11 March 2014

First Steps of a Planeswalker 2: Cubed

So I haven't had a chance to actually play yet since my recent post about buying new Magic: The Gathering cards. But Magic has been much on my mind, and I'm gradually preparing things for when I actually do get around to playing. Among those things is building some decks, of course. (For my first deck, the pool of cards I had led me to choose green-white. But I might write more about that if and when I actually play with it...) Today, however, I'm writing about something different...

As I've said before, one of the things I love about Magic is the variety of formats. Limited play is... interesting, but not something I'm necessarily very keen on, as such. I don't want to purchase new boosters every time I want to play. And I'm not that crazy about making decisions on the spot, like when drafting cards. (Drafting, for newbies, is when you open boosters and each player in turn picks cards to build their decks with.) However, cube draft is a whole other matter. Ever since I heard about it, it's been something I thought I might like to do some day.

What is a cube? Here's what WotC's page on casual Magic formats says: 'To prepare for this format, a player ... prepares a "cube"—a specifically selected set of at least 360 different Magic cards. ... Once the cube has been built, you can use it for any draft format. The most popular option is to build makeshift "booster packs" out of 15 randomly selected cards from the cube and then run a regular Booster Draft.'

One of the obvious pros of cube play is that everyone doesn't need to have their own decks, and it also places players more or less on the same level (although knowing the cards in the set will of course be an advantage when drafting).

I didn't imagine this would be something I'd do very soon, since obviously it's something that requires a reasonable number of cards to get started with, and creating a balanced set of hundreds of cards wouldn't exactly be easy. I toyed around with some ideas about what might make a fun, cheap, easy to make cube. But, as it happens, an opportunity presented itself. I took a little peek at what a local online auction website had in way of Magic cards, and one thing that caught my eye was a guy selling a complete set of four each of all the common cards from the Theros expansion (that's a total of 404 cards), for what I felt was a pretty reasonable price.

Initially I wasn't that interested in buying just common cards. But then it struck me: what I had here was basically an instant cube. Since it was a complete set of cards from a single expansion, it was bound to be pretty well balanced, and it would obviously be highly themed and flavourful. A playable set of cards with next to no work building it. Sure, it's not the most creative way to make a cube (a format that lends itself to almost limitless possibilities), but it was easy and affordable.

OK, so currently it's a pauper cube (i.e. it only has common cards), and has a somewhat limited number of individual cards (101 total). I might consider some day expanding it with uncommons from the same set, or even cards from the other Theros block expansions. But I think it should be fun to experiment with already as it currently stands.

That's it for now. Maybe next time I write about Magic, I'll have actually had a chance to play it...

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