“Are you a restrictions-breeds-creativity kind of guy?”
This is the question that our dear community manager, Jason Alt, asked me when I was wondering about what he wanted for the site. The answer was yes, but actually I had no idea how strongly that answer applies. I know that there are people who live outside of restriction and can create, but honestly, I have no idea what that would look like. I am currently working on a post for my blog that discusses this topic exactly, except the whole thing is on it, rather than just a brief intro. The long and short of it: it is larger inside the box, than the box is large. Some smarter people than me quoted this very publicly, so I am going to try and get a little mileage out of it.
“Thanks for the nonsense bro, but what does this have to do with Cube?”
It has everything to do with Cube.
Today we are going to discuss how the idea of “restrictions breed creativity” affects how we use our cube. As I said in User’s Manual, chances are pretty good that you may not have very many people to cube with. I know that this is the case for me much of the time. And if you are anything else like me, which WotC’s data is going to presume you are, you may only have one or two people that can get together to play Magic on a regular basis outside of FNMs.
I have a confession to make. The majority of my cube drafting has been done with only one other person. Does that intro to this article make sense yet? My friend and I were getting a little tired of the disjointed decks that are created by conventional two-man Draft formats such as Winchester and Winston. I will do an article on these draft formats in the future, but I’d rather start with a format that gets your hands on your cube and lets you learn it really well, even with only two people. This goes double for the Puzzle Box, because it is much smaller than the average cube.
The main points of this format are to make a lot of decisions, do a lot of drafting, build two decks per person, play for a long time, and create a metagame within the match.
It’s called the Infinity Draft because of the shape the packs trace when passing them from person to person. Now that I have got at least 50 of these drafts under my belt, it is also reflective of the infinite amount of time it takes to start and finish the draft. I love it!
Each person starts with six fifteen-card boosters, three on the left and three on the right.
Each person picks up the first pack to their right and makes their first pick, this card goes into their Deck 1. Then the same on their left pack, this card goes into Deck 2. Each pick made on your right hand side goes into Deck 1, and each on the left goes into Deck 2.
The first passing of the packs is called a “pass.” This means that the pack to your right goes directly across the table to what would be your opponents left. And same goes for your left pack.
You then make your picks in the same order of right pack to left.
The second passing of the packs is called the “switch.” This is the part that makes sure that the packs actually rotate so each deck sees each pack in the correct order. How this works: your right pack goes diagonally across the table to what would be your opponent’s right, and the opposite goes for the left pack. Each person then makes their pick.
After your next pick, the next pass is the “pass,” the one after that is the “switch,” and so on…
It is very very easy to forget if your last pass was a pass or a switch. We used to use a copy of switcheroo to keep track of which one we were on, but it just got forgotten about and created more confusion. A foolproof way of keeping track of it is simply to count your cards. If you have an odd number of cards, your next move is to pass. If you have an even number of cards, your next move is to switch. Simple as that!
While you’re drafting, just have one person fan their cards out so they can make a quick count. You’ll do this often, I promise. For each new pack, set aside the previously drafted cards and have the person counting start a new fan. This seems an odd detail to dwell on, but mixing up orders of packs has been bad news. Rinse and repeat until you’ve drafted all the packs. Then, of course, you build your decks.
The Mini Meta
So now that each person has two decks, you have to decide which deck to play. Here is where the protection from drafting one super deck and using the other as a hate draft pile comes in. At a minimum, you should be playing best three of five, but the format is even better if you have time for best four of seven.
Note: Deck selection and usage rules are confusing at first. They become obvious after you’ve played the format a couple times. They are are very important.
Each person can choose to play either deck for the first game, or you can determine randomly. If you choose your deck, you must switch decks for game two. After game two, you can use whichever deck you choose. If you had your deck randomly decided, you may choose to continue playing that deck in game two, or you may switch to the other one if you want.
The balancing act of the meta works out as such: after two losses, the person who has lost twice may then choose which deck his or her opponent will play in the next game. He or she does not, however, get to know any extra information about the opponent’s decks than is already known.
Example: If the match goes 0-2, the person with two losses chooses his opponent’s next deck. If the 0-2 then wins, bringing it to game four, the same player may again choose his opponent’s deck. If it goes to game five, the player that just lost his second game most recently gets to pick his opponent’s deck. Keep in mind that it just has to be two losses, not two losses in a row. So if one person goes to 1-2, he then gets to pick the other person’s deck.
Here is where we often decide that we want to go best four of seven. This is usually because we just want to keep playing within a match atmosphere and there’s not enough time for another draft.
I cannot tell you how much fun I have had playing this format! You get to touch twelve packs each time you cube. The decks end up being very cohesive, so you really get to see which archetypes are good in your cube and which ones need work. When you move from this to drafting in a normal fashion, the choices become much easier, because you only have to think of one deck, not two. This format honestly feels like you are learning to cube draft at three times the speed of a normal draft because you are doing double the amount in the same amount of time.
There’s a lot of thinking going on in this article, but if you work your way through all of it, I promise it will pay off!
Thanks for hangin’, everyone.
P.S. Only one puzzle box change this month to bring it from $207 to $199
$8 Goblin Guide ——> $.50 Reckless Waif
3 comments on The Puzzle Box – Larger Inside than Out: Infinity Drafting
Awesome idea for the draft. Keep the updates coming.
Hey Andew, thanks for these articles about all the cube formats you can do with very few players.
My friends and I have been infinity drafting it, and a couple of ideas popped up. One was doing infinity draft and 1v1 two-headed giant, where you play both decks as one two headed giant (after all you did draft both decks, why not play them both!) Another was simply a four player variant where you are still drafting the cube infinity style with a partner next to you for two-headed giant.
I definitely like how this allows me to get a feel for archetypes and potential directions for archetypes in my cube.
I haven’t ever actually played a “normal” cube with rares before, just the one I’ve built and it is only a Peasant cube, so it doesn’t have many of the usual archetypes people expect, but I think I’ve done a decent job of crafting a fun draft environment within my 540 (I wanted enough for six man sealed pools, as well as a variety for a full 8-man draft).
If you want to check my cube out and give me some pointers, it can be found at http://tappedout.net/mtg-cube-drafts/gathering4magic-peasant-cube/
I know for example that I am rather light on multicolored lands, but I try and make up for that with mana rocks and the mana myr, and that I could use the bounce lands and all the signets, but I’ve been working within a limited budget.
Anyways, thanks again for your articles, they have inspired me to discover more ways to utilize the cube even when the group is small. Keep up the good work!