Saturday, November 13, 2010

Of Limited Interest #13 - "Lack of Forward Progress"

(Dear readers, some of you may have noticed that this article appears out of sequence.  This is because I wrote it while waiting for another Website to publish "Of Limited Interest #12".  Rather than make everyone wait until the editor of the other site posts my article I've decided to just go ahead and post the next one anyways.  I've been assured that #12 will be posted sometime this weekend and while all my writing is by nature sequential there's nothing in that article you need to know to understand/enjoy this one.  Alternately feel free to assume I forgot how to count and to poke fun at my math skills in the comments section! :) )

Hello ladies and gentlemen and welcome back for another edition of The Cardboard Witch.  Recently I mentioned that due to some sort of technical "glitch" many readers were apparently unable to post comments here on this blog.  I asked these readers to simply email me their comments so I could post and respond to them as part of the regular column.  Until now, nobody has taken me up on this offer.  This morning at 9 AM I received the following email from Darren:

"Can you post my comment please: "Do you ever lose a draft?  I like your blog but it seems like you only pick the drafts you win to write about.  I think people could learn more if you posted some of your bad drafts too, just my opinion.  Thanks for writing draft articles.""

Well Darren I hate to admit this but you raise a good point.  While I certainly have posted articles about losing drafts in the past it's been a little while since I've written about one that I lost.  I'm pretty sure this is a subconscious decision since frankly I tend to remember games I've lost in way more intricate detail than games I've won; making it much easier to write about them.  In light of this glaring injustice I've decided to write an article about not 1 but 2 triple SoM draft decks that simply "didn't get there".  Thanks for your comment Darren and please enjoy my failures:

W/B Flying Metalcraft Aggro :

Creatures - 16 (17)

2x Fumespitter   
2x Glint Hawk
1x Glint Hawk Idol (in a W deck it's usually a creature)
1x Gold Myr
2x Painsmith
2x Perilous Myr
1x Kemba Skyguard
2x Moriok Replica
1x Necrogen Scudder
1x Palladium Myr
1x Rust Tick
1x Golem Artisan

Spells - 7:

1x Contagion Clasp
2x Grasp of Darkness
1x Revoke Existence
1x Dispense Justice
1x Instill Infection
1x Trigon of Corruption

Land - 16:

8x Plains
8x Swamp

Coming out of the draft portion of this tournament I was pretty sure I was going to waffle-stomp all 4 of my opponents and cruise to an easy victory in 8 or 9 games.  This deck was fast and evasive with a pile of excellent removal and typically that's a draft winning combination here in Scars of Mirrodin. On the downside playing only 11 artifacts to combine with 2x Glint Hawk and 2x Painsmith made me feel a little naked but I simply didn't have better options in the sideboard.  I figured it wouldn't be a serious issue anyways since the only 2 cards that had no value without an artifact in play were the Glint Hawks.  Besides you'd really only need to get through with a Painsmith augmented flying creature 2-3 times to ice a game.

My first two rounds went pretty much exactly like I predicted they would; I won the roll and dropped some creatures.  My opponents decks were both slower than mine and I'd usually be up 2-4 life by the time they were in a position to start swinging back.  I'd drop a removal spell or two, spill out more damage/flyers and the games were ending on turns 5-7. Because the games ended so quickly I"m a little fuzzy on the details but I'm pretty sure my first round opponent was running r/g "Stompy" aggro with few artifacts and my second opponent was running a more traditional R/W "Metalcraft" build but with very few flying creatures.

My third round opponent was playing a slower primarily blue Metalcraft deck with multiple copies of Vedalken Certarch and Sky-Eel Schools. He also had at least 2 Neurok Replicas because in our first game he held me off for what seemed like years with a pair of them.  Additionally because his flyers were simply larger than mine I couldn't count on them to close out the game like they had in the first two rounds.  At one point my opponent had 2x Replicas, 2x Sky-Eel Schools and a Certarch in play while my board was something like a couple of 2/2 Flyers, a Moriok Replica and a Palladium Myr.  I was pretty close to conceding when something remarkable started to happen; namely I drew virtually every piece of removal in my deck one after another while my opponent topdecked nothing but land.  Unfortunately game 2 was a travesty as my opponent got stuck on 2 land and then 4 land for multiple turns each time.  When he finally did play his 5th land I was simply too far ahead on life to catch; my opponent showed me 2 Sky-Eel Schools and a Volition Reins before conceding.  I think it's fair to say my opponent's deck was more powerful than mine; albeit not as fast.

By the time the finals rolled around my estimation of my deck's power level had diminished slightly.  While it's true I had a number of solid flying creatures none of the monsters in my deck were actually very big.  Making matters worse I had struck out on power boosting equipment yet again; a sure sign I don't draft these cards quickly enough.  This left me depending on one of 3 things to win: my opponent's having no flyers themselves, my deck feeding me enough kill to clear the path for my tiny guys or me sticking a Painsmith/Golem Artisan and riding it to victory over 3-4 turns.  I still felt I had a tournament winning deck in my hands, I just wouldn't describe is as "broken" anymore upon further examination.  Round 4 however was to be my "comeuppance" when I faced off against my arch-nemesis; Kelly Ackerman rocking the single most disgusting B/G Poison deck I have ever seen.  Kelly had everything; including doubles of Plague Stinger, Ichorclaw Myr, Cystbearer and Corpse Cur.  He also had a a pretty sweet removal package with at least one Grasp of Darkness, at least one Tangle Angler, a couple Slice in Twains and a Flesh Allergy.  Finally of course pushing the deck right over the top Kelly had not 1 but 2 copies of Hand of the Praetors and making matters worse I'd actually PASSED him one of them in pack 3 so I could pick up my 2nd Grasp of Darkness.  In fact I'd also passed him a pack 1 Grasp when I stopped to take a 1st pick Arc Trail and then never saw another relevant red card all draft.  Our first game was at least close; Kelly of course seized control of the early game and began giving me poison counters.  I responded by playing my own creatures; several of which who double as removal (Fume Spitters/Perilous Myr).  We began an elaborate multi-turn battle for board control; trading creatures and removal spells with both of us playing at a very high level.  I honestly feel I got the better of him during combat for 3 or 4 turns in a row because of the Myrs "explosion" effect in particular but ultimately it didn't matter.  I died by poison despite having sent 12 of Kelly's creatures to the graveyard and exiling 1 of them from the game (Corpse Cur).  Game 2 can be summed up by saying that Kelly drew roughly the same number of infect monsters as in game 1 while I drew about 1/3 as many removal cards; in other words this game ended very quickly and no I did not win.

3-1 (7-2) LVP:  My opponent's deck being broken 8 ways from Sunday combined with my own overestimation of the strength of my build.  The deck desperately needed more flyers, some equipment or a Trigon of Rage.

W/R Equipment Aggro

Creatures - 12 (14):

1x Origin Spellbomb
2x Glint Hawk Idol
1x Perilous Myr
1x Silver Myr
1x Sunspear Shikari
1x Auriok Replica
1x Kemba' Skyguard
1x Vulshok Replica
2x Bloodshot Trainee
1x Ghalma's Warden
1x Barrage Ogre
1x Saberclaw Golem

Spells - 10:

1x Darksteel Axe
3x Galvanic Blast
2x Sylvok Lifestaff
1x Shatter
1x Trigon of Rage
1x Arrest
1x Tumble Magnet

Land - 17:

8x Mountain
9x Plains

This deck on the other hand had me quite worried coming out of the draft process.  I'm not sure if it was because the packs were light or because my opponents were adopting a "take all of the artifacts" strategy but I found myself scrambling all draft for non-colored cards.  In fact I left several decent Metalcraft cards in the Sideboard simply because I never expected to trigger their bonus in time; including a couple of Auriok Sunchasers and another Ghalma's Warden.  On the plus side I had managed to draft way more power-boosting equipment than usual and through sheer luck I'd been handed a late Bloodshot Trainee in both packs 1 and 3; picks 9 and 11 respectively. 

My first round opponent was playing a green/blue infect deck with a bunch of awesome proliferate cards.  Unfortunately in both our games he struggled with his mana in the early going and I was able to draw enough removal to keep myself clear of poison in the early game.  By the mid game his hand was full of proliferate cards with nothing on board to proliferate.  Ultimately I don't think his deck was that good although it did have a number of powerful interactions; you really want a LOT of infect creatures when you're trying to win by poison.  Alternately maybe he just didn't draw very well and his deck actually had hordes of them; our games were over too fast for me to say for sure.

My next opponent was essentially playing the same deck I was except it was bigger and unfortunately slower.  This was his first draft since the pre-release and I could kind of tell by the way he built his deck that he was till stuck in M11 mode.  Essentially he'd drafted 4x Flameborn Hellions, several Mana Myr and some removal to keep himself in the game long enough to beat his opponent down with Hellions.  Unfortunately Scars is a *much* faster environment than M11 was; by aggressively attacking his mana Myr I was able to end both games before he could cast a 2nd Hellion. Additionally my creatures are all pretty interchangeable and many of them weren't artifacts; making his Shatters and Turn to Slag somewhat awkward to use in both games.

My opponent in the finals turned out to be "the other white" player; running a very powerful U/W Metalcraft deck that unfortunately outclassed mine in every single way.  Highlights include: 2x Halt Order, 2x Sky-Eel School, 2x Razor Hippogriiff, 2x Soliton (and 1x Heavy Arbalest :( ), 3x Neurok Replica, a Perilous Myr, a Rust Tick, an Argentum Armor, an Arrest, a Mimic Vat and finally a Steel Hellkite.  Needless to say I did not win any games against this deck and finished this tournament in a distant 2nd place.  The most frustrating part of the entire experience is that Leon had drafted that monstrosity exactly 2 seats away from me and I had no idea he was even playing those colors.  I'd been so focused on maxing out on Galvanic Blasts and power-boosting Equipment that I'd let an opponent "built a significantly better mousetrap" than I should have.

2-1 (4-2) LVP: Overestimating the importance of speed here in the Scars of Mirrodin draft format.  While I never saw the Hellkite or the Mimic Vat many of the cards Leon used to beat me originally came from my packs.  I'd passed on a pack 1 Razor Hippogriff in favor of the much cheaper Galvanic Blast and ignored blue as a possible 2nd color even though it was clearly open simply because "Sky-Eel Schools and Solitons are too expensive".  Probably worst of all I'd passed the Argentum Armor after opening it in pack 2 in favor of a Darksteel Axe because I was afraid of investing 6 mana in an easy to destroy artifact.  Ultimately this made my opponent's deck significantly stronger than mine.

Well folks there you have it, definitive evidence that I do in fact lose drafts from time to time.  I'd like to thank Darren for emailing in the comment that inspired this article and I'd like to encourage readers out there who might be having trouble with the Comments box on this blog to email their posts to me like Darren did.  My email address is  Thanks again for reading and until next time remember that 3x Galvanic Blasts doesn't always mean you're going to win the whole draft; even if it should.



  1. HEY!
    I'm the "editor" for the other site (although I am merely the grammar I don't post anything). I just got done with #12 (which I got today :P) so it should go up soon. Nice writing. Look forward to reading your blog from now on!

  2. Lol, thanks for the compliment! When it goes up I'll post a link to for the article so people can get there from here. If you're the one who's editing my article please forgive me in advance for my unabashed fascination with the semicolon. I literally can't help myself. Hope to write for 60 cards again sometime in the future and I'm glad you liked the article, I was a little nervous.

  3. Shouldn't you just not post #13 because of the standard 'bad luck' stuph?