Cardsmith Blog

CCC:Cube

We're excited to continue Coast to Coast Casual (CCC), a blog series written by East2West, published on MTG Cardsmith.

It's early summer of 2014 and I've just ducked into my LGS to get out of the heat and pick up some new dice. I'm still about a year away from getting serious enough into the Magic community that I would know when a new set was dropping so you can imagine my surprise seeing tables laid out with drafts and games going on all around me. Something looks off about the games though and I soon realize that each game is four players. I'm floored, I thought multiplayer was for EDH only! I ask the store owner what's going on and he tells me about the new and exciting expansion, Conspiracy. I pay my admission and get three packs from the new and mysterious plane of Fiora. I open and read these cards slowly, my wheels turning at every hint at a multiplayer mechanic. When I saw the card at the back of my pack I think I may have actually squeaked. Pack one, pick one of my first ever Conspiracy draft was Worldknit. I tell you this because it sets the tone for what I want to talk about today. Draft is one of my favorite formats, not only for it's low price bar but for the inherent balancing effect it has. No player will win just because they spent thousands on their deck. Having a cube means you can draft with your friends anytime and without paying an entrance fee, if you have 360 cards I recommend trying to make one. You may ask yourself, "Where do I start?" "Do I need archetypes?" "What should my power level be?" now I make no claims to be a professional, or even good, Magic player but I do know how to have fun with this game. So please, sit back, crack open a box of bulk rares, and let me tell you my thoughts on how to make an amazing cube.

Part 1: Technical details and things for the uninitiated.

First step to making your cube is figure out the size and makeup. 360 is your minimum but you can go with more if you'd like, for example my personal cube is 600 cards total. I'd recommend starting with the 360 card size and upping it as you get more of a feel for the brewing aspect of it. 360 cards may seem large but it's the exact number you'll draft in an eight person pod, this means that most times you draft your cube the same cards will be available. This can lower variation and overtime make your cube predictable and less fun to draft. You also need to decide how much of any given color you want in your cube. Generally you want an equal amount of each so all players can play the combinations they want. In a 360 card cube the breakdown is usually 60 of each color with the remaining slots divided among multi colored, artifact, and land cards. Multi colored cards are important, they can help you establish the themes and draftable archetypes of your cube. Artifacts are super useful since they can be in any deck but be careful not to put too many in, it'll dilute the other colors. Fixing is important as well but for a different reason. If you provide too much 4-5 color decks will take over your cubes meta and if you provide too little your cube may become clunky and unplayable.

Next is deciding on archetypes, playstyle, and general tone. Deciding your playstyle should definitely come first. Is your cube going to be early game or late game focused? Single player or multiplayer? These decisions will impact what cards you'll put in your cube so decide on this before moving forward. Personally I don't think archetypes are strictly necessary but some swear a cube needs them. You can go with mechanical archetypes (Storm, Fliers, Undergrowth), type of play (Control, Aggro, Midrange), or functional themes (Flicker, Burn, Ramp). Your archetypes should generally fit within the ally and enemy color pairings. It can be hard to balance how many cards in any color go towards an archetype. For a 360 card cube the breakdown that works is to first decide what color combinations your archetypes are in. Enemy pairs, ally pairs, wedges, and shards are all options along with a mix of any of them. For this example let's say we're doing all two color pairings have archetypes. 12 card slots should be given to each archetype in each color it inhabits and 12 slots should be left in each color for cards that don't fit in the archetypes but you'd still want to include. Your tone should be decided based on what experience you want your players to have. Do you want your cube to be fun or competitive? Are Un-cards something you want to include and, if so, which ones won't take away from the experience? These are all questions you'll have to answer for yourself. Remember that this is your cube, what I'm laying out are just suggestions to get you started.

Part 2: My personal cubes and experience with them.

Over the course of my magic career I've built and used three total cubes, the most recent of which was made just for this article. The first cube I ever made was designed to be played in 1v1 matches, it was constructed of (at the time) cheap cards that I thought deserved to be played. This cube was dubbed, Best of the Bulk. It was playable and introduced the drafters to some cards that they probably wouldn't have seen otherwise. The decks that would consistently come into being were Naya Midrange, Esper Control, Rainbow Jund, Rakdos Aggro, and Four Color Azorius Artifacts. This cube was super fun and super casual but it's also an example of what not to do with your fixing. The fixing was too easy to slide in so three plus color decks and splash decks dominated the meta. It's also a good example of why you need to decide playstyle before sliding cards in. Bazaar Trader is a bad card in 1v1 magic, never forget that. NEVER FORGET THAT. Don't be embarrassed if you're first cube is kinda jank, we all start somewhere.

My second cube, known as The Power Cube was where I learned two important things. Number one, don't be afraid to put good cards in your cube. Number two, sleeve your cube. Trust me on the sleeve thing, people aren't very careful with cards that aren't theirs. This cube is the one I still maintain, the list changes often so I can keep it fresh but I keep a few cards consistent no matter what. Power Cube is a multiplayer cube that I made with the intention being pure fun. Draft matters and Un-cards are present in the list but the main focus was putting in cards that are fun to play with. This is also where I learned that the playgroup shapes the cube. Remember Bazaar Trader? Well in its first iteration Power Cube contained a Zedruu package that I thought was solid but I noticed more and more that no one would play it. In a more casual group maybe Zedruu would work as intended but in my group her donations were seen as bribes. To my chagrin, Zedruu was phased out for a much less interesting Mantis Rider. I'm not going to go too much into Power Cube here but I will write a supplementary article soon about just Power Cube and what makes it fun.

Finally the third cube, the Budget Cube. When I decided to write this article I thought it might be nice to give anyone out there a cheap (ish) way to start your cube career. I spent all month compiling, testing, and constructing my first cube to have archetypes and a cube that carries a price tag cheaper than most Modern decks. The Budget Cube is meant to be played with 1v1 matches and contains the following archetypes; Selesnya Tokens, Izzet Spells, Dimir Mill, Orzhov Flicker, Rakdos Aristocrats, Azorius Bird/Flier Tribal, Simic Counters, Golgari Graveyard, Boros Aggro, and Gruul Land Ramp. I actually goofed on this and forgot to put in any non-basic lands but it remains a playable cube. I encourage you to build it if you'd like or even just proxy it and sleeve it up.

I hope I've inspired you to go out and craft your own cube, and if not please consider building one of the ones below. See you in the supplement. Until then this is East2West, signing off.

Here are the lists for the cubes
Best of Bulk
Budget Cube
Power Cube
PC2


Here are links to test draft the cubes
Best of Bulk
Budget Cube
Power Cube

East2West is an aspiring writer from NJ currently seeking fame and fortune on the internet. She's been playing Magic since Zendikar block (the original one) and is a commander player with one deck for each two color pair and one for each single color. The only non EDH deck she plays is her own personal Pauper brew, Pauper Eggs. Follow her on her newly created and probably soon to be underused twitter @East2WestMTG.

Jan 19, 2019 by East2West
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There's Something About the Forums!

Welcome to another New Year here at MTGCardsmith!
Our Giftsmithing event closed out the 2018 on a high note, collecting over $500 and donating all the profits to Code.org! Thank you to everyone who helped us reach our goal!
There's Something About the Forums!

Once upon a time... a much darker time, MTGCardsmith only had the card making portion of the site and we stumbled around discussing cards and creating contests through Disqus comments. Then one day the Forums were born and there was much rejoicing!

Yay!

One thing we've noticed is there are still a lot of Cardsmiths who never come to the Forums. We'd like to take a moment to invite anyone who ever has ever wondered, but never ventured over, to come and have a peek!

Logging into the Forums

This couldn't be easier! Just log in to MTGCardsmith as normal, then click on the Forum link at the top of the page. You will automatically be able to log in as your Cardsmith Identity. From here you can explore the various categories, like the Tutorials (Which Tomigon and I feel is a great place to start!) or you can jump right into the Contests and Challenges!

Jumping In!

MTGCardsmith has long been known as one of the most friendly sites on the internet. The reason for this is we're all committed to helping one another hone our craft and improve our card making skills. Don't be afraid to jump in and participate or ask questions. There are a lot of helpful people on the Forums, just as there are on Disqus, and someone is always willing to lend a hand or offer advice.

Frequently Asked Forum Questions aka Yes, Click the Link!
Welcome to the Forums!

Joining the Forums can really enhance your MTGCardsmith experience. We have lots of fun things to do and amazing people to meet and the best thing is... It's all free! So what are you waiting for? An Invitation?


Featured Cardsmiths

This month we thought we'd do something different for our Featured Cardsmiths. Normally we have an older Cardsmith and a more recent Cardsmith, but for the first Month of 2019 we thought it would be fun to feature not One, not Two but THREE somewhat newer Cardsmiths!

sorinjace
sorinjace is one of the more active Cardsmiths you'll ever meet. Not only is he always trying to improve his cards, but he hosts a lot of creative contests, always lends a helping hand, and he makes friends wherever he goes. If you've ever made a card here on MTGCardsmith, he may have even dropped a favorite or two on your cards! If you have a few minutes, be sure to check out his cards!


Aryanf
Aryanf is another Cardsmith you should know about. Not only is she sorinjace's lady, but she's also responsible for some pretty fun challenges, for helping bring awareness to Mental Health issues and for masterminding the Secret Santa challenge. Take some time now and check out some of her cards and give them some love!


Dechujoh64
Our third Featured Cardsmith, Dechujoh64 is a big fan of custom mechanics and he's always hungry for a good challenge! He constantly checks out the cards of other Cardsmiths and add favorites to the ones he likes. We think you should do the same and check out Dechujoh64's cards and put some favorites on the ones YOU like!


Each month we're excited to highlight a few Cardsmiths that have helped make MTGCardsmith the best interactive online Card Creator. We hope you'll take some time to check out their creations!



New Feature: Set Stitcher

Combine up to the first 32 cards of your custom set into a handy, downloadable image - great for wallpapers or social posts of your custom sets!
To find this feature, go into set management for your account, click on the set you want to stitch and look for the Try Set Stitcher button on the left!

Jan 01, 2019 by Corwinnn, & Tomigon
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CCC: True Legends

We're excited to continue Coast to Coast Casual (CCC), a blog series written by East2West, published on MTG Cardsmith.

As you saw last month I'm a fan of MTG lore, as someone who wants to one day become a fantasy writer I really enjoy that it's an aspect of the game. Through the years I've fallen in love with characters and, in true magic fashion, seen a lot of them die horribly. So, as a send off to Magic's 25th year of play, I'd like to talk about some of my favorite Magic lore characters. In no particular order these are 10 MTG characters that deserve a come back.

10: Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar

Before you ask that is her real name. I'm going to call her Asmor from here on out though. Asmor is featured in the Distant Planes anthology of Magic stories which takes place on Dominaria (mostly) before The Mending. She's a wizard and a chef who summons a demon named Vincent who demands she feed him. After running out of food Asmor makes a deal with Vincent so she herself is not eaten. For seven years and seven days Asmor is to become the personal chef of Vincent. During this time she wrote The Underworld Cookbook which is actually referenced on a couple cards. ( this one and this one.)
I won't spoil the rest of Asmor's story but it's one I enjoyed for its humor and plot.

9: Ixidor

Ixidor is one of the many characters that fell to the "Story cards must be weak." phase of Magic's history. In the books and lore Ixidor is an ex-illusionist who discovers he can actually warp reality itself! He discovers this power near death in the desert and uses it to create a beautiful oasis. Ixidor is also the creator of the angel Akroma, who was an attempt to resurrect his dead love. The story of Ixidor is sad and beautiful. I cried at multiple points through the book and I truly believe he deserves some attention, if not that then at least a playable card.

8: Tibalt

Bear with me on this because I'm not talking about actual Tibalt. See in the real lore Tibalt is a horrible man who tortures innocents and deals with demons. He's a pain born Planeswalker with a bloody past. Or at least he was before the fans saw his card. Tibalt is a horrible planeswalker card, there are whole essays about how bad he is. So almost as a joke the community latched onto him, reimagining him as this failed villain. In the minds of the fans Tibalt is this adorable little demon who tries so hard to be evil but he's just too cute! This is the Tibalt I support, screw the lore, fan Tibalt is the Tibalt we deserve!

7: Hamu and/or Ikenet

The second of three entries from Distant Planes the story of Hamu and Ikenet is beautiful. Hamu is a hurloon minotaur who lives in isolation. One day he finds a pregnant woman, Ikenet, dying in the snow. He takes her into his home and nurses her back to health. It's a story of love and emotion, when I read this for the first time I was smiling and crying at the end. You'll see tears are a theme of this list. Hamu and Ikenet is the sweetest and most wholesome love story I've ever read about in MTG lore

6: Kamahl

Kamahl's story spans a lot of the older books and it's a doozy. He's a great foil for a character we'll see later on this list and his arc is long, winding, and rewarding. He goes from revenge driven barbarian to druidic fighter and that journey is one to behold. Seeing how the writers go into his thoughts is an experience I find hard to describe, I found Kamahl to be so human that every time I read a book with him in it I felt like I was visiting an old friend. His cards are okay and the fact that both his Barbarian side and his Druid side have cards is nice but I urge you to read more about him. Let me share that feeling of friendship with you dear reader.

5: Helena and/or Illith

Did you know the demon on Demonic Tutor has a name? Because I sure didn't. The final entry from Distant planes is the story of Helena, a priest, whose father is whisked away by a planeswalker to fight a battle. This leaves Helena alone and afraid. She uses the powerful magic stones of her church to find the planeswalker but as she enters the plane a battle is underway. Caught in the middle she flees and hides behind some shrubbery only to encounter Illith. Illith is the Demonic Tutor and he was summoned to this battle and greatly wishes he wasn't. Illith joins Helena on her quest and the two become fast friends. This story is one of the ones that left me grinning ear to ear. Illith is a hilarious character and Helena is a relatable protagonist. This was hands down my favorite story from Distant Planes and I can't recommend it enough.

4: Xantcha

If you read last month's article then you already know a bit about the fine Phyrexian lass Xantcha. Unlike other Phyrexians, Xantcha realized that her actions were wrong and ended up helping Urza in his attempts to bring down Phyrexia. Xantcha is overlooked in a lot of the lore but she deserves a lot better that a simple mention. She's a canonically good Black and Red mana wielding character and that shows something. Xantcha rebels against her nature and is a great example of the way mana colors effect characters. Xantcha's black mana searches for power while the red mana showed her the way to rebel against the Phyrexian overlords. Xantcha deserves more than a backup commander card. More Xantcha or we riot!

3: The Brother's Yamazaki

Kamigawa legends as a whole are kind of glossed over lore wise since Kamigawa block was a mess, despite this I believe these brothers deserve a mention. The Brothers Yamazaki were two twins who left their small village to join up with Konda's forces during the war. After Konda made the decision to retreat from Sozekan Range, despite the fact that many innocents there needed help, the brothers left in disgust. The joined up with Godo for a while and soon became his most trusted lieutenants. After a failed assault of Eiganjo castle the brothers received a letter from their father saying their village was under assault. They returned home and defeated the Kami of Ice and Fire that had been attacking their village. During the battle their father was killed causing the brothers to reluctantly take up the mantle of village guardians. They defended their village through the war and never once did they lose. Their village never fell and still stands today, however this story does not have a happy ending. The brothers actions were never officially recorded anywhere leaving them to be forgotten and, due to the death of their father, after the war was over the brothers parted ways and never spoke again. This tragic tale of heroism and duty makes these two A+ heroes in my book. Their brotherly bond deserves an update for Commander. Kamigawa needs more love so take these buff bros into your hearts. Yamazaki forever.

2: Hannah

I love the Weatherlight crew, the original one, none of this new fangled Jhoira shlock. It was a epic and tragic tale love, loss, friendship, duty, and the greater good. Every crew member was well written and well designed and I became so attached to each and every one. Hannah was the best character of them all, the true cream of the crop. Even though she was an artificer Hannah had a kind heart. She showed love and respect to all and left hope in her wake. Her death tore my heart out and probably represents the saddest I've ever felt about a fictional death. Literally anything new with Hannah would make me so happy, whether a canon resurrection or just a new card Hanah deserves a second chance at life. In truth though maybe it's best she doesn't get it, her sacrifice was meaningful and saved thousands. If she came back what would that be worth?

1: Chainer

Chainer is hands down my favorite character in all of MTG lore. I picked up the book Chainer's Torment at a garage sale about a year after I started playing Magic and honestly that book is probably what kept me going. Chainer is a character whose flaws are on display and it makes him glorius. He's undeniably shifty, he is a black mana character, but he does try to be good. His deeds are kind half the time and he makes such a good hero. I'm not going to spoil the ending of his story but it's tragic. It made me close the book and have an all out cryfest before I could continue. Chainer is a good guy doing bad things and if there is anyway possible for him to return to the MTG story I hope it's taken. We need more characters like Chainer who can exemplify their color identity yet also advance it. Chainer is hands down the best character in MTG lore and it would take a miracle for me to change my mind.

Now that the gushing is out of the way below are some links to some of the books mentioned above. I highly recommend these three specifically with Distant Planes being tied for best with Chainer's Torment. Onslaught is good but it pales to the other two. So to all of you out there in the multiverse reading this, happy holidays.

Onslaught Cycle
Chainer's Torment
Distant Planes


East2West is an aspiring writer from NJ currently seeking fame and fortune on the internet. She's been playing Magic since Zendikar block (the original one) and is a commander player with one deck for each two color pair and one for each single color. The only non EDH deck she plays is her own personal Pauper brew, Pauper Eggs. Follow her on her newly created and probably soon to be underused twitter @East2WestMTG.

Dec 14, 2018 by East2West
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CCC: My Wet Hot Phyrexian Summer - Part 4: Exhibits

We're excited to continue Coast to Coast Casual (CCC), a blog series written by East2West, published on MTG Cardsmith.

Phase 4 (Exhibits)

Phew, we finally made it to the actual point of this article. Give yourself a round of applause. So now with all this history behind us lemme show you why the Mirrans should have won the war.

Exhibit A: Immunity

Something interesting about Mirrodin that didn't happen on Dominaria is the presence of beings with immunity. See Melira here for example http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=194274 Now whatever it is that makes her immune isn't inherently transferable but it is a sign of hope. We also see that Venser has immunity and is able to transfer it to Karn at the end of the story. If only we had some sort of super genius to figure out this process. Perhaps someone Karn has recently become aware of. COUGH JACE COUGH!!!! Like seriously it can't be just Melira, there have to be others. Point is it's a possibility that really irks me.

Exhibit B: Weaponry

The Phyrexians that invade Mirrodin are actually Mirran in origin and therefore would have started with a relatively small army. Infecting those that fought them but still a relatively small amount to start. Now let me introduce you to just a few of the resources the Mirrans have that could have just ended the war before it began. I understand that most of these would never actually happen since WOTC is trying to tell a story but for the purposes of this let's put that to the side. I'm open to being wrong here though so don't hesitate to weight in.

Lux Cannon:

Literally can put holes in the world. Set a trap, lure all the phyrexians into a specific spot, fire Lux Cannon, rinse and repeat. At the beginning there wouldn't have been many so this would have worked.

Mimic Vat:

Create a whole army of Melira. Like seriously just xerox yourself an army of immune elves. Boom.

Shimmer Myr

The Shimmer Myr hides between the seconds, it was also built by yah boy Memnarch since it's a Myr. Reverse engineer him and figure out how he does it. Now you have infinite time and a safe way to get around. Hell yeah.

THE LITERAL SUNS

So all but the black sun are shown to be on the Mirran side or at least under the Mirrans control. Each one holds incredible power and there's an argument to be made that "by their powers combined" they could have totally ended this whole thing.

Exhibit C: Dominaria

This has got to be the one that bugs me the most. Dominaria beat Phyrexia using the Legacy Weapon and the Null Moon. The Null Moon was an artifact filled with white mana that cleansed the Phyrexians and Yawgmoth of infection, thus killing them. Well Mirrodin has a literal moon filled with white mana so one down. Now they may not have the original legacy weapon but let's actually boil down what made up the Legacy Weapon and why it could have been constructed on Mirrodin with Karn's help.

The pieces of Ramos

These were important because they provided the Legacy with colored mana. If only there was an artifact on Mirrodin that could do that. Oh wait, there's a bunch. From Gilded Lotus to Mox Opal these pieces are 100% accounted for. Or if you like the different color producing Myr.

Chimeric Sphere

What this did for the Legacy I have no clue but Mirrodin is home to a Chimeric Mass so I'm gonna say covered.

The Juju Bubble

This is a bad card that gains life and Mirrodin has an actual better version of it in Tanglebloom

Karn

Karn himself is part of the Legacy and he was on Mirrodin so canonical check here

The Mightstone

The Mightstone has a mighty similar effect to SIGNAL PEST. That's right folks Signal Pest is part of the Mirran Legacy!

The Mind Stone

There isn't actually a direct and defensible Mirran version here but they could definitely make one. It adds colorless which man cards from Mirrodin do and it sacs for draw which other stuff on Mirrodin can do.

Null Rod

Once again no Mirran equivalent, feels bad here since it's actually a complicated design. Not sure what this did in the legacy but we'll actually get to why that might not be important in a minute.

Power Matrix

Buffs a dude. Mirrodin is full of stuff that can do the buff, like I won't list them all but a close example might be Golem Artisan

There's more but honestly I want to get to the good bit that is why most of that doesn't matter anyway. See when Urza designed the Legacy he designed it as an idea. Something that could never be destroyed. It is actually canon that the Legacy will actually adapt and assemble itself when needed replacing whatever parts aren't available with new ones. That's why Karn's presence matters. He's part of that idea and that means a new Legacy will eventually form around him if Urza did his work right and honestly when has he not. The point is the Legacy isn't as concrete as it seems and there's no reason a Mirran version can't be assembled.

TL;DR. Phyrexia sux, Yawgmoth's a jerk, Urza invented an idea that can invent itself. Urabrask is chill. Melira is underrated in commander.

Read it again with Part 1: Birth of Phyrexia

East2West is an aspiring writer from NJ currently seeking fame and fortune on the internet. She's been playing Magic since Zendikar block (the original one) and is a commander player with one deck for each two color pair and one for each single color. The only non EDH deck she plays is her own personal Pauper brew, Pauper Eggs. Follow her on her newly created and probably soon to be underused twitter @East2WestMTG.

Dec 07, 2018 by East2West
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Giftsmithing for December

MTGCardsmith is hosting MTG Giftsmith 2018, where you can give the gift of learning at the same time you're giving the gift of Premium! ...but wait, there's MORE!

You didn't think we'd forget about the Theme of the Month did you? Since Giftsmithing is what it's all about this month, what better way to honor that than to make "Gift" cards? While it would be nice to have a bunch of Starbucks cards, that's not quite what we're looking for, rather we want you to make cards with the word "Gift" in the name! Show us your most creative "Gifts" and we'll make sure everyone get's to see them FEATURED!


Featured Cardsmiths

East2West
You may or may not know who East2West is, but if you do, then you know she's the Award Winning brains behind the blog, Coast to Coast Casual (CCC). Now, she hasn't exactly won any awards yet, but we think it's just a matter of time before she does! In the meantime take a few minutes to read her Blog; and check out the creations of this amazing Cardsmith!


fraziel07
Harkening back to 2014, our second featured Cardsmith for December has been around for quite some time! He's made cards for various other Cardsmiths, cards for challenges, cards for sets and cards for friends and he's still making cards today! We've always been a fan of fraziel07's work, and we hope you will be too after you check out some of his wonderful creations!


Each month we're excited to highlight just a couple of Cardsmiths that have helped make MTGCardsmith the best interactive online Card Creator. We hope you'll take some time to check out their creations!
Dec 02, 2018 by Corwinnn, & Tomigon
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