Worlds 2006 – Draft Day

After a self-confessed average day at the office during the Standard portion of Worlds, Josh had high hopes going into the Time Spiral drafts. He has been extremely vocal on his tactics and thoughts on the format, and was feeling confident of at least posting a 3-0 in the first pod. So, how did he do? Read on to find out!

This was the day of Worlds that I had prepared for the most. I had hoped to be 4-2 going into this day, so that I could go 5-1 or better and have a real shot at making Top 8, a feat I came close to accomplishing last year. Of course, in reality, I was only 3-3 and needed to 5-1 just to have a chance.

I had checked my pod the day before and recognized none of the names. My pod was six team members from various countries, but since I didn’t recognize any of them I thought I’d be in good shape to post a 3-0. I sat down and nothing had changed… indeed, it was an easy pod.

Going into the drafts, I knew a lot about the format. I felt like Johnny Mnemonic and I had just used the doubler. You know that feeling? You just know so much? No, actually, you probably don’t. I knew I never won with Black, and I knew that Blue/Red was the best deck by a mile. I knew how to win with the other colors and most of the color combinations… but still, Black was at the bottom of my list and Blue at the top.

I think that totals 46, but I know I got the maindeck right, and nothing outrageous seems to be in the sideboard, so one of those sideboard cards isn’t there. Don’t worry, it isn’t one of the good ones… although I couldn’t tell you what it is specifically.

This draft wasn’t too interesting. I first picked Psionic-Blast over Lightning Axe, as they were both the only relevant playable in their colors, and at the end of the day I’d rather be Blue even if it meant shipping the best common and possibly not ending up Blue/Red. I got Triskelavus second in the first pack, and the Coal Stokers in my deck were very late. The Black splash is pretty greedy and I probably shouldn’t have run it, but it gives me a lot more card quality over the two Mogg War Marshals and the Aetherflame Wall that I left in the sideboard.

Aetherflame Wall was in the deck until the very end, but it came down to a call between it and Dream Stalker. With Fathom Seer, Coral Trickster, and Triskelavus in my deck, coupled with the fact that it was very reasonable for my good draw (good enough to keep), and the fact that I may not have Red mana for the wall on turn 2 (and certainly not enough to pump it), I decided the shadow-blocking 0/4 defender was probably not going to be terribly effective. Most of the people I talked to about the deck said I shouldn’t have played Chronatog Totem… although I don’t think the Totem is bad, they all thought it is unplayable.

After the draft I was feeling very confident. I really liked my deck, Coal Stoker is insane when you can go Two, Three, Four, Three consistently. I had enough morphs to make this a reality, with my backup plan being Two, Three, Four, Cannonade your Three to gain similar tempo. Double Looter Il-Kor made the splash, in my mind, a realistic possibility. I felt that being able to discard Black cards I wouldn’t be able to cast while drawing into lands I might actually need were two very important enablers in my decision. After the fact, I think it was wrong to even take the Black cards – save hate-drafting, there was definitely something else in the Shadowmage pack (pick 3 or 4 in the third pack). The Dark Withering was a hate-draft – late and not terribly contested, but it was the obvious pick whether in Black or not – but when it came time for deck construction, it wasn’t outrageous to play it.

With four reasonable turn 2 plays and a good curve to follow, I thought my deck was capable of getting consistently smooth draws that followed said curve. I had good late game in the form of Tolarian Sentinel tricks and Triskelavus, but I felt that most of the time the games wouldn’t go that long.

Round 1: Orav, Joonas [EST]
Ironically, my round 1 opponent in the draft portion last year was also from Estonia. Joonas was pleasant to play against, and his deck didn’t offer much resistance. Game 1 I had a two-drop and a Shadowmage Infiltrator that he never removed. Eight turns later the game was rather lopsided looking, as you can imagine. Game 2 he started with a Magus of the Scroll, and I played a Looter. On three mana he tried to kill my Looter, naming Mountain. He revealed Stonewood Invocation, and I wisely chose to cast my instants while he could not counter them with the card. Main-phase Psionic Blast killed the Magus, and things become hazy after that. I remember building up my side of the board, although his Scryb Ranger went to work on my life total while blocking what was probably Mistform Ultimus. Eventually I was at ten, and he just Stonewood Invocationed a random unblocked dork to knock me down to four. This was scary, since all I had left in the tank were a few Blue creatures and a Snapback – all useless – but when he attacked for one and followed with Basalt Gargoyle (still low on mana, as he was all game since he’d been Rangering), the Snapback allowed me to swing back for lethal.

I was relieved after round 1. I thought my deck was good but wasn’t sure. I thought I knew how good Looter Il-Kor was, but at the same time I felt I was alone in my beliefs. Most people opting to believe the Ephemeron to be superior – yet still, to this day, I hold the opposite belief. My deck ran well, and I was excited at the possibility of 3-0ing the pod. I went back to the hall / lounge / common area to hear various bad beat stories and enjoy the time between rounds. Apparently I won quickly, as this was a very long period. Of note, Yellowhat lost to double Sudden Spoiling with his mediocre Blue/White deck.

Round 2: Roca Suarez, Diego [CHL]
We got started quickly. I had turn 2 Looter, and he had Sidewinder Sliver followed by a Timebug. For a moment, I was scared. Of all the decks I’d seen Timebug in, none were bad. I thought I was going to lose to this Timebug. Then I looked at the Sidewinder Sliver, realized I was at 4-3 and that my opponent, despite being on his National Team, was also 4-3. Relieved, I went into my turn and morphed Fledgling Mawcor. He played another Sidewinder Sliver. A few turns later the Mawcor had killed most of his guys, while the Looter supplied a constant stream of gas. His deck couldn’t compete.

Notably, during the draft I had the chance to D-Draft a White card. I took Momentary Blink. People are still underrating this. I got passed one eighth in an 8-4 not two days ago. Rich Hoaen has reportedly hate-drafted them as late as tenth pick in similar 8-4s. The card is unreal. You’ll see.

Why am I telling you that now?

Game 2 I kept what could be considered to be a bad draw. I had a Black card and no Black mana, and my two-drop was Errant Ephemeron. I don’t think it’s a mulligan hand, but it wasn’t exciting me the way my first three openers were. My opponent’s draw, however, was much better. Gone were the Sidewinder Slivers, replaced with excellent suspenders: he curved out with Deepwalker, Ephemeron, and Cloudskate. My deck failed to cooperate, drawing the other Black card immediately. My draw was outclassed, no kidding. He used both halves of a Blink on his Cloudskate to set me back even further. At the end of the game I was going to be on one life post combat, with my Triskelavus facing his Ephemeron. I was okay with this board position. However, he had another Blink, and instead of having any board position at all, I was forced to concede. It was a complete blowout.

Game 3, and my hand was good. Looter, Dream Stalker, a morph, and some lands. I made a turn 2 Looter. He suspended Deepwalker and played Temporal Isolation on my Looter. Thankfully, I had drawn my other Looter, so I played it. He suspended Ephemeron… I attacked, drew, discarded, and played Dream Stalker bouncing my Isolated Looter, but didn’t have the ability to replay it, still lacking a second Blue mana. He Cancelled my Looter and played Timebug and Cloudskate. All of this was compounded by my hand not getting any better, despite Looting a few times when I could – when I tried to interact with his cards, he had both Blinks again. He even (sorry dude) failed to leave up White mana, mistakenly leaving up his Calciform Pools. He tried to Blink, but I reminded him that he had no White mana available. Embarrassed, he crushed me. The final nail in the coffin was his Griffin Guide making his Deepwalker into a creature I simply could not deal with, save my lone Snapback which did not appear… not that it would have won me the game at that point, though.

Defeated, I left the playing area wondering if I had made an error in keeping my hand for game 2. I definitely didn’t give my opponent enough credit after his game 1 performance, but I don’t know. More stories: it seemed no matter what their starting record, just about everyone was sitting on 4-4. This excludes the true masters: Nassif was now 5-2-1, having suffered a loss to double Sengir Nosferatu, while Richie was 2-0, on his way to 6-0ing the day, naturally.

Round 3 started soon after and I was determined.

Round 3: Li, Cheuk Yin [HKG]
I don’t remember much that happened in this match. I didn’t remember it at all until I searched and searched (my head). I remember his deck was very slow, with him only playing Temporal Isolation and Orcish Cannonade before making consecutive six-drops (in the form of Chronosavant and Fury Sliver). I had him down to ten life, and felt I was going to lose. I had Mistform Ultimus and some other stuff, but he may have Isolated that too. I whittled him down a bit further until he played an Essence Sliver. I was probably losing this game pretty hardcore now, although I did have about 100 lands on my side of the board. On the last possible turn, somehow, I drew Triskelavus. This allowed me to turn the tides completely, as I believe he drew land-land with a very tight final few turns being played out, where he was unable to gain life with Essence Sliver, and whatever guys I had finished the job. He asked if I topdecked the Triskelavus, and I told him I did. Game 2 was close again; he had creatures in the early turns, and we both traded Cannonades for guys. The details are hazy. I know that I won at two life, and when he checked his next card it was the second Cannonade.

After the round I felt no sense of relief. Only sorrow, having 2-1ed an easy pod with a great deck; the tournament was just getting away from me. Nassif completed his 0-3, while Richie completed his 3-0. Most were on 5-4 going into the second draft. 8-4 isn’t a bad record going into Day 3: it gives you a chance to get big, though first I’d need to get to 8-4.

My second table had Eugene Harvey feeding Osamu Fujita, who was feeding me, with some other guys (including Shaheen Soorani) sitting around seat 7 or 8. I was in seat 5, for your reference.

I opened my pack and I was a bit disappointed – no easy Blue pick. I took Verdant Embrace. Osamu passed me a pack that was pretty poor, but it did have a Crookclaw Transmuter. Of course, I wanted to be Blue if I could. I knew Blue / Green was good, so I was pretty happy to pick up the Transmuter here and possibly get into Blue/Green. Third pick came, and the pack was pretty bad (again). This time there was a choice between Yavimaya Dryad or Amrou Scout. I took the Scout. White/Green is far outside my comfort level, but White/Blue is not. Though I’d rather draft Green/Blue if Green is going to keep coming (and it did), there was a lot of White floating around; I think I could have had three Cavalry Masters – I’d drafted one and my first round opponent flashed the other two from his board after the match was over. Around fifth pick I had a choice between Spike Tiller and Weatherseed Totem, taking the Tiller. At the time I was unsure, though others confirmed. I opened the Hermit and the Triskelavus, and I was passed a seventh-pick Looter in pack 3 thanks to good positioning. There were three Scryb Rangers in the draft – I got two of them later than I thought I would, and the third one came with Jolrael and Gemhide Sliver, but there was an Errant Ephemeron (which I took). I specifically didn’t draft either copy of Walk the Aeons. People have told me this card is awesome, and shines the most in Blue/Green, but to me a six-mana card that isn’t good all the time isn’t good at all, so I skipped them. I took cards for my deck over them each time, but still…

Overall I was pretty pleased with my draft. I had only about 24 playables to choose from, though. I couldn’t decide on the correct amount of Chronatog Totems, as once again I had two. On the one hand, I had about a million things to do with a lot of mana… but on the other hand, my Looters could provide a good curve, and it’s not like I had a glut at five mana. Not to mention I was already at seventeen lands with a Prismatic Lens, which is a lot. It was a tough choice. The people I asked didn’t convince me. Jelger pointed to my high-end cards and said “of course you should have played both,” Herberholz said “the card is so bad, and shouldn’t ever be there.”

Yavimaya Dryad was not missed. I felt like I didn’t have enough morphs in this deck though, and I would have liked some Might of Old Krosas, but I had plenty of good spells in the end. Morphs are especially awesome, and are one of the keys to succeeding with Blue, but they shine even more when combined with Green. They have built in combat tricks. One Fathom Seer would have been greatly appreciated, and I shan’t mention how sick a Fledgling Mawcor would have been with my Scryb Rangers, but alas.

Once again I thought I could 3-0, but I knew that if I did, it wouldn’t be as easy as it should have been last time. At the very least, there were two players I didn’t especially want to play against. I was confident in my deck, but the way I was running at this tournament – that is to say, I was 2-1 in my good format and 5-4 overall – I was not exactly feeling it.

Round 1: Joens, Klaus [DEU]
We chatted briefly before we began. He told me he had opened one very good card for his deck – an easy pick, he said. His deck was Blue/Red with a touch of Black to flashback Mystical Teachings, though he never did that against me. The first game was nothing special. I played a bunch of guys, got a good board position, and with three cards in his hand he cast Teachings to fetch Sulfurous Blast. This was okay. It left me with a 4/4 Dodecapod and a clear board. He recovered a little, and I recovered with a Primal Forcemage and a Morph a turn later. He played Tectonic Fiend, which he paid the echo for, and attacked. I unmorphed the Thelonite Hermit and traded a token for his Fiend, and then swung back for a million. This knocked him pretty low, to the point where we played draw-go because he had followed with Aetherflame wall and Empty the Warrens. My Hermit died to a Grapeshot. His Spiketail Drakeling stared at my Crookclaw Transmuter with him at three life. I drew Temporal Eddy a couple of turns later, and he was dead, holding nothing but land.

Game 2 was not close at all. He played cards that were always outclassed. My deck was quite good. He had mentioned that he felt his “side” of the table might have had a worse cardpool to work from, or at least that was his impression. I don’t know how true that is, but it isn’t unreasonable. In the final turns of this game, a Squall Line for six with his Transmuters switch ability on the stack– that he had tapped out for – sealed it.

Nassif showed me his deck again; it was another bad Blue/White deck. I think he was collecting Eternity Snares, with more in either of his two decks than I had ever played. He had beaten someone this round. Lots of 6-4s and 5-5s: but maybe, just maybe I could do it. Maybe I could win out.

Round 2: Shaheen Soorani [USA]
For round 2 of this draft I played against Shaheen Soorani. We were 1-1 in lifetime matches going in, I having masterfully outplayed him at PT: Honolulu, and him having out-rippled me in the Coldsnap portion of Nationals (Nice. Format.). He was just as cocky and arrogant as ever, apparently feeling his deck was very good.

Game 1 I got stuck on five lands despite looting every turn, I could really only make about one good play per turn while he was building up a giant force of creatures. Then he played Pulmonic Sliver, which allowed his Might Sliver and Gemhide Sliver to sail over. I untapped, went into the tank and came up empty. There was just no combination of plays there for me. I went back into the tank, failed again. Hmm. I attacked with my looters and came up empty. I said go with my mana open. He didn’t buy it, activated his Weatherseed Totem and killed me. Fine.

I boarded in Bewilder and took out Chronatog Totem.

Game 2 my draw (off a mulligan) was awesome, Scryb Ranger, Slipstream Serpent, Dodecapod. I drew Verdant Embrace and cloaked up one of my guys. He had a slow draw that didn’t do much, until a turn 3 totem put a turn 4 Castle Raptors into play, though by then he was already very far behind on the board, and unable to block my Cloaked guy. I bashed his face. He died, uneventfully.

He complimented my draw. (Nice Pulmonic Sliver in game 1.)

This game again, my draw was good. I had a bunch of guys out and drew Embrace to go with my Looter. I was going to kill him around turn 7. Unfortunately, he had made Wormwood Dryad, Castle Raptors, Griffin Guide (knocking me to 12), so when I cloaked up my Looter and attacked him down to lethal next turn, he untapped and Fortified me to death. He showed me the gratuitous Thrill of the Hunt, as well.


I felt very much like giving up at this point. 6-5 is just an atrocious record. Now a 7-0 doesn’t even get me into the Top 8. All of this weighed heavily as I attempted to gear up for the final round.

Round 6: Osamu Fujita [JPN]
Fujita fed me in this draft. The second pack that I opened had Sulfurous Blast and Assault/Battery as well as the Triskelavus that I eventually took. He played against Eugene Harvey in the last round, losing what were apparently two close games, but I had no information as to how his deck was… except that if he was Red, he probably had a Blast.

Game 1 I kept a two-land, two two-drop hand. One of them was a Ranger, so I could make a three-drop. I did all of this, but he was Black/Red and had no problems dispatching my creatures while keeping up the pressure. A Lightning Axe Madnessed out Nightshade Assassin, revealing Gorgon Recluse to kill my last guy before he killed me. It wasn’t particularly close. Game 2 saw my hand have about four lands and some guys, but again it wasn’t close. He made a two-drop, and followed with a Syphon-Mage. I made a Primal Forcemage. On turn 4 when he attacked, I played Scryb Ranger, trading my Forcemage for both of his guys. Then he Blasted. I followed with Looter but he once again had sick madness and removal, followed with Sengir Nosferatu. I lost in short order, as he had dealt a lot of damage in the early few turns, and I couldn’t actually deal with the Vampire.

Score one for irony.

Another 3-3 day. Average is so bad.

I feel like Black is just as bad as I ever thought it was. I’ve drafted Black about four times since I’ve been back, and each time my deck has looked great and been a 1-1 deck. That doesn’t necessarily mean it wouldn’t be a 2-1 deck in real life, since on Magic Online the queues are single elimination. However, I would never actively look to draft a 2-1 deck. Richie was in one of these drafts, and afterwards I asked him how to draft Black/Red, since I had chose not to – that is, I could have, but didn’t. His response was to draft kill spells and a curve. So I did this, and still felt like I had to get lucky to win… and I didn’t win. Mana costs are awkward, color screw is lethal for you, and cards like Fathom Seer and really big creatures will be really hard for you to kill. I however, have a newfound respect for Trespasser Il-Vec, I’m pretty sure this guy is the key to Black beatdown as both an evasion creature and a madness enabler – without him, my Black decks have been even worse.

Despite going 3-3 on draft day, I still feel like I am right about most of the things I have said in the past. Momentary Blink is insane, just insane. Storage Lands are still awful in Limited. Apparently they’re good in Constructed though. Temporal Isolation continues to suck. Errant Ephemeron is still really good on turn 2, and a good card in general… but it isn’t as good as you think it is. I saw a Tromp the Domains eighth pick the other day and I had to sigh…Looter seems underrated by just about everyone, and Black… well, online it seems underdrafted. I should stipulate that if you manage to get all the Black cards in a draft you might very well 3-0 the table. That seems to be possible online in some of these drafts, as the Black cards are never-ending. I guess if you’re the only one drafting any color though, your deck will be insane.

There’s not much left to say at this point. This format is very good, but it’s no Ravnica Block. Most color combinations are playable, if not good, depending on your experience level. All I can say is that practice will definitely pay off in this format, and once you’ve established what you’re comfortable with and what works for you, you will start to do well consistently.

Practice, and grow strong.

Thanks for reading.

Josh Ravitz