Mtg grid draft

Mtg grid draft DEFAULT

Tenchester Drafting

It’s been more than two and a half years since Grid Drafting and Tenchester Drafting were presented to the Cube community. For the uninitiated, these two formats were designed to avoid some of the problems attributed to small-player-number formats like Winston and Winchester. Both Grid Drafting and Tenchester continue to see play among Cubers (the former more than the latter), and continued play by community members has revealed ways each format could be improved.

The Tenchester format was designed as a for player draft format, with the intention to allow players to build high-powered focused cube decks. Its rules are fairly simple:

• Make 36 10-card packs.
Lay out the first pack. The first player picks a card, then each player follows in turn. After all players have selected a card, discard the remaining six cards and lay out a new pack.
• The person who selected last in the previous pack selects first in this pack. Continue drafting in the same direction.
• Continue until all packs have been drafted.

Although I really liked the format when I first created it, my interest soured quickly. The problem? Tenchester Drafting, as originally conceived, took forever. With 4 picks each from 36 packs, the players had to sit through 144 total picks. This dynamic is okay for the occasional Rotisserie Draft, but it wasn’t ideal for the spirit of Tenchester Drafting. Besides, there were clunky rules about changing the rotational order that were a hassle to track, and the whole concept needed a redesign.

A community member found an answer.

Basically, there was no compelling reason to have the cards laid out on the table. Why not let each player hold packs like in regular drafts, and pass them around the table? With that in mind, I propose a new set of Tenchester rules:

• Make 36 10-card packs.
• Each player takes a pack, selects a card, and passes the remaining 9 cards to their left, continued until each player has taken a card from each pack.
• Then, pass the 6-card packs to the drafter who started with them. Drafters can then examine the pack’s contents before discarding them. (They do not select a second card from the pack).
• Each player takes a new pack, and the order of drafting is reversed.
• Continue until all packs have been drafted.

These updates maintain the spirit of the original format while alleviating its biggest flaw. The rules as presented above were written for a four-player configuration, but obviously can be adapted for other player counts. (For 5 drafters, for example, draft with 35 packs).

• Start with 18packs of 9 cards.
• For each pack, lay it out in a 3×3 grid face up (just lay them out in order, don’t look at the cards and decide where each one should go).
• The first player takes a row or column.
• The second player takes a remaining row or column. Discard the undrafted cards (which will be 3 or 4 cards per pack).
• Alternate who goes first each pack.

Grid Drafting had a lot going for it. The drafting process is elegant and easy to explain, and since all information is public, the social dynamic of drafting with a friend works well.

One problem: the decks Grid produced were still fairly clunky. Not Winston or Winchester clunky, but clunky nonetheless. But how do we improve it?

The more I ran two-player drafts, the more I got the feeling that five colors is simply too many to divvy up between two players. Why not try removing one?

I wasn’t sure if it would work, and it’s hard to appreciate the difference until you see it in action.

Magic with 4 Colors

As initial proof of concept, let’s take a look at a couple of decks from the first two 4-color grid drafts I did.

esperControl

UGr Midrange

What do you notice? They look like real Cube decks! These aren’t random piles, these are fully functioning archetypes!

After a few test drafts, I created an updated ruleset for 4-color Grid drafts. Modifications:

• Pick a color to omit from the draft, and remove all spells and lands associated with that color. This isn’t the place to dig into color identity issues, but I opt to still include cards like Tasigur, the Golden Fang if either green or blue are omitted from the card pool. You can remove these cards before shuffling, or replace them in the grid whenever one pops up.
• Make 16 packs instead of 18. With fewer colors, we require fewer picks to pull together a coherent deck.

As a last optional step, I make sure that each of the six shocklands are guaranteed to be in the packs. My Cube runs a high density of fetchlands, and I want to make sure each color combination has at least one fetchable land in the packs. (Note that this requires a bit of extra work for paper drafting. These days I Cube draft almost exclusively on MTGO, and have written a program that will create the packs for me automatically. I’ll discuss MTGO drafting in a future article, but for now, here’s an example of an automatically-generated 4-color Grid draft with black cards removed).

The 4-color grid draft format has some interesting properties: first, the draft has a very different feel depending on which color is omitted from the card pool. Secondly, with one fewer color, the players compete more with each other over cards. The average deck from this format seems to be two colors with a splash (give or take half a color), and so far there has always been some overlap between the two players in the color pie. Lastly, the mana bases are far more functional in 4-color drafting since it’s far easier to find on-color lands.

Let’s see a 4-color grid draft in action. As a warning, the list I’m running is non-singleton.

4-Color, Nongreen Grid Drafting in Action

pack1

My opponent Aston wins the roll and takes the right column.

Aston’s picks:

The left column looks nice for a controlling build, but I’d rather keep my options open and take the column with the land. There’s an argument for taking Consuming Vapors and Badlands, but I think it’s best in the beginning to take 3-card picks to give yourself multiple directions to go.

My picks:

pack2

The bottom row lined up ridiculously well, and not taking it would be absurd. Plus, who can deny that Jace + Temporal Mastery synergy?

My picks:

Aston’s picks:

pack3
Aston’s picks:

The right column gives me a very aggressive angle to combine with my early Blood Artist, but I’m more inclined to follow the blue control cards from pack 2 and snap off two fetchlands for my deck.

My picks:

pack4
Okay, what a pack. There are arguments to be made for nearly every configuration here, but I’m drawn to the middle row and middle column. I believe that Ludevic’s Test Subject is criminally underrated, and given that he’s leaning aggro, I’d love an early blocker that doubles as a win condition.

My picks:

Aston’s picks:

pack5
Aston’s picks:

Grave Titan is a major haymaker, but I’ve received the good fortune of finding my Cube’s other Delver of Secrets nestled up with its best friend, Brainstorm, and Brainstorm’s best friend: a fetchland.

My picks:

pack6

The Thought Scour temps me, as it combines perfectly with my Jace and Brainstorm, and can even be used to clear away an unwanted card in response to a Delver reveal. I’m almost certain Aston will take the right column, so there’s an argument for taking the middle row to keep Aston off Mother of Runes. I opt for the middle column, but I’m still not sure it’s the correct play.

My picks:

Aston’s picks:

pack7
Aston’s picks:

I’ve gotten rather fortunate here. In our 8-player drafts, the Brainstorms typically get taken by 3-5 different players, but with Aston seemingly shying away from blue, he’s given me access to another one. I don’t get the feeling that the cards that he took were of incredibly high value to his deck, and here might have been a chance for him to hate draft, but I’ll take the cards if they’re given.

My picks:

pack8
This pack has a lot going on. Sphere of the Suns, Sphinx’s Revelation, Day of Judgment, and Jace, Architect of Thought are all high priority targets. In these kinds of decks, I’m always wary of overloading on 4-drops, and unfortunately I don’t have the option of taking Jace and Sphere together. So far my color commitments are fairly undefined with a smattering of white and blue cards to support my primary blue spells. Sphere helps my fixing, while taking Day of Judgment and Student of Warfare serves to combat and cut off Aston’s white aggressive angle.

My picks:

(But I wouldn’t fault anyone for taking the bottom row, middle row, or right column.)

Aston’s picks:

pack9
Aston’s picks:

I really wanted the bottom row, as Fettergeist is the perfect card for my creature-light build against his aggro cards. Even without the Fettergeist, Vampiric Tutor and Conundrum Sphinx further push the top-of-library theme of my deck. There’s an argument for the Steam Vents, but that’s fairly speculative compared to the guaranteed value of the Conundrum Sphinx.

My picks:

pack10
Okay, I wasn’t lying when I said this was a non-singleton Cube. That said, a typical Grid draft with my Cube would only expect to see 2 Brainstorms, and here come numbers 3 and 4. This one picks itself.

My picks:

Aston’s picks:

pack11

Aston’s picks:

My picks:

pack12
Way back in pack 1 I took a Badlands to keep myself open. In pack 12 it pays dividents. Bonfire of the Damned is insane in my deck, and even if I play no other red cards, I am perfectly set up to trigger miracles on demand. My picks contain 3 Brainstorms, a Vampiric Tutor, and a Jace, the Mind Sculptor. The only question is whether to snag a fifth fetchland or deny my opponent access to a second Wasteland. If I’m dipping into a third (or fourth) color, I need my mana to work, and him getting more land destruction hurts me more than me getting additional fixing.

My picks:

Aston’s picks:

pack13

Aston’s picks:

Scroll Rack would add to my bounty of cards that manipulate the top of the library, but I already have a bounty of library manipulation. What I need are ways to get on the board against his deck.

My picks:

pack14

This one also picks itself, and the red splash is looking more and more promising.

My picks:

Aston’s picks:

pack15
Aston’s picks:

The only remaining cards I would play are Control Magic and Magma Jet, and the comparison isn’t particularly close.

My picks:

pack16

Options galore. The initial knee-jerk reaction is to take the left column, with three on-color cards. Memory Lapse and Tezzeret’s Gambit are fairly marginal, and my highest priority cards are Vampire Nighthawk and Watery Grave. My deck is loaded with sources of life loss (Dark Confidant, Vampiric Tutor, Bitterblossom, Phyrexian Arena, Serendib Efreet), and is facing down an aggro deck. Yet, I am primarily blue/black and have yet to get a blue/black fetchable as a target for my fetchlands. I could see the left column, middle row, or middle column as viable options, but ultimately the deciding factor is: what do I deny Aston?

Sublime Archangel plus Silverblade Paladin is a nightmare waiting to happen, and I can’t afford to give him both.

My picks:

Sours: https://strategy.channelfireball.com/all-strategy/home/grid-tenchester-and-cutting-a-color-from-the-cube/

Today, we’re going to tackle one of the most important aspects of Cube ownership: getting the most out of your cube when you only have two or four players sitting around the table. Before I built up a play group, I spent a lot of my early days playing Winston and Winchester drafts, but they never satisfied. For lack of better options, I designed my own formats. Below I present two original draft formats, Grid drafting and Tenchester drafting, that have been tried and tested by the Cube community.

The Old – Winston and Winchester Drafting

Winston
Winchester

For those unfamiliar, Aaron Forsythe and Tom LaPille have written great primers on the Winston and Winchester draft formats. In LaPille’s article, he even does us a favor and describes in detail some of the flaws of Winston drafting. While the two formats play quite differently, they both share an unfortunate trait—the decks they produce are complete abominations.

The term “decks” here may even be generous. To illustrate, let’s take the following thought exercise. Imagine you and a friend are given 90 cards for a two-man Team Sealed event. From these 90 cards, you must build two separate decks and sideboards. Already a daunting task, assuming you can perfectly allocate the appropriate cards to each player. Now pretend that, after building your decks, you and your buddy must randomly exchange about 35% of each of your cards with each other, and rebuild accordingly.

What you’re left with is usually a clunky pile of cards with barely enough playables to fill out a three-color, 40-card list. Terrible quality decks are the rule rather than the exception with Winston and Winchester drafting. It can’t really be helped. It’s the nature of drafting from a 90-card pool. Using my own Cube’s proportions as an example, a typical 90-card pool would contain about:

12-13 cards of each color
9 artifacts
11-12 lands
7-8 gold cards

The nature of Winston and Winchester drafting means that you’ll end up incidentally taking a good number of cards from each color. In most cases you’re forced to pick three colors and jam nearly every card to even reach 23 playables. Aggressive decks are virtually impossible to assemble, and consequently most games deteriorate into “Dragon Magic,” won by slow expensive bombs.

The traditional remedy has been to increase the size of your card pool beyond 90 cards. Winston drafts, however, are already tiresome, and a larger pool accentuates that. Moreover, adding more cards does not address the fundamental issue—it’s an exercise in taking value piles until you have enough playables to build a deck with.

With this in mind, I hit the drawing board to create some new drafting alternatives.

Grid Drafting

Whenever you set out to improve upon an existing idea, it’s very useful to specifically identify elements that you feel held the old design back. To date, nearly every draft format has hinged on an assumption that the players must collectively draft all the cards opened. Most Limited formats originated from the concept of opening booster packs and trying to use, “every piece of the buffalo.”

Cube, like any other draft format, excels when decks are driven by synergies and interactions rather than raw card power. Cube lists are filled with cards like [card]Crystal Shard[/card], [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card], and reanimation spells that hinge upon interactions with other effects to make them useful and interesting. When using a 90-card stack, often you simply wouldn’t have access to enough cards to make synergy-based strategies worthwhile.

As we don’t have the burden of buying booster backs, the need to allocate each and every card to a player isn’t present. What if the players were able to draft about 45 cards each, while seeing a much greater number of cards?

Enter Grid drafting.

Grid drafting is a two-player format that works as follows:

• Start with 18 packs of 9 cards.
• For each pack, lay it out in a 3×3 grid face up (just lay them out in order, don’t look at the cards and decide where each one should go).
• The first player takes a row or column.
• The second player takes a remaining row or column. Discard the undrafted cards (which will be 3 or 4 cards per pack).
Alternate who goes first each pack.

By the numbers, each player will end up drafting between 45 and 54 cards from the total 162-card pool.

Grid drafting, first and foremost, is an interactive hate-drafting format. Every pick requires you to balance maximizing your own deck’s power while minimizing the potential power of your opponent’s deck. With each pack you look to take a slice out of the grid that leaves your opponent without favorable options.

To help visualize, I generated some sample grid packs:



The actual drafting process is very exciting. The first player will try to set the tone with their initial pick, but by no means is the second player obliged to follow. It’s a two-player format, so feel free to step on each other’s toes and brawl over colors and archetypes. If your opponent opens by taking a particularly themed row or column, you can do the same in pack 2. Generally, the opening four or five packs will see both players jockeying to leave themselves open to a deck that is well positioned against the other player.

As far as the archetypes go, most any deck from an 8-man draft is fair game. However, certain archetypes are not without their risks. I’ve seen reanimator decks and nearly mono-color aggro decks put together, but both require some luck, both in terms of the contents of your 162-card pool and the order in which the cards are revealed. Narrow archetypes are extremely fragile and easy to hate out in this format, so I generally recommend a two- or three-color variant on one of Magic’s classic archetypes: aggro, midrange, control, ramp, and tempo.

When drafting, keep in mind that you only need 23 playables. Also, as all information is public and you have just a single opponent, there’s not much use for sideboard cards. You can simply include the cards that will be good against your opponent in the main deck. With 18 packs, this means that we’re okay with only getting one playable per pack a fair amount of the time. Also, if a pack or two is completely blank on your colors or archetype, you have the ability to compensate later. Keep these numbers in mind as you balance between choosing playables, fixing, and hate-drafting.

And hate-draft aggressively! Two-man formats are a zero sum game, and the tactics don’t have to be pretty as long as you walk out with a “W.” If your opponent is on a Dimir deck, and a column flops filled with juicy blue and black cards, don’t hesitate to snag it.

To give you a sense of the power level of Grid draft decks, I’ve included a sample Bant midrange below. In this particular draft my opponent was playing Junk colors, so there was a fair bit of fighting over cards the entire session.

This was not the most powerful or streamlined deck ever Grid drafted, but it certainly had some play to it. I have the unfortunate habit of jamming [card]Augur of Bolas[/card] and [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] in decks without a sufficient density of spells, and the fortunate habit of not being punished for it. In this particular match [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] recast [card]Mana Tithe[/card] and [card]Path to Exile[/card] in a single game. The screenshot also reveals how pitiful my MODO collection is.

Four-Player Grid Drafting Variant

After the format’s initial positive reception, many players requested a four-player variant. Here’s what I recommend:

• Instead of 18 packs of 9 cards, use 16 packs of 15 cards.
• At the start of each pack, lay out the first 9 cards in a 3×3 grid.
• After the first player selects a row or column, replace those cards in the grid with three cards from the pack.
• After the second player selects a row or column, replace those cards with the remaining three cards from the pack.
• The third and fourth players pick their cards as usual.

• The player who chose their cards last in one pack chooses first in the next pack.
• After 8 packs, change the drafting rotation (from clockwise to counter-clockwise).

A four-player draft will have a much lower emphasis on hate-drafting. Additionally, as you now use packs of 15, this format can be used to draft retail sets with only four players.

Tenchester Drafting

The next draft format was originally designed as a four-player format, motivated by a general dissatisfaction with four-player booster drafts. I found that the drafting process lacked tension. Players would settle into their segments of the color pie, and very little fighting over cards occurred. Generally you could figure out which colors were shared and which you mostly held to yourself. This led picking cards from the shared colors early and intentionally wheeling other cards or gold cards.

Another issue is the fact that the second half of each pack tends to be filled with garbage that nobody at the table wants. This phenomenon has led many people to draft 5 packs of 9 cards instead of 3 packs of 15 cards. While this change does slightly (and only slightly) alter the dynamics of the draft, its main purpose is to spread around the misery so you don’t face six or seven miserable meaningless picks in a row. It’s the Cubing equivalent of an automated voice message interjecting every 30 seconds to say, “Please hold, your call is very important to us.” Nothing really changes, we just break up the misery into smaller and more numerous chunks.

The tipping point for me came when we ran a draft one evening, and somehow I was the only player in red. It was easily the most boring draft of my life.

For Tenchester drafting, my goal was to create a format where the decisions were difficult and engaging even if you weren’t fighting with your neighbors for cards. Here’s how it works:

• Make 36 10-card packs.
• Lay out the first pack. The first player picks a card, then each player follows in turn. After all players have selected a card, discard the remaining six cards and lay out a new pack.
• The person who selected last in the previous pack selects first in this pack. Continue drafting in the same direction.

• Continue until all packs have been drafted.

Tenchester is a format with little margin for error. You only have 36 picks with which to put together 23-24 playables and whatever fixing you need as well. The driving force behind these drafts is internal rather than external tensions. You’re constantly faced with simple but challenging decisions. Take a fetchland or a counterspell? Library manipulation or a finisher? Unlike say, Rotisserie drafting, the tension of Tenchester comes from the fact that whatever cards you pass up on each round are gone forever.

What I’ve found is that Tenchester is skill-testing and difficult even when played virtually solitaire. You have to make the most of each pick while keeping in mind your deck’s desired final composition. Tenchester decks, when built well, are more powerful than 8-man draft decks. Additionally, truly any archetype your Cube supports can be built and/or forced in this format.

For comparison, here is another Bant midrange deck, which I put together during my first Tenchester draft:

Again, a fairly generic and somewhat flawed build, but when it produces opening hands like this, who can complain?

[draft]Wooded Foothills
Flooded Strand
Deathrite Shaman
Path to Exile
Snapcaster Mage
Stoneforge Mystic
Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/draft]

Some considerations:

• With an entire Cube at your disposal, the planeswalker density can be disproportionately high. I would consider cutting some out if I planned to Tenchester draft on a regular basis.
• It’s important to make sure the players make their picks at a reasonable pace. Ideally the picks in each pack should happen pretty quickly after the first player has made their selection, as all the cards are publicly viewable. One draft, we had a couple players who over-analyzed each pick, and the draft took ages. In the final pack, a RW aggro player faced a choice between [card]Stromkirk Noble[/card] and another card, and started counting how many Humans we each had drafted.

Two-Player Tenchester Variant

Just play it with two players!

Assorted Other Formats

One of my personal favorite formats is 2v2 Team Sealed. It’s just Team Sealed, where each team is given 9 packs of 15 to make two distinct decks and sideboards. The format requires a lot of cooperation and communication, and the deckbuilding presents a fun social problem-solving challenge.

Alternatively, I also play “2v2 Team Sealed” when it’s just two players Cubing. In this case, each player is given 9 packs of 15 and has to build two decks from the pool.

Wrapping Up

These formats have been very positively received by the Cube community, but as always there’s still endless room for innovation. My personal advice is to keep in mind the fact that not every card in your pool needs to be drafted, and try to leverage that fact to create unique and fun decisions for your players.

Happy drafting!

Tags: Variant Formats

Sours: https://strategy.channelfireball.com/all-strategy/mtg/channelmagic-articles/cube-design-grid-drafting-and-more/
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I'm Going Gaga for Grid Drafting

Updated 2021.07.16 - update to approach & methodology

For those who haven't read Jason's CFB article on 4c grid, I suggest doing so prior to continuing on: http://www.channelfireball.com/home/grid-tenchester-and-cutting-a-color-from-the-cube/

Why am I obsessed with grid drafting (beyond it being insanely fun)? One, as Grillo postulated (assumedly) "[that it is most likely the best conventional draft simulator]", it is a one-versus-one Limited format where decks can come out looking like beautifully constructed draft decks. Two, the open information during drafting allows for a Constructed-metagame-approach to deck building (where sideboard cards may be maindecked or "name a card" abilities are useful from Turn 1 onward); I take a photo/screenshot of my opponents' pool prior to deck building to refer to and limit the necessity for memory during play. Three, given the correct exposure, I firmly believe grid drafting (or some variant of head-to-head drafting) could be a popular way to play with enjoyable cards that don't find home in competitive Constructed, Commander or traditional Cube Limited.

(The second and third posts link my active and retired grid populations.)

Background (a.k.a. Useless Fluff)

A few years ago, I tried to capture the excitement of my youth in a Solomon/Winston (two head-to-head drafting formats) designed "Cube" paying homage to IPA limited, but it never came together to really create an exciting gaming experience. So, I dissembled the disappointment, moved away from head-to-head drafting and starting chasing fantasy set design (similar to "set cubes").

By then, I'd read some of Jason's CFB articles and ended up here. Some of y'all took the initiative to get together a MTGO collection, and I got my first taste of grid drafting with @safra's Sharzad (v.Around.BFZ.And.OGW.I.Guess), minus one color via Forum Games. It was everything I wanted in my one-versus-one Limited Magic. I even started down the path of distilling a Sharzad card population built specifically for grid drafting without a color, but beyond the cursory sketch, I abandoned the project.

Shortly after, a friend visited me and I assembled some sloppy grids from the my two Fantasy Set Cubes for us to draft and game. The more complicated Fantasy Set Cube grids were a trainwreck, but two of them from an OG-Ravnica-themed set of mostly commons and uncommons produced many fantastic games. We often played best of 7 or 9 games after drafting a pool. That weekend was enough to set me on the path to *really* think about what a cube constructed as self-contained grid drafting card pool would entail.

Designing for Head-to-Head Drafting: A Guide to Building a Grid (Cube)

Grid has felt like an ideal environment to cram parasitic (and/or healthy) themes down throats, like one might find in a retail Limited set or with Constructed decks. The format also seems ideal to create really weird metagames- the sort kitchen-deck battles of which many MTG players may be fond. There is an opportunity to provide game agency to both players and a variety of cards (but if the grid experience fails, only two individuals are impacted, and *hopefully* not past the point where they would glean some sort of enjoyment from the experience).

My approach for a while was to design either (1) variations of existing draft formats or (2) try to emulate some weird Extended or Standard metagame from a decade ago. Recently, I've enjoyed curating strange cube-like environments (peasant or lower power) through taking the core-set-synergy approach focusing on stringing a few cards interactions together as micro-archetypes rather than supporting 15 or so cards in an overtly macro-archetype.

When working on a grid, there is only one rule that I won't break: design the card population for primarily grid drafting. This is the most obvious rule (as grid drafting and three-packs-of-15, left-right-left drafting are quite different deck-building mechanisms) and the most important rule as it drastically shapes how the card population is constructed. It's my assumption that grid drafting sets a more restrictive environment from a design point of view and any other styles of drafting will be enjoyable if the card population is designed from solely the intention to be drafted in grids. (This assumption hasn't really been tested at all... lol.)

Grid drafting mechanics are a *lot* different than traditional cube, and the numbers of effect/card types and spells at particular mana costs should be considered under the unique implications of grid drafting.
  • Each player gets 50% "first-to-second" picks and 50% "second-to-third" picks.
  • Each card selected when picking first cannot be drafted by an opponent; cards not selected by a player in a grid are publicly known to be out of the possibility for future selection.
  • The opponent's total selected card pool is public knowledge (so as mentioned prior, cards like Meddling Mage and Cabal Therapy or sideboard cards have a lot more play than in normal cube).

General Attributes - Original Post https://riptidelab.com/forum/threads/im-going-gaga-for-grid-drafting.1522/post-65153

So what does building a healthy format around 14-18 "first", "second" ...and "third" picks really look like? I am by no means near the magic formulae for grids but have learned a few lessons about which attribute of a population really makes the format tick: the power band.

The majority of the population should be built within a tight power band, with some allowance for variation above and below the mean card (but not dramatically so). This is to fight against most 3x3 grids having "clear first picks" and to promote synergy-based card selection as means over overcoming the individual card power band.

As a grid designer, I really want to converge on a draft environment where players start by picking cards that are powerful in a vacuum or are exciting synergy enablers and then transition to picking cards to fill out their deck (rather than always slam the "strictly best" cards in each 3x3 and end up playing games that feel as though they came from super-sealed). The method of card selection in grid *really* punishes cards that are not in the higher power tiers given the population when there are dramatic outliers to take in their stead; cards that are not up to snuff will almost never be picked on purpose (and only end up available for deck building if a better pick was available in the same row or column). In conventional drafting, due to the nature of packs and picks, the lower-tier cards at least often end up in a drafter's pile of cards available for deck building when card selection has ceased (given their color(s) align with that of the drafter), but in grid drafting, they are simply discarded.

All of the following musings are in relation to the power band:

Density of effects (and their costs).This won't be a surprise to anyone, but trimming down the number of cards that were "just good" in favor for increasing the density of certain archetype-support cards (more token-makers in colors supporting the strategy, more 2-mana-value creatures to enable board presence for combat steps, etc.) was the first step to enabling more viable deck types during gameplay. Then, reducing the most powerful/efficient removal/disruption spells in quantity gave room to assemble interactions. After these changes, two-color synergy decks were proving viable against the 3-4c "goodstuff" monstrosities (and bouncelands or shocklands were going unpicked in favor of picking up synergy components).

I assume there is a formulaic approach to finding the correct densities of disruptive/synergy interaction along with the number of cards required at different mana/color costs *and* the lands available to pay for color requirements along different desired levels of power. I haven't worked through it for my different active grids (but it's on my wish list of mind-numbing hobby tasks to investigate). I also assume this all runs parallel to the "asfan" or Pack Size conversations (but I, ignorantly, also haven't delved into that topic).

Quantity versus quality.One tricky part was finding an average card power level such that the opportunity cost (opponent can take the powerful cards) of taking "less powerful" cards when choosing first isn't too high. Initially, one of my early grids seemed to favor 2-for-1 goodstuff piles with cards like Enlisted Wurm, Auratouched Mageand Compulsive Researchdictating games' outcomes. During the actual card selection process, the slower pace of games led both players to selecting cards that provided card advantage regardless of color just so the opposing player wouldn't get too far ahead in the 2-for-1 slugout. Neither deck focused on synergies with both decks aiming to glean advantages of opportunity from the synergies here and there, should they arise during game play.

Most cards should naturally fit into multiple deck archetypes, especially if they are on the lower end of the power band (which should makeup a larger percentage of the population). This is to add incentive to picking a slightly less powerful card in tandem with an additional less powerful card or a card the opponent could play. Lands often will fall into this paradigm, but lower-tier removal and replaceable creatures or smoothing effects should as well.

High numbers of playables.Given the way picks in grid occur, a tight power band should lead to a *large* amount of playables for each drafter. This abundance of playables, coupled with the one-versus-one nature of the format should lead to hate-drafting as a strategy for some number of first-pick packs (most likely, during the mid-to-latter half of the grid). As players play "cat and mouse" to lay claim to particular colors or strategies, they should find speculative picks valuable in the early-to-middle portion of the draft.

With speculative and hate picks leading to a nonlinear pool of selected cards, players may find themselves able to support different archetypes than anticipated (especially within the colors selected) as pick selection progresses. With proper densities and power band maintained, the initial picks during drafting should never pigeonhole a player into a color or strategy, but instead give them the option to invest more if the opportunities arise. At the end of the draft, it shouldn't be uncommon for a multitude of different archetypes to be viable decks for a player (even if only two colors were drafted heavily); restrictive mana costs, interactive spells and curve considerations should be weighed against expected opposition to create some questions for the deck builder to address with their build (and possibly readdress in sideboarding).

Tricks to Manage the Power Band

With the power band firmly in mind, a few specific tactics (that many use in existing cube design) will assist tuning the card population and draft/play experiences:

Draft only a subset of the 162/180/etc total cards.After some 144 card populations were drafted in their entirety, card populations were increased to 162 cards (multiples of 18) where only 144 cards were meant to be drafted at a time. This was in direct response to players with familiarity drafting with 100 percent certainty that a particular card or cards will show up in any given draft (and remove some preplanning around cards that are available in multiples).

Support less colors.The removal of a color from the grid population seemed so radical once upon a time and yet is simple and elegant. I haven't tried to make a 2-player grid with all 5 colors yet (and may not), but for now, the 4-color grid is one of my steadfast grid blueprints. As Jason alluded to in his article, removing a color (or colors) makes the average card more impactful for each player (and creates more decision points, thus increasing replayability). I could also see a high number of colorless cards achieving a similar state.

Color balance and combination support.In the vein of making the average card more impactful on each players' decisions, color-pair support can be reduced (for example, to less than the six pairs a 4-color Magic normally supports). Additionally, I've found color imbalance to be an interesting knob to turn in the hopes of making the average card more relevant; if one color or pair/cluster is too impactful in game play, shift some of its quantity in the population to a less impactful color (or pair/cluster).

Multiples are encouraged.To support the thematic approach of retail Limited or yesteryear's Constructed formats, I've taken to liberally including multiples (up to 4 copies!) in most of my grids. Though, cube-inspired grids that strictly adhere to singleton are also fun (and have been a bit harder for me to confidently design).

The advantage of a multiple-copy approach is really helpful in governing card interactions at certain densities of effect (as mentioned in the power band discussion prior). Beyond synergy pairs/clusters, multiples will support disruptive interactions between both players. For example, red in a grid may have instant speed interaction at 2R mana for artifacts or 2-toughness-or-less creatures (Molten Blast) or exiling sorcery interaction at 2RR mana for 5-toughness-or-less creatures (Puncturing Blast); the red decks' opponents will be able to parse out possible interactions more easily given the limited options. In a singleton environment, a similar approach can be taken by finding several cards that are similar in interaction in a color (or color pair/cluster) over two consecutive mana values or consecutive values for determining affected targets/etc.

Velocity of gameplay.Through managing density (and the cost) of effects, the pace of games can be managed to be quicker or slower. Resources can be configured more abundant (to create a constant or accelerated velocity) or scarce (that may create an inconsistent and/or decreasing velocity after a certain point). (I typically enjoy a slower, consistent velocity that leads to 7-or-more-turn games.)

Archive of older versions:

Original Post said:

I've meant to write on the topic of grid drafting for a while, as it's become quite a personal obsession, but laziness has prevailed. Until. Now. Well, until some future date, when I make it home for more than 2 nights and 1.5 days. But as a teaser (and to solicit grid ideas), I'm throwing up (to be interpreted as vomiting up) this shitpost!

(For those who haven't read Jason's CFB article on 4c grid, I suggest doing so prior to continuing on.) http://www.channelfireball.com/home/grid-tenchester-and-cutting-a-color-from-the-cube/

Why am I obsessed with grid drafting, beyond it being insanely fun? One, it is a one-versus-one Limited format where decks can come out looking like beautifully preconstructed duel decks. Two, given the correct exposure, I firmly believe grid drafting could be a self-contained product offering, similar to 'MTG as a board game'. (Imagine ~250 cards/tokens at a 35-40 USD price point.)

(I will use the second and third posts to link my active and retired grid populations, I guess.)

Background

Back during the turn of the century, Wizards (and their distros) would sell cases and boxes to individuals with a retailer license. After some begging and ad-hoc business proposals, I convinced one of my parents to take me to the capitol to acquire one of these licenses and went down the questionable road of buying product and selling singles on eBay. This led me to having a lot of commons that were essentially useless… until I learned about Solomon drafting (or until Daze became worth a few dollars). Solomon with 90 random Invasion block commons became an easy favorite format for a few months.

A few years ago, I tried to capture the excitement of my youth in a Solomon/Winston stack paying homage to IPA limited, but it never came together to really create an exciting gaming experience. So, I dissembled the disappointment and starting chasing fantasy set design.


By then, I'd read some of Jason's CFB articles and ended up here. Some of y'all took the initiative to get together a MTGO collection, and I got my first taste of grid drafting with safra's Sharzad (v.Around.BFZ.And.OGW.I.Guess), minus one color. It was everything I wanted in my one-versus-one Limited Magic. I even started down the path of distilling a card population built specifically for grid drafting without a color, but beyond the cursory sketch, I abandoned the project.

Then, in May, an MTG friend visited me, and I had the urge to get some grids together from my fantasy sets so we could play without begging others to join us. The grid populations were pretty sloppily assembled, but two of them from an OG-Ravnica-themed set produced many fantastic games. (The 5 grids from my first fantasy set produced pretty mediocre games, though, as I pretty much just got annihilated and out-drafted.) That weekend was enough to set me on the path to *really* think about what I was doing when attempting to create a self-contained grid drafting card pool.

Real Magic Theory (tm)


As alluded to prior, this section is going to be fleshed out when I stop procrastinating. For now, I want to touch on two primary topics: metagames and construction logic.

Thematic Limited-driven Metagames

Grid has felt like the perfect environment to cram parasitic (and/or healthy) themes down throats, like one might find in a retail Limited set. The format also seems ideal to create freakin' weird metagames, the sort kitchen-deck battles of which many MTG players may be fond. My approach up until now has been to design either (1) variations of existing draft formats or (2) try to emulate some weird Extended or Standard metagame from a decade ago.

It seems pretty "easy" to create a Limited-inspired grid, but the Constructed-inspired metagames have been a real chore to build. Maybe, my Limited-inspired creations won't be that fun to play, though, and I will recant this statement. Also, many, many thanks to Kirblinx for all of his help developing the tribute to Meddling Mage grid! It would be a hot mess without our three head-to-head sessions, but I am quite happy with it at this point and expect very minimal fiddling moving forward.

General Principles/Rules

(Rule 1) Design for Grid Only. This is the most important rule. Grid drafting is a *lot* different than traditional cube, and the numbers of effect/card types and spells at particular mana costs need to consider the unique implications of grid drafting. Each player gets eight first picks and eight second-to-third picks (due to 'Rule 3'). Each card selected during draft is a card that the opponent cannot take. The opponent's total selected card pool is public knowledge (so cards like Meddling Mage and Cabal Therapy have a lot more play than in normal cube).

(Rule 2) Four colors only. The removal of a color from the grid population seemed so radical and yet is simple and elegant. I haven't tried to make a grid with all 5 colors yet (and may not), but for now, the 4c grid is one of my steadfast mandatory design rules. As Jason alluded to in his article, removing a color makes the average card more impactful for each player (and creates more decision points, thus increasing replayability).

(Rule 3) Draft 144 of 162 total cards. After some 144 card populations were drafted, I went up to 162 card populations where only 144 cards were meant to be drafted. This is in direct response to players drafting with 100 percent certainty that a particular card or cards will show up in any given draft.

(Principle 1) Color balance and combination support. In the vein of making the average card more impactful on each players' decisions, I've tried to cut down on color-pair support in most grids to less than the six that 4-color Magic normally supports. Additionally, I find color imbalance to be an interesting knob to turn in the hopes of making the average card more relevant.

(Principle 2) Multiples are encouraged. To support the thematic approach of retail Limited or ancient Constructed formats, I've liberally included multiples in all of my grids. I suppose that I could eventually make a cube-inspired grid that strictly adheres to singleton, but for now, that's not… in the… cards.


That's it for now! I'll archive older versions of this in quotes as I update it. Look below for my current and retired grids!

Click to expand...


It seems pretty "easy" to create a Limited-inspired or Cube-inspired grid, but the Constructed-inspired metagames have been a real chore to build (as both attempts have gone through many big changes and only remains active as of writing this update). Also, many, many thanks to @Kirblinxfor all of his help developing the early Invitational Limelight (formerly Med Mage) grid and the forum folks who've spent the time and energy to invest in this community (and my posts)! Look below for old and active grids!

 

Sours: https://riptidelab.com/forum/threads/im-going-gaga-for-grid-drafting.1522/
MTG Cube Grid DRAFT 2 Player 2021

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Draft mtg grid

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Getting cut in Grid Draft... will the strategy pay off? Playing the Regular Cube 1v1

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