Running a Booster Draft

Posted in NEWS on January 13, 2000

By Wizards of the Coast

Darrell Wyatt

I attended Pro Tour Chicago this weekend and ran some side events while I was there. While doing so, I noticed several different ways that the judges in attendance were running their events. Most seemed to assume that everyone knew how to booster draft and that there wouldn't be any problems because the people in them were at a Pro Tour. They would hand out the packs and tell them that they'd be in the room when they were ready to start and to come find them for pairings, rulings, and results. This seems both counter productive and against the basic principles of judging an event. The following is my personal guidelines for running side events.

Booster drafts are the most common side event. The first thing I do after getting everyone seated (preferably randomly) is ask if everyone there is familiar with the format. If anyone is not, explain how the event operates to everyone and answer any questions. You also don't need to take total control of the draft. This isn't the top eight of a PT. However, just letting them draft as they wish can cause problems. Packs with the wrong number of cards, extra cards being taken, cards not being taken, etc. The way I do it helps resolve a lot of these problems. Have them open their first pack and make sure that there are 15 cards in the pack (or whatever number is supposed to be there i.e. Fallen Empires). When it comes to passing the packs, I tell them a simple rule. If there is a pack that they've passed still sitting between them and the person they are passing to, don't put down the pack they have and don't pick up another pack. In this way a person never has control of more than one pack at a time. If someone doesn't obey this rule, I make sure they know they made the mistake and tell them that will start getting warnings for their inability to follow directions. I even 'threatened' a person with ejection when he started complaining that 'this is stupid' and started leaving a pile of cards in front of the person he was passing to. You do need to watch the draft as you do any draft you're running. You must be able to correct mistakes, answer questions (especially if foreign language cards are involved), and make sure it runs smoothly.

I then tell them their pairings (or start this way if it was a constructed event) and ask them to play in the area that I'm in. I will generally stay in one area and both watch the events I have going and maybe getting another started. The idea is that it is easy for the players to find you to ask you questions, give you results, and get their next pairing. If you need to leave (bathroom, food, etc.), make sure the players know this and/or have someone handle your event while your gone.

The idea of judging an event is to be available to the players and make sure that the event runs smoothly. With side events, the situation has changed slightly but the responsibilities haven't. Of course some of these principles aren't necessary smaller events or they need to be modified for smaller events when you might be short on staff. But in a larger event (PT, Pre-release, states, nationals, etc.) I feel these ideas work