MTG Draft for 2 Players

For many players (myself included), draft is the most fun way to play Magic the Gathering. However, it has one big downside. For optimal game play, you need 8 players. So, what happens if there’s only you and a friend? Are you doomed to playing Sealed and using twice as many boosters? Thankfully, that’s not the case, so today I’m sharing how you can play MTG draft for 2 players.

MTG 2-Player Draft Rules

We’ll first take a look at the preparation for the draft process, then we’ll talk about how the draft for 2 players actually works, and finally we’ll also share some strategy tips on how to approach this format.


Before you start drafting, you have to do a quick 2-step preparation:

  1. Shuffle 6 boosters together into one big face-down pile.
  2. Use the top three cards of the big pile to create three face-down piles, with one card each.

Now you should have something like this:

How to Draft With 2 Players MTG Examples


The drafting can now begin. The two players take turns drafting. Here’s what you do in a turn:

  1. You grab Pile 1 and take a look at the cards. If you like the card(s) on that pile, you can take them, and finish your turn. Otherwise, you can move to the next pile. In both cases, you add a card from the Big Pile face-down to Pile 1.
  2. Now repeat the same process on Pile 2. Take a look at it. Do you like the cards? Then take them, and stop drafting for the turn. If not, move to the next pile. In both cases, add the top card of the Big Pile to Pile 2.
  3. The process is once again repeated, this time on Pile 3.
  4. If you didn’t take a card from Pile 3, then you take the top card of the Big Pile and end your turn.

Now the second player takes their turn, and does the same. The process repeats until all the cards have been taken.

So to quickly recap the drafting process: You’re taking a look at the piles from Pile 1 to Pile 3. If you see a pile you like, you take it, or you move to the next pile. If you don’t like any of the piles, you take a card from the Big Pile. Don’t forget to add cards to the pile that you looked at.


So, now you know the rules for the drafting. But what strategy can you use during the draft? Well, there are multiple tactics.

The basic one is just taking the cards that you’ll need. You’re trying to find a pile that will give you the best cards for your deck. You might start with a powerful red card, and then continue to add red cards to your pile.

Now, sometimes one of the piles will get so big, that you’ll take it for the sheer quantity of cards. If you’re getting 6 cards in a pile, it doesn’t matter if they’re mediocre, or if you’re unsure whether you’ll play them in your deck. It gives you a lot of options and flexibility during the deckbuilding, and also takes them away from your opponent.


In a regular draft, you’re much better off without hate-drafting. That’s not necessarily the case here. If you’re drafting, let’s say red-green, and you see a white bomb on the pile, it might be a good idea to pick it up, just so your opponent doesn’t end up playing it against you.

Sunfall MTG 2 Player Draft Guide

However, that strategy should only be deployed if you really care about winning. If you’re playing just for fun, you might take a look at other piles instead, and finding something for you. This way, you won’t deprive your opponent of playing with a cool card, and you might improve your deck.

Deckbuilding & Game Play

There are no special rules for deck building and game play. There are some differences, that you might notice, so we’ll just quickly mention them.


One player might (and likely will) end up with more cards than the other. That’s nothing alarming, but they might have an easier time building the deck. Therefore, you should pay attention not only to the quality, but also to the quantity of the cards you’re picking up.

Since there are only six boosters total, and players might spend early picks figuring out which colors they are in, you might sometimes find it hard to play a 2-color deck. In those cases, you’ll either have to play more than 17 lands, or consider splashing a third color.

Game Play

You play the game, just as you would in a regular draft. However, you’ve seen a lot of cards that your opponent picked up during the draft. This means that you should have at least a glimpse of what your opponent is trying to do, and what tricks they’re playing.

You should use that knowledge to your advantage.

MTG Draft for 2-players – FAQ

Before we wrap up, here are some frequently asked questions about 2-player draft.

Can you play MTG draft with only two players?

Yes, you can, albeit with some modifications to the draft process, which we described above.

How is the 2-player MTG draft variation called?

It’s called Winston draft.

Why is Winston draft good?

Because it has excellent rules for 2-players drafting. Just like in a regular draft, you’re also working with known and unknown information, which is a big part of drafting.

How many boosters do you need to play draft with 2 players?

You need 6 boosters total, or 3 boosters per player. Make sure that these are Draft boosters and not some others.

Does each player end up with the same amount of cards after a 2-player draft?

Not necessarily. Given how the typical Winston draft plays out, it’s more likely that one player will have more cards than the other, but that shouldn’t be a big problem.


That’s it for today. If you have any questions about this format that we didn’t answer, leave a comment below, and we’ll get back to you ASAP.

If you’re looking for more MTG content, here are some articles that might interest you:

Until next time, have fun, and enjoy drafting with your friend / partner / MTG arch-nemesis.

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