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Why I love Magic drafts

Magic: The Gathering logo

I play Magic: The Gathering. I have since 1999, about six years after it's creation. A 60-card pre-constructed theme deck from Urza's Destiny called Enchanter hooked me. Today, I have more than 7,000 cards and play a handful of games every week.

When I started, I just played and traded casually. My friends and I had a good time for years. I wasn't even aware of competitive Magic. Even if I was, it wouldn't have appealed to me.

Cards from Enchanter

As my friends grew up and moved away, the pool of available players shrunk. I needed to look elsewhere to find competitors if I wanted to keep playing. So, during the Ravnica Block, I played in a handful of standard constructed Friday Night Magic tournaments. I lost. A lot. My casual play style didn't lead to a lot of victories.

I soon discovered another type of competitive play: limited. Unlike constructed, you don't build your deck ahead of time. Instead, you got a random assortment of cards when you showed up. You had to build your deck on the spot using those cards. I won the first limited tournament I played in, an Eventide release event.

Hatelfayer

The next year I started playing in Magic 2010 draft tournaments. It was the most fun I had playing Magic since I started ten years ago.

I was initially drawn to draft by the price. For $12, you get three booster packs and about three hours of entertainment. Not bad, considering you walk away with all your cards at the end of the night. If you win a couple of matches, you end up with even more packs. Compare that to standard, where one card in your deck can cost more than $40 --- and you need four of them to be competitive.

Building decks is much harder in constructed formats, too. You have to sift through thousands of cards, look for archetypes online, and consider the metagame. Drafting is simpler: you have to build the best deck from the 42 cards you picked.

Of course, picking those 42 cards can be pretty tough. That's another thing I like about draft, though: it requires lots of different skills. You have to be able to pick good cards, build a good deck, and play well. And you have to do all that quickly, without any external help.

That's all just gravy, though. The real reason why limited is better than constructed is simple: it promotes skill over wealth. In constructed, you can win more games by spending more money. In limited, you can't spend more money. The only way to be better is to be more skillful.