My Commander Cube Update

Abe Sargent revisits his popular Commander Cube, breaking down a year’s worth of substitutions and exploring how a Cube changes. Learn more about this fun format and get Abe’s complete current list!

Do you like Cube? Raise your hand! Do you like Commander? Raise the other hand! Now clap your hands together! Lots of people have been rocking Commander
Cubes recently, so I figured I’d give you an update of the one I told you about roughly a year ago in the column.

In the first column
, I created a Commander Cube and wrote about the Cube and my experience here on SCG. Well, obviously, I have updated this thang numerous times over the

There are some Cubes online with various ideas on how to run a Commander Cube. Mine exists in real life, using my own card stock, and as such it is
sometimes limited a bit by what I actually own. There are a few places (such as equipment) where we don’t have some of the powerful but expensive stuff.

Anyway, it’s a year later, and I’ve gotten a chance to play around with it, as well as add some cards from Journey into Nyx, Born of the Gods, Theros,
Commander 2013 and such. Today I’ll have a full list of all of the changes I made in the Appendix, as well as the current Cube.

We basically had seven categories of additions or removals from the Cube. So let’s look in at the changes I made, and why.

Not Powerful Mid- or Late-Game
– One of the major suggestions compiled by those who played the decks is that there were too many early-game cards that just weren’t that powerful or
useful later on. So, for example, I pulled stuff like Ticking Gnomes, Choking Tethers, Cryptic Annelid, and Bottle Gnomes. They just didn’t give enough. I
also was encouraged to include more powerful and expensive threats and cards, so in went things like Akroma’s Memorial, Blightsteel Colossus, and Take
Possession. Give the people what they want! They want more swinging stuff, so let’s accommodate that.

That does not mean that I’ll ignore the early game, just that people wanted the splashier stuff. The best example of this is Recoup. Recoup is pretty
solid. You can play it reliably, and also include it as a powerful adjunct to several draftable strategies. But instead of people drafting and running it,
they didn’t like it that much, so instead Past in Flames is making an appearance, which has already been turned into fun powerful stuff. Personally, I
think Recoup is the better choice, but I’m not the only one playing the thing.

Because folks want the big stuff, I have tried to accommodate that more with the new version of the Cube. I still included some new cheaper utility
creatures such as Joiner Adept, Viridian Zealot, Ogre Battledriver, and others.

I Didn’t Own the Card –
Some changes came about because I acquired an extra copy of the card. I picked up a Blue Sun’s Zenith and pulled Concentrate for it. Similarly, I used my
store credit here at SCG to acquire a few Steel Hellkites, one of which immediately was subbed in for Junktroller.

After the release of Modern Masters, I was able to pick up some Adarkar Valkyries on the cheap. Previously they had high price tags, but that plummeted. As
I was pulling out all of my morph stuff at the same time, it went in for Exalted Angel without any issues. (I also pulled stuff like Zoetic Cavern, Root
Elemental, Theolonite Hermit, and Mischievous Quanar.)

We Need More Legendaries –
When you draft your Commander Cube, you want to insure that people can have enough choices to facilitate a legitimate draft. Who will be your

Sometimes I just added in good legendary options to flesh this out. For example, in went Skullbriar, the Walking Grave for Spider Spawning. I loved the
Spawning, but it was a casualty of my war to include more legendary critters. Other additions included Damia, Sage of Stone; Zur the Enchanter; and Ruhan
of the Fomori. We also increased mono-colored choices too, so in went stuff like Ink-Eyes and Azami.

After playing the Cube a few times, everyone unanimously agreed that we wanted more legendary dorks in order to increase your chance of flipping the right
legendary creature. In addition to replacing some cards for legendary bodies, I also decided to add in a few legendary cards without the need for yanking
out other stuff. They included one of each god from Journey into Nyx, Theros, and Born of the Gods; one full cycle of legendary creatures from Commander
2013; and Horde of Notions. Another addition of 21 solid commanders to the Cube helps to flesh things out.

We Wanted New Stuff Too! –
People constantly wanted to get the new hotness to experiment with. Obviously, some cards were downright essential additions. We had to add in Prophet of
Kruphix, Dictate of Erebos, Restore, Tempt with Immortality, and Hammer of Purphoros. From little guys like Satyr Wayfinder and Kiora’s Follower all the
way up to the big stuff of Colossus of Akros and Hythonia the Cruel, we have some fun additions!

Everybody wants to experiment with newly released cards. Keeping a Magic player from playing new cards would like keeping a monkey from eating bananas on a
banana plantation. One hotly desired banana was actually Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. The first person to draft it was building a deck around Thassa right after
Mono-Blue Devotion became a thing. That deck worked pretty well, and people quickly embraced the idea for the future.

Another freshly released temptation folks were looking forward to was Courser of Kruphix, but I don’t think anyone has flipped it yet. We’ll see what
happens when it’s drafted. I just added the Journey into Nyx cards a few days ago, and I hope to play it soon.

The Card Didn’t Work Out –
A few times, cards just didn’t work out as planned, so they got pulled. Seal of Fire just didn’t play well; most creatures aren’t threatened by it, so it
doesn’t have a major impact on the board, like it used to. So I decided to add in the perfectly reasonable Word of Seizing instead.

Sometimes the theme never worked in play. No one drafted Tribal Flames highly. If you got lucky with it in a five-color deck, then it was a nice prize, but
otherwise it was either a two-mana sorcery Lightning Bolt or Shock. (See also: Etched Oracle.) Similarly, we had cards with themes that were unreliable,
such as Captain Sisay. You can’t guarantee how many legendary creatures you’ll open, let alone draft. So I pulled her for Tolsimir Wolfblood, who doesn’t
need as much to work.

Another card that just didn’t work was Zombie Infestation. It was the two-for-one card trade that kept it from getting played, even in decks in which it
worked conceptually. A deck with some reanimation and beaters just stayed clear, a sign that it didn’t belong. Managing a Commander Cube is a work of art,
and requires some massaging.

I think Jayemdae Tome is disrespected, because you usually have the mana to draw the card, and there’s are only so many Staff of Nin/Mind’s Eye effects to
go around. But no one wanted it. It doesn’t matter that they would destroy mine when I played it, because of how good it was, it didn’t teach them. So I
pulled it.

And we had some others too, like Molten Psyche, Dawn’s Reflection, and Renewed Faith. They just weren’t valued as much as was hoped, and hence they were
subbed out.

Improved the Card –
Just a few times, the new card is just flat-out better than the old one. You could make an argument for Concentrate versus Blue Sun’s Zenith, but Dissolve
is just flat out better than Cancel. Control Magic (acquired via Commander 2013 product) is just better than Mind Control. I would argue that the vast
majority of the time, in a limited format like this, Silence the Believers is just better than Brainspoil. (Which Gild replaced initially, and then was
immediately pulled after two months in the Cube for the new hot guy).

Note that Grand Arbiter and Master of Etherium were included in order to gently push that pro-artifact theme as well.

There have been lots of great cards printed in the last year for Commander generally and that work well in the Cube specifically. If you haven’t had the
chance to play a Commander-oriented Cube, why not make one and get your Commander on, Cube-style?

Below in the Appendix will be a full list of changes and a link to the Google doc with the full Cube in its current state. Feel free to use and abuse it!

Appendix A – Current Commander Cube

Here is the Google Doc of the current Commander Cube:


Appendix B – All of the Changes

List of Commander Cube Changes:

IN: Opal Palace for Boseiju, Who Shelters All

IN: Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx for Zoetic Cavern

IN: Sword of Vengeance for Manaforce Mace

IN: Staff of Domination for Dragon Arch

IN: Akroma’s Memorial for Jayemdae Tome

IN: Colossus of Akros for Etched Oracle

IN: Darksteel Colossus, Blightsteel Colossus for Ticking Gnomes, Bottle Gnomes

IN: Ral Zarek for Etherium-Horn Sorcerer

IN: Evil Twin for Dimir Doppelganger

IN: Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver for Duskmantle Guildmage

IN: Prophet of Kruphix for Sages of the Anima

IN: Damia, Sage of Stone for Fungal Shambler

IN: Epic Experiment for Desperate Ravings

IN: Armada Wurm for Novablast Wurm

IN: Ruhan of the Fomori for Rakavolver

IN: Zur the Enchanter for Ethersworn Adjudicator

IN: Sek’Kuar, Deathkeeper for Madrush Cyclops

IN: Rubinia Soulsinger for Giltspire Avenger

IN: Marath, Will of the Wild for Woolly Thoctar

IN: Render Silent for Kiss of the Amesha

IN: Tolsimir Wolfblood for Captain Sisay

IN: Skullbriar, the Walking Grave for Spider Spawning

IN: Assemble the Legion for Fight to the Death

IN: Medomai the Ageless for Isperia the Inscrutable

IN for free – Gahiji, Honored One; Sydri, Galvanic Genius; Prossh, Skyraider of Kher; Derevi, Empyrial Tactician; Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge

IN for free: Purphoros, God of the Forge; Thassa, God of the Sea; Nylea, God of the Hunt; Erebos, God of the Dead; Heliod, God of the Sun

IN: Cathars’ Crusade for Renewed Faith

IN: Darksteel Mutation for Solemn Offering

IN: Spear of Heliod for Angelic Edict

IN: Adarkar Valkyrie for Exalted Angel

IN: Luminate Primordial for False Prophet

IN: Restore for Collective Voyage

IN: Tempt with Discovery for Dawn’s Reflection

IN: Bow of Nylea for Evolution Charm

IN: Viridian Zealot for Nantuko Vigilante

IN: Regal Force for Mossbridge Troll

IN: Joiner Adept for Root Elemental

IN: Past in Flames for Recoup

IN: Dragonstorm for Radiate

IN: Incendiary Command for Molten Psyche

IN: Leyline of Punishment for Skullcrack

IN: Word of Seizing for Seal of Fire

IN: Hammer of Purphoros for Tribal Flames

IN: Furyborn Hellkite for Chancellor of the Forge

IN: Ogre Battledriver for Kuldotha Firefiend

IN: Tempt with Immortality for Exhume

IN: Liliana of the Dark Realms for Zombie Infestation

IN: Liliana Vess for Harrowing Journey

IN: Sanguine Bond for Bloodchief Ascension

IN: Grim Return for Mental Vapors

IN: Hythonia the Cruel for Chancellor of the Dross

IN: Crypt Ghast for Dimir House Guard

IN: Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni for Silent Specter

IN: Bloodgift Demon for Tar Fiend

IN: Take Possession for Choking Tethers

IN: Control Magic for Mind Control

IN: Dissolve for Cancel

IN: Blue Sun’s Zenith for Concentrate

IN: Vesuvan Doppelganger for Chromeshell Crab

IN: Arcum Dagsson for Aethersnipe

IN: Grand Architect for Cryptic Annelid

IN: Master of Etherium for Jace’s Archivist

IN: Azami, Lady of Scrolls for Mischievous Quanar

Post- Born of the Gods changes:

IN for Free – Horde of Notions; Karametra, God of Harvests; Mogis, God of Slaughter; Ephara, God of the Polis; Xenagos, God of Revels; Phenax, God of

IN: Steel Hellkite for Junktroller

IN: Kiora’s Follower for Biomantic Mastery

IN: Courser of Kruphix for Sylvan Primordial

IN: Satyr Wayfinder for Thelonite Hermit

IN: Gild for Brainspoil

Post Journey into Nyx Changes:

IN for free – Pharika, God of Affliction; Iroas, God of Victory; Keranos, God of Storms; Kruphix, God of Horizons; Athreos, God of Passage; Mana Confluence

IN: Silence the Believers for Gild

IN: Dictate of Kruphix for Worldly Counsel

IN: Pharika’s Chosen for Abyssal Gatekeeper

IN: Dictate of Karametra for Snake Umbra

IN: Dictate of Erebos for Shred Memory

IN: Prophetic Flamespeaker for Hissing Iguanar