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The Phage Cube


Just like Robert Louis Stevenson with his dream that became the famous “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” story, I had this dream one night last week; and, when I woke up, I knew I had something Bizarre, and Special (in capital letters!)

This is rare when it happens, and when it does, you know that you have something fun. My alarm woke me during my dream and I wanted to finish it. I wanted to see it to completion!

So here was the dream….

Phage the Untouchable

This is Phage the Untouchable. She has a few weird and awesome things happening at the same time.

Whenever she hits someone in combat, you take them out. Dead Player Walking!

When she deals combat damage to a dork, it’s dead too, without the possibility of regeneration, which is both worse and better than deathtouch (Phage has to deal combat damage, but it prevents regeneration).

The weird thing is that Phage has to be cast from your hand. Otherwise, she turns on you, and you die. If she enters the battlefield in any other way, then you die. That’s interesting.

What was my dream?

Imagine a Cube where every creature is Phage!

I don’t mean the obvious. I don’t mean that you are running every single copy of Phage the Untouchable in your Cube in some sort of a Mono-Black deck that runs a bunch of mana accelerants to force out your Phages. Nope!

Instead, every copy of any creature or any creature token is a Phage:

Xanthic Statue
Raise the Alarm

What would it be like if you had a Cube where every single creature was Phage? Now the tokens seemed the furthest from where I wanted to be, because you would instantly die, but I could certainly run something like Xanthic Statue which turns into a Phage for five mana, or Squire that is a two-mana Phage. What would this format be like?

Enter the Phage Cube…

The rules are simple. Outside of the battlefield, all creatures keep their information. They are Blue/Red/Black etc. However, once any creature is on the stack or on the battlefield, it will always be a Phage. You won’t get to trigger a Solemn Simulacrum’s search for a land. It’s Phage. You won’t get to put counters on Spike Weaver, it’s always Phage. No “as this enters” effects work, as it’s Phage.

Now, please note that this means that if a creature is in your graveyard, then it won’t be Phage. However, as soon as it arrives back to your battlefield via reanimation, it’s Phage and you’ll still die. It’s Always Phage Outside!

To start, let’s look at this beautiful thing over on CubeTutor - check out the visual spoiler!

(You can also see a card list at the end of this article)

How does the Phage Cube work?

I begin with a small number of creatures. Phage’s status as a legendary creature means that we won’t have to face too many Phages at the same time. Each color has one 1-drop, two 2-drops, three 3-drops, four 4-drops, five 5-drops, but only three 6-drops. There are also a number of colorless dorks here as well.

I also am running Phages in a few other forms. One is by running man-lands, artifacts, or enchantments, such as these:

Still Life
Chimeric Sphere
Mishra's Factory
Gideon Jura

There are a number of these running around. They can be made into a Phage without having to worry about a Phage kill as it never entered the battlefield under your control while a Phage. These can turn into Phage at the right moment for a win! There are more than 20 of these lands, artifacts, planeswalkers ,and enchantments in the Cube that can turn into a Phage and then eat someone’s life!

I also have some tricks and treats that can make Phages too!

Karn's Touch
Nissa, Vital Force
Awaken the Ancient

These sorts of cards will turn things like artifacts and lands into Phages to smash someone’s face! Everybody likes that! Sometimes these are a fun trick in combat, such as Vivify to protect yourself by blocking a Phage with a Phage out of nowhere. Or you can Karn's Touch an artifact after sweeping the board and win the game with a Phage smash of fun!

Note the value of awaken here:

Earthen Arms
Scatter to the Winds

In this build, awaken will permanently turn a land into a Phage and it gives it counters, so it’s a beefier Phage!

The goal of this Cube is to try and secure a Phage win!

Touch of Invisibility
Black Scarab

I have cards to help Phage win, like Rogue's Passage, Key to the City, Whispersilk Cloak, and these three cards. All you have to do is to make a Phage and then swing for game.

I also have some cards that are auto-kills in clever ways:

Crib Swap
Otherworldly Journey

There are not many of these in the deck, but they can force your foe to get a token that’s Phage and thus die, or to make your Phage flicker out and then back in, which will kill you as well. But it’s fun to have a few surprises in here, right? Right!

I see this Cube as one of problems and answers….

Nimble Obstructionist

The very first place to explore for not-dying to Phage is to run cards like Stifle and these to counter the Phage ability. By cycling a Nimble Obstructionist, you won’t die to the Otherworldly Journey flicker effect trigger. Just counter it!

We have a number of ways of getting in fast kills, like a 1-drop swinging on turn two or a Mishra's Factory. I am running three land destruction lands that anyone can draft - Strip Mine, Wasteland, and Dust Bowl, as well as Expedition Map to find them. I also have some solid land destruction effects here like Creeping Mold, Reap and Sow, Vindicate, Stone Rain, Pillage and such.

I also have a number of fast answers. For example, suppose that someone casts one of the five one-mana Phages in the Cube on turn one, and then you take your turn one. What answers do you have?

Hidden Predators

How about Hidden Predators?

We have answers like Flame Slash, Unsummon, Swords to Plowshares, and even Dark Betrayal:

Dark Betrayal

We also have Downsize and other effects in Blue that will drop the power of a Phage to a meaningless level. Or Diminish and remove its abilities and make it a 1/1 non-Phage. I have a ton of two-mana answers as well such as Pacifism, Terminate, Price of Fame, or Diabolic Edict. You can even steal and kill someone with their own Phage with the two-mana Wrangle.

Price of Fame

We also have loads of damage prevention effects like Moment's Peace.

Or permanent effects:

Circle of Protection: Black
Maze of Ith

Stuff like Maze of Ith or Circle of Protection: Black. See also many other effects such as Horn of Deafening, Kor Haven, and Safeguard. I also have the two Swords that give pro Black in here with Sword of Feast and Famine and Sword of Light and Shadow to either force through a swing or guarantee a block.

Reflect Damage
Deflecting Palm

How about damage prevention into player kill? These will turn a successful Phage attack into player kill! Great job trying to win there, buddy!

I also have some answers to damage prevention:

Wild Slash
Leyline of Punishment

Effects like Wild Slash or Leyline of Punishment are good and preventing the damage prevention of effects like Safeguard or Moment's Peace. Again, I want answers and counter-answers and then more answers.

For example, I have a few permanents here that will shut down a Phage attack in perpetuity. Cards like Form of the Dragon or Light of Day.

Light of Day

How do you answer a Light of Day? Well, you give yourself answers like Chaos Warp, Vindicate, Maelstrom Pulse, Creeping Mold and more. I increased my artifact/enchantment removal options. In leap cards like Krosan Grip and Crush Contraband.

After that the Cube is mostly finished!

Now this Cube does suggest some odd cards here and there that perfectly suit this Phage-only concept.

Mirror Gallery
Endless Whispers
Sewers of Estark
Not of This World

Mirror Gallery is a great example, as it will let folks rock multiple Phages all at once. I’m sure you can see the awesome-ness behind that!

Endless Whispers is another in the potential auto-kill nature of this Cube. Did your Phage die? But it’s under the control of someone else, and that will trigger Phage, thereby killing them. Just beware that you’ll die as well from another players’ Phage-death. Beware!

Sewers of Estark is fun as both a way to slip in a Phage kill or to block an attacking Phage and to keep your dork alive.

But none of those are as cool as Not of This World, which will be a free counter most of the time! It will counter a spell or ability that targets a Phage! It can counter an auto kill effect like Crib Swap or prevent a Horn of Deafening’s tap effect to prevent your Phage from hitting someone for game. It’s an incredibly powerful and flexible card in this deck!

I also really like the Dragon auras here:

Dragon Fangs
Dragon Wings
Dragon Scales
Dragon Breath

I think these four have a lot of power and mechanical fidelity here! When the aura lingers in your ‘yard, then the next Phage can get trample, flying, haste, vigilance and pumped as well. I didn’t run the Black one, Dragon Shadow, as it grants the meaningless fear. Oh no, I can’t be blocked except by Black creatures!

And that’s a Cube! I won’t dovetail into every single card in a 360 card Cube. This project took me about ten hours to make from beginning to end.

Why not play with it and let me know what you think? You can draft it over at


Here’s the full Cube list. Enjoy!

The Phage Cube | Cube| Abe Sargent