Player Draft Comes To Magic: The Gathering Arena

Published: April 13, 2020 1:00 PM /


Image courtesy Wizards of the Coast.

Pack 1, Pick 1. If you’ve ever played a Magic: The Gathering draft at your local gaming store, you know this phrase all too well. The thrill of sitting down to a table with other Magic players, cracking open packs, and building a deck on the fly is not one to miss. And soon, you’ll be able to bring that irl experience online, as Wizards of the Coast announces today a brand new Player Draft mode for the online version of their tabletop CCG Magic: The Gathering Arena. TechRaptor joined in on a video conference with Steve Sunu, Communications Manager for Magic: The Gathering and Chris Cao, Executive Producer of MTG Arena to learn more.

Magic The Gathering Arena - Image courtesy Wizards of the Coast
Player Draft in action. Image courtesy Wizards of the Coast.

Drafting, to give a five-second explanation, is the act of building a deck out of random packs of cards with a table of eight other players. Each player opens an MTG booster pack, chooses (or “drafts”) a card from that pack, and then passes the rest of the pack to their left. Then they pick and pass, pick and pass until that pack is empty. Then, they move on to the second, and eventually third sealed packs, repeating the process. In the end, each of the eight players has around 45 cards to build a 40 card deck out of (saving room for basic lands, of course). Up until now, if you wanted to draft in MTG Arena, you had to draft against automated bots. But now, according to Cao on the call, Player Draft is coming. “It’s something that players have wanted from Arena for a long time,” Cao explains, “so we’re bringing it to Arena and we’re doing it in a bigger, brighter way than just adding a new mode to the game.”

Player Draft will coincide with the release of the new card set, Ikoria, releasing on Arena on April 17, 2020. As Cao explains, “Ikoria is a great card set to do this with, being a “wedge” card set, which just means more than two colors are often used for a deck.” Cao says this variety in color options lends itself well to draft, where players will often need to make the most of a limited card pool.

Player draft in Magic The Gathering Arena. Photo courtesy Wizards of the Coast.
Player draft in Magic The Gathering Arena. Photo courtesy Wizards of the Coast.

But Player Draft isn’t just a tacked-on mode. “The lack of face to face means that digital can sometimes be more lonely and more cold,” says Cao, “and so what we really wanted to do is bring as much of that personality and connection as we could to Arena while also laying into the strength of the digital medium. We’ve done things to try to give more information, like a table display to show where the pack picks are going. Information about who’s passing where. Showing player names as part of this process to make you feel connected with it.” By implementing these important updates, Player Draft sounds like it will feel about as close as possible to a real draft, barring being able to actually see your opponents.

Player Draft will come in two modes: Traditional Draft (best of 3) and Premiere Draft (7 wins or 3 losses, whichever comes first).

There are a few caveats to the new mode as of right now. You won’t be able to queue up to a draft pod with seven of your friends. And when you play against other players after you’ve drafted, you won’t be playing against the seven other people you drafted cards with. But you can take the deck you drafted after the tournament and play against your friends in “direct challenge” mode, a fun and casual way to play the game.

Visual representation of packs being picked and passed among players. Image courtesy Wizards of the Coast.
Visual representation of packs being picked and passed among players. Image courtesy Wizards of the Coast.

Check out the prices and prize payouts for the two modes below:

Traditional Draft 
Entry Fee: 1500 Gems or 10,000 Gold  
Event Record: Three Matches (Regardless of win/loss record)  

·         3 Wins: 3000 Gems, 6 Packs  

·         2 Wins: 1000 Gems, 4 Packs  

·         0 – 1 Win: 1 Pack  

Premier Draft  
Entry Fee: 1500 Gems or 10,000 Gold  
Event Record: 7 wins or 3 losses (whichever comes first)  

·         7 Wins: 2200 Gems and 6 Packs 

·         6 Wins: 1800 Gems and 5 Packs 

·         5 Wins: 1600 Gems and 4 Packs 

·         4 Wins: 1400 Gems and 3 Packs 

·         3 Wins: 1000 Gems and 2 Packs 

·         2 Wins: 250 Gems and 2 Packs 

·         1 Win: 100 Gems and 1 Pack  

·         0 Wins: 50 Gems and 1 Pack  

What do you think of drafting in MTG? Are you going to give Player Draft a try? Let us know in the comments below.


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| Tabletop Editor

Giaco Furino joined the TechRaptor team as a Staff Writer in 2019 after searching for a dedicated place to write and talk about Tabletop Games. In 2020, he… More about Giaco