How to Win a Standard Draft in Magic: the Gathering


Drafting is one of the best ways to play Magic: the Gathering. But winning requires more than just playing well, it requires drafting well. Here are some tips to get your hands on the right cards to build a powerful draft deck.

Things You'll Need

  • Some opponents
  • 3 booster packs per player
  • Lots of basic land
  • When possible, start with a color signal. If you are deciding between two cards you want equally in your first few packs and one of them is the same color as some decent cards in the same pack, take the other card instead. By passing a deck devoid of that color to the next player -- especially if you can do so with the same color a few times in a row -- that player will likely not fall into that color, and thus not steal it from you when the passing order is reversed.

  • Creatures are key. Build yourself an army. The last thing you want to do is be going into the final pack realizing that you've picked up a bunch of cool spells but no creatures. Unlike constructed decks where fancy combos often win the day, draft decks generally fight their battles on the field, where creatures get down and dirty. If you don't have many creatures, you may be at a severe disadvantage.

  • Have a way around the ground stall. Often in draft, both players will have moderate ground forces, leading to a disadvantage in either player attacking. Particularly fat (high-powered) creatures may be helpful, but more important can be creatures with evasion. Whether your creature has shadow, flying, or any other sort of evasion, if it can't be blocked then it may come in handy.

  • Removal is always good. In an environment where creatures will largely determine the outcome of the game, being able to destroy opposing creatures is a powerful ability worth acquiring. This is most frequently available in black, through red can generally do enough damage to destroy small creatures and white can often incapacitate a creature making it as good as dead.

  • Find a bomb. Draft decks often create grinding slugfests, so if you can grab the one powerful card that changes the flow of the game, do so. Even if it's neither a creature nor removal, sometimes the only way out of a stalemate is with power.

  • You'll generally want to build your deck with 23 cards and 17 land. Expect to play 3 colors, with the third often containing just a few cards as a splash. For example, you might have a blue and green deck, with two mountains to support your two red damage spells. Try to have a curve if possible, such that you can do something useful with all your mana every turn.

Tips & Warnings

  • Choosing your colors early on will give you focus and let you be sure to grab lots of cards in the colors you're actually playing.
  • Don't choose your colors too early on; your first 3 to 7 picks should be focused on taking the best card for you, regardless of color. This will give you more flexibility for the rest of the draft.
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