“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?” 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.

Where Do You Get Your Lists?

I attended a Modern Masters draft on Sunday (pulled a Cruel Ultimatum!). During our game, my opponent asked what formats I liked. “Cube!” I exclaimed. We chatted a little about Cube, then he asked “Where do you get your card lists?”

I get this question a lot, and it always surprises me and my answer surprises the asker: me!

I share my lists here, obviously, and you can go to CubeTutor and find all sorts of card lists. But a big appeal of Cube is the ability to make whatever you want.

So I think about what I would like to see. I have a background in literature and history, so I draw upon that. What stories or events do I like?

Or for other people, focus on the types of mechanics you like, or would be fun to play with.


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. 🙂

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.