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How to Draft in Magic: The Gathering In 2024

how to draft in magic the gathering

Let’s grab some boosters, as we check out how to draft in Magic: The Gathering!

In addition to the Standard format of play for Magic: The Gathering (MTG), which we covered here in our How to play Magic: The Gathering article, numerous other, popular ways to play the world’s leading collectible card game (or CCG) have emerged over the years.

Since MTG first appeared in 1993, it has had the issue of players being able to buy their way to victory; that is, either purchasing the single cards they need no matter the expense, or simply buying phenomenal amounts of booster packs in order to be able to build their way to a killer deck.

The rise of the internet has exacerbated this issue, with decklists available which players can mimic and use to gain a competitive advantage in their local gaming groups.

Which makes the Draft format of play so attractive; it removes the element of paying your way to winning from the proceedings, and introduces as level a playing field as it’s possible to have when playing MTG.

Let’s take a look at how to draft in Magic: The Gathering!

1. What Is Draft in Magic: The Gathering?

MTG Hand Cards

First things first: ‘Draft’ is a way to play MTG using sealed booster packs, with each player taking a specific number of packs from the same set.

As well as taking a fair amount of knowledge and skill to do well at Draft, it also ensures that players build their deck from the same limited pool of cards as everyone involved, which at least levels the playing field in terms of the cards that can be used.

It’s also worth pointing out that, even though you will need to be reasonably familiar with MTG before taking part in drafting, due to the fact that you can’t simply buy your way to victory in this type of game, it’s still a good way to play for players who at least know the basics of Magic, including deckbuilding.

2. What Will I Need To Begin Playing Draft In Magic: The Gathering?

MTG Play Booster Pack

Until the Murders At Karlov Manor set released in early 2024, you would have needed three Draft Booster packs, per player, in order to play the Draft format game of MTG.

However, that’s now not the case, and instead you’ll need to ensure that you have three Play Booster packs, as well as still making sure that each player has three packs of their own. Also note that you need to stress, to all players that involved, that they need three identical packs, from the exact same set of MTG. For example, we have the Outlaws of Thunder Junction booster pack shown above; each player will need three Outlaws of Thunder Junction Play Boosters if packs from this set are being used.

magic the gathering draft pack

Though you’re still likely to find Draft Boosters for sale, they’re no longer being produced. If you happen to find them and a set is especially appealing to you and your friend group, we’d suggest picking up an MTG Draft Pack – which contains three Draft Boosters per pack. These are packs specifically to be used in Draft games.

There are also equivalent packs now being produced to simplify the process with Play Boosters; so in each Play Pack, you’ll get enough boosters for one player to join a Draft game.

Regardless of whether or not you use Play or Draft boosters, the process is the same.

However, do note that there’s one less playable card per pack in a Play Booster, so you’ll have three less cards overall with which to build your deck at the end of the drafting process.

Note also that you’ll also need a good selection of Land cards per player; around 15-17 Land cards is ideal, though of course this does depend on the power level of the cards you end up with. Do also bear in mind that you won’t be using all colours/types of Land, but you’ll need a decent number in each of the five types before you begin.

3. How Do I Draft In Magic: The Gathering?

magic the gathering cards

Everyone taking part now gets to open their first booster pack – the actual process of drafting is about to begin!

Pick one card from the selection of those found in the pack (remembering, if everyone else is doing the same, to keep the Land card first!) and place it in front of you.

Then everyone passes the rest of the cards to the player on their left. 

Pick one card from those – and add it to the one already on the table.

Repeat this process until all cards have been picked, then open your second booster.

With the second booster pack, you repeat the above steps, except passing to the right instead of the left.

Then with the third booster, repeat for the final time – again, passing to the left instead of the right.

Once the cards from the third packs have all been chosen, you’ll have either 39 or 42 cards, plus the three Land cards from each pack you opened too. If you’re using Play Boosters, you’ll have 39 cards, and if you’re using Draft Boosters (if you’ve managed to all find them!), you’ll have 42.

It’s not a huge difference, but there’s a chance for extra Rare cards in Play Boosters, so you may well end up with slightly more powerful decks overall.

4. Which Cards Should I Pick During The Draft?

This all depends on what strategies you tend to favour in a game of MTG, but there are a few tips that you can bear in mind, even from the first card you pick.

It’s tempting to go for the rarer, shinier cards in a pack – but remember that the card pool you’re going to be choosing from will be limited; some of the higher end, more powerful cards may rely on combos that you won’t be able to make use of with the cards available to you.

Certainly at first, you might want to prioritise securing yourself the more powerful creatures that you come across – especially if they don’t rely on other cards to trigger special effects; even if they do, it’s likely that their Power and Toughness will be worth getting hold of them anyway!

Though there’s also something to be said for grabbing a powerful non-creature spell to start with; you’ll likely know once you’ve seen your first pack just what card is going to be most valuable – to either take and use or to make sure your opponent(s) don’t get their grubby hands on it!

With a 40 card deck, you’ll likely be looking for around 15 creatures, then around half of that number in other spells –  and you’ll make up the rest of your deck with Land cards.

Those numbers are slightly flexible of course, as your card selection will be reasonably random depending on the contents of the boosters in the Draft – and any pre-conceived strategies you have in mind may need to be changed on the fly due to the cards on offer!

5. What Do I Do Once The Cards Have Been Drafted?

mtg land cards

Once you have your drafted cards, you’ll need to build a 40 card deck from them.

I can already hear you on this: how can I make a 40 card deck, if I’ve just used Play Boosters to select 39 cards? Or how can I make a playable deck with 42 cards from Draft Boosters? Well, that’s something that’s obvious when you remember those Land cards we said you’d need earlier!

You’ll put together your deck with a combination of the cards you drafted and the Land cards. So if you’ve paid careful attention to the colours, keywords and combo possibilities of all of the cards you picked during the Draft, you should easily be able to come up with a 40 card deck to stomp your enemies with!

6. I Have My 40 Card MTG Draft Deck – Now What?

Now that you’ve gone through the process of drafting and building your Draft deck – it’s time to play against an opponent!

If there’s more than two of you in the Draft, the most fun and exciting way to pit your drafting and deck building skills against each other will be using a winner stays on, tournament style structure.

You’ll soon discover why the Draft format of Magic: The Gathering is such an addictive and compelling way to play – and you’ll even be building up your collection of cards nicely as you do!

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