Ask Ken, 08/27/2004

I just lost an 8-4 draft in game three of round 2 on Magic Online and I’m trying to decide if I made the correct play and just lost, or made an error, and wanted to get your view.

Why am I even listening to you to begin with? You’re a virgin who can’t drive. That’s way harsh, but this is Ask Ken. I’m your host Ken Krouner. Today’s letter is long so I am going to jump right into it.

Today’s letter comes from Carl Anderson. Carl writes:

Dear Ken,

So I just lost an 8-4 draft in game three of round 2 on Magic Online… and I’m trying to decide if I made the correct play and just lost, or made an error, and wanted to get your view. I think I made the wrong call, but then again I lost so I may be biased.

He’s running W/U affinity more or less and I know for a fact he has Scale of Chiss-Goria in the deck with the largest creature I’ve seen being a Myr enforcer, and I’m G/W splashing Essence Drain, with Molder Slug, Fangren Pathcutter, and Tyrranax as relevant fat and more artifact destruction then I have any right to. Here’s the game state (More or less… Magic Online seems to not be letting me recall it so we’re going from memory).

He’s at 10 life with 3 cards in hand, a Silent Arbiter that I’ve Stasis Cocooned, a Moriok Salvager I’ve Arrested and a Neurok Spy. I’m at 2 life holding a Tyrranax and a Drain I don’t have the Black mana for with 6 land in play. I have a Leonin Squire with Viridian Longbow, a Tel-Jilad Chosen, and a Loxodon Anchorite I played last turn.

Is it right to shoot the Spy, pass to the Anchorite and shoot again to kill it, knowing I lose if he has any pump or other way to save the Spy or bounce my Anchorite, or to trust that he has no way to stop my Anchorite (With an extra draw of course) or pump his Spy for 2 and thus play the Tyrranax and perhaps try and shoot it to death next turn with the Tyrranax and the Squire?

I tried to kill it then, he had the Scale, and I lost. I’m rather sure if I’d stabilized I would have won the long game since he was limited to only 1 attacker or blocker for the rest of the game and I simply had bigger creatures. Which way would you have played it?


Carl Anderson

Well Carl you have quite the situation on your hands. I am going to tell you right now that you made a mistake. You knew for a fact that he had Scale in his deck. Should he have it in his hand, you lose instantly. If he doesn’t have it, you haven’t gained enough to make it worth the risk. You didn’t mention some important points though. Does he have Bonesplitter? Does he have Vulshok Morningstar? Does he have Baton of Courage? These cards would make your play closer to correct. Since you didn’t mention these cards, I have to assume he didn’t have them. However, of these cards only Baton is relevant. If he has Baton in his hand, you lose no matter how you play it. Odds are if he had the Morningstar/Splitter/Empyrial Plate/Grafted Wargear, they’d be on the table. Which means your play of pinging it is defending against the top of the library.

You walked directly into a Scale you knew he had. The Scale doesn’t beat a deck like yours in the long run, and it certainly doesn’t kill you next turn. It does kill you this turn if you try to ping.

Believe it or not, you are in the stronger position in this board situation. Barring multiples of the cards I motioned above, riding your Anchorite to victory is clearly the right play. If he does have multiples, it is still a toss-up as there are few cards other than Scale he’d likely have in his hand at that point in the game.

The source on making the right play… Hey Stop Laughing!


We have yet another week in the books folks. Next week will mark the end of the month and hopefully some new and exciting things from Ask Ken. G’night everybody!

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