Description




What is the Game Night Cube?

The Game Night Cube is an all-in-one multiplayer Magic™ experience for 2-8 players. It's a custom set cube designed to be something akin to a board game version of a Magic draft: a replayable, self-contained, highly polished product focused on creating a classic draft experience that can serve as an introduction to draft for new players while still offering deep gameplay for veteran players.

Cube Structure

One of the goals with this cube was to faithfully recreate the experience of a booster draft, so the size of the set is almost the exact same as an actual Magic set, containing 245 unique cards, comprised of 112 commons, 80 uncommons, and 53 rares. There are 3 copies of each common, 2 of each uncommon, and 1 of each rare, for a total of 544 cards. I chose not to include mythic rare cards because I don’t like how they warp gameplay around them.

As well, just like regular booster packs, the cube's packs are seeding to have 11 commons (the 11th common replacing the basic land normally found in booster packs), 3 uncommons, and 1 rare per pack. To further increase authenticity, a special shuffling method (outlined at the end of this write-up) is used to create packs which are sufficiently randomized while still maintain proper color distribution just like real booster packs (because although Magic booster packs seem like “random” assortments of cards, each pack actually almost always contains approximately 2 cards of each color for balancing reasons).

For people who are fans of singleton cubes, there’s also an alternative shuffling method you can use to transform the Game Night Cube from a set cube into an experience similar to that of a singleton cube!

Design Goals

I had originally been interested in making a cube to relieve the pains my playgroup had been suffering due to the differing skill and investment levels among players. This disparity was causing our casual players to feel resentful as they got beaten into the ground, and our competitive players to feel bored as they carried out the beatings. Upon discovering the cube format, I knew it was the answer we had been looking for, as a shared card pool would force everyone onto a level playing field.

However, while a cube would fix the disparity in power level, it still couldn’t solve the fact that some people in our playgroup simply aren’t as good at Magic and aren’t interested in investing the time necessary to improve (which is understandable—it’s a behemoth of a game). As an aside, while I was interested in finding the best solution for our playgroup, I was also interested in creating something I could use to introduce newer players to draft and Magic in general. Little did I know, both this problem of disparity in skill level and my desire for a product that could teach new players draft shared the same solution.

As I considered what to do, I stumbled across Tommy Occhipinti’s Core Set Cube. It’s a cube originally designed to introduce newer players to draft, but for my purposes, it also had the added benefit of creating an experience that was more forgiving to less skilled players, letting players who weren’t very good at draft to still make a half-decent deck when they (inevitably) made poor deck building decisions. It was exactly what I needed.

I finally set out to make my cube, and using Tommy’s design goals as inspiration for my own, I established these guidelines:

  • No “trap” cards. By this I mean bad cards that a new player might think are good. Cards like Angel's Mercy . New players are basically drafting cards at random and are already at a huge disadvantage as it is, so I did my best to remove cards that could mislead them. With that being said, there are still some cards in the cube that are a little narrower than I’d like, but are still included because they serve important roles in their corresponding archetypes.
  • No sideboard-specific cards. A new player might look at a card like Smelt and think that “Destroy target artifact” sounds powerful, when, in reality, it’ll be a dead card in many matchups. To prevent this, all sideboard cards in the cube are cards which could also be in the mainboard. For example, cards like Silverchase Fox and Reckless Reveler . This also has the added benefit of making decks better for experienced players too: instead of wasting a deck slot to side in a narrow hate card, you can have it jammed into the curve-filling bear you were going to run anyway. Sometimes the card will be an important answer to a threat, sometimes it’ll just be a curve-filler, but it’ll always be relevant. It’s a minor change, but every bit helps.
  • Traditional color identities. Each color in the cube is a pure representation of what it's traditionally known for. This not only means flavor and basic mechanical identity, but more nuanced things too, such as traditional power and toughness values (e.g. blue creatures typically have higher toughness than power) and traditional creature to noncreature ratios (e.g. white gets the most creatures, blue gets the most noncreatures). This cube isn’t just an appropriate way to introduce people to drafting, it can also be used to introduce people to the colors of Magic, and I want to showcase the unique qualities of each color and allow players to discover the ones that they identify with the most.
  • No overly convoluted or confusing cards. This is trickier to determine, and is probably the most subjective goal, but, for me, an example of a card that I wouldn't include is Akroan Horse . It's a cool card, but back in Theros when I was still a somewhat new player, I remember being confused by this card and not understanding that I was the player (the "opponent") that would get the Soldier tokens. Basically, when you read a card, it should leave little room for confusion and be almost immediately understood.
  • Ensure it’s fun for both new and old players. Although this cube is focused on creating an experience that new players can enjoy, I tried to make the cube more compelling to veteran players by following traditional cube design principles, for example, using cards that support multiple synergies and archetypes to create a draft environment that’s flexible and has a lot of play to it. As well, I tried to support “classic” cube archetypes such as spells-matter for UR, sac-aggro for BR, and blink for WU. I also included iconic cards or cards that see play in more competitive formats wherever it made sense to do so. Things like Llanowar Elves , Young Pyromancer , Serum Visions , Scavenging Ooze , and Restoration Angel , among others.
  • Including cards where the flavor strongly resonates with the mechanics. The flavor of Magic is one of my favorite things about the game. I particularly enjoy when the mechanics of a card cleverly convey the narrative portrayed in the card, and I wanted to include some examples of this in the cube so other people could get excited about flavor too! I didn’t just arbitrarily include flavorful cards, but if it was appropriate to do so, I would include it. One card I like in particular is Suspicious Bookcase .
  • Only evergreen keywords. Learning Magic is hard enough as it is, and since new players are already going to be tasked with learning all of the evergreen keywords, I decided it would be best to not include sporadic one-off mentions of a dozen other non-evergreen keywords. The only exception I made was for one instance of totem armor on Snake Umbra because the enchantments-matter archetype needed a bit of a push. There’s also only one instance of hexproof in the entire set so one instance of totem armor didn’t seem too strange to me. I’m sure some people will think this is blasphemous, but you can still have interesting gameplay without non-evergreen keywords.

Along with creating an authentic and accessible draft experience, creating something which had a professional level of cohesiveness and polish—similar to that of a board game—was another large focus of this project, so all cards in the cube share the same up-to-date templating and card frame style (this consistency also had the added benefit of making things easier to understand for new players). Specifically, this meant:

  • If a card has flavor text, it must have the separator bar introduced in DDU separating rules text from flavor text.
  • If a card is legendary, it must have the legendary frame introduced in DDU.
  • No cards that say “put a creature token onto the battlefield”, only “create a creature token”.
  • No cards that say “Add {Mana} to mana pool”, only “Add {Mana}”.
  • No cards that haven’t received the planeswalker redirection errata. So cards that say “target creature or player” when they actually mean “any target” can’t be used; cards that say “target player” when they actually mean “target player or planeswalker” also can’t be used.
  • All common and uncommon cards with evergreen keywords must have the accompanying reminder text of that keyword, just as core sets do. Flying is the exception to this rule, and instead must not have reminder text (which may seem like a strange inconsistency, but is actually the official templating WotC has established for most core sets; they probably just think flying is so intuitive and prevalent that it doesn’t need it, which I agree with).

And to really solidify that polished board game feeling, I created a play book which contains tips and tricks for players who are new to draft, as well as a shuffling guide for the person running the draft. You can find digital and printable versions here. I also created printable card dividers you can use in your cube storage box, which you can find here.

I am proud to say that, despite the design restraints above, I succeeded in achieving my goals for this project, and I am incredibly happy with the way the final product turned out. However, it’s worth noting that, currently, the cube is 63% M19 cards. If I had to describe this set, I’d say it’s like a gutted version of M19 with all the bad, underwhelming, and constructed-only cards removed and then replaced by more powerful and/or synergistic cards from recent sets like Battlebond, Ultimate Masters, Commander products, as well as some cards from current Standard-legal sets.

Some people may scoff at what I’m about to say, but I believe that M19 has turned out to be a fantastic set for cubing. Just look at cards like Leonin Warleader , it supports lifegain, go-wide tokens, and sacrifice decks, all in one card. Or sweet build-around cards like Sarkhan's Unsealing . And you can't forget the classics like Ajani's Pridemate and Guttersnipe . There are many great cards like this in the set. Since most of these cards are at uncommon or rare, something I’ve been experimenting with is increasing the amount of uncommons and rares in packs, so instead of doing an 11/3/1 split, I’ve been doing an 8/5/2 split. I personally like this split a lot, and find it to be a good balance between power and complexity.

That just about concludes this write-up, but you can find some links of interest below, along with the shuffling guide in the following section. It’s been a lot of fun (and effort) working on this project, and if you have any feedback you’d like to share, I’d love to hear it!

Thanks for reading!

Links

On the Web

CubeTutor.com

ManaBurn.org

Imgur Album

Downloadables

Digital/Printable Play Guide

Printable Card Dividers

Resources

moak0's Shuffling Method

Tommy Occhipinti’s Core Set Cube

First, a shout-out to moak0, who originally developed this shuffling method and discussed it here. The shuffling methods outlined below are based off of moak0’s original method, but I’ve tweaked it to get an amount of colorless cards more accurate to the amount seen in actual retail booster packs.

Regular Shuffling Method (2 to 8 Players)

Each player needs 3 randomized packs to draft with, and each pack is composed of 11 common cards, 3 uncommon cards, and 1 rare or mythic card. As well, each pack contains approximately 2 cards of each color. Follow the method outlined below to create packs which are sufficiently randomized while still maintaining proper rarity and color distribution.

Begin by individually shuffling each of the 6 common rarity piles: White, Blue, Black, Red, Green, and Colorless. Then, reduce the size of these 6 piles to accommodate only the amount of people playing: for each player, take 6 cards from each of the 5 colored piles, and 3 cards from the Colorless pile, then put the remaining cards away. Below is a table showing how large each pile should be after this process.

Next, move half of the cards from each colored pile into the Colorless pile, which will hereby be referred to as the Variance pile. The following table shows how large each pile should be after this process.

Shuffle the Variance pile, then evenly redistribute the cards from the Variance pile back into each of the 5 colored piles. You may have 1 to 4 leftover cards in the Variance pile—this is to be expected and will be sorted out in the next step. Shuffle each of the 5 colored piles individually, then take 2 cards from each colored pile to make booster packs of 10 cards, 3 packs per person— again, you may have leftover cards. Then do a second pass, distributing the remaining cards, giving each pack its 11th card.

For the uncommon cards, begin by individually shuffling each of the 7 uncommon piles. Then, referring to the table below, reduce the size of each pile to accommodate only the amount of people playing. Next, make an 8th pile, referred to as the Random Pile, made up of an additional amount of random uncommon cards equal to the number listed in its column below. An unbiased way of randomly picking cards for the Random Pile is by rolling a 7-sided die: assign a number to each of the other 7 pile types, and when a number is generated by the die roll, add a card of the corresponding pile type to the Random Pile. Then, shuffle all 8 piles together and deal out 3 uncommons to each booster pack.

For the rare cards, simply shuffle them and deal out 1 to each booster pack. If you are playing with mythic rare cards, replace the rare in every 1 out of 8 packs with a mythic rare.

Each player should now have three fifteen-card booster packs to draft with. There will be a lot of booster packs on the table, so to prevent confusion during the draft, it is suggested that you put a die on each pack that hasn’t been drafted from yet. You’re now ready to draft!

Singleton-Like Shuffling Method (2 to 4 Players)

Use this shuffling method to create 15-card booster packs composed of 6 commons, 5 uncommons, and 4 rares per pack. Supports up to 4 players. This shuffling method is similar to the 8/5/2 split method, but cuts out even more commons to make room for high-powered cards! Cutting out commons and replacing them with more uncommons and rares also reduces the amount of duplicates you see during the draft, making this shuffling method the best for creating an experience similar to that of a traditional singleton cube.

Begin by individually shuffling each of the 6 common rarity piles, then for each player, take 3 cards from each of the 5 colored piles, and 3 cards from the Colorless pile, then put the remaining cards away.

Next, move half of the cards from each colored pile into the Colorless pile, which will hereby be referred to as the Variance pile.

Shuffle the Variance pile, then evenly redistribute the cards from the Variance pile back into each of the 5 colored piles. You may have 1 to 4 leftover cards in the Variance pile—this is to be expected and will be sorted out in the next step. Shuffle each of the 5 colored piles individually, then take 1 card from each colored pile to make boosters pack of 5 cards, 3 packs per person—again, you may have leftover cards. Then do another pass, evenly distributing the remaining cards among the packs.

For the uncommon cards, begin by individually shuffling each of the 7 uncommon piles, then, referring to the following table, reduce the size of each pile to accommodate only the amount of people playing. Next, make an 8th pile, referred to as the Random Pile, made up of an additional amount of random uncommon cards equal to the number listed in its column below. An unbiased way of randomly picking cards for the Random Pile is by rolling a 7-sided die: assign a number to each of the other 7 pile types, and when a number is generated by the die roll, add a card of the corresponding pile type to the Random Pile. Then, shuffle all 8 piles together and deal out 5 uncommons to each booster pack.

Finally, add the desired amount of rares to each pack. If you’d like to make 15-card packs, add 2 rares per pack. If you are playing with mythic rare cards, replace the rare in every 1 out of 8 packs with a mythic rare.

Quick Shuffling Method (2 to 8 Players)

If you are short on time, an alternative method when shuffling and dealing out the common and uncommon cards can be used: simply take the amount of commons you need for each pile (refer to tables) then shuffle these cards together and deal them out; do the same for the uncommons. Then deal out the 1 rare per pack as normal.

If you like the cube, please show your support by upvoting!

WowWowWeeWaa says... #1

Update — Jan. 10, 2019

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I decided to buy some upgrades for the cube.

January 11, 2019 7:09 p.m.

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Pack size 15
Cards 544
Date added 9 months
Last updated 5 months