Fun Times with Adam: Hosting a Chaos Draft


Hello everyone, I’m back again today to discuss more fun times with you. On a recent Flashback of Insight, they discussed how to host a great draft. This week I was going to go over the insane fun that is a chaos draft, but I’ve decided to broaden the topic to include a few other insights on having a fun draft as well. Before I go over my experience with a chaos draft, I’ll start by briefly running over a few house rules and exciting ways to add prizes to your home draft, that will guarantee everyone has fun.

"Chaos Warp" - Trevor Claxton

House Rules
Bye rounds are an unfortunate necessity when you don’t get perfect numbers for a draft, and when you’re drafting for fun nothing feels worse than missing out on Magic. We have a standing rule at my house that if you’re on a bye round, you’re the DJ. It’s much less boring to be on a bye round when you get to listen to your favorite music. Furthermore for my non-metal friends this has given them a reprieve from the oppressive blast beats and shredding guitars of bands like Gojira, Woods of Ypres, and Soilwork that I usually subject them to.

Our second rule is that the host provides everything necessary to draft like communal lands, tables, and chairs. Everyone else is responsible for communal snacks, with an emphasis on bringing something unique. Normally this translates into enjoying some craft beer I’ve never had before, but occasionally this has lead to something marvelous like artisanal soda or two pounds of delicious homemade guacamole and salsa.

The final house rule for draft nights is that we allow one free mulligan per round, which helps us  strike the perfect note between casual and competitive. Having this free mulligan has increased the frequency of fun games and decreased the salt from uncooperative draws.

"Chaos Confetti" - Mark Tedin

Prizes are one of the big incentives for drafting at a store. If you’re drafting a normal-sized box at home, translating the leftover packs into prizes is simple. My playgroup does a 3-2-2-1-1-1-1-1 split, which ensures everyone gets a pack and no one goes home salty. However, if you’re drafting a cube or a premium 24-card box, you’ll need to get creative if you want to offer an incentive for doing well. Here are three examples of how my group solves this problem.

My playgroup is made up of 12 people who are spread out around the state of Maryland which makes it hard to get everyone together for a regular draft. Instead, we host a big Magic day every other month where we binge on Magic for several hours and play several events. A great way to keep your drafts exciting is to allow your top players to decide what the main event will be next time. Thanks to this rule, our next Magic day will include Throne Magic, a Canadian Highlander tournament, and a Conspiracy draft.

The next idea seemed harmless enough when we first suggested it, but it has quickly turned into one of the most exciting and hilarious ways to add prizes to a draft. Simply put, everyone brings a prize to the draft worth around $5, and at the end, players take turns choosing an item based on the place they finish. At first, all of the prizes were really exciting, like gold-plated dice, novelty card sleeves, and homemade pickles. Then people starting bringing dud prizes, that would inevitably go to whoever finished last in the draft. We saw prizes like ranch dressing soda that you had to chug and a toy princess tiara that you had to wear out to dinner. If you decide to go this route, including one dud prize will make the 0-2 game even more exciting to watch than the 2-0 game. Just make sure you don’t include any more than one dud gift or the idea goes sour quickly.

Finally we have a great idea for all my fellow cube owners out there. One prize we have started offering up for cube drafts is the ability to create a Community Card that will appear in my cube. Though this sounds like a gift, there are a few guidelines for creating the card, and I can assure the sweet feeling of creating a new card can quickly turn into regret when it’s being played against you. (See card art below)

The first rule is that the winner designs the card, but the playgroup gets to tweak it to ensure it’s not too overpowered. The second rule is that the card should be unique, not a reprint of Mana Drain or an upgraded Black Lotus that produces five mana. Finally, if you design a Community Card it will automatically be your pack 1 pick 1 during the next cube draft.

Instead of having one Community Card replace another, we keep info about all of the cards on a sheet of paper in my cube. If someone drafts the Community Card in the future they get to choose which iteration of the card they’d like from the list. The only condition is that you reveal the card and announce which iteration you are taking when you draft it. Here is the template for the Community Card we use alongside two examples of cards we’ve designed.

Chaos Draft
Last holiday season my friends and I wanted to forgo our regular gift exchange in lieu of hosting a chaos draft. We agreed that instead of spending money on each other, we would go out and each buy four different booster packs. Three would be thrown into a pool for a chaos draft and one would be added to a prize pool. The above picture was the result of our efforts, and even though people dropped out at the last minute it was glorious and unlike any other draft I’ve done.

Photo by Mike Fields of Anime Imports

The first thing I noticed was the high variance in power level. In one pack, you might snap up a Pelakka Wurm, before begrudgingly taking Dire Wolves in the next. The second big adjustment was the lack of synergy between cards, instead of trying to draft a specific deck you’ll need to fall back on “traditional archetypes” like blue white fliers or black control. Overall it was not only the most unique draft I’ve ever taken part in, but it was also one of the most exciting. Every time someone cast a bomb on me I was stunned, either because I had no idea what the card was, or because I grossly underestimated it in the draft and passed it to them. I am certain that this holiday season we’ll be hunting down some future sight boosters and trying this again.

If you’re interested in trying out your own chaos draft, here are a few things to be aware of. First, try your best to make sure there are as few duplicate boosters as possible, and that they are all in your native language. Secondly, avoid packs that don’t play well with others and include those that do. Mirrodin Besieged was harsh in my draft because infect doesn’t work without a critical mass of cards, but Conspiracy was great because it included a ton cards that affected the draft itself. Finally and most importantly:


Eight card packs, and tons of errata make this set a nightmare for drafts. The bottom line is that if you follow these rules, chaos draft is something every drafter should try at least once in their life. Even if all of your packs are fnm leftovers from the last standard season it will still be a really fun time!

Adam Melfa is a casual player from Baltimore, MD, who loves limited and has a passion for finding new ways to enjoy the game. With the help of PucaTrade, he has slowly transformed his Magic collection into a more powerful cube. When he is not playing Magic, he is normally at heavy metal concerts, playing ultimate frisbee, or chopping wood.

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