Ask Ken, 03/02/2004

Second-guessing one of your draft picks? Heard a juicy rumor and want to know if it’s true? Need advice on your Regionals deck? Not sure if you made the right play at last weekend’s tournament?

Kartin’ Ken Krouner is here for you!

I realize I have developed a reputation as a Limited specialist. I an indeed honored to wear that mantle, but this column should not be restricted to”What should I pick?” or”How would you build this draft deck?” I have a vast amount of knowledge about this game and its famous players and history swimming in my head. Feel free to tap any portion of that to answer your burning questions. I am not kidding when I say I would be glad to answer any question you have that is even loosely related to this game and its community.

That being said, I received a letter from Denmark today that really piqued my interest. It is a multifaceted letter and it lets me address many issues I find important. This letter is from No Netterstrom. No writes:

Hi Ken

In a recent MMD booster draft I first picked a Myr Incubator from an otherwise mediocre pack (Tel-Jilad Archers being the second best card in my opinion). For my second pick there was another Incubator staring at me, but this time there was also a Looming Hoverguard which I have learned to value quite highly. Normally I would pick Looming Hoverguard over Myr Incubator, but it seemed to me that having two Incubators at the start of the draft would really allow me to build my deck to optimize them. Then again the Incubator seems to be best in a blue based deck and sending a third pick  Looming Hoverguard would probably make my left hand neighbor go for that color. I ended up picking the Looming Hoverguard, but wondered if you would consider that a mistake?

Anyway the drafter on my left snatched up the Incubator, and we eventually met in the final where I won the Incubator”mirror” thanks to my Thunderstaff.


No Netterstrøm

Danish Limited Enthusiast

Thanks for the question No. If you don’t mind, I am gonna go ahead and have a field day with this letter.

In MMM I was about as big a fan as you could find of the Myr Incubator. Times they are a-changin’. This card has plummeted in value with the release of Darksteel. Three of the”Echoing” cards absolutely destroy you, two of which are instants. Also the realization of the power of the aggressive Affinity deck has lowered the value of the six-mana bombs.

The next issue I want to address is that the value of Green has also plummeted. While Tel-Jilad Archers have moved up to number one in my Green common list, I do everything in my power to not draft this color. So while you say it was the second-best card in the pack, I am guessing that neither of these cards was the correct first pick. I would take a mana-myr over either of these cards even first pick, first pack.

Now assuming you did take the Incubator, I think I would actually opt for the second Incubator here. You are 100% correct that you can design you deck to really abuse it, and you can still draft Blue without much worry as you are sharing on your right and not your left. If the person on your left passed a Hoverguard and an Incubator, odds are he took Lightning Greaves (on a run with the Hoverguard) and hasn’t committed to a color yet. You will get first crack at the blue in pack three where you can get the Vedalken Engineers to power your Incubators. Just remember, synergy is very important in a Limited deck.

I’d like to end this letter with something witty, but I am having trouble channeling Tim Aten at the moment. Perhaps if he crawled out from under his rock and wrote something, I could do a bit better. Perhaps I should just draw on Gabriel Nassif. He may not be that funny, but he has top 8’d every event in the last year. He almost got his big win, but alas, he is still just known for his nose. Don’t fear it. As long as you weigh over 100 pounds, he can’t inhale you.



So that will close my bag for another day. Remember write early, write often, and write about more than limited ideas. G’day folks!

[email protected]


I am glad to see that so many of you have written me to get answers to all those burning questions. When it comes to Magic, I like to consider myself sort of a renaissance man, so the variety in your questions also pleases me. I will be answering one question a day, so keep them coming. Just because your question doesn’t make it to the next”Ask Ken” column doesn’t mean that it won’t get answered eventually.

Today’s question comes to us from Ben Wagner. Ben’s questions concerns a dilemma he encountered in an MMM draft.


In a recent MTGO booster draft I was faced with the following 1st-pick 1st-pack dilemma: Mindslaver or Grab the Reins? A tough choice that I would like to be faced with every draft! I haven’t had much experience playing Mindslaver, and I chose the Grab based on its versatility and my fondness for red in MMM. There wasn’t much else of interest in the pack to base a decision on. So, in your opinion, what’s the correct pick?


Ben Wagner

Nightmare78 on MTGO

Thanks for the question, Ben. There are a lot of factors that go into a question like this. When I first saw the set, I figured Mindslaver to be a clear bomb. The possibilities of what that card can do seem to be endless. As with every new format, it took a long time for the beatdown deck to emerge as dominant. Considering the initial slow pace of the format, Mindslaver seemed ever better. When facing this pick, Mindslaver is also tempting as you don’t have to commit to a color.

The problem is, as always, a beatdown deck did emerge, and it is the best deck to draft if you can get your hands on the tools. Mindslaver is just too slow to be as bomb-tastic as it looked on paper. Even with everything that Mindslaver does and the lack of commitment to a color, Grab the Reins is just too good. It can end the game as Threaten, Ray of Command, Fling, or an improved Reckless Spite. It is also splashable.

All this factored in, you should draft the Mindslaver because it is rare and rares are cool. Also the picture is far better, and you can make your opponent get up and switch sides of the table.

Just kidding. Grab the Reins is the pick here, as it almost always is. There is a very short list of cards you take over it.

Very Truly Yours,

Kartin’ Ken

MMM is a format that will be gone from our culture completely in a matter of days when Darksteel goes live on Magic Online. However this change in format does nothing to change this answer. Both cards end the game, Grab just ends it quicker and more reliably.

Keep the questions coming. Tap my brain with any Magic related questions you may have.


[email protected]