Cube and Wizard’s Tower

My most recent Cube was built a month ago, but for various reason, only got to play it for the second time today.

The Cube is Bollywood themed, with a particular focus on the Dhoom movies. The Dhoom series is the Bollywood version of The Fast and the Furious.

This Cube uses Wizard’s Tower to augment the regular draft and gameplay. In the middle of the table is a stack of vehicles, facedown (no vehicles in the draft). Starting on turn three, you can draw and immediately play a vehicle instead of drawing a card from your library. It’s been fun to do something different, and it’s cool that everyone has access to the vehicles without trying to figure out a way for everyone to have an equal number of vehicles or forcing people to include them in their deck.


We’ve been playing the Bestiary cube for awhile, so I decided to try something different: backdraft.

We drafted three packs, trying to construct the worst card pool possible. When I put the packs together, I juiced them a little bit: putting in really good cards, putting in just one of a card that has an effect like “for each card named X, do Y” or putting in multiples of those cards. That was fun, too.

After drafting, we switched card pools with other players; in our case, we shifted them two to the right.

We had five players, so played Star: you couldn’t attack the person on your right or your left.

This had the advantage of making the game go much faster! We got in three games!

After the second game, we switched our decks back to the person who created it.

It was definitely a lot of fun. 🙂

Another Round of Commander Draft

I liked the Commander packet I’d made for my Halloween Cube, so did the same for my Shakespeare Cube. The packs cut down on draft time, and I could ensure everyone got X, Y, Z type of cards (like making sure everyone gets a Planeswalker).

But I was unhappy with the packet balance, so I decided to try a combination: a draft round, but with packs made up only of legendary creatures and Planeswalkers (and keeping the partner mechanic). I only had enough cards for 4 packs of 15 cards; we actually had 5 players, so each pack had 12. Then we did a regular draft of 3 15-card packs.

Overall, it went well. Draft still went fairly quickly, and everyone had a larger pool to draw from. My main concern is number of players: the packets could support 8 players, but draft probably hits a wall at 6 (10-card packs).

I like the partner mechanic, though, and will probably use it in the future, which means drafting this way will probably continue to work.

Shakespeare Cube

My schedule has recently changed, which means less time for Cube. 😦

I’ve been working on a new idea for about 3 weeks now. When I learned my store wouldn’t be able to have its Aether Revolt Prerelease event, I wanted to get the Cube finished so we’d have something fun to play. I stayed up late the night before finishing the deck list and pulling cards. When I got up in the morning, I learned the shop was opening late (the weather still sucks), so I was able to spend some time making packs.

This Cube is another Commander Cube, with a fairly small draft pool. I created some new rules and mechanics:

1. All Legendary Creatures and Planewalkers have “partner,” although players could only have two commanders.
2. A new mechanic, “understudy”: “When your Commander returns to the Command Zone, you may search your graveyard and/or library for a creature card, reveal it, and put it in your hand. If you search your library, shuffle it.”
3. Color identity does not apply to special lands.

Before draft, everyone got to choose a packet of Commanders. The packets were based on Shakespeare’s plays, while the draft pool was a little looser — plays, Shakespeare’s life, cards that simply have a Shakespeare quote on them, life in Elizabethan England. Each packet had 4 Legendary Creatures and 1 Planeswalker. Additionally, everyone got a copy of mana fixers like Opaline Unicorn and Sol Ring, and, like, a dozen Guildgates. I’d had some trouble getting a good color balance, but in the end, it seems like everyone got what they needed.

Players only got to see the Planeswalker in the pack, and I also included a list with the four colors in the packet and a very basic description of the type of cards/mechanics in the packet. This is similar to what I did for the Halloween Cube. The difference is that I had a lot more flexibility in creating packets; this time I wasn’t able to make the packets as balanced as I’d like.

After players chose packets, there was a draft of 4 packs of 15 cards. No special lands in the draft pool, though there were additional legendary creatures in the draft pool.

This Cube was one of the most fun of the ones I’ve created. Before we started playing, I got to talk to a couple people about the format. Which, you know, I’ll talk about Cube all day long. When we started the draft, two new people joined us. I love how Cube can bring people in, and you start as just people and end as friends. Six people total played.

We laughed so much while drafting and playing! I was able to include a lot of older cards, so people enjoyed seeing those again. And the new players liked getting to play with cards that are banned in other formats.

We ran into one problem with the commanders, which I’ll write about separately. I was worried about mana fixing with four-color Commanders;  no one had any problems with mana thanks to all of the Gates and such.

The game lasted about 5 hours. A few of us (including me) wound up conceding because the game lasted so long. But that’s okay. The main goal of Cube isn’t to win, it’s to have fun.

Playing with the Horde

I created three Horde decks to play with my friends: dragons, prehistoric creatures, and werewolves. The werewolf deck was based on the medieval story “Bisclavret,” and so the cards were in a specific order, somewhat like a Theros Hero deck.

First we drafted from my all female Cube. This actually created a problem because I had seeded the decks — for example, every player had at least one Planeswalker. Our decks were actually a little too strong for the Horde.

The Dragon and Bisclavret Hordes have 100 cards; Prehistoric Creatures 60. Dragons and Prehistoric creatures were shuffled before play.

We had three turns to set up defenses, then the Horde started playing. We drew cards until we pulled a non-token card, then everything went on the battlefield. When we did damage, we put cards from the library into the graveyard — eventually we modified that to, “until we reached the first non-token card.”

The Bisclavret deck was a disaster. It never got a chance to take a hold and we defeated it very easily. I’d like to try it again as just a “werewolf horde.” The Hero decks or Archenemy decks have specific cards in them that effect the game state; I didn’t really have that for my hordes.

Another problem, with all of the decks, was lack of recursion. Obviously, zombies are great because it’s pretty easy to get them out of the graveyard. Much more difficult for the decks I made.

Overall, I’d say it was pretty fun. It was fun drafting and no one was hate drafting. 🙂 I still have the Horde decks put together and would like to play them again, especially against, mmmm, less powerful decks. 🙂

Halloween Commander Cube

Got to play my new Cube, Treats and Tricks, twice this weekend! Had a lot of fun, though as has happened in the past, the board state got kind of stalled out — no board wipes or anything to help break through. Just the nature of how I construct things.

If you click on the link and check out my card list, you’ll notice that some rows are highlighted — those are cards I wanted to add but are currently missing. 1. Maybe having those cards in the Cube would solve the problem? 2. The missing cards are generally not worth anything, so I’m hoping it’s not a case of someone stealing them (most of them were used in previous Cubes) but me just putting them “somewhere safe” and then forgetting.

Especially enjoyed putting in a lot of older cards, as well as cards from Unglued and Unhinged. The Dark (which I hadn’t heard of before!) had a lot of on-flavor cards, and I was particularly thrilled to add Frankenstein’s Monster.

As usual, the most difficult part of construction was color balance. I knew there would be more black than any color, but as a result, I wanted to keep the others fairly balanced, especially since the Commanders were different colors. However, I had more Grixis Commanders than other combos. Red was my next highest color, but it was really difficult finding blue cards that fit the theme, without just buying a bunch of commons from Lorwyn/Shadowmoor.

(Unless the card is really interesting or really old, I try to avoid buying commons.)

I added some fairies to help round things out, and anything with “Trick” in the name, which led to a few merfolk. Which made me wonder: should I include merfolk? And if I did, what about minotaurs or leonin? Where do I draw the line? In general, I kept it to humans, demons/devils, angels, wolves/werewolves, fairies, elves, and a few others

Additionally, I used a new drafting strategy. I think it went well overall but it was time consuming to put together.

A few problems: 1. Drafting took forever 2. People were stuck with commanders that weren’t as powerful and/or didn’t synergize 3. People were stuck with non-basic lands they couldn’t use.

To solve this, I made packets: players chose from 8 3-color commanders. (This part still needs to be ironed out — you can only chose one, so how to draft? On Saturday, we went in a circle with a few face up at a time, replacing the chosen one with a new one; on Sunday, they were all face-up at once and we just went in a circle picking.) Players then received a pack with 2 2-color commanders, 1 1-color commander, and a Planeswalker. The various commanders were all in the same color identity (more or less), and I also made sure that they had good combos, and that no set was crazy over or under powered. Players also received a packet with non-basic lands in their color identity, as well as Command Tower and Sol Ring because I have a million of both, so why not.

After receiving the packets, we drafted 4 rounds of 15-card packs. I included non-basic lands within the draft, instead of a separate round of drafting. Drafting still took a while, but not as bad as previous Commander Cubes.

If you click this link, you can see how I organized the Commanders. If a player chose Johan, they had the option of switching one of his colors to black. I chose him in our second game, and played Black Red Green, and he was a really good commander.

Since every 3-color commander had black in their color identity, we played with Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth on the table (each land is a swamp in addition to its other types). Made it much easier to decide how much land to include in each deck.

Overall this has been a really fun Cube and I look forward to playing throughout October. And probably into November because it took so much time to build. 🙂

New Drafting Ideas

Currently working on a Halloween Cube. I’m really digging Commander Cubes, though this will probably be the last one for awhile, because of drafting fatigue.

To combat that fatigue, I’m going to try something new for choosing commanders and drafting.

So far, while drafting Commander Cubes, I use this procedure:

Place 4 cards face-up on the table. Go around the table, replacing the chosen card with a new one. The person who went last in Draft 1 goes first in Draft 2.

Draft 1 round of 3+ color commanders.
Draft 2 rounds of 2 color commanders.
Draft 1 round of 1 color commanders.

This ensures a variety, but what happens is someone generally gets stuck with several not-so-good picks that might not even be in the same colors.

For Halloween-themed commanders, though, I have roughly 13 3+ color commanders, and 16 2-color and 16 1-color. And roughly 11 Planeswalkers.

With so many choices, unlike previous Cubes, we could do an actual draft with packs. Still, that takes forever and has that same risk of winding up with a bunch of legendaries that don’t play well.

So I’m putting the commanders together. Everyone will choose a 3+ color commander, and then receive 2 2-color and 1 1-color commander, as well as 1 Planeswalker,  that all work well together and share color identities.

I’m also thinking of putting together lands for each commander. When drafting special lands, I’ve also run into the problem of people getting stuck with lands they can’t lose. So I’m thinking put non-basic lands with options like “one generic mana/mana of your choice/mana of your commander’s color identity” into the general card pool, and putting together little packs with Guildgates that specifically match the various commanders.

I also have 50000 Sol Rings, so I’ll probably give one to each player, too.