The Mana Dork

Clever Bread-related Pun In Title

So it’s my second or third booster draft, and I’ve decided to go green. Just, nothing but green. Lots of mana, lots of beasties, and hopefully I can beat my opponents’ faces in with raw power.

Round 2, I finally get to play one of my rare cards—Hornet Queen, from Magic 2015. And it is here that I am introduced to the concept of a “bomb”.

Drafting is one of Magic’s “Limited” formats, where you don’t play with your collection—just sealed product that you open right before playing with it.

Specifically, a booster draft consists of 4-12 players sitting down around a table, each with three booster packs. Each player opens a pack, selects one card to keep, and passes the rest of the pack around the table. Repeat the process until the pack is done, then do it all over again with the other two packs. At the end, you’ll have 45 hand-picked creatures, spells, artifacts, and possibly even planeswalkers that you’ll use, along with basic land provided by the draft organizers, to build a 40-card deck with which to beat face. And after drafting and building your deck, you face off against the other players in the draft to see who built the best deck out of the available cards.

I have a goal, with drafting. I would like to go 4-0 at a draft—win every round in which I compete.


In the few months that I’ve been getting back into the game, I have yet to win a single round at a draft.

Ah, but a man’s reach must exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?

(Punching. Heaven is for punching.)

Back to that Hornet Queen. One of the things I’ve picked up in my quest to 4-0 a draft is the following acronym: BREAD. BREAD helps you pick the right cards when you’re drafting, as follows:

B—Bombs. These are huge threats that could win you the game if not successfully dealt with. Hornet Queen is a bomb—all of a sudden, I’m trading five cards for one! In the current Limited format, which includes Fate Reforged and Dragons of Tarkir, Ugin the Spirit Dragon, Dragonlord Atarka, and Ojutai Exemplars are also examples of bombs.

R—Removal. Cards that remove your opponent’s threats, like Pacifism, Coat with Venom, and Epic Confrontation.

E—Efficiency/Evasion. I’ve heard both words used for the “E” slot, and essentially, it depends on your strategy. If you’re going creature-heavy, you’ll want creatures with some type of evasion ability—flying is the classic example. If you’re not, or just in general, you’ll want cards that are efficient—can deal with more than one card at a time, or have mana costs that are lower than average for a card of their type. Savage Ventmaw is a creature with evasion, and Foul Renewal is a very efficient card.

A—Aggro. Whether you’re playing a creature-heavy strategy or a more controlling strategy, you want creatures that are undercosted for their power, or allow you to get away with a lot of early aggression—for example, creatures with the Dash ability.

D—Duds. Self-explanatory. Everything you didn’t want. As cute as Ancient Carp is, I wouldn’t pick him first at a draft.

When I played that Hornet Queen, my opponent’s turns suddenly tripled in length. I had played one card, but because I now had five flying deathtouchers, that one card could now potentially trade for five of his cards, setting him back considerably.

Of course, it didn’t end up mattering (I did mention I’ve never won, right?)—he pulled a boardwipe from the top of his deck and dealt with them all with one card, which made me sad. But that moment where I gave him pause, gave him doubt—that was satisfying, and opened my eyes to how different drafting truly was from regular Magic. And how badly I wanted to master it.

A Muse N Games runs regular drafts every Thursday night in their new Event Centre. Entry is $16.50, getting you three packs plus prize support. Hope to see you there!

Jesse Mackenzie is a regular contributor to A Muse N Games. Come back in two weeks for the next edition of The Mana Dork—and bring a bucket and mop, because he’ll be gushing about Commander.