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What are Cubes? Why Make a Cube? And My Common/Uncommon Cube May 18, 2012

Posted by James in : all , trackback

I will discuss (a) what cubes are, (b) why cubes are important, and (c) my common uncommon cube.

What are cubes?

Cubes are collections of cards you can use to make your own booster packs (piles 15 random face-down cards) for unlimited drafts, winston drafts, off the top, and so on. You need 360 cards to make a cube in order to have enough cards for an eight-person draft.

The cube tradition is to get 360-700 unique powerful cards with no duplicates. The idea is generally to get the most powerful cards possible, but many people refuse to play the Power 9 (or cards approximately that strong) because they are “too good” and “unfair.” Many people who make cubes in this way update them when new sets come out and struggle to make sure each color is equally powerful.

Why are cubes important

I will present three reasons:

  1. It can save you money. You don’t have to buy booster packs to play in draft events when you already have enough cards to make your own packs.
  2. It can be a creative outlet. It’s fun making decks and it’s fun making cubes — all the cards available for deck-making. It’s like creating your own world for Magic. You decide what you want it to be like. You decide what cards are “fun” enough, how you want it to be balanced, and what sorts of themes you want included.
  3. It’s a lot of fun to play. Sometimes cubes can be even more fun than playing with the sets Wizards of the Coast makes. You might have a better balance to your cube collection, you might have a better selection of fun cards, you might have better themes, and so on.

My common/uncommon cube

The tradition of cube is only a tradition. You don’t have to do the same thing everyone else does. You can use four (or more) of each card, decide on your own rarities (by including more of some cards than others), or refuse to play with powerful rares. My common/uncommon cube breaks the tradition in two ways:

  1. It has no rares in it. I decided that rares are not only too expensive, but they are often too powerful. Cards that are too powerful add a luck element to the game. When drafting a recent set by Wizards of the Coast cards can be so powerful that almost everything else that happened that game is irrelevant other than the “powerful card.” Things are less extreme in cubes (in general), but powerful cards still add an additional luck element to the game that can be frustrating. I like to have epic struggles. I don’t like one player to do very little as the other player “steamrolls” with better cards.
  2. It has four of each card. It was not only easier to make a cube with four of each card because I already had playsets of cards set aside, but it also makes it a lot easier to have good mana fixing. I like the opportunity to have a lot of dual (or triple) lands. There are plenty of uncommon lands like that as long as you are willing to use four or more of each card.

I wanted to make a common/uncommon cube for three reasons other than those I’ve already mentioned:

  1. I think Shards of Alara should have had better mana fixing like Ravnica had — common dual lands and common signets. My cube has several multicolor cards and several of them have three colors from Shards of Alara. (e.g. Woolly Thoctar, Sprouting Thrinax, and Bant Charm.)
  2. Once overly-powerful rares are out of the picture, there’s an opportunity to play more “fun” cards that usually wouldn’t be “good enough” for a cube. (e.g. Windfall, Rise/Fall, and Dance of Many.)
  3. I can make up special rules for my own cube. The special rule I use for my cube is — cards do whatever is printed on them. Some cards used to be more powerful and were changed to be weaker. I use those cards in my cube and I say that they are still as powerful as they were originally. (e.g. Rukh Egg, Orcish Oriflamme, and Waylay.)

Because I genuinely want to keep the power level down, there are certian powerful uncommons that are not in my cube:

  1. Bloodbraid Elf
  2. Bituminous Blast
  3. Enlisted Wurm
  4. Demonic Tutor
  5. Balance

Cube list

Blue (12 unique)

4 Dance of Many
4 Man-o-War
4 Esperzoa
4 Sejiri Merfolk
4 Delay
4 Windfall
4 Fact or Fiction
4 Psionic Blast
4 Mana Leak
4 Sleep
4 Mulldrifter
4 Deciever Exarch

Red (12 unique)

4 Alpha Orcish Oriflamme*
4 Alpha Orcish Artillery*
4 Pyrokinesis
4 Incinerate
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Kird Ape
4 Fireball
4 Orcish Lumberjack
4 Rukh Egg*
4 Tin-Street Hooligan
4 Plated Geopede
4 Flametongue Kavu

White (12 unique)

4 Waylay*
4 Scars of the Veteran
4 Loam Lion
4 Whitemane Lion
4 Steppe Lynx
4 Path to Exile
4 Oblivion Ring
4 Reprisal
4 Serra Angel
4 Wall of Omens
4 Accorder Paladin
4 Harm’s Way

Green (12 unique)

4 Wall of Roots
4 Berserk
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
4 Pelakka Wurm
4 Wild Nacatl
4 Eternal Witness
4 Erhnam Djinn
4 Nest Invader
4 Channel
4 Tinder Wall
4 Kozilek’s Predator
4 Blastoderm

Black (12 unique)

4 Hypnotic Specter
4 Contagion
4 Victimize
4 Oubliette
4 Fallen Angel
4 Nezumi Graverobber
4 Skinrender
4 Go for the Throat
4 Night’s Whisper
4 Skeletal Scrying
4 Animate Dead
4 Shriekmaw

Multicolor (30 unique)

4 Pure/Simple
4 Hit/Run
4 Rise/Fall
4 Trial/Error
4 Supply/Demand
4 Naya Charm
4 Esper Charm
4 Jund Charm
4 Grixis Charm
4 Bant Charm
4 Murderous Redcap
4 Firespout
4 Tidehollow Strix
4 Qasali Pridemage
4 Wall of Denial
4 Tidehollow Sculler
4 Life/Death
4 Lightning Helix
4 Fire/Ice
4 Snakeform
4 Sprouting Thrinax
4 Rhox War Monk
4 Fire-Field Ogre
4 Woolly Thoctar
4 Tower Gargoyle
4 Kitchen Finks
4 Dimir Guildmage
4 Ethersworn Shieldmage
4 Assault/Battery
4 Terminate

Artifact/Eldrazi (15 unique)

4 Artisan of Kozilek
4 Ulamog’s Crusher
4 Icy Manipulator
4 Juggernaut
4 Loxodon Warhammer
4 Tumble Magnet
4 Etched Oracle
4 Isochron Scepter
4 Whispersilk Cloak
4 Talisman of Unity
4 Talisman of Progress
4 Talisman of Impulse
4 Talisman of Indulgence
4 Talisman of Unity
4 Sphere of the Suns

Land (17 unique)

4 Mishra’s Factory
4 Dimir Aqueduct
4 Azorius Chancery
4 Gruul Turf
4 Selesnya Sanctuary
4 Rakdos Carnarium
4 Ancient Ziggurat
4 Gemstone Mine
4 Rupture Spire
4 Terramorphic Expanse
4 Evolving Wilds
4 Tectonic Edge
4 Graypelt Refuge
4 Sejiri Refuge
4 Akoum Refuge
4 Jwar Isle Refug
4 Kazandu Refuge
4 Savage Lands
4 Jungle Shrine
4 Seaside Citadel
4 Arcane Sanctum
4 Crumbling Necropolis
4 Vivid Meadow
4 Vivid Crag
4 Vivid Marsh
4 Vivid Grove
4 Vivid Creek

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