MTG: Drafting tips in Return to Ravnica

Hate drafting first picks?

So, for some reason you’ve decided you want to do more drafting.  That’s great.  I bet you’re having a lot of fun.  What’s that?  You’re interested in winning more?  Well, I’d be more than happy to give some advice.

Without repeating myself too much don’t get narrowed into colours too quickly.  Sometimes you open pack one and it contains a Vraska.  The natural impulse is to start drafting a Golgari deck.  But if the player to your left picks up all the good Golgari cards, your deck is going to end up 97.5% bad.  Instead, look for drafting signals.  Signals can be tricky, but at the most basic a colour (or guild) is “open” (available to be drafted) if no one is taking the really good cards from it.  Keep an open mind, and don’t be afraid to cut (or just splash a colour for) the pack one bomb rare if you’re not seeing support for it coming to you.

The above sort of implies you know what the good cards in a set are.  Learn what cards are good.  This is mostly about evaluating commons and uncommons because frankly, rare cards are rare.  Some are great and getting passed great rare cards sends a pretty strong signal, but knowing the other cards is both more subtle, and more important.  When opening packs outside of a draft, try evaluating the best cards with some friends.  If flying important in this set?  What does this creature block?  With all the fast Rakdos decks, how relevant is the lifegain on this card?  How many cards answer a 3/3?  Can you splash for this in Izzet?  Everyone has different answers here, but having a conversation about it will help you develop good drafting strategy.

There are some really strong cards that cost 6 – 8 mana and just take over a game.  You should draft those.  That said, pay attention to your mana curve.  Ideally you want a few one-drops (cards playable on turn one) a lot of two-three drops, and a handful of “top-end” cards to finish a game with.  This isn’t an evaluation of the relative power of the card.  This tip is about being able to play something on as many turns as possible.  Not interacting with your opponent is rarely a good strategy in limited (note: I said rarely good, not never good).

Tim plays Azorius. Seriously guys, it isn't a prison deck!

And my list tip for today is simple: have a plan.  Ask yourself a few questions as you pass cards around the table.  How am I going to win?  Does this card contribute to that strategy?  How am I going to deal with my opponent?

Black Knight Games hosts Friday Night Magic every week.  Weeks alternate between standard and booster draft.  Details of Magic events at BKG can be found here, on the events page.  When playing in FNM events, Tim can be found forcing U/W contrary to all advice posted here.  Listen to what he says, not what he does.  

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