Ask Ken, 04/27/2004

For some reason, my limited game has been suffering terribly sinceDarksteel was released. When drafting MMM on Magic Online, I rarely ever missed the semis, made the finals about half the time, and won a handful. My rating jumped from about 1620 to 1775. Enter Darksteel. Now I’m back down to 1660. What am I doing wrong?

Welcome to Tuesday’s edition of Ask Ken. I’m your host, Ken Krouner. Tuesday is possibly my favorite day of the week. It is always, and without fail, the first non-Monday to roll along. Every Tuesday this strange sensation comes over me. I feel like I am skiing over hundreds of moguls with the crisp Swiss Alp air blowing in my face. This can mean one of only two things. Either I’ve just bitten into a York Peppermint Patty, or it’s time to answer a little Reader Mail! Hey!

Today’s letter comes to us from Mike Smith. Mike writes:

Hey Ken,

For some reason, my limited game has been suffering terribly since Darksteel was released. When drafting MMM on Magic Online, I rarely ever missed the semis, made the finals about half the time, and won a handful. My rating jumped from about 1620 to 1775.

Enter Darksteel. Now I’m back down to 1660.

I’ve probably played about fifteen MMD drafts, and I think that I’ve made the semis maybe twice and lost every other draft. I never lost that much even in OLS, and I *really* sucked at OLS. What am I doing wrong? Has something changed significantly in proper drafting strategy, or have I just forgotten how to play the game?



Well Schmitty, you probably aren’t going to like the answer to this. The reason you are losing is because you either aren’t playing well, aren’t drafting well, or most likely, a combination of both.

The harsh reality, that myself and countless other writers have always tried to convey, is that you are bad, and you will never get any better until you admit you are bad.

I realize this is of no help at all, so I will do my best to try and make you better. Bear in mind my record in Limited post Darksteel is about as good as yours. I made no PTQ top 8’s, went 0-4 day 2 of GP: Columbus, had a losing record in nearly all money drafts I played in, and have won less matches on Magic Online in this format than any other.

I did something I generally hate to do. When Darksteel came out, I analyzed the power of the colors and swore off drafting White and Green. This was a grievous error. I think the most important thing in this format is to be flexible on colors.

The next piece of advice I will give is to constantly be thinking about Darksteel. When you see a lot of Blue sent your way, you may want to consider the Engineer and the Behemoth, as those tend to come later than the Prodigy and the Spire Golem. If you see a lot of White coming through, avoid committing to heavily to a second color, and to artifact lands so you can get those Razor Golems out on turn 3 consistently. When you decide to draft Black, do it from a position of what Black is coming through, not trying to cut it off. Your best Black will come in pack three. Darksteel, more often than not, will make or break your deck, so stay focused.

My last bit of advice is: stop losing, it really cuts into your winning.

The source for breaking new formats without ever actually winning a match,


Well that is all the self-deprecation I can handle for one day. Join me tomorrow when I delve into the issue of the price increase on Magic packs. G’night Everybody!

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Welcome to another week of Ask Ken. I’m your host, Ken Krouner. This week will finish up our second month here at Ask Ken. I think you will all be pleased with our Thursday guest columnist – I know I am. We are going to do our best to not offend anyone this week, but believe it or not, we always try to do that. Anyway I am getting a funny feeling in my stomach. Either that squid I ate for lunch was a little too old, or it’s time for a little Reader Mail! Hey!

Today’s letter comes to us all the way from Amsterdam. Dimitri Reinderman writes:

Hi Ken,

A draft scenario which I haven’t seen discussed a lot is that the best three cards in your first booster are of the same color. Molder Slug, Deconstruct and Fangren Hunter, or Megatog, Grab the Reins and Electrostatic Bolt, or Slith Attendant, Skyhunter Patrol and Blinding Beam. Would you take the best card, or a lesser card in another color? Or only take the best card in such a case if it’s really a bomb?And what if you receive a booster like this for the second pick? Would you be more inclined to take the best card then?

By the way, I really like your column. Keep up the good work!

Regards, Dimitri Reinderman

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Well Dimitri, this is an age-old draft question. And it is tough to answer, particularly in this block. I am not a big fan of taking colored cards first pick unless absolutely necessary. I think that there is a lot of room to be flexible in this block. However you listed some powerful cards up there, so I am going to delve into the particulars of each before I give my general stance.

In your first example, this is a no-brainer. Slug is one of the best cards in the set, and Green is the consensus worst color in Limited, so the guy to your right may not even take a Green card. Especially since they may worry between your first pick rare and the fact that there are two high-quality Green cards that they might get trapped.

In your second example there were two tier-one bombs. Again, I think you have to go ahead and take the best card. Grab the Reins is one of the top two cards in the set, you really can’t ever afford to pass it, even if it means a splash or a color switch. Is the person to your right going to take Megatog? Absolutely. Can you live with that? Sure. You get to feed him in pack three where a lot of the powerful Red cards come, and you should have a second color, if it comes down to it, develop that color and make Red your support color.

You third example is the trickiest. You have three powerful White cards, and while I love drafting White currently, this is a risky pick. In fact, I am not even sure what is better, Patrol or Beam. Later in the draft, the pick is easier as it depends on your deck, but first pick first pack, it is tricky. I would look in another direction here. If there is no other direction, I think you have to take the Patrol, but you really want to take a card that isn’t White.

In general, and in this block more than others, taking a card from a color that is heavy in the pack isn’t that bad. This being the artifact set, you will often find yourself with only seven cards in your primary color, since artifacts take up so much of your deck. Don’t necessarily take this advice into the next block, but for now, feel free to dip into the deep colors in your opening pack.

Sharing is caring boys, and girls.

Still the source for advanced draft strategy,


Well I am tuckered out kids. I hope y’all enjoyed my peek into some of the inner-workings of my brain. Join me tomorrow when I try to explain why those of you who thought you were good now suck! G’night everybody!

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