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.

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.

Drafting a Commander Cube

I used several sources to help me create and draft my Commander Cube. I’ve included a list here, and a discussion of my drafts.

Commander Cube: Drafting with Other People

Building a Commander Cube and Want Tips

Drafting for Multiplayer: The Commander Cube

Commander Cube: Want some help and ideas

After reading through these sites and discussing the logistics with my husband, I decided upon a strategy for drafting.

Be prepared: drafting takes a loooooong time, in addition to deck building and then the actual game. My Commander Cube games have lasted 5-6 hours.

Continue reading “Drafting a Commander Cube”

Coming Up With Ideas

To create a Cube, I start by thinking about what kind of block I’d like to see in MtG.

Sometimes, Wizards of the Coast hears my thoughts — just as I was starting to sketch out a Bollywood-themed Cube, Kaladesh was announced.

But generally they don’t hear my thoughts.

My first Cube, Mele, was Hawaiian themed. I adore Hawaii, and I think its mythology would fit really well with MtG. To get started, I brainstormed general themes — volcanoes, fish, battle, ocean, etc. Then I pulled cards that fit those themes.

Then I had too many red and white cards, so I had to winnow to keep it balanced.

I tried to create an actual story for Mele, about planeswalkers battling for power, but ultimately that was too much unnecessary complication. At the moment, I don’t replay Cubes enough to make the storyline a fun part of the process.

My second Cube, Cosmic Time, was a birthday gift for my husband. Same thing — brainstormed ideas about what he likes, then found cards to fit.

While I’ve stopped creating stories, I still create art; that helps me literally visualize what I’m doing.


Number three was my first Commander Cube. It’s based on The Canterbury Tales. My idea was that the commanders were like the Pilgrims traveling to Canterbury, and the other cards their tales. I was stymied a bit because I didn’t have quite enough Commanders (I wanted 24 to choose from) that fit my theme. So I had to add a few for playability, not for the theme.

And that’s something that happens with every Cube, having to balance theme versus fun. Since the goal is to have fun with my friends, I do err on the side of fun. That said, while I do look at color balance, that’s all for now — I tend not to be as concerned with commons vs rares or creatures vs enchantments.

I came up with the idea for number four, Make or Break, while playing Commander Cube. I love cards that mess things up, and one of my friends would open each pack by saying “Okay, where are the rares?”

So I pulled cards that make something (tokens) or break something (generally, that’s cards that destroy, exile, or deal damage, but I have a few others, too, like Demonic Pact, that are just weird). Other than some blue commons to make sure the colors balanced, all of the cards are uncommon or higher, and there’s about 20 planeswalkers, too. While this Cube is mechanic-based, it still started as sort of a theme.

I have several Cubes in progress at the moment, but the one I’m actively working on is one for Halloween. I don’t want it to be all Innistrad cards, though, so I’ve been puzzling over the best way to approach it. Originally I was thinking of a Cube based on Macbeth, but now I’m toying with the idea of a Commander Cube. It’s just a bummer there’s only two possible werewolf commanders.

Ultimately, Cube creation comes down to: what do you want to play?