Drafting Digest: My Odds Are Dwindling

Core Set 2019 Limited is an important tournament format right now. Sit down and pass some packs around the table with SCG’s own Cedric Phillips!

Happy Tuesday everyone! It’s time, once again, to do a little Core Set 2019 draft to get this day started off right. If you
joined me
last week
, you know I have an affinity for green cards in this set – have you seen Dryad Greenseeker?! But just because I love the unbeatable
uncommon doesn’t mean that I have the luxury of drafting green every single
time. Take this draft for example…

Pack 1 Pick 1

This isn’t the most exciting pack to get a Core Set 2019 draft
started, but there are plenty of playables here. The Bugler may be
a card that Ben Friedman is currently in love with in Humans, but I
generally stay away from white cards in this format. I find white to be the
weakest color in Core Set 2019, and ignoring a busted white rare
(Resplendent Angel, Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants, Leonin Warleader) or a
premier uncommon (Herald of Faith or Hieromancer’s Cage), you won’t find me
taking white cards when drafting this format.

That leaves me with the decision between Salvager of Secrets or Skymarch
Bloodletter, as I have found Blood Divination to only be good in very
specific black decks. I lean towards the Bloodletter here for reasons that
may come off as quite boring – you know what you’re getting and what you’re
getting is good. Salvager of Secrets has a higher ceiling but also a lower
floor, as the 2/2 Merfolk is at its best in U/B and U/R and is pretty
horrible in U/G and U/W. In a sense, taking Salvager of Secrets first
overall feels like taking a gold card because it pairs so well with cards
in other colors (Lich’s Caress, Electrify, etc) so I’ll take the
Bloodletter and move right along.

Pack 1 Pick 2

This pick was a lot easier than the first for me because I like
Dark-Dweller Oracle quite a bit. It’s an early play that trades with other
early plays, counters removal by allowing you to sacrifice the creature in
response for potential gain, embarrasses most enchantment-based removal
(take that, Luminous Bonds and Dwindle!), and isn’t a card you’ll be too
upset at drawing at the later stages of a game.

Even though I love green cards, Bristling Boar is a card that I’m never
terribly excited about, and my thoughts on taking Salvager of Secrets this
early were documented in the previous pack, though if I had two to start my
draft, I would put a higher priority on picking up spells to maximize them.

Pack 1 Pick 3

Suspicious Bookcase is a card I love in Sealed and is a card I love in my green decks when drafting, but isn’t a card I really
care for in non-green color combinations. If I end up R/B, I’m likely to be
the Act of Treason sacrifice deck and I’ve already got a sacrifice outlet
in Dark-Dweller Oracle, so naturally I’d like to start heading that way.
Bookcase doesn’t fit into that style of deck at all, so I’m just not
terribly interested.

That leaves me to decide between Goblin Motivator, a card that has
overperformed for me in all areas of Core Set 2019, and Aven Wind
Mage, a card that has underperformed for me in all areas of Core Set 2019. I opted to select Aven Wind Mage here, but I’m not
entirely sure that was correct. My thought process was that I wanted to
leave myself the option of moving into any of three color combinations
(U/B, U/R, or B/R) because I was so early on in the draft and Goblin
Motivator is a card that wheels so much in the format that I didn’t need to
take one third pick.

Was I right with my pick? I’m not sure and I’m curious what you think.

Pack 1 Pick 4

So this is where tendencies and experience comes into play. Boggart Brute
has always been in a pain for me to play against in this format–and
previous ones! You’d think that a 3/2 menace for three wouldn’t be that big
of a deal, but I have been having trouble beating that card for a handful
of years now, and it sounds stupid to say, but that negative experience
makes me take it higher than I probably should and this is certainly one of
those times.

Reclamation Sage isn’t a card that’s going to make me move colors and while
I really do like Dwindle – blue decks need at least one in their deck in
this format, especially when playing against green – the idea of getting
that B/R Act of Treason deck really consumed me in the early stages of the
draft. This may be a leak in my game at this stage of the format, but I
have found blue to be the second worst color with white, as I mentioned,
being far and away the worst.

Pack 1, Pick 5

We can play pretend that Hired Blade and Macabre Waltz are options here,
but if you’ve drafted this format even a little bit, you know that Hired
Blade is a replacement level card and there’s no need to take Macabre Waltz
fifth pick because it’s a common that wheels plenty because black decks
only want one.

Essence Scatter is a fantastic card in Core Set 2019 and is a loud
single that blue is wide open. But here’s the issue – I now have two blue
cards, two red cards, and one black card. What deck am I? Where is my draft
going? What’s my actual gameplan here?

The answer to all of those questions is that I tried to just be as reactive
as possible during the draft. I was R/B up until I got a very late
Omenspeaker in Pack 2, a clear sign that blue was open, and never really
saw any other black cards other than a Murder that I got Pack 3, Pick 2.
This U/R deck came together well enough, but it wasn’t anything I was
excited about. I didn’t have enough spells to make Enigma Drake a bomb, my
Dark-Dweller Oracle was merely fine instead of being a bomb, and ignoring
Spit Flame, the rest of this deck just left me wanting more.

So how’d the draft go? Poorly.

I played against a G/U deck in the first round that had multiple copies of
Vine Mare (which my deck can weirdly hang with), but I ultimately lost to
Vigilant Baloth and Colossal Dreadmaw because my blue deck didn’t have access to a Dwindle.

For me, this draft was a great learning experience. I forced some things I
shouldn’t have which is a bad thing, I stayed open to give myself the best
chance to adjust which is a good thing, and I ended up with a deck that
might look good on paper but has very little chance to handle huge green
creatures, a strategy I’ve been preying upon people with.

Ultimately, I deserved to lose this draft and I did. Failure allows me to
learn and I felt like I learned a lot. And in the end, my goal is to learn
as much as possible so that I’m ready when it matters most – GP Minneapolis
this weekend.