Hooray! Ranked draft is finally here for Throne of Eldraine!
Why is this important? Ranked Draft lets you build a massive set collection using nothing but your F2P Gold! Ranked Draft is typically available two weeks after a new set is released on Arena.
For collection building, there are many opinions on whether or not to open booster packs or waiting for ranked draft to become available with each new set release. For those of us with patience, we wait it out.
Nobody seems to have any solid data pointing in either direction of which method will net you more cards for your collection.
I have been of the opinion that Ranked Draft is the way to go, and is the method that I choose to go each set release. I decided to write down all of my findings and experience this time so that others might be able to see what ranked draft looks like on paper.
I don't like draft, I am New, I am no good at Draft, etc
First of all, this article is not going to go into any win rates or how good you are as a player. In fact, this article will have nothing to do with actually playing draft.
Many people state that they don't wish to play draft, or they aren't good at it. Many new players are intimidated by drafting as well. Because of this, many people will shy away from this method of collection building and use the more costly method of mass booster pack opening.
The good news is, you can still do the draft process without playing the games afterwards and still reap more rewards than from only opening booster packs.
I will state the obvious here. I could be playing the games and getting wins and piling on more gems. But, I don't want to. I don't enjoy it. Lets move past this. It's my gold, and it's not hurting anyone.
And since Arena players seem to love free things, I gave away all of my wins to 66 lucky people.
So, why draft?
When opening booster packs, you will receive a random assortment of cards that you may or may not need or even want. You would have to open many booster packs to even come close to getting what you specifically need.
As in paper magic, we have a saying that opening booster packs is for drafting, not building constructed decks.
If you need certain cards for constructed, you would traditionally just buy the singles you need. Since you can't do that in Arena, the next best thing is to pick them individually during the draft process.
Drafting produces fewer unwanted duplicates in your collection while helping you build your collection faster. Drafting lets you individually pick each individual card you want from multiple booster packs.
The general opinion on the internets is that you don't get as many wild cards while drafting as you do from opening booster packs. While this is certainly true true, I will show you why that may not really matter. There are other aspects of the draft process that are often overlooked.
How I Obtained My Gold
Many new players ask how to amass so much gold. The answer is pretty simple. You just need to play the game and save save save.
Since I drafted M20 in mid July 2019, I have been saving my gold until this very weekend, October 11, 2019. I saved up exactly 110,000 gold. This was enough to partake in 22 Ranked Drafts. I also had 21 un-opened Throne of Eldraine booster packs that I had saved from codes, Mastery Tree progress and returning player rewards.
I play 5 wins per day and make sure that my Daily Quests are all caught up. I don't even flip my Quests for the 750 gold quests unless it's something I really just don't want to do. If I play past 5 wins a day, it's because I just want to play, testing decks, bored, etc. The minimal gold gained past 5 wins a day is not worth grinding for.
You should play 4 wins per day to maximize your gold returns. You may need to play more depending if you have Daily Quests backed up. Don't let more than 3 quests queue up at a time, or it's a heavy amount of lost rewards.
I recommend only playing past 4-5 wins a day if you just love playing and are having a good time. Otherwise, you will burn yourself out quickly and your money making machine will slow or stop between sets. You want to strike a nice balance between healthy fun play and maximizing your rewards.
Remember that playing when you are not having a good time is the opposite of what you want to be doing. You play for fun. If you want to have more fun, you probably want more cards and to get those cards requires gold. Obtaining gold therefore adds in a work aspect to the game. You need to put in work in order to build your gold to build your collection.
There will be days where you just can't get those minimal wins in. Simply walk away. Go watch TV, watch YouTube, surf the internet. Just do something else to clear your mind. You can't win when you are upset or angry. Once you have calmed down, jump back in with a clear head and knock those wins out.
I find that playing first thing in the morning tends to be easier. I can often go 5-0 and 5-1 almost every day that I start early. If I wait much past noon, or I play in the afternoon/evening, the games drag out and I win significantly less games. I also think better in the mornings with a fresh mind. Your mileage may vary here, so find when you like to play and stick with that schedule.
I personally play for 5 wins per day. This gets me the gold I need and an extra free card reward each day, which can add up over time.
Don't let the game become a chore. Keep it light and have fun.
Here is the quick math for minimum effort gold savings:
4 wins per day minimum (550gold) + Daily Quest (500 gold minimum) = 1,050 gold
~90 days between sets x 1,050 gold = 94,500
You will probably end up with over 100K gold due to 750 gold Daily Quests and those days you play past 5 wins.
M20 Ranked Draft went live July 19. I spent all the gold I had at the time from previous savings and started over at near zero on July 21, when I quit drafting M20. From July 22 to October 11 I was able to save exactly 110,000 gold.
Keep a Log
I keep a spreadsheet of daily play statistics so I can track when and where I got gold, won cards, got free packs ,etc. If you are a stats nerd, I recommend keeping a spreadsheet journal of your daily play.
I also have a column I keep just for notes, such as if I had a bad day playing, what I didn't enjoy, what I did enjoy, what was or wasn't working with my deck. This lets me figure out how to tweak my deck to make it better for more wins.
Booster Packs vs Ranked Draft
Here is the big question everyone asks: Do I spend my gold on Booster Packs or on Ranked Draft?
Let's look at my experience as an example. What do I get for 110,000 gold?
Booster Packs Only
Total Cards = 944
Total Cards = 1,100
Now, not all of these cars will be usable. Many will be duplicates lost to the Vault, so you will end up with a smaller number of total usable cards than what you see above.
My Draft Experience
Here is the full data set from my own experience
Throne of Eldraine Draft Data (PDF)
What exactly does 22 drafts look like on paper? Or the better question is, what did I get for 110,000 gold instead of just opening booster packs.
Here are my results:
This table shows how many cards I received for my 110,000 gold after drafting and opening all the Eldraine booster packs that I had been saving since release. This also includes all ICRs from daily play as well as the returning player rewards.
This table shows patience and restraint. In order to do this, you must not spend any gold, and must not open any newly released set packs until after you have finished doing the majority of your drafting.
Before drafting, I received 40 mythics, rares and uncommons from Returning Player Rewards, the Eldraine Brawl event rewards, and through daily ICRs while playing the game. ICR's obviously only include Throne of Eldraine cards. I also crafted 2 Torbrans, which these numbers include, for my RDW to hold me over until Ranked Draft went live.
Eldraine booster packs were obtained from free codes, Returning Player Rewards, Mastery Tree rewards, and pack rewards received at the end of each Ranked Draft process. I ended up with 50 free booster packs when all was said and done.
Lets break down what all I received from my experience.
As a F2P player, I now have 85.9% of the entire playset, and 96.8% of all of the singles.
This is the first set I was able to save that much gold for and then do this many drafts. I am extremely pleased with the results and what I received.
Lets break this down further and see what I got that is actually usable. Remember, not every card is useful as there are many unplayable and niche cards that add little to no value to your collection. The bulk of your collection will be made up of all the workhorse common and uncommon cards. There are many bad rares, and you should only be concerned with the ones you intend to play with rather than how many you can get.
Common playsets really hit home for me, as I enjoy the Pauper format and buy these for roughly $20 every set release from my local game store. I also put together pauper playsets, draft cubes and decks and sell them.
I have entire common playsets of most sets going back to the mid 90's.
Uncommons are where much of the magic in Magic happens.
I was lucky enough to pull the entire set of rares, though I only have about half of the playset.
While many rares are powerful and can do cool things, I don't typically focus on them. The rares I need in many decks are so few compared to the commons and uncommons.
I ended up getting 4 red rares I really wanted, 1 x Torbran, 2 x Fervent Champion and 1 x Castle Embereth. I was hoping for more Fervent Champions and more Castle Embereths to upgrade my Cavalcade deck with.
I am excited to build some new decks with all of the rares I received. There are a lot of fun new possibilities for brewing now.
I am excited to brew some decks with a few of these. Questing Beast and Garruk were awesome pulls for things I had ideas for.
Booster Pack Stats
This chart shows the total progress gained towards a collection if you were to only open booster packs. Duplicates have alraedy been removed, of which there were only 11 commons.
I am more going to look at this as someone buying 50 packs for 50K Gold or spending $50 on the pre-release packs.
These booster packs were all obtained for free via codes, mastery tree progress, returning player rewards and Ranked Draft rewards.
I opened each pack, recorded the cards received, and tallied up duplicates. The numbers on this chart only include the cards opened from these 50 booster packs. This is as clean of a data set as I could get for a snapshot of what opening 50 booster packs looks like.
Even though I opened all of these packs after drafting, the rare numbers should still be the same. This is due to the fact that I still haven't opened enough packs to possibly start getting duplicate rares.
As you can see, 50 packs will get you only 67% of the set, and 37% of the entire playset.
Ranked Draft vs Booster Packs
Let me state something that doesn't seem to be as obvious out there with all of the misinformation spreading around: VAULT progress still works with drafted cards. All of those common and uncommon duplicates still give you vault progress, just as they do when opening booster packs.
You won't receive rare duplicate protection while drafting, but the chances of getting more than 5 rares or mythics is pretty, well, rare for this amount of drafts.
You also won't receive as many wild cards while drafting, since those are all obtained while opening regular booster packs en masse. This seems to be the main sticking point for the pro-booster-pack-openers. Looking at the data below though, this may not be a big deal to some people, depending on their goals.
Crack Packs After Draft
It is importnat to finish doing all the drafting you are going to do before opening any booster packs. This gives you better odds at not drafting duplicate rares. Once you have completed all the drafting you had planned to do for the new set, you can now crack open all those booster packs you have been saving.
Opening all of these booster packs will have rare duplicate protection active. Since you just finished collecting a good portion of the rares while drafting, your rare pool will be smaller, thus letting the "random" rare slot focus more on what you don't alraedy have. This will give you better results as you will now start to fill in many of your rare playsets.
You will also receive a ton of wild cards simply from opening all of these packs. This has nothing to do with drafting, and will happen any time you open a regular Arena 8-card booster pack. It's just an extra bonus to note after you finished all that drafting.
Below is a chart I put together with what you can expect to see when a new set is released. This chart assumes you have zero cards from the new set. I removed all of the cards I previously obtained from these numbers to make it as fresh a start from zero as I could.
I chose 8 drafts since this equals the same amount of cards in 50 booster packs
Booster Pack Data
The 50 booster pack opening is the same data from the standalone booster pack opening section above.
50 Booster Packs = 400 Guaranteed cards. I only ended up with 372 cards due to many being wild cards, which is not a bad thing, it can either help complete your set, or you can use them for other sets.
I only ended up with 361 usable cards for my collection, but received 45 wild cards in the process.
Ranked Draft Data
The 8 drafts that I used for this chart were the first 8 drafts that I did, along with the first 10 booster packs earned from rewards. I include the booster packs because they are part of the price of entry for the draft and add to your total collection after drafting. This is meant so show total value in drafting vs just opening booster packs. For zero wins, you are guaranteed 1 booster pack per draft with the chance of receiving two. I received an extra pack on two different drafts, totaling 10 booster pack rewards in all.
Here I ended up with more usable cards, 397 total for my collection, but received far fewer wild cards, only 9.
Note that 2 of my 13 duplicates were my mistake. I picked cards I alraedy had as my draft tracker somehow missed a few cards I had full playsets of already from the Brawl event. The duplicates would have been exactly the same as if opening packs in this case, with 11 total duplicates.
50 Packs = 361 usable cards + 45 wild cards = 406 Total Cards
8 Drafts = 397 usable cards + 9 wild cards = 406 Total Cards
This was surprising to me. It looks like they are exactly the same for total cards received for the new set if you used your wild cards for missing Eldraine cards.
Unfortunately you can't scale this since the randomization of booster packs prevents you from figuring out what duplicates you will or won't get.
If the numbers are the same, why Still draft?
I do believe that drafting is still the way to go if you have enough to spend on 20 drafts vs 100 booster packs.
When opening booster packs, think about the sheer number of duplicates you will start to receive later on that you have no control over. These will only go into the main vault, and be counted for very little in the end.
When collection building while drafting, you can keep on picking through each pack to select those last few cards you don't have yet, thus not needlessly wasting common and uncommon slots on useless vault progress. I would rather have the card than gaining .1%-.3% progress for a small handful of wild cards.
I feel that if I have all the cards to build nearly anything I want, then I will have very little use for wild cards, or I can save those wild cards for older sets or just some really special deck build that needs more rares and mythics.
I also enjoy the process of selecting each and every card that goes into my collection. I enjoy looking at the artwork of each card, reading the card. Becoming familiar with the cards that I carefully pick out.
Even if the comparison above shows the same numbers at a lower volume, you will still come out a head when drafting because of the gem rewards.
Some random stats I collected. The most useful are probably the wild cards gained once I opened all the booster packs at the end.
I don't include wildcards in with my total card counts since they most likely won't be used for Eldraine, and thus can't be counted as Eldraine cards.
The gems will come in handy, and put me 1/3 into the next Mastery Pass. I guess I could look at it this way, I can still get one free mastery pass every 3 sets, even if I don't play any of the draft games for more gems.
Since I didn't want to play out my draft games, I took someone's suggestion and instead gave away wins. I queued up all 66 times and immediately conceded, giving my draft opponent a free win. I hope that helped those folks out on their way to greater riches.
A random stat I forgot to put on a chart was that my rare draft rate was averaged at 3.9 rares per draft. I ranged from 3-6 rares per draft.
Value for Money
kIf both methods might possibly net the same amount of usable cards, what is the better value to spend your hard earned gold on?
Using the same data from the previous section:
The clear winner is by far the Ranked Draft option in my books.
I hope that you found this lenghty article of some use. The numbers even surprisd me somewhat for the booster pack output being the same as the draft output.
The obvious choice here should be to save your gold for Ranked Draft. The more gold you have, the better the returns for Ranked Draft will be.