The main objective of cubing on a budget is to improve your cube without breaking the bank. I’ve seen too many cubes rock up with 356 cards of mediocrity, plus Force of Will, Tarmogoyf, Jace TMS and Mox Diamond. The best rule of thumb for buying cards for cube, is how much bang are you getting for your buck?
If you don’t understand why the above example shows poor buying, here’s an example. Let’s take a guess at Jace TMS price ; Let’s say about 75 dollars. For that, you could buy the cheapest 70 cards in my cube, a lot of which, like Elite Vanguard, Doom Blade, Hymn to Tourach, City of Brass, and Brainstorm, are not leaving my cube for a good long time. So, you’re playing a cube, do you think you’ll have a great experience if one guys gets Jace TMS and the rest of you get Suntail Hawks and Mind Rots? or do you think you’ll have a better experience if your black aggro deck has Vampire Lacerator, Duress, and Hymn to Tourach, and the UW control guys has wall of denial, brainstorm and remand?
You should also take into account which cards are the best for your cube at each price range. For example, if you want to buy a $9 card, and you have to choose between Recurring Nightmare and Kira, Great Glass Spinner, which do you choose? Look at each card individually, and at what your cube needs. If your cube if full of graveyard hate (for some reason), and you’re support U tempo a lot, then Kira is easily the better card for your cube. On the other hand, if your whole playgroup love reanimator, Recurring Nightmare is the card to choose. For the average cube, I’d guess Recurring Nightmare is easily the pick, since it sees play in basically any deck playing black which isn’t hard agro, and has great synergies with lots of cards, like Survival of the Fittest, Oona’s Prowler, or Shriekmaw. Against Kira is that it doesn’t automatically go into any blue deck – hard mono U control or UX control would probably rather run a finisher here, and the double UU means it’s not going to get splashed for easily.
Finally, pay attention to where the card see’s play, and what time of year it is. Prices can fluctuate greatly, depending on whether it’s about to rotate, it’s likely to see a banning, or what season it is. Rather obviously, Tarmogoyf, Force of Will, and duals will cost more leading up to and during the legacy season. Sword of Fire and Ice and Sensei’s Divining Top will start climbing in value as new players start playing EDH due to the new precons.
An easy way of judging whether a card will drop in value over time as it rotates is noticing how good it is across all formats. For example, cubeable – good cards will drop sharply on rotating out of standard to extended, and then plummet as they leave extended ; The kind of cards I’m thinking of here are Profane Command, Plow Under, that sorta level. Incredibly solid, one might say. Good-Excellent cards will maintain their price throughout their standard and extended careers, and then drop as they enter the realm of the eternal formats ; here I’m thinking Cryptic Command, Kargan Dragonlord, Ajani Vengeant. Very good cards, but they’re not played in legacy. Finally, there are the cards that won’t noticeably depreciate in value, due to consistent play in eternal formats. These are Noble Hierarchs, Knight of the Reliquarys, Thoughtsiezes, cards which are awesome. An easy rule of thumb is if it’s good and noone outside of cube is playing it, snap it up whilst it’s cheap.
Thanks for reading,