Magic is a great game, but it can be an expensive game. In this context, I work hard to keep the cost down.
Part 2: Cheating Into Play
Drafting at game shops is great, but I organise drafts at the day job1 (which is where I know the most Magic players) at cost and buy cards in the most efficient way to bring down the price. So, a booster draft costs $10 a head including land for an evening’s entertainment, and we do that once a quarter (basically when a new Standard set comes out). This satisfies the pack cracking urge quite well.
I also like constructed play, where you build a 60 card deck and play against someone else who has built a deck under the same constraints. These decks are built either by using your collection, or by buying the cards individually. Standard and Modern are both expensive for their own reasons, but I like Pauper.
A Poor Substitute?
Pauper is a format where you restrict the rarity of the cards played to just commons. The eternal form of Pauper (ie where any card printed is legal) has decks which cost more just because of the age of some of the staple cards, but as of this writing they still cost less than $100 (competitive decks can still be much cheaper). Standard Pauper, where you are only playing commons printed recently, is cheaper yet: a complete deck will likely cost less than $5.
But, I hear the cry: doesn’t restricting play to commons make the decks boring.
No. Definitely not.
The biggest loss to the Pauper player is access to planeswalkers. Those are all at Mythic rarity, but there are those who would consider that no loss at all. What you get from a good Pauper deck, as with the best Magic decks in unrestricted formats, is synergy: individual cards may not be doing as many things, but they work together very well. Some of the most fun games of Magic that I’ve played have been in Pauper formats.
And when it comes to proper Pauper, where the age of the cards is not restricted, you have cards like Lightning Bolt which was printed as a common until only five years ago. Many people consider that one of the best cards ever printed, and those who don’t might well put it second only to Force of Will.
So, there are cards you might miss, but the games will be interesting and worthwhile. They’ll also likely be more balanced.
Try Pauper. It’s really good.
Next time I will write about a permanent solution to the drafting blues.
 I also run a league at the day job, so there is a structure to encourage play.