5 Reasons You Ought to Redraft Rares If You Want To Improve At Magic: the Gathering – Wisdom Fae Under the Bridge
A while ago, there was some pretty heated discussion about draft in the UK about redrafting rares. For clarity, this means that at the end of the draft everyone puts their rares on a table and they’re drafted in order of standings in the tournament. The argument from one side was that this was rough on the newer/worse players, who were being taken advantage of, versus a counter argument along the lines of:
“redrafting the rares simulates a more realistic model of a draft where there are higher stakes (day two of a GP, top 8 of a PPTQ, on a Pro Tour, etc) in which players are unlikely to draft a poor draft card like a non-basic land over a premium draft card”.
As you no doubt deduced from the title of the article, I am in favour of redrafting rares. This is how we always used to do it in Scotland, and even when I was just learning it seemed totally fair to do it this way, because I always saw it as “buying a draft” not “buying 3 packs and drafting with them” so I never really thought of the cards I opened as *my* cards.
The argument came up because of the masterpieces, of course, and they are just one of the reasons that there is something to discuss in respect to this topic. Mythic rares, and the general increase in value of good rares, are another couple of points. Excluding newer players is another. There are a bunch of reasons why a store might want not to offer these sorts of drafts, and certainly why they shouldn’t be exclusive (you can’t sanction them for one, which would shoot stores in the foot).
These are community issues, however. As an individual, if you’re looking to improve your game, then even if your local store doesn’t offer this sort of draft, it’s worth considering setting up your own game, either at home or in some other venue (the obvious one being a pub…)
5 – Prizes incentivise better play
You’re going to play better if winning means that you get a foil Scalding Tarn than you are if you’re going to get 3 boosters instead of 2. This is true for virtually everyone; it’s why playing poker for match sticks doesn’t really cut it, and why playing in a 2 cent game is really different to playing in a $40 game, and those are different to playing in a $200 game. Just as you wouldn’t call a big raise with low pair on a board of 6, King, Ace in poker for a sizeable amount of cash, you’re not going to keep a one-lander, or draft around the weird enchantment. This will bring your game up, but also bring up the game of those around you, which in turn will make you need to get better, arms race style.
4 – Bridges the gap between FNM and PPTQs
One of the big problems with the PPTQ system to my mind is that it brings people together with pretty different expectations of what a good day playing Magic: the Gathering is, in a manner which breeds conflict. The most glaring thing is that when people make howling errors, especially the kind that are just clearly errors (casting a counterspell on a spell that can’t be countered, for instance), they often look at you expectantly, wanting a take back, or even say “oh, is that how we’re going to play it?”. Old PTQs weren’t full of great players either, but there was a widely understood notion that you didn’t get take backs, and that the way it was played, was by the rules.
This isn’t really anyone’s fault, because while “competitive REL” has a distinct meaning which a person could read before they go, this wouldn’t really give them much idea of how that actually operates in practice. Instead, this is learned through participation, and that comes with annoyance, disillusionment and disappointment for both the new player, and the experienced player, for different reasons.
Having a “stepping stone” environment, where people could get used to the idea of playing seriously, but without tarnishing their expectations of playing bigger events, is healthy. This way players who are thinking about making the transition between playing environments can do so without having to travel, and they can play with people who they know, meaning that they will get a bit of support as they make adjustments, rather than dealing with a stranger who has no interest in them.
3 – Improves play under pressure
If you virtually never play in an environment where this is pressure, this can make the prospect of playing top 8s, or day twos, quite daunting. Loads of people choke. If you regularly play in an environment where it matters if you win the draft because there is a decent planeswalker to win, then this gives you some degree of seasoning for the times when it *really* matters if you win or lose. This is a pretty good thing to have, because without this sort of artificial pressure, it’s difficult to actually get any experience with it other than consistently doing well at Magic, choking when it counts, and eventually getting over it. Naturally, the constant choking is an unpleasant thing, and can be a real bugbear for many Magic players.
2 – Attracts better players
The nature of an event like this is that it is more attractive to people who expect to win, so it attracts the better players in the local area, and repels the new/worse ones who can go to play FNM or whatever they were otherwise going to do (they’re not being excluded, they just won’t want to play, just like I’m not excluded from playing Commander…). The more skilled the players you play with, the better; you’ll learn more, be punished for your mistakes more often, be given better advice… the best thing you can do to improve is find better people to play with.
On top of gathering the better people from the people you already play with, it might also attract good players who don’t bother playing locally much otherwise, favouring Magic Online due to a combination of time and financial efficiency as well as an improvement in player quality. These are likely the best players you know, and represent a particularly strong example of the above; they’re the guys who the guys you want to learn from, want to learn from.
1 – Representative of important drafts
As previously mentioned, when the stakes are higher people tend to take the card that is best for their deck, without much thought to the financial value of the cards involved. The obvious exceptions are things like Expeditions and Inventions, and the very most obvious example is that incident where Pascal Maynard drafted an off colour foil Tarmagoyf in the top 8 of GP Las Vagas (which, because of the controversy on the internet, sold for $14,900 on eBay). There is probably an entire article to be written about whether it makes sense to draft expeditions in various circumstances, and I’m sure there are several articles about the most famous Tarmagoyf in the world. In general, though, no one is going to be thinking of drafting a fast land over a removal spell in day two of a GP or a Pro Tour. I once wheeled a Mana Confluence and a Thoughtseize in the same draft at a PT (I played them both, too. Got to run good sometimes, I suppose!).
Obviously, everyone ought to be willing and fully understand what you’re doing before the draft starts. I could take or leave redrafting the Expeditions or Inventions because they’re obviously very expensive, and there is something to be said for not having to suddenly be drafting for £100, but if I’d do it if everyone else wanted to because, as I said before, I don’t see the boosters as being mine once the draft starts, they’re a component in the draft.
A final thing to point out is that this gives competitive players a reason to actually be in their local card shops. It’s a difficult thing now, because store owners often complain that players like me never buy anything, but the truth is I’m virtually never in a card shop unless it’s for a PPTQ. This is no slight on my local store, which is great… there’s just not a lot for me to actually buy, cards wise, from any store.
This shouldn’t be confused with a sense of entitlement – I know that stores are catering for the majority, and they’re a business, and so on. I just wish there was something I wanted, so I’d actually be making use of the store, putting money in the till. My General Practitioner in Dundee played Magic and would come in every month to spend a couple of hundred pounds. This was often just a case of finding things he might conceivably want so that he could give the shop money. There are probably guys like that all over the country, and in many respects the game as we have it now is their Legacy. I admire the sentiment behind this, and would literally do the same thing, but I’m not on a GPs salary, so for now I’m keen to see the store run events that make a lot of sense for players like me, to justify the expense.
That’s it for this week. Hopefully I’ll get something more regular going again from next week onwards!
Community Question: What are your views on redrafting rares and mythics?
Thanks for reading,