THE CUBE: House Drafting

     If you are a listener of the HELP FROM FUTURE SELF podcast that I am also a part of, you know that we, as a group, are big fans of the casual game. We like to explore different formats that can be utilized by members of this great community and get to know each other as we play this glorious game that is KeyForge. The other week, I read a fantastic article on the Time Shapers blog about a single-card draft cube that CoDameron, of Bouncing Deathquark, came up with and I was fascinated with the idea of drafting in KeyForge! I think that the single card draft that was outlined was very well thought out and had fantastic solutions to issues that could potentially arise. If you wish to read this article, you can find it HERE

      There was one aspect of this cube that did not, personally, appeal to me which was that it was a single-card draft and you were essentially deck building. This is not something I associate with KeyForge; although, the decks you could build with the available cards would make for some truly outstanding games! I tried looking for any articles that already existed on this house-drafting idea and didn’t come across any, possibly because this idea seems quite straightforward. So, with this in mind, I decided to try my hand at creating my own cube variation using complete houses from decks. Each player is choosing a pre-algorithmically generated house to draft from each pack and, after having drafted six houses from three different sets, choose three of those to merge into a deck to play. That is the inspiration and basic concept for this cube. Let’s dive into the details of how to construct this version of a KeyForge cube.

     The whole reason for creating this cube was to utilize the myriad of decks I own that do not get played due to being less-than-stellar, as a whole. The great thing about KeyForge is that it is made up of three different houses and, although a deck may be lacking when you look at all three houses together, a single house within those three can be truly amazing! With this in mind, the first thing I did was decide the parameter for the houses I would parse out from the deck to use in the cube. I used my Decks of KeyForge collection to look at the individual house’s SAS score and decided that 20 SAS would be the bottom line for an eligible house. I sorted them and started from the lowest of my scores and worked my way up, all the while creating a spreadsheet. The categories I logged were the deck name, which set it was from, and which house was in consideration for the draft, along with the SAS score of that house, or houses, from the original deck.

     Now that a list of possible candidates was available, the next step was to sort through the physical collection and find these decks. I decided to prioritize decks that had already been unwrapped and not use decks still in the original wrapping if I was only going to be taking out one house. My collection of KeyForge decks is large enough that I could pick and choose this way. One thing to keep in mind, as you are compiling a selection of houses, is the distribution of each house and set. Try to keep it evenly spread between all nine houses and between total houses from each set. You will want to organize the piles by a set rather than house. This is important for the next part of assembling the packs when drafting this format of a KeyForge cube. As you are sorting out all of the individual houses from each deck, any house that has an individual SAS score of 24+ should be put aside in their own pile, regardless of which set they are from. These will be the “rare” houses that are a crucial part of this particular cube variation. Also, I recommend keeping a list of these “rare” houses in a spreadsheet, or some other form of cataloging, as after each draft, these will need to be separated from the rest of the houses that make up the cube. I have included a picture (below) to illustrate how I organized the individual houses to be made into packs for the draft. Next, let’s move onto the actual creation of the packs to be drafted.

     To organize all the packs, I use team bags, but you will need a slightly larger size to fit four houses. You can use whatever vessel you feel is most appropriate for this aspect as long as it is able to hold 48 cards. Now comes the part where you construct your packs to be drafted from the pool of houses you have compiled by set. The idea for this cube is that each pack will have four different houses. First off, choose a house from the “rare” pile. Follow that up with a house from each set pile and while making sure there is not more than one of any given house. This way, the pack is made up of a house from each set plus a “rare” house. Have the “rare” house on the bottom so, as players go through each pack, the “rare” house is the last one that is looked at when going from the first card to the last card. One thing to be mindful of during this pack construction process is that, as you near the end of the available houses, you shouldn’t have any overlap or excess of any particular house. Otherwise, you will have to go back and swap others out to make it work so there are never two of the same house in a pack. After you have created packs for drafting, you will have to determine the maximum amount of players that can be a part of the draft. Keep in mind that each player gets two packs. I recommend 16 packs as it provides a cube draft for eight players and three rounds (feel free to make it as large as you want). Now, on to the drafting process.

     Here are the rules. Each player chooses one house from their first pack and passes the remaining three houses to the left. Repeat this process until there is one house left in the pack- the fourth house. Unlike other drafts, this last house is not an automatic house you are stuck with. This is the swap house- you choose if you want to swap a house you have already chosen in exchange for this house. If not, then you leave the house in the pack and set it aside. Repeat the same process for pack two, but pass the pack to the right after you select a house. The fourth house remaining in the second pack can now be swapped with any of the six houses you have chosen thus far. This is a great opportunity to look at your house pool to see if a deck is lacking an essential element that this swap house can help fulfill (e.g.- are you missing æmber control, board control, or maybe you have a low creature count). As you draft, be sure to keep the core KeyForge deck principles in mind to create the desired deck. Once all the packs have been drafted, look at all six houses you chose and select three to make up your deck — they can be any three you have chosen, as long as the houses are only represented once. You are free to mix sets together; in fact, that is the most exciting part about this! 

     Now, sleeve up the decks in opaque sleeves and play your games! Decide how you pair up and begin a Swiss-style tournament. This sums up how I created my cube to be drafted based on houses. Another thing to note, if you notice one particular deck’s house keeps showing up in the deck of a player in the final round, you may want to consider rotating that house out of the draft in order to level things out. 

     If you have any questions about this particular KeyForge cube draft, please don’t hesitate to reach out on social media: @blvdPAPERFIGHT. As always, may your æmber never be stolen, and your keys forged promptly. Have a good one!

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