5 Reasons Why “Rare Redrafts” Are Terrible For Playing Limited Magic: The Gathering
So what exactly do we mean by “Rare Redrafts”? After a booster draft, all the participating players return the rares, mythic rares, foils, and Masterpiece cards they drafted to a central pool placed face-up, and players select in turn from this pool based on their performance in the draft, from top of the standings to the bottom, until all of the available cards are distributed.
The following is a counter-perspective to the Graeme McIntyre’s most recent article “5 Reasons Why Redrafting Rares Will Make You A Better Magic: The Gathering Player”. Graeme argued the benefits of improving limited skill levels, attracting better players to draft and bridging the gap between local game store play to limited on a competitive scale, but what could be the downsides to adding this new dimension to draft prize structure? Lets take a look.
1. It Can Be A Terrible Experience for New Players
Tim is ten years old. He started to play Magic a few months ago and had been playing his home-brew deck in his local store’s Standard FNMs for a couple of weeks. This week FNM was due to be a draft, and Tim was excited about trying out drafting for the first time. He was thrilled to pull an Expedition Scalding Tarn from his first Battle for Zendikar booster and drafted it straight away. Sadly his limited Limited experience counted against him and he finished with a 0-3 record in the draft. His consolation was having a new shiny trinket to take home… except it wasn’t. The other players stopped him and told him that there was a “rare redraft” so that people didn’t “mess up the draft” by “only taking the expensive cards”, and he was told he needed to hand it in. He took home a Woodland Wanderer, a March from the Tomb, and a Remorseless Punishment…
After the event Tim was talking to his Mum on the way home about how he’d got on: “I got this really cool card in my pack but I had to hand it in because I didn’t win any of my games and one of the adults took it instead.” Mum wondered about the card and was inquisitive enough to look up the price of an Expedition Scalding Tarn on Manaleak.com. Seeing that her son had (as far as she could see) ‘gambled’ a £235 card at the event, she flipped her lid. Tim was banned from playing Magic or ever going near the store again, and all his cards were taken away.
The above is based on a true story: Everyone is excited to open that shiny Masterpiece, Planeswalker or current chase rare, but a new player who then needs to give it up unless they win the event is going to be nervous for the duration of the event and feel undoubtedly distraught afterwards, and that’s the sort of player who doesn’t come to the store again or indeed gets banned by their parents. Exempting certain types of cards from the “rare redraft” doesn’t address the root of the problem of players being expected to wager the cards they opened on their performance in the event.
…This leads us nicely into…
2. “Rare Redrafts” Are Often Sprung Upon Players Without Any Warning
Players don’t always play at the same store week in, week out. Some stores have an unwritten expectation that all drafts in the store will be followed by a “rare redraft”. This causes difficulty for those new to the store, including visitors, who won’t realise that they need to part with their perceived property at the conclusion of the event.
For the organizers who do choose to run “rare redrafts”, I urge you to inform every player, every time, before they pay for their drafts, that a redraft will be run after the event and what the implications are. This will allow the players to enter with full understanding of what you expect of them as a contingency to reduce the potential for any friction or negative experiences at your store.
3. Logistical Nightmare – You Drafts First? Who Drafts Last? What If Someone Needs to Leave Early?
If I’ve got a fairly rubbish deck and am 1-1 in a draft, and it’s already 10:00pm at night, I’m probably tired and considering calling it a night before round three. “Rare redrafting” means I can’t. Instead I must grind through another round because I’ve got to hand in my cards, only to pick something potentially sub-par in 50 minutes time…
The enforceability of “rare redrafts” and whether they can be run in association with a sanctioned Magic tournament also comes up and is a question I’m frequently asked as a judge. The rules do not state that “rare redrafts” are prohibited at sanctioned events, they are in fact silent on the matter. What the rules do state is that a player leaving a Limited event owns the cards that he/she correctly has in his/her possession at that point in time (Magic Tournament Rules, section 2.10).
As far as the Wizards Play Network (WPN) and judges are concerned, players keep all the cards they drafted. What they decide to do with those cards after the event is a matter between the individual players, the local community and the tournament organizer, and judges should not become involved in any process that players engage in after the event is over. Any failure to participate in a “rare redraft” is not a WPN matter and will not carry any official warnings or other penalties. Store owners are within their rights to refuse service in the future to players who don’t want to participate in that process, but…
4. Redrafting Encourages “Sharkery” Amongst Players
One of the best things that has been brought to the game in the past few years is the removal of all warnings and penalties from Regular Rules Enforcement Level (REL) events. Judges are being encouraged to educate, to not apply policy strictly if an alternative approach would be more fair, and to generally create a more welcoming play environment. The Regular REL philosophy was designed with small events and small prized in mind.
For those of you who may not be aware, Regular REL is the most common type of Magic event, and these events are focused on fun and social aspects, not enforcement. They are places where judges educate and assist players to play the game well and this education and sportsmanship are prioritized over strict enforcement of rules and processes. Although a certified judge is not normally required, most store events, including Friday Night Magic, Prereleases, Game Day, and Grand Prix Trials, are run at Regular REL (This is the personal opinion of the author and is not an official view of the Judge Programme).
When the prize pool is suddenly worth north of $100, rather than the usual few packs, this makes for a different proposition, especially with the Masterpiece series alongside the price of chase rares rising incrementally over the past few years. Players who’ve come for a relaxed, low-stakes play experience now find they’re playing for (relatively) big money prizes, they will begin to treat others differently and the environment will change as a result.
This means that “sharkery” such as tricking opponents into misplays, expecting rigid application of the rules, not allowing take-backs, and all other kinds of negative behaviour becomes prevalent. This is exactly the opposite of what we want at a Regular REL Magic event, and it’s a recipe for players opting not to no longer play within said community.
5. Tournament Organisers Are Provided Within An Excuse Not to Provide Prize Support to Their Players
I love tournament organisers (TOs), because without them I don’t have work as a judge. However, many of us have heard it mentioned enquiring about prizes for a draft “Oh, the prizes are the rare draft at the end”. This is quite the crutch – players who’ve done well at an event should, in our view, be rewarded for it. “Rare redrafts” rarely reduce the price of the event materially, perhaps a pound or two at most, and it reinforces the feel-bad experience for newer players if doing badly in the event actually impacts what they can take home as solace for a bad day at the office.
So in summary, “rare redrafts”, in my opinion, are not good for Magic overall. There are a few times when it makes sense, but even teams playtesting for a Grand Prix or Pro Tour are probably going to find it more sensible for someone to buy a couple of boxes and keep all the cards afterwards or to share the cost and put it in a cardpool. For the majority of events, I believe redrafting is not the best option.
Community Question: What do you think about the use “rare redrafts” after drafting at your Local Game Store?
I look forward to hearing your opinions.
Thank-you for reading.