Building My Own Cube, pt. 18 – Final Thoughts

With ‘final’ being anything but. Final thoughts for the initial list, though.

First, apparently Coldsnap wasn’t very popular, because a random common from it (Mishra’s Bauble) now starts at 5,5 euros. Really. Someone did draft it plenty and has a shoebox full of those. He just won the lottery.

Anyhow, that card isn’t worth that investment, as it isn’t a key part of the cube, so I’ll put in Contagion Clasp instead. Its another answer for the gods, sort of, and there are enough counters in the cube to make it worth playing for the Proliferate, at least at times. I could have gone with Mishra’s brother’s bauble, but it doesn’t feel as good, because there’s pretty much nothing to interact with your opponent’s hand with.

Second, this was pretty interesting. I sifted through more than half of all the cards ever printed. Many of them multiple times. As such, this was a good exercise in both deck building and game design. Trying to find cards that interact interestingly with the rest of the cube is fun and a good learning experience. The depth of cards in the game is pretty overwhelming at first, but I also got into it pretty quickly.

I did perhaps overemphasize newer cards (and I did often limit my queries to Modern legal cards, because card design has come so far over the years), but the gameplay with efficient creatures is just that much better. There is some very efficient removal as well, so I’d much rather have better creatures as well, and as design has moved from pushing spells to pushing creatures since the Fifth edition or so, its just easier to keep your eye on those things you know are what you want, instead of trying to figure out what random Homelands creatures are supposed to do.

Third, the reason these weird formats (Cube, EDH, Tiny Leaders, other Highlander formats, etc) are so popular, is that you get to play cards you don’t get to play in competitive formats. The more casual approach gives some breathing room to weird cards and strange synergies make all sorts of cards playable. As MaRo likes to say, according to MTGO data, every cards is played by someone and as some other people like to bring up, every card is someone’s favorite, because we like different cards for different reasons.

Not all cubes are the same either. Most are made for Tammys, emphasizing big, sweeping plays. My focus was more on the art of drafting. The cube hasn’t been tested in any way yet, but my goal was to try to build a cube where you would have to make decisions even if you know what archetype you are going to play. Will you go for synergy or that powerful card?

I like the draft formats where you can find your lane and just get a deck, but there’s also cards in the format that are going to be contested. So, you have to choose between sticking to your lane, so that no-one else gets on it, and picking that cheap removal.

However, getting back to the start of this third point, to make the cube interesting over long term, it needs to evolve. If the same people play the cube over and over, its going to become stale. Therefore, I think a mechanic for evolving the cube is needed.

A friend of mine once suggested a prize for the winner of each draft, where the winner gets to replace a card in the cube. This sounds like fun, but if the cube has a vision, this might dilute it over time. So, something else is required. I’m thinking some sort of vote on changes, where winners get extra votes. The changes should generally be changing a small theme to another, and should be done carefully. On the other hand, even changing a small subtheme to another can change the dynamic of the cube and give it new life.

Since many cards have multiple roles in the cube, this might prove difficult as well. I’ve also been told I’m overthinking all of this, but I disagree. A cube shouldn’t just be a greatest hits collection (usually missing some of the actual hits). It should distinguish itself from other cubes in some way.

Also, new cards are released at the speed of about a thousand a year and they are still getting better at design, so that’s another reason for the cube to evolve.

A final note: The whole thing costs less than 500 euros, if you buy carefully. I’m not interested in pimping out. I’m not doing this to show off my collection. I’m doing this to have a different, but interesting draft experience. That should be every cube-builders number one goal. After that, a little pimping doesn’t hurt.

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