Mass Drafting Considerations, part 2: Draft Calling

Then, I’d like to especially thank Carlos Ho for thinking on a really broader level and accurately noticing that this topic would be better served divided into two, so as to be more actionable by you, dear readers.


While calling a PPTQ or even GP Top8 Draft are fairly straightforward activities (and even easier with the help of applications such as MTG Judge Core App for Android or… actually none for Iphone, calling a PT or a GP D2 draft proves to be more challenging.





In the other article about Mass Drafting, which you can find here, you have learnt to not shout “Stop the draft!”

Therefore, as a draft caller, if a judge or a player nevertheless shouts “stop the draft”, you should not take this into consideration. If this happens, there will be judges going to that table to fix the problem. Tell players to ignore this and keep listening to your instructions.


Of course, you do not know what’s happening but keep in mind that if you need to be informed of something, the Head Judge will let you know once the issue has been resolved. Also, there is one moment where a draft can be paused to allow tables to catch up, but we’ll talk about this later.


To sum this up, unless the Head Judge has told you to stop, you should behave as if nothing had happened and keep on running this smooth draft.




Calling the draft


If you have a wireless microphone, I can’t encourage you enough to walk the floor, so as to see what’s happening. This helps you getting a feeling as to what your pace is, especially when you’re asking players to shuffle and pass (see below). This also allows you to walk towards problematic tables and see what is happening and how late they are.


Draft Preparation

(Before Pack A)


  • Ask players to remove (or turn backwards if applicable) any kind of hat or hood, or sunglasses.
    Nothing should prevent judges from seeing a player’s eyes
  • Ask them to remove any headphones or headsets.
    Even active noise-cancelling headphones not linked to a device.
  • Tell players which words you will be using to give instructions
    1. “Collect” or “Pick-up the booster”
    2. “5 seconds” or “10 seconds”
    3. “Draft” or “Pick a card”
    4. “Shuffle and pass X cards to your left/right” (avoid “lay down” as this is hard to understand for non-native English speakers)

The goal is to be clear to players what they should pay attention to so that understanding the instructions is easier. Therefore, you should pick one of these choices and stick to it as much as possible.



Booster Drafting


  • Instruct players to remove the paper wrap of the booster labelled A, B or C (along with the wrap holding the three boosters together if this is pack A)
  • Instruct them to count there are 14 cards face down. Tell them there is one card upside down, that this is normal and they should just turn it face down before counting.


At that point, it’s important to wait that all issues happening at booster opening (incorrect number of cards most often) have been resolved before moving further.

Indeed, considering the draft has not been stopped for individual issues, this means that several judges are likely busy calling tables individually. You want to get most of these judges back to a general availability rather than risk having a shortage of judges.


  • Call the draft.
  • Do not hurry when you say “shuffle and pass”. Give players ample time to do so.

Shuffling boosters is important to prevent draft signaling, hence you don’t want players to claim they had no time.
Also, conveniently, this allows slightly late tables to gradually catch up.



Review periods


  • After the last card of a booster has been picked, tell players there will be a pause before the review period to allow the last tables to catch up. Once all tables have caught up, players can all start the review period together.
    If you do not do this, tables individually timed in pack one will require assistance from a judge in packs 2 and 3 as well. If too many judges were to monitor tables individually, this would open the door to Draft Peeking.



Final Steps

(After Pack C has been drafted)


  • Ask players to check that their 42 cards are stamped and to call a judge if some are not.
    Sometimes the stamp is on a very dark area of the art, but sometimes it was entirely missed. This step is meant to detect issues before they become much harder to deal with.
  • Ask them to take a decklist and to write their name on it
    This is great to keep players busy while the last tables are catching up.
  • Then have them check which table they’re building at (there optimally should be two copies at every table) and hand the microphone over to the Head Judge.



Kevin Desprez.