A Blizzard in June

      A 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.

      Modern 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.

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The Real Odds of Rowdy Crew

      I 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.

      Now, 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.

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Taking a Look at Vivien’s Arkbow

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.

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Well-Defining the Commander Cube Problem

     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.

      First, 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.

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