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Cube Drafters, Assemble!

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In Marvel’s The Avengers, the MacGuffin of choice is an object called the Tesseract. It offers the wielder almost limitless power, and anyone who’s anyone wants to obtain it. In real life, a tesseract is a four-dimensional extension of a cube in the same way that a cube is a three-dimensional extension of a square. And that my friends, is the very convoluted way I’m tying together my favorite movie of the year so far with the topic of the week: Cube Draft!

Like the Tessaract, a Magic Cube offers limitless potential for fun. While there’s nothing wrong with replicating the Magic Online Cube, that isn’t by any means the only way of putting together your own Cube. There are almost as many different Cubes out there as there are players with Cubes. If you have a Cube, chances are it’s full of cards that you think are the most fun to play with, so there isn’t really a wrong way to build one. There are some basic guidelines you’ll want to follow, though, if you’re just starting out. These are my personal rules for allowing cards into my Cube:

Sol Ring

Seriously, don’t put Sol Ring in your Cube. It’s way too good. It’s even better than any of the Power 9. Games in which one player has a turn-one Sol Ring are typically over really quickly and aren’t very much fun. Even if you plan to include Moxes in your Cube, I still recommend cutting Sol Ring.

  • No foreign or textless cards

I love having foreign cards in my Constructed deck, but in Cube, they are a huge nuisance. Trust me: You’ll get sick of answering, “What does this card do?” multiple times during a Draft very quickly. Unless you can guarantee that everyone you’ll be drafting with knows what all your cards do without having to read them, leave the foreign and textless cards out. The only exceptions to this rule I make are textless versions of classic cards that anyone who has ever played a game of Magic knows—like Lightning Bolt for instance.

  • Un- sets are allowed within reason

Cube is about having fun, so it’s okay to get a little silly. You have to draw the line somewhere, though, so use your discretion. Booster Tutor is a great card to include, though I generally errata it to open a Cube pack of undrafted cards instead of a real pack. Other Un- cards I’ve included have been Blast from the Past, AWOL, and Johnny, Combo Player.

  • Don’t include narrow cards without support

What I mean by this is: Don’t put in cards that go in specific decks without including other cards that go with them. If a player opens something like a Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero, that player should expect to see a bunch of Rebels. Another example is reanimator cards. Don’t put in stuff like Reanimate or Animate Dead without including fatties and discard outlets.

Naturalize

  • Don’t forget sideboard cards

I do more sideboarding in Cube Draft than in any other Draft format. Since every card in the Cube is good, you’ll often end up with way more playables than you need, thus giving you many options for customizing your deck. While cards like Naturalize aren’t the most exciting, you’ll often find yourself wanting a narrow answer to your opponent’s bomb. Those cards need to be in the Cube for that reason. You can also include cards that are good in specific matchups, though I would stay away from color hosers.

Before you start, you need to figure out if your Cube is going to have any sort of overarching theme. Are you going for the most broken cards in Magic’s history or are you looking for a particular subset of cards? Do you want to emphasize big spells or do you want your Cube to be all about creatures?

While there’s certainly nothing wrong with a collection of powerful cards that loosely work together, I’m a big fan of themed Cubes. Some examples that I’ve seen in my area are:

  • Tribal Cube – Like Onslaught and Lorwyn, there are a few creature types that are heavily supported. Obviously creature-centric, and many of the spells interact with a particular tribe.
  • Cheap Cube – Every card in the Cube has a converted mana cost of 3 or less. X spells are still allowed, so there’s still a surprising variety in the decks.
  • Combo Cube – Think of the key cards in every successful combo deck in Magic’s history, and you’ll find them in this Cube.
  • Standard Cube – Pretty self-explanatory—all cards are Standard-legal. This kind of Cube is easy to put together, and new players will have an easier time getting into the format.
  • Core Set Cube – Every card was printed in a Core Set, so there are wildly varying power levels and a good mix of old and new.

My current Cube is The Full Mirrodin Cube—that is, it combines the best Limited cards from the original Mirrodin and Scars of Mirrodin blocks. Here’s my list if you want to try it out:

White Cards

Blue Cards

  • Noncreatures (0)

Black Cards

  • Creatures (0)
  • Noncreatures (0)

Red Cards

  • Creatures (0)

Green Cards

  • Creatures (0)
  • Noncreatures (0)

Other Cards

  • Noncreature Artifacts (0)
  • Lands (0)
  • Multicolored (0)

I might be missing a couple cards from having to put them in Standard decks, but you get the idea. You might notice that some cards are duplicated. The reason for this is that they were printed in both blocks, so you’ll see two of every mana Myr, two Arrests, two Shatters, and so on. Mana Myrs in particular were an integral part of both Mirrodin Draft formats, so I wanted to make sure that every deck could play a couple if they wanted.

Silver Myr
This Cube is smaller than most, and was designed for six-person team drafts. It still has enough cards to support eight players, but fewer cards means less variety. Some of the card choices might seem random, but I’m constrained by card availability and my own general laziness when it comes to acquiring cards. If you’re going to give this Cube a try, feel free to spice it up, but I would suggest not adding any Swords. I’ve tried this Cube with the four Swords, and they proved to be too powerful.

The great thing about this Cube is that it’s very cheap to put together seeing as it’s mostly commons and uncommons. I’m sure many of you have a lot of these cards just lying around, so cubes like this are a great way of trying out the format without investing a lot of money.

The Full Mirrodin Cube has been a great success with my group of players, and this time next year, I expect to start working on putting together The Full Ravnica Cube. The next Cube project I’ll be working on is a tribal Cube with the Innistrad tribes represented. This is a skeleton of what I have in mind:

  • Humans – This is going to be a difficult one since Humans hasn’t had a tribe identity until Innistrad, so it’s not going to have as many cards to work with. I might change this to Soldiers or Rebels once I actually start figuring out what cards I want to include.
  • Spirits – This was one of the main tribes in Kamigawa block, so I’m definitely going to include creatures with soulshift and effects that trigger from Spirit spells.
  • Deadapult
    Zombies – There were a ton of great Zombie cards in Onslaught block, and Zombies has been a tribe since day one, so I’m sure there will be a lot of cards to choose from and some old classics like Zombie Master. Deadapult in particular is a card I’m excited about including.
  • Vampires – Like Zombies, Vampires have been around since Alpha, so you can be sure that Sengir Vampire will make an appearance. Zendikar was the first set to really push this tribe, so there will be a lot of cards from that block, but there is still room for others like Ascendant Evincar, Sengir Nosferatu, and Skeletal Vampire.
  • Werewolves – Like Humans, this is going to be a tough one to figure out since they didn’t really exist before Innistrad. There aren’t even that many Wolves to choose from, but I’m sure it won’t be that big of a deal.
  • Angels / Demons – These tribes are less represented in Innistrad, so I’m not going out of my way to include that many of them. If I find any that have any neat interactions with the aforementioned tribes, I’ll throw them in.

Just writing this up is getting me excited to start putting it together, and once I hammer out the details, I’ll post up a list. As for non-Cube-related goings on, Magic Online has been a bit of a dead zone lately, what with the release of Diablo 3. I certainly haven’t escaped the clutches of the Lord of Terror. In fact I’m pretty amazed that I’ve managed to rip myself away long enough to write this article. The online prerelease should be going on by the time you read this, but I tend to stay away from them due to the piss-poor prize support. Release tournaments are another story, and I’ll find the time to do some Sealed events and/or Drafts.

Until next time, happy Cubing!

Nassim Ketita

arcticninja on Magic Online

http://www.youtube.com/nketita