What is Cube? A Beginner's Guide to Magic's DIY Limited Format


Card: Gelatinous Cube | Art: Olivier Bernard

Draft, is in my opinion, the peak of Magic skill.


It brings together the two sides of Magic that people are often divided on; piloting a deck and building a deck. Many of Magic’s constructed formats revolve around a set in stone meta, a meta that is only broken when a new set is released.


Draft, however, is different. Every set brings a new draft environment. The cost of entry is the price of three boosters. For the price of a Jeskai control deck in Standard, you could do over 30 drafts of Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty.


However, there is still an issue. Draft has a problem with variety.


Most stores, Magic Arena, and Magic Online (to a lesser extent) have their mainstay Limited events run using the current Standard set. Be it either lack of interest, value, or simply a boring and ‘solved’ draft format, it is easy to see why some people stray away from it.


I bring all of this up because I believe the format of Cube is a wonderful solution to this.


So, what is Cube?


What Is MTG Cube?

Cube is a casual, Limited format where you design your own draft environment to share with others and ultimately draft whenever you want. You bring together a curated pile of cards for the purpose of drafting over and over.


This pile of cards is known as your "cube."


Each cube is unique, designed by its creator to bring together elements of Magic you think are interesting, fun, or powerful. A cube is not limited to one set, but rather can span multiple sets, Modern and onward, or even include cards from the entire history of Magic.


The point is that there is a pile of cards, with which "booster packs" can be created, and from there, drafts can take place. I am being very vague here. However, that is because the nature of Cube is vague.


Unlike Commander which has concrete rules and then asks you to go wild, Cube is the wild west from the get-go. If you want to design a Draft environment where you get seven packs of eight cards and each pack contains at least one legendary creature, you can do that. If you want to make a traditional draft with three packs of 15 cards, you can do that too.


With all that said, there are a couple of basic conventions that many designers will stick to when making a cube. Cube is typically a singleton format. That is to say, each card only appears once. This then leads to our second point: there is no concept of rarity in Cube.


Murder is just as likely to show up as Black Lotus. This means every pick is very thoughtful. If you don’t take that Lightning Bolt now, you might never see it again.


Most people do stick to the traditional three packs of 15 cards per player when building a Cube. Due to the lack of rarity, these "packs" are simply 15 cards randomly dealt out from the pile to each player.


From there, you draft like usual, passing packs to your left and right until every card has been taken.


Types of MTG Cubes

Cube is a very fluid format and thus you are able to add your own rules and restrictions when selecting cards to include in your cube. Here are a couple examples:

  • Powered: This is a cube that features some or all of the Power Nine. These cards are typically complemented by some of the other most powerful cards in the game.

  • Eternal: A cube that features cards from the entire history of Magic

  • Modern/Vintage/Legacy: A cube that tries to mimic the power level, archetypes, play style, or identity of the respective format.

  • Pauper: Cube built using only cards printed at common. Some of these cubes attempt to mimic the pauper format, while others simply want to be budget-friendly.

  • Set/Block: These cubes aim to mimic the draft environment of a specific set, or block. These will typically break the singleton rule since there are far fewer cards to choose from. Many set cubes follow a strict number of each common, uncommon, rare, and mythic. A common ratio is 3:2:1:1 respectively. In many set cubes, additional attention is given to creating ‘authentic’ booster packs by intentionally seeding them with 10 commons, three uncommons, and one mythic/rare.

  • Desert: This is a bit more of a niche option. However, it has certainly worked its way into the collective consciousness of Cube players. Desert cubes have players draft their basic lands as well as their other cards. There is no land station to pull basics out of. You need to make a call between taking an Island, a creature, or a juicy removal spell. Getting greedy means you might end up without a good manabase and lose because of it.

  • Jumpstart: The success of Jumpstart has brought forward a new style of cube. Design up several 15-20 card packs that follow a theme. Get your players to pick two, mash them together, and play some games. You could draft the packs themselves or randomly assign them to your players.

Where To Go Now?

After looking at the many types of cubes out there, we have only scratched the surface! I would like to share some resources with you that can help you on your Cube journey:


Cube Cobra: This is the premier website to browse, playtest, and get analytics on your cube, as well as those that others have built. They also have a fantastic Discord server with brewers and the developers of the website there to answer questions and take requests for new features.


r/cube: There is a subreddit for everything, and Cube is no different. The folks here love talking about cube design, new cards, and where they fit in their own personal meta. Also, check out the sidebar of this sub for more beginner resources, and Cube content creators.


Cultic Cube: John Terrill over on the Cultic Cube YouTube channel makes some of the best cube content out there. You can check out his videos for opinions on new sets and where they could see play in Cube. He also makes excellent primers based around some of the most notable and powerful Cube archetypes.


Solely Singleton: If you like your Cube content on the go, check out the Solely Singleton podcast. The hosts here tackle a different aspect of design, cards, or topic every week centered around making your Cube better.


I hope this little article has piqued your interest in the Cube format. Be it wanting to relive an original Innistrad draft every weekend without burning a hole in your pocket, or as a way to play with the most powerful cards where the only ban list is your own.


Cube is also a great way to simply improve your draft skills.


I encourage you all to give it a try!


You can check out my personal Cube Cobra and The Frog & The Dragon podcast where I talk about building a cube from the ground up assuming zero knowledge of the format.


 

Did we get you hype for Cube? Got a sweet pile of cards you want to build? Let us know in the comments below or on social media!



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