Rating Draft Formats

Wizards brings us four to five new draft formats every year, not counting the weird mixes of cards such as cube or set merges. As a limited streamer on Magic Arena, my level of hype greatly differs depending on what I’m going to have to jam over and over again for a couple of weeks. Some sets are interesting and super fun to play, others, not so much. The thing is, not everyone agrees on what makes a format outstanding or boring.

For future reference, I’m going to set the criteria I use to judge how good a limited draft set really is. 

  1. Card Depth 

You can determine if a card pool is deep by how many cards you can choose from after a few picks. If a pack dries out after 4 or 5 picks, that the only options are fillers or unplayable cards, then the set is shallow and mostly unintersting to draft. If on the contrary, there’s always an interesting choice to make up until the very last few picks, then the format is deep and likely to open a lot of different options. 
It depends a lot on the overall quality of the commons and how they can fit in different strategies. The more the commons are flat out unplayable, or targetting very specific strategies, the less options you’re going to have. Think Zendikar Rising and its Tribal mechanic where when there were 6-7 cards left, you only had vanilla Rogues/Wizards/whatever that you would probably never play unless you had a dedicated deck and were short on playables.  

Card depth leads to interesting deckbuilding. After the draft, you can still decide whether you want to lower your curve, change your win condition, decide whether or not you want/need to splash. With 30% of unplayable cards in the pool, you’ll mostly be done deckbuilding after the draft is over as you will just have no other option. 

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