Do you like to draft? Do You Like To **Cking Draft For 16 Hours Straight? Then I guess you should have been to Krazzzy Tony’s Draft Extravaganza.
Tony’s simple yet ingenious plan was to draft a bunch, play a bunch, then draft some more. Now this sounds fun, if a little pedantic. “Take Nagao, take Kokusho, splice Glacial Ray…”. Useful and all, but I imagine the interest would wane over the day. But what if, instead of drafting the current set, the event revolved around drafting completely dead, useless formats? Wouldn’t that be fun? You bet it would.
Here’s how the day played out. Draft Invasion/Invasion/Invasion, play two rounds. Draft Mirage/Mirage/Visions(!), play two rounds. Then Onslaught/Legions/Scourge, then Odyssey/Torment/Judgment, and finally Invasion/Planeshift/Apocalypse. Then, after those 5 drafts and 10 rounds, the Top 8 drafts 3 Korean Urza’s Saga. That’s crazy!
This was all Tony Mayer’s brainchild, so my hat is certainly off to him. He ran the event, at a loss to himself, just for the greater good. Now anyone in the area who wanted to would have a rare opportunity to draft anachronistic Magic cards. He expected 16 folk, but instead got 28 people. This works out pretty well for the actual draft pods.
Kicking things off was straight Invasion. Going into it, I knew Blue and Black were the best, and Red wasn’t too far behind. I was, and always have been, happy to send Armadillo Cloaks to my neighbors.
So with that plan in mind, imagine my pleasant surprise when I opened Crosis the Purger. Recoil came next, then Urborg Emissary, and I was firmly entrenched. More solid spells came, but I was looking for guys. More non-dragons I suppose. The second pack held no creature, but a cute little Undermine. A very late Breath of Darigaaz was also interesting. Third pack I had the choice between a second Breath, or an Agonizing Demise. I did in fact agonize a bit, but in the end I had to pluck Kaervek’s Purge. But don’t get me wrong, two Wraths are good.
Here’s the final list. The two things to note are my creatures are kind of “eh”, and I sided in Zap every round. It’s a great deck though:
Draft 1: I/I/I:
Crosis the Bad Ass
2 Metathran Transport
Dream Thrush (Best bird in Magic)
Breath of Darigaaz
The first round in a tournament always has a buzz to it. People are always bragging about their awesome sealed/draft/deck choice, or griping about it. Either way, everyone is animated. From round 2 on players get depressed or focused or resigned, but when those first pairings go up, everyone understands the potential of what’s about to happen. And it makes us excited.
My first round was against a gentleman by the name of Joey Zapelli. I had never seen this person before, but he certainly handled and played his cards like he knew what he was doing.
Game 1 my opener is solid. Some lands, couple guys, Annihilate and Urborg Emissary. Solid, as long as Joey doesn’t do something silly like turn 2 Obsidian Acolyte, turn 3 Tower Drake. Ahem. Magically, my Black cards turn into Bloodthirsty Ogre and Dredge. But lo! We were in a racing mood. Our fliers went back and forth, while the ground started getting gummed up. Things turned strongly in my favor when I Undermined something on his turn and played a kicked Vodalian Serpent on mine. He slipped out Armored Guardian, but he couldn’t effectively chump block, race me, and keep mana open for his cards’ abilities. A clutch Orim’s Touch bought him a turn, but Breath of D finished it up.
Game 2 was a lot less exciting. Turn 6 Crosis was solid. He put Angelic Wings on his Riptide Crab to both block Crosis and empty his hand. One Recoil later and things were all but over. Two attacks later and they were.
Round 2 – Ryan Lorenz
Ryan is both a judge and Wizards of the Coast employee, so I imagine opportunities to get down and dirty with the players appeal. We compared decks earlier where he showed me a very fast triple Apprentice, double Maniacal Rage deal. I have a Crosis.
Game 2: Plague Spitter is not good times for Mr. Lorenz. The Maniacals were hiding, but not his one-toughness creatures. We did get into a bit of a race at the very end, but a kicked Demise on Tek induced a game 3.
Game 3: The first time Ryan’s Dream Thrush took a Maniacal Rage it was Recoiled. The second time was an Urborg Emissary. It’s hard to combat that kind of, um, everything advantage. Crosis made it impossible.
Next was Mirage/Mirage/Visions. I confess this was the format I was looking forward to the most. I haven’t drafted MMV in x years, where x = a lot. But I figured even with my limited knowledge, I was doing better than 90% of my fellow competitors.
So how does one draft the Mirage block? Well with Exodus, go White for Empyrial Armor and Heavy Ballista. And Empyrial Armor. Jesus. But sans Exodus, things start with X spells. Kaervek’s Torch is easily the best common in Mirage. And Rock Slide is close to the best in Visions. Flankers are great in Red too. Green has solid creatures, but apparently Armor of Thorns doesn’t work with the current rules. Black has good kill but semi-weak guys. White is a touch better than Blue, both are fine.
Both plans started out well with a sweet Torch staring back at me as the first card in pack 1. Things went downhill after that, with very few guys and me being split between R/B and R/G. 2nd pack was another X in Volcanic Geyser. Unfortunately I was still running very short on quality creatures, and often, quality anything. I did manage to snag 3 Bone Harvest, the thinking man’s Reinforcements.
Visions was a first-pick Snake Basket: creatures and an X spell. I knew I was 3 colors, so I snagged an Undiscovered Paradise kinda high. I found out the fellow on my right took a Necrosavant from me, which in fact would have gone well in my deck. Still, I did get some good spells and some much-needed creatures in Visions, so it didn’t end all bad.
Draft 2: M/M/V
Searing Spear Askari
Wall of Corpses
Knights of the Mists
So that’s like four or so X spells, which is good. The creatures are still pretty awful. The general idea is to do creature damage and then X them out. I almost ran 18 and 41, but that’s, like, awful. Even back then. On the other hand, I should have done something different…
Good man Mike Smetana said my deck was “fun”. He liked my fun artifacts. And fun is a good thing. I mean, a barrel of fun and $4.25 will buy you a double hot soy skim mocha latte out here.
Round 3 was against “Judge” Pedro Margeat
Pedro’s deck was B/W and Pedro had my deck’s bane: creatures and Parapet. I’m told Parapet can be played as an instant, once. It might be true, but main phasing (lolololol) it out for a permanent boost seems a lot more excellent. Pedro knew this, and his turn 2 was said Parapet.
Mentally I groaned, but outside I kept my face like steel. Don’t let them smell your fear! You must act like every card they play is beneath contempt. Sometimes I’ll actually chuckle, as if their “cards” and “plays” amused me, from my perch on Olympus.
Men plan and I laugh.
And it’s a good thing I kept a sense of humor because Mr. Margeat kicked my ass so bad. Game 1, besides involving that enchantment, also was about fliers. Cards like Feral Shadow, a griffin or two, and the wicked unkillable Wake of Vultures. I also had zero Swamps for too long, and crumpled fast.
Game 2 I sided in the Green. Both Tropical Storm and Giant Mantis seemed pretty good. Unfortunately, my Mantis got Pacified, Fetid Horror got Enfeebled, and Judge got Parapet down again. This comboed up nicely with his Crypt Rats. My last draw was Snake Basket, which I found out that day does not even make snakes at all, but instead Cobras. Wacky!
Round 4: Geoffrey Ziegler
Obviously Geoff was not a true Ziegler, but some kind of cheap knockoff. Still, even a photocopy was enough to take me down this round.
Game 1: My notes tell me I did eight points of damage before succumbing. I seem to recall his creatures banding and being a lot better than mine. My removal was certainly better, but when I had to use it stay alive, it doesn’t leave me much for actual winning.
Game 2 went a little better. I think Lancer did some early damage, despite Geoffrey’s double Ekundu Cyclops (yes that’s a penis). Goblin Scouts were a lot better against Geoffrey’s R/W/b deck than Pedro’s B/W one. The tokens were enough to let me stay aggressive enough for the win.
Game 3 was one of the toughest I played all day. I had Scouts again, but he had lots of creatures as well. I was trying to be judicious with my removal, but a lot of back and forth attacking and tricks necessitated using it as needed. Geoffrey gets overly zealous at one point and uses Honorable Passage to save something from a black source. Soon after, I Volcanic Geyser a Cyclops. Eventually, most of our board is massacred. My two remaining creatures are facing his. He’s at 7 life and I’m at 2. I’m looking for Torch or Snake Basket or Magma Mine or something. Geoffrey is interested in finding a Swamp, which he does. A brutal Phyrexian Purge wipes my board and puts Mr. Ziegler at 1 and me at zero.
0-2 in Mirage drafting? What a bitter pill to swallow! Still ***t happens. I was deeply interested in doing that Saga draft, and I wasn’t going to let a little thing like sucking stand in my way.
Next on the docket was OLS. I never really dug this block. Morph might be my least favorite mechanic of all time. And they put it into the super-heavy creature sets! What if morph was in a creature light set, where the mystery was a lot more significant? When every creature is worth so much more, the masking ability seems much more relevant. As it played out, there were simply too many morphs and too many regular creatures to feel like something special was happening. Very hit or miss, which also described those which to lay first/which to block first situations.
So with all that in mind, this was the draft I was looking forward to the least. I certainly had few preconceptions going into it, except avoid Green. Since that’s always my plan in anything, it ain’t saying much
I opened Swat and got passed Cruel Revival. Death Pulse was fourth. After that the picks were pretty obvious. I decided on White for my second color in the middle of Legions, but as you can see, it wasn’t a huge factor in my deck.
Draft 3 O/L/S
2 Smokespew Invoker
2 Wingbeat Warrior
2 Lingering Death
1 Barren Moor
I felt my deck was adequate, but certainly not amazing. The guy on my left started bragging to me about he completely screwed me over in Scourge and showed me a couple Twisted Abominations. I don’t think he was actually gloating, he just didn’t know what he was doing exactly. He admitted as much to me, in fact.
Anyone ever heard of the concept of the “retirement match”? Basically it’s invoked when you play someone so awful that if you lose, you must retire from the game immediately. You play some 5-year-old with a 2,000 card deck and someone shouts out “Retirement match!” and you’d better win, sir.
Anyhoo, my round 5 was against a young fellow by the name of Jesse Hampton. I had never seen this guy before in my life, so I certainly didn’t know anything about his skill or deck quality or whatever. But then his “friends” start coming up to me and telling me how awful this guy is, and how he never wins a game etc. etc. Then he chimes in with how horridly bad his deck is, and how he only gets wins with byes, and so on. And against my better judgment, I think to myself “I may have to retire forever if I lose, this guy is obviously so bad”. The funny aspects are a: Jesse Hampton was not a bad player at all, and b: thinking that you have an easy match is a sure road to disaster. You’re not only not going to play as well, what the hell are you going to be thinking if/when you lose? You either get zero satisfaction or beat yourself up for throwing away a bye. It’s a bad equation. Luckily I won though, so I don’t have to quit quite yet.
Jesse was G/R splash Black. I gamble early on and put a Dragon Scales on a Severed Legion and just start bashing in. Jesse’s deck is basically three Wirewood Savages and a whole lot of beasts. That’s not bad at all, and while I did win game 1, I was getting somewhat nervous with the “draw 2, draw 2” near the end. But Serra Zombie went all the way.
Game 2 is me missing a couple land drops and Jesse with double Savage. I crumple quite quickly after that, although my notes tell me I did a point of damage to him at some point. “Where’s your perfect game now ****h?”
Game 3 for me is a kill fest. Very little stays on the board and my Severed Legion is continuing to deal damage. Crypt Sliver is clutch here. I double Wing Shards two big beasts away at some point. The final play is me placing Murkdiver into play with Scales attaching. Well I guess the final play was him utterly dying, but regardless:
Round 4 – Elliot Woo
Elliot is one of the two Woo brothers. While I can’t tell them apart, I know they are both pretty solid players. On this rather crucial round, I was more interested in playing someone a little less skilled. Ah well.
Game 1 I was mana shy for just long enough to lose serious edge in development. I stabilized with a Flock with Wings on it, but I couldn’t get past his Mistform Seaswift + Cloudreach Cavalry. I was looking for my kill spells when Elliot double amplified his Aven Warhawk, using a Deftbalde Elite. I still couldn’t find any removal and I was provoked to a loss.
Game 2 was I believe the most frustrating game of Magic I played all day. I draw both my Smokespew Invokers, so the plan is to play a completely defensive game until I get eight mana online to start wiping away his board. Things are going alright for a while, but Elliot is keeping up with me with Aphetto Runecaster. I get to seven lands and stay stuck on them F-O-R-E-V-E-R. The clincher was me putting a Lingering Death on a 4/4 Stinger. With no cards in his hand Elliot plays a morph and attacks with everything. I make the correct blocks and Elliot unveils an Aven Liberator, forcing my Lingering Death off his creature and adding another threat to the party. I still don’t find land #8 and die in a flurry of feathers and stuff.
50% is pretty bad, but a cut to the Top 8 in a 28 man tournament still gives me room to maneuver. 7-3 is a lock, and one or two 6-4s could make it in. So I’m not out, but I’m strongly not interested in losing any more rounds. Luckily I felt solid about the next format.
I did a fair amount of OTJ back in the day, so I felt confident with card evaluations and nuance. I liked Blue, and Black is always good if you can pull it off in Torment. I figured the fun people at this middle table might not grasp the full power of some of the Torment cards.
My first pack had a card that’s had a lot of personal value for me in the past: Psychatog. Strong card, strong colors, what’s not to like? I picked up a second-pick Cephalid Looter, and a third-pick Thought Devourer, so I was pretty much set. Fifth-pick Concentrate also made me happy. I sent zero Black down in the beginning, so I was feeling solid on the Torment side. No disappointment for me, as Faceless Butcher, Cabal Torturer, and an extremely late Grotesque Hybrid also hit my pile. A desperately-needed Aquamoeba tabled. Judgement had the amazing Treacherous Vampire, and some more goodies. How could anyone not like this deck?
Lost in Thought
Rites of Refusal
Burning Wish (my opening Judgment pack wasn’t great…)
What’s not to like about this gem? Usually I start Caustic Tar, but I figured if I got up to 6 or 7 lands with my deck, something was going wrong. All that excess was better spent being discarded or somesuch. With ‘tog, Hybrid, and Vampire, I wasn’t worried about finishers. Of course I did side it in every round.
Round 7 Dave “rhymes with duck” Guckian
Dave’s a nice, slightly older guy I’ve seen at all the events over the years. He’s friendly and always seems to be having a good time. That fact he’s never beaten me in a sanctioned match (which this wasn’t anyway) is just gravy.
Dave is with R/W, and as he would readily agree, his deck was not great. Game 1 some Mystic Familiars ping me down to 10, but my overall better creature/spell packed deck starts threatening him pretty fast. At one point Dave attempts a Swirling Sandstorm, which is both a blip on my creatures and moot anyway, as he only had 6 cards in his graveyard. Guess what happened next?
Game 2 is a little more severe. Stern Judge screams out on turn 3 and I have very few ways of containing it. His Hypochondria is also making racing near impossible. I try to Ghostly Wings the Judge, to which Dave responds by sacking his Benevolent Bodyguard to pro-Blue it. I let that happen, then threshold Toxic Stench the Judge. Dave responds to that with Hypoing out Strength of Isolation, pretty much locking me out of the game. A few taps later, we were onto g3.
For game 3 I side in Caustic Tar, since game 2 bogged down into such a standstill. It’s the right move, as Dave once again had Hypochondria, and there was no way I was getting through. I did draw my Tar though, and I started using it like mad. Dave rallied in the end, and I even gave him a chance to kill me with my extreme misplay involving his Glory. I won’t go into details, but if Dave had drawn one of his two Firebolts, I would have been done. Lucky for me, he didn’t and I won the round. You know, typing this I wonder why he thought his deck was so bad. 2 Firebolt and Glory seems rock solid. Who knows.
Round 8 – Christian Robertson
Christian is a good man, and one of Washington’s best. His Magic’s been a bit reduced lately as he, like so very many others, has been killing the tables. Still, Christian knows what he’s doing.
Except this time. For whatever reason, Christian’s draft deck was just awful. Splashing Black for Gravegouger, or Red for Barbarian Bully, it was a train wreck. Chamber of Manipulation, bleh. Actually Chamber wasn’t too terrible in his deck, as he did have 3 Deep Analysis.
Game 1 my Mesmeric Fiend plucks an early drop and it and some 2/2 start swinging in while Christian is stuck on 3. He does stabilize with some fliers and Chamber near the end, but I just kept pitching stuff to Inkshrouder for the last 5 points.
Game 2 was quite anti-climactic. Christian mulligans twice and I play Psychatog, and maybe the Hybrid too. Whatever came out, it was over quick. So very sad when you can’t flash the Deep.
For the last official draft of the evening, Invasion block. Universally regarded as fun, it was a great capper for most of the people. I have a feeling if we ended with OLS, a lot more would have dropped. But everyone seems to love those gold cards. Me too.
With IPA, I like some combination or R/B/U or G/B/U. I try to avoid White, since it has the worst gold spells in Apoc. Plus, it’s boring.
Pack one my choice is Scorching Lava or the delightful Undermine #2. Lava is probably the slightly better pick, but it’s worth less and I really like B/U. Plus Red is over drafted in Planeshift, plus I was starting to get really tired ok!? I was on hour 13, alright? Cut a guy some slack for rare drafting late at night. Christ.
Planeshift was okay, with a desperately needed Rushing River and Stormscape Battlemage. Those cards turned out to be my only removal. I also grabbed a late Lashknife Barrier, giving me the option of a White hit in Apoc.
Draft 5 I/P/A
2 Reef Shaman
2 Coalition Honor Guard
2 Urborg Drake
Looking back at it, I probably should have played the Sway main for something else, just for the 2 Duskwalkers. I like the deck though. Anytime I come up with a creature advantage I’ll probably be keeping it. And Reef Shaman was always underrated. I needed 2 wins or a win and a draw for sure, and possibly a win and a loss to make top 8.
Round 9 Matt “Scrub” Greene
Matt’s a good guy, and since I’m playing down, we feel around a concession from him. We decide to just play it out and see what happens. Matt’s R/B/U with some pretty foul cards, including Extended-quality Maggot Carrier. His trump is Magma Burst, but as you can see from my decklist, it wasn’t a card that concerned me.
Game 1 went something like me Excluding and Undermining two of his creatures, than playing consecutive Duskwalkers. My notes are very clear that I killed him in increments of three damage.
Game 2 is my Urborg Drake and Exclude versus his deck, with me coming out on top. I note that I ended the game at 21 life, off a Stormscape Battlemage I’m sure. I think at one point I Rushing River my own Lashknife Barrier and Phy Rager, but it’s all a formality. Matt takes his beats like a man. Afterwards, I suggest he use his wasteful High School class time to make Type Two and Extended decklists. Matt looks thoughtful.
Round 10 – Devin “High Road” Low
Devin is an interesting fellow. You may have heard his name from a Rosewater or Beuhler article, where you’d read that Devin is a designer/developer in Magic R&D. But luckily for everyone, this event still isn’t sanctioned, so anyone can come and compete with whom he lovingly describes as his “pees ons” [sic].
Devin also kept a few pouches of cards on his belt. In these pouches were cards he’d designed, signed by him, to be given away to anyone who so requests them. You want a Hinder or Nezumi Shortfang or Akki Lavarunner, he’ll give you one if you promise to play with it in a tournament and tell everyone who made it.
Anyhoo, Devin had been kicking ass all day, and so was in whether he won, lost, or drew. I needed a win or draw, so I asked for the ID. Mr. Low graciously granted me the draw, to which I was very grateful. We did play a couple games for fun though, just to see what would have happened. Both games Devin went turn 1 Honorable Scout. I don’t think I need to describe how the rest played out.
Things were getting a bit silly at hour 15, when the Saga draft was to take place. Nobody wanted to play the full 3 rounds, and the site was kicking us out anyway. Everyone knew a draft without anything at stake would just degenerate into a rare drafting frenzy. Eventually someone brilliantly suggested drafting and playing a single round. The winner of that one match would collect the rares from the loser. With that perfect solution, we were on our way.
Saga is of course all about the Black. Pestilence, Befoul, Corrupt, Expunge, Vampiric Embrace; all amazing Black cards that other colors just can’t compare with. Alas, everyone knew this. If I opened anything solid in Black I was going to go for it, but it didn’t happen. Instead, my first pick was a Green card. I actually didn’t save this deck, so I can’t give the final tally. It was G/R with Child of Gaea, Blanchwood Treefolk, double Acidic Soil, Midsummer Revel, Heat Ray, Arc Lightning, Viashino Sandswimmer, Blanchwood Armor, and Symbiosis. Also had some mana acceleration, guys, and stuff. It was Ok, but not in anyway insane.
Round 11 – Brett Allen
Brett sat down with his “Washington State Champ” sash still on. Customarily the champ wears it at the beginning of a tournament, then takes it off when the rounds start, to have an undue intimidation value. From the frayed edges on Brett’s though, it looked like he’d be wearing his everywhere. LL Cool State Champs.
Anyhoo, Brett’s deck was a U/W affair, with permission, fliers, and one Barrin, master Wizard. This matchup was pretty awful for me. I’ve got little removal, no flying defense, and Barrin trumps my best stuff. Plus Brett is, well, Brett. Nothing gets past this guy.
Game 1 saw my offense shut down by Pegasus Charger. Then Opal Titan came online and I was in Big Trouble City (pop: me). I was trying to set up the draw by keeping a chump around, going down to one with the airforce, then hitting back and Soiling us both to oblivion. Unfortunately Brett bounced a guy or killed a guy or enhanced a guy or something, and I never got an untap.
Game 2 I came out of the gates hard. A sided-in Disorder did its thing, and I was streaming forward with dudes and attacks. ROP: Red came down and I was in a bit more trouble. Then Barrin was played again and things looked a lot worse. My hand when Barrin was in play along with 6 lands was Blanchwood Armor and Acidic Soil, two very poor cards with Bouncy McSaclanderstein is in play. I offered Mr. Allen 4 cards to immediately put Barrin the graveyard. Brett said no, but looked interested. I upped the count to 5, 5 cards drawn for placing that stupidly good legend in the graveyard. Brett again declined, but decided to near tap out to play the 3/4 serpent. I swung in with everything and my Red creature was Ropped, tapping Brett out. Acidic Soil did its thing.
Game 3 What a beating! T2 Priest of Titania, Gaea’s Bounty, Fertile Ground into quick Child of Gaea, Blnchwood Treefolk, Winding Wurm and so on. Brett made a bit of a game of it with Barrin, but it’s a lot worse when you don’t have any lands to play threats. I overran his lands, and won the third game!
Game 4 Douse versus Hush. Opals and Pegasi versus Disorder. Barrin versus the world. A fairly close one, but I was always a step behind. Barrin of course made it tougher, but I was still beating pretty hard. Brett was attacking just as fiercely though. I did manage to off Barrin with a Heat Ray late, but it wasn’t enough. I had exactly one turn to draw an Acidic Soil for the game 5, but it didn’t happen. With a heavy heart, I turned over my rares, fairly lost.
Start time: 9:00AM
End time: 1:50AM
Man o man, what a fun day. I don’t think anyone has the stamina to do an event like that all the time, but once in a while it’s a real treat. My kudos once again go to Tony, who also head judged the Seattle Pre-Release this past weekend. Personally I might not be there. I might be Magicked out…
When once any one is started upon the road, it is like a man in the sledge flying down a snow mountain more and more swiftly.”
-Dostoevsky, The Gambler
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