Another Evening at the ‘O’

Well, it’s Tuesday again. Anyone who reads me regularly will know that Tuesday means a night of drafting at CMU.

Well, it’s Tuesday again.

Anyone who reads me regularly will know that Tuesday means a night of drafting at CMU.

I think it’s very interesting to note that the regular group of drafters has changed quite significantly since I wrote my original “Day at the O” article back in December of 2003. For the math gurus out there, that’s about a year and a half ago, and we’ve undergone a serious amount of change in our player pool in that time.

No longer do we have the likes of Eugene Harvey, Andrew Cuneo, Nate Heiss, Rachel Reynolds, or the mighty potato Mike Turian attending our weekly drafts. There are others as well who have graduated and moved on or just quit playing Magic for whatever reason.

Almost unbelievably, our Tuesday night gaming group has still been going strong and also regularly adding new members even with the absence of some of the best Limited players the game has ever seen. On average, 14-24 people assemble every week for a night of drafts and good times.

Tuesday, April 26th

1:03 PM
: Well things are certainly winding down for me in terms of school.

I have a final on Wednesday afternoon, and another on Thursday and then I’ll be done for good. This is an especially good thing since I normally have a Wednesday morning class at 10:00 AM that makes it hard to get a decent amount of sleep after staying at CMU until 4 or 5 in the morning. That class is finished though, so this week I should be good to go.

I should note at this point that it’s very unusual for me to be up at this ungodly hour of 1PM and I am only awake because I ended up falling asleep early last night while watching a movie. My usual sleep schedule is the classic poker player hours of 7AM – 3PM.

1:09 PM : As I’m hanging out and surfing the net, I get an IM from Mr. Benjamin Peebles saying that he wants to start drafting early this week because he doesn’t have any homework. I tell him that I’m fine with that and that he should start rounding people up and let me know when to come since I’m just hanging out anyway.

At this point I’m watching some WSOP reruns on ESPN when my cable just randomly goes out. Great. The TV changes to snow flurries and the internet goes down and in a few minutes I’m already walking out the door.

I really didn’t feel like trying to get my modem back online at this point and was just hoping Ben could get some people together to start early since we usually do the first draft at around 5PM. As I’m getting in my car, my phone rings and it’s Ben and we have a 3on3 together for 2PM. Excellent.

1:20 PM : I call Andrew Brown to tell him I’ll be picking him up shortly.

The drive is pretty uneventful except for the fact that some guy in a Mustang decides he wants to race me. The reason that this was unexciting was because it’s something that regularly happens when you drive a 2004 Mazda RX-8 and I’ve just gotten used to it.

1:44 PM : I pull up to Brown’s house with my windows down blasting some Green Day and honk for him to come out. I’ve been on a huge Green Day kick lately after seeing them live again last Saturday as they are absolutely amazing in concert.

2:14 PM : Brown and I arrive at the O, and shortly thereafter Ben, Angry Dave and Silent Steve arrive.

Angry Dave has been playing with us for quite some time now, and also has a wife, Pearl, who plays when she has time. Angry Dave is also locally known as the “Master of Science” due to his job working for the government as a scientist. I’m pretty sure that Dave would also beat Bill Nye in a fight.

Silent Steve has just recently started coming to the O, but plays a tight game and drafts well. He received his nickname for a couple of reasons. First off, basically everyone who plays with us is loud and obnoxious when playing while Steve just sits there and keeps to himself. There are also two Steves that regularly come, and we needed a way to distinguish between the two.

Anyway, I ended up bringing in my poker chips this week which isn’t something I usually do. However, since we’re still waiting for the other two guys to show up, we decide to play some poker. Brown and I were originally planning on playing heads up until Ben and Steve both say they want to play instead of playing their Standard decks. Ben has never played before and really has no clue what’s going on, so that ended up being pretty funny.

By this point Dave Weitz has arrived as well. I also take this time to grab some food at the O’ while we’re waiting for the 6th player to arrive.

3:11 PM : Draft One : 3on3

A whole hour later and Mike Patnik has finally joined us and we’re ready to start.

The teams are randomly chosen to be Ben, Patnik, and I against Brown, Steve, and Dave.

I crack open my first pack of the night and boy is it a hot one. I’m clearly taking Uyo, Silent Prophet first, but accompanying it are Hanabi Blast, Rend Spirit, Ronin Houndmaster, Gutwrencher Oni, and Orochi Sustainer. My next pick is Strength of Cedars over Consuming Vortex and Moss Kami (and I was pretty sure the Sustainer from the previous pack would table with so many other good cards in there). Third I somehow get Sosuke out of a completely insane pack, and there are still a Sustainer and Ronin Houndmaster when I pass the pack to Dave. It seems that we’ve all opened up ridiculous packs, as during my 6th pick I take a River Kaijin and have to pass both Mothrider Samurai and Innocence Kami. I end up tabling the Sustainer and my deck is looking very good.

Pack two presents me with a problem of sorts as I open both Consuming Vortex and Kabuto Moth. While I definitely would like the Vortex for my deck, I have to decide whether or not Steve on my right is in White, since I’d really rather not ship the other team a Moth. I decide based on a few packs that he definitely would’ve taken some of the cards he passed me (such as the Innocence Kami and Mothrider I mentioned) if he was in White. So I just pass the Moth and hope he either ships it through to Patnik on my team or just hates it up and wastes his second pick. My second pick offers me the choice of Sakura-Tribe Elder, Azami, Lady of Scrolls, Soilshaper, Soratami Mirror-Mage, or Rend Spirit. I end up taking the Elder since my deck really needs some mana acceleration and has quite a few four drops already. Soilshaper also doesn’t look like it will be very good in my deck at this point since I’ll be tapping out a lot. Ben apparently opened an insane pack again this time, as I receive a Teller of Tales third pick only to find out later that Dave had hated a Teller from me with his first pick in the second set of boosters, and taken Kabuto Moth over the Teller that I got third. Sick.

Pack three is pretty uneventful for me as I end up rounding out my deck and make one weird pick of Matsu-Tribe Sniper over Genju of the Falls. My reasoning for this pick was that the way my deck was set up I wouldn’t really have a lot of spare mana laying around to activate the Genju until the late game and I also didn’t want to play against the Sniper since it was a team draft. In the end this pick worked out to be right as every time I played Sniper I was much happier with it than I would’ve been with the Genju. Just another example of how card values fluctuate depending on the situation. I also had to pass Dave a Torrent of Stone in this pack, which was unfortunate.

Consuming Vortex

2 Matsu-Tribe Sniper

Orochi Sustainer

Sakura-Tribe Elder

Soratami Cloudskater

River Kaijin

Callous Deceiver

Callow Jushi

Gnarled Mass

Kami of the Hunt

Tenza, Godo’s Maul

Sosuke, Son of Seshiro

Soratami Mirror-Guard

Sachi, Daughter of Seshiro

2 Feral Deceiver

Sakura-Tribe Springcaller

Forked-Branch Garami

Teller of Tales

Strength of Cedars

Uyo, Silent Prophet

Scaled Hulk

9 Forest

8 Island

Like I said, all of the decks in this draft were overpowered due to the very strong selection of packs. I also decided to run both Snipers in the maindeck since we determined that all three of our opponents had a significant amount of fliers.

Round 1 vs. Mr. Brown

In game one, Brown opens with a strong curve, as well as a Kitsune Diviner which is very annoying for my deck. My draw is really slow so I start taking a bit of damage. He drops a Ghostly Prison and Honden of Infinite Rage to complicate things as well. In the middle of the game he is complaining that he can’t draw another Plains and he has ten of them in his deck, so I decide I need to kill him fast before he unleashes whatever double white spell he has in his hand. I end up swarming him just in time with Scaled Hulk, Moss Kami, and some smaller men that have a hard time attacking because of the Prison. The game was actually really close because he had gotten me down to eight and had the Shrine in play, but I narrowly pulled it out by being aggressive.

4:13 PM : Near the end of game one, the infamous Dr. Jason Martel has arrived on the scene and decides to make his first dumb comment of the night.

“I posted a tournament report about Detroit on Starcity.” -Martel

“I heard – way to not make Top 8 in the GP.” -Me

“The tourney report is full of savage lies.” -Martel

While it’s true that most of it is lies, it’s actually quite hilarious and here’s a link to it in the forums.

Getting back to my match against Brown, game two is a complete blowout as I play turn three Sosuke off of my Elder and then follow it up with turn five Uyo. The game doesn’t last much longer after that. This is the one thing I don’t like about having completely overpowered draft pools. Sometimes it can make the games very interesting with so many powerful effects going on, but far too often the games are just lopsided and whoever gets their bomb draw will win.

Round 2 vs. Anger Dave

At this point in the draft, Ben and I are both 1-0 and the match between Steve and Patnik is still straggling in game one.

I start with turn 3 Callow Jushi followed by turn 4 Feral Deceiver against Dave and start bashing him. Eventually the board stalls out with him at five life and me with a Sniper, Scaled Hulk, and a couple of random goofs. I make an awful “mistake” in this game though when I draw Strength of Cedars and I have five guys to his four. He has already cast one of his two copies of Torrent of Stone and doesn’t have any other way to stop the Cedars that we know of. Based on this, I decide to alpha-strike, since the board position is only getting worse for me as the turns drag on and I don’t want to give him an extra turn since I can Cedars him out with an unblocked 1/1 right now.

Well, apparently he had Silverstorm Samurai that Ben didn’t see in his match and I ended up getting wrecked in this combat step, since I couldn’t Cedars because of Moonlit Strider. That attack step spells my doom as I lose most of my guys and he has a huge board advantage. Whether it was a mistake or not isn’t really clear since if Dave had the Torrent he probably would’ve killed my Sniper on an earlier turn to unlock his Mothrider Samurai so that it could start attacking. As long as he didn’t draw the Torrent on that exact turn, I didn’t think he would have an answer to my pump spell, but alas, we didn’t know about the Samurai Ambush yet and it cost me a game. The fact of the matter is that the card is actually pretty good in 3on3 drafts, since it’s so bad that nobody remembers that they passed it and nobody expects you to maindeck it.

Game two starts with me mulliganning a decent but unspectacular hand on the play. Would you mull this?




Feral Deceiver

Feral Deceiver

Sachi, Daughter of Seshiro

Scaled Hulk

I’m pretty sure most of you would mulligan that, but there are those people who can never mulligan a hand with two lands in it. The problem here is obviously that the Sniper is not that impressive against Dave (except for shutting down Moth), and I really don’t have any other gameplan and need to draw two lands and in a hurry. I mulligan into a terrible triple Forest, Teller, Vortex, Callow Jushi hand and am forced to go down to five. This is bad times since I’m already down a game, but my deck offers up an excellent curve of lands, Callow Jushi, Forked-Branch Garami, Teller, and Scaled Hulk which I use to somehow defeat Dave’s super samurai draw that included two Ronin Houndmasters and a Nagao. I did get an amazing draw for a five card mulligan though and it’s not like Dave did anything wrong to lose this game.

5:05 PM : As we’re shuffling for game three, I overhear part of a pointless conversation going on between Weitz and Martel..

The latest crop of CMU players has already begun working on new Intellectual Properties.

“I bet the next set has Cat Samurais in it. I hope they have Protection from Rats.” -Weitz

“So it will be like Tom and Jerry?” -Martel

At that point I tuned out their conversation since I realized it was going nowhere. A quick glance around the room revealed that a ton of other people had arrived and were waiting for this draft to end so we could start two 8mans or multiple team drafts.

As Dave and I are starting game three, Ben informs me that he beat Brown and we’re currently up 3-0 in matches. Only need two more to win the draft.

Game three starts and Dave gets a fast draw containing Devoted Retainer, Hearth Kami, and Battle-Mad Ronin, but fails to make his third land drop. My draw starts with Sniper and Callous Deceiver and then I drop Mirror-Guard. His guys keep attacking me but they aren’t dealing very much damage so I start hitting him back with my flier and then play the Hulk so he can no longer get through. At this point Dave is complaining to Brown about missing land drops and he is reminded to “Control the Anger Factor.” I win this game pretty easily and we now only need one match win to take down the draft.

Unfortunately Patnik loses to Steve, and since Ben and I both only have to play Steve I just let Ben play him first since Ben’s deck is probably slightly better than mine. In the meantime, Weitz wants to talk poker with me and play heads up anyway so I’m glad I let Ben play.

5:42 PM : Jeremy Darling makes a guest appearance. Jeremy used to come every week but has recently been involved in a Fraternity at his college and has been too busy to play.

Jeremy and Patnik started talking, and somehow a gay bar in downtown Pittsburgh called Pegasus was brought up. I think what happened was that Patnik told Jeremy to meet him at the Pegasus and Jeremy didn’t know what it was, which prompted the following insight from Mr. Weitz.

“Any bar that is named after a mythical creature or has a color in its name is always a gay bar, Jeremy.”

Eventually Ben wins his match against Silent Steve and we end up winning the draft. Sadly, this wasn’t worth much since there were few good rares in the pool. (If you didn’t read the first “Day at the O,” we play for the rares in our drafts.)

6:37 PM : Draft Two : 3on3

Since we ended up with 14 people total, we decided to do a 3on3 and an 8man so that nobody would have to sit out. I end up in the 3on3 and the teams are Jeremy, Steve K. (not to be confused with Silent Steve), and I against Angry Dave, Kevin, and Andres.

Definitely should have gone higher than 14th.

Somehow a card titled “Extra Joker” from my deck of playing cards manages to find its way into a Champions booster and gets a good laugh from everyone. I believe Jeremy even windmill slammed it as his fourteenth pick.

This draft ends up going terribly for me. I mean it, a complete trainwreck.

What, you don’t believe me? Have a look at this steaming pile.

Kodama’s Might

Blessed Breath

Orochi Leafcaller

Eight-and-a-Half-Tails (okay so I got one good card…on the splash!)

Petalmane Baku

Orochi Sustainer

Consuming Vortex

Time of Need

Matsu-Tribe Sniper

Matsu-Tribe Decoy

Kami of the Hunt

Serpent Skin

Kodama’s Reach

Waxmane Baku


Burr Grafter

2 Sachi, Daughter of Seshiro

Mothrider Samurai

Scaled Hulk

Sakiko, Mother of Summer

Sway of the Stars

Thousand-Legged Kami

10 Forest

5 Plains

2 Island

I told you I wasn’t kidding.

The Mother is bolded because I’m proud to say that I played it almost every game, and it did absolutely nothing as I never drew Sway of the Stars.

This deck did as it was supposed to do and quickly 0-3ed. Not only was the deck bad, but my draws with it were also atrocious and I had to mulligan a lot. Unfortunately I didn’t get Sway of the Stars off, or do anything else worth mentioning.

Steve K’s deck ended up being insane in this draft with double Teller, Kumano, and lots of other goodies.

An interesting thing happened in pack two of this draft when Angry Dave opened a booster containing Kumano, Kabuto Moth, Rend Flesh, Swallowing Plague, and Glacial Ray. Quite the pack indeed. The problem here was that Dave was already entrenched in G/W and had to take the Moth, therefore shipping my teammate the Kumano. Dave had this to say on the matter when I talked to him on AIM today.

AD: yeah, i didn’t think Steve was red…

AD: i figured he’d either take kumano and try to play it…in which case Andres would take the ray and we’d sandwich him…

AD: or he’d take kumano as a hate draft…

AD: or he’d take the ray and splash it and Andres would get the bomb…

AD: but somehow he ended up getting enough red to play it as a main color.

I believe I ended up picking something terrible like Orochi Sustainer from this, pack since my deck was already in the toilet and I was trying to salvage one match win (which I still believe I could’ve realistically 1-2’d or even 2-1’d with good draws).

So anyway, somehow Steve ends up losing his first two matches and we’re immediately down 0-4 with Jeremy and Dave still battling out their first match. We end up making an impressive comeback and tie the score at 4-4 in matches since Jeremy went 3-0 and Steve won a match. At this point, Angry Dave and I going to game three of our match, and its for all the marbles. You know, bottom of the ninth, bases loaded. The fate of the entire draft resting on my deck being able to win a match. Obviously that doesn’t happen and Dave plays Oyobi, Who Split the Heavens which I can’t ever deal with unless I topdeck Sway, which I don’t.

Needless to say, I’d rather forget this draft as I don’t 0-3 very often.

Some random CMU people were passing out fliers about Kosher food or something and Jeremy had a few words with them.

“Master Yamabushi managed to keep Kosher over Passover.” -Jeremy

8:13 PM : Brown and I take a walk to the convenience store on campus to get some food and end up killing some time until the next draft starts.

During this time, the 8-man draft is finishing up. During the finals Dr. Martel has apparently amassed a flipped Cunning Bandit with ten counters on it and Blood Rites in play. Somehow he still almost lost that game against Silent Steve and his U/W triple Waxmane deck!

Steve K and I convince Ben and Josh to play us in Foosball since there is conveniently a table right by where we play. We end up smashing them 2-0 before the next draft starts.

9:39 PM : Draft Three: 8-man

This draft was actually the one I took the least notes on because nothing interesting really happened. I opened Kabuto Moth in the first pack and ended up getting into W/R with a Fire’s Roar and some other guys.

Pack two was completely awful for me. I got almost no cards in my colors except for the Yamabushi’s Flame that I opened and a few small beaters like Hearth Kami and a Houndmaster. I had a somewhat close pick between Brutal Deceiver and Hundred-Talon Kami but ended up going with the flier.

Betrayers got me Faithful Squire, Moonlit Strider, Split-Tail Miko, Ronin Warclub, and not much else. So my deck ended up alright, but nothing special really.

This brings me to a point that I’ve been wanting to write about for a while: the W/R archetype. The colors are certainly playable together, but I find that they lack the synergy that W/U or W/B has and you often end up with a number of weaknesses.

Your usual strategy when you are W/R is to go for a quick ground attack and then hopefully clear the way with burn. This is fine except that the Red cards don’t really add too much to the White. Not that many White cards are compatible with a Glacial Ray, and the only way I ever really like this deck is if you get multiple Kami of Fire’s Roars and multiple Waxmane and or Blademane Bakus. The point here is that White has its own Brutal Deceivers and other ground dorks and I think you gain much more by going into Blue for flying and bounce or Black for similar evasion and removal. Black also has better Soulshift, which is what the White deck likes to do now anyway. So I’m never really happy when I end up with a W/R deck since my second color doesn’t add much to my White deck unless I have Fire’s Roar or enough burn to matter.

I ended up taking some notes on this draft, but after looking them over I really don’t think it’s worthwhile to go through all of the games as this is getting quite lengthy already.

For the sake of a summary though, I ended up going 2-1, which was more than satisfactory with my mediocre card pool and was eager to move on to the next draft.

12:54 AM : Draft Four: 8-man

As the last 8-man was wrapping up, I was trying to get a head count to see who was willing to draft again since the crowd was thinning out.

“Draft?” – Me to Martel

“No, I feel like hell, I might just go home.” – Martel

“Go home and mommy will make you feel better?” -Me

“No, go home and take some Sinus sh** so I don’t die..” -Martel

“I have to cut the grass tomorrow come rain or shine, hell or high water.” – Martel

Shortly thereafter, Martel was convinced to draft again.

1:03 AM: The draft gets underway and immediately Martel has to open his mouth.

“I just want everyone to know, I’m soooo excited to be here!”

Of course you are, Jason.

I open my first pack and choose Red Shrine over Innocence Kami, Mothrider Samurai, Devouring Greed, Nezumi Cutthroat, and Kodama’s Might – a reasonable pick I think. Shrine is definitely the best overall card, especially in a 1st/1st situation and there aren’t any other Red cards to go with it. I end up entering this slow control deck which gets a lot of help in pack two when I pick up both White and Blue Shrines to complement my Red one. I end up U/W/r splashing for Red Shrine and the late Blind with Anger that I got.

My creature base is the only thing lacking with a couple of Pale Curtains screwing up my mana since I really didn’t see anything else good in the draft.

1:39 AM: Ben falls out of his chair somehow and the first Magic related death almost occurs. Ben will obviously post in the forums claiming that he didn’t actually fall out of his chair, but I promise you that he did and it wasn’t pretty.

This deck ends up going 2-1 as well as I get manascrewed against Dave Weitz in round two and win the other two matches by playing two shrines.

All in all it was just another Tuesday at the O. I wasn’t really happy with my results this week, especially with the 0-3 performance, but you can’t win em’ all, and I always have a blast playing and hanging out with these guys so it’s all worth it in the end. I know this was pretty long but hopefully it was an enjoyable read as well.

Nick Eisel

[email protected]

SlickPeebles on AIM

Soooooo & ThatsGameBoys on MODO