Commander Masters brings the return of many things: sweet legends, big spells, and Commander Draft!
Commander Draft is one of my favorite ways to play, and you might have not experienced it before. Even if you have, there's plenty of twists and turns in Commander Masters. You're going to be cracking those packs anyways, so why not draft them with some friends and get a whole bonus round of fun out of the deal?
When you play a Commander Draft, you get to play a balanced game of Commander where you all constructed a deck using the cards around the table, and using cards or strategies you might not normally play with. At the end of it, you have a great start of a new Commander deck! It's a real blast.
This is great to do at home or in-store, such as during the Commander Masters preview events, happening at WPN premium stores July 28–August 3.
Now, if you'd rather watch, you can see my video covering this here:
But if you're more into reading, you're in the right place! Let me tell you all about Commander Draft and give you some tips!
What Is Commander Draft?
For a quick recap of what a normal draft is, you build your deck by a process called drafting.
In that normal draft, you sit down at a table with seven other people, and each starts with three booster packs of a set. You open a pack, select a card, put it face down in front of you, then pass the rest of the cards in the pack to your left. You then pick up what was passed to you, choose a card, and repeat the same process until all the cards have been taken. Then do this again for the second booster pack, passing to the right, and finally back to the left for the third booster pack. At the end, you'll build a deck using those cards.
Commander Draft is very similar but with a couple differences to know about.
You are, of course, going to be drafting a Commander deck and playing four-player multiplayer afterward. So, you'll want to keep that very different way of drafting in mind.
You start with three packs, but keep in mind that Commander Masters packs each contain 20 cards! The big difference though is this: you draft two cards at a time! Ever seen a pack with two cards you can't pick between? Well, problem solved! This helps you get all the synergistic pieces you need for Commander. Open a spellslinger legendary creature and a splashy sorcery? Take them both!
At the end of the draft, you're going to be building a 60-card deck. You can take as many basic lands as you want to add to your deck as well.
Now, it is a Commander deck, so your deck is going to have a commander (or, in the case of partner, commanders). Those count towards your 60 cards. Your deck has to follow color identity rules, so everything in your deck must match the colors of your commander(s).
One unexpected thing might be how many copies of a card you can play in your deck. Card limits don't apply in draft: in a normal draft you can play five Lightning Bolts if you draft them, and in Commander Draft you can play three Ash Barrens if you draft them. You usually won't have many duplicates, but it can happen, and it's good to know.
Once you've built your deck, you're just playing regular Commander! 40 life, commander tax, free mulligan and all.
Now, there is one other special thing for Commander Masters to keep in mind ...
One of the things you have to keep in mind while drafting is that you have legends of your colors to be your commanders. Fortunately, there's a special draft rule just for Commander Masters to help here!
Earlier, I mentioned partner. Well, in this set, just for Commander Draft, you can play all legends with a monocolored color identity (or no color identity at all!) as though they had partner! For example, Rishkar and Pianna? Yep, they're in the set at uncommon and can team up.
This both helps the draft and also creates team ups like you've never seen before! It's a lot of fun making these wacky combinations.
If for any reason you really can't find the legend in a color you need, you can always use The Prismatic Piper. It's available always, like basic lands. That said, I've almost never seen anybody need to use this—it's mostly there as failsafe.
Drafting and Building
So, what should you be looking for when Commander drafting?
Your final deck should consist of about 25 lands and 35 nonland cards. And in general, your commander instincts will serve you well here; it's no surprise that mana ramp and card draw of course are powerful. But there are a few things you might not expect!
First of all, you're going to really want to pay attention to your mana curve. In a normal Commander deck, you can get away with being a little all over the place, because your decks are normally backed by a ton of early game ramp. And while your Commander Draft deck might have a couple pieces, it's a far cry from the eight-plus mana rocks that a lot of decks start with.
If you're not familiar with the mana curve, the idea is that you want cards to play at all stages of the game: a good mix of cards at each mana cost so you draw them in the right proportions. For this exercise, ignore things like removal spells you're unlikely to play on curve—you'll play a two-mana creature or mana rock on turn two, but not a two-mana removal spell.
For Commander Masters, I would recommend something that looks roughly like this:
- 2 Mana: 6–8 cards
- 3 Mana: 5–7 cards
- 4 Mana: 4–6 cards
- 5 Mana: 2–5 cards
- 6+ Mana: 2–3 cards
Of course, there are plenty of exceptions—this is just a general guide!
Keep in mind where your commander sits on the curve. If your commander costs five mana, for example, you can do with fewer five-drops because you'll always have access to your Commander!
Also, because it's Commander, you can expect to get up to those big drops. You still don't want TONS of them, but you can expect to cast an eight-drop sometime. We even have one at common: Ulamog's Crusher!
Okay, second major point: there's going to be more creature combat than you're probably used to in Commander. This makes things like combat tricks way more powerful than normal. And because the board can get full of creatures, evasive mechanics, like flying, or ways to break through a board stall can be critical.
While there are some board sweepers, there probably won't be as many as in a normal Commander game, so your creatures are a touch safer, too.
Third, you need to think about your mana a bit more. Your mana base is going to be mostly basic lands. Especially if you end up grabbing a three-color legend, like Karador, Ghost Chieftan, you're going to want some fixing! Drafting some lands that fix your colors can be a nice move—like the thriving lands, all five of which are back in this set!
You'll usually end up with more than enough playable cards, so lands are great picks you can afford making that will make your deck run smoother.
And, of course, it's key to look for synergy. Which, speaking of ...
Finding themes in the draft can really give you a strong deck, and every color pair has a draft archetype! You don't have to do that theme, and in Commander Masters your legends will often push you in a direction more than anything, but it's a great starting point. Here they are for Commander Masters:
WU Artifacts – Go wide with artifacts and get bonuses!
WB Tokens – Make tokens, and then either pump them up by going wide, or sacrifice them for value
UB Graveyard and Reanimator – Use the graveyard to your advantage by doing everything from flashing back to reanimating!
UR Spells – An oldie but a goodie! Cast spells, get triggers, maybe return a spell or two ... good times.
RB Sacrifice – Be aggressive and use your extra creatures to sacrifice them for bonuses!
BG Slow Tokens – Slowly grind away your opponent by making lots of tokens in the long game. In the meantime, get morbid and sacrifice triggers! There's a fun BG Saproling subtheme you can draft sometimes as well.
RG Power Matters – Get creatures with big power and reap the rewards!
RW Equipment – Equip your creatures to not just make them big but get bonuses too!
GW Counters – Go wide and spread counters to your creatures!
UG Ramp – Ramp fast, draw cards, and cast big things. What else could you ever want to do in Commander anyway?
(Note: We're aware of an error in which the insert found in Draft Booster displays was printed with archetype information from Dominaria United rather than Commander Masters. The archetype information above is accurate.)
Drafting with Style, Not a Pile
One of the largest pieces of advice I always give drafters is this: you want to draft a deck, not just a pile of cards.
What I mean by this is that when drafting, you're going to have between good cards in your colors. If you just pick the one that looks the best in a vacuum each time, you're going to end up with some good cards but ones that don't necessarily synergize together. Let me walk you through an example!
Let's imagine you've drafted two commanders you're excited about: Rishkar and Pianna that I mentioned earlier. You've got a choice between Battle Screech and Skyshroud Claim. Which do you pick?
They're both good cards, and in a traditional Commander people would probably favor the Skyshroud Claim. But this Rishkar and Pianna deck really wants to go wide and have creatures! On the flip side, you're probably not playing as many big spells that you need to ramp up to. I'd definitely take the Screech here.
What about this one: Ilysian Caryatid or Cartographer's Hawk?
This one is closer, and I certainly couldn't fault picking either one. But the Cartographer's Hawk is an evasive creature you can pump up with your commanders, and in a go-wide deck you're a little less likely to hit the bonus on the Ilysian Caryatid.
Okay, one more: Kirtar's Wrath (Downshifted to uncommon!) or Elite Scaleguard?
These are both very powerful white cards. And it's going to depend on your deck. But Elite Scaleguard is likely to be a lot better in this deck; it can tap blockers so easily, and your deck wants fewer sweepers since you're likely to be filling up the board.
Thinking like this in the context of your deck as a whole will hopefully point you in the right direction for your picks.
Is There a Draft in Here?
There's tons to discover in Commander Masters, so get ready for some masterful draft experiences. I figured it would be handy to have a recap sheet covering all this, too, that helps to answer some of the reoccurring questions people ask me when it comes to Commander Draft:
- Make a pod of between four and eight people. You can break into two games afterward if there are six or more people.
- Draft two cards at a time.
- Build a 60-card deck, with about 25 lands and 35 nonland cards. Your Commander(s) are included in that number!
- You can play more than one copy of a card.
- In Commander Masters, treat monocolored (and colorless!) legends like they have partner.
- Keep draft archetypes in mind!
- Be sure to check for your mana curve and prioritize ways to break through board stalls.
- Play with your deck using normal Commander rules.
- Have fun!
That's everything you need to know to go out and have a blast! Whether with friends at home or at your local game store for Commander Masters preview events, be sure to check out Commander Draft.
If you have any thoughts or additional questions, hit me up on social media at the links below—I'm happy to chat with you about the set!
Talk with you soon, and have fun drafting!