quick note. This article was written just after Ep 111 and focuses on the topic
of cube designer fatigue that we touched on during that episode. It was written
before our latest set review Ep 113. I should have posted it earlier, but I was
not entirely with the result and wanted to edit it further. However, since we
have already done Ep 113, it seems difficult to edit it with the same mindset I
had before our latest review and I have decided to just post it as is.
Hopefully, you get something out of this article and that this latest review (Magic
2020) reflected some of the changes I talked about in this article. Ideally, it
was our best review yet. End of quick note.
Horizons had snow as one of its subthemes. This is the first time since
Coldsnap that snow has appeared. Naturally, many players were excited. However,
this excitement poses a problem for cube designers. Not the excitement of a
snow theme in cube specifically, but the excitement itself. Magic sets are
designed to imbue that excitement in players. To make players want to build
decks around certain themes and mechanics. To make players want to play certain
cards. This effect is what creates a challenge for cube designers.
was originally going to write the next odds article on Treasure Hunt, but I have already run through some of the numbers
on it and the prospect of looking at Rowdy Crew was new and too tempting. We will get back to Treasure Hunt eventually.
the first thing to look at with Rowdy Crew is just the raw numbers assuming no decision will be made to optimize the
odds of discarding cards of similar types. This will be deck dependent, but we
can consider a “standard” deck to start with. The table below shows the odds
for discarding two cards of a particular card type given how many of those
cards are present in a forty-card deck.
Vivien’s Arkbow looks like a fun cube card that will act in a Birthing Pod like manner. It enables the trading up of resources similar to Pod. In Birthing Pod, a creature is traded for a better creature that can be tutored. Vivien’s Arkbow does not have the tutoring ability, costs more, and has the potential to miss. However, it does gain by being instant speed and, more importantly, allows the exchange of non-creature cards into creature cards. These two factors are huge. It is improbable that the Arkbow will be a better card, certainly not in constructed where decks of sixty cards can pack many one offs and tutoring is incredibly powerful. Cube is a different story. There are less cards to go through and games play out differently. This should indicate that the power of the Arkbow will hinge on how reliable it is at finding a creature every time. The table below shows how likely it is for a creature with a converted mana cost equal to or lower than X to be found versus how many creatures in the deck satisfy that condition.
A listener of the podcast asked for an expanded edition of our 2018 Path to Cube awards. This will allow more detail on the honorable mentions than was done during the episode. As a reminder, eligible sets are Ixalan, Rivals of Ixalan, Dominaria, Magic 2019, Commander 2018, Battlebond, and Unstable. So, although a little late, here it is.
Most Overrated Card:
This was touted as the red Snapcaster Mage. It is not. It ends up being much too situational and dependent on the opponent’s actions to be powerful unlike Snapcaster Mage that allows the player to build their deck to optimize its power. Flash is a more powerful mechanic than first strike on a 2/1 body as well as on a value cards like Snapcaster Mage and Dire Fleet Daredevil. I would say Abbot of Keral Keep is still the best red 2 drop in a vacuum with Young Pyromancer passing it in certain situations.
Currently, there is no consensus on how to create the best commander cube experience and it continues to be a challenge in part due to the problem never being laid out in a clear way. The goal of this article will be to have a clear goal and guidelines for designers to begin to bring fresh ideas to the table without having to struggle with a vague notion of the problem and to knowingly tackle all problematic aspects of the commander cube.
let us define a commander cube. A commander cube is a cube that is meant to be
played with commander rules. That includes one commander, singleton, and
commander color identity (all cards in your deck must be the color of your
commander’s color identity.) What changes from regular commander is no banned
list, as the cards to include are up to the cube owner, and the deck size will
have to be smaller than 100 cards. Since constructed to limited is 60 to 40,
commander to limited commander can be 100 to 60. That allows for decks mana
bases to piggyback off already know land counts. If a number other than 40 or
60 is chosen, land counts will be less intuitive as there is no format to
compare them to and having to be based on raw percentages instead.