Ravnica Block Cube

I promise, this is the last thread.


I've tried to manifest my love for the original ravnica block numerous times. Actually, it was what brought me into the world of cube in the first place. But RAV block is tricky. It is all about the guilds but so stuffed with sweet gold cards, that just throwing those cards together leads to 4- and 5- color piles ... So what do we do?

Changing the relation of gold to monocolored leads to either many gold cards left out or insane numbers of multiplies of mediocre monocolored cards; and I also didn't want to have my dimir decks consist of 21 of those.

Adding cards from other sets always felt off, either lorewise (core set cards – who is Serra and why is her angel on ravnica?) or because of different art styles (RtR block) or frames (GRN "block").

In the end, I've found a solition, that I came up with before but I didn't think it to the end. I now have all ten guilds represeted in the cube (with 13 nonlands and 4 each of bounce/shock lands), but similar to how wizards does it, I'll have only five guilds in a draft pool at a time. In the cubecobra list, they are marked with "tag:core" or e.g. "tag:gu" (for simic).



Just counting combinations of five where each color is represeted twice exactly, if I didn't make a mistake, I'll have twelve different configurations of this cube. This means it would probably take months to try every version in drafts even if I would stop drafting my other two cubes (spoiler: I wont). So, variety should be guaranteed.

What excites me about this format is, how the value of each core-card can change rapidly with the guilds available in a draft. With the token focused Selesnya and the controlling Orzhov, Hour of Reckoning should be a solid first pick, with the other white guilds it should be very low value. Vigean Graftmage is obviously synergistic with Simic and could work in an Izzet deck, untapping Gelectrode, Viashino Fangtail and Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind. The infamous Dark Confidant is more risky in such a low powered format, but should go up in value if you can draft the aggressive Rakdos guild. Fiery Conclusion is situational removal but gets bonus points when spells matter – especially when Izzet Guildmage is around to copy it. Elves of Deep Shadow is most likely making effectively colorless mana, unless the Golgari are there to use them as fixing.

Guilds and Shards/Wedges

What I wanted to ensure to be possible to draft were "pure" guild decks. With 12-13 nonland cards per guild (depending on if you count the signets) in the final 360 card draft pool, that should work out. I want to Give my Boros Swiftblade +2/+2 with Agrus Kos and clear the path with my Lightning Helix. But that doesn't mean, more colorful decks should be averted.

This shifting model also has an interesting impact on the three color combinations. There are always five different shard/wedge combinations available, depending on the guilds in the draft. But while e.g. Grixis is draftable as soon as two of the guilds represented with the cards above are in the draft, they will only ever have access to two of them (and thus only to two of the three guild sections). That means that a Grixis deck can be spells focused, rebuying Glimpse the Unthinkable with Izzet Chronarch, can be a pinger control deck with Gelectrode, Viashino Fangtail and Rakdos Ickspitter or whatever result you will get from Dimir and Rakdos collaborating.

I've got almost all the cards together, am just about to order the last ~30 shocklands (from Hongkong if you know what I mean) and then I'll draft this next month.

Hype is real <3
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Yesterday, we didn't celebrate halloween, but instead the very first real draft round with my new cube. Yes, after years of pondering I've managed to get a version of this project finished, in paper, fully complete and double sleeved. The guilds represented this time were: Dimir, Izzet, Gruul, Selesnya and Orzhov

This draft was a refreshing experience and a trip down memory lane at the same time – and let to some interesting results.

I brought a new friend from my outside playgroup to my at-home-playgroup, so we were 5 people and played two rounds Bo1.

1. Gruul midrange /splash Selesnya

Sami took this draft home with a strong gruul deck. He figured that selesnya was open and went for the light splash. Very solid deck. I have to see if double rumbling slum makes gruul too good. Anyway, the first game between him and me was something else. More to that after the next list ...

2. Izzet/Dimir Control, 5-3

I started in black, then Dimir and then, thanks to Niv, I moved into Izzet. This gave me a Guildmage to copy Glimpse the Unthinkable, then two Chronarchs to buy it back. Those I could rebuy with Peel from Reality or Exhumer Thrull. That as a main plan with some strong Izzet creatures and spells that could win otherwise worked pretty well.

In game 1, I played against the Gruul deck from above. He had a bad start but I wasted some removal spells to smaller threats because I felt like I needed to do something. Then I managed to cast Glimpse, rebuy it with Chronarch, trade in combat, bring Chronarch back with Exhumer Thrull and cast the third Glimpse. My opponent was out of cards. I was down to 1 life but celebrating this win already. Then he untapped and cast Cackling Flames on me during his upkeep ... what a game!

I think, if I would've spared some removal spells for his bigger threats, I could've milled him out with 4+ life in the end. Maybe.

Also 2. Mono red aggro, 5-3 (yeah, seriously)

I know what you think. That should not have worked. An aggro deck with three one-drops and only two two-drops shouldn't curve out in most games, but somehow Tobi was lucky that day. Curve-outs of 1-2-3-4 were so common, Sami and I were really shocked when we saw his list spread out in the end. Also, he ignored all the juicy gold cards and instead played many of the worst cards in the cube (red creatures were really bad in this block). But, we had slow decks at the table this time and so he managed to beat every deck at least once. Even the otherwise undefeated Gruul/w deck.

3. Orzhov Midrange, 3-5

On the other hand, this guy had really bad luck that day. Despite running three dual lands and a signet he more than once had many double pip cards stranded in his hand. This was the new guy from the other playgroup. I invited him to my place because he seemed like a chill person, and he has a bunch of fond childhood memories regarding ravnica as well. He drafted a sweet deck and I hope he still had a great time.

4. WU/b Tempo

That's my girlfriend's deck after half the games, it looked quite a bit less focused before. I tried to help her and still screwed it up a bit. She started drafting white and blue cards and realized too late that Azorius isn't in the draft, then she forced herself to splash black, which also didn't work out because she didn't get any sweet gold cards. She probably only should've splashed the guildmage's black ability from bouncelands and cut the swamps. Still, her deck reads better than the mono red one to me, but she is also not often blessed by luck in mtg lately.

It's a bit weird to see that two people didn't draft one (or more) of the represented guilds, but I guess that's just an oddity and won't be the case regularly? We'll see.

All in all I am mega happy with how the cube works out so far. Would be sweet to have the next draft rather soon, but november's going to be a packed month.
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Ecstatic Orb
I love that someone forced mono-red and got away with it :D Decks look sweet!

By the way, one trick I always use before drafting, is to put a piece of paper with the color wheel in the middle. By picking 5 out of the 10 guilds, you’re effectively changing the color wheel just like I am, and it helps guide the drafters if they know which “allied” colors (i.e. which guilds) are available.
Yeah, I thought of you and your wheel of change many times while preparing this :)

And I actually thought of that too. I do have an extra pile of Signets in differently colored sleeves. Those I use to draw the guilds for each draft beforehand, and those I also used as a signaler, by putting the five chosen ones in the middle of the table. I've also communicated the chosen guilds to everyone at least a day before the draft.

I guess it was simply the first time for those two outliers to draft a factioned/multicolor-heavy environment like this :p


Ecstatic Orb
I mean, I had a friend who forced mono red the first time he drafted my cube, just to go against the grain and see if he could make it work in a cube that was advertised as “heavily multicolor”, so yeah, that happens sometimes I guess XD
I got an 8-person draft in this tuesday night. It was incredible, despite some hiccups. I had my three most regular drafters at the table as well as four different people with experience level raging from old fogeys (I met another cube owner!) to someone who started playing two month ago.

The guilds that got (semi-randomly) selected for this draft were all the enemy-colored ones: Orzhov, Golgari, Simic, Izzet and Boros. The white guilds were really popular, one guy had to use mountains as plains in his deck because my 31 lands per type seemingly aren't enough for 8 people.

Behold, the lists:

1. Boros Aggro/Midrange (3-0-0, 6-0-2)

Agrus Kos is still a real powerhouse, even in this pumped up version of old ravnica without all the draft chaff. This deck hit pretty hard and won all three rounds. I honestly felt like this list didn't look better than my girlfriend's boros deck, but this guy is a really, really good player, so he piloted it to the win.

2. 5-color Tunnel Vision Combo (2-1-0, 5-1-2)

I was hoping that Tunnel Vision could actually work occasionally. A meme card that you could go for if you felt like not doing the spikey thing that day. However, I didn't expect it to be drafted in the second draft already and then even make a 2nd place. It worked once in all of the three rounds and might've done so in the last game I played against that opponent, if it didn't end in a time-draw. Before this draft I knew it worked with Junktroller, but didn't realize that it is even better with Condemn. Such a sweet deck.

As a cube designer, I am curious to what extend the combo and to what extend the five-color-good-stuff-part lead to this great result.

3. Orzhov Midrange/Control (2-0-1, 4-0-2)

There are some cards here that I wouldn't have put in this deck, but my buddy here picked quite some powerful cards as well. He's got some decent removal, Belfry Spirit, the Turnkey and all those sweet, sweet gold cards.

4. Golgari/Simic Midrange (1-1-1, 3-1-3)

That's what I came up with. Got a bunch of sweet cards but not really any synergies, so I am fine with one win, onw draw and one loss. I couldn't decide wether I wanted to go simic or golgari, so I did both/neither. Not much to tell here, except that Vedalken Plotter is pretty sick in a bounce land format. I mean, I suspected it, but boy when it worked it felt criminal.

One game I was on the draw and lead with t1 birds, my opponent played a bounce land turn two, then I played Island, Plotter and exchanged control of his Boilerworks with my island. I effectively cast Farhaven Elf that had a Stone Rain attached - on turn two! And then ... I still lost this game to Tunnel Vision :D

5. Orzhov Midrange (1-0-1, 1-0-2)

This was the new girl, trying her best at her second draft ever. Sadly, she had to leave at a certain time, so she couldn't play the last round against my girlfriend. However, for someone who plays mtg for less than two month, this looks pretty decent. She's missing both, low end and high end cards, but she's got her removal and fixing. Fighting with two other people over Orzhov didn't help though.

6. Simic/r Midrange (1-0-2, 4-0-4)

I didn't play against this deck but I like the look of it very much. I suspect Simic splash removal to be a good deck in this format. However, considering my friend Sami, who piloted this, usually wins drafts, I wonder how he could end up with two lost rounds here.

7. Boros Aggro (0-0-2, 1-0-4)

That was the other Boros deck. To me, this list looks almost better overall, but it somehow lost both of it's matches. my girlfriend had a very long and tiring day before this draft, so maybe it was a matter of concentration to some degree.

8. Orzhov/g Midrange (0-0-3, 1-0-6)

the new guy, who owns a peasant cube for several years and plays long enough to remember those Ravnica sets, somehow managed to go 0-3 here. I hope he still had some fun, he seemed to be a very chill dude and a nice person to cube with. However, his deck seems too unfocused to me: Some aggro cards mixed with some really defensive ones and six- and seven-drops.
It took a second for the Tunnel Vision combo to click, but when it did... nice. I'll have to keep that piece of ridiculous meme combo tech in mind for the future.
Before my exams are coming and I have a couple weeks of only learning and working ahead of me, I got my two best friends over to have a 4-person Ravnica draft. A nice finale to my freedom.

Guild modules in the draft pool:

{R/W} {W/U} {G/U} {B/G} {B/R}

... and we perfectly split them up between the four of us with three 2-color- and one 3-color-deck.

Here are the results:

1. Boros Aggro 3-0 (6-2)

Boros cards were just coming to me in this draft. The deck felt pretty nutty, double Swiftblad with Agrus Kos or Concerted Effort with the double strikers or Guardian of the Guildpact gave me the opportunity to punch through effectively even later in the game. Since boros now won both of the drafts the guild was represented in, I should start keeping an eye on it.

2. Azorius/Simic Midrange 1-2 (3-5)

My significant other drafted this sweet midrange deck. Good fixing, some ramp and a high card quality lead to a deserved second place.

Note to myself: Overrule is in fact good enough to see play in this environment.

3. Golgari Midrange 1-2 (3-5)

Sami was complaining a lot about his deck. He said, that he was so focused on finding the open lane, that he forgot about his curve lol. He did draft better decks before, but he's a good enough player to win some games even with a middling list.

4. Rakdos Aggro 1-2 (3-5)

The third deck that went 1-2 in this draft. I think that this deck would've needed to be a little more streamlined to get there consistently. Maybe some Blood Crypts and some random 2-power 2-drops like the Sell-Sword Brute walking around the table during the draft could've helped here.

Games felt deep and fun, old ravnica cards are just so cool. Only minor downer: I have to make sure that boros aggro isn't an autowin. Maybe those two drafts wont prove to be the standard.