What’s good, Spirit Squad! Today we’re gonna talk about a concept that I learned from my early days of playing Magic, and have found that it translates very well to games other than Magic.

See, what happened was that I went to one of my local gaming stores to pick up some Modern cards for the upcoming RCQ season. While the manager (shoutouts to Steve, he’s aight) is busy trying to look for cards for me, he mentions that he’s in the middle of trying to find an 8th person to fire the Disney Lorcana draft they’re having.

I’ve never played Lorcana, and while it sounded like an interesting concept I’ve also never bothered to look at any of the actual cards either.

So you paid full price to enter a draft for a game you’ve never played before, huh?

Yup. I paid the $30.

Luckily, Steve’s already got a big folding rulebook right on the counter where the cash register station is and gives me a few minutes to read the rules and ask some questions of the entrenched players. The game itself plays like a mix of Magic and Hearthstone that’s pretty easy for me to understand, and I ask some questions about a few of the game-specific keywords (Shift, for example, works a lot like Mutate… and thank God I have a pretty good grasp on the Magic rules!).

So now I’m a Certified Rules Expert(TM) and I’m ready to sit and draft. With zero prior knowledge, I have to judge each card on its own merits and have no way to know in advance whether synergy-based cards are realistic to pull off, or how often you should expect certain scenarios to occur.

Lorcana’s resource system is also very different from Magic. Once per turn, you can put a card from your hand face-down as an Ink, and an Ink is basically “tap this land for any color”. There’s a logo to determine whether you’re allowed to use a card as Ink, and the players tell me that between 50-60% of the cards I’ll see can be used as Ink.

How do you tell which cards are GOOD, though?

This is where the guesswork came in. Having played a decent amount of Limited in Magic, I decide to go with the tried-and-true “BREAD” strategy of drafting cards.

BREAD means you draft cards in the following order:

  • Bombs
  • Removal
  • Evasion
  • Aggro
  • Dregs

Bombs are just that. Explosive cards that can blow up a game by themselves unless your opponent has a dedicated solution for them, or an equally-powerful bomb of their own. I open my first pack and see what I think is a super-obvious bomb rare:

This card has a LOT going for it, especially in the context of Lorcana.

First, a Challenge is Lorcana’s word for “combat phase”, so the Into the Shadows passive ability is very good. Every time a Creature of yours dies in combat, just get it back! There are also two things to know about Lorcana that differ from Magic and make this a much better card than it would be in Magic: first, when you declare attacks, you can directly attack your opponent’s creatures, but only if they’re tapped. So you just never attack with Dr. Facilier himself, and your opponent is stuck either finding a real removal spell or dealing with him for the rest of the game. Second, you don’t just have one combat phase per turn in Lorcana.

The turns work a lot more like “untap, upkeep, do stuff, end turn”. If you have a Creature with Rush (Haste, but you can only attack opposing Creatures), you can cast it, let it trade in combat, get it right back into hand, and use the same Creature to kill a second of your opponent’s cards immediately, and if it dies you put it right back into your hand after the second trade as well!

To the surprise of probably no one, the other players said he’s good in constructed play.

Next up is Removal. From what I saw, removal is about as present as it is in Magic packs, so I wanted to make sure to take a good amount of removal whenever I saw it. Of note, Rush characters kinda count as removal so I wanted to make sure I was paying attention to that ability as well.

First, I picked up Maui. A 5-mana 6/5 is already statted very well, and the fact that he’s got Rush means that he’s all but guaranteed to come in, kill something, and be very much alive after the fact. He can’t attack your opponent directly (that’s what Questing means), but I assumed I’d be pretty OK with that drawback.

Another thing I’d noticed while drafting is that quite a few cards start with 0 or 1 power and get bigger when they attack, but that doesn’t help at all when Maui is the one doing the attacking. I drafted him with the idea of him being a 2-for-1 removal spell, but in practice he was more like an average of 2.5-for-1 a lot of the time.

The second type of removal should be very familiar with Magic players: pay mana, do slightly more damage than the amount of mana you paid. Since you can’t usually kill a Creature in combat unless it’s tapped, targeted removal is even more at a premium here than it is in Magic! I was very happy to take two copies of Fire the Cannons pretty early, and they did their job admirably.

Evasion is something we’re pretty familiar with. In Magic, abilities like Flying are kind of a big deal: if you have Creatures that are hard to block or deal with, you generally get to determine the rules of warfare. This is no different in Lorcana; in fact, the relevant keyword is actually called Evasive! Evasive creatures can’t be attacked by opposing creatures, so you can really only deal with them by using targeted removal or just hoping to race them in an attack-fest! While I didn’t actually get to draft any Evasive characters, it’s easy to see the potential of something like this:

A 5/5 that effectively can’t be dealt with without targeted removal is incredibly scary to be on the other side of! The best part of Evasive cards is that they can still attack opposing Creatures, so it’s really one-sided.

Now I know why people hate our copies of Rattlechains so much…

Next up, we have Aggro cards. These are gonna be your curve-fillers, and even though they aren’t your best cards they are necessary to establish and keep a board presence. I like to take cards that actively let you trade your lower-value cards for higher-value cards, or cards that have the toughness to potentially trade for 2 of your opponent’s cards.

Cards like Aurora are exactly my jam in a format like draft. She’s got 5 toughness, which means she’s likely to survive most combats involving other 4-drops, and her ability gives someone else -2/-0. This can come up pretty big in situations where you’re trading in combat; for example, you can turn an opponent’s 3/6 into a 1/6 and beat it with two 3/3’s instead of losing both of your 3/3’s!

Finally, we come to the Dregs. These are gonna be the cards that you don’t really want to play in your deck, but since it’s a draft you don’t really get much say in the matter. Remembering that Lorcana has the cards-as-resources system, I made sure to prioritize making my later picks full of cards that I could at minimum use as face-down resources, but sometimes you end up with cards that are at least mostly acceptable if you do have to play them.

Yzma, for example, checks all of the boxes I’d want to check for a card I don’t actually *want* to play. She can be used as Ink for better cards, a 2/2 for 2 is at least acceptable, and her ability to give you a little card selection isn’t irrelevant.

Thanks to knowing the rules of BREAD drafting and using that strategy to evaluate cards, I was able to draft a coherent deck that had a decent curve for deploying threats, an acceptable amount of removal, and an absolute bomb in Dr. Facilier. From there, the only thing I had to do is play my cards in the right order and make a plan of attack.

I had a plan: attack.

The plan worked! We got to cast most, if not all, of our cards on-curve and Dr. Facilier proved to be just as good as I thought he was upon initially reading him. So we got to a nice 2-0 start and the other 2-0 player was Jon, someone I’ve been cool with for almost 20 years at this point, so we agree to split the prize packs.

Obviously, he opens a $175 card.

Overall, a great experience. Reading cards for the first time in a live event is an experience I haven’t had in decades, and reliving that for a couple of hours was nice. Also, the BREAD strategy worked out wonderfully.

So I guess the takeaway today is: let yourself have new and fun experiences, but make sure to use the information you’ve obtained from your other experiences to enhance the new ones.

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