Constructed play is great, but one of the things Magic is best for is the social aspect of drafting.
The last strategy I have for controlling costs is to build a cube.
Part 3: Cubes
A cube is a curated collection of cards, usually a multiple of 45, from which players draw random packs of fifteen and then draft using those packs. A basic cube for an eight person draft pod would have 8 x 3 x 15 = 360 cards. The draftable cards may include non-basic lands. Alongside the cube will be basic land cards in the same sleeves to build decks with. Once the draft is done, players put all the cards back in the box at the end of play. It is, in effect, turning Magic into a board game.
The benefits of a cube should be clear: you play with the same cards repeatedly so you only have to buy them once, and you only have to buy one set of sleeves (assuming you sleeve, which for cards you are playing with multiple times you really should).
My first cube is a Shadows Over Innistrad set cube. It contains one of each rare or mythic, two of each uncommon, and three of each common – a total of 582 cards. I found that I had about about three quarters of those already in my collection, and I decided to make proxies for the rares I did not already have. The remaining commons and uncommons I just bought, since they amounted to a total of about $10. I’ll buy the rest of the cards when the prices drop after rotation, if I decide to maintain this cube.
The biggest expense was actually the sleeves. With nearly 600 cards and needing to sleeve up about 30 of each land colour (I have used the matching lands too, since I had those) I needed nearly 800 matching sleeves.
So, a cube is good value once it’s made and for each game thereafter, but there is a significant initial cost. The good news is that that investment doesn’t degrade, and I have a lot of matching sleeves for the next cube I build .
The next Magic post I write will probably be on deck building, specifically focussed on the way I built my decks for the Standard Pauper league a couple of seasons ago.