Ask Ken, 03/18/2003

Your first eight picks in any draft are magical. In these picks, the influence of what you have taken in the draft so far means nothing. What should I do in these first eight picks to be a better drafter, flow reader, butt kicker? I want to wreck things like second turn swinging Glaivemaster with a Bonesplitter on him.

Welcome back to your daily dose of KK. Did you miss me? I know I did. As many of you seem to have noticed, I have fallen off the Pro Tour Radar. That’s right, I have hung up my trusty wand in the realm of Professional Magic, but I assure you I am still playing regularly and love the game as much as ever. Now I am sure you don’t want to hear my sob story about how I fell off the Pro Tour, but I get the feeling you want to hear about something. I can’t put my finger on what it is. Hrmmmm… maybe all you want is a little Reader Mail! Hey!

Today’s letter comes to us from Justin Sligh of San Jose, CA. Justin writes:


Your first eight picks in any draft are magical. In these picks, the influence of what you have taken in the draft so far means nothing. In my limited understanding of probability, statistics, and psychology, you will get the first eight packs to pick from, independent of your picks. I hope what I have said is correct, I don’t want to be posted as a fool on StarCity. What should I do in these first eight picks to be a better drafter, flow reader, butt kicker? I want to wreck things like second turn swinging Glaivemaster with a Bonesplitter on him.

Holla’ at your boy,

Justin Sligh, San Jose, California

Well Justin, fear not, you aren’t posted as a fool, and you are correct that your actions will have no bearing on the cards you see in the first eight packs of a booster draft. The key to drafting these packs is focus. In reality, as much as people like to talk about forcing colors, this is generally a bad rule.

What you want to do is pick up signals from the player to your right. This player will be passing to you for a little under two-thirds of the draft (he doesn’t pass you during any of your first picks or any of pack 2). What you want to do is analyze the pack. Determine what color is underrepresented, and you can figure that he took a card from that color.

Another system is to memorize print runs. If you do this, you can fairly easily determine what was likely taken. This system is more useful in Mirrodin, as a color can be underrepresented or non-existent due to the abundance of artifacts in the set.

If you don’t want to memorize print runs, try to determine relative power. If you get passed a card like Myr Enforcer, you can bet a powerful and/or popular was taken over it. Try to figure out what cards are better than that card and therefore what color the person is likely in.

The final point is that make sure when you take a card, you are sending clear signals. You want to keep your neighbors out of your color as much as possible.

Draft calm, draft centered, and draft clean. Together, we can bring the drafting world to a state of peace and enlightenment.

The master of Zen and all things Drafting,

Ken Krouner

I hope you all feel as at peace as I do right now. Of course, most of you aren’t in your underwear, watching TV, and playing in a draft on Magic Online while vestal virgins fan you and feed you grapes. I guess I just have one up on you. [I hope that wasn’t a visual pun. – Knut] Join me tomorrow when I talk about those jetsetters you like to call Pros. G’night everybody!

[email protected]


Welcome back to another fun-filled edition of Ask Ken. The letters have been pouring in and I couldn’t be happier. Letters are coming in from all walks of life and places around the country. If I don’t use your letter don’t worry, it just means I don’t like you. I don’t love much about this dung heap we call a planet, but what I do love is a little Reader Mail! Hey!

Today’s letter comes from our own Knutty editor. Teddy writes:

Dear Kent,

What’s the biggest problem on the Pro Tour today, and how would you go about fixing it? Also, what’s your favorite Good Man of the Week you have bestowed?


Captain Canadian, uh, I mean…

Ted Knutson

Managing Editor, StarCityGames.com

Well Ted, you asked for my opinion, and as much as I hate sharing my opinions, I’ll bite the bullet and do it.

Without a doubt the biggest problem on the Pro Tour today is the top heavy payout of both points and money. A single match means a difference of twelve points and $12,000. I am firm believer that Magic is a game of skill. But this skill only reveals itself over time, not in a single match usually. It is hard to tell who the top players in the game are sometimes because of the way that player of the year is chosen. Never was there a bigger miscarriage of justice than last year when Kai was named Player of the year when Mattias Jorstedt had a far better year. I would fix it by making gaps in payouts and points between places smaller.

As for my favorite good man of the week it would have to be Rick Moranis. I think this was my cleverest one and makes me laugh to this day.

Sorry it wasn’t you Ted, but you just aren’t that cool!

The source for opinionated opinions,


I am out of gas folks. I hope you enjoyed this edition and join us tomorrow when I discuss Zen and the Art of Drafting. G’night everybody!

[email protected]


Well it looks like you all have another five minutes to kill, and I must admit, I am glad you have decided to kill it with me. Looks like you all enjoyed the controversy of yesterday’s question, as the forums were hopping, to say the least. But enough of me basking in my own glory, it’s time for a little Reader Mail! Hey!

Today’s letter comes to us from the frozen tundra that is Buffalo, New York. Lee Churchill of Buffalo writes:

i have come to realize that fists of the anvil is one of my favorite cards EVER it is so good that i have splashed for it in my top 8 ptq deck ( i top 8’ed 2 back-to-back ptq’s). I want you to write and ask ken article on fists of the anvil telling everyone what pick u take it in draft and tell everyone how good it is. if anyone ever has the slightest hint that it is bad e-mail me at [email protected] and i will chew ur a$$ out.



P. S. Ken u better put this e-mail up on star city if u dont were gonna have problems. im gonna be checking thx

Well Lee, first I want to say that I am very proud of you. You write very well for a six-year-old. It is good to see players Top 8’ing PTQs at such a young age. You must truly be a prodigy.

Mirrodin has very little disparity in power level. The most powerful cards in the set are closer in power to the least powerful cards than in any prior set. I think there are only 2 or 3 cards in the entire set I have never considered playing.

This closeness in power level allows you to play cards like Fists of the Anvil with great success. I too have realized that this card can be very powerful in certain situations, and I play it about 90% of the time I have it, if there is a Spikeshot Goblin in my deck. It can be used to make a lethal attack, trade with a creature, or with the Goblin, it can be straight up creature kill.

This card is not an early pick by any means, but when building your deck, don’t dismiss it right away.

Fellow Fan of the Fists,

Kartin’ Ken

Well there you have it folks, every dog has his day. Don’t be ashamed to pump your creatures, because if you don’t do it, who will?

Join me tomorrow when I answer a bit of mail from one of StarCity’s own. G’night everybody!

[email protected]


Welcome to week three of Ask Ken. I hope you all gave due appreciation to John Larkin over the weekend. He received his honor, but now it is time for a little Reader Mail! Hey!

Today’s controversial question comes to us from the tiny state of New Hampshire. New Hampshire’s own Ben Chapman writes:


What is your take on the Nick Eisel situation back from
Grand Prix: Boston? Do you think he cheated or was he just in the wrong place at the wrong time? Also a draft question…in MMM draft first pick first pack do you take Grab the Reins or Platinum Angel?

Ben Chapman – University of New Hampshire

Well Ben, this is a touchy subject here at StarCityGames.com. Keep in mind the opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the staff and management of Star City.

I think Nick cheated. There are ways to prove it. I don’t like that the DCI did not make them public, but as we all know cards come on a print run and it would be possible to discern that the Ravenous Baloth could not have been in the sealed product.

I also found Nick’s responses pretty desperate and offensive. So while I have no concrete proof that Nick is guilty, I am of the firm belief that he is.

As for the draft pick, Angel is easily dealt with and Grab is not. When in doubt, Grab the Reins it is likely the right pick.



So there you have it folks, I’ll answer the most hard hitting of questions and I will do so with honesty. Join me tomorrow when I talk about a sleeper common that I bet some of you have received as late as fifteenth pick. G’night everybody!