An Update to my Tale of Two Cubes


Last month, I looked at my thought process behind splitting up the Un-Spiracy Cube (Un-cards and Conspiracy, which was my original plan last year). I looked at that here.

There have been new developments since that time, and so it’s time to revisit this.

Let’s take a look!

I’ve always liked drafting, and so the idea of a MtG Cube (a controlled Limited environment where you get to draft from the same pool of powerful cards each time) is something that has always appealed to me. I have built and disassembled two Cubes of my own, and now, I was looking to assemble a new one.

Last year, I started thinking about making a new Cube, inspired by the fun I’d had drafting Conspiracy and Conspiracy: Take the Crown. My plan was to remove the boring cards from those sets and put together a big multiplayer Cube, using cards from the Un-sets, Unglued and Unhinged, for maximum fun and hilarity.

Eventually, I realized that putting the Conspiracy and Unstable cards together would be too much of a mess (and honestly, Unstable by itself was just such a good format that I didn’t want to ruin that), so I decided to keep the two separate.

Here’s a quick update on where the two Cubes currently sit.

After my initial tale of drafting our way through two boxes of Unstable with friends back in December, I knew that I’d want to start my Un-Cube simply by collecting the set of Unstable first, and the other two Un-sets after that.

That way, if the cards I add from Unglued/Unhinged end up messing up the draft format, I could rebuild the Cube just out of the Unstable set, and leave the other Un-cards out.

Thus, I have been diligently collecting the various Unstable cards since December. Let’s take a quick look at the Cube I’ve been building.

My goal when collecting the Unstable cards was to have this breakdown for my initial Cube:

-1 of each mythic rare
-2 of each rare
-3 of each uncommon
-4 of each common

*1 of each variant card*

I had found when building my single-set Cubes, Rise of the Eldrazi and Innistrad, that these numbers for each rarity worked best to represent a balanced draft environment, and so I was going to reuse this plan again here.

(I have an asterisk beside the variant cards like Very Cryptic Command because those are going to work in a strange way in this Cube. More on that in a bit.)

For Contraptions, I was going to cut the numbers down a bit (since those are less frequent in packs):

-1 of each mythic rare/rare
-2 of each uncommon
-3 of each common

The rare and mythic rare Contraptions were powerful enough that I only wanted to see them once every so often, and I didn’t really want them warping the draft format.

My plan going in was to have the same breakdown of cards in each booster: 1 mythic rare/rare, 3 uncommons, 9 commons, and 2 Contraptions. This would simulate the draft environment well. The extra common (it’s taking the place of the full-art land that would normally be in that slot) would be needed, as I’d be adding in some other Un-cards to the draft.

I was very torn on the idea of variant cards. I thought it was a hilarious idea (I figured out there were variants partway through our first draft, when I had two different versions of Amateur Auteur and realized they were different); however, from a collecting standpoint, it was a pain in the ass to collect each version, so I hope that WotC never does this again.

Having said that, for the variant cards, I will be keeping the same rarity breakdown as the rest of the Cube, but I’ll be using proxy cards to represent them in the draft. These were the proxy cards I designed for my Cube:

In the case of the three rares (Very Cryptic Command, Everythingamajig, and Ineffable Blessing) I’ll be printing off two of each proxy and putting them in the draft. For the uncommons, I’ll have three of each proxy. The actual cards will be shuffled up and kept to the side, and swapped in once we get a variant proxy.

I like this method of representing them, as it should be simple and elegant, and ensures that we still end up getting a random variant of whichever card it is we open in the draft each time.

The only other card in the draft that I had to do something special for was Spike, Tournament Grinder. I knew going into this Cube that I’d want to have a stack of fun and powerful restricted/banned cards available to choose from with Spike, but I wasn’t sure which ones… there have been an awful lot to choose from!

There were a lot of these banned cards that I initially just cut, because they were mostly just fast mana cards from Vintage (Sol Ring, Black Lotus, the Moxen, Mana Vault, etc). These cards didn’t look fun for Unstable play, so I cut them right off the list.

After some thought, this is the list of restricted/banned cards I’ll have set aside that the Spike player will have access to:

Stoneforge Mystic
Lingering Souls
Monastery Mentor
Time Walk
Time Spiral
Dig Through Time
Treasure Cruise
Gifts Ungiven
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Mind’s Desire
Mind Twist
Braids, Cabal Minion
Dread Return
Recurring Nightmare
Yawgmoth’s Bargain
Yawgmoth’s Will
Splinter Twin
Falling Star
Wheel of Fortune
Survival of the Fittest
Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary
Primeval Titan
Sylvan Primordial
Reflector Mage
Leovold, Emissary of Trest
Prophet of Kruphix
Bloodbraid Elf
Smuggler’s Copter
Arcbound Ravager
Cursed Scroll
Memory Jar
Panoptic Mirror
Lodestone Golem
Thorn of Amethyst
Sundering Titan
Time Vault
Chaos Orb
Umezawa’s Jitte
Sensei’s Divining Top
Emrakul, the Promised End
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
Tolarian Academy
Gaea’s Cradle
Library of Alexandria
Ancient Den, Great Furnace, Seat of the Synod, Vault of Whispers, Tree of Tales, Darksteel Citadel
Thawing Glaciers

Even though some of these cards are some of the most broken Magic cards ever printed, especially for Limited games, I do feel that they will make for some epic and memorable Cube games, so this is what I’ll be using to start off with. I do expect that I’ll have to trim many of the weaker banned cards (Trinisphere, Sphere of Resistance, Karakas, etc), but this is what I will try at first.

(I know that it won’t come up very often, but I am quite excited to see someone pull off the Splinter Twin combo, since there is a creature in Unstable that acts like a Pestermite/Deceiver Exarch to go infinite with it: Eager Beaver. I think that winning a game with an infinite number of hasty Eager Beavers would be hilarious and amazing, so I really hope I get to see it happen at some point!)

I also find it quite funny that both versions of Emrakul have ended up banned in one or another format. Turns out that Wizards didn’t balance those two cards quite as well as they wanted.

I would be somewhat remiss if I didn’t talk about the other Un-cards that I will eventually be adding into this Cube. I do have a list of cards that I want to try, and even though I don’t have a final Cube list yet, this is my rough list so far:

Look at Me, I’m the DCI
Bosom Buddy
AWOL and Prismatic Wardrobe

I’ve added more removal to white for the most part, since I found white to be the weakest color in Unstable draft.

It’s worth mentioning Prismatic Wardrobe specifically, an extremely powerful card that can get rid of just about anything… but gets hosed if they are wearing lots of colors. It’s both versatile and powerful, yet potentially weak at the same time, and I like that about this card.

Greater Morphling
Free for All
Magical Hacker
Double Header

Of the blue cards, I’ve always been a big fan of Greater Morphling and Cheatyface, so I knew they’d be in for sure. The rest are just very solid draft cards.

Infernal Spawn of Evil
Booster Tutor
When Fluffy Bunnies Attack

I honestly found that black didn’t have a lot to work with from the older Un-sets. I used what I could, but I feel like the black Un-cards are going to be edited a lot.

Spark Fiend
Blast from the Past
Goblin Bowling Team
Goblin Bookie
Krazy Kow

It turned out that red had a lot of good early die-rolling cards, which should work well with the dice-rolling theme from Unstable.

Timmy, Power Gamer
Squirrel Farm
Uktabi Kong
Our Market Research Shows That Players Like Really Long Card Names So We Made this Card to Have the Absolute Longest Card Name Ever Elemental
Free-Range Chicken
Growth Spurt
Elvish Impersonators

Yes, I have the Longest Name Elemental in here to combo with Bosom Buddy and Wordmail. Yes, I expect this to be hilarious if it works.

Worth mentioning the green commons; green also had a strong theme of die-rolling, which will only make that archetype stronger to draft.

World-Bottling Kit
My First Tome
Spatula of the Ages

Of the artifacts, I really like the Bottling Kit as another potential Wrath/Disenchant sweeper spell. It’s extremely powerful in here, letting you sweep away all Contraptions with ease if you name Unstable.

Who / What / When / Where / Why

I’ve always been a big fan of the five-way split card Who/What/When/Where/Why, so I knew that would be the first card in, just due to its versatility.

City of Ass

I wanted to include at least one five-color land, to make fixing a bit easier in the draft. This, by default, was that land.

The thing about Unglued and Unhinged is that they really weren’t balanced with drafting in mind at all, so I had to be very careful about which cards I take from those sets to add to this Cube.

This was the list of cards that I feel will play well with Unstable’s themes. There are a number of die-rolling cards, some extra ways to blow up artifacts/enchantments since I felt Unstable was a bit light on this, and just some overall cool cards that I think will be really fun to play.

My working list for the Un-Cube can be seen in its updated glory on CubeTutor here:

So that’s a quick look at the Un-Cube. Now let’s take a look at the multiplayer Cube!

Now this Cube is where things start to get interesting. I had initially put the multiplayer Cube down for now to focus on the Un-Cube first, and my plan was to build the second Cube in the spring.

Ironically, Wizards upended my plan for a multiplayer Cube when they announced the Battlebond set, coming in June.

Battlebond? What is that, you say?

From the official announcement:
“Battlebond is this year’s “Draft innovation” set. You’ve seen Draft innovation sets in years past with Conspiracy, Conspiracy: Take the Crown, and Unstable. For 2018, we’re doing something brand new: Battlebond!

So, what exactly is the new twist behind the drafting format this time?

Battlebond is the first set in Magic’s history designed specifically for Two-Headed Giant play! Some sets, like Oath of the Gatewatch, have dabbled with this in the past, but Battlebond takes that to the next level. The new mechanics in Battlebond are unlike anything we’ve ever done in Magic, and they really elevate the promise of Two-Headed Giant to its full potential!”

A new ‘draft matters’ set? That’s very interesting and quite exciting, especially since I was already putting together a Cube for such a thing!

Ever since the first Conspiracy set, I’ve been a big fan of these ‘draft matters’ multiplayer sets. I felt with both Conspiracy sets, the ‘draft matters’ cards like Cogwork Librarian, Paliano, the High City, and Archdemon of Paliano really added to the fun of the draft and demanded a high skill level to use them well; add to this a multiplayer format that was actually really well-designed, and you had two sets that I for one really enjoyed drafting and playing.

I don’t know yet where they’ll end up going with a Two-Headed Giant version of this, but I do believe it will be quite fun and exciting, and I hope to see many more cards for my upcoming Cube.

So the status of this Cube is simple: it’s on an indefinite hold until June, at least.

So that is a quick look at where my two Cubes are at this point! My Un-Cube is nearly done, and so I’m really looking forward to drafting it, I know it’ll be a blast! Thanks for reading!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *