Why are we discussing this?

Ask any professional magic player and they will tell you that drafting is a major part of personal growth development. There are only a hand full of ways that players can really build and grow their understanding and problem solving abalities, and drafting is one of those.

The following is a general guide and explanation of draft strategies and concepts.

What is Drafting?

Format 1: Basic Draft

In a draft, several players (usually eight) are seated around a table and each player is given several (usually three) packs. These can be sealedc booster packs, pre-made packs, etc. Each player opens a pack, selects a card from it and passes the remaining cards to his or her left. Each player then selects one of the 14 remaining cards from the pack that was just passed to him or her, and passes the remaining cards to the left again. This continues until all of the cards are depleted. The process is repeated with the second and third packs, except that the cards are passed to the right in the second pack. Players then build decks out of any of the cards that they selected during the drafting and add as many basic lands as they want.

Format 2: Sealed Draft

In a sealed draft, several players are given several (usually six) packs. These can be sealed booster packs, pre-made packs, etc. Players then build decks out of any of the cards that they opened from the packs they were given and add as many basic lands as they want.

In any format, there are a few basic concepts to remember while making your card picks:

How Do I Draft?

Deck Building Basics

  1. A limited deck can use any or all of the cards you have drafted. It must have a minimum of 40 cards. You are allowed as much basic land as you need from the draft organizer. Those are the absolutes, here are some recommendations:

Know the Set

  1. Each set creates its own different environment. Knowing what each color can do, what themes are present, and what cards are available will allow for smarter and more useful picks. Also, you will be able to play your games with the knowledge of what tricks and traps your opponent could likely have.


  1. B.R.E.A.D. is an acronym that gives a basic guideline on how to rank a cardís importance. While it is extremely useful to learn, it is still just a stepping stone to more advanced drafting techniques. With that said, the basic principle is still used at some level in every expertís game.

Card Evaluation

  1. Card evaluation incorporates B.R.E.A.D., but moves far beyond it as well. The idea here is that no card has a constant power level. As your needs, plans, and pieces of information change, so too does the worth of each card. Card evaluation depends not just whatís in the pack, but what you already have.

    1. The simplest example of this fluctuation is with colors. If youíve drafted two packs worth of good black and white cards, and open a great blue card in pack three that costs , you should be less inclined to take it. It will probably benefit you more to pick a card aligned with your current strategy than to go off on another tangent this late in the game.

    2. This fluctuation also occurs when you are lacking a specific type of card or are lacking somewhere on your mana curve. If you are faced with the choice between a piece of removal and an evasive creature, it may better to take the creature if you are lacking evasive threats and have plenty of ways to handle opposing attacks. Likewise, a strong five-mana creature may not be as good for your deck as a good two-mana creature if youíve already drafted a lot of fat. One must always consider the number of non-creature spells and your curve.

    3. Signaling refers to the ability to decipher what the players passing you each pack are likely drafting. Take notice of what colors and themes start to disappear. This may give you an indication that a change in strategy is needed. If you notice that the color of your first two picks stopped coming to you in your first pack, it may not be wise to grab a card of that same color when you open your second pack. While you may find a few cards that help you, that color will likely stop flowing once the third pack is opened, leaving you with only one packís worth of strength in that color. Being able to send signals is also important, because if you are passing strong red cards in pack 1, for example, in pack 2, you are more likely to receive cards that are on color. Knowing when to stick to a strategy and when to leave it behind is extremely important for a successful drafter and will open that playerís options to all the advanced drafting strategies.

Power Drafting

  1. Power drafting is the most popular limited strategy. The premise is to pick the strongest card in each pack until the signals you receive tell you which picks will benefit you most.

  2. The card evaluation for this strategy is based on the direct power of the first few cards opened. Drafters utilizing this will spend their early picks grabbing whatever card they believe will have the biggest game impact. The picks donít need to be a like color or theme initially. The idea is that taking the best cards now will establish a stronger base for the deck, letting later picks fill in holes in the deck.

Flex Drafting

Archetype Drafting

Archetype drafting is the premise of aiming for a very specific draft strategy and varies depending on the block format you are doing. Where in core set drafting, you come up with fairly simple, linear decks, block drafting provides a plethora of strategies that allow you to change up your draft each time. This guide will focus only on block drafting and not on core set drafting. In terms of cards to look for when drafting that archetype, I will only list commons and uncommons, since those are the foundation of any deck and it should be obvious to put the on-color bomby rare into your deck.

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