Blinging the Box: Cube Pimping 101

Having a Cube and drafting it is without doubt the most entertaining way to play Magic. And finding the right cards – functionally – is the backbone of cube building. But it doesn't have to end with acquiring the cards, and very often it doesn’t. Welcome to Cubes for Squares’ first look at the blingy world of Cube pimping.

The desire to pimp your Cube is natural. The phenomenon of pimping can be observed in most hobbies where people put a lot of energy into a project and then keep fiddling with it to personalize it. Pimping your Cube can include creating a unique storage for the cards, making creative choices for counters and markers and even having sleeves printed from your own design. In this article I will look at ways to pimp the card side of your Cube.

Catching the Cube Pimp Fever

Building a Cube often requires quite an investment of your resources. After choosing a theme and selecting the archetypes comes the hours of research, reading about other Cubes, about Cube building, and searching through obscure message boards and databases for the right cards to include. Once you have made that decision, you must get a hold of all the cards.

Then one day, your cube is finally built and from now on it’s all just about drafting at any given opportunity. And you only have to look through the new releases and exchange an old card for a new one once in a while. Right? No! Almost certainly, no. After having spent all that time and money, you look at the cards and perhaps you think that they look a little sad sitting there in their cardboard box or even just stacked on a shelf – perhaps they need a shine up. You have caught the Cube Pimp Fever.

Stack of Magic Cards
If you think your Cube looks like a sad stack of cards, it may be time for a makeover.

When Your Best Plans Are Foiled

It is very likely that you have some foil cards in your Cube already, and foiling is the obvious place to begin the process of pimping. If you have a list of the complete Cube in a text document, you can paste batches of 150 cards into a “wants lists” on Cardmarket to begin your search for foil versions. (150 is the maximum number of cards you can have in a wants list.) When making buy lists on Cardmarket this way, the cards are not required to be from a specific expansion which makes it much easier to search broadly for foils.

After creating a list, you can do a bulk modification to make the search engine only look for sellers with foil versions by selecting the entire list and changing the field “Foil?” to yes. Bulk modification is of course also where you change the language selection, if you want to make sure that all the foil cards you order are in a language your playgroup understands.

However, while mass ordering foils in this way may work for cheap bulk cards and cards that have only been printed with one illustration, someone with a terminal case of the Cube Pimp Fever will definitely find it highly unsatisfactory to leave all the work to the algorithms.

Instead, the Cube builder who truly wants to swag it out will go hunting through obscure sets and promos for just the right version of Pillage which, besides being foil and black-bordered, also has the coolest illustration by Richard Kane-Ferguson; or perhaps they will even save up to pay the 150,00 € plus for a Judge Reward Promo Lightning Bolt with the iconic art by the late Christopher Rush.

Pillage Lightning Bolt

You find all the obscure versions of a card by changing the View in your searches from List to Gallery. An interesting but time-consuming way to discover which cards are in all those special sets you have never heard of, is to go through the dropdown menu under Expansion on the singles page and one-by-one select the items that don’t sound like the names of normal Magic expansions. Just make sure that you don’t end up ordering oversized promos and box toppers. 

Champs, Pimps and Gold-Diggers

Perhaps foil is not your thing, or you don’t really think that certain foils are worth the asking price. Your Cube may even contain cards that were never printed as foils. You may also have decided that you want some cards in your Cube that you would never pay for in the first place – at least not the full price.

Believe it or not, there is a cheap and flashy way to pimp your Cube and at the same time acquire official and sweet looking proxies, rather than resorting to photocopies and other dull solutions that stand out like sore thumbs.

From 1997 to 2004, Wizards of the Coast sold a nice product which has been and still is the savior of many a Cube builder, even if supplies nowadays are dwindling. That product was the World Championship Decks (WCD) series that every year featured the top four decks played at the World Championship. The cards came with a non-standard back and the frontside had gold borders making them unplayable in any format except casual play – and even then, unplayable without fully opaque sleeves when mixed into other decks than the ones they were printed in.

Cube, being a casual format, has become a natural home for the WCD series cards. Even the basic lands from the gold-bordered sets are a great way to pimp your Cube with a cool alternative look. And when it comes to certain reserved list cards, you can really make a bargain by adopting some of these Magic orphans. Where cards such as Yawgmoth’s Will and Survival of the Fittest will cost you around 35,00 € each for a nice specimen of the original English language printings from Exodus (or respectively upwards of 125,00 € and 210,00 € for the foiled Judge Rewards Promo versions) they can still be had for a lot less if you go for the WCD versions. The eternal staple Force of Will can, at the moment of writing, be found for as little as 10,00 € if you want a zero CMC counterspell with a stylish gold frame in your Cube.

Unfortunately, Wizards stopped printing the World Championship Decks and the limited supply is drying up fast, which you can see by following how few of the cards are available for sale and the ever-increasing prices of those cards.

MTG WCD Cards with Gold Border
Natural selection has kept the prices of gold-bordered cards down by making them less preyed upon by speculators. I paid 8,00 € for each of these two cards for my Cube.

Pimps Above and Beyond

If you are taking the pimping of your Cube to perfection, there are several paths to follow. Perhaps you want a uniform look where all your basic lands are foiled Rebecca Guay Standard Showdown Promos which, as you can see here, does not have to cost all that much.

On the other hand, going for a completely unique Cube may be extremely pricey, but if money is not an issue, then the wonderful world of altered cards is the perfect place to find the pieces to make your Cube look like no other. And the rest of us can always browse, enjoy the view, and dream. Next time, Cube for Squares will return to the world of actual Cube building. Until then, I look forward to reading any comments you may have about pimping your Cube. Feel free to share your thoughts, ideas, and experiences in the section below.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.

6 Comments

sanchonil(2018-04-02 23:21)

@earcari82 Yes, proxies is still the only way to achieve a fully foiled Legacy cube - at least for as long as the Reserved List stands. Real foiled dual lands remain a dream for now.

earcari82(2018-03-29 19:30)

Hi all!
I'm a cube player since 1997 and played different style of cubes (archetypes, themed, vintage, and now legacy)... I built my foil collection slowly and still not finisched.
Actually I bought several cards on MKM, and I'm about 83% from the total foil cube (impossible, due to duals and some cards that can't be foil).

sanchonil(2018-03-29 18:41)

It sounds like you got ripped off. I'm sorry to hear that.

I have never experienced any money involved in cube drafting.

Altered-by-Hotte(2018-03-29 13:22)

For learning and occasional games, cubes certainly have their justification. But I have the experience that the cube provider usually pursues a completely different interest, they use the resulting contacts usually to bring the often inexperienced teammates to their valuable cards, because basically everyone has something on decks even with it. It happened to me that, that me was given an offer maximum of 5€ each for my "Altered cards " without a glance, and that other participants were only drawn from the newly purchased booster and really valuable cards for little money were pulled or exchanged. For me since then: "No participation in cube offers " no matter who. MTG and its dealers offer fairly fairer and more honest formats in this respect. Just if cube owners advertise with many special cards in the cube I am particularly skeptical!

sanchonil(2018-03-29 12:52)

You are right, more reprints with foil and alternative art would be great.

But 87 % sounds nice and shiny - how about the basic lands? Did you go for a specific block or all different illustrations?

Gijoe(2018-03-29 11:45)

My Cube are 87% foil ;)
We need more reprinting foil cards to low price, and alternative art of cards to pimping.

;)

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