Ask Ken, 05/05/2004

Some of us are going to play in a bring-your-own-pack booster draft pretty soon, and I’m wondering what sets you think would be best to get?

It’s Wednesday and you know what that means. That’s right, it’s time for Ask Ken. I’m your host Ken Krouner. You may notice me re-using people who write in from time to time. I don’t do this because I play favorites, but it seems that these are the people who have the widest variety of questions. The best way to see your question in print is to come up with something unique. If I answer a question about why I would first pick Myr Enforcer over Platinum Angel, I wouldn’t try writing in and asking me what I would take between Myr Enforcer and Altar of Shadows. Keep this page spicy.

Speaking of spicy that burning sensation on my posterior can mean one of only two things. Either those hot wings last night went way overboard, or it’s time for a little Reader Mail! Hey! Excellent, now I can continue chomping on those spicy pieces of heaven.

Today’s letter comes to us from the halls of Vanderbilt University. Andrew Earl Pate asks:


Some of us are going to play in a bring-your-own-pack booster draft pretty soon, and I’m wondering what set you think would be best to get. I know that Tempest and Urza’s Saga and sets like that have some very powerful cards in limited, but having first pick of the Thalakos Drifters doesn’t really do much good if all the Soltari Foot Soldiers are making it around anyway. It seems to me like a set with abundant bomb rares but poor overall card quality would be best. What do you think?

This is truly my area of expertise. I am not only a huge fan of random pack draft, but I have thought a long time about its strategies. I am sorry that I waited so long to answer, as I am sure this event has passed for you, but it’s particularly timely, since one of the formats for the Invitational is similar to this. The strategies outlined here won’t apply directly to Invitational, as I will be considering all sets and they only have access to Invasion forward.

The Crosby Strategy

This is a strategy that many people have developed, but Crosby was the first to discuss it with me, so I name it after him. In the history of Magic the color that has historically been the most powerful in Limited is Black. If you look at the sets in which black the was best color it was overwhelmingly so. These sets are Urza’s Saga, Torment, Scourge, and Darksteel. These were the sets that Joe chose when entering the Southeast Invitational. The strength of this strategy is that you are sending a signal before you even start and you get some extremely powerful cards to work with. The drawback of this strategy is that you are putting all your eggs in one basket and while Black is deep in these sets, you could be in trouble it the person to your right opens a Nekrataal or a Tsabo’s Assassin.

The Bomb Strategy

This strategy involves choosing sets with many bomb rares. Sets like Exodus, Urza’s Saga, and Onslaught. You increase your chances of getting really powerful cards while allowing yourself to not color commit. These sets have bomb rares that span several colors and artifacts. I am a big fan of this strategy. When employing this strategy, you may want to look at sets like Tempest, Planeshift, and Torment for bomb commons. They may not be quite as swingy as the rares, but you are more likely to get them.

The Greedy Strategy

This strategy involves taking sets that are very shallow and hoping to open a pack with one spectacular card and a bunch of weak ones. Sets like Mercadian Masques, Prophecy, Legends, and Ice Age. This strategy is a very risky one, as you could wind up opening a pack with zero cards worth first picking. However when it does work you wind up with a great card giving your opponents nothing.

The Green Strategy

Historically the worst color in draft is Green. So you can pick up sets where green is abnormally strong and hope it is under-drafted. These sets include Urza’s Legacy, Odyssey, and Urza’s Saga.

The Shadow Strategy

This, obviously, involves taking all Tempest block packs and trying to get as many Shadow creatures as possible. The problem with this strategy being that the Shadow creatures often won’t be the strongest cards in the pack, and you will likely only get one crack at them.

I hope this helps and I hope it gives the Invitational competitors something to look at.

The source on all things Magic, casual and competitive,


Brace yourself for an exciting guest star tomorrow. He is a fan favorite and is guaranteed to please. G’night Everybody!

[email protected]


Welcome to the latest installment of Ask Ken. I’m your host, Kartin’ Ken. I am sure you are all still recovering from the marathon that was Regionals. Sit down. Take a breath. Inane double-digit round tournaments only come around once a year. That sense of impending doom can mean one of only two things. Either George W. Bush pulled ahead in the polls again, or it’s time for a little Reader Mail! Hey! Good, because I want as much false hope as possible until they”find” Osama Bin Laden sometime in October.

Today’s letter comes to us from one of my most faithful authors. Ian Mac writes:


Are you not winning as much because you are taking a less competitive approach to magic or is it the other way around?

How much is your attitude toward the game dictated by the twists and turns within the game and how much are the twists and turns dictated by your attitude?

I am curious to hear a pro’s perspective on this issue.


Well Ian, to answer your first question, the events were unrelated. I stopped winning when I moved from Rochester, NY to Albany, NY. When I lived in Rochester, I played the game almost daily. Since my return to Albany nearly a year ago, I have only cashed in one event. It was simply my lack of practice that caused me to lose, I believe.

My casual approach to the game started when I became close to Alex Melnikow, Aaron Lipczinski, and Jill Costigan. Ironically, these are three of the best players in the Northeast. There are plenty of others in this group, but those are the mainstays. I had never in my life had as much fun playing Magic as I did with them, and it was this that caused my more casual approach.

In general, my winning and losing streaks affect my view of the game greatly. I don’t even like to blame luck for my losses. When I lose, it means I played badly. When I play badly, it makes me want to stop playing. Having top 8’d Worlds and top 4’d a Grand Prix, it is very embarrassing to throw away matches in Friday Night Magic.

But as my last article indicated, I love this game. So I am here to stay.

The source of everything about KK,


Hope you all are ready for Cinco de Mayo. Party time is almost upon us. G’night Everybody!


Welcome back to a brand new month of Ask Ken. I’m your host, Ken Krouner. You know, when I think of May, I can’t help but think about the coming summer. There are few other seasons in the year that can cause me to sweat sitting in one place… three, tops. That wave of depression I feel can mean one of only two things. Either my gross obesity has finally gotten the better of me, or it’s time for a little Reader Mail! Hey! That’s great – I was afraid I was going to have to stop eating myself into an early grave.

Today’s question comes to us from Max from Pittsburgh, PA. Max writes:

I’m kind of just getting started in the whole magic scene… going to regionals (failing miserably), prereleases, and drafting with friends. I was just wondering if there was any were to play Type II in or around Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh is one of the most historically significant areas of the country for Magic. While you are starting playing the glory days are over with Randy Buehler and Paul Sottosanti working for Wizards, Mike Turian retiring, Eugene Harvey moving to New Jersey, Nate Heiss moving to DC, and Erik Lauer leaving to start a farming community made up of Swedish bikini models, there isn’t much left in terms of top level competition.

There are, however, several solid players remaining there. Nick Eisel, while not as active as he once was, will likely be leading the next wave of Pitt players despite his current DCI status. There are several lesser-known players at or near his level. Aaron van der Beek, Jeremy Darling, Carlos Chada, and Nick Lynn are some of the players to keep your eye on in the area. On again, off again pro Andrew Cuneo still lives there, but with the exodus of Pros from the area, expect his participation to drop off as well.

The regular place these and other players assemble is the O at CMU. This is a dining area that has great food and great Magic players. They assemble there on Tuesday nights.

The source on competitive Magic the world over,


Well that’s all the juice I got for today. If you are wondering how I did in Regionals, I made out better than all the 581 players in the tournament. I opted not to play. Eleven rounds is suicide. I love Magic, but lets be reasonable here. Hope y’all enjoyed the weekend. G’night Everybody!

[email protected]