Why draft? by Dave Baldelli

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Why draft? by Dave Baldelli

Welcome to a new series of columns from me here on MTGUK. Let me introduce my self…

I’ve been playing the game since Invasion block in real life and since Mirrodin online although nowadays due to time constraints I am much more of an online player. I hover around the top 75 in the UK with a rating of 1900 due in no small part to a grinding a lot of FNM’s over the last year or two (though not so much recently). Consistency is something I think is a big part of being a good magic player and I work hard to develop my magic theory, hopefully these articles will be able to impart some of that.

Now, draft… For those of you who draft and enjoy it, this article may not be for you but despite the growing popularity of the format (due in no small part to the dearth of draft videos springing up by pro’s and excellent amateurs alike – its never been so good) there are a still a lot of players who shy away from competitive limited.

…so why draft?

1. It will make you a better player.

Despite what people may say, I know the biggest reason people don’t like drafting is because they are afraid they will suck at it. I know this because I thought the same thing, and I did suck at it. You probably will too.

Constructed magic is safe, you can find deck lists, you have time to hone them and you know how your deck works. None of those luxuries are apparent in draft, however that’s not entirely true. Draft like any format has a meta-game, that is to say there are known decks that are good, rogue strategies that can do well and players that take the time to learn a draft format will always do better than players who are new to it, even really good players.

Just like constructed it’s only a case of taking the time to learn the format.

By becoming more familiar with draft and its intricacies improves a set of skills that are useful across all magic formats. Playing with cards you wouldn’t necessarily play with in constructed attunes your brain to look out for things during a game. Auto-pilot is switched off and you are forced to analyse the game state all the time, rather than relying on your knowledge of what cards do. Card evaluation also has a huge role to play, once you are adept at analysing cards both in the context of a deck and in a vacuum (which is important) it will help you build better constructed decks and perform more profitable trades.

2. It’s free!

You buy boosters right? crack them straight away? Whether you bulk buy when a new set comes out or buy a few at a time, whatever you do don’t just open them. Draft with them.

If you are concerned about not getting the rares its quite common for a draft table to agree before a draft to record what rares are opened so you can draft properly instead of feeling compelled to snap up every rare that comes your way.

Other than that, drafting packs makes complete sense, you get to make a game out of doing something that you do anyway, and if the store you visit runs drafts regularly, that box you bought will save you a heap of money in entry fees. Any good store that caters for players actually playing the game and improving will be happy to let you use your own packs.

3. It makes you appreciate a new set more.

If you only play constructed, especially if you are a bit of a spike, it can be pretty frustrating when a new set comes out and your boosters are full of crappy commons like Vulshok Replica, Turn to Slag and Chrome Steed. Once you have some drafts under your belt you will realise these cards are pretty good in limited letting you look at that spoiler in a whole other light.

Appreciating a set as a whole when it released will also help card evaluation for constructed magic, Magic R&D design cards with limited and constructed in mind, by drafting, these distinctions will quickly become apparent. A good example are cards like Fauna Shaman and Trinket mage, while both really good constructed cards, they are not on the same level in draft. That said they can pull their weight, but a good constructed card is not always a good limited card, Mox Opal is an ideal example.

4. It makes you think.

How many constructed matches (especially late in the season) become predictable and feel as if you are just going through the motions. Jund mirrors were so frequent at FNM’s last season it was a wonder people even bothered to turn up and play constructed at all.

Limited Magic is never like that, every game will have unique interactions, testing your efficiency, skills and knowledge in real time. They may not be the most powerful or splashy effects but they will test you and overcoming them will make you a better player. In addition to these benefits draft can be a welcome respite from a stale format.

5. It’s fun!

As a new draft player it will take time to get good at it, but the feeling of accomplishment is great and the rewards even greater. Being able to feel confident at a draft table (especially when a new set has just come out) is a really good feeling and opens up magic in its entirety.

Finding broken combos and powerful interactions are difficult when you are just theorizing staring at a spoiler list, they are much more likely to be thought of while playing with varied cards, at that happens more in a draft than any other format.

How many of you jump at the new products Wizards bring out like Duels of the Planewalkers and Planechase? Well every-time a new set comes out there is a new draft format as well, and this one has relevance and support right up to the top level. Worlds this year has as much of the competition devoted to draft as any other format, its reputation amongst casual players as being a side format is both unfounded and also probably the biggest reason they may never improve their game.

Wizards have undoubtedly invested a lot of time in recent draft formats, making the last 3 blocks better for limited play than possibly (with the exception of Ravnica) any other in the history of magic.

Do yourself a favour, Draft!

Dave Baldelli.

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Next article11,000 Choices by Mark Aylett

I’ve been playing the game since Invasion block in real life and since Mirrodin online although nowadays due to time constraints I am much more of an online player. I hover around the top 75 in the UK with a rating of 1900 due in no small part to a grinding a lot of FNM’s over the last year or two (though not so much recently). Consistency is something I think is a big part of being a good magic player and I work hard to develop my magic theory, hopefully my articles will be able to impart some of that.