Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Booster Draft - How to Maximize Your Luck

Recently, I participated in a 2-pack Weiss Schwarz tournament for the Kill la Kill release event. It's the WS version of the Sneak Preview, where you buy 2 packs and make a deck from all the cards (yes, ALL the cards). Considering that an actual deck has 50 cards, a measly 16 makes any skill that was apparent in the real game absolutely nonexistent; 2-pack Weiss is probably the most troll sackfest of a game I've ever played.

Well, I won the tournament (and a box!). Yay.
Cards from...?
Guess the reference!
Draft tournaments are a really popular way for Trading Card games to create new ways of play. Everyone gets kinda bored of the traditional standard format now and then, and Draft is a good way to put standard deckbuilding to one side and focus on situational deckbuilding and creating brand new strategies from scratch. It's a staple part of many games, from Pokemon to Hearthstone, and practically every card game employs Draft to some extent, especially with set prereleases and special events.

The most extensive Draft scene for a TCG is, surprise, Magic. MTG has a ridiculously big Draft following, and the players there have gotten Draft down pretty amazingly. Because despite all the luck and randomness involved in opening packs and using whatever's inside, Draft mode actually requires a lot of skill, albeit a different kind to what players are normally expected to use. If you just Google MTG Draft tutorials/tips, you'll find a treasure trove of ideas, theories, structures, and steps to improve the way you manage a limited pool of random variables. It's honestly quite exciting.
Neppu Kairku Bushi Road
Alternative legit-looking Bushiroad logo
Bushiroad is nowhere near as sophisticated as Wizards of the Coast at developing alternative gameplay, and Draft mode for Bushiroad games has been casually tossed aside after creating the basic outline: an affordable number of packs and some general balancing. Vanguard's Draft mode is absolutely terrifying, since pack ratios are nowhere near predictable and decking out means a game loss. That means that every draw trigger exponentially increases your chance of losing. Also, you're not guaranteed to have a balanced ratio of grades, so the game quickly deteriorates and loses relevance.

At least 2-pack Weiss has a standard ratio of Climax to other cards and Bushiroad was actually smart enough to take out refresh damage, but events and just strange abilities simply don't work well with such a limited pool of cards.

But with Set 4's Sneak Preview this weekend, I thought it might be a good idea to review Buddyfight's Draft rules and what kind of strategies you might want to employ while competing at your local Sneak Previews.


Booster Draft is played with 6 booster packs, which means that you're looking to spend about $15-20 participating in the Set 4 Sneak Preview (depending on how many people your store expects and how nice the owners are). These 6 packs will net you a 30 card deck that you will compete with. Ratio-wise, you can expect at least six of them to be rares with a rather high probability of at least one of them being a foil (RR or higher). I say at least because Set 4 continues the reverse-holo trend, where a common will be replaced with a reverse-holo version of a common, uncommon, or rare. Of course, there's a chance that all your packs will have one foil each, but don't expect it.

The rules are as follows (taken directly from the site):
  1. Players will build a deck consisting of 30 cards (29 cards + 1 buddy card chosen by you)
  2. Players are not required to have a flag card
  3. Players life points will start at 10
  4. Players with no cards in the deck zone will automatically lose the game
  5. Players will draw 6 cards into their hand at the start as per normal
  6. World restriction does not apply to the Booster Draft construction (i.e. you may have a <<Dragon World>> monster and a <<Magic World>> monster in your deck)
  7. Attributes still work as per normal
    Standard game rules apply, except you may have more than 4 copies of the same card in your deck
First off, I'd like to just say that "as per normal" should just be shortened to "as usual", especially since the first isn't really grammatically sound.

Nothing particularly astonishing about the rules, it's the same game except no real restrictions on the type of cards you can run. Same starting life, same win conditions. So what can we do in Draft to increase our winning chances?

Draft Basics

Before we start talking about specific strategies, lets first talk about what makes a card "good" in Draft as opposed to Standard play.

When you open your Draft packs and see a foil, you normally think "Sweet! This is awesome!" However, most foils actually hurt your chances of placing high in a Draft tournament (though they do guarantee that you earn your money back). Why? Because foils are generally an important part of a combo-extensive group of cards that rely on a lot of support to pull off. Take Great Magician, Merlin for example. He's an amazing RRR because his ability not only gives you a +0.5 (ideally), it allows you to choose exactly what kind of a plus you're getting by giving you 5 choose 2. And he has 2 crit. A staple in every Hero deck, pulling him during Draft would be pretty cool...not. In Draft mode, you're almost guaranteed to never pull of his ability and, more importantly, never get a real plus from it. He needs a Hero deck built with lots of Hero items and spells to maximize his efficiency. In an arbitrary deck with no central focus, he's pretty bad.

A good card to pull in Draft mode is a card that has self-contained advantage or really good stats. Any card that comes with Penetrate, Double Attack, or Soulguard is a viable option. You want all your monsters to come out hitting, so only play monsters and cards that maximize the current situation. Also, since Draft mode means that there will be an influx of vanilla cards, it's important to keep the magic numbers in mind. Walling becomes a viable option, and good manipulation and maximization of defense and power really helps in these luckfests.
Some people just have all the luck
Identify the good cards within your 30-card pile and try to formulate strategies around them. Think about what kinds of combos you can create, and always keep an eye out for these plays during the game. Be flexible and adjust your strategy based on your resources. Lots of negates and nullifiers? Maybe you should try to equip a weapon early and play with an open center. Lots of spells? Your monsters become more valuable, so try to keep them safe as much as possible. Even though you don't have a lot of time, you can still think through your deck and set up a plan of attack.

Choose your buddy wisely. Your buddy should be your most useless, most common card. Useless is the first priority. You want your buddy to have no merit whatsoever outside of being your buddy because you're sacrificing a vital copy of it for the buddy zone. It's okay if you have no copies of that buddy in the deck. A Buddy Gift is only life, and a good card can easily make up for that difference.

And finally, come up with a winning image. It doesn't have to be special or particularly well thought-out, just something that helps you keep the entire game in perspective. Maybe you groaned in agony as you pulled Slow Pain Fall from a pack, but that could just be your winning image. You should have a lot of spare gauge and Impacts are a reliable way to close out a game, so make the most out of the resources you have.

Just for reference, that is not Kamen Rider. That is Haiyore, Nyaruko-san. Also that is not the official Bushiroad logo. I think it's from some noodle company called Bushi Road.


  1. Thanks for the advice! My draft went ridiculously well haha so many death grips and weapons!

  2. The first image is Kamen Rider Blade isnt it?

    1. Mhmm! But not from the Kamen Rider anime...heheh