|Running an 8-Player Zone Draft
Hello Fellow Judges,
This is an effort to help pass along what I have been able to learn over
the 350+ 8 man drafts I have run. If you have any questions or comments
please don't hesitate to contact me at ChrisP@spyring.com.
The number one problem you will encounter at larger events is players
not reporting to the start of the draft. A few simple precautions can help
reduce this. As players sign up for the draft:
1. Tell them number of the event.
2. Approximately how long before it starts.
3. Where the players will be assembled by their judge.
4. That they need to listen for their event being called.
Once the 8th person has signed up, announce the number and type of
draft, and that is now starting. In larger events a P.A system will
greatly increase your range and effectiveness. Have the judge that will be
running the draft signify themselves, by waving a clipboard or hands in
If a player doesn't not come forth when the draft is announced the judge
should ask the other players if they know of this person. More often then
not one of the people will be able to help you with some form of
information. If you still have players missing, announce their name
specifically over the P.A. Wait approximately 3 minutes then announce
their name again. With still no one showing you can elect to "open" the
tournament back up. Taking names from the next booster draft of the exact
same format will help start the draft as soon as possible. Switch the
names on the tournament record form, allowing the missing person to be
entered into the next available slot of the same format.
Now you have 8 people, the judge should direct them to a clean and open
space. Asking non-tournament people to move should only be done as a last
resort. The judge is best served by having numbered cards from 1 to 8
which are used as random seating assignments. The cards are laid out and
players are directed to draw one of the cards and keep it with them till
all players reach their seat. Make sure to collect the seating cards as
will need them again. A large round table serves as the best area if there
is a choice.
As you distribute the boosters to be drafted indicate that there are
several simple rules to the draft procedure:
1. The judge should introduce themself and their level. Ask if anyone is
unfamiliar with how a booster draft is run. If you do have someone
indicate they are unsure about the rules of the draft, keep eye contact
with those people while you continue to explain the following procedure.
This insures that they will not proceed without a direct understanding of
the draft rules.
2. Announce the order in which the packs are to be drafted. It is done in
the order that the packs were released, starting with the earliest pack
first. When packs are of the same edition but different languages, start
with the most common language first. This will allow for fewer questions
about exactly what does a card do.
3. Explain that upon opening each pack that the players first count the
cards. If a player has an incorrect number of cards replace the whole
pack. If a player has miscut backs to their cards you have 3 choices:
ask if everyone will be playing with opaque sleevs; the judge should
mass-proxy the pack after all cards have been drafted; or replace the
pack. Depending on your tournament organizer any replaced packs should be
added to the first place prize.
4. The rotation of the packs is clockwise for the first pack,
counter-clockwise for the second, and back to clockwise for the last. Also
know as left-right-left.
5. Explain next there are 3 different zones during the draft. Each zone
can only hold ONE stack of cards.
1. IN HAND zone. This is the current pack that players are drafting from.
2. DRAFTED zone. This is zone collects the drafted cards a player has
selected. This pile of cards should be stacked in a single pile face down
with all card backs facing the same direction. The only time a player may
examine this zone, is when they are between drafting packs and this should
be for approximately 1 minute.
3. PASS zone. Here a player shares this zone with another to the same side
as that zone. After drafting a single card from a pack, the pack can be
placed in this zone making sure it follows the current rotation. If the
PASS zone is still full the player cannot add a second stack. They must
wait until the zone is clear. This will also cause their IN HAND zone to
remain full, stopping them from recieving the next pack.
6. Next the players should be notified that they will be playing the
person sitting across the "circle" in the first round. This will cause the
following matches: 1-5 2-6 3-7 4-8.
7. Players then should be directed where the extra land box is. Keeping
this box near the judges station will help insure it stays more sorted and
intact. Also that if players could return the land they use when they are
done it would be greatly appreciated.
8. Placing the empty booster box in the middle of the players to collect
the wrappers helps maintain a clean area.
9. Inform the players that they are to report their match results as they
conclude. This greatly reduces the problem of "I won the tournament but I
forget who I played in the second round".
10. Announce the number of the event to all players. Stress to them this
will be helpful when reporting their match results.
11. Tell the players they are not to recieve any outside information while
drafting or constructing their decks.
12. Explain that all matches inside this draft tournament will take place
at or very near the table they drafted at. This insures that players stay
close together and will know where they should be playing for the start of
the next round.
13. Announce what places will recieve prizes and what the prizes are.
14. Ask if anyone has any last questions before the draft starts.
If there is an ample amount of judges for the 8 person drafts, the judge
should stay at the current drafting area. They can insure that players
correctly play the ZONE DRAFT. Upon conclusion of the drafting, players
are required to build there decks in the immediate area. The judge should
be aware of which people are in their draft and insure that no one is
sitting with them while they form their deck. During this time the judge
can clean up the draft table, making it ready for use again.
If there is a shortage of judges, it is best to remain with the current
draft players until you are sure they have the idea of ZONE DRAFT. Usually
this will take 4-5 card selections. Even if the judge is busy he must try
and maintain a watchful eye on all the events he is currently running.
As the players report their match results indicate who their next
opponent is. If they will be waiting to play a winner of a match,
encourage the player to introduce themself to the unresolved match. But
not to stay near by and watch such match.
A judge is best served by locating drafts in a selected area. Keeping
them together will increase response time to rulings questions and help
discourage any "foul" play.
Several ideas can be employed by the judge to make for a fun and
relaxing draft. These are only examples of ideas that have worked for me,
every judge should be able to find things that will work with their
1. If a player has improperly added a second stack of cards to the PASS
ZONE. I will say something like "Oooops just one stack at a time"
2. Give the players "nicknames" like "crusher" (for a quick winning
player) or "The Bad Man" (for a player who commits several infractions
during the draft portion)
3. During the explanation of who they will be playing in the first
round, encourage the players to show their opponents their "WAR-FACE".
4. Wear a funny hat or something that will be quickly indentifiable to
players as "thats my judge".
5. Threats of "The flying elbow" or "Defenestration" can cause some
Lastly maintain an open and positive attitude during your judging.
Booster drafts at Large Events usually account for the majority of the
side events. Keeping players happy and playing are your major objectives.
If a player loses, encourage them to get some revenge by signing up for
the next draft.
Level 3 Certified Judge