What is a Cube Draft?
A cube draft is a semi-randomized, semi-structured draft event wherein the booster packs are artificially constructed from a designated pool of cards. The make-up of the packs may vary from system to system, so if what we present here is not to your liking, you are free to adjust quantities and ratios as you see fit.
In designing this cube draft, start with two basic breakdowns of information:
- What the packs should look like.
- What the card pool looks like.
For the first consideration, we are going to use the traditional Shadowfist booster pack size of 10 cards, with the following make-up:
- 1-cost foundation character
- 2-cost foundation character
- Feng Shui Site
- Feng Shui Site/Non-Feng Shui Site/Edge
- Utility/Ramp character (1-3 cost)
- 4-cost/6-fighting character
For clarity, we’ve assessed a hitter as any 4-cost/7-fighting character or 5-cost or higher character. Slot 8 is the entirety of non-foundation 1-3-cost characters. Slot 2 for the 2-cost foundations also includes the modern environment’s only 3-cost foundation: 1,000 Corpses.
For the second consideration, we break down the entirety of the modern environment into card types and character sizes:
- 98 Feng Shui Sites
- 23 Non-Feng Shui Sites
- 40 Edges
- 86 States
- 153 Events
- 36 1-cost foundations
- 22 2-cost foundations
- 1 3-cost foundation
- 24 1-cost utility/ramps
- 33 2-cost utility/ramps
- 70 3-cost characters
- 45 4-cost/6-fighting characters
- 16 4-cost/>6-fighting characters
- 37 5-cost characters
- 11 6-cost characters
- 1 7-cost character
These numbers include the published sets of the modern era, to include Combat in Kowloon, Back for Seconds, Reloaded, Reinforcements, Revelations, Queens Gambit, Knight’s Passage, Endgame, and Year of the Goat. Additionally, it includes the 19 modern-legal promos.
Making the Booster Packs
The cube draft is designed for 12 players, with each player receiving 8 packs of 10 cards each, for a total of 96 packs and 960 cards from the modern sets. After the cards for each slot are stacked (per this guide), they should be randomized with either light shuffling (careful to preserve the quality of the cards) or pile shuffling.
- Slot 1 is for 1-cost foundation Characters, of which there are 36, so there will be 3 copies of 24 of the 1-cost foundations in this slot, and 2 copies of the remaining 12.
- Slot 2 is for 2-cost foundation Characters, of which there are 22, plus the lone 3-cost foundation. Giving each of these 23 foundations four copies each gets us up to 92. Rather than over saturate the cube with too many copies of lesser-desired foundations, the last four fills can go to wildcard foundation fills, to include 1-cost foundations.
- Slots 3 and 4 are for Sites and Edges. These two slots require 192 cards. There are 98 Feng Shui Sites, 23 Non-Feng Shui Sites, and 40 Edges, for a total of 161 cards. Slot 3 is nothing but Feng Shui Sites (one copy of each except for two), while slot 4 is the 23 Non-Feng Shui Sites, 40 Edges, and 33 duplicate Feng Shui Sites of your choosing (possibly starting with first copies of the two that were missed in slot 3).
- Slot 5 is for States, of which there are 86 in the modern environment. This means 10 titles will get a second copy. Organizers are free to assign these second copies as they see fit. We recommend either focus the second copies on easy to play edges that only require one resource (to facilitate draft play) or assign all second copies to the newest Edges (from Year of the Goat) that players might not have as much experience with.
- Slots 6 and 7 are for Events. With 153 total Events and only 192 spaces to fill, there are 39 Events that will get two copies. Use the same method as the States to determine the priority for these duplicates.
The final three slots are dedicated to non-Foundation Characters. Slot 8 is for all non-Foundation Characters costing 1-3 power, of which there are a total of 127. So there will be 31 characters that never see this draft. Alternately, if you’re feeling especially inclusive, you could shift those 31 titles to slot 9.
- Slot 9 is for all 4-cost/6-fighting Characters. I specify the Fighting here because, for purposes of trying to balance the distribution, I put the 16 4-cost Characters with a Fighting higher than 6 into the hitter slot. So that leaves 45 4-cost characters for this slot, all of which get two copies each, and six of which get a third copy.
- The final slot is the hitter slot, featuring the 16 4-cost Characters with Fighting greater than 6, the 37 5-cost Characters, the 11 6-cost Characters, and the 1 7-cost Character (Eastern King), totaling 55 Characters. So all but 14 get two copies for this slot.
As previously mentioned, once all slots are assigned and stacked, randomize the individual piles so that not every pack comes from the same expansion set/alphabetical arrangement. We want to simulate traditional boosters as much as possible, so anything we can do here to mix up the distribution (lest we have two or three packs in a row with the same Character, or worse, one pack with two copies of the same Character) is a good thing.
Overall, a cube draft can be accomplished with a total of one copy each of Combat in Kowloon, Back for Seconds and Year of the Goat, two copies each of the action packs, and two copies each of the Shadow pack expansions.
When drafting, players will typically average 11 Feng Shui Sites total, 16 Foundations, and a sufficient assortment of supporting cards to be able to build a fully-functional draft deck without any pods. Additionally, I highly recommend sorting the players into larger groups for the drafts, as it will result in a better distribution of the factions. In a 12-player draft, two tables of 6 players for drafting is ideal. Then each table splits off into two games each for Round 1 of the tournament.
A final thought on the modern-era draft: The card pool for modern currently exceeds 650 card titles by a reasonable margin. By partitioning out the card types and Character strengths, the packs become considerably more balanced and better suited for drafting without pods.
In the event any of the numbers are inaccurate here, don’t fret. Plus or minus a few titles will have little impact on the overall experience. If you accidentally have three copies of a certain Event or, for whatever reason, zero copies of an especially sought-after Character, the overall draft will still go off smoothly. Likewise if you build the draft for 12 players but only have 9 attend. The remaining 24 packs will go unused, thus resulting in 240 undrafted cards that potentially limit the card pool, but will not significantly impact how the tournament games play out.