Frequently Asked Questions About Cube

April 21st, 2023 — Anthony Mattox

Table of Contents

What is Cube?

Cube is a custom draft format. Designers choose and assemble their favorite cards into a re-draftable set tailored to whatever sort of gameplay they like. Cube is for everyone — but if you have doubts, then read on and we’ll do our best to help!

Is Cube only for the most powerful cards?

Simply put — no. While many cubes choose to showcase iconic and powerful cards from Magic’s history, it’s by no means a requirement. Cube is the only format where the designer has complete control over the card pool, up to and including cards that aren’t powerful enough to be impactful in other formats.

Is Cube expensive?


Wait, I mean, no! Well… it depends.

Cube may be the most budget-flexible format. Sure, some designers seek out the rarest forms of the rarest cards, building their cube as a playable extension of their Magic collection. But every cube is a closed system, a perfect place to get maximum value from any cards, regardless of what price they carry in the secondary market.

Cube’s an unsanctioned format, so there’s no need to limit yourself to tourney-legal, black-border Magic cards. And since everyone’s playing from the same set, you can skip the sometimes-delicate negotiations of casual expectations, and enjoy Magic at any price point.

How many basic lands does a Cube need?

30 to 40 of each type is plenty for an 8-player draft.

In a typical cube that supports 5 colors split among 8 drafters, it’s unlikely more than 2-3 drafters end up in the same color. Even at this extreme, 30 lands is plenty to account for this (and you can throw in extras just to set your mind at ease). And, the more nonbasic lands your cube includes, the fewer basics will be needed.

How big does a Cube need to be?

The right number for you mostly depends on the size of your playgroup.

A cube can be as small as 180 cards for small groups of 2-4 players. For a standard, 8-player Booster Draft of 3 packs of 15, a cube needs to be at least 360 cards. Any number above that works well, too; just set any extra cards aside, undrafted. Additional multiples of 45 cards let a cube support more players.

Bigger lists add more variety and room to show off cool cards, but they come with logistical costs. Bigger cubes are more arduous to sleeve, shuffle, store, and transport. If you’re starting out with a smaller playgroup, we recommend starting small (180 or 360). It’s easier to get a smaller cube ready for the first Draft, and it’s easier to start small and grow larger than the other way around.

Does a Cube have to be singleton?

Not at all! Many are, of course — it’s fun to collect and play with a varied list of cards, and singleton effects can help promote novel interactions. But there are plenty of reasons to run duplicates too. Redundancy might be necessary to allow Constructed-like play patterns, or to avoid overtaxing players on unfamiliar card comprehension. Other cubes might break singleton on a specific cards like fixing lands, or unique effects that don’t have many functional reprints.

How many cards do I need to support an "archetype" in a Cube?

As you playtest your cube, you’ll develop a sixth sense for this kind of thing, but there are no easy answers a priori. An archetype could require the support of as little as 3 or 4 cards, or even just one, or it could also fill up a whole color or a whole cube. It all depends on how consistently you want that deck to come together.

Does each color pair need a distinct archetype or mechanical theme?

No. Even though many cube designers like to leverage the ten-guild-ten-archetype strategy Wizards uses for most contemporary Limited sets, there’s oodles of opportunity outside this structure.

You could try a three-color paradigm like Ikoria, a five-guild setup like Strixhaven, a colorless-heavy structure like Brothers’ War, a lopsided ten-guild spread like Zendikar Rising’s Party mechanic… Mix and match, or even treat your cube like a sandbox for the drafters to invent their own archetypes!

Do I have to make my Cube perfect before bringing it to my playgroup?

Sorry to break it to you, but your first Cube iteration won’t be perfect. If you’re like us, even one playtest will reveal opportunities for growth. Luckily, Magic is an inherently fun game — even your first attempt will be fun enough to come back for more!

Don’t focus on making a perfect cube on your first try. Focus on fun, and the rest will sort itself out.

I have a small playgroup. Can we still play Cube?

Yes! There are tons of great ways to play with small groups. We’ve even written up many quick-start Draft format guides for small player counts.

What's the best draft format for Cube?

The classic way to play a cube is to shuffle up all the cards, deal them into 15 card “packs” and draft with 8 players just like a typical Booster Draft. But there are a plethora of options, some of which we’ve written up in a handy guide.

What do I need to host a Cube draft?

All you need is a cube and at least one friend. If you want to pamper your drafters, you can pre-shuffle the cube and deal out packs in advance, but most players are happy to help shuffle.

Some other preparations are nice, but by no means necessary. Spare dice and playmats are nice for your forgetful players (if you’re hosting at home, large, table-sized playmats are a bonus). Having the correct tokens handy makes games run smoothly. If that’s too big a hassle, try using dry-erase tokens, random Pokémon cards, or sticky notes and markers. Snacks and drinks are an easy way to get people in the door if you’re trying to get a new Cube group going.

How do I store and protect my Cube?

There are options for luxury, thriftiness, portability, and/or safety. If you’re starting out, plain white boxes are cheap and convenient. You can upgrade to a plastic cardbox or a repurposed toolbox, or commission a a bespoke wooden heirloom.

A few companies have also started making reusable “packs” for Cube (small boxes that hold about 15 cards). If your players have a habit of mixing up stacks of cards, or you want that pack-cracking experience, these are a fine option. But cube packs are by no means necessary, and they can add some fiddly hassle to a Cube night.

Almost always, the entire cube is pre-sleeved in identical sleeves and includes basic lands (also in identical sleeves). Don’t forget to get enough sleeves for the cube and the basic lands!

How many creatures should my Cube have?

As many as you like! Cubes will always present an interesting challenge for players to solve, regardless of the creature density.

To get a more concrete answer, use other formats you like as a baseline — official Limited sets, other cubes, or even Constructed decks. Most contemporary Limited sets have about 50% creatures, but it varies between colors and sets (use Scryfall to find the exact numbers). Meanwhile, Cube Cobra lets you filter cubes by card types for inspiration (t=creature is a good start). Finally, the older a Constructed format, the smaller the creature count tends to be (use tournament results from the era of your choice for specifics).

How many nonbasic lands should my Cube have?

Just like with creature density, there’s no right answer here. Many cubes include something in the range of 10-20% mana-fixing lands, but there’s plenty of reasons to include more. (We’ve written an entire article on this topic for the curious.) But because Cube is so flexible, zero lands is also a valid approach if it leads to gameplay you enjoy.

Is [Card X] still viable in Cube in [current year]?

Discussions like this are often bandied about in online Cube spaces, and just as often they are taken too seriously.

If you’re restricting your definition of Cube to the historical context of “the 360 most powerful stand-alone cards in the game, with zero tolerance for nostalgia or history”, then yeah, time is a harsh mistress.

But very few Cubes are that self-consistent. Even the ones that claim to chase power usually strike a balance between historically powerful (read: not stand-alone powerful in [current year]) cards, and newly released (read: not yet nostalgic or iconic) cards. The upshot is: if you like a card, you can design your cube to make it work… regardless of what somebody on the Internet says.

What's a good Cube I can use as inspiration?

Ask any Cube designer and they’ll give you the same answer: “my cube”!1

Magic appeals to a huge range of players who love different things about the game, and no format exemplifies that more than Cube. The “best” cubes are purely a matter of taste.

You can discover which cubes you prefer by exploring popular lists on Cube Cobra, or looking at the lists that run a favorite card of yours. Check out the Cube Map, which lets you discover cubes visually organized by the cards they contain. And if you’re just looking for a quick way to dive into Cube, then set cubes are other good options.

Have more questions?

Let us know at [email protected]. You can also find helpful people in the MTG Cube Talk Discord server. You’re probably not the only one, and you can help us expand this resource.

Lucky Paper is a few friends making tools and resources for Cube and more. Check out our resources, articles, and some practical episodes of the podcast including:

  1. But seriously. Here’s my cube.

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