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How to Build a Cube & an Introduction to MenguCube

I find Vintage Cube, more so my own Vintage Cube, the best form of Magic, and whenever someone asks me “What’s your favorite format?” I always reply Vintage Cube!

What’s Cube?

It’s a draft format containing cards that you intentionally want to put in the pool. Vintage Cube will have access to Black Lotus and rest of the Power9, Modern Cube will follow Modern banlist and so on.

This means that you are the responsible of the archetypes and the cards that you and your friends will draft and play with.

How to play Cube?

You don’t need 8 people, like in a normal set-draft. We often Cube in 4 or 6 people pods. I actively dislike Cubing in 8 because it takes too much time.

We only play in Team 2vs2 or 3vs3. I like helping my teammates a lot, and like sharing the excitement of the victories, most importantly the final goal of the Draft will always be for your team to win. So if you’re drafting 3vs3, you’ll require 5 wins total, if you’re drafting 2vs2, you’ll require 3 wins, or in case of a tie, you’ll choose the captains and battle a final out.

Me and my playgroup Cube very often and it usually involves only 4 players, because that means that it takes only couple of hours and we do that on a rather daily bases, almost like exercising!

Building the right Cube for you and your play group requires refinement, and today I’ll talk about that aspect of Vintage Cube.

Talk about it with your playgroup

 I know that this sounds weird, but every playgroup is different, and there isn’t any Cube drafting without your friends who are willing to draft and share the enjoyment with you.

If you and your playgroup play mainly Modern, it’s totally fine to build a Modern Cube, and same works for Legacy, Pauper or Commander. For Commander, it means that you have to draft and then choose a Legend from your picks to place as your Commander.

MagicOnline has many variation of Cubes and they are a great starting point to build your Cube:

Modern Cube: https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/magic-online/modern-cube-cardlist

Legacy Cube: https://magic.wizards.com/en/MTGO/articles/archive/magic-online/legacy-cube-cardlist

Vintage Cube: https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/vintage-cube-cardlist

Pauper Cube: https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/magic-digital/cube-spotlight-series-pauper-cube-2020-03-10

But that’s not just that, you and your playgroup need to be flexible with cards to cut if you think they aren’t fun enough.

For example don’t feel bad for cutting Fractured Identity or Time Vault from your Cube, it’s totally fine to cut cards based on their fun level rather than just power level.

In My Cube (MenguCube), we have a lot of unfair cards like Time Vault and Oath of Druids. While these cards might be a feel bad in some games, they are also something high variance that I enjoy in Magic. Plus, by playing in Teams, the variance is reduced by watching and helping your teammates, meaning that even if your game finishes quickly, you can still help your teammates and let the fun continue, which is another reason why I love Team Draft in fun games.

Another thing that you and your playgroup will have to do is adjust the card pool based on testing and new set release.

For example, when Atris, Oracle of Half-Truths came out we were excited to add it, but the more we played with it the more it underperformed and we ended up cutting her.

Try many new cards

 In order not to make the Cube format stagnant with the same cards and the same archetypes, I like to add a lot of new cards every time a new set is released.

This doesn’t mean that those need to stick around for months or years, even just few drafts might be enough to tell you if a card is worth it, and if it is it’s fun to win with new an unexplored cards.

That was the example for Escape the Wilds, which was underrated at first and but now it overperforms and it’s one of the best card draw spell for Ramp decks.

Which archetypes include or cut from your Cube

Storm is a great example of an archetype that only make sense to stay in Cube if someone is actually willing to draft it. I personally have an hard time winning with Storm, and refrain from drafting it, but some of my friends do love to first pick Brain Freeze and try to pick up some High Tide or some other Storm elements and go off.

This  archetypes requires a lot of cards to be put into your cube, and those cards make sense to be in there only if someone is drafting them at times.
It’s also okay for a card to be played 1 time in 20, like for example Lion’s Eyed Diamond, that one time you’ll go off with it and Echo of Eons it’ll be great fun!

Same thing for Smokestack and the Prison archetype in general. I personally love to lock people out with Braids, Cabal Minion or Doom Foretold. Although of course I recognize that the archetype is quite weak and whenever I add Sinkhole and Necropotence to my deck, it’ll probably won’t go great for me. But getting only couple of game win will be enough for my personal satisfaction.

Hence make sure to notice which archetypes aren’t popular at all, and be willing to make big changes to your card pool, as long as your play group agrees with you.

How many cards put in your Cube

In my Cube, I have 540 cards, which is the same number that MTGO has. I personally think it’s fine and I like to always cut a card whenever adding a new one, but many people just don’t mind and higher the number of their Cube as cards are added.

On the other hand, if you’re just starting, you can run the Cube with a lower amount, since not all 540 are required to draft.

How to make booster packs

 After you’ve finalized the card pool, it’s time to deal the cards, and I believe our system to sort packs is one of the best I’ve heard around.

First thing I do is divide all of the cards by colors. Whenever you’ll finish your draft, you’ll want to ask your friends to sort the cards by color and hand them back to you. If you want to make sure no cards get lost, use a Deckbox to keep the sideboard and make sure every player hands you back exactly the number of cards you’ve drafted, although in my 2+ years of Cubing with my friends on a daily bases no cards got lost, so they earned my trust to not count 48 every time.

Why did I say 48? Because whenever we draft in a pod of 4, which is the majority of the times, we do 4 boosters of 12 cards. This way you’re wheeling cards way more often and you’ll get to look 4 times for a first pick Power9!

On the other hand, whenever we’re in 6 we do 3 boosters of 15 cards which will still be good enough since you’re seeing cards only 2 times.

But it’s not just this, we intentionally rig the pool to have certain amount of colors in the cards we’re going to draft.

We’ve noticed that Blue and Artifacts are by far the cards that we tend to pick the most, and White cards are the ones that are always left at the end of the pack. So we decided that we wouldn’t keep the Cube balanced with colors and that’s why you see 48 White cards and 87 Blue cards in the total pool.

So, every time we start a new draft, we’ll select a certain number of cards per color as follows:

4 Person Draft Pod:

Blue : 32 cards

Artifact : 32 cards

Lands : 25

Red : 23

Green : 23

Black : 21

Multicolor : 19

White : 17

6 Person Draft Pod:

Blue : 44

Artifact : 44

Lands : 36

Green: 33

Red : 33

Black : 29

Multicolor : 27

White: 24

Then once we’ve obtained 192 cards, or 270 cards, we shuffle them together and deal the boosters, so that the packs might be still be uneven, but the total pool will reflect the number of colored cards we want.

This system is the one we personalized and refined during a long time among our play group, it doesn’t mean it’s the universally correct one, it just means that it’s good for us, and that’s the same thing that you and your playgroup have to figure out.

That’s it for me, if you have any additional questions about my Cube or your Cube I’ll be happy to answer them in the comment sections!

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