Limited Contact

It’s not easy to build a collection from just playing Limited. However, that seems to be a common route most people take if they’ve been out of the game for a while and are trying to reenter the competitive side of things. The ideal is to build your collection with the cards you acquire from drafting while still being able to play Magic at a high level.

The only problem here is that once you’re, say, ten to twelve Drafts in, you’ve put enough money into drafting to have just bought all the singles you wanted; ten to twenty Drafts rarely yields very many cards you’d actually want for a Constructed deck. There’s an argument to be made that if you win the Drafts, you can trade whatever prizes you win for singles, but it’s important to note that when people try to go infinite on Magic Online, Limited is not their route of choice. People generally build their bankroll through Constructed play.

Constructed might not even appeal to you, which is totally fine. I watched a game of Planechase Commander at Cloud City last night, and it made me want to quit Magic altogether and become a hermit, so I can appreciate that Constructed might not be your thing.

I had my start in Magic writing through Limited articles, but it’s occurred to me that I’ve never actually taught anyone how to physically draft in article form. There are a lot of different social contracts you sign when you sit down at a Draft table, and you don’t want to look like an asshole, right? Right!

I’ve seen many Magic players fall prey to the all-too-common trap of following their instincts in a social setting. People . . . If you’re playing Magic, you clearly have some form of stunted social development. Do not just do or say whatever you’re thinking—it’s probably the unfunniest thing that’s happened since the last time Janeane Garofalo picked up a microphone. Just try to act like Patrick Swayze in Roadhouse (RIP), and everything’ll be fine. If that’s too hard for you (I’ll admit that it’s borderline impossible for me most of the time), I’ve conveniently laid out a step-by-step guide on how to not be That Guy (© 2011) at the table.

Paying for the Draft

Summoner's Pact
For God’s sake, carry around some actual currency. Nothing says that you’re not ready for this whole grown-up thing quite like putting an entry fee to a Magic tournament on a freaking credit card. Yeah, I know, taking money out is hard, and depending on what part of town you happen to be in, carrying around singles can come with its own considerable health risks. Have you been to an adult establishment? Some of the things those women do with money is downright irresponsible.

Hygienic concerns aside, just carry money around in your pocket. The drawbacks (it’s yucky) are far outstripped by the upsides (you can buy things without looking like an asshole). Credit/debit cards are just a fad anyway.

Sitting Down to Draft

If the store you’re drafting at isn’t a total shit-pile of an establishment, they’ll have some sort of seating arrangement; having random seating during Drafts is a good way to avoid collusion. I went to a place where seating wasn’t random once, and at these times, you are allowed to verbalize slight surprise at your predicament.

People around you will start to talk to each other. You will be tempted to engage them in conversation. Do not do this. The best Magic players are the ones who take no joy out of the game and default to W/U in Standard, and you need to be just like them. Part of this includes treating everyone else like they’re beneath you. If you do feel the desire to speak to your fellow drafters, speaking in memes usually works out great. Just throw out some “ERMAGERDS” and some “U MAD BROS,” and you’ll be in like Robert E. Lee at a white supremacy party.

The Actual Draft

Murder
This is the big moment. You and the rest of the denizens of your table will be handed three packs, and you will then be asked if you know how to draft. Even if you don’t know how to draft, JUST SAY YOU KNOW HOW. God, just thinking about hearing some poor store employee try to tell someone what a Draft is gives me PTSD; it’s been scientifically proven that no one alive can explain what drafting is without fifty bed-wetters hopping in to the conversation and saying, “OH WELL YOU TAKE A CARD AND THEN ANOTHER CARD AND I’M TALKING WAY, WAY TOO FAST BUT DID YOU GET THAT YOU GOT THAT RIGHT?” It’s the worst, and no human alive should be subjected to that. If you don’t actually know how to draft, here’s a little crash course:

You open a pack and take a card out of it, and you pass the remainder of that pack to your neighbor. Since everyone else is doing it, too (like drugs!), you will invariably be passed a pack by your neighbor, sans one card. Then, you take a card out of that pack and pass that one along. The idea is to put yourself in position to build a forty-card deck once all three packs have been opened and passed. Basic lands are provided, so don’t take any of those out of the packs because that’s crazy. I know it sounds terrible, but it’s actually the most amazing thing ever. END OF DRAFT CRASH COURSE.

You pass packs to your left for pack one, then right for pack two, and then back to the left for pack three. I do not actually know if this is correct, but it doesn’t matter if you mess this up anyway; since you’re hanging out with people who play Magic, that means that you are within speaking distance of plenty of booger-eaters who are only too happy to point out your shortcomings loudly, even if your transgressions are as slight as passing the packs the wrong way during a Draft. The proven way to shrug off the nagging cries of, “WRONG WAY,” is to laugh it off and say, “Oh, man, I’m totally not used to this; MODO does the passing for you, y’know?” When you say the word “MODO,” people will see you for the big-timer you are, and they will give you the respect you deserve. “Oh, man, he plays on Magic Online? He must be awesome.” Little will they know that they actually give Magic Online accounts to anyone! Ha! IN THEIR FACES.

Courtly Provocateur
I try not to talk during Drafts. I do not succeed at this. But it’s okay! Everyone will be talking. Talking about how they should’ve jumped into red earlier, about how they probably shouldn’t have taken that Courtly Provocateur first-pick, or, if you’re drafting with me, the virtues of Moe’s versus Chipotle. People aren’t really supposed to talk while drafting, but for me, the times when you’re not supposed to talk are the times I find myself babbling the most. One time in high school psych class, our teacher started class off by just sitting there quietly. It was some kind of social experiment or something; I don’t really remember. Eventually, everyone in the room stopped talking but me. Here is a transcript of that:

Me: “Hahahahahahah! Why isn’t anyone talking? This is so weird! I hate this. Oh, man. Is this what hell is? This is hell, isn’t it? I’m dead. Oh, man. I feel like Scrooge McDuck in that movie where he has to talk around as a ghost and see all that stuff and no one can hear him. They should show that movie year ’round. Hahahahahaha. Oh, man. I cannot handle silence. I guess you guys all figured that out by now, though. Wow. This is real bad. I may need a therapist after this, guys. Hahahahahah. Okay I’m done. But this is weird, though. Someone at least do me the favor of acknowledging that this is weird. Jesus Christ, what is going on with me? Is this the person I really am? Good Lord. You guys know The Matrix, the part where Neo figures out what his whole life was and totally freaks out? THAT IS ME RIGHT NOW, YOU GUYS. Hahahahahahah. All right, I’m done. I promise. I’m done! No, seriously, I’m done this time. Okay, I’m done.”

That day sucked. Halftime!

Someone a long time ago told me that acronyms should roll off the tongue and be easy to remember. It’s with that in mind that I present to you The Song You Should Download of the Week! Or SYSDOTW!, for short. Goddammit that is a sexy acronym.

“Cherish,” by Madonna. When I was a kid, I used to play Magic in Cortland, NY, at the new-defunct Area 51. One of the guys there, Dana, used to sing Madonna songs while resolving certain spells. For example, whenever he would cast Duress, he would announce it as such:

Dana: (to the tune of Madonna’s “Dress You Up) “Duress you up in my looooove! I’m looovin’, yo’ body . . . ”

So, it was very natural for him to cast any and all Perishes to the tune of Madonna’s “Cherish.” I am ashamed to admit that I unabashedly enjoy this song, and the music video is a decidedly weird version of sexy time. Halftime over!

Deck-building

This one’s pretty tough. I really don’t have too many pointers here. Play seventeen lands. If you have a Karoo-type land, you can play sixteen lands. If you have two of them, you can play fifteen lands. Unfortunately, these tips only work for Ravnica-block Limited. Good luck!

Playing the Games

Sublime Archangel
Did you sleeve up your deck? Okay, now unsleeve it. No, it doesn’t matter if you have a Sublime Archangel in your deck; the idea here is to look like you’re big-time and you don’t give a spit. And nothing says, “I totally don’t care,” quite like playing unsleeved. I would play Constructed unsleeved if they let me.

Don’t use a play mat either. I don’t mind play mats, but you’re trying to look pro here, and pros commonly travel very light. Don’t bring any dice with you—flip a random coin in your pocket (good thing you brought cash!) to determine who will play first. Always ask your neighbor for paper to keep track of your life totals. All of this will say to your opponent that you’re unprepared, and then, BAM, your deck sucker punches him because you’re the best and he made the mistake of getting in your way.

When you win the Draft—and you will—be gracious. Tell people that you just got lucky. Tell people they got unlucky. Tell them you’ll see them next week. Tell them whatever they need to hear because you know that you were able to go in to your local game store and stomp some face because you read this and they didn’t.

I hope this all helped, and I will see all of you next week. I love you.

Jon Corpora
Pronounced Ca-pora
@feb31st