R/U focuses on in the cube.
Highspire Mantis This card is amusing to me because it fits both cube and real-world concepts, only the color identities are switched. Trample and beefy from red, flying from white.
Sanctum Plowbeast This was an extremely unexpected find. A land ramp card that’s fairly beefy? not something I thought I’d find in both blue and white, to be honest.
As I mentioned at the start, all of these cards are strange and fairly self-explanatory, so I’ll just list them here. I would love to hear more zany options if they are out there.
Well! that was fun! I love creating cubes, and I’ll likely make another few, and they are all going to be some sort of theme. I know I could make a simple power cube, but that’s been done a bunch. For now, I’ll just have fun designing sets.
Until next time