Drafting; where each player starts with a set number of booster packs and makes a deck from them, is a much-loved variant in the world of trading card games. In tabletops, this is a little more difficult as there are usually well-defined tracks for each player to move through in the form of classes. Randomizing stats is common, but randomizing abilities, even within a single class, could quickly lead to characters that are essentially unplayable.
But what about a tabletop war-game like Mobile Frame Zero? I submit that this is a great way to spend an afternoon. Small sets can easily take the place of booster packs, and the rules for frames are loose enough that you can build a decently equipped army out of a random collection of parts. There are plenty of ways to draft MF0, depending on your budget and how difficult you want army building to be.
As with any draft, everyone should agree on the budget and who keeps the parts before you start. If everyone is buying their own pieces, then it is especially important to set a reasonable budget that everyone involved can afford. By sticking with smaller sets it’s possible to keep the per-player budget small and get some decent frames out of the deal. Of course, if the host buys and keeps all the parts, then go as crazy as you want.
You also might want to make sure that you have plenty of flags on hand since you’ll need to flag both objectives and frames for the final battle. When you are scrounging for parts, color-coordination is going to be the first thing that goes out the window, and you’ll need a way to identify frames easily.
Everyone Starts With the Same Sets
If you want to see what your friend’s twisted minds will do differently with the same materials, go with this variant. Also a good choice if you have that one friend that will constantly complain that, “I got the worst pieces and that’s why I’m losing.”
The idea behind this draft is simple. Everyone starts with the same group of LEGO sets and builds their army from them. How you choose the sets is up to you. You could choose ones that have pieces you want in them anyway, you could choose ones based on how difficult it will be to build frames from them, or you could have each person in the group choose one set they want to work with.
Plenty of healthy rivalry in the group? Trying to lose all your friends in one day? Have everyone start with a set amount of money and they have to bid against each other to get the sets they want to work with. You’ll need a decent variety of sets to work choose from and an innocent bystander to act as auctioneer. If you really want to see some crazy bids, use a host-keeps-all buying strategy for the sets, and hand out fake money for bidding. This separates the value of the sets from the dollar cost and pushes it towards its value for army building.
Want to have Christmas any day of the year? Wrap up the sets you plan to use in the draft so players don’t know what they are getting ahead of time. Bonus points if you move some of them to different boxes so players can’t tell what they are getting by the size of the box. This works great with a bid system, or by going around the group and picking sets in turn, with or without the office gift exchange tradition of allowing people to steal sets from other players instead of picking a new one from the table.
Rather than doing the work of pre-buying all those LEGOs, why not make your friends do their own shopping? Set a dollar amount as the budget, head to a store with a decent LEGO collection and let everyone decide for themselves what sets they want to work with. If you are lucky enough to have a well-stocked LEGO store near you, a large pick-a-brick cup is usually enough to build a full army, and can help you build a solid army with less money, but it also reduces the challenge. Bonus points for this variant if you manage to make your event coincide with a good sale. Do you go for the sets on sale and get volume, or do you stick with what has the best parts for frame building?
There are plenty of ways you can draft MF0, each with its own little quirks. Just as with trading card games, drafting is a great way to spice up your game, get your creative juices flowing, and have a “reasonable” excuse to buy a bunch more LEGOs to add to your collection.