A two-player draft format that preserves some hidden information and leads to powerful decks.
Deal a 5-card hand to each player, and 9 cards face-up in between them. Players take turns exchanging one card from their hand with a face-up card, until each player has made three exchanges. Players must make all their exchanges — no skipping — but they may pick cards that were previously laid out by either player. After three turns of exchanges, each player adds their final 5-card hand to their draft pool, discarding the 9 face-up cards.
Repeat this process 9 times, so that each player ends with a 45-card draft pool. Alternate which player makes the first exchange each round.
There are several options for easy setup: deal 9 piles of 19 cards (one pile per round), 2 piles of 45 cards (each player’s supply of starting cards), or simply draw directly from a shuffled cube. Housman Draft requires 171 cards total.
Housman Draft has a lot of knobs to turn: player count, hand size, number of face-up cards, number of rounds, and number of exchanges each round. These changes can tailor Housman Draft for seeing a larger card pool or altering the complexity of the each decision.
Housman Draft gives players a lot of agency in shaping powerful decks, which often are more focused than other 2-player draft formats. Decks can even resemble full 8-person Booster Draft decks, an advantage for Cube designers trying to replicate decks drafted with an 8-person pod.
At least 2 of every 5 cards in a Housman Draft pool remain hidden, making it a great battle of wits between equally skilled opponents. This partial information creates the opportunity for bluffs and reads on each player’s intention.
Because Housman Draft uses partial information, it isn’t conducive to casual table talk like perfect information formats, and isn’t ideal as an introduction to a new Cube for the same reason. Some players may also dislike the mandatory exchanges, which aren’t purely additive like many other methods of picking a draft pool.
Housman Draft was designed by Myles Housman and popularized by Ryan Saxe.