Let’s face it, most of us magic players aren’t rich. The last time I could afford a booster box of magic cards was about a year after I joined this site. For a while, I played constructed, but I still desired to play my favorite of all formats, limited. After some time, I found some people doing what was called a “cube draft,” which didn’t cost money if you already had a bunch of cards. I was all for it.What is a Cube draft?
A cube deck is a stack of cards divided into stacks of 15 cards each used to simulate real booster packs for the intent of drafting. The size of a cube deck varies based on how the players want to draft, and how varied they want the selection to be. What is in the simulated packs really depends on what the builder wants out of it.How should I build my cube draft?
A cube draft should first be able to accommodate each player you play with. This means that if you are doing a generic eight-man draft, you should have at LEAST 360 cards. In my experience, it is better to have more. For my drafts, I prepared 450 cards. This allows for up to an additional two players to join. Even if we stick with eight, though, this varies the card pool, as it keeps some cards from appearing in every pool.
When considering the individual cards, consider a couple things. Does your playgroup prefer powerful cards, or do they care more about seeing something different? What’s your budget? Are you using what you already have, or are you willing to get the cards to put one together? Do you have any format restrictions? This usually determines the quality of card selection you chose. Many cube drafts end up being pauper (commons and uncommon only) drafts, while some include rares. In my playgroup, I tested a generic cube and a pauper cube, and the group actually preferred pauper, since it gave them a different selection from the normal power cards that they see. Some groups also run singleton cubes, which restricts cube decks to having only one of any card name in the cube deck.
It is important you balance each color as much as possible. There are several ways in which builders can help make this possible. The first step is to make each color have an equal number of spells, both in the cube deck and in each pack (I also use this to teach players how to draft better). When I built my cube, I followed the following formula for 450 cards.
- 60 cards of each color
- 60 artifacts
- 60 multicolored/hybrid
- 30 lands
When I added the multicolored/hybrid cards, as well as lands and artifacts, I had equal support for each color. For example, in artifacts, I included each signet from ravnica (i.e. Izzet Signet
). When you build each color, make sure that each color also has a relatively equal number of bombs and duds. No color has to have any duds, but if one color has some dud cards, try to give other colors some duds too. This discourages half the table from going into the same color, and lets everyone have a little bit more fun.
When choosing each individual spell, take the other spells in the color into consideration. Think about the person building the deck. Make sure they can meet all their basic needs for the deck (bombs, removal, evasion… this reminds me of an acronym involving food…). Also, make it possible to have a reasonable mana curve. It isn’t unreasonable to expect most players to have a sub-par mana curve, but giving them that ability encourages stronger decks and, therefore, more interesting matchups.