Solomon Draft Variant

I tend to win some booster packs each week, so I generally have some at home. The joy of opening them wears of quite quickly, so what you should do instead is use them for something to get extra value. Classic options are drafting and sealed, but there’s also the newer Wizard’s Tower, which is becoming more popular.

And then there’s Solomon draft.

Solomon draft isn’t played much, because its very complicated, but of course, that’s part of the fun. I’m not sure, but it probably began as a part of the Duelist Invitational back in the day. Also, its for two playrs, so it works in situations where other drafts don’t. Your general draft goes as follows: You open six packs and shuffle them together (after taking out the extraneous cards, of course). Then, each player in turn reveals the top eight cards of the stack and divides them into two piles, which don’t have to be of equal size. The other player than chooses one of the piles and the first player gets the other. You continue this until all cards are gone and each player then makes a deck out of the cards he or she has.

This is complicated because you have to remember so much. What do you have? What does your opponent have? What would he prioritize? As each pick will affect your only opponent as much as it affects you, each move in the draft is basically zerosum. The key is making piles which are very close to each other, so that your opponent can’t get good cards for his deck, but he can’t screw you over either.

This is where knowing your opponent kicks in. The person I play this format with really likes blue, so much so that he will favor it even if he has no blue cards picked yet, which means I can often get him to choose piles with the blue, even if its pretty weak and I’m getting much better cards.

Because of this, our drafts have become stale and they have a tendency to become more about finding each others weaknesses and exploiting them than actual card evaluation. This is actually fine, because part of Solomon draft is psychology, but staleness is still not good.

Therefore, last time we played we decided each player would get an extra booster beforehand, which we opened and kept secret from each other. This way the emphasis of the draft moves. Since we each have a base of cards which we can use, we don’t know the value of the cards for our opponents. Of course, each card has an intrinsic value independent of the starting booster, but the starting booster can change the situation quite a bit, as the newer sets are so much more about synergy than just good cards.

For example, if I have a Nessian Asp in my booster, Opaline Unicorn suddenly becomes much more valuable. Also, if I have a Gray Merchant of Asphodel, all black permanents suddenly have much more value for me.

This lead to a totally different draft, where instead of just coming up with piles, there’s the guessing game of what the opponent wants. This makes the draft even more complicated, but on the other hand, even if you misread your opponent, or don’t try it at all, your starting booster lets you have at least something to rely on. Also, as the piles are done in the way they are, you probably won’t get screwed.

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