Hello, I’m Caleb Gannon (calebgannonmtg on youtube, @calebgannonmtg on twitter), a PhD Scientist and Artist who loves brewing up wild decks. The one I am most remembered for is probably Fishelbrand where I used energy tap, burnt offering and rush of knowledge to build a storm deck out of delve creatures. There were some other good ones like like my trophy run with Mono Green Abzan Merfolk Soul Sisters which was as ridiculous and wonderful of a deck as it sounds.
I also absolutely love drafting cube and bringing together creative new takes on old archetypes (shallow grave primeval titan ramp, black/red birthing pod, empty the warrens + Gaea’s cradle storm etc). My motto is to do things creatively, but in a way that results in functional decks that are capable of winning reliably. I guess you could say I love to win as spectacularly as possible 🙂
The Powered Synergy Cube came about as a desire to maximize this potential within a cube: I wanted to cultivate an environment that allowed as much room for imagination and creativity as possible while still maintaining a genuinely competitive balance—essentially a brewers playground where all of the pieces to choose from are highly competitive.
To accomplish that goal I had to eschew a lot of cube traditions and get creative to make things actually work in practice. So be warned! This cube is likely to surprise you!
First, this cube is absolutely packed to the gills with archetypes. Many of them overlapping within the same colors or even colorless. Because of this, there are no defined rules for what a color pair should be doing. “Black-Red” isn’t just the colors for sacrifice. It’s also the colors for artifacts, madness, storm, dredge, zombies, spells, control, tokens, and plenty of other things.
[cryptbreaker, undead augur, blazing rootwalla, headless rider, scourge of nel toth]
The key is that all of the cards for these archetypes work together in a way that allows you to meld many different archetypes into one. Cryptbreaker is a zombie that discards cards, creates tokens and draws cards. You can play it with Undead Augur and go into zombies, Blazing Rootwalla for madness/discard, Headless Rider for sacrifice or Scourge of Nel Toth for all of the above!
[emry lurker of the loch, cranial plating, thopter foundry, engineered explosives, intruder alarm, Jeskai ascendancy, Lions eye diamond]
As another example: Emry Lurker of the Loch is a card that you can tap to cast artifacts from your graveyard. But artifacts is such a broad category! You can play Emry in aggressive artifacts with Cranial Plating, combo artifacts with Thopter Foundry / Scrap Trawler and control artifacts with Engineered Explosives and Ratchet Bomb. If that wasn’t enough, Emry can also be played in an Intruder Alarm combo lists with Memnite and Goblin Welder, storm, discard/madness with LED or even Jeskai Ascendancy combo by looping something like Black Lotus!
What I’m trying to show here is just how open-ended a single card in the cube can be, let alone how many different ways there are to meld archetypes into fun and unique decks. I’ve packed this cube with as many cards like this as possible to give you as much freedom as I possibly could.
As a side effect of this design approach, this cube has SO MANY COMBOS. Although rather than being specific 2 card combos like Deceiver Exarch/Splinter Twin, you will find more open ended combo pieces that can be used in variety of archetypes like Phyrexian Altar, Aluren, Nether Traitor, and Jeskai Ascendancy. Most decks will accidentally include some game ending combo loop, so definitely be on the lookout for unexpected interactions.
To make this all work, I had to create incentives for chasing these synergistic decks instead of the usual cube mantra of picking all the strong cards in your colors: I cut essentially all of the cards that are independently capable of taking over the game on their own. This means planeswalkers (t3feri, Jace the Mind Sculptor), big bois (Questing Beast, Grave Titan), modern horizons and direct to commander specials (Ragavan, Murktide Reagent, Hexdrinker, Wrenn and Six, Hullbreacher, Laelia the Blade Reforged etc).
As a result of this, winning the game can no longer be an afterthought of your cube drafting experience. During the draft you will need to craft a gameplan for what you want your deck to be doing and use that to guide your decisions. Always be asking yourself “what does my deck do and how will it win?”
[black lotus, ancestral recall, time walk, mox sapphire, mana crypt]
This point is especially interesting considering the cube is fully powered. That means black lotus, Ancestral Recall, Time Walk, Moxen etc. are in the cube. While these cards are the best enablers ever printed, I think you’ll soon realize that none of them are capable of winning the game on their own (aside from the rare but always amazing Ancestral Recall to deck your opponent). I know people are going to scoff at this, but trust me: this is a cube where you will be passing power for other cards your deck needs. Off-color moxen and colorless mana is not something that every deck wants badly enough to pick over other enablers. Gaea’s Cradle in elves is something I would take over Sol Ring, Bazaar of Baghdad in Hogaak is probably better than any other piece of power.
Lastly, the fixing in this cube is abundant and strong, which is necessary because the curve is VERY low and the first turns can be absolutely critical. There is no time to mess around with bad mana. I am running 3x of each fetch, 2x of each dual land, 2x of each shock and and 1 of each Triome. This way you can comfortably draft the decks you want without being limited by poor fixing. With every fixing land being either a fetch or a dual you can assemble a nearly constructed level manabase if you want to (and you should). Be wary though, 5 color goodstuff might be tempting but without all the single card win conditions you’re better off aiming for a synergistic deck. (Although you can totally run a 5 color synergy deck! All I’m saying is you need a plan beyond “take all the good cards” or you’ll be in for a bad time).
Enough of the intro, let’s talk about what you can do in this cube! Keep in mind this is nowhere near an exhaustive list, it is more of a highlights section of what the cube has to offer. You will often end up mixing and matching components from all of these strategies in one way or another. I have an extensive discussion about the cube on my website, as well as a deep dive into the specific synergies archetypes and interactions of each color to help guide you towards the fun things that are possible. I highly recommend reading this. Even after hundreds of drafts of this cube I am still discovering new and interesting archetypes.
[Allosaurus Shepherd, Priest of Titania, Wirewood Symbiote, gaea’s cradle]
That’s right! Green is not a traditional ramp deck at all. Instead it features a fully functional combo elves list. Play a large amount of cheap creatures, tap them for insane amounts of mana and use it to turn them all into dinosaurs with Allosaurs Shepherd, swing for crazy amounts with Finale of Devastation or just make enormous changelings with Mirror Entity (who is also an elf!)
[glimpse of nature, earthcraft, aluren, intruder alarm]
Don’t want a traditional elves list? You can use these enchantments to power up any creature deck into a full combo or storm list! Glimpse of Nature + Shrieking Drake can draw you into your Brain freeze, Thassa’s Oracle, Craterhoof Behemoth or anything else you can think of, and I’ve heard that Earthcraft is decent with Empty the Warrens and Chatterstorm. You can also run these cards in fair decks as additional mana or card advantage engines!
[yuriko, spelstutter sprite, Mana Drain, Time Walk]
Ninjas never looked so good with all of the disruption and interaction available in the vintage format. Cards like Snuff Out, Gush, Force of Will and Time Walk make a great disruptive core for these ninjas to shine. There are some aggressive creatures for early ninja hits like Ornithopter, Faerie Seer and Changeling Outcast. Or you can play the game slower and return some great value plays like Spellstutter Sprite and Thieving Skydiver with Ninjutsu.
[krark, ancestral recall, dreadhorde arcanist, Thing in the Ice]
There are so many strong 1 and 2 mana spells in this cube to really power up the spells archetype. Krark turns spells like Thoughtsize and Lightning Bolt into something absolutely terrifying for your opponent. These cheap spells are also great with cards like Dreadhorde Arcanist that can bring them all back.
[Hogaak, Bazaar of Baghdad, Vengevine, survival of the fittest]
Oh yeah, there is a fully functional Hogaak deck in this cube. Survival of the Fittest is an incredible card for this, being able to fill your graveyard with good stuff like Anger, Vengevine, Bloodgast and Hogaak himself while also letting you play a longer game with creatures like Squee, Goblin Nabob.
[Lion’s eye diamond, Rielle the everwise, containment construct, ox of agonas]
I included a madness/discard theme as well! While there are few cards that actually say “madness” on them, there are plenty of cards that are great to discard or reward you for doing so. Rielle the Everwise makes LED into a Black Lotus + Wheel of Fortune combined. Containment Construct lets you re-use cards discarded and turns LED into a pseudo Black Lotus! If you’ve run out of steam, you can cast that Echo of Eons or Deep Analysis you discarded earlier too.
[mayhem devil, korvold, phyrexian tower, goblin bombardment]
Sacrifice is awesome in this cube with a lot of different synergies going on. You can lean into combo stuff with Pitiless Plunderer, Empty the Warrens and Yawgmoth or opt for an aggressive deck with Juri, Mayhem Devil and Greater Gargadon. Don’t forget fetchlands work for sacrifice triggers! Sacrifice spreads across lands, creatures and artifact themes, so be open to things like Arcbound Ravager and Zuran orb if your deck is starting to look like they might fit!
[metallic mimic, putrid goblin, vizier of remedies, kitchen finks]
There are many persist combos floating around the cube as well! While not a dedicated archetype necessarily, having the ability to go infinite in a sacrifice or creature based deck and end the game on the spot can be incredibly useful.
[mishra’s workshop, cranial plating, nettlecyst, arcbound ravager]
Classic affinity gets powered up with vintage level enablers. Mishra’s Workshop and Sol Ring make for some terrifyingly explosive starts! A key thing to note is that white is the main color for artifact aggro, so while you might be drafting colorless cards you’ll want to look into white for supporting cards like Losheel Clockwork Scholar and Stoneforge Mystic.
[tolarian academy, krark clan ironworks, thopter foundry, scrap trawler]
These artifact enablers also work well in a combo-oriented shell too! The blue side of artifacts is often set up to go much bigger with things like Urza, Lord High Artificer and Thopter/Sword combos. And of course I included a full KCI combo shell. For those who don’t know how KCI combos work, you can read the full detailed description on my website to fill yourself in on how to make these cards work for you! You can also just get a ton of recursive value out of these cards without necessarily needing to go infinite.
[Black Lotus, Bonus Round, Yawgmoths Will, Underworld Breach]
There are so many different ways to storm in this cube. I’ve built a special mono-red bonus round copy spells archetype that I absolutely love. (Hint: Finale of Promise, Increasing Vengeance and Bonus Round work really well together). There is also traditional Yawgmoths Will Tendrils storm, Mono blue High Tide and a lot of secret archetypes like Rielle LED storm featuring Gamble + Containment Construct and Echo of Eons.
[fastbond, zuran orb, crucible of worlds, titania protector of argoth]
Triple fetchlands powers lands up substantially. Perhaps the strongest creature in the entire cube is Titania Protector of Argoth. While she might be easy to kill, if you are able to sacrifice all of your lands in response to a kill spell you can summon an enormous army in an instant! And if she manages to stick around things can get really scary for your opponent. Gitrog Monster and Korvold also tend to work nicely in this archetype (especially since fetchlands trigger Korvold).
[Auriok Salvagers, Black Lotus, Pyrite Spellbomb, Necrogen Spellbomb]
Auriok Salvagers + Black Lotus or Lion’s Eye Diamond allows you to make infinite mana. Pair that with one of the spellbombs and you can draw your entire deck, discard your opponent’s hands and burn them out! If you aren’t going infinite, Aurok Salvagers can provide good value by locking opponents out with Necrogen Spellbomb, drawing cards every turn with Mishra’s Bauble and geting back creatures like Walking Ballista.
[Second Sunrise, Black Lotus, Krark Clan Ironworks, Faith’s Reward]
Second Sunrise is probably the most ambitious archetype in the cube and not for the feint of heart. While I sadly had to remove my favorite enabler (Mon’s Goblin Waiters) to get it onto magic online, I still think the deck can work. There are tons of baubles and triple fetchlands to help you go off, plus some spicy enablers like Zuran Orb and of course Black Lotus and Tinker. The Sunrise cards are also an infinite combo with Dualcaster Mage + any sacrifice outlet.
Designing this cube was an incredible effort that I personally spent hundreds of hours on. But I didn’t do it all alone. My discord was incredibly helpful and willing to run test drafts for me so I could collect data very quickly about what archetypes were and weren’t working. They helped me identify which cards I should cut and were willing to entertain some of my more outlandish ideas. Without their help this cube would be nowhere close to as good as it is now. I would guess in total we have easily done 100 or more drafts of iterative testing and refining. And all that data was invaluable for balancing purposes and identifying problematic cards. There were quite a few changes I had to make so that this cube could run on MTGO, so if you are interested in making this cube in person, I recommend checking the CubeCobra page.
I will be recording and posting tons of videos of this cube to my youtube channel so be sure to check there to see what nonsense I get up to 🙂 I have also created a lot of videos about the creation process and deep dives into all the archetypes, plus will almost certainly be doing follow up vides with the data I gather from MTGO. Also I would absolutely love to see what decks you end up creating, you can share them using #calebsynergycube on twitter or in my discord! Thanks and I hope you enjoy my cube 🙂