Our group had been planning to try doing a draft. Only Scott has ever done a draft before – so this would be a group of pure rookies, drafting cards. Most of us were looking forward to it as a change of pace. After a couple of failed attempts, everyone was agreed that it would go ahead tonight. Sure enough, I get a call from Dave who is stuck at work and won’t be there until 8:00. It looked like the draft would be cancelled for another week. I packed up my decks and headed over to Shayne’s house.
After informing Shayne, Richard, Scott, and Brice that Dave would not be here until around 8:00, everyone decided to wait for him. Yes, I know… What a bunch of wonderful guys. In the meantime, we pulled out our usual multiplayer decks and started to hammer away at each other. We managed to get through two full games in an hour, but there isn’t much that I can tell you about either game, as I was out early both times, and didn’t take any notes. I do know that Shayne and Scott earned the wins.
Dave arrived five minutes before the second game ended, so we got started drafting right away. With only six of us it, was a small draft. Rather than use Rochester or doing the best we could with three packs each, we just passed packs around the table, reversing direction after each pack, with no one revealing the cards they had selected. Clearly, Zvi’s articles would be of no help to me, since I couldn’t see how I could force a color without knowing what my opponents took. (That’s part of draft, my friend – even though you don’t see, you read the cards that are passed to you – The Ferrett)
We ripped open a box of Torment and got started. The draft would be exclusively Torment, and everyone laughed about how the decks would all be B/x. I have never drafted in my life, so I decided early to build B/W. I saw Shade’s Form and knew it would get picked and used, so I wanted enchantment removal. At the end of each pack, there were a lot of red cards available, so I always took what I thought was the best red splash card available, when there was nothing decent in black or white.
Here are the cards that I picked (not my deck, but the card pool):
3x Faceless Butcher
4x Carrion Rats
5x Mystic Familiar
2x Teroh’s Vanguard
2x Aven Trooper
2x Longhorn Firebeast
2x Barbarian Outcast
2x Pardic Collaborator
I tried to follow Aaron Forsythe suggestions as best as I could remember them, since I really didn’t know what I was doing: 17 creatures, 17 land, and 6 removal tricks; try to get creatures with evasion; and watch your mana curve.
Here is the deck that I built:
Please email to tell me what I should have done. Scrubs like me want to know how to improve my deck selection.
Scott’s build was B/U, definitely the most popular build among the six players, with three of them choosing that route.
I got off to a decent start, trading wimpy creatures (Carrion Rats for Cephalid Snitches), but eventually found that I couldn’t keep up with the mana screw. I didn’t get a second black mana source until turn 7, so it would be an uphill battle (actually, it was an impossible chance of winning, but I like to fight to the bitter end so…). He just continued to pound on me with Cephalid Snitches (he had five of them) until it was over. Death by Cephalid Snitch.
Hmm… My concerns about the deck were not allayed.
Absolute mana screw. Started with 2 dual lands, which I didn’t play because I didn’t read the card. I thought I needed a swamp in play to use it, but I could have used the generic mana. Either way, I ended up getting closer to threshold than I should have before things started to roll. Unfortunately, they never really did get started, as I didn’t get the second black mana that I needed until turn seven or eight, and I never saw a red source until then either.
I was somewhat demoralized and was absolutely freaked that I had almost 25% of my deck as black mana sources, yet I was still mana-screwed. I thought I would have a problem getting enough white mana for the deck, not black! For those of you who would know, did I mess up the land? Too much, not enough, not the right color. Just fill me in. I hated the thought that I had put together what I thought was a decent deck, only to have messed it up by putting the wrong ratio of land.
Surprisingly, our two games finished in record time, and the other two pairs were both only halfway through their first games. Scott and I watched for a while, and then decided to play some more. It turned out we could have drafted entirely new decks, built them, and played again.
We played three more times and I won the first two of those games handily. My mana sat up and came out exactly when I needed it. The Carrion Rats worked almost as I expected them to, hitting Scott for two points on the first turn, then putting me one card closer to threshold. They were also handy chump blockers when Scott played Shade’s Form on one of the Cephalid Snitches.
The third game we played was a lot closer, with Sonic Seizure getting me the final three points of damage.
Major mistake of the game (or at least the biggest mistake that I spotted): Used Crippling Fatigue on creature with Shade’s Form when I had enchantment removal in my hand. Enchantment removal was only good for that card. Wasted the Fatigue when it could have been used on a separate creature.
He was playing B/W too, but without the red splash. It was unusual, considering we were sitting right beside each other. Those were the cards that were coming. His deck was set on a higher mana curve than mine and my mana was there every time I needed it. In this game, I remembered the trick that I use to draw land to the top of my deck every time I need it. I simply put my hand on top of the deck, then strain and grunt as though I was in the bathroom trying to drop a particularly huge loaf. As long as I strain long enough, it works almost every time. And yes, it does tend to throw off my opponent’s concentration as well. Seeing a 6’4", 220-pound guy sitting across from you with veins bulging out of his neck, then suddenly flipping up the top card and slamming it down going "hah!" It’s a truly hysterical image, and somewhat disconcerting.
I wish that my deck was actually as good as it was in this good. It didn’t hurt that Shayne took the damage from the Carrion Rats every time. Carrion Rats is just a great card if no one actually reads it and just takes the damage. I did expect that some people would take the damage because they wouldn’t read the card, but I didn’t expect that Shayne would be the one to do it. I don’t know that it would have helped, as the Faceless Butcher seemed to hit the board every time I needed one of his creatures to disappear.
Shayne and I played a couple more games, and I beat him handily both times. His deck just didn’t have the juice to carry him through.
Brice and Scott were playing beside us and it was clear that Scott was proving to be an irritating opponent with his Cephalid Snitches. When the fifth one hit the board in that game, Brice looked at Scott and asked him "just how many of those Cephalid Snitches ‘Son of a Bitches’ do you have in that [expletive deleted] deck?" I was amazed that I didn’t notice this wonderful connection during my game.
By this time, I knew that Dave had tried to build a deck with a Nightmare theme, mostly to work with the Chainer he had selected early in the draft. He ended up running a U/B deck that featured library manipulation (Compulsion and others) along with a wide array of creatures (Balshan Collaborator, Mesmeric Fiend and Cephalid Illusionist were just a few)
The first was a long, drawn-out affair. Between the Faceless Butchers, Mesmeric Fiends, and every other black creature that removes cards from play until its return, the game took a long time to finish. The domino effect those creatures had on each other made things difficult to keep track of. Which cards were out because of the Butcher; which Mesmeric Fiend kept which cards from my hand? The whole thing was crazy. Just one more reason for a pen and paper that we didn’t have at the time. In the end, Dave got out his Cabal Torturer before I could get mine out, and that turned the tide. I just couldn’t hold against him and he eventually took the game.
By the time that we were finished, everyone else had finished their entire matches and was waiting on us. No pressure here.
I was happy enough to hurry things along. My deck exploded out of the blocks as it had against Shayne and I hammered poor Dave. The Butchers dealt with any of his creatures that came into play and the Longhorn Firebeast did the rest.
Game three was a little closer, but not by much. Things were beginning to work into a stalemate again, but I this time it was my Cabal Torturer that came out first. I toasted most of his little guys and dealt with the single Balshan Collaborator he put out with a flashbacked Fatigue.
Brice won the evening with a B/U deck, beating out Richard in the last game to go 3-0. Richard’s deck had to be the most interesting of the night. He managed to build a mono-green deck that included Gurzigost, nasty Centaurs, and swampwalkers, along with three Basking Rootwallas. It was never as fast as it looked like it should be, but it seemed to get the job done on a regular basis. It certainly didn’t hurt that he got all the green cards, as no one else even splashed any green at all.
Playing with mostly rookies saved my butt. My deck was clearly too fast for the people I played against to deal with. Most people had far too much fat in their decks. I would have loved to play either Richard or Brice later on, but the night was getting late, so the festivities packed up.
Occasionally wished that I had not put red in. While I used the cards regularly, I felt like that I wouldn’t have had the problems with mana that I did have.
That said, the red cards were certainly the most fun. The Longhorn Firebeasts basically were sorceries that did five damage, and then brought me a card closer to threshold. My red direct damage did pretty much the same thing. The problem was that threshold was rarely achieved and when it was, it made little difference in the course of the game. With eight cards in my deck getting a benefit from threshold, I should have done more to make sure I got threshold much faster than I did.
The difficulty I had with the draft was not in putting a deck together with the cards I selected, since I already knew which cards were going to get in and which were not. The difficulty I had was in deciding which cards to select from each pack. Too often I was worried about the mana curve and that the creatures I was selecting were too costly. I don’t know if that was a mistake or not.
I am looking forward to the next draft and more practice. I suspect that I can only get better. It was a nice change from attack left. Next week, we return to attack left, and I ask for more help – this time with a casual Atog deck that doesn’t use Psychatog.