For years, the Magic Invitational was my brother’s favorite annual tournament. I think the appeal was the mix of the wacky formats, Round Robin pairings, and of course the prize—a Magic card designed by the player with their likeness on the art. Eric talked for years, probably since the discontinuation of the Magic Invitational in 2007, about hosting his own invitational tournament; Eight friends playing seven Round Robin rounds over multiple formats with a one of a kind prize. While it took years to iron out the details, find an appropriate prize, and get people to agree on a date, Eric finally booked the inaugural Wolfpack Invitational.

So on Sunday, March 1st at my apartment in Brighton, we will be drafting and battling through three different cubes for the prize. The Wolfpack Invitational Trophy.

Wolfpack Trophy

That’s an 18K gold canine on top with real flames perpetually burning off of each of the sides. It’s a goddamn work of art.

Anyway, since I’m beginning to prepare for this grueling tournament in the far reaches of my living room, I wanted to write a piece about each cube we’re drafting—Rav cube, Pauper cube, and the Phil Colins Power cube. Over the next three weeks I’ll do a spotlight article on each with an interview with its creator(s).

Let’s start off with the Ravnica cube created a few years ago by roomates Eric Massak, Nik Heleen, and Garrett Rowe. I sat down with Eric and Garrett (Nik has a life or something) and interviewed them about the cube.

Ravnica Cube

Shawn: What kind of cube do you have?

Eric: This is a Ravnican Plane cube. It has cards from the original Ravnica block (Ravnica, Guildpact, Dissension) and the Return to Ravnica block (Return to Ravnica, Gatecrash, Dragon’s Maze). There are also a few cards that reference Ravnican lore that weren’t in those blocks but are in the cube.

S: How many cards are in the cube? How many players does it support?

E: There are 400 cards. I think the cubetutor list has 397 but we’re updating that. It supports an eight person draft. We wanted a smaller cube around 360 cards but wanted to have a little bit of variance too in terms of what shows up in a draft, hence the extra 40 cards.

S: You have some duplicate cards in your cube. What’s the deal with that?

E: There are select doubles in the cube. I think there are one set of doubles for each guild. Skynight Legionnare for example. I think that card captures the essence of Boros. It’s a hasty evasive beater, efficiently costed for aggressive strategies but not busted.  We have Coiling Oracle as a double in Simic colors for the same reason. The ability represents the guild and it is a strong card that rewards you for being in that guild without being a first pick.

S: How much of the cube is foil? Any especially sweet cards?

E: The cube is 93.19 percent foil. We have most of the expensive stuff foil- Dark Confidant, shocks, and most of the Planeswalkers.

The coolest card in the cube is probably the rk post altered Simic Sky Swallower.



S: I noticed the rarity distribution was a little strange as well. It’s roughly 1/3 rares, 1/3 uncommons, and 1/3 commons. Can you talk about this?

E: While we wanted to keep some of the trappings of drafting Ravnica block limited, we didn’t want to limit it to one rare per pack. We wanted a higher density of powerful cards so it felt like a cube while also being flavorful with the guild leaders and planeswalkers etc.

S: What are the best archetypes to draft? Or just the best overall strategies for drafting?

E: That’s a tough one. Off the top of my head, I like Bant Tokens, BUG Counters (Dots), Grixis Control, 5 Color Bullshit, Mardu Aggro, Naya Aggro, Temur Midrange, and Jund Midrange. My personal strategy is to hone in on an open archetype and start taking support cards. If I see a late Glimpse the Unthinkable, I’m certainly thinking about a mill strategy. But I think in general, you should take bombs then mana fixing. Though I know that Rodrigo usually takes mana, signets, and keyrunes first and prioritizes everything else after. That usually works out for him. I guess I think that there are a lot of ways to draft the cube successfully. Just don’t skimp on mana fixing.

S: I feel like every cube has some pet cards in it. Do you have any pet cards or general favorites?

E: Codex Shredder (laughs), I don’t know what it is about that card. Otherwise, Simic Sky Swallower and Plaxcaster Frogling aka Hypno-toad.

Garrett: Grave Shell Scarab, Skynight Legionnare, and Zur-Taa Swine. Also we can probably answer for Nik since he’s not here. He would probably say Remand or Jace.

E: Nik would probably put Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice on his list too.

S: Alright, those are all my questions but before I leave we have to do some pack one, pick ones.

Pack One. What's the Pick?

Cleansing Beam
Gruul Charm
Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage
Duskmantle Seer
Varolz, the Scar-Striped
Seal of Doom
Psychic Strike
Advent of the Wurm
Dimir Guildgate
Prime Speaker Zegana
Palisade Giant
Soulsworn Spirit
Corpsejack Menace
Pit Fight

E: I’d probably take Zegana. It’s a Bant Control deck finisher and a pretty big source of card advantage.

G: Advent of the Wurm. It costs four but it gives you a 5/5…at instant speed. C’mon!

S: Ok, that was fun. Let’s do one more.

Pack One. What's the Pick?

Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind
Spectral Searchlight
Cytoplast Root-Kin
Truefire Paladin
Shrieking Grotesque
Azorius Charm
Soul Ransom
Szadek, Lord of Secrets
Selesnya Evangel
Sylvan Primordial
Trophy Hunter
Azorius Guildmage
Chord of Calling
Glimpse the Unthinkable

E: I mean, I told you about my love for mill. Glimpse the Unthinkable. Though I’m not sure that’s the correct pick.

G: I’d probably take Spectral Searchlight. It color fixes and ramps which are two things you want in this format.

S: Alright, thanks for talking to me. I will see you both at the invitational. But probably before that since you guys live down the street.

E: Cool. So can we watch Raw now?

At age 15, while standing in a record store with his high school bandmates, Shawn Massak made the uncool decision to spend the last of his money on a 7th edition starter deck (the one with foil Thorn Elemental). Since that fateful day 11 years ago, Shawn has decorated rooms of his apartment with MTG posters, cosplayed as Jace, the Mindsculptor, and competes with LSV for the record of most islands played (lifetime). When he’s not playing Magic, Shawn works as a job coach for people with disabilities and plays guitar in an indie-pop band.

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