Type D: The Drink and Draft.
If you are under the legal drinking age in your respective country(ies), please replace all instances of the word "alcohol" in this article with "orange juice!" The author of this article and the MTGSalvation staff in no way recommend the consumption of alcohol by minors or those who otherwise abstain.
Hello fellow cardboard addicts! I come to you today to shill a little format called Type D, one that has some odd and rather hilarious requirements to play in. First, a bit of background: I by no means invented the concept of the Drink and Draft, but I certainly held the first ones that I know of in the Ottawa magic scene. It seemed like a natural progression for casual magic gaming at the time, especially since my playgroup of friends is reasonably skilled, and includes several Canadian "Pro" players (they have pro points, anyways). They are also a generally fun group to be around, and we even have a decent gender balance (there are actually girls who play). I wanted a social and casual type of magic where alcohol could safely and profitably be involved, a kind of Magic nerd party if you will. Happily for us up here in Canada, 19 and over is our legal age, which includes a larger chunk of the player base for Magic than perhaps found in the U.S.A. With all that in mind, I have now hosted a total of three separate Drink and Drafts to general success. So in a reasonably quick and hopefully amusing fashion I propose to take you through the basics of this rather enjoyable casual event, where you get to hone not only your limited skills, but also your ability to socialize and imbibe the sillyjuice.
So What is a Drink and Draft?
Plain and simple, a Drink and Draft is a slightly modified Magic party, where the players go through a standard set of drafting and Swiss matches using the current limited card pool (since most people are familiar with it) or another card pool determined well beforehand. Players bring their own alcohol (BYOB) and bring their own Magic packs to draft with (BYOM). So it's your basic house party, except you draft and drink instead of just drink. There are several additional caveats I added to increase the player interaction and general fun level, and we will get to those shortly. For now, let us start with why you would even hold one of these in the first place.
Why Drink and Draft?
I'm guessing a decent section of the MTG Salvation readership is in college or university, or out in the working world. I am also guessing there is a fair chunk of the same readership that plays Magic competitively and socially, but finds a dearth of organized casual Magic events where skill can still play a real part. We can't all be blessed with ten friends who all know how to play well and who like to meet regularly to do so. And some of us don't play MTGO, and don't want to either. Think of a Drink and Draft as a party where everyone knows how to play (and wants to play) a particularly nerdy form of Eucher or Texas Hold'em. So replace paired aces or bowers with two draft bombs, and the river with your opening seven, and you get the idea. Besides, we all like to party and play Magic, why not do both simultaneously?
Another reason to host a Drink and Draft is that they are a great way to get to know people you may hang with at FNM, but not see socially otherwise. You know, those friendly but slightly distant people who show on Friday nights with a highly tuned Zombie deck they have been playing as long as they could, but whom you just don't see any other time. Everyone likes getting an invite to a party, and having an obvious and common interest among all participants makes it very relaxed. Moreover, even those people who may have dropped Magic can pick it up again enough to draft (and what better atmosphere to teach someone in?). Drink and Drafts are a great way to promote camaraderie.
Somehow I don't think that's knowledge in the glass...
Somehow I don't think that's knowledge in the glass...
A Horse of a Different Color:
You really don't need alcohol to make a social Magic party fun by any stretch, and you certainly don't need me to tell you that. All of the ideas and optional play rules I outline below can be easily modified for a dry event. The purpose of this article is mainly to promote Magic as a social and casual activity that you can expand to entertain larger audiences, not something you may experience at a high-level tournament. All said and done, though, read the rules I added and you may see why Drink and Drafts are such great fun for all involved.
Setting up your Drink and Draft:
I am lucky in that I live in a house large enough to accommodate about 14 to 16 people, which is the largest attendance I have ever gotten at a Drink and Draft. You do certainly need a reliable place to set up shop, hopefully with tables to play on, and a kitchen to mix drinks in. You also need some people you like to invite, but I'll let you take care of that part. Outlined below are some of the optional additional rules I added to my drafts to spice them up a little, plus some new ideas I have not even tried yet:
1. The Golden Rule: Pay 5 Life, Target Draft Player Takes a Drink.
This is the first rule I added to my original draft. Let me tell you, Children of Korlis suddenly rose exponentially in draft value (It actually ended up getting renamed "Children of Tyler Drinks!" as Tyler was the fellow who won the original draft). It is a fun and fairly balanced addition to the game play, and it lets the player who is about to lose pay his or her remaining life to get a little revenge on their opponent, depending on the totals. As a caveat to this rule, I also added that infinite life combos were simply unplayable, since that's just not cool. Using only this rule during my original draft, we happily and somewhat drunkenly entertained ourselves for a good four hours one Saturday night.
2. Drink Auction:
We haven't done this one yet, but using either life or drinks to bid on pre-constructed deck lists seems fairly balanced to us. Obviously we would not chose lists like "Life.dec" or "Tribal Clerics" since either list breaks the infinite life rule mentioned above. I imagine the Illusions of Grandeur Trix deck would go high.
3. Vanguard Cards:
My most recent escapades involved specialized Vanguard cards designed in Photoshop to reflect various kinds of magic players who would be at the event. Each card adds a special rule for only the owner to use, and each provides the owner with a certain way to hand out additional drinks to other players. Several are slightly insulting or could be construed as offensive by some, so here are some of the tamer examples:
This card was actually designed for several of my friends who have made "Pro" status but definitely have not hit the gravy train yet. As you can see, I have chosen the picture of Mike Long to best symbolize all that pro players represent. (Just kidding really!)
The Timmy Power-gamer:
Some players just love to beat down, and heck, in draft it is a great way to go. This is a simple card for a simple strategy.
I can hold my alcohol, and I won the last Drink and Draft, too. Guess who got saddled with this card, huh?
4. Shot-for-Shot Feature Match:
We recently did one of these for the Peasant section of our tournament. It ended up being me, playing Mono-Black, against Ian playing U/G Madness with Force of Wills. I almost got him. The Shot-for-Shot part was just at the beginning and ending of the set, we each took a shot of liquid courage: in this case Goldschlager (with real gold!).
5. Try This Buuuuuddy!
You and your opponent each make the other a drink before the start of your match. Keep it reasonable or have a disinterested party observe. Try to make something your opponent has never tried before. During these games you can only send drinks at your opponent.
Regarding Dry or Different Events:
It is not actually that easy to add optional rules to a Magic event, trust me. The truly hard part is adding rules that increase the level of fun and interaction had by all participants. Rules that deal with alcohol are the easy way out for many (including myself) because by combining one semi-social activity (Magic) with one very social activity (drinking), you get to up the general fun level of the game and hopefully get to know your fellow players a bit better. Dry Magic events tend to revolve around the cards themselves, and the format played: Casual, Type 4, etcetera. If you are going to add optional rules to these events, try to insert ones that reduce the amount of time spent staring at cards and figuring out how to win - since really, who cares?
Some Final Thoughts:
Magic can be a very social game, much like many other card games out there. The key is the mindset of all involved. If your friends are out there exclusively to win or to play well, but not necessarily to interact, then you may as well stick to FNM. Otherwise, try a Drink and Draft, maybe a small one similar to a "Monday night cards with the guys" kind of thing, a simple combo of beer and Magic. A great initial draft set to play with is the Unhinged or Unglued cards, if you can get them. They make for some truly hilarious and interactive Magic games and they fit right in with the ultra-casual mindset of a Drink and Draft. I can just see someone sneaking a Cheatyface into play and getting punished for it with drinks. Cards with "Denimwalk" might also lead to some amusing shenanigans. In the end, the whole point is to get everyone having fun and enjoying themselves while doing something together that all enjoy. Speaking from experience, Magic is great both at a competitive and casual level, and experiencing both kinds of play can really enhance your enjoyment and your understanding of the game.