Invasion block draft has really been getting on my nerves lately. It seems as if in every draft I’m in I end up playing, at the very least, three colours. More often than not, it’s four or five. It’s not that the decks aren’t good or that I keep getting manascrewed, because they’re usually okay and I usually don’t. It’s just that when I compare them to draft decks I had with previous sets, they seem to lack something. My decks from previous draft sets had a certain quality about them, a certain inherent ‘solidness,’ that my Invasion decks seem to lack.
In our quest to recover this lost ‘solidity,’ my friend Leshem and me have started doing multiple personality drafts with prehistoric cards. Such old-timers as Wall of Blossoms, Ophidian, Swords to Plowshares, and Hymn to Tourach mingle freely with the younger generation, and the latter often discover that the ancient ones still have some things to teach them. All the Silver Drakes, Razorfin Hunters, and Coalition Honor Guards in the world weren’t enough to overcome the good old turn 2 Soltari Priest, turn 3 Empyrial Armor (that game sure was fun, though). Even the mighty Spiritmonger failed to break past the always-solid Forbid lock.
Multiple Personality draft is a system the four players in Jerusalem have developed in order to be able to draft despite their small numbers. It’s a very simple and very fun way to draft. Say you want to do a Rochester Draft and you have only two people, neither of whom have any boosters upon their persons. You take a bunch of commons uncommons and rares, and mix them all up. If you’re a stickler for having closer to real-life boosters, you can separate the rares commons and uncommons into different piles and make normal boosters. If, for some unfathomable reason, you want to do something resembling an Invasion Block draft, you can use only cards from the relevant sets and separate them by set.
The way the draft works is very simple: Since you only have two players, and Rochester drafting with two people isn’t very interesting, each one of you will play a number of drafters. I will draft seats one, three, five and seven, and you will draft seats two, four, six and eight. The draft is sort of a four-on-four team draft because, barring people who really do have multiple personalities, you’ll usually be rooting for your guys to win – so you won’t counterdraft your own cards or stuff like that.
The more players you have, the better. With three people, two people play three seats each and the third plays two seats. These drafts are almost as fun as real ones (especially when played with the right mix of Palinchrons and Corpse Dance), and are much simpler to get started. Once you’re done, you can play the decks against each other in a single- or double-elimination tournament, depending on how much free time you have (and yes, I have a lot).
Another good thing about multiple personality drafts is that they don’t allow intentional draws (you were probably wondering how I’d manage to fit the subject in). Which brings me to the subject of this article – or at least closer to it than I was before. Before I say my thing about intentional draws, I want to illustrate my problem with them by describing two situations in which it with them crops up.
It’s the last round of day 2 of Israeli nationals 2000, just before the cut to top 8. I am currently top seeded at 8-1-2, and am guaranteed a spot in the top 8. I am paired against Tal, who is 8-3 and needs a draw to guarantee his spot in the top 8. Kai, a close friend of mine, is currently 7-3-1 and has worse tiebreakers than Tal. Kai asks me not to draw with Tal so that he will have a chance to make top 8. Tal asks me for the draw and I decline, then proceed to crush him 2-0 in five minutes. Kai wins his match and makes top 8.
It’s the last round of day 2 of Israeli nationals 1999, and the situation is the same as example #1 – except that Kai and Tal have switched places. I’m playing Kai, my close friend, and he’s the one who needs a draw to make top 8. Tal doesn’t even bother to ask me not to draw because he knows it’s hopeless. I draw with Kai and we both make top 8.
I hope these examples have succeeded in illustrating the problems that intentional draws can create. The situation created is one in which one player can decide which of two others will make top 8. I may be wrong here, but I think that this is a completely unacceptable situation in a competitive sport. In every other sport there is, no matter what their situation, players have to play their matches out. If a soccer or basketball game looked as if it had been lost (or drawn) on purpose, the team that lost (or drew) would be kicked out of the league. It isn’t fair that one person makes top 8 while another doesn’t, based on how much I like them. These things need to depend only, and since I can’t stress this enough, let me add – only, only, only on play skill.
The first of my examples, with a few of the details changed, happened to me once. The second happened more times than I can count. If I can assure a friend will make Top 8 by drawing with him, then I draw with him. I know that I could (and probably should) not draw in these situations because it really is unfair, but me doing that wouldn’t change the unacceptable fact that it is legal to draw in these situations.
Here’s what I propose to do about this:
Add a feature to the DCI reporter that checks, at the end of every round, if anyone is mathematically guaranteed a spot in the top 8. Then give any such person byes for every round until the top 8. This way both players playing every match have something at stake, and therefore play or draw based on their own interests, which seems fair to me. I’m not a programmer or a mathematician but I’m sure such a program wouldn’t be too complicated to write.
If you want this feature of Magic to change as well, write letters about it to the DCI. If we’re strong and united, then all our enemies shall fall and such!!! As for me, Survival of the Fittest and Orcish Settlers are calling my multiple personalities to draft.
Wild Mammoth hunter