Epic Cube Draft is one of the 3 formats used on the first day of Worlds. I, and many other players, did not have a chance to practice the full 8-person format much before worlds. But, after doing 6 or so practice drafts on the Friday/Saturday before the tournament, I was able to draft probably my best limited format deck ever. I convincingly won all 4 games of the first 2 rounds.
Epic Cube is an 8-player format. To form the card pool, take 1 copy of every red gem card and 3 copies of every white gem card. Deal out 3 packs of 12 random cards from this pool to each player. To start, each player picks up a 12 card pack in front of them.
From the cards in your hand: choose one card, place it face down in front of you, and pass the remaining cards to your left. Everyone repeats this until each player has 12 cards in front of them and no cards in hand. Once all cards in a pack have been picked, each player may review their drafted cards.
Repeat this process 2 more times with your remaining packs. Except, pass cards in your second pack to your right. (Pass cards in your third pack to your left.)
After all 3 packs are finished, each player will have 36 cards. 6 cards must be cut so each player will have a 30 card deck.
As I mentioned, I didn’t have much time to practice for this format, but I did layout all of the non-uprising cards divided by faction and rarity beforehand. Mainly I just wanted to see how important the rares where to the strength of each alignment.
Notable Commons: Raxxa’s Displeasure, Necrovirus, Reaper, Spawning Demon, Angel of Death, Dark Assassin, Infernal Gatekeeper, Medusa, Necromancer Lord, Plentiful Dead, Succubus, Rift Summoner, Demonic Rising
Notable Commons: Gladius the Defender, Village Protector, Bodyguard, Justice Prevails, Inner Peace, Insurgency, Noble Martyr, Paros Rebel Leader, Rabble Rouser, Revolt, High King, Noble Unicorn, Standard Bearer, The People’s Champion, White Knight
Generically High-Value Commons: Silver Dragon, Angel of the Gate, Martial Law, Rescue Griffin, Second Wind, Urgent Messengers, Banishment, Brave Squire, Ceasefire, Divine Judgement, Inheritance of the Meek, Palace Guard
Notable Commons: War Machine, Knight of Elara, Elara the Lycomancer, Shadow Imp, Temporal Enforcer, Forcemage Apprentice, Ice Drake, Juggernaut, Keeper of Secrets, Psionic Assault, Steel Golem, Time Bender, Time Walker, Warrior Golem, Blue Dragon
Generically High-Value Commons: Citadel Scholar, Erratic Research, Reset, Lesson Learned, Vanishing, Fumble, Hasty Retreat, Muse, Spike Trap, Thought Plucker, Wave of Transformation, Winter Fairy, Ancient Chant, Crystal Golem, Djinn of the Sands
Notable Commons: Pyrosaur, Den Mother, Entangling Vines, Savage Uprising, Fires of Rebellion, Hunting Pack, Brachiosaurus, Draka’s Enforcer, Draka’s Fire, Fire Spirit, Smash and Burn, Cave Troll, Flame Strike, Flash Fire, Forked Lightning, Hunting Raptors, Lightning Storm, Pack Alpha, Raging T-Rex, Strafing Dragon, Fire Shaman
Initially, I was thinking I might want to draft Good because I figured it would be the least drafted color (since it is generally the weakest color). I figured I would get passed some high-quality cards late in the draft, and, with the addition of the 3-copies of common cards, I figured I could draft a high-synergy deck.
Looking at the rare breakdowns, Angel of Mercy is the biggest loss because it is one of Good’s strongest cards. Courageous Soul and Secret Legion also decreased the consistency of potential human token decks. I was worried, but Good did still have 3 copies of: White Knight, Noble Unicorn, and High King.
Evil’s biggest weakness in dark draft is frequently being unable to reach a critical mass of Evil cards. In cube draft, I thought this might be a bit alleviated because of the commons: Medusa, Spawning Demon, Angel of Death, Dark Assassin, Necromancer Lord, Plentiful Dead, and Rift Summoner. In addition, the only super strong Evil focused deck cards that are rare are Raxxa and Zannos.
I felt like Sage didn’t lose a lot from its rares, but the addition of extra copies of commons didn’t seem that important either. The difference between 1 and 2 Juggernauts and/or Steel Golems isn’t as big as the difference between 1 and 2 Medusas for instance.
Below are pictures from 4 rapid fire cube drafts that I participated in with, I believe, all qualified players on Saturday.
I also did 2 cube drafts on Friday.
In these 6 drafts I tried to force Good multiple times. I had minimal success. In one of those drafts I was able to get double The People’s Champion and double Rabble Rouser with an Insurgency and a Revolt, but I had to pass up on my 1 chance to get mass discard banish to pick up the Revolt. The deck came close to going off and overwhelming my opponent’s with tokens, but in both matches, I lost when my opponent decked out.
In every draft I went for human tokens, at least one other person went for it as well. This caused us to split important cards between the two of us, and both our decks were weaker for it. In addition, strong token decks need very specific cards like Revolt, Courageous Soul, and Insurgency. Due to this, I had to choose between critical cards in general and cards critical for my strategy. It didn’t work out well for me.
In addition, some of the strongest Good commons are reasonably strong in non-Good decks: White Knight, Noble Unicorn, Angel of the Gate, Blind Faith, Banishment (I value this a lot higher after Worlds), Divine Judgement, Inheritance of the Meek, etc. Due to this, the flow of Good cards passed to me was not as great as I was hoping.
Overall, Good was incredibly underwhelming for me at Worlds.
I fell into Evil twice in the above 4 drafts. Both times, I took an incredibly powerful card like Medusa a few picks into a pack, and then just kept getting strong Evil cards throughout. With both of these decks, I was able to continue to pickup some of the strongest generic cards while improving my Evil core as well. In other words, there were no must-have cards that overly restricted my ability to take cards like Erratic Research.
Evil dramatically overperformed my expectations.
Sage was nothing special. My first draft I went Sage/Wild (even though I went in wanting to force Good), and I had a 2-1 match record with it. Sage has a lot of powerful generic cards. This means that achieving a high-density of incredible Sage can be difficult since everyone will be taking cards of that alignment.
Wild burn is real in Cube Draft. There is a lot of Wild burn available and for people who focus on it, they can get a critical mass. I got crushed by it in my first practice draft on Friday, and I saw a deck packed with it later too. In addition, I also saw someone pick up all 3 Draka’s Enforcers.
Overall, seemed pretty solid.
My (approximate) Worlds Draft
I didn’t think to take a picture of it at the time, but I recreated it to the best of my ability below. It was sick.
2x Erratic Research
When drafting, I saw a Medusa about 3rd pick in the first pack. After my results testing, I took it, went Evil, and didn’t look back. Oh man, I was so happy the rest of the draft.
I remember being a bit worried about my number of off-turn threats (hence keeping Entangling Vines), and I was a bit worried about my card draw. I loved my powerful Evil cards and 0-cost champions though.
So, while I was drafting, I had the unfortunate pleasure of knowing who my first round opponent was going to be. Great player, nice guy. I had faced him in 3 or 4 matches in the past, and I had lost every game to him, convincingly so. He was also the only person to beat me in a match on the first day of the Origins Limited event, and he did it to me twice (once in rounds and once in top 4). Needless to say, I was not ecstatic about facing him round 1.
Little Devil, Dark Knight, Guilt Demon(?) were absolute beasts. These games were textbook cases of Get Ahead – Stay Ahead, where these little guys were my main establishing champions. I would play one, attack, get a bit of damage through, and then pass. If he played a champion on my turn, I’d use my gold to break it. If he drew, I’d either draw myself or hit him with my White Knights while also drawing. Aside from that, my tokens from Murderous Necromancer, Plentiful Dead, Raxxa, and Spawning Demon(?), where able to reestablish and keep the pressure on after wipes. I was able to stay ahead for largely the entirety of both games.
I’ve gone back and forth on Blind Faith. From saying it is one of the best cards in constructed to not valuing it too highly in draft. When I saw it in the Cube, I thought about it for a bit, and then decided I wanted to be the only one in the draft to have it. It was incredible. In both games of my first match it allowed absolute blowout plays. Game 2 it was part of my own personal play of the tournament.
I have an expended White Knight and Murderous Necromancer in play. My opponent has Steel Golem in play. On his turn, he plays Trihorror. On my turn, I immediately Blind Faith, use White Knight to break Trihorror (denying him 3 demons), and use Murderous Necromancer to break Steel Golem (no longer untargetable). Then I passed. He board cleared. I played and attacked with my second White Knight. It was brutal. In addition, his deck had Stand Alone in it. If I couldn’t have made that play, and if he had Stand Alone in hand, I would have been wrecked.
Blind Faith, great card. Helped me beat one of the strongest players I know. (He also ended the tournament with a better record than me.)
Remember when I said you could draft an absolutely sick burn deck, yeah that happened. My opponent had all 3 Fires of Rebellion in addition to even more burn, such as Strafing Dragon. Thankfully, I had my 36th draft pick, Inner Peace, and I drew it.
In both games, he Fires of Rebellioned my face when my gold was up and I was about 1 or 2 more burn cards away from death. In both cases, I was able to answer by Inner Peacing and returning it to hand with my next gold. By then, I was already far enough ahead that I was able to win.
Importance of Card Reveals
In game 2, I had seen that my opponent had a Zombie Apocalypse in hand (either by revealing it for loyalty or accidentally dropping it, don’t remember which). At one point on my turn, my opponent’s gold was down, I was at around 15 health, I had multiple champions in play, and I had both Inner Peace and Erratic Research in hand (and some other cards).
My first instinct was to use this opportunity to Inner Peace. I was far ahead on the board, but I could lose to back-to-back burn if I were to use my gold before my opponent on a future turn of mine. (He Fires of Rebellions while my gold is down on my turn, and then immediately Fires of Rebellion + Flash Fires me on his turn before I can play anything.) So, by Inner Peacing now, I remove that possible path to victory for my opponent.
However, I also realize I am in a a dominant position on the board, and the only way my opponent can stabilize is to use a board clear against me. Since I know he has Zombie Apocalypse, I decide to forgo the opportunity to heal and instead banish his discard pile and draw 2 with Erratic Research. Sure enough, on his next turn he plays his Zombie Apocalypse, but instead of him having around 4-7 zombies to my 5 or so, he passes his turn with 10/10 worth of stats-disadvantage, while my gold is up. In other words, I was able to get him behind, and keep him behind.
If I hadn’t considered the card I knew was in his hand, I wouldn’t have been able to as effectively maintain my advantage.
Post Worlds Cube Draft Thoughts
Evil in Cube Draft is incredibly powerful, and I love it.
Not only are Evil cards highly inherently-synergistic with some of the most powerful Loyalty 2 and ally abilities in the game, but they are also attached to cards that are pretty awful without the loyalty/ally triggers: Necromancer Lord, Angel of Death, Medusa, Zannos Corpse Lord, Murderous Necromancer, Dark Assassin, Spawning Demon, and Plentiful Dead. Add on to that the non-loyalty/ally synergistic cards like Raxxa Demon Tyrant, Raxxa’s Displeasure, Demon Breach, Reaper, and Rift Summoner. Then, add all of the generically powerful cards: Corpse Taker, Plague, Raxxa’s Curse, Grave Demon, Little Devil, Consume, Heinous Feast, Apocalypse, Dark Knight, Drain Essence, Guilt Demon, Wither, and Zombie Apocalypse. Now you have a large pool of cards to draw from to build a powerful deck. Also, since so many of the powerful Evil cards are common, you can much more easily hit that critical mass that is so necessary.
Forcing an Alignment?
Should you always force Evil though? No, no you should not. If everyone or even 3+ people chase Evil, it’s possible none of them will hit the critical mass of Evil cards to be truly worth it. In addition, it opens other alignments, like Wild, to be easy-pickings for other players.
As you draft, you need to pay attention to the power of cards you see passed to you and at what stage in the pack you see them. If you see a Raging T-Rex 4th pick or later, there are decent odds the players on your right haven’t committed to Wild. 6th pick Medusa, enjoy your Evil, etc.
Until you reach a point you feel comfortable committing to an alignment, I recommend prioritizing key, generically-powerful cards. Once you see a signal that an alignment might be open (or you draft a really powerful loyalty/ally card of an alignment), you can start prioritizing alignment cards over duplicates of key cards. For example, already have a Grave Demon when your going Wild, take that Spore Beast over the Erratic Research.
However, it can occasionally be correct to shift your focus in a draft. If you start picking up Evil cards and then get passed (and pick) strong Wild cards on picks 8, 9, and 10, it might be forth pursuing the Wild more heavily than the Evil.
Aside from Chamberlain Kark, the big, overlooked story of Worlds was the importance and high-valuation of 0-cost cards, specifically 0-cost champions. Even Darwin Kastle, Epic co-creator, discussed on stream how he hadn’t been valuing 0-cost cards as highly as some of the competitors, and how he thought he had possibly been proven wrong to have done so. For many players, 10 0-cost cards was the absolute minimum with up to 18 or so (in a 30 card deck) being better. I also lost, pretty convincingly, to a player in the second round of Dark Drafts who valued 0-cost cards higher than me (even though we drafted a similar number). He made it to top 8. I did not. (I’ll specifically discuss the high-valuation of 0-cost cards in a future article.)
Due to this high valuation, 0-cost cards were frequently very hard to come by in Cube Drafts. Many players would focus on taking those first, and for myself who didn’t/doesn’t value 0-cost cards quite as highly, if you didn’t prioritize taking some early and throughout, you wouldn’t get that many. For example, in multiple test drafts, I found myself going into pack three with only around 3 0-cost cards. Personally, I want around 10, so in the final packs I was forced to draft 0-cost cards over almost everything else. Due to this, I was able to claw myself back into a reasonable range, but the caliber of my 0-cost cards wasn’t always as strong as some of the other players.
In the actual tournament cube draft, the players at my draft table did not seem to value 0-cost cards as highly as I had been experiencing in testing though. This let me get an 8th or so pick Little Devil, and it was a major contributor in both my matches. I was also able to get Rescue Griffin a lot later in the draft than I was expecting too. (It has been performing great for me ever since I was talked into how strong it is.)
Overall, even if you are not the player who wants to draft 18 0-cost cards (and you and I might be wrong not to be those people), make sure you prioritize at least key 0-cost cards. If you don’t, others will.