Hello everyone and welcome back for another edition of The Cardboard Witch. As regular readers of the blog know I've recently been appointed Magic Coordinator for two of Hairy T's three locations. I can honestly say that if I knew how much work this was going to be I might not have agreed so easily. In particular I've spent a great deal of time getting the info out for our Scars of Mirrodin Pre-Release tournament being held this Saturday (25th, 1PM) at the Hairy T North. Our local Magic environment is definitely growing and we're hoping to get to the magical # of 32 participants this time; myself included. Please feel free to accept my open invitation to this event, I'd love to meet anyone who reads the blog and this set looks like a pile of fun for Limited formats. You can find full event details here: http://z3.invisionfree.com/GTA_TGA/index.php?showtopic=1186&st=0#entry8815794
With that out of the way lets dive right in and take a look at an 8-Man draft I participated in a couple weeks back. I've been saving this one for the next installment of this column because quite frankly it's one of the most disgusting draft decks I have ever built, regardless of set. It's capable of playing pure Aggro as well as any M11 build I've made while still completely functional as a turn 6-7 combo deck; allowing you to switch back and forth between styles depending on the match-up/game state. In my humble opinion this monster would take out most factory bought Pre-constructed decks in a 2 out of 3 setting, that's how good it is. Here is the final deck list I entered the tournament with; I've left out the sideboard because I honestly didn't get very many playable cards that didn't make the deck:
R/W Aggro w/ Fire Servant Combo
Creatures - 14:
1x Infantry Veteran
1x Blinding Mage
2x Ember Hauler
1x White Knight
2x Wild Griffin
1x Assault Griffin
1x Cloud Crusader
3x Fire Servant (no really)
1x Magma Phoenix
1x Angelic Arbiter
Spells - 9:
3x Lightning Bolt
1x Crystal Ball
1x Lava Axe
Land - 18:
Ultimately I'm not entirely sure how I ended up with a deck so strong but I have a few ideas:
A) I opened very good packs for my color combination and I was also passed good cards to support the ones I opened. - While this may sound simple enough it's honestly fairly rare to get that lucky all the way through pack 3. My first 3 picks in pack 1 were Fireball, Crystal Ball and Pacifism which is lucky enough in it's own right. Pack 2 was even better however, netting me 2 Lightning Bolts, a Blinding Mage and a Magma Phoenix in my first 4 picks. Finally pack 3 rounded the deck out with Angelic Arbiter, a 3rd Lightning Bolt and a 2nd Pacifism. You can't buy that kind of pack luck.
B) I was the only player at the table with Red as one of her primary colors and one of only two players taking a significant amount of Red period. - Over time the general "thinness" and "splashability" of Red's best cards have caused many drafters to steer away from the color if given other choices and apparently my local environment is no exception. During the actual "tournament" portion of the draft I couldn't help but notice that almost nobody had entered Red decks. One of the Green players had splashed a couple Mountains for a Pyromancer and a Fling. Additionally my 2nd round opponent would turn out to be running the B/R Act of Treason deck but for an 8 person table it turns out I had very little real competition for Red cards. This probably explains things like a 7th pick Ember Hauler and getting my 3rd Fire Servant 6th pick in pack 3.
C) The player to my right was playing in his 2nd draft ever and likely made some mistakes. - While it's always nice to have new players, sometimes the mistakes they make in early drafts can tip the scales drastically in favor of the players sitting next to them. After the draft I had a chance to talk to my opponent about the choices he'd made and he admitted he'd passed me way too many strong White cards in pack 2 while trying to focus on his Green. To make matters worse the player on the *other* side of him was playing Green/Blue and finished 2nd overall. I showed him the cards I felt he shouldn't have passed me in pack 2 and we both agreed his deck would have been much stronger with a Blinding Mage, a White Knight, a Wild Griffin and a Condemn; all cards he passed in pack 2 for less impressive Green options.
D) People seemed very averse to drafting cards with double mana symbols outside of Green. - While I can't actually confirm this theory I definitely seemed to snap up a lot of "later than usual" picks in both colors that happened to have WW or RR in the casting cost. Alternately most of the "splashable" but weaker cards in my colors vanished fairly quickly. It seems fairly likely then that I benefited greatly from a willingness to commit to 2 colors and 18 land so early while gobbling up powerful double mana spells.
Round 1 - Mike C. B/G Aggro:
Mike is one of our draft regulars at the downtown Hairy T and therefore I often find myself paired against him during Booster Draft tournaments. He's a fairly inexperienced drafter but he plays well beyond his years and has developed into an above average deck-builder over the past few months. In particular he's good at switching back and forth between Control and Aggro decks from draft to draft with equal proficiency. This meant that when I sat down to play him in the first round I had no real idea what to expect; in fact I thought he was playing G/R until turn 3 when he played his first Swamp. Unfortunately Game 1 would turn out to be pretty boring as Mike proceeded to play 5 non-land cards in total as opposed to 6 Forests and 2 Swamps in an 8 turn game. I didn't really draw anything special myself but my opponent's general lack of creatures meant that I didn't have to; simply casting a "Bear" every turn and swinging got the job done. Game 2 was slightly better as Mike came out much faster; backing up a turn 2 Garruk's Companion with back to back removal spells on my would-be blockers (Wild Griffin, Cloud Crusader). Unfortunately we both sort of stalled from there and while my opponent was getting through for 3 a turn he had no more removal left when I cast Fire Servants on turns 6 and 7. My next turn featured 24 points of damage from 2 Lightning Bolts magnified by 2 Fire Servants and I was quickly on to the next round. The funny part was that Mike was just about to cast a Nightwing Shade and given a few more turns probably would have cooked my goose and forced a game 3 if I hadn't combo'd out instead.
Round 2 - Sean T. B/R Act of Treason Combo:
Round 3 Kelly - U/G/b - Big Fattie Aggro:
3-0 (6-1) 1st place.
Typically this is the part of the article where I attempt to frame the deck I played in the context of drafting as a whole but I really can't do that this time. This deck was completely broken and I could easily draft M11 100 times in a row without coming up with something this good. Sometimes you just have to "let it ride" and hope people pass you 3x Fire Servants I guess. Honestly I don't feel like I won my games so much as I turned cards over and let this deck win them itself.
Well folks that's all for this time, I have a draft tonight and a Pre-release sealed event on Saturday so it may be a little while before I get back to you all. To anyone playing in a Scars Pre-Release event this weekend good luck and stay the heck out of Green, it looks pretty awful this time.