1998 World Championships
Booster Draft Day

Posted in Event Coverage

By Alex Shvartsman

What is Booster Draft?

Sometime during 1995 a new Limited format emerged that was less luck-driven and more strategic than usual sealed play. "Booster draft allows for the better player to win, instead of the luckier player who opened a better deck," says draft expert and a member of the 1995 Belgium National Team Marc Paschover.

In booster draft each player (usually eight participate) opens a pack of 15 cards, chooses one of these cards and passes the pack to the person on their left. As players are seated in a circle, each ends up with 15 cards after the pack is distributed. Players proceed to open a total of three packs passing the second pack to the right, and the third to the left. Each player than uses the 45 cards he or she drafted and any number of basic lands to build a 40-card minimum deck. The remaining cards act as the deck's sideboard.

DRAFT 101

While a player is usually forced to build a three color deck in sealed, it is fairly easy to draft a good two-color deck. Cards such as massive creature elimination, direct damage and creatures with evasion ability (flying or shadow) are most highly prized and are drafted early.

Usually a good draft deck will contain 16-17 lands and about 15 creatures. The rest of the cards should include creature elimination (Dark Banishing, Kindle), "tricks" (Twitch, Anoint) and support cards (Disenchant, Conviction).

An experienced player will choose his colors early, as he can guess the colors his neighbors are drafting by what is being passed to him.

TempestTM-StrongholdTM-ExodusTM Draft Strategies

When Pro Tour-New York Champion Jon Finkel was asked to summarize the best draft strategy for this format, he simply said: "Draft as if black and green did not exist." It seems that several of the top players agree with Finkel and intend to follow this strategy, going for various combination of red, white and blue decks. Mike Long, another member of team USA, when asked about his draft strategy promised to "beat and beat and pound on people's stupid heads." When asked to translate that strategy into a color theme, Long confessed that he may be going after green-blue.

Some players rely on their knowledge of the competition to give them an edge. "Arena member" Alan Comer of Team Legion explains that many players have a favorite strategy so you can predict the colors they are likely to take and take advantage of that. Others, like Tomi Walamies of Team Finland will just take what comes - not pre-meditating colors or strategy.

Although the draft portion of Worlds is anybody's game, North American players appear to be more experienced. Draft is not nearly as popular in Europe as a format and so it appears US and Canada players are at an advantage.

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