Introducing the Set Cube

Cards and Spreadsheets, a match made in Heaven

Cube P1P1 - 7-12
What’s your P1P1?

If I had to pick between design and development, I’m pretty easily sitting on the design side. Sure, I can hunt and peck and guesstimate development, but it’s not something that’s my strong side. I know that and I can live with the limitation. So why did I take on one of the most develop-y things I could do: building a cube?

Because it’s fun.

Plus, what else am I going to do with cards that aren’t in my Commander decks?

When I decide to get expensive/foil cards, Commander is still my preferred format. But I’ve wanted to get into some more drafting so I decided to build a cube. If you don’t know what a cube is, watch this helpful video from Tolarian Community College:

So I built a pauper cube and it was fun for a while. I followed around Adam Stybroksi’s pauper cube and it fun but I wanted more power, more umph. But I didn’t want to strip my Commander decks full of cards to get a cube going. So I set up some rules for myself:

Modern legal only

This was an easy one. Sure I might have missed some great cards if I dipped into Eternal formats but this way I only get a few broken cards instead of full colors. This allowed me to keep the Reserved List out of the cube and keep costs lower than what it could be.

No foils or exotic cards

Cube is the other format where players like to foil out their decks or get the Russian foil whatever to make their cubes stand out. Those type of cards are for my Commander decks. Plus, I feel as if I keep everything non-foil, I won’t hesitate to take it out for a better card. I’ve discovered I’ve had this problem in my Commander decks from time to time. Of course I feel that’s ok in Commander since I’m not a cutthroat kind of guy in that format (except when I play my Sygg, River Cutthroat deck).

Something else was missing. Being a Johnny, I wanted to make the cube unique. Building a Modern-legal cube seemed fun, but I had fears it wasn’t going to be too different than the rest of the cubes I’ve seen. So I started to think about what could make this cube different.

But, what if it was all one set?

I’ve seen people build set/block cubes, like with Ravnica and Innistrad. That seemed kind of fun. It wasn’t really what I was going after.

What if it was a set, like Modern Masters?

Well a cube is kinda like Modern Masters…

What if rarity mattered?

Wait, what?

What if each color, color combination, and colorless had so many mythic, rare, uncommon and common spots?

…Go on…

Continue reading “Introducing the Set Cube”

I’amrakul’s Complete Lack of Surprise

On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.

Emrakul Scooby
Those Meddling Planeswalkers

Today, WotC announced that Emrakul is the huge threat on Innistrad. This came as a complete non-shock to many and received a “Ho Hum” from the internet. All of the clues were laid out for those that wanted to follow them and it was pretty spelled out. Sure, I was on team Marit Lage (The Planeswalker/Cosmic Horror from Dark Depths), but I mean I knew it was the Great Spaghetti Goddess.

But players, like they always do, complain that this wasn’t some great twist. As if we were expecting something like a Sixth Sense ending (or to play off this title’s connection, Fight Club (Explanation of the other part of the title can be found here in the story)). Instead we get something that everyone was expecting; Mike Linnemann (@VorthosMike) had been going on this for a while. But, it makes sense storywise. Let’s all calm down breathe deeply and take a look at why this was an okay move for WotC. Continue reading “I’amrakul’s Complete Lack of Surprise”

When Story Dictates Design (Shadows Over Zendikar)

Hold your breath. Make a wish. Count to three.

tumblr_inline_o3oyizxtry1qhstyx_500Battle for Zendikar and Shadows Over Innistrad both have easy to digest stories: The Eldrazi are destroying Zendikar, something is making everything on Innistrad crazy. Two big objects are changing the plane (Eldrazi vs the Moon). Battle for Zendikar focuses on the things that are close to the Eldrazi while Shadows Over Innistrad focuses on the plane and its inhabitants. The design focus is then on the Eldrazi vs. the plane of Innistrad. Going big vs going wide.

Hey, let’s design everything around the Eldrazi (Going big).

Hey, let’s design everything around horror and madness is affecting the plane (Going wide).

Going big vs going wide leads us into two different directions of design. Neither of these ways of design are bad, they’re just opposite ways of thinking on how to approach the set. Continue reading “When Story Dictates Design (Shadows Over Zendikar)”

Of Monsters and Heroes


With the Duel Decks: Heroes vs Monsters revealed we can talk about the two mechanics previewed for Theros.


[Cost]: Monstrosity [Number]. (If this creature isn’t monstrous, put [Number] +1/+1 counters on it and it becomes monstrous.)


Heroic – Whenever you cast a spell that targets [CARDNAME], [Effect].

What we’ve got here is a creature based mechanic and a spell based one (even though it doesn’t seem like it). Both of these have their little quirks and I’m sure I might get some of the smaller details wrong without an official FAQ. But I can tell you some things that we can be on the lookout for with both of these mechanics and what we might be able to expect in the block. I’m taking a large assumption that these will be spread out over the five colors though obviously there will be only-color effects.

Continue reading “Of Monsters and Heroes”

You Make the Card 4 – Round 2 (Run Off)

YMTC - Blank

Well, that happened.

26 votes? That’s a margin of error in almost any poll (Though electronic voting does make recounting so much easier). Because the voting was so close, WotC has decided that it’s going to do a run off between the top two card choices:

Enchantment vs. Land

Yes, they reran close voting in previous YMTC, so this was expected. I mentioned that it was possible that people were going to vote for a card type that hadn’t been done before (Creature, artifact and instant). This is really not a surprise. But some of you seem to think that we can “force” WotC to do whatever we want. That’s not the case with this contest. They are letting us create a card together. After we submit ideas, R&D are going to go through them and pick out 10 or so of the ideas they like. The ideas could be whatever the focus of the block is, a truly unique idea, or just something that’s really cool (Subjectively speaking). We get to choose an idea that WotC approves of.

Listen, I know that a good portion of you really like the idea of designing a land, but for this contest I think that choosing to go the land type is the wrong way to go. I can guess what a majority of the land designs are going to be:

  • A Strip Mine or a Dust Bowl effect.
  • A fetchland (ala Polluted Delta).
  • A “Man-Land” (ala Mishra’s Factory).
  • Something that taps for more than one mana.
  • Something that taps for every color of mana.

None of those choices are sexy. You really want the card that the community makes to be a utility land? How exciting. Yawn.

I’m telling you again: don’t vote for land. And here’s why. Continue reading “You Make the Card 4 – Round 2 (Run Off)”