Booster Draft in Magic: The Gathering (MTG) is a great way to test your card knowledge for a given set. If you have never drafted before, the basic premise is quite easy. Essentially, you individually open up three booster packs among a small group of players one at a time.
You then take turns “drafting” cards from each pack, choosing just one card before passing the pack’s remaining cards to an adjacent player. You continue to do so until all of the cards are gone before opening another booster pack to repeat the process, only you alternate the card-passing direction with the remaining two packs.
After everything is said and done, you must build a deck with a minimum of 40 cards. You can only use the cards you just drafted, so everything boils down to picking cards wisely. Below are five random tips to keep in mind to become a better drafter, as I would dare say Booster Draft involves some of the highest player skill of any of the formats.
For the sake of simplicity, I will use the Shadows over Innistrad set for these examples.
1. Draft “Bombs”
The most important cards to look out for are bombs. In the context of Limited play in Booster Draft, think of these as your super-duper cards that will actually win you games for the upcoming draft tournament. More often than not, many games boil down to getting your bomb(s) out into play and defeating your opponent with their power.
2. Draft Plenty of Removal
Besides looking out for bombs, make sure you actually draft cards that can remove other cards from play. In particular, drafting a few cards just in case your opponent plays their respective bombs is ALWAYS a good idea. After all, bombs win games in this kind of tournament, so having an appropriate answer to your opponent’s best cards proves handy.
3. Draft Plenty of “Support” Cards
A well-tuned deck needs balance, and this will naturally play a part in any sense of synergy you may put together with your draft. It may be tempting to go after the “strongest” cards every time, but you should not neglect the other support-based cards as well. The Limited format forces players to eke out the best of all the cards they get, no matter how technically “bad” they appear at face value. In fact, it is perfectly normal to utilize a collection of “weak” cards that shine when played properly. You have to judge these cards on the merits of what they can do for the given set.
4. Draft Diversely
A common mishap a lot of inexperienced drafters do is they accidentally shoehorn themselves into a particular strategy or color choice. In drafting, this usually creates a lot of problems. For one thing, you are essentially committing to a particular group of cards whenever you may draft them. If these cards end up being duds together, then you basically just drafted yourself into a hole with no real option to escape.
In other words, it is thus wiser to draft a variety of cards so you have the flexibility to adjust your deck’s components throughout the tournament. Look for versatile cards that you can splash in when they are available.
5. Avoid “Rare Drafting” in Most Cases
When you are drafting, it is very tempting to “rare draft” the most expensive, high-value cards from a booster pack right off the bat. This may bode well for your personal card collection after the tournament, but rare drafting may not actually help your draft deck, if at all.
However, with this in mind, I will say you should definitely rare draft if something crazy good appears in your booster pack. If the card in question is worth like a lot of money to the point where you could tank all of your matches for the rest of the tournament, but it would still be OK… Then go for it. The value is too good to pass up.
So these were just a few common tips for drafting. Personally, to this day, I find drafting very challenging and I have mad respect to those who have it down to a science. I really enjoy the notion that every draft is essentially going to be very different, as literally any deck can be put together when people select from a batch of random cards. It really emphasizes the strategical aspects of MTG as a whole. Happy drafting.
Magic: The Gathering card images belong to Wizards of the Coast.