The Road to Tourneyland: Casual Draft Night at BSG
By Mark Ortego
When I used to have my Friday After-school Magic Club I would occasionally make what I call “re-packs” for practice drafting. At first, I’d assemble a pool of “common” cards from the latest set but I would use the empty foil booster packs that I would save from any box of boosters I’d get to put the cards in to emulate a real draft situation. Most of the kids didn’t have cash to play in real booster drafts at local shops and I do think drafting is a great way to better learn some of the basic concepts of Magic like deck building and other concepts.
I made sure I gave everybody a brief idea of how to build a 40 card deck by telling them it’s roughly 16 creatures, 8 combat tricks and 16 lands (I know there are many exceptions to this but to newbies, this is a good start). As the years went on I started to make more complicated ‘re-packs’ by putting in cards from many different sets but making them better quality like Rancor, Terminate, Counterspell, et al. I finally reached the point where my collection was so big that I could afford to make the packs in the correct rarity order of 11 commons, 3 un-commons and 1 rare. The draft games got better and so did the players. It was a lot of fun and I miss it sometimes.
Recently, at Blue Star Games, I stopped making the schedule for Friday Magic Events that I started back in May because my family schedule only allows me to do any Magic event only once per week and I have several places I like to play at like; GASP’s MML on the second Saturday of every month or Blue Star Games on Fridays, or Mr. Nice Guy Games on Wednesdays, or playing with my friends at somebody’s house, or any “Judging” opportunities I get (which counts as playing). This means I have less time to be coordinating anything (I also gave up the “chairperson” position for the MML, too. Good Luck with that Youngbeard!).
Anyway, when I stopped making the schedule at BSG I said to the players that whoever wins any FME gets to choose the format for the next week with the stipulation that it couldn’t be the same format as that night. It’s pretty simple; if you win the event, you get to choose right then and there the format for next week. To wait until the next week to announce it would be bad for anyone who might want to play Magic at BSG because one, there’s no poster on the window (I used to always put a poster on the window with the event/format that’s happening for the next week or so but at least one weeks notice is good) and two; it wouldn’t give anyone time enough to prepare unless that was the objective: to keep new players out and let no one prepare. You COULD win every week and then prepare for a format that you won’t announce until maybe Thursday (the day before the event). I’m not sure this is the case but I wanted to look into it so I went to BSG last Thursday to find out what’s going for that Friday.
Thursday 1/5/06: Nothing had been decided as of yet. Hmmmmm.
What I did find out is that the guys have been ‘peasant drafting’ a lot lately. I did it with them the Friday before Christmas. It was a lot of fun but I sorta had a problem with the card pool we used. Now I know I’m ‘picky’ and sometimes a bit ‘overbearing’ when it comes to doing things right and so the re-packs I mentioned earlier where made with “balance and fair” in mind. I took time to make sure that all of the colors were equally represented, card-types too. I wanted the player’s “experience” to be fun and rewarding. To me, cards randomly dumped into a box where there can be 15 copies of one card and nothing in-sight of another doesn’t seem fun. But, the card pool we played with that night was so heavy in white that two players were able to build viable mono-white decks. Okay, by this time you may be thinking that I’m crying about it because I didn’t win, well, I DIDN’T win. The player I played in the finals was playing mono-white BUT, he also is a “good player”, that’s the reason I lost. My deck was good, too. I was running Green/Black with fatties and creature removal, a good basic archetype. But I digress; it’s the card pool I’m talking about.
When I stopped by last Thursday the shop owner mentioned that even though a format wasn’t ‘officially’ picked yet, there were murmurs of ‘peasant drafting’ going around. I also forgot to mention that when we’ve drafted in the past I had to cajole the players to start on-time (6 p.m.) and play a single-elimination format. When I’m not there no one seems to enforce the “Da Rules”. So I went home Thursday night, found my ‘emergency draft kit’ as I used to refer to it, dusted it off and remade the ‘re-pack’ to include cards from Mirage to Ravnica with 1 rare, 3 un-commons and 11 commons. I used empty foil booster packs from the three Kamigawa sets (8 CoK, 8 BoK and 8 SoK). It didn’t really matter that I used all three different packs but again, it gives the ‘look and feel’ of real drafting. I thought that if on Friday (the next day) ‘peasant drafting’ would be the chosen format that I would be willing to offer my re-packs for us to use even though their not made of all common cards. I don’t think anyone there is willing to commit or, have the resources, to put rare cards in every pack and then have strangers play with them.
Sure enough, one of the two winners was there and wanted to ‘peasant draft’. Yes, one of TWO winners, they had started late last week and the shop owner closed-up before they were done which is why it’s important to Start-On-Time! I mentioned my re-packs and before long we had eight players ready-to-go before six o’clock! Several of the players were my former after-school magic players from several years ago and right away knew they were in for a good time.
At six o’clock we started, the sign-ups ($3.00 per player for first and second place “store credit” $16 & $8), the seating around the table (I use 8 plains cards that are numbered 1 to 8 and shuffle them and place them face-down around the table) and then the distribution of the re-packs. Man, I am way too organized for it being a ‘casual’ event but no one seemed to mind and believe me, if they would’ve minded, I would know!
Drafting with inexperienced players is interesting, wait, allow me to re-state; drafting with players who don’t know and/or don’t care about their DCI rating, is interesting. Smack talk runs amok, I usually try to stay quite but “Mr. Legendary” (Kurtis) was sitting to my left and I like smack-talking with him. I’ll show you my first pick if you show me yours, I said to him. He flashes me Ertai, Wizard Adept and I tip my Hokori, Dust Drinker at him. Clearly he had the better pick.
More importantly to me, however, were the ‘ooos’ and ‘aahs’ going around the table during the picks. It’s like making a dinner for your family or date and watching them enjoy it. Sorry if I sound a bit self-indulged in my story but sometimes its okay to give your self an “Atta-Boy”. I don’t think anyone drafted a “pile”, I went Black/White, and “Mr. Legendary” went Blue/Black/Red (a personal favorite color combination of mine and his) some others went Red/White & Blue/Red from what I saw. Here’s a list of some of the rares I included:
~Hammer of Bogardan
These are rares from my “Secret Rare Box” and they are not for trade because of this reason; they’re fun to put in re-packs.
Here are the players:
“Mr. Legendary” (UBR)
Goth Boy (U/R)
Mikey (G/w/?)--former after-school player
Girl wearing large hoop earrings (?/?)--former after-school player
Mitch (R/W)--former after-school player
In the Quarter-Finals I play against Goth Boy and his deck is full of annoying blue guys one being Wall of Air. Wall of Air!? How do you get past that? Anyway, I can’t remember much else except that I gave him a good match and I take him in two games, two l-o-n-g games.
In the Semi-Finals I played against “Mr. Legendary”, I hate it when two really good players are in the same bracket. Here’s how I did the pairings; I took whatever number they were when they signed-up and made the assignments like this:
1 vs. 8
4 vs. 5
2 vs. 7
3 vs. 6
[Note: The above player’s list was not their sign-up order, it’s in the order that I remembered them for this article.]
So I lose to “Mr. Legendary” in two games but not with out a fight, I had just enough life gain cards to survive a while longer. He goes on to play Eric and takes him down for the win.
Sorry about not including any game-play descriptions because I wasn’t even to going to write about this until “Mr. Legendary” mentioned it, I think he likes me referring to him as “Mr. Legendary” which I dubbed him after a fantastic game finisher he did in a large Multiplayer Game way back in the early summer. I didn’t take any real notes and my memory is not what it used to be and besides, if I KNOW I’m going to write an article I would pay attention more.
A good time was had by all and I think that’s important here. I was definitely asked if I could bring back my draft kit and I will but I still think drafting with the real deal is way better but the guys are all Ravnica’d out and are waiting impatiently for Guildpact to be released.
When I got home I sorted all of the re-pack cards we used by rarity and color and took out some lame cards, IMO, and replaced them with better quality cards and put it away for the next time. I then made a separate “Common Draft Kit” enough for 16 players (and then some) which included cards from every set from Mirage to Ravnica with colors, mechanics and card-types equally represented. I’m going to leave that kit at the store the next time I go so that the guys can ‘peasant draft’ anytime with a fair & balanced card pool. I also have my land box at the store, too. I’m pretty trusting like that. However, I didn’t include any empty foil booster packs for them to re-pack the cards in because it’s really ridiculous to do if you think about it.
I had loads of fun and I hope my concerns within the article are taken with ease and understanding, I mean no harm. At the end of the night after the tourney “Mr. Legendary’s” ride showed up and he was leaving without picking a format for next week (ah-ha, so that’s how it happens). I mentioned this to him and he yielded his choice to me and then left, so I picked Chaos Multiplayer and made a poster of it and put it in the front window of the store like we’re supposed to do. Unfortunately, I won’t be there but I know they’ll have fun.