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By: TheWolf, Shane Garvey
Aug 23 2018 12:00pm
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When the announcement of Chaos Drafts on Magic Online happened, I was pretty excited. Chaos Drafts are probably my second favourite way to play Magic (behind Vintage Cube) and I was keen to experience it online. Unfortunately it's only for one week, but you can bet I'll be cramming as many drafts as possible!

I've done quite a few Chaos Drafts in paper and have been pretty successful at them. They are a great test of card evaluation and deck-building skills. Today, I want to pass on some advice for drafting this format.

What is Chaos Draft?

If you don't know what Chaos Draft is, it is a draft format where the boosters that each player opens can be from any set across Magic's history. For example, you could sit down with three boosters, one of each from Dominaria, Mirrodin and Worldwake, while the person beside you has one of each from Magic 2014, Return to Ravnica and Invasion. This makes the drafting experience very unique, in that archetypes you can expect when drafting one set just aren't present. 

So, in a format as random as this, what are the best strategies to use?

Remember BREAD?

Many moons ago, drafters had an acronym they used to help prioritise their draft picks. That acronym was B.R.E.A.D. and, if you drafted in the order from first letter to last, you'd end up with a decent deck. That acronym isn't as widely used today, as removal has gotten worse and creatures better, but it still applies for Chaos Draft as you'll be drafting older packs.

Not quite the right bread...

B is for Bombs, the cards that can take over and win a game on their own. You still first pick bombs today, and you should first pick bombs you open.

R is for removal. In many of the older sets, the removal was ultra efficient, with cards like Doom Blade and Lightning Bolt. Today, you get cards like Lich's Caress and Electrify. In Chaos Draft, I'd advise picking removal highly.

E is for evasion. These are the flying, menace, trampling creatures that every draft deck wants. In older sets, you also have creatures with fear, intimidate, shadow, etc. Pick these highly, as they will be your game winners. E can also be for efficient. By this, it means good power and toughness for its mana cost. A 3/3 for 3 mana (Centaur Courser, for example) is an efficient creature, for example.

A is for aggro. Generally, these are replaceable cards, but by aggro it usually means a couple of things. One is that the creature's power is good for the mana cost. A 3/2 for 3 mana, or a 2/1 for 2 mana, is an example of an aggro creature. The second thing this means is lower mana cost; or, in other words, pay attention to your mana curve. A lower (more aggressive) mana curve is better than a higher one. Lastly, it also means things like combat tricks to help your creatures punch through damage.

D is for dregs or duds. You don't want these cards in your deck at all if you can help it. They are the unplayable, narrow cards (like Fog, for example) or badly stated creatures. Avoid these at all costs. 

CABS Decks Beat Synergy

What? Another acronym? C.A.B.S. is an acronym used by the Limited Resources podcast to describe a style of deck. It stands for "Cards that Affect the Board State". Essentially, a CABS deck is a deck made up of creatures, removal, and combat tricks, ignoring cards that don't interact with creatures. It is a basic, standard type of draft deck that is always solid yet never exciting. And yet, it is the style of deck most likely to win you a Chaos Draft.

...and not that kind of cab.

The reason for this is because it's hard to find enough synergies to make build-around style cards work. For example, Drake Haven is a fun card, but not every set has cycling. If you try to build a Drake Haven deck in Chaos Draft, you are going to be in for a rough time of it. 

That's not to say you should totally ignore synergies. If you see two cards that get better together, you should play them. It's just you should not try to build around those synergies. 

Archetypes Don't Exist

Do you enjoy drafting white/black lifegain in Core Set 2019? What about blue/red wizards from Dominaria? Well, even though these sets may be a part of your Chaos Draft, you can forget about trying to draft them. You simply won't see enough cards from the right sets to be able to draft that style of deck.

However, some archetypes - 'classic' archetypes for their colour pairs - do exist. White/blue flyers, blue/black control and red/green beatdown will all exist in some fashion in a Chaos Draft, so keep that in mind. 

Lower Your Expectations

we are spoilt with modern draft sets. It's not hard to find playable cards for your deck, and it's rare to end up short. That wasn't always the case, though. What was considered to be playable in older sets is quite different to what is playable in modern sets. A good example is 3-mana 2/2 creatures. These days, you'd be looking for something like a 2/3 or 3/2, usually with minor upside. In older sets, at three mana you'd be looking at a 2/2 as playable. Even cards like Craw Wurm or Order of the Sacred Bell are playable in this format. 

Be Aware of "Unbeatable" Cards

Over the course of Magic's history, there have been some draft warping cards that are almost unbeatable if you play them. You know the types of cards I am referring to: things like Pack Rat, Pestilence or Umezawa's Jitte are all game breakers. Do some research into these types of cards and, if you open one or are passed it, take it. In a format like Chaos Draft, these cards are incredibly strong, and you should jump through hoops to play them if you can. 

Take Your Time

You are likely to encounter cards you have no experience with or have possibly not even seen before. Take your time to read the cards and judge them. Compare them to cards that are similar to ones you know to judge how good they are, though remember that the overall power level of Chaos Draft is much lower than modern draft sets.  

Most Importantly - Have Fun

Chaos Drafting is a heck of a lot of fun. You don't know what cards you will face, what decks will show up or what sets you will see. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Hopefully I'll see you in the leagues!