Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Fun With Magic the Gathering: Winston Drafting The Cube

So, if you're like me, you like Magic the Gathering. The only problem is that only one or two of your friends actually play the game and the rest refuse to learn how to play out of fear of becoming a social pariah. If you're like me, you have a Mac so you can't play online and game shops are a little too smelly & logistically inconvenient to frequent. And finally, if you're like me, you have casual decks to play with your fellow gamer friends, but after a while you get just get too bored with them and acquiring new cards to make fun new decks is just too expensive.

But there's hope! After the jump, you will be introduced to perhaps the most fun means of playing Magic: the Gathering for any budget and any number of people.

The Cube
What is "The Cube"?
Well, it's typically known as a compilation of the best cards in Magic: the Gathering. Many enthusiasts of "The Cube" generally take fifty of the best cards cards of each color plus sixty of the best lands and best artifacts, which essentially creates a "balanced" format. There is hardly a quintessential cube in existence as everyone argues over what goes in and I have yet to see two cube lists that are identical. Nonetheless, the most famous lists out there are Evan Erwin's and Wizards of the Coast's.

That said, anyone can play the cube. With a struggling economy, the average person simply does not have the means to own a $900 Black Lotus, a $500 Ancestral Recall, a $70 Berserk and/or, hell, even a $20 Damnation. So what do you do? Well, the solution is two-fold: you can either proxy the cards out of lands, or you can just take the best cards (or favorite cards) that you own and make that your cube. I recommend the latter.

Winston Drafting
So, you've put together your cards for "The Cube". Now what? Well, you could split your cards into groups of 15 [ideally with an equal distribution of colors, lands and artifacts] and simulate a booster draft, but honestly, that blows because it's way to tedious. Instead, shuffle all the cards, put them all into one big pile and Winston Draft those suckers! Mark Rosewater of Wizards of the Coast does a much better job of explaining how Winston Draft works than I could ever do:

Where Mark Rosewater tells you to use booster packs, instead use your cube. This means of drafting goes really fast and can easily be done with just two people. At the same time, it still takes a lot of skill building your deck as you draft.

After Winston drafting "The Cube" with my good buddy last Sunday, I have nothing but good things to say about it. It's a blast. Of course, the better cards you have, the better time you'll have; but like I stressed earlier, it's not necessary. "The Cube" can be acquired through time, and unlike other formats, it allows you to play any cards that you want. That way, none of your cards are "unplayable" in decks, which is perfect for casual collectors. In my opinion, that's what Magic is all about.

Plus, unless you play Vintage, there is no other format of Magic that would let you get an opening hand with these cards:

That allows for this to come out on the first turn:

Now what are you waiting for? Stop reading this and go play "The Cube"!


Anonymous said...

You know, Neutral Ground's new location is surprisingly convenient and not awful smelling. Plus there's a pre-release this weekend. What more could you want?

Johnny said...

I did go to Neutral Ground's new location once. It is good that it's near Times Square and didn't smell like a bum's nutsack, but I have had bad experiences there. If you click on the "magic: the gathering" label on this post, you'll find another post talking about the last prerelease I went to there.

I'm also not that crazy about Morningtide. I've been keeping up on the spoilers and it seems like all they're doing for this block is taking powerful cards from the past and making them less good. Countryside Crusher got be a little excited, but that's about it. Maybe next time.

Bishop said...

Johnny your posts here make me sort of want to learn how to play Magic again...