Legacy Cube Updates

Posted in Magic Online on April 6, 2016

By Melissa DeTora

Melissa is a former Magic pro player and strategy writer who is now working in R&D on the Play Design team.

Check out the updated Legacy Cube list.

Legacy Cube events run from April 6, 10:00 a.m., until April 15, 10:00 a.m. Pacific (UTC -7)! Check out the full event details below.


Hello everyone! I’m beyond excited to be the designer of the Legacy Cube. With the help of Adam Prosak, our goal is to make changes to keep our Magic Online cubes fresh and exciting. For the most recent update, our plan was to a) remove cards that have not been performing well, b) remove cards that are generally disliked by players, and c) fix any color imbalances.

First let’s talk about color imbalances. Red was the most-played and best-performing color in previous iterations of the Legacy Cube. To fix that, we cut some of red’s most powerful and unfair cards and tried to increase the amount of things that the color can do. While red is still popular, it is no longer the best-performing color. That title belongs to blue. In an attempt to evenly balance this cube, I wanted to remove the blue cards that were the most oppressive and the strongest in order to even things out a bit. Vedalken Shackles got the axe as it not only is the most-played blue card, it’s also hard to remove and completely shuts down certain strategies. This may be the most controversial cut from the cube, but overall I feel that it’s for the better.

One of the reasons blue is so strong is that all of its removal is in the form of cheap, efficient counters. Counterspell, Mana Leak, Condescend, Remand, Essence Scatter, and plenty of others contribute to this factor, and having access to such a high number of desirable two-mana counterspells definitely draws players into the color. It seems that every deck that plays blue has the same game-plan: counter everything in sight. We wanted blue to do a wider variety of things overall, so a few of these strong counters got cut in favor of cards that will help diversify blue.

Historically, the worst-performing color in the cube was black. The last cube design team did a great job of improving black by figuring out what black did best and playing that up. In the past there were many black themes that were tried but didn’t really work. Many of you may remember the failed experiment that was the Vampire theme. While I’m glad it was tried, I’m also glad that the cube design team quickly realized that it was not the way to go with black. The next theme that was tried was mono-black devotion, and that theme worked out tremendously. Playing mostly black mana symbols in your deck is something that black handles very well, and honestly black devotion is my favorite deck to draft in the cube. Casting and reanimating Gray Merchant of Asphodel is pretty fun and if you’ve never done that in the Legacy Cube, I highly recommend it!

With the great success of black came the major depreciation of green. Green has been the worst-performing color in the current incarnation of the Legacy Cube. In my experience, green has always been a very under-drafted color in not only the Legacy Cube, but in most other cubes I’ve seen. Green is always a huge challenge in cubes. It has stronger creatures than spells but in general spells are stronger and more desirable to play than creatures—so players tend to pick spells over creatures, and thus green is underplayed.

So how did I attempt to improve green? I looked at the strengths of green and tried to focus on those. Green’s strength lies in its mana ramp. Birds of Paradise, Llanowar Elves, Farseek, and Rampant Growth are some of the best mana-ramp spells in the game, and while green tends to be a slow color, having efficient mana ramp definitely levels the playing field.

In the Legacy Cube, other colors have gotten efficient mana ramp in the form of artifacts. Sometimes this mana ramp is even stronger than green's mana ramp! For example, Basalt Monolith allows you to ramp from three mana to six, and that is better than the acceleration you have access to in green. Chrome Mox and Mox Diamond accelerate you to two mana on turn one and three mana on turn two for free. This is an even better rate than Birds of Paradise and Llanowar Elves!

If I'm able to play Consecrated Sphinx on turn four with the help of Worn Powerstone or Basalt Monolith, I have very little incentive to draft green cards to begin with. Mana artifacts give me access to very similar mana acceleration and I get to play with more powerful cards.

The solution? Cut the colorless mana acceleration. This allows green to do what it does best without competing with the other colors.

The best example I have of this is a card that isn't even in the Legacy Cube, but it illustrates my point fantastically. Joraga Treespeaker is commonly referred to as "the green Sol Ring,"" arguably the best mana artifact ever. If I were given a choice between Joraga Treespeaker and Sol Ring in a pack, I'd take the Sol Ring 100% of the time. Sol Ring actually makes Joraga Treespeaker look like a joke, yet ramping is one of green's biggest strengths! Furthermore, when I have a card as strong as Sol Ring in my card pool, I have very little incentive to draft green mana ramp when I have better mana ramp to begin with!

In the end, almost all of the mana rocks got the axe.

The final major change to the Legacy Cube was the removal of a theme that wasn't working. Black reanimator strategies are one of the more popular strategies in the cube, but they are really only successful when paired with blue. In the last update to the Legacy Cube, reanimator had a strong presence in green in the form of Wild Mongrel, Lotleth Troll, and Llanowar Mentor. Unfortunately, this strategy was among the least successful and least desirable to draft in the entire cube. Furthermore, these cards aren't really flexible; you have to play a graveyard strategy if you draft these cards.

One of the themes that has proven to be successful and in my opinion is a lot of fun is a sacrifice or Aristocrats-style deck. This theme is present in the cube, but not to such a point that it is obvious to players. I added cards to the cube to play the theme up. You'll see sacrifice effects such as High Market and Goblin Bombardment, as well as some fun sacrifice rewards such as Zulaport Cutthroat and Blood Artist. I look forward to seeing how this theme plays out.

That's all I have for today. I hope you enjoy the changes, and any feedback is welcome through my twitter account. Thanks and I’ll see you in the Draft queues!


Legacy Cube Changes

Updated: 4/6/2016

Blue

Leaving the Legacy Cube Entering the Legacy Cube
Compulsive Research Careful Consideration
Kira, Great Glass-Spinner Icefall Regent

Top

Green

Leaving the Legacy Cube Entering the Legacy Cube
Wall of Roots Bloom Tender
Genesis Hydra Lifeblood Hydra

Top


Legacy Cube Events

Legacy Cube Single Elimination Draft

Start Time: Wednesday, April 6
End Time: Friday, April 15 at 10:00 a.m. PT
Location: Play Lobby -> Limited Tournaments -> Queues
Format: Draft 3 boosters of Legacy Cube
Entry Options:

  • 10 Event Tickets
  • 100 Play Points

Structure: 10 minutes of deckbuilding, then 3 rounds each of which are 50 minutes
Prize Structure:

 

Place Prizes QPs
1st 220 Play Points 1
2nd 160 Play Points 0
3rd-4th 100 Play Points 0

Legacy Cube Swiss Draft

Start Time: Wednesday, April 6
End Time: Friday, April 15 at 10:00 a.m. PT
Location: Play Lobby -> Limited Tournaments -> Queues
Format: Draft 3 boosters of Legacy Cube
Entry Options:

  • 10 Event Tickets
  • 100 Play Points

Structure: 10 minutes of deckbuilding, then 3 rounds each of which are 50 minutes
Prize Structure:

 

Match Wins Prizes QPs
3 Wins 150 Play Points 1
2 Wins 100 Play Points 0
1 Win 40 Play Points 0
0 Wins 10 Play Points 0

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