The Way You Cube

A while back, I mentioned that my brother was making a MTG: Conspiracy cube.  A cube, for those like me who barely know any MTG parlance, is a pre-selected batch of singleton cards that  the owner of the cube has selected to create the draft style that they enjoy. Most cubes are power cubes: ones that ratchet up the speed and power of the game to 11, combining staples from all the constructed formats and turning them into a super-powerful Frankenstein of a draft. Another popular cube is the pauper cube, using only the best commons in order to create a very different type of powerful experience, though again they only have a single copy of any given card. These cubes enable people to draft wherever they happen to be with whoever they happen to have around, and have those people experience what the cubes owner loves most about draft.

To that effect, recently MTG came out with Conspiracy, their summer set that is generally about fun and noncompetitive games for us casual players. Feeding off of last years highly successful Modern Masters, a power-draft oriented set that brought a lot of out of print cards back, this years set was all about draft. For the first time, they included cards that interacted directly with the draft itself. These cards create some great affects that make drafting extremely interesting. Some of the

The cards range in effect from the Cogwork Librarian which allows you to trade a pick in your current pack, by picking him, for a pick in a future pack, where you return him to the draft. There are also cards like the Æther Searcher and Lurking Automaton that not when you picked them during the draft to make the best of their abilities. There is also my personal favorite, though its one that is hard to get correct, which allows you to trade all your future picks this pack for all the cards left in a given pack.

They also came out with a completely new card type, the Conspiracy. This card is colorless, manaless and essentially not part of the game at all. It sits to the side of the game, in the Command Zone, where they lurk to wreak havoc on your opponents and their plans. The Conspiracies are great fun to draft because they are cards of pure hope and strategy. If you get enough of the same ones to stack up, you can really turn a draft on its head. I managed to pull Brago’s Favor, Immediate Action and Muzzio’s Preparations all on the humble Highland Berserker.

All of this enables each draft and each game to be different. cheap, weak cards can become powerful, and slow powerful cards can become cheap, and every iteration in between. Its was a very cool concept that I was going to be unable to participate in.

Thankfully, my brother wanted to build a cube of Conspiracy cards and bring the joy of the Conspiracy draft to others! This was fantastic news to me, and when asked for help, I did everything I could to assist. It probably amounted to nothing, because I don’t know many cards, but it was fun to talk about broad spectrum theories. One of the things that was going to differentiate this from most cubes was that this was not going to be singleton. This cube, due to the nature of many of the conspiracy cards, would need to have multiples of a number of cards just to get the desired flow of the draft.

It ended up being a ton of fun, as I’ve now drafted it four times, and each time felt like a success. The first time through felt a little complex,but the second time felt really smooth. I drafted it more for archetype, too, testing out whether each color pair feels unique. The deck I played was extremely aggressive and topped out at 5 cmc. It was the kind of deck I really liked, but I sabotaged it on my own by including cards that slowed down my aggression to try and temp. The second draft was a allies deck and man that thing shot out of the gate. I was able to build up a massive life total of something along the lines of 53 life and was able just to outlast almost everyone, including casting Rout at an opportune time to be able to capitalize and move into the endgame.

This Alternate draft experience has been extremely enjoyable, and its one I’d want to repeat as often as possible, and I think that the capabilities of the cube-like format is really awesome and worth exploring, including leading it towards my favorite type of MTG to play: Flavor-based.

I am a sucker for a good, fun theme, and the Ravnica theme is just fantastic. I love the flavor that it gives each pair of colors and the thought process that is used for each one in order to try and win, and I love building themed decks during draft.

I’ve thought about trying to make a Cubnica before, but I didn’t know how successful it could be. With the Conspiricube being a whole pot full of fun, I think that one based on the flavor and style of the Ravnican plane would just be a blast. It is going to be extremely hard, though, as there are more than 700 cards out there that are watermarked as guild cards, and that doesn’t count lands and artifacts. Most cubes hit 360 cards (the total of a cubes interior angles is 360, hence Cube) for that 8 player experience. 700 is just extremely large and could really dilute the flavor of the guilds.

Instead, I am going to have to focus on how to make the important cards in the guilds, the Guild Leaders, Champions, and Runners, work within the context of the draft. I also want each of the individual decks that were viable in both Return to Ravnica Block and the Original Ravnica Block to have their place to shine.

I am currently torn between wanting to have a non-singleton deck that is much more watered down but consistent or a singleton, traditional cube that is more flavorful but less consistent and able to carry each guild. I know I want to use the guild cycles, and that I want to include guildless, good cards, but I don’t really even know where to start. While I can’t put a ton of time into building it right now, the time will come soon where I’ll be talking about the epic failures of my first cube and how to make it better!