by Chris Thompson, aka CT (WailingJennings)
I have played a lot of different games in a lot of different ways in my tenure as a gamer, but there is always one thing I try to make out of every card game I touch: CUBE DRAFT. It is considered by many to be the most fun you can have playing cards in casual settings. I know people who have more fun drafting cards then actually playing the game after they have built their deck. So the burning question is, “How do I cube draft 2.0?” Some people may be totally new to cube drafting in general. So let’s dig in!
I choose my allies carefully and my enemies more carefully still. — Varys
What is Cube Drafting?
Cube refers to a large assortment of cards individually chosen to make a large, draftable “pool” of cards. Almost any game can make a cube from their card pool. Frequently, the cube for a game will consist of a diverse range of its most powerful cards and generally consist of only 1 copy of any card to make its draft value higher. This pool of cards is shuffled thoroughly and assorted into even “booster packs” for all players. You can essentially pretend that you are cracking open new packs of cards, even in an LCG format. Cube is a type of “limited format,” since the entire card pool will not be available to you for deck building. You have to actually pick and choose the cards you will end up with for your deck, which often results in hard decisions as the cards you pass over can be drafted by your opponents, thereby increasing the quality of their own card pools. Each time a pack is opened, you select one card and pass the remains of the pack to another player, just as you receive a pack from another player. Players will sit in “pods” of specific numbers during the drafting process. Pods are essentially randomized table assignments to keep too many players from drafting a certain group of packs at once. This process continues until all cards in a pack have been drafted. Then, the process is repeated until all cards have been drafted. Following the last pack, players will build a deck with their individual pool of cards and play!
How does Cube differ from other forms of drafting?
Generally, all players know what cards can possibly show up in a draft pool for cube. The cube list is public knowledge, which means you will go into drafting knowing exactly what cards are available and how many of each card is available in the pool. However, if you aren’t playing with enough players to cover every card in the pool, there is also the added excitement of a card possibly not even being draftable! You may be at a draft “pod” where a card you want isn’t even in the packs for that pod. They may be at another pod. Trying to decide what cards to take when your knowledge of what is available and how scarce a card is becomes a strategy in itself, separate from playing the actual game. There is a lot of hoping and guessing involved. It is also critical to feel out what players around you are drafting and keeping a poker face of your own.
How is the 2.0 Cube Unique?
The 2.0 cube in its current version has multiple copies of some cards due to the small nature of the card pool. As the game moves forward, the 2.0 cube will slowly weed out the duplicates until no more than 1 copy of any card exists in the draft pool. In many other games, you often will draft a certain amount of utility cards to help your deck function, synergies to help your strategy, and “bomb” (powerful effect) cards to help you diversify your deck. 2.0 has a very unique set of restrictions compared to other games with house loyalty and the banner systems. Many games aren’t as restrictive, and drafting “good cards” is usually the best choice; then you can modify your economy likewise to accommodate your choices. Thrones is a lot more of a challenge. You will be drafting cards in a game with 8 factions and very stringent regulations for playing out-of-faction cards once you have chosen your main faction (These restrictions have been taken into account in various ways and will be explained more fully later). 2.0 cube does, however, emphasize grabbing up those bomb characters, much like constructed play. In 1.0 it was much easier to “throw in” great cards from other houses. No longer! If you are interested in building our original hit 1.0 cube it can be found here: http://www.cardgamedb.com/forums/index.php?/topic/22143-cube-for-agot-lcg-10/
The list for Second Edition Cube Draft can be found here: http://www.whitebookpodcast.com/second-edition-cube-list/
How to Play!
- Shuffle all draw-deck cards in the cube thoroughly and make some packs (be sure to keep plot cards separate). You can choose to make packs of 15 or 9. The number comes down to preference, but I prefer to do packs of 15, which is 36 packs; packs of 9 yield 60 packs. Then,shuffle all the plots into random packs where every player receives an equal number of random plots. Place all leftover plots aside, unseen.
- Seat your players in random “pods” of 4 each. Then give each player his or her random packs. If you have more than 8 players, each player receives 3 packs. If you have 8 or less, you may choose to give a 4th pack to each participant. 4 packs gives a little more leniency for bold drafting decision, while 3 is a little more challenging. 15-card packs will accommodate up to 12 players (you will need another whole cube for each dozen players involved). If you go with 9-card packs, each player receives 5 packs.
- Players proceed to “open” their first “pack,” draft one card, and pass the remaining cards to the player on his or her right. Once all cards have been drafted from a pack, the second pack is opened and passing order is reversed to the left and alternated for each subsequent pack. Players draft all draw-deck cards first, then their plot pack last.
- Players now build their decks and play! In this format the minimum deck size is 40 cards, and your plot deck must contain the usual 7 cards. Take note however, that all the Banner Agendas in this format have an errata that only requires you to have 8 banner cards in your deck rather than 12.
- Players also receive a “starting set” of cards that are automatically available to them without having to be drafted from the pool.
- Once drafting is complete, each player may additionally take up to 6 total copies in any combination of any 1-cost reducer characters for their faction (or banner) and 0-cost limited locations for their faction (or banner). In the case of a loyal Night’s Watch player, copies of Meager Contribution may be taken as part of the 6.
Example: A player decides to play Night’s Watch banner of the Rose. They could take 3 Steward at the Wall and 3 Garden Caretaker, or 2 Steward, 2 Caretaker, and 2 Meager Contribution, etc.
Some notes pertaining to the cube in its current state and how it will evolve going forward:
- In our development and playing I felt the sweet spot for each house at the current time is 60 cards per house, with 20 of the 60 being loyal, and the rest being non-loyal. The current list does not match this concept exactly due to card pool limitations. As time goes on this discrepancy will smooth itself out.
- There is never any number of cards in the entire cube that if a single player drafted each copy, would break deck-building restrictions. In many draft formats, including the FFG official 1.0 format, if you drafted more than 3 copies of a card, you could play it. In our cube, no one ever has the possibility of this occurring by controlling the number of cards with limits. Any plot that is “limit 1 per plot deck” only appears in the draft pool once, there will only ever be 1 copy of Crown of Gold, etc.
- While the total number of each faction sits at 60 currently, those numbers will rise periodically over time as the card pool expands. But right now we found this to be a good number.
- Currently there is a hard rule on no more than 2 copies of all “personas” of any unique character in the cube. This rule will eventually expire many, many cycles down the line when we have 8 versions of Robert Baratheon and such, as in to 1.0.
- You will notice that while main deck and plot cards are drafted separately, currently LOYAL plots are included with the main draft pool. This was done to smooth out card counts and stemmed from, again, the limited nature of the current card pool. As the card pool expands, all plots will eventually make their way to their own exclusive draft pool.
- Is this cube meant for joust or melee? Great news, as designed you can do it EITHER way. We have done events where we drafted knowing our decks would be joust decks. We have done several sit downs where we drafted and built melee decks. And it has always been a complete blast. That is coming from a playgroup of people who also generally detest playing melee with constructed decks. So that says a lot!
Go forth and Cube your guts out! I really think people will get a kick out of this version of the cube. And it only will get better as we get more cards! Check back every time a new chapter pack or deluxe box drops. I will be keeping the cube up to date with each product release and you can expect a new article with each release detailing which cards are coming out of the cube, which new cards are going in, and some discussion about why the choices are made and hopefully some nuggets about cube strategy! Just as the game itself is a “living card game”, the cube is it’s own living entity that will grow and change as the game continues on!