I became interested in drafting Destiny (there's a fantastic podcast title for you guys) since Team Covenant announced the one that they held at their store. I jotted down Covenants format, and then I immediately searched the web for any other formats of draft that may have popped up and came across a couple posts on reddit. The consensus was that Destiny doesn't work smoothly as a draft. Everyone had their own twist on how to make Destiny work as a draft, and each one had a good idea or two but mostly it felt like they were breaking Destiny in order to play a MTG draft with Destiny cards. And there in lies the problem. Destiny is not MTG. And that's a good thing. The things that set it apart: small booster packs, cards with dice, characters, two main factions, color restrictions... these are all strengths of the game. Not negatives that need to be removed or broken in order to draft. However they do present hurdles to the classic drafting format used by MTG. That format was developed based on MTG. What we need to do is build a draft format based on Star Wars Destiny itself, that plays to it's strengths instead of seeing them as weaknesses.
- Don't break the deck building rules (besides lowering the card count). I felt as though this was one of the most important aspects. Fantasy Flight Games has produced a game balanced around the idea of Hero/Villain/Neutral and Command/Rogue/Force/General. When you start messing with that you open up Pandora's box to broken unintended consequences as well as a more complicated design space if FFG ever wanted to adopt an official draft format.
- Showcase the dice. The dice are one of the main draws of Star Wars Destiny. And one of the major drawbacks of drafting it with a classic MTG draft structure. It is immediate information known by everyone. It is also the beautiful object that draws people to a game of Destiny being played at a game store.
- Keep the drafting time quick. This was a goal that became apparent once I started theorizing. I didn't even realize this would be a problem at first because all the drafting ideas so far had been "open a booster and pass it to your left/right".
- You should be able to construct your deck with the cards you draft. Shops should not need to be able to supply specific singles in order to fill out decks. Draft should be self contained. (You will see that this goal was not actually 100% achieved in the final format. Destiny just does not lend itself to this goal but I think there is a happy compromise to be had.)
The Format (with Reasoning)
Pod size: 4-9 (Honestly this is really flexible. Normally a pod size needs to be a very specific range of people because of the impact it has on the power of certain cards that get drafted. So far destiny hasn't seen any "collect a set of a certain trait" mechanic. And if they do, you're only drafting 15 of your 25 cards this way so it shouldn't be broken.)
Packs/Player: 5 and a single starter which may be brought or purchased after the draft. (this is the sweet spot. Anything less than five and the decks will look like very similar starters with a few different cards. Anything more and the price point is way to high. At 6 you're looking at at least an $18 entry point. Doesn't requiring a spoiler break your 4th goal? Yes. But it helps accomplish goal #1 as well as well as keeping the price/draft lower. Credit to this awesome comment on reddit for the idea. )
Step 1: Opening the packs and building the first card pool. Organize players into pods and place their five packs in front of them on the table. Each player opens their first pack simultaneously. They then take the legendary/rare from this pack and place it face up in front of them, with that card facing the other players, and with another card of their choice from that pack face down under the legendary/rare. Place the corresponding dice on top or next to it. The remaining three cards are placed in a face down pile behind the lengendary/rare, closer to the player. The players continue this process of simultaneously opening a pack and placing cards and dice, until each player has in front of them a row of 5 legendary/rare cards and their corresponding dice facing the other players and a pile of 15 face down cards behind those. (There are two things going on here.The building of a joint card pool and the face down cards. The card pool by itself accomplishes goal #2. By the end of it, the table is filled with beautiful dice and the corresponding cards. It also sets up a pseudo rotisserie draft which we will see in step 2. The face down card under the legendary/rare quickens the overall draft, leading to five less cards per a person to be drafted. It also adds a depth of strategy by allowing you to stick unusable cards with overpowered legendaries/rares, by placing desirable cards with less desirable legendaries/rares, or by trying to place a great card with a great legendary/rare and hoping to pick it before anyone else.)
Step 2: The "Rotisserie" Draft. Starting with the first player (determined by the player with the highest card number showing in the legendaries/rares in front of them. In a case of a tie use the second highest of the tied players and so on) and going clockwise, players choose and take a legendary/rare card, its corresponding die, and the card beneath it. Players can choose to share this information or keep it hidden. Use a snaking draft. player 1 -> player 2 -> player 3 -> player 4 -> player 5 -> player 6-> player 6 -> player 5 -> player 4 -> player 3 -> player 2 -> player 1. Draft until all legendaries/rares have been chosen. (This pseudo rotisserie draft compliments destiny well as it allows players to focus either hero or villain as well as colors based upon the characters they are able to grab. this extra bit of control is what's needed to allow legal decks to be made from a drafting format. It also adds some excitement and player interaction in direct blocks or just two players fighting over blue villain. Do you back off or fight till the end and each wind up with a weaker deck?)
Step 3: The "Normal" draft and deck construction. Players now pick up their stack of fifteen cards that they had left in front of them from earlier, choose a card and pass the stack to the right. Once all the cards have been drafted players take their 25 cards and use one copy of one of that years starter sets ( if they do not have one they can purchase one from the shop or somebody can loan them the cards from one, but they are responsible for having one) to construct a 24 card deck. Players may only include 10 cards max from the starter and only 5 cards may be dice cards.* (Not much to say about the "normal" draft. It was just chance that it worked out to be 15 cards each. Combining the drafted cards with a starter set allows players to already have access to two different colored characters as well as the ability to fill out slots in their deck. If they didn't grab a battlefield they'll have access to one, same thing with characters. Or lets say they drafted 17 red villain cards and not really enough of any color to build a deck from, now they can just slot in 7 from the Kylo starter and they're good to go. The restriction on cards and dice helps keep starters as fill in cards and not build around cards.* Adding starters also adds a one time cost of $15 but then keeps the rest of the drafts to only buying the packs.)
Step 4. Play some swiss.
Format With Timing Structure
1. Divide players into pods and get set up. 5 min?
2. Open packs and create card pool. 30-45 sec per pack. 2.5 min-5 min total
3. "Rotisserie" Draft. 30 sec a pick. 4 players - 10 min. 9 players - 22.5 min
4. "Normal" Draft. 30 sec per card pick. 7.5 min total.
Total: 25 - 40 min.
QUESTIONS THAT ARE LEFT
- Do you like putting a face down card under the legendaries/rares and drafting 15 cards. Or would you rather just place the legendary/rare into the pool and draft 20 cards at the end?
- If you opt for the face down card under the legendaries/rares, would you keep that information secret once you picked it or show it to the pod?
Destiny needs a draft format that is unique to Destiny and plays to it's strengths. This is my first version and will most likely need refinement after testing. That being said, please test this! And let me know your feedback. Send me pictures, reports, angry emails (firstname.lastname@example.org), anything really. Lets start to build a limited format for Destiny that is worth playing.
If you liked this idea you might also like my other endeavor with destiny to help boost casual play and local metas. Its called League Kits! They will hopefully be coming to a meta near you if I can drum up enough interest.
*Italics are edits based on feedback