Chieftains is a Magic the Gathering multiplayer draft format designed to be played consistently with only one pack per participant .  It can be played 3-6 players with each player starting with one sealed pack from the same MTG set.  Gameplay lasts up to two hours depending on the amount of players.  The game uses all the rules consistent with Magic the Gathering with a few minor replacements to certain play mechanics.  The Chieftains of long ago would gather to share their time together, hence in Chieftains players share their turns in a clockwise order of play.


At the start of the game each player will select one land from five different basic land piles shared at the center of the table.  The chosen land goes into the players hand.  All player life total’s are set to 20 and the Active Chieftain is randomly determined.  The starting player will be given a large token to signify that it is their turn.  All players will be sharing the active Chieftains turn and thus player turn phases and steps are played together in succession.  The starting player will then state out loud the sequence of play: “Untap, Upkeep, Draft”.  At the draft step, each player will open their pack and select one card to place in their hand then shuffle the pack and pass it to the player on their left, this pack (along with the basic lands at the center of the table) are considered the player’s library.


Player turn sequence is identical to Magic the Gathering play rules: Beginning phase: Untap, Upkeep, Draw/Draft; Post Combat Main Phase: Main 1; Combat Phase, Beginning, Declare Attackers, Declare Blockers, Assign Damage, End Combat; Post Combat Phase: Main 2; Ending Phase: End Step, Cleanup.


The pack that was passed to the player and the five basic land piles at the center of the table are both considered the player’s library. The Draft/Draw step in Chieftains provides a replacement mechanic that will permit a player to choose any one basic land card from the center of the table and add the land to their hand instead of drafting from their library.  If a player has chosen to select a land, they can not look at their draft pack and must pass it to the player at their left.  Otherwise at the start of the Draft/Draw step, the player may choose any one card from their library and place it in their hand then shuffle and pass to the left.  Any card draw effects in Chieftains are either taken from the top of the player library (as per MTG) or from one of the basic lands at the center of the table.  In the case of multiple cards drawn from a card effect, all cards must be drawn from either land piles or the top of their library (not both).   Once all players have completed the Draft/Draw step the Chieftain will announce “Main1”.  


At the completion of the Draw/Draft step each player will have shuffled and placed their pack on the Library space of the player to their left.  The Active Chieftain will then announce the next phase: “Main1”.  For game play purposes, the starting player will be referred to as the Active Player.  As per the rules of MTG the active player has priority and can only be responded once priority is passed. Keep in mind that game turns are shared meaning that every player will play each phase or step before going to the next phase or step.  (In some cases a card may refer to its owners “player turn” this refers to the card owner when they are the Active Player.)  The Active Player may play their land and play a spell.  Once they have resolved their Main1, they pass to the next player on their left.  The next player is sharing the Active Players turn and may play a land and cast spells, they will then pass their Main.  This step is repeated until all players have performed Main1.  The Active Player will then announce “Combat”.



Combat in Chieftains starts with the active player declaration.  They will tap their creatures (unless vigilant) and assign them to attack player(s) on the field.  They will then pass priority and the next player in succession will be given an opportunity to declare attack.  This step is repeated until all players have made their combat declarations.  Note that the last player to declare attacks in Chieftains will be granted an advantage as they may see the Chieftains tapped attack strategy and send out their creatures to the attack.  


The active player will then announce any blocks and pass priority, then to conclude the combat all damage is assigned in order of succession.  The active player will then announce “Main2”.


Main2 is the post combat phase that once completed the active player announces “Clean-up” and will pass their large token to the next player (on their left) to designate the next active Chieftain player turn.  The player receiving the large token is now the Active Chieftain and will begin turn 2 by announcing “Untap”.  Every player will perform the Untap and Upkeep steps in sequence.  Then the active player will announce “Draft/Draw”.  This will repeat the shared player turn.  Note that all card effects that state “on your turn” in Chieftains may only occur at the time that it is your turn.


The game ends when only one player is remaining with a standing life total.  As per regular drafts, each player will keep all the cards that they draft including the cards in their library and graveyard at the time their game ends.  Any card that was reshuffled into a library and passed should be returned to the player who orrigianly drafted the card.  Chieftains may also agree to draw the game at any time by agreeing to a peaceful treaty.  Once all terms are drawn from each remaining Chieftains, the game is concluded.  


Note that it is recommended to draft (2) cards on the first turn of the game if playing with collector packs.  Draft one card as normal therafter.


Chieftains Commander edition is played with any set that is populated with legendary creatures.  Player life total starts at (40).  The first legendary creature that a Chieftain will play is deemed their commander.  The Chieftain need not follow the commander colour identity for gameplay purposes.  At the time that their commander is removed from any zone, it may be placed by the player in their Command Zone.  The first time casting their commander from the command zone is free from tax.  The following commander casting does increase tax in increments of (2).  All other rules pertaining to Commander format are in effect.

Please have a look at our Youtube demonstrating a game of Chieftains:


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