In 2008, after more than a decade of on-and-off again playing, I got back into Magic forever with Shards of Alara. The multicolor mayhem and plentiful cubes at my then-local game store inspired me to put the two ideas together. While “the Pauper multicolor cube” wasn’t something that could exist for another few years, honing the idea of using commons stuck. With the help of cube aficionado (and amazing artist) Eric Klug a tight, fun cube of powerful commons came together.
Today, “the Pauper cube” is a Magic fan-favorite that’s been featured by many of the game’s top content creators.
What Makes This Cube Great?
There are many reasons players enjoy the Pauper cube:
- It’s inexpensive! Magic is 25+ year old game with rare and collectible cards as expensive as you can imagine. However, even the priciest commons come at a cost far lower than many other cards. Building a cube, and keeping it updated, is easy when your upfront investment and maintainence costs are low.
- It’s interactive! Every color gets to play some of the Magic‘s iconic cards. From Lightning Bolt to Counterspell to Doom Blade to Rancor, many of the cherished cards we fell in love with when learning the game are featured in the cube because they were commons.
- It’s skill-testing! There are obvious archetypes and strategies to use, and there is variety for players that have been around the game longer. If you like maximizing value and discovering interesting synergy between cards, the Pauper cube is for you.
What Are The Construction Rules For The Cube?
While “only commons” seems like a simple rule, there are a few complications:
- Pauper, as a competitive format, using commons as designated in Magic Online. As such, there are several “commons” online that never received a common printing in paper.
- Since Pauper is defined by Magic Online, it also excludes many commons from Magic‘s oldest sets that have not been released online.
- Finally, what a “common” is in paper among Magic‘s oldest sets is unclear. While the official Magic card database, The Gatherer, shows some old cards as uncommon they were actually printed on the common sheet. According to print rules, and at-the-time Magic‘s rules manager, that makes those cards common:
— Matt Tabak (@TabakRules) September 1, 2014
The solution here was to include any common legality. While the cube breaks any one of the ways to define Pauper, it’s because cube can be whatever you want it to be that this cube takes the widest approach. While this makes a handful of “commons” more expensive than what you would expect, it’s also easy to swap or cut those cards from your own take on the cube. That’s what cubes are for.
In fact, there are plenty of reasons to take what you find here and turn it on your own path. There’s no one perfect way to cube, and if this gets you started then that’s awesome.
Where Can I Find The Cube List?
There are many cube and decklist sites out there, but my Google Sheet for the Pauper cube is where I prefer to keep the list updated. (It’s also linked in the top menu for easy access anytime.) A spreadsheet is boring, but without bells and whistles it’s helpful to focus on the small things. I don’t need every tool under the sun, and with a Change Log reaching back five years makes it possible to see how the cubes has reshaped itself time after time. The sheet also tracks the tokens you’ll need for all the cards in the cube, and provides a (mostly complete) list of set codes for different versions of cards.
Since the cube is a Google Sheet you can create your own copy and instantly start tracking your changes, or create a version to upload for your favorite Magic website. I made it easy to understand and thorough so you can customize it however you’d like to.
How Often Is The Cube Updated?
Every set! I pore over all the common in new Magic releases looking for the best opportunities to refine the cube. Each update changes some of the game play experience, adding new cards to update strategies and focusing on one or two color pairs that I’ve received the most feedback about. Keeping a Limited format interesting with “fun” games—win or lose—is challenging and subjective, and I won’t ever get it perfect. But for those that want to try new cards often and love to have an easy-to-keep-up format on hand, every update promises to tweak your notions about how games will play out.
Now, with a dedicated blogging platform for smaller bites of information I can share updates and ideas faster. Within a few days of a set’s release you can expect a dedicated blog post giving you all the changes.
How Do I Buy/Build The Cube?
Buying 400-ish unique cards all at once is challenging. For each update I create freeform “decks” on TCGplayer.com, broken down by the cards added and cut, as well as each color section of the cube. I generally find the best prices for commons there, and purchasing one section of the cube at a time is easy to do. (Disclosure: I work for TCGplayer, and don’t earn any commission from linking you to there.)
With the full list as a Google Sheet you can copy the entire list—or just the cards you need—to submit to your favorite online retailer, share it with your local game store’s manager or poll your friends for which cards they can share.
How Many Copies Of Each Basic Land Do I Need?
Since Magic releases a variety of common dual lands (that are included in the cube) I run 40 to 50 copies of each basic land.
I Love The Pauper Cube! How Can I Help You?
That’s very kind of you! Check out the Support page to see how you can make a difference for the Pauper cube, and what ways you can share your appreciation for all the work that’s gone into it over the years.