A Guide To Cube Drafting

Things to evaluate in a Cube Draft :
  •  “Overall power level: What are the best cards in the Cube?” : Evaluate what you should be prepared for, and define the speed of the format. “What are the weakest cards in the Cube?” : You don’t necessarily need to identify the single worst card, but simply to get a feel for how powerful the “weak filler” cards are. This will give you an idea of how easy it will be to get enough playables during the draft. It will tell you if the card pool is deep enough to build a strong mono color deck. It will hint at the possible rewards of splashing or otherwise branching out in colors.
  • “Color balance”: If you identify a color as really being head-and-shoulders above the rest, this is the right strategy. Put yourself in a position to make use of the best cards.
  • “Archetypes: What archetypes are most supported in the particular Cube?” : These are important to know, and can help you choose your color combinations. There’s an important corollary to the question of archetypes: are any archetypes so deeply supported that it reduces the number of generally playable cards in the color? Are certainly cards good in only one archtype and mediocre in others?
  • “Mana fixing: How much, and what kind of mana fixing is available?” : Does the Cube have dual lands, shocklands, fetch lands, painlands, scry lands, tri-lands, filter lands? Evaluate if is convenient to draft two or more colors deck. Generally stick to the two colors plan, it’s a sweet spot to be in.
  • “Artifact mana” : Signets are sometimes a big part of color fixing. When there’s a plethora of artifact mana, it raises the value of expensive cards relative to cheap cards. An abundance of artifact mana also robs green of its relative advantage on the color wheel. Green’s main strength in Cube is fast mana, but when you can draft non-green decks and have a comparable amount of ramping, what’s the point? This makes these cards relatively high picks.
  • “Card draw and sweepers” : The appeal of dedicated control decks depends a lot on the exact suite of card drawing and board sweepers in the Cube. The lack of sweepers isn’t just important to control decks, but also to their opponents! It makes green mana dorks more reliable and makes a deck like White Weenie more viable (though still not great).
  • “How good are “disenchant” effects?” : In Cubes with lots of artifact mana, the good artifact destruction cards are sometimes stellar maindeck cards. Naturally, this is completely context-dependent. For an average Disenchant effect I’d say it’s a strong maindeck card if your average opponent is going to have five or more targets (meaning some opponents will have more, some less, and we don’t know ahead of time what the targets are). I’d say it’s a passable but unexciting maindeck card if your average opponent has between two and four targets. It’s a disaster if your average opponent has zero or one target.
  • “Combos: What dedicated combos exist in the Cube?” : Before you draft a card, it’s good to know what’s out there, instead of speculating wildly.

Tips and Tricks : “Efficient use of mana, more than any other factor, wins games”.

Regardless of your skill or the power level of the cards in your deck, the easiest way to lose games is by not making a play until turns there or four. Successful decks need to be able to use their mana every turn beginning on turn two (even if it’s cycling on realistically bluffing a counterspell). This rule has three important strategic applications:

  1. Drafting & Constructing a Deck: be conscious of your curve and look for cards which provide multiple options at different mana costs. Additionally be aware of your color commitments; drafting several cards in two different colors with double (or more) colored casting costs will lead to inefficient mana use unless you are willing to highly prioritizing fixing.
  2. Mulligan Decisions: As a general rule, mulligan away any hand in which my first action will be on turn four. Mulligan away most hands in which the first action will be on turn three unless there are tempo-gaining cards.
  3. Game Play: The abundance of activated abilities and card draw ensure that Cube is a format in which you will almost always have something to do with your mana at any point in the game. Mana used now saves you from having to spend mana later for the same effect, so you should be looking to tap out (or come as close as possible, i.e. bluff counterspells) every turn.
Draft archetypes instead of cards

This rule naturally follows the previous rule, but requires a little more explanation. Your goal with your first few picks should be to draft cards which create an engine for you to inevitably win the game. Instead of drafting independently valuable cards (Wrath effects, most card draw effects, most green creatures) you should seek out cards which create a synergistic deck. This isn’t to say you must open the pivotal cards early to build the deck. You can often anticipate certain cards being passed to you in later packs, especially in smaller cubes. The cards you can reasonably anticipate will vary based upon cube composition and the other player’s preferences, but you will often be surprised at how often you “get there.” A special note regarding beatdown decks: you might be thinking beatdown decks are a generic catch-all for small creature decks. These decks, however, can be drafted in several different directions.

Overvaluing creature removal

In the Cube creatures: (a) are extremely efficient in terms of power level to casting cost (b) are resilient to removal and/or (c) give a player some value upon coming into or leaving play. Spot removal has moderate to high value against the first category, very low value to the second, and limited value to the third. Wrath effects share many of the same problems. For this reason, creature removal should rarely be taken early in cubes with less than 1000 cards.
Always play almost a few, but rarely use early picks to do so.

Common Cube’s Supported Archetypes

Control

  • Mono Blue
  • Blue-white (UW)
  • Blue-Black (UB)
  • Blue-Red (UR) [counterburn] [+Wildfire]
  • Blue-White-Red Jeskai (UWR)
  • Blue-White-Black Esper (UWB)
  • Black-Red-Green Jund (BRG)
  • Artifacts Blue-Black-X (UBX) [Tezzeret, Key-Vault Combo]
  • Blue- Black-Red Grixis (UBR)

Aggro

Zoo:

  • Red-Green-White Naya (RGW)
  • Red-Green (RG)
  • White-Green (WG) [Hatebears]
  • White Weenie (Mono W)
  • White-Red Boros (WR)
  • Mono Red Aggro (R)   [RX]   {can be WR Aggro}
  • Mono Red Burn (R)  [RX]   {can be WR Burn}
  • Mono Black Aggro (B) [BX]
  • Black-Red Sacrifice (BR)
  • Black-White Aggro (BW) {can be tokens themed}

Midrange

Spells Matters [Delver+ Young Pyromancer+Talrand]:

  • Blue-Red (UR)
  • Blue-White-Red Jeskai (UWR)

Green Decks:

  • Mono Green Ramp (G)
  • Black-Green “The Rock” (BG)
  • White-Black-Green Abzan [Junk] (WBG)
  • Black-Red-Green Jund (BRG)
  • Blue-Green (UG)

Pod Archetype:

  • White-Black-Green Abzan [Junk] (WBG)
  • Red-Green-White Naya (RGW)
  • Green-X-Y (GXY)
  • White-Black Midrange (WB)

     Combo

Splinter Twin Combo [Deceiver Exarch/Pestermite/Restoration Angel+Splinter Twin/ Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker]:

  • Blue-Red Twin
  • Blue-Red-White Jeskai Twin

Reanimator:

  • Black-Blue-X (BUX) {usually X=G}

Storm:

  • Blu-Black-X-Y (UBXY) {usually X=R Y=G}

For this guide it is all.

Thanks for reading

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