Welcome to Commander Cube! It is exactly what it sounds like, a draftable cube of some of my favorite cards, with an emphasis on Legendary Creatures and Planeswalkers. It is super fun, but also a little different from regular cubes. So I’ve created this sheet to explain some of the ideas, design philosophies, and special card types that are involved in the cube.
First, this cube is focused on making a draftable commander experience. Many similar cubes have participants first draft a pack made up only of legendries, letting them pick commanders that way. I didn’t want to do that. I instead wanted there to be potential commanders mixed in through the entire draft, so players could evolve their decks–and consider different commanders–all through the draft. I made the cube to be heavily focused on legendaries, with between a third and a fourth of all cards in it being legendary creatures or planesalkers.
The cube is singleton, meaning there’s only one copy of most cards. The exceptions are nonbasic lands (I’m still trying to figure out the mana base, so I use repeats of lands right now) and regalia, which I’ll explain below. I also created a group of draftable cards called regalia that help with creating a commander deck out of such a limited card pool. They are like conspiracies in that they generally change deckbuilding and drafting, but aren’t magic cards in that you don’t play them–you put them in the command zone. They aren’t permanents, and other cards can’t interact with them.
The second pillar of cube is that it includes no cards that are in my powered cube. This was to both keep the power level of this cube appropriate, and to also provide a distinct experience from my other cube. I consider the power level to be something similar to a modern cube or a master’s draft set–more powerful than your average draft experience, but not terribly broken. Be aware that there isn’t as much removal or ramp as you might expect from a cube. All of the cheap mana elves and artifacts are in my powered cube, as are most efficient removal spells.
The final pillar of this cube’s design design is that I wanted this to play both in multi-player and in one-on-one. This means that while you might see some muti-player optimized cards, I’ve erred on including cards that would be good in one-on-one as well.
- You will be drafting a 60 card deck using three packs of 21 cards. You will want between 24 and 27 lands. (The equivalent the normal 17 land draft deck would be 25.5 here.)
- We use modified brawl rules. Any planeswalker can be your commander. Hybrid mana cards count as an “or” when played in your deck. (So a card that has a w/r hybrid mana cost, and no activated abilities, can be treated as either a white card or a red card.) As your commander, hybrid mana cards are treated as “and” cards. (So a w/r hybrid legendary, as your commander, would have two color identities.)
- Friendly mulligan. Your first draw is to 7, second draw is to 7, third is to 6, fourth is to 6, etc. If you start with fewer than 7 cards, you get to scry 1. In multiplayer games, starting player draws a card. In single player games, staring player skips their first draw step.
- Players start with 40 life in multiplayer games and 25 life in one-on-one games. This reduced life in one-on-one allows aggressive decks to compete. Single player games are Best of One.
- No commander damage. (Except when certain regalia allow it.) Commander damage is important for actual commander to counter infinite-life combos, but it’s not needed here.
- Obviously, you have a commander. (Or commanders.) Your commander or commanders start in the command zone. Commander tax is 2 mana. If you have two commanders, track tax separately. If you have two commanders, each regalia only applies to one or the other.
- Some cards have a clover sticker on the sleeve. These cards can be your commander, even if they’re not legendary. (Or even if they’re not a creature.)
- Some cards have a star sticker on the sleeve. These come with a bonus card, and you draft them both together at once. Normally, these are cards that reference one another. (Cards that have “Partner with” for example.)
Regalia are a type of card I designed to facilitate the draft. Many of them have an important effect in deckbuilding, but aren’t relevant to actual play. Generally, regalia open up deckbuilding options. They can be the key to drafting a powerful, consistent deck. There are four types of regalia, each with a theme. In most cases you can use only one of each type of regalia. If you end up with two crowns in your draft pool, for example, you will need to pick one. In a one-on-one tournament, you can change these up between games. Reveal all regalia to your opponent(s) at the start of the game.
Regalia have a rarity. There are three copies of each common regalia in the cube, so if you pass on one, you might see it again. Uncommon regalia have two copies. Rare and mythic regalia are one-offs. The types of regalia are:
Crowns: Crowns almost all modify your commander’s color identity. The Sapphire Crown, for example, allows you to include blue cards in your deck–even if your commander is mono-white. Your commander’s actual color does not change. Crowns do not influence gameplay, and you don’t have track them other than to note what colors they let your opponent play.
Scepters: Scepters generally pick a subset of card (like auras, or creatures with defender) and let you add a few extra cards of that type to your deck during deckbuilding. All cards include with scepters must come from the undrafted card pool of the cube. (Note: not people’s sideboards.)
Add these chosen cards to your draft pool and treat them like cards you drafted. After the draft, I will split up the undrafted cards into piles; if you drafted a scepter, pick a pile to look through for cards you might want to include. Once you’re done, you can swap your pile with one someone else is looking through, and see if there are any they aren’t using that you’d like. (This prevents conflicts over multiple people claiming the same card.) Cards with multiples in a pack count as a single “card” for scepter-picking purposes.
Scepters do not let you choose regalia, but you can pick cards to use as your commander. If you’re building a deck to a certain theme, it would be wise to grab a scepter to give you those last few playables you might need. You can safely ignore scepters during gameplay, as they are used exclusively in deckbuilding.
Cloaks: Cloaks generally look at the borders of certain types of cards and affect their mana restrictions in some way. The three types of borders are: Old School, which are cards printed before the modern border replaced the old one. (This happened around the original Mirrodin block.) Foil are premium cards. Silver bordered cards are cards from un-sets or from Wizards holiday promotions.
Unlike the first two types of regalia, Cloaks do change gameplay in that they often make cards cheaper. (For example, one scepter makes all “old school” creatures cost two less mana) Note that some scepters let you include off-color lands in your deck, allowing you to use a tri-land that includes two of your colors. You might want to grab a scepter that allows this to give you access to some extra non-basic lands.
Tattoos: Tattoos are more eclectic, and can have very odd and varied effects. They often change gameplay, so you should read and track your opponent’s tattoos carefully. Some tattoos reduce commander tax, for example, while others allow a player to play two commanders as if they had partner.
Iron Regalia: A smaller subset of regalia in each category focus on decks with two color, mono color, or colorless commanders. (One of these, for example, lets you build a smaller deck so you can be more focused, but only if your commander has two or fewer color identities.) Watch for these if you’re trying to build a mono-color or two-color deck. These generally have different effects than the ones listed above, and are more powerful–but also more restrictive.
Included are the templates to create your own versions of the Regalia from Brandon’s Commander Cube. These are created in a way as to not infringe on any image copyrights. I have purchased a license to distribute the icons included, and have taken care not to use any trademarked images (like the tap symbol or the mana symbols) owned by Wizards of the Coast. Note that you print this, the printer might give an error about the margins, but that shouldn’t matter.
I realize that one could make proxy cards that look far more like Magic cards, and could use wording that better approximates MTG styles, but have deliberately chosen to go a different direction. That said, feel free to use these how you please! Make your own versions, change up the template, and experiment. So that you can, though, let me explain some things I’ve learned by playing this cube.
First: Avoid Regalia that require players to track them or the information on them during the draft. A handful are fine (particularly if they aren’t things that will change combat math, or lead to “gotcha!” moments if they’re forgotten.) But mostly, Regalia are best if they focus on drafting and deckbuilding.
Second: it’s best of you stick to theme on the different subtypes of regalia. This really helps people understand the draft before going in, and keep in mind why they’d want one of each. Crowns change color identity. Scepters let you add extra cards to your deck during deckbuilding. Cloaks play with mana costs and lands. The exception is Tattoos, which can do anything–but by only doing that with one type, you can significantly cut down on complexity and memory issues.
Third: Encourage themes. The goal is to not make it too easy to draft a perfect deck, but to facilitate decks that can be built to theme instead of just being a pile of “good cards” in color. You can tell from my cards here, particularly the scepters and cloaks, that I support certain themes in my cube. (Defenders matter, Auras/Equipment, some tribal synergies. You can also tell that “border-matters” is an idea I like for my cube, and have gone to great lengths to include lots of old school cards from original legends.) Once you design your version of a commander cube, you’ll likely want to tweak these designs to fit the themes you’re building toward. I will say, however, that the silver-border, foil, and old-school themes have been very popular.
Fourth: Make sure to add in some extra support for one and two color decks. Going in, I was worried that five color decks wouldn’t get enough fixing, but quickly found that wasn’t as big a problem as I expected. Instead, people who wanted to build a lean, two-color deck had trouble getting enough playables. Tweaking some regalia to support this play style has helped aggressive decks and two-color decks work, though perhaps a little more could be done. (There’s a fine balance to be found here.)
Just so you know, I do have a couple of very strange regalia that I play that aren’t in this file. These tattoos were complex enough that I removed them before the Game Knights broadcast. One forces a player to use all cards they draft, and makes them have a 250 card deck, but lets them play “momir basic.” (A normally on-line only format we play with dry erase markers and blank cards. We also include a Battle of Wits in that sleeve.) Another lets them play their commander face-down in the command zone, and make the commander a ninja. (They have to change commanders between games in one-on-one.) I’ve found a few silly, fun regalia like that can really shake up a draft now and then. Also note that some of the tattoos (those with “Special Rarity” are meant to be included with specific creatures, packaged in the same sleeve. (These are all tattoos, like the ones I made for the original Elder Dragons or Sliver Queen.)
Anyway, good luck! (Also, please forgive typos or mistakes–I know there will be some.)