Ask Ken, 07/05/2004

I’ve put in a lot of time drafting this past year, and have become better at it than I’ve ever been. How likely am I to stay a good drafter when we change blocks?

I’m sure many of you were hoping that last week was a joke, but I am afraid you are all sorely mistaken. Ask Ken is here for the foreseeable future. So gather ’round my children and listen to me spin yarns about Magic, its players, and its history.

Today’s question comes to us from Mark Schmit. Schmitty writes:


I’ve put in a lot of time drafting this past year, and have become better at it than I’ve ever been. How likely am I to stay a good drafter when we change blocks? Do skills tend to transfer well between blocks, or is it mostly starting from scratch with a new environment, or a little of both?


Schmiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiity! This was once very much the case. Draft skills translated impeccably from block to block. The only things that would significantly change were the power levels of the colors. Other than that, draft strategy and theory were transferable parts that you just plugged in to a new set of cards.

Then this block I like to call Invasion entered the picture. This block was actually fine and the draft was often skill intensive. But instead of choosing two colors to draft, you would select three to five. Some thought this involved just taking the best card out of every pack, but synergies were extremely powerful in that block, so there was more to consider.

Following Invasion Block was a normal block and the last one to date. However, even Odyssey Block wasn’t without its pitfalls. With Torment being the Black set, you could in essence, walk into a draft telling yourself that you were going to draft Black. Then, without sending or receiving signals, you could wind up with a playable deck.

The last two blocks have been abominations in my opinion. The skill in drafting these two blocks has been greatly diminished by the large number of cards in both blocks that are playable regardless of what colors you are. The skill in these formats has been in card valuations and synergies. These things can easily be learned by reading an internet article. I think the repeat successes by high profile pros is due largely to the increased skill level in the play of Mirrodin Block rather than the drafting.

What I hope for from CoK Block is a normal drafting format, one that brings us back to a more artful time where a signal meant something, and if you didn’t read it properly or were afraid to abandon your first pick, you ended up with a deck short on playables.

I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but if you based your drafting skills around Mirrodin Block, you will have a lot of trouble with the next block (if it is normal).

The source for breaking down a format,


As you can tell, from a Limited standpoint, I have not been a big fan of these last couple sets. That being said, I think they were designed brilliantly. I consider the last couple blocks a necessary evil from a competitive standpoint. Pros are not the only people playing this game, and I know for a fact casual gamers have loved these two blocks. Join us the rest of the week when I’ll be reporting from the left coast, and we have the long anticipated return of the guest writer! G’night everybody!

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