What is Collection Drafting?
Collection Drafting is drafting for the sole purpose of building your collection. This goes beyond Rare Drafting, where you pick the rares each time, but still pick other specific cards in order to build a winning draft deck to play with.
Collection Drafting has no intention of winning any games or really even playing the games, unless you just want to. By playing, there are more gems on the line to win, but your card pool will be left with sub-optimal picks, leaving you with the jankiest of jank to play with. Its often not worth the time. But go right on ahead if you love jank! Just remember the majority of other people probably picked their card pool to build winning decks with. Personally I don't enjoy playing the draft games, so for me, I am perfectly OK skipping the game play.
If you love to play draft games, then this article is not for you. This article is specifically for those looking to build a larger collection for their constructed needs through a more optimal system of obtaining those cards.
How do we get started?
We will need a few things to get started:
First of all you need gold, and lots of it!
If you just started playing Arena, this is still the preferred method of obtaining a large collection quickly, and this article is still for you. This will help you get ahead of the curve when it comes to amassing a large collection and a better card pool to start out with.
Many of us have spent the entire previous set grinding away for gold. For those that have, hopefully you should have roughly 100K gold at this point. For those that don't, this method will still benefit you greatly. I have even broken this down into 50K gold to show you what you can get from even half of that vs just opening up packs.
Unopened Booster Packs
Whenever a new set comes out, you may be tempted to start opening those shiny brand new booster packs. WAIT! Don't open them until you have completed all of your Ranked Drafts.
This will help force even more good rares your way in the end. This will also be your source of wild cards, though waiting until after draft has no bearing on the wild card outcome.
Just know you won't be getting any wild cards in the draft process. They come strictly from the regular Arena booster packs.
You will need to install a tracker that tracks not only your collection inventory, but also shows you the best draft picks for both limited and rare drafting.
One such tracker is MTGAHelper. You can read my guide on how to install and configure it here: MTGAHelper Installation
The tracker will help you keep track of what you do and don't already have in your collection. This helps produce far fewer duplicates. The limited and rare draft pick information will help you pick the stronger cards first, which will be even more important if you have less gold to draft with.
This article will will show MTGAHelper being used as examples throughout. This article is not sponsored by MTGAHelper in any way. I simply enjoy using it for my own needs.
How much did I spend?
I started with only planning to do 20 drafts this time. I wanted to save my gold for any events that came up between now and the next set. I figured at some point the Theros Full Art Lands would be available, so just in case its via an event, or gold, I will have the extra gold. If not, I have saved plenty for the next set.
Also, I was not as interested in this set as the past few sets, so I really didn't need to go for all the rares. 20ish drafts would be plenty for 100% commons/uncommons and at least half the rares. I'm good with that!
How long did it take?
Drafting all of these sets only took several hours, mainly because I was writing down every single card picked for my spreadsheet. You could easily blow through 20 drafts in an hour or so if you hustled through.
I had so much fun picking cards that I ended up doing one more draft for a total of 21. This also gave me the exact amount of booster packs I needed to get data on an even 50 Arena Booster packs I would be opening afterwards and collecting data on too.
I'm ready to collect! Now what?
Now that you have gold and a tracker installed, lets get started! Go ahead and start up your tracker if it isn't already open, and then start up MTG Arena.
By default, MTGAHelper is set to automatically pop up when you start a game or start a draft.
What do we have here? Lots of cool information to use to help you with your collection building.
LSV/Channel Fireball Limited Values
These values are based on Luis Scott-Vargas's (LSV) picks for Limited play, which are the strong cards you will want if you are going to play out your draft games after you have finished drafting your cards.
These values are not necessarily useful for constructed, but can still give a good indicator on power level. If a card is strong in one format, there's a change it may be strong in other formats. If you mouse over the value for each card, you will see a quick description of what LSV says about the card and why he picked it.
You can also go to Channel Fireball's website and read up on LSV's Constructed rantings for each card, which may be of more value for what you are going to be using these for.
For more information on LSV's picks and articles, head over to Channel Fireball.
MTGAHelper Rare Draft Pick
This next indicator will show you what picks are the best for Rare Drafting. I am not fully sure how this is weighted, as it seems to be pulling information based on decks I am tracking on the MTGAHelper Website... of which I am not currently tracking any decks.
On the MTGAHelper website, there is a "Deck Sources" under the advisors drop-down that is letting me track decks from different websites. I have one from Aetherhub selected, so it's possibly it's tracking the top meta decks from Aetherhub and relaying this information back to me in the form of this Rare Draft pick.
Cards in your Collection
This is the number I am most interested in. I want to know how many of these cards I already have in my inventory so I pick only cards I need and avoid as many duplicates as I can.
For MTGAHelper, this number will only update between drafts, so you may want to keep your tracker's website open to make sure you don't grab a 4th copy of a card if you're getting close to 4 copies.
My Collection Picking Method
Now that you have the basics of what you are looking for, I will explain how I make my own picks.
For each and every pick screen that wheels my way, I look at the top few cards to make sure there are no Rares or Mythics that I missed. The first pick of every pack will have your guaranteed Rare, but sometimes the bots will not take the Rare as their first pick, so you may have a Rare show up on subsequent picks. I have seen Rares show up on pick 4 and 5 before, so always check before clicking on a card.
Once I make sure there are no rares on the screen, I look at the LSV ratings on the tracker and pretty much always go for the strongest rated Uncommon.
From here I will keep picking Uncommons until there are nothing but Commons left. After that I will continue to pick Commons based on the strongest LSV rating.
One caveat to this for me is that if there are specific cards I really want to upgrade my daily decks with, I will always pick those first over any other Common or Uncommon. Once I have all 4 of what I absolutely want, I will go back to selecting the strongest LSV rated card.
If you are going to be doing 20+ drafts, you can rest assured that you will get roughly 99% of both the commons and uncommons, so don't worry about passing some over, as they will most likely show up again.
Keep in mind too that after you finished doing your Ranked Draft, you will have a ton of Arena booster packs to open, which will often fill in the rest of the Commons and Uncommons you are missing.
My point is, for 20+ drafts, don't worry about Commons and Uncommons, you will usually get 99% of the full playset of both of them.
Once I have finished picking my cards, if I feel like playing, I might play a game or two. I typically don't since my pics won't really be anything cohesive for winning. I am simply picking them for building constructed decks out of.
After playing or not, go ahead and end the draft, claim your prizes and move on to the next one.
That's basically it. There's nothing complicated to it if you don't plan to play any of the draft games out. You're simply hand picking all the cards you want for your collection.
MTGAHelper Draft Data
After each Ranked Draft, or any time you like, you can head over to the MTGAHelper.com website to check in on how you did.
The screen below shows all of the cards I acquired after my first draft.
The left column shows my inventory changes for each event. From this screen, you can see that I played a few games before doing a draft.
The right column shows all new cards acquired for this particular day.
Looking at the next screenshot, we can see what it looks like after 21 drafts.
If you scroll down the screen, you will see on the left side every single draft you did, and every card you got to keep, how much vault progress you gained, gems earned, booster packs earned and more.
On the right side, you can see every card acquired from all 21 drafts that I was able to keep. It does not show which cards got vaulted.
I waited until the next day to open all of my booster packs. The below screenshot is the results of all the booster packs I opened after doing 21 Ranked Drafts.
On the left hand column, you can see each and every pack that I opened, what I got to keep and what the vault progress was for cards that got vaulted.
Just like with the draft results, the right hand side shows all of the cards I was able to keep from all of the opened packs.
What can I expect to get from Ranked Draft?
I'm glad you asked, as I also just finished my Arena Theros Beyond Death Ranked Draft Data article!
You can find all of this information here: Arena THB Ranked Draft Data
In this article I go into more detail on what I actually drafted. I also break down various amount of drafting from 10 to 21 Ranked Drafts. I also break down what 50 Booster Packs alone will get you if you blow all of your gold on booster packs only instead of spending it on Ranked Draft.
Many people on social media will tell you that opening packs by themselves is the better way to go, and that doing Ranked Draft without playing any of the games is a waste of time, but the math does not lie. Ranked Draft will get you more useful cards in your collection for far less Gold, especially with lower amounts of gold.
What you won't get is a ton of wild cards. You will still get a lot from opening up all your saved booster packs, but not as many as if you had just spent all your Gold on booster packs alone. Of course with only opening booster packs, you also won't get all of the Gems that you get from Drafting.
You will need to decide what is more worth your while:
More Hand Picked Cards + Gems OR Fewer Random Cards + More Wild Cards.
Now, drafting will only take you so far in collection building. Once you get past 20-22 ranked drafts or so, it really starts to get saturated with common and uncommon duplicates to the point where it starts to negatively affect you for card collecting purposes per amount of gold spent. At this point I would advise switching over and spend any remaining gold you were planning to spend on booster packs. This will give you more rares you don't already have along with a ton of wild cards in the process. I never reach this stage though, as I only spend enough gold to do 20-22 Drafts (100K-120K Gold) each set and call it quits from there.
I hope you found this article helpful. I have been using this method for the past 4 sets released with great success.
Below is my collection so far.
These cool screenshots are taken from the Collection page on MTGAHelper.
THB and ELD are the two sets that I spent 21-22 drafts on. Core Set 2020, I did maybe 18? drafts. I don't recall. WAR and RNA I did maybe 10 drafts each as I was working to get out of the New Player Rut. GRN, M19, DOM, RIX and XLN I was not fully back into playing on Arena. I have been playing since Closed Beta and took a long while off before I got back into MTG again.
If you want to know how to get started on saving Gold for the next set, I would advise reading my article: MTG Arena: Stuck in the New Player Rut? It will explain how to get out of the rut of not having any Gold, and how to get ahead of the curve so that you will start to amass a large collection starting with the next set.