Drafting the new Magic: The Gathering block

Any MTG players in our readership?

Well if you’re not, I recommend jumping on a draft as a great way to learn. With a quick intro to the rules you can use a draft to put together a simple deck and get a few games in with people who are on a similar footing as you. For those who don’t know, this is how you draft:

  1. Each person starts with three booster packs (15 cards each)
  2. Everyone opens a pack, takes a card and passes the rest on
  3. Repeat until all the cards are gone
  4. Repeat for the other two packs
  5. By the end, everyone has 45 cards and builds a deck of 40 cards (including lands) and plays

Simple and effective. There’s no spending a fortune on amazing cards, everyone has had the same chances and it’s a great way to learn and play with friends without feeling too keenly for your inexperience.

So how does the new set – Khans of Tarkir – stand up to a draft?

If you’ve drafted before, you know how difficult it is to make a deck with two or fewer mana colours, because as you reach the dregs of each pack you inevitably find yourself sitting on cards that don’t match what you’ve built so far, especially if someone in the loop are picking up the colours you’re trying to get, and your first plan may have to change and fast. Well that’s the good news for KoT, as the new set is designed to build decks of three colours in a wedge (one colour and its’ two opposed colours in the wheel). The design makes it very easy to draft a coherent deck, but has it’s own problem. If you don’t pick up those cards that provide the right mix of mana colours, you’ll find yourself stuck for a colour mid-game.

Some of the new mechanics are deeply intriguing, I for one, am a huge fan of Morph. You can play a Morph card as a normal card or drop it face-down for 3 colourless mana (no colour requirements) as a 2/2 creature, then pay a separate cost to turn it face-up afterwards. So why do it?

For a start, many Morph cards have a flip effect which can be rather useful, although often it will cost more to Morph that card rather than play it normally. If it’s left as a 2/2 for too long, it may be too vulnerable to make the most of it. Alternatively it may be easier to play and then flip a Morph card, it’s cost may be cheaper or have easier to manage requirements. Either way, it’s a quick and easy way to get a creature on the field in an emergency, something which a drafted deck will produce for you fairly often.

Ferocity made a few games rather interesting. Cards have effects that become so much more effective when you have a creature with 4 or more power on the field, and this set comes with more than just a few of those! If you can’t get one out quickly, there’s always scope to use an Outlast creature, who can keep tapping themselves to add +1/+1 counters to ramp up your game.

I drafted a Sultai deck, the corrupt power of black mana, the machinations of blue mana, and the rapid growth of green mana. I found myself surprisingly willing to sacrifice large quantities of cards to power up or accelerate my plays, I’m not normally a sacrificial player, but the rewards became quite tempting. I had several lucky draws during the draft and they did serve me rather well, but in the end, Absan (white/green/black) brought me hideously low.

Ok, for those of you who have never played the game, I’m well aware I’ve just said an awful lot of words at you. The short version is Khans of Tarkir makes for an entertaining draft and I look forward to making the most of the cards I took away with me.

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