How to build up a Cube playgroup – Simplifying the Cube by Ben Cottee

How to build up a Cube playgroup – Simplifying the Cube by Ben Cottee

Hello Readers,

Last week I took you on a journey from Cube discovery to Cube ownership. Now we have a box of cards the likes of which will rock the socks off all of Mankind.

There are many ways you can Draft Cube or any pile of Magic cards with 2 or more people. I am sure I will go over some variants in the future. For the purpose of this article I am assuming we want to do some 8-man Drafts, because that’s what your Cube was designed to do.

So, look around the room you are in currently. Do you have 7 other players around you ready to spend 3-4 hours on a Draft? You don’t? Well, that just sucks. We are going to need ourselves a playgroup.

You may be one of the lucky Magic players and live near and frequent a local game store that has a large Magic community with loads of people that would love nothing more than drafting a Cube. That’s great, but don’t become complacent. If you are part of that community, then try and bring the store player base along on your journey as you construct it. Ask them about card choices, get them to crack some imaginary packs from your list (excel random number generation is good here or use Cubetutor). Basically you want to instil as much excitement in everyone around you – that as soon as it’s ready, people will be chomping at the bit to draft it.

Try and arrange drafts around other events, on evenings when nothing run by the store is on. Cube is effectively free for everyone taking part and you don’t want to take business away from the store by running it there. Try to co-ordinate with the store what you are doing.

Also, remember that Cube can be a sanctioned format, so work with the TO and judges to try and get yours in the frame. Let them know if your Cube can handle a couple more than 8 players or it doesn’t and they need to run another format alongside.

Even with a cool store and large group of Magic players nearby it still might be tough to get regular drafts running as people have a lot of demand on their time: be it other forms of Magic or elsewhere.

Cube Draft Hand

You may live in the middle of no-where, have a small player base at your local store or have moved to an area recently. In all these scenarios it is unrealistic to expect you can fire off an 8-man straight away. You are going to need to do some recruiting.

Here are some ideas to help build up a Cube playgroup.

Carry your Cube with you when you go to a local store. Open it up, finger through the cards, make the box you carry your Cube in cool and exciting. Players will ask “what you got there”. You show them and get them interested.

Take the time to explain what Cube is. Use their experience of Draft and Legacy formats to help them think of it as something they know rather than something alien. Direct them to some online draft videos of the MTGO Cube.

Play with the cards with one or more players. My favourite was to grab 40-card stacks, then draw 7 and each card can be played face-down as a land that makes any colour to cast the others – and you play some games. Your cards should be cool enough to get people talking.

Be enthusiastic – let everyone know that Cube is the best thing to do in Magic.

Schedule events at home or suitable location and get the news out. Facebook usually has groups for each location specifically Magic-related and you can use the local stores, too. As long as you aren’t clashing with their events, they will usually be happy to help.

• I made a big deal of this last week but make your Cube a fun experience. If two of the first four people say they hate something, actively show you will try and change that aspect.

• Speak to people, find out what day of the week/start time works for the majority.

Try to avoid textless (full art) and foreign cards. New players may be intimidated by the idea of Cube. Even more so, if they see cards they don’t know or recognize. Being able to do what the card says on it is a good leveller. Then they learn how to use them, get cool effects and want more of your Cube. 

• If you are inviting people around get snacks/drinks in, get good chairs and tables to play on.

Pimp – this will probably be a whole article, but some shine and bling is attractive.

• When you Draft, have everything else to hand (dice, sleeves, scorepads, tokens, pens and even playmats), so all players need to bring is themselves.

Open invite: let people who are coming know they are welcome to invite their friends along. Word of mouth is one of the best ways to drive footfall and people get to car share and experience with their friends.

Have fun yourself and be patient. You might not get a full 8 players for a while or limit opportunities. Keep working at it and focus on keeping the ones you do get.

Whether Drafting with your local game shop crowd or one you have had to cultivate yourself, make the draft experience fun and exciting. Be vocal as you Draft over tough picks, windmill slam a couple when people see this, they will start to join in too. Also while I advocate keeping Cube casual and friendly, keeping records of people’s performance, even league tables, is a nice way to incentivize repeated play and get some investment from the drafters.

Other than your local store and home, you could take your Cube on the road. I always used to take mine to PTQs and still take it to GPs with me. It even came with me to the Pro Tour. With hundreds of people you don’t know around, seems like a good time to address a Cube drafter’s worst fear: theft!

notion thief

You have worked a long time to put your pride and joy together and some of the cards come in at more than a week’s wages. Why would you ever let someone you don’t know handle these?

Well, you know what: unless you are speculating, or investing in Magic, or really enjoy playing with yourself, then that box of cool you created is not generating its maximum value if it’s not seeing play. I find Magic players on the whole are a pretty trustworthy and caring set of people. Extending a small level of trust to be able to play with your creation seems to be worth the risk.

That level of risk can be mitigated however:

Don’t travel with Power. I would draw my trust line here: these cards are expensive and can be attractive to decent Magic players even.

Don’t bring your Cube to the event site unless you intend to use it. Otherwise it has a target on its head. Losing one card to an unscrupulous drafter is one thing, someone carrying the whole box away while you are in another event is another.

Get insurance. You will probably need to take something special out on top of your normal coverage and make sure to update list of cards with photos to them and agree on a pricing.

• At large events try to get the majority of players from people you know or have at least seen in events before and people they have invited. You will be surprised how many people this is. Keeping an eye on the one guy you needed to make 8 is better than the whole table.

Bond with people, make small talk before the draft starts. Human nature dictates we are less likely to steal from someone we feel a connection to and mentioning your Cube to opponents can pay off later in the day when you need players.

If you have a Cube that you are scared to take out or play with due to it being all foil, having expensive cards, or for any other reason, then don’t risk it and wait until you can draft with enough people you know and trust. It just might take a while. Maybe build a Pauper Cube alongside your normal one, that you can use on your travels?

Next time is a treat for the Young Pyromancer out there when I look at Red’s place in Cube.

You can find me on:
Facebook: Benjamin William Cottee
Twitter: @carboreeta
Reddit: Carboreeta
MTGSalvation: Carboreeta
My Cube on Cubetutor: Link

Community Question: Do you worry about theft at Magic events? What actions do you take to try and prevent it?

Do you worry about theft at Magic events

Thanks for reading,

Ben Cottee

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