Hello everyone! Alex back with a continuation of my previous article. In this segment I’m going to talk about one of the most interesting and fun alternative formats out there, the Cube. Now fair warning, this article is going to be absolutely massive. I won’t even be doing some random intro like my normal articles; instead, we’re going to jump right into things.
Every week or so, our little group here in Spokane busts out the folding tables and drafts some Cube. Since we are so invested in this concept, we have a lot of knowledge and experience when it comes to balancing the Cube. So not only are we going to talk about the different cards that you can add to a Cube, but we’re going to dive deep into our choices for the Cube, and what makes our list so dang cute!
What is the Cube?
For those of you not familiar with the concept of a Cube, let me give you the quick rundown. The Cube is originally a concept that comes from Magic the Gathering, a game in which it is much easier to play old cards with new cards. Because of the concepts of evolution and power creep, Pokemon is much harder to make a Cube out of. Just to clarify, I’m going to be talking about the most common type of Cube, singleton unlimited.
In short, a Cube is a gathering of around 600 cards that is then split up into pseudo “Booster Packs,” which are then drafted. Decks of either 40 or 60 cards are assembled, and a tournament is played to determine the winner. The amount of cards each player gets, along with the deck size, varies depending upon how many players are involved in the draft. For example, if there are 600 cards in your Cube, and you are playing with eight players, each player is going to get 75 cards. In this case, it would be best to divide the cards into 15 card packs, and randomly place those packs in front of players. Each person then takes turns booster drafting.
You may be familiar with booster drafting if you’ve been to a prerelease. In summary, you take a booster pack, open it, choose a single card from it, and then pass the rest of the pack to the person on your right. You then receive a booster minus one card from the player on your left and pick one card from it. This process then continues until all cards are used up. Once all the cards from the previous example are used up, you then take another 15 cards and do the same process, only in the opposite direction. The routine is the same with the Cube; the only difference is the possible amount of cards in each pack.
Once you have used up all of the cards in the Cube, you then make decks from those cards. In the eight person example, it is best to construct 60 card decks. But what about Energy? Basic Energy are always provided in unlimited fashion after the draft takes place. What we have found works best is that you trade your unused cards for the amount of Energy you would like to play in your deck. Special Energy cards are included in the Cube, so you have to draft those if you want them in your deck. There you have it, the basics of what a Cube is and how to draft it.
How to Build a Cube
Now, this is where it gets tricky. Since you’re basically creating your own format, it can be difficult to know what to put in and take out. I’ve always toyed with the idea of making a “Double Cube,” putting in nearly 1200 cards, but the draft for that would take forever. The only benefit from this would be the removal of the decision on what cards to include. Because of the limit, every card in my Cube (called Spokcube) is in there for a reason. A lot of thought and care went into the creation of Spokcube, and it is constantly changing to make sure it stays balanced.
The other tricky part about creating a Pokemon Cube is the evolution mechanic. It would be kind of boring if you only made a Cube with only Basic Pokemon. A lot of the most interesting cards over the years have come in the form of evolution, and since Pokemon emphasizes this mechanic so heavily in all other media forms, it would be a shame not to include it. This leaves you with a lot of dead cards. If you want to put a couple of Charizard in your Cube, you’re going to have to include the pre-evolutions as well, taking up precious space. Personally I choose to play a 8-6-4 line of every Stage 2, and a 6-4 line of every Stage 1 in Spokcube. I have seen some that run a 7-6-5 line, and I have seen some that run thinner 6-4-2 lines. It all comes down to personal preference. It’s a shame that you might end up with a pack of cards that has five boring Torchic in it (it actually happened to us last week) but that’s the joy of indulging in the randomness that is Cube.
Each type of Pokemon usually runs one single Stage 2 line, and one single Stage 1 line. After that, Basic, non-evolving Pokemon are added to make sure everything is all rounded out. A lot of the best starting Pokemon of all time come in the form of Basic Pokemon. Cards like Smeargle from Undaunted and Dunsparce from EX Sandstorm are great cards to include in every Cube, as they help boost the consistency of decks. Good support Pokemon also come in the form of Basic Pokemon, like Lapras from EX Legend Maker and Shaymin from Unleashed. This kind of feels like name dropping, but I’m just trying to give examples to get you hyped up.
Trainers, Supporters, Stadiums, and Special Energy come next, and they are some of the hardest things to balance in the Cube. For one, you probably are going to want to break the singleton rule and play multiple copies of strong cards like Switch and CARD NOT FOUND. Secondly, you’re going to want to have a good ratio of Pokemon to Trainers in each pack, so making sure you have enough room is also an issue. And finally, the most fun cards in the history of Pokemon come from the Trainer section. You may want to include Tickling Machine, but it’s one of those cards that will almost never see play because there are so many better options out there.
When it comes to my Cube, I have a little over a third Trainer, Supporter, Stadium, and Energy cards with the remaining two thirds being Pokemon. I would love to have more Trainer cards, but the room just isn’t there. You’ll find out quickly that after a draft is over, you will wind up with bits and pieces of evolution lines that nobody is trying to grab. Right away you can toss those out of your deck, so the decision isn’t too hard on what to play. If too many Trainers were in the Cube, the consistency of Pokemon and evolution lines would suffer. That happy balance only comes from testing and playing the Cube. When I was first building Spokcube, I sat down and dealt out sample packs over and over again, just to make sure everything was seemingly balanced. It will definitely take some time to find the ratio that works best for you.
This whole process will definitely take some time, and requires a vast knowledge of previous sets. I personally like to include at least one card from each set, so it’s always a challenge to find something space when a new set comes out. A couple of friends are working on creating another Cube for the Spokane / Coeur D’Alene area, and so far they’ve taken almost two months, and are still nowhere close to being done yet. Definitely take the time to go through various websites and such to look for different evolution lines and cool Trainers that will help make your Cube unique.
I know it’s kind of a cop out to include a section and then just say “go look at this other thing,” but in order to cut back on being repetitive during this series, I would recommend you give this article a quick glance: It’s called “An Elite Expansion.” Check out the sections titled “Balance Changes” and “Set-up and Game Play.” Since this is an unlimited format, we use the same rules for Elite Format and the Cube. Basically we change the ways the Poke-Bodies, Poke-Powers, Abilities, and Pokemon Powers all interact with each other. We also tweak the wording and gameplay of Trainer versus Item versus Supporter and such.
When I was first starting out, there was a blogger that devoted his time to showing examples of Cubes he had built and helped build. Unfortunately, his content ran out some time ago, and now there is really no good place to go to look at ideas for Cubes. Well fear not kiddos, that’s why I’m here! The bulk of this article is going to go over possible line choices, possible non-evolving Pokemon, and cool things you can do with your Trainer section. Before I get started with that, I am going to show you my current list for what we have in Spokcube!
If you’re too lazy to count or click on the link, here is a breakdown of every card type:
- Total Cards: 624
- Pokemon: 391
- Evolution Lines: 278
- Non-evolving Basics: 104
- LV. X: 9
- Trainers / Supporters / Stadiums / Energy: 233
- Items: 82
- Supporters: 63
- Tools: 16
- Ace Spec: 8
- Stadiums: 34
- Special Energy: 30
If you’re looking to make a smaller or larger cube, here is that same list, broken down into rough percentages:
- Pokemon: 63%
- Evolution Lines: 45%
- Non-evolving Basics: 17%
- LV. X: 1%
- Trainers / Supporters / Stadiums / Energy: 37%
- Items: 13%
- Supporters: 10%
- Tools: 3%
- Ace Spec: 1%
- Stadiums: 5%
- Special Energy: 5%
If you’re going to pick a different number of cards, I would go with ones that are divisible by 6, 8, 10, and 12. That way it is easy to do math when drafting cards. That’s why 12 works so perfectly! I like my Cube at 624 because of the randomness factor. We usually do our player math with the 600 cards in mind, then we deal out the remaining 24 cards to each player to give them three or four starting cards to help give them idea on what to draft.
I’ve tried many different lines here and there. The two biggest things you have to look for are balance and diversity. You want to stray away from the cards that basically just deal damage. Those are boring. Half of the fun of Cube is trying to find combos that normally you wouldn’t find. Sure, one type could be based around damage and such, but don’t do it too often in my opinion. As far as balance goes, you just want to make sure that the average HP of all lines are somewhat equal. That’s a good rule of thumb. Newer cards have more HP and also deal more damage, so if you use HP as a guideline, you won’t end up with a busted type. It doesn’t matter if you go for newer or older, as long as everything stays relatively balanced compared to each other. For instance, you could make the Stage 2 Metal Klinklang and the Stage 2 Lightning Eelektross. In that case, all other lines would have to have a similar power level to match.
Personally, the way I look at it, the more Abilities and Pokemon Powers, the better. Every time we play there always seems to be a new cool combo discovered. For example, back when we used to have Gyarados as our Stage 1 Water type, we used many of the Magikarp that have Rage or Flail. A friend I was cubing with then paired that with Dark and all of a sudden found out that a Darkness Energy from Neo Genesis could charge up that damage pretty well. That’s not really an example of Abilities interacting with each other, but you get the idea!
Now that the moment has finally come, grab something to drink, maybe a snack to nibble on, and buckle up, because this section is going to seriously help you out with building your own Cube! Sure, it might be a little heavy on me justifying my choices, but it’s a good starting place. It also might help you to get a deeper understanding of my thought process when deciding on a line and what cards to add.
Stage 2 Grass: Sceptile (Ruby & Sapphire 20, Stormfront 10, Emerald 10, and Primal Clash 8)
The main idea or theme behind Sceptile and the Grass Pokemon altogether is Energy manipulation. Two of the Sceptile in the line have the Poke-Power Energy Trans, which allows you to move Grass Energy around as you like. This effect combos incredibly well with Energy acceleration, something that is present in the Sceptile from Primal Clash. If you can get more than one Sceptile into play, and combo it with cards like Max Potion, CARD NOT FOUND, CARD NOT FOUND, and Blissey, you can create tank combos to which your Pokemon can live forever. These Sceptile also combo incredibly well with a couple of the Yanmega, but more on that in a minute. The one oddball from this group of four is Sceptile from EX Emerald. Status conditions have always been a weak spot in the Cube, which is something I’ve been meaning to change. If I end up altering a type to make room for status condition combos, this Sceptile will earn it’s spot. Right now it is in Spokcube to give a little extra balance to this archetype. If I ever feel like this line is starting to not get drafted as much, I will consider adding in either of the Sceptile from Arceus or the Sceptile from Great Encounters. Both options are solid ways to boost this Pokemon’s playability.
Stage 1 Grass: Yanmega (Supreme Victors 14, Legends Awakened 17, Triumphant 98, and Dragons Exalted 5)
There are many reasons to love Yanmega, since this line has everything you could want. The Yanmega from Supreme Victors works great in tandem with the Energy Transfer Sceptile, and the Sceptile from Primal Clash. There is an abundance of Energy acceleration in this combo that will boost consistency of any deck in the Cube. Yanmega from Legends Awakened gives spread decks much needed love, as spread is something that always remains a threat in the Cube. Dragons Exalted gives us a splashable Yanmega that we can throw into any deck for a backup attacker or free Retreat Pokemon. Then there is the star Yanmega himself; Yanmega Prime. Each of the above Yanmega has a specific upside in the forms of Bench damage, Energy acceleration, and splashability. Yanmega Prime has it all. The Poke-Body makes it so that you can throw it into any deck and be able to use your Energy attachment per turn to go to your Bench. The 40 snipe damage is also great for picking off low HP Pokemon that always get drafted, like Cleffa. There is also no shortage of other cards that make Yanmega Prime viable, such as Giratina from Platinum (#9), Copycat, Judge, and Battle Reporter, to name a few. Yanmega Prime always gets drafted and played. Sometimes I think about taking it out and swapping it to Yanmega from Phantom Forces to reduce its power. I haven’t done this yet because while Yanmega Prime is definitely a first or second rotation pick (meaning you pick it either right away, or after someone has passed on it once) I have also seen it fail. If you don’t manage to grab any of the cards that combo well with the Poke-Body, it can just sit there as wasted space.
Grass Non-Evolving Notables
Most all of the non-evolving Pokemon in the Cube are going to be high priority picks, since many of them are great cards in their own merit. In order to cut down on words and not drag on this article with a deep analysis of every single card, I’m going to highlight three picks from each type.
- Card I have to justify: Pinsir from Next Destinies
- Card that needs a bit more love: Celebi from XY Black Star Promos
- Card that needs to be in every Cube: Exeggcute from Plasma Freeze
We’ll start from the bottom up on this one. Exeggcute from Plasma Freeze is too good to omit from the Cube. In fact, I would be as bold to say this card is one of the best “61st” cards in the Expanded format. It’s always one of those cards you want, but don’t need in every deck. However, in the Cube you aren’t limited to space with 600 cards to choose from, so I would definitely keep one of these puppies in. Recently a friend has been drafting this card alongside Blissey from Platinum. If you can manage to get your hands on both of these Pokemon, you have yourself a near guaranteed way to heal 20 damage from your Active Pokemon every single turn. While that may not seem impressive if you’ve only played standard formats, it is game changing in the Cube format.
Celebi is one of the newest additions to the Cube. I can’t exactly remember the change we made to introduce this card, but ever since it’s been added, I’ve seen it been drafted ahead of cards that normally go higher. With that being said, I think this card, under the right circumstances, could be a first or second rotation pick. We added this guy in to give a much needed boost to the spread / snipe decks. We haven’t seen the rise that we wanted to, but the opportunity is there. The Ability is also fairly game changing. One of these times someone is going to draft the most busted spread deck, and we are going to look at this card and wonder why we would put such a busted card in the Cube.
And the last notable inclusion is Pinsir from Next Destinies. I have always been defending the removal of this card ever since I introduced the Cube to my buddies. While many people have tried and failed, there has one ever been one successful mill deck ever created in the Cube. Pinsir was put in to help that concept and give it a bit more weight. Outside of Grass decks, Grip and Squeeze will almost never get used (In fact, I don’t think anyone has ever used that attack in the Cube). The sole reason behind Pinsir is Power Pinch, an attack that is amazing with the slap of a Double Colorless Energy. Also, I feel like this card could and should see more play in Expanded, but that’s just me. If you’re looking at making mill a possibility in your Cube, include this card!
Other Line Options
Bellossom / Vileplume
If you ever want to be the guy who puts a heavy amount of Item-lock into your Cube, Vileplume is the way to go. With four different Vileplume that establish a lock, you can always get your hands on them if you need to. Bellossom also provides some steady healing if that is what you’re after.
A weaker Stage 2 line for sure. If you include this, I would also heavily favor putting in Forest of Giant Plants alongside Broken Time-Space. But think about how many cool things Beedrill has going on. There’s the Beedrill from Primal Clash that has Allergic Shock, an attack that is underwhelming in Standard, but would be awesome in Cube. There’s CARD NOT FOUND that can be used in combination with Life Dew to Paralyze-lock over and over again. Beedrill from Skyridge can also establish a cool Paralyze-lock loop. Most of Beedrill’s attacks are lacking, and the lower HP makes for a Pokemon that falls just short of Cube worthy.
Right now we have Blissey in the Cube as the designated heal Pokemon, but if you wanted to adjust off of that and go with another option, Cherrim is a good inclusion. Some of these Pokemon can also be added to give Grass Pokemon a bit of a boost if need be.
This Pokemon would be a great way to establish a Special Conditions focused archetype, with good ways to fit in Confusion, Paralysis, and Poison. You also have the added benefit of the insanely good Roserade from Dragons Exalted. I used to play this card in the old Empoleon / Dusknoir decks before it was cool, and I miss it dearly. I would considering adding this line in just to relive the good ‘ol days.
Other Pokemon with cool mechanics are Jumpluff, Venusaur, Sunflora, and Tangrowth.
Fire Stage 2: Blaziken (Furious Fists 14, Platinum 3, Power Keepers 5, and Great Encounters 1)
Now, Fire has always been one of the hardest lines to balance and define. The problem is that most Fire Pokemon have the tendency to want to discard Energy cards when they attack. So it becomes our job to find some form of Energy acceleration to combat this issue. However, we walk then that fine line between a Pokemon that becomes too broken with self generating Energy, and that undraftable status. Enter Blaziken. This Pokemon has just the right amount of various effects and attackers that you can balance it to your liking just off of the available cards alone. Usually with lines you’re forced in to taking the best four cards, but not with this guy. There are two Blaziken who have the Ability Firestarter to help with the Energy flow. I could have added both of them to aid in the acceleration process, but I chose just one to keep it from reaching that “broken” status. Instead I went with more of a focus on the two Blaziken that have Clutch (yes, there is a third from Ruby & Sapphire, but the damage output isn’t great). The idea becomes to use the Blaziken from Platinum to Burn the opposing Pokemon, then hold it in place with Clutch. Once you have taken a couple of Prizes this way, you can then start discarding Energy to deal massive damage.
Blacksmith just makes this combination insanely good, and if you can get your hands on a solid Blaziken line, you’re likely to win more often than not. I have refrained from adding in Burning Energy in fear of making Fire too good. Once upon a time, we had Charizard in the Cube with no Burning Energy or Blacksmith. This caused Fire to literally never be drafted ever. Like I said, it’s a fickle beast to balance. Blacksmith might be on its way out as well, but that has yet to be seen.
Fire Stage 1: Ninetales (Primal Clash 21, Gym Challenge 3, Platinum 36, Dragon’s Exalted 19)
There is definitely no shortage of cool things that Ninetales brings to the table. While there may be better options for damage dealers in the Fire type, there is no better option for support Pokemon. Since I consider Blaziken to be on the upper half of the type tier list, the background character of Ninetales brings much needed balance. Of course, you could always play Ninetales from Unleashed or Ninetales from Mysterious Treasures if a boost is needed, but I like the four that are in there right now. Stadiums aren’t a huge part of the Cube, but if you ever find yourself revolving around a specific one, then Ninetales from Primal Clash should be a high priority. To be honest, I don’t know why this card isn’t used more often. Usually it hovers around the 6th or 7th rotation mark. Ninetales from Platinum is the definition of balance when it comes to a form of attacking acceleration in the Cube. Ninetales from Dragons Exalted is awesome for that instant Gust of Wind effect, but both of them fail in comparison to Brock’s Ninetales from Gym Challenge. I have always wanted to make this card work in the Cube, but can never get my hands on the right combination of cards. If you don’t know what it does, definitely look it up. It’s easily the most unique card ever designed, and the possibilities behind it are endless. If a time comes when I win a Cube with this card, I will surely let all of you know!
Fire Non-Evolving Notables
- Card I have to justify: CARD NOT FOUND
- Card that needs a bit more love: Moltres from Fossil
- Card that needs to be in every Cube: Victini from Noble Victories
Every time that we go to look at the Cube and decide what needs to be adjusted, we always seem to be coming back to CARD NOT FOUND. I seriously don’t think this card has ever really been drafted and played in a deck ever. I can see why people might have a problem with it, seeing how it only shuts off Bodies on Evolved Pokemon, which aren’t in abundance in the first place. I always like to keep it in for the off chance that Ampharos ever becomes big, or if Glaceon LV.X starts seeing more play. It’s just a solid counterplay option that you might not expect to hit the field.
Moltres from Fossil is an awesome card that never truly gets to shine. When you talk about milling decks, you generally think about the Durant and Bunnelby that are in the Cube. The problem is finding a way to charge up and keep Moltres alive and going. I think if you had enough scoop cards and revive cards, you could combo Moltres from Fossil with Moltres from Majestic Dawn and Shaymin from Unleashed to mill a whole stack of cards at once. Sprinkle in Blacksmith and maybe Blaziken from EX Power Keepers and you could have yourself a nice little milling combo. It would be incredibly hard to pull off, but it would be the coolest win you would ever have.
And lastly, there aren’t really many cards from the non-evolving Fire Pokemon that really need to be in every Cube, so I’m going to shoehorn Victini from Noble Victories in here. Currently, there aren’t many cards that rely on flips every singly turn. Sure, there are those little Pokemon like Piplup from Dark Explorers and Tyrogue from Neo Discovery that could benefit from this card, but you also have the big boys like Metagross from Undaunted to think about. It’s just one of those cards that’s never really bad to have in your Cube, as you never really know what combos this could create. Anything with some sort of Paralyze effect would love to have this card. Trick Coin is also included in the Cube, but if you had to chose between the two, I think Victini stays in more often than not. It’s a great card not to be overlooked.
Other Line Options
The reason we’ve never really tried out Infernape is because of speed. Most of the Infernape available have incredibly low attack costs that hit like a truck. Not to mention the free Retreat on top of it all. This line does have a pretty cool LV. X, so if you’re looking to include more of those, this could be a solid route to take. If Fire also just doesn’t seem to be getting drafted as often, then Infernape will definitely change that. It’s not broken, but it is a top tier pick.
Fire Recharge, Fire Boost, Heat Up, Bursting Up, Firestarter, Afterburner. All names of Abilities that accelerate Energy from either the deck or the discard that are printed on Typhlosion. Most of the attacks on these cards are subpar, so I would include this Stage 2 line if your Stage 1 Fire is a damage dealer that needs Energy acceleration. Right now since we have Ninetales, a support focused Pokemon, we have chosen to stray away from the second generation starter.
This would be the best route to take if you’re looking at making the Stage 1 Fire the damage dealer, and the Stage 2 Fire the support. There aren’t really any cool Abilities that make for flashy combinations with other cards. Instead, you’re mainly going to be playing a strictly Fire deck. Grabbing cards like Blacksmith will really help this guy take off. If you play Magmortar and Typhlosion, consider putting in Burning Energy, as then you could create the Fire archetype to be it’s own little thing. It wouldn’t play well with other types, but it is an option.
Water Stage 2: Empoleon (BREAKThrough 38, Platinum 26, Stormfront 2, Majestic Dawn 17, Diamond & Pearl 120)
This is a Pokemon that I have never fully understood. On the surface it seems like a really good combination of cards. Everything has a low attack cost, everything has a high HP, there are some cool effects splashed in and the damage output is fairly decent. But in all of our drafting, Empoleon has never taken the top spot. The support is there too. If you can get your hands on Rough Seas, Dive Ball, and Splash Energy, you can really roll with this. The snipe damage from Empoleon from Platinum and Empoleon from Majestic Dawn can really hurt a slow set up from an opponent. Add in disruption from Empoleon LV.X, Empoleon from Stormfront, and Empoleon from Platinum and you have yourself a really balanced line. The Empoleon from BREAKthrough is nothing to shake a stick at either, with 70 damage coming from just two Energy attachments, plus the added bonus of Dignified Fighter makes this Penguin a force to be dealt with.
But I keep coming back to the question of why this Pokemon has never seen victory. It’s definitely not the weakness, since Lightning Pokemon have always struggled to stay afloat in the Cube. It can’t be the slow nature of evolving Stage 2 lines, since we’ve have plenty of Stage 2 lines win Cube. Just last night, Machamp won having no search cards and around 16 Energy. It was crazy! I guess it could be the heavy Retreat Cost? But there are ways around that as well. I guess what I am trying to say, is that Empoleon is a great choice for the Cube. It’s not busted and it’s not bad. I don’t think there is really a better option.
Water Stage 1: Milotic (Dragon Frontiers 5, Primal Clash 44, Flashfire 23, Dragons Exalted 28)
This Pokemon is actually the newest change to the Cube. Most Cubes I’ve seen play Gyarados, and we were not exception. But we found out that Gyarados from Stormfront was controlling the format, especially in Spokcube. If the rest of our Cube was a little bit more powerful, and we had better attacking Stage 1 Pokemon, we might consider putting Gyarados back in. Instead, we’re going with the more support focused Milotic. There are a lot of cool combinations you can pull off here, especially with the Milotic from Flashfire. It’s never a bad thing to grab one of these lines and toss it into a deck. Cube is a slower format, so Milotic from Dragons Exalted is insanely good, especially if you’re playing a good Ace Spec like Life Dew or Rock Guard. Then after it gets knocked off, use Primal Clash's Milotic‘s Sparkling Ripples to get it back. You’ll also notice that all of the Milotic have an attack that does 60 damage. This isn’t really part of the strategy of this line, I just thought it was cool.
Water Non-Evolving Notables
- Card I have to justify: Relicanth from Call of Legends
- Card that needs a bit more love: Floatzel GL from Rising Rivals
- Card that needs to be in every Cube: Lapras from EX Legend Maker
I’m always amazed on how low Floatzel GL from Rising Rivals falls every time we Cube. Getting back Supporters with VS Seeker, Lysandre's Trump Card, or Marley's Request has always been a fantastic thing to do. With Floatzel GL, you don’t just get Supporters back, they go straight back to your hand. Even better is that it attacks for free, meaning it can be thrown into any deck out there. Decks that rely on strong Supporter cards should definitely pick this guy up. Stuff like Blacksmith in Fire decks and Copycat in Yanmega decks are great things to recycle over and over again. We’ve also considered putting in Floatzel GL LV.X to buff Water a little more. If you’re a fan of LV. X Pokemon, definitely think about these two cards.
Lapras from EX Legend Maker is a first round pick every time no matter what for me. Having the same Ability as Jirachi-EX while being on a non-EX Pokemon is just too good to pass up. It’s also Level Ball and Dive Ball searchable, which makes getting it out super easy. We’ve even considered banning it at one point because it is too good. If you think that’s the case as well, then consider switching to the before mentioned Jirachi-EX to give it a little added balance. Or play one of each and be a cool kid. I don’t, so I’m not a cool kid…
Now I could have easily copped out and put CARD NOT FOUND for the card I have to justify, but I already covered the same sort of stuff in the Fire section. Relicanth from Call of Legends is more commonly the card that people point to and ask “Why?” Well because I like weird ideas in my Cubes, and I dream of making Mew Prime work. Relicanth is one of the few ways for that dream to come true. It would be really cool to be able to combine Mew Prime and Brock’s Ninetales in a weird sort of toolbox deck. Absol Prime also fits the bill for support on Mew Prime. So until then, Relicanth stays in. Plus, it’s a good mid game draw support Pokemon. You can throw away all of your lackluster starting Pokemon that you don’t need anymore, such as Sableye from Stormfront or Dunsparce from EX Sandstorm.
Other Line Options
The King of all Water Pokemon himself. The main problem I have with adding in Blastoise is the balance of it all. Either you’re going to be adding in a Blastoise that’s too good, or one that isn’t that great. Making sure to keep him in check with the rest of the other Pokemon lines is going to be a tall order for sure. Adjusting the Trainers to make sure he’s not too over the top can be a solution, but sometimes that can be more trouble than it’s worth.
If you’re looking for something a little bit faster than Empoleon, then Kingdra is your solution. It’s basically the Infernape of the Water Pokemon. About two years ago we did Kingdra as our Water Stage 2, and it was absolutely busted. Perhaps we could have nerfed it a little bit by playing different Kindra then we used, but that can be up to you. It’s one of those things where you also have to buff everything else if you’re going to do Kingdra.
Froslass / Glalie
Milotic, Gyarados, and the Snorunt Pokemon are pretty much the only Stage 1 Water Pokemon you can run. There is a lot of spread attacks in this line, while also offering some cool support as well. The Snow Gift Froslass from Arceus would be a must have in any Cube with this line. Glalie from Mysterious Treasures is also a very unique Pokemon that could bring some balanced form of lock into the Cube. These cards wouldn’t be over the top broken, but you could balance them out very nicely with the other Stage 1 Pokemon.
Lightning Stage 2: Ampharos (HeartGold & SoulSilver 105, Platinum 1, Secret Wonders 1, Team Rocket Returns 2)
I’ll be honest with you, I’m not the biggest fan of this line at all. Originally, I designed it as a pseudo-disruption / annoying archetype, with damage falling from different places and quickly. However, we have found that you need to get three or four Ampharos out to even start to be frustrating. This line could definitely use a buff. By the time this article gets posted, I can almost guarantee you that I will have changed one or two of the Pokemon in this line. The best addition I could think of would be to add Ampharos from HeartGold and SoulSilver to soften the higher Energy requirements needed for the deck. In this instance, I could also throw in the Ampharos from EX Unseen Forces to make it all that much more fluid. However, I’ve always been hesitant to do this because I don’t want to ruin the identity of Ampharos. If I made these changes, the line would become a poor man’s Sceptile line.
Another way to buff the line while keeping it the same would be to add in the Ampharos from Dragons Exalted. This card might be a little bit too good on its own, but right now nobody is drafting Ampharos. I could still add in the Ampharos from HeartGold and SoulSilver and be able to keep the identity while also making Ampharos a bit more draftable. This would also probably add to the ever declining value of Raichu as well, since the Energy requirements for that bad boy can be pretty daunting as well. This is something I should definitely try to mess with. Ampharos is my second favorite Pokemon, so I’m not going to give up quite yet!
Lightning Stage 1: Raichu (Stormfront 8, Stormfront 99, Mysterious Treasures 15, BREAKThrough 49, Undaunted 83)
I’ll be honest with you, I’m not the biggest fan of this line at all. Man, maybe Lightning just needs a complete overhaul? The problem with Raichu is the same problem we have with Ampharos, too high of an Energy cost with very little acceleration. Most of the Raichu’s attacks also require you to discard the Energy attached. So how can we fix this issue now? The Raichu from EX FireRed and LeafGreen seems to be a good inclusion. I’ve been meaning to take the Raichu from BREAKthrough out, since there aren’t very many Pokemon-EX in my Cube. I hesitate to add Raichu from XY in because of how powerful it can be, especially splashed into any deck. We have contemplated taking out Flareon from Plasma Freeze for the same reason. The Raichu LV.X also rarely seems to get drafted, but that also deals with the lack of Energy acceleration. A combination that people have yet to draft and / or discover is using Raichu Prime with Speed Gain on Rayquaza from Legends Awakened. I really enjoy this combination, so hopefully someone will see those two together soon and run the tables with it. Then I can more accurately justify Raichu being in Spokcube.
Lightning Non-Evolving Notables
- Card I have to justify: Pachirisu from Phantom Forces
- Card that needs a bit more love: Pachirisu from Great Encounters
- Card that needs to be in every Cube: Pichu from HeartGold and SoulSilver
I’m am always so shocked when I see Pachirisu from Great Encounters fall down to pick five or six. It happens literally every single Cube. There isn’t much more that can beat a turn one CARD NOT FOUND in attack form. EX Sandstorm's Dunsparce always seems to get picked up much earlier because of the ability to switch into a wall after the attack is used. But Pachirisu at least has a pretty solid second attack as well. 40 damage and discarding a Tool is nothing to shake a stick at, especially on a starter Pokemon that you will only attack with once or twice at most in a game before it becomes useless. I honestly think the real reason that nobody ever seems to pick this card up early is because it has a lot of words on it. Come on people, quit being lazy!
Switching gears to another Pachirisu, this one from Phantom Forces. It’s Trick Sticker time baby! I could probably go on for a few sentences about how this card balances out Lightning ever so slightly, by being able to play cool combinations and hit everything for a whole bunch of damage. I could also make the excuse for how the second attack, Pachi, is just so dang cute! But the real reason this is in the Cube, is because it’s one of the few cards that is purely in there for fun. Sometimes I get caught up in all of the strategy of the Cube, wanting to optimize every card so that we get the most use out of our 600 spaces. But every so often, we need to remind ourselves that the Cube, while beneficial to the deck building skill, is really created for fun. Pachirisu is in there for fun!
And finally, getting to the end of the Electric Mouse section, is Pichu from HeartGold and SoulSilver. This card is undeniably one of the best starters of all time. Sometimes searching cards can be hard to come by in the Cube, and usually those searching cards are quite lackluster. Pichu not only has the ability to fill up your Bench with all of the goodies of your deck, but it has that chance to fall Asleep and stall out your opponent for a few turns. Sure, it might be a liability on your Bench later, but the free Retreat usually eases that concern right away. It definitely needs to be in every version of the Cube.
Other Line Options
When it comes to other Stage 2 lines, your best bets are Luxray and Magnezone. Luxray is your power option, using quick hitting attacks and having high HP. It’s cool, but not the best. Magnezone has remained, and always will be one of the most busted Pokemon lines you can put into your Cube. In one of my upcoming articles, I’m going to talk about a format called U150, Magnezone will definitely be at the forefront of that discussion, and you will fully see why this Pokemon is so good. I don’t want to go on and on about how good this Pokemon is for the Cube, but know that the only reason I don’t have it in right now is because I had it in for about three years, and wanted a change of pace in Ampharos. I’m still regretting that decision…
The Electivire LV.X of this line would work very well with the Ampharos line. It would also be pretty cool to play Magmortar as well and get some tag team action there. Rayquaza from Legends Awakened would be really good in a Cube that had Electivire and Magmortar, but I would let it happen just to see some cool stuff go down.
If you’re ever in need of another support Pokemon line, look no further than Electrode. We all know about the Electrode that blow up and attach Energy, but there are some other Electrode that fit well in the Cube besides these. Plasma Freeze and Stormfront both provide us with a cool Electrode that will provide cool effects for your Cube.
I love the idea of Manectric being the quick, low Energy requiring Stage 1 Pokemon that every Cube would love to have. While this line doesn’t boast the most unique effects, the Pokemon are well balanced enough to provide some solid structure for your Lightning line. Manectric from Platinum is an MVP of this line for sure, and Manectric ex from EX Deoxys could provide some cool Trainer-lock scenarios.
Psychic Stage 2: Gardevoir / Gallade (Platinum 8, Secret Wonders 6, Secret Wonders 7, Ancient Origins 54, Secret Wonders 131)
If I were good at math and I were to give a rough estimate on how often the Gardevoir line gets drafted in a Cube, I would say by the most conservative of estimations, that this line gets drafted 100% of the time. I’m sure it has something to do with the Pokemon being a lot of people’s favorite (shoutout to Chris Houser) but it might also have something to do with its power. Over the years it has been very hard to balance this line, since almost every Gardevoir or Gallade every printed has been amazing. I humbly think that the combination of the four we have now are probably the most balanced out there.
Gardevoir from Secret Wonders is at the front of the pack, being the sole provider for consistency of the line. Usually this by itself provides enough support to power the line, and bring multiple Gardevoir into play. Psychic Connect, mixed with Teleportation brings a little bit of fluidity to the deck. Gallade and Gardevoir from Ancient Origins both have great attacks that can take cheap, fast KO’s from anywhere. All-in-all, Gardevoir will always be top tier no matter how you slice it.
I’m going to touch on this in a bit, but it’s actually kind of crazy how many Psychic options there are for lines. Gardevoir is the most popular, so I stick with what the people want. But there are about five or six or more options out there for ways to make your Psychic lines work.
Psychic Stage 1: Drifblim (Diamond & Pearl 24, Stormfront 16, Dragons Exalted 51, Undaunted 12)
The best decision we ever made, was ditching the Slowbro / Slowking line, and putting in these Balloons. This line is the true definition of a support Pokemon. Every single one of them can be splashed into all decks, and provide some cool effects that will either boost consistency or damage. The Drifblim from Stormfront has become a high priority pick not only because of Lifting, but because Delivery is one of the few ways to recycle used cards. And then you add on that most of these Pokemon have free Retreat as well. I really hope for the day that someone is able to get the Take Away donk with the Drifblim from Undaunted. And while Special Energy aren’t super prominent in the Cube, Shadow Steal can still prove to be a mighty attack late game. I don’t think we’ll ever switch off of Drifblim.
Psychic Non-Evolving Notables
- Card I have to Justify: Unown G from Great Encounters
- Card that needs a bit more love: Mew-EX from Legendary Treasures
- Card that needs to be in every Cube: Uxie from Legends Awakened
As a note, I could have put Mew Prime instead of Mew-EX, but I didn’t want to rehash my thoughts on the Lost Zone concept like I did for the Relicanth part above. Mew-EX is one of the few Pokemon-EX in the Cube, and I think that’s why people tend not to pick it. I think it has a high draft priority, especially if you manage to get your hands on Dimension Valley. Sure, it has the extra Prize penalty if it gets KO’d, but the Ability to copy any attack on the field cannot be overrated. Since this is a singleton format, you may not get your hands on the correct set up Pokemon, or rather, the Pokemon that you like the most. Mew-EX allows you to abuse your opponent’s set up Pokemon that slipped by you in drafting. Also because of the singleton nature of the Cube, it can be beneficial to have Mew-EX act as a second copy of some of your attackers, so you don’t have to try to dig them back out of this discard pile when they get Knocked Out.
Unown G is a card that always seems to be taking up space in the Cube. While I agree, it’s probably the first card I would cut, I also see its value. If status conditions ever get big, this card will rise greatly in stock. I also think this card is a fantastic aid to combating the rising popularity of Carnivine from Dark Explorers and Heatmor from Plasma Storm. You’re never going to be truly upset when you draft this card. It may not make it into every deck, but it will never fall to the later rounds of the draft process either.
And what can I say about Uxie from Legends Awakened that hasn’t been said already. For those of you that didn’t play back then, or for those of you that have never heard of a card called Shaymin-EX, let me give you the run down. This card allows you to fill your hand back up to seven without playing your Supporter for the turn. Crazy right? Level Ball searchable as well. I have never seen this card in the third round of a draft, and I don’t expect that to change any time soon. I have Uxie in the Cube and not Shaymin-EX because I prefer to keep my Shaymin-EX out so I can use them in Standard. Once that card gets rotated, you bet it will find a sleeve in the Cube.
Other Line Options
Oh boy, where to start? There are so many good options here, so I know for sure I’m going to forget some. Please don’t hurt me!
Fun fact, there are only five non-reprint versions of Kadabra, so you’d have to double up on one of those if you played this line. That also means you’re quite limited on what Alakazam you can play. Even so, there are a couple that truly stand out. Alakazam from Base Set can move damage around, Sabrina’s Alakazam and Alakazam from Expedition can copy attacks, and the Alakazam from Mysterious Treasures can block Poke-Powers. A lot of cool things here.
Are you a fan of spread, snipe, and Poison? Then we have got the line for you! I’ve always wanted to try this line out, even with another Pyschic Stage 2, just because of how splashable Crobat can be. We’ve seen it in Standard with both Seismitoad-EX and Raichu, so why not in the Cube? Oh, and there’s a Crobat that can Trainer-lock as well, so even more reasons to give this guy a whirl.
Ugh, there are too many cool Dusknoir. Seriously, you can’t really go wrong with any of them you pick. The thing you’ll have to watch out for if you draft these guys, is the support nature of the Pokemon. It’s not going to be a line that you add to draft on its own, but rather a line to help out some of the other choices in your deck. Also Dusknoir LV.X is really cool, and will actually make people want to draft Stadiums.
Similar to Alakazam, there are many cool effects that Gengar can bring to the table. My personal favorite would have to be the Lost Zone buff. I don’t know which would be more cool, to have a deck based around Mew Prime, or a deck based around Gengar Prime with Lost World in the Cube. I don’t think I’m brave enough to take out Gardevoir and try this out, but it sounds cool in my head.
Seriously there aren’t that many good Psychic Claydol. The only real reason to play this is do you can draft Claydol from Great Encounters. That’s pretty much it.
Going back to the status condition conversation, if you ever wanted to have an archetype designed around Sleep, Hypno is your guy. If you decide to do this, might I suggest a few cards? Darkrai G from Rising Rivals, Darkrai from Majestic Dawn, Sleep!, and Hypnotoxic Laser will all be good inclusions for this archetype.
Fighting Stage 2: Machamp (Triumphant 26, Stormfront 20, Diamond & Pearl 31, Power Keepers 11, Stormfront 98)
There aren’t a ton of interesting Stage 2 Fighting Pokemon out there to choose from unfortunately. Most all Fighting Pokemon center around dealing a lot of damage, and that’s about it. So that’s what mindset we went into with picking a line. The big problem has always been Energy cost and Energy acceleration. You have to get a little bit more creative when it comes to charging up Fighting Pokemon. We’ve thought about including Landorus from Furious Fists, but we know that most people would just use that for Sky Lariat instead of Shout of Power. We went with the low cost Machamp to try and combat the high Energy cost of the other Stage 2 lines you can play for Fighting.
The best of the bunch is probably the Machamp from Stormfront with the attack Take Out. The ability to instantly Knock Out Basic Pokemon is not only fantastic in sanctioned Pokemon tournaments, but in the Cube as well. If only there was a card like this in today’s Standard format. Revenge and Vital Throw on the Machamp from Triumphant and Machamp from Diamond and Pearl work great in tandem with Machamp LV.X, providing a solid damage output to KO high HP Stage 1 and Stage 2 Pokemon. And just in case we get crazy and start adding in Pokemon-EX, we have the Machamp from EX Power Keepers for backup in that department. All in all, this line is a lot faster than you would expect, with a decent amount of support behind it.
Stage 1 Fighting: Donphan (Plasma Storm 72, HeartGold and SoulSilver 107, Secret Wonders 48, Neo Discovery 21)
No fancy “Oh hey this Pokemon is really good” introduction needed here. Donphan Prime is probably one of the single most high priority picks in the Cube. Its high damage output for one Energy makes it splashable in almost every Cube deck, adding on the tank line nature with the combination of some of the healing we cards we have and Exoskeleton. This card has definitely been the focus of many debates on what Fighting Stage 1 to really go with. I personally am on the side of the fence that wants to keep this card around. Not because of the Prime, but because of the hit and switch archetype that is missing from the Cube. One of the very first Cube decks we made was a Spinning Turn focused wall deck with high HP Basic Pokemon and Baby Pokemon. That being said, we could just take out the Prime, but then where would the fun be in fighting over Donphan? Plus, this gives people a reason to draft Water Pokemon to exploit the Weakness of the Prime. A constant debate.
Fighting Non-Evolving Notables
- Card I have to justify: Sawk from Black and White
- Card that needs a bit more love: Sudowoodo from BREAKpoint
- Card that needs to be in every Cube: Tyrogue from HeartGold and SoulSilver
It was really hard to find three Pokemon to fit the bill for this section, as I think a lot of the Fighting non-evolving Pokemon are very underwhelming. That might be because there aren’t a whole lot of interesting effects out there, or we’re just not very good at this game. I chose Tyrogue from HeartGold and SoulSilver for the must have card in every Cube because of how good it can be in the early stages of the game. If you’re going for a more aggressive approach with less set up Pokemon, then Tyrogue is the way to go, since he can be thrown in any deck. There aren’t many other 30 HP Pokemon to take advantage of cheap Knock Outs early, but you can apply a little bit of pressure to those low HP starter Pokemon every deck drafts.
Speaking of early game pressure, another Pokemon that can apply that concept in Fighting based decks only is Sawk from Black and White. I always see this card passed up and I think I understand why. When people see it, they think Standard, and think of the underwhelming power that this Pokemon brings. But with a little bit of help from damage modifiers like Strong Energy and Muscle Band, this card can take those early cheap Knock Outs that will get you ahead real quick.
And finally to one of my most favorite new cards of the Cube, Sudowoodo. There haven’t been many situations where this card has made an impact and that’s because it doesn’t get drafted very often. I think if the cost of the attack was one less, then people would be flocking to this card. I can see this card being a great counter to cards like Rayquaza from Legends Awakened and any Fighting weak attacker that surfaces. Copying Gardevoir LV.X‘s Bring Down could also be quite the clutch move. Because you’re limited to what your opponent attacks with, there will usually be better options, which keeps this cards at a 6th or 7th round pick for me.
Other Line Options
We’ve tried a lot of different options for Stage 2 Fighting, and this seems to be the only other remotely good line to use. We chose to go with the Energy efficient line of Machamp, but if you’re looking for high HP, hard hitting Pokemon, look no further than Rhyperior. There aren’t many to choose from, so you have to pick some of the newer, bulkier options. The high Energy costs is what usually holds this Pokemon back.
Lucario is pretty much the only other viable option for Stage 1 Fighting. If you go this route, expect a lot of people to draft this line. We tried it once, and it dominated the format. There’s nothing cute about it, just heavy, consistent damage that put a lot of pressure on your opponent. Lucario LV.X is also a really cool LV. X that makes drafting Premier Ball and Level Max worth it.
This Pokemon has a lot of cool locking effects that you can take advantage of to make a cool stall or control deck. It’s got almost every type of stall, from Retreat-lock to Paralysis and Energy-lock. I can’t remember the exact reason for why we didn’t just go with this line, but it’s a great idea for a future Cube!
Dark Stage 2: Tyranitar (Unleashed 88, Stormfront 30, Mysterious Treasures 17, and Team Rocket Returns 20)
Getting into some of the more “standard” options for Cube, Dark is one of the few lines that you really don’t have much of a choice when it comes to picking Pokemon. There are only two lines that have more than four unique Pokemon that are mainly Dark, Tyranitar and Shiftry. While there are plenty of cool Shiftry to choose from that have very unique effects, nothing quite packs a punch like Tyranitar. When we switched to Machamp for our Fighting Pokemon, we needed that solid, high HP option to choose from, and that’s the reason why we’ve never switched off of Tyranitar. It could probably use a few buffs since the Cube has gotten better and more balanced since we started, but for now we can take a look at what makes Tyranitar so cool.
My personal favorite from the bunch has the be the Tyranitar from Stormfront with the Poke-Body Darkness Drive. Battle Compressor surprisingly isn’t as good in the Cube as you think it would be, but in this situation, it shines. Being able to accelerate most all of your Energy attachments from the discard on your opponent’s turn is nothing to shake a stick at. While spread decks could use some love in the Cube, this Tyranitar is one of the premier options in that category. Tyranitar Prime can also help out with the spread, and this time only for one Energy. Combine this with a mono Dark deck, or a Bench Barrier Pokemon like Mr. Mime, and you have yourself a way to take a lot of Prizes in one turn. Dark Tyranitar from EX Team Rocket Returns also gives us a way to spread damage in the form of an Ability. Throw a Float Stone on this guy and you’ll be able to spread a little bit more in between turns when one of your Pokemon bites the dust. All around some solid options in the Tyranitar lines.
Dark Stage 1: Malamar (Promo XY58, XY 76, XY 77, Ancient Origins 46)
This Pokemon line is so cool. It’s one of the few Pokemon you can include in the Cube that remains balanced with the rest of the lines that came out post Black and White. There are exactly four Malamar and six Inkay you can choose, so it fits perfectly with my line counts. Malamar has a whole bunch of ways of disrupting your opponent, most notably the ability to Confuse. I’ve never seen anyone pull it off, but I would love to see someone really abuse the Promo Malamar‘s Confusion-lock strategy. Malamar has been focused in some of the attempts at a mill deck, using Malamar from XY (#76) and Malamar from Ancient Origins to do a lot of the damage. Trash Tentacle has to be one of the better attacks in the Cube, being able to recycle powerful cards while still doing damage. These cards get passed up a lot because of the lack of damage, but there are ways to make them successful enough to build a deck around.
Dark Non-Evolving Notables
- Card I have to justify: Sneasel from Neo Genesis
- Card that needs a bit more love: Absol from Roaring Skies
- Card that needs to be in every Cube: Spiritomb from Arceus
There are too many times in the Cube when a starting Pokemon gets damage on it by some nothing attack, and then gets away scott-free on the Bench for the rest of the game. There are also too many times in the Cube where an attack ends up being just short of a Knock Out. In these situations, you always wish that you had some form of damage modifier to help take those extra Prizes. Enter Absol from Roaring Skies, who solves all of our problems for one Bench slot. Moving that 30 damage around with the Ability is often over looked in the Cube. The above situation I described is perfect for this card to shine, and it happens almost every game. I never really see this card in decks, but I think if you have any sort of scooping effect like AZ, Super Scoop Up, or Seeker, you should always play this card.
Sneasel from Neo Genesis is a card a lot of people point to and ask why it’s even in the Cube. There is no Weavile to take advantage of it, and the damage output is a little bit suspect. I put it in purely to give the banned cards more room to shine. Just like Lysandre's Trump Card! And to be fair, Sneasel is actually capable of doing some serious damage, especially when you pair it with Victini from Noble Victories or Trick Coin to give it a bit more consistent damage. It was banned in the early years because of its fast, sustained damage. I don’t think there’s any difference between now and then for this card. It definitely is worthy of a spot.
And when it comes to Item-lock, there is no better, balanced option that Spiritomb from Arceus. The ways that this card is good, but not broken include the requirement to be in the Active, the Item-blocking effects to both players, and the damage it takes for its first attack. Even with all of that, it remains one of the best starting Pokemon in the game. The combination that seems to work wonders in Spiritomb mixed with Dunsparce from EX Sandstorm. Strike and Run can get you out two of the Pokemon in your line, then switching into the Spiritomb you just searched out to Item-lock your opponent. From there, you can slowly start evolving your Pokemon up with Darkness Grace. This card is too not to leave out of your Cube.
Other Line Options
There are a lot of cool things that Honchkrow can pull off to make it a viable Stage 1 option. The most notable being combining Honchkrow from Supreme Victors, with either Honchkrow LV.X from Secret Wonders or Honchkrow from Undaunted. In the latter option, it would be handy to have Crobat G in your deck to place that damage. It’s a nice idea if you’re looking for a line that takes cheap and quick Prizes.
While Weavile doesn’t do much damage, it does offer a lot of support for Dark Pokemon and works really well with the Tyranitar line. Weavile from Plasma Freeze has a great spread attack and a great backup attack. But the real star is Weavile from Secret Wonders, which can quickly charge up your Tyranitar’s heavy Energy requirements. There are some cool cards in this line for sure.
Metal Stage 2: Metagross (Delta Species 11, Supreme Victors 7, Hidden Legends 11, Undaunted 16)
The problem with Metal is the same sort of problem with Dark but worse. There are really only two lines to choose from here, Aggron and Metagross, both fairly underwhelming. Both lines have high Energy costs, and are fairly hard to keep balanced. You can either go low, and have the lines be fairly weak on their own according, forcing players to find really creative ways to make them work, or go high, and turn them into non skill-based tanks that just rip through the format. Either way, the choice is going to provide many headaches. I’ve thought a little bit about just buffing everything and going with Klinklang for the Stage 2 Metal. We have a Cube session coming up this week, and we might just try switching it up so that Metal actually gets drafted and used.
For now, we can look at the Metagross line and what kinds of things it brings. For the most part, the line revolves around the Metagross from Undaunted to deal heavy damage in a brute force kind of fashion. Victini from Noble Victories can be used here to get the constant OHKO’s needed for this deck to succeed. Other Metagross offer support, like the Energy moving capabilities of Metal Juncture, to the pseudo Claydol like nature of CARD NOT FOUND‘s Delta Control. If you can find a way to keep your main attacker healthy, while still accelerating Energy, you’ll be near unstoppable with Metagross from Undaunted. Drafting cards like the Blissey line and Special Metal Energy can really help this Pokemon to thrive.
Metal Stage 1: Scizor (Majestic Dawn 29, Boundaries Crossed 94, Undaunted 7, Undaunted 84)
This Pokemon line is the one that makes me sigh the most when thinking about the Cube. On one hand, it offers a lot of utility when blocking against certain Pokemon. It can prevent damage from Pokemon with Special Energy, and it can also block against Pokemon-EX. However, both of those things are not very dominant in the Cube. So this line then reverts back to just a consistent damage threat, which isn’t bad by any stretch, just not very interesting. All of that being said, this line has won a Cube on its own before. The adaptability of the line, mixed with a fairly good damage output is what caused this deck to win. I think there are some other cool Metal lines you can play, but Scizor will always be one of the more balanced lines you can pick. It’s sort of the benchmark for damage, if you will.
Metal Non-Evolving Notables
- Card I have to justify: Dialga from Platinum
- Card that needs a bit more love: Jirachi from EX Deoxys
- Card that needs to be in every Cube: Jirachi from Rising Rivals
“I got blisters on me fingers!” Great Ringo Starr impression right? I just passed 11K words a little bit ago, and we’re still going strong! Although I’m finding it hard to hype up cards after doing it for so much of this article. There are only so many ways I can describe a good card without sounding too repetitive. So for this section, I’m going to be really sarcastic, or at least try to.
Ugh, Dialga from Platinum (#6)? Yeah that cards is soooooo bad! Ugh, I mean, stopping your opponent from evolving? Whatever, am I right?
Okay yeah that’s not working. But seriously though, Dialga is actually a pretty good card when it comes to slowing your opponent down. A lot of the Cube is based around evolutions, so wouldn’t it make sense that a good card to get yourself ahead in the game would be one that slows your opponent down in this regard? A lot of people pass up on this card, and we’ve constantly talked about replacing this with Jirachi-EX, but I say keep it in because eventually people will come to love this card as much as I do. Wouldn’t this be great paired with Donphan from Plasma Storm?
Jirachi from EX Deoxys is a card that always seems to get picked early, but never played. If this card had free Retreat, I think it would get played in almost every deck. If you can get your hands on a Float Stone or Skyarrow Bridge, then this card is one of the best cards to promote after a KO, or even a great card to start with. In larger Cubes with 8 to 10 people, this card could provide some of the sole consistency for your deck.
And one last card to talk about in the Metal section, Jirachi from Rising Rivals. Now, I kind of wanted to put the Durant cards in the “needs to be in every Cube” section, but if you’re not looking for a mill archetype, then it’s kind of weak to dedicated five spots to those. Instead we’re going to go with the consistency boosting Jirachi from Rising Rivals. Playing two Supporter cards in one turn can be a huge benefit, and with Jirachi, you don’t even need to discard the second one and waste resources. Think about this card with Blacksmith Fire decks. Being able to accelerate four Fire Energy in a single turn is so huge. Then you have the Final Wish power, which even adds more consistency in a Cube full of single copy cards. To add on top of that, you have free Retreat, which means you never have to worry about it getting stuck in the Active.
Other Line Options
I mentioned it earlier about trying to buff Metal. Make no mistake, this change would be a drastic buff to Metal, and maybe even make it the premier type to draft. There are only four Klinklang to choose from, so you wouldn’t have a lot of decisions to make. The thing I worry about is the high HP and the Energy acceleration to itself combined with Shift Gear to make this an unstoppable force. If you decide to run this line, I would also find ways to buff some of the other lines as well.
If you were looking for more support oriented lines, then Bronzong might be the way to go for the Metal typing. In Standard, we all know how good Metal Links can be, and that’s no exception in the Cube. We haven’t chosen this line because we wanted to have a more aggressive Metal Stage 1, with Metagross being so underwhelming. Bronzong would work well with Metagross though, so there is that to consider.
The real reason to play this line would to be for a spread archetype. There really isn’t much else that super cool about this line other than the prospect of dealing damage to every Pokemon on their side of the field.
If you’re looking to make Metal the bulky, heavy hitting type, then look no further than Steelix. There aren’t a lot of cool things this guy can do, but what he lacks in cool stuff he makes up for in sheer HP and power. The same issues that plague Metagross would also hurt Steelix, as most of his attacks are very high in cost. Something to think about, but not the route I would ever go.
Colorless Stage 2: Pidgeot (Triumphant 29, Holon Phantoms 14, POP Series 2 2, FireRed & LeafGreen 10)
The main problem with Colorless is that there are so many options. You don’t really want an attacking Colorless Pokemon, since then you could just splash in almost anything, and the line would be top tier in a heartbeat. When you’re talking about Stage 2 support Pokemon, I don’t think there is any thing else more unique and cool than Pidgeot. So many good things that can be teched into certain decks to help boost their power. The fist and most obvious inclusion is the Pidgeot from EX FireRed and LeafGreen. Think about how good cards like Computer Search are. Now think about being able to do that every turn with no setbacks. That’s what this Pidgoet does. Tack on the fact that it has free Retreat, a weakness to probably the weakest type Pokemon in the Cube, and a half decent attack and you have yourself one of the best Pokemon in the Cube. The only thing keeping this Pokemon from being drafted as a first or second round pick is the fact that it can be hard to splash it in if you don’t get your hands on Rare Candy, Pokemon Breeder, or Broken Time-Space to help speed up the process.
Outside of Pidgeot from FireRed & LeafGreen, there are some other good effects that warrant play in certain decks. Pidgeot from Triumphant can add two Colorless Energy to your opponent’s attack, potentially locking them out of using that attack for the turn. This can be very good for stall or mill decks, as well as combating the heavy hitting Pokemon in the Fighting, Dark, and Metal decks. CARD NOT FOUND is one of the few Ability-locking cards in the Cube. Many people choose to pass this up because of the reliance on having a Holon Energy attached. Since there are only three in the Cube, this can cause consistency problems. I personally think it’s a very under appreciated card, and should be drafted a lot more. And last but certainly not least, you have the POP Series 2 Pidgeot with the Poke-Power Beating Wings. Bench space can be a big problem in the Cube if you aren’t careful with your placements. This Pokemon alleviates that issue, while also doubling as a way to reset Pokemon that have a benching effect, Like Lapras from EX Legend Maker or Crobat G from Platinum.
Colorless Stage 1: Blissey (Phantom Forces 81, Dark Explorers 82, HeartGold & SoulSilver 106, Platinum 22)
Switching over to Blissey has been one of the best, and one of the worst ideas we have ever had for the Cube. On one hand, people are actually drafting Colorless Pokemon with cool ideas in mind. Someone once used Mr. Mime from Jungle and Blissey from Platinum to create a Pokemon that could not be KO’d very easily. Definitely one of the cooler decks out there. On the other hand, Blissey has also caused the tank Pokemon to get even stronger, as damage output is being put on the back burner in favor of more healing. I can’t really decide if we made the right call here, but we certainly opened the door for a lot more unique combinations. While three of the Blissey heal, the Blissey from Phantom Forces is the one that goes undrafted. I would love to see someone abuse Tender Vengeance just once because that attack seems awesome! You could probably do some sort of combination with Team Magma's Secret Base or something of the sort. Maybe throw a Darkness Energy on a high HP non-Dark Pokemon to rack up some damage. Who knows?
Colorless Non-Evolving Notables
- Card I have to justify: Rayquaza from Legends Awakened
- Card that needs a bit more love: Ambipom G from Rising Rivals
- Card that needs to be in every Cube: Dunsparce from EX Sandstorm
I’m going to start off by saying most all of the Colorless Basics are pure gold. Every single one of them has a reason to be picked incredibly high in your drafting process. Rayquaza from Legends Awakened being no exception to that rule, yet the reason I have to justify its inclusion in the Cube isn’t because it’s bad, it’s because it’s too good! Being able to accelerate to itself and then swing for a OHKO on almost every Pokemon in the Cube is really unhealthy. I decide to keep it in because of the cool ways you can use Speed Gain besides for charging up itself. You can use it to charge up Raichu Prime or the Arceus cards with Ultimate Zone. And plus, not a lot of people around here are any good at flipping coins, so it rarely becomes an issue of one shots.
Like I just said, any of the Colorless Pokemon could have taken the spot for “needs to be in every Cube.” I chose to go with Dunsparce from EX Sandstorm because of the raw consistency it brings any start. It is easily the best starting Pokemon in the Cube, bar none. You can search out lines, techs, and disruption Pokemon while then switching into them to protect Dunsparce. Not that you really need to anyway, since you’ll get off one, maybe two Strike and Runs before it becomes useless. It makes for a great Swoop! Teleporter target though, so that’s the benefit of having it go to the Bench after attacking as well. Plus it doesn’t have a low HP like most of the other good starting Pokemon like Cleffa from HeartGold and SoulSilver or Pichu from HeartGold and SoulSilver. It’s harder to snipe a 50 HP Pokemon in the Cube.
And the last card in the non-evolving notables series is Ambipom G from Rising Rivals. The Cube does not naturally lend itself to flexibility when it comes to retreating and Energy movement, so forcing your opponent into awkward attachment situations is too good to pass up. Not only that, but Ambipom has one of the best turn one attacks in the game, being able to Donk nearly 75% of the Basic Pokemon in the Cube for merely a Double Colorless Energy. I always pick this card up the moment I see it, but nobody else seems to have the same affection towards it as I do. In the only successful mill deck ever created, this card was at the forefront of the strategy.
Other Line Options
Seriously, there are way too many to count here. I’ll give you the quickest possible run down of some of the better ones. If you have questions about these, let me know and I can go further into detail on a more personal basis with you!
Good solid attacker that has a Rush-In Pokemon Power and some Item-lock.
Some cool recycling effects.
Energy acceleration and some other cool things.
Too much wind! Things getting all blown around!
Free Retreat for everyone!
Little bit of snipe here and there. It’s not the best line though.
So I hear you like having HP?
Big bear coming at you? No thanks!
Some cool draw power and disruption here. It’s not the greatest forms of either though.
There’s some Energy acceleration built in here.
Add a boost to your searching cards!
Other Lines and Pokemon
The Eevee line is always one we have questioned, but never really done anything about. It’s a solid line, and a lot of fun to play, but it lacks the power needed to keep up with the rest of the format. Mostly it’s used to draft the Flareon from Plasma Freeze and the Leafeon from Plasma Freeze, as both of those can be splashed into any deck to make it better. We’ve never once considered taking it out either, which I find weird since nobody ever does well with it. I don’t think anyone has ever had a positive record with a mono Eeveelutions deck. It’s a solid line to keep in since it’s rather balanced, but you might want to do a better job at buffing it up then we do, since we seem to not be very good at it
Arceus has the same sort of problem as the above line. Arceus is a little better than the Eevee line, since it doesn’t take quite as long to set up, and the power is actually there. The only problem with this line is the reliance on getting the Arceus from Arceus (#AR5) and the Arceus LV. X. So many things need to go right for this deck to work. When it does, it’s a lot of fun to play. If you fail to draft what you need to, it can be a headache to try and piece something together. This is a line we’ve actually really thought hard about taking out, as it wouldn’t be that many cards to change.
Trainers and Energy
The Trainers and Energy section can be one of the more difficult things to balance in the cube. On one hand, you want to have enough good Supporters and draw cards to make everything run smoothly. On the other hand, you want to not make any one card far more valuable than the others by not putting enough of one type of card in. If just getting your hands on a Supporter is the best option, you might want to include more Supporters, so that people actually have to make a choice on which card to draft. I definitely think I could use more Trainers / Supporters / Stadiums in my Cube. We might have a long discussion about cutting the Eevee or the Arceus line to be able to fit more consistency cards in. But for now, let’s take a look at some of the highlights of the section.
- Three cards I have to justify: Olympia, Hooligans Jim and Cas, Lass's Special
- Three cards that need a bit more love: Buck's Training, Rival, Sage's Training
- Three cards that need to be in every Cube: Lysandre's Trump Card, Colress, Lysandre
To be fair, there aren’t really a lot of poor Supporters in the Cube. In fact, you might be hard-pressed to find a bad Supporter in the game. Outside of Mom's Kindness and reprinted Bill, I don’t think there are many wrong ways to do this section of your Cube. The one that people often point to and ask me “Why?” is Hooligan’s Jim and Cass. There really isn’t any good reason to play this card, other than the sheer annoyance it can bring. Pair this with the Trainer version of this card, The Rocket’s Trap from Gym Heroes to really annoy your opponent.
A card that always seems to be in most all of my decks is Buck’s Training. I can’t exactly remember the matchup, but I do recall a time where this card won me the game because of the plus 10 damage it brings. It may not be the best card for draw power, but having two mediocre effects adds up to one good card, right? I might have to work out my math on that one, but I think it checks out.
And as for cards that everyone should have in their cube, I don’t think you can look much farther than Lysandre’s Trump Card. This card works very well in singleton formats because of, well, the singleton nature of them. Being able to reuse cards is a very powerful tool. Sableye from Dark Explorers, Junk Arm, and other cards of that sort are always first or second round picks in the Cube. The only thing that hinders Trump Card is the same thing that hindered it before, not having a way to reuse it. The popularity of Trump Card rose greatly in Standard because of the reprint of VS Seeker. If you can get your hands on the Pal Pad or VS Seeker in the Cube, you can pair it with Trump Card to really have an impact on the game. Plus it gives you a reason to play all of those full arts you bought when the card wasn’t banned!
- Three cards I have to justify: Chaos Gym, Shrine of Memories, Ultimate Zone
- Three cards that need a bit more love: Silent Lab, Skyarrow Bridge, Parallel City
- Three cards that need to be in every Cube: Tropical Beach, Sky Field, Broken Time-Space
In terms of me justifying cards, I usually get my way since I own all of the Cube. Selfishness aside, I might actually be in the losing battle when it comes to Shrine of Memories. Back when we had Gyarados, there was a reason to play Shrine of Memories, since the Flail or Rage attacks on Magikarp actually came into play often with the Stadium, Memory Berry, or Celebi-EX. Since then, these three cards go almost undrafted, and therefore have a strong cry to get rid of them and replace them with better cards. For now, it remains in due to the argument I have for potentially cool plays. A few attacks that can be good in very rare situations are Peck Off from Flashfire's Pidgey, and Mountain Eater from Unleashed's Larvitar.
I think I’ve mentioned it, but Bench space can be a huge issue when it comes to the Cube. I don’t understand why people don’t grab Parallel City for that added disruption in the mid game. Narrow Gym never gets played either for some reason. I think there’s a lot of people who pass up on this opportunity because they think there’s always something better in their packs. There is almost no better counter Stadium to bounce your opponent’s Stadium than this one in the Cube, and nobody drafts it ahead of the 5th rotation. That’s just bonkers to me.
And I know what you’re thinking, nobody wants to shell out all that money to put a Tropical Beach into their Cube. Well thankfully there are the World Championship reprint decks, and those Tropical Beach go for relatively cheap. There’s no shame in using one of those cards in the Cube, because after all, it’s for fun! This card fits perfectly in the Cube, as starting it in your opening hand has got to be the best early game Stadiums in the game. Because of the slow pace of the Cube, this card fits the bill perfectly. There’s no need to attack the first few turns while setting up anyway.
- Three cards I have to justify: Solid Rage, Leftovers, Focus Band
- Three cards that need a bit more love: Amulet Coin, Cessation Crystal, Hard Charm
- Three cards that need to be in every Cube: Expert Belt, Float Stone, Fighting Fury Belt
RAAAAAGE! No but seriously, Solid Rage. Yeah I know, it gets way outclassed by Muscle Band, but sometimes you have to take what life gives you, and in this case, you just have to take Rage sometimes. There aren’t many damage modifiers in the Cube, or across all of Pokemon for that matter, so this is as good as it gets. I personally like the card just fine, and when you’re ahead you rarely need that 20 damage anyway. I can see taking it out, and I’m not opposed to that whatsoever, but it’s a card that doesn’t hurt your deck at all.
I don’t think anyone can argue about the power of draw support, in Standard or in the Cube. That’s why Amulet Coin is so dang good. But people never draft it. I assume it’s because they don’t like the limitation of having it be attached to a Pokemon in the Active. Well if you can grab this card and slap it on your starting Pokemon, you’ll be able to get a net two or three cards out of it before it gets KO’d. That’s not too shabby for an Item card right?
There are always a lot of mobility issues in the Cube. Things with free Retreat are always valued over other cards. Float Stone (and the quite similar Fluffy Berry) are true MVPs of the Cube. The Lysandre / Gust of Wind stall tactic is a great way to fight yourself back into games. With this card, you can help combat that strategy. This card is also really nice in the Donphan archetype, as I alluded to before.
- Three cards I have to justify: Tickling Machine, Card-Flip Game, Victory Cup
- Three cards that need a bit more love: Night Teleporter, Pal Pad, Misty’s Wrath
- Three cards that need to be in every Cube: Pokemon Breeder, Luxury Ball, Computer Search
Ahh yes, now we’re going into the cards that truly make you question some of my decisions. Tickling Machine? Card-Flip Game? Glorified CARD NOT FOUND? Personal reasons behind them both. First off, Tickling Machine might as well be one of the worst cards ever printed. So why not laugh and play the card for fun? Card-Flip Game has been a staple of Spokane Pokemon lore and history for different reasons, so I have to include that as well. And lastly, I think we all miss Battle Roads to some degree, so we might as well play a card from the days of yesteryear to remind us of the good times. Plus it’s one of those fancy gold cup ones, which is something I can get down with.
Night Teleporter is actually one of the best cards in the Cube and people don’t know it. This guy combos so well with Professor Sycamore, Professor Juniper, and Professor Oak that’s its not even funny. It’s basically a card that lets you shuffle and draw seven, and sometimes not even with the use of a Supporter. It can also be used to close out games when you’re looking for that one last card to complete a combo to get a KO. Sure, it’s on a coin flip, and that’s never what you want in such an important card, but people underestimate this card all the time. Put it in your Cube and see how well it works!
- Three Cards I have to justify: Recycle Energy, Full Heal Energy, Boost Energy
- Three Cards that need a bit more love: Multi Energy, Upper Energy, Scramble Energy
- Three Cards that need to be in every Cube: Double Colorless Energy, Call Energy, Rainbow Energy
Honestly with the way Special Energy works is that if it’s printed, you play it. There are very few Special Energy cards omitted from the Cube, since most of them aren’t too broken to begin with. I did say earlier that Burning Energy not being in the Cube was no mistake, as I feel it gives the Fire archetype a big advantage. I do think it is wise to play multiple copies of Double Colorless Energy and Rainbow Energy, those two cards can be central parts to a lot of strategy. Right now we’re sitting at three copies of Double Colorless Energy and two copies of Rainbow Energy, although I think both of those counts could be increased if need be.
Other Cube Types
With all of that above stuff said, there are two other ways to build your Cube. I don’t currently have much experiance with either of these methods, but we are starting to dive into them, and will probably be debuting Spokcube two and three in the next year or so!
This type of drafting has always intruged me, as it brings a whole new concept to Pokemon. In this Cube, every Pokemon can evolve into a later stage as long as it is the same type. So for example, a Sableye can evolve into a Zoroark, which can then in turn evolve into a Shiftry, as long as they’re all Dark. The reason for this, is that it allows you to play single copies of cards that would otherwise be unplayable in standard Cubes. Cards like Eelektrik from Noble Victories and Meganium from HeartGold and SoulSilver are in lines that are either too good or too weak for the Cube. The reason I’ve never tried this kind of Cube is because I think it takes a lot more thought and knowledge of the game. It also requires a lot more testing to get used to the new strategy. Even thinking about it makes my brain hurt. We are in the process of developing the list for Mutant Spokcube, but it’s a long and hard process that doesn’t have a real end in sight currently.
I think this is an accurate way to describe this kind of Cube. Basically it’s just like a normal Cube, except you only use cards from a certain era of cards. You could include cards from Base Set through the Neo sets, or all the cards from Black and White to the Plasma sets. Whatever sets you want to use, you can throw them into a Cube. The benefit is two fold of doing this. The first is that there are no weird rule changes when keeping within a certain era of cards. No confusing Ability versus Poke-Power, or rules about Supporter versus Trainer. It’s much more new player friendly in that regard. The second is the power creep and balance issues that come with building an unlimited Cube. For the most part, cards that were released around the same time all have about the same level of power, so balancing the Cube becomes much easier. In this version, singleton would not be an option, as most eras don’t have enough variety to give you options for thicker lines. Drafting is also a whole lot easier, as you see the same cards come through multiple times.
There are many ways that you can make a Cube. Any way that you can sort cards, you can also build a Cube by. You could create a Cube using only Pokemon that are from the original 151. You could create a Cube using only Pokemon that have less than one Retreat cost. You could even try to build a Cube where all of the cards start with the letter A. Whatever you go with, you can build a Cube around. Standard Cubes are a lot easier to create, balance, and play, but if you want to start getting really weird / creative with your friends, there are many many options out there.
Winning Deck Lists
Below are a couple of the lists that we have come up with in the past few weeks. I just wanted to give you examples of what winning deck lists look like in the Cube! One of the lists was before the last of our cards came in to de-proxy the entire Cube, so I apologize for the poor quality of some of the cards in that list.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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