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Timed/called drafts

At large events such as GPs and Nationals, it is common for there to be a timed draft with a judge calling instructions so that everyone drafts in synchronisation. Here is a summary of how this will work.

Before the draft portion of the event starts, players will be assigned to draft tables or "pods" based on their points, so that each draft pod contains people on roughly the same number of points. These will be either 8 or 7 players in each pod (occasionally 6 in the event of events under 42 players). Lists of players and which pod they are in will be posted up in the same manner as pairings, and on each table there will be a slip of paper specifying which seat each player has been assigned to.

Once players arrive at the table there is a no-talking policy until the end of deck construction, other than to judges. The boosters will be distributed at this time. At GPs (but not Nationals) the boosters will have been opened and stamped to prevent adding of external cards, and will usually be wrapped in a little paper wrapper.

When everyone is sat down and ready to start, the judge calling the draft will invite everyone to open the first booster, to count the cards face-down to ensure there are 16, and to reveal any double-faced cards in the pack to the entire table. The judge will then ask players to look at their cards and remove non-foil basic land and token, tip, or checklist cards – these do not form part of the draft. Foil basic lands do form part of the draft and will need to get passed along with the rest of the pack.

You'll then have 40 seconds to select a card and place it face-down in front of you. When you've done this, you must shuffle your booster – this rules out the possibility of signalling the player you're passing to. You then count out the cards between you and the player on your left. It is customary to count them out in rows of 3 cards left to right and top to bottom, with the last row potentially having 1 or 2 cards. This makes it immediately clear to the player you're passing to, judges, and anyone else how many cards you are passing.

Towards the end of the 40-second period, the judge will announce "get ready" or "5 seconds", or similar words, and when the time is up, will announce "draft" or "take a card". This is the deadline for selecting a card, and if you delay any further after this you are liable to get a warning. The judge will then announce "shuffle your booster", "lay out your booster", and "there should be 13 cards remaining", as a reminder for those who have not already done so. Once there is no more visible activity, the judge will announce "collect your booster", which is your signal to pick up the booster you've been passed from your right.

The draft continues like this for the rest of the pack. The time limit to make each pick gradually tapers down as the number of remaining cards reduces, with the last few picks having only 5 seconds.

Once all cards in the first set of packs have been drafted, the judge will invite players to review their picks for 1 minute. This is the only time at which you may look at your drafted cards – you can't look at them during the draft itself. At the end of the review period, the judge will ask players to place their cards face down, and open the next booster. This will all work the same way as the first pack save for passing cards to the right rather than the left. The review period after the second pack lasts 90 seconds.

After the third pack (which is passed to the left) has been fully drafted, the judge will ask all players to place their drafted cards face down and await further instructions. Talking is still not permitted. In this time it may be necessary for anomalies at another table to be resolved before the process can continue.

Draft reminders
When you've picked a card and placed it on your draft pile, you cannot change your mind. If you select a double-faced card while drafting, you will need to keep it on the top of your pile and it stays revealed until your next pick. You may not place it on the bottom.

You must maintain the secrecy of the draft at all times by holding your cards well above the table and close to your face, and refraining from looking to either side. Signalling or peeking can result in players becoming disqualified from the event.

At all times you must keep all your drafted cards in a single pile. You cannot start a new pile for your second or third packs.

It is not permitted to take notes or use any electronic devices during the draft.

This information is all here to help you be prepared and aware of what's going to happen. You don't need to remember it all – the judges will talk everyone through it.

If at any stage during the draft you think something has gone wrong, please call a judge without delay.