One of the fun things about playing roleplaying games is seeing your character develop over a series of games. This has never been a part of Magic in any kind of significant way but I’ve always yearned for ways to give meaning from one game to the next. Over the years I’ve come up with a lot of variants to try and accomplish this but they were all kind of clunky or required excessive bookkeeping to work. A few months ago at a local judge meet up I managed to get a few of my friends to try out a new variant I affectionately called Cube Quest. Basically we started with a random selection of cards and a few markers and played games with our decks and improved them over the course of a few hours until we’d seen every card in the cube, then played a mini tournament to see who “won”. It was overwhelmingly well received, so after a few days of thought I incorporated what I learned from the first playtest and came up with these rules.
What You’ll Need
- 84 Cards per player (Either from a Cube or Booster Packs)
- Coins or beads to represent “Gold”
- Thoroughly shuffle your cube and count off 84 cards per player.
- Give each player 25 random cards and 3 of each Basic Land.
- Give each player 3 Gold.
How to Play
The game is played over a series of rounds made up of a series of phases.
Phase 1 – Battle
In the Battle Phase every player plays every other player in a single game. Be sure to keep track of how many wins you have.
At the beginning of the game either player may pay 2 Gold to the ante to have the choice of going first. If both players pay, use any random method to decide as usual.
All games are played for ante. If a player antes a Basic Land they ante another card until they ante a card that isn’t a Basic Land, then shuffle all Lands revealed this way back into their library.
If a player’s deck falls below the 40 card minimum over the course of the Battle Phase due to losing cards as ante, that player must either add cards from their sideboard or Basic Lands.
Once all players have played all other players, they each receive 1 Gold for each win they have plus gold equal to half the total number of players. Then proceed to the Shopping Phase.
Phase 2 – Shopping
If this is the first Shopping Phase, take the unused stack of cards from setup and deal out three cards from the top of it from left to right next to the stack. This is the “Shop”. In subsequent Shopping Phases, remove the card furthest from the stack from play and deal a new card closest to the stack.
The card furthest from the stack costs 1 Gold, the middle card costs 2 Gold and the card nearest the stack costs 3 Gold.
Starting with the player who won the most games during the most recent Battle Phase and proceeding in rank order, that player may take one of the following actions:
Buy a card from the Shop by paying an amount of Gold equal to its cost, then move each card over and deal a new card from the top of the stack such that it is closest to the stack.
Buy a random card from the top of the stack for 1 Gold.
Buy five random cards from the top of the stack for 4 Gold.
Buy ten random cards from the top of the stack for 7 Gold.
Once everyone is done buying cards, they may take some time to modify their decks. Basic Lands are free and may be added or removed as needed.
If there are still cards in the stack, repeat Phase 1. If the stack of cards is empty, proceed to the next phase.
Phase 3 – Showdown
In the Showdown Phase, all the players play in a single elimination tournament to decide who the winner of the Cube Quest is.
This is run like a normal tournament. Matches are played best two out of three games and are not played for ante. If there is an odd number of players, give the player with the smallest card pool a bye. In subsequent rounds assign byes randomly.
The winner of the Showdown is the winner of the Cube Quest!
As you can probably tell this can be a lot of fun! Also, because the Battle Phase is played as single games it doesn’t take nearly as long as you’d imagine. For even more character development I’ve thought about incorporating Emblems and Hero cards into the Shopping Phase. Basically you would be able to buy and Emblem or Hero card for a predetermined number of coins. I haven’t actually tested this out yet so I don’t have any kind of idea what some of the abilities should cost but I will definitely be exploring it once all the Hero Cards are released.
Another idea would be to incorporate the Challenge Decks such as Face the Hydra or Battle the Horde into the variant as actual quests players could choose to undertake at their own peril for whatever reward could be agreed on.
I’m looking forward to hearing input from readers and playtesters to add to the entire Cube Quest experience so comment below!