How to Run a Magic the Gathering Draft
So you are trying to run your first Magic the Gathering Draft, but you don’t know a whole lot about where to start. Fear not, this article is the perfect explanation of where to start and how to run the draft.
What is drafting in MTG?
Drafting in Magic is a form of limited (using sealed products) where each player has three 15 card booster packs. The draft starts by each player opening one pack, choosing a card from it, and then passing the pack to the left. This is repeated until the first pack is drafted, then the second pack is done the same way except passing to the right, and then the third pack is drafted the same way as the first. Each player then builds a 40-card deck from only the cards they drafted and basic lands. After that, then each player can play games in whatever fashion is decided.
Types of drafts
The first thing to do when running a draft is deciding what kind of draft you want to run. There are several different types of drafts to choose from, ranging from packs of one set, chaos drafting, cube and many others. Below, I will highlight three of the most popular formats for drafting and gives pros and cons for each.
Pack Drafting (Chaos and not)
This is the most common form of draft, where each player drafts three booster packs from either predetermined sets, or three packs from random sets in MTG history. When every player is drafting from the same three packs, this is known as drafting “x” such as drafting Return to Ravinica, or Khans-Fate and this is the style of drafting you are likely to play at your local shops, or other MTG events. The other way to draft is have each player bring three random packs, and this is known as chaos drafting because it is rather chaotic to have so many different sets together.
Pros to each player drafting the same set/sets: Fair and balanced way of drafting, and Wizards of the Coast designs packs to be drafted this way. Cons: Likely costs more than $10 per person per draft, and can become very repetitive after several drafts. Pros to Chaos Drafting: Very unique experience and offers fair, random games to each player. Cons: Very expensive, and mechanics often will not be present set to set, which can make gameplay challenging.
This is my personal favorite way to draft in Magic, because a cube is a pool of 360 or more cards that can be from any point in MTG history. The cube is made up of singleton (one of each) copies of each card used, and can be all of the most powerful cards in the game, only common cards, the worst cards in the game or anything in between. If you enjoy designing archetypes to play, Cube is the perfect format for creative deck building. Some important things to note is that each color used should be balanced and each “pack” is made up of 15 random cards from the shuffled cube.
Pros: Offers the most room for creativity, can be cost effective in the long run because it can be played over and over again, offers more balance than many other formats because each card can be equally powerful, and many other pros. Cons: Is expensive to build, time consuming to shuffle, sleeve, and sort afterwards. Also if full of expensive cards, stolen cards is a concern. For more Cube information, visit http://www.cubetutor.com/home.
Drafting works the best when there are eight players involved, each with three packs each. If you have seven other friends who want to draft, then it makes things very easy for you. However, if this is not the case, then things get much more complicated for finding the people. One thing that might be possible is checking what days your local shops draft and joining them with whatever friends might be interested in joining you as well. If the time the store drafts does not fit your schedule, then finding the remaining people from your store to meet on a certain day to draft might be another option as well. However, if you ask around and cannot find 8 people to draft, it is still possible to draft close to the same way as you would with 8 people with as few as 6 people, and as few as 4 people if a fourth pack is given to each player. From personal experience, other players at local shops are very friendly and depending on how busy it is, it usually is not hard to find a few players willing to draft casually with you and your friends.
Running the Draft
When it comes to finally running the draft, there are a near infinite number of ways to actually run the draft. There are many decisions to make, such as the type of drafting to do, the structure of the matches, whether or not there will be prizes, and many other small details. I would start with deciding what type of draft to do, and then decide how everyone will get his or her packs. You can provide these packs, or each player will bring their own, or a cash pool can be started and then packs can be bought from the pool. If you choose to cube draft, then a cube needs to be built and set up ahead of time, and this just takes a small amount of planning. After planning the draft, and having all the players involved prepare, then each player can draft the cards. Don’t forget to provide a pool of basic lands for players to use for deck building. After building the decks, matches can begin and players can choose whom they play for a very casual experience, or a tournament structure can be used, especially if there are prizes involved. Running the tournament is really up to you, and this is a chance to be creative and freedom to run events however you see fit.
Running events for Magic the Gathering is a fun and rewarding experience, and is something that everyone should try to do. However, it is not something that is easy to do without planning and not everything will go exactly as planned. It is important to know how to improvise and problem solve when things do not go to plan. Do not be discouraged, as the most important part about running a draft is to have fun and maybe make new friends while doing it. I hope you found this helpful in some way, and if you were planning on running a draft it runs smoothly and is fun for all players.
Note: for tips on how to improve, see our article on How to Get Better at Drafting.
By Gage Dewsbury