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Incremental selection of game elements by players.

Many games revolve around players being provided with game elements, most commonly cards or tiles, that they later use to perform gameplay actions. The gaining of these are called Drafting when not all of them are provided at the same time but when they rather are provided one at a time, possibly with choices of which one to pick and possibly with other gameplay in-between.


Drafting is also used in some countries for leagues in American Football, Basketball, and other Sports[1]. The computer game Bloodbowl has a similar feature and Dominion and Thunderstone have a form of Drafting where players create their future drawing stacks by buying new cards.

Puerto Rico and Citadels provides players with Drafting choices of which role to take for the current round, openly in the former and secretly in the latter. Players of 7 Wonders pass cards between each other every turn after having selecting which to play. In Small World, Showmanager, and Ticket to Ride players have a spread of new races, performers, and "railroad colors" to select.

Drafting is also exists as official options when playing Magic: The Gathering and Race for the Galaxy.

Using the pattern

Drafting consists of the incremental selection of game elements so the pattern requires the presence of something that can be selected. This is typically Cards or Tiles, but, as several Sport leagues have shown, this can also be the players themselves. An alternative is Role Selection which is Drafting of actions (although often represent through Cards) which is found for example in Citadels and Puerto Rico. Regardless, the two main choices designing Drafting concern which options of game elements (or players) should be possible and what types of actions players can do between each draft action (how many times Drafting should be done is typically given by other design choices). Turn Taking is nearly always used in combination with Drafting, either so players can in turn draft or so that other actions or game events can occur between each draft.

Players may have no influence over Drafting by simply having to take new game elements from Drawing Stacks. Ways of providing players with a Freedom of Choice regarding which elements to choice range from supporting Deck Building to simply including several different Drawing Stacks (this mainly supports players to be able to feel Luck) and having Drafting Spreads in which one or several game elements may be displayed and possible to pick. Drafting Spreads may be combined with Drawing Stacks to support Drafting; this is used in Ticket to Ride and Showmanager. Dominant Species combines several Drawing Stacks with turning over one Card on each to create a Drafting Spread that is only refilled after each Round. Another way of providing Freedom of Choice in Drafting is giving a player several choices and then handing them over to another player after choosing one. This can be done for just one set of game elements (e.g. Citadels) or with the same number of sets as players (e.g. 7 Wonders) so every player does drafting at the same time. Yet another way of providing Drafting is letting players purchase the new game elements as Investments (this occurs in some Sport leagues and in the computer version of Bloodbowl).

Drafting can occur as a separate phase in the beginning of game instances - something necessary for use in Collectible Card Games and games with Pre-Customized Decks as a way to divide Cards to players - as part of providing players with their Hands or Drawing Stacks. Examples of games with this structure include some versions of Magic: The Gathering games. The alternative is to do Drafting during gameplay and this can be done to let players incrementally build their decks (i.e. Drawing Stacks) or to let players choose from a set of actions or roles but then let those not chosen be the choices for the next player in a game with Turn Taking. Dominion and Thunderstone are examples of the former while 7 Wonders and Citadels are examples of the latter.

Avoiding that players have a Freedom of Choice during the Drafting and also avoiding that they can do actions between the drafts a very trivial instance of the pattern. This is however present in many Card Games, e.g. Contract Bridge and Whist, where it is used to create all players' Hands.

Drafting share commonality with Token Placement when players compete with each other over places in the latter since this is a case of Competition concerning Limited Resources. They can in these cases be seen as each other's inverses - one consists of removing elements from a collection while the other consists of filled empty slots. For this reason, game designers considering Drafting may be well-advised to also consider the effects of Token Placement. Bidding is another alternative to Drafting and may be considered as well.


Drafting is Collaborative Actions often used to construct Hands or Drawing Stacks in a fashion which provides a Freedom of Choice to players. When players have this Freedom of Choice, it affects how Randomness has created initial game states. When several players are involved in Drafting of the same elements, this is a Resource Competition since it a form of Competition over Limited Resources but can provide Player Balance. When these elements are in fact members of Teams in games with TvT gameplay, Drafting can help support Team Balance.

Having Drafting but without gameplay actions between the draft and without any Freedom of Choice of what to draft gives Excise to a game. This may however be necessary to set up initial game states. A small amount of Excise is likely to be caused by any type of Drafting where the game elements need to be passed between players (for example the sending of Cards between players in 7 Wonders).


Can Instantiate

Competitions, Collaborative Actions, Excise, Freedom of Choice

with PvP

Player Balance

with TvT

Team Balance

Can Modulate

Collectible Card Games, Drawing Stacks, Hands, Limited Resources, Pre-Customized Decks, PvP, Resource Competition, TvT

with Freedom of Choice


Can Be Instantiated By

Cards, Deck Building, Drawing Stacks, Investments, players, Role Selection, Tiles

Can Be Modulated By

Drafting Spreads, Turn Taking

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



New pattern created in this wiki.


  1. Wikipedia entry for Drafting in Sports.