Wait, what? I can’t play twelve lands in Limited, can I?
In most formats, it would be a terrible idea. But in Ikoria, one-generic-mana cyclers change the game. In prior formats like Amonhket, it wasn’t correct to cut lands due to a density of one-mana cyclers because it was impossible to guarantee the right color to cycle. This meant one-land hands weren’t keepable. But in Ikoria, since you can always cycle regardless of color, the risk of one-land hands is much lower. They aren’t always keepable, but the fact that they can be enables cutting lands aggressively.
I haven’t had a ten-land deck yet, but two of my trophies are decks with twelve lands. One is below, and I’ll show the other at the end of this article, since it’s the draft we will go through.
In general, my current heuristic for cutting lands is as follows:
- For every three one-mana cyclers, cut one land.
- With five or more two-mana cyclers, cut one land.
This means that decks with around twelve one-mana cyclers and a good number of two-mana cyclers should be playing twelve lands! And don’t worry, the mulligan math checks out nicely for a deck with twelve lands and twelve one-mana cyclers. According to the hypergeometric calculator, over 93% of hands will have one or more lands. And in one-land hands, about 91% will have a one-mana cycler. I know intuition might seem like twelve is too few, but this math suggests that you might even be able to cut more!
This Magic Online Limited grinder trophied with a ten-land deck already! While I think ten is a bit aggressive (I would have played eleven or twelve in that deck), I think in the best versions of these twelve-land decks, I’m closer to cutting a land than adding one. It’s truly bizarre. Instincts will tell you to play fourteen or fifteen. I’m telling you that that would be suboptimal. You’ll flood. It might sound crazy, but you spend so much time cycling that it’ll happen.
Enough of the math and theory, let’s jump into the draft! Twelve-land deck, here I come!
Pack 1, Pick 1
Pack 2, Pick 1
The Picks So Far:
Take a minute to review the cards so far. All I know is that I’m a red cycling deck. Blue appears more open than other colors, but the deck could go any other direction if a lane presents itself.
Pack 3, Pick 3
The Picks So Far:
Again, take a minute to review the pool so far. Just like last time, the second color isn’t clear. The only thing I’m certain of is that Zenith Flare is in the deck. Whether the white is a main color or a splash isn’t important for that decision. I should note that I’m currently leaning towards blue as the secondary color because of Ominous Seas.