How to Draft Crap
You just got home from a Prerelease. You kicked off your shoes, you called up your friends to trade war stories about the dragons you slew and the miracles you witnessed and, finally, you flop down on the couch – smiling. You've got a brand new bundle of cards, maybe even some you snapped up as prizes.
... Now what?
It's a good question. Maybe a third of those cards are really powerful, and a few might even be super-cool-fudge-coated-bomb-a-licious-rares. But most of the cards you waged war with all evening will be assorted Needle Drops and Bramble Creepers. Those aren't going to cut it in your normal decks, even casual ones.
What do you do with those?
Usually, what I did for years.
I separated out the "playables" and tossed the rest into a shoe box somewhere.
THIS IS WRONG!!!
Who among us has the right to judge what cards deserve to see the light of day? Who has the right to determine a card's worthiness for battle? Every card has a story, every creature a soul – ever spell a unique identity! And yet we planeswalkers cast them aside, burying the Ember Shots and Zephyr Spirits deep inside a Martyrs' Tomb. But no Magic card should go untouched, no carefully cut piece of cardboard unused. People worked hard to design those cards – and every time you throw one into the dark a fairy dies!!!
Please don't kill the magical space-fairy
But... there is an answer. There is a way to bring those cards out into the light - without being laughed out of the room. How, do you ask?
I call it... Crap Draft!
Think Cube, but instead of gathering all the most powerful cards throughout Magic – you pull the least powerful cards you can find in your collection; cards that you don't care if you ever see again. Then you mix them together with your friends' to make a craaazy limited environment.
If you've done it right, this is what you should hear.
"I summon a Skeletal Kathari."
"A 3/2 for 5 with flying??? Dude, that's a total bomb!"
"I know, it was my first pick!"
That conversation makes me smile.
I've done quite a few crap drafts over the last few months – and they're some of the most fun I've ever had when playing Magic. Even the most hardened competitors can only sit back and laugh when they get their faces beaten in by a Dripping Dead enchanted by a Soaring Hope.
RAAWWR! Fear me!!!
Reasons to draft crap
1) You get to play with cards you'd never dare put in a normal deck
2) It's so silly, it's almost impossible to get upset if you lose
3) It's the planeswalker equivalent to two midgets wrestling with each other
4) It's a super-budget way to play limited formats like draft and sealed
5) You get to tap the full value of your card collection
6) The cards change almost every time you play, so it never gets old
7) It's a great bridge for players of every skill level
8) You get a chance to discover the hidden potential in cards you think are bad
9) You get to beat your opponent's face in with a Chimney Imp!
What cards should go in your crap draft?
Who the heck is Tarv?!?
Now, these cards should be bad – but they shouldn't be blank. Mudhole is not allowed. The cards should be crappy, not useless.Ember Shot is very, very, bad removal – but it's still removal. It still does something. Dripping Dead might be a very, very bad creature but it still hits for 4 damage. Almost any creature is fair game, since creatures can block or attack – but the other spells can be a bit trickier. Just make sure that you could imagine them doing something semi-useful if you drew them and you should be okay.
Setting up a crap draft
So, you want to draft crap. Now what? Naturally, some people are just thinking "well, I'll get a huge pile of my own junk cards together and invite my friends over."
Wrong! Well, I guess you could do it that way... But that robs half the fun out of the experience.
Here's what the cool people do.
1) Root through your collection until you come up with a pile of 75 very crappy cards that you wouldn't care if you never saw again.
2) Have a bunch of your friends do the same.
3) Invite all the above friends over to play some crappy Magic.
4) Shuffle everyone's 75 card pile together into one pile
Whoa! What was that? Yes, you really do mix everyone's cards together. Remember, you don't care if you never see those cards again. So, what happens now? It depends on whether you're drafting or going sealed.
If sealed (a.k.a. Pile o' Crap):
5) Deal out 75 of the mish-mashed cards to each player and start building.
But if you're drafting:
6) Deal out three 15-card piles (packs) to each player and get drafting!
7) This step is optional but highly encouraged. Players should cry out in pain and misery whenever they get some card that's so bad it makes them die a little inside. Chimney Imp is a fine candidate for this. Then the victim who received that card flops it down on the table and everyone can commiserate with them (while trying not to laugh). Ironically, this step keeps the spirits up, and makes things more fun for everyone. A crappiest-card-of-the night-award may or may not be provided.
8) Once everyone has built their decks and has played their games. Shuffle all the cards together and do it again!
Naturally, if you're only going to do the draft, you only need to bring 45 cards – but it's nice to have both options available.
But wait, there's more! You can combine crappy cards with fun play formats to double or even triple the level of fun! Mix Crap with Respawn (full description here - http://www.wizards.com/Magic/magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/sf/27) for the most "I don't mind losing" format ever. Try Two-Headed Giant so you can have the fun of debating with a friend as to whether Kitsune Dawnblade or Ordruun Commando is the slighty-less-sucky card for your decks. Or go five pronged with Star to mix the wackiest cards in Magic with the most befuddling politics ever to result in the craziest game situations you'll ever see! The possibilities are endless.
But no words can truly describe the wonderful janky fun that is a crap draft. The only thing I can do is to regale you with my own adventures through the format.
Lemme tell you a little story...
It was a Thursday evening and a smattering of my spell-slinging friends had gathered together to draft some crap. Only myself and John had done this before, which left the others a little bamboozled by the whole thing. Ian – who has asked to be called Gahdzirra for the purposes of this article – called up and said he'd be late and that we should start without him. This left five of us at the table, so we settled down for some multiplayer.
First things were first though, we shuffled everyone's 75 card pile together making a 375 card mountain. Grem, a beady-eyed little weasel of a man, snickered and said that that had to be the "biggest pile of crap he'd ever seen." We all groaned, knowing this would be the first of many such puns to come our way. John, a tall, elegant soul with brown hair and an incredible card collection, bopped him on the head; which seemed to help slightly.
We quickly dealt out three 15 card packs to each player and settled down for some drafting.
It was odd to say the least.
What do you do when you open up 15 cards that you'd expect to see 10th-15th pick in a normal format? Is an Infectious Host better than a Wood Elemental? What about that Kjeldoran Skyknight? Is it worth taking Pull Under over a weird blocker/neutralizer like Giant Oyster? It's madness!
Pick me! Pick me!
Pick me! Pick me!
Eventually I cobbled together an aggressive red/black deck full of terrible fliers (red and black have lots of those) and equally terrible removal spells. I actually picked up three Goblin Sky Raider (which seems to be a very popular card to throw into these things). However, a fleet of flying creatures, no matter how small, is actually a great threat in limited multiplayer – especially if you have a Pull Under, an Ember Shot, two Lose Hopes, an Engulfing Flames, and a Douse in Gloom, plus a smattering of ground blockers. Throw in an Orcish Oriflamme and I actually had something to do. Sort of. I could only hope that my other opponents were equally feeble.
We all shuffled up and sat down for some multiplayer fun. I got a decent start with Bog Imp and Dusk Imp and dropped an Infectious Host for chump-blocking duty. Meanwhile, John powered out a four-colored army of every fatty (a fatty in this format being a 3/3 or 4/4) that he could find, quickly establishing himself as the threat.
Then I dropped Blockbuster and suddenly no one wanted to attack. It's an odd card, a very odd card, and it almost never does anything unless you play it and activate it in the same turn. Normally, that's what I would have done – that's the only smart way to play it, really.
Not in crap draft!
Nearly every single creature on the board had less than four toughness, so by dropping the enchantment I somehow managed to put a big "no, no" in any mass attacking plans – giving my fleet of teeny tiny fliers the time they needed to start making their damage count.
Then things changed again.
Eric, a square-jawed barrel-chested humanoid, had played almost nothing for most of the game. He'd laid down an Emissary of Hope on turn three and then dropped a Venerable Kumo, making it impossible for me to attack him. However, no one was very scared about his assault either, especially when someone knocked the Emissary out of the sky with a Lava Dart.
But then Eric flopped down a Nightsoil Kami!
Surrounded by our dinky armies, the thing might as well have been a Krosan Cloudscraper. And it had soulshift! He charged the Venerable Kumo into battle, getting back his Emissary, replayed it, and then started rumbling in with the Nightsoil Kami. Once that traded with two creatures he soulshifted again for his Venerable Kumo. The things just wouldn't die!
Move aside, midgets!
Move aside, midgets!
Across the table from Eric, Alex had a clunky replayable effect on his own, but his took the form of Soaring Hope. Sitting tight and defensive, he just kept using every turn to repeatedly gain 3 life again and again and again. Since the man also had a Giant Oyster (which is now one of my favorite cards) he was able to grind most threats to a halt and just relax as his life total ticked up. Six mana for 3 life? Apparently it cuts the mustard!
Amazingly, Eric summoned Spirit after Spirit after Spirit until Grem finally slammed his fist down on the table. "Okay, who put in all those Spirits?!?" He growled. "I know I only put in about fifteen or so." One by one the rest of us slowly raised our hands.
I sighed. For some reason, most people don't like Kamigawa's little soulshifters. Maybe it was the fact that they were trying to destroy humanity, I don't know, but it seems a lot of players I know really hold a grudge against them. So, when the call came out for a bunch of over-costed cards; everyone brought some along. And Eric snapped them all up into one weirdly effective spirit deck.
Luckily, I had an answer in the form of my first pick in pack 2: Frostwielder! Never underestimate the ability to repeatedly ping things, and my wielder made me proud. Suddenly, all of Eric's spirits were on a one-way trip to oblivion and no amount of soulshifting would bring them back.
Even Eric laughed when he saw that. He'd cobbled together a blast from Kamigawa's past only to run into an equally outdated ancient foe. Such is the craziness of Crap Draft. If only he'd run that Martyrs' Tomb he'd picked up!
Not having any way to deal with my pinger, Eric turned to Alex. "Hey, you could kill that thing with your Giant Oyster, right?"
That's what you get for disrespecting the dead!
That's what you get for disrespecting the dead!
"Perhaps," Alex replied cagily.
"Did I ever tell you that you're a beautiful human being and I've always counted it as an honor to number you among my friends?"
There was a pause.
"Good enough for me!" Alex chortled as he tapped the oyster and took my little pinger prisoner. Eric passed the turn to me and I finally drew the sixth land I needed to play my Grief Tyrant (my second pick in pack 1). However, not wanting the monster to get out of check, John immediately dropped an Eternity Snare on my poor Tyrant. Things went around the table and when Alex's upkeep came around a -1/-1 counter was put on my Frostwielder. The shellfish was devouring her!
The turn was passed back to me and I shook my head, drew my card...
"I'll attack into you Alex." I said – turning the Grief Tyrant sideways. He shrugged. "Okay, I'll take 4. It'll never untap again anyways – at least, not till the end of eternity."
"True." I said. "But you're sure you don't want to help me kill it?"
"Pretty sure." He grinned.
"Well in that case... Mind Swords!" I crowed, slamming the card down on the table. "And, since I control a Swamp; I can sacrifice a creature instead of paying the mana cost – and I choose my Grief Tyrant!" People's jaws dropped as everyone was forced to exile two cards in their hand– and everyone else had two cards or more while I had none. I'd netted a 6-for-1 card swing for no cost!
"Oh," I snickered, "And I'll be putting those four -1/-1 counters on your Giant Oyster. It dies and my Frostwielder is free!"
As the game rolled on, Eric was eventually beaten down by John, while I fell into a death struggle with Alex, who was still at 15 thanks to all that Soaring Hope action. John was still sitting around with quite a few fatties, enough to kill either of us at any time, and he cordially agreed to let us decide the matter of who got second amongst ourselves.
Things played out rather well for me at first as I beat down with my fliers... But then Alex dropped a Ward of Piety on his Welkin Hawk and it was suddenly impossible for me to attack! The ward was way better than I'd ever have expected – it completely shut me down. I couldn't attack because he'd block with the guy and chuck damage around like nobody's business to mow down my army.
I eventually managed to kill the thing, but by then it was far too late. Even my mighty Skeletal Kathari was no match for all the life he'd gained with Soaring Hope and I eventually succumbed to some Crafty Pathmage action. John killed Alex on his next turn and we all leaned back in our chairs and sighed.
"Wow, that was weird."
"Yeah – that was just insane."
"Let's do it again!"
And so, we ripped apart our decks and shuffled all the cards together to start the next draft.
All in all, Crap Draft is an awesome format that epitomizes what I think Magic is really about. It's about having fun, playing lots of interesting effects, and the crazy ways the cards interact are hilarious to watch. Plus, it's super-budget (everyone has some bad cards lying around) and it's never the same twice. I heartily recommend trying it out yourself.