“Jennies on the Dollar” v0.1 – Budget Synergy Cube

Yeah, I’m sorry this isn’t a Magic Remastered post. When life got busy, I had to drop all my content creation, and I’m not going to start that one back up unless I’m absolutely sure I can finish the five main colors. (The research for Magic Remastered planning took dozens of hours for White alone.)

But in the meantime, I’ve got an alternate, lighter-effort cube! My terribly-named “Jennies on the Dollar” cube is meant to contain as many overlapping archetypes as possible within 375 cards, making every pick a menu of synergies and every deck an overlapping Rube Goldberg synergy machine. Oh, and the whole cube has an approximate budget of $100. (I actually just bought a third of it on tcgplayer for around $30.)

So far, there’s 20 primary strategies (2 in each color combination) represented by gold signposts, and a handful of additional single-card strategies sprinkled throughout. Based on early bot drafts, I’m hoping to weave in another half-dozen (maybe up to a dozen) additional explicit strategies.

v0.1 can be seen at three locations:

Note: Both CubeTutor and Cube Cobra are imports and do not necessarily reflect the cheapest version of a card / the version that I own.

Some quick highlights:

  • 375 cards (8 player draft plus an extra pack for Lore Seeker)
  • 20 gold signposts
  • 10 bouncelands
  • ~10 all-color/no-color mana rocks
  • 10 hybrid utility cards

Explicit gold signposts:

  • Soulherder– Blink/ETB effects
  • Teysa Karlov– Death triggers/sac effects
  • Tiana, Ship’s Caretaker– Auras (and minor equipment subtheme)
  • Satyr Enchanter– Enchantments
  • Empryean Eagle– Fliers
  • Ingenious Infiltrator– Saboteur effects/ninjas
  • Crackling Drake– Sorceries/instants
  • Tatyova, Benthic Druid– Ramp/landfall
  • Knights of the Black Rose– Monarch/stifling attacks
  • Extract from Darkness– Reanimator
  • Mayhem Devil– Sacrifice/Act of Treason
  • Nyx Weaver– Generic graveyard synergies
  • Feather, the Redeemed– Heroic/self-targeting
  • Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain– Artifacts/historic
  • Bloodhall Priest– Madness/Hellbent
  • Living Twister– Lands in graveyard
  • Wayfaring Temple– Tokens/populate
  • Roalesk, Apex Hybrid– Counters/proliferate
  • Deathreap Ritual– Morbid
  • Rhythm of the Wild– Haste/Fatties

Other signposts: (where exactly you draw the line is debatable)

  • Hall of Triumph– I’m debating how much I want to reward monocolor.
  • Ajani’s Pridemate– Hoping to make lifegain into a full subtheme, although good rewards under $1 are rare.
  • Approach of the Second Sun– I don’t explicitly support full-on control decks, but if you want to aggressively ramp and draw cards, this is a fun wincon!
  • Stream of Thought– I refuse to include mill-only cards, but I do want turbo-fog and mill to be fringe archetypes.
  • Willbreaker– Needing a bunch of positive targeted effects to support Heroic allows me to add a whole new archetype with one card!
  • Drake Haven– Blue can do discard-matters too. 🙂
  • Wildfire– I need more artifact mana to make this a real strategy, but my goal is that it takes some effort.
  • Sarkhan’s Unsealing– Mass removal is at a premium, so building around this carries quite a punch.
  • Shard Convergence/All Suns’ Dawn– I’m trying to get to a point where non-green decks are two colors or splash a third, but a 4-5 color green deck is reasonable.
  • (Murderous Redcap) – There’s a couple of ways to go infinite with persist creatures in the cube, although no single card actually represents this archetype.

Some other notes for v0.1:

  • I’ve explicitly made interaction rarer, more expensive, and/or more specialized than your average cube. If you want to stop other people from doing their cool thing, you need to prioritize those picks and use them wisely, or you need to find the interaction that meshes with your strategy. More importantly, I don’t want it to be easy to draft a heavy-removal “pure control” deck.
  • The lands-in-graveyard deck has a plethora of enablers but is light on rewards/payoffs. I really want this deck to work, and have some ideas, but it may have to go.
  • The fliers and haste decks look relatively scary on paper for a cube with light interaction. This needs real playtesting to determine, though.
  • Archdemon of Paliano is meant to be a cute card you can grab early to randomize three picks and give yourself some rails to draft around, but I doubt anyone will do that and I will probably just cut this.
  • Early bot drafts make it clear I need more color-fixing, but I’m trying to come up with budget ways to do that without increasing the number of ETB-tapped lands and without adding signets.
  • Bouncelands are powerful, but they do a ton of things this cube wants and don’t actively suppress strategies in the way that signets do.
  • The hybrid cards are intended to be utilitarian cards that hinted at the draft strategies, but not all of them succeed at this. I may abandon these, or allow myself to have unbalanced hybrid.
  • The colors are not balanced because I allowed myself to substitute artifacts whenever I wanted, which ended up happening more (for obvious reasons) in blue and red. I will lean towards fixing this over time, but it’s not a priority.
  • Blue and black definitely need a higher % of spells. Specifically, the blue/red spells deck is a bit harder to draft than it will be once I balance these numbers to be more like an average Magic set.

I may go into more detail about the process leading up to v0.1 in a later blog post, but you can surmise some of it from looking at the Google Sheet. (https://tinyurl.com/AlexisCube)

Next steps:

  • Actually draft the thing! (lots of bot test drafts so far, but nothing substitutes for the real thing)
  • Start collecting data and determine which cards can be cut to make room for even more synergies!
  • Update cube sites to match actual card ownership and periodically “prove” the cube is tracking to its budget. 😉

If you do a test draft or have any thoughts at all, please feel free to poke me on Twitter.

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