Beginner Planeswalker Guide: Pack Wars & Mini-MastersDecember 13, 2018
This is an ongoing series of Magic articles aimed at welcoming people into Magic: The Gathering!
You’ve been enjoying Magic more and more and you just won or purchased some booster packs. Instead of just opening up these packs to see what rare you got, why not make it an experience? I believe that Magic booster packs are made as part of the game, not just product to be cracked open. If you want to open your booster packs right away, all you need is a friend and 20 minutes to play Pack Wars! Or you can get a few friends together and do a mini-tournament with a fun format called Mini-Masters.
Each player opens one booster pack without looking at the contents, gently shuffles in 15 basic land cards (3 of each type – Plains, Islands, Swamps, Mountains, and Forests), and the two friends play a game of Magic with their 30 card decks. This provides an exciting, fun experience because you have no idea what cards you are going to draw. You could end up drawing a Planeswalker or that special rare creature you’ve been hoping to find. This format also tests your skills in a unique way, forcing you to strategize on the spot.
Mini-Masters has become a very popular form of Pack Wars that is now often played at gaming conventions and in game stores, and you can easily play it at home. Instead of blindly shuffling up one pack of cards, in this format you get two booster packs and any basic lands you want to build a 30-card-deck. Generally, you want 17-18 playable spells and 12-13 lands in a 30-card deck. This is a great format for beginner players to start learning how to build limited decks.
Once decks are built, players play single game matches against each other. Because these are single games and not rounds of best out of three games, players do get a free mulligan if they want to reshuffle and draw a new opening hand before the game starts.
The most exciting part about Mini-Masters is that if you win, you get to add an additional booster pack to the pool of cards that you have for your deck. This means that you can alter the deck however you want between rounds and might open something really good to rebuild your deck around for the next round.
Most of the time, Mini-Masters is single elimination. However, when I’ve run Mini-Masters events for the Lady Planeswalkers Society, we just ensure that players are paired up with players of the same record each round in order to avoid elimination.
There are a number of variants on the format of Pack Wars and Mini-Masters. Sometimes in Pack Wars, you do not add land to your deck, but instead, the entire pack is your opening hand and you get one basic land of any type that you desire at the start of every turn. Sometimes Mini-Masters is only played with one booster pack.
If you play one of these formats at an event or in a game store, it’s best to double check with the judge what rules are being used to ensure you are following the correct procedure.
I recommend that if you start playing these formats often, you try out creative approaches to find your favorite way to crack open packs and still get the experience of playing Magic while you do it.