Explaining the Top16 Booster Draft

Frazier SmithThis week, Konami announced a huge change to the way Top16 will be played out at YCS events. From now on, instead of using your Advanced Constructed deck, you will be participating in a Booster Draft format using Battle Pack: War of the Giants Round 2. After this announcement, the community reacted via social media, and boy was it crazy! Actually, most players were outraged by this, which I found to be particularly annoying because most of them were speaking from ignorance. People were claiming that someone would simply pack broken (open really good cards in their packs), and win in Top 16, and that’s not how Booster Draft formats really work. I want to discuss the impacts that this will have on Top16 play and how Drafting is actually more of a skill and less of a luck factor.

If anyone has ever played in one of the Battle Pack Draft side events, they will know that each player starts out by opening two packs together, choosing one card from them, and then passes the other cards around the table until every card is gone. When I played it, it was Battle Pack: Epic Dawn, which is the first ever Battle Pack set, and I opened [ccProd]Graceful Charity[/ccProd], [ccProd]Pot of Greed[/ccProd], and [ccProd]Snatch Steal[/ccProd] in my two packs. That seems absurd until you realize that I would only be getting one of them, and the person on my left would be more than likely taking one of the others, and then the person on his or her left would be taking the leftover power card. All three of them are amazing, but no one person would just have all three. There’s also a judge watching over the draft, in case anyone was wondering how the integrity would be held intact. For the Top16 of a YCS, I’m sure they will have several judges watching to make sure that things move along smoothly.


So the point I was just making in the previous paragraph was that the distribution of power—if you will—is kept balanced by making sure that a player does not simply open packs and keep everything there. That would make it solely based on luck if it worked that way. You have to make choices. Every choice will largely affect your experience. Also, there is a skill to knowing all of the cards in the Battle Pack sets and understanding card interactions. This will help you to draft combos and create synergetic decks. If you include every good tribute monster you see, you might realize that you don’t have enough level 4 and lower monsters to actually get them onto the field. You also want to be careful about drafting too many attack modifiers without enough monsters to actually use them with. A [ccProd]Shrink[/ccProd] or a [ccProd]Prideful Roar[/ccProd] by itself will not do anything. It also matters to play the proper ratios of low-level monsters, high-level monsters, spells, and traps. Depending on the deck size, this number will change. Draft formats in Yu-Gi-Oh are usually 20 or 30 card minimums. Because the decks are smaller, you have a higher chance to actually see the cards you picked. Not every card you pick will go into your main deck, either; the cards you do not use will become your side deck.

A player who does not know all of these things will have a much lower chance of doing well in the Booster Draft format. You have to realize that someone else will choose the cards you do not choose. You are directly influencing the decks of others. This means you can somewhat guess which cards are in the person’s deck to your left and to your right. If I passed a [ccProd]Dark Hole[/ccProd], and that was the only other good card in my pile, then I can safely assume the next guy took the Dark Hole. My friends and I used to cube draft all the time, and it has taught me many tricks and strategies to picking cards and counter picking others. I strongly recommend that players put together their own cubes by including just one copy of any card from any set, and making it at least 300 cards total. At the start of the cube draft, each player gets 3 randomized piles of 15 cards. You must choose just one card from your first pile and pass it to your left until every card has been chosen. After the first pile is gone, you pick up the second pile and do the same exact thing, except you pass the pile to the right. On the last pile, you would pass it to the left again. This form of drafting is extremely skillful because you have to remember which cards each of your opponents have in their decks. If you play someone and he or she uses [ccProd]Heavy Storm[/ccProd], you would know that no other player in the draft has Heavy Storm because there is just one copy of it in the cube. When I played it last, I picked Gorz from one of my piles, so I knew that no one else had Gorz, and I could attack directly with less fear. There was a chance that someone could have [ccProd]Trageodia[/ccProd], but he isn’t as much of a problem.

I think the idea of playing multiple formats throughout an event is a great idea because they each require different skills. I mean, sure, anyone can simply look up the last winning Dragon Ruler deck and build it for a tournament, but not everyone can construct a deck from scratch, and from a pile of cards that are not exactly “competitive.” I think this will promote studying before events, especially since so many of the cards are foreign to those who only play tier 1 decks, including myself. As of right now, I have no idea what cards are in War of the Giants, but by the time YCS Atlanta rolls around, I will make sure to know each and every one. The last thing you want to do is be surprised in the Top16 of an event by a card you know nothing about, but could have known everything about.

There’s a lot more to be said about the whole Booster Draft format, but hopefully this shed some light on how it works and how it is actually more skill-based than luck-based. If you’re attending YCS Atlanta, I encourage you to study if you intend to be playing in the Top16. It’s going to get real.

Thanks for reading! Remember, Play Hard or Go Home!  The Metro Series makes its first stop in beautiful Montreal, Quebec on December 7th! So be sure to check that one out!


-Frazier Smith

-The Dark Magician

Frazier Smith

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