Last updated on December 16, 2020
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.
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.
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:
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.
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 me—thank 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.
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
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.
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.
Mono red and the Boros guild seem to fit this archetype best. There are some pretty good black cards as well.
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 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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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
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.
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!