Greetings, ARG community! My name is Tej, and I’ve been playing Yu-Gi-Oh! Since the very beginning. Having experience in other TCGs, namely VS Sytem, there was always something missing from Yugs that I longed for: sealed play! While there have been a few draft and sealed events such as Retro Draft and Dawn of the XYZ starter deck tournaments, there has yet to be a set created with the idea of draft play in mind. Until now! With Battle Pack: Epic Dawn (BPED) just a little over a month away, it seems the time is ripe to begin talking about drafting strategies.
Many Yugioh players are unaware of the concept of drafting because it hasn’t really been a concept in the last decade of play. This article will serve as a primer of sorts; the goal of it is to help you begin to understand the basic concepts of drafting, and get you pumped up for this great new style of play!
A brief drafting how-to
Drafting is a very simple concept at the surface. I think it’ll be best to demonstrate with an example. Let’s say we have 4 players in a draft, each with 3 unopened packs. Each player opens up his first pack, without revealing the contents to any of the other players. Each player then selects 1 card from the pack and puts it aside. That card is now exclusively for the use of the player that drafted it. The remaining contents of the pack are passed clockwise to the next player, face down. The same process occurs this time, with each player choosing a card and passing the remainders to the next player. Let’s assume the pack contained 9 cards. This would mean you would “pick and pass” 9 times total for the first pack, and every player would end the first round with exactly 9 cards. Once all the cards from the first pack are gone, each player opens the second pack. The only difference for the second pack is that you pass the remaining cards counter-clockwise each time. For each subsequent pack, the players will alternate between passing clockwise and counter-clockwise.
Once all the packs are opened and drafted, the next challenge begins – building your deck! All the players will be given the same amount of time to construct a deck from the cards they drafted. Generally, the cards you don’t put in your main deck are considered part of your side deck. Once everyone has their decks built, you simply start playing against one another to see who is the draft master! It is always fun to see what unique strategies your opponent decided to go with. One of my favorite parts of draft is seeing typically subpar cards in constructed become the absolute nuts in sealed. Odds of Axe of Despair making the top 32 of a YCS? Probably 1 in a 100,000,000, if not lower. Odds of Axe of Despair helping someone win a draft? Much more likely!
Drafting in any TCG involves a few criteria before getting started:
- A pre-set number of packs per player: depending on the size of the pack, each player will start with 3 or more unopened packs. For BPED, there are 5 cards per pack, and Konami suggests each player start with 9 unopened packs.
- Other players: generally speaking, drafting will involve 4 or 8 players. This is to ensure even bracketing when doing pairings. It also keeps the card pool from getting too large and chaotic. Each box of BPED will allow for a 4 player draft.
- Time: drafting takes more time than a regular constructed tournament because effort is spent in the drafting process as well as the deck building process. Don’t enter a draft thinking you’ll be done the event in an hour! Good drafters will take their time deciding which cards to use and how to construct their decks to counter their opponents, and their hard thinking will generally pay off more often than not.
Drafting Strategies: A Sneak Peak
Just like constructed play, there are several deck strategies that exist in draft. A thorough examination of these strategies is an article onto itself (hint, hint). Here is a brief overview of what to expect to face when playing draft:
- Beatdown: Aggro (beatdown) decks are one of the most popular strategies in sealed play. Overwhelming your opponent with 1700-2000 attack beat sticks can be overwhelming if it occurs early enough. I don’t even want to get into how insane a card like Goblin Attack Force is. Remember when I mentioned subpar cards in constructed being the nuts in sealed? Yeah.
- Stall: One of the most popular strategies in the retro draft side events is stall/deck out. With the limited spell and trap removal in the set, staring down Umi plus Tornado Wall was grounds for scooping in an attempt to save frustration. The full spoiler of BPED has yet to be released, but be sure to stay weary of deck out strategies. It would be a shame to draft powerful cards like Raigeki and Obelisk the Tormentor only to be stifled by gravity bind plus a 41 card deck geared towards capitalizing on your fragile 40 card deck.
- Combo-Wombo: By far the most fun and hardest to pull off strategy, combo decks are very polarized – you outright blowout your opponent if your combo goes off, and downright get blownout if your combo never completes itself. Imagine drafting 1 Inzektor hornet, 1 Inzektor Dragonfly, and 2 Inzektor Centipede. You’re unstoppable if you draw hornet plus dragonfly/centipede, but one showing up without the other will yield the same results as the constructed deck would in a similar circumstance – a frustrating loss.
- Archetypes: A subset of the “Combo-Wombo,” drafting archetypes can be tough in sealed play, but successfully doing so puts you in a strong position to win. Archetypes are slightly different than combo decks in that instead of there being a dependence on certain cards, there is an added flow to the deck when certain cards show up together. In contrast to Inzektors, think of a monarch deck. Drawing Treeborn Frog plus a bunch of monarchs puts you in a very solid position, but even drawing some monarchs and any other monster to tribute can still give you an advantage. Archetypes are symbiotic (they work better together) and combo decks are dependent (they ONLY work together).
Drafting was a huge missing link in the Yugioh TCG, but with the introduction of Battle Pack: Epic Dawn, we are certainly in the middle of history in the making. Sealed play allows for players to play on an even playing field (another of my favorite parts) – each player puts in the same amount of money and works with the same set. Luck is always a factor in any card game, but sealed play works to limit luck and reward skill. It wouldn’t be surprising to see success from the same players repeatedly. Those players will be the ones who master drafting and fully capitalize on the format. The Konami page for BPED mentions "The first 10 years were just practice!" I couldn't agree more - let the games begin!
Lastly, I want to thank ARG for the opportunity to write for you all, as well as anyone and everyone who took the time to read this article. If you think I missed something, or want to suggest articles ideas for drafting, please please please sound off in the comments below! If articles on draft concepts like choosing strategies, counter-drafting, and reading your opponents draft strategies are something you want to read about, say so! Of course, any constructive criticism is welcome and encouraged as well!
Until next time, Play Hard or Go Home!
P.S. ARG has a great Pre-Order deal on boxes of BPED. It's roughly 20 bucks cheaper to pre-order on here than it will be to buy the packs separately on release day!