Creating a DM Cube: Part 1

Looking For Another Way To Draft

Wow. News hit earlier this week that WizKids plans to scale back on “blind” products. A lot of people are worried about how that could impact the future of rainbow drafts. Personally, I think we’ve seen too much progress and innovation around how to draft Dice Masters with the advent of Draft Packs to point towards that format being totally abandoned. But at the end of the day, we really do not know. I think I speak for more than just myself when I say that I enjoy drafting Dice Masters using the Draft Packs more than I thought I would. I have done a few drafts with multiple people at the local shop, but mostly, I’ve been drafting with just 1 other player at the kitchen table. These 2-person drafts are incredibly fun. Recently, the D&D: Tomb of Annihilation Draft Packs seem to be getting harder to purchase. I don’t know if there will be another wave of them in the future or not. Even if we do have a constant supply of Draft Packs with all future sets, it does get a little cumbersome to have so many cards from the same set, and still buy Draft Packs for the experience of drafting. I want to entertain the thought of creating a Cube to draft Dice Masters from. If blind products are indeed removed from Dice Masters’ line of products, Cube drafting may be the only way to enjoy and preserve this format that’s become very important in both casual and competitive play. I’m going to chronicle my journey here, in a series of articles. I don’t know how long this is going to take, but I figured it would be fun to write about it along the way. And, who knows, if it works well enough, perhaps I’ll have the blueprint laid out for others to create their own Cube.

What is a Cube? (and why is it called that?)

A Cube is the term, originally coming from Magic: The Gathering, which is used for a customized pool of cards that is collected with the intention of drafting. So, a player might take their favorite cards, make sure they are in the Cube, and be able to enjoy the excitement of drafting while also controlling the direction of the games to a certain degree. Typically, in Cube drafts, players will begin with a random assortment of cards whose rarities mimic what is found in a draftable pack of MtG.

Cubes in MtG can be very elaborate, drawing from 20+ years of cards. There’s many things to consider as far as energy types, card costs, balance between potential deck types, etc. An unbalanced Cube can lead to not fun games. And if games aren’t fun, what’s the point?

There are many theories where the term “Cube” comes from. Some people think it’s because a standard MtG draft pod has 8 players and a cube has 8 corners. Some think that because an OLAP cube in engineering refers to a selected subset of data, that the cube name was used for this selected subset of cards. Some people think it’s just because the first draftable MtG Cube was kept in a box shaped like, you guessed it, a cube. But there is no definitive answer. MtG started in 1993, and we’ve already lost the meaning behind why it’s called a Cube.

What would a Dice Masters Cube accomplish?

The bottom line is that drafting Dice Masters is fun, and a Cube would give us a way to continue to have that fun without needing to purchase new Draft Packs, relying on product availability or purchasing cards we already own.

It’s good to have a goal or mission statement like this at the start, so every decision we make can be compared to this statement and we can say “Yes, we are still headed towards the goal.”

What can we learn from MtG Cubes?

We know we need to be mindful of card purchase costs and energy types. Luckily for us, most Dice Masters sets are designed with these things in mind. We’ve even seen cards that wouldn’t seem to have a place in a constructed environment, but were told they were created with the intention of a compelling draft. I think the easiest method might be to select entire Dice Masters sets to include, instead of trying to pick specific cards to fill specific roles. As I mentioned above, D&D ToA is a lot of fun to draft. I think initially, I’d like to include ALL of the D&D Dice Masters sets: Battle for Faerun, Faerun Under Siege, and Tomb of Annihilation. This keeps us using similar card types and uniform keywords. Gear, Alignments, and Experience are all seen in all 3 sets, keeping unity and relevance with many cards. Including 3 sets worth of cards will also promote replayability with many different cards to pull from.

We also need to be conscious of rarity distribution. Because more rare does not mean better in Dice Masters, I don’t know if we need to directly mimic the rarity distribution of a draft pack. I’ve done some of these 2-player drafts using the ToA Draft Packs where the last pick of the draft ended up being a rare card. Rarity distribution MAY not be as critical to us, but I don’t want to assume that already.

What CAN’T we learn from MtG Cubes?

Dice distribution. Plain and simple. MtG doesn’t have dice associated with their cards. Because we need dice associated with each card, we have to take that in to consideration when figuring out how to dish out cards for drafting.

I like the concept of getting multiple dice per card as with the Draft Packs. Since we are looking at including multiple Dice Masters sets that will cut down on the chances of drafting different versions of the same character. Is 2 dice enough per card?

A big part of the draft strategy is being able to see all the dice on the table, so you’re aware of what potential cards other players may have. Do we really want to search for all dice pre-draft, even though there will be some drafted cards whose dice are unused? Or do we draft the cards and only get the dice needed for our team, completely abandoning being able to read the information in the dice on the table.

Or, we could pre-package our own cube draft packs instead of randomly selecting cards just prior to drafting. This would take more work on the front end, but as long as your cards are randomized when putting the draft packs away, it could work well.

We also need to determine if giving each player 2 randomly selected Basic Actions as in the current Draft Packs is a feature we want to keep, or if there’s another method for selecting Basic Actions.

We definitely have some options to choose from.

So, let’s recap:

  • Make a Dice Masters Cube for drafting.
  • Plan to include all D&D sets.
  • Pre-packing draft packs or selecting random cards just prior to drafting?
    • How are we distributing dice?
    • Is rarity distribution in draft packs an issue?
  • Basic Actions.

I think those are the major things to figure out. If anyone can think of anything important that I’m overlooking, feel free to chime in. Next time we’ll take a look at the card pool and potential rarity concerns. Roll on!

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