The Cube: an Introduction
One of the best parts of Magic: the Gathering, is that while the standard game itself is great fun at every level, from the pro-tournaments right down to the bedroom amateurs, there's so many different ways to experience it. There are of course game modes like Two-Headed Giant, Peasant and Commander, but playing Draft games and their variations are some of the most popular because they level the playing field.
One type of draft gameplay is the Cube, which differs slightly from the standard formula. Instead of taking a bunch of fresh packs, Cube games use a pre-existing, pre-built pool of cards to draw from. The number of cards depends on the number of players, but regardless, you create a number of 'packs' of your own design and deal them out to players. From there you play a normal draft game, but it's the creation of the original pool that really makes Cube games stand out.
This has a lot of advantages, since if you're using a friend's card collection – or your own – it's a completely free way to play. Also, you might get a chance to use cards you haven't used before, because the pool can feature anything you want. You could decide that every pack is going to be full of mythics, or a single color, or even cards that only cost a couple of mana – the beauty of Cube draft games, is that you're in total control.
The potential for synergy between cards is also high. Whilst each block of releases might feature a lot of one specific type of ability, it's much less common to see some of them mix and matched. In a standard draft game, you're going to be using whatever the latest batch of cards and therefore abilities are – for the most part – but with Cube drafts, you're in charge and you can make all sorts of weird and wonderful combinations. This means that the chance of seeing some incredible plays increases and can make for some game changing moments that are much rarer in other forms of Magic.
Of course these sort of combinations aren't a part of the regular game for a reason, they can be overpowered, but that's part of the fun of Cube games, they're more casual, more relaxed and let you ask that question of “what if?” with your collection. If you like to play Magic more for the fun of it, rather than competitiveness, then a round of Cube drafting would probably be right up your street.
So if you've read this far and like the sound of the Cube and want to give it a shot yourself, where do you start? The first port of call should be deciding on who of your group of friends – or rivals, depending on how much of that competitive edge you've shaken off – is going to be in charge of creating the card pool. For the sake of this article, we'll say it's you and your mighty collection of cards, that will decide which ones will make up your draft pool.
From here you could simply take one of the many Cube lists created by other players available online and run with that – if you have all the cards – but it's often a lot more fun to make your own. Since it's your first time, it's probably best that you include all colours with relatively similar numbers and also throw in some colorless and multi-colored ones for good measure. From there you can add what you like and try and have fun with it, as it'll probably be easier to refine the pool for next time than it would be to try and make the perfect one right out the gate.
Just remember as you add cards though, that part of the fun of Cube games is the mix and match nature of it, so if you feel like including something a bit off the wall, don't restrict yourself, you'll be surprised what impressive combinations players will be able to come up with when presented with some cards that you wouldn't often find in a competitive deck.
Once your pool is created, you can treat it like any other draft game. You hand the packs out to players, pass them around, drawing as you go and gradually build your own personal pools of cards to build a deck from.
The only real consideration to take with Cube games, is that if you don't have a pre-build pool to begin with, it can take a lot longer than traditional draft games, since the packs in that are already made and ready to go – though of course you have to pay for them.
As time goes on, you'll find that Cube games can evolve with you and your friends, as you gradually tweak your pool of cards, making it more, or less competitive, faster or slower, more creature heavy – it's completely up to you what direction you take it in. Just make sure you remember that the best parts about the Cube, are that it's very different from standard games and traditional draft. It's often best if you keep it that way.
So that's my guide to getting started with Cube games. Hopefully those of you who haven't tried it before will be intrigued and give it a shot. Perhaps some of our more veteran readers can leave a few tips for the new players below?
Also if you've ever had any epic combinations that you wouldn't see outside of a Cube game, let us know.
Check out the next article in our Cube Drafting series, The Standard Cube.