MtG Cube: Rise of the Machines

Recently I have found it difficult to guide the remains of my energy to any profitable direction; thus I have spent time brewing Magic. I started with putting together Card Kingdom battle decks so that I would always have a few casual decks at my summer cabin for random games. Then while watching newest Tolarian Community College video it recommended watching video about Cube. After watching it I just decided to put together my very first Cube. Aki kindly reminded me that this was something I could and should share here – so here we are!

The Professor’s Video about Cube for the Beginners

I’m willing to admit I don’t have as much experience about drafting as I maybe should have. But on the other hand my usual playing group doesn’t have that either. This means I can (if I want to) cheat and not worry too much about things like balance and pre-planning. It doesn’t mean I should do that. But of course I did.

First things first – HERE is the current version of the Cube:


The first idea I had for the Cube was that I could use all the random goodstuff I have bought over the years for Commander but never used or liked in that format. In a word this means artifacts. Our relationship is marked under “complicated” so this seemed like an excellent choice. In addition of having a vast collection of semi-good artifacts I also knew that since there have been three artifact-heavy sets I could find enough cards with relative ease.

As instructed by every sinlge “how to build your first Cube?”-article I could find I googled and inspected quite a number of Cubes but came into conclusion that just copying a Cube was not for me. I could use a premade Cube as a foundation for my own but since I had no idea how the Cubes worked I deemed it more educational to start from the scratch.

Using Scryfall and EDHREC themes I came up with a preliminary list of artifacts and cards that interacted with the artifacts I wanted to use. At first I thought it to be a big list that would need some serious thinning but since 360 cards is good for “small” Cube I was on the right tracks. We usually have 4-5 players and on occasion (Conspiracy drafts) up to eight, so I do not need it to be bigger.

Feeling quite pleased on my groundwork I decided to let it cook slowly in my mind. And by that I mean waking up early at Saturday morning and beginning to collect the cards for it.

The Piles of Cards

Largest part of my “usable” collection of MtG cards is for Commander. This means singleton is a familiar format for me and I decided to use that into my advantage. I went through most of the card boxes and folders I have, collecting each and every card I thought I could use or remembered from the preliminary list I made. After hours of browsing I had big piles of cards and no idea whatsoever how to use them.

In a hindsight more prehand planning would have been a great idea.

Sorting the cards to their own colors and checking their mana curve was the first thing I did. At this point I had only mono-colored cards and to no surprise I noticed that blue and white piles were much bigger than the others. “Good! That only means I have more to choose from!” I thought. Boy do I wish it would have been that easy.

Choosing the Themes

Two-color combinations are intended as clues for players to notice the themes of the set. I wanted to follow that idea and chose two cards for each combination to represent where I wanted to go.

At first it seemed easy:

Dimir: Artifact count ([scryfall]Contraband Kingpin[/scryfall] and [scryfall]Etherium Astrolabe[/scryfall])
Gruul: Artifact destruction ([scryfall]Vithian Renegades[/scryfall] and [scryfall]Ancient Grudge[/scryfall])
Izzet: Thopters ([scryfall]Maverick Thopterist[/scryfall] and [scryfall]Whirler Virtuoso[/scryfall])
Boros: Equipment/Weenie ([scryfall]Weapons Trainer[/scryfall] and [scryfall]Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer[/scryfall])
Rakdos: Aggro ([scryfall]Weldfast Engineer[/scryfall] and [scryfall]Rakdos Riteknife[/scryfall]
Golgari: Recycling ([scryfall]Glissa, the Traitor[/scryfall] and [scryfall]Plague Boiler[/scryfall])
Selesnya: Tokens ([scryfall]Sundering Growth[/scryfall] and [scryfall]Seed Spark[/scryfall])
Orzhov: Recursion ([scryfall]Hidden Stockpile[/scryfall] and [scryfall]Restoration Gearsmith[/scryfall])

But then I ran into some trouble since I didn’t have that many cards for Azorius:

Azorius: Flier/Control ([scryfall]Glassdust Hulk[/scryfall] and [scryfall]Ethercaste Knight[/scryfall])
I know Azorius should be about fliers and control but since I have these were both foil… I know I need to change them but they are good for now.

The biggest problem however was Simic. What should I use? Counters? Green has some elves with Fabricate but blue has no synergy with counters and artifacts. Clues? There aren’t enought cards to make it happen. Even Energy has more but once again not enough for this pairing. Ramp? Blue has a number of colorless ramp for artifacts! But green has next to nothing in terms of ramp and artifacts. In the end I chose the easy way (for now):

Simic: Goodstuff ([scryfall]Trygon Predator[/scryfall] and [scryfall]Evolution Vat[/scryfall])
Evolution Vat might not be that good but at least it is an artifact and it has some synergy with at least Fabricate.

Finishing Touches

Once I had a narrowed down the themes for each color pairing I assorted every card in each color into piles that work with one of the themes.

Since I wanted to lean heavily on the artifact theme I needed more than the usual amount of colorless artifacts. According to the guide I was following each color should have 50 cards so I dropped that amount to 45. This left me with nine cards per color for each pairing in addition to nine base cards that should go well with any theme.

Thinning down the cards in most cases was quite hard. I tried my best to built the themes as balanced as I could.Luckily quite many cards overlap between the themes. As I had anticipated Green was by far the hardest color to fill since it rarely wants to do anything other than destroy the artifacts.

The real surprise however was Black. I just could not find 45 cards that had artifact interactions from my collection. I know there are cards to fill up required amount but I simply didn’t have them. There’s always online stores to order singles from but I don’t want to spend any money on this Cube before I know we will actually use it. Thus I’m crossing my fingers to gain the required amount of cards from my friends.

What Now?

The Cube needs testing. I hope we’ll get to play it during the holidays. This was an extremely entertaining exercise. And even though I know my Cube still needs to be improved I think it will be fun to play.

My main problem for the Cube right now is that I have no idea if it can offer a balanced gaming experience. But knowing my group I do not think this will be a major problem.

Incase you are interested in building a Cube in greater detail Aki wrote quite many posts about his processes.

2 thoughts on “MtG Cube: Rise of the Machines

  1. On balancing: To a degree, all drafting is self-balancing. If there’s a theme or a color that’s overly powerful, people will adapt and play it more, in which case those decks will be watered down.

    Of course, if this becomes too obvious, it will make the draft less interesting, in which case you need to make changes, but even switching out a couple of cards can make a huge difference.

    • Guides I read pointed to the same direction. I just hope we get to play this to see if there actually is a balance issue.

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