Ask Ken, 05/27/2004

Today’s Ask Ken is written by a quality Pro who is not named Lebedowicz, Fabiano, Wagener, or Budde. He is called Herberheezy, and we think you’ll like him.

Hello ladies and gents,

I am Mark Herberholz, your guest writer for this latest installment of Ask Ken. Now how I came to get this job is no simple tale. It all began with KK emailing Osyp”Joe Black” Lebedowicz and asking him to tag in. Sadly, Osyp is making one last run at the Northeastern salsa dancing championship, and is spending all of his time training, so he had to decline. So Osyp forwarded the email to good friend Gerrard Fabiano, asking him to fill in, however Gerrard to could not take on the task since he is due to fly out to Milan for a Versace photo shoot this very evening. Next on the list was your very own National champ Josh Wagener, but under advice from his lawyer he refused to make any published statements. So KK had to scrape the bottom of the hull, and there you are left with none other than the Herberheezy (me) as your guest writer. So without further ado, here is today’s question.


I have recently started 2v2 a few times every week and the past few times I have gotten stuck with the weakest member of the group. We alternate between Booster and Rochester and he can’t seem to do well in either. He takes Altar’s Light over Crystal Shard and he had a draft of Molder Slug, Oblivion Stone, and Solar Tide and still managed to do horribly. If paired with him again should I just have him hate out the strong cards out opponents may be taking and trying to carry the team or do I continue to let him attempt to play? There is no alternative to having him as a teammate for a while and I would feel bad if I just refused to keep drafting with them.

Justin Martin

Well Justin your letter hit close to home, because once upon a time (before I had ever finished well at a Pro Tour and wanted to get better), I sought out the best money drafters far and wide and opened packs vs. them. This was quickly followed with the opening of my wallet. The one key point to remember, even if you are stuck with the shaft for a teammate and you lose more often than not, is you are getting better by doing so.

In my opinion the best way to get better at Limited is to do 2v2 and 3v3 drafts, because you get to play more opponents than your regular 8-man draft (assuming that you don’t win them all), and you usually get to test out weaker cards, since the card pool is usually poorer.

Now as for a solution to your problem, I think the idea of having him hate draft the other team is an okay one, however it works better in 3v3. The pioneer of this stragety is none other than former US national team member, Gabe Walls. In every draft that I’m in with Gabe, his decks are always atrocious, but his sideboard has the best picks of every color in it. Amazingly enough, we always win too. Gabe sacrifices his deck and hates from the other team to better our chances. Now knowing when to do this is very tricky… you have to know your opponent’s color preferences and remember what you are passing them to know what to hate in future picks. The only problem with him hating cards in every draft is that it will not help him get better as a drafter. So you can take the easy way out and win a few by having him hate draft, but if it were me, I would continue to let him try, so that he can learn from his mistakes and become a better player, which will then hopefully lead to you winning more drafts.

The Fourth best source for guest writer,

Mark Herberholz



Wednesday is always a lovely day here at Ask Ken. The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and the boss is away at a convention in Buffalo. I ask you, what could be better? I’m your host, Ken Krouner. That burning sensation around my posterior can mean one of only two things. Either I finally broke down and bought a new car, or it’s time for a little Reader Mail! Hey! Looks like my neighbors get to hear my muffler draggin’ a little longer.

Today’s question comes to us from Chad Trimble. Chad writes:


Hello from the Tar Heel state! My question today may not have an answer, but I have so ask. How do you adjust when you are drafting with a bunch of people who will NOT stay in colors they signal? I mean maybe it is the quality of people I play with, but as a learning tool how do you adjust and when? Thanks Ken and I will keep reading.

Chad Trimble

Well Chad, I am glad to keep you informed. This may surprise you but pros have a lot of experience with this. This switching of colors is referred to as”Jap Trapping.” This may not be the most politically correct term in the world, but that is what was said. The theory was if you were sitting next to a Japanese player, then you could count on them being three or four colors. However this was not limited to Japanese players. Players of all nationalities would do it. I don’t condone stereotypes. This intro was merely a history lesson, and I think that this label was nothing less than disgusting.

In the modern era, Japanese players no longer fall into this stereotype. Masashi Ooiso has broken the mold and emerged as one of the top Limited players in the world. None of this really has anything to do with your question, but I have a page to fill here.

Even the most erratic drafters will usually stick to three colors at most. The key when sitting next to a player like this is to not commit to your colors until the later signals. When you are getting moderate cards eighth and ninth pick, you will know what these players aren’t. Mirrodin gives you a lot more breathing room in this area. If you realize you are seated next to an erratic drafter, value the artifacts higher than the colored cards. Another strategy would be to make sure your own signals are being clearly sent so the player to your left has no choice but to not draft a certain color. Then you can pick up these cards in pack 2.

The source of composure during a color switch,


That’s all the shenanigans I can handle for one Wednesday. I am still scouring the web for a guest writer. Hopefully you guys will be pleased. G’night everybody!

[email protected]


Hi, and thanks for joining us for another installment of Ask Ken. I’m your host, Ken Krouner. That strange tapping I hear can mean one of only two things. Either the wife is mad at me for sitting in front of the computer, or it’s time for a little Reader Mail! Hey! Glad to know I didn’t get married without knowing it… again.

Today’s letter comes to us from Patrick Duvall. Patrick writes:

Hey KK,

Last Friday there was a debate about whether the Tooth and Nail decks are Combo or Aggro in nature. I said they were combo because the player tries to set up with cards like Reap and Sow to get Cloudposts and then go off by casting tooth and nail one turn, and then winning. Some of my friends however say that since Tooth and Nail tries to drop huge creatures ASAP and smash face it is aggro. There was also a guy saying it was control.

Thx, Patrick Duvall

Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the last guy that you mentioned in passing is correct. Most Tooth and Nail decks operate like a White control deck casting Tooth and Nail as the finisher. I understand the argument for a combo deck, but in truth there is only one card involved in”going off.” Since there is only one card, it is hard to call it a combo. There is a combo in the deck in the form of Leonin Abunas and Platinum Angel, but this represents only a soft lock.

I don’t understand how anyone can call it an aggro deck. Perhaps the mono-Green versions packing Elves and Skullclamps could be viewed this way, but by in large there is nothing at all to support the stance that this deck is aggro. It has next to no creatures in it, and applies no pressure until the end game.

All decks have small aspects of all types of decks. Would you consider Goblins a control deck because it has Electrostatic Bolt and Gempalm Incinerator? I didn’t think so.

The source on correcting the world,


That’s all for today. Keep tuning in for the closing of May, and an extra special guest columnist. G’night Everybody!

[email protected]


Hi and welcome to the last full week in my third month. Thanks for your support. I’m your host, Ken”Bartles and James” Krouner. That odd spinning sensation can mean one of only two things. Either I have drunken myself into a stupor once again, or it’s time for a little Reader Mail! Hey!

Today’s letter comes to us from Joel Christman of Delaware. Joel writes:

Hello Ken!

As Magic players and ambassadors, is it our responsibility to support Wizards’ new”baby Magic” card game: Duelmasters? Or can I treat it like Yu-gi-oh and Pokemon? Do you think Magic players have an obligation to support other games (and especially Wizards’ games) and gamers even if we don’t like those games and think everything else pales in comparison to Magic’s greatness? I would also be curious about your 5″best” and”worst” games out there, excluding MTG.


Delaware, USA

In answer to your first question, games are meant to be fun. If you find a game that is fun, play it. If not, don’t. You have no obligation when it comes to games.

As for the five best games.

5. Poker. This game combines gambling, strategy, human nature, and math all in one. It appeals to a great number of people, making it unique in this way.

4. Monopoly. A true American classic. Redefined a genre.

3. Werewolf. The party game that take a minute to learn and a lifetime to master.

2. Truth or Dare. Come on, how else can a game get some play from a girl?

1. Survivor. The TV based strategy/political game that created reality TV. This is without a doubt the best game ever created.

Worst games are harder to pick. A bad game isn’t really a game and has a way of disappearing. I consider it a form of natural selection. Only the strongest games survive. Magic has the time tested appeal that you need to stay alive in the game world. Could Marvel prove to challenge its undisputed number one status in the CCG Genre? Who knows? I do know this – However long it lasts, Magic is true mastery.

The source on all games.


That’ll do it for tonight. This should prove to be one of the best weeks of Ask Ken yet. But if you think you have a question that can beat out some of the ones I have on slate for this week, go ahead and send them in. I am going to work on getting a really good guest for you this week too. G’night everybody!

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