Argothian Treehouse
Andy Van Zandt



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Argothian Treehouse
with Andy Van Zandt

Group Game Draft

8.10.04  So who didn't see the bit about making group games an official and sanctionable game type over at the Wizards of the Coast official site? If you missed it, that's unfortunate, it's a breakthrough, and a very interesting one at that. While they've printed a variety of cards that specifically say things like "all opponents'" and "target opponent", among other relevant things, the lack of the ability to run a sanctioned group game seems like a glaring oversight. The article was asking for input on several different group formats, such as a general free-for-all and two-headed giant games, and presented their current draft of the rules.
That's what caught my eye. Several links throughout the article mentioning "Group Game Rules Draft". I almost overdosed on joy for about 5 seconds, until I realized they just meant a write up of the rules, rather than a draft (like, an 8 man booster or rochester draft) that was a group game.
But then thinking about it more, I realized you could probably still play it that way. If group games become "legal", what's to stop us from doing it in draft format?

Several issues spring to mind, and the first one I came up with was decking... anyone who's played an 8 man group game knows that your standard 40 card draft deck will not last through 7 other players losing... and drafting 45 cards and being forced to play all of them does not seem optimal either. I mean, do we really want things like Tel-Jilad Stylus to be first-pick cards, just because it can prevent you from decking? I think not. So there seem to be two obvious solutions to this problem- either make running out of cards not an auto-loss (though it still almost is, if your opponents are still drawing and casting spells and you aren't), or increase the card pool. Now a normal draft usually has 12 packs of prize support, which in my mind (and for the purposes of making it seem a more logical choice in this article) equates to each player starting the draft with 2 unopened packs, which they give to whomever beats them; and that person will then have 4 packs, which they'll give to whomever beats them; and then in the finals the winner gives the loser 2 of his won packs. This results in a net gain of 8 packs for first and 4 for second, the standard distribution.

Have I confused you yet? Good. Just take this from it- everyone starts with 2 extra packs. So let's make this group game draft be a 5 pack draft.
This would mean booster would be preferred over rochester, just because of time constraints. So from that you have two more options- either increase the cost of the draft to reflect the increase in product used, or just have the draft prize be the cards themselves. The simplest ways to do this fairly seem to me to be either giving the eventual winner all the rares (and maybe give 2nd place all the commons and uncommons, including foils), or all the cards period, or giving the winner and the last person he eliminated the rares to split up... for instance, of the 40 rares, give the 1st place player his pick of the first 20 rares, and the second place player gets the other 20 rares.

Another interesting thing about the draft is that you can just keep your seating arrangement around the table the same to play with. I'd also recommend making the decks have a 60 card minimum, and honestly, I only say that because of certain cards... namely, the Beacons. In group games, those expensive creatures become much more viable. A Darksteel Colossus becomes not only an anti-decking mechanism, but also something you can expect to get into play. You can now hard-cast your Bringers, your Solarion can be obscenely large, and a Suncrusher can be a form of diplomatic persuasion. These are just some interesting points with the current block, any block limited environment can get a whole new breath of life from a group game. Even 8th edition... Telepathy lets you see all your opponents' hands, and you know you can main-deck that circle of protection, because somebody will be playing that color.

So yeah, bring on the group game rules... and the group game free-for-all drafts. I, for one, will be waiting with bated breath. Questions?
Comments? Suggestions? Send me an email.


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