The classic draft experience. Modeled after booster draft with sealed packs.
Each player begins with three stacks of 15 random cards from the Cube. Starting with the first ‘pack’ of cards, players secretly choose one, and passes the remaining 14 cards to the player to their left. Repeat the process until all cards from the first set of packs are drafted. Draft subsequent packs the same way, alternating which direction cards are passed with each pack.
After the draft, players take their pool of 45 cards and build a deck with a minimum of 40 cards using any number of the cards they drafted and basic lands.
A standard Cube booster draft emulates drafting with sealed booster packs. Drafts are usually 3 packs of 15 cards, and often played with 8 players. Unlike sealed boosters, packs are typically completely randomized by shuffling the whole Cube and out cards.
With 8 players, a three round tournament is most often played. In the first round, players are matched against the player across the table from them, furthest in the draft order. In subsequent rounds, players are matched against players with the most similar win record.
Booster draft is not popular by accident. It’s the most popular way to play Cube and is often synonymous with Cube drafting. Many of the other draft formats are based on it with some adjustments. The draft takes relatively little setup, and players familiar with limited booster drafting already know the process.
Although 8 players is often preferred, since it leads to a tidy three round tournament, Cube draft is extremely flexible. 3 packs of 15 with 8 players is a good baseline with a lot of precedence but the number of players, packs, and cards are all flexible.
The standard pack breakdown is ideal for 8 players, but works with anywhere between 4 and 10 players. For smaller groups a larger number of smaller packs works well, 4 packs of 11 or 5 of 9. Smaller packs emulates the experience of the standard draft and avoids seeing the same packs many times.
Unlike a sealed booster draft constrained by Magic’s products, the pack size and number of packs are completely customizable in this format. 15 card packs is a familiar baseline with a fair degree of complexity, but there are good reasons to vary that number. A higher number of smaller packs is especially good for smaller groups, since the number of cards that ‘wheel’ back to their starting player is lessened, so the pack doesn’t get stale. The total number of cards drafted is also not fixed. Increasing the pack size adds some complexity which can be desirable. Increasing the total number of packs allows players a larger draft pool, giving them more agency in deckbuilding and sideboarding. Increasing the pool size can also let a cube designer add many more fixing lands to the cube without decreasing the total number of spells in player’s draft pools.
In a Team Draft, players compete as a group. It works especially well with groups of six players and many prefer it specifically with a group of six to avoid some awkward pairings that would happen with a six player tournament. It changes the dynamics and optimal strategy of the draft itself, allowing players help teammates during deckbuilding and games.
While most often packs are composed of a number of randomized cards, it’s also possible to structure the packs in one way or another to change the draft experience. Packs can be collated by shuffling in a way to create a more consistent distribution of colors or effects. Rather than dealing out cards randomly, packs can also be structured with particular ‘slots’ from different groups of cards to make sure everyone has an opportunity to some particular effects.
The draft can be varied by having players ‘burn’ cards from packs in addition to drafting cards into their pools. In a Burn Draft players, for example, take one card and set another aside before passing the pack. The exact breakdown is variable and cards can either be burned with each pick or some number of cards at the end of a pack can all be burned together. Burn drafting is often used as a way to add more hidden information to drafts with small groups, or allow players to have more choices without expanding draft pool sizes.
Desert Draft is a novel way to play where basic lands are shuffled into the Cube before making packs. Unlike a typical draft, players don’t have access to basics lands to add to their decks after the draft. Instead you have to decide how highly to pick them.
Cubes intended for booster drafting are typically 360 or more cards to allow for an 8 player draft of 3 packs of 15 cards. Larger Cubes introduce more variation between drafts or support larger numbers of players. For Cubes intended for smaller groups a smaller list works just fine.
For most cubes, around 30-40 basic lands of each type are needed.