Limited Destiny: Drafting a Cube

With the early release of a few copies of Star Wars Destiny: Rivals, the pack designed for use in draft and sealed play, I’ve been inspired to start building out my own cube set for drafting, keeping the official limited format rules in mind. A lot of these ideas may have already been attempted by other folks prior to official rules, but this is just my own contribution.

First, an explanation of cube drafting may be necessary. Drafting itself is explained in the latest Rivals article at the official FFG website, along with many other fansites. In short, you and five other friends have their Rivals pack and six boosters a piece. You crack packs, pick a card, then pass them to the person next to you until all the packs have been opened and all the cards have been taken. Essentially, you’re building decks from a large card pool, but only that card pool (and Rivals). You won’t be able to bring in any other cards that weren’t pulled from the draft or the Rivals pack.

In Magic, most of the deckbuilding rules don’t change, except for the number of copies of a single card (by title) allowed per deck. The same applies here (two copies for normal, constructed formats is not applicable), but there are more considerations in Destiny than in MtG. Since cards are normally separated not just by color, but also by Hero and Villain affiliation, the latter restriction is eliminated. In limited formats (draft and sealed), Hero/Villain restrictions are gone, meaning you can have Hero and Villain cards interacting together. Additionally, like Magic, the size of a draft deck is smaller than a constructed deck. A normal Destiny deck is 30 cards, but a draft/sealed deck is 20-30 cards. You might wonder why that matters, but the math is one of the biggest things to consider when building a cube set.

Alright, we talked about how the limited format differs from constructed, but we haven’t addressed what a “cube” is yet. Cube building and use in Magic is described in an article over at their official website, but basically, a cube set is a curated selection of cards that is assembled for the purpose of having a ready-to-draft set of cards that doesn’t require buying new packs every time you want to play in a limited format setting. In Destiny, we’re assuming that six players have gotten together to draft and play. Your cube needs to be able to accommodate six players each of whom would be bringing six booster packs to the table with them, in addition to their Rivals pack. Okay, time for some math.

So far, we’re looking at six (6) players, each needing the equivalent of six (6) booster packs. We’re looking at needing thirty-six (36) packs-worth of cards, which, conveniently, is the same number of packs in a booster box, in case you want to split one for a draft. That’s another article, though.

Thirty-six packs with five (5) cards each gives us one-hundred eighty (180) cards total. So, if we go into this knowing we need 180 cards, the next question is: which cards? I’ll give you my numeric breakdown first, then dissect my decisions after that.

Red Cards: 42
Blue Cards: 42
Yellow Cards: 42
Gray Cards: 42
Battlefields: 12
Characters per color: 8

I went with the numbers above due to considerations during the draft. Each player will be getting only thirty (30) cards during the drafting process. If we estimate that each player would select anywhere from two to four characters out of their thirty, we’d want to have enough characters for every player to draw as many as four, which comes out to twenty-four (24) characters (6 players x 4 characters = 24). Since there is currently only one gray character (the Jawa from the Rivals pack), we’re only concerned about characters from red, blue, and yellow. With twenty-four characters split across those three colors, we get eight (8) characters per color. This is not an unreasonable number, either for those who have a copy of every single card in the game or for those who don’t have all of them.

This reminds me to mention that, for my cube, I will only include one (1) copy of each dice card. As much as limited formats break meta play, having only one copy of each dice card will eliminate crazy combos and will make the game more interesting with no elite characters, character mirror matches, or two people winding up with something like Crime Lord. Also, again, it’s easier for people who don’t have full playsets of every single card. For non-dice cards, I feel you could get away with having as many copies as you wanted, but I’d stick with 2-3 copies of a single card by title, so that your pool of cards within a certain color isn’t too narrow. With that in mind, I’ll also suggest that if you don’t have enough single copies of characters of a given color, include multiple copies of non-unique characters. Let’s look at yellow for an example of this.

If I’m assembling my eight yellow characters, I have Han Solo, Finn, Unkar Plutt, Bala-Tik, Tusken Raider, and Hired Gun. I don’t have any other unique yellow characters, or other non-unique yellows, but I do have another copy each of Tusken Raider and Hired Gun. Go ahead and use those extra copies. I’d recommend filling out each color’s characters with non-unique duplicates rather than trying to fill out the 24 character roster with other colors (ex: taking Blue or Red up to 10 characters to make up the difference in the example). This would throw off the balance of the cube. Unless, of course, you’re looking to build out an imbalanced draft experience, which you could! Traditional MtG cubes are built around themes, so some things get left out, but that’s harder to do with a significantly smaller total card pool in Destiny.

Looking at the very small Battlefield count, I figured with the above estimate of characters per player, we’re already down four slots out of 30 in our drafted card pool. I didn’t want to take up any more space in that pool, especially with a card type that you’re only going to use once per game, and maybe look to swap out between matches. I went with an average draft of two (2) Battlefields per player. That way, we’re only looking at six (6) non-deck cards in our drafted pool (4 characters, 2 battlefields). Remember, we still need to build our 20-30 card draw deck.

What we have left in our 30 card draft pool are twenty-four (24) cards to build out our draw deck. Theoretically, each player should also have their Rivals pack to pull from, but if we can build the cube such that it’s not as necessary, then not every single player needs to go out and buy it. They still should, though; it’s a really cool set of cards.

When it comes time to actually sit down and go through the drafting process, after making sure that the library of cards is sufficiently shuffled, deal out two stacks of fifteen cards to each of the players. These are your theoretical three boosters all put together already. Another tip: spend the money on sleeving all of your cube cards. With that many people handling your cards, you’ll definitely want to keep them as safe as you can.

Finding a balance to the cube is really what I’m going for with the math presented here. You can build a cube with all power cards, that all have dice, with multiple copies of each, and that kind of experience can be fun, but creating a more fair and even playing field is what I’m hoping to achieve.

I’m going to start building using the numbers above and hopefully be able to report back with how it works. Let us know if you’ve already been doing cube draft, or just how your draft experiences have been using the normal crack-a-pack method.

I’ll also hope to have an article on the sealed format for those not familiar with it, as that is my preferred limited format in Magic.

One Comment

  1. Evan Lewis

    I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve already begun to question just how many characters of each color are needed in the cube since we have Rivals to pull from. Could easily drop the characters per color from 8 down to 6, making room for a few more deck cards.

    I’m still pretty set on the small-ish number of Battlefields.

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