Monday, May 8, 2017

The New Era Cube

I began playing Magic when Dark Ascension was the last issued set. My first pre-release was RTR. I guess I could name this cube the Nostalgia Cube, but that is too narrow a title. The RTR+ Cube sounds boring. Maybe the New Era Cube? Yeah, that's what it is about: a new era of popularity for Magic that began with RTR.

I was thinking about this cube very early this morning on my way to work, and I know it can be a lot of fun. I know the range of sets from which to pull from: from Return to Ravnica to date. RTR was issued October 5, 2012, and it heralded a new era for Magic the Gathering. RTR+ brought in many new players to the game. Today, almost five years later, we can still find booster boxes for RTR at a price similar to that of a newly issued set. The RTR+ range has cheap packs, and I am all for that. The exception is Khans of Tarkir, on account of the fetchlands, but I have already hedged against this issue by buying a booster box of KTK a few months ago.

 I already have most of the cards I would want in this cube, but I love cracking packs too much to make it that unchallenging. It is way more fun, and more challenging, for me to build the cube mostly with new packs, with packs I currently do not own. I think I just heard my wallet utter a deep, painful groan.

First, let me lay down a few ground rules:

1. Size: I should aim for 360 cards.
2. Level of duplication: with 360 slots, only a single copy of each card will do. I will be able to include the best 360 cards issued RTR+.
3. Closed or open? Open, of course. The fun is in bringing new cards in with each set.

But that's only 360 cards, and we are talking about cheap packs. How about several sub-cubes? The fourth rule of the New Era Cube: the cube is composed of multiple sub-cubes.

1. The best 360 cards. There are 24 packs of 15 cards each in this sub-cube. As many as four people can play it as a sealed event, and as many as eight people can draft it. This number of cards is the equivalent of ten constructed decks. I plan to aim for one deck in each Ravnica guild made up with this selection to make sure the card pool is playable, and then I can reshuffle all ten decks in to the packs.
2. Another singleton sub-cube with the next best cards since RTR. The cards that get replaced out of the best 360 cards go here. Size? I don't know yet, but definitely more than 360. This sub-cube can be better balanced for drafting. This cube is arranged in packs of 15 cards each. It can be drafted or played sealed.
3. A sub-cube of constructed decks, aim for two tiers of ten decks each. Tier 1 of ten decks for the most powerful decks possible. Tier 1 here is not ten tournament decks, just the best decks I can build from my current card selection and cheap packs I crack. I don't know how many tiers I will have, and I hope I have at least two (that's twenty decks). I could have a tier just for intro pack decks since these are cheap.
4. A sub-cube with all of the leftover cards. For this sub-cube, I am planning to play these cards in their own format, what I call the Minus Two format, in which every cost gets decreased by two mana-casting, mana abilities; and only cards with 1 or more mana in any cost, after this subtraction, can be in this sub-cube.

There will be cards left over after I have placed all cards in the sub-cubes that they fit in. Those cards will not be in this cube.

It's great that many sets have been issued since RTR:

1. Return to Ravnica (Large)
2, Gatecrash (Large)
3. Dragon's Maze (Small)

4. M14 (Large)

First pass at the RTR Block + M14 selection:

5. Theros (Large)
6. Born of the Gods (Small)
7. Journey into Nyx (Small)

8. M15 (Large)

First pass at the THS Block + M15 selection:

9. Khans of Tarkir (Large)
10. Fate Reforged (Small)
11. Dragons of Tarkir (Large)

12. Origins (Large)

First pass at the KTK Block + Origins selection:

13. Battle for Zendikar (Large)
14. Oath of the Gatewatch (Small)

15. Shadows over Innistrad (Large)
16. Eldritch Moon (Small)

First pass at the BFZ and SOI blocks selection:

17. Kaladesh (Large)
18. Aether Revolt (Small)

First look at the Kaladesh Block selection:

19. Amonkhet (Large)
20. Hour of Devastation (Small)

That's 12 large sets, and 8 small sets. Because large sets count twice, that's the equivalent of 32 small sets, and at 11.25 cards share for a small set, we can make it 10 cards from small sets, and 20 cards from a large set, on average, to have good representation from all of these sets. I am rounding down because additional sets will be added to the cube as they are issued. With the lower number (10 or 20), we are starting off with 320 cards I should be selecting.

I have begun with some early work: a quick look at the cards I have selected and ideas of how to group these cards for play.

All right, enough planning, let's build a White/Blue deck.