Friday, May 6, 2011

MBS #11 - 14

Massive post today, with 4 drafts. But first.... it seems that mtgovideos is close to dead, so I'm looking for somewhere to post instead of or in addition to it. The only place I've been able to find is Puremtgo, but if anyone has ideas of where else I can post, I'm all ears. Or if anyone wants to start posting on mtgovideos to convince me its not dead, even better!

MBS #11

Looking back:

- P1P6: Maybe I should just take the Keepers here, to follow up the Marauders. As painful as it is to abandon Corrupted Conscience, we haven't seen another blue card since. That said, packs 3 and 4 were weak all the way through, so they don't give much information as to what's actually open, so there is still some value in staying open with the Claws, as unexciting as they are with our current pile of cards.

-P2P1: Well, obviously it worked out, but perilous myr is super close to the arrest here. Without having wheeled the uber later Divine Offering, I think I kind of have to just grab the perilous myr. But we have a hint that white may be wide open, in which case taking a risk for the better card can really pay off.

-P2P2 and on: This may be the easiest audible of all time. The best card in pretty much every pack from here to the end is white or blue, and by a pretty wide margin. There was almost no risk in moving out of red since there was not a red card in sight in pack 2. The choice was marginal artifact to keep the flamefiend dream alive or awesome white/blue card. 

Kind of strange really, we didn't pass any red beyond the burn the impure pick 1, and there was still a mortarpod in that pack (which I personally take over burn the impure unless I already have a red card). I suspect someone on the left opened a flamefiend as well and refused to abandon ship (not that they should!). But still, red was cut HARD pack 2, so it seems like either it was just a strange set of packs, or there were actually two drafters grabbing red cards on our left even after passing them nothing but tables scraps. This just shows how important it can be to remain flexible in this format. It's sometimes hard to send/read signals with so many good artifacts running around. It's especially hard to ensure that the signals you send don't fall on deaf ears when the players you're passing to won't run out of playables if they just keep scooping up artifacts. But there is a potentially large payoff for listening to signals when they're available, since there's a ton of high quality colored cards that are either unsplashable or unneeded in other archetypes.

MBS #12

Looking back:

P1P2: It sucks to pass more green, but mortarpod just does so much for such a small investment. If I'm going to be drafting non-infect green then it's likely to be on the back of giant dinosaurs. But the dinosaurs are easy to find even if maruader is the best of the (non-rare) bunch by a significant margin.  The success of a dino deck hinges on the quality of the early half of your curve, and mortarpod not only is a quality turn two play by itself, it makes the rest of the two and three drop idiots I pick up better. And even if i don't end up going the prehistoric route, mortarpod is still a house.

P1P3: Wow, Marauder vs. Blightwidow again! I'll take Marauder all day every day, but I know many of you are bound to disagree. I fully respect blightwidow in a non-infect deck. It's a respectable blocker, and can even swing if the board is empty enough. But it's clearly at it's best in a dedicated infect deck, and it only should get the nod as an early pick because it keeps you open to infect. Because of my personal aversion to infect, I am far more likely to end up drafting dinosaurs, which is why I almost always pick the maruaduer in this situation. The exception is when I already have a very strong infector in my pile, like corrupter, flesh eater imp or crusader, in which case I feel like keeping myself open to (without forcing!) infect is worthwhile.

P1P4: Rotwolf is mediocre but playable in non-infect, but after passing two blightwidows it's probably best to push whoever grabbed them into infect to keep them from overlapping with the green cards we want in the next pack too much.  Viridian claw isnt great in a dinosaur deck, but it can help justify playing infinite mana myrs if we find ourselves snagging a bunch of myrs. And plus, we may not actually end up in straight dinos, and if we don't the claw will likely be far better than the wolf.

P1P9: Sweet, Keeper's wheeled. I think this is the best 5 drop available for the archetype since it helps against the decks toughest matchup (infect!), so even though we expected a nice wheel, I'm still dancing. Conley Woods loves the slagwurm (as he often states in his videos) but I don't really understand why. The extra toughness doesnt get around that many more removal spells than the 5 toughness dinosaurs (just turn to slag) and the extra mana is painful. These decks end up with a high enough curve as it is, I'm not keen on further raising my curve for something that doesn't do anything special.  

What happened pack 3?!?! Where did all the green go? The only thing I can think of is that maybe some of the nice green cards we passed pack 1 made it around the entire table and back to someone close on our right and they jumped in? Or maybe there was an infect drafter there who was scooping up dinos out of otherwise empty packs? It's a good thing pack 1 was so nice to us, because this could've been a complete disaster.

The one thing I'd change in deckbuilding is that I'd swap the Trigon of Infestation in for something (Glissa's Courrier?) since it actually goes quite well with the claw, the red trigon and the mortarpod.

Match 2 I bashed Vensor's Journal a bit, but for some reason I thought the card said gain 1 life whenever you draw a card. Obviously the card still isn't stellar, but it did make sense in my opponent's deck. I played a lot of clearwater goblets back in the original mirrodin, but to be honest, it probably didn't belong in half the decks I palyed it in. Even then, the goblet is miles ahead of the journal in terms of playability even if the journal can potentially gain more life per turn, because the keeping cards in hand clause is quite a drawback. Not playing spells is often going to cost more life than it saves, and needing cards in hand makes this a pretty brutal topdeck. All that said, if your plan is to recur Mindslavers ftw (!!!), there is probably no better fit for Venser's Journal.  On a side note, if my opponent is anything like me, I would've been so satisfied with my game 2 win that it wouldn't matter what happened game 3. I'd screenshot it and go to bed with a smile on my face.


And speaking of screenshots, I've searched through my replays and collected a few of my best moments over the last few weeks. Maybe not as good as a mindslaver lock in a besieged draft, but they still left me smiling.

Nothing like a good old fashioned T5 Conqueror's pledge, followed by T6 Beastmaster's Ascension. Worth noting I somehow wheeled both these cards in the same pack (maybe not surprising for the ascension, but the pledge doesnt often wheel!).


Wheee! Best Venser ever? Being foil has to add points. Still had this scrapmelter! (Actually I bounced scrapmelter and skinrender back to my hand the previous turn, and replayed the skinrender). Better yet is his 3 line OMG. And better yet is this is game 3 of the finals of an 8-4 (as always) after my opponent declined the split. Greedy.dec pays off.

#3 #4

Ok. So Genesis Wave for 6 is supposed to win the game. But hitting 6/6 with the Flamefiend + Wellspring twice in the same draft makes me happy. I cast it for 7 as well this draft, wasn't as stylish, but it still won me the game.

MBS #13

Looking back:

P2P3: In hindsight, maybe i need mana myrs more than I need spells that require 12 mana over 2 turns + a creature. I like the armor in some decks, but dinos don't need to become super-ultra-argentum-dinos to win the game.

P3P1: Could you resist the temptation here? This deck needed galvanic blast way more than it needed another 5 drop, even if the 5 drop is awesome and rare.

Red just dried up horribly here, but I don't think there was much avoiding it. Unlike in MBS #11, there wasn't any obvious opportunity to get out of red and into something else. The packs were overall below average which makes getting cut a whole lot worse. We ended up with a solid upper half of a good dinosaur curve, but as I said before, that's the easy part. A mana myr and a blast might have made a world of difference to this deck, but it still wouldn't have been stellar.

No surprise we lost in the first round, but there was an interesting decision to end it. I think I made the right play there. Let's break it down.

- There are three pump spells in the format, but only one of them can be played around here. +1/+1 doesn't kill us, and +X/+X kills us no matter what.

- He attacks here no matter what is in his hand, since he has no real reason to fear a counter-attack.

- If he plays another creature and we block, we're in terrible shape. Even if its a small creaure, if we attack into it theres a pretty decent chance he blocks. In a vacuum there's a better chance of him having a creature than having a specific pump spell.

-The only thing pointing to a block here is that there was 1 card left in his hand when he played corpse cur. It was slightly suspicious that he brought back the rats over the necropede (though i guess we had a replica in play). Theres a small chance we could use that info to determine that the last spell is mirran mettle, since the extra poison counter + the extra point of power on the rats puts us at exactly dead. I think it's a bit of a stretch for that to be the logical conclusion though. Even though I think necropede is the better target in general if his paln is to grind us with creatures or if he wants to break through with an untamed might (necropede is in general more likely to avoid being blocked), it's close enough that it wouldn't be surprising if our opponent just valued the rats more in general.

-Overall, even if we can put him at a 50% chance or more of having mirran mettle, I think it's still correct to let it through, since we almost assuredly win the game if he doesn't. On the other hand if we block, we still lose to untamed might and most likely lose to any creature off the top.

MBS #14

P1P1: I love pierce strider. 3/3 hasty artifact for 4 would be awesome, and this is way better. This is like 3/3 haste with when it enters the battlefield it has vigilance and is unblockable until the end of turn. But its even better than that because it still deals 3 damage if they have removal.... Fangren Marauder might still be the pick, but this leaves us more open, and I had drafted way too many fatties over last bunch of drafts and I wanted to be agressive for a change.

P1P4: Peace would be way worse than pierce even if infect didn't exist. It leaves us far more open than morbid plunder does, but we already have a black card, and morbid plunder is way more powerful than the 3/3. I think this was a mistake, but it turned out staying flexible was the right call.

P1P5: Just to elaborate (and maybe reiterate, I may have said this before) on my "hate" for nested ghoul (without dropping my mic on the floor), the 2 for 1 it creates is overrated because more often then not, just having an extra toughness or two creates a similar advantage. Rather than trading for a random two drop, a 4/4 either trades for something of similar value or requires a double block. Sure the ghoul can trade with something of similar casting cost as well, but more often than not your opponent won't actually let that happen. In the case of the double block, you still often trade for two random 2 drops, except with a 4/4 you open yourself to the blowing them out with removal (though I'll concede you can still blow them out with a pump on a ghoul). When compared to the rager, they both create a 2 for 1 that usually just trades with a 2 drop, but one costs 2 less mana, hence my pick. There are situtations (turn to slag for example) where the ghoul is better than a beefier 5 drop, and it's not like I wouldn't be happy playing the ghoul, but I'd rather take a solid early drop and save my 5 slot for something else.

P2P3: I think the only argument for shatter is that we could still have red as heavyish splash. At this point my red is way better than both my other colors though, so I think its pretty safe to just take turn to slag. I definitely value reliable creaure removal over albeit more efficient artifact removal. Especially turn to slag, since it covers equipment too, which is one of the most common in-game situations where you might wish your creature kill was a shatter.

The deck turned out pretty sweet, mostly thanks to an awesome start to pack 2. No insane bombs, but a nice dose of removal with quality plays at every point in the curve. And there's nothing I like more than blowing someone out after they decline the split. That'll teach em'! (Although, I'll admit I've been blown out after refusing the split my fair share of times as well)

Until next time, which may be at another site (though I'll still try to at least post simultaneously at mtgovideos), happy drafting.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

MBS #9-10

A couple more drafts today. Hope you like em'.

MBS #9

Looking back:

- P1P4: Ok. While I'm relatively sure it's a trap to think infect is open based on a 4th pick rotwolf, it is the best card here by a pretty wide margin, so maybe i should just take it. I guess it's not the worst as a blocker in a dino deck. As much as I like white based aggro, the Paladin just doesn't mesh with my first few picks. Maybe I should just take crush since I am favoring red in order to abuse the spine. While virulent wound would keep me in black, I don't like running it outside of infect, and I'd pounce on the rot wolf way before considering the wound.

-P1P7: While Ghoul is the easy pick here, I defintely like it less than most. I really like my 5+ drops to have higher toughness. It's upside of replacing itself is often just worse than a few extra points of toughness would have been if it ends up just trading with some idiot 2 drop (which is often what happens). It's easy to be blinded by the "pure" card advantage it promises, but the reality is that a 4/4 is often either going to lead to the same card advantage by forcing double blocks or virtual card advantage by blanking their attackers, all while dodging more removal than a 2 toughenss guy. Still, not gonna complain about getting it 7th.

-P2P1: Lux cannon is the safe pick I guess, but I'm not a huge fan of it. I actually like it most in an infect deck where I'm always happy to play proliferaters like Throne of Geth. The only problem with volitions reigns here is that it's pretty unlikely we end up blue, since it seemed to be cut pretty hard pack 1, and it's tough to manage a mana base for a deck that has voltiion reigns and only a couple of other blue cards. It is still in my opinion way better than the cannon, and since we don't have a second color yet, it's probably worth the risk.

-P2P5: Pretty close between the shatter and the perilous myr. but I value the myr pretty high in this kind of deck (sacrifice outlets, morbid plunder). Also, it's unclear at this point whether we're actually moving full speed into red, or if we're going to splash it, and taking the myr eases up our mana requirements if red ends up being the splash.

-The rest of the draft seemed pretty straightforward. The packs, for the most part were on the weaker side, and when we were taking mediocre cards it wasn't as if there were better options if we were in another color combination.

-It woulda been nice to draw the sword once!

MBS #10

Looking back:

P1P2: So this is early for mirrorworks, even for me. The thing is the pack is bursting with mediocrity, and there is not one card we'll regret passing here. My rule of thumb with mirrorworks is that I'll always take it over something mediocre and replaceable. I've had pretty good (and fun!) experiences with it in general, but when I've picked it, it only actually makes my deck about half the time, so I recognize that it's not often a good early pick. That said, I do think this is one of the most underrated cards in the set, because I still haven't seen it on the other side of the table, and every time this makes my deck, its pretty obscene.

P1P4: I'm not sure how myr turbine makes it to pick 4 with an uncommon still there. Was there a foil in the pack? There isn't a single common I'd take over this, unless I'm forcing infect.

P1P5: I jsut want to stay flexible here. Serum raker is likely the better card though.

P1P6: Skyhunter is tempting. It's been awhile since i've drafted white aggro. But are first 5 picks are allowing us to be very flexible with later picks, and I don't want to commit heavily to color for an aggressive two drop. I'd rather wait for something more game breaking.

-Overall a pretty interesting draft. I think the deck was quite good. We unfortunately lost to the deck that ultimately won the draft, but I don't think that matchup was unwinnable.

-Before you point out how I lost both drafts to infect decks, I'll point it out myself. This doesn't change my stance on infect at all. I recognize that infect can be very good, and that its not uncommon that the best deck at the table will be infect. However, I still think that moving into infect often removes much of your control over how the draft pans out. I'd be hard pressed to believe that people regularly moving into infect end up with the nuts more often then they end up with absolute train wrecks.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

MBS #7-8 and ZWR #1

Hey guys, its been a while. While I've still been playing plenty, I haven't had the opportunity to record much. Recording requires a little extra focus on the game and blocking everything else (most importantly my wife) out. But we're back with a few more drafts, so I hope you enjoy!

Before you scroll down, I'd also like to thank everyone for the encouraging feedback both in the comments and in the client itself. I've been a bit surprised by how many of my opponents have seen, AND had kind words for, my videos. It's definitely easier to devote a bit of extra time to creating videos when I know there are at least a few other people out there who enjoy them. By the way, that doesn't mean I don't also encourage negative (but constructive) feedback. If there are things I'm doing wrong, and I'm sure there are plenty, let me know.

MBS #7

Looking back:

Ok, so yes, I realize I got passed the nuts infect in pack 1. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that I'll make the same first pick in that pack every time. I think it's fairly obvious that there ended up being two infect drafters to our left (either consecutive, or spaced by one seat). Not only does that set us up well for pack 2, despite potentially being green, this whole draft really highlights the problems I have with drafting infect in general. I feel that right now it's next to impossible to have infect relatively open from the left and right.

 In order to draft a succesful infect deck, there are a relatively narrow set of cards that fit. Furthermore, there is a pretty general conscensus as to pick orders, in terms of what cards are high picks and what cards are filler. We all "know" that blightwidows, rot wolf and spread the sickness are the top commons and flesh-eater imp, septic rats, viridian corrupter and mortarpod are the top uncommons for the archetype. The thing is, and I'm basing this on my personal experience drafting infect, is that seeing ANY of these cards (especially the creatures) somewhere after second pick we say to ourselves (or to the microphone in my case)  "Awesome! That's still in the pack! Infect MUST be open" Whether or not we can come to a concensus about blightwidow being better than spread the sickness or septic rats isn't important. What's important is that any of those cards are generally considered first pickable cards that can easily convince someone that infect is open when they're still in the pack at pick 3 or later.

The problem is that it's a pretty common occurence that several such cards are in the same pack.  This leads to some pretty messy situations. We can easily snap up a blightwidow pick 3, grab an equipment in an infectless pick 4 to stay open and slam a rot wolf pick 5 and commit to infect confidant that infect is WIDE open. But is it? I think the first question was what else was in the pack? If blightwidow and rot wolf are the only high quality infect cards in the pack I think it's quite likely you have an infect drafter or your right, and quite possibly  directly to your right. Even if there was a rot wolf in the pack with the blightwidow, who's to say that someone didn't slam a corrupter or a flesh-eater imp out of that pack?

So how can we ever ensure that infect is open from our right? Well I think that takes something like a corrupter or flesh-eater imp pick 3 or 2+ top-tier infect cards left in packs where commons were taken at pick 3. This leads to other side of the problem and the main point I'm trying to make. The knowledge that infect is open from the right is very likely to come at the cost of being unable to effectively cut infect. So in summary, I feel like I can almost never be sure that infect is actually open from the right without having a very good chance of putting someone at my left in infect. In essence, every time I make a move on infect I feel at the complete mercy to how the packs are opened and to the decisions my surrounding players make.

Here is where you may say something like "So what?! This is just the way signalling works in drafting. It can never be perfectly reliable!". But my rebuttal is that in this format, signalling is really only  important if you're drafting infect. The high density of artifacts allows any non-infect deck to be quite flexible. An infect deck with too few infectors is a train wreck whereas in a "normal" deck even if you get cut relatively hard from the color(s) you commit early to you can get by with the few awesome colored cards you opened and the other few that squeaked through unbalanced packs. So sure, while being at the mercy of the packs to some extent are part of the facts of life in most other formats, I feel like that can be mostly avoided as long as you avoid infect. To be clear, I'm not saying avoid infect at all costs. I will still sometimes draft infect, but it takes a good amount to coax me into it. Basically, if the best card in the pack is far and away an infect card, I'm still going to take it. And top-tier infect cards that fit into other archtypes (blightwidows and corrupters or any of the removal spells) are still very reasonable early picks for me. But as soon as I'm presented with the choice of cards that are close in value where one is generally only good in infect and the other is only good in non-infect, I'm leaning towards non-infect without too much regret unless my pile is heavily weighted towards infect.

So awhile back (this ended up being a longer rant than I expected) I said that this draft was a good example of what I'm talking about. So what happened? Well exhibit A is that i split the finals, and the other guy in the finals was NOT the guy i passed the "nut" infect to pack 1. Why not? Well lets look at pack 2. We saw very very little infect, which implies 2 infect drafters to our left, which was to be expected judging from what we passed pack 1. This means pack 2 was likely pretty subpar for him. So pack 3 should've been great for him right? Nope! Infect was certainly still open, we passed a putrefax pick 3. But otherwise he was at the mercy of some unfortunately weak packs for infect for the first 5 or so packs. And ,well, there was likely another infect drafter approximately accross the table from us, so it dried up pretty quickly after that too. He got maybe 3-4 quality picks out of pack 3, and to think that could've been us! And what about the poor soul drafting infect somewhere to his left? I'm pretty sure that's the guy we crushed round 2 judging by some of the cards he played. I realize that a single draft is a small sample size to try and prove a point with, but still, some interesting food for thought.

MBS #8

Looking back:

- Pick 3 should've probably been the warder. I think that skyhunter is potentially slightly better in a heavy white aggressive deck, but this early, and with picks in two other colors already, we're just speculating with this pick, and if we don't end up either very heavy white or really agressive, the warder would be way better. It's also slightly better for signalling purpose, but that's more of a minor concern for me, especially since my white decks often end up with a healthy dose of artifacts.

- In hindsight I would have preferred the tower of calamities to the trinket mage Pack 2 Pick 6. But it is 20/20, and i think that pick can easily go either way.

- In the main deck, the choice of scrapmelter and genesis wave was pretty interesting. I think the wave is pretty sweet in this deck with only 2 other non-permanents. But scrapmelter is always pretty sweet if slightly less fun. It could have gone either way, and there was even potential for both since wave ideally only gets played for x=5. The mana is probably slightly better overall without the red splash so maybe wave was the better choice, but I'm still pretty unsure since wave is a lot more likely to be a dead card in my hand.

- Sigh.... I punted the second round. I knew before, during and after I cast the replica that bouncing my engine was the correct play. The other half of my brain somehow got tempted by the replica being a much more mana efficient answer to both the reigns and the anatomist. It was just way too important to play around the revoke existence because that anatomist absolutely had to die! That said, my opponent played quite well, had a pretty fun/cool deck that was pretty powerful too, so that does take some of the sting out of losing. I can tip my cap while kicking myself in the ass at the same time.

ZWR #1

- I think that the late geopedes probably says more about the inexperience of the drafters at the table than the openness of red. If this is an 8-4 I may come a bit closer to scooping up the geopede pick 4. That said, hookmaster is pretty sweet and matches colors with an awesome card in my pile, so I don't think I can go wrong taking the hookmaster there either way. Once I pass on the first geopede, I think passing on the second is pretty elementary, if painful.

- Yes. Pellaka Wurm was insane in triple ROE. Yes. It's still probably pretty good in ZWR. But let's remember how fast ZZW was. 7 mana is a lot more in ZWR than it was in RRR, even though the format likely slows down a decent amount with ROE added to the mix. Granted, I somehow remembered the Wildheart Invoker granting its ability to ALL creatures (I think I jumbled him with the red one in my memory) but I still think I want to err towards the more aggressive creature as long as there are zendikar packs in the mix. And hey, we got one later anyways!

- Let me emphasize how nuts I think wrap in flames is in the format, just in case cutting vendetta for it wasn't enough to showcase my stance. This is gonna 2-for-1 or better in this format on a regular basis. And when its not 2-for-1ing, its going to just win the game. It's hard to imagine a deck that can't take advantage of both of this cards effects, and either effect would be powerful enough for most decks to run alone. There's a reason this card was printed in ROE and not ZZW.

- It was pretty tempting to try the double splash, but in the end, I think that even with ROE, this format is all about being aggressive and consistent.

- After rewatching the draft pack 1, I'm unsure how my round 3 opponent ended up in green white as well. He was probably two to my left, and while some quality green and white squeaked through, it really didn't look like enough to get someone into both. That said, it worked out, and his deck definitely seemed more aggressive than mine. While I don't think he'd 2-0 me every time, I think that being the aggressor has the advantage.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

MBS Draft #4-5-6 and bonus MD5 draft

Nothing like the weekly downtime to coax me into finally uploading all the videos I've been accumulating.  I think from now on I'm going to try and upload them one by one and a bit more regularly. Here we go...

MBS Draft #4

Looking back:

Pretty straight forward draft. grab first and second pick bombs and then roll with it. Opening yet another bomb helps too. For the record, I split the final here. Normally with a deck like this I'll play it out but as I mentioned in the video, I was coming off a rough streak.

- Pack 1 Pick 6 should probably have been something other than the carapace, even though it ended up making the cut to help out the myrs (and because I just didnt have anything better). It really didnt fit with what I had in my pile at the time. Something like flayer husk or sylvok lifestaff is much better suited for the myr power up role, though I didn't really have a chance to pick either one up.  Either way, at the time I couldn't really predict i'd end up short a few ideal playables and if I could make the pick again i'd take the 3/3 infector as a potential sideboard card. Just to make it clear, I think I ended up better off having taken the carapace, because it was certainly better than the infector main deck and I was short playables, but that doesn't mean its not a mistake.

- There was way too much filler in this deck, and luckily the power of the bombs more than helped make up for it. It's worth noting I may have ended up with the nuts infect deck, and a lot less filler, but I don't think I could've justified jumping in early enough after getting passed the flamefiend and my pile would have to look pretty awful for me to try and jump into infect after pack 1.

MBS Draft #5

looking back:

- What was I thinking picking the juggernaut over the blue myr?!? It was unlikely to be more than just marginally playable, whereas the mana myr made it much more likely to be able to play all my good cards without having a completely miserable mana base.

- Pack 3 pick 1 was a tough one and I still don't know the correct choice here. Mindslaver is pretty sweet with shimmer myr because you can eliminate their opportunity to prepare for it. And maybe that was the right pick seeing as it was possible that any colored card here had a good chance of not actually making the deck. I think the sky-eel school was the best choice out of the colored cards since taking a red card here means that in order to play it I abandon either the conscience or the rebirth.

- On the topic of abandoning one of my bombs, after rewatching the draft I have no idea at what point I could have abandoned a bomb. I don't really think it was too greedy to stick to the plan of playing the bombs and splashing the red removal. The problem was that I made too many picks that didn't take that plan into account. The worst offender was the not taking the blue myr, as mentioned above. But here are some other ones I'd like to get another stab at:

 Pack2 Pick1: Necropede over Prototype Portal. I still like the portal, and I still think it can be considered an early pick. But here I already have a couple of cards capable of creating huge swings in my board position. I should be focused on making my deck support those cards as well as possible, rather than add a card that may need me to jump through a few more hoops to support. Necropede would be part of the solution whereas the portal is a part of the problem.

Pack 3 Pick 2: Revoke existence over Darkslick Drake. If I had access to a constructed quality mana base with dual lands aplenty then I think I could stand by my pick here. But I've already commited to playing 3 colors with my last pick, do I really want another card with 2 mana symbols in it? It's not even like one card can be said to be strictly better than the other here. With an already rough mana base, I should be erring towards whatever is going to be easier for me to cast.

Pack 3 Pick 6: Disperse or Horizon Spellbomb over Kemba's Skyguard. Take my last comment, and amplify it by 10. I actually don't even think i should have played the skyguard main deck. 2 horizon spellbombs without green mana kinda sucks, but so does not being able to cast your cards. I'm leaning towards disperse with this one.

Adjust those 4 picks and I have a much more stable manabase and I have no need to start trying to mindlessly jam extra artifacts into my deck to "power up" the portal and the juggernaut. Not needing to play extra artifacts could let me cut one for an 18th land (a much needed 3rd mountain).

In summary, I let greed get the better of me here. Splashing a 3rd color is fine, but its often going to limit what else your deck can do. My deck was trying to do way to many other things when it really just needed to be mindful of its mana base.

MBS Draft #6

Looking back:

... and sometimes it all just comes together.

- In case you missed it, picks 7-11 of pack 3 powered my deck up by about 10 levels. Not only did I get the second furnace celebration, but 2 more spellbombs, a kuldotha rebirth and the bleak-coven vampires.

- Even given the result, it's hard for me to say that mirrorworks is actually the correct pick over the ogre pack 1 pick 4, especially since there's a remote possibility it wheels. But sometimes it's a good idea to experiment with rares. That's twice now that i've drafted a deck where mirrorworks was insane (the other wasn't recorded but I allude to it in the video), so I may do some more expermenting in the future when I have the choice between it and a solid but replaceable playable.

- I probably like ichor wellspring more than most. I think its a fine early pick over branching to another color as long as you have a red or white card in your pile. It's more of a cantrip that enables metalcraft otherwise, and I'm rarely metalcraft unless I'm white anyways. Pick 3 would have been a blue card if my second pick wasn't red.

- Boy do I hate Cerebral Eruption. It has to be the worst card-I'll-never-cut-if-its-on-color of all time. I wish I just took the necropede, it would have avoided the heartache that may have shaved a few years off my life. Did I go 0 for 6 before I finally hit (and won the finals)? The worst part is that often if you whiff once you can't afford to risk whiffing again the next turn unless its your only chance.

-I think I'm done taking chrome steed when I'm not white based metalcraft. Theres just not enough payoff for taking artifacts over colored cards when you're not playing white. I guess I couldn't have known it at the time, but liquimetal coating would've ended up being a decent option once there are 2 furnace celebration in the pile.

-I'm sure I made a whole bunch of play errors here. This deck was definitely tough to pilot but thankfully powerful enough to forgive a few mistakes here and there. The thing is there were often just so many different lines of play and even looking back now, its tough to say for sure which was the best option.

Bonus MD5 draft:

This is one of my all time favorite formats. Invasion and Ravnica blocks are up there too. It kind of reminds me of invasion. Mostly stinky creaures, but instead of invasions riduclously powered spells we have mirrodins ridiculously powered artifacts/equipment.

Basically, in this format I very rarely strongly commit to even a first color. I just take premium colored cards regardless of the color as long as they are splashable, and otherwise grab the artifact.

I value good equipment over almost everything. By good equipment, I'm talking viridian longbow, vulshok morning star and leonin bola. And obviously a sword or a skullclamp(!) if I'm really lucky.

I put a strong emphasis on getting rewarded by the last pack. The two important themes in fifth dawn are 1 mana artifacts and sunburst. I generally like to have some cards that enable each of them when going into the last pack, otherwise I can't take advantage of many of the most powerful cards there. This means I sometimes take spellbombs and fixers/mana myrs over cards that are more powerful in a vacuum.

I'm not likely to value creatures very highly early in the draft unless they have a sweet ability (and tapping for mana counts!) or have evasion.

Until next time!

Friday, March 11, 2011

MBS Draft #1-2-3

I have 3 drafts to post, enjoy!

Draft #1

The biggest decision here was between blightwidow and skyhunter. Either way it seemed like blue was being cut and I had to look towards a second color (even with blue being cut, no reason to believe im not going to play blue for a control magic and a likely solid pack 2). The blightwidow is in general a much stronger signal than skyhunter, but with a skyhunter in a completely empty pack in the previous pick its a little less clear. As good as blightwidow is, I think that based on the previous pick its just as likely that white is open as green/infect and I'd rather have two cards than 1. I also prefer white blue to green blue, even though we know now that this isnt what ended up happening. It's still a really tough pick, and though it definitely worked out here, I could've just as easily been kicking myself if another blightwidow came the next pack instead of another skyhunter.

Another toughie was divine offering vs skyhunter #3. It's crystal clear that white is open at this point. In terms of signalling shipping the divine offering is a worse signal, since it's a much smaller commitment to white and is therefore more likely to switch the guy to my left into white if he has not yet settled on a second colour (which at this point in the draft is often the case). However, once I know I'm drafting an agressive deck, I normally like to take above average creatures over average removal (although its just the nuts when racing with an artifact heavy deck, not all decks care about racing, and not all decks that care about racing care about life totals). The reason is that too much removal in an aggresive deck slows down the deck and really devalues the effectiveness of the creatures. Drawing lots of removal in a control deck is fine because when you finally draw a threat they tend to be threats that hit hard. In an agressive deck, not curving out on creatures because your hand has a couple removal spells is far worse, because when you draw into some gas its likely to be a creature that is far less impressive once you hit turn 5-6, and easily outclassed by your opponents later drops. It's still nice to have a few removal spells obviously, and if it's an arrest, it'd be harder to pass (except for Koth of course!). But I'd much rather be light on removal then light on aggressive creature drops. I think taking the best card for the deck trumps signalling, especially in this format where players are more ready to swtich plans for a bomb or delay commiting to their second color until the second pack or later.

After that, the draft was pretty straight forward, and red fell into my lap without really ever having to make any tough decisions between red or blue cards. Looking back at the deckbuilding, I can't believe I even considered playing 16 lands. I was probably overvaluing the 3/4 battlecry, 1 was likely enough and could have just as easily cut one the other over the myr, but 17 lands was a must either way.

Draft #2

 Not much to say here. I liked my draft here, but the deck really wanted some combination of perilous myr, necropede or myr sire (in order of preference). It also could've used an extra land! (a common theme in my builds). I just can't believe my greed sometimes when I look back, that golem foundry is waaaaay worse than a land in a deck as mana hungry as this one. I played it to get more value out of throne of geth, but in reality it just vastly increased the likelyhood of awkward draws, where either I'm short on mana or where I draw foundry and it does absolutely zero.

Not much I could've done in those games other than play a more consistent version of my deck, but even then, I don't know that would've made the difference. That doesn't mean I'm unhappy with the deck, I think its well above average and it's more than capable of taking down a queue given an extra land and slightly better draws.

Draft #3

This is a weird one. I started off ready to record but my computer crashed before I could grab the corrupted conscience! I missed the first 5 picks after quickly rebooting, autopicking a powerful basic forest over the control magic. Joining the land when I returned were Master's Call, Loxodon Partisan, Ichor Wellspring and Myr Sire. Could be worse! Having no clue what I passed, I decided rather than try to read any signals here, just go all out aggressive white metalcraft. Normally this would mean I just save the recording for another day, but I thought the draft was interesting enough that I'd record the matches and just post the draft in html. Here it is.

  Pack 1 pick 6:

  My Pick:

No need to split into red for the resistor when I can keep metalcraft open with some good agressive equipment.

  Pack 1 pick 7:

  My Pick:

Training drone might eventually be interesting, but slasher is pretty sweet with my pile of autdrafted cards.

  Pack 1 pick 8:

  My Pick:

Not very agressive, but it could at least be a sideboard option against a really slow deck, and nothing else looks very good.

  Pack 1 pick 9:

  My Pick:

Dont want to get big here with the rhino. I want my artifacts cheap and aggressive.

  Pack 1 pick 10:

  My Pick:

  Pack 1 pick 11:

  My Pick:

  Pack 1 pick 12:

  My Pick:

  Pack 1 pick 13:

  My Pick:

Wow! This guy's actually pretty insane in this deck the way its developing. The only thing is if I play 2 of them that only leaves 5-6 colored card slots left.

  Pack 1 pick 14:

  My Pick:

  Pack 1 pick 15:

  My Pick:

  Pack 2 pick 1:

  My Pick:

Tough tough pick. . The second recruit I wheeled really gives me incentive to go hard into metalcraft. Arc trail is really tough to pass up. Is it worth a precious colored card slot? Definitely. But I am likely to end up with more than enough good colored cards. The harder thing to do is to pick up enough high quality artifacts to get metalcrafted without playing garbage. That brings the choice to relic or tumble magnet. It could go either way, and I think I'd go tumble magnet if I could do it again. With only 7-8 colored slots, its really nice to get removal out of an artifact for this type of deck.

  Pack 2 pick 2:

  My Pick:

Similar to the last pick except  both the colored card and the artifacts are weaker. I still take the artifact, it could just as easily be the glider, but I have a couple myr including the masters call, and definitely plan on taking more.

  Pack 2 pick 3:

  My Pick:

Stag is good too, but not much synergy for it yet. Edgewright hits harder, especially when its equipped, and costs half as much. Even when I'm not metalcrafted, which shouldn't be very often, its still efficient enough. Shatter is fine too, but not enough to get me red. If there was an artifact better than mana myr, I'd be all over it.

  Pack 2 pick 4:

  My Pick:

Nothing exciting, but I do want mana myrs eventually. Berserker would be ok, if I had any other reason to be red. Darksteel Sentinel is a good card, but I don't plan on playing anything costing 6 or more unless its an absolute bomb.

  Pack 2 pick 5:

  My Pick:

  Pack 2 pick 6:

  My Pick:

  Pack 2 pick 7:

  My Pick:

  Pack 2 pick 8:

  My Pick:

  Pack 2 pick 9:

  My Pick:

Ok. Maybe this should've been turn to slag. The shikari is pretty easily replaceable, and even if I'm not keen on running turn to slag or anything over 4 mana that isnt completey nuts, I may at least want to side into it.

  Pack 2 pick 10:

  My Pick:

  Pack 2 pick 11:

  My Pick:

  Pack 2 pick 12:

  My Pick:

  Pack 2 pick 13:

  My Pick:

  Pack 2 pick 14:

  My Pick:

  Pack 2 pick 15:

  My Pick:

  Pack 3 pick 1:

  My Pick:

All I want for christmas is a 2-mana flyer. Plenty of other awesome cards here, but for other decks. Mimic vat is going to sit on the table with nothing underneath it most of the time, and the rest of the time it will likely not have anything worth the 3 mana per turn. Trigon is really solid in general, but in this type of deck, by the time I can activate it once or twice, if I'm not close to winning the game, it's unlikely that trying to grind them with -1/-1 counters is going to be what makes the difference.

  Pack 3 pick 2:

  My Pick:

Again, 2/2 flyer over the trigon. I feel like for this type of deck to really work, you've got to be dedicated to the beatdown plan. Diluting your hands with slow cards, particularly ones that won't flat out win you the game when they stick, just reduces the effectiveness of all the other cards in your deck.

  Pack 3 pick 3:

  My Pick:

Grasp is actually a reasonable option since I don't really have another color. But I go for the gold myr. Between galvanizer, equipment and a really low curve, playing more myr will add legitimate creatures/artifacts to the deck while allowing to reduce my land count to 14 or 15.

  Pack 3 pick 4:

  My Pick:

  Pack 3 pick 5:

  My Pick:

I have a drake in blue already from the previous pack, and still a few slots available for colored cards. If I'm running blue, and don't need more artifacts, the certarch will be way better than the replica.

  Pack 3 pick 6:

  My Pick:

  Pack 3 pick 7:

  My Pick:

  Pack 3 pick 8:

  My Pick:

  Pack 3 pick 9:

  My Pick:

Sweet. The second best card for my deck from the pack wheeled. Not surprising with all the goodies that most other decks slammed in their pile, but this is an advantage in drafting this style of deck.

  Pack 3 pick 10:

  My Pick:

  Pack 3 pick 11:

  My Pick:

  Pack 3 pick 12:

  My Pick:

  Pack 3 pick 13:

  My Pick:

  Pack 3 pick 14:

  My Pick:

  Pack 3 pick 15:

  My Pick:

Looking back, pretty good result for first pick forest! (split the finals). I could definitely see myself going as low as 14 lands in this style of deck. Being able to lower the land count lets you run enough artifacts to support more of the cheap aggressive colored metalcraft cards.

The hard part in drafting this archtype is finding 17-18 solid artifacts that fit the deck's strategy (or cards that you can count as artifacts like trinket mage, myrsmith or master's call) The deck is not going to be worth drafting if you need to run trigon of mending and friends as cards 23-25.  This leads to some strange picks. If I take arc trails and revoke existences over sweet artifacts too often, I may increase the quality of my colored cards a bit, but it comes at the risk of decreasing the overall quality of cards in the deck. For example, if I take arc trail pack 2, it means I need to prioritize artifacts later in the pack. As a pack progresses, it's way more likely to pick up a solid colored card than a respectable artifact. So  taking arc-trail over relic/magnet now can come at the cost of needing to take trigon of mending over a solid colored metal-craft dude later on. Even when you don't end up needing to run complete trash for artifacts after taking the arc trail, you still end up just moving laterally by improving your colored cards while decreasing the quality of your artifacts, so I dont think its worth the risk. Of course all this only applies when you're already commited to the aggressive metalcraft strategy. If I don't quite know whether I'm metalcraft or not, I'm probably just snapping up the arc trail.