Greenhouse Effect – a Next Level Cube
After quite a while, I have finally finished a new Next Level Cube! Just yesterday I got the final cards I was missing for my pool (I’m now up to date including Magic 2013) and immediately went to construction. As always, this cube is an experiment, and obviously I haven’t tested it yet. These were some of my goals when designing it:
1. I wanted the cube to be much smaller this time and see if it was still possible to create a complex, multi-faceted environment with lots of cross-synergies like with my extraordinary success, Crusade.
2. I wanted to use rarities both for booster collation and individual card frequency this time. (In Crusade, individual cards from both rarities had the same chance of being in a draft, 50%.)
3. I wanted all commons to be in the draft every time to see how this changes draft dynamics – it should make a difference that you are guaranteed now certain cards will actually be in the boosters when sculpting your deck during draft, allowing you to be more proactive and less reactive.
4. I wanted to try out yet another model of asymmetrical color distribution. Crusade had White and Rakdos as equally strong main elements with Blue and Green squeezed in between them. This time, the environment is all about Green dominating it and growing into all other colors, with a clearly smaller Dimir putting up resistance.
5. I wanted to force players to commit to certain color combinations even more, just to see if this works (I’m optimistic that it will, but only actual drafting and playing will tell). Thus I used mostly manafixing which is specific to a color combination and reduced the amount of colorless cards a bit.
Greenhouse Effect is a 240-card cube, with 144 commons and 96 rares. The actual draft pool for each draft will contain all the commons and half of the rares. The distribution of the cards is as follows (as always, I prefer actual usage of a card to technical definitions when assigning it to a color or color combination, and I have come to include cards tied to all five colors with the colorless ones):
So clearly, Green gets the lion’s share this time, and encroaches on all the other colors, with a slight preference for its friends, White and Red, leading to all 2-color combinations including Green, and Naya as the only supported 3-color-combination. Blue and Black try to resist, thus making up the strongest non-Green colors in the environment and working together as Dimir.
I believe that this setup will lead to a default distribution of colors between players: 1 Naya, 1 Golgari, 1 Simic and 1 Dimir. However, I also expect that following card distribution in boosters and players’ draft decisions, this pattern will be shifting or even completely broken up more often than not.
Green is the only color which can be reasonably drafted on its own, and the abundance of colorless removal can help shore up its main weakness as a mono-color. However, while Green is the only single color drawing you into making it your main color with several double-green cheap creatures, it does not actually specifically reward you to go mono – in this environment, Green wants to play with (and encompass) the other colors, and multicolor cards are just a tad stronger overall to lure players into drafting additional colors. With a high preference for manafixing, a player might even be able to go 4-color-Green (I don’t believe there is a realistic chance of getting a decently consistent 5-color-Green deck, but a player might try anyway)!
Green in itself offers you – in addition to the usual solid, efficient creatures in general – the tribal synergies of elves and beasts. If you go Selesnya, you will find a well-supported enchantment theme and token synergies. If you prefer Gruul, you will have a plethora of creatures with haste and trample at your disposal, allowing for very aggressive builds. In both these pairs you will also have access to a theme tied to all Naya colors, landfall. Of course, White still excels at having answers for all kinds of threats, and Red still offers a lot of burn.
Going Simic will get you many creatures with +1/+1 counters and additional beasts, while in Golgari, Black shares with Green the themes deathtouch and recursion. If you look at Blue and Black from a Dimir perspective, however, these colors share the aspects of graveyard abuse (with Blue contributing the graveyard stocking, Black being keener on resurrection, and both colors using flashback), shadow, a strong zombie tribal theme, and a smidge of hating on Green. Blue additionally uses its tried and true strengths of countermagic and card draw, and Black of course still knows how to do discard and kill creatures.
I suggest to prepare a draft with this cube as follows: Seperate the commons into three piles of 48 cards each: one containing Green, Selesnya, Gruul and Naya; one with Blue, Black, Dimir, Golgari and Simic (minus the three fetchlands Misty Rainforest, Verdant Catacombs and Polluted Delta); and one with Colorless, White and Red (plus the fetchlands). Separate the Rares into two piles: one with Colorless, Green, Selesnya, Gruul, Golgari, Simic and Naya; and one with White, Black, Blue, Red and Dimir. Shuffle each of these piles seperately and thoroughly. Then remove half of each rare pile and set it aside (these are the rares which will not be used in this draft), then shuffle the two rare piles together (once again, thoroughly). You have now three common piles and a rare pile with 48 cards each. Prepare the 16 boosters with three cards from each pile. This should make for a reasonably balanced booster collation.
Now, here is the card list:
Edit: Since someone asked – here is the source file with the list of Greenhouse Effect.
Second Edit: Trespasser il-Vec has since been replaced with Giant Scorpion.Lists, Next Level Cube