Saturday, April 14, 2012

Cube Blog: The Spy Network (Part 1)

Onslaught Block has always been my all-time favorite draft format. The thing is that not everyone agrees with me. I loved it because of the randomness that a battlefield full of morphed creatures brought to the table while other people hated it for exactly the same reason. So how do I help people who hated Onslaught to more enjoy playing with the Cube. The answer was simple enough: Reduce the randomness that morphed creatures bring to the table by injecting as many effects that reveal the identities of those morphed creatures in the Cube.

Spy Network has always been a very underwhelming card. Back when you were drafting Onslaught Block, this was one of those junk commons that was taken late that no one ever played. And even now in The Mighty Morphin' Cube it's still one of those cards that probably won't make the cube and yet, I still feel the need to include it. It's kind of iconic in its effect and really sets the stage for all the cards that follow in its footsteps. In the Cube, cards that "reveal the identities of the morphed creatures in the Cube" can fall into three different categories:

1) Revealing Cards in Your Opponent's Hand - If you can see the cards in your opponent's hand, you can see what future morphed creatures he has the option to play. The spells that have this effect include:
2) Revealing Cards in Your Own Hand - Revealing cards in your own hand to your opponent (including your potential creatures with morph) has nothing to do with what's good or bad for you. But it has everything to do with creating tension within the game. I want there to be a choice on your part whether or not it would be smart to reveal the fact that you're holding Willbender in your hand. I then want there to be a choice for your opponent if he wants to kill the morphed creature you just played or not. Creating this back and forth tension of potential identities of creatures is the reason why these cards exist in this Cube:
3) Bouncing Creatures From the Battlefield - Remember that whenever a creature with morph is moved from the battlefield to another game zone, the controller of that creature is required to reveal the identity of that creature. This makes bounce effects particularly effective when you're facing down so many creatures with morph:
Technically speaking, there is a fourth category which includes all of the white Flicker and Oblivion Ring type effects which can exile creatures out and back into play. But that effect is slightly different in that the creature that returns to play is exactly the same as the creature that left play. This isn't the case for the three categories above where identities are revealed but... your opponent could have always top deck'd another creature and chose to play that unknown creature instead. Then there are random cards like Bloodbraid Elf that reveal cards from your library without putting those cards into your hand. This may not effect the game immediately, but it will let your opponent know which creatures to look out for in the future.

In a Cube built around morph, I think these design decisions make both the draft and the games themselves a lot more interesting and I hope you do too.

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