Commander Cube

Here's how it works:

1) Deal out two of the three-color legendary creatures to each player.

Each player selects one of these two creatures to be their commander, but doesn't make the final selection until deckbuilding, later.

2) Draft three or four 15 card packs, as normal. Or, deal out six or eight 15 card packs for sealed.

3) Build 50 card decks, but follow the color identity rule like you would in a normal Commander game.

Select your commander. If you ended up with a two-color or one-color legendary creature, you can use it as your commander instead of one of the three-color legendary creatures you were dealt in step 1.

4) Play a multiplayer game, but with the following changes:

*Players must have exactly 50 cards in their deck, including their Commander.
*Players start with 30 life.
*Players lose if they take 16 damage from any one Commander.

You can do free-for-all, where everyone can attack anyone, or you can use of the variations where attacks can only be made to the left or the right. You can even duel instead of multiplayer if that's your thing. It depends on how much time you have available and how close you want it to be to a normal game of Commander.


Holding a section to talk about cost and card availability.


Putting together a Commander Cube is a great way to build your Commander collection and to use your cards in new and interesting ways. Easily build new decks on the fly! Never play the same deck twice!

Head on over to to see my cube in all its glory. You can even draft it to see how it works.

Number of Cards
(220) 44 cards in each color
(70) 7 cards in each two-color combination
(60) colorless cards
(10) three-color legendary creatures, one for each color combination
(100) 20 basic lands for each color

That's 360 spells + 100 basic lands for a total of 460 double-sleeved cards.

The creatures do the heavy lifting in this cube. The other spells are there for support. Players will want to get to 5-6 mana to start dropping bomb creatures into play. This is not a small-creature, technical cube experience. Titans, Dragons, Gods, oh my!

I'm looking for that "iconic magic" feel in this cube, with notable themes in each color. This is a Commander Cube, so the main focus is on going big with creatures. There are a handful of cards in each two-color combination to exemplify the two-color themes. Three-color spells are limited to Legendary creatures.


Iconic Creatures (Mark Rosewater).

Creatures: Angels, Humans
Support: creature sweepers, artifact and enchantment removal
Subtheme : tokens

Creatures: Demons, Vampires
Support: creature sweepers and spot creature removal
Subtheme: sacrifice (ex. Dictate of Erebos)
Avoid: discard

Creatures: Hydras, Elves
Support: ramp, color fixing
Subtheme: Play from top of library (ex. Oracle of Mul Daya, Lurking Predators)

Creatures: Sphinxes, Wizards
Support: card drawing, deck manipulation
Subtheme: tempo
Avoid: mass bounce

Creatures: Dragons, Goblins
Support: double strike, double damage
Subtheme: steal creatures for a turn, play cards that turn (ex. Outpost Siege, Act on Impulse)
Avoid: mass land destruction

Creatures: Robots, Eldrazi
Support: ramp, color fixing
Subtheme: equipment

Support: color fixing

The plan is 1 planeswalker for each color, and 1 planeswalker for each two-color combination. The primary selection criteria for a planeswalker is one that can protect itself, often by generating a token as one of the loyalty abilities. Both of the colorless planeswalkers are game-breaking in this format, so they are sitting out for now.

Commanders: Dragons and Gods
Three-color Legendary Dragons form the Commander pool for this cube. Of course, not all of the three-color dragons are created equal, so a few other commanders sub in for certain color combinations. The Theros Gods are available (or will be) for each two-color combination and in every color. Same deal here. Not all of the Gods play nice in this format, so there will be a second, alternate Legendary creature in each color and combination. An Eldrazi and a Robot will be available for colorless commanders, although the mix of colorless spells is not currently set up to make a full-colorless deck work correctly in this cube.

After testing, I cut most of these cards. We sometimes play where you don't know some of the cards in your deck. Playing with tutors ruins the surprise. Plus, it takes a long time to search and shuffle when you don't know your deck like the back of your hand. Trust me, it's more fun to just draw more cards.

Library Manipulation
This has to be pushed in every reasonable way. There's enough randomness in this format that it's easy to lose because things didn't come up in the right order to be effective. Mixing in a good amount of library manipulation helps to even things out.

Sometimes a sweeper is the only way to reset the board and to come back from a losing position. But that's actually not much fun. It drags the game on and can feel totally random, rewarding players for holding back on the chance that a sweeper is turned up. Swinging the game on the back of a well-timed sweeper isn't what this cube is about. Selective sweepers are prioritized here. We aren't looking for balance. We are looking to use a sweeper to get an advantage.

The colorless utility lands are all about ramping and color-fixing. With 360 total cards in the cube, pushing the land count too high means that the number of business cards gets severely limited. And that's boring. For the colors, 1-3 lands will work here. The focus, again, is on color-fixing. We want to be able to cast our cool creatures, right?

Things to work on: No triple-mana-symbols and less double-mana-symbols. It's too fiddly to try and get the mana to work out correctly for these cards. Update 31DEC15 - this is fixed now!

Panorama lands can probably come out for a few of the 5-color lands and free up some functional slots in the colorless card group. The Temples from Theros block are  appealing to add to each two color combination.

Oh, and see if colorless can be balanced with the mono-colored card groups by pulling out more of the lands (with Wastes coming as a colorless basic land option).

Take a look at the two-color Dragon legends to keep the theme going.

And the lower cost ($) planeswalkers for the colors where they are available. Almost every color combination has a planeswalker under $5.

The 7-drops (primordials) are probably too much mana for this cube.

Blue might need a couple more defensive 2-drops.

25NOV15 - This is the previous draft description for the cube. We actually started drafting the cube from time-to-time, so it's not just for my own personal deckbuilding commander cube anymore. I ended up cutting textless promos, foreign cards, and badly worded old cards to make the cube more group friendly. I also cut all of the 5-color cards. As part of this process, I cut the cube to exactly 360 cards.

Number of Cards
I need enough cards in each color to build a solid mono-colored deck, along with enough cards in each double-color to build a deck that represents the two colors together. Three-color cards are for Legendary creatures to use as Commanders for each combination. One five-color Legend will fit in the cube somewhere to make sure that I have the option to go rainbow.

(300) 60 cards in each color is about right, with about 30 creatures, 10 instants, 10 sorcery, and with the 10 remaining cards as a mix of enchantments, planeswalkers, artifacts, and utility lands in that color. The exact mix is up for testing, but I want skew heavily toward creatures to keep the game "on the battlefield."

4/12/15 - I'm shooting for 2 planeswalkers for each mono-color. The utility lands in the mono-color section are warping the counts. I might either ignore them since they often replace a basic land, or raise the cap from 60 to 65ish.

(99) 99 colorless cards, with enough creatures to fill in the gaps for the mono-colored decks, and to cover the weaknesses of each color with removal, card drawing, ramp, etc.

(140) 14 cards in each two-color combination, including 4 lands that tap for both colors of mana and a utility land in that combination. At least one of these two-color cards needs to be a Legendary creature to use as a Commander. Lands: Shock, Pain, Check, Fetch, Utility.

4/12/15 - I'm shooting for 1 planeswalker for each two-color combination, with at least 1 and preferably 2 legendary creatures to build around. I'm also thinking of cutting the count from 14 cards to 11 or 12 in this category.

(11) 10 cards, one in each three-color combination, all Legendary creatures to be used as commanders + one five-color Legendary creature.

(150) 30 basic lands in each color so I can fill out a mono-colored deck along with some of the utility lands for that color and colorless utility lands.

That's 700 total cards, including the basic lands. This should be enough to build a decent deck in any color combination.

No comments:

Post a Comment