One of the problems with cubes I’ve seen over the years is that in a way they are often very ambitious, but in other ways they are creatively bankrupt. People just follow the Vintage Cube model way too much, but you don’t need to do that. Your cube doesn’t have to cost as much or more than your car.
Now, I don’t want to point any fingers. I’ve seen very interesting cubes as well, but I would also like to see more. However, I’m not a real afficianado, so there’s also a chance that these ideas are not very novel. If that’s the case, sorry about that.
The Next 360
Years ago some SCG writer wrote about his idea for how to make unique EDH decks: Just take a commander you have and make a new deck for them, but don’t use any of the cards you used in your first version. He called it the Next 99. The idea here is the same. Take some existing cube (like the Vintage Cube, for example, or a cube of your own making) and don’t use any of the cards in the new cube. There’s definitely enough room in the whole card pool to still make very interesting cubes. I guess there might be a derth of burn spells or something, but there should be enough of those as well. Personally, I would also think twice about how hard of a line would I want to have regarding the lands.
Draft Chaff Cube
Like to draft, but can’t or don’t like to spend too much money on it? Well, build your own draft environment from the left-overs of your draft. People regularly leave their decks lying around after their drafts. Just give a new home for those cards. Do what you can with those. There’s billions upon billions of discarded Magic cards that weren’t played even once. You can’t save them all, but you could save 360 of them and if your cube isn’t very thoroughly designed, you could probably save even some more. For example, I had a very simple Battle of Zendikar cube. My friends were becoming interested in drafting, so I tried to lower the barrier to entry. I just gathered one of most of the uncommons in the set and a triplet of most of the commons and sleeved it up. I probably still have it around somewhere, but I don’t think anyone’s nostalgic enough for that set to make it worth digging up.
Less Played Format Cubes
How about 2HG? There’s plenty of cards that can target any number of players, affect each opponent or otherwise have synergies in a multiplayer format, and there’s Surge. Why not build a cube on this foundation? How about different drafting methods like Rochester, Winston or Solomon? Would they affect the contents of a cube? Conspiracy, anyone? We aren’t seeing new sets of it (as far as I know).
Build Your Own Boosters
Here’s a weird metagame-y format: Each player receives some number of cards (probably 45) and builds three boosters from them. You could pick and choose three cards you can definitely pick for yourself, but you can also construct signals. On the other hand, you don’t know what the people around you are thinking, so there’s a certain amount of guesswork. Would this require a different kind of cube? I think so. I wouldn’t want decks that rely too much on synergies, because some other player might think they have that on hold as well.
There’s enough Ravnica cards to make cube out of them. There’s nine sets plus some cards from Core Sets and some from other products. A true Vorthos would know which cards could be from where. You could just do this for yourself as well. Just design a world and start picking cards that work in this specific world.
The Judge Cube
Please don’t do this, but the idea here is that you can abuse weird rules interactions. You could lean on obscure mechanics. Just read Maro’s articles on the Storm Scale and see what players feel is difficult. This would be a huge undertaking, so again, I wouldn’t advice you do this except as a thought experiment, but if you know your group could be up to this, then why not? Just know that it would be a lot of work with little pay-off. Which one of these would you latch on to?
The Retirement Cube
Formats rotate, either officially or unofficially (when powercreeped cards push older cards out of formats), but we still often have affection to cards from that have now been pushed out. Use your favorites from those cards to make your cube. Ask your friends. What do they want to see in such a cube? Make it a communal project.
The Communal Project
Or why not just go all the way and make this whole thing a communal project. Depending on the number of people you have, you can give different people different responsibilities. Maybe you have five people and everyone is responsible for a different color and has to maintain it’s identity, as well as negotiate with others on various themes. Or maybe you have eight themes in the cube and one person responsible for each of them. Or maybe everyone just brings in the cards they would like to see in the cube and then you can discuss what is appropriate and what is not. This does require that you share a vision on the cube, so make sure to discuss it and perhaps even workshop it. This would take a lot of time and dedication.
The Evolving Cube
Just choose any other method of creating a cube and then let players change it. Of course, there needs to be rules on this. For example, you could allow the loser or the winner of a draft to take out a card and replace it, but the replacement needs to be of the same color or color combination, maybe it has to be of the sama mana value as well, or can’t be more then one away from the mana value. You have to maintain the playability of the cube in some way. You also have to maintain rules on what you can replace a card with. Does it have to be something you have immediately available to you? Maybe you can’t bring a card back unless there has been X amount of changes in between.
Unless you want to go really hard on this… In that case, you can allow people to change the cards into something absurd. There’s the stickers from the last Un-set. Allow people to use those to “permanently” change cards. This might not be very fun in the long run, but you could have fun with it for a while before things get completely out of hand.