Everyone has mechanics that speak to them and hold a special place in their gaming hearts. For me Card Drafting is one of those mechanics. This developed favoritism helps games that use this mechanic just as much as it hurts them. Games that manage to use card drafting well will be that much better in my eyes, while those that implement the mechanic poorly will feel that much worse in my hands.
The mechanic can be traced back on BGG to some time before 1742. The exact date of the first games to use Card Drafting may not be known but the 1742 edition of Hoyle’s Guide to gaming is flagged as using the mechanic; one desiring to pick out a specific game for the mechanic’s debut need look no further than the 1800s where they will find many games that call upon the mechanic.
Most Card Drafting games work in one of a few specific manners. One method players are each given a hand of X cards; of which they take one, adding it to their pool, before passing the remaining stack to an adjacent player. This method can be seen in games such as 7 wonders or most CCG tournament styles. Another common method involves a set of cards being revealed face up in which players can select a set number of cards; again adding those to their assembled pool. Games such as Ticket to Ride use this mechanic well in the form of the train pool while games like Dominion implement this same idea in a slightly altered way.
The above examples show two sides of the mechanic of Card Drafting. The first example shows the mechanic unpartnered with other mechanics outside of simultaneous action while the second example is much more one in which Card Drafting works in conjunction with other mechanics such as action point allowance systems, in game economies, and the like.
Often games that use Card Drafting use a form of hand management as well in which the drafted cards are used for the purpose of amassing points, killing opponents, drafting additional cards, and the like. When looking at mechanics this is one that is very versatile. The mechanic can be used in games such as 7 Wonders in which the entire game uses the mechanic in the form of building an engine that will ultimately make future drafts more valuable at a lower cost than that which their opponents draft. CCGs meanwhile use the drafting to assemble a deck which is than used in game play with the drafting no longer appearing the rest of the night. Ticket to Ride, meanwhile, uses drafting to get resources (train tickets) which can be spent to lay lines so as to complete tickets.
I was first introduced to Card Drafting in my days of weekly Booster Draft Tournaments in Magic: the Gathering. In high school my friends and I would visit our local Friday Night Magic Tournaments whenever a booster draft was held; and co-buy a booster box and run our own whenever one was not. During my transition from Magic back into the board game hobby I avoided games that used the mechanic out of a fear the games would not live up to my expectations. I finally gave in and experimented with games such as the aforementioned Ticket to Ride, Dominion, and 7 Wonders; all of which performed marvelously.
When looking at mechanics that play well with drafting there are some clear ones that come to mind such as Hand Management as mentioned above. Other great pairings with Card Drafting include; Simultaneous Action, Action Point Allowance, Deck Building, Hidden Information, and Trick Taking.
What are some of your favorite or least favorite games that use Card Drafting? Let us know on social media at:
Join us tomorrow as we follow up our look at Card Drafting with a look at Dominion, the base game.