Due to popular demand, except from maybe @CouchPirateJake on twitter, I have decided to write a series of articles on Cubing. With the success of the Magic Online cube from last weekend, Cubing is probably more popular than ever. There is no wrong or right way to design your cube. I want to focus on my design perspective, and give some insight on the processes I go through when adding and removing cards from my cube. Hopefully this will help you when you sit down to design your own.
Origins of the Cube
Magic Cubing originated in Canada in the early 2000′s. Early cubes consisted of the best 50 cards of each color, lands, artifacts and multi-color cards. The goal was to just take powerful cards, shuffle them up, get 8 friends together and draft. It is a singleton format, so only one of each card is in the cube. This was the standard design for years, as it was thought that cube design is a uniform process. Cube design has grown as rapidly as Magic card design. Sizes range from 120 two-player “stacks” to 1000 card cubes. There are pauper, or all common cubes, aggro cubes, tribal cubes, and even custom cubes such as the “split-card” cube.
My Cube Design
The modern traditional cube size is 360 cards, which is the minimum number of cards needed to have an 8-person draft. Mine is currently around 550 cards. I have found smaller lists to restrictive, with well over 10,000 different cards printed, there are too many great cards to restrict it to such a small number. It is hard to cut cards, and there are so many interesting interactions that 360 was too small for my tastes. You will need to take into account how many players will be drafting your cube. If you have 2-4 a smaller cube will be best, as some archetypes will be hard to draft if you are only seeing 180 of 1000 cards each draft. I initially had approximately 650 cards in mine. It was fully powered, which means I had all of the “Power 9″. After playing for a few months I was dissatisfied with how games played out. The games needed to be more interactive, and cards like Black Lotus, Sol Ring and Mana Drain led to more turn 2 blowouts than interesting games.
So out came the power nine. Mana Drain, Sol Ring, Mana Crypt and the like also got the boot. I decided to actually become a designer, and approach it like I was designing a Magic Expansion. The goal was to create an interesting limited environment, where aggro, mid-range, combo and control could thrive. The focus went to emphasizing the strengths of each color. This has been a difficult, and a seemingly never ending process. The goal is not for a certain archetype to win a match every now and then, but to consistently be viable and a threat to win the draft. Not only do I want archetypes like Red Deck Wins and 5 color control, but enough build around me cards like Metalworker and Splinter Twin to make every draft interesting and different from the last.
Future columns will focus on each color and my thought process behind the card choices, as well as my analysis of Avacyn Restored’s impact on cubing. Ill leave you with a link to my cube, and any comments or questions are always welcome. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AooXN9CGDYS4dGt1UHJQMjYtZEJnaHE5RURwVl9aS0E
You can follow me on twitter @wizardsnorman or Torgo on MTGO.