MTGA Draft Guide For Beginners


MTGA Draft Guide

MTGA Draft Guide For Beginners

This article will be about the MTGA Draft Guide For Beginners. We will first explain what the draft is, then break down into strategies. If you don’t know what MTGA is you can check our article about Magic The Gathering Arena. Even though I will explain majorly on MTGA, I will also try to explain the paper draft, so if you are not interested in the paper draft this might be a hard read for you.


What is Magic The Gathering Arena Draft?

MTGA Draft Guide

The draft is a game that is played with 8 people and based on picks from 3 new boosters. Each booster has 15 cards and a player selects a card from it. The selected card is sent to your picked pile. In tabletop, you pass a booster pack, after you pick a card to your left side. In digital magic, you just pick a card from it and a new booster arrives. After you make 7 picks, your 8th pick will be the first booster you passed on another player. So eventually if you know how to evaluate cards, you can guess what you would see in your 8th pick.

After you finish picking 15 cards. Then, you open a new booster and start doing the same thing with it. The only difference in tabletop is that now you pass on your right side. After every booster is finished, you create a deck consisting of 40 cards (Lands are included.). You can add only basic lands from outside to your deck.


How Should I Draft?

MTGA Draft Guide

First of all, MTGA is totally different from tabletop magic in drafting. In tabletop, you play with the same booster pool which means you play with that eight players you picked with. But, in MTGA you don’t draft with real people. So you cant strategize or guess what the other players are drafting. The best method is to pick the strongest colors or cards. Stick to them because we are not sure how the boosters and computer picks from there are generated.

Some players say that they are boosters that have been picked by players. But I tend to believe that the game generates draft pools regardless of player picks. Moreover, Forcing you to some colors which it signals very strongly on second booster packs. I’m not sure if this is the case because I had Liliana, Dreadhorde General on the first booster on the 3rd pick. If players were picking and they know what they are doing. I will know that Liliana will be at least a second pick. (I can’t think any card on the first booster I would prefer to pick over Dreadhorde General in that set)


Magic The Gathering Arena Draft

More Drafting Strategies!

If we were talking about table-top magic, there are some strategies. For example, we pick a pretty strong Blue card and pass a decent White card to our left side. This happened 2-3 times in the first 5 rounds. So, we could guess that our left side has a high chance to play White. When the second booster packs come, in the first 5 picks we understand if he/she is playing white or not. If we know what our left side is the same thing is plausible for our right side. So, we pass White cards and our right side passes Blue cards on the first round. We could assume that our right side is not playing Blue or White. Then, if we could get signals fast in the first booster pack, we can pick our cards according to that.

First of all, you should understand that every playing group or player have a different method. Secondly, I prefer to play two-color decks. If there are not enough color fixers in format or pretty strong three-color bombs but in my playgroup, there are plenty of people that like to play four, five-color decks. So I strategize according to that. I try to feed them early with strong two, three-color cards. I know they are going to pick. So, I can know what they are playing and what colors will be open for me. I can do this only if they are sitting next to me. If, not I can only guess from the sets we are playing.

As a conclusion, in MTGA you should try to pick signals from the booster packs you are receiving. Never be afraid to change colors and never select a color from the first booster. If you don’t have two or three major bombs. So be flexible, try to read the cards you are receiving.

Bonus: Never forget that each set has a different variability, some sets tend to have less reach or flyers. So, flying monsters is more valuable in those sets. Therefore, before drafting look at the cards that sets have.


How should I construct my deck in MTGA draft?

Magic The Gathering Arena
nl_Kripp playing MTGA

MTGA draft guide will now focus on how you should construct a deck. This is really hard to explain if you cant evaluate your cards. So, if you don’t know how to evaluate your cards you shouldn’t directly dive in MTGA draft. You can read articles from Channel Fireball and Star City games about sets and cards that are powerful in drafts.

So the major difference in drafting is to understand how the land count matters and works. This is the major advantage you can get from the system. If you are playing a deck which medians around 2.3 mana curve or less you can play 16 lands. But, if you have more than 2.3 you should go for a deck with 17 lands. Also if you are playing three-four early mana dorks (Elvish Mystic) or any cheap mana ramp you can also play a sixteen land deck. This is hard at the start to evaluate. But, if you get used to it, you immediately know how much land you should play.


What Hands Should I Keep?

Magic The Gathering Arena

Again this differs deck by deck, but in general hands with 2-3 lands are ideal. I personally prefer 3 lands because I don’t like the odds to get a mana screw. Draft games tend to be longer than normal games so, getting enough mana resources are more important. I only keep 2 hand lands if my deck can handle it or I can curve out my opponent (1st turn drop,2nd turn drop and a possible 3rd turn drop). If I get 2 lands and 0 playable cards I just press mulligan.


How to play better?

Magic The Gathering Arena

Even though this is an article subject, I can add some thoughts for you to improve your game. When I started Magic I was lucky to be surrounded by a great group. They had Grand Prix, Pro Tour, and World Magic Cup experiences which they shared and help me out. The first thing I learned from them is that Magic is a game that you play against your opponent. I know it sounds cheesy but if you think about it, the most important thing is to analyze your opponent and his moves. Moreover, in the best of three situations getting info about your opponent is vital. Does he play his lands before his 2nd main even though he doesn’t need lands? Does he play reactive to my moves or set the moves regarding my play?

After this thought process, I decided that I should play reactive to my opponent. For example, if he attacks with 2/2 against a 3/3 and he is not a careless or a noob, I know that he has an instant spell. So if I have a card that can pump my 3/3, I block and wait for him to cast his spell. If he does I cast after him. Even though, most people know this, they forgot to do this.

The second thing I learned from them is “Have a plan, even if it’s a bad plan.”. If you don’t have a plan in a game, you will start to overplay and when you start to overplay you won’t play good and right. So don’t get lost in the turns, know what you are going to do from the start and change it according to your opponents move. Of course, don’t be rigid and neglect your opponents play.

As a conclusion, don’t forget that Magic is just a card game and never start your games with anger or frustration. MTGA Drafts are fun to play and always think what you can do differently if you lost a game. Hope MTGA Draft Guide will be helpful to you.


Bonus: As people curious about my stats or win %, I have never been in Grand Prix, Pro Tour or in World Magic Cup due to my work and my financial problems. I have won 10-15 (I don’t remember the exact number.) limited PPTQ in MTGO and my region and consider myself as a decent player. (After I look to my DCI I can post my constructed wins and limited wins on regional tournaments) I was really bad at the start but it improved day by day when I learned the game is not about Luck and I should focus on my moves and stop blaming draws. So, at the end LONG MTGA DRAFTS and FREE TO PLAY MAGIC!


We will have an article about M20 soon!
If you like card games you can check the our article about Hearthstone!