A Draft

Pack 1 pick 1:

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 2:

My Pick:
Was tempted to Rhino since Hydra is so strong, but the power level is a bit too off-balance.

Pack 1 pick 3:

My Pick:
Considered serpent. If the rest of the packs are as green-light as this, i might end up with a low-curve BW deck. Also don’t have much experience with this card, and have heard wildly different accounts. Want to give it a shot.

Pack 1 pick 4:

My Pick:
WB, i was saying?

Pack 1 pick 5:

My Pick:
Nothing great overall, but I want to keep my curve low.

Pack 1 pick 6:

My Pick:
Pack is pretty bad, but i think gearshift ace makes this card decently playable.

Pack 1 pick 7:

My Pick:
Pretty much nothing that draws me into any color.

Pack 1 pick 8:

My Pick:
I might end up going bigger and ditching the midnight oil. Wondering if i should be blue at this point.

Pack 1 pick 9:

My Pick:
Strong red signal after some weak red packs.

Pack 1 pick 10:

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 11:

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Pack 1 pick 12:

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Pack 1 pick 13:

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Pack 1 pick 14:

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Pack 1 pick 15:

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 1:

My Pick:
If I had seen more than 9 green cards total in pack one, I might have gone for the cub, but it’s clearly shut-off.

Pack 2 pick 2:

My Pick:
If I didn’t want to try and make midnight oil work, i think there’s an argument for Augmenter.

Pack 2 pick 3:

My Pick:
Training pretty hard these days.

Pack 2 pick 4:

My Pick:
Never had this card either. Let’s try it out.

Pack 2 pick 5:

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 6:

My Pick:
Goes well with my trains and my dragster.

Pack 2 pick 7:

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 8:

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Pack 2 pick 9:

My Pick:
The rest of these packs are very weak, and I’m wondering if I’m going to end up with a mess.

Pack 2 pick 10:

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Pack 2 pick 11:

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Pack 2 pick 15:

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Pack 3 pick 1:

My Pick:
P1P1 I slam Snare Thopter. I think this is much closer with my archetype well-established. I need cheap creatures, and this guy is right on theme.

Pack 3 pick 2:

My Pick:
Hoping the gravedigger will wheel.

Pack 3 pick 3:

My Pick:
Hooked up.

Pack 3 pick 4:

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 5:

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Pack 3 pick 6:

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Pack 3 pick 7:

My Pick:
I keep being told that this guy is underrated, so lets put him to the test.

Pack 3 pick 8:

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Pack 3 pick 9:

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Pack 3 pick 11:

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Pack 3 pick 12:

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Pack 3 pick 13:

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Pack 3 pick 14:

My Pick:

Ended up here. Would you have built it differently?

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New Musings (Newsings?)

I’ve put off writing for a while now, mainly due to a chronic shortage of time and a lack of any worthwhile successes to talk about. I managed to win a PPTQ this weekend, solving both of those problems.

It was my fifth win across 44 events. All of my wins so far have been Standard, and three of them took place at this same venue, Bob’s Baseball Dungeon Dugout. Bob’s is something of a gem and something of a shithole, and I keep winning his events.

14925712_10209963491835767_2939702179680568913_nThe Dugout, courtesy of Wyatt Darby

The store is in a basement, with carpeting of an age that rivals the collection of core-set fatpacks lining every shelf. When the play space fills up, it overflows into an unfinished storage room that adds extra motivation to continue placing in the top half of the field.

Bob himself adds some flair to the store. Posters about 9/11 conspiracies and news clippings about the days when politicians were noble can be found taped to the refrigerator, and it’s not uncommon to hear an outburst of armchair commentary about whatever baseball game is on the TV in the middle of your match. There are a few other oddities as well – each player in his PPTQs gets to throw some darts at a board, and the best score gets to take home a free fat-pack at the end of the night. Bob doesn’t really understand Magic, and his lack of preparation (that is, lack of a printer) can be a little off-putting, but at the end of the day, he’s willing to make the decisions required to make sure the people in the room are happy, or at least entertained.

*Record Scratch*

*Freeze Frame*

“So I bet you’re wondering how I ended up in this basement game-store. . . ”

I hated the last standard format, almost entirely because of Collected Company. Not because it was overpowered, or because it put too much restriction on deckbuilding. I mainly hated sitting across from an opponent with 5 open mana up, trying to go through all the billion (someone check my math) possibilities of what they could have.

Avacyn? Spell Queller? Collected company into any combination of Spell Queller / Reflector Mage / Thalia / Selfless Spirit / Displacer /  Tireless Tracker / Sylvan Advocate? There were too many possibilities, and I simply don’t have the processing power to find those situations enjoyable in any way. Especially when I was also playing Company, and we would both just be sitting back out of fear, while digging for some stupid trump card so our collective misery could end.

Modern season was also a bust. I played some Death’s Shadow, some Elves, and some Dredge once they printed Cathartic Reunion, but I never really enjoyed myself. The good decks just aren’t that fun, getting crushed by oppressive sideboard cards feels miserable, and losing because you never saw your own sideboard cards feels just as bad.

After all of that nonsense, the new standard format feels great. The aggro decks are interesting, the tempo decks get to leverage their pilot’s timing abilities, the control decks have cool finishers, the midrange decks are clean and consistent, and the combo decks . . . exist.

I finished 16th in the SCG Classic last weekend playing a list very close to Shota’s PT winner, swapping out a few outdated SB cards for some Dragonmaster Outcasts, which I expected to give me an edge over the UW flash decks that looked to be a threat. I never actually drew the outcasts in that matchup, and in the end I finished a win outside of Top8.

It might seem reasonable to continue working on the deck after a reasonably solid finish, but it looked like the tide was about to turn, and I couldn’t really justify trying to force through a deck that was decently behind against the most popular choice in the field.

On Saturday, with zero testing, I took this to my PPTQ:
1 Noxious Gearhulk
4 Sylvan Advocate
3 Tireless Tracker
1 Emrakul, the Promised End
2 Ishkanah, Grafwidow
2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
3 Liliana, the Last Hope
2 Vessel of Nascency
4 Grapple with the Past
4 Grasp of Darkness
2 Murder
1 Ruinous Path
1 Dead Weight
2 Transgress the Mind
4 Traverse the Ulvenwald
6 Forest
7 Swamp
2 Evolving Wilds
1 Blighted Fen
4 Blooming Marsh
4 Hissing Quagmire

1 Appetite for the Unnatural
2 Natural State
1 Essence Extraction
1 To the Slaughter
1 Emrakul, the Promised End
1 Ob Nixilis Reignited
2 Flaying Tendrils
1 Lost Legacy
2 Pick the Brain
1 Transgress the Mind
1 Gonti, Lord of Luxury (last minute, couldn’t find a Nissa)
1 Dead Weight

This is very close to the deck that won the American GP last weekend, with some small tweaks.

I’ve been asked several times about Sylvan Advocate over Grim Flayer:

  • Advocate lives through Flaying Tendrils
  • Advocate can attack into Spell Queller / Reflector Mage
  • Advocate matches up well against Grim Flayer
  • Advocate is more reliable against aggro

Beyond that, I’m philosophically inclined to play Advocate. Given the choice of two cards, I’m more likely to play the one that consistently shores up a problem rather than the one that has the potential to do something busted. Come to think of it, maybe that’s why I under-perform in Modern . . . 

I finished 3-2, beating RW Vehicles, Grixis Prized Amalgam, and UWR Control, losing to both UW Flash players I faced.

This was a problem. I felt like I got a little unlucky to lose my UW matches, getting flooded in g3 of one (namedrop Eddie Song), and getting stuck on three lands in g3 of the other, but if this was a matchup I wanted to stomp, I needed to make some changes.

For Sunday, I did this:

Maindeck:
-1 Tireless Tracker, -1 Transgress the Mind, -1 Murder
+1 Ishkanah, +1 Pilgrim’s Eye, +1 Ruinous Path

SB:
-1 Gonti / Nissa, -1 Dead Weight
+1 Tireless Tracker, +1 Transgress the Mind

I wanted to be better against UW, so I addressed two problems:

  1. Adding an Ishkanah to bridge through the midgame.
  2. Adding another spell to kill Gideon.

On top of adding an Ishkanah, I wanted to make them better when I drew them, and Pilgrim’s Eye seemed like the best way to do it. It helped ensure that I’d hit my fifth land on time, and was an easy way to get over the Delirium threshold.

Tireless tracker was only good in the UW games where I was already stable, and those games tended to be favorable anyway, since my deck is just loaded with tutors at that point. I almost cut Dead Weight from the maindeck instead of Transgress, but looking around the room, there were a few more aggro decks than I was comfortable with, so I put my discard spell in the board instead.

Round 1 I got paired against Box on WB midrange, and our games were uneventful. His draws were below average, and mine were great.

Round 2 I beat RG energy, and again my draws were much further above the curve than his.

Round 3 I lost to Tyler Schroeder, who had rolled into the event as part of a car containing Jason Kenjar, Nathan Lothamer (fresh off his first PT), and Wyatt Darby, who had just won a PPTQ the day before, and was along for the ride.

Game 3 was the most interesting. I ultimated a Liliana, but because he had a wall of Spell Quellers and Reflector Mages, I couldn’t profitably attack without stacking up zombies for a few turns. When I first got to 10+ zombies, he cast Declaration in Stone, forcing me to start over, and allowing him to take out a big chunk of my life total.

During this whole time, I was sitting on a hand of Traverse, Traverse, To the Slaughter, but with only Sorcery, Instant, and Planeswalker in my graveyard, I couldn’t put any of them to use. On the turn when I was going to get back up to 14 zombies, I drew a land, but declined to play it for no real reason.

On his next turn, he cast Declaration again. I responded with my Slaughter, targeting myself, in order to keep most of my zombies around, but he countered with Spell Shrivel, which I couldn’t pay for because I hadn’t played my land for the turn. I lost.

Round 4 I played against Nathan Lothamer, and in both Games 2 and 3, we got into a situation where we both had Emrakul mana, and both had  Emrakul in hand (in game 2, we actually both had two Emrakul in hand). It had been several months since I had to wrap my head around how these turns would play out. It ended up being pretty complicated, especially because there was a Liliana on his side of the board in Game 2, which meant that his monster beat mine in a fight.

We ended up going to turns, and although I couldn’t quite kill him on turn 4, it was clear that I was definitely going to win the game given another attack, and he conceded.

Round 5 I defeated Grixis Prized Amalgam, and then beat him again in the top four. Our games were more close than interesting, especially our final battle, where I topdecked a flaying tendrils the turn before he topdecked  what would have been a lethal Fiery Temper.

In the finals I was against Tyler again. He commented that a mutual friend had told him stories of me being an endboss, and here he was, trying to beat me in the finals on the day we met.

In game 3, we got into a position where I was slightly ahead on board, and was threatening to cast an Emrakul should he ever tap low on my turn. When he went for a Gideon, I punched back with Emrakul, countered his Gideon emblem with the Summary Dismissal he had been saving for my Emrakul, ate his team, did a big chunk of damage, and then sat back after he Reflector Mage’d my Emrakul.

I knew he was sitting on another counter, but I had a plan. I let him exile my 13/13, and on his turn, forced him to attack, and before blockers, used a Natural State to free Kalitas from a Stasis Snare, ate his board, and built a zombie army that would take me to victory.

I’m hoping to write a bit more about what I’ve been doing magic-wise, so I’ll probably have some more posts soon. If you want to see some really bad drafting (where I manage to win anyway), check out the few posts before this one.

Pack 1 pick 1:

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 2:

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 3:

My Pick:
Not sure what i’m supposed to do here. Nothing seems great. It’s possible this was supposed to be built to last.

Pack 1 pick 4:

My Pick:
I could attune with aether, but it doesn’t fit well with anything I have. Operative crews a bazaar barge, and fits well in either RB or GB.

Pack 1 pick 5:

My Pick:
Now leaning into Bx artifacts.

Pack 1 pick 6:

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 7:

My Pick:
Nothing good, at least this is a colorless SB option

Pack 1 pick 8:

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 9:

My Pick:
SB option.

Pack 1 pick 10:

My Pick:
If i’m RB, i’ll have a lot of menace options.

Pack 1 pick 11:

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Pack 1 pick 12:

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Pack 1 pick 13:

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Pack 1 pick 14:

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Pack 1 pick 15:

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Pack 2 pick 1:

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 2:

My Pick:
I’m a very lucky person

Pack 2 pick 3:

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 4:

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 5:

My Pick:
I guess this should have been hellion. I was concerned about a low artifact count at this point.

Pack 2 pick 6:

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 7:

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Pack 2 pick 8:

My Pick:
If i’m RB control with a lot of spot removal, this is a great finisher, alongside bazaar barge.

Pack 2 pick 9:

My Pick:
Literally just because it’s a constructed card.

Pack 2 pick 10:

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 11:

My Pick:
This is insane. This guy is too good.

Pack 2 pick 12:

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Pack 2 pick 14:

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Pack 2 pick 15:

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Pack 3 pick 1:

My Pick:
Not sure if this should be the pick above brazen scourge. Wanted to try out the rare.

Pack 3 pick 2:

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Pack 1 pick 1:

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 2:

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 3:

My Pick:
First one that’s a little tough. Could take the 3/1, or the burn spell. This card is actually pretty great though – it pays you off for dumping your hand, always at least cycles, and is especially decent when you’ve got a copter to crew with it in the late game. I also don’t have to play red beyond a light splash.

Pack 1 pick 4:

My Pick:
Nothing to make me want to commit past green.

Pack 1 pick 5:

My Pick:
Between the harrier and the draw spell. Very unexciting pack. I just prefer blue to white in this set, and i like the energy decks.

Pack 1 pick 6:

My Pick:
I like 2/3s over 3/2s in this set, and this guy is decently aggressive despite his stats.

Pack 1 pick 7:

My Pick:
Maybe a signal? Probably not, but the hill giant is only medium, and i’ll want this if i’m black.

Pack 1 pick 8:

My Pick:
I could have taken the train to board against control, but BTS is the premier pump spell, especially with a bomat courier in my deck.

Pack 1 pick 9:

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 10:

My Pick:
I might need reach if i’m RG.

Pack 1 pick 11:

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Pack 1 pick 13:

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Pack 1 pick 14:

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Pack 2 pick 1:

My Pick:
I really want that marionette, but black was so bad in pack 1. If i’m RG aggro, i either want the +1 counter guy, or this one drop. This card is growing on me, and two drops are easy to come by.

Pack 2 pick 2:

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 3:

My Pick:
I think the pinger is not good unless you can make a lot of energy and make use of its second mode, and we definitely cannot do that right now.


Pack 2 pick 4:

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 5:

My Pick:
Pack is bad, maybe I should have ended up black after all?

Pack 2 pick 6:

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Pack 2 pick 7:

My Pick:
Gonna smash this draft.

Pack 2 pick 8:

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Pack 3 pick 1:

My Pick:
BUILT TO SMASH

Pack 3 pick 2:

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Pack 3 pick 4:

My Pick:
I should have taken the gremlin. I don’t remember even seeing it.

Pack 3 pick 5:

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KLD Draft

DRAFT ONE  – This was kind of a trainwreck, but I managed to straighten myself out just in time, and stuck a 2-1 record.
Pack 1 pick 1:

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 2:

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Pack 1 pick 3:
I was dumb to commit to a much weaker white card at this point. Should have taken Ovalchase Daredevil and been open to either UB or WB splashing Cloudblazer.

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 4:

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Pack 1 pick 5:

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Pack 1 pick 6:
If I had made the black pick earlier, i might have chosen live fast here. Tezz ambition is fine, but they go SUPER late, and I never want more than one. Sometimes you have a problem getting finishers in these decks, and automaton would go in any slow build.

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 7:

I think the bat and hawk are both better in WB, but I’m leaning towards being defensive and needing cards that enable artifact synergies rather than benefit from them.

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 8:
This card is fine if you get 2+, but not great. Again, should have moved into black by now, as Operative is legit.

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 9:
Synergy with both my first pick and with the Switcheroo – Shrewd Negotiation.

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 10:
Again, could have been paid off for being in black.

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Pack 1 pick 11:

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Pack 2 pick 1:
Alright, NOW i get the memo.

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 2:
My mana is now officially a mess, so I’m trying to fix it.

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 3:
This card is an amazing finisher. It ends the game so quickly, and I’ve cast it for as little as UU.

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 4:

This should have been another pillar-bug. I was too focused on my servo enabler.

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Pack 2 pick 10:
I’m now looking to be UB splashing white

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Pack 3 pick 1:

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Pack 3 pick 2:

Just so much better than everything else, this is a total hedge in case my mana fixing improves.

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 3:
Payoff.

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 4:
Had I been really heavily in UB earlier, i could have splashed this disintegration and the blazer.

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 5:

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Pack 3 pick 6:

My Pick:
I have a bunch of mid-game energy generation. I didn’t realize I could also untap creatures with this, which let me untap a malfunctioned creature to attack for the win.

Pack 3 pick 7:

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Pack 3 pick 8:
My random puzzleknots are looking much better.

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DRAFT TWO – Ended up 3-0 pretty handily

Pack 1 pick 1:
Three cards excite me. Pummeler, Veteran Motorist, and Animation Module, all of which are build-arounds, but module is the most flexible, and is totally busted if you have all the energy creatures.

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 2:
Could have grabbed sage and stayed on theme, but Warden is so much better. Sad, because white has basically no good energy generation.

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 3:
Warden was a good tempo play, and I wanted to try going beatdown, especially if that 3/1 from the first pack wheels, which it sometimes does.

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 4:

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Pack 1 pick 5:
These guys go pretty late, and I don’t want too many 4-drops, but they enable artifact synergies and give me reach.

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 6:

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Pack 1 pick 7:
Just in case I end up RG or something

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 8:
Artifact synergy and reach

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 9:
I don’t love the 1/3, but i should have taken it as a SB option

My Pick:

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Pack 1 pick 11:
This card is actually decent, especially with my 1-drop

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Pack 2 pick 1:
Very aggressive. Probably my nonrare 4-drop of choice for this deck.

My Pick:

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Pack 2 pick 4:
Considered goggles. Either was probably fine here.

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 5:
Cheap tricks are great, and i don’t think I’m very good at going wide. This is insane with the menace lizard.

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 6:
Built to smash would also have been fine, but my creature count is low.

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Pack 2 pick 11:
In case I need to go long.

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Pack 3 pick 1:

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Pack 3 pick 2:
This card is exceptional in these decks. It’s often a lava axe in the late game that pitches your leftover lands and draws you real cards. I ended up building my deck so i’d never have to play more than four lands, and could sandbag the rest to chuck at their face or best threat.

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