Understanding in a Modo Crash: Tricky!

Tim is back! After a fair few begging emails, a fortuitous meeting on Modo, and some thinly-veiled threats, Mr Aten has finally put virtual pen to virtual paper. Today, he takes us through the last waltz of the RRG draft format with a comprehensive draft walkthrough. Remember to take everything he says with a pinch of salt… and enjoy!

I swear to shake it up if you swear to listen. I’m still so young and desperate for attention. I aim to be your eyes.

Hi, everyone. I’m Tim Aten, and gay people scare me.

Welcome to another exciting installment of my signature column, Understanding in a Modo Crash. I’m not really sure why I’m writing, as this article, in addition to taking up a sizable chunk of my valuable time, is also actually costing me money. Josh Ravitz and I had a friendly wager as to whether I’d ever write a Magic article again for the rest of my life, and the only thing I could really do to lose that bet was… well, this. It was a sacrifice I was willing to make, though, because I love all my readers so very very much. Especially the barely legal scrawny blond ones.

It’s a tricky time to write a Limited article, for me especially. Pro Tour Prague is less than two weeks away, and I haven’t even decided whether I’m going yet. Even though I’m losing interest in so-called quote-unquote “professional” (hand gesture for quotation marks) Magic: the Gathering, I still do love the thrill of competition. I like testing my skills against talented players, the new set looks pretty interesting, and there’s a lot of money to be made. Plus I wanna knock both Zac Hill and Ben Goodman out of Day 2 contention like you wouldn’t believe.

On the other hand, I am sick to death of traveling. Almost as sick as I got last week of looking at Zac Hill haircut every day in his picture next to the Daily. Since I don’t plan on being the only author to distinguish himself by not pretending others care about his personal life, let’s recap the past fifteen months, shall we? (I’ll give you a lifeline. If you don’t give a rodent’s hindquarters about my travels, do a CTRL+F for milquetoast).

January 2005: I fly to Nagoya, Japan for a Limited Pro Tour. I walk a fair amount, and all I eat the whole week are some breakfast corn and one serving of cold fried chicken, yet I manage to gain weight. I start off 3-0 before being put on full-blown tilt by losing to Anton Jonsson. I stand on my own, I leave on my own, I go home, I cry, and I want to die. The kicker is, to get to Nagoya, I first had to drive from Albany to Vermilion, Ohio (eight hours), then another two hours to my flight in Detroit. This, naturally, means that I had to make that same trip on the way home. (Okay, okay, fine. The real lifeline phrase is cha-tuckly).

March 2005: Flight to Atlanta. This isn’t so bad. In fact, most of the stretch from here until July isn’t particularly bad, but I wanted to include that first longass flight to Japan to make myself look like more of a martyr.

April 2005: I drive to Detroit for the Grand Prix. You know those guys you play in the later rounds of Day 1 of a Grand Prix, where you’re still in contention for Day 2, who put up no fight whatsoever? The ones who play Body of Jukai and fall for the same on-board trick two turns in a row and announce “Untap. Upkeep. Draw a card.” every single turn and have that vacant expression on their face like they’re not really sure where they are or what they’re doing and you get to wondering what these people possibly do in their daily lives since there’s no way they have the competence or presence of mind to even find their way home by themselves? Often, after you 2-0 this sucker in three and a half minutes, you jokingly ask yourself or your friends, “How in the purple Dickens was that cat still in contention?”* To answer: he probably played me. Since Grand Prix New Jersey, which was almost two years ago, I have won one (1) match at an individual Grand Prix. One. It really boggles the mind how I can hold my own against the best players in the world, but I don’t ever come remotely close to defeating Harold Gustavson of Pig Poke, Oklahoma regardless of format. Anyways, that’s another splendid drive from and back to Albany. At that point, I still didn’t mind driving at all.

May 2005: Flight to the Invitational, which, chances are, you’ll never play in or, like me, if you have, you sure as hell didn’t deserve to be there, Mike. Just this once, I was willing to take one for the team in re: my travel onus.

Later in May 2005: I move out of the hot, smelly Yates Street apartment, which of course means another eight-hour drive back to Vermilion. Yaaaay!!!

June 2005: Flight to California for work orientation and daily trips to Chang’s.

July 2005: Flight to London. London is far away, and the hotel room was small, and the food is approximately as good as you’ve heard it is. The only fat British people you’ve seen are probably raging alcoholics with some sort of metabolic and/or pituitary disorder.

One does not simply walk into San Diego

Later in July 2005: I drive from Vermilion, Ohio to San Diego, California, which is to be my new home. Go ahead and Mapquest that one.

August 2005: Man, this is getting tedious. I’ll try to be a little more concise with the remaining entries. This month, I flew to Salt Lake City and Baltimore. I won a combined one match at these tournaments.

November 2005: I’m really proud of this one, so bear with me. I hated living in a foreign country, so I decided to move back to the United States. After being up for seven hours already, and after being accused of not really wanting to leave and/or not having the resolve to actually do it by His Honorable Grumpiness, I set out for Vermilion. Thanks to some Red Bull, I manage to drive 23 straight hours and end up in Omaha, Nebraska before I start hallucinating and have to go to bed. I complete the trip the next day.

November/December 2005: I fly to Japan again for Worlds. But wait… there’s more. I decide that Japan will be a lot more fun if I go out and try some new things, but I’m afraid to do that on my own, so I persuade Taka Sato to come with me. This means that before (and after) I get to spend twelve hours on a flight to Japan, I get to spend twelve hours in the car on the way to Minnesota.

December 2005: Drive to and from Charlotte, North Carolina. On the car trip home, despite promises to the contrary, The Ervin Tormos Smooth Jazz Hour is roundly denied.

February 2006: This one’s almost as fun as the trips to and from California. I like Takabau a lot, so I persuade him to drive with me to Grand Prix Richmond. He gets a one-way bus ticket to Ohio; this means that after the tournament, I’ll have to drive him back to Minnesota. In Richmond, I get the idea that (Walter M) Hayner should come back to Minnesota with us, as the drive would be good times with three people. Chambers tags along, and he is “loose bunz” as the kids say, so it wasn’t the best, but I digress. Hayner and Chambers had no way to get back to Albany, so you guessed it… I drove them. To recap, in the span of a week (and I know this is my fault), I drove from Vermilion to Richmond, Richmond to Vermilion, Vermilion to Minneapolis, Minneapolis to Vermilion, Vermilion to Albany, and from Albany straight off a cliff.

March 2006: Flight to Hawaii, which is located on the exact opposite side of the earth. Plus I got sunburn while I was jet skiing.

Later in March 2006: Drive to Madison, Wisconsin, which is about eight hours. Say what you will about Vermilion, and its rednecks, and its questionable high school mascot, and its constant fish odor, and its Woollybear Festival (for real), this place is eight hours from everywhere. Unfortunately, the trip there was an extra six hours because I agreed to pick LCG up at O’Hare since his flight to Madison from there was inexplicably cancelled. If Rodman could read, and taking that for granted decided to read this article, he’d probably comment that my motivation for all this was so I could whine about it later. He also claims to be under the impression that I enjoyed paying for gas all by myself. So yeah, some thirteen hours there, some eight hours back… and I picked up Chambers before the GP and dropped him off after, so add another sixteen hours in the car to the total.

So do you have a better idea now why maybe I’m really not that interested in flying to Prague? If you think reading that last section was an arduous journey, you probably couldn’t begin to imagine how awful I felt experiencing it. I am cha-tuckly sick of being in cars and planes for extended periods of time. Additionally, I f***ing despise other countries. Yeah, yeah I know, your country’s better since you don’t bomb everyone else and since your leader has a 5th grade education and since men are allowed to wear pink whenever they want without being accused of being “fancy.” But you know what? I like Red Lobster, and I like Hot Topic, and I like measuring things in feet and pounds, so why don’t you just le cram it.

I went off on a bit of a tangent on one of my subpoints just now, so back to the main one, which was that it’s tricky to write a rhyme, to write a rhyme at right this time, it’s TRICKY!





This is because we’re in the throes of a lame duck format. Everyone wants to talk about Dissension, even though no one has the faintest idea what cards are good besides the obvious ones. I declare, then, that this is the final week for RRG discussion before RGD makes the forefront. I made that rule just now. Me. A lot can be learned from RRG, as a lot of the wisdom gleaned therewith** will still be useful as the second pack of Ravnica rotates out.

Before I jump right into my draft walkthrough, for which there will be no further introduction, I will once again give you my top five songs of the week. My friends, and those of you who stalk me on AIM, will already recognize these. I must preface the list with the following declaration: I hate obnoxious college kids, and I hate their obnoxious college kid music. Like sure, it’s good and all- which we know since it’s what the critics, and through trickle-down Reaganomics, our peers, tell us – but is it really fun to listen to? You guys are probably the same blowhards who go to art museums, and “interact with the text” when you read and such. I guess looking down your nose at others and poo-pooing their preferences passes for fun for some people… but as for me, I’ll keep riding rollercoasters, watching Date My Mom, listening to Unwritten Law, and selling Stackers to middle schoolers for $6 each by saying they’re ecstasy. You know what’s not on my iPod? Anything by the Postal Service. You know what is on my iPod? JC Chasez’s “Blowin’ Me Up (With Her Love).” You nerds have fun, though, with your silly nerd music.

If you do want something more artsy, there are a couple of songs in the remainder of this week’s top 20 that could be more to your liking. (Oh yes, you better bet your sweet bippy there’s a weekly top 20. I am not a sane man). These are Secret Machines “Lightning Blue Eyes” (#19) and (pay special attention to this one, kids) Band of Horses “The Funeral” (#15). Enough about that. Here’s my jamz:

5. Yeah Yeah Yeahs “Gold Lion” – There’s probably little need to defend this one, since it’s solid and catchy, and since they have some street cred after releasing some barely listenable stuff years ago that only my brother and people who work in New York coffeehouses own. I have literally minutes of fun substituting my own words into this one, as follows: “GOLD liion, wuzza wuzza wuzza THAT IS.”

4. The Red Jumpuit Apparatus “Face Down” – You probably haven’t heard of these guys, and there’s a good chance I wouldn’t have either if they hadn’t opened for 30 Seconds to Mars last month. I was rather impressed by the quality of the opening bands that day, barring Aiden, whom I could and probably will write an entire article about. This is like, catchy and stuff, assuming you can overlook the fact that the lyrics were, ostensibly, written by an 11-year old.

3. AFI “Miss Murder” – This is a departure from the sound they presented on Sing the Sorrow, but it’s still very good. Let’s face it, though; these guys could probably leave a microphone in a Taco Bell bathroom for three minutes and twenty-seven seconds, and I’d still put that track in my Top 5.

2. Arctic Monkeys “I Bet That You Look Good on the Dancefloor” – You guessed it: catchy.

1. Taking Back Sunday “MakeDarnSure” – Practice what you preach, I always say. Please note that this is not the actual title of the song; since this is a family site, I have taken great pains to censor myself. If I go to Prague, you can bet I’ll be wearing that famous shirt on Day 1 (and hopefully Sunday), and I may try to coax Das Hopper into wearing one. For those of you who don’t know, Das Hopper, a.k.a. Nikolas Nygaard, is hailed by many as being the best Magic player the world has ever seen. He is to Magic what Michael Jordan would have been to basketball, had he played against 5 year olds instead of other professionals. He is to Magic what Mark Herberholz is to the ancient Chinese art of “Noooooooooooooooooot Paaaaaaaaaaying.” All that stuff the internet retards spew about Chuck Norris is actually true about Das Hopper. It is my sincere hope that this glowing endorsement is enough to hex Mr. Hopper out of making a red dime in Prague.

Draft Walkthrough

Pack One
Pick One: Surge of Zeal; Courier Hawk; Dimir Aqueduct; Dromad Purebred; Lurking Informant; Golgari Brownscale; Smash; Vedalken Entrancer; Golgari Signet; Last Gasp; Faith’s Fetters; Golgari Guildmage; Ribbons of Night; Boros Guildmage; Grave-Shell Scarab

Two cards leap out of the pack instantaneously: Ribbons of Night and Dimir Aqueduct. I’ve had to make this pick many times, and I really haven’t arrived at a satisfactory conclusion. The fact of the matter is, they’re two of the best cards in the set for Limited, so I’m happy putting either one in my stack. I figure Dimir Aqueduct is a somewhat stronger “Black” signal, so I take it to try to cut the guy to my left off.

My pick: Dimir Aqueduct

Pick Two: Shred Memory; Fists of Ironwood; Terraformer; Leave no Trace; Tidewater Minion; Consult the Necrosages; Goblin Spelunkers; Dromad Purebred; Barbarian Riftcutter; Compulsive Research; Shambling Shell; Ribbons of Night; Boros Guildmage; Devouring Light

Rare missing OBV. I’m still more than a little lucky to get passed another Ribbons, and with no Karoos in the pack, it’s an easy decision.

My pick: Ribbons of Night

Pick Three: Surge of Zeal; Courier Hawk; Dimir Aqueduct; Dromad Purebred; Greater Mossdog; Ordruun Commando; Golgari Rotwurm; Boros Garrison; Viashino Fangtail; Shambling Shell; Golgari Guildmage; Ribbons of Night; Boros Guildmage

Gadzooks! Sometimes Magic Online can be a little anomalous, and you’ll see duplicate uncommon runs or rares. What’s surprising to me is that no one has taken Ribbons or either of the double lands. Since the people at the table are fairly good, I can assume there was a third double land, possibly a foil Aqueduct. I really hope the guy on my left is willing to split, as his deck is bound to be ridiculous.

My pick: Dimir Aqueduct

Pick Four: Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi; Rain of Embers; Dromad Purebred; Vedalken Entrancer; Gather Courage; Perplex; Thundersong Trumpeter; Boros Garrison; Sell-Sword Brute; Sunhome Enforcer; Carrion Howler; Blazing Archon

I’m actually glad this pack doesn’t have a Ribbons of Night, since I’m starting to get a little worried. Having Ribbons in every pack is cute and all, but it really spoils the drafting experience. Besides, I’d probably have to take the Ribbons if it were present, and that would mean shipping the Boros Garrison, which I am naturally loath to do.

My pick: Boros Garrison

Pick Five: Strands of Undeath; Selesnya Sanctuary; Dromad Purebred; Seeds of Strength; Sewerdreg; Bramble Elemental; Peel from Reality; Skyknight Legionnaire; Dark Heart of the Wood; Flow of Ideas; Moonlight Bargain

Yes, the packs have certainly leveled off. I’m not complaining, though, as there are still several cards for me to choose from. People have gotten hip to Peel from Reality in recent months, but they’re still more or less in the dark about Flow of Ideas. As the great Rich Hoaen said, if you draw enough extra cards in a game, it doesn’t really matter what they are. Because of people’s disdain for the card – I suppose six mana does seem a bit pricey – I can probably count on that one to make the lap. It’s not like it’s the best card in the pack anyway.

My pick: Selesnya Sanctuary

Pick Six: Terraformer; Leave no Trace; Roofstalker Wight; Consult the Necrosages; Dromad Purebred; Sabertooth Alley Cat; Sundering Vitae; Woodwraith Strangler; Cleansing Beam; Ghosts of the Innocent

Ah yes, the infamous Groodion/Moldervine/Cleansing Beam run. Hopefully the Moldervine Cloak was rightfully first-picked so I won’t have to play against it. While I could really go in any direction color-wise, I prefer to stay in Black/Blue in the first pack, then dip into Red (or sometimes White) in the last pack. For that reason, I opt for the card economy of Consult the Necrosages.

My pick: Consult the Necrosages

Pick Seven: Gate Hound; Zephyr Spirit; Thundersong Trumpeter; Dromad Purebred; Boros Garrison; Siege Wurm; Stoneshaker Shaman; Blockbuster; Wizened Snitches

It’s hard to get clear signals when the packs are this crappy. Fortunately (and unfortunately), in the world of RRG, you don’t have to be able to read signals. Everyone’s going three or four colors anyway, and everyone’s lucky enough to draw all the right lands exactly when they need them, so they can play whatever cards they want basically, but I’m not bitter. Sorry about that. But yeah, I’m not too worried, because between Blue, Black, and Red, I’m sure I’ll be able to scrounge together enough playables.

My pick: Boros Garrison

Pick Eight: Dromad Purebred; Vedalken Entrancer; Golgari Rot Farm; Boros Fury-Shield; Flight of Fancy; Voyager Staff; Vindictive Mob; Mindmoil

When in doubt, take the 2-for-1. If there’s more than one 2-for-1 in the pack, take the one that doesn’t cost any mana. It’s as easy as A-B-3.

My pick: Golgari Rot Farm

Pick Nine: Surge of Zeal; Courier Hawk; Lurking Informant; Golgari Brownscale; Smash; Vedalken Entrancer; Golgari Signet

I know, I’m the Luckiest or whatever, but to be fair, this was a pretty good pack. I normally take anything that 2-for-1s over the Entrancer – you can win with a simple Vedalken Dismisser or Wee Dragonauts if you’re up enough cards – but I have no qualms about taking him ninth pick. I actually prefer to win with damage in Blue/Black nowadays, but decking is still a surprisingly resilient win condition.

My pick: Vedalken Entrancer

Pick Ten: Shred Memory; Fists of Ironwood; Terraformer; Leave no Trace; Goblin Spelunkers; Barbarian Riftcutter

With the addition of Guildpact, we naturally have to play more than two colors just about every time, so anything that fixes mana is at a premium. Terraformer will probably be even better after Dissension hits, but I still probably wouldn’t want to take it before fifth pick or so. I actually hope to have at least one of these in every Blue deck.

My pick: Terraformer

Pick Eleven: Surge of Zeal; Courier Hawk; Greater Mossdog; Ordruun Commando

Was someone goofgrabbing or something? For some reason, it’s really not surprising to see the Commando still in the pack; people don’t seem to give the man his due. Naturally, he’s only worth aforementioned due if you’re playing White, since vanilla 4/1s for four mana are what the kids call “the cut stains.” Nevertheless, I’ll take him and consider playing him. After all, I do have a Terraformer

My pick: Ordruun Commando

Pick Twelve: Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi; Rain of Embers; Perplex

This pack must have been a little ahead of the curve as well, in retrospect. I am of the opinion that Perplex is a perfectly fine card. It’s actually great if you can cast it on turn 3 to 6, as your opponent probably won’t pitch his remaining cards to let a creature resolve. If he does, many times you’ll have the Brainspoil in the grip to mop things up. Unfortunately, Perplex ends up getting cut a lot of the time since there’s only a tiny portion of your deck that you can dedicate to noncreature spells. Also, you really can’t play it unless you have a handful of transmute targets, since you don’t want it to be worthless in the late game.

My pick: Perplex

Pick Thirteen: Seeds of Strength; Dark Heart of the Wood; Flow of Ideas

Like clockwork, folks, like clockwork. As an aside, people must not be really big on Green these days. It’s clearly the worst color, but criminy, someone should be drafting it, amiright?

My pick: Flow of Ideas

Pick Fourteen: Leave no Trace, Woodwraith Strangler

Pick Fifteen: Zephyr Spirit

Pack Two
Pick One: Strands of Undeath; Dromad Purebred; Thoughtpicker Witch; Stone-Seeder Hierophant; Surveilling Sprite; Thundersong Trumpeter; Goblin Fire Fiend; Quickchange; Mortipede; Faith’s Fetters; Compulsive Research; Spectral Searchlight; Vindictive Mob; Twisted Justice; Ursapine

This pick would have been a lot harder pack one, but since I’m pretty much decided on colors, it’s an easier decision. It’s not that I don’t loathe passing Faith’s Fetters, but you can’t take every good card you see (unless you’re Rodman).

My pick: Compulsive Research

Pick Two: Seismic Spike; Rally the Righteous; Nightguard Patrol; Sundering Vitae; Vedalken Dismisser; Shred Memory; Torpid Moloch; Dromad Purebred; Woodwraith Strangler; Transluminant; Golgari Signet; Keening Banshee; Mausoleum Turnkey; Woodwraith Corrupter

Mise. Believe it or not, many top players would take Keening Banshee over even Selesnya Guildmage first pick overall. That’s just something to think about. The next best card is naturally the Dismisser, but the Banshee costs less and flies.

My pick: Keening Banshee

Pick Three: Viashino Slasher; Greater Mossdog; Dimir Aqueduct; Dromad Purebred; Perplex; Dimir House Guard; Scatter the Seeds; Muddle the Mixture; Sadistic Augermage; Siege Wurm; Perilous Forays; Voyager Staff; Scion of the Wild

Not much to say here; another easy pick for me. I’m tempted to take the House Guard because, in addition to being a solid attacker and blocker, it can tutor for my powerful Banshee; however, on pure power level, it doesn’t really approach the Karoo.

My pick: Dimir Aqueduct

Pick Four: Dromad Purebred; Stinkweed Imp; Drift of Phantasms; Incite Hysteria; Dryad’s Caress; Convolute; Sewerdreg; Dimir Signet; Sell-Sword Brute; Glass Golem; Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion; Instill Furor

This is an interesting decision. Stinkweed Imp is better at deterring threats and can attack for crucial damage, but Drift can transmute for Compulsive Research or Consult the Necrosages. If I had an Arc to fetch, it would be closer, but the Stinkweed Imp is simply the superior card.

My pick: Stinkweed Imp

Pick Five: Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi; Sadistic Augermage; Sparkmage Apprentice; Dromad Purebred; Fists of Ironwood; Viashino Slasher; Grayscaled Gharial; Disembowel; Vitu-Ghazi, the City Tree; Lore Broker; Recollect

Put simply, I’ve seen ‘em later, but not much later…

My pick: Disembowel

Pick Six: Farseek; Grayscaled Gharial; Conclave’s Blessing; Rain of Embers; Dromad Purebred; Selesnya Signet; Boros Signet; Festival of the Guildpact; Golgari Thug; Crown of Convergence

Essentially a blank pack. None of the cards are even powerful enough to hate draft (not that hate drafting is especially useful in 8-man drafts anyway). After contemplating the raredraft on principle, I decide that there’s a slight chance the Black card will actually make my deck.

My pick: Golgari Thug

Pick Seven: Golgari Rot Farm; Surveilling Sprite; Sewerdreg; Dromad Purebred; Dryad’s Caress; Sabertooth Alley Cat; Terrarion; Suppression Field; Excruciator

Hmm, let’s see… the Surveilling Sprite or the Suppression Field… hmm… how do I decide?

My pick: Golgari Rot Farm

Pick Eight: Thoughtpicker Witch; Dromad Purebred; Rally the Righteous; Drake Familiar; Votary of the Conclave; Centaur Safeguard; Telling Time; Seed Spark

I could really use a man. However, I have nothing to bounce with Drake Familiar, and the last pack isn’t really rife with targets for that. Additionally, Thoughtpicker Witch is marginal, and it’s little more than a Mons’s Goblin Raiders in a deck with few creatures. I never used to take Telling Time, and when I have taken it recently, I haven’t drawn it. That said, it seems solid in this sort of deck, so I take it, hoping for some nice Steamcores or Ogre Savants pack 3.

My pick: Telling Time

Pick Nine: Thoughtpicker Witch; Stone-Seeder Hierophant; Surveilling Sprite; Goblin Fire Fiend; Quickchange; Vindictive Mob; Twisted Justice

I actually think Twisted Justice is better now because of the reduced prevalence of Saprolings with one fewer pack of Ravnica. It went from “virtually unplayble” to “solid 25th card,” and as with Terraformer, its upward trend in playability should continue with Dissension. For now, though, I’ll take the card that beats for one until you get a free chump block with it.

My pick: Surveilling Sprite

Pick Ten: Seismic Spike; Nightguard Patrol; Sundering Vitae; Shred Memory; Torpid Moloch; Woodwraith Strangler

The Dilemma Series: Shred or Moloch!

To the untrained eye, this is a blank pack for me. However, there are actually two cards that bear mentioning. One is Torpid Moloch, which is a decent way to stall the early game while you prepare to play devastating later drops, or tap out in later turns to draw cards without improving your board position at all. This deck will be splashing Red (or possibly White still, I guess), so the Moloch’s value in this particular situation decreases. The other card is Shred Memory. Rich Hoaen (you know, one of the undisputed top 3 drafters in the game) says he likes to play Muddle and Shred Memory since they transmute for cheap removal spells like Clinging Darkness and Last Gasp, as well as an under-appreciated card drawer from the next set by the name of Train of Thought. I don’t have any of the aforementioned removal spells, but it’s still a possibility that I play the Shred if I get some good targets in the last pack. Muddle is obviously superior, since the situations in which you’d hardcast it come up more frequently.

My pick: Shred Memory

Pick Eleven: Viashino Slasher; Muddle the Mixture; Sadistic Augermage; Siege Wurm; Perilous Forays

If I had a Clinging Darkness or two, I’d probably take the Muddle. As it is, there’s a good chance Shred will be sitting on the sidelines, and the Muddle would probably join it. I’m not a huge Augermage fan, but when in Rome…

My pick: Sadistic Augermage

Pick Twelve: Incite Hysteria; Dryad’s Caress; Instill Furor; Sewerdreg

Pick Thirteen: Viashino Slasher; Grayscaled Gharial; Lore Broker

Pick Fourteen: Conclave’s Blessing; Grayscaled Gharial

Pick Fifteen: Dryad’s Caress

Pack Three
Pick One: Pillory of the Sleepless; Douse in Gloom; Steamcore Weird; Izzet Chronarch; Ghor-Clan Savage; Blind Hunter; Streetbreaker Wurm; Ogre Savant; Wildsize; Gruul Turf; Pyromatics; Electrolyze; Savage Twister; Mortify; Foil Godless Shrine

A reasonably powerful pack. Most people would probably take the Godless Shrine here, but I guess those people aren’t really trying to win the draft. Besides, I make enough at the $500/$1000 Pot Limit Omaha Skeeball Coolio table where a piddling 20-some Magic online tickets are an actual joke to me. For instance, when I’m at the gay bar, and some skank walks in wearing ratty jeans, I’ve been known to utter “What did that skank spend on those ratty jeans? 20-some Magic online tickets?” Yeah.

The Turf is no Izzet Boilerworks, but it’s still probably the best card in the pack. I happily add it to my stack.

My pick: Gruul Turf

Pick Two: Guardian’s Magemark; Poisonbelly Ogre; Orzhov Basilica; Beastmaster’s Magemark; Wild Cantor; Streetbreaker Wurm; Burning-Tree Bloodscale; Ghor-Clan Savage; Fencer’s Magemark; Izzet Boilerworks; Orzhov Euthanist; Wreak Havoc; Belfry Spirit; Leyline of Singularity

In a word, and to quote my associate Don Smith about his thoughts on the Ambien: “Eeennyyuuueuuueusss.”

My pick: Izzet Boilerworks

Pick Three: Blind Hunter; Ogre Savant; Steamcore Weird; Douse in Gloom; Repeal; Gruul Signet; Bloodscale Prowler; Infiltrator’s Magemark; Gruul Nodorog; Leap of Flame; Drowned Rusalka; Agent of Masks; Leyline of Lifeforce

Steamcore Weird and Ogre Savant seem to come together a fair amount of the time, and I didn’t really know which one to take until I asked other people. To think that I used to consider myself a Limited expert. Hoaen set me straight, though. His so good at Magic, and despite being rather grumpy, his so helpful.

My pick: Steamcore Weird

Pick Four: Guardian’s Magemark; Petrahydrox; Fencer’s Magemark; Gruul Nodorog; Tin Street Hooligan; Restless Bones; Runeboggle; Scab-Clan Mauler; Train of Thought; Martyred Rusalka; Aetherplasm; Goblin Flectomancer

It seems like most Guildpact packs are pretty bad common-wise, with the occasional pack being the actual cha-tuckly vermicious knids.*** Then there’s the common phenomenon of “Evvvvery time I’m Black/White, I see innnnfinite Red and Blue cards, and evvvery time I’m Red/Blue, I have to pass at least fiiiiiiive Blind Hunters.” I’m digressing and whining again. There’s still a perfectly playable card in this pack for me.

My pick: Train of Thought

Pick Five: Orzhov Signet; Necromancer’s Magemark; Shrieking Grotesque; Izzet Chronarch; Izzet Boilerworks; Mourning Thrull; Pyromatics; Silhana Ledgewalker; Wee Dragonauts; Smogsteed Rider; Souls of the Faultless; Leyline of Lightning

It’s like fate is toying with me. It seems like every time I do a draft walkthrough I get ridiculously lucky. I’m always worried when this kind of thing happens that people will say the same things about me that I used to say about another Limited writer before I finally changed my petty ways and embraced the Golden Rule.

My pick: Izzet Boilerworks

Pick Six: Ogre Savant; Silhana Starfletcher; Burning-Tree Bloodscale; Gigadrowse; Izzet Chronarch; Burning-Tree Bloodscale; Cremate; Absolver Thrull; Izzet Guildmage; Leyline of the Void

I made the wrong pick here. I should have taken the Izzet Chronarch, since I had plenty of juicy targets, but I got too excited when I saw the Savant still in the pack. I didn’t really take the time to appraise what was already in my stack since I still write down my pick orders by hand. I think at some point I mentally decided to take the Chronarch, but my hand forgot about my change of heart when I actually went to make the pick. Oh well. The card I took is still perfectly fine.

My pick: Ogre Savant

Pick Seven: Petrahydrox; Burning-Tree Bloodscale; Guardian’s Magemark; Crystal Seer; Cry of Contrition; Gruul Signet; Ghost Warden; Nivix, Aerie of the Firemind; Primeval Light

I had initially dismissed Petrahydrox as being bad, but its “drawback” is somehow more of a benefit in this format. The probability of either your opponent having a removal spell or you having a way to save it with damage on the stack outweighs the chances that your opponent has a reusable way to ship the Hydrox back to your hand. It’s got a good-sized body, so it can help hold the fort while a deck establishes control.

My pick: Petrahydrox

Pick Eight: Benediction of Moons; Scab-Clan Mauler; Repeal; Mourning Thrull; Gigadrowse; Frazzle; Cryptwailing; Leyline of the Meek

Sure, I’ll take an 8th-pick Repeal. By the way, I don’t know if it was your inclination, but if any of you make any stupid “Peel and Repeal” jokes, please don’t do it around me, as I’ll probably be forced to get Chuck Norris or maybe Strongbad or possibly Rick James to do something really mean to you. I was so miffed at someone making this joke before that I actually stormed out of P.F. Chang’s without making my routine inspection of the Great Wall of Chocolate.

My pick: Repeal

Pick Nine: Izzet Chronarch; Ghor-Clan Savage; Blind Hunter; Streetbreaker Wurm; Ogre Savant; Wildsize; Pyromatics

Sweet redemption! Here, I get the opportunity to correct my error and take the Chronarch.

My pick: Izzet Chronarch

Pick Ten: Poisonbelly Ogre; Orzhov Basilica; Burning-Tree Bloodscale; Fencer’s Magemark; Wreak Havoc; Leyline of Singularity

I’m really at a loss for words here. This is shaping up to be one of the best decks I’ve ever drafted.

My pick: Orzhov Basilica

Pick Eleven: Bloodscale Prowler; Gruul Nodorog; Leap of Flame; Drowned Rusalka; Agent of Masks

I really don’t have enough guys to exploit the Rusalka, plus I could use a potentially four-power threat. These decks can win by pecking away with Dismissers and Chronarchs, but really, you’d rather have the Moroii or Stratozeppelid to give your opponent fewer turns.

My pick: Bloodscale Prowler

Pick Twelve: Guardian’s Magemark; Martyred Rusalka; Aetherplasm; Restless Bones

Pick Thirteen: Silhana Ledgewalker; Smogsteed Rider; Necromancer’s Magemark

Pick Fourteen: Gigadrowse; Cremate

Pick Fifteen: Primeval Light

I’ve gotten pretty long-winded (shocker, there, I’m sure), so I’m gonna cut right to the final build:

Round 1 versus fob (MTGO rating: 2088)
My opponent is also known as Luis Scott-Vargas, one of the handful of Americans who made Top 16 at Pro Tour London. Truth be told, he’s better known for his prowess on Magic Online, where he is one of the highest rated players who didn’t get there by being a filthy, filthy winbuyer. I’m not gonna name any names *cough wheeze jomesy* or point any fingers *hack gasp CaptainWacky*, I’m just saying that several of the people in the Hall of Champions got there with some “help” *AllenBC bloody vomit*.

Game 1: He stalls on just a Plains, a Boilerworks, and a Boros Signet, so I make short work of him.

Game 2: This one wasn’t particularly interesting either. I got up a bunch of cards with Train of Thought (which I tutored for with Shred, tyvm) and Compulsive Research, and then beat him with a swarm of random guys.

Round 2 versus das hopper (MTGO rating: 1896)
Oh yeah… did I mention that the man himself was in my draft? I just beat fob, so I guess anything’s possible…

Game 1: At the end of the game, my board featured Chronarch (that retrieved a Ribbons), Steamcore, Banshee, Entrancer, Sewerdreg (he was Black), and a 4/2 Bloodscale Prowler.

Game 2: I didn’t win this game either.

So there you have it, kids. Draft Blue/Black, take Train of Thought high, and avoid das hopper, and you’ll be raking in the draft sets on MTGO. Please hit me up in the forums as long as you aren’t creepy, and say hi to me in Charleston if I’m not in Prague. ^_^

Tim Aten
a.k.a. That Nerd With the Lip Ring
a.k.a. Princess Celestria of the Enchanted Gables
a.k.a. Yusuf Islam
Babalon on MTGO (for real)
[email protected] (also for real)

Post Signoff Bonus
I recently started playing one of the greatest RPGs of all time, Final Fantasy 7, again. Since my Playstation is probably still decomposing in a puddle of dachshund urine in Albany, I actually left the house (dramatic pause) to go to Best Buy and buy a PS2. And the Yeah Yeah Yeahs CD. And Herbie Fully Loaded. I hope to one day find my Super Nintendo so I can go back and play Final Fantasy 2+3 one last time.

After playing the game several times, I get sick of seeing the same old names at the bottom of the screen, so to spice things up, I decided to rename the characters. However, it’s not fun if you just assign the names at random; careful thought must be put into the naming process. Here’s what I came up with for each of the characters:

Cloud: Cloud is a scrawny light-haired guy who kicks a lot of butt. He’s completely awesome, but because of the whole Japanese-to-English translation thing, he still gives off a hint of the “Creepy Foreigner Vibe.” For that reason, what else could I name him but Das Hopper.

Barret: I actually neglected to rename this character, but if I had, I would have named him Cedric. Since, ya know. Well, ya know. They both… uh… have a gun for an arm.

Red XIII: Okay, for this one, the only real connection to the namesake is that his pretty scruffy. I really wanted to name a character after the singer of The Used, and despite being a reddish wolf thing, Red XIII is the closest character in appearance to Bert.

Cait Sith: Cait Sith is a roly-poly mischief maker who seems like a lot of fun, but he also has a secret that kind of discredits him. This sounds a lot like one of my favorite television personalities, Andy Milonakis (who looks 14 but is actually almost 30), so I named him Andy.

Cid: Cid is lame so I didn’t bother renaming him. He shan’t be in my party very often.

Yuffie: Alright, I named Yuffie Ms Murder. In retrospect, this was probably 30% of the reason why I started playing the game again.

Vincent: A creepy, morbid dude with long, black hair. The natural fit for this one was the singer of AFI, Davey.

Tifa, Aeris: I didn’t rename these because – who am I kidding? – I haven’t talked to a girl since the times in high school when we had to do groupwork.

Post-Post-Signoff Bonus Bonus
Bla bla bla I’m rusty at writing blee blee. For some super duper fun, do some CTRL+Fs for “probably,” “actually,” and a few other adverbs. Quite the fall from grace, folks.

* You probably use this precise wording, as well.
** I didn’t really want to bother with another footnote, but I’ll go ahead and say it anyway. I know this word doesn’t make sense here. I wanted a smart-sounding word that meant “from that,” but I’ve been a grade-A moron since I graduated college, so I couldn’t remember a word that meant that. Thus, I decided to make something up. I wonder how many people would have noticed and complained if I hadn’t added this note…
*** That’s a good thing, believe it or not. Last footnote, I promise.