Cooking vs Following a Recipe in Limited

Besides Magic, cooking is probably the hobby I’m most passionate about. I cook dinner most nights at my house and even have an ongoing cooking club with my wife and a handful of our friends. When I cook something new, I make sure to follow the recipe as closely as possible.

I don’t want to get to the end of the process, dislike the meal and then wonder “if I had followed the directions, would it have turned out better?” After I’ve worked through it once, then I can decide which steps to shortcut, what ingredients I might add or replace and any other iterations I might have. This duality of cooking versus following a recipe is incredibly apt to the world of drafting.

A drafter who follows a recipe is probably someone who doesn’t have the time to put in a ton of repetitions to feel confident themselves in the kitchen. They’re more likely to rely on cards graded in a vacuum, tier lists, pick orders and data in the abstract.

A cook is someone who spends a lot of time in the kitchen. The cook has committed a ton of recipes to memory, knows what spices to add if something tastes off and can salvage a meal if something has been left burning on the stove for too long. The cook is aware of the recipe, the steps to follow, the general outline, but is also open to inspiration along the way. The recipe is fundamental to the process, but following it over and over again won’t get you to the point of being able to cook. Similarly, I worry about the consumption of pick orders, tier lists and data stunting the growth of potential draft chefs out there.

*Disclaimer: I’m a huge fan of the work put in by the folks at 17lands.com. I have championed their site from the very beginning and believe anyone who plays limited on Magic Arena should be using their application. The ability to track draft logs and entire game replays for free with just a few clicks is invaluable to your progression as a drafter. The limited world is a much better place thanks to this website, and I fully support the data being presented from their users. My caution in this piece is relying too heavily on this data as a crutch, not a tool.


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