- This page is about the specific draft format. For draft formats in general, see Draft.
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. 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. Booster draft can also be a great way to experience the full flavor of a Magic set.
Booster Draft has its origins back in the early days of playtesting prior to the actual release of Magic: The Gathering. 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. So the true origins of the booster draft format are lost to the annals of history.
In order 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, pick up the next pack (located on your right), pick the best card for your deck from that pack and 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.
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 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.
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.
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).
With the introduction of the Three-and-One Model, blocks were abandoned, and each set was drafted on its own.
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.
- 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).
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 are 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.
Chaos Draft is a variant of Booster Draft that uses booster packs from as many different sets as possible.
- Anthony Alongi (August 05, 2003). "Before You Bust Those Packs...". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Ted Knutson (October 07, 2006). "Feeling a Draft: An Introduction to 40-Card Decks". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Jeff Cunningham (May 26, 2007). "Strategies and Techniques for Booster Draft". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Sam Stoddard (December 27, 2013). "Drafting Sideways". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Reid Duke (November 3, 2014). "The Basics of Booster Draft". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Marshall Sutcliffe (April 5, 2016). "How to Booster Draft". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (March 14, 2005). "Feeling the Draft". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (March 22, 2010). "Working Draft". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Chas Andres (August 18, 2015). "Draft Like a Vorthos". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Wizards of the Coast (February, 2006). "Ask Wizards - February 2006". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Wizards of the Coast (October 19, 2010). "Pack Order in Booster Drafts to Change". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (September 02, 2015). "What are reasons behind changing the Draft format?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Sam Stoddard (December 4, 2015). "Double Small-Set Drafting". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Wizards is going to try some in store quick drafts (Reddit)
- Reid Duke (January 19, 2015). "Signals in Booster Draft". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Reid Duke (February 2, 2015). "Booster Draft, Part 3". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Reid Duke (February 23, 2015). "Draft Walkthrough". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Matt Tabak (May 19, 2014). "Mechanics of Conspiracy". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.