Draft Leagues came out on Magic Online this week and I wanted to give one a try. Today's video and article will be a demonstration of several draft lessons in action. If you're looking to improve your drafting ability or your overall Limited game, this will be one of the few opportunities I offer a lesson. I will highlight certain broader concepts and illustrate them in the videos.

Four Lessons for the Draft Portion

Lesson #1: A close pick should go to your preference.

The draft opens up with a pack with a handful of cards of similar power level and no card that is noticeably better than the rest. In these cases you should take the card that fits into the archetype you are most comfortable with. I took Sigardian Priest because (surprise, surprise) my preference is to draft a deck with white creatures.

Lessson #2: Keep your options open if possible.

Sometimes you open a multicolor bomb or you get passed a pack where the strongest card is of a color other than the one you are drafting. In those cases, commit to a second color. But in cases where you have a close pick between a card that is on-color and a card that is off-color, it's better to take the card of your color to keep your options open. I did this pick four of the draft when I took Courageous Outrider over Prey Upon. Prey Upon might be slightly stronger overall, but we were deep into white and would rather stay open. We were later rewarded with Hanweir Garrison, a card we would not have been able to play if we went into green-white instead of keeping our second color open.

Lesson #3: Look for synergies.

You want your cards to be strong individually, but you also want them to make each other better. So you want to prioritize cards that mesh well with cards you've already drafted for your deck. For instance, Choking Restraints works exceptionally well with our Ironclad Slayers. Also True-Faith Censer works with our Stitcher's Graft and with all the humans in our deck. Similarly, you when you get a powerful card like Lone Rider that needs assistance to really shine, you want to make sure you get ways to do so. In our deck we found Lunarch Mantle, Strength of Arms, the two equipment spells, and Odric, Lunarch Marshal.

Lesson #4: Keep the big picture of your deck in mind.

You want to end up with a deck that has a good curve and a balance between creatures and spells, usually a 2:1 ratio in favor of creatures. If you get into pack three and your deck has a big hole, then you want to prioritize filling that hole even if it means taking a less powerful card. For instance, if you are light on early plays, you might want to take a generic Moorland Drifter over a better creature in order to make sure you don't spend all your games on the back foot for not advancing your board early. Fortunately our draft didn't really have any such holes, but that won't usually be the case.

Four Lessons for the Play Portion

Lesson #5: Play your creatures first and your removal last.

In general you want to establish your board early and then use removal and combat tricks to Press the Advantage later. If you case your spells in the opposite order, you will find yourself in a position of needing more removal and more tricks once your creatures are ready to start attacking. The exception to this rule is if the opponent gets off to too fast of a start and you can't risk the tempo loss if the opponent has a removal spell for your blocker. In the first match you see me conserve my Choking Restraints until I had a sufficient board advantage to leverage it into a win.

Lesson #6: Don't fall for the same trick twice.

In the second match the opponent played Descend upon the Sinful, a very powerful rare. After losing to it in the first game, we mitigated its effectiveness in the next two games by not playing out extra threats into it. The opponent was then forced to cast it for minimal value and we had the resources in hand to recover from it since we didn't overextend into it.

Lesson #7: When times are tough, go all-in.

In the third match, late into game 1, we were staring down a pair of large creatures. Our only hope was to equip both our equipment to our Guardian of PIlgrims and hope the opponent couldn't answer it with a removal spell or a pump spell. As it turns out, they did not. When you're able to play around a removal spell, do so, but when you're not, don't. Win the games you can win and don't worry about losing the games you can't win.

Lesson #8: Turn lemons into iced tea.

I think that's how the saying goes, right? In the final game we kept a two-land hand under the assumption we would draw a third land in time to cast our three-drop creatures. We did not, but we did draw Lone Rider, which we had an opportunity to transform using Strength of Arms. The opponent had mana untapped and could have potentially killed our creature with a removal spell, essentially trading one card for both our cards. This risk is worth it given that we have plenty of cards in hand and just needed to get something going on the board.

As it turns out they didn't have it and we won with the transformed Lone Rider and never needed to deploy our hand full of cards. Even if they have it nine times out of ten, neither the Lone Rider as a 1/1 nor the Strength in Arms in hand were otherwise helping us very much. So it's better to go for it each time in that scenario to win the one game out of ten they don't have it and try to win the rest of the games on the back of the other cards in our hand. Just because your hand is strong in the late game doesn't mean you shouldn't take the appropriate risks to try and end the game early (as we did and were rewarded for doing so).

These are the lessons that I wanted to highlight, but there are plenty more if you watch the videos. If you found this Draft Clinic helpful and/or you want to see me draft Kaladesh when it comes out online, let me know in the comments. Otherwise I'll stick with making Standard and Modern videos.

Craig Wescoe