Unfortunately, the games we love come and go. When a game I love comes to an end, one of my favorite ways to pay homage to the experience is to build a draft cube for the game. On top of giving me a bit of closure, building a cube offers a tidy way to revisit my favorite format of a game at a moment’s notice.
With Star Wars: Destiny officially coming to an end earlier this year, I started working on my draft cube during isolation (2020 for future reference). When I tweeted about it, I had a lot of people asking me questions about what it was and how I built it. So, what is a draft cube?
What is a draft cube?
A draft cube is a fixed pool of cards that can be randomized to allow you to mimic the experience of opening booster backs and drafting without having to have fresh booster packs to open each time.
Balancing how Destiny works, what makes for a decent deck, and the requirements of a draft deck (20-30 cards in deck, a battlefield, and characters), my draft cube includes the following:
- 352 non-dice cards (events, supports, dice-less upgrades, downgrades, plots, etc.) that can go in a deck, with no more than 1 copy of any card
- 128 dice cards that can go in a deck, with no more than 1 copy of any card
- 80 unique characters, 2 copies of each
- 80 non-unique characters, 1 copy of each
- 50 battlefields
When drafting this cube, the steps are pretty simple.
- Shuffle all the unique characters together. Deal cards to players until you either run out of characters to deal or have reached 15 characters per player.
- Each player will choose 1 character card and pass the remaining cards to the player on their left. This continues until all the dealt characters are drafted. Note, to play a character as elite a player must draft two of the same character card.
- Shuffle the non-unique characters together. Deal cards until there are no characters left to be dealt.
- Each player will choose one character and pass the remaining cards to their right. This continues until all non-unique characters are drafted.
- Shuffle all of the battlefields together and deal cards to each player until you either run out of battlefields or reach 5 battlefields per player.
- Each player will choose one battlefield and pass the remaining cards to their left. This continues until all the dealt battlefields are drafted.
- Shuffle the remaining cards together (upgrades, events, supports, and plots) and deal each player 10 cards.
- Each player will choose one card to draft and pass the remaining cards to their left. This continues until all cards are drafted.
- Repeat steps 7 and 8 either until you can no longer deal cards or until each player has drafted 40 cards.
By the time you’re done, players should have 10-15 unique characters, a number of non-unique characters, a handful of battlefields to choose from, and anywhere from 30-40 cards to build a deck with. Just like in a standard draft (with booster packs), deck requirements are:
- 20-30 cards in your deck
- You can only play cards of a color if you have a starting character that shares that color
- Hero and villain restrictions don’t apply for deck building
- You must have a battlefield and can bring a plot to the game
So, why these numbers? Why these steps? Is there a method to the madness?
The first thing to understand is why I created this cube. Unlike standard draft or constructed, you actually get to define the card pool. So, my first step was literally going through all of my binders and pulling out my favorite cards.
When it comes to the quantities, I wanted my cube to be able to accommodate as few as 4 people and all the way up to 16. If 16 people draft 30 cards for their deck and 10 characters each, I needed at least 480 cards that can go in a deck and 160 characters. However, when only 4 people are drafting I also wanted to make sure there weren’t so many cards in the pool that it was likely to have lopsided drafts.
For example, 4 people drafting 40 cards each means they will see 160/480 draft-able cards. The bigger the second number is, the more likely they could get stacks of cards without upgrades or that are mostly a single color.
To be clear, I do prefer some amount of variance here. I expect most of the time 6-10 people will be using my cube. If you expect fewer people to consistently play your cube, you could try cutting all the numbers in half.
With 6-10 players, we will see 240 to 400 of the 480 cards in the cube. While we will see almost every character each time, we won’t see all of the in-deck cards or have an exact even split of color or types of cards each time.
In a standard draft, you open three booster packs to form a stack of 15 cards to draft (1/5). Among those cards, 3 are guaranteed to be a die-card. Out of the 480 cards, I knew I roughly wanted 96~ of them to be cards that have a die (1/5). I increased this a bit, up to 128, to decrease the odds that a 4-6 person draft with this cube would see too few upgrades during the draft.
Another goal with the cube was to land somewhere between the deck power level of draft and constructed, and two things help specifically on this front.
First, characters and battlefields are drafted separately and first. In a draft with booster packs, I’ve seen characters get passed over and over because their point cost is too high or they are opened in the second batch of packs and it’s too late to build around them.
By drafting them first along with your battlefields, you have a lot more knowledge of what makes sense to grab in the draft. You also don’t lose potential dice and cards for your deck to slots that are unplayable – like characters no one is going to pick.
Along with removing cards that often are blank while drafting, remember that I went through my entire collection and grabbed my favorite cards. In other words, every card that is draftable in my cube is distinctly playable. The net result is exactly what I wanted, which are decks that feel like you’re playing draft and sealed but with a bit more zip and consistency and a lot less of the ‘feel bad’ moments that can happen in traditional drafts.
How To Choose Cards?
If you’re considering building a cube and wondering how to choose which cards to include in your cube, you needn’t. Your cube should ultimately reflect the experience you enjoy the most with Destiny! I recommend going through your collection and pulling out 2x any unique character you loved and 1x any card you always enjoyed playing.
I divided these by color (ignoring hero/villain) and then made sure the stacks were roughly equal between colors (with neutrals being about half the size of any of the color-specific stacks). I also looked through the stacks and compared them to each other, to see what each stack was bringing to the table and to see how each could do fundamental things in the game – like gaining resources or removing dice.
An example of how I customized my cube is that, for the most part, supports with dice are not relevant. I included some ships, like the Millennium Falcon, Slave-1, and Ghost, but pretty much any card that references a support (battlefields, events, characters) is all but nonexistent. I always liked the droid supports though, so cards like R2 and C-3PO made it. You just don’t have ways to ‘abuse’ these cards. In turn, my cube is centered on the classic character v. character Destiny action.
That said, maybe you love the vehicles and your cube all but guarantees everyone has pilots, plays vehicles, etc. There is nothing wrong with that and, in fact, I think I would enjoy playing that cube quite a bit.
The Force Will Be With You… Always.
As I round out this blog, I can’t help but feel a bit sad as I already miss this game and community. I’ll never say never (I still can’t believe we were able to bring Ashes back, so who knows!), but this is probably one of the last times I write about Destiny in a post like this.
If you were a part of the Destiny community or worked in any way to bring this game to life, thank you. The journey of this game had its highs and lows, for sure, but it was one of the best communities I’ve ever been a part of and I’ll have memories from this game that will last me a lifetime.
Until next time – whenever that may be – may the Force be with you.