A Quick Guide to Constructing a Commander Cube

Do you want to build a commander cube?

Do you not want to spend more than 5 minutes to read it?

Then maybe I got you.

This piece is an abridged version of a much more detailed article that I'm taking too long to write. 

Your cube size will be highly dependent on the number of players you want to draft with. General rule of thumb is 60 cards per player with a minimum being 240 to support 480. You can add more variance/ players by adding more cards to your cube.

Section Breakdown and Intents

With 480 cards as our starting point, this would be the breakdown of how the cube can look like and what I recommend.

  • 60 Cards per Monocolored Section (300)
  • 6 Cards per Dual Color (60)
  • 3 Cards per Tri color (30)
  • 3 5 Color Cards
  • 57-60 Artifacts/Colorless 
  • 27-30 Lands
Before deciding on what cards to go in, decide how players are drafting and constructing their decks. Traditionally, most cubes follow normal draft rules, which means you do have to allocate slots to commanders. The other options that I see floating around are the Commander Masters draft rules, which are the traditional draft rule with a caveat that grants the monocolor commanders partner, loosening up some space in the dual color section, or the designated commander pack draft, which has the players drafting packs that are just commanders. Be sure to settle on this first as it does affect your cube design.

The tri-color section and dual color sections is what I would recommend slotting in first. It will set the foundation for your cube. 

For tricolors, commanders only since you have 3 slots. I suggest to have at least 1 of the choices being an independent, value commander to serve as a safe option.

For dual colors, the cards that give incentive to playing these certain combinations. If you draft is traditional, I recommend allocating half the slots to commanders, less if you aren't.

The monocolored section is how you control the pace and play environment. This is where you decide your curve, the different densities of enablers and reward cards, and raw power level. This is the main dish of your cube. When making decisions for this section the question I pose is "What does this section want to do and how does this contribute to the multicolor sections?"

The 5c section should be just value commanders. This is where greed piles and confused players end up. The power level of these card will depend on the ease of access you give mana.

The artifact/colorless section should be where you place utilities and universally good card to ensure that decks have access to the tools they need to be successful. This is where I would put mana fixing and hate pieces. You may also want to consider fatties like Myr Battlesphere in this section to free up slots in your other colors.

The lands section will be your most boring but integral part of your cube as the ease of mana heavily dictate the pace of the game. The less taplands you run the faster your games will be. In addition, having tri color and dual colored lands facilitate the more color intensive decks. Colorless utility lands will also find a home here since they can go into any deck. Lands that have colorbound abilities should be tied to the multicolor sections.

Card evaluation is going to be the hardest part. Since this is a limited environment you are looking to run versatile, open ended cards over narrow, specific cards for a smoother environment. Cards that are multifunctional or can enable multiple decks are king. 

Waterfront Bouncer is the perfect example of this. At face value for 1U, you get a 1/1 Merfolk Spellshaper with an activated ability. It may seem simple, however the application for cube goes deep. The ability can be used to bounce both your opponent's creatures and your creature. This makes for a solid setback as well as a tool to save your creatures or reuse their ETBs. BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE as you can use the discard cost as a discard outlet for decks that want it. This is combined with the merfolk tag, where it further supports that deck if you want to have it available to your players. This questions you should be concerned with is how these cards fit into your overarching vision of what your cube wants to be.

Other things to consider is the card's function and how often will it function. Straight power is not always better, if you don't find the gameplay you created entertaining.


Commanders should be a mix of enablers, reward, and value pieces. Commanders that can function as any multiple of these is better than commanders that excel at one of these things. With the access of reward commanders in the command zone, you can run less reward cards, freeing up space for cooler things.

  • Sythis, Harvest's Hand is an example of a reward. On its own the card is atrocious and is actually worse than a 2/2 Bear. She needs her deck to built around enchantments, otherwise she's dead weight. When her deck does come together though, the power of the deck is undeniable. 
  • Sidisi, Brood Tyrant is an example of an enabler. The card is solid at filling up the graveyard, but doesn't do much else.It can work independently, but the card really shines when you build a deck that can take advantage of its abilities.
  • Kenrith, the Returned King is an example of a pure value piece. The card as a whole is amazing and eveything Kenrith can do, any deck would want it. The main downside to the card is that it can be seen as plain or hard to build around.

Color Identity is a huge part of deck construction and a defining trait of the commander format. If you decide to follow it through, it makes categorizing cards easier since cards are considered multicolor or not. If you want to have deviations for this rule, your cube, your rules. 

Balance is the last thing you want to worry about when constructing your cube as it will change with the curator's opinion, but it will be one of the top things you consider as you make your changes. Don't be afraid to put pet cards in and don't be afraid to take them out either.

As part of balancing, make sure that each color has access to ramp, card draw, and removal. Remember, the color less section can be used to make up for these deficiencies. The multicolor section can function the same way, though it is less reliable and space is tighter.

Example and Starting Point

Below is a framework for a starting commander cube. Adjust to your own preference

Azorius (U/W): Blink, Artifacts, Group Hug
Dimir ( U/B): Reanimator, Artifacts, Theft
Rakdos (R/B): Artifacts, Sacrifice, Exile
Gruul (R/G): Stompy, Ramp, Lands
Selesnya (W/G) : +1/+1 counters, Lands, Group Hug
Izzet (U/R): Spells Matter, Artifacts, Politics
Golgari (B/G): Graveyard, +1/+1 Counters, Lands
Orzhov (W/B): Tokens, Sacrifice, Reanimation
Boros (W/R): Tokens, Politics, Artifacts
Simic (U/G): Ramp, Lands, Counters

Esper: Artifacts, Stax
Grixis: Spells Matter, Artifacts
Jund: Graveyard, Stompy
Naya: Ramp, Stompy
Bant: Counters, Blink
Jeskai: Spells Matter, Politics
Sultai: Graveyard, Ramp
Abzan: Counters, Graveyard
Mardu: Tokens, Sacrifice
Temur: Ramp, Stompy

5C: Lands, Legends

As you can see, I opted for more overlap in this framework to allow more synergies to exist. Laying it out this can help in preventing narrow/parasitic archetype that can be difficult to get off the ground. If you're concerned about blandness, the archetypes mentioned above are just the overarching theme. They generally have several routes you can take with them. 

Always remember, value.dek should always be available as an archetype. Consistent failure to manifest this deck might be a sign your cube is too narrow.

Below is a preliminary sample commander cube for starting out if you don't want to start from scratch. I'll also include my own list so you guys know what I'm actually playing with.

The End Step

Thanks for making it until the end. I am planning a much more indepth build guide for commander cube, however I want to get out a shorter version since it can get intimidating to read something so long. If you want more information on commander cube, I have other articles on this subject with card choices from new sets and build guides. If I'm missing anything or you think I should include some information, let me know in the comments.

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