The Goldfish Variations


These are rules for variants of the Goldfish Draft format for playing Magic: The Gathering.

Lightning Goldfish

Lightning Goldfish (suggested by Geoff Bailey) is a faster version of Goldfish Draft, without the drafting aspect. The contest is to see who can produce a larger score with the same pool of cards, in a limited amount of time.

Steps in a Lightning Goldfish tournament:

  1. Give each player a list with the same set of 30 Magic: the Gathering cards.
  2. Each player has one hour to record details of their line of play using those cards, according to Goldfish Draft rules. At the end of one hour, the "line of play" documents are frozen.
  3. Players may then take their time to calculate their score, based on the recorded line of play - as written and without further changes or embellishments.
  4. Highest score wins.


1. The set of 30 cards may be chosen by various methods. We recommend using a program to randomly select from a Goldfish Cube and send an identical card list to each player at the same time. Variants: You could also have a non-involved player select the card list, or have each of N players select 1/N of the card pool.

2. It's easiest if everyone plays their hour simultaneously, although you could do it asynchronously with an honour system. The "line of play" should list what cards and card effects are played in what order, unambiguously enough so that another player can confirm what the intention is. Abbreviations and shortcuts can be used, as long as the intent is clear and followable. The line of play should be typed into a text file, and distributed to the other players at the end of the hour. The line of play may contain preliminary numerical calculations related to scoring, but does not need to enumerate exact scores.

3. Scoring is done using the same points method as the rules for standard Goldfish Draft. Since doing the mathematics required to calculate a score is often the longest part of a goldfish tournament, this part can be done at leisure, based on the recorded line of play. If an error is found in the line of play (e.g. not enough mana to cast a spell as indicated), then the erroneous effects do not occur and the line of play continues as best as possible without it. Some sensible discretion may be used to resolve such cases in the correct spirit of the tournament, in consultation with other players. (e.g. Players could pre-agree to play "cut-throat" or "forgiving" style.)

4. To determine the highest score, it may be necessary to use advanced mathematical concepts to estimate extremely large numbers. Refer to Calculating your score for notes on how to do this.

Quickdraft Goldfish

Quickdraft Goldfish is another fast version of Goldfish Draft, with asynchronous drafting done by each player, independent of the others. The draft can thus be done separately by each player.

Steps in a Quickdraft Goldfish tournament:

  1. Generate six 15-card booster packs from a Goldfish Cube: 3 A-packs and 3 B-packs. The packs should be aligned so that "rare" cards appear first, followed by "uncommons" (if any are defined in the cube), then "commons". (Possibly with further subsorting by power if that information is available).
  2. Each player is presented with the first card of each A-pack, and chooses one of the three cards. In each subsequent round of the A draft, each player is presented with the next card from each A-pack, and chooses one of the three cards.
  3. Repeat with the B-packs.
  4. Each player will have drafted 30 cards. Play and scoring then proceeds as in a normal Goldfish Draft.

Quickdraft can be combined with Lightning Goldfish by having one person do the quickdraft, then copying the drafted card set to all players. Optionally the drafter may choose and discard 10 cards of the drafted card set first.

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mezzacotta | Comic Irregulars' Magic: The Gathering | Goldfish Draft

Last updated: Wednesday, 13 May, 2020; 02:00:47 PDT.
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