The next idea

I’ve been wrestling with my next Cube idea. We’re still playing with the Bollywood one; this is longer than I normally play a Cube but for various reasons, we’ve missed a lot of weekends at the shop. In fact, I went on vacation and left my Cube at the shop.

I want to do a Bats Cats Rats Cube, but definitely going to wait until Hour of Devastation is released. Soon!

I think some kind of “group hug” Cube would be fun, but going through the rules text and figuring out the draft pool is daunting.

I’ve been toying with a Tarot card commander Cube. Like each commander would represent one of the major arcana, the draft pool the minor arcana. But finding analogs takes time, especially when I want to try to limit the commanders to 2+ colors. I have 177 Legendary creatures at the moment, and 28 planeswalkers.

Planning is the most fun for me, but sometimes it’s nice to get something finished, too!

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.

Gods as Commanders

For my Shakespeare Cube, I included two gods in the Commander packets. They sort of fit thematically, and one was bicolor, important for my idea of four color commanders.

This turned out to be a terrible idea, because I forgot gods are indestructible! They were difficult to deal with, and could easily be recast.

Obviously if someone is making a personal EDH deck, and they want a god as a commander, go for it. But for a casual game with a lot of players, all of whom made up their decks on the fly, it was frustrating and prolonged the game.

Back to the drawing board.

Shakespeare Cube

My schedule has recently changed, which means less time for Cube. šŸ˜¦

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.Ā 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 theĀ 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; Ā 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.

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 UngluedĀ 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 isĀ really interesting orĀ 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 overallĀ 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. šŸ™‚

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 onĀ 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 onĀ 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?