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Monday, January 30, 2006

Magic the Gathering: Winston Draft

I still play Magic occasionally - just not the 20+ hours per week I was playing when I was playing competitively. Reading about Tara's experience at the Guildpact prerelease reminded me that I was going to write about Winston Draft but hadn't got round to it.

Winston Draft is a 2-player draft format which works for any collectible card game. Last I heard, it was Richard Garfield's favourite format. It's a lot of fun and lets you get a lot of value out of a few cards. Note that despite Aaron Forsythe's description below, you don't have to provide actual sealed product - any mix of cards will work although it's usually better if the colours are somewhat balanced.

Here's the rules:
1. Each player supplies 45 cards worth of sealed product (either three booster packs or a tournament pack minus the lands).
2. Shuffle all 90 cards together in one big deck without looking at them.
3. Choose someone to draft first, then put the top three cards from the deck face down next to it as three new small piles of one card each.
4. The first player looks at the first small pile. He may choose to draft that pile or not.
5. If he drafts it, he replaces that pile with a new face-down card from the deck.
6. If he doesn't draft it, he puts it back, adds a new card from the deck face down, and moves on to the next pile.
7. He looks at that pile and decides to draft it or not, replacing it with a new card if he drafts it, adding a new card to it and moving on if he doesn't.
8. If he doesn't want to draft the third pile, he adds a card to it, then drafts a random card from the top of the deck.
9. Continue until all 90 cards have been drafted. You may use as much additional basic land as you wish to construct 40-card decks and play.

(Thanks Aaron!)

It even works if you are using the same pile of cards to draft from more than once. It's a really fun way to play and I highly recommend it.

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