MTG Wiki
This page is about the specific draft format. For draft formats in general, see Draft.

Booster Draft
Booster Draft
DCI Sanctioned
Paper {Tick}
Magic Online {Tick}
Magic Arena {Tick}
Type Limited (Draft)
Multiplayer {Cross}

Booster Draft is a Limited format of playing Magic: the Gathering where you draft cards, that is, you pick one card from a booster pack and then pass it to your neighbor.[1][2][3][4][5][6] The natural process of design tends to create cards that work well for drafts without having to actually spend a great deal of time focusing on it.[7][8] Booster draft can also be a great way to experience the full flavor of a Magic set.[9]

History[ | ]

Booster Draft has its origins back in the early days of playtesting before the actual release of Magic: The Gathering.[10] Many of the original playtesters like Bill Rose and Charlie Catino were big fantasy baseball fans. So drafting, in general, played an important part in the development and playtesting of Magic. Those early drafts were very simple looking, more like what we would call Rochester Draft today than a Booster Draft. Groups of four or more players would lay out all the cards on the table face up and take turns picking them. At some point, drafts evolved into the Booster Draft format we have today, but no one is quite sure who introduced it. Richard Garfield points towards the 'Philly Group' which included Bill Rose and Charlie Catino. However, Bill does not remember his group coming up with it, and Charlie vaguely remembers Richard teaching it to him. Both Skaff Elias and Jim Lin don't believe that their playtest group came up with the idea either. It appeared that the true origins of the booster draft format were lost to the annals of history. However, in a 2022 interview episode of Mark Rosewater's Drive to Work podcast series, Barry Reich claimed that during playtesting he came up with the drafting method which has come to be known as booster draft.[11]

From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (June 7, 2024—Modern Horizons 3)

1. A Limited format in which players choose cards one at a time from booster packs, then construct a deck solely from the chosen cards and basic land cards.
2. To choose a card during a draft and put it into your card pool.

From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (June 7, 2024—Modern Horizons 3)

Draft Round
Part of a draft in which each player opens an unopened booster pack and the cards in those booster packs are drafted. See rules 905.1a and 905.1b.

Process[ | ]

To have a Booster Draft, you need three things:

  • 3 Booster packs per player from the current draft format
  • 8 total players (It’s possible to draft with fewer than 8, but 8 is the number needed for sanctioned Magic drafts)
  • A healthy supply of basic lands

Players are seated randomly at the table. Once everyone has found their seats, each player opens their first booster pack, chooses one card from the pack, and puts it face-down on the table. Once you've done this, pass the rest of the pack to the player on your left. Once everyone has passed their packs, you pick up the next pack (located on your right), pick the best card for your deck from that pack put it in your pile, and again pass it to the neighbor on your left. This process continues until all the cards from the pack have been picked. You then get a review period to look at the cards you have picked and figure out what direction your deck is going (typically this lasts 60 seconds). Once that ends, each player opens their next pack, picks a card, and passes the pack to the right (Packs go left, right, left.). This continues as before until all cards from a pack have been chosen, and then you get another review period before opening the final pack, taking a card, and passing to your left again.

Any drafted or opened cards not used in a player's Limited deck function as their sideboard.

Once you have 45 cards in your pile, it is time to build your deck. Booster Draft rules allow you to add as much basic land (only plains, island, swamp, mountain and forest) as you want to your deck and require that the deck be at least 40 cards. The standard number of lands in a draft deck is 17–18.

Order[ | ]

Beginning with Mirrodin Besieged, block booster drafts would begin with the most recent set. This was a change from the previous drafting order, which added new sets to the end of the drafting order as they were released.[12]

After the introduction of Two-Block Paradigm, beginning with Oath of the Gatewatch, the drafting for each second set of a block consisted of two packs of the small set with one of the large (BBA instead of AAB).[13][14]

Some sets, such as Rise of the Eldrazi or Avacyn Restored, are drafted alone without the other sets in their respective blocks.

Some blocks, such as the Return to Ravnica block and the Khans of Tarkir block have their unique draft structures.

With the introduction of the Three-and-One Model, blocks were abandoned, and each set was drafted independently.

Playing[ | ]

When playing Booster Draft, for example at FNM, the following rules usually apply:

  • Players are paired according to the Swiss system.
  • Matches are best 2 games out of 3.
  • There are usually 3 or 4 rounds.
  • Rounds last 50 minutes.

Quick Draft[ | ]

After the introduction of MTG Arena, Wizards of the Coast started to experiment with Quick Drafts for tabletop Magic:[15]

  • Matches are single-game (no use of a sideboard).
  • There are usually 5 or 6 rounds.
  • Rounds last 20 minutes.
  • Players get a "free" Mulligan each game (to help mitigate mana issues).

Choosing colors[ | ]

One of the most important and challenging questions in a booster draft is how and when to choose your colors. When neighboring drafters learn what one another is drafting, they're able to cooperate and will both wind up with better decks. This type of understanding and cooperation can be accomplished through signaling. Signaling comes in the form of what cards you pass, receive, do not pass, and do not receive from your neighbors.[16][17][18]

Draft stamps[ | ]

At most high-level draft events (Players Tours, Grand Prix, etc.), the organizers stamp the cards used in each draft with a unique stamp. This prevents players from cheating by swapping cards from outside the draft into their decks. Different symbols and stamp colors are used for each different draft round. The positions of the stamps on the cards are also significant and allow the organizers to recreate the draft from scratch if necessary.[19]

Conspiracy[ | ]

Conspiracy is the first set to include cards that have abilities that affect the draft itself.[20]

Chaos Draft[ | ]

Main article: Chaos Draft

Chaos Draft is a variant of Booster Draft that uses booster packs from as many different sets as possible.

Commander Draft[ | ]

Main article: Commander Draft

Commander Draft is a variant of Booster Draft designed for Commander Legends, Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate and Commander Masters.[21] Players draft two cards at a time per pick and build 60 card commander decks. They may include either up to two Faceless One (Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate) or one The Prismatic Piper (Commander Legends, Commander Masters) as a commander without need to draft them. The Singleton rule does not apply to Commander draft decks.

References[ | ]

  1. Anthony Alongi (August 05, 2003). "Before You Bust Those Packs...". Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Ted Knutson (October 07, 2006). "Feeling a Draft: An Introduction to 40-Card Decks". Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Jeff Cunningham (May 26, 2007). "Strategies and Techniques for Booster Draft". Wizards of the Coast.
  4. Sam Stoddard (December 27, 2013). "Drafting Sideways". Wizards of the Coast.
  5. Reid Duke (November 3, 2014). "The Basics of Booster Draft". Wizards of the Coast.
  6. Marshall Sutcliffe (April 5, 2016). "How to Booster Draft". Wizards of the Coast.
  7. Mark Rosewater (March 14, 2005). "Feeling the Draft". Wizards of the Coast.
  8. Mark Rosewater (March 22, 2010). "Working Draft". Wizards of the Coast.
  9. Chas Andres (August 18, 2015). "Draft Like a Vorthos". Wizards of the Coast.
  10. Wizards of the Coast (February 2006). "Ask Wizards - February 2006". Wizards of the Coast.
  11. Mark Rosewater and Barry Reich (August 26, 2022). "Drive to Work 961: Barry Reich". Transistor.
  12. Wizards of the Coast (October 19, 2010). "Pack Order in Booster Drafts to Change". Wizards of the Coast.
  13. Mark Rosewater (September 02, 2015). "What are reasons behind changing the Draft format?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
  14. Sam Stoddard (December 4, 2015). "Double Small-Set Drafting". Wizards of the Coast.
  15. Wizards is going to try some in-store quick drafts (Reddit)
  16. Reid Duke (January 19, 2015). "Signals in Booster Draft". Wizards of the Coast.
  17. Reid Duke (February 2, 2015). "Booster Draft, Part 3". Wizards of the Coast.
  18. Reid Duke (February 23, 2015). "Draft Walkthrough". Wizards of the Coast.
  19. Wizards of the Coast (July, 2002). "Ask Wizards - July 2002". Wizards of the Coast.
  20. Matt Tabak (May 19, 2014). "Mechanics of Conspiracy". Wizards of the Coast.
  21. Eli Shiffrin (November 6, 2020). "Commander Legends Release Notes". Wizards of the Coast.

External links[ | ]