Patterns I’ve noticed after several months of Commander Cubing:

1. If I’m in green, I snap up any and all land ramp spells.

Especially spells that toss lands onto my battlefield (and only my battlefield). Yes, even over the bombs.  How many ramp spells am I going to stumble over? Cultivate, Kodama’s Reach, Hunting Wilds, Ranger’s Path, Skyshroud Claim, Explosive Vegetation, Oracle of Mul Daya, Wood Elves, Sakura-Tribe Elder. Maybe Rampant Growth. Maybe Farseek. The two that give me lands-to-hand that I compulsively draft are Shard Convergence (if I’m in three or more colors) and Yavimaya Elder. All told, there are just over over a dozen cards, out of a pool of hundreds. I’m going to see bombs and removal wheel, because the cube is stuffed with crazy bombs and good removal. Good ramp is much more rare.

2. If I’m not in green:

Two words: mana rocks.

3. Also high on my priority list: card draw and tutor effects.

I will first pick the shit out of Phyrexian Arena or Consecrated Sphinx over just about anything other than Sol Ring.

4. I don’t prioritize mana fixing enough.

I keep thinking “Aw hell, that Bayou will wheel.” And then it doesn’t. And I kick myself. Have I learned this lesson yet? Noooope. Because—

5. I’m too busy grabbing board wipes.

This girl loves her mass removal. Many people find Wrath effects annoying. Me, I like a good board reset—to the point that I’ve hurt myself in the past because I blew up the board when I didn’t need to. Hurr de durrr.

6. ETB is king.

Sam refers to cards that confer a delayed benefit, such as at an upkeep, vs. a card with enters-the-battlefield triggers, as “X and do nothing” spells. I don’t think they’re quite that awful (I’ve seen Mind Unbound go off in big and hilarious ways because people underestimate it), but man, it’s hard to argue with a good ETB trigger attached to a body. For example: I used to understimate the power of Acidic Slime, but over time, I’ve become a true believer. It not only gives me a whole host of options for shit-to-blow up, it has a deathtouch? Sa-weet. Gimme.

7. I like drafting under-the-radar Commanders.

Or running a Commander with an expected archetype and flipping that upside-down (or sideways). I recently drafted a Glint-Eye Nephilim Deck that was secretly a Maelstrom Wanderer deck. Why? Two reasons: because people can see Maelstrom Wanderer coming, and because I drafted Rune-Scarred Demon early–I mean, holy balls, Rune-Scarred is bonkers in Commander in general and Commander Cube in particular. I basically crammed in a bunch of tutors, a bunch of fatties with ETB triggers, some removal, and cards like Vicious Shadows to push through damage. And honestly, Glint-Eye is no slouch. I dropped him turn 4 consistently, before anybody else had blockers up, and he drew me cards like a boss until he ate spot removal, which was fine, because that meant less removal for Maelstrom Wanderer.

I gotta say, cascading into Rune-Scarred Demon? Deee-licious.

8. I like Clones. A lot.

If I spot a Clone early on, I grab it and pretty much commit to blue unless it becomes obvious that other colors are way more open. They’re so deliciously efficient. You have a dude with a ridiculous effect attached to it? I’d like it too, please, and at a steep discount. My appreciation for Clones became even more acute when I first started playing against Uril, the Miststalker several years ago. Four-mana sorcery speed kill spell for Uril? Perhaps not the most efficient, but fuck, I’ll take what I can get and stall for a couple more turns. Especially near and dear to my heart are guys that allow me to re-use their copying effects, like Shapesharer (in my experience, it’s a pretty great rattlesnake for a lot of Commanders), Vesuvan Doppelganger and Vesuvan Shapeshifter. A couple of under-appreciated clones: the ones that target dudes in graveyards, like Body Double and Dimir Doppelganger (graveyard hate AND a clone? Don’t mind if I do!). The best one to date, in my opinion? Sakashima the Impostor. You can bounce Sakashima back to hand to re-copy something, or you can have two completely broken legendary creatures at your disposal. I once saw Sam drop Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite on turn five, only to have our friend Squeek go “Oh yeah? I HAVE AN ELESH NORN TURN FIVE, TOO, MOTHERFUCKER!” and drop Sakashima. It. Was. Hilarious.

But my actual favorite? Evil Twin. It’s not the fastest, and it’s not the most powerful (Phyrexian Metamorph can copy swords and crazy shit like Darksteel Forge), but holy shit it it’s the funniest.


What are some of your patterns when Commander Cubing? What are your tricks to get ahead, and which cards do you go for compulsively, even when the Efficiency Angel on your shoulder hollers “Not good enough for a slot,” because the seductive whisperings of the Flavor Über Alles Demon on your other shoulder have won the day?

1 comment to Patterns I’ve noticed after several months of Commander Cubing:

  • Jake

    This was a very entertaining post. I’ve also found a lot of these to be true with normal commander. Maelstorm wanderer works way better in my elementals 5 color than my maelstorm wanderer deck, and clones are way fun even if only killing other commanders.

    Things I’ve learned from cubing unfortunately are my friends don’t like commander cubing.

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