There are so many different ways to play Magic, but one of my all-time favorite methods is through 2 Headed Giant. It’s the perfect way to introduce someone to the game, has fantastic multiplayer elements, and creates fun and exciting gameplay with potential for massive comebacks and great strategy. It’s honestly a surprise to me that with my love for Cube and love for 2HG that I haven’t built a cube yet.
Building this cube has not been easy, and has been one of my most difficult endeavors related to cube so far. I had to pore through hundreds of pages of cards in order to find exactly what I needed, which was a cube with a very clear and distinct vision. I wanted a multiplayer cube that maximized the importance of teamwork, and avoided any effects that may confuse players who are not used to 2HG. These two goals gave me very strict parameters as to what was an acceptable card choice for the cube, and meant I had to pass up on many cards that would have otherwise been perfect for the cube. For example, the text “you control” was antithetical to what I wanted in my cube, as there is no sense of camaraderie as you save your teammates creature.
Another aspect of this cube that I was interested in designing was a heavy focus on 2 color archetypes. I chose a mechanic for each color pair that works well with a teammate, and went as deep on those mechanics as I could. However, while every card has a two color pair that it is at it’s best in, I intended for the cards to have as much cross synergy as possible as well. For example, WU is my flicker archetype whereas WG is a +1/+1 counter strategy. Any card that says “etb put a +1/+1 counter on target creature” is great for both strategies, and is desired by both drafters. With all that being said, let’s talk about the rules of the cube.
2 Headed Giant Cube Rules
- Teams of two players will pick two cards from each pack. There will be 4 packs of 16 cards.
- Each team starts at 30 life, and will play one game before moving onto the next round. There is a free mulligan.
- There will be a 50 minute round timer.
- Partner with cards will have their partner in the same pack as them. (To accomplish this, set them aside at the beginning of the draft with their partner. Then, after you are done shuffling the cube, randomly place them into packs and then pass the packs to the players).
- No infinite combos.
- Soulbond cards can work with your teammate’s creatures.
Flicker is a classic archetype that is present in many cubes, and makes perfect sense in a 2 Headed Giant Cube. Exiling and returning your teammates creature to the battlefield is a great way to get extra value, and can protect them from removal spells. However, modern card design made designing this section of the cube more difficult than I intended. Many cards that flicker a creature only target a creature you control such as Ephemerate and Restoration Angel. Most flicker effects that can target any creature will often exile until end of turn which is an interesting distinction that could also enable blowouts where you disable a ton of opponents blockers and swing for lethal.
As far as mechanics go, Dimir does not have a lot that work well in a multiplayer setting, and the original Battlebond set didn’t do much to help me with that either. To make things easy on myself, I decided that UB can just be a typical control shell. Board wipes are something I tried to avoid in this cube, as it is very easy to slow down an already slow game by wiping a few times. When there are board wipes, they are concentrated in White which requires working with your teammate in order to cast as there isn’t great fixing in this format. UB serves as a strong support color and can help enable whatever shenanigans your teammate may be trying to pull off.
Warriors are the only tribe in Magic that care about having a teammate. Battlebond did a great job printing warriors that give your teammate an advantage, and there is a huge pool of cards to choose from. The tribe is focused primarily in Red and Black, but there are warriors in every single color that can enable team based aggro strategies. Aggro is really hard to support in a multiplayer format as there are much more creatures to block with, so eking out every advantage through tribal benefits is one great way to kill your opponent quickly.
Gruul was another color pair that did not have a lot of direction in Battlebond limited. It’s gold common was simply a vanilla 4/4. However, one thing that Gruul did have going for it was how much ramp it had that could also work with your teammate. Giving ramp to your teammate also helps further down the line when you want to cast huge assist spells. Gruul gold cards also do a surprisingly good job of helping the entire team with Samut, Tyrant Smasher and Tattermunge Witch. Gruul may not have a specific mechanic that makes it stand out, but it’s a fantastic support color and helps your teammate from getting mana screwed.
+1/+1 counters are an easy way to provide a benefit to your teammate, and are plentiful throughout all the colors. Support is a mechanic that was designed with 2HG in mind, and as a result has a lot of useful cards that are good at buffing your teams creatures. Support is not the most powerful mechanic in the cube, but it serves as great glue that allow other decks to function. UW Flicker and the upcoming mechanic Proliferate, both love +1/+1 counters and the more plentiful they are in the cube the better. Support is a wonderful mechanic for teammates, and helps the players feel like they are working together.
Lifegain is a simple strategy seen in a lot of cubes, but it has new life breathed into it with a 2HG cube. Almost every single color has a way to trigger or benefit from lifegain, and if your teammate can cast a Planewide Celebration when you have an Epicure of Blood you can gain 8 and ping them for 8. However, one thing I was careful to avoid was cards with Extort. Extort is notorious for being an overpowered 2 Headed Giant mechanic because every spell you cast has a Shocking Helix attached to it. This means that many of the payoffs for gaining life, don’t gain life themselves which requires teamwork if you want to benefit from them immediately.
Every color has ways of putting things into the graveyard, and what better color combination to benefit from the carnage? With so many creatures on the battlefield, Morbid is relatively easy to trigger and can provide a lot of benefits. This is another mechanic that would otherwise be slow to benefit from, but with the help of a teammate you can immediately get value from these cards. Many different creatures in this color pair are also more than happy to die themselves in order to further the cause.
Proliferate is a fan favorite mechanic that plays incredibly well in a game of 2 Headed Giant. As soon as your teammate has one card that can benefit from a proliferate trigger, your cards become that much more powerful. Scanning the board for cards you can tick up is a lot of fun, and getting to benefit your teammate in the process is just a bonus. Proliferate primarily works with +1/+1 counters in the cube, however there are other cards that benefit such as Planeswalkers and even more niche options like Quest for the Gravelord.
Spells matter is the iconic Izzet archetype, but it’s capable of so much more. Drawing cards is something that almost every color has access to and there are multiple ways to benefit off of this. (White can benefit from being targeted with card draw). There are multiple different ways to end the game after drawing a bunch of cards, either through Mill, Burn, or simply out valuing your opponent. There is also a balance of cards that say “target player draws a card” or “each player draws a card” as both provide interesting benefits and downsides that require the player to best take advantage of.
Boros could have easily been another color for Warriors, but fortunately, Battlecry is a mechanic that is not limited to creatures you control. Getting to buff the entire team is a great boon for aggro strategies, and can help kill an opponent with 30 life much quicker. One thing I tried to focus on with Boros was to not include as many warriors and instead feature a different tribe in Knights and Dragons. Thanks to the pair Sylvia and Khorvath, this tribe actually has some legs, and creates for a more interesting draft environment where you have to decide if a non-warrior with battlecry is still good enough for your warrior deck.
Two headed giant is a fascinating format that only occasionally gets support. Some limited sets such as Battle for Zendikar and Battlebond are designed with 2 Headed Giant in mind, but making a cube requires much more than just smashing those two sets together. While playing 2 Headed Giant can be as simple as taking 4 Modern decks and pairing them off against each other, Cube is the perfect place for this format to take shape.
Having decks that are designed with 2 Headed Giant in mind creates intricated and complex gameplay that empowers each team to work together and achieve new heights. If this cube were to be drafted and played in a single player environment, it would be missing out on many of the aspects that make this format great. I know there aren’t a lot of games of Magic being played in person now, but when we eventually get back together to draft, I hope that this will be my greatest cube yet.
If you have any recommendations as to cards I should include, or have a 2HG cube of your own please share in the comments below! I am also interested in starting a cube spotlight series where I can write an article about a specific cube, talk about it’s design goals, and highlight all of the unique things that this format brings to the table. If you think your cube qualifies as a unique design that innovates on the cube experience please share it with me and I’ll see if I can write an article on it. With all that being said, thank you for reading, have a great week and an Tuesday!