Over the years the idea of drafting has spread and become more prevalent in games, with players able to draft cards, dice, workers, tiles and more. Some games are pretty much pure drafting, whereas others use it as one mechanism among many. In this list I’ve tried to focus on games where drafting is the main or only mechanism, so I’ve not included some meatier games that use drafting but have a lot more going on.
With that said, here are my top 10:
10) Sushi Go
Sushi Go is pretty much as simple as drafting games get. Players are dealt a hand of cards with different types of Sushi on them, they choose one to keep and pass the rest to the next player. Then they choose again and then pass again, and so on. Each type of Sushi scores differently so players will be trying to maximise their score by collecting specific types of Sushi. It’s quick, it’s simple, it’s fun and it’s portable!
In Draftosaurus players are each setting up their own Dinosaur Park and are drafting dinosaurs to add into their pens. Each pen scores differently, depending on what you put in their, so you are trying to add certain dinosaurs to certain pens. A die roll each round may limit where you can place the dinosaur for that round though, so choose wisely. It comes with cute dinosaur meeples and is another quick, simple but fun game.
Micropolis is a tile drafting game where players are building an ant hill. Players score for every ant in the ant hill, as well as for different kinds of fruits, Queen ants, soldiers and more. The tiles all have tunnels, plus other features on them, and when you draft a tile you add it next to another tile, slowly forming your complete ant hill over a number of rounds. It’s got super cute artwork and it’s great to see your ant hill forming as you draft tiles each round.
In Majesty: For the Realm players are drafting different types of workers to add to their village tableau. The different workers each have a different function and way to score points, and some cause other players to lose workers to the hospital, meaning they won’t be scored (and others retrieving injured workers so you get them back. It’s a game that flew under my radar initially, but since playing it I’ve found it to be a lot of fun.
In Bunny Kingdom players draft cards in order to add bunnies to the main kingdom board in order to create fiefdoms and score points. Most cards have an alpha-numeric code to tell you which spot the bunny goes on, with others allowing you to add cities to spaces on the board or use other special powers to affect the game. The scoring is a little bit fiddly but the game is fun to play, the artwork is cute and it looks great on the table.
5) Cat Lady
Cat Lady is another simple game where drafting is pretty much the only mechanism. Cards are laid out in a 3×3 grid, with a cat token next to one row or column. Players take all cards in a row or column, except the one where the cat token is, and then they move the token to the row or column they just chose and refill the grid. Cat cards score points if they are fed, some cards give you food, others give toys, costumes, catnip or other items, which all score in different ways. It’s light, fluffy and full of cute kitties, so I love it.
In Azul players are drafting coloured/patterned tiles to add to their walls. The drafting mechanism is a little different, with tiles placed on factories in the centre, and players taking all tiles of one type from a factory and moving all other tiles from that factory into the centre, or taking all tiles of one colour/pattern from the centre. Tiles that are taken get added to one of five rows of differing lengths, and at the end of the round (when all tiles from all factories have been taken) any full rows will have one tile from that row added to the main wall, scoring immediate points, as well as potentially end game points. It’s a cool game that requires some good planning and paying attention to what the other players are doing. Also, I’m terrible at it, but I love playing it.
3) 7 Wonders
7 Wonders might just be the best known drafting game out there. Players are building their civilization by drafting building cards, to generate resources, money, points, military power and more. Each type of card scores differently, so you need to balance resource production with points, and keep an eye on what your neighbours are doing. It’s a great game that is very popular in part because it can play up to 7 players in about 30 minutes.
In Vikings each round a market is laid out with pairs consisting on one viking meeple and one tile. Players draft these vikings and tiles from the market, adding the tiles to their player board to form islands, and potentially putting the vikings on the tiles, in order to generate gold and score points. Longship tiles represent attacks against your islands, which can prevent vikings from scoring, but can also generate points or gold if you have warriors to defend against them. It’s a very cool game and the drafting from the market is frustrating in an enjoyable way. There’s also an advanced variant in the game to shake things up a bit.
Hadara has a lot of similarities to 7 Wonders in many ways, but I found it to be a little more intuitive and more enjoyable to play. Players draft different types of building, which increase your tracks in one or more of the four tracks: money, military, culture and food. As you draft cards they reduce the future cost of similar cards, making it tempting to go heavy on one type, except you need to diversify in order to score more points, gain colonies and build statues. It only plays up to five players, but works much better with two than 7 Wonders does, and in my opinion I’d pretty much always choose to play this instead.
Honourable Mention: Magic: The Gathering
I can’t make a post about drafting without mentioning Magic: The Gathering. As the granddaddy of Collectible Card Games it has a variety of formats and ways to play the game, but one of the earliest and best was the draft. Players get three unopened booster packs, and then draft the cards within them before building a deck from their drafted cards and playing a tournament with them. I’ve played Magic off and on over the years and when I do Draft is one of my favourite ways to do so!
Let us know if you agree with any of my choices or what drafting games you enjoy playing!