Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
How to Draft Cards in Magic: The Gathering
Drafting lets players of all skill levels enjoy Magic, as no one has a pre-built deck, giving everyone a fair shot at victory. Most require three booster packs per player, a reservoir of basic lands to add once the draft is finished, and up to eight players (the number used in official Magic events).
Players then take turns looking at cards from different boosters, selecting one for their deck, and passing the remaining cards to the next player. Eventually, all players will have 45 cards to choose from, combining their favorites with any number of basic lands to create a final deck of at least 40 cards. Not only do drafts help players master a set, but they also contain cards with unique effects designed around the drafting mechanic. Which of these spells deserve your attention? Here are the ten best draft abilities in Magic: The Gathering!
Booster Draft Rules in Magic
Here are more details on typical booster draft rules to help you learn how these events run:
- Typically 3 or 4 rounds, each 50 minutes long
- Each round has several 1v1 games using a best two out of three format
- One free mulligan (swapping of cards in your opening hand)
Additionally, MTG Arena is experimenting with "Quick Draft," which has faster rounds containing only one game each.
10. Canal Dredger
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 4
Like most draft-oriented cards, Dredger is colorless, especially useful in drafting since he can adapt to whatever color your cards end up needing. His stats are a weak 1/5, but he can tap to move a card from your graveyard to the bottom of your deck, handy against mill decks, or to prepare searches on spent cards.
More than that, when selected in the draft, Dredger automatically gives you the last card from all boosters that round. Admittedly, the final cards are generally not the cream of the crop, but having extra options is always nice, especially to help develop your preferred color.
9. Æther Searcher
Æther Searcher, or, Aether Searcher to keep things readable, needs a big chunk of seven mana, but he's colorless and carries respectable 6/4 stats. More than that, when chosen, you reveal the next card you draft. Then, during your game, when you field Searcher, you can cast your revealed card for free from either your hand or library!
As a bonus, remember this triggers simply by Searcher entering the field (whether cast or not), meaning it also resolves when he's revived from the graveyard.
8. Whispergear Sneak
Sneak is a weak 1/1, but his colorless nature and low cost make him a good foot soldier for any deck. More than that, you draft him face-up, and you can turn him face-down during the draft to peek at any unopened or unused booster pack.
Basically, Sneak gains you advance knowledge of upcoming rounds, letting you begin your planning ahead of other players and make informed decisions about which cards to draft.
7. Lurking Automaton
Automaton's 0/0 stats are boosted by his draft effect, which adds a number of +1/+1 counters based on how many cards you've drafted (including Automaton) when you select him.
Thus, the longer he goes without getting picked, the more power he'll amass, potentially arriving as a devastating 15/15. And if that somehow doesn't pique your interest, you can further increase his stats with draft-extending effects we'll soon encounter.
6. Paliano, the High City
When this legendary land is drafted, the player to your right selects a color. You then select a different color, and the player to your left selects a third; during your match, Paliano can tap for any of these three hues!
Not only does this offer an excellent three-color land that doesn't enter tapped, it reveals a bit about your opponent's thoughts towards your current selections (as they'll presumably try to pick colors they think you don't need). If you feel like gambling, you can even throw them off by picking an unwanted color and hoping they select your desired hue.
Unlike today's other spells, Regicide isn't colorless, meaning it only fits in decks that are at least partially black. However, it compensates with an instant and inexpensive removal. Like Paliano, you and adjacent players select three different colors when you draft Regicide; during the match, it can destroy any creature who carries at least one of the named colors.
Again, this reveals some interesting information and acquires a super-cheap creature punishment you can use on any phase. And if you manage to draft multiple Regicides, they can each target all colors selected for their combined drafts, leaving almost no creature safe from their onslaught.
4. Agent of Acquisitions
A colorless 2/1 for just two mana is already a solid deal in draft games, but Agent really shines with his draft ability. Once selected, you keep him face-up, and at any point during that round, you can turn him face-down to draft the rest of the cards in a single pack. Then, you're out for the round.
Sometimes there's a single outstanding pack you want everything from; with Agent, you can nab it without having to share.
3. Cogwork Librarian
A colorless 3/3 isn't bad for four, but even if selected, Librarian might not end up in your deck. After all, his draft effect lets you place him into a pack to select two cards from it, offering a lighter version of Agent's ability.
Of course, an opponent can later take Librarian to also use the effect, but this offers a great way to grab two highlights from a particularly-tempting booster.
2. Deal Broker
Broker impresses during your match, offering a colorless 2/3 who can tap to both draw and discard a card, helpfully cycling through your deck. Additionally, you draft him face-up, and when the draft ends, you can offer any one of your cards (including Broker) up for trade. Each opponent may select a card to barter with, and you can (but don't have to) accept any one offer.
When drafting, you'll often see aces from colors outside your deck, ignoring them since they're of little use to you. But with Broker, you can grab one to auction off at the end of the round, nabbing something you actually need in return.
1. Lore Seeker
Yet again, a colorless 2/2 for just two mana helps any build, and Lore's ability lets you add another booster to the draft that round. In most events, you can even pick packs from sets not being used, drastically expanding your options. Additionally, this often creates situations where you end up with an extra card compared to some players, granting a small tactical advantage.
For his adaptability and customization options, Lore's an easy choice whenever I draft, and he's surprisingly cheap, costing less than fifty cents!
Customizing Your Draft in Magic
Although you won't be able to alter the rules at official events, remember that your gaming group can tailor drafts however you wish. Change the player count, the number of packs, the number of players, and other variables to suit your needs. You can even make the format multiplayer (rather than a series of 1v1) and draft from a pre-made supply (where it's useful to have today's draft spells in stock) instead of random boosters,
They're not especially useful in other formats, but draft cards shine in their element, offering great effects at prices any player can afford. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of draft-centered spells, vote for your favorite card, and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill