And then there were 56

The 56 Generals of the Commander Cube
















For those of you who do not yet know, a Commander Cube has been unleashed on the Portland EDH scene.

I had been optimizing my collection for building EDH decks for a few years now, and this summer I was looking at my cards and realized what I had done: I had inadvertently build a Cube… for drafting Commander decks. All I had left to do was collect a few more expensive cards, and sleeve it up! So, a little over a week ago I started testing the Commander Cube with a few friends over at Red Castle, and so far, all 15 or so people who have drafted it have loved it. I’ve even had a few friends tell me that “it’s more fun that a regular cube draft” and “I like Commander Cube more than normal EDH.” These comments showed it to be much more of a success than I had ever thought possible.

I think the reason that the Commander Cube is so much fun to draft is because it’s uber-highlander, meaning that there are 896 unique cards in it. What this means for the format is quite simple: variety, which is something that I’ve notice some EDH games lacking lately. I have no idea how many times I’ve heard “I’ll Tooth and Nail entwined for Avenger of Zendikar and Primeval Titan.” While all three of those cards are in the Cube, you’d be super lucky to get all three of them, as opposed to some EDH games in which I’ve played where everyone had that in their deck.

So what the Commander Cube does for me—does in general, I believe—is to bring variety back into what is, sadly, becoming something of a stale format. (I’m not saying that I don’t still love constructed EDH, but this brings back a lot of the chaos that I remember from back when the format was young.)

The nine easy steps to running a Commander Cube:

  1. Shuffle the Commander Cube (this may take either a few friends or a few hours)
  2. Make 56 randomized “packs” of 15 cards
  3. Make 8 packs of 7 random Commanders
  4. Get up to 8 nerds together
  5. Each person gets a Commander pack, and drafts 7 Commanders
  6. Then draft 7 packs in standard pass right left right left right left right order
  7. Now everyone should have 112 cards (+basic lands) with which to build a Commander deck
  9. Give the cards back to Sam so we can do it again next week.

A few statistics about the Cube, for the curious:

  • 1246 cards sleeved up in shiny black Ultra-Pros
  • 105 cards each of white, blue, black, red, green, gold, colorless, and non-basic lands
  • 56 Commanders
  • 70 of each basic land sleeved up and ready to play

I’m planning on sharing more details in the future. It’ll be a bit rough typing out the whole 840 cards in the cube, but for now I’ll give you all who are interested a list of the commanders.

here they are in order by color identity (Contents of the Cube Part I):

Child of Alara
Scion of the Ur-Dragon

Allied Pairs
Grand Arbiter Augustin IV
Isperia the Inscrutable
Szadek, Lord of Secrets
Dralnu, Lich Lord
Wrexial, the Risen Deep
Lyzolda, the Blood Witch
Bladewing the Risen
Kaervek the Merciless
Rosheen Meanderer
Wort, the Raidmother
Stonebrow, Krosan Hero
Chorus of the Conclave
Captain Sisay

Enemy Pairs
Ghost Council of Orzhova
Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter
Glissa, the Traitor
Skullbriar, the Walking Grave
Experiment Kraj
Edric, Spymaster of Trest
Momir Vig, Simic Visionary
Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind
Nin, the Pain Artist
Brion Stoutarm
Razia, Boros Archangel
Basandra, Battle Seraph

Treva, the Renewer
Rafiq of the Many
Zur the Enchanter
Sharuum the Hegemon
Ertai, the Corrupted
Nicol Bolas
Sek’Kuar, Deathkeeper
Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund
Rith, the Awakener
Uril, the Miststalker

Ruhan of the Fomori
Zedruu the Greathearted
Numot, the Devastator
The Mimeoplasm
Damia, Sage of Stone
Vorosh, the Hunter
Kaalia of the Vast
Tariel, Reckoner of Souls
Oros, the Avenger
Animar, Soul of Elements
Intet, the Dreamer
Riku of Two Reflections
Karador, Ghost Chieftain
Ghave, Guru of Spores
Teneb, the Harvester

The first thing I did was to make sure that each color identity was covered by at least two Commanders, in some cases I was able to get three, but I wanted to limit the Commander pool to 56 so that in an 8-player draft, each person would end up with exactly 7 Commanders.

There are also some number of mono-colored legendary creatures in the rest of the Cube, which may be used as Commanders, but it’s not recommended because it would be quite hard to draft enough cards in one color. Additionally, Commanders drafted, but not used as a Commander, may be included in the final build of the deck.

I was also conscious of trying to include as many different deck archetypes as possible with the Commanders, and tried to have some overlap in archetypes as well. As of right now, I’m in the early stages of development/testing of the Cube, and 5c Commanders are still in there on a provisional basis. The next time I draft (hopefully this coming Monday) I’ll be hoping to pick a 5c Commander so that I can force 5c to see if it actually works (I’m expecting to be picking lands really highly).

10 comments to And then there were 56

  • Connor(Bonk)

    FIRST! Also its pretty fun.

  • Jake

    Wow, this looks like a lot of fun. While Im not to seasoned with cubing I do have alot of EDH decks. I think it would be alot of fun to combine the 2…

    I have a new project to work on…

  • Jake

    Looking through your list I noticed there is a color imbalance within your generals. For example you have 4 BR generals vs only 2 of each UW and GW. How did you adjust the rest of the list to balance that? When building my list I just decided to make 3 of each color identity, which ends up being 63 generals. I figure 56 will get drafted in the general section and the other’s will be added to the pool of normal drafted cards. So far this has been a fun project.

    • Coda

      It’s actually not that important to have an absolute color balance between all the generals. As long as you’ve got a decently balanced selection, the normal color selection forces that get exerted during the draft should keep the right cards flowing to who needs them. I’ve found that it’s a smart strategy to draft a couple of different first-choice commanders and then let what kinds of cards that get passed to you in the draft decide who you play. You might not play exactly who your first choice is, but your deck comes out the stronger for it.

  • Champion of the Parrish

    I live in Portland, and I play EDH, and I have a standard cube, and I’ve been wanting to try a commander cube. I would love to play with you some time. Is there an email contact on this site?

  • I am confused. If you only end up with 112 cards, to make a 99 card deck, you need to use almost every card you drafted. Is it really feasible that no single player drafts more than 13 “last picks” and unplayable cards in a set? What if you don’t end up with 99 playables?

  • Champion of the Parrish

    Well, Virtual Alex, it’s a lot like regular drafting. In a typical m12 draft, for example, players draft just 3 packs of 15 cards, yet they make 40 card decks out of just 45 cards they drafted!

  • BuddaH

    Virtual Alex, hopefully by now you’ve played it or become less confused. But for others with the same question, don’t forget the fact that you need to add basic lands for deck construction. Usually around 36-40 is a good number. You’ll usually have around 60 playables from your draft and the rest divided among basic and non-basics.

  • Morgan

    Do you allow players to use any of the 7 drafted legendary generals in their decks? For example: I draft both Nin and Niv. I choose Niv as my general can I use Nin in my deck? Do they have to be resleeved?

  • Coda

    Nah, if you draft them, you can use them, and they’re all in the same sleeve, so no need to resleeve.

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