If I want to draft well, I need to understand the set of cards that I'm drafting. Whether it’s a booster draft or a cube. If I don't know the possibilities of cards that are in my opponents hand then I won't know what to play around. If I don't know what archetypes are generally available or viable then I won’t know how to pick cards that bring good synergy.
Learning About A Set
I've found a few ways to get to know a set of cards. Some examples only pertain to booster drafts but some can reference ways to get to know cube sets as well.
- Follow the spoilers. Reddit is great and so is Mythic Spoiler.
- Read through card mechanics on the Wizard’s website.
- Read set reviews for all the cards. LSV creates great content for every set.
- Listen to podcasts.
- Read articles. Channel Fireball and Star City Games have good content.
- Go to pre-releases.
- Go draft. This is the most important.
- Watch pros play on YouTube.
- Use a draft simulator.
- Talk with friends.
- Build decks for fun.
If I know the possibilities of what combat tricks, removal, or morph creatures my opponent could have, then I can play around them. If I know the cards of the set, I don’t need to spend time reading cards when making picks or building decks. If I've gone through possible scenarios, quadrant theory, or just practiced, I can make educated decisions.
Little tidbits of info can make a big difference in how well I do in a draft. If I know that only morph creatures that flip for 5 or more can win combat against other morphs, that is valuable information. These bits of knowledge come from reading, listening, watching, playing, and consuming every bit of material I can related to the set.
“If I know that only morph creatures that flip for 5 or more can win combat against other morphs, that is valuable information.”
Whether I'm going to a 6 pre-release marathon in a weekend or just want to do well on a Friday night, it’s worth my time to learn about the set.
The more information I have, the better I'll play. It also keeps the game exciting. Hearing what cards work well after pro players have done extensive play testing gets me fired up about going back for another FNM.
A Possible Scenario
Here’s a scenario I could face. My opponent has 6 life and I have 4 and the following board state is what I'm looking at.
I could swing for lethal with both my creatures and force a chump block of my opponents morph. However, I could also think about how my opponent could have Sandblast or Whisk Away since they have the mana for that available.
I could play around those cards by only attacking with Abzan Skycaptain. I also know they most likely don't have Valorous Stance since they had 2 plains open last turn when I played Gurmag Angler so I feel safer not attacking with Gurmag.
If they have Sandblast or Whisk Away and use it, I'd still have Gurmag Angler back to block the morph which could be a Glacial Stalker.
If they end up waiting to attack with their morph and Sandblast the Gurmag Angler when I block, I've got 1 or 2 more turns to windmill slam more threats or potential blockers.
Even if I don’t make the optimum play in this scenario, I still have the opportunity to learn from it. The more I play, read, watch, listen, test and learn, the better judgements I’ll make when playing against other people.
I can't read minds outright. However, the more I know the cards the better I can fake it.
Trent Ellingsen (Software Engineer)
5 Color Combo Team