Intro To: Drafting Magic The Gathering

Magic the Gathering (MTG) is unquestionably a juggernaut in the world of collectible card games. Since it was first published in 1993, it has grown into a complex and engaging game with a dense rules-set and a complex mythology. Since we opened The Round Table, MTG has grown into a staple of our gaming community, and our twice-weekly booster draft tournaments have become more and more popular. Booster draft tournaments are a great way for new players to get experience with the game, and for more experienced players to expand their collection of cards. We believe that booster drafting is the best way to sink your teeth into MTG, and so we run booster draft tournaments every Sunday at 1:00pm, and every Tuesday at 7:00pm for players of all skill levels.

So, what exactly is the difference between a booster draft tournament, and any other tournament format? In a booster draft tournament, players ‘draft’ cards from booster packs to build their decks at the start of the tournament instead of competing with pre-constructed decks that they’ve collected the cards for over the course of all of their time playing MTG. This means that experienced players and new players can face off using a similar selection of cards instead of decks that have had vastly different levels of finessing. As well, in a booster draft tournament, every player is guaranteed to walk away from the tournament with a new selection of cards instead of only the top few players. On top of that, booster draft tournaments use 40 cards per deck instead of the 60 card minimum used in constructed deck tournaments, meaning that specific combinations of cards are more likely to be drawn during any given game.

To understand the basics of drafting, it is important to understand the basics of booster packs. A booster pack is a sealed package of random cards. Typically, each booster pack contains 15 cards (1 rare or mythic rare card, 3 uncommon cards, and 11 common cards). Rare cards and uncommon cards tend to be the most powerful or most valuable cards, while common cards make up the bulk of any given deck. The cards within each booster pack are typically intended to work well with the cards contained in other booster packs of the same type, and even the cards contained in other booster packs from the same block of booster packs. With this in mind, most booster draft tournaments use booster packs of 1 type, or at least booster packs from the same block.

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When selecting cards during a booster draft tournament, it is important to select cards that combo off of similar effects or use similar effects in order to try to build a consistent deck. The most competitive way to do this is to research the type of booster pack that is being drafted ahead of time to learn about how the cards that can be found in the booster draft tournament interact with each other. If you just want to jump in and figure things out as you go, try to select a lot of cards that use similar key-words.

So, how exactly do you select your cards in a booster draft tournament? At the start of the tournament, each player is given 3 booster packs (which are included in the cost of the tournament), and then each player opens their first booster pack at the same time as all of the other players. Next, each player takes 1 card from their booster pack to add to their deck, and passes their remaining cards to the player that is beside them (the 1st booster pack is passed left, the 2nd is passed right, and the 3rd is passed left). The players continue selecting, or ‘drafting’ individual cards until no cards remain in the booster pack. This process is repeated for the remaining 2 booster packs. Once all of the booster packs have been drafted, each player builds a deck from their chosen cards and adds as many basic land cards as they would like to complete their deck. Once every player has constructed their deck, they compete with the other players in the tournament, and wins/losses are tracked to determine the winner!

At The Round Table, our booster draft tournaments are rare-redraft tournaments, meaning that all rare cards, and all foil cards are separated from each player’s selected cards at the end of the tournament and placed into a collective pool. Then, starting with the winning player, each player selects and keeps 1 card at a time from the pool, in order of their placement in the tournament. This rewards players for performing well in the tournament, and discourages players from throwing the tournament when initially selecting cards by selecting only rare cards instead of cards that benefit their decks. When the tournament is over, each player gets to keep their chosen rare cards, and all of the other cards that they selected at the start of the tournament.

In short, booster draft tournaments mean that everyone walks away with 3 booster packs worth of cards, and a selection of cards that are closer to a finished deck than what could have been collected by simply purchasing 3 random booster packs. Booster draft tournaments give inexperienced players a chance to play with, and learn from, more experienced players on the same playing field, and they give competitive players a chance to earn more valuable rare cards instead of relying on their luck with booster packs.

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If you’ve just started playing MTG, come out to The Round Table on a Sunday, or a Tuesday, and join us for one of our booster draft tournaments. Talk to the other players, get involved in the MTG community, and compete in the tournament to start building your collection! If you’re a more experienced player, come share your knowledge, compete in the tournament, and win some rare cards! In either case, we’re looking forward to seeing you come out to The Round Table, to join our growing MTG community!