Tinkerer’s Cube Draft Overview

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Between Zendikar Rising spoiler season, the upcoming Mythic Invitational and qualifiers, and set announcements left and right, there’s no shortage of excitement in Magic right now! Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, I see a new Cube up on Arena! The Tinkerer’s Cube is unlike any we’ve seen before. Let’s dive in and get a feel for this tricky but undeniably fun format.

Wait, What’s a Cube? Tinkerer Who?

Tinkerer's Cube Draft Event

Just in case you’ve been hiding under a hedron-shaped rock for a bit, a Cube is a collection of cards that makes up an entirely unique draft format. Most are singleton, with packs randomly selected from the entire pool of cards, meaning that there aren’t rare/uncommon/common slots like in booster draft – you can have any mix of cards, as long as they’re powerful enough. Each Cube offers a totally unique draft experience, carefully curated by the creator. This one consists of 540 cards and it’s a phantom draft, meaning you don’t keep the cards (sorry!).

This Cube is described on the Arena Client as follows:

Event Details

Experience Cube Draft with real players!

In the Tinkerer’s Cube, raw power isn’t going to be enough to succeed. These cards are interlocking parts that will do far more together than on their own. What are the right gears and widgets for your deck? If you combine the right pieces, you can create an incredible invention!

This event is phantom. Cards you draft are not added to your collection.

  • Event Dates: September 4 – September 17
  • Event Format: Best-of-One Player Draft
  • Event Length: 7 wins or 3 losses (whichever comes first)

Event Rewards

  • 7 Wins: 6000 Gold, 2 Rare Historic* Individual Card Rewards (ICRs), 1 Uncommon Historic ICR
  • 6 Wins: 5000 Gold, 2 Rare Historic ICRs, 1 Historic Uncommon ICR
  • 5 Wins: 4000 Gold, 2 Rare Historic ICRs, 1 Historic Uncommon ICR
  • 4 Wins: 3000 Gold, 1 Rare Historic ICR, 2 Historic Uncommon ICRs
  • 3 Wins: 2000 Gold, 1 Rare Historic ICR, 2 Uncommon Historic ICRs
  • 2 Wins: 1000 Gold, 1 Rare Historic ICR, 2 Uncommon Historic ICRs
  • 1 Win: 500 Gold, 1 Rare Historic ICR, 2 Uncommon Historic ICRs
  • 0 Wins: 1 Rare Historic ICR, 2 Uncommon Historic IRCs

*Historic ICRs grant cards from pack releases on MTG Arena. They do not include cards that were released outside of packs (e.g. cards from Historic Anthologies). Historic uncommon ICRs have a 5% upgrade rate to rare. Historic rare ICRs may upgrade to a mythic rare, and each rare is twice as likely to be awarded as each mythic rare.

View Card Pool

Ok, Thanks! I’ll Draft Every Mythic I See!

Woah there, don’t be hasty! As described, this format rewards drafters that piece together a synergy-based deck, rather than a pile of cards (trust me, I tried). There are plenty of Cube formats where starting with a good bomb and simply taking on-color cards will win you games. Let’s take a closer look at some of the cards and see how it reflects the speed and style of the Cube.

Whenever I start drafting a new format, I like to take a look at a few things first- removal spells, mana sources, and 2-drop creature stats. Glancing through the spoiler, we see a few removal spells in black and red, and most are relatively low-powered. Shock, Fateful End, Lich’s Caress, and Dead Weight are all very playable, but all are about or below-average rates. We also see some more niche removal, such as Spark Harvest and Warbriar Blessing. This is the first clue in our investigation into the format- the set’s removal is good at dealing with early threats, and there are some that require a bit of setup work.

The lands are nothing too surprising- scrylands, shocklands, and checklands for each color pair, as well as the cycles of the 5 triomes, 5 castles, and 5 cycling taplands. Fabled Passage and Evolving Wilds are nice includes, and Field of the Dead along with its BFF Golos, Tireless Pilgrim implies 5-color support. As for other sources, we see green mana creatures that mostly tap for green, but a few can fix other colors. Chromatic Lantern, Prophetic Prism, and Terrarion allow for some fixing. Mind Stone, arguably the most underdrafted card of the last Arena Cube, is here as well. I was comfortable first-picking this – enacting your gameplan a turn faster and cashing in for a redraw in the late game is usually a good thing in Cube.

Lastly, let’s take a look at the 2-drops. This is a great litmus test for getting the speed of a format. Consider some iconic 2-drops from one of the fastest limited formats of all time, M21:

That’s a lot of 3s in the stat box for a couple 2 drops. Now, let’s consider some of the 2-drops from a more grindy, long-game format, Theros: Beyond Death:

Now, I’m not trying to say that there weren’t controlling decks in M21 (there are), or that there aren’t any 3/1s in TBD (there are), but from looking at all of the early drop creatures in the set, you can get a feel for how often you’re going to be getting beaten down by 3-powered 2 drops, and how often you’re going to have time to enact a more complicated game plan. Pause for a second, and go take a look at the Tinkerer’s Cube Draft Card List.

What do you think? To me, I see a bunch of understatted 2- and 3-drops. There are definitely aggressive creatures, but the presence of even more of mana dorks, defensive bodies, and powerful build-arounds suggests that this format is what they promised – a brewer’s paradise.

So, overall, we have relatively weak removal spells that are good for answering aggressive starts, a solid amount of fixing, and not many threatening early plays outside of the usual mono-red nonsense. This suggests that there will be plenty of time to assemble a late-game engine or 2- to 3-card synergy.

Drafting a Plan, not a Pile

Without the presence of the usual Cube all-stars, like 6-drop Planeswalkers or broken mana rocks, it’s important to draft with a plan in mind. A vintage Cube deck with a Black Lotus, some Moxen, and a planeswalker could win games on the spot. This is not that.

You may have noticed a number of unusual includes in this Cube, such as commons or uncommons from old sets, Jumpstart, or Historic. I believe that these have all been carefully picked for the purpose of highly synergistic draft decks. When drafting a deck like this, it is crucial that you consider your gameplan – how does your deck win? Let’s take a look at some of the specific ways decks can take over and win the game in this Cube.

Rather than go through each color pair or 3-color group and talk about all the potential archetypes they could fall into, I’ll instead present you with some of the most powerful plans I’ve had success with in this draft format, and leave the building to you. I’ll include some of the most important cards in the archetypes. These will be ones to first pick, or treat as signals when they are passed to you. They will often be niche, but that’s okay – think about drafting the archetype almost as if you were drafting a tribal deck. There are also plenty of cards that fit pretty well into multiple archetypes. Keep an eye out for 2-card game-ending combos, and remember, this is a Cube – half the fun is seeing what you can assemble from your own mind!

The Plans

Go-Wide/Tokens

  • Primary Colors: White, Green, Red
  • Key Cards:

Enchantress

  • Primary Colors: Green, White, Black
  • Key Cards:

Reanimator/Graveyard Value

  • Primary Colors: Black, Green, Blue
  • Key Cards:

Lifegain

  • Primary Colors: Black, White
  • Key Cards:

Get Out There and Try It!

Like I mentioned, these are just some of the more unique ones I’ve seen the most success with. Blue-Red spells, Red-Green stompy, and the red aggressive strategies can come together as well, and there’s plenty of other niche archetypes that I can’t fit into this article. At the risk of sounding like an after-school special, remember that the most important part of Cube is to have fun! This event has a slightly lower entry cost than usual, so Cube to your heart’s content. I finished with 17 trophies in the last Arena cube, and I’m looking forward to trying to top that this time around. I’ll see you all on Zendikar.

Also check out the strategy guide from the previous Arena Cube Draft, where the principles should also carry over to here.

betafisch

The deepest voice in MTG commentary. Lover of "good" bad cards. Co-host of the growing limited podcast Draft Chaff. Occasional writer.

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Marcos Procopio
Marcos Procopio
21 days ago

Great article, Ben! I´m having a lot of fun with this format yet, worth the 4k gold!