What is a Drafting Game - Azul Summer Pavilion Feature

Explainer: What is Drafting in a Game?

You may have heard the term ‘Drafting’ used when people describe gameplay in some board games. If you aren’t sure what this is and have been too scared to ask, don’t worry we are here to help you out with this explainer. So next time you won’t have to smile and nod, while confused at what on earth people are talking about.

What You Will Find in Our What is Drafting in a Game? Explainer

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What is Drafting in a game?

Drafting can broadly be split into two types, Closed Drafting and Open Drafting. One thing to be aware of before we explain things further is that Drafting can involve cards, tokens, dice, or tiles, just about any component you can think of can be used in Drafting.

Closed Drafting typically involves each player being dealt a certain number of components (tiles, cards, tokens etc). They are then able to select one item and pass the rest on to the next player. An example of this sort of Closed Drafting is Sushi Go! where players are dealt an equal number of cards and must then pick one and pass the remaining cards to their left. This process continues until either all or a specific number of items have been selected by players. A variation of this involves one player being provided all of the items, selecting one and then passing the rest on to the next player.

Open Drafting typically involves all players having access to a common pool of components (tiles, cards, tokens etc). Each player in turn will select a component from the communal pool until they have run out or a condition is met. An example of this sort of Open Drafting is Azul. Players have a common pool of tiles they can choose from and take turns selecting tiles to add to their player board until all tiles have been claimed.

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Who might like Drafting games?

Drafting is a very simple concept to understand. Players are simply selecting their preferred option from a pool of available items. In saying that there are a wide variety of games that use Drafting, and each can create a different experience.

The common factor is that players will all be affected by each other’s choices and decisions are constrained by the pool. These games tend to have a reasonable amount of interaction as choices made have knock on impacts to other players, every component you or your opponents choose is one that is denied to other players.

Drafting also tends to create increasing tension as options start to run out and players must adjust their strategies to suit the remaining options available. So if you like games where your decisions directly impact other players and some tension then you are likely to enjoy Drafting.

What can my kids learn from Drafting games?

Drafting games tend to encourage kids to maintain awareness of what other players are doing and how this may impact options available to them. Draftosaurus is a game my youngest daughter absolutely loves. She has learned quickly that before she makes decisions on which dino to pick she needs to be aware of what has already been played and therefore how many of each coloured dino are left to be picked.

The other thing that drafting games can teach our kids is how to adapt their strategies to suit the options available to them. Often in drafting games your choices are constrained by what’s available to you at the time. As Drafting rounds progress your options may not end up being what you had hoped, so you must find a way to make the best of it.

What are some great Drafting games to trying?


Play Time: 15 Min / Players: 2-5 / Complexity: Low / Age: 8+ we think 6+ / Publisher: Ankama Games / Designer: Anotoine Bauza, Corentin Lebrat, Ludovic Maublanc & Theo Riviere

What is a Drafting Game - Draftosaurus Box

This game features coloured dinosaurs that you can draft and place in your dino theme park. The catch is that each pen has various scoring rules you must follow to gain points. Dice is used each round to place additional restrictions on players to spice things up. You can finish a game within 15 minutes which is great if you want to squeeze in a game before bedtime. A great pick for younger kids as this game is super simple and so much fun.

Check out our full Draftosaurus review.

Sushi Go!

Play Time: 15 Min / Players: 2-5 / Complexity: Low / Age: 8+ we think 6+ / Publisher: Gamewright Games / Designer: Phil Walker-Harding

What is a Drafting Game - Sushi Go! Box

This is one of the simpler card drafting games out there and a great pick for families. It has a cute theme and involves closed drafting cute sushi cards in the hopes of creating sets that will earn points. Most points over three rounds wins. Another great simple game that can be played in around 15 minutes.

Check out our full Sushi Go! review.


Play Time: 30-45 Min / Players: 2-4 / Complexity: Low / Age: 8+ / Publisher: Next Move Games / Designer: Michael Kiesling

What is a Drafting Game - Azul Box

This is a great open drafting game, this time featuring tile drafting. Each player will draft tiles from the central displays available in the hope of creating patterns that will earn them points. There is a surprising amount of depth here for such a simple game and there are a lot of opportunities to sabotage your opponents.

Check out our full Azul review.

Azul Summer Pavilion

Play Time: 30-45 Min / Players: 2-4 / Complexity: Low / Age: 8+ / Publisher: Next Move Games / Designer: Michael Kiesling

What is a Drafting Game - Azul Summer Pavilion Box

This game uses similar tile drafting to the original Azul but adds some other fun elements. For starters there is now an ability to earn bonus tiles if you plan out your tile placement carefully. There is also a lot less sabotage in this game than the original Azul, which makes it a good option for more sensitive players.

Check out our full Azul: Summer Pavilion review.


Play Time: 30-45 Min / Players: 1-4 / Complexity: Low / Age: 10+ we think 7+ / Publisher: AEG and Flatout Games / Designer: Randy Flynn

What is a Drafting game - Cascadia Box

In Cascadia players will create their own beautiful slice of nature by drafting habitat tiles and wildlife discs to add to their ecosystem. As you build your ecosystem you will be aiming to create large swaths of matching habitat tiles and also trying to match patterns of wildlife depicted in the scoring cards. This game is simple, relaxing and a lot of fun. It also has a great solo mode.

Check out our full Cascadia review.

We hope you have enjoyed our explainer. If you have any more questions or just want to share your thoughts, please leave a comment below, or get in touch through our contact page.

About the Authors

We are parents who love board gaming. We have three children and have been enjoying board games as a family ever since we had our first child. We share our real unbiased experiences and opinions on board games so you can decide if they are right for your family. We also write guides and articles to help you get the most out of your family game time. 

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