The Community Cube: Philadelphia Experiment

It’s been a quiet few weeks for the Community Cube, but the wait to see it live is over. Magic Weekend Philadelphia is just a day away from kicking off, and it’s there that the Community Cube goes from proposal to possession. After being on the nonbusiness ends of both GenCon and PAX conventions, I find it karmic justice that I’ll be there to help hand-deliver our cumulative hard work into the world!

Now, for the loose ends.

Magic 2012 Update

Thanks to the final voting you provided, the end result of Magic 2012 can be made. Here’s the breakdown of changes via a handy table:

Color In Out
White Gideon’s Lawkeeper Blinding Mage
Blue Frost Breath Waterfront Bouncer
Black Tormented Soul Pit Keeper
Red Blood Ogre Hulking Ogre
Green Arachnus Web Acridian

Gideon’s Lawkeeper feels much more efficient than Blinding Mage, and the efficiency of removal makes the toughness difference minor.

Waterfront Bouncer isn’t available on Magic Online, meaning it was ineligible to be selected initially. Frost Breath is a fine card in Pauper Cubes, but serves a similar tempo purpose that the Bouncer would.

While Pit Keeper is a bit of a pet card for me, changing a slightly aggressive conditional value card out for a much more efficient, aggressive card makes sense.

Hulking Ogre is nothing compared to the First Strike might of Blood Ogre.

Pure Green removal may be debatable, but the strength of Arachnus Web is not. I tried Acridian early in my Cube’s development and cut it early as well too.

I’ll be taking care of these changes for us, putting my (minor) card effort toward the cause.

Some of the previews from Innistrad that were revealed this past weekend at PAX are certainly suggestive for Pauper Cubes (Stitched Drake is definitely one that popped in my mind), but that discussion is for a time much closer to the prerelease when all the information is available.

Testing the Community Cube

The Community Cube isn’t a finished product. It’s isn’t a time capsule meant to showcase a snapshot of development. It’s meant to be a living collection, adapting and adaptable as we understand more about what’s going on inside of it.

To know where it’s going, we need to understand two things about it. The first is where it came from:

  • I organized an amalgam of multiple published and recently updates Pauper Cube lists across several Magic forums.
  • We identified the target size and quantities, then voted on the cards that spilled over our targets.
  • It looks simple, but it took over a month to fully crystalize a list. If you’ve ever worked at merging data sets, you have an idea of some of the issues with an approach like this:
    • Is something overrepresented in the Cube? Is something underrepresented?
    • Where there errors (poor choices for inclusion) or omissions (missing good cards) in the lists used to aggregate?
    • How much massaging was done (minor) versus how much is actually needed (infinite) to make everything gel perfectly?

The Community Cube has been designed, not developed. We borrowed prefabricated models of Cubes that are similar to what we wanted, but ultimately our box of fun isn’t a polished piece of perfection. That’s where, unsurprisingly, you stay involved. Our Cube needs to be tested.

Testing a Cube can be done in as many ways as there are to play Magic. What we understand from the testing is predicated on the method. If we want to have a Cube that drafts well for six to eight players, then we need to run drafts of six to eight players. If we want it to be good for head’s up Winchester Drafts, we should run Winchester Drafts as well.

I’m not talking about something as convoluted (and unattainable) as the Philadelphia Experiment, but earnestly drafting the Cube and documenting some of the feedback. And this can only be done by players like you. At Magic Weekend Philadelphia, the Community Cube will be unleashed to the masses with the best part of having a Cube: Cubing!

Here’s how it can work:

  • You get a chance to draft the Cube. Draft it! (Otherwise known as the easy, fun part.)
  • Visit the Community Cube Facebook Page.
  • Share your thoughts, observations, pictures, and stories. (This is the hard part. Rough, I know.)

And there are three main approaches that will be most interesting to look at closely, each one asking very different questions.

Aggressive Decks

  • Did you want more cheap, early creatures (1- and 2-drops)?
  • Did you have enough removal to continue applying pressure?
  • How quickly were all of your creatures outclassed? (Five turns? Six turns? More?)
  • What where the colors you paired, or didn’t pair? What did it feel like you were missing or desiring the most?

Midrange Decks

  • Did you want more strong, value-providing creatures (3- and 4-drops)?
  • Did you have enough two-for-ones to survive early pressure?
  • How quickly were all of your creatures outclassed? (Seven turns? Eight turns? More?)
  • What where the colors you paired, or didn’t pair? What did it feel like you were missing or desiring the most?

Control Decks

  • Did you want more powerful, end-game creatures (5- and 6-drops)?
  • Did you have enough removal and card-draw to survive early pressure?
  • Were your creatures able to outclass other creatures, given the time to do so?
  • What where the colors you paired, or didn’t pair? What did it feel like you were missing or desiring the most?

These aren’t perfect scripts that describe every facet of playing aggressively or controlling in the Community Cube. What they do provide is a simple, consistent set of ideas to pursue. Sharing information in meaningful ways is the only way to collect enough data for decisions. If we needed to rely solely on each of us actually playing the Cube, we’d never get anywhere. It’s only through sharing our experiences with the Community Cube that the community can continue to help it grow.

One way to help is to mirror the Community Cube! Greg Reelitz @starwarer) shared with me that he built an entire copy of the Community Cube to be shared and enjoyed as well. If others, like Greg, create mirror copies for their local store or playgroup, the ability and diversity of information that can be gathered would be outstanding.

If you’d like to be like Greg and help spread the experience of the Community Cube, please check out the online spoiler list and work with others to create your own copy. Greg created his through sorting his old commons and getting a few missing pieces from friends. One man is making a difference; you certainly can too!

If you’ll be in Philly this weekend, I hope we have the chance to meet! I don’t have the details on exactly when and how the Community Cube will come to life, but I’m very excited to see how it all turns out!

Find us in Philly!