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Short Cut to Remote Gaming Forum (29 Aug 2020)

Since remote gaming has now become a significant part of how we play board games, we have added a short cut to this forum in the menu on the left.

× Talk about collectible card here.

VERY casual Magic player's first Cube

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10 Aug 2013 12:20 #158247 by bendgar
I like M:TG very much but have little to no knowledge of the thousands of cards out there.
I was wondering if I could make a fun Cube by simply buying one of each common and uncommon in a block (example: Theros) and paring it down from there. It just seems too simple and cheap ($80). Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

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10 Aug 2013 14:13 #158251 by Stormcow
Absolutely yes. It works for me; I enjoy block limited a lot. And I like playing "flat distribution" cubes, so that the cube designer doesn't have a presumed advantage over the other players.

Although, the numbers are a bit off. You want your cube to be at least 360. A normal draft has 8 players, each opening 3 (virtual) packs of 15 cards. 8x3x15=360. Doesn't hurt to have more though! More cards means more variance means more replayability. If you don't want to draft though, it is possible to play two-player sealed decks with 5 packs of 15 cards per person. Which means your real minimum is about 150 cards, but it limits your options of how to play it.

Now on the other hand, a big set like Theros will have 101 commons and 80 uncommons. So if you only get one set of each, you are only a little above the two-player minimum. Furthermore, normally I prefer to see more commons than uncommons in the mix. In their natural state there are 3 uncommons per 11 commons, so I would get 3 common sets (303 common cards) with your 1 uncommon set. This puts you at 383 cards, just the right size for 8-man drafting. Those extra common sets should be really cheap too!

Be aware too, that sets mean 1x and playsets mean 4x. For $80 I'd expect 4x uncommons and 4x commons, which becomes more than you really want.
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10 Aug 2013 14:55 #158254 by Bull Nakano
You could make a much more fun cube for $80 than that.
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10 Aug 2013 16:37 - 10 Aug 2013 16:55 #158262 by bendgar
Thanks for the feedback.

Coolstuff has full sets of single commons at about $6 and full sets of single uncommons at $20. I was thinking of getting these sets for all 3 of the Theros blocks to make my cube.

Bull, not sure that I could with my lack of knowledge. Just looking for a simple way to get my feet wet.
Last edit: 10 Aug 2013 16:55 by bendgar. Reason: forgot my manners

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10 Aug 2013 16:58 #158264 by bioball
I think some questions are in order if you want to maximize your experience with MtG:

1. Do you have 3-5 OTHER people to draft your cube with?
2. Any reason you don't want to start with Duel of the Planeswalkers, or just a few MtG paired starter decks (like Dragons vs. Knights)?
3. Are you prepared to "craft" your Cube? If you are just throwing cards together, I think "The Danger Room" format would be a better place to start. The duel lands you need for that format can be bought from the Return to Ravnica set for like $0.25/land.
4. How knowledgeable about MtG are you?
5. Any reason you just don't want to play with a local group around you?
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10 Aug 2013 20:33 #158271 by bendgar
1. No. Just one other person usually.
2. I had collected some Magic cards years ago but without any real direction. I was trying to focus on a small collection that might feel complete.
3. Um. I guess I have no idea what I'm doing.
4. I understand the rules well.
5. Busy with work and family at the moment. I might find a group eventually.

Good questions. It is possible that a cube isn't exactly what I was looking for.

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11 Aug 2013 03:09 #158278 by bioball
I think if you are just playing one other person, then buying the pre-constructed intro decks which are a fairly good. Here is are the 2014 Intro Decks and here is the announcement for the 2014 Duel Deck: Heros vs. Monsters (Part of the new Greek/Roman themed expansion coming).

Both of these options will give some balanced play enough to scratch the Magic itch, especially since you are just playing with one other person. No need to spend a lot of money on a Cube if its just you and one other person. If you do find more people THEN you can build a Cube and at that point you'll have a contact who can give you a ton of Commons and Uncommons cheap.

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11 Aug 2013 03:14 - 11 Aug 2013 03:14 #158279 by Stormcow
You know, if it didn't take a big committment, I'd be playing some eternal format combo deck. On the other hand there are some people who love to play EDH FFA multiplayer - that sounds like hell to me. I love to play sealed, some people look down on sealed and play only draft, and some people yet look down on any limited format and play only constructed.

What I'm trying to say is, there are myriad ways to play Magic, and none of them are categorically the 'right' way. Don't worry about playing Magic the way other people do. Instead, worry about finding the way to play Magic that fits best with how you want it.

So let me tell you why I, personally, play a lot of two-player sealed deck out of flat distribution cubes. It's pretty much the only format I play these days.

I'm a married man, and that means two things: I don't spend as much time at the FLGS as I used to, and my primary game partner is my wife. Now while I am blessed that my wife is a gamer, she is absolutely not into constructed; she prefers to restrict her gaming efforts to designated game times and not at all think about games otherwise. So we gravitated towards limited formats, because you build your deck on the spot and break it up when you're done, and that's what works more for her.

I'm going to repeat what I said in the WBGAYB thread: it doesn't work when I give her a preconstucted deck (ie, a deck that I made for her). As I understand it, it's not fair that I would know her own deck better than her, that she has to feel out and discover synergies in the deck that I knowingly put in. And a carefully crafted cube pretty much has the same problems. It's still asking my wife to beat me at my own design.

And that's why we play flat distributions. I have minimal control over what goes into the cube - no tweaking, no customization, no putting in a favorite card that would just work great in this set. All the design and playtesting work is done by the professional team, not me. I just buy a complete set, end of story. My wife and I come in on equal footing, we learn the cards at the same time, and I don't look through her deck when she's not around. Works for us.
Last edit: 11 Aug 2013 03:14 by Stormcow. Reason: typo

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11 Aug 2013 03:35 #158280 by ChristopherMD
I only play my cube two-player, but generally don't draft. We each take 100 random cards out of it and make a 40 card deck.

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11 Aug 2013 03:41 - 11 Aug 2013 03:54 #158281 by jeb
If you are comfortable playing Magic, and only have 2p, Winston Drafting is the bomb. It's a limited environment, so you'll need to have enough of each type of basic land to help folks flesh out ~40 card decks.

You need six packs, or just gank 90 cards from a shuffled cube unseen. Shuffle those together into a draft pool and deal three cards face-down to the table from it. The first drafter looks at the first facedown "pile" of one card and opts to take it (replacing with a another from the draft pool), or opts to add a facedown card to that pile and look at the next until she drafts one. (if she doesn't want any pile, she just adds one facedown card to each of the three piles in turn and takes one off that top.)

That's it, go back and forth until you exhaust the pile. One player will almost always have more cards than the other for building, but likely because they took more piles that got big, and likely have more chaff in them. What's cool is that neither player knows all the cards. Because you build the draft pool unseen and because cards are facedown when added to draft piles, you only know about 2/3 of what's out there, if that. You can still get surprised by some big Wrath of God effect or something that you never knew was out there. It's a blast.
Last edit: 11 Aug 2013 03:54 by jeb. Reason: close paren

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11 Aug 2013 05:23 #158283 by dragonstout
Okay whoa whoa whoa, I haven't read much of the thread and I'll have to read it sometime later (probably Monday), but a few things:

1) A full common set and uncommon set should NOT put you back $80.

2) Absolutely DO NOT USE Coolstuffinc to buy a ton of commons & uncommons!!! You will overpay by a factor of 5-10x, not even remotely kidding. Start with magus-of-magic.com, buy everything they have in stock for what you need, and then use the "mass card entry" to input everything else into tcgplayer, and then use the cart optimizer to bring it down as low as possible. You can input into Coolstuffinc and compare if you'd like.

3) You can buy a full-on Pauper Cube for under $80, for sure. By which I mean, the best commons evar. If you want.

4) I luuuurv Block Cubes. Huge fan. I couldn't imagine playing without rares and find rare-less Magic too dry, but rares are indeed expensive. Anyway, rares or not, I'd recommend doing some rough booster pack rarity distribution simulation, vs. just mashing everything together. This has two benefits: first of all, it was balanced for that, and it feels more natural. Second of all, it's a lot easier to shuffle. If you're going to do that with one large set, then you'll need, at minimum for 8 players, 3 common sets and 2 uncommon sets. If you do the binomial distribution homework, you'll find that a fourth common set goes a long way towards making the distribution more like a real booster draft, and it shouldn't cost more than a couple bucks. But it's up to you.

5) Theros could be totally awesome. I've actually got pretty high expectations for it. But we have no idea yet. My recommendation: build Rise of the Eldrazi or Innistrad instead. Rise of Eldrazi especially is ridiculously awesome (though my actual favorite is Time Spiral, but it's easily the most complex block they've ever released). I just bought a complete set of ROE commons from magus-of-magic for $3. Inquisition of Kozilek is a fairly expensive uncommon from the set, but whatever, if you want you can just proxy it.

6) I just saw that you usually play with just one more person. GREAT! Me too, actually! Personally, I haven't liked any of the 2-player draft formats I've played (Winston and Winchester), though I've heard RAVES about how much better Grid Drafting is. However, Grid Drafting doesn't work as well with a block/set cube, it works much better with a classic-style highlander best-of Cube (like the Pauper Cube mentioned above). I haven't tried it yet, though. So what do I do with my wife??? Sealed deck! Sealed deck rules and doesn't get the respect it should. It's also extremely easily scalable.

Okay, that's my initial info. I'd recommend EITHER the Adam Styborski Pauper Cube OR Rise of Eldrazi. Or hell, both. Styborski Cube will be more powerful, draftable via Grid Draft, and have much more variety. Rise of Eldrazi is more thematic and is great, but man do I cringe when I imagine playing with rares.

Here's a link to the Styborski list:
docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AhH...Wp5bUJTOS11a3c#gid=0
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11 Aug 2013 17:31 - 11 Aug 2013 17:37 #158289 by bomber
I keep meaning to give Magic a try, but it would only be me and the missus, we wouldnt be pissing about deck building so the concept of intro starter decks designed to work as a "duel" sounds great. I still dont get all these new annual core packs and starter sets, are they really making an entire new set of cards every single year, surely theres loads of rehashing going on, theres only so many game variables right? Its bad enough having to work out what the hell a "cube" is! then theres "fat" packs, booster packs, core packs, intro packs, sealed packs, draft packs, six packs, no thats beer, but fuck, to someone whos never touched that hobby at all you may as well be talking in swahili.'

when i followed up here on amazon and looked at dragons v knights the first commenter is saying the knights deck wins every time, the next guy, a 13 year pro says these decks are confusing for noobs, and starts talking about rainbows and multi colours and the like

ugh...
Last edit: 11 Aug 2013 17:37 by bomber.

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11 Aug 2013 20:40 - 11 Aug 2013 20:43 #158293 by dragonstout
For giving Magic a "try", then sure, the duel decks are fine, especially the better duel decks like the recent Sorin vs. Tibalt one. They are somewhat complex for total newbies, for whom intro packs would be better.

lol @ "are they really making an entire new set of cards every single year", the answer is "yes, FOUR sets" (though ONE of them, the "Magic 2014" etc. one, always has about 50% in common with the previous year's set). The rest is nearly all new cards. There are *infinite* game variables. Enough to outlast my lifetime, I'm pretty sure. But yes, each new block tends to include a lot of "variations on a theme". For example, nearly every new block has some red spell that does some kind of "do 3 damage and then XXXX" or "do 2 damage, or if XXXX, then do 4 damage". But that "XXXX" makes all the difference; the reason we Magic players keep playing and getting excited about new sets is because the environment really does change with each new block, and it's fun figuring out how the focus of the game has changed each time. There are also lots of more overtly huge changes.

Anyway, preconstructed decks are fine for giving Magic a try. But you really, really have to do a *little* deck construction to get what makes the game great. The great thing is that it's easier and simpler in Magic than in ANY other collectible game, thanks to the existence of Limited play. All other currently existing collectible games tell you "build a deck out of these hundreds of cards, GO". Designed into the fabric of Magic booster packs and Cube is "Limited" deckbuilding, in which you build a deck out of a small handful of cards, different every time so that it's part of the game. Deckbuilding shouldn't take longer than 30 minutes for a limited game, and online there's even a 10-minute time limit enforced.

But yeah ldsd, start with the Tibalt/Sorin duel decks or start with intro decks. Intro decks will be easier to pick up and understand the game (and you can pick up 4 of them from the same set to have a bunch of different matchups), duel decks will have more depth and will be more balanced against each other.

Edit: I have no idea what that "rainbow" parenthetical was about in that dude's duel deck review. Anyway, Sorin vs. Tibalt is $20 and acclaimed as being the best duel deck, whereas the Knights vs. Dragons one is $40 and *sounds* like it would be terrible (even though it's probably not).
Last edit: 11 Aug 2013 20:43 by dragonstout.
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12 Aug 2013 01:22 #158302 by jeb
He's got a good point. MAGIC is tough to break into on one's own. Do they even have those little rules inserts anymore?

ldsd, the easiest thing to do is get one of those Two-Guys-Fighting-Each-Packs like we have been mentioning. They tend towards less complex interactions, but will have enough chances for cool little timing effects to feel like you are progressing. Construction can wait--once you know how to play, that's what gives you the bug to make your deck better.
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12 Aug 2013 05:50 #158307 by bomber
I just whacked it on the iPad and started the "noob" level game (2014 cards), seems pretty neat so far, I think with the missus it will work with single coloured themed decks so I will look out for the duel packs (I guess intro packs are like half a duel pack?). I dont want to get into fannying around setting up decks or buying a gazillion pounds worth of cards until it seems like we both enjoy it, and even then, I'd be more than happy buying a bucketfull of cheapo cards (I guess you need a bit of a mix of how good the cards are) divvying them up and making a deck to try out. I guess I should check ebay for cheap bundles of cards at that point?

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