Magic Basics: The Commander Draft Format

All you need to know about the Commander Draft format in Magic MTG

Magic Basics: The Commander Draft Format

Commander Draft is the natural conclusion for 2 popular formats in Magic: Commander and Draft (no prizes for guessing!). While the origins of Commander Draft are a little murky, it probably started with this notion that “If players have been able to draft for a 1-v-1 game, how about drafting for a free-for-all, multiplayer, Commander game?”

The Commander Draft format is playable straight out of the box from Wizards of the Coast’s special Commander Legends product, first introduced in 2020. As its Draft Booster box holds 24 packs, it is just the right number to start a draft game for 8 players. So how does one play Commander Draft?

Begin the Game With The Regular Drafting Process

The goal of the drafting process is to build a deck from cards that you pick. Draft usually takes place in groups (otherwise known as pods) of 8 players. Each player gets 3 Draft Booster packs, each includes randomised cards.

Once the picking process starts, each player opens their first pack, and start going through the cards. Often, players are on the lookout for value cards, either in the form of resale value or gameplay value.

Remember: while Commander drafting, your ultimate goal is to pick a Commander and build a deck around it. That means picking cards in the Commander’s colours.

Once you’ve made your first pick, pass the remaining cards to the player on your left. Repeat the picking process until all cards from the 1st pack are gone, then restart the process with the 2nd and 3rd pack. For the 2nd pack, pass the cards to your right, and back to the left for the 3rd pack.

Drafting is an acquired skill, but we have a nice quick strategy guide to help players get on their way to winning.

Play the Game in the Regular Commander Format

Once you’ve established your Commander and built your deck (minimum of 60 cards), play a game in the Commander format. Some of the notable rules in the regular Commander format are:

1) Commanders start in the Command Zone, a region that is exclusive to the Commander format. It allows players to have direct casting access rather hope to draw it into your hand.

2) If a player takes 21 points of Combat damage from a Commander, that player loses.

3) Games are played in multiplayer format, often in a group of 4.

4 Commander Draft Rules That Differ from Regular Draft and Commander Formats:

  • Instead of 1 card, players draft 2 cards per pick, for a total of 60 cards at the end of the Draft
  • You can have multiple copies of a card in your Commander Draft deck, bypassing the single-card rule of Commander.
  • Players start with 40 life if playing a 4-person pod, just like Commander.
  • Instead of a minimum of 40 cards in Draft, and a fixed 100 in Commander, Commander Draft needs a minimum of 60 cards in your deck.

Why Should You Play Commander Draft Over Other Formats?

Firstly, ask yourself if you like a multiplayer experience infused with some politicking and playful thrash-talking, or a direct 1-versus-1 game against different opponents? If you’ve picked the former, then Commander Draft, or just plain Commander itself, is the format for you.

The Draft aspect of this format means that no two games will be the same, as you (and your opponents) are building different decks, and the game’s outcome does rely more on your drafting skills as much as how you pilot the deck. To some, this means a more equal playing field than everyone bring their own high-powered decks. To others, the variance in Draft means more unpredictability and chaos than playing with optimised, non-Drafted, Commander decks.

If you enjoy playing Commander and Draft formats separately, there’s a good chance you will relish playing Commander Draft.

the original set to play Commander Draft format

The original Commander Legends was the first set to debut etched-foil cards, the fabled Jeweled Lotus (the Black Lotus of Commander), and the return of the Partner mechanic for some game-warping synergies.

Undoubtedly an incredible amount of fun for you and your friends, and a good potential for high-value cards with the inclusion of perennial favourites Jeweled Lotus, Mana Drain and Vampiric Tutor.

Commander Legends 2 is the highly anticipated sequel that takes place in the Dungeons & Dragons world of Baldur’s Gate, where you can play with some of your favourite characters like Elminster, Tasha, the Witch Queen, and Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes.

Not only that, but Commander Legends 2 also introduced the new Background card type that can act as a second Commander. The iconic Venture into the Dungeon, and Adventure mechanics also return to add some apt flavour to the D&D theme.

After playing from Tempest to Urza's Saga block, Ted took a 20 year break from the game before returning to the classic Plane of Dominaria in 2018. His favourite formats are Commander, Draft, and, grudgingly, Standard.

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