Cube Draft FAQ

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Here is the FAQ taken (with permission) from Tom LaPille's website.

The Cube FAQ, by Tom LaPille



Cube is a Magic: The Gathering limited format where all the cards come from a pre-prepared pool of cards that were chosen for the purpose of playing limited with them. The format originated in Toronto, Canada and spread from there. I(Tom LaPille) found out about the idea from Gabe Walls, and about a year later I started building my own. Now, the format has grown in popularity and three rounds of cube [were] be part of the 2007 Magic Invitational. This is a guide to the cube experience for both cube caretakers and players.

What is a cube?
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A cube is a large pool of cards selected for the purposes of limited. It should should contain at least enough cards to support a standard eight-player booster draft. The actual selection of the cards will depend on the feel that you want games of your cube to have. Ben Bleiweiss owns a box containing one copy of each unique card that has been printed that he uses to draft, and although he does not call it a cube, it could be called one. On the other hand, my cube contains 512 cards, and almost every card is strong enough to have seen constructed play at one point or another. However, I have tried to avoid cards that make games unfun by being too powerful, such as Black Lotus, Wheel of Fortune, and Ancestral Recall; Gabe Walls does not worry about this, and includes pretty much anything and everything in his cube.

What you put in your own cube will reflect what you want out of it. If you want to have really powerful games, you can build something similar to mine. If you just want a change of pace but prefer limited to constructed, why not make a cube with all strong limited commons? Even a cube consisting of cards from only one block could be interesting. Your imagination is the limit.

Practically speaking, the cube should be sleeved so that expensive cards don’t get destroyed. You will also need to have enough sleeved basic lands to go around.

What do you do with a cube?

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In general, the cube is drafted. Eight-player team booster draft is my preferred format, because having eight players makes it feel most like a normal draft and using teams means that no one has to lose and not play anymore. However, any limited format can be played with the cube. I have killed many between-round breaks by playing cube sealed, and I have also done an eight-player Rotisserie draft- that is, we put the entire cube face up on the table and rochester drafted the entire thing all at once. This was riotous fun and attracted many confused spectators. To do a normal booster draft, have everyone shuffle the cube together and then make random fifteen card packs out of the randomized cards. Then, draft, add basic lands, and play. When there is too little time or too few players for this, I often play Winston draft, which is a two-player draft format.

How do I build a cube?

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A cube must be constructed very carefully. In general, it is important that a cube have equal numbers of cards in each color, enough creatures in each color for everyone, and a mana curve within each color. It is also important that the each color have a similar power level. Past that, do what you think is fun. Balancing the cube in power level is much easier when you make consistent choices across colors. You wouldn’t want to put a bunch of strong limited cards in white and then fill red up with the best burn that has ever been printed. My cube began with only cards that were legal in legacy or unrestricted in vintage, but a few cards that I deem to be fun and not overpowered are now allowed to break that rule. You also want to be able to accomodate eight players, which means having at least 360 cards. I used to have exactly 360 cards because I liked having every card in play when we did an eight-player draft. Adam Prosak’s cube has something like 400 cards, as in Arizona they prefer to not have every card available every time; I now subscribe to this philosophy, since it leads to more variety and interest. I’ve gotten so big now that only a fourth of the cube gets used in a two on two draft, and I am quite happy with this.

The way I originally balanced the colors when I built the cube was to lay out each color in the same way that one lays out a limited deck and make sure that things were reasonable with respect to mana curve and creatures. Most of the implications of the cube design decisions you make will not become clear to you until you have drafted your cube multiple times, so don’t worry too much about getting it right to begin with and just try what you think is reasonable. Eventually, you will figure out what your preferences are and adjust your cube accordingly.

Why should I build a cube?

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It’s the most fun I’ve ever had playing Magic. Most people I have shared the cube with have expressed similar feelings.

For example, imagine opening this as your first pack in a draft…

Carnophage
Psychatog
Living Death
Flooded Strand
Coalition Relic
Akroma, Angel of Fury
Swords to Plowshares
Decree of Justice
Tarmogoyf
Serendib Efreet


…or ending a draft with this deck:

Isamaru, Hound of Konda
Mother of Runes
Savannah Lions
Jackal Pup
Mogg Fanatic
Grim Lavamancer
Silver Knight
White Knight
Soltari Monk
Soltari Priest
Whipcorder
Goblin Legionnaire
Paladin en-Vec
Calciderm

Firebolt
Rift Bolt
Incinerate
Sudden Shock
Lightning Helix
Volcanic Hammer
Magma Jet
Demonfire
Fireball
Ravages of War

Bloodstained Mire
Windswept Heath
Flooded Strand
Plateau
Sacred Foundry
City of Brass
Gemstone Mine
2 Mountain
7 Plains

If that didn’t make you smile, you haven’t been playing Magic long enough or you aren’t capable of feeling happiness.

Go make a cube, or at least convince someone else to. That cube will enhance your life and the lives of everyone else it touches.


(thanks to Tom LaPille for permission to quote his excellent FAQ)
so do i put one of each card in the cube or do i put multiples of each. I am confused. It doesn't say.
so do i put one of each card in the cube or do i put multiples of each. I am confused. It doesn't say.

Cube is a singleton format. You only put 1 of any given card in.
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Cube is a singleton format. You only put 1 of any given card in.

I'd really like to emulate the feelings of a booster draft in my cube (which I'll construct either as a Block cube or Core set Cube). Does it really make a difference? I like the 4-6 of Commons, 2-4 of Uncommons, and 1-2 of Rares suggestion I saw somewhere else for this sort of thing. Any major objections?
I'd really like to emulate the feelings of a booster draft in my cube (which I'll construct either as a Block cube or Core set Cube). Does it really make a difference? I like the 4-6 of Commons, 2-4 of Uncommons, and 1-2 of Rares suggestion I saw somewhere else for this sort of thing. Any major objections?

In the case of a block cube, that's generally the best way to go. There should be a Shards cube on the front page to reference on numbers.
Gleemax Roleplaying - An all inclusive freeform roleplay. Build characters, armies, and bases from any source material imaginable to enter into epic wars and deadly battles.
Check out the other PbP games around:
Real AdventuresPbP HavenThe Guild House
Garic's CityMap of the PlanesCOre COliseum
Castle of FunTerisia City and Fan FictionD20 Modern
Coalition War GameParanoia ParadiseMagic Puzzles, Fun, & Games!
In the case of a block cube, that's generally the best way to go. There should be a Shards cube on the front page to reference on numbers.

Will check it out, thanks S_D.

I built a cube and have been drafting it for a while now.  We normally have 3-4 people and play a free for all multiplayer game. 


We always draft 4 packs of 15 cards and build 60 card decks.  Does anyone else do this?  It seems that the norm is to build 40 card decks.  Are there any advantages/disadvantages to doing 60 cards to 40?

no i do 4-8 players with my cube and 3 packs each.  giving each player 45 cards and build 40 cards, making it more like limited and having other players have a sideboard.  i make the cube more like a sealed cube thats got relies on sealed building strategies and is weak in every color in constructed's eyes.  its more fun this way to me because it gives good practice.  I would like to use cards from 1 set and could for alara reborn but i generally have 2 360 stacks all containing cards from 10th shards conflux reborn, magic 2010 and now a couple hundred total from zendikar.  we buy booster packs about 3 each like a regular booster draft and use the packs for betting.  so we all annie in 1 pack so first place can get 4-8 boosters of a particular set.  only legal sets.  

Cube is a singleton format. You only put 1 of any given card in.

I'd really like to emulate the feelings of a booster draft in my cube (which I'll construct either as a Block cube or Core set Cube). Does it really make a difference? I like the 4-6 of Commons, 2-4 of Uncommons, and 1-2 of Rares suggestion I saw somewhere else for this sort of thing. Any major objections?



It makes a huge difference.  It isn't even a cube anymore at that point.  The key to a well balanced and fun cube, is to have arch types. The moment you go into a cube thinking symetrically you will see control dominate and the cube will get stale.  

I need to put my cube up here.  The MTGS boards are far superior for discussion on it, but their moderation is filled with tools. 
Cube is a singleton format. You only put 1 of any given card in.

I'd really like to emulate the feelings of a booster draft in my cube (which I'll construct either as a Block cube or Core set Cube). Does it really make a difference? I like the 4-6 of Commons, 2-4 of Uncommons, and 1-2 of Rares suggestion I saw somewhere else for this sort of thing. Any major objections?



It makes a huge difference.  It isn't even a cube anymore at that point.  The key to a well balanced and fun cube, is to have arch types. The moment you go into a cube thinking symmetrically you will see control dominate and the cube will get stale.  

I need to put my cube up here.  The MTGS boards are far superior for discussion on it, but their moderation is filled with tools. 


Uh, what?  Want to actually give some reasoning behind that?

Because I'm pretty sure that is exactly what DOESN'T happen in any given draft...meanwhile, most cubes screw it up and control dominates, hence why there are far more articles about including archetypes and boosting aggro than there are making sure control is good enough.

For reference, I actually made my cube, 4 copies of each common, 3 of each uncommon, 1 of each rare, packs made like actual packs and my group has loved it.

Uh, what?  Want to actually give some reasoning behind that?

Because I'm pretty sure that is exactly what DOESN'T happen in any given draft...meanwhile, most cubes screw it up and control dominates, hence why there are far more articles about including archetypes and boosting aggro than there are making sure control is good enough.

For reference, I actually made my cube, 4 copies of each common, 3 of each uncommon, 1 of each rare, packs made like actual packs and my group has loved it.




I did give you reasoning.  If you are sticking in multiples of cards its not a cube.  The cube at its roots is a singleton format.  This in lies the challenge of creating a cube. Being able to support archtypes with out running multiples of cards.  Also, it has a completely different feel to normal limited.  There would be no challange at all, if I could include 4x of the good aggro cards. 

You take all challange out of drafting if you are including 4x stepp lynx and 4x plated geopedes, 3x fact or fictions, and so on.  If your play group likes that, that's fine, but that's not a cube.  At least not to me and the majority of people who build them.

There is no doubt you built a balanced Limited pool.

Archtypes balance cubes, not adding 3 and 4 off of cards. There is a difference.

Uh, what?  Want to actually give some reasoning behind that?

Because I'm pretty sure that is exactly what DOESN'T happen in any given draft...meanwhile, most cubes screw it up and control dominates, hence why there are far more articles about including archetypes and boosting aggro than there are making sure control is good enough.

For reference, I actually made my cube, 4 copies of each common, 3 of each uncommon, 1 of each rare, packs made like actual packs and my group has loved it.




I did give you reasoning.  If you are sticking in multiples of cards its not a cube.  The cube at its roots is a singleton format.

Coulda swore it was about "the best cards in magic" but even that is up for debate.  Closer to the truth might be "getting to draft without having to pay."
This in lies the challenge of creating a cube. Being able to support archtypes with out running multiples of cards.  Also, it has a completely different feel to normal limited.  There would be no challange at all, if I could include 4x of the good aggro cards.

??? Yeah, ok.  No challenge huh?
You take all challange out of drafting if you are including 4x stepp lynx and 4x plated geopedes, 3x fact or fictions, and so on.  If your play group likes that, that's fine, but that's not a cube.  At least not to me and the majority of people who build them.

Weird, pretty sure Zendikar had that...
Archtypes balance cubes, not adding 3 and 4 off of cards. There is a difference.

Pretty sure archetypes are not dependent on limited resources.  Hence the redundency of various cube lists.  Yes, the minor variations may be interesting (I know they are to me) but White Weenie #12 means little to the White Weenie Archetype compared to Copy #4 of White Weenie #3.
hello everyone. I've recently built my own cube pod, and people keep asking me my card list. I didn't just write it down on a document because that would not help me much. I need a tool to analyze and balance the card pool, so I am in search of a suitable software for this. It should allow me to create a card database and help me find answers to questions like "what is the mana curve of my green creatures, how many red burn spells are in the pool" etc.

p.s. it would be MUCH better if the software includes also card pics
thanks
hello everyone. I've recently built my own cube pod, and people keep asking me my card list. I didn't just write it down on a document because that would not help me much. I need a tool to analyze and balance the card pool, so I am in search of a suitable software for this. It should allow me to create a card database and help me find answers to questions like "what is the mana curve of my green creatures, how many red burn spells are in the pool" etc.

p.s. it would be MUCH better if the software includes also card pics
thanks



You could accomplish this quite easily with MS Excel. Regardless of having a premade piece of software for you to use (which if there was one with what you are wanting, and for free at that, I would be greatly surprised) you will still have to manually input which cards you have to base your calculations on.

It may not have a 'oooooo pretty' GUI but it will have all the functionality you are wanting.

Col A = CardName; Col B = CMC;

Group them by Colors, do a few simple math functions and you would have your mana curves, # of cards of a certain color; you could even add another coloumn, call it 'Type' and keep track of how many creatures, instants, etc... you have and such.

The only 'tricky' part would be handling gold/hybrids, but it could be done.

But to drill down to something so specific as "how many cards that do do I have?" would be very difficult to achieve - even for someone writing an actual piece of software. Not just because it would require a lot of condition statements being met (and text comparisons) but how would you handle cards that, for example, a) burn or b) burn or destory or c) burn and destory, or d) your choice of burn, destory, etc...

In short, spend some quality time with MS Excel and create your own.

hello everyone. I've recently built my own cube pod, and people keep asking me my card list. I didn't just write it down on a document because that would not help me much. I need a tool to analyze and balance the card pool, so I am in search of a suitable software for this. It should allow me to create a card database and help me find answers to questions like "what is the mana curve of my green creatures, how many red burn spells are in the pool" etc.

p.s. it would be MUCH better if the software includes also card pics
thanks



www.mtgvault.com/

This is a good site to use. Gives you all kinds of stats on your list of cards. Hope this helps.
Ka, like a wind . . .