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.