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 a great way to play, the idea of using only 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 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 maintenance 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 competitive defined by Magic Online card rarity, it also excludes many commons from Magic‘s oldest sets that have not been released online.
- Some sets and releases, such as Unstable, can never be published through Magic Online and therefore can never become Pauper legal.
The solution here was to include any common legality. While the cube breaks the popular ways to define Pauper, it’s because a cube can be whatever you want it to be that this cube takes the widest approach. While this makes a handful of “commons” unexpected for competitive and casual players, it’s also easy to swap or cut those cards from your own take on the cube. That’s what cubes are for.
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 menu for easy access.) A spreadsheet is boring, but without bells and whistles (and plenty of space to make my own sorting customization) it’s helpful for focusing on what matters. With a Change Log reaching back five years it’s possible to see how the cube reshaped itself. The sheet also tracks the tokens you’ll need, shows which specific version of a card I’ve chosen to use and even links to helpful resources and ways to support the cube.
Since the cube is a Google Sheet you can also create your own copy and instantly start tracking your changes, create a CSV version to upload for your favorite Magic deck content site or even customize your summary however you’d like to.
How Often Is The Cube Updated?
Every set! I pore over all the commons 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 (generally) 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 keep and easy-to-play Magic format on hand, every update promises to tweak your notions about how games will play out.
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 previously worked for TCGplayer, but don’t earn any commission/affiliate fees 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 highly recommend using basic lands where there is a tree in the artwork.
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. Of course, the easiest way to immediately start supporting the Pauper Cube is to become a patron (and get some sweet rewards for your generosity).