What is the sfmagic group?
We are a San Francisco, California Magic: The Gathering group that is centered primarily around drafting, although many players compete in other formats and cooperate on testing, deck-building, etc.
Where and when are the drafts?
19:30 Wednesday nights at Kennedy’s Irish Pub & Curry House, 1040 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133. Players should show up earlier, preferably by 19:15. (19:00 is 7pm, for those who prefer their time in chunks of twelve hours.) Note that Kennedy’s is a restaurant as well as a bar, so players under 21 can enter.
Is there a discussion board or mailing list?
Do you welcome new players?
Yes! This is an open group, and we’re happy to have new people. If you’re a new player, you should read through the information on this site as an introduction to the group, and probably also join the Yahoo! group. Please bear in mind, however, that if we have an unusually large number of people on a given night, we may not be able to accommodate all players, and so new players should try to show by 19:15 (because, since you’re new, nobody will know that you’re coming, and so the draft pods will be organized without that knowledge).
What should players bring?
Ideally, players should bring 3 booster packs (from the most recent sets) to draft with, although these can usually be purchased from a group member at very reasonable prices; land, although group members also usually provide spare land; sleeves, although they are optional; and dice/pen/paper/playmats/whatever you need to play MTG. You can show up with nothing but some money and play without any problems, but the more people provide for themselves, the more smoothly things run.
How large is the group?
This depends on how you measure it—recently we’ve been averaging between 15 and 25 people drafting per night.
How do you organize the draft groups?
We aim to have as many groups of eight as possible, and to avoid groups of eleven. Our largest draft group is eleven (as a last resort, i.e. if eleven people show), our smallest is six. The placement of players into pods is currently either random or arbitrary. Once the groups are assigned, we have someone run each one, which primarily means taking results and doing pairings. You can download the pairings sheets we use.
What kind of tournament format (single elimination, Swiss, etc.) do you use?
We use Swiss pairings, three rounds, fifty minutes per round.
What is your relationship with Kennedy’s?
We’ve been playing there for three years, and it’s been good.
What about tables/chairs/spaces?
We generally have the room in the back to ourselves, and have not yet encountered a situation where we’re short of space.
What if too many people show up?
This has never actually happened, but if it did we would proceed on a first-come, first-served basis. Which means that showing up early is in your best interests.
Do you make money from this?
No. This is a for-fun group, not a business. Any cards provided are at cost, there’s no fee to play beyond the cards themselves, and members provide various services (e.g. land for players to borrow) for free.
What about prizes?
There is no prize support. When you draft with us, any rares from the packs that are opened go into the prize pool (although, obviously, people can use the rares they draft while drafting). At the end of the night, each draft group picks from the prize pool in order of how players did (if you’re interested, see the information on tiebreakers). All rares, including foils, go into the prize pool. No uncommons or commons, including foils, go into the prize pool, so those are kept by whoever drafted them.
What happens when two players in a draft group finish with the same record?
We use tiebreakers. For more details, see the tiebreakers section.
What about rules enforcement?

This is done by consensus. There are a lot of players with excellent rules knowledge in the group, so we are able to resolve almost all rules disputes without difficulty. The level of rules enforcement varies, but is normally agreed upon by the players beforehand. The groups with higher-skilled players will generally have stricter rules enforcement.

How experienced/good/competitive are the players in the group?
We have a wide range of experience, skill, and competitiveness. We have players who have been playing for almost as long as the game has been around, players who have been on the Pro Tour, and players who strive to be the best. We also have players who are new to the game, players who are still learning some of the basics of drafting and playing, and players who are interested primarily in playing wacky combos or whatever else strikes them as fun. We feel that we do a good job of accommodating a diverse group of players and providing a good draft experience for everyone.
Why do you use results sheets, and need players’ names?
Theoretically, to enter into this website. When the statistics functionality returns, we will once again use those statistics for seeding the draft pods.


What tiebreakers do you use?

It depends on the format. For Swiss tournaments, we use the standard DCI tiebreakers.

In brief, the tiebreakers are:

  1. Opponents’ Match-Win Percentages.
  2. Game-Win Percentage.
  3. Opponents’ Game-Win Percentages.

Note that for the purposes of calculating these percentages, a given player’s OMP and/or OGP cannot be lower than 33%.

What about draws in the first round of eight-person Swiss, which can skew results for the player randomly paired down?
In this case, the drawing player “winning” the roll is paired up in the second round, and if both drawing players are 1–0–1 after the second round, the player who “won” the roll gets paired down in round three and the other player is paired up.
What about head-to-head? If I beat someone who ends up with the same record as me, I should place ahead of them!
Most of the time, the player who wins the head-to-head will have the advantage anyway. However, this isn’t always the case, and, well, tough. The complexities of taking head-to-head into account in all situations are simply not worth the gain in “intuitive” results.
Did the tiebreakers change?
Yes. We used to use head-to-head, but eventually saw the error of our ways.


This section assumes you know how to play MTG. If not, you can always show up before a draft anyway and see if you can find people there who will help you learn, or go to the various card stores around the city to see if they’ll help you out.

Drafting requires unopened MTG booster packs, normally 3 per draft. The basic idea is that each player opens a pack, picks a card from it face down, passes the rest, and that this continues until the cards have all been picked, at which point the players construct decks from those cards plus basic lands and play against the other players in that draft.

The booster packs are normally all from a single “block”, e.g. Mirrodin/Darksteel/Fifth Dawn, or M2010/M2010/M2010.

Players are not allowed to talk about their picks or otherwise signal to other players what cards they are taking.

The packs are opened in a partiular order, with the oldest set being opened first. New packs are not opened until everyone has received their final card from the preceding packs. When a new set of packs is opened, the draft order is reversed—in pack one, it’s clockwise; pack two, counterclockwise; pack three, clockwise again.

At the end of the draft, each player will have forty-five cards to construct a deck from, with an unlimited number of basic lands.

The minimum size for decks is forty. There is no maximum size (although you might have to start providing your own basic land once you get past a reasonable deck size).

There are no restrictions on the number of copies of a card you are able to play—if you draft five Lightning Bolts, you can play them all.

Why isn’t there a maximum deck size?
The larger the deck is, the less consistent its draws will be, so anything over forty is a disadvantage.
How many lands should be in a draft deck?
This varies depending on what sets are being played, but generally the answer is sixteen or seventeen, depending on how expensive the spells in the deck are.
Why aren’t you allowed to talk about your picks?
Because this gives you an advantage. If you announce that you’re in a given color, your neighbors may use this knowledge to avoid your color, thereby giving you (and possibly them) an advantage—at the expense of the rest of the group. In other words, it’s a form of cheating.
Can you look at the cards you’ve picked while drafting?
You should look at the cards you’ve picked only between packs.
What if the downstream drafter is taking forever with a pick?
Just wait, and take your time over your next pick. Don’t stack a bunch of packs up for them, as this often leads to problems.
What if the upstream drafter is taking forever with a pick?
Just wait.
Why do you do Booster Draft rather than Sealed Deck?
Booster Draft is generally regarded as more skillful and more fun. It’s also cheaper.
What sets do you draft?
Mostly we draft the most recent block. We rarely draft the Core sets. If people wish to draft different sets, however, they can assuming they have enough people.

Group History

Are you the same group that used to play at the Canvas Café and Milano’s?
Yes. We moved from Canvas when they closed, in April 2007, and left Milano’s in May 2008.
How long has the group been around?
The precise starting date is unclear, but at least since early 2003.

Site History

How long has the site been around?
Since 2005.
Where are the statistics?
This site used to track statistics about draft performance, but stopped a few years ago. The old stats are still available.
Will the site start tracking statistics again?
Only if someone other than Tadhg does it.


Who wrote the FAQ?
Tadhg O’Higgins, originally 16 June 2006. Updated 26 April 2007, 31 July 2009, and 10 February 2011. Updated November 2011 by Lev Osherovich.
What was the FAQ written in?
reStructuredText, in the text editor jEdit. I seriously doubt that this question is really asked frequently.

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