The Mixed kNuts Doubleheader: Me And Sleazy In The Big Easy, And I Got My Mind On My Money And My Money On My Drafts

When you publicly bitch about Wizards on the front page of one of the Big Three Magic websites, you’re going to get attention. When Wizards actually steps up to the plate and provides you with the information you were complaining about, you better be ready to come correct and cough up the analysis…. And so I did. Here’s everything I can figure out about Onslaught draft from Draft 3 of Chicago, as well as the story of what it was exactly that I showed to the ladies in New Orleans.

I wasn’t going to write this report – I got too far behind on it and have both a review of the new Type 2 and probably a full Pro Tour Chicago draft analysis to do (provided the nice folks over at Wizards post all the Draft 4 decks). Besides, Jimmy Bean covered the trip in his own report, and he was the contest winner while I was just the tagalong, who really wants to hear my ramblings about the Big Easy?

The answer is: Enough of you to make me postpone the rest of my ideas and write this report, apparently.

So – here we go…

I woke up waaay to early on Friday morning and went to pick up Jimbus at his place. Unfortunately for me, I was running about five minutes early, so I knocked on the door to no answer the first time. At the second knock, the door opens and I got a view of Jimmy Bean clad in nothing but his lucky Celtics boxer shorts. Not good times, bad times…

Anyway, slacker boy throws on some clothes, grabs the rest of his shizzy, and we head out. Since I didn’t have a free flight like some people, I booked my tickets through the Richmond airport to save money (Note to Pete: You still owe me kickbacks for that one), so we had to drive an hour and twenty minutes to get to the airport and then wait another forty-five or so for the flight to board. I had a book though, so the waiting was easy.

Something like five hours later, we arrive in the Big Easy and make our way to the site while managing to pick up two scruffy-looking unknown Magic players from Indiana along the way. They told us they had Bob Maher’s deck in tow with them, but Bob didn’t know what he was playing yet. I didn’t bother to double-check their story later, but you do meet the strangest people when you share cabs. Of course, since I’ve seen plenty of TaxiCab Confessions on HBO, I expected them to tangent into how they had some weird Mile-High orgy on the plane ride to New Orleans, but unfortunately that was not to be. You have to wait until Bourbon Street for those kind of stories…

Anyway, we arrived at the site and checked in with P. Diddy Hoefling, who was pimping his wares at the front of the event hall. Then I noticed J. Sawyer”Lucy Liu” sitting across the event hall with a bunch of his NC homies. I had heard recently that Lucy had a run-in with”the man,” so I decided to have some fun with the kid.

I walked up behind him and said in my best authoritarian voice,”Excuse me, son, but we’re going to need you to stand up and empty your pockets.”

Lucy got that”Oh sh*t, not again” look on his face as he turned around and said”Can I ask why?” Then he noticed it was me, and started advancing on me in a threatening way, muttering a stream of curse words. If you folks haven’t met little James before, let me inform you that he’s about 6’6″ and an easy three bills in weight. I’m fearless when it comes to high-school Magic players though, so I just stuck out my hand, put on a feral grin, and said”What’s up, dawg?”

After getting the story on how three High School kids from North Carolina got the okay to travel all the way down to New Orleans by themselves to play Magic (Answer: They asked and their parents said yes. Boggle.), I started checking out the other people in the hall. The TOGIT crew was running a Rochester across the hall, while celebs like Ben Rubin and Antonino De Rosa shuffled in and out of the room. Eventually I went over to take a closer look at the TOGIT table, and who did I see but John ‘Friggin’ Becker hanging out with the kids, and sporting three drained 16 oz. Budweiser cans directly in front of him. I immediately figured that this was a man I could grow to like.

Anyway, we spent the next few hours wasting time while Jimbo tested awful decks and I tried to get a better handle on the format. This was also the first chance I got to see the W/G Oath deck in action. I had talked to John”Money” Mahon (a sad gentleman who has now made fifteen – fifteen! – Top8 qualifier appearances and has no Pro Tour appearances to show for it,) about it online previously, but watching Lucy and Derrick Sheets test the deck broke my mind. The deck looks like an absolute pile of crap, but it seemed to win again and again, so I just took it as a sign that I didn’t know very much about Extended.

I later found out the deck really was comprised of a steaming pile of crap that distracted its opponent’s to the point of giving the W/G Oath player a major advantage. This is the only way I can think of to explain the success that Derrick had piloting the deck to Day 2.

Dinner found me still trying to figure out where Ferrett was, so Jim and I chose to head out to the French Quarter and rustle up something to eat. Jim had the address for Cafe du Monde, which his parents had highly recommended we visit. We wandered around Decatur St. for about fifteen minutes, passing horses and buggies, street folks, and cemeteries after parking until we found the place. Unfortunately, the cafe wasn’t much on serving meal-sized portions, so we went to the Crescent City Brewhouse instead. Dinner was good, if a bit expensive.

Around this time, I came up with the over/under bet that Ferrett made into a blurb in the match coverage. I figured it would be just a fun thing that I won some money from, but after I finally met Ferrett later that evening, he decided that we should ask all the Pro players as well and it changed from a bet into an event. Regardless, it provided me with a good way to meet a bunch of the Pros and ask their opinions on something ridiculous, and I won three whole dollars on it – a big help in paying for the weekend’s festivities. Just for the record, seventeen to eighteen were the numbers where I was very nervous about making an over/under call, but it didn’t matter since Ferrett let me do the counting before Round 4. What a sucker! *smirk*

After dinner, we headed back to Lucy’s rolling pollution mobile, and Jimbus entertained the gang by getting in an SUV that belonged to somebody else, while the rest of us looked on aghast, and the parking garage guys thought about kicking his ass. We made it back to the hotel without any further incidents though (and resisted the call of Harrah’s low dollar hold’em poker tables).

After we got back, I finally tracked down the Rodent in Chief, and met both the esteemed OMC and Israel Itzhak Eliezer Shmuel Benjamin Bleiweiss. Ferrett decided that early would be a great time to get started, and told me my ass needed to be downstairs and ready to roll by 8:45 a.m.

Surprisingly enough, Saturday morning actually did find me downstairs at 8:45. J. Jonah Steinmetz handed me a laptop, gave me a harsh look, and asked”Knutson, can you keep things brief?” I looked around nervously and replied,”Theoretically? Um, sure. I’ve never had to in real life though, those were only simulations.” He glared some more before muttering something like,”Do it.” Then he stopped chewing on his stogie for a second and bellowed”And get me those pictures of that menace Spider-man or you’re fired!” And here I thought Darth Junior Hoefling was authoritarian…

Round 1 saw me break my Feature Match hymen, as Ferrett decided we should take the opportunity to mercilessly make fun of Jim’s lack of Extended knowledge in print by covering his Round 1 match. Unfortunately for us, he managed to win his match against an opponent whose quote for the match was,”Kavu Chameleon is highly underrated.” ‘Nuff said.

I did a lot more match coverage during Day 1, as well as a blurb article on the lack of Red decks, and the W/G Oath deck that Lucy and Derrick played, and which we properly attributed to Mike Long and our boys down South (though I didn’t discuss Money’s role because he’s not exactly notable). I only mention this because I saw a piece of flame mail hanging out on Bleiweiss’s desk, bawling him out because he didn’t know the origin of the deck when he discussed it on The Sideboard (and prompted a correction to be posted).

Now I’m all for getting the scoop on other folks when I’m writing – but the truth is that when you are trying to track down who made what deck at a tournament, all you have to go on is what the people playing the deck tell you. At that point, no one had done an article on the deck, or mentioned it any place notable, so you can’t expect Ben to have any clue as to where it came from. If Derrick had told Ben that Jesus created the skeleton of the deck and he just filled it in with a bit of sin, Ben probably would have conveyed that information in his article. That’s his job. Cut him some slack (and me too, if I happen to end up in the same boat).

By the end of Day 1, I was done for. It took me two hours to write up and edit my final match for the day because I had no attention span left to speak of. Jim kept coming up and asking when we would be going to dinner, while I kept looking at him like I’d been on a twenty-four hour bender and just needed him to shut the hell up so I could sleep. I finally finished the last article, and after the usual herding difficulties that happen when you get a large group of people together, we ended up at The Crescent City Brewery (again) with Ferrett, Alex Shvartsman, Mikey P, Elliot Fertik, Laura Mills and crew, Ben Bleiweiss, and Becker eventually showed up as well.

Dinner was fun, though it’s a good thing that the food was tasty the first night around, or I would have been pissed about coming back for a second go-round. Mikey P is a quiet little man, but he’s fun to hang out with once you get to know him. Becker is the boisterous, cantankerous fellow that reminds me of my family for some reason. Didn’t get to hang with him as much as I would have liked to, but I left with a good impression, even though he did try to stick up for Berkowitz. (Yeah, that means nothing to you – but my family is filled with cranky bastards who are often fun to hang out with, so what can I say?)

Laura Mills and crew are all pretty normal dorks – not my term of choice, but they had uniforms that proclaimed the association, so who am I to argue? Alex was spiffy as well (can you tell I enjoyed meeting the Pros that weekend? It’s like when the Sports Guy went to the set of”Inside the NBA” and kept talking about how Kenny, Chuck, and Earnie were great guys. I can’t help it… I’m all gushy and stuff, when usually I’m just as likely to come back from a tourney cursing people as liking them. Apparently even Magic celebrities have this effect).

As for Elliot, well… Mr. Finisher wore a really ugly shirt under his lucky sweater (which prompted me to point it out to everyone that we met). Oh yeah, and he got schooled in the smack department by Laura during their Feature Match. He did some match coverage of his own though, which almost made up for his missing Day 2.

After dinner, all the old folks (ahem) went to The Improv to listen to comedians. Since Jim and I had never been to Bourbon Street, we figured it would be sheer folly to miss out on the fun. Besides, there’s only a fifty percent (or less) chance that any comic will be funny and a one hundred percent chance that we would see, say, or do something hilarious on Bourbon Street, so we went with the odds and stepped out in to the cold, cold New Orleans night to see if we could see ourselves some Ta-Tas. We tried to convince Ferrett to tag along, but the ROUS decided to play it safe and head to the Improv.


That same exclamation goes out to Lucy, Woltereck, and D.J. as well, since Bourbon Street was not to be missed, but they managed to do it anyway.

In case you’ve never been to Bourbon Street, allow me to set the scene. It’s like Times Square in the sensory stimulus department, except they made the streets really narrow, and the weather is a hundred times better (except during the summer). Oh yeah, and they replaced all the commercial elements with pure sleaze. The entire street is comprised of Strip Clubs, Bars, Adult Novelty Stores, and entrances to hotels. Oh yeah, and the occasional souvenir shop. That’s pretty much it, and by itself it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.

But when you combine it with the fact that everybody and their dog knows that people”Go Wild” on Bourbon Street, you end up with a very unique environment. It’s like a huge frat party where people get really drunk, do stoopid stuff that they may or may not want to remember in the morning, and mack on each other. I was never in a fraternity, so it was all new to me, and a helluva lot of fun.

Aside: Speaking of things”Gone Wild,” have any of you seen the”Gone Wild: Doggy Style” video? (I linked it, but I wonder if Ferrett will let that slide.) (That would be no – The Ferrett) Anyway, it’s Girls Gone Wild hosted by Snoop, which strikes me as the ultimate combination of comedy. The only way they could make it better would be to have ODB mixed in conducting on-site interviews with the women and asking them if they had his money. If you’ve seen this, send me your review, as some random friend of mine may end up with it as a gift soon.

So we reach the end of the lighted strip of Bourbon Street, and come across the bar where they sell Handgrenades. Jimbo decides he wants one and buys the first round while I hang around outside. Right above the bar is a balcony, and standing on it was a hot chick who sounded just like Janice from Friends. While I’m standing there, she keeps holding out dollar bills and exhorting male passers-by to”Show me your peeeeee-nis! C’mon baybeee, I gotta doll-ah for you. Just show me your peeee-nis!” She actually dropped a dollar down to one guy who wasn’t paying attention, and started cursing him out when he decided not to show his goods. Quite an amusing scene to partake, and I wasn’t even drunk yet.

Once we had our drinks and were on our way to Inebriationville, we headed back down the street to take a slower tour of the sights. During our travels we ran into a large group of Pro Magic players standing in front of an old black man and a young white teenager who were doing a street performance. On closer examination, we realized that Osyp Lebedowicz and Antonino De Rosa were also part of the performance and were receiving loud cheers from the gathered crowd. This”dancing,” as some might call it, went on for quite a while until the Magicians tired of it and came off the”stage,” as it were.

However, immediately upon their exit from the spotlight, Diego Ostrovich took up the torch and began wildly gyrating, flailing random parts of his body about. Personally, I thought that the next part of the act was for pea soup to be vomited from his mouth and his head to start spinning around, but in that respect I was disappointed.

My advice to you is to never, ever let Diego dance again – and if you do see him dancing, avert your eyes! The devil be there in that dancing, I tell ye! The devil!

By this time we recovered the Argentinian’s Dance of the Devil, Jim and I had finished Handgrenade number one and headed back for number two. We stopped into a store selling beads this time though, and I bought Jimmy Bean a ring of beads shaped into the form of his favorite herb. Those of you on the East Coast may be lucky enough to see him displaying his new fashion statement at a future PTQ.

The next stop was to marvel at the hand-rolled cigar shop, where Jim kept exclaiming of what amazing blunts the guy could roll. I completely lost him for a minute while he calculated just how much mary jane would be required to fill one of those cigars, but I soon brought him back to earth with the promise of another Handgrenade and the further search for Ta-Tas.

Number of boobies seen so far: 0

We found drink number two before we tracked down any bazooms, and then headed back to the middle of the street to hang out under some of the balconies where the action was. Most of the action took the form of teasing, and people screaming”Show us your xxxs!”, which was interesting, but not what we came for. However, there were some lovely Latin ladies on one of the balconies that had a whole wad of beads in hand and kept urging the men below into action. A couple of fat guys tried to get some quid pro quo by showing their breasts to the women and hoping for reciprocation, but it wasn’t happening. It soon became clear that the only way these lovely ladies would give up the goods is if some enterprising gentleman took it upon himself to drop trou.

The next part is a little fuzzy, because I can’t figure out what the hell I was thinking. The next thing I know I was telling Jim to hold my drink because I had some work to do. Pop, Pop, Pop went the buttons on my fly, down came the draws’, and the next thing I know I’m being pelted with beads and hurriedly re-covering my package. This was exactly the idea though, as I responded by throwing all but one strand of the beads back up to the very appreciative women on the balcony, who reciprocated by providing us a view of their mammalian delights. And there was much rejoicing…

Number of boobies seen: 14

After all of that, we were getting a bit tired (and Jim was a lot drunk), so we decided to think about heading back to the hotel. We decided to make one more stop under another balcony about a block further up the street though, just to catch another glimpse of illicit mammaries (both of us are married, so any real life breasteseses other than those belonging to our spouses are considered highly shady.) Unfortunately for us, none of the women were giving it up, but we did see a fly looking guy in a three-piece suit drop his pants for package inspection duty. Upon returning his fly to the fully upright and locked position, a New Orleans po-nine moved in and cuffed his ass, and led him off down one of the side streets to the nearest jail.

The evening was ridiculously fun-filled until that point, but the cop busting that guy was like a rush of brutal reality into the divinely surreal. It definitely put a damper on the evening, especially since I realized that it could have me who got busted and fined – not a story that I’d like to be telling any time soon.

As our cab dropped us back off at the Radisson, we caught Big Willy and the rest of the crew returning from the Improv and were invited to Laura’s room to play some Lunch Money. Jimbo pretty much passed out on their couch, while I learned how to play Lunch Money and Ferrett kept asking me”Are you sure that you guys had the same amount to drink? Jim’s totally smashed!”

Just before we went to bed, I asked Jim if he wanted water to help counteract the hangover I was certain he’d have in the morning, but his reply was”Nah, I never get hangovers.”

The next morning found Jim whimpering about my alarm going off because he felt like his head wouldn’t stop trying to crush his brain.”I don’t get hangovers”, my ass. Anyway, I packed up my shizzy and made it downstairs just in time to cover Kibler and PTR’s Feature Match (thank you, deck check). Ferrett was nowhere to be seen, as he had overslept and showed up about thirty minutes into the match. Anyway, the rest of the day passed quickly, and soon it was time to catch a cab to the airport and make the flight home.

All in all, the weekend was great, and I highly recommend hitting a premiere event to anyone who has the opportunity, particularly if it’s held in a great place to visit like New Orleans. Might I also take this moment to recommend Las Vegas and South Beach to the folks over at Wizards for the next mid-Winter Grand Prix?

Interesting Tidbits from GP:NO

Eugene Harvey walked around the entire weekend looking like he had a crushing hangover. You know, the type where it feels like some demented midget is living inside your head and has decided to conduct a full-scale home improvement project? It’s hard to argue with success though, so I’m feeling some serious drunken revelry may be required the night before Regionals.

For those wondering, I have been told the composition of a Handgrenade is essentially Everclear and extremely strong apple flavoring.

Contrary to popular description, Andy Stokinger is not built like a linebacker, but is instead built more like an Eastern European small forward. He still needs to work a bit on his cross-over dribble, but from the amount of women that he cycles through, I can only guess he’s a great passer.

Brian Kibler and Gerard Fabiano are two Magic Pros that have no problems picking up women. There’s hope yet for the rest of you.

I wasn’t there, but I heard that Huey walked into Harrah’s one night before the GP and walked back out $2500 dollars richer in winnings from the Poker and Black Jack tables. This isn’t a huge surprise, since he plays Poker for a living, but $2500 is nothing to sneeze at.

The amount of hot women on Bourbon Street (even on a slow night like the night that Jim and I visited,) is staggering. Not only are they hot though, ninety percent of them were dressed in some seriously expensive come-hither clothing. Good times…

Fireweed Honey Beer is excellent beer, but it’s not the best beer in the world as some former Alaskans might claim. The beer has a very clean finish, and a very interesting, but subtle middle to it, but my complaint is that it has little front end. I like my beers to have a real body and be curvy as hell, and Fireweed is a little too waifish for my taste. If you want a non-dark beer that fits the bill, try Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome. Fantastic stuff!

I had a look at the cards being played at the bottom five tables just before Round 5 began and got to see some folks playing Gerrard’s Verdict, Spectral Lynxen, Braids, Temporal Adept, Carnophage, Remove Soul, and the mind-numbingly good Cephalid Constable.


Ferrett:”I don’t think Zvi has the best ability to spot women,” explaining why he guessed an anemic five on the Over/Under when there were already that many women in the room.

Me:”Yeah, it’s like a lobotomy. I think they removed Zvi’s chick radar and replaced it with the ability to play TurboLand.”

Jimmy Bean:”I’m at Table 1… and I’m staying there!” This was complete and utter BS, but you gotta give the guy props for trying.

Jimmy Bean:”This is insane – I’m 3-1 and I don’t even know what I’m doing.” Your Star City contest winner ended the day at 4-2-1.

“We had to give Trey a Red deck because that’s the only way he could finish three games in time.” – One of Trey Van Cleve’s roommates, when I asked him how Trey could be the slowest Red player ever.

“Easy listening just makes me angry.” – Jimmy Bean, as we were treated to Continental Airlines soundtracks of James Taylor and Elton John, again and again.

“Do you ever wonder how people with body piercings in particularly sensitive areas make it through airport security?” – Me, while watching the madhouse of security wand-waving at Houston International.

I’m stealing the best quote of the trip from Osyp’s report over at the TOGIT site though, with the recommendation that you go read his report. (Seconded – The Ferrett)

“I’m sorry sir, we can’t let you in here dressed like a hobo.  Harrah’s has a dress code.” 

-The security officer as he escorted Ken”Bing” Krouner off the casino property. 

Chicago Results

When you publicly bitch about Wizards on the front page of one of the Big Three Magic websites, you’re going to get attention.

When you curse in your article title, it’s going to set a bit of a confrontational stage for the bitching, no matter what you state inside the article itself.

When Wizards actually steps up to the plate and provides you with the information you were complaining about, you better be ready to come correct and cough up the analysis.

Last week, I complained publicly about what I have complained in private e-mails previously – the lack of draft decklists from Premiere Limited events. For almost a year now, I’ve been doing analysis on the various Constructed metagames, based mostly on statistical evidence gleaned from results on the Grand Prix/Pro Tour circuit.

I always have my own opinions as to what is good in a particular environment, but looking at the numbers provides me with a more objective setting to test my hypotheses. Looking objectively at the numbers also helps me to analyze trends, and sometimes provides me with insights that weren’t obvious before. All of this can occur because the decklists are always made available for Constructed tournaments.

Limited, on the other hand, has been the red-headed stepchild of Event Coverage and strategic analysis. Until Nick Eisel and Ken Krouner started churning out their articles on the Onslaught draft environment, the only people that you could consistently expect to write articles on drafting were Zvi and Gary Wise. That’s pretty ridiculous for what may be the most-played competitive format in the world.

The dearth of Limited strategy articles is caused by a number of factors, but lack of information to analyze doesn’t help. [author name="Ben Bleiweiss"]Ben Bleiweiss[/author] explained why the amount of work required to post all the draft decklists is off the charts, and I agree with him. However, the compromise I proposed seems reasonable to most parties that I’ve discussed this issue with – and while I’d rather have a total of 1000 draft decklists to analyze and dissect, I can live with a mere 250.

Unfortunately as of this writing, I only have the decklists from Draft 3, so for the time being I’ll have to survive on a lowly 123 decks. However, if the nice folks over at The Sideboard post the rest of the decks this week, I’ll not only run the numbers for Draft 4, but I’ll also track each of the drafts for the Top 8 players and see how their two Day 2 drafts played out.

Now enough with the jabbering – onto the interesting stuff…


From reading about the Onslaught Rochester Draft environment, I constructed a set of assumptions to test against the results, just to see if the assumptions held true over the course of the tournament, or whether the environment somehow got turned on its head. First I’ll list my assumptions, then I’ll post the data, and last I will analyze the results against the assumptions.

  • Red and Black are the strongest colors. Blue is by far the weakest. Green and White are approximately equal with most players showing a preference for Green.

  • It is said that each player must be in either Red or Black, with each color alternating between seats. We should therefore expect to see four Red and four Black drafters per pod.

  • If players understand the environment perfectly, the Win Percent for each of the colors should be 50%. If we find that the Win Percent for some colors is noticeably less than 50%, it either means the color is not as good as some players thought, or it is being overdrafted. The converse is true for colors with a WP over 50%, where the color may perform better than players thought, or it is underdrafted.

  • The color combinations of U/R and B/G are the two strongest available. They should therefore have the highest Win Percent of all the archetypes, provided they are not radically overdrafted.

  • There are two schools of thought with regard to seating in Rochester Draft. One school believes that seating doesn’t affect your results, while the other feels that players in the 3-6 seats have a slight edge.

There are plenty of other assumptions that I could state, but these provide a good starting place.

Now for the numbers:



Adjusted Record

Adjusted Win Percent

Avg. Players per Pod






























Adjusted Record

Adjusted Win Percent




















































Adjusted Record

Adjusted Win Percent

Seat 1





Seat 2





Seat 3





Seat 4





Seat 5





Seat 6





Seat 7





Seat 8





Mmm, numbers… Now what do they mean?

Let’s start with Assumption 1, which basically refers to the colors and who played what. An amazing 4.44 players per pod played the color Red, which is about half a player higher than expected. It’s also more than twice the amount of players that Blue sported – which is kind of startling, considering there are the same amount of cards in each color. The other three colors center around the number 3, with White being drafted a bit less than that, and Black a bit more.

From looking at the Win Percent numbers, it becomes clear that Black definitely cannot support a fourth drafter at most tables without severely depleting the other three decks of good cards. What comes as a shock is that Red was able to support five players in some capacity at almost half the tables. 1,2,3…5! Blue barely supported its two players, while White did fine with just under three, and Green was right on that number.

At first I thought it was interesting that Green and White had the highest Win Percent of the colors – but on further reflection, I’m writing that off to randomness. All the colors were close enough to fifty that it doesn’t really matter (though I would like to see those Draft 4 decklists and ascertain if the trend continues).

So as of right now, we can see that you can’t alternate Red and Black at a table and expect to come up with eight decks, as that just won’t work. Players ended up fighting for Red more often than the fourth player went into Black, and that looks like most of the time it worked out. The other option could be to do what Eugene Harvey and Jun Ishihara did and draft W/G while splashing Black for bombs or removal.

Of the major archetypes, G/B and U/R had the best records, as expected, and they were drafted by twenty four players each. The other major combinations (W/B, R/W, G/R, and R/B) were all at or slightly below 50%. U/B, a combination that most players have shunned, was under 40% in the wins department, showing that the Pros shunned it for good reason.

I guess the good news is that at any one table, you will only face two possible U/R decks, as there simply isn’t enough Blue to support more than that. The bad news is that at any table, you will almost always face two possible U/R decks, because it doesn’t make much sense to pair Blue with any other color right now, proving this quote from Aaron Forsythe coverage of the Top 8 Draft exactly correct:

“The very first pick was a controversial one – Mistform Wall. Reinhardt later explained that he took it over the Riptide Shapeshifter because he wanted to leave no doubt in his neighbors’ minds about his intention to go blue-red, and felt that the Wall signaled that better than the 3/3 would have. Finkel, Reinhardt’s first-round opponent, felt that the pick was horrible, and that any blue card automatically carries with it a signal for red.”

B/G on the other hand, at least has the potential to appear in the hands of three players per table. Most of the time it won’t, as the colors generally won’t play out like that… But it could. Regardless, if you have the choice, those two are obviously the archetypes to end up in. All the other major combinations are at least slightly inferior with regard to how often they were able to win in Chicago.

Last but not least we come to Assumption 5 (the rest were covered above; they just weren’t clearly delineated), which examines how seating affects how often players win. The numbers above are interesting – but since there were only sixteen pods to examine, I’d prefer to see information from a few more drafts before doing any analysis about it, as I feel it’s subject to change.

Right now it looks like players in the 1, 7, and 8 seats have some slight advantage over the folks in the middle – definitely a non-intuitive indicator, but a few more winners from seats 2 and 3 in Draft 4 will make all the interesting numbers disappear.

That’s all for the PT: Chicago analysis right now, as I’m still hoping to get the rest of the Day 2 decklists and make some sweepingly general statements about how things played out later this week. For those of you interested in the numbers themselves, I’m including my Draft 3 spreadsheet here, and you can come up with your own conclusions now that some of the extra grunt work has been completed.

Before I leave you today, I wanted to be sure and give you something fun and interesting to check out as well, so Tybuc chipped in and decided to write this week’s Guest Spot. I’ll just slide out of the way until tomorrow, and let the Burski carry the beat.

The Guest Spot, Featuring Tybuc: Creating the Perfect Metagame Card for U/G Madness

You’ve seen it. I’ve seen it. It is a rampant disease in Type II. It starts minutely, with an innocuous one blue mana spell that is actually card disadvantage most of the time. The island dweller gets to draw two cards but then, as a high cost for being choosy, has to discard two of the bottom feeders in his hand. But wait! Some of these cards can be cast by discarding them, like the two little 1/1s that inevitably make an appearance without even touching the graveyard. The next turn a durable little Grizzly Bear critter comes out to play from the forest your opponent just discovered. Sure he looks cute, but he’ll bite your hand off if you try to feed him. The turn after that the whole crew visits your neighborhood, and to add insult to injury the Grizzly Bear (he’s really a Hound, not a Bear though) gets a little boost as your opponent decides he wants to call in the big dawgs and makes a 4/4 trampler for the low, low cost of what most colors pay for a Grey Ogre.

“Aha,” you say.”I may be at 13 life, but I have enough creatures to block his big creature without any hope of it surviving!” Of course, that’s what you think, as the next turn his Hound gets another pump while the Incarnation of Bewilderment in your opponent’s grumper propels his team skyward and over your blockers. You suddenly have one turn to live.

You sigh and drop your fourth land. You get your creatures to finally dish him out some pain while you attempt to summon God’s Wrath to indiscriminately weed out all infidels – or maybe inflict mass pain as demons rise up from your bogs ready to torture the innocent and tainted both. Then the Hound gets bigger, and you know the game is ended. The forces of confusion envelop you with conflicting facts, which for some reason make you lose the ability to keep concentration unless you can pay more mana – which, of course, you can’t. God’s Wrath is stymied for another turn, giving your opponent ample opportunity to run you over with his animal friends.

Yep; U/G got a God hand again and there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell for you to win. It may be time for a new metagame”fix” card to be introduced.

They always come late, too, I’m sure you’ve noticed. Tsabo’s Web and Teferi’s Response were one entire block exactly too late to shut down the mana denying ability of Rishadan Port. Seedtime and Blurred Mongoose were weapons Stompy could have used against Control Blue or Five-Color Blue back when they were the decks to play. Spiritual Focus was printed in a block with absolutely awful discard. Obstinate Familiar was two blocks too late to shut down the cheese of the Tolarian Academy deck (just kidding, just kidding – although it would have helped Sligh….)

So in my daily eight-hour rigmarole at work, which is usually split evenly between discussing computer problems with bubble-headed ladies in retail stores (“No, ma’am, that tray is meant for holding software CDs, not for your coffee cup.”) and looking at sweet, sweet barnyard porn, I had this thought: What sort of card would I make to balance the type II environment to assist against the big kid on the block?

My first attempt was a halfhearted effort that was mostly for humor value because I wanted to be like those 133t Dune fans (even though I’ve never seen the movie because I heard it is really long and sort of boring and has Sting in it):

Atriedes’ Influence



Gain control of target Wurm (this effect does not last until end of turn).

“Yer workin’ for me now, boyyyyyy……”

(Having not seen the movie, I have no proof he did not say that.)

Wow, enough green and red came from the spell checker to remind me it was just Christmas time.

I shared my thoughts with big Teddy K and Jim Ferraiolo, who promptly told me that sweet, sweet barnyard porn rots a man’s mind out. Besides, he said, white needs a lot more help than that to compete in this environment. Oh, and if Wizards printed that card, they might just get a little sued.

Undaunted, but seeing his point that my card was utter crap, I was distracted in finding a way to make heavy white playable in Type II, with emphasis on their small but ornery creature decks. In other words, we needed a card that would let mono white weenie be able to compete with multicolor Astral Slide, Mono Black Control, Blue/Green, and Sligh con Blistering Firecats, considering its creatures burn like tinder and feel the wind rushing past their hair as green fatties fly above them and drop rocks on them on the way. Here was my next attempt:

Peasants’ Revolt



Destroy all creatures with power 4 or greater. They can’t be regenerated. Destroy all enchantments. Tap all mountains and swamps. Mountains and swamps do not untap during their controller’s next untap phase.

They’ve got pitchforks and torches, and they’re not afraid to use them.

There! We have a little bit of hate for everybody, except for those other benevolent soldier guys who would never, ever, kick a man when he’s down.

That seemed to quietly disturb the crowd, who obviously reminded themselves never to get into a discussion with a man so despicable he would consider playing mono white!

So in an effort to appease my audience, I branched my options to include other, less white cards. I considered that one of the biggest troublemakers in the Blue/Green Madness Machine was the Merfolk Looter, who could constantly churn card advantage by drawing cards for its controller and discarding cards that could be cast with their madness cost. This thought inspired the following:




Destroy target Merfolk. Draw a card.

You can tune a piano, but you can’t tuna fish.

(Extra props to someone who can identify where I stole that from. Unless you own that piece of media, in which case I can only say…. Sorry.)

As I pointed out to myself, it wasn’t really the Merfolk Looter that gave Sligh problems. In fact, he is pretty much born with a red dot on his slimy forehead. It was the 6/6 guys for 3G that could pretty much tank and live through an encounter with any red creature, except of course for our friend Mister Blister of course who only gets to shoot his revolver once.

I mused for some time, first attempting to punish discard – as that is the way most of the really abusive spells get put into play. For instance, I considered a card that didn’t allow an attack if a player discarded a card that turn. This was not really a detriment, however, as the Madness player could merely attack for the turn and then put his instant discard effects on the stack. Aside from that, I could think of nothing better (but not broken, as in the sense that the target player loses the game) than the punisher Megrim that was already in 7th Edition.

Then I concentrated on cards that would remove cards in the graveyard from the game – for instance, a card that let you remove your choice of cards from the graveyard whenever a creature attacked you. Then I remembered Web of Inertia and how awful it ended up being. Plus, such a card wouldn’t hurt the madness part of U/G Madness very much, and might actually encourage people to play with Mist of Stagnation, which would (rightfully) cause me to immediately get torn apart by an angry mob of Dave Price clones and proceed to the 6th level of Hell.

Fine, say I – let’s approach this from another direction. There is one common denominator that all the”broken” spells have in common; none of them are ever cast from the player’s hand. All madness spells go to the”removed from game” zone before they can be cast, and of course the most common place for Roar to be cast is in the graveyard. Excellent. I knew immediately whatever effect was created would have to affect all players, otherwise this would be the next Rebel Informer – a card that the dominant deck merely used for the mirror match. I finally decided on the following card:

Staff of Civility



Whenever you play a spell, if you did not play it from your hand, sacrifice Staff of Civility.

2, T: Counter target spell that was not played from a player’s hand.

“Play nice or pay the price.” – Kamahl, Pit Fighter, then Druid Acolyte, then guest star on Young and the Restless, current Dirty Old Man

I believe this is a nice sublime balance of power and simplicity, as it removes the”too many threats too quickly” aspect of U/G while at the same time tying up its opponents’ mana so that it is still a force later in the game. After all, an Arrogant Wurm that comes out fifth turn and a big Mana Leak for three mana is still powerful, considering your opponent has to save two mana a turn to keep you honest.

Questions? Comments? Just write to [email protected]. Just don’t send me any links to barnyard porn; I already get enough of those on my Hotmail account….