My name is Adam Clark. You might know me, you might not. If you've ever ran into a guy called the 'Fat Kid', we've met. I'm a New England-based player in the southern NH/ Maine area. I came out of a short retirement about a year ago and jumped right back into my favorite way to play Magic: drafting.
Not only is drafting the most enjoyable way to play the game (for me), but it also has a level playing field that no constructed environment can offer. You don't have to dump 40 dollars into one rare that you need four of. You don't have to spend hours going from shop to shop trading for the chase rares that everyone's hoarding for themselves. You just show up, sign up, and take a seat. I personally find that drafting eliminates a lot of the luck factor in your card pool typically associated with playing sealed, and it also requires the ability to read each booster pack to figure out what is not being drafted. This skill took me almost a year to learn during Onslaught block, but after a year and a half off, I don't quite have it all back yet. The following draft I'm going to talk about will display a little of this rust I'm carrying. If any of you followers of Magic Card Pro have any advice, don't be afraid to spill it. After all, I do believe that part of the purpose of this site is to help up as all improve our game.
This past Thursday, I walked into a store in Groton, CT called Mike's Magic Lounge. [editor's note: I'm sure the store was named before the movie came out] I had never been there before, but I was on the road for work and my fix for the addicting cardboard product needed to happen. My friend Derek and I walked in and signed up. We ended up in a 10-player draft that was broken into 2 pods of 5. Any seasoned veteran can tell you that a smaller pod should improve the strength of each deck. In a converse fashion, a larger pod typically weakens the strength of each deck. I would have preferred this draft to have been one pod of 10, as I feel that I can out-play many of my opponents. After I mumbled and grumbled about this seating arrangement I sat at the table and cracked my first pack.
In that first pack, I did what I've always done and started at the back of the pack. I slid a Sphinx of the Chimes out from behind the pack and got a little smirk. A 5/6 flyer for 6 6 mana is a house in any limited format. His secondary ability would almost never happen, but that's okay. I shuffled through the rest of that pack and made note of an Izzet Charm, an Annihilating Fire, and a Gorehouse Chainwalker. With all of those good red cards, I had just about ruled Izzet out of my pool. I slammed the Sphinx down and passed the pack. The next pack showed me a Skymark Roc, which I gladly took. I also made note that the rare was missing from this pack. From here, I drafted Azorius staples, like Voidwielder, Tower Drake, Dramatic Rescue, and so on. What shocked me was when the pack I opened made it back to me and the Izzet Charm was still there. I knew I had passed a red heavy pack and each pack there after had at least one good red card. After shuffling through the pack and not seeing anything that suited my colors I put the Charm down in front of me, just in case I had to splash a third color. The next pack had a Frostburn Weird. This told me Izzet was open, so I grabbed it. Even if I went straight Azorius, he's still a great card! In pack 2 I opened a Mizzium Mortars and didn't even bother to scan the rest of the pack before I slapped it down and passed. The pack passed to me had Cyclonic Rift in it, which met the same fate as Mizzium Mortars. After all, how do you say no to two potential board-sweepers? From this point on, I never saw another playable red card. But I got flyers and tempo cards all day long, so I ended up in straight Azorius at the end of the draft. Here's what I played:
Notable sideboard cards
My thought on this card was that it would be good against Selesnya decks. I never got to test it out, but if you have any experience on this card, speak up!
Going into round 1, I felt like I had a mediocre deck. While it had good synergy and a very tempo feel to it, I still was a bit unsure as to how well the deck would function. I felt like I had 2 'iffy' cards: Seller of Songbirds and Avenging Arrow. Avenging Arrow is like an expensive Vendetta, and Seller of Songbirds seemed like it would be better off in a Selesnya build than what I was bringing to table. In the end, I was wrong about the Seller and half-right about Avenging Arrow. The arrow is either an over priced Vendetta, or you 2-for-1 with one of your guys. Trading a bird token for a bomb is fine, but I think I would've rather had a different card, like an Azorius Charm. Alright, let's get to the games!
Round 1 vs. Roger
We went through the usual first-time meeting that I go through at magic tournaments. “ Hi, my name is Adam.” to which they reply with, “Hi, I'm (blank)” Roger won the die-roll and opted to play first. I look at my opening seven and I see a Guildgate, Island, Dramatic Rescue, Blistercoil Weird, Tower Drake, Chiming Sphinx, and a Voidweilder. It seemed good. I was on the draw, I had a trick and a guy I could play off of what I had. Well, I didn't see another land until turn 5. Roger was playing Rakdos, and went turn 1 Cackling Fiend, turn 2 Chainwalker, turn 3 Annihilating Fire my guy. It was all over from there.
Game 2 went a bit differently. I was on the play, and I had 3 land, Inspiration, Voidweilder, Tower Drake, and Chiming Sphinx. Sounded awfully good to me! I ripped Blistercoil Weird on Turn 2 and proceeded to lay some beats against Roger's shockingly slow draw. He didn't play anything until turn 4, when he played a Stab Wound on Drake to kill it. Skymark Roc came down and sealed the game for me.
Game 3 was an actual game! We both had good draws, with Roger coming out with his Cackling Fiend, followed by a Thrill-Kill Assassin. I Dramatic Rescue'd his assassin to his hand at the end of his turn and followed it up with Sunspire Griffin into Skymark Roc. Turn 4, Roger plays an Izzet Guildgate, which took me entirely off-guard. I thought that he was playing it to help out with an Ogre Jailbreaker, but little did I know he had sideboarded in an entire suite of blue cards. Skymark Roc got hit by Cyclonic Rift when I went to cast Knightly on it. He followed it up with Inspiration on his next turn and hit his hand on the table. Roger had just drawn 2 land, and drew nothing but land for the rest of the game while I just ripped gas and got there.
Adam 1, Mike's Magic Lounge 0
Round 2 vs. Tanner
Tanner sat to my right in the draft, and strangely also drafted Azorius. In a larger pod I would've questioned this, as 2 side by side pure UW drafters in one pod is pretty tough to pull off. Game 1 is pretty fast-paced with us trading guys in the air and trying to back each other into a corner, only for the other to push out of it. I dropped Knightly Valor onto my Frostburn Weird and started to beat with him on the following turn. I told Tanner he was a 3/6. Tanner then flashed in Hussar Patrol and gang-blocked with the patrol and a Seller of Songbirds. I cocked an eyebrow and said “pump my weird, kill your Hussar Patrol.” “Okay, your weird still dies.” “no, he's a 4/5”. Tanner had thought I said 6/3 and exclaimed “(expletive) dyslexia!” From there I systematically picked apart his board by forcing him into bad blocks and keeping him on the back foot. It took me 4 or 5 turns, but I eventually wore him down to zero, and we went to game 2. Sadly, the only thing I do recall about game 2 is Tanner being stuck on 5 land for 4 or 5 turns and still managing to hold me off. After the match, we looked through each others decks. Tanner had a very solid deck, including a Trostani's Judgment and Archon of the Triumvirate, neither of which I saw! Yes, I do believe I lucked out in these 2 games. But sadly, it's sometimes better to be lucky than good.
Round 3 vs. Derek
Round 3 turned into an intentional draw with my friend Derek, giving us a tie for first place. We did play the match out for fun, as Derek was all “Meh meh meh, my deck will beat yours” So we shuffled up, and I got the play. The first couple turns proved unexciting for me, as it was mostly just me playing land dropping a guy or two. Derek slapped down a turn 3 Lotleth Troll, followed up by an EOT Eyes in the Skies and a Growing Ranks. I managed to stall the board long enough to Overload my Cyclonic Rift at the end of his turn and swung in for lethal.
Game 2 had Derek slap down a turn 2 pack and I stalled at 4 land. I don't think I need to say much more here.
Game 3 started off much in the same way as the first, but Derek had both an Ultimate Price and a Trostani's Judgement to off my Sphinx and Skymark Roc. On Turn 8, I bounced his board with my Cyclonic Rift and swung for half of his life total, keeping my mana open for both my Dramatic Rescue and Syncopate. I only needed the Syncopate for the final card in his hand: Horncaller's Chant.
I would now like to go over some of the cards I played and share some insight with you all.
Isperia's Skywatch: I'm not too sure how I feel about this guy. I think this comes down to a personal preference, but I would prefer to spending my 6th turn doing something more. Yes, he stops your opponents biggest threat for a turn. But it's only for a turn. I wouldn't value him as high in a draft as I've read others do. He's not a bad card, but he's not great.
Arrest: This card is no Oblivion Ring, but I still value it high. At bare minimum it's a Pacifism. But it makes guild mages useless, as well as many other troublesome activated abilities in the format. I wouldn't pick it first, but I would definitely pick it high.
Azorius Justiciar: I don't think this guy was the best fit for my deck. He'd probably be better off in a more aggressive deck where you're going to keep the pressure up. Great card, just not so much here.
One thing I did realize is that any creature with a toughness of 4 or more is going to cause your opponent problems. Most selesnya tokens are 3/3's at the largest, Rakdos almost exclusively makes smaller creatures. This little tidbit made it so that by Round 3, I knew I could squirrel away my precious removal for bigger threats. That being said, this is another reason that Augur Spree is OH-SO-GOOD! I can't wait to be able to draft Rakdos in this format, as it looks very powerful and aggressive.
Thank all of you people at #MTGPRO for taking the time to read my first article. If you have any critique, don't be shy! Also, any and all feedback about my thoughts on particular cards is appreciated!