Hey, guys o/ Ari here - and today we'll talk about another way to play Magic, the Cube Draft. If you play Magic, you probably heard about Draft, specially because the format became more popular and accessible after the release of Magic Arena, but you may still not know much about Cube Draft. The most common way to play cube is at a kitchen table with your friends in a more laid-back and casual way, but the format is also available seasonally on Magic Online. In Magic Arena it is not yet possible to play cube, but Wizards stated it is interested in adding the format to the platform. Cube Draft is a format where players create a "cube", which is simply a pool of (pre-selected) cards for the purpose of drafting and playing with limited decks. And what is the criteria for selecting these cards? The answer is that there is no set rule, each person will establish their own criteria for building their cube. I often say that building a cube is a great way to play "WotC designer". Sure, you won't be designing any cards per se or anything like that, but you'll have the opportunity to explore synergies between cards that have never been together in a Standard set Draft, or in any other collection ever released by Wizards. [image](https://cardsrealm.com/images/uploads/1571625888.jpg) Recently I decided to build a cube and my main motivation was that I could choose the cards I like best. Each cube is unique and somehow expresses the personality of its creator. Of course I am not saying that it is just about choosing your favorite cards at random, it is part of the challenge to maintain the balance between the colors and archetypes of the cube so that the gaming experience is enjoyable. My friends Leandro Koji and Lucas Valente have their own cubes, and they agreed to help me with today's article. Lucas tells us a little about his relationship with Limited formats and what motivated him to build a Vintage Cube: *"Draft and Sealed have always been my favorite formats, I love the puzzle that is assembling the best deck with what's given to you, especially in Draft, which involves a lot more strategy and skill than luck.* *It amazes me that there is a format where everyone starts with the same conditions and where the possibilities of decks are endless. In competitive play, the ones in advantage are those who have some of the few decks in the meta, usually the most expensive ones.* *What kept me from playing Draft every week were the prices, instead of the measly 15 reais (approximately 4 dollars) of a Friday Night Magic, the Draft cost 5 times more, and even though I had the money to play it, most of my friends didn't. One of the motivators for me to build a cube was being able to draft infinitely at no cost, another motivator was to make use of my collection. I've been playing since the late 1990s and I've had a lot of good cards, which are a lot of fun to play, but for the sake of the meta, don't fit in most of the Constructed formats."* Leandro, on the other hand, learned of the cube through social networks, became interested in it and set up a Pauper cube. For him, the cube differential is in the deck building, and he cites something that bothered him in store Drafts. *"In store Drafts, it's kind of instinctive to have "profit", you pick the expensive card that will call the draft, so deck building becomes secondary and sometimes you can't even play with the cards you're dealt. Cube is the opposite, as no one will take the cards home, the intention is always to build good decks or picking cards with the aim of messing with your opponents. Lately I have less time to go to Magic stores, so it has become more practical for me to gather people at home to play the cube"* My cube is still being built and I realized that assembling a cube from scratch is not as simple a task as it seems, I came across many questions. How many cards should I use? How to balance the colors? How to create synergies between the cards? What archetypes will I use? Will it be a Singleton cube? What power level do I want for my cube? My God! Which theme to choose? Thousands of Magic cards have been released since the game's inception and choosing which ones will be part of your cube will require some dedication, so the first step in building a cube should be choosing a theme. Choosing the theme will limit your options and make card mining less painful. Since I already have access to Pauper and Vintage themes in my friends' cubes, I ended up choosing to build a Historic theme, which is the new format that came up containing all the existing cards in Magic Arena, basically the Ixalan collection. The choice of theme should not be tied only to formats as in the examples I cited. As I said, each cube is unique and completely customizable, you can choose themes based on what you want, mechanics, tribes, card frame. Want to play only with old frames? Ok. You can also choose your theme based on a plane. How about Ravnica? Mirrodin? Why not build a cube with all Innistrad sets? Innistrad, Dark Ascension, Avacyn Restored, Shadows over Innistrad and Eldritch Moon? The possibilities of themes are many, choose something that pleases you and is within your reach. You also don't have to create your cube from scratch, there are lots of cube lists on the internet that you can reference, for example, Wizards shares their cube lists in Magic Online. One tool that makes life much easier for those who are building or already have a cube is [link](https://www.cubetutor.com/home)(CubeTutor.com), a website created by Ben Timarsh that helps creating, refining and maintaining your cube. The site organizes the lists very well and has various features such as graphics and even an indicator of how many tokens you will need for your cube. There you can also find various lists of cubes and filter them by theme. [image](https://cardsrealm.com/images/uploads/1571625974.PNG) [image](https://cardsrealm.com/images/uploads/1571625981.PNG) For a first cube, 360 cards is the recommended number, as it supports exactly eight players. Over time, most players increase this number to get a greater variety of decks. I recommend starting with the 360 cards and adding more after a few tries. Perhaps the most complicated task is finding the color balance, it is not mandatory, but it is very important to keep the same number of cards for each color, a good starting point for a 360-card cube is to use something like the template below: [image](https://cardsrealm.com/images/uploads/1571626004.PNG) According to Lucas, there are several factors and techniques to balance the power level of colors in the cube. He tells us a little about his experiences: *"At first it is nice to rely on other lists and ask yourself why you made each choice. One technique I tried to use for a while, but it didn't work out, was to put the WotC-created card cycles, for example, the Knights M20 drop 5 cycle. Although there are five knights, one for each color, created to be balanced with each other, within the cube, the archetypes can make them look very unbalanced. The best way is trial and error, asking for feedback for those who play and fine-tuning it. And the cool thing is, this part is also a lot of fun."* [image](https://cardsrealm.com/images/cartas/en/m20-core-set-2020-cavalier-of-flame-125.jpg) Leandro also had the trial and error phase with his cube and gave us some tips: *"In the beginning it was hard, any card I saw made me want to add it to the list, I wanted to incorporate all the staples of the format and consequently have access to Pauper's main decks, archetypes, themes and combos. Then I studied a little, and concluded that it would be better to have more synergy and make the cube less extensive. Instead of putting five mechanics in each color, I started to put a mechanic that was versatile, for example: Young Wolf would be a good pick for a Golgari Aristocrats, Simic Counters or Gruul Stompy.* *Some cards do not work very well in the cube, one example is Delver of Secrets which has its potential "impaired", and it was always the last option to be chosen during drafts. Another example is the Priest of Titania which would work very well with elves, but then I would have to use many Elf cards, which would limit the synergy of green with other colors."* Usually a cube builder is constantly making small changes, almost therapeutically. For me, the cube is another great way to play Magic the Gathering, but as the idea of this article was just to present the format to those who didn't know it yet. I'd be going :D. I hope you got interested in the cube, it really is a format that deserves a chance as it has already provided me with a lot of fun, and although it is casual, it is a format that I also recommend for those looking to improve their drafting and deck building techniques. Leave your comment about the cube! Do you own or have ever played a cube? What do you think of the format? Would you like to read more cube articles? Thanks so much for reading and until next time o/
The Pioneer format has just been [link](https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/news/announcing-pioneer-format-2019-10-21)(announced to the world of Magic) and lots of people are already putting their minds into creating decks to break the format. And even though we don't have a crystal ball to guess about it, we already have a clue of which cards are likely to be played. And some decks that, as they have been strong in the past, should remain strong in this new terrain. *STAPLES* Before talking about the cards that are likely to be played in this format, I would like to talk about a strange movement that occurred. <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">A bunch of (presumable) Pioneer staples rose in price dramatically, about 9 days before the format was announced.<br><br>Which is, I'm sure, a completely normal and coincidental thing to have had happen. <a href="https://t.co/bP0gAvdBeB">pic.twitter.com/bP0gAvdBeB</a></p>— April King (@CubeApril) <a href="https://twitter.com/CubeApril/status/1186316078248579072?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 21, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> Apparently, the likely staple cards of this new format already spiked in price 9 days before the announcement. We don't know if information was leak, but it is important to note that we will not talk about cards that are necessarily cheap, as stores have already raised the prices of most. *STAPLES - LANDS* In a format without Fetchs, shocks + checklands + fastlands will be kings, guarantee them all now. Also make room for some special lands: [image](https://cardsrealm.com/images/uploads/1571716753.jpeg) [card](Mutavault) and [card](Unclaimed Territory) will be staples on every tribal deck. [card](Mana Confluence) will appear on combo decks of 4 or more colors. We should also see [card](Field of the Dead) played on some decks, while we see control decks with [card](Field of Ruin). *STAPLES - ARTIFACTS* [card](Smuggler's Copter) and [card](Aetherworks Marvel) were oppressors in Standard, so much so that they were banned. Mox Ambar is a strong artifact that we have to closely watch. [image](https://cardsrealm.com/images/uploads/1571717305.jpeg) *STAPLES - BLUE* The blue color is probably the color that Wizards of the Coast will see the most within these next few months. It has 3 key pieces that should come in many decks: [image](https://cardsrealm.com/images/uploads/1571717998.jpeg) We should also see [card](Opt) and [card](Censor) played on some decks. *STAPLES - GREEN* [image](https://cardsrealm.com/images/uploads/1571718382.jpeg) Frontier was the predecessor format to this one, and it was reigned by [card](Collected Company). [card](Deathrite Shaman) will be really good in a format that have delve + rally decks. *STAPLES - WHITE* [image](https://cardsrealm.com/images/uploads/1571718635.jpeg) Without [card](Path to Exile), I see the white color on this new format more as a support color. The color is still strong and brings cards like the Teferis (Hero of Dominaria and Time Raveler), but should always be accompanied with other colors as well. Some white cards stand out, such as [card](Rally the Ancestors) or [card](Blessed Alliance). *STAPLES - BLACK* [image](https://cardsrealm.com/images/uploads/1571718875.jpeg) The efficiency of the black color can make it one of the strongest colors in this new format. [card](Deathrite Shaman), [card](Thoughtseize), [card](Fatal Push), and [card](Stitcher's Supplier) are extremely strong cards that are played in other formats. *STAPLES - RED* [image](https://cardsrealm.com/images/uploads/1571719225.jpeg) Red comes with cards like [card](Ramunap Ruins) which allows that last damage point in burn decks, [card](Burning-Tree Emissary) that is played in almost all formats for being a "free" 2/2 creature who still helps with your mana and [card](Goblin Rabblemaster), a very valuable creature. Red is currently extremely fast and we will have to see how the meta will adapt to it. *DECKLISTS* Below are some decks that are bound to be played in this new format. [deck](17109) [deck](17111) [deck](17115) [deck](17110) I'll leave it here [link](https://cardsrealm.com/decks/folder/69-pioneer)(a folder with lots of decks that me and my friends thought about in this new format.)
We interviewed Thoralf Severin right after he won the Mythic Championship IV, in a time where Hogaak was still there in Modern Metagame. But we fill like Thoralf was so nice, that we should make this interview more accessible to everyone, thus translate it now. [deck](11987) *When did you start in Magic: The Gathering and how was it like to enter the competitive scene?* I started to play Magic around Nemesis with friends from my school. They dropped it fairly quickly, but I strived to play more and more. I remember playing an Odyssey block constructed GP in germany. Germany in total was very competetive in magic, Berlin wasn't so I didn't play a lot of tournaments for a long time. *Today you are a player who lives exclusively on Magic?* Definitely not. Living of tournament magic is extremly difficult and can really only be done with a lot of content creation - something I didn't get to. *What is your favorite format and why?* Limited, specifically Chaos Draft. I am not a fan of playing the same deck for many many hours, so I like the diversity of limited. *How was your journey to MC IV?* I was a bit out of the loop for competetive magic, but when Arne Huschenbeth moved to berlin, him, Jasper Grimmer and myself formed a team, that traveled to every european GP. Especially on team GP's we were extremely successfull, which got me to hit exactly gold until (included) Barcelona. *Since the appearence of [card](Karn, the Great Creators), most of Tron's players have been adapting their lists to include the card. You have, however, opted for a list closer to the traditional archetype. What is the reason for this choice?* I started with the small Karn and I was really disappointed. Karn rarely won on the spot and was mostly very difficult to keep alive. There are no creatures to defend and no artifacts to get, that helped once he was gone. Bridge was usually bad, because of too man cards in hand. When [card](Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis) became so popular, we really wanted the Leylines in our sideboard and that was also not possible with all those artifacts for Karn. The tipping point was, that we wanted to have more space for all 4 Wurmcoils and 3 [card](Walking Ballista). I played 2 leagues with the MC4 list and went 10-0. It felt great. [image](https://cardsrealm.com/images/uploads/1565462372.jpg) *Another interesting choice from your list is the inclusion of the fifth forest in place of the Ghost Quarter. Would you keep this choice for the future?* There were hardly any matchups, where the ghostquarter was needed anymore. In addition to that, there were a lot of matchups where we wanted a lot of basics, specifically UW control and Eldrazi tron (with Crucible). You do need some green sources and the addition of Blast Zone (which is mendatory!) means one less slot. In the end I felt (my team still played Ghostquarter), i wont play as much Tron and Inkmoth Nexus decks since they seemed to be less played. *Usually Tron has a hard core of Cards that cannot be changed. Tutors effects (like [card](Expedition Map)) or cantrips for example. You, however, have dared to remove 1 [card](Chromatic Sphere) from the list, making some Tron players go crazy. Is it possible to do It without fear of run out of green mana?* I was saying this to my team since London. The new mulligan rule allows you to do this. I have played a lot of games with tron and the way you are actively mulliganing for tron allows you to not need those extra tiny percentages on drawing a tron pice with a Sphere. Before that, you needed to keep most 2 tron pieces hands, because you just couldnt mulligan to a better hand. Therefor you needed a lot of redraws to make those hands work. Now, with basically mulliganing everything that cant make tron, you need one of those cyclers and mostly exactly one. They are fine in the late game, as they get a new card, but I wanted one more big card. That also fit well with the 5th forest. *How do you generally evaluate Tron's position in the current Modern goal?* Definitely a good deck, especially when people arent prepaired. If nobody plays Damping Sphere or less Fulminator, less Extraction, less Stony Silence, etc. your stability carries you through the games. Additionally your matchups against UR Phoenix and Jund and E Tron and Urza are pretty good, while we were about even on Hogaak. Right now, we are even significantly ahead against Hogaak, but i think we shouldn't be much better than 50%. *Do you defend Hogaak's ban? If this happens, what should change in the Metagame?* I do think it can be defeated, but the costs of diversity are just too high. I, personally, would rather exclude some cards, so that more decks (and whole stategies) can be played, than to have the metagame of playing one deck or a deck that beats that one deck. Unfortunately that would make tron a bit worse in my opinion, since a lot of bad matchups (like burn, or Scapeshift or storm) are currently being forced out and they would certainly return. Also people would have more sideboard slots. Modern has huge potential to be an awesome format with lots of different decks and interactions. *Last question. About the [card](Ghost Quarter), it seems you preferred to have a better list overall (having more green mana), but in response you have a worst match up with decks that have Inkmoth Nexus. [link](https://channelfireball.com/articles/a-deck-with-extreme-matchups-is-statistically-better-than-one-with-even-matchups/)(This is something that has been discussed for a long time and Channel Fireball wrote an article about it): "It is better to have a deck that have good match ups and bad match ups than to have a deck that wins 50% of the time against everyone". What do you think of this statement? In this mythical championship did you play against an inkmonth nexus deck anytime?* i agree with this statement, but it was also paired with the fact, that i really didnt expect there to be many inkmoth decks. you are correct, i made it much weaker against those to get some advantage somewhere else. I did play against hardned scales in the swiss and then in the finals (same guy) In the end i didnt play UW or E tron, so my 5th forest wasnt obviously better. I think in the end, if you have really no idea what people play, running Ghost Quarter is probably a good idea especially if people are not switching easily to a different (newer deck) *Thank you very much for the interview.* No worries :) was a pleasure!