Legacy Cube Update

Posted in Magic Online on March 2, 2015

By Randy Buehler

Randy Buehler is a longtime Magic player, a friend of the Vintage format, and a lover of the Magic Online Cube. In November, working alongside Magic R&D, he led a complete redesign of the Magic Online Cube, resulting in the new Legacy Cube. Randy's ultimate goal was to continue to look at the trends of how players are using the Legacy Cube, and update it in response. This article details the first of those updates to the Magic Online Legacy Cube.

The Legacy Cube returns to Magic Online on Wednesday, March 18. Legacy Cube Events run through Wednesday, April 1— make sure to try out the updated Legacy Cube while it's here! Don't forget, Rise of the Eldrazi Flashback Events will be running throughout the same period. Full event details will be included in the Tuesday, March 10, Magic Online Weekly Announcements.

Check out the updated Legacy Cube list.

Get the Legacy Cube and Rise of the Eldrazi Draft Event details.


I was pretty happy with the initial results of the new Legacy Cube, but there's always going to be room for improvement. I received lots of good feedback, and most seemed to be of the form "I like it better than before, but I wish you would change X." I collected all those comments, and I spent a fair amount of time with the stats around what got drafted when and which decks were winning. The result is a fairly meaty update as more than 10% of cards in the Legacy Cube are changing. I don't expect to change this many cards on a regular basis, but as the first iteration after a major overhaul, I'm happy with what we're doing now.

The short version of what I did was to cut Umezawa's Jitte, Grim Monolith, and about 10 mono-red cards for power-level while upgrading about 50 cards spread across graveyard enablers, "disenchants," green cards, and especially aggro black cards (where I added a whole new theme). The longer version of the story is, well, longer...

The first thing I did was to look at which cards were getting drafted the highest. There weren't a lot of surprises there, but the ridiculousness of Umezawa's Jitte was pretty hard to ignore, especially coupled with the feedback I got that cutting all the Swords felt good, but Jitte was at least as good as a Sword. Grim Monolith was in a similar spot in that all the similarly powerful fast artifact mana has been limited to the Holiday Cube, so we should be consistent and cut it.

Umezawa's Jitte proved to be too powerful, and artifact mana sources like Grim Monolith are generally confined to the Holiday Cube, so both were cut from the latest Legacy Cube cardlist.

The really interesting data comes when you compare the average draft pick of cards among people who won their draft to the average position among other drafters. Of the top 30 cards on that list, 29 are mono-red aggro cards (with Sulfuric Vortex having the biggest difference). Clearly mono-red decks are too efficient, and while I am happy to have mono-red be around as an option, it shouldn't just be easier to win with than all the other archetypes.

Even more importantly, I looked at the list of cards with the lowest average draft position. In general, I think it will usually make sense to upgrade the bottom 20 or so cards on this list every time we do an update as these are the cards that most drafters just aren’t ever happy to see in packs. In addition, this list gives a good idea as to what themes just aren’t working right now. Fully 11 of the bottom 25 cards were black, for example, and most of the graveyard enablers are there too (Mulch, Grisly Salvage, etc.). The graveyard theme took several different forms during design and development, and when the dust settled I think we landed in a place where there just weren’t enough rewards in the Cube to justify the enablers (mostly because we cut the rewards because they tend to be super-narrow cards that only work in one deck). Fair enough, those enablers are easy to replace.

For many players, graveyard manipulation took a back seat to other strategies in the first iteration of the Legacy Cube.

The black problem is trickier, and is one that I know a lot of Cube designers struggle with. I had proposed a fairly crazy solution in design, but it was cut during development because my plan involved putting in a bunch a narrow cards that only work well in one deck. (You’ve probably picked up on the fact that we tried to shy away from those kinds of cards in this Cube in favor of more open-ended cards that can go into many different decks.) Here’s the thing, though: All the aggro black cards are vulnerable to this same complaint! They only go into one (fairly narrow) deck and if you aren’t drafting aggro black then they’re just taking up room in your boosters. Even worse, everyone has already gotten the chance to try aggro black as it’s the staple black strategy in most Cubes, and by and large most people have pretty much rejected it. So we might as well try my crazy solution. Even if it turns out to be a bunch of narrow cards that not many people want to draft, hey at least they are different cards than the ones we’ve been passing on for years, right? Plus I was actually able to win with this strategy during playtesting, so for whatever it’s worth I think it’s better than, and definitely more fun than, aggro black.

So here’s the plan: Vampires! I’ve added a Vampire tribal theme to black (plus a small bleed into red). It includes a collection of “lords” that reward you for having lots of Vampires along with more random Vampires than we had previously. There were actually quite a few in the Cube already: Bloodghast, Gatekeeper of Malakir, Vampire Hexmage, Stromkirk Noble, Vampire Nighthawk, Bloodline Keeper, two Sorins, etc. I’ve definitely added some cards that wouldn’t make the cut if it wasn’t for their type line (Vampire Interloper is probably the biggest culprit here, but I still contend that guy is more interesting to have around than Diregraf Ghoul). Meanwhile, if you want to pass me Vampire Nocturnus or Anowon, the Ruin Sage I am quite happy to grab them and build around them.

Aggro black wasn't getting enough love, so Vampires are stepping up to the plate!

Another stat I looked at was winning percentage of decks that include a given card in the main deck. All the “disenchants” fare horribly on this criterion. At the end of the day, this Cube just isn’t heavy on either artifacts or enchantments, so the instant and sorcery versions of that effect just aren’t worth playing. I replaced some with creatures that have “enters the battlefield” destruction effects and replaced some others with more relevant cards. I also replaced a few other “trap” cards that had awful win percentages, the most notable of which is probably Eureka.

Players just aren't winning very often when using Eureka.

All in all, I am pretty happy with this Cube update. For me as a drafter the most important thing going on here is establishing a pattern of looking at the data after each run of the Cube and then reacting to it. I know not all of these changes will work out, but as long as the Cube is being constantly tweaked with an eye toward better drafting and gameplay, I think it can stay fresh and interesting for a long time. See you in the queues!


Check out the updated Legacy Cube list.


Legacy Cube Changes

White

Leaving the Legacy Cube Entering the Legacy Cube
Ajani Steadfast Akroma's Vengeance
Boros Elite Fiend Hunter
Disenchant Leonin Relic-Warder
Imposing Sovereign Mardu Woe-Reaper
Savannah Lions Monastery Mentor
Seal of Cleansing Steppe Lynx

Blue

Leaving the Legacy Cube Entering the Legacy Cube
Cloudfin Raptor Dissipate
Intuition Gitaxian Probe
Mystical Teachings Spell Pierce
Show and Tell Thieving Magpie

Black

Leaving the Legacy Cube Entering the Legacy Cube
Bad Moon Anowon, the Ruin Sage
Black Sun's Zenith Ascendant Evincar
Bloodsoaked Champion Attrition
Brain Maggot Blood Artist
Carnophage Bloodlord of Vaasgoth
Corrupt Bloodthrone Vampire
Darkblast Buried Alive
Diregraf Ghoul Captivating Vampire
Gnarled Scarhide Crux of Fate
Knight of Infamy Dark Impostor
Lifebane Zombie Guul Draz Assassin
Master of the Feast Guul Draz Vampire
Mesmeric Fiend Kalastria Highborn
Nantuko Shade Malakir Bloodwitch
Nighthowler Malicious Affliction
Phyrexian Obliterator Necromancy
Sarcomancy Necropolis Regent
Soul of Innistrad Oona's Prowler
Spiteful Returned Pack Rat
Stinkweed Imp Sangromancer
Tendrils of Corruption Vampire Interloper
Visara the Dreadful Vampire Nocturnus

Red

Leaving the Legacy Cube Entering the Legacy Cube
Ancient Grudge Banefire
Borderland Marauder Bloodcrazed Neonate
Fireblast Bogardan Hellkite
Firedrinker Satyr Chandra Nalaar
Goblin Wardriver Empty the Warrens
Guttersnipe Flamewake Phoenix
Inferno Titan Form of the Dragon
Searing Blaze Manic Vandal
Searing Blood Monastery Swiftspear
Smash to Smithereens Rakish Heir
Sulfuric Vortex Taurean Mauler

Green

Leaving the Legacy Cube Entering the Legacy Cube
Awakening Zone Fertile Ground
Commune with the Gods Harrow
Curse of Predation Life from the Loam
Eureka Nature's Lore
Krosan Grip Ohran Viper
Mulch Overrun
Mutagenic Growth Rampaging Baloths
Naturalize River Boa
Phantom Centaur Scapeshift
Plow Under Utopia Sprawl
Rancor Voyaging Satyr
Satyr Wayfinder Warden of the First Tree
Setessan Tactics Whisperwood Elemental
Tracker's Instincts Wickerbough Elder

Multicolored

Leaving the Legacy Cube Entering the Legacy Cube
Ajani, Mentor of Heroes Assemble the Legion
Burning-Tree Emissary Deathrite Shaman
Figure of Destiny Fires of Yavimaya
Goblin Electromancer Izzet Charm
Grisly Salvage Kiora's Follower
Murderous Redcap Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury
Prime Speaker Zegana Stromkirk Captain
Progenitus Unflinching Courage
Rakdos Cackler

Colorless

Leaving the Legacy Cube Entering the Legacy Cube
Grim Monolith Blade of the Bloodchief
Molten-Tail Masticore Chromatic Lantern
Shrine of Burning Rage Elixir of Immortality
Umezawa's Jitte Ratchet Bomb
Relic of Progenitus
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

Land

Leaving the Legacy Cube Entering the Legacy Cube
Teetering Peaks Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
Wasteland

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