Building the Un-Spiracy Cube, Part Two

gifts_given

 

I’ve always loved variant formats in MTG, and I’ve always enjoyed drafting various Cubes. Heck, there have been two sets that I enjoyed drafting so much that I went and built single-set Cubes for (Rise of the Eldrazi and Innistrad, which I wrote about here).

With the release of Conspiracy: Take the Crown last year, it got me thinking about building another Cube to draft as a multiplayer set… This Cube would be full of the Conspiracies and fun draft cards that I loved from Conspiracy, and I’d replace the cards I found boring in the two Conspiracy sets with fun silver-bordered cards from Unglued and Unhinged.

This Cube would be called the Un-Spiracy Cube, and this week, I’ll be sitting down to finally brainstorm and build it. With a third Un-set, Unstable, on the horizon, I really wanted to make sure that I had an initial draft of this Cube up and running, that I can edit once that set comes out.

Let’s take a look!

Unhinged_logo

EN_CNS_Header

Conspiracy was a set that I found immensely fun, and I really did enjoy drafting it (to the point that I picked up a box to draft with the guys during my bachelor party!) Putting together a Cube of it was an idea that I was toying with for the past year or so; what made this decision to build a Cube easier was cracking a Stomping Ground expedition from BFZ in September, which I was able to trade towards most of the cost of a box of Conspiracy. This would form the bulk of the Cube, giving me all the commons, uncommons, and most of the rares.

As I’d said earlier, my major plan with this Cube was to remove the boring cards, cards like Sporecap Spider, Ajani’s Sunstriker, or AEther Tradewinds. In their place, the plan was to add in some of the fun cards from Unglued/Unhinged, to make this an even wackier multiplayer format.

I did really enjoy Unglued and Unhinged, and to this day, the Unhinged prerelease is my favorite prerelease that I’ve ever been to, as it was an amazingly fun time. I wasn’t just going to port all of the Un-cards into this Cube, however (the gotcha cards are fairly miserable to play against); my goal was to add in the cards that would make sense, that would be fun to draft and fun to play against, and just to make the Cube as awesome as possible.

So, that is the goal of this Cube. Let’s take a look at the draft archetypes!

THE DRAFT ARCHETYPES:
These are the two-color themes and archetypes that Wizards gave us to draft around in the original Conspiracy set:

U/G:
W/B: Voting cards
G/B: Morbid
U/R: Dethrone
R/W: Defenders matter
W/U:
U/B:
B/R:
R/G:
G/W: Token swarm and parley cards

The second Conspiracy set had this breakdown of draft archetypes:

U/G:
W/B: Monarch cards
G/B:
U/R: Cards with the goad ability
R/W: Melee
W/U: Voting cards
U/B:
B/R:
R/G: Monstrous creatures
G/W:

Worth mentioning as well, blue had a minor subtheme of “creatures with large toughness” (to go with the mythic Conspiracy card Weight Advantage). I did think this was hilarious, so I wanted to keep this for the final Cube if I could.

After some tinkering and brainstorming, this is my working list of draft archetypes that I want to try in this Cube:

U/G: Face-down creatures
W/B: Voting cards and monarch cards
G/B: Morbid
U/R: Dethrone, goad cards, and coin flipping/dice rolling
R/W: Defenders matter and melee
W/U: Flicker effects, voting cards
U/B: Milling/reanimator
B/R: Suicide aggro
R/G: Echo creatures and monstrous creatures
G/W: Token swarm and parley cards

If that looks like a daunting list of things to fit in one Cube, well, it definitely is. I really do want people to be able to draft any of the ten color pairs, however, so I am going to make this work somehow.

(Also bear in mind that I have been planning to have a five-color Donkey and five-color Chicken draft archetype in here too, and we really have a challenge ahead of us!)

BRAINSTORMING THE CUBE:
The first thing I sat down to do after hashing out the various archetypes was to look at what cards I wanted in the Cube for certain. These are cards that would help their archetype in a big way, or just cards that are really fun.

I liked the way my rarity breakdown worked in my single-set Cubes: 1 of each mythic rare, 2 of each rare, 3 of each uncommon, and 4 of each common. I’ll be using that breakdown in this Cube as well to start.

Lets take a look at the cards I definitely want in:

Five color Chickens

(28)
Xenograft
Chicken a la King
Proteus Machine
Runed Stalactite
Mesa Chicken
Poultrygeist
Chicken Egg
Free-Range Chicken

I figured I’d start off this brainstorm list with the two five-color tribes, Chickens and Donkeys. For each, I’d be adding in each member of the tribe, some support cards to let you change things into that tribe, some five-color mana fixing, and likely some changeling creatures to fill out the tribe.

If that sounds like a lot to balance, well, it is.

Chickens are an odd tribe. Their main mechanic is to roll six-sided dice (making them play very well with U/R, where dice-rolling will be one of the mechanics). I plan to put the Chicken Lord, Chicken a la King, at uncommon, so that people can have an easier time drafting the tribe.

Now, whether or not Chickens would be competitive is another story.

Five color Donkeys

(32)
Xenograft
Assquatch
Proteus Machine
Runed Stalactite
Cheap Ass
Smart Ass
Bad Ass
Dumb Ass
Fat Ass

The second Un- set introduced the Donkey tribe, which was another tribe with members in all five colors, and no support outside of Unhinged. Again, I’d be putting the Donkey Lord Assquatch at uncommon, and lots of tribal support, five-color mana fixing, and so on.

Of the two tribes, I’d think that Donkeys are the better designed and likely more competitive for draft. We shall see.

U/G Facedown creatures

(7)
Illusionary Mask
Secret Plans
Proteus Machine

I have very few cards listed for this draft archetype, and that’s because there are a lot of morph creatures in Magic to choose from. What I know going in is that I want to be able to pick Secret Plans as a build-around card, and Illusionary Mask (my favorite Magic card ever) had to be in here by default.

There are a ton of fun and awesome morph cards I could put in the cube to make this work, since the morph mechanic has been in so many different sets. Morph started in Onslaught block, was redone in Time Spiral block, and finally re-redone in Khans of Tarkir block, so there are a ton of fun and interesting morph creatures (and support cards, like Khans’s Secret Plans and Obscuring AEther) to work with.

Conveniently, Proteus Machine just happens to be the tribe of your choice, tying the morph archetype in with the two tribes.

Having facedown creatures in play means that you can never really play around the creatures your opponents have (or could have), and tends to play havoc with combat math, making everything more difficult. Overall, I could only see facedown creatures adding to the overall complexity and fun of this draft, and I really wanted to try adding them.

U/R Dethrone cards

(24)
Scourge of the Throne
Dack’s Duplicate
Marchesa’s Smuggler
Treasonous Ogre
Marchesa’s Infiltrator
Enraged Revolutionary
Grenzo’s Cutthroat
Marchesa’s Emissary

Dethrone was one of the mechanics from the original Conspiracy set that I really liked, so I knew I’d want it represented in the Cube. Dethrone is simple, just attack the player with the highest life.

(It’s worth mentioning that though she isn’t listed because she isn’t straight U/R, the original version of Marchesa, Marchesa, the Black Rose, will definitely be in the Cube at mythic.)

I have a feeling that with Conspiracy II’s monarch mechanic, this will lead to some really wacky and aggressive games.

U/R Coin flipping and dice rolling

(35)
Krark’s Thumb
Spark Fiend
Volatile Rig
Goblin Bowling Team
Urza’s Science Fair Project
Chicken a la King
Squee’s Revenge
Frenetic Efreet
Skyclaw Thrash
Goblin Bookie
Chicken Egg
Krazy Kow

Of all the things I’m trying to pack into this Cube, this archetype has the most potential to make games extremely crazy. Goblin Bookie would be the buildaround card here, and I’d be putting Krark’s Thumb in at mythic (it’s too powerful otherwise, heh).

It turns out that there have been an absolute ton of cards printed in Magic with “Flip a coin” or “roll a six-sided die” on them. The ones I have listed are the most likely ones that I’ll be starting with.

U/R Goad cards

(16)
Grenzo, Havoc Raiser
Coveted Peacock
Besmirch
Jeering Homonunculus
Goblin Racketeer

Goad was a minor theme in Conspiracy: Take the Crown, but I really like what it did for gameplay, speeding it up and making things rough on opponents when you steal their best creature and force it to attack somewhere else. Hence, I’ll be including goad cards (if I have room) in the Cube.

W/B Monarchy matters cards

(31)
Throne of the High City
Custodi Lich
Protector of the Crown
Knights of the Black Rose
Marchesa’s Decree
Palace Jailer
Palace Sentinels
Throne Warden
Thorn of the Black Rose
Garrulous Sycophant

As with most of the color pairs, W/B has several things that it wanted to do in the Conspiracy sets. In the second set, though the monarch cards appeared in every color, they were most in W/B, along with cards that cared about you being the monarch, so that will likely be one of the themes in this color pair.

W/B Voting matters cards

(37)
Coercive Portal
Magister of Worth
Capital Punishment
Council’s Judgment
Council Guardian
Bite of the Black Rose
Tyrant’s Choice
Grudge Keeper
Ballot Broker
Brago’s Representative
Lieutenants of the Guard
Custodi Squire

W/B is also one of the color pairs where voting cards matter, and white gives you access to the two creatures giving you more votes than other players (Ballot Broker and Brago’s Representative). Controlling the votes and voting cards could be a strange, but effective draft strategy, so I’ll likely try it out here to see how it works.

U/W Voting matters cards

(35)
Coercive Portal
Expropriate
Plea for Power
Council’s Judgment
Council Guardian
Split Decision
Illusion of Choice
Messenger Jays
Ballot Broker
Brago’s Representative
Lieutenants of the Guard
Custodi Squire

U/W is the other color pair with access to cards that screw with the votes, and so this will definitely be a subtheme here as well. (I honestly hope that once I have the Cube together, someone drafts an Esper voting deck, I’d love to see if it works.)

U/W Flicker cards

(2)
Brago, King Eternal

This is a very small section of cards, mainly because I’m not sure if U/W need a Flicker subtheme. If I do end up running this, Brago will be an excellent way to reset any creature with a “comes into play” trigger, like Mulldrifter.

W/G Parley cards

(16)
Selvala, Explorer Returned
Woodvine Elemental
Selvala’s Charge
Rousing of Souls
Selvala’s Enforcer

Parley was a keyword from the first Conspiracy, and it’s an interesting one. Parley attempts to balance out its own inherent card disadvantage (it draws everyone a card, meaning that for the one card you draw, multiple people are up a card, which is not a good thing). It attempts to balance this by giving you something for the revealed cards, be it token creatures, mana, or +1/+1 counters.

Of all the keywords going in the Cube, parley can easily be the worst, unless you are very lucky with it and always have opponents flipping nonland for you. Regardless, it is fun to play and play against, so it’s going in.

W/G token swarm cards

(18)
Squirrel Farm
Custodi Soulbinders
Splitting Slime
Symbol Status
Selvala’s Charge
Predator’s Howl
Rousing of Souls

Luckily for me, most of the parley cards can pull double duty here, since they make token creatures. The G/W plan is super simple; make more creatures than your opponents and swarm them to death (or use one of the Overrun effects that I’ll be putting in).

This is a simple gameplan, but very effective, since every card you play will be making you multiple creatures.

W/R Melee

(16)
Adriana, Captain of the Guard
Custodi Soulcaller
Grenzo’s Ruffians
Deputized Protester
Wings of the Guard

Melee is a keyword from the second Conspiracy set, and merely asks that you attack as many opponents as possible when you attack. This makes melee creatures a great fit to pair up with the token making cards (you can attack everyone if you have enough creatures, so having a token-making plan makes that easier) and this is just an excellent multiplayer keyword in general.

W/R Defenders matter

(7)
Warmonger’s Chariot
Vent Sentinel

I’ll admit, this archetype likely won’t make it into the final Cube, but I sure hope I can fit it in. In the original Conspiracy, Wizards flipped things around on us, giving R/W (the traditional aggressive draft archetype) a draft archetype where “defenders matter”. Suddenly, the R/W player was the defensive player, sitting behind Walls and killing off the other players with Vent Sentinel, which I found hilarious.

If I don’t have room, this will be one of the archetypes I’ll be cutting first; nevertheless, it was super fun to play in the first Conspiracy, so I hope I have room in the Cube for it.

G/B Morbid

(6)
Deathreap Ritual
Predator’s Howl

In the original Conspiracy set, the G/B archetype was morbid, a keyword that cared about creatures dying (and powered up your creatures if you could make them do so). Conspiracy used cards like Morkrut Banshee, as well as some new morbid cards like Deathreap Ritual, to make use of creatures dying in new and innovative ways.

I liked how morbid played a lot in the original Innistrad set and Conspiracy 1, so I’ll likely be keeping it in the Un-Spiracy Cube.

Plus, it happens to play well with our next archetype:

R/G Echo

(7)
Thick-Skinned Goblin
Simian Grunts

I have many thoughts on what to do with the R/G draft archetype, but this is one idea I keep coming back to, drafting echo creatures. Echo was a mechanic from Urza block that gave you huge creatures for small mana costs, but you had to pay their casting costs twice, which was an interesting thing to play around. I definitely like the idea of R/G being the “undercosted monsters” color pair in this Cube, and so an echo theme may be just the thing to try here.

The build-around uncommon here would be Thick-Skinned Goblin, a great card from Time Spiral that erases your echo costs.

(If I do go with echo, it’s worth mentioning that Fires of Yavimaya would likely be in the Cube as well to give these monsters haste.)

R/G monstrous creatures

(5)
Splitting Slime
Domesticated Hydra

Along the same lines, I could end up going with R/G as the color pair that has the most creatures with the monstrous ability in it. Monstrous is a great keyword, letting you grow your creatures one time and get a benefit, and is excellent as a game goes long. Both of these monstrous creatures that I have listed are likely in anyway, so monstrous is a very likely subtheme for the Cube.

OTHER ARCHETYPES AND VARIOUS ODDS AND ENDS:
These were not the only draft archetypes I looked at, just the ones that looked most appealing and doable. I also looked at R/G Ape tribal as a draft archetype (putting Uktabi Kong at uncommon), an “artifacts matter” theme of some sort in blue (to go with all the “draft matter” cards and Muzzio, Visionary Architect), and various other things.

The issue, of course, is that I don’t want to have too many things in here competing with each other (and I only have so much space, of course).

The “draft matters” part of the Cube, I have given much thought to (these are cards that tell you to reveal them as you draft them, like Leovold’s Operative, AEther Searcher, Paliano, the High City, and Volatile Chimera, or the Conspiracies themselves). I really enjoyed this subsection of cards in each of the Conspiracy sets, and I’m very tempted to set this Cube up in such a way that these are separate from the other cards, and are put into packs like so:

12 regular cards
4-6 draft matters cards

I loved the draft matters cards, and so for this Cube I want to see them as often as possible. I’ll likely end up setting them at their own rarity, and adding them in to packs before we draft so we can make sure we get more of them in each pack.

So that’s a quick look at my brainstorming of the various draft archetypes that I know I’ll be trying to fit in this Cube, and all of the cards that should be in for sure.

Building this Cube is going to be a huge challenge, so I’m looking forward to putting all these cards together to see how well they work as a whole.

And of course, when December hits, I’ll be looking even more forward to adding in Unstable! Thanks for reading!

 

Leave a Reply

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