Brandon Sanderson’s Commander Cube

This past week Game Knights released a video featuring Brandon Sanderson’s Commander Cube. This cube has caught the interest of thousands of people, myself included, because the video it is featured in has one of the best commander games I have ever seen. It is extremely back and forth, with lots of action and gameplay and even has a Mexican standoff in the end. If you haven’t watched their video yet, I would highly recommend it before reading this article.

After watching this video I’m sure many people became interested in building a commander cube. Commander is the most popular form of Magic by far and having one of these cubes might get more people to join your group than an average cube draft. There are many advantages that a commander cube has over a normal cube including a more unique draft experience, a social game, and creativity in how you can draft.

Fortunately for us, Brandon Sanderson released his entire cube in the show notes of the video. You can find the link to his cube at tappedout.net/mtg-decks/brandons-commander-cube-game-knights-31/. Tappedout is fine and all, but I decided to move the cube over to my preferred platform CubeCobra which you can view at cubecobra.com/cube/overview/sandersoncommandercube. If you would like to read Brandon’s rules regarding the cube you can view that at collected.company/brandon-sandersons-commander-cube/

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Looking at the cards that were uploaded we have a 952 card cube. This is large enough to support up to 3 commander drafts going on at the same time. But, this isn’t the full picture. Because of Brandon’s Regalia cards, it is actually much more likely that this is a 1080 card cube that is capable of supporting up to 4 different pods at once. (Not that it is likely to have 16 people all drafting at once, but you never know). If we go with 1080, that tells us how many custom cards we need to include, which is 128.

In the pdf that Brandon provided us, there are 63 unique regalia available. If you don’t want to make anything new just double this number and you will be at 125. (This is excluding the Mark of the Reaper as that is regalia that comes with the Reaper King.) As you become more familiar with the cube you can start to cut regalia and add in your own versions to create an environment that is more exciting to you and your players. Regalia is a super interesting concept that solves a lot of the problems that commander cubes typically have, and is something that should be considered for a normal cube in order to spice up the experience.

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Analyzing his cube we can see a few things. For one, multicolor cards outnumber mono-color cards by 150 cards. (300 mono-color vs 450 multicolor). This will make the cube focus very heavily on multicolor decks, which lets people play with more cards that they draft, but has the downside of the decks all having the same colors. Without any of the iron regalia, 2 or fewer colors would simply never be played. If you want to discourage heavy multicolor decks, you can try shifting the balance by increasing the count of mono-color cards. Doubling the amount of iron Regalia may also open up the draft to have more variety in colors.

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When building a cube it’s important to keep in mind how much removal and board wipes are present. This cube is battlecruiser magic at it’s finest, and because of this, there are a low number of removal spells and board wipes. Most single target removal spells cost 3 or more mana and most board wipes average at 6 mana. Many of these spells are also very conditional, which makes it hard to have specific answers without help from your opponents. This means that games will play out very politically and after the first round of removal spells go off, threats are much more likely to stick.

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Mana ramp is also at a premium, with mono-green getting 9 different ramp spells, colorless getting 6, and a smattering within multicolor. If you want to accelerate threats out early, you need to be playing green or else you won’t be consistent with your ramp. This shows to me that Brandon has been keeping in mind the color pie when building this cube, and gives more direction to each color in the draft. Lack of signets/talismans means that it’s harder for non-green colors to get ramp which is personally a goal that I have for my cubes.

Powering up the Cube

This cube is great if you enjoy games of magic where you play 12 lands in a row and hard cast an It that Betrays, but I know that’s not a style of Magic many people are into. Powering up this cube isn’t as simple as just throwing in more powerful cards and being done with it. When making cuts and trimming cards in the cube, it is important that you know why certain design decisions were made so that you can balance the cube appropriately as you make changes to get it more in line with what you want to do.

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If you wanted to add a card like Swords to Plowshares to this cube it would be a bad idea to cut Angelic Purge and replace it with Swords. This cube has been designed with bad removal in mind. This bad removal is what allows expensive plays such as Darksteel Colossus to be viable. One mana removal invalidates expensive cards and is a huge tempo swing. If you want to add more powerful removal, that’s fine, but consider lowering the curve alongside it so that Swords to Plowshares isn’t as big of a tempo swing. If that Darksteel Colossus were to be cheated into play rather than hard cast, then Swords makes a lot more sense in the context of that cube.

 

 

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I want to take a second and say something specifically about Sol Ring. Sol Ring is the identity of commander and is the reason most decks start with 98 cards instead of 99. But I don’t think it has a place in this cube, especially one as low powered as this. If one person gets to draft Sol Ring and starts the game with it on turn 1, it immediately has to become a 3v1, and in a cube where most people aren’t casting anything meaningful until turn 3, ramping up to 4 mana on turn 2 puts you so far ahead of your opponents that a 3v1 may not even be enough. If it’s present in the draft, it just invalidates any other option in the pack. If it’s between Nicol Bolas and a Sol Ring, it’s not really a choice. Even if you give everyone a copy of Sol Ring not everyone is going to have it in their starting hand. Unless you significantly change the cube where access to more powerful rocks is much more common you’ll be doing everyone a favor by leaving Sol Ring in your normal Commander decks.

Conclusion

A commander cube is something I have always been interested in building, but have never taken the time to truly commit and figure out where all the problems may arise. Fortunately, Brandon has already done all the hard work and has given us a cube that is filled with lots of fun cards and magic that is more akin to my earliest days with the game. Regalia solves a lot of the problems that commander cubes typically have while providing a great template to add your own twist to if you want to play this cube yourself. I might start by building a 540 of his cube, and seeing where I go from there.

If you want to buy this cube, consider getting the cards from Game Grid Lehi! The link to their store can be found here: http://store.gglehi.com/catalog/magic_the_gathering_singles/8. Thank you all for reading, I hope you have a great week and an amazing Tuesday!

1 x Dragon Throne of Tarkir1 x Dreamstone Hedron1 x Eldrazi Conscription1 x Entirely Normal Armchair1 x Etched Champion1 x Etched Oracle1 x Filigree Familiar1 x Grim Poppet1 x Grimoire of the Dead1 x Hall of Triumph1 x Hammer of Nazahn1 x Handy Dandy Clone Machine1 x Heart of Kiran1 x Helm of Kaldra1 x Helm of the Gods1 x Helm of the Host1 x Heroes’ Podium1 x Icy Manipulator1 x It That Betrays1 x Jhoira’s Familiar1 x Karn, Silver Golem1 x Keening Stone1 x Kindslaver1 x Konda’s Banner1 x Kozilek, the Great Distortion1 x Lore Seeker1 x Loxodon Warhammer1 x Manakin1 x Manor Gargoyle1 x Mirari1 x Mirror Mirror1 x Molten-Tail Masticore1 x Moonsilver Spear1 x Mortarpod1 x Oblivion Stone1 x One-Eyed Scarecrow1 x Panharmonicon1 x Perilous Myr1 x Pilgrim’s Eye1 x Planar Bridge1 x Platinum Angel1 x Precursor Golem1 x Primal Clay1 x Prophetic Prism1 x Razormane Masticore1 x Ring of Ma’ruf1 x Rings of Brighthearth1 x Runechanter’s Pike1 x Scarecrone1 x Scuttlemutt1 x Shield of Kaldra1 x Signal Pest1 x Skittering Surveyor1 x Skysovereign, Consul Flagship1 x Soul of New Phyrexia1 x Spine of Ish Sah1 x Staff of Domination1 x Steel Overseer1 x Stocking Tiger – Holiday 20131 x Summoner’s Egg1 x Sword of Dungeons & Dragons1 x Sword of Kaldra1 x Sword of the Animist1 x Sword of the Chosen1 x Tamiyo’s Journal (Entry 434)1 x Tatsumasa, the Dragon’s Fang1 x Thran Temporal Gateway1 x Trading Post1 x Traxos, Scourge of Kroog1 x Wall of Junk1 x Warmonger’s Chariot1 x Skyship Weatherlight1 x Well of Lost Dreams1 x Whispersilk Cloak1 x Wild-Field Scarecrow1 x Ajani Goldmane1 x Ajani’s Chosen1 x Ajani’s Pridemate1 x Angelic Accord1 x Angelic Destiny1 x Angelic Purge1 x Approach of the Second Sun1 x Balan, Wandering Knight1 x Bruna, the Fading Light // Brisela, Voice of Nightmares1 x Cast Out1 x Celestial Mantle1 x Crested Sunmare1 x Custodi Squire1 x Danitha Capashen, Paragon1 x Day of Destiny1 x Dazzling Ramparts1 x Descend Upon the Sinful1 x Eidolon of Countless Battles1 x Eight-and-a-Half-Tails1 x Elspeth Tirel1 x Eternal Dragon1 x Evra, Halcyon Witness1 x Felidar Sovereign1 x Frankie Peanuts1 x Gideon Jura1 x Godsend1 x Grasp of Fate1 x Griffin Guide1 x Heliod, God of the Sun1 x Honden of Cleansing Fire1 x Jazal Goldmane1 x Loyal Retainers1 x Lyra Dawnbringer1 x Mageta the Lion1 x Martial Coup1 x Mesa Enchantress1 x Nahiri, the Lithomancer1 x Novice Knight1 x Odric, Lunarch Marshal1 x Opal-Eye, Konda’s Yojimbo1 x Quarantine Field1 x Resplendent Angel1 x Righteous Confluence1 x Secure the Wastes1 x Sigil of the Empty Throne1 x Snow Mercy – 2010 Holiday Promo1 x Soul Warden1 x Sram, Senior Edificer1 x Stalwart Shield-Bearers1 x Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle1 x Test of Endurance1 x Transcendent Master1 x Unquestioned Authority1 x Urza’s Ruinous Blast1 x Wakestone Gargoyle1 x Wall of Reverence1 x Yosei, the Morning Star1 x Contraband Kingpin1 x Dimir Charm1 x Dimir Doppelganger1 x Dimir Guildmage1 x Dragonlord Silumgar1 x Duskmantle Guildmage1 x Evil Twin1 x Extract from Darkness1 x Havengul Lich1 x Lazav, Dimir Mastermind1 x Lazav, the Multifarious1 x Nebuchadnezzar1 x Nightveil Specter1 x Oona, Queen of the Fae1 x Phenax, God of Deception1 x Phoebe, Head of S.N.E.A.K.1 x Psychatog1 x Psychic Strike1 x Rona, Disciple of Gix1 x Shadowmage Infiltrator1 x Silas Renn, Seeker Adept – Foil1 x Silumgar’s Command1 x Soul Ransom1 x Szadek, Lord of Secrets1 x Tezzeret the Schemer1 x Tidehollow Strix1 x Undermine1 x Vela the Night-Clad1 x Blast of Genius1 x Brutal Expulsion1 x Call the Skybreaker1 x Dack’s Duplicate1 x Etherium-Horn Sorcerer1 x Gelectrode1 x Goblin Electromancer1 x Izzet Chronarch1 x Jhoira of the Ghitu1 x Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain1 x Jori En, Ruin Diver1 x Keranos, God of Storms1 x Kraum, Ludevic’s Opus – Foil1 x Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist – Foil1 x Melek, Izzet Paragon1 x Mercurial Chemister1 x Mindswipe1 x Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind1 x Nivix Cyclops1 x Nivix Guildmage1 x Prophetic Bolt1 x Ral, Izzet Viceroy1 x Saheeli, the Gifted – Foil1 x Steam Augury1 x Suffocating Blast1 x The Locust God1 x Wee Dragonauts1 x Will Kenrith1 x Zndrsplt, Eye of Wisdom
1 x Ajani, Mentor of Heroes1 x Ajani Unyielding1 x Armada Wurm1 x Armadillo Cloak1 x Behemoth Sledge1 x Captain Sisay1 x Dragonlord Dromoka1 x Dromoka’s Command1 x Fleecemane Lion1 x Gaddock Teeg1 x Glare of Subdual1 x Growing Ranks1 x Juniper Order Ranger1 x Karametra, God of Harvests1 x Krond the Dawn-Clad1 x Nazahn, Revered Bladesmith – Foil1 x Rhys the Redeemed1 x Satyr Enchanter1 x Selesnya Charm1 x Selesnya Evangel1 x Selesnya Guildmage1 x Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa – Foil1 x Sigarda, Host of Herons1 x Steward of Valeron1 x Sylvan Reclamation1 x Tolsimir Wolfblood1 x Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice1 x Trostani’s Summoner1 x Unflinching Courage1 x Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage1 x Abzan Ascendancy1 x Abzan Charm1 x Anafenza, the Foremost1 x Daghatar the Adamant1 x Doran, the Siege Tower1 x Duneblast1 x Ghave, Guru of Spores1 x Karador, Ghost Chieftain1 x Necravolver1 x Siege Rhino1 x Teneb, the Harvester1 x Warden of the First Tree1 x Crosis, the Purger1 x Cruel Ultimatum1 x Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge1 x Kess, Dissident Mage1 x Mairsil, the Pretender – Foil1 x Marchesa, the Black Rose1 x Nicol Bolas1 x Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker1 x Sedris, the Traitor King1 x Tetsuo Umezawa1 x Thraximundar1 x Alesha, Who Smiles at Death1 x Ankle Shanker1 x Brutal Hordechief1 x Butcher of the Horde1 x Kaalia of the Vast1 x Licia, Sanguine Tribune – Foil1 x Mardu Ascendancy1 x Mathas, Fiend Seeker – Foil1 x Oros, the Avenger1 x Queen Marchesa1 x Tariel, Reckoner of Souls1 x Zurgo Helmsmasher1 x Animar, Soul of Elements1 x Guided Passage1 x Intet, the Dreamer1 x Maelstrom Wanderer1 x Rattleclaw Mystic1 x Riku of Two Reflections1 x Sarkhan Unbroken1 x Shaman of the Great Hunt1 x Surrak Dragonclaw1 x Temur Ascendancy1 x Temur Charm1 x Yasova Dragonclaw1 x Abyssal Persecutor1 x Army of the Damned1 x Ascendant Evincar1 x Attrition1 x Baleful Ammit1 x Beacon of Unrest1 x Black Sun’s Zenith1 x Blood Artist1 x Bone Splinters1 x Brain Maggot1 x Cabal Patriarch1 x Chainer, Dementia Master1 x Chainer’s Edict1 x Crippling Fatigue1 x Crux of Fate1 x Dead Weight1 x Death Denied1 x Demonlord Belzenlok1 x Doomwake Giant1 x Dread Return1 x Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder1 x Enslave1 x Erebos, God of the Dead1 x Evil Presents – 2008 Holiday Foil1 x Geth, Lord of the Vault1 x Golgari Thug1 x Gonti, Lord of Luxury1 x Goryo’s Vengeance1 x Grave Pact1 x Greed1 x Honden of Night’s Reach1 x Horobi, Death’s Wail1 x Isareth the Awakener1 x Kagemaro, First to Suffer1 x King Macar, the Gold-Cursed1 x Kokusho, the Evening Star1 x Lich’s Mastery1 x Liliana, Death’s Majesty1 x Liliana’s Contract1 x Mark of the Oni1 x Marsh Flitter1 x Mortal Combat1 x Mutilate1 x Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis1 x Ob Nixilis Reignited1 x Ophiomancer1 x Price of Fame1 x Ruinous Path1 x Sanguine Bond1 x Sever the Bloodline1 x Shadowborn Demon1 x Stinkweed Imp1 x Summon the Pack1 x Toshiro Umezawa1 x Triskaidekaphobia1 x Undercity Informer1 x Whip of Erebos1 x Whisper, Blood Liturgist1 x Wretched Confluence1 x Yawgmoth’s Vile Offering1 x Argothian Enchantress1 x Assault Formation1 x Axebane Guardian1 x Azusa, Lost but Seeking1 x Baru, Fist of Krosa1 x Bear Umbra1 x Bow of Nylea1 x Call of the Herd1 x Cartouche of Strength1 x Carven Caryatid1 x Champion of Lambholt1 x Crawling Sensation1 x Doubling Season1 x Eidolon of Blossoms1 x Epic Struggle1 x Forgotten Ancient1 x Fraction Jackson1 x Garruk, Caller of Beasts1 x Gatecreeper Vine1 x Genesis1 x Ghalta, Primal Hunger1 x Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma1 x Grothama, All-Devouring1 x Hardened Scales1 x Helix Pinnacle1 x Hermit Druid1 x Honden of Life’s Web1 x Hornet Nest1 x Jugan, the Rising Star1 x Kodama’s Reach1 x Lignify1 x Mycoloth1 x Nissa, Vital Force1 x Nissa, Voice of Zendikar1 x Nylea, God of the Hunt1 x Omnath, Locus of Mana1 x Overgrown Battlement1 x Overrun1 x Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter1 x Polukranos, World Eater1 x Rabid Bite1 x Rampaging Baloths1 x Rancor1 x Reki, the History of Kamigawa1 x Renegade Krasis1 x Return to the Earth1 x Rishkar, Peema Renegade1 x Selfie Preservation1 x Silklash Spider1 x Sprout Swarm1 x Symbol Status1 x Utopia Sprawl