SCG Daily – Diary of an Online nOOb: Day Three

My next step was to join an 8th Edition league. I had the packs and the tickets, and I mentally catalogued the cards I wanted to open. Wrath of God. Birds of Paradise (although I know the BB Birds will be appearing in drafts next fall, so that’s okay.) City of Brass. Phyrexian Plaguelord, because I loved them back in the day. Worship. Verduran Enchantress. And some of the basics, like Ravenous Rats, Rampant Growth and Wood Elves. I find the league, agree to squander my product, scritch the dogs and give them a cookie for luck, and open my packs. Rares, rares, what nifty rares do I have?

Synopsis: the first article in this series described the telephone problems that resulted in pitiful Internet access, and finally installing Magic Online via memory stick. In the second, I started spending my $100 a month budget, joined a Mirrodin league – and opened garbage. Onwards!

(Onward! It’s our state motto. Or close to it.)

I should mention that I have/had the flu, which is why I’m home instead of at work. (Parts of this were written as I proceeded, in a pop-up window, parts later, and then cleaned up a week or two after that, which is playing hob with verb tense.) (For those that don’t know, hob is kind of like mumblety-peg, only with waffles.) [See, I was going to make some crack about how I always thought the state motto of Wisconsin was “Moo.” But I stifled that… until I read this craziness. Moo? – Knut]

I decided that I would do a draft, but Ingrid wanted to watch (and kibbitz), so I postponed that until when she got home. Until then, I would do league play.

My next step was to join an 8th Edition league. I had the packs and the tickets, and I mentally catalogued the cards I wanted to open. Wrath of God. Birds of Paradise (although I know the BB Birds will be appearing in drafts next fall, so that’s okay.) City of Brass. Phyrexian Plaguelord, because I loved them back in the day. Worship. Verduran Enchantress. And some of the basics, like Ravenous Rats, Rampant Growth and Wood Elves. And Duress (okay – I know it isn’t in 8th, but I still want 4.)

I find the league, agree to squander my product, scritch the dogs and give them a cookie for luck, and open my packs.

Rares, rares, what nifty rares do I have?

Wow – look at that, a foil rare! A shiny, sparkly, minty foil rare! A brand new, premium, foilie …


Flying Carpet.

Someone is testing my skillz….

Actually, my rares are not anywhere near as bad as Mirrodin. Nothing is really Constructed worthy, but they aren’t that bad. Story Circle, Thorn Elemental, Flying Carpet, Zur’s Weirding, Warped Devotion. I have built casual decks around Zur’s Weirding. I also built a Type Two deck around it, but most serious players would call that casual as well.

Here’s the color breakdown:

White notables: Story Circle, Ardent Militia, Aven Flock, Crossbow Infantry, Samite Healer

Black notables: Severed Legion, Soul Feast, Mind Sludge, Nausea, 7 creatures (Dusk Imp tops the list.)

Blue notables: Mana Leak, Remove Soul, Boomerang, Curiosity, Dehydration, three creatures: Horned Turtle, Merchant of Secrets, Sneaky Homunculus

Red Notables: Pyroclasm, Volcanic Hammer, Hill Giant, Lesser Gargadon, Balduvian Barbarians, Raging Goblin

Green Notables: Vine Trellis, Giant Growth, Grizzly Bears, Spined Wurm, Horned Troll, Fyndhorn Elder, Lone Wolf, Spitting Spider, Thorn Elemental

Evasion creatures: Thorn Elemental, Severed Legion, Sneaky Homunculus, Lone Wolf

Not quite the nightmare that Mirrodin block was, but I’m still disappointed by not having any serious Constructed cards beyond Mana Leak and Vine Trellis. True, that’s a start, but I’ve spent about half my budget for the first month and I have about 1.5 Constructed worthy cards in each color.

This seems so slow.

I’m groggy and sleepy, but I try to figure out why this seems so strange. Eventually, I puzzle some things out. Ingrid and I both judge at the prerelease tourneys. Our local prereleases are two days, and we usually end up paid a box or more each, and we traditionally do a two-person draft of the first box or so, then draft the other box with fellow judges. That means that I usually start the season with somewhere around 1500 cards of each new set. Online, I have now opened 150.

Nope, I still have no idea why I don’t have playsets of the good stuff already. I’m just unlucky, I guess.

I build a W/G deck splashing Blue for Mana Leak, Dehydration, Remove Soul and Curiosity. I play a few matches. I win one against an opponent that casts Healing Salve on himself turn 1, and nothing else until turn 6. I lose to an opponent with Wrath of God and both Serra Angel and Blinding Angel. I split the first two against someone with burn and Blaze, then lose due to a misclick. The games were pretty good, and I find how to replay them. (Here’s a hint: look for big button called "My Games" on the left. Finding it is tricky, but it took me less than an hour.)

I log off and go to sleep.

Ingrid comes home, bearing medicine and some snow on her hat. I give Ingrid a hug and the snow drips down my neck. The dogs bounce around and rejoice, because once again the pack is together and the stray wasn’t eaten by bears. So we let them out, and back in, and I moan about my day, and Ingrid commiserates (Okay, she tolerates it.) (Okay, truth be told, she said "let me know when you wind down" and went out with the dogs.) Anyway, once they return, Ingrid tells me about her day, and I tell her about mine and promise to show her a replay of a couple really good games later.

Dinner intervenes, then I decide to log on and draft. Ingrid pulls up a chair and the newspaper.


I find drafts, look around and finally click on the join draft table. The program demands some of my precious 8ed boosters and some tix, I click yes and I’m in the queue.

There are three people in the queue.

There are three people in the queue.

There are still three people in the queue.

Okay, it’s been all of three minutes, but I’m impatient. I go let the dogs out and get some soda.

Two minutes later I’m back, and there are seven people in the queue. Better and better. In real life, I usually wait 10-20 minutes for a FNM draft to start.

The queue is full. We flip to another screen and wait. There’s a picture of a little table with all eight of our avatars sitting around it. And a blank table underneath – which suddenly fills with my first pack.

I have to admit that, even though I understand the concept of letting a rare go if I can win several more later, I am still a savage rare drafter. If it’s good for Constructed, I may swipe it for use later. For some people, winning the draft is more important. For me, well, sometimes I cannot resist the chance to yank something I know will be played in a ton of casual games. That said, I cannot even remember the rare I opened. If it was a skill tester, I passed the test.

I was looking at three decent Red cards, from Volcanic Hammer on down, a Remove Soul, a Nantuko Disciple and garbage. I decided not to fight for Red and went Blue. I then proceeded to draft a lot of Blue fliers, some solid Green and got the Disciple back.

I tried to puzzle out what might be going on. I thought the Disciple was too good to table, especially with nothing else in Green in the pack, and tried to figure out what happened. I thought back to the last time I had drafted 8th Edition. That would be, let’s see…

Not this winter.

Not at Gencon, or Origins.

Not – well, actually I have never drafted this format. The last time I played it was at the 8th Edition release party 18 months ago – and that was a sealed deck tourney.

In other words, I had no idea why the Disciple tabled – or even if tabling was reasonable. It was good in Odyssey – and 8th is almost as dull and slow as Odyssey. And for all the Limited specialists out there – yup, I was dumb enough to grab Remove Soul over Volcanic Hammer. If that’s the wrong pick. I have no idea. Tim Aten can talk about draft strategy. I write about theme decks.

Sometime I will have to dig up some of the old articles on drafting 8th Edition. Then I might have some idea what I should be doing. [Piemaster wrote about 100 pages worth of info on the format. – Knut]

I ended up with a decent curve. I have a couple Horned Trolls (I had drafted those back in the day…), several Winged Drakes, some more stuff like Vine Trellis to gum up the ground, a Mana Leak, a Remove Soul, some combat tricks including Giant Growth and two random White cards: Worship and Sunweb. Worship was a bomb I could not let go, especially since I had not seen a Boomerang or Naturalize all draft, and Sunweb was a late pick.

My opponent, however, had a ton of burn. Pyroclasm, Shock, at least one Volcanic Hammer and probably two, Pyrokinesis and Shock Troops. I passed three burn spells in pack one just so burn would be fought over – how did he end up with that much? Are pairings random? I should be playing an opponent that was directly across from me, with three Red drafters ahead of him.

He also had a Blaze. In both games two and three I gradually gained control, started flying over and got him down to almost nothing, then lost when he topdecked Blaze. I never saw Worship, and I had drawn Remove Soul, not Mana Leak. I had White mana every game (Fertile Ground and Rampant Growth), but no Worship.

I logged off in disgust.

I was a bit bummed, but Ingrid tried to cheer me up. She asked to see the replays of the games I had played earlier. So I logged back in and clicked on "my games" – and the game log was blank. Nothing there. Zippo. Apparently the game log is wiped whenever you log off.

I’m sick, and I lost, and my games were all erased, and (whine, whine, whine.)

It wasn’t that late, and I slept much of the day, so I have a second wind. I decide to draft again. I have three CHK boosters and some tix – then I don’t, and I’m in the draft.

There are thirteen people in the queue.


There are fourteen people in the queue.

There are fifteen people in the queue.

And the draft starts.

That was fast. Two minutes, max. Way faster than the 8th Edition draft.

Okay, I tell myself. No rare drafting. Just take the best card. Win the fricken draft. You need all the cards. Including every one in the prize boosters. No rare drafting.

My pack opens. I look at it. I take the rare.

I know, I’m weak. Show me a rare and I just grab it.

Not like Keiga is good in draft or anything.

Second pick is Sire of the Storm. Fourth (!) pick is Yamabushi’s Flame. Glacial Ray pack two. A couple Reach through Mists and Consuming Vortex. Earthshaker. Zuberas. Several assorted Moonfolk. My only likely mistake was passing General’s Kabuto for a flier that fit my curve in pack three, when I has woefully short of both creatures and three-drops. Sometimes I talk myself out of rare-drafting even when I should take the card, but I don’t think that was a mistake. (Remember: Aten / Krouner = win at Limited. Me = win at St. Pattie’s Day mono-Green multiplayer.)

About halfway through the draft, Ingrid asks me why I don’t look at what I’ve drafted. Say what? I remind her that that’s illegal – DCI tournament rules say you can only look at cards drafted between packs. Ingrid points out a button, and when I click it the table and avatars go away I can see everything I’ve drafted, mid-pack.

That’s cheating, at least in the real world, but if MTGO lets it happen….

Now I understand why everyone is looking at their cards during FNM drafts nowadays. And during team drafts, but those are never sanctioned anyway.

My deck ends up pretty solid, although a bit light on creatures. I have one River Kaijin and 2 Callous Deceivers, a couple fliers and not much else. I’m splashing black for a Rend Flesh and a Nezumi Ronin – that’s how short on bodies I am.

I get paired with my opponent. He wins the die roll and does nothing. I say "hi, good luck." Nothing. About five minutes into the match he chooses to keep. I message "everything okay?" No response. He has burned 12 minutes off his match clock when he plays his first spell on turn three. No response to my messages. No "good luck." Nothing.

I win game one. He messages something like "my draw = sh*t." Hello and good luck to you, too. Game two I never draw creatures early and he eventually pulls it out in a long mess. He has the General’s Kabuto I passed, and fliers. I struggle with the interface, learning how to splice and how to adjust settings to let me get actions at the right times, etc. I lose game two because I cannot burn a creature between declare blockers and assign damage. Now we both have almost no time left on the clock. I struggle to finish him, and he is at five life – should be three but I messed up a spliced Glacial Ray and splice-targeted the guy I had bounced. He has a flier wearing the Kabuto. I attack with a 1/1 and 2/1 Soratami, then splice Glacial Ray onto Reach through Mists, then Ray him again in response. My timer dings out with the spell on the stack. He has 18 seconds left.

I lose.

No responses from my opponent, not even a "gg." Man, is that fun. For the first 15 minutes, he was clearly doing something else – maybe another draft. Maybe watching porn and engaging in self-abuse. Whatever.

Maybe once I learn the interface better, or get a faster connection, I’ll try drafting again. But that was stupid. I just paid $27+ for 6 games of Magic, and I didn’t enjoy the last three at all.

As for my last opponent – I just wish we had been playing in real life. I would have loved to blow germs all over him. He deserves the plague.

I go to bed. But Ingrid follows, so it’s alright.