From the computer to the tabletop, this is all about games. Updated each week-end.
This article will have two write-ups. One online draft and one paper draft. The more important difference is that the first draft I went 0-3 after making a poor first pick, and then doubling down on my poor choice as the draft went on. It was the result I deserved.
Lets talk about that one first.
Pack 1, Pick 1: Risen Executioner.
I chose the splashy mythic over the uncommon Rakshasa Gravecaller. This was a mistake. Risen Executioner is simply not that good of a card. Yes it recurs, but when it can’t block you are losing half the reason why you might want to bring it back.
The deck: Mono-black zombies
That’s right, I doubled down on my poor first pick to build a bad zombie deck. 8 zombies made the deck, along with five other creatures and a fair few point removal spells. I opened a Rakshasa Gravecaller in pack 2 and took that. Just think.
The result: 0-3 and 6th place
There’s a silver lining on every cloud. The lining here as that this was an online Swiss draft (now called Pack Per Win). I won no games but still won a pack, since two people dropped from the event before it finished. It was called Swiss for a reason, people!
Best cards: None
I had some individually good cards in this deck, but they couldn’t function to their best. Can I sacrifice Sultai Emissary to Rakshasa Gravecaller? Sure, but I am then down a zombie. Can I use Ultimate Price to remove a key creature? Yes, but I have very little to follow that up with.
In the end my deck was able to successfully stall and nothing else. Eventually I ran out of removal and blockers and my opponents still had creatures, so I died.
The games grew ever more frustrating and my in-game decisions became poorer too. Why stop a losing streak? I ended the draft seriously doubting my ability to play Magic, never mind draft.
There was a lot to learn here. Mainly, going for card quality and not being seduced by opening a poor mythic. The mono colour deck was weak and could not field enough creatures. Other creatures I had picked up later had either double blue or double green casting costs and were unwise splashes. I had painted myself into a corner. Did I have some bad draws? You bet. But getting some distance from the event, I was the one to blame for the results, and there were a list of things for me not to repeat.
Also, I had a think about things my opponents had done which had worked for them.
With that in mind, I headed to the store for my first paper draft in two weeks. Would my lessons learned have a positive impact?
My in-store experience was the polar opposite to last time. I guess people got the memo about sticking around to draft. I arrived 10 minutes early to find 12 players ahead of me in the queue. Ultimately the store ran a table of 8 and a table of 6 to avoid byes.
Pack 1, Pick 1: Thunderbreak Regent
From an ineffective mythic to a very effective rare, I had no issues choosing this guy.
The deck: White/Red
I managed to draft an aggressive deck featuring pairs of Dromoka Warrior and Mardu Woe-Reaper. There were only two cards more expensive than Thunderbreak Regent; Strongarm Monk and Boltwing Marauder. The red/black dragon was splashed for, but with 5 power in the air representing a bomb, I had no issue adding a swamp, two Evolving Wilds, and a Scoured Barrens to my deck.
I actually had a choice of splashing for Boltwing Marauder or Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest. My drafting of Tranquil Cove made the choice only between the cards, since the mana impact of either would be identical. I preferred the dragon as a card that required no further investment of mana.
The result: 2-1 and second place
So I lost to the eventual winner of the draft who piloted a nice green/white deck. I went down 2-0 in two close games that we both found enjoyable. My two match wins came quickly as I steamrollered my opponents with aggressive early plays, life gain from Champion of Arashin or Mardu Woe-Reaper, before finishing with a dragon.
Best cards: Boltwing Marauder, Goblin Heelcutter, and Champion of Arashin.
Thunderbreak Regent only came to my hand once in six games. Yes, it’s good. The above cards were good for me across the games.
Lessons Learned: Losing is a better teacher than winning. It’s easy to ignore your wins. After all if you drafted a solid deck, why wouldn’t you win? Losing makes you go back and consider your earlier draft picks, or re-evaluate a card you ignored that turned out to be great against you.
Still, this one gave me an appreciation for Great Teacher’s Decree, a card that got me two game wins, whch I had nearly left in my sideboard.