One day, while working in the Pit (our affectionate name for the R&D area) I overheard someone say, "Have you played Tom LaPille's Cube? It's awesome!" Cube is a Magic Draft format in which a player constructs a pool of cards and then makes boosters to accommodate an eight-person draft.

I was immediately intrigued by the idea of making a Magic game experience that my friends and I could play through. It sparked the old game master itch, and I knew I wanted to try out something like that.

It turns out that as awesome as Cube is, it requires a ton of time, knowledge, and cards to pull off successfully. Of course, I have access to lots of cards, but time and knowledge—both of those are in short supply! So how could I get this encapsulated experience without the large upfront investment?

The answer: booster packs!

Ah, booster packs, is there anything you can't do? Is there any Magic night you can't improve somehow? And now you come along and save my wacky format idea? LET MY MUSCLES HUG YOU.

They were there, all along, in the fat packs I had stacked up on my desk: nine boosters and eighty lands. When shuffled together, you end up with a 215-card deck with about 41% land, which is the ratio someone would need if he or she wanted to build some sort of monster deck! Did we plan it this way all along?

Uh, yeah, that's it. We planned it from the start...

And thus, Wizard's Tower was born. It's a game format in which all players draw from the same, massive deck—hence the "Tower." Each turn, you draft a card from a common pool in the middle of the table, then draw the top card of the tower.

We played it, and lo, it was good. We played it again, and it held up. We started playing during lunch hours, which for Wizards R&D is really saying something. We started experimenting with different mixes of packs—I even made an Innistrad-block tower, sleeving it up because of the double-faced cards! And yes, there have been multiple Dragon's Maze towers...

So here it is, straight from our laboratory to your game table. It's a really fun way to play with some booster packs right away, with no pre-drafting or deck building needed. It's also my favorite way to play a new set. "So how do you play?" I can hear your shouts through the interwebs. Read on, intrepid, um, reader—read on:

Wizard's Tower

What you need:

  • Two to five players
  • Nine booster packs
  • Eighty land (sixteen of each basic land)

Starting a game:

  1. Open the booster packs (Try not to look at the cards in the boosters yet, though. It's more fun to discover them during the game.)
  2. Shuffle the cards and lands together into a single huge deck.
  3. Determine randomly who will go first.
  4. Deal three cards to each player.
  5. Starting with the first player, each player may discard any number of cards and redraw that many. Once all players have done this, shuffle the discarded cards and put them on the bottom of the deck.
  6. Put the top seven cards of the deck face up in the middle of the table. The deck becomes a library that's shared by all players.

Playing the game:

  1. When playing Wizards' Tower, your draw step gets a bit more interesting:
    1. First, choose one of the face-up cards and add it to your hand. If there aren't any, put the top seven cards of the tower face up in the middle of the table, and then choose one.
    2. Draw the top card of the tower.
  2. All players share the same library and the same graveyard. If you cast a spell that targets a card in an opponent's graveyard or manipulates the top card of your library, those cards affect the shared library or graveyard.
  3. The face-up cards aren't considered to be in any game zone.

Other than that, the game is played as a free-for-all Magic game. The last player left standing wins!

Building Towers

One of the fun parts of Wizard's Tower is coming up with your own towers. You could try doing a block tower using three packs from each set of a block, or you could do an all–Magic 2014 tower. Mix up the boosters and see what happens!