My friend and I are buying an RTR booster box mainly in hopes of getting some chase rares, but also for some fun. What are some Draft Variants for only 2 players?

  • 1
    Are you looked specifically for draft formats, or any limited formats? Mar 14, 2014 at 20:34
  • 1
    What is the limit for "too many possible answers"? There can't be more than five or six draft formats that work well for two players. I don't think that is too broad.
    – Pablo
    May 23, 2015 at 11:03

8 Answers 8


The two player formats I know of are:

  • Solomon draft
  • Winston draft
  • Winchester draft

Wizards has some information about these 'casual' formats.

Common Setup

Each of these draft formats uses a similar setup:

3 packs per player (6 total)

Open all the packs, without looking at them, and remove any basic lands then shuffle all the cards together. You should have between 84 and 90 cards depending on the sets the boosters came from (14+basic or 15 cards in each).

Instead of using new boosters one can build a draft pool by:

  • Shuffle up an existing sealed deck pool.
  • Shuffle two sealed pools (12 packs total) together and draw off 90 cards.
  • Shuffle a Cube and draw off 90 cards.

Decide on a minimum deck size (30 or 40, see below.)

Randomly decide who drafts first.

Solomon Draft

Players alternate drawing 8 cards and separating them into two piles, then the opposing player chooses a pile and the separating player keeps the other.

The piles need not be even.

When there are less than 8 cards left in the draft deck/pool the draft is over, the remaining cards are not used.

Winston draft

Begin by dealing out 3 face down cards, these become the draft piles.

Players alternate looking through each pile in turn, they may either take the pile or look at the next. If no pile is chosen the player drafts the top card of the draft deck. Then deals a face down card to each pile the player passed on, plus one card to replace the pile they took. The draft ends when all the cards are drafted.

The piles have no maximum size.

Winchester draft

Begin by dealing out 4 face up cards, these become the draft piles.

Players alternate picking a pile, then adding a face-up card to each pile, including one to replace the pile they chose. The draft ends when all the cards are drafted.

The piles have no maximum size.

alternate setup:

Each player opens their 3 boosters and shuffles them together (removing any basic lands first.) Each player deals off 2 face up cards to create the piles, 4 total and players still choose from any pile. After each choice, both players add 1 face-up card to each of 'their' piles from their draft deck/pool.

Deck Building

Nominally a normal 40-card limited deck is suggested for these formats; this leads to rather low power/'bad' decks, bad mana bases, etc.

I would suggest 30-card decks for better game play (n.b. some people consider the low power-level of the 40-card decks very skill testing and part of the fun.)

You should decide the minimum deck size before drafting.

Players build a deck of the agreed size, using their draft picks and as many basic lands as they need.


The player who drafted second gets the choice to play or draw in the first game of the match. A match is usually a race to 2 wins (nominally best 2 of 3, but draws can force additional games!)


When the match is over you can shuffle up and draft again, or try another format. Since the cards come off the draft deck in a random order, each draft will be different.

If new packs were used, these can be saved to draft again, or combine 2 or more draft pools to choose a random (90 card) subset for better re-playability.

  • a note on deck size: 30 only should be used only, optionally, on Solomon, for the others 40 is best.
    – esoterik
    Mar 26, 2018 at 23:00
  • Another fun optuon could be akin to 7 Wonder Duel drafting (dunno the name.. Pyramid drafting?)
    – Deo
    Feb 21, 2022 at 8:54

I had fun with Winchester Draft a couple of times. The article mentions Winston Draft, which I've never tried.


We wanted something more like a "real" draft, where there is blindness, but not as much randomness as in Winston. So, our approach: make two stacks of 42 cards (3 boosters), one for each player. Each player draws 5 cards off the top and selects one, then puts the remaining 4 cards aside in a new pile. Continue this until you have emptied the pile. In the last pile there will be fewer than 5 cards, so just take one of these cards as well. Then give your "discard" pile to your opponent, and continue drafting with this new pile in the same fashion. Repeat this until all cards are drafted.

The choice of drawing 5 cards at a time is arbitrary, but it worked well enough for us. Additionally, you can choose to preserve the order of the cards (more like real draft, but less convenient because you have to put "discards" on the bottom of the stack). Or you can reverse the card order each time, or randomize each time.

We found that this 2-player drafting method gives players more control over their decks than in Winston, while maintaining blindness.


There is also grid drafting, a format designed by Jason Waddell where the rules are:

  • Start with 18 packs of 9 cards.
  • For each pack, lay it out in a 3x3 grid face up (just lay them out in order, >don't look at the cards and decide where each one should go).
  • The first player takes a row or column.
  • The second player takes a remaining row or column. Discard the undrafted >cards (which will be 3 or 4 cards per pack).
  • Alternate who goes first each pack

You can read more here http://www.channelfireball.com/articles/cube-design-grid-drafting-and-more/

This format does not have the unknown information aspect of regular drafting, but it has a stronger focus on denying your opponents strategy while still getting good cards for your deck.


You can play sealed where you open 6 packs each and get to use as many basic lands as you want that are not included in the booster packs (about 17 is recommended) to create a 40 card deck.

Source: http://magic.wizards.com/go/magazine/article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/li/202


Pai Gow

is another 2 player booster format.

Full details are here: https://www.channelfireball.com/articles/pai-gow-magic/

Gerry Thompson recently introduced this variant to [the writer] at the World Championship in Boston, and I instantly loved it. He learned the game from Alex Majlaton at Grand Prix Las Vegas, who in turn saw it being played at Pro Tour Nashville by Craig Wescoe. It didn’t have a name then, so Majlaton decided to call it Pai Gow Magic since it involves making piles in a similar way to Pai Gow Poker. The Rules

The game is fun and effective at improving your Magic skills. Here’s how it works.

5 face-down piles of 3 cards each:

Each player opens a single booster pack, looks at the contents, and distributes the contents into 5 face-down piles of 3 cards each. Afterward, the order of the face-down piles is randomized, for instance by having the opponent rearrange them. 5 games with 3-card opening hands:

You play 5 consecutive, separate games of Magic. In game 1, each player’s first pile becomes their opening hand. In game 2, each player’s second pile becomes their opening hand. And so on.

No decking:

There are no libraries, and you can’t lose to decking.

Start at 5 life:

In every game, each player starts at 5 life.

Infinite mana:

In every game, all players have access to an unlimited amount of mana in any combination of colors.

Distribute quickly to play first:

The player who was done first (with their distribution of cards into piles) gets to play first in the first game. In subsequent games, the loser of the previous game gets to play first. If the previous game was a draw, then the player who played first in the previous game gets to play first again.

Best 3 out of 5:

A player who wins 3 or more games automatically wins the match. In case of multiple draws, a player who ends up with more game wins than their opponent wins the match.

I should mention that there are no “official rules” for this casual format— these are just one article's rules, and your play group can modify them however you like.


You can try to play boosterbattle. Yout each take a booster and remove the token. You take 15 basic lands (3 of each) and shuffle all cards (unseen). Then you just play a Magic game. When you shuffle unseen, every card is a surprise. I've had much fun playing booster battles like this.

Oh yeah, about 50% of your deck is land, and you often don't draw the right lands, but you don't take mulligans then :)

Have fun!

  • This is also often called "mini masters". I believe you'd only add 2 of each land however. Mar 14, 2014 at 23:02
  • The variant of this listed on Wizards' casual format's site is good too - use the whole pack as your hand, and just take whatever basic lands you need from outside the game. (You could also do lands from outside game while still drawing from your 'library' as normal.) That way you don't waste your time with unplayable cards/missing lands, you just get to play the cool cards you're opening.
    – Cascabel
    Mar 15, 2014 at 0:08
  • @bengoesboom seeing as many cards have 3 mana pips in them, you kind of need 3. Besides, you need 15 land in a 30 card deck if you reliable want 7 mana out on turn 7, which you usually do. the 40% rule breaks down on decks that small.
    – corsiKa
    Oct 9, 2014 at 23:16
  • 1
    This format can be somewhat fun, though gimmicky, but the game you will end up playing will be quite different from most MTG games. It's really not a draft format, as there's no skill or choices to make in terms of drafting. And the game itself will come down to 95% luck as well.
    – GendoIkari
    Oct 10, 2014 at 15:15

Somebody taught me this years ago. I don't know what its "official" name is, but I call it an auction draft or a drop draft.

Open 6 packs, take out basics/tokens/ads, shuffle together into one stack. Deal out 3 rows of 4 cards, with 1 card above those 12, 1 more card above that 1, and then the deck at the top. Like this:




2 2 2 2

1 1 1 1

0 0 0 0

(Sorry for the weird formatting)

Each player starts with 20 points (use a spindown die). Starting player picks a card. Picking from the bottom row costs 0. Second row up costs 1. Third costs 2. The next single card up costs 3, and the highest card costs 4. When you pick a card, every card above it slides down and you flip a new card from the deck into the top position. Then the next player picks a card using the same rules.

There's a lot of strategy in this draft! Everything is face up so you know what your opponent is drafting and can try to hate draft, try to get them to overspend their points early, bluff what you're interested in, etc.

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