Dual-Queue Draft for Jyhad/V:tES Cards

VtES Dark Sovereigns booster box

Drafting can be a great way to enjoy CCGs. While booster drafts are popular, I’d like to put the spotlight on my favorite drafting format: The Queue Draft.

In this post I’ll explain how the queue draft works and what you need in order to enjoy drafting. Plus why I think it works especially well for one of my favorite CCGs, Jyhad (aka Vampire: the Eternal Struggle) – but keep in mind it can be used with just about any CCG!

What is a Queue Draft?

I originally learned of this format from an article in The Duellist magazine years ago. Of the draft formats I’ve tried, the queue draft is perhaps most like a mini-game before the game proper; I find the time spent with it to be thoroughly enjoyable.

Instead of passing around boosters and picking a card from each pack that comes your way, all players take turns buying cards with points. Purchases are made from a single row of cards flipped over from the pile being drafted. As cards are flipped over unpicked cards are pushed down the row to make room for new ones.

The newest card, closest to the pile, is the most expensive and each spot down the row drops the card’s price by one point. Players who run out of points can only draft the free card at the end of the row.

Here’s how it works in detail:

  • First, give each player a number of points equal to the amount of cards they’ll be drafting. If each player should draft 60 cards, then everyone starts with 60 points.
  • Flip over the top card of the pile and place it next to the pile. The first player may buy this card or pass.
  • Whether or not a card is purchased, flip over the next card of the pile, sliding any existing cards down the row to make room.
  • Players can buy a card or pass until enough players have passed that the queue becomes full.
  • The maximum length of the queue is equal to one plus the number of players (in a game with four players there are five slots in the queue).
  • Once the queue becomes full all players must purchase a card each turn
  • A player exits the draft when he or she has accumulated enough cards to reach the card limit (60 in this example). Note some players may exit earlier than others depending on how many times they pass while the queue fills.
  • Jyhad VtES draft cost The cost to buy a card is based on its position in the queue. The very last position in the queue has a cost of zero, the next to last costs one point, then two points and on up to the head of the queue where the first card’s cost is equal to the number of players drafting (four points in this example).

Note that, if you’re not playing with the bribe counters variant below, you may wish to increase players’ starting point totals slightly, depending on how frugal you want your players to be. An extra 25% (to 75 points in this example) might work here; it comes down to how often you think players should be able to pick a more expensive card from the queue. Just be careful, too many points will allow players to pick the top cards more consistently and shift the balance more heavily toward luck of the draw.

What’s Required for a Queue Draft?

Cards and friends, of course!

Theoretically you can run a queue draft with any number of players; I’ve always been in a group of four or five but the card costs scale automatically with the length of the queue.

When drafting from old cards on hand it’s a bit simpler if they all belong to one person; in my group I’ve become the default card caretaker for many CCGs.

Recently an enormous collection of Magic cards from a variety of sets was donated to one of the guys in my group, who offloaded them to me (woo-hoo!).

While it’s time-consuming to sort and organize all the cards, it does mean I get to be the one who decides what’s fun to play and what’s better off left out of any drafting we do.

You can certainly draft from a fresh box of boosters, but if you or your group already has access to enough cards there’s really no need to run out and buy more.

With existing cards I recommend designating someone to organize the draft pool, which will become the pile at the head of the queue. This duty often falls to the person who owns the most cards. Depending on the game this could be as easy as grabbing a random pile of cards, but you’ll probably want to make sure you don’t end up with too many of a single card and you might also select cards from one set, or cards that work well together.

You’ll also need a way of keeping track of the points that players will use to buy cards. Beads, poker chips, or dice are easy enough.

Finally, you’ll need a lot of time; the queue draft can be a lot of fun but it’s also one of the more lengthy draft types – later in this post I’ll mention one way to speed it up.

Why do a Queue Draft?

If you’re simply looking for the fastest way to divy up boosters among players before deckbuilding and play, a booster draft might be the way to go. But if you’re looking for something more interesting, the queue is a great way to spice up the time spent drafting.

Jyhad - VtES Dark Sovereigns vampire cards

The main reason to do a queue draft is that it offers elements of fun and strategy that are somewhat lacking in a booster draft. Managing your available points while maximizing your draft picks and competing with your friends for face up cards involves a certain amount of skill, while the randomness of the new cards that flip up can add some surprises to the mix.

Queue Drafting Jyhad

Unless each person in your group has plenty of cards to build competent decks, Jyhad is a game that practically begs for a draft. It’s not a great choice for Big Deck, because of the clan and discipline requirements between vampires and library cards; throwing random cards together lowers the likelihood that you’ll be able to use what you draw. But when you draft you’ll be able to select vampires and other cards that work together, and you can see more of the intricate texture that makes Jyhad really shine.

There’s also the inherent multiplayer nature of drafts. Jyhad is an excellent multiplayer game, practically the perfect complement to a draft.

Dual-Queues in Jyhad

Jyhad and VtES card backs

Jyhad is somewhat unique in that each player has two separate decks: a crypt and a library. They even have different backs. You could shuffle these together in the pile and draft them as one queue, but there’s an alternative: dual queues, one for vampires and one for library cards.

Using two separate and simultaneous queues isn’t much different from a single queue; just advance each queue after every pick at the beginning. After a queue fills up, only advance cards in a queue when a card is picked from that queue.

Jyhad / Vampire: the Eternal Struggle Dual Queue Draft Format

This affords players more choices, selecting vampires and the library cards which complement them at the whim of their “pocketbooks”.

There is a point to note: players of VtES need more library cards than vampires; separate limits should be set for the two card types, and when a player reaches the limit in one type they can only draft cards of the other type until they reach that limit as well and exit the draft.

Bribe Counters

A variant that was mentioned in the original Duellist article involved bribe counters to sweeten the cards that no one wants to draft.

Here’s how it works:

  • After the queue is full, each turn a player does not take the zero-cost card, put a bribe counter on it.
  • When a player selects the card that has bribe counters, they receive that many extra points added to their pool. Slide the remaining cards down to fill the gap as normal; do not immediately put a bribe counter on the new zero-cost card, until it has spent a turn in that slot.

VtES (Jyhad) Dark Sovereigns library cards

Bribe counters provide an incentive for players to take bad cards. They also allow players who spent their points quickly some potential to regain a few points so they aren’t relegated to the bottom of the barrel without recourse.

Bribe counters can also be used with a dual-queue. Each turn add a counter to each zero-cost card that didn’t get picked, but when a card with bribe counters is picked halve the point reward (rounding up) to compensate for the presence of the second queue. This way the rewards don’t get out of hand (I’ve played where we didn’t halve rewards, it allows for some pretty huge swings).

Bribe Counter Limit and Queue Refresh

While this shouldn’t be necessary for a single queue, drafting two queues for Jyhad can benefit from a bribe counter limit and queue refresh. Due to the fact that players will be drafting far more library cards than vampires, there are times when the vampire queue can stagnate.

When the freebie card reaches a preset bribe counter limit (we used 20), clear the counters and remove all cards in that queue. Then proceed to flip cards from that pile one at a time, like at the beginning of the draft (players are again allowed to pass until both queues are full).

This allows new options to appear and clears up stagnant cards. It also means that players who are interested in a card higher up in that queue cannot delay forever hoping they’ll get the card at a lower price, which should also serve to keep the queues a bit livelier.

Have Fun Drafting!

As always, opinions, questions, and suggestions are welcome in the comments. I hope you’ll find this to be a fun alternative to the booster draft format, and a way to breathe new life into any old CCGs you might have collecting dust in the closet!

    Joe Says:

    Can’t wait to draft this Saturday!
    It should be more interesting with the distribution of boosters.

    Mike Says:

    Sounds like fun, I look forward to it.

    Joe Says:

    Alright, let me comment on our dual-queue draft.

    Well, we underestimated the amount of Vamps that came in a booster pack and so we had half our vamps before the draft started. This became problematic. Although it was not as problematic for me as it was for every other player. The other players either got vamps from every other clan (so too much of a variety) or exact duplicates (not enough variety in a game were these cards are UNIQUE).
    But I think our two solutions will fix this error.
    First, drafting a few more Vamps this weekend will allow us a little more flexibility, especially since we have a better sense of the kind of Vamps we need.
    Second (and thanks to Dan for the initial suggestion), the addition of the “queue reset” was good and is a key addition for future dual-queue drafts. For those of us who weren’t there, the reset works as follows:
    When the bribe counters on the free card in either draft (I think I can safely say that for V:tES, that card will always be a Vamp) reach 20, then that entire queue is cleared and reset with new cards.

    We did not add this until most of the way through the draft, but when we did, it opened up the draft.
    This addition fixes a few things:
    -It adds new cards to a stale queue. And face it, if the queue hasn’t been touched for 20 counters, it is not only stale, but moldy.
    -It keeps the last person(s) who need to draft from that queue from waiting until the counters get above 40 to cash in. And everyone knows when the other players will not be drafting from that queue.

    I can foresee only one problem with the queue reset. That is that since the bribe counters on the free card go up when someone does not choose the free card, even when a player chooses another card in that queue, then possibly only one player could see a card that comes out in the 4 cost space. This could “waste” a card that may have been desired by another player. Not a huge downside, but one that I could see being a sore point for that one player that maybe, possibly could have used that card.
    This could be fixed by clearing the entire queue except for that brand new card. Not sure if it is a big deal though, since a house rule could be made to handle this situation.


    First off, to address your last point Joe-

    Yes, if nobody touches the freebie vampire it’ll keep accumulating bribes even while there’s action further up the queue.

    However based on our experience I don’t see that being the case, usually the whole vampire queue is pretty stagnant by the time it gets anywhere near 20 bribe counters built up.

    Also, this is likely a problem more with drafting Jyhad than any typical CCG, like Magic, that has only one queue (and one card back).


    Jyhad is unique in that there are two distinct types of cards, with different backs, that are nevertheless highly interdependent; to succeed you need the vampires with a cohesive set of disciplines, and your library cards need to work with those disciplines.

    Hence a random assortment works poorly, but drafting can work fairly well. If you draft enough cards to make a deck plus headroom for the chaff that doesn’t work out in your final deck.

    It seemed like the booster packs were a good idea initially, starting us off with a baseline that allowed us to spend less time drafting. Except that the random assortment was so defocused for most of us that it formed an extremely weak baseline, made worse by the fact that half our vampires were coming from those booster packs rather than the draft.

    By drafting a few more vampires next time we should be able to undo much of the damage. Ultimately this serves as a reminder that in a game as intricate as Jyhad it’s hard to take shortcuts.


    I deleted the section on Random Baselines and added a short section for Bribe Counter Limit and Queue Refresh.

    For readers wondering what was deleted, it was a variant that attempted to shorten the time for drafting by starting players off with random cards (boosters or otherwise), and thus drafting fewer cards overall. In Jyhad it turns out this really doesn’t work, for reasons described by comments above.

    Mike Says:

    Yeah, interestingly enough, the shortcut probably increased our draft time a bit due to unfocused cards being received.

    Adding more vamps can help, though I honestly picked so many unfocused non-vamp cards to meet the needs of my unfocused vamps that I’m not sure anything will fix the situation beyond a new draft at some point. This may not be the case for the other drafters last week, or you could be in the same boat as me! Either way, we can do our best with what we have (maybe some new vamps WILL help?) and see how it goes.