Fun With Magic:
Three Wide Fast Draft
A Fun New Format Somewhere Between Sealed and Draft
by Jeff Zandi
Looking for a fun,
competitive limited format for just two players? After
having played all the rest, I created a very quick draft
format for two players. Each player needs five booster
packs. In the current environment, I would suggest each
player use three Champions boosters and two Betrayers
boosters. Of course, this format is just for fun, so use
whatever boosters you have available and you can still get a
lot out of it.
A lot of times, you either feel like opening some booster
packs, but you hate to just rip ‘em open without getting any
play out of them. Other times, it’s just you and one other
guy, you want to play booster draft but you don’t have
enough players. This new format that I have developed,
clumsily named Three Wide Fast Draft at this point, can
solve both problems. Quicker than a draft, yet more
strategic than sealed deck, this format gives two players an
opportunity to rapidly select cards with which to build a
forty card minimum deck. The total number of cards involved
for each player is seventy-five, the same as in sealed deck
play. Here’s how the Three Wide Fast Draft works:
Using three Champions and two Betrayers boosters each, the
order in which the packs are opened and drafted should be
all three Champions boosters followed by the Betrayers
Each player opens their first booster pack. Each player
selects THREE of the cards from the booster and places these
three cards face down in front of them. When each player has
selected three cards from their packs, they each pass the
remaining twelve cards from their first booster to the other
player. That’s it. Pack one is finished. Each player now
reviews their fifteen cards. When each player is finished
reviewing, they each open their second booster pack and do
the same thing. While players are looking at a booster and
selecting the three cards that they are going to take from
that booster, they cannot look at any of their other cards.
However, between booster packs, players are always allowed
to look at all the cards that they have drafted or received
from their opponent. If the idea of ripping a pack open,
taking the best three cards from it for your deck and then
tossing the remaining twelve cards to your opponent sounds
really simplistic to you, IT IS. It may sound TOO EASY,
requiring too little skill. All I can say is I hope you will
try this strange little format before you pass judgment. If
you try this format, I think you and whoever you play with
will be surprised at how much better your resulting decks
are compared to an average sealed deck. I believe the decks
that result in this format are normally as powerful as
average booster draft decks.
FIGHTING FOR CARDS
One occasion when decks drafted in this format are not
nearly as powerful is when both players lock onto the same
colors in their first packs. There are two reasons for this.
Obviously, if both players are focusing on blue, for
example, there will be fewer high quality blue cards in
either player’s deck. It may be less obvious that if both
players are heavily drafting black, not only will each
player receive fewer all-important removal effects, but many
of the black removal spells will not work on black
creatures. Black on black crime is the biggest danger in
this draft format.
This would be true in the current limited environment no
Basically, the more the two drafters fight over the same
color, the worse each of their decks will be. The more the
two players stay out of each other’s colors, the better each
player’s deck will be.
That having been said, I found that it was perfectly cool to
defensively draft a truly dangerous card that was clearly
not going to go into my deck.
WINNING WITH THE OTHER GUY’S JUNK
After five packs, you should be very happy with fifteen of
your cards…BECAUSE YOU SELECTED THEM, three at a time, from
full booster packs.
However, the cards that you receive as throwaways from your
opponent will be almost equally important. This is because
you NEED twenty-two or twenty-three playable cards in order
to build your deck. In order to effectively build a decent
deck limited to only two colors, you need to get quality
cards from your opponent’s throwaways (the twelve cards you
receive from each pack your opponent opens).
JUST DRAFT THE THREE BEST CARDS NO MATTER WHAT?
People that haven’t tried this format tell me they would
just grab the three best cards from each pack they opened,
then take their assembled cards at the end and build a deck
just as though it was a slightly improved sealed deck
format. I disagree with this strategy. Yes, I definitely
rely on the most powerful cards in the first two packs I
open to determine my primary color or even my primary and
secondary color. Yes, it’s also true that a very powerful
card in a third color could cause me to change my colors or
to include a third color to my deck. But no, I don’t think
the right play is to just draft the three most powerful
cards in each pack. In the two decks below, you can see how
several important lessons play out. First, each deck ends up
with a power level at least equal to average booster draft
decks thanks to the two players not fighting over colors.
You can also see how the player drafting DECK B was faced
with the possibility of playing very strong cards in red,
black and green. By focusing on a deck with only two colors,
DECK B’s designer was able to make better decisions in the
third, fourth and fifth packs.
MORE FUN THAN SEALED
Most players don’t like to practice sealed deck play. Most
players feel like sealed decks are simply a matter of
stripping down whatever cards you receive to the most
powerful deck as objectively possible. This format breaks
this sealed deck complaint by giving each player more power
over the cards that will go in their card pool. The draft
portion of this format takes only minutes, which is a lot
more like sealed deck than booster draft.
You can easily be building your deck ten minutes after you
and your opponent open your first packs.
BUILDING A FAST DECK BUILT TO WIN
Basically, the optimal situation is this: draft three really
good cards from each of your five packs, without defensively
drafting any cards that you really don’t want to play in
your deck. Now you have fifteen above average cards for your
deck. Now you only need to find seven or eight cards among
all the throwaways from your opponent to complete your deck.
The key is to examine the cards tossed to you by your
opponent from the first pack.
Reviewing these cards will help you figure out what colors
your opponent is interested in and what colors he is
“giving” you. It’s pretty hard figuring out what kinds of
cards are missing from the first booster your opponent
opened. It is far easier, however, to assess that if you
opponent tosses you a powerful green card in the throwaways
from his first booster pack, he or she is not playing green.
Figuring out what colors your opponent is drafting can help
you keep from fighting with your opponent over colors.
Figuring out your opponent’s colors also helps you design
your deck as you draft it in order to optimize it for the
weaknesses inherent in the color combinations of your
opponent. For example, if you are drafting blue/white and
you have a good idea that your opponent is in black/red, you
can be pretty sure that he won’t have any ways to get rid of
enchantments, making some normally-marginal cards perfectly
useful in your deck. If you ARE fighting with your opponent
over black cards, you may decide to rate Horobi’s Whisper a
little lower in the last packs since you suspect that your
opponent will have a lot of black creatures in his deck.
TWO EXAMPLE DECKS AND SOME PLAY-BY-PLAY
Below, you can see how two decks were drafted, pack by pack,
using this new one-on-one draft format. You will see which
three cards from the pack were taken by each player as well
as which twelve cards were left behind from each player’s
pack (and given to that player’s opponent).
Takes: Kabuto Moth, Teller of Tales, Honden of Seeing Winds
Passes: Kami of Fire’s Roar, Midnight Covenant, Jukai
Messenger, Field of Reality, Hearth Kami, Nezumi Ronin,
Humble Budoka, Uncontrollable Anger, Soratami Cloudskater,
Strength of Cedars, Kuro Pitlord, Cleanfall PACK 2
Takes: Kabuto Moth, Soratami Mirror-Guard, Samurai of the
Passes: Joyous Respite, Psychic Puppetry, Serpent Skin,
Nezumi Ronin, Reach Through Mists, Hearth Kami, Befoul, Vine
Kami, Night Dealings, Strange Inversion, Horizon Seed, Feral
Deceiver PACK 3
Takes: Otherworldly Journey, Honden of Infinite Rage,
Passes: Soulless Revival, Kami of the Hunt, Counsel of the
Soratami, Sokenzan Bruiser, Kitsune Diviner, Ronin
Houndmaster, Scuttling Death, Befoul, Shizo Death’s
Storehouse, Reito Lantern, Desperate Ritual, Vigilance PACK
Takes: Ninja of the Deep Hours, Kyoki Sanity’s Eclipse,
Passes: Mending Hands, Ribbons of the Reikei, Frost Ogre,
Skullsnatcher, Child of Thorns, Phantom Wings, Moonlit
Strider, Gods’ Eye Gate to the Reikei, Quash, Crawling
Filth, Petalmane Baku, Ire of Kaminari PACK 5
Takes: Moonlit Strider, Ninja of the Deep Hours, Horobi’s
Passes: Toils of Night and Day, Ire of Kaminari, Silverstorm
Samurai, Shinka Gatekeeper, Sakura-Tribe Springcaller,
Ribbons of the Reikai, Kentaro the Smiling Cat, First
Volley, Unchecked Growth, Stream of Consciousness, Cunning
Bandit, Traproot Kami
Takes: Ronin Houndmaster, Mystic Restraints, Villainous Ogre
Passes: Ragged Veins, Wear Away, Thoughtbind, Akki
Avalanchers, Kitsune Diviner, Serpent Skin, Reach Through
Mists, No-Dachi, Mindblaze, Cut the Tethers, Ore Gorger,
Quiet Purity PACK 2
Takes: Seizan Perverter of Truth, Swallowing Plague, Pull
Passes: Silent-Chant Zubera, River Kaijin, Unearthly
Blizzard, Harsh Deceiver, Waking Nightmare, Kashi-Tribe
Warriors, Ember-Fist Zubera, Soulless Revival, Feast of
Worms, Sensei’s Divining Top, Order of the Sacred Bell, Cage
of Hands PACK 3
Takes: Kami of Fire’s Roar, Strength of Cedars, Kodama’s
Passes: Crushing Pain, Ethereal Haze, Midnight Covenant,
Sift Through Sands, Stone Rain, Harsh Deceiver, Cursed Ronin,
Forest, Junkyo Bell, Horizon Seed, Hana Kami, Teller of
Tales PACK 4
Takes: Okiba-Gang Shinobi, Horobi’s Whisper, Ogre Maurader
Passes: Terashi’s Grasp, Call for Blood, Traproot Kami,
Toils of Night and Day, Sakura-Tribe Springcaller, Ribbons
of the Reikai, Kami of Tattered Shoji, Frostling, Sowing
Salt, Sakio Mother of Summer, Forked-Branch Garami, Crack
the Earth PACK 5
Takes: Horobi’s Whisper, Cunning Bandit, First Volley
Passes: Silverstorm Samurai, Crawling Filth, Vital Surge,
Blademane Baku Kami of False Hope, Harbinger of Spring,
Teardrop Kami, Goblin Cohort, Phantom Wings, Shizuko Caller
of Autumn, Sosuke’s Summons, Heed the Mists
HERE ARE THE DECKS CREATED FROM THIS DRAFT
2 Kabuto Moth
1 Kami of Tattered Shoji
1 Kami of False Hope
1 Kitsune Diviner
1 Otherworldly Journey
1 Samurai of the Pale Curtain
1 Cage of Hands
1 Kitsune Blademaster
1 Moonlit Strider
1 Harsh Deceiver
1 River Kaijin
1 Honden of Seeing Winds
1 Ribbons of the Reikai
2 Ninja of the Deep Hours
1 Soratami Mirror-Guard
2 Teller of Tales
1 Teardrop Kami
1 Phantom Wings
1 Honden of Infinite Rage
1 Sensei’s Divining Top
IMPORTANT SIDEBOARD CARDS:
1 Terashi’s Grasp
1 Toils of Night and Day
1 Ethereal Haze
1 Quiet Purity
1 Silverstorm Samurai
2 Hearth Kami
2 Cunning Bandit
2 First Volley
2 Ronin Houndmaster
2 Kami of Fire’s Roar
1 Shinka Gatekeeper
1 Soulless Revival
1 Okiba-Gang Shinobi
1 Scuttling Death
1 Swallowing Plague
2 Horobi’s Whisper
1 Ogre Marauder
2 Nezumi Ronin
IMPORTANT SIDEBOARD CARDS:
1 Ire of Kaminari
1 Pull Under
1 Sokenzan Bruiser
1 Frost Ogre
Here’s what three games looked like between decks A and B.
T1 A goes first keeping Plains, Island, Honden of Seeing
Winds, Cage of Hands, Kami of False Hope, Ninja of the Deep
Hours, Sensei’s Divining Top.
Plays Plains, Kami of False Hope.
T1 B keeps Mountain x2, Swamp x3, Kami of Fire’s Roar, First
Volley, Draws Hearth Kami. Plays Swamp.
T2 A draws Kitsune Diviner. Plays Island, Attacks with Kami,
uses Ninja of the Deep Hours’ ability to return Kami to hand
(20-18) draws Ninja of the Deep Hours.
T2 B draws Soulless Revival. Plays Mountain, Hearth Kami.
T3 A draws Honden of Infinite Rage. Plays Sensei’s Divining
Top. Taps top putting Top on top of library and drawing
Harsh Deceiver. Plays Kitsune Diviner.
T3 B draws Befoul. Plays Mountain, First Volley targeting
T4 A draws and plays Sensei’s Divining Top, activates Top,
replacing the top three cards of his library in this order,
(first card replaced first, third card ending up on top of
library), Otherworldly Journey, Plains, Plains.
Activated Top, drawing Plains and putting Top on top of
library. Plays Plains, Kami of False Hope.
T4 B draws Hearth Kami. Plays Swamp, Kami of Fire’s Roar.
T5 A draws and plays Sensei’s Divining Top.
T5 B draws Shinka Gatekeeper, plays Swamp, Befoul targeting
Island. A responds by activating Top, replacing the top
three cards of his library in the following order,
Otherworldly Journey, Kitsune Blademaster, Plains.
T6 A draws and plays Plains.
T6 B draws and plays Swamp, Shinka Gatekeeper. A activates
Top replacing the top three cards of his library in the
following order, Ribbons of the Reikei, Otherworldly
Journey, Kitsune Blademaster.
T7 A draws and plays Kitsune Blademaster.
T7 B draws Befoul, plays Befoul targeting Kitsune
Blademaster. Plays Hearth Kami, activating Kami of Fire’s
Roar making Ninja of the Deep Hours unable to block. Attack
with Hearth Kami, Kami of Fire’s Roar and Shinka Gatekeeper.
A activates Top replacing the top three cards of his library
in the following order, Ribbons of the Reikei, Teardrop Kami,
Otherworldly Journey. A sacrifices Kami of the False Hope.
T8 A draws Otherworldly Journey. Activates Top replacing the
top three cards of his library in the following order,
Ribbons of the Reikei, Teardrop Kami, Plains. Activates Top
placing Top on top of his library and drawing and playing
Plains. Attacks with Ninja, blocked by Hearth Kami. With
damage on the stack, A plays Otherworldly Journey targeting
T8 B draws and plays Mountain. Attacks with Gatekeeper
T9 A draws and plays Sensei’s Divining Top, Cage of Hands
targeting Kami of Fire’s Roar. Attacks with Ninja, blocked
by Hearth Kami. With damage on the stack, B activates and
sacrifices Hearth Kami targeting Divining Top. A responds by
activating Divining Top putting Top on top of library and
drawing Teardrop Kami.
T9 B draws and plays Ogre Marauder. Attacks with Gatekeeper
(13-18) T10 A draws Sensei’s Divining Top. Plays Top.
Activates Top replacing the top three cards of his library
in the following order, Ribbons of the Reikai, Phantom
Wings, Island. Activates Top putting Top on top of his
library, drawing Island. Plays Island, Teardrop Kami.
T10 B draws and plays Swamp. Attacks with Ogre Marauder. A
sacrifices Teardrop Kami so that he can block with Ninja.
T11 A draws Sensei’s Divining Top, plays Honden of Seeing
Winds. B plays Soulless Revival returning Ogre Marauder to
T11 B draws and plays Cunning Bandit, Ogre Marauder, attacks
T12 A draws and plays Sensei’s Divining Top, Harsh Deceiver.
T12 B draws Swallowing Plague. Plays Plague targeting Harsh
Deceiver (10-24) and putting a counter on Cunning Bandit.
Attacks with Bandit, Ogre and Gatekeeper (3-24)
T13 A draws Ribbons of the Reikei and Plains. CONCEDES DECK
B WINS GAME ONE ON TURN THIRTEEN
T1 Deck A plays first keeping Island x2, Sensei’s Divining
Top, Samurai of the Pale Curtain, Kami of False Hope, River
Kaijin and Teller of Tales.
Plays Island, Top.
T1 Deck B keeps Swamp x4, Mountain, First Volley, Hearth
Kami, Befoul. Draws Horobi’s Whisper. Plays Swamp.
T2 Deck A activates Top replacing the top three cards of his
library in the following order, Teardrop Kami, Kabuto Moth
and Plains. Draws and plays Plains, Kami of False Hope.
T2 B draws Cunning Bandit. Plays Mountain, Hearth Kami.
T3 A draws Kabuto Moth. Plays Island, Kabuto Moth.
T3 B draws and plays Mountain, Cunning Bandit. Attacks with
Hearth Kami blocked by Kami of False Hope.
T4 A draws Teardrop Kami, plays River Kaijin.
T4 B draws Mountain, plays Swamp, Befoul targeting Kabuto
T5 A activates Top replacing the top three cards of this
library in the following order, Ribbons of the Reikai,
Honden of Infinite Rage, Island.
Draws and plays Island, Teardrop Kami.
T5 B draws Swallowing Plague. Plays Swamp. Attacks with
Bandit, plays First Volley targeting Teardrop Kami
(sacrificed to tap already-tapped Bandit) and playing
Horobi’s Whisper targeting River Kaijin, putting two
counters on Bandit. (18-20) B flips Cunning Bandit into
Azamuk, Treachery Incarnate. A activates Top replacing the
top three cards of his library in the following order,
Ribbons of the Reikai, Honden of Infinite Rage, Ninja of the
T6 A draws and plays Ninja of the Deep Hours.
T6 B draws Soulless Revival, plays Mountain. Plays
Swallowing Plague (x=4) targeting Ninja. (18-24). Attacks
with Azamuki (13-24)
T7 A activates Top replacing the top three cards of his
library in the following order, Ribbons of the Reikai,
Honden of Infinite Rage, Moonlit Strider. Draws Moonlit
T7 B draws and plays Ronin Houndmaster, attacks with both
T8 A activates Top replacing the top three cards of his
library in the following order, Ribbons of the Reikai,
Honden of Infinite Rage and Harsh Deceiver CONCEDES DECK B
WINS GAME TWO ON TURN EIGHT
T1 Deck A plays first keeping Plains x2, Island, Kitsune
Blademaster, Cage of Hands, Kabuto Moth, Honden of Infinite
Rage. Plays Plains.
T1 Deck B keeps Swamp x2, Mountain x2, Ronin Houndmaster,
Shinka Gatekeeper, Scuttling Death. Draws Ogre Marauder.
T2 A draws and plays Plains.
T2 B draws and plays Mountain.
T3 A draws Moonlit Strider, plays Island, Kabuto Moth
T3 B draws Kami of Fire’s Roar, plays Swamp, Ronin
T4 A draws Harsh Deceiver, plays Plains, Kitsune Blademaster.
T4 B draws and plays Mountain. Plays Kami of Fire’s Roar.
T5 A draws and plays Island, Moonlit Strider.
T5 B draws First Volley. Plays Mountain, Scuttling Death.
T6 A draws and plays Mountain. Plays Honden of Infinite
T6 B draws and plays Mountain, Shinka Gatekeeper.
T7 Honden deals one damage to Gatekeeper (18-19) Draws Ninja
of the Deep Hours. Attacks with Kabuto Moth, activates Ninja
of the Deep Hours returning Moth to hand, (18-17) drawing
Teardrop Kami. Plays Kabuto Moth, Teardrop Kami.
T7 B draws and plays Cunning Bandit, Mountain.
T8 Honden deals one damage to Gatekeeper (18-16). Draws and
plays Honden of Seeing Winds.
T8 B draws and plays Ronin Houndmaster, attacks with all,
Scuttling Death blocked by Blademaster, Gatekeeper blocked
by Strider, Houndmaster blocked by Kabuto Moth and Teardrop
Kami, Cunning Bandit blocked by Ninja of the Deep Hours.
Moth taps to give Moth +1/+2. Damage on the stack, Scuttling
Death sacrificed to give Moth -1/-1. (14-16) B plays First
Volley targeting Moonlit Strider (A responds by sacrificing
Strider to give Blademaster protection from black.
T9 Red Honden deals two damage to Gatekeeper (14-14), Draws
Island, Samurai of the Pale Curtain and River Kaijin. Plays
Island, Harsh Deceiver, Samurai of the Pale Curtain. Attacks
with Blademaster, Teardrop Kami (14-11).
T9 B draws and plays Nezumi Ronin, Ogre Marauder.
T10 Red Honden deals two damage to Ronin Houndmaster. Draws
Mountain, Soratami Mirror-Guard, Kitsune Diviner. Plays
Mountain, River Kaijin, Soratami Mirror-Guard, Kitsune
T10 B draws Horobi’s Whisper, plays Whisper targeting
T11 Red Honden deals two damage to Nezumi Ronin. Draws
Teller of Tales, Ninja of the Deep Hours, Island. Plays
Island, Teller of Tales. Attack with Mirror-Guard (14-8).
T11 B draws Soulless Revival.
T12 Red Honden deals two damage to Ogre Marauder, Draws
Island, Plains, Sensei’s Divining Top. Plays Cage of Hands
on Kami of Fire’s Roar. Attacks with all (14-0) DECK A WINS
GAME THREE ON TURN TWELVE
Of course, I’m always interested in hearing what YOU think.
Guilty Tax Mages
Level II DCI Judge
Zanman on Magic Online