Drafting the Commander Cube


Now that I’ve updated my cube, I wanted to talk people through the kinds of things I’m thinking about when I’m drafting my Commander Cube. It’s a lot easier to understand a draft format when you see some packs than it is just from looking at a huge list of cards, so I figured we could take a look at some sample packs and work through the options.

With this cube, we get to take two cards for each pack. If I’m drafting with four or five players, I’ll typically make 15 card packs, and with 6+ I’ll make 20 card packs. For this exercise, we’ll assume a four-player draft with 15 card packs.

Pack 1:

  • Sulfur Falls
  • Myr Battlesphere
  • Tayam, Luminous Enigma
  • Starnheim Unleashed
  • Gauntlet of Power
  • Lord Windgrace
  • Dargo, the Shipwrecker
  • Dryad of the Ilysian Grove
  • Grenzo, Havoc Raiser
  • Prosper, Tome-Bound
  • Marionette Master
  • Thriving Moor
  • Abdel Adrian, Gorion’s Ward
  • Staff of the Storyteller
  • Siren Stormtamer

One of the first things to think about is always whether you’re going to try to lock in a commander early and draft around it, or whether you’re going to stay open and figure out your commander later. One possible choice you could make with this pack is to take Lord Windgrace and Dryad of the Ilysian Grove. Lord Windgrace is a little hard to use in this cube because there are no fetch lands and not a ton of self-mill, but I could see taking these two with the plan to use Lord Windgrace as your commander and simply play a very large number of lands.

Alternatively, you could take Lord Windgrace and Prosper, Tome-Bound. Prosper is an incredible card that works well as a commander or a maindeck card, so I’m interested in picking it up here, and I’d be happy to play it in a deck with Lord Windgrace as the commander. This would leave my options open and I would plan to try to focus on red and black cards, but if the best options are green, I can take those. If I table the Dryad of the Ilysian Grove, then maybe I pivot to planning to play Lord Windgrace, and if I don’t and red and black seem open, then maybe I just give up on it and play Prosper as my commander.

This offers a good mix of power and flexibility–you get to focus on two colors with a clear backup plan, but you’ll also have the ability to pivot into Mardu or Grixis as the draft dictates.

My first instinct with this pack was actually to take Prosper, Tome-Bound and Marionnette Master, as the Master is a great way to end a game if Prosper is your commander and you manage to make treasures off it. I still think that’s a good plan, but I do sort of like the flexibility offered by the Prosper/Windgrace pick, and there’s always a chance you’ll table the Marionnette Master.

Another option that I don’t like quite as much is just to take the two partners: Dargo, the Shipwrecker and Abdel Adrian, Gorion’s Ward. Technically, these two as partners kinda work together, as Abdel can give you fodder to cast Dargo, or Dargo can sacrifice Abdel so that you get the creatures you exiled back on command. From here, you’d be looking to try to find enters the battlefield abilities and token generation presumably. If I made this pick, I wouldn’t expect that these two would ultimately be my commanders–my goal would be to give myself a lot of flexibility by having two partners, and technically I could play them together.

The last option I’ll note is Abdel Adrian and Staff of the Storyteller. Staff works with Abdel and this lets you focus on a single color while you wait to figure out any other colors with another partner later.

I’m not looking to talk through a single draft because there are too many branching paths, I just want to discuss how I’d think about opening a few different packs, so for the next pack, assume this is a different fresh draft, not a continuation of the draft above.

Pack 2

  • Etali, Primal Storm
  • Midnight Reaper
  • Zurgo and Ojutai
  • Svella, Ice Shaper
  • Druid of Purification
  • Cavalier of Thorns
  • Hallowed Fountain
  • Steel Hellkite
  • Hidetsugu and Kairi
  • Hedron Archive
  • Torrential Gearhulk
  • Stuffy Doll
  • Regrowth
  • Relic of Legends
  • Ox of Agonas

I think Relic of Legends is the best three-mana rock in the cube since you can draft a pretty large number of legends, and it’s especially great with cheap partners. Given how flexible it is, I’m pretty sure that would be one of the cards I’d take here. That means I’m not taking two cards with a ton of synergy, so things are pretty flexible from there.

Relic of Legends plays well with five mana spells, especially five mana commanders, so it would pair well with Zurgo and Ojutai or Hidetsugu and Kairi. I think those two are pretty comparable and would expect to just take whichever set of colors I felt more like playing. Alternatively, you could take Cavalier of Thorns and figure out a green commander later.

I wouldn’t want to take Svella+Relic of Legends because if I’m taking Svella I’d likely want it to be my commander (it doesn’t have to be, but it’s a sweet commander), and I wouldn’t want a three-mana rock in that deck, but I could see taking Svella and Cavalier of Thorns.

You could also just take two artifacts here to stay open, in which case I’d probably want Relic of Legends and Hedron Archive.

Pack 3

  • Pongify
  • Legion Warboss
  • Decimate
  • Chandra, Torch of Defiance
  • Shadowheart, Dark Justiciar
  • Cataclysm
  • Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools
  • Noxious Gearhulk
  • Relic of Progenitus
  • Seal of Removal
  • Hostage Taker
  • Deadly Dispute
  • Arcane Denial
  • Fertile Ground
  • Murderous Cut

I’m sure there are some people who’d be drawn to Legion Warboss+Chandra, Torch of Defiance, but this isn’t 1v1 and while I do think Legion Warboss is respectable, I don’t think that’s where I’d want to start out of this pack.

I could see just taking blue interaction–Arcane Denial is one of the best counterspells, and then you could take either Seal of Removal or Pongify to go with it, I think they’re about as good.

I could also see Arcane Denial and any of Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools, Noxious Gearhulk, Deadly Dispute, or Hostage Taker. I think I like Deadly Dispute and Hostage Taker more than the others if I want to pair it with Arcane Denial–I don’t think taking a blue card and a black commander leaves me that open and I think Noxious Gearhulk is worse than Hostage Taker if you’re Blue/Black, but I don’t mind just starting with two cheap instants with Arcane Denial and Deadly Dispute instead of Hostage Taker, plus, you might be more likely to table the Hostage taker because it’s a gold card.

It’s a bit weird to play two partners of the same color, but Tevesh Szat and Shadowheart are both looking to sacrifice things, so maybe you could try leaning into that. This cube does have a special rule that if your commander(s) only have one total color you can splash up to six cards of a single other color, so it’s a little more flexible than it might sound, and you can always replace one of them with another partner and maybe play the one you cut in your deck (or not).

If you didn’t want to play blue or black, I could also see taking Fertile Ground and Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Decimate, or Cataclysm.

  • Sulfur Falls
  • Indomitable Creativity
  • Scute Swarm
  • Bloody Betrayal
  • Katilda, Dawnheart Prime
  • Dragonmaster Outcast
  • Blue Sun’s Zenith
  • Monster Manual
  • Faerie Mastermind
  • Nature’s Claim
  • Prophetic Prism
  • Saw in Half
  • Temple of Enlightenment
  • Xanathar, Guild Kingpin
  • Chromeshell Crab

I’m not sure where I want to go with this pack. Saw in Half jumps out at me. Pairing that with Bloody Betrayal is kinda sweet, but you could almost certainly table that. Maybe you take Saw in Half and Indomitable Creativity, since Creativity is another card that strikes me as particularly strong in this pack.

Alternatively, I could see taking Saw in Half with any of the blue cards, or just taking two blue cards–probably Faerie Mastermind and Blue Sun’s Zenith.

I could also see Indomitable Creativity and Prophetic Prism, as there are a lot of red commanders that like random cantrip artifacts, and that leaves you pretty open.

I think Katilda is also potentially strong as a commander if you can draft around it from the beginning, so I could see taking that and another green card–probably Scute Swarm, but maybe Monster Manual and you just look for cheap humans and expensive green and white creatures to ramp into or cheat out with Monster Manual.

Hopefully, hearing my thought process on these packs gives you a better idea of what the experience of drafting this cube is like. I like drafting two cards at a time, as I think it makes for interesting considerations about how cards play together, and as you saw, that factored heavily into all of my considerations here.