Legendary Cube with Adam Prosak

Posted in Limited Information on November 11, 2015

By Marshall Sutcliffe

Marshall came back to Magic after discovering Limited and never looked back. He hosts the Limited Resources podcast and does Grand Prix and Pro Tour video commentary.

So they tell me that Magic Online has taken over the site this week. The truth is, Magic Online started by taking over all of my free time about six years ago, and only now just made it all the way to the website.

To be honest, I'm not really sure how to approach the topic of Magic Online here on the column. The thing is, I love Magic Online. I play it every day. I play in airplanes and in hotel rooms. I draft, I play Constructed (gasp), and I love it. I'm hesitant to go off too hard on how much I like Magic Online here, mainly because I write this column for Wizards of the Coast, who makes the product, and I'm afraid it may be taken with a grain of salt.

I can hear it now: "Sure, he says he loves Magic Online. I wonder how much they pay him to say that."

After some thinking, I've realized that it's better to just say how I feel and trust that you'll take my word for it. I value your trust, and in writing the column, doing podcasts, and other coverage, I do my best to maintain it.

And with that, I love Magic Online.

When I first came back to Magic, I started out on Magic Online thanks to the guidance of my friend Ryan Spain. He was an avid Magic Online player and recommended it after the Draft bug got me. After figuring out the interface, I started drafting regularly and haven't looked back since.

I think that playing on Magic Online is the single best way to improve your game. It's like having a table of exactly seven of your best Draft friends waiting for you at all times. And when you are playing the games themselves, it's like having a nearly-perfect Level 5 judge watching over the game at all times. You learn the rules in a very direct way, and you even learn the steps and phases just by playing.

Of course, the thing you get to do way more than you can in any other setting is play a ton of Magic. Ask any professional player, and they'll tell you that a key part of improving your game is simply playing a lot of Magic. Magic Online was my way of doing that, and it can be yours too.

So this was me getting that off of my chest. I do feel better for it as well. And look, Magic Online isn't a perfect program, but I think it's moving in the right direction. I've used it nonstop for years, and will continue to for as long as they let me.

Legendary Cube

So with that, let's get to the meaty center of this week's column: the brand-spanking-new, not-even-released-yet Legendary Cube!

For full details on the Legendary Cube, you can check out this article written by R&D developer Adam Prosak. I figured I'd go right to the source myself, and I had a chance to grab some of Adam's time to chat about the Legendary Cube. I even got him to give us some insider strategy tips!

Marshall Sutcliffe (LI): In broad strokes, what is the Legendary Cube?

Adam Prosak (AP): Basically, the gist of it is the Legendary Cube is 100% legendary creatures, and it's designed to have a lot of the gameplay feel like Commander. So there's big splashy cards, you'll have time to develop your mana, things like that.

LI: Where did the idea for the Legendary Cube come from?

AP: We wanted to make a third cube for Magic Online, one that wasn't tied to a specific format. We wanted a unique experience; we wanted to try our hand at different experiences rather than just different collections of the best cards.

To go a bit further, the original vision was a multicolored-only cube, but after the first few playlists, Randy Buehler came up with the idea of 100% legendary creatures, and we ran with that. That ended up becoming the focus of the cube.

Word of Seizing | Art by Vance Kovacs

LI: So is this cube like a regular cube that just happens to have all legendary creatures, or did you go in some different directions with this one?

AP: That's how it started out, but we quickly realized that if you mix a subset of the best creatures with all of the best spells, then the incentive is just to draft all spells. So we took the creatures we wanted, and then found the noncreature spells that support that.

What we found is that some of the best legendary creatures are just kind of expensive on mana. So a lot of what we did is to make the removal efficient against small creatures, but not big ones.

We also added a ton of mana fixing and mana acceleration, so that you can cast these big bombs.

LI: For the mana, how did that work out?

AP: There are a lot of lands in this cube. If you were to compare it to the Legacy Cube, for example, there is a significant difference in how many lands you'll see. It's noticeable when you draft.

The thing is, a lot of the cool legends are multicolored. There ended up being a ton of multicolored cards in the cube. For example, there are multiple five-color cards in this cube. Even Progenitus.

LI: Wait, we are going to be casting Progenitus in this cube?

AP: Yes. This cube is unbelievably fun. Because the power level of the removal is a bit lower, you have more room to do crazy stuff.

Progenitus | Art by Jaime Jones

LI: Let's talk a little strategy. The readers of this column demand some insider info. Could you give us a big-picture view of how to play this cube?

AP: First, go ahead and play nineteen lands, that's totally normal. You have so many six-, seven-, even ten-mana cards that you'll want the mana. For example, Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre, Kozilek, Butcher of Truth, and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn are here, and they are here to be cast. You cast them to get their cast triggers.

This is a place where you can do big, crazy things, so a normal mana base won't do. Your average card pool will have around six basic lands. If you want to go with five colors, you'll run as few as zero basic lands.

LI: What would you say is the average number of colors people play in this cube?

AP: Let's go for about 3.4 or 3.3. This is not your average two-color cube. Maybe one or two drafters per table drafted two colors, and at least one person (if not more) would be five colors. There are 41 mana artifacts in this cube, so it can support multiple five-color drafters.

LI: What are some of the most powerful or best cards in this cube?

AP: Some of the cards are just totally absurd, such as Gilded Lotus. Even cards such as Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary or even Radha, Heir to Keld are great. You cast these early creatures for mana and can use them to power out the big stuff early.

LI: Right, of course. You just don't get any one-mana mana-Elf-type cards.

AP: Correct. Or even one-mana cards at all. There are only a few one-drops in the whole cube.

Some more powerful cards: Captain Sisay is probably ludicrous. Hero's Blade, an Equipment from Fate Reforged that equips to legendary creatures for free, is awesome. Sword of the Chosen is totally busted too. Day of Destiny is another good one, as well as Reki, the History of Kamigawa.

Contextually, these cards are amazing because they work with all of your creatures and not just a subset of them.

Since everyone is playing these big, expensive spells, cards like Kaervek the Merciless can deal a ton of damage. Tsabo Tavoc basically has protection from creatures and just kills any creature. It's pretty out of control.

LI: This cube just seems ridiculous.

AP: It is.

Hero's Blade | Art by Aaron Miller

LI: Can you beat down in this format?

AP: Sometimes. Cards such as Brimaz, King of Oreskos, Polukranos, World Eater, and Surrak, the Hunt Caller can be really good.

LI: We noted earlier that we just don't get mana Elves in this cube. What other kinds of cards aren't here in the Legendary Cube?

AP: There aren't ways to cheat things into play. You'll be casting most of your creatures. There are a few ways to get things into play, but they are not the efficient ways you'd be used to.

Hard counters are missing, too. There are some counterspells in the cube, but you won't see cards like Dissolve or even Cancel here. It's very difficult to totally lock down your opponent.

Hyper-efficient removal isn't here. No Swords to Plowshares or Doom Blade. There is a very small amount of hyper-efficient, unconditional removal spells.

LI: Are there a lot of card-advantage spells?

AP: Yes. There are a ton of examples of this in the cube. It's all over the place.

LI: What about ways to deal with noncreature permanents?

AP: There is a lot of that, too. We tended to lean it in the direction of being less cost-efficient but more flexible. Cards like Utter End and Faith's Fetters come to mind.

LI: Are there planeswalkers?

AP: Two of them. One of the main ways to get planeswalkers off the table is to attack them with cheap creatures. Since that won't happen in this cube, they became overpowered. We tried out Sarkhan Unbroken, and it was just out of control. Ultimately we went with Daretti, Scrap Savant and Tezzeret the Seeker to complement an artifact-themed deck.

LI: I sometimes refer to sets being in the Gardener (make it up as you go) or Architect (you know what you want and build it) camps. Which one would this fall into?

AP: Very much a gardener format. The format feels very open-ended. You don't know yet which colors or cards you are going for. Many of the synergies are on a card-by-card level, rather than a big-picture theme.

LI: Before we let you go, what is your favorite card in this cube?

AP: Wow. Jeez, that's tough. It might just be Pyromancer's Goggles, because I made that card.

LI: Any last considerations for my readers before they gear up to try out this cube?

AP: Let go of your preconceived notions on drafting other formats. Thinking that cards cost too much or are too narrow is a trap, you have to try out the cards in this environment before making a final decision. Ask yourself which cards the card in question might combo with, and go from there.

LI: Thanks Adam!

Wrap-Up

This cube seems pretty crazy. I hope you get a chance to play it while it's out on Magic Online. Maybe you'll bump into me in one of the queues. I know I'll be there.

Until next week!

@Marshall_LR

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