CAP 71   Leave a comment

From my new Peasant Cube!


Posted May 4, 2018 by Usman in Crack-A-Pack, The Third Power

Dominaria! New cube update and new cube!   Leave a comment

I’d heard a lot of takes saying that Dominaria is a bad cube set.

Then, I wrote a cube article which was over 6000 words for the set.  🙂

I’m not sure how long it is compared to other articles for set reviews, but considering that some of my theory articles were ~2k words, this one felt huge.  The set has a lot of weird cards and it seems like, because they approach things on a weird metric, people tend to underrate them.  Lately, I’ve been doing well in terms of making sure I get a good amount of reps from new cards and feedback from drafters to shape opinion; the only real miss that I found was that I underrated Hazoret, the Fervent and I think it was because of me looking at it through a weird lens/seeing it in decks where they couldn’t empty their hands quickly.  Not really sure, but I felt like an idiot for underrating it, even with data.

It felt weird because even though the set notes got dumped a while before the set came out, it seemed like there wasn’t a lot of opinions changing on the cards – people (and by “people,” I’m mainly saying the M:TG community as a whole) didn’t seem to have much opinion changes on the card, as if there was a snap-judgement analysis of the card and then moving on with their lives.

I wasn’t playing when Judgement came out, but it seemed like at least the meta was figured out by the time the set dropped because people were trying stuff out, rather than the “I dunno, seems good?” types of views I’ve seen, with views remaining static.  I’m honestly not sure how many people nowadays test vs just outsourcing to “the pros” and letting them figure it out (I also realize the irony of me doing just that for the past however many years when I’ve been doing article/podcast reviews.)  Oh well.

I’ve been happy with where my pauper cube is and I decided to finally make a peasant cube, which, hopefully, I’ll be able to try out this month in the wild.  Every once in a while, I’ll notice that some cards that should be in my peasant list aren’t there and I think “HOW did I miss <insert card>?!?!”  Searing Blaze was probably the biggest “WOW” moment for me for that.

I’m probably going to utilize this experience for an article or so, one of these days, and thanks to some inspiration, it seems “one of these days” is coming a lot sooner than later, as I’ve been making some outlines.  Something tangible will manifest.  🙂

Finally, I *finally* updated my regular cube list (including Dominaria!)  I’d been tinkering with changes with artifacts since a conversation that Kranny and I had years ago, about how he’d do more artifacty stuff when he powered up his cube over the holidays.  I was intrigued, but it took a while to implement, starting with a reboot of my pauper cube (where affinity/metalcraft is a part of the metagame and I’ve been happy with how it’s been working, as it’s been doing well in 3-0 representation too.)  People have made the mistake assuming that, because I haven’t kept up my CubeTutor list, I don’t keep it up to date in paper either.

Maybe it was from seeing people going “NO LOVE FOR <card X>” when I’d make changes, which… probably is going to be something I write about/podcast one of these days, how that type of mentality is bad for cube design and approaching the format.  Again, it’ll come out one of these days.  🙂

Posted April 20, 2018 by Usman in Uncategorized

Pauper Cube episode of Color Commontary!   Leave a comment

I guested on the Color Commontary podcast to talk about pauper cube.  I talked about my general cube history, ideologies and my own list on the episode.  It’s about 2 hours long and my voice was pretty rough because of being under the weather, but I thought it turned out pretty well!

Posted April 3, 2018 by Usman in Uncategorized

New blog title, among other things!   Leave a comment

I’ve decided that, after over 7 years, to have the blog name changed to one that reflects its purpose as a blog for the podcast, so it’ll now by The Third Power Podcast blog.

In theory, this means that I’ll be posting more content here.

In reality… yeah.  🙂

So what’s new?

I wrote an article reviewing the pauper and peasant ramifications of Masters 25 on pauper and peasant cubes.  I’m unsure why I forgot to include Finkel, likely because it’s an obvious inclusion for Dimir (#2 behind Baleful Strix.)  But yeah, there ya go!

This also prompted me to finally update my pauper cube (again) here.

It’s admittedly less popular than my powered cube, but then again, I think most people tend to be more excited by cards like Liliana of the Veil and Entomb than Unearth and Pestilence.  Personally, I love both flavors, but that’s me.

As pauper cube is still a pretty unexplored territory, there seem to be less entrenched opinions on it.  Combine that with going into pretty uncharted waters (I don’t know of many, if any, pauper cubes running things like Elvish Visionary and Court Homunculous) makes it even more… murky, but I’m very happy with how it’s turned out.

You may ask “aren’t signets and bouncelands too good for pauper cube?  don’t they just make 5cc too powerful?”

They do not.

Years ago, I wrote an article about how Tom LaPille said he took signets and bouncelands out of his cube as they “made attack and green decks bad.”  Personally, I’ve drafted cubes where I force 5-color-control as hard as possible, from taking every mana fixing land and mana rock (signets, talismans, even things like cluestones in some pauper cubes) and typically crushing people because I’d be able to go over the top of everyone.  Why?  Because I wouldn’t be punished by decks that would go under me as aggressive decks were a non-existent part of the metagame.

A few years ago, I rebooted my pauper cube and kept all of the signets there.  Since then, I found that:

Having had a pauper cube for a bit over 6 years and actively tracking the decks that 3-0 since 6/2/2015 (around the time I did a big reboot of my pauper cube), I don’t find the argument that signets make 5cc too good to hold water. I remember a time a few years ago when someone who eventually went 3-0 with this deck – – was going to play against someone who tends to play 5-color-goodstuff decks and I said “lemme look at this deck”, quickly went through it and said “Well, congrats on your win” and unsurprisingly, he stomped the goodstuff deck.

I recently checked stats on the 26 decks that 3-0ed and only 6 had a signet (and most that did usually ended up as 2-color, with the exception being a Jund deck) with one being a UW aggro deck that wanted Azorius Signet for metalcraft.  About 10 of the decks had a bounceland, and that’s mainly because bouncelands are better than just about everything else in the format – there’s not really any dual lands that ETB untapped (guildgates/khans lands all ETB tapped) and the drawback of bouncing a land isn’t that bad for aggro decks either.  5-color-goodstuff decks aren’t really a big part of the meta, since they can’t really afford to durdle around or else they lose to the more proactive decks in the format.  It’s easy to see durdling decks dominating a format and blaming cards in them – seeing decks with signets and bouncelands dominating a format and saying “See!  They’re too good!  They’re dominating the format!” when generally, there are underlying issues at hand.

I’ve been happy with other things as well like the artifact package and some have transitioned to my powered cube, as well as other things like Gitaxian Probe.

Here are some recent 3-0s as well.

pauper - 2018 02 22 Wg.PNG

pauper - 2017 11 31 RG

There are a *lot* of cards in my on-deck binder of things I’ll probably rotate in and out – one of the things that tends to annoy me in cube discussion is when people tend to look at it as a card being not included either because of it “being bad”, which isn’t really true (only a small part of it.)  There’s a few standouts like Seal of Fire that I really want to get in there, as well as others like Countless Gears Renegade and many others.

You may be wondering why I haven’t updated my powered cubeDo not mistake this for me not drafting it (I draft it almost weekly, and almost always with a small change or two between drafts) – as I’m still working with making some artifact changes in it.  I’ve talked briefly about it on the podcast and once I’m happy with the changes, I’ll make a big update/reset to it.

We’re also looking to create another Third Power token which should be in card token size that will fill a niche that hasn’t been serviced in cube for a card that likely will never leave cubes that have rares.    The token may have deathtouch.  🙂  I’ll post here once there’s more info.

Posted March 19, 2018 by Usman in Uncategorized

TTP 70 – CAPs   Leave a comment


Posted February 6, 2018 by Usman in Crack-A-Pack, The Third Power, Uncategorized

CAP 70   Leave a comment

Posted December 26, 2017 by Usman in Uncategorized

So, uh….. hey… ?   2 comments

Well, it looks like I’ve once again forgotten to do anything with this blog.  As Anthony and I haven’t had time to record lately (as it turns out, getting time blocks for 3-4 hours aren’t as easy to get nowadays) and so, I’ve not really done much with this thing since it was mostly a crack-a-pack dumping ground.

So, hi.

I wrote a review of Hour of Devastation and Commander 2017 (PS if you don’t have Heirloom Blade in your cube, you should.)

I’m happy with how it turned out and I think the breakdown of Heirloom Blade worked out well.  Here are a couple of 3-0 decks that have utilized it well, showing that it’s not just theoretics.  The person who drafted the deck with Hellrider said “it isn’t Grafted Wargear, but it’s kinda like Skullclamp.”  Ovious exaggerations aside, it generally finds something useful, and so long as you don’t mess up and reveal your entire deck by forgetting you only have 1 devil (Hellrider), it generally works out.  No, it doesn’t have a free equip cost like Wargear, but that doesn’t mean that it shoule be discounted as “just another tribal card.”

One of these days, I wish that MaRo would write more about the concept of Additive Distraction, as I find that tends to be a pitfall of evaluation, even for those who’ve played for many years.


There aren’t many “dead ends” for the chains (the latter deck only really had 4 – Hellrider, Koth’s elementals, Bomat Courier and Figure of Destiny [which can hit things if it hits the right level.])

I’ve also finally updated my pauper cube; lately I’ve been getting in the habit of just doing a reset because it’s just easier than figuring out a series of changes in the last year.   I’m quite happy with its current direction (I wish I could cube it more, as I just draft it on the last weekly cube day of the month.)  There are a lot of good cards that obviously aren’t in there, and unfortunately, cube discussion can tend to focus on saying “card X is bad, card Y is good” or “don’t cut card X because it’s good! / no love for card X?!” etc, which doesn’t tend to be good for critical thought or thorough and holistic analysis.

That said, some thoughts:

  • My kingdom for some good red 1-drops.  The Mogg Conscripts never really panned out that well and tends to be bad in the late game when you’re in burn mode.  Same applies for good black 1-drops, but I may end up trying Night Market Lookout.
  • I’ve been pretty happy with the metalcraft/affinity package thus far.  I’ve been tinkering with cutting the guildgate cycle and putting in 10 more artifacts or 1 WUBRG / 5 artifacts, but the pool of good artifacts started to get thin.  It isn’t so much that the guildgate cycle is “bad,” because they aren’t, I’m just unsure if the effect of the meta would be better with more artifacts.  It may very well be.
  • I tried a “value storm” thing some time ago, ala Time Spiral and Modern Masters 1 – the latter being a set that had a big hand in the implementation of my pauper cube’s “reboot.”
  • Having bouncelands and signets hasn’t made aggressive decks weak.  At all.
  • Guess what the card with the most 3-0s has been in my pauper cube.  I’m pretty sure you won’t get it, even after 10 guesses.
  • Blue could probably use some more 2s and less 3s.  Maybe -Geist, +Looter il-Kor?
  • I’ve had Heliod’s Pilgrim and Totem-Guide Hartebeest in since forever, but I’ve shied away from them lately because, despite the lack of tutors in the format, they’re just slow and clunky.
    “But isn’t the rate on Heliod’s Pilgrim the same as Imperial Recruiter, by being 2X for a 1/1 tutor?”  Yeah, I dunno.  Could just be a weird feeling.

    • I also cut most of the Nantuko Husks and the only ones that remain are Bloodthrone Vampire and Carrion Feeder.  I guess I never really found the payoff to be all that great, despite seeing some 3-0s out of those decks.  Again, I’m not really sure if they weren’t worth it.
  • There are some individual cards that I’d like to include – cards that are great but I haven’t included, but are in my on-deck binder:
    Quirion Ranger, Death Spark, Mesmeric Fiend, Seraph of Drawn, Spontaneous Mutation, Runed Servitor, Mardu Skullhunter, Typhoid Rats/Pharika’s Chosen/Sedge Scorpion, Neurok Stealthsuit, Hunger of the Howlpack, Impulse, Perilous Research, Withdraw, Cloudfin Raptor, Wingcrafter, etc.
  • Like I’ve been doing lately in my other cube, I’ve been keeping multicolor and hybrid separate (since multicolor is a drawback, hybrid is a boon) and all of the hybrid is balanced in representation.  To make room for more things, I’ve kept multicolor *very* tight, with only one true multicolor in each pair.

I haven’t updated my powered cube, but don’t make the mistake of assuming that not updating a CubeTutor list == not updating it, as I pretty frequently make updates (it’s rare when I do two drafts and there isn’t at least a small change being made.)  I’ve made some pretty big changes to my powered cube with some inspiration from my pauper cube and some discussion that I had with Kranny several years ago, but I’m still working out things on it and, since these are mostly Uncharted Waters, the process is going pretty slowly.

Posted October 24, 2017 by Usman in Uncategorized