04/30/2012 Feature: "The Cube Has Six Faces"

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This thread is for discussion of this weeks's Feature Article, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.
I don't do MTGO, but I like the effort for a format that I like. 

If this is a success, I'd like to see WotC sell a pre-made cube sold in stores. I think it would help out the format immensely.  

"Ah, the age-old conundrum. Defenders of a game are too blind to see it's broken, and critics are too idiotic to see that it isn't." - Brian McCormick

It is not my intention to be "that guy" or badmouth Mr. La Pille in any way, but you were not building a cube for you to play with.  You were putting together a cube for thousands of people to play with.  The inclusion of Ravnica bouncelands and signets is so standard in cube that I would think they are mandatory.  I completely understand Sol Ring and Mana Crypt being absent, as those cards just lend to completely unfair games. 

There is an entire archetype in the presented cube that I just don't understand, and that is the 'black aggro' shell.  Sarcomancy, Black Knight, etc.  There either need to be more cards in the cube to fill out that shell, or take out the 8~ that are there, as all it does now is lure people into the trap of an incomplete (also bad) archetype.  The reanimation package also seems a bit underwhelming to me, but that could entirely be due to the size of the cube more than the amount of reanimation targets.  I really would have expected Empyreal Archangel over Sphinx of the Steel Wind, though.

On the note of sideboard cards, why exclude Flashfires, Boil, Anarchy, Gloom etc. but keep in some of the less powerful ones like Silver/White/Black/Blood Knight?  Color hoser packages are a really cool aspect of cube metagaming for sideboards that I feel rewards people in the correct manner.  The cards being individually devastating (Conversion, Choke, Flashfires, Dystopia and Chill as examples of some of the more brutal ones) is outweighed a lot by the fact that they're only useful in about a third of your matches, and you only get to play 3 matches in a Swiss.

I'm a proponent of extremely powerful, albeit narrow, niche cards to fill specific roles in decks, to give them a further identity beyond '5 color durdle control' which is more or less what the pros draft.  Landing a Choke against a U-based control deck is one of the more effective ways to crush them, but of course it does nothing against 5 (on average) other people in the draft.
I think my favorite of those is Loyal Retainers. In general, the card is quite specific, but it still works with every legendary creature in the Cube—including the Eldrazi.


Wouldn't you have to get the Eldrazi into the graveyard first? It was my impression that they had an ability ("When ~ is put into a graveyard from anywhere, its owner shuffles his or her graveyard into his or her library.") to prevent people from abusing reanimation effects with them.
Recommendations:

Get rid of the Storm cards.  Yes, supposedly one person won with the deck when everything went their way.  It is a draft mechanic like Infect , where you need a preponderance of cards in order for your deck to do anything.  The vast majority of the time you attempt to draft it you will fail miserably, and as a result there are all of these 15th pick storm cards wasting space in the cube.

It is very difficult to build a 2 color aggro deck because there isn't enough fixing.  Add the Scars lands such as Razorverge Thicket that are relatively undesirable by the 5 color control decks but vital for a 2 color aggro deck.

Scorpion Knight: High Armor, High Damage in Heroic Safe Haven: Stay near me and never get hit Eldritch Avenger: Crit Fishing at level 12, LFR friendly

I am very confused.  Is cube still on mtgo?  How do zi access it?  If it's not, how long before it comes back?

A paragraph for context at the start of the article would be nice. 
I am very confused.  Is cube still on mtgo?  How do zi access it?  If it's not, how long before it comes back?

A paragraph for context at the start of the article would be nice. 

Cube was a temporary event that will be included in the gap between paper releases and MTGO releases of new sets (it's mentioned in Ryan Spain's feature article for the same day as this one).  Also, he does provide a link to the original announcement and details at the end of the first section of his article (www.wizards.com/magic/Magazine/Article.a...).
The inclusion of Ravnica bouncelands and signets is so standard in cube that I would think they are mandatory.  I completely understand Sol Ring and Mana Crypt being absent, as those cards just lend to completely unfair games.


That's a very bad reason to include them. If Tom thinks they lead to something he's not considering in the format (and he explains why he thinks that way), it's correct to exclude them. Just like Sol Ring and Mana Crypt.

You can argue that it might be a bad choice to exclude them because he's wrong about what they do in the draft, but that's not the same as saying "Most people have these in their Cube so if you don't, you're doing it wrong".
I think my favorite of those is Loyal Retainers. In general, the card is quite specific, but it still works with every legendary creature in the Cube—including the Eldrazi.

Wouldn't you have to get the Eldrazi into the graveyard first? It was my impression that they had an ability ("When ~ is put into a graveyard from anywhere, its owner shuffles his or her graveyard into his or her library.") to prevent people from abusing reanimation effects with them.

You can activate Loyal Retainers' ability in response to the triggered ability that would shuffle your graveyard. Then the Eldrazi will return to the battlefield before your graveyard gets shuffled.
While cubing on MTGO was fun, it is definately the lamest cube I've drafted. There is too many niche cards and half supported archetypes that often packs had very few great cards. 90% of packs I saw had a flat power-level of mediocrity, rather than a flat power-level of awesome I expect in cube. If you want to support reanimator, suicide black, storm etc. you need a higher density of cards for each of those archetypes, i.e., either a smaller cube or fewer archetypes with better support.
Something I never got, and this seems as good a place as any to ask - why is this format called "cube"?

The article title made me hopeful that would be explained somewhere in this article, but I don't think he ever referred to the title again, much less explained its meaning (if it even had one).
Jeff Heikkinen DCI Rules Advisor since Dec 25, 2011