Last updated on July 7, 2021

MTG Arena Cube Draft event

The MTG Arena Cube event is back! From December 12 to 20, 2020 you can play the Arena Cube. It’s only here for a week, so make sure you jump on it quickly.

We’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves, though. First things first. If you’re like me, you weren’t really all that familiar with Cube before it was introduced to Arena. So, what is this format, how does it work, and where did it come from? Let’s talk about that.

The Full Story of Cube, Simplified

So, Cube. It’s pretty simple, in that it’s basically a custom draft format. A “cube” is created containing whatever cards the organizer wants to include (360 is the recommended size of a cube for beginners, which can support eight players just like a regular draft), usually using powerful cards.

Players then pick cards to build their deck one at a time from rotating 15-card packs that use cards from the cube, just like you would in draft. After the game, the cards go back to the cube. Basically, Cube is a custom draft game where the players use the organizer’s cards and then give them back afterwards.

Source

Some cubes follow other themes or restrictions or are built around specific archetypes/synergies. Cube is also generally singleton, meaning there’s only one copy of each card in the cube. We’ll get to all that in just a bit, though.

MTG Arena and Cube: The Juicy Details

Arena’s Cube is Historic, mainly to offer a larger card pool (550, if you were wondering). Standard Cube is a thing, but the format is much better with a larger card pool.

Since MTGA has sets from Ixalan forward along with the Historic anthologies and remasters of Kaladesh and Amonkhet, it makes the most sense to have a Historic Cube event. It’s generally more fun and provides more variety and opportunity for interesting/unique gameplay that you just can’t get in any of the other formats on Arena. Which, really, is the biggest appeal for Cube to begin with.

The best example of this is Vintage Cube, which you can play on MTG Online. There’s plenty of different ways to create a cube, with different “rules” and requirements going into it. Pauper Cube includes only common cards, Legacy Cube allows cards from all sets,  and Powered Cube (referring to the Power Nine cards) uses cards considered “too powerful” in other cubes.

MTG Power Nine cards

Power Nine cards

Now that we’ve covered the “technical” side of Cube on MTG Arena, let’s jump into the event itself.

Cube Draft Events

All the juicy details can be found in our events calendar, but here they are for your viewing pleasure:

Chromatic Cube Event

This new Cube event will be quite similar to previous versions. It remains a phantom event, with BO1 and traditional BO3 formats. The entry fee remains the same if you’re paying in gems (600), but the price has scaled up to 4,000 in gold.

Rewards

Even if you win no matches, you’ll still get a reward. Here’s the breakdown:

BO1

# of WinsRewards
01 uncommon + 2 rare ICRs
1500 gold + 1 uncommon + 2 rare ICRs
21,000 gold + 1 uncommon + 2 rare ICRs
32,000 gold + 1 uncommon + 2 rare ICRs
43,000 gold + 1 uncommon + 2 rare ICRs
54,000 gold + 1 uncommon + 2 rare ICRs
65,000 gold + 1 uncommon + 2 rare ICRs
76,000 gold + 1 uncommon + 2 rare ICRs

BO3

# of WinsRewards
01 uncommon + 2 rare ICRs
11 uncommon + 2 rare ICRs
24,000 gold + 1 uncommon + 2 rare ICRs
36,000 gold + 1 uncommon + 2 rare ICRs

The Cards in Chromatic Cube

With a total of 540 cards, the idea behind this particular Cube format is to be somewhere in between the Arena Cube and the Tinkerer’s Cube. In Arena Cube, the focus was on individually powerful cards thrown into your deck to increase the power level. Tinkerer’s Cube’s was aimed towards a more puzzle-like style of deckbuilding. The idea was to draft cards that worked with your other cards to build a deck that worked well.

Chromatic Cube has a lot of cards that are individually good in almost any deck, but the cards in the pool were also chosen to fit one of eleven archetypes. These were based on each of the ten color pairs plus 5-color “good stuff.” The idea is to have a variety of strategies to consider when building your deck while also including clear directions for players who may be unsure what direction to take their build in.

Following this logic, a lot of the archetypes are classic strategies for their color combo. Something to keep in mind is that aggressive decks that curve out in the early game will not work in this cube.

The Archetypes

Tokens (Azorius)

Temmet, Vizier of Naktamun - Illustration by Anna Steinbauer

Temmet, Vizier of Naktamun | Illustration by Anna Steinbauer

I’d dare say this is one of the archetypes where the colors are the most out of their comfort zones. Tokens are usually seen in other color combos. But with cards like Temmet, Vizier of Naktamun, Rhys the Redeemed, and Quasiduplicate, you can build a massive token army and then compliment it with things like Reconnaissance Mission to draw a ton of cards.

Thievery (Dimir)

Zareth San, the Trickster - Illustration by Zack Stella

Zareth San, the Trickster | Illustration by Zack Stella

This one is very much within its comfort zone. It was one of the Zendikar Commander deck strategies not long ago, after all. The idea behind this deck is to use rogues and thieves like Zareth San, the Trickster, Gonti, Lord of Luxury, and Thief of Sanity to steal as many cards from your opponent as you can.

Here’s where those “individually powerful cards” shine. If you stole a combo piece that doesn’t do much on its own, this archetype wouldn’t be great. This cube’s emphasis on good individual cards makes sure the chances of that happening are as low as possible.

Power Matters (Gruul)

We all know what makes Gruul strong. There’s nothing particularly new to this archetype. A lot of ramp for big creatures that deal a ton of damage to your opponent. There’s some additional benefits since you can draw a lot of cards in this archetype, because green does everything the other colors can do.

Dragons (Rakdos)

Crux of Fate - Illustration by Michael Komarck

Crux of Fate | Illustration by Michael Komarck

Some ramp, some reanimation, and a whole lot of dragons. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Put Sarkhan, Fireblood in your deck and make Sarkhan himself proud by playing a terrifying army of dragons, then cast Crux of Fate and you’re good to go.

Counters (Selesnya)

Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider

Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider | Illustration by Daarken

This is easily the most aggro out of all the archetypes. Play plenty of smaller creatures and then make sure they don’t stay small. Throw in Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider and Cathars’ Crusade and your creatures will become massive in no time. This archetype mixes well with the tokens. Add some blue and you’ll have a terrifying deck on your hands.

Legendaries (Orzhov)

This archetype is more on the slower end of things. Legendaries take a long time to flood the battlefield, but it’s absolutely terrifying when they do. There’s tons of removal and recursion so you can keep your opponent slowed down and make sure you’re not at a disadvantage while you get set up.

Storm (Izzet)

Double Vision - Illustration by Heonhwa Choe

Double Vision | Illustration by Heonhwa Choe

Spell slinging is Izzet’s signature move. This archetype depends on cards like Double Vision and Ral, Storm Conduit to make every spell you cast explosive. Especially with stuff like Magma Opus in the card pool.

Just like with the Gruul archetype, this one stays pretty close to its colors’ common strategies. You’re sure to have a ton of support among the cards you can pick.

Death (Golgari)

Poison-Tip Archer - Illustration by Dmitry Burmak

Poison-Tip Archer | Illustration by Dmitry Burmak

This archetype does what Golgari archetypes do best: take advantage of killing any and all creatures you can, both your opponent’s and your own. Get cards like Liliana, Dreadhorde General and Poison-Tip Archer to make killing all those creatures worth your time.

Equipments (Boros)

Embercleave MTG card art by Joe Slucher

Embercleave | Illustration by Joe Slucher

I mentioned it with the release of the Strixhaven Commander precons, but I love that Boros is turning to a more artifact- and equipment-heavy theme. This isn’t an exception.

Equipment cards like Embercleave are absurdly powerful. Combined with Akiri, Fearless Voyager or Sram, Senior Edificer, you’re not gonna stay behind on card advantage either.

Lands (Simic)

Zimone, Quandrix Prodigy - Illustration by Ryan Pancoast

Zimone, Quandrix Prodigy | Illustration by Ryan Pancoast

This archetype is all about ramping. Get as many lands as you can then get a ton of ramp and creatures that support the archetype like Zimone, Quandrix Prodigy and Cosima, God of the Voyage.

Once you’ve got that done, you can grab any creature you want. The bigger the better. It’s not like you’re gonna run out of mana to cast them.

Dream (WURBG)

Maelstron Archangel - Illustration by Cyril Van Der Haegen

Maelstron Archangel | Illustration by Cyril Van Der Haegen

I’ve mentioned that this Cube tries to balance archetypes and combos with individually strong cards. This archetype consists of a lot of individually strong cards. Obviously you’ll have a lot of cards that work to further this strategy.

With things like Maelstrom Archangel and Chromatic Orrery, you can cast essentially any and every card in your hand. Not only will you play a lot of powerful cards, you’ll also be playing with a huge variety of good stuff.

The Complete Card List

White

Blue

Black

Red

Green

Multicolored

Colorless

Lands

Is It Worth It? The Math

It’s worth noting that the Cube events are “phantom.” This means that you don’t get to keep any of the cards that you pick. On the flip side, though, you’ll see more rares and mythic rares in the cube because of this and so you’ll be able to build a more kick-ass deck than you would in a normal draft.

Source

You might be wondering if the Cube events are worth it. Well, if you’re looking for a different format to play and have fun in, then yes, I’d say it’s worth it. If you’re not particularly interested in Cube, though, and are just wondering if the entry fee is worth the rewards, then that’s another story.

Reddit has done the math for methank god—so all I have to do is present you with their findings. And, with those findings, the answer to the “is it worth it?” question would be a resounding no. As the user who so helpfully put that nifty table together points out in their comment, the final value of the event depends on how much gold a gem is worth to you, which depends on what you do with your gems. But either way it doesn’t really pan out.

Source

You don’t even really need all that fancy math to see that the event is not worth the entry fee, though, at least not in terms of rewards. I’d say it’s obvious that this event is meant to be for players to have fun with, rather than to offer enticing rewards if you can manage to max out your wins. That doesn’t mean this is the best way to go about something like that because 3,000 gold or 600 gems is a pretty hefty price to pay for a new format.

General Play and Deck Building Tips

By Draftsim Head Honcho Dan Troha

Having had a chance to play the cube a little now, it seems to be mostly about splashy, powerful cards and incredible engines.

You need to have a cohesive deck with a very well defined plan. This is not normal limited, it’s “Standard Lite” — so you want a mini-Standard deck. Don’t throw together two colors worth of “good cards,” or you will likely start losing.

The cube has many limited all-stars of sets past (the “Incredible Bombs” category in the Draftsim card ratings), and many of those cards continue to be bombs in the cube. A card that was incredibly powerful by itself in draft, such as The Immortal Sun still is insane in cube. You want to take these bombs early and draft your decks around them. Other examples are Patient Rebuilding and planeswalkers.

Patient Rebuilding | Illustration by Magali Villeneuve

Patient Rebuilding | Illustration by Magali Villeneuve

A real bomb provides card advantage and is a win condition!

Planeswalkers appear a lot more than they do in typical limited. This means that your deck needs to have a way to deal with them, either through establishing an early board presence, having evasion, or having flexible removal spells that are capable of interacting with them. I’ve even liked Redcap Melee a lot more than I expected because it cheaply nukes planeswalkers.

Maybe it goes without saying, but you should be taking planeswalkers highly and putting them in your own deck, too. Some of the War of the Spark uncommons are a little less good or have niche roles, but they’re still playable.

Don’t put “just stats” or semi-vanilla creatures in your deck just to have creatures. They should be generating value. So—unless you’re an aggro deck—basically every creature you grab should generate a two- or three-for-one or be part of some insane engine.

Many of the planeswalkers and cards in the cube generate copious amounts of tokens. Especially if you are a controlling or ramp style deck, it is crucial to have a couple sweepers in your deck to come back from when the board gets out of control.

MTG Arena Cube Archetypes

Archetypes updated by Jackson (VladdGG)

If you’ve been winning with anything I haven’t mentioned here, be sure to leave a comment on this article or Tweet at Limited Decks so we can all see! For now, let’s talk about what archetypes are supported in the Arena Cube this time around.

If you have experience drafting, you’ll definitely recognize some of these strategies. The great thing about Cube is that there are so many overlapping strategies. This section won’t cover every possible archetype, but it will get you started.

Aggro (RWB)

Embercleave

A classic in any format. There are some great cards here that fit an aggressive burn style. Fanatical Firebrand, Ghitu Lavarunner, and Robber of the Rich will start you off fast. To keep you going, there are cards like Light Up The Stage and Magmatic Channeler.

And to finish off your opponents, throw a Hazoret the Fervent, Torbran, Thane of Red Fell, Glorybringer, or Embercleave at them and it’ll be a short game, hopefully in your favor.

A couple other cards to note that get you a lot of pressure early on in a game are: Gutterbones, Dread Wanderer, and Glory-Bound Intiate.

This strategy is best coupled with cheap and efficient removal, as most of Magic, with cards like Fatal Push, Kabira Takedown, and Skewer the Critics.

Mono red and the Boros guild seem to fit this archetype best. There are some pretty good black cards as well.

Reanimator (BUG)

Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

This strategy is common in Cube as well. The idea is cheating out cards like Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger as fast as possible. Yes, Ulamog is in the cube, you’ve been warned. There are some other good targets like Void Beckoner, Kogla, the Titan Ape, and Phyrexian Obliterator.

You’ll typically use discard outlets or self-mill strategies to get these creatures into your graveyard. Think Stitcher’s Supplier or Gravebreaker Lamia. Then use Back for More or Unburial Rites to get them onto the battlefield.

This strategy is best supported in black, blue and green. If you can snag The Scarab God or God-Pharaoh’s Gift, that’ll set you up well.

Control (UWBR)

Wrath of God

This archetype has a surprising number of colors it can fit into. White and blue work well, obviously. You have Cleansing Nova and Wrath of God to reset the board. And blue has great counters in Pact of Negation, Disallow, and some other classics.

Black and red have some very good removal that can be coupled with a control strategy, including Thoughtseize. Mangara, the Diplomat is great in these types of slow-paced strategies.

I’ve also seen some pretty good non-creature focused control decks running a lot of removal and control. Once you’ve exhausted all your opponent’s resources, laying out a Dragonmaster Outcast or an 8/4 Crackling Drake can finish a game out pretty quickly.

You may even be able to do a control sleeve around milling your opponent out. Ruin Crab, Teferi’s Tutelage, and Patient Rebuilding are in the cube to set you up for that.

Sacrifice (BRGU)

Mayhem Devil MTG card

If you’ve been playing Historic on MTGA, you know exactly what you’re looking for here. Rakdos all the way. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’re typically looking for cards like Priest of Forgotten Gods and Mayhem Devil to get the most value from the creatures you’re sacrificing.

You’ll also want to look for some good sacrifice outlets like Weaponize the Monsters and Village Rites. You can combo this with good creature death affects like Blood Artist and looping creatures like Reassembling Skeleton.

Additionally, Golgari has some good sources of sacrifice in Fiend Artisan and Vraska, Golgari Queen. And Orzhov has some good pieces in Hidden Stockpile, Corpse Knight, and Cruel Celebrant

Tokens and Counters (GW)

Selesnya is going to be your go to for go-wide tokens and +1/+1 counters. I was surprised at the number of card that support this archetype. Here are some, just to name a few:

Multicolor Support

Chromatic Lantern

As with every cube, you always have your 3-plus-color pile of good stuff. This happens when you pick bomb after bomb, grab a land base to support it, and run all the goodies. Sometimes good cards are just good.

You also have Golos, Tireless Pilgrim and Niv-Mizzet Reborn to build around if you wanted. And Chromatic Lantern to round out your mana.

Honorable Mentions

The MDFC lands from Zendikar Rising have been a great addition to this Cube. They add a new aspect to the draft environment that’s very enjoyable. In addition to all the cards already mentioned, be on the look out for these goodies to put in your decks:

If you’re looking to find some cool combos, draft Exquisite Blood and Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose together. You won’t be disappointed. Field of Ruin and Ashaya, Soul of the Wild is another good one.

What the Future Holds

Don’t worry, I know this event only last until December 20, 2020. But WotC already gave us a heads up that cube will be back! They’re calling it the “Tinker’s Cube.”

It’s going to be available on January 15 to 28, 2021. Right before the release of the upcoming set, Kaldheim.

The Complete Card List for Arena’s Cube Draft

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White

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Blue

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Black

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Red

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Green

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Multicolor

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Colorless

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Lands

Concluding Cube

That’s all we’ve got for you today! Hopefully we were able to shed some light on this exciting addition to Arena’s event roster.

Cube is a great format, and certainly a breath of fresh air for MTGA. It’s fun, unique, and an awesome combination of limited and constructed. If you’ve never played, it may be worth a shot if you’ve got the gold or gems to spare.

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Alternatively, if you’re into limited in general and draft like there’s no tomorrow, Arena Tutor could potentially be your best friend. Not familiar with my usual spiel? Perfect! Arena Tutor is our awesome tracker for MTGA drafting that can also help you with your picks thanks to our signature AI. Give it a try. Go on, don’t be shy. It won’t bite.

What are your thoughts on Cube? If you’ve played it, did you enjoy it? Let us know in the comments down there!

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