The “Unlimited” Power of the Cube

Hello SixPrizes community,

If you read my last article about the Cube and have been anxious to see a card list, today marks the end of your waiting. I have returned with details about the design, drafting process, gameplay, and, of course, the card list.

My Cube consists of more than 360 of the most powerful cards spanning from the Base Set to Dragons Exalted. You may be familiar with many of the cards in the selection already, because some of the most powerful cards Pokémon has to offer have been introduced in the past two years (HeartGold & SoulSilver through Dragons Exalted).

To shed some light on the power and potential of the Cube, here is the list:

(The organization is based on the energy cost of the Pokémon, not necessarily the type.)

pokemon-paradijs.comFirst, I apologize for the lack of card image links, but this was the best way to condense the list for readers to view the entire article. To reconcile, the set abbreviation and number have been provided for each card.

Second, I must stress that this is not the Cube’s final or definitive configuration; this only represents the Cube’s current state. Part of the format’s nature is that the card list is constantly changing with the inclusion of new sets, newly discovered card combinations, and the accessibility to rare or expensive cards. In fact, there are some cards listed above that I am already expecting to replace when I have the opportunity, but I digress.

You may find the card list above useful as a skeleton if you have many of the same cards in your own collection. For those of you who don’t, my advice is to dust off your binder, rummage through your rotated and current format cards, and pull out the fun, powerful ones. Try to give each energy type a few decent attackers and a small supporting cast. As you play a few games, you will be able to use the technique I will describe in a moment to standardize the degree of power.

As I said before, the nature of the Cube is that it is evolving and becoming stronger as more cards are released; that is especially true as I recall what the Cube used to include. I began creating my Cube about two years ago with a relatively small collection. Sounds like a joke, but in those early days, Hitmonchan Base Set and Raichu HS developed into the MVPs of the format. Naturally, I wanted balance between the energy types, so I researched cards that I thought would even the playing field.

Maintaining the balance is actually pretty easy. When one energy type is not performing as well as the others, that indicates the need for some stronger cards for that type. Finding inexpensive cards to match the power level hasn’t been difficult, but does involve researching many sets and shopping around different websites for a decent price. Typically, when searching for a new strong attacker for a specific type, the answer is in the Black & White series. The Pokémon Company has released promo versions of a lot of powerful attackers from the Black & White sets, making those cards more accessible and cheaper.

Drafting Process

pokemon-paradijs.comAnother important aspect in regard to the balance of the game is the drafting process. Drafting ensures you and your opponent have an equal opportunity to the cards available in the Cube. There are many styles of drafting to choose from and trial and error has provided me with the most suitable for the Cube.

One technique that seems fair is to draft the commons and uncommons separately from the rares and ultra-rares. In the Cube’s infancy, the consensus was that receiving a booster full of rares by luck was unfair if the opponent had the same chance of getting a booster full of commons. To resolve this issue, the Cube is separated into three stacks before drafting begins: one stack with the commons/uncommons (labeled in blue in the card list), the second with rares/ultra-rares (orange/yellow), and the third with Trainers/Supporters/Special Energy. The Stadium cards are not included in the drafting process and I will elaborate later.

Typically, we draft the Cube between two people, but we have drafted with three or four on many occasions. I would expect that anything more than six players would begin hindering the quality of a 60-card deck. For two players, we use a Solomon draft to divide the cards. For three or more players, we use a Booster draft.

The Solomon drafting process is as follows: Two players roll a dice to see who goes first. Player A (the winner of the dice roll) flips the top four cards of the commons/uncommons stack for both players to see. Player A chooses one card and puts it face down in front of him. Player B then chooses two cards, putting them face down in front of him, and leaving the last card for Player A. Then Player B flips the next four cards, choosing one, then Player A choosing two, and so on. After the stack has been depleted, repeat the process for the rares/ultra-rares, and then again for the Trainers/Supporters.

The Booster draft is as follows: All players sit in a circle and receive a 10-card booster from the commons/uncommons stack. Each player will choose one card and pass the rest of the cards of that booster to the player to their left. Again, choose one card and pass the rest to the left. When each of the boosters has been depleted, create more boosters, reverse the passing direction, and repeat the process until the stack is empty. Use the same process for the rares/ultra-rares and Trainers/Supporters.

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Deck Building

Once every card has been drafted, each player may begin constructing a deck using only the cards he/she drafted. Depending on how many cards are in the Cube should determine how many cards should be in each deck. As I said before, I started my Cube with a small collection, so each player constructed 40-card decks with 4 Prize cards. Over time, the Cube developed and increased in size; considering the total number of cards each player drafted, we agreed that playing 60-card decks would unleash greater potential for our decks.

A box to the side contains plenty of basic energy for each player to pull from to complete their deck. The stack of Stadiums and some Special Energy cards are also in the box. Each player may choose only one Stadium card. If a player has drafted either DCE, Rainbow, Special Darkness, Special Metal, or Prism Energy, he/she may collect up to three more of that Energy card. This seems unexpected considering one of the Cube’s noteworthy aspects is the singleton feature, but in order to truly take advantage of the power of those cards, we deemed this modification allowable.

After all, exploiting combos that span multiple generations is one of the most compelling characteristics of the Cube. Occasionally, I see articles on SixPrizes commenting on how the format is missing their long lost Vileplume or Claydol. The Cube’s gameplay incorporates the best from the old and new, yielding a format that is better than what was considered the best. With so many powerful cards in the Cube, you might think everything is overpowered, but I insist there are many checks and balances.

Undoubtedly, there are quite a few vicious combos to be constructed, but your opponent has the opportunity to counter; he/she can hate-draft, build a deck that is equally strong, or plan to deny a potential threat with a specific card. To give an example for the last situation, if your opponent noticed that you drafted a lot of Pokémon with an Ability, he/she may find it beneficial to draft/play Garbodor to prevent a potentially dangerous strategy.

Check and Balances

pokemon-paradijs.comThe best example to showcase the checks and balances of the Cube is the following: Mr. Mime BS combined with Eviolite seems like a virtually, untouchable Pokémon. However, special conditions can Knock Out Mr. Mime’s Poké-Power and Poison can shorten his reign. Espeon DEX can patch up that weakness, and Dark Vileplume TR can purge the risk of Gust of Wind/Pokémon Catcher. The opponent can counter by playing Aerodactyl FO to prevent those evolutions, or even by playing Muk FO to hinder Mr. Mime’s defense. Even a Crobat G can be very effective, but remember, there is only one, so variations of Scoop Up are necessary.

With singleton in mind, you may be concerned with the consistency of evolutions, especially Stage 2s. My last article touched on this subject a bit. There are still plenty of ways to retain consistency because the Cube incorporates the best cards to aid you in evolution; Dark Dragonair TR, Spiritomb AR, and a large number of Trainer/Supporter cards are worth mentioning.

I will concede that your chance of Spiritomb as your starter every game is not so good, but constructing a deck to acquire Spiritomb on turn one is not difficult if you draft the right cards. Even if you do miss some crucial cards in the draft, the situation will demand you to have good deck building skills and, ultimately, improve those skills.

Apart from skill strengthening, the format is to promote fun. Put those old, rotated cards to use. Try to draft and build a merciless combo that never had the opportunity in Modified format. Build your very own Cube and draft with your friends.

If you are excited to try out the Cube, check out my previous article: Format For Your Favorite Cards. And, of course, feel free to ask questions in the comments section below.

Reader Interactions

7 replies

  1. Curtis

    I notice that you have cards like Base Set Bill and the Team Rocket print of Here Comes Team Rocket. Are these played as Items, or Supporters like their reprints?

    • Bryan Ward  → Curtis

      I think it was said in a different article that they’re played as they were originally made. Since there’s only 1 of them, and everyone has a chance to get those single cards, they aren’t incredibly overpowered. Also, the red cards are supporters, the black cards are not, and Bill and Here Comes Team Rocket are not listed as supporters. Same goes with the original Professor Oak.

        • Mark Smith  → Curtis

          Yes, CruelBear is correct. Both Bill and Here Comes Team Rocket are played as Items, not Supporters. It’s easier to abuse the strength of the card as an Item.

  2. JP Adams

    As someone who has been developing a Cube for many years and run into many walls with it, I do have to ask a couple questions:

    1) What card(s) have you, in the past eliminated from your Cube? Obviously there have to have been some major cuts in the past to get to this list and I am curious as to what they/are were.

    2) Did you create this Cube with specific strategies in mind (a la Ramp, Reanimator, Plainswalker/5C Control, and RDW in MtG Cubes) or did you just assemble a collection of great cards in hopes that the collection of awesomeness would result in an amazing experience? It seems like a bit of a mix of both to me, but I’d like your opinion before processing this further.

    3) And, this is biggie: Have you ever considered Mutant as a universal effect for the Cube? I’ve come to the conclusion in my Cube that Mutant is the way to go and creates more interesting inter actions than previously considered (also creating a strategy of Ascension.DEC as a strategy in my cube). It also allows you to use the best utility Basics with lessening drawback. Obviously it also has its flaws (like extra rules knowledge on top of already needing to draft well), but I find it makes a much more solid Cube experience for my friends and me.

    Again, GREAT article and you exposed me to a couple cards I want in my cube. Looking forward to any future articles on the topic as well!

    • Mark Smith  → JP

      I’m glad you enjoyed the article. It’s refreshing to see some Cube enthusiasts. To be honest, it’s difficult to remember all the cards that have come and gone. I’ve only cut cards out if no one was drafting the card (aka bad card) or if something was just flat-out better. Example, Sawk BLW is all around better than Hitmonchan BS. Same with EXP. Share as opposed to EXP. ALL from FireRed LeafGreen. Anyway, I’ll try to name some more noteworthy ones: Luxray GL RR, Heatran LA, Meganium N1, Ampharos Prime, Vanilluxe NVI, a bunch of Murkrow/Honchkrow, Bianca EPO, Health Energy, Life Herb, PlusPower, Dusk Ball/Great Ball EPO, and more binder trash than I care to mention. The thing about the binder trash is that, when comparing to other cards in the Cube at that time, they didn’t seem so bad. For the most part, you can look at good decks in the past and see those cards still in the Cube.
      As for the strategy of creating the Cube, the influence came from my roommates who played MtG. I would watch them play EDH, PlainsChaser, and Cube draft. I looked online to see if there was a skeleton for Pokemon Cubing. I couldn’t find much and what I did, I wasn’t interested in. I put some cards together, not giving much thought to power; I just tried to give each type an equal total of cards. I came to realize that power was the fun part, so I searched the internet for cards to improve each type and allow for more strategies. Searching for cards introduced me to some powerful Stadiums. We used to draft the Stadiums with the Trainers/Supporters, but, later, decided they weren’t worthy of being drafted together. When we play with three or more players, we occasionally use stadiums like Plainswalkers to make things interesting and chaotic. So, yeah, it’s a little bit of both MtG and awesome cards for inspiration.
      Yes, I have considered Mutant. Mutant drafting was one of the methods I came across when I started my Cube. I was closed-minded about the idea back then, mostly because I didn’t fully comprehend the potential. Eventually I learned, but I decided the regular Pokemon rules allow for more accessibility for new players. I guess we never had an issue with evolution to change our minds. On rare occasions, we draft and play with Mutant rules because drafting and constructing goes faster. I admit my Cube was not meant for Mutant drafting, so Mutant isn’t as powerful as it probably is for your Cube.

  3. Lauren Ruben

    This is awesome! A couple of questions: I noticed there are a lot of cards from the earliest sets, and a lot of cards from the newest blocks. Are you researching cards that would be fun to add to the cube, or are you just finding that cards from those sets are not as strong as current ones? It would be cool to have lots of cards no one has heard of before.
    I also noticed a lack of consistency in types. In MTG, the colors are within 1-2 cards of one another. Has this ever been a problem in drafting? This might not matter at all, it’s just something I noticed.
    Cards that might be fun to add: Pokemon Fan Club

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