The Stats of the JohnnyDraft – Triple Time Spiral with Finkel and Company

What better way to spend the holidays than drafting with one of the best players this game has ever seen? Indeed, the rest of the hallowed eight are no slouches… Paul Jordan shares some of his Drafting With Finkel experience, and brings us some interesting statistics regarding his personal performance in the format. All this, plus a full draft walkthrough!

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to Worlds scheduling and communication issues, this article is a little delayed. Of course, the triple Time Spiral draft format will be relevant for some time, so there’s no problem there… it just explains why Paul’s talking about Thanksgiving while the real world is gearing up for Christmas. — Craig.]

In my country, we have a yearly celebration for Thanksgiving that involves a whole lot of Tryptophan, two days off of work, the worst traffic of the year, and of course more face-time with the family (in-laws included) than most can stomach. I wanted to give some sort of witty description of what Thanksgiving stands for and why we celebrate it, but after some thought I realized that there isn’t a specific event it celebrates – as is the case with most holidays. Basically we (stupid Americans) decided that the work-year was about two days too long, so mise run a national holiday, amiright?

My holiday festivities included not one, but two Thanksgiving dinners, as my family and my fiance’s family are somehow unable to come together to have a solitary meal. While this means double family time, it also means winner winner double dinner, so it ain’t all bad. Plus, I won’t be at work so that’s the obvious biggest plus. None of this, though, has to do with Magic. My Magical escapades for this week were limited to some online action plus a night of JohnnyDrafting. Being as MTGO has been a little unkind to me lately (I’ve dropped about 160 ratings points the past month — and oh yes, that hurts to type), I’ll just stick to the JohnnyDrafts I was in.

For those of you unaware, there are frequent drafts at Jon Finkel house. If you want more detail, read about it here, but the scoop is basically that we’re all competitive and there’s a healthy amount of spell-casting skill there. And we keep stats. Before I get into some of the details from the most recent drafts, I’ll give you and idea where the stats stand.

Since we began keeping track in July, we have 72 drafts and 617 matches recorded. All stats I’m about to give you are for people with ten or more drafts (we realized early on that someone with one draft who happened to 3-0 really threw off the rankings). The highest match win % is 69.81%, from Tony Tsai. The lowest is 35.71% from someone who probably doesn’t want their name mentioned (no, not me. I’m at 47.50% – in the middle of the pack). I do, however, have the second-worst draft win % at 32.26%. That means that for whatever reason my teams are losing 15.24% more of the time than I am. Bad beats for sure (Pikula is the only person with a worse draft vs. match % than me, at 15.71%). Overall we’ve had 35 different drafters, although some have only been there for one lonesome night.

I don’t want to risk this becoming some fantasy team analysis overflowing with nothing but numbers, so I’ll stop short there. Well, with one exception. To nobody’s surprise at all, Jon has reclaimed the overall leader position from Matt Wang (who still has a comfortable lead over anyone else for 2nd place). I reserve the right to include more stats later.

So on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving (or as I like to call it, tks-giving) some of us got together for a draft. We had 6 set for 6:30 PM, with 1 dropping out for the second draft. Don’t worry, we had a back-up on call to ensure a second draft happened. On this particular evening it was Jon, Steve OMS, Dan OMS, Tim McKenna, Alex Garymvolgyi, and myself. Random seating as usual.

Note on seating — we always randomize seating and teams. This prevents hate drafting and encourages a more formal setting. Each person gets a “player card” or avatar. Jon’s is the Kai Budde player card (an inside joke at the fact that Jon didn’t have his own. Now that he does, there is talk of making the switch). Mine is Orcish Librarian (I keep the stats, or “books”). The OMS brothers use the Ruel player cards. McKenna is Wandering Stream, but you’ll have to ask him about that yourself. Alex tends to rotate around. This time he was a Sparkmage Apprentice. These cards are used to randomize seating, as well as teams after the draft is done.

I opened up a Lightning Axe and no good rare, so took the Axe. I was passed Fathom Seer and Strangling Soot. I was fresh off of reading Nick Eisel Blue/Red primer and really wanted to try to force the deck by taking Fathom Seer. I found it really hard to pass a Soot though. I ended up taking the Soot, unsure if I’d be R/B, Black/x splashing the Axe or Red/x splashing the Soot. The next pack offered only a Fathom Seer and a marginal White card so I took the Seer. I got a little bit more Blue and some Prismatic Lenses. The next pack had another Soot for me, and I was passed a Shadowmage Infiltrator. I was now solid into U/B/r. I filled out the rest of the deck with some morphs, including a sneaky sneaky Willbender. I opened Ixidron in pack 3, although I never saw it during the draft. I also picked up 2 Red totems and a total of 3 Prismatic Lenses. With all of that mana I was able to play only 16 lands, and I had plenty of Red sources for the Axe or Soot flashback.

I lost my first round to Dan OMS and his Green deck. He had a lot of large creatures that I really couldn’t deal with. I did get to Willbend a Sudden Death, which was pretty cool.

Next up was Finkel, who had a Blue/Black/Red deck featuring the Swamp King and Draining Whelk. I lost game 1, finding out the hard way about his Whelk. Game 2 he had to mulligan, and I was able to somewhat manage his mana with a Mana Skimmer. I also lived the dream and got to attack him with the Infiltrator. He stabilized at one point, low on life, with a Skittering Horror. I was adding creatures to the table and was waiting for his suspended Corpulent Corpse to kill off the Monstrosity. I was holding a Soot, and even if he had two more creatures to play I could swing for the kill. In game 3 I had a Cyclopean Giant die that turned one of his Islands into a Swamp. He never drew a third island and died with the Whelk in his hand.

Steve and I had a pretty good first game where he stumbled on mana a little at the beginning, and I was able to force through enough damage thanks to drawing a lot of removal. In game 2 he was stuck on only Red mana (no Blue) for a long time (10-12 turns). I was pressing an advantage but started drawing only lands, which allowed him to get back into it. There were about two turns where I could have drawn either a Soot, Axe, or Totem for the win, but failed. In game 3 I just demolished him with some early morphs and a lot of removal. So I ended up 2-1. McKenna was also 2-1, but Alex went 0-3 so we lost the draft. Oh bother.

McKenna has a similar issue with winning matches more often than drafts. He has a 14.09% differential.

In the next draft, Alex bowed out and Wang was tagged in. I again opened up a Lightning Axe and couldn’t complain. From there I saw only White cards, until pack 2 when I was passed a second pick Tromp the Domains. I eagerly snagged it and was set on finding some form of fixing so that I could be mono-White splashing some very good spells from two different colors. I never saw a Terramorphic Expanse, but did end up with 20 of my 23 cards being White (including a five-piece rebel chain, two of which were searchers). I had some aggressive creatures, including a Knight of the Holy Nimbus and three other bears, three Kestrels, Ivory Giant, Icatian Crier, and finishers in Tromp the Domain and two Fortifies. The other Red card I splashed for was card #23 in Goblin Warrens. It wasn’t amazing in the deck, as I only had two suspend cards, but I figured if I hit four guys with it, between the Tromp and two Fortifies it couldn’t ever be awful.

My first round was against Dan OMS. He was U/W/r/b splashing for FMK and Merieke Ri Berit. He had some very strong long game cards, with Teferi’s Moat and Giant Oyster. Our games went very long, with the other players finishing four matches before we were done with game 2. I won the first with a fairly early non-lethal (but very close) Tromp that set me up to attack for the win two turns later. Game 2 went a little worse. He got out a Moat, and it took me about seven turns to find a Kestrel. By then, he had an Oyster going and had already used FMK, and got out Merieke. He was getting card advantage everywhere. I had been holding a Warrens for a while. I suspended a Duskrider Peregrine when I could hard-cast it. I did this because I didn’t want it getting bogged down by the Oyster quite yet, and I also wanted to see if I could draw into a big Warren turn. Dan was only attacking me for two (while I could get through for nothing), so I had some time.

The turn it came into play I also had a Kestrel. I killed the Moat and sent in with the team. He had a Temporary Isolation for my Peregrine, and I lost some guys, but I knocked him below 10. I followed that up with a Warrens for eight (Duskrider, Kestrel, Isolation). I kept swinging in and losing guys, eventually even drawing another Kestrel for the Isolation. He drew into Jedit’s Dragoons, which was an issue. I had no luck in finding one of my three Overrun effects, and eventually lost to way too much card advantage.

Game 3, and we both came out aggressively. I had a rebel searcher and Peregrine. He got a Viscerid Deepwalker out and began trying to race. I had a Crier and Doomsayer, so I was able to tap down his other creatures while making more of my own. He was spending too much mana on his Deepwalker to be able to do anything great (although he did Isolate the Peregrine). I used my Kestrel one the Isolation and had a Fortify. Unfortunately, my teammates were now 0-4, so we had a pretty steep mountain to climb.

I played Jon next. Jon’s deck was very a very good madness deck, with tons of outlets and even more effects. He also had Nightshade Assassin, Faceless Butcher, and bounce effects, which I hear are some good. Oh, yeah, and Sengir Nosferatu. In game 1 I had out some small critters and a Peregrine. On turn 5 Jon said he thought I was going to scoop to his play of “Butcher, with ability on the stack bounce it with Tolarian Sentinel.” I wanted to, but I had actual board advantage at the time, along with some cheaper spells. I was hoping I could swarm him. I got out a Crier and kept sending in, with him killing another creature the next turn. The Duskrider and 1/1 tokens were enough to push me through before Jon had total board control.

In the next game Jon was taking complete control, with another mess of madness including the assassin and had me dead the next turn. I had Ivory Giant coming into play the next turn and a searcher, with only four lands in play but Tromp in my hand. I searched and drew a land that I needed to cast the Tromp for the win. I was now 2-0.

During the next round Wang completed his 0-3, so even if I beat McKenna the draft was a loss. We played it out, for pride of course. Games 1 and 2 were basically massacres on either side. Tim had a very solid Green/Red deck with a lot of storm and suspend. In game 3 I was setting him up for a Crier/Tromp victory. He had two suspend cards coming into play that turn. He swung in with his team, which was darn near lethal to me. He then played Thrill of the Hunt, flashed it back, and had Empty the Warrens for ten critters. It was like he had goblin diarrhea. If he only had six guys I would have had enough to Tromp for the win, but he had enough toughness to survive and then I’d die on the crack-back. So I ended up 2-1 again.

Overall I thought my decks were pretty good. 2-1 isn’t amazing, but it is an improvement over what I’ve been doing on MTGO. Of course, losing both drafts does stink.

Now for some more interesting stats. I have the greatest success when Jon is on my team, and the least when McKenna is. I have the greatest success when Eric Berger is on the opposing team, and the least when Ilya Kreyer is. I’m doing much better with TTT than I did with RGD (43.86% match in RGD, 56.52% in TTT) but significantly worse in draft percentage in TTT (38.10% in RGD, 20% in TTT). So in TTT, I have a negative 46.52% difference between my performance and my team’s performance. That’s a little extreme.

I’m going to start including ten random songs from my iPOD, just so I don’t feel left out on the music front. I have a pretty wide variety of music types; hopefully this will capture it.

Fist of Rage — Kid Rock
The Flame — Cheap Trick
15 Minutes — The Strokes
Save Me — Queen
Least Complicated — Indigo Girls
Doin’ Time — Sublime
Louisiana Bayou — Dave Matthews Band
We Suck Young Blood — Radiohead
Amity — Elliott Smith
Up On The Roof — Rockapella


Bonus DraftCap Draft!


Pack 1:

Amrou Scout, Grapeshot, Scarwood Treefolk, Slipstream Serpent, Gaze of Justice, Wormwood Dryad, Mystical Teachings, Two-Headed Sliver, Prismatic Lens, Clockspinning, Spell Burst, Yavimaya Dryad, Might of Old Krosa, Gauntlet of Power, Assault / Battery

Pick: Assault / Battery

Pack 2:

Gorgon Recluse, Spiketail Drakeling, Scarwood Treefolk, Sangrophage, Viashino Bladescout, Mystical Teachings, Thrill of the Hunt, Shadow Sliver, Durkwood Tracker, Plated Pegasus, Undying Rage, Swarmyard, Dragon Whelp, Swamp

Pick: Dragon Whelp

Pack 3:

Temporal Eddy, Tendrils of Corruption, Lightning Axe, Mogg War Marshal, Temporal Isolation, Think Twice, Sage of Epityr, Divine Congregation, Mindlash Sliver, Thallid Shell-Dweller

Pick: Lightning Axe

Pack 4:

Temporal Eddy, Mogg War Marshal, Terramorphic Expanse, Drudge Reavers, Foriysian Interceptor, Aetherflame Wall, Detainment Spell, Thallid Shell-Dweller, Might Sliver, Spell Burst, Liege of the Pit, Dandan

Pick: Liege of the Pit

Pack 5:

Gaze of Justice, Flamecore Elemental, Gemhide Sliver, Children of Korlis, Viscid Lemures, Ground Rift, Dream Stalker, Firewake Sliver, Spell Burst, Thunder Totem

Pick: Gemhide Sliver

Pack 6:

Mogg War Marshal, Ashcoat Bear, Jhoira’s Timebug, Chameleon Blur, Subterranean Shambler, Cyclopean Giant, Screeching Sliver, Faceless Devourer, Thick-Skinned Goblin, Gustcloak Cavalier

Pick: Thick-Skinned Goblin

Pack 7:

Flamecore Elemental, Mana Skimmer, Plunder, Skulking Knight, Brass Gnat, Dream Stalker, Dementia Sliver, Chronatog Totem, Consecrate Land

Pick: Mana Skimmer

Pack 8:

Ashcoat Bear, Corpulent Corpse, Cancel, Sage of Epityr, Ghitu Firebreathing, Greenseeker, Pit Keeper, Fool’s Demise

Pick: Corpulent Corpse

Pack 9:

Scarwood Treefolk, Gaze of Justice, Wormwood Dryad, Mystical Teachings, Two-Headed Sliver, Clockspinning, Spell Burst

Pick: Two-Headed Sliver

Pack 10:

Scarwood Treefolk, Sangrophage, Viashino Bladescout, Mystical Teachings, Shadow Sliver, Swamp

Pick: Scarwood Treefolk

Pack 11:

Sage of Epityr, Divine Congregation, Mindlash Sliver, Return to Dust, Reiterate

Pick: Reiterate

Pack 12:

Drudge Reavers, Foriysian Interceptor, Detainment Spell, Thallid Shell-Dweller

Pick: Thallid Shell-Dweller

Pack 13:

Gaze of Justice, Children of Korlis, Ground Rift

Pick: Gaze of Justice

Pack 14:

Chameleon Blur, Screeching Sliver

Pick: Chameleon Blur

Pack 15:


Pick: Plunder

Pack 16:

Benalish Cavalry, Feebleness, Looter il-Kor, Spinneret Sliver, Keldon Halberdier, Watcher Sliver, Blazing Blade Askari, Glass Asp, Traitor’s Clutch, Plunder, Ignite Memories, Saltcrusted Steppe, Thick-Skinned Goblin, Sudden Spoiling, Lord of Atlantis

Pick: Sudden Spoiling

Pack 17:

Feebleness, Castle Raptors, Chromatic Star, Tolarian Sentinel, Wormwood Dryad, Venser’s Sliver, Clockspinning, Bogardan Rager, Sangrophage, Paradise Plume, Primal Forcemage, Voidmage Husher, Vesuvan Shapeshifter, Urborg Syphon-Mage

Pick: Urborg Syphon-Mage

Pack 18:

Keldon Halberdier, Mana Skimmer, Durkwood Baloth, Fathom Seer, Chromatic Star, Looter il-Kor, Bogardan Rager, Traitor’s Clutch, D’Avenant Healer, *, Fallen Ideal, Firewake Sliver, Defiant Vanguard

Pick: Keldon Halberdier

Pack 19:

Drudge Reavers, Cancel, Penumbra Spider, Pentarch Ward, Drifter il-Dal, Havenwood Wurm, Basal Sliver, Sage of Epityr, Ghitu Firebreathing, Voidmage Husher, Fallen Ideal, Scion of the Ur-Dragon

Pick: Basal Sliver

Pack 20:

Bonesplitter Sliver, Tendrils of Corruption, Think Twice, Penumbra Spider, Divine Congregation, Jhoira’s Timebug, Chameleon Blur, Subterranean Shambler, Volcanic Awakening

Pick: Tendrils of Corruption

Pack 21:

Fathom Seer, Flamecore Elemental, Gemhide Sliver, Feebleness, Sidewinder Sliver, Viscid Lemures, Two-Headed Sliver, Locket of Yesterdays, Tectonic Fiend, Opal Guardian

Pick: Feebleness

Pack 22:

Ashcoat Bear, Urborg Syphon-Mage, Cloudchaser Kestrel, Jhoira’s Timebug, Jedit’s Dragoons, Savage Thallid, Ancient Grudge, Flickering Spirit, Mishra, Artificer Prodigy

Pick: Urborg Syphon-Mage

Pack 23:

Urborg Syphon-Mage, Psychotic Episode, Sprout, Foriysian Interceptor, Calciform Pools, Opaline Sliver, Skittering Monstrosity, Consecrate Land

Pick: Skittering Monstrosity

Pack 24:

Feebleness, Watcher Sliver, Glass Asp, Traitor’s Clutch, Plunder, Ignite Memories, Saltcrusted Steppe

Pick: Feebleness

Pack 25:

Feebleness, Venser’s Sliver, Clockspinning, Sangrophage, Paradise Plume, Voidmage Husher

Pick: Feebleness

Pack 26:

Mana Skimmer, Traitor’s Clutch, Glass Asp, Fallen Ideal, Firewake Sliver

Pick: Mana Skimmer

Pack 27:

Drudge Reavers, Sage of Epityr, Ghitu Firebreathing, Voidmage Husher

Pick: Drudge Reavers

Pack 28:

Divine Congregation, Jhoira’s Timebug, Chameleon Blur

Pick: Jhoira’s Timebug

Pack 29:

Viscid Lemures, Locket of Yesterdays

Pick: Viscid Lemures

Pack 30:

Jhoira’s Timebug

Pick: Jhoira’s Timebug

Pack 31:

Errant Doomsayers, Rift Bolt, Aether Web, Assassinate, Cyclopean Giant, Screeching Sliver, Psychotic Episode, Jedit’s Dragoons, Sprout, Calciform Pools, *, Molten Slagheap, Hivestone, Conspiracy, Tolarian Sentinel

Pick: Rift Bolt

Pack 32:

Trespasser il-Vec, Spinneret Sliver, Fortify, Spiketail Drakeling, Flamecore Elemental, Mana Skimmer, D’Avenant Healer, Wormwood Dryad, Mystical Teachings, Two-Headed Sliver, Spell Burst, Ignite Memories, Ghostflame Sliver, Word of Seizing

Pick: Word of Seizing

Pack 33:

Ivory Giant, Grapeshot, Mindstab, Slipstream Serpent, Nantuko Shaman, Castle Raptors, Eternity Snare, Molder, Venser’s Sliver, Children of Korlis, *, Enduring Renewal, Voidmage Prodigy

Pick: Grapeshot

Pack 34:

Chromatic Star, Tolarian Sentinel, Flowstone Channeler, Trespasser il-Vec, Spinneret Sliver, Blazing Blade Askari, Shadow Sliver, Ophidian Eye, Watcher Sliver, Evil Eye of Urborg, Fungal Reaches, Shadow Guildmage

Pick: Shadow Guildmage

Pack 35:

Pentarch Ward, Assassinate, Zealot il-Vec, Ironclaw Buzzardiers, Detainment Spell, Psychotic Episode, Sprout, Aetherflame Wall, Pit Keeper

Pick: Assassinate

Pack 36:

Thallid Germinator, Ironclaw Buzzardiers, Temporal Eddy, Tendrils of Corruption, Pit Keeper, Divine Congregation, Sudden Death, Opaline Sliver, Dementia Sliver, Demonic Collusion

Pick: Sudden Death

Pack 37:

Herd Gnarr, Trespasser il-Vec, Scarwood Treefolk, Sidewinder Sliver, Mwonvuli Acid-Moss, Viashino Bladescout, Molder, Plated Pegasus, Molten Slagheap

Pick: Trespasser il-Vec

Pack 38:

Pentarch Ward, Call to the Netherworld, Drifter il-Dal, Havenwood Wurm, Basal Sliver, Calciform Pools, Durkwood Tracker, Magus of the Candelabra

Pick: Magus of the Candelabra

Pack 39:

Aether Web, Cyclopean Giant, Screeching Sliver, Psychotic Episode, Sprout, Calciform Pools, Molten Slagheap

Pick: Aether Web

Pack 40:

Mana Skimmer, Wormwood Dryad, Mystical Teachings, Two-Headed Sliver, Spell Burst, Ghostflame Sliver

Pick: Ghostflame Sliver

Pack 41:

Mindstab, Eternity Snare, Venser’s Sliver, Children of Korlis, Harmonic Sliver

Pick: Mindstab

Pack 42:

Shadow Sliver, Ophidian Eye, Evil Eye of Urborg, Fungal Reaches

Pick: Evil Eye of Urborg

Pack 43:

Detainment Spell, Psychotic Episode, Sprout

Pick: Psychotic Episode

Pack 44:

Divine Congregation, Dementia Sliver

Pick: Dementia Sliver

Pack 45:


Pick: Molder

Final Decklist:

1 Assault/Battery
1 Dragon Whelp
8 Mountain
1 Shadow Guildmage
9 Swamp
1 Assassinate
1 Corpulent Corpse
1 Feebleness
1 Ghostflame Sliver
1 Grapeshot
1 Keldon Halberdier
1 Liege of the Pit
1 Lightning Axe
2 Mana Skimmer
1 Mindstab
1 Rift Bolt
1 Skittering Monstrosity
1 Sudden Death
1 Sudden Spoiling
1 Tendrils of Corruption
1 Thick-Skinned Goblin
2 Urborg Syphon-Mage
1 Word of Seizing

1 Basal Sliver
1 Chameleon Blur
1 Dementia Sliver
1 Drudge Reavers
1 Evil Eye of Urborg
2 Feebleness
1 Gaze of Justice
1 Gemhide Sliver
2 Jhoira’s Timebug
1 Magus of the Candelabra
1 Molder
1 Plunder
1 Psychotic Episode
1 Reiterate
1 Scarwood Treefolk
1 Thallid Shell-Dweller
1 Trespasser il-Vec
1 Two-Headed Sliver
1 Viscid Lemures
1 AEther Web

Draft recording done by Blargware‘s MTGO DraftCap. Support Blargware!