Article ChannelFireball: Utility Land Draft

Axgard armory can be a cute piece to include if you have a dedicated equipment archetype, but agree that the Stronghold is a very nice and useful card for Boros, and also works with many of the same creatures that the armory would end up helping.
After years of running a ULD, I think I've come to the conclusion that having fewer lands is actually better in the long run. Yes, more choices theoretically leads to more open-ended deck refinement post draft, but I've found that most of my drafters aren't especially adventurous or trying to exploit niches as often as I am. Even if you lay them all out pre-draft, people still get hit with information overload unless they're regulars.

If you're doing 3 rounds with 8 picks each round, I think you're best off capping it at like 30-32 lands tbh. At least that's I'm going to do whenever I can next host a draft in person.
I don't run a ULD, but I want to add 10 utility lands to my cube's core for a number of reasons:
  • Players use more of their draft pool, cut fewer cards
  • Mana sinks
  • Agency - more possible lines to take
  • Scrappiness - fewer spells means the worst ones need to be played more often
There are two cycles I like but each has a land I don't like, so I'm thinking of running this:

I thought about running Memorial to Genius instead of Desert of the Mindful, but I think it would be strange that you can't draft desert synergies with blue, but you can with any color pair without blue, so Desert of the Mindful fills in for it.

I'm avoiding these because I don't think they are good enough. Castle Garenbrig is playable and might be ok in very specific decks, but it seems very narrow and not worth a slot. Ipnu Rivulet might have been ok if I had a self-mill theme, but my graveyard synergies are around discard.

Jason Waddell

Staff member
I gotta say, I played with Garenbrig in my last deck and was quite pleased. It's an almost no downside land that you can use for extra mana from time to time. I know power level isn't the only criteria for inclusion, but this card is a free ramp effect when you need it, and a forest otherwise (usually).

Jason Waddell

Staff member
Aren't narrow cards the point of the Utility Land Draft? Outside of Whitecastle, this card has basically no downside.

Not to mention potential landfall shenanigans with:

Or interactions from the upcoming Occasionals pile:



Ecstatic Orb
Sorry, I didn't mean to sound that dismissive. Your cube might have more than enough interactions to warrant it. If it does, Flagstones is a very sweet card :)

Jason Waddell

Staff member
I didn't think you were being dismissive at all. I just made the original Flagstones post when I thought of it, and it was always my intention to detail the interactions once I had some more time (i.e. a calm sleeping baby).
I've played with it on one of the arena cubes and it was pretty fun, I want to get a copy for my paper cube when I can play it again
I think the problem when you get too narrow with ULD inclusions is that they end up competing with everything else available and might just not stack up in an actual draft. You don't want so many options that your drafters are overwhelmed, but you also don't want anything to jump out power level wise that drastically shifts the draft process. Like when I had Evolving Wilds and Terramorphic Expanse in ULD, those were routinely 1st round picks just because so many drafters were more than willing to pick up a fetch-lite card to smooth out their manabase (eventually just moved them into the main cube).

Both Flagstones and Field of the Dead seem right on point power level wise, though Field may actually be too slow for most cube games unless you can really grind it to the late game.