Vanguard

“What’s in a Name?” didn’t play as I’d wanted, so this was the last weekend of play. I decided to try Vanguard for its final play.

The short version is that I really liked it. Vanguard is like a precursor to EDH, so it played as a fast Commander game.

I went through the legendaries, finding ones that would make good Vanguards. We passed them out to each player randomly, and each player could choose one and put the others in their deck. The Vanguard is in the Command Zone, but not in play — you don’t cast it, it can’t be targeted, etc. Instead, the card’s text impacts the creatures in play. For simplicity, we decided that the card text would apply to all creatures. The Vanguard’s power was added to the starting life, and the creature’s toughness was the opening hand.

For future play, the main thing will be to balance the creatures, and clarify if text only applies to creatures, or if it might instead apply to upkeep (such as scry or draw effects).

 

What’s in a Name, Part 2

This past weekend, we tried a new draft:

Pack 1: 5 legendaries/planeswalkers

Packs 2 and 3: 15 “name” cards that specifically references the cards in Pack 1

Pack 4: 15 “name” cards that don’t have a corresponding legendary/PW in the draft; lands, as well

Overall, it was fine, but I didn’t really like it. There was too little variety in Packs 2 and 3. I like randomness in my draft.

This coming weekend, I’m going to go back to 3 15-card packs, but balance them a bit to make sure each pack has 2 legendaries/PW. No one will end up with all of the Gods, and all of the drafts will be more random.

“What’s in a Name?” Cube

My newest Cube is all about “named” cards. Think “Chandra’s Outrage” or “Augur of Bolas.” I put in every card with this kind of name, but only put in Legendaries and Planeswalkers that had named cards. So for example, Lovisa Coldeyes isn’t in this Cube because I don’t have any other cards that refer to her.

I also gave all Legendaries/PW’s “convoke.” If you have “Augur of Bolas,” you can tap it to pay one mana of Nicol Bolas’s casting cost. Additionally, if Bolas (for example) is on the field, Augur of Bolas gets +1/+1. Instants and sorceries cost one less if the named card is on the battlefield. (Chandra’s Outrage would cost one less if a Chandra PW is on the field.)

Last week was the first time we played. The randomness was fun, but for this week, I’ve juiced the packs. We’ll do four rounds of drafts. First will be a short, 5-card pack of Legendaries and Planeswalkers. Then two rounds of 15 of cards that only share names with the L/PWs that were in those original packs. Then a final round of 15 cards that include other named cards (for example, Purphoros’s Emissary — I don’t have Purphoros), conspiracies, and lands.

I don’t tend to include lands because they aren’t on theme. (Or if I do a Commander Cube, everyone gets guild gates, regardless of the theme, etc.) But there can be issues with mana ramp as a result. So I just added a bunch of lands. I have a few “named” lands (Desert of the Fervent, for example), so those went in. And then I added any land that named a specific place; no to Rugged Highlands, yes to Crypt of Agadeem.

Definitely excited to play tomorrow!

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.

Backdraft

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.