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The Game Mechanics: Closed Drafting

Lets dive into the world of closed drafting. Closed drafting is defined by players selecting a game elements such as cards then passing them to the next player to make a selection. Some of the more popular games with this mechanic are 7 Wonders, Agricola, Sushi Go and Magic the Gathering (in a draft tournament).

Drafting is when players choose cards or tokens in order. This can include players having to purchase the game pieces as in Star Realms or as in games like Point Salad you just choose the card you want from the available cards. These are considered to"Open Drafts" as the cards are all face up in the play area. We are exploring "Closed Drafting" where the cards you are choosing from are not know to the other players. To illistrate this we will use the example of Sushi Go! designed by Phil Walker-Harding and published by Gamewright

The Closed Drafting mechanic... will have players making decisions based on imperfect information.

In Sushi Go! cards are dealt to each player and the number of cards depends on the number of players. The game is played over 2 rounds (or hands). Players are trying to collect sets of cards in their tableau (face up in front of then). In Sushi Go! each player chooses a card from their hand of cards places it face down in front of them and then when every player has chosen a card they reveal the chosen card into their tableau, all players then pass their hands to the person to the left or right. Everyone has to go the same direction. Since Sushi Go! is three rounds you can alternate passing left then right then left again to add some variety to the game.

The Closed Drafting mechanic adds some interesting hidden information aspects and will have players making decisions based on imperfect information. In the case of Sushi Go! you will see what the other players have collected in their tableau so you will know what the other players are going for and this will influence your decisions on what you are collecting. You will however not know whats coming to you as cards get passed to you.

In Sushi Go! the basic closed drafting system is augmented by one card, actually it is the only card that is not part of any set to be collected. The Chopsticks card will allow you to draft 2 cards on your turn if you have it face up in your tableau. You then take 2 cards into your hand and put the chopsticks from your tableau in the the hand you currently have. This cleaver cards allows a player to take advantage of a situation where there is more than one card they need for their sets. However it means passing the ability on when the hands are passed to the next player.

Closed Drafting can be most of mechanics of a game as in Sushi Go! or it could be one of many deployed in a more complex game. Closed drafting will give players agency in a system designed around imperfect information and is very common in set collection games. Please join the email list and come back as we continue on with The Game Mechanics.



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