Yawgmoth’s Whimsy #252 – Nix Tix Drafting

Read Peter Jahn... at StarCityGames.com!
Thursday, December 4th – Last weekend MTGO offered “free” drafts – meaning you only needed to supply the packs and you could draft. I did a few drafts. I also decided to write about a draft – to look at one in a bit more depth. The question was – which draft, and why? I decided to look for one where I had lost “to mana screw” or something like that, and analyze that in more depth.

Last weekend MTGO offered “free” drafts — meaning you only needed to supply the packs and you could draft. I did a few drafts. I also decided to write about a draft — to look at one in a bit more depth. The question was — which draft, and why? I decided to look for one where I had lost “to mana screw” or something like that, and analyze that in more depth.

I could have written about the nuts Jund deck where I ended up with a playset of Magma Sprays and several Branching Bolts, and won the draft. It was pretty much a blowout, and that probably happened because the other drafters messed up. Alternatively, I could have written about the late-night draft where I just wanted to rare-draft and got a garbage deck as a result.

Instead, I decided to analyze the first interesting / significant draft I found. I clicked on a saved draft file at random until I found one that looked interesting. I did remember this draft. I did lose in round 1 — after drawing a ton of lands. I decided to watch the game replays, and see how much of the result really was luck, and how much was my own ability to punt games.

One of the really good premium writers did something like this once — maybe Richard Feldman? I’m trying to replicate the idea, even if I cannot replicate his skill.

I’ve gone through the match, now. From an ego standpoint, this was not the match to feature — I made a couple bonehead picks and plays. Still — I decided to do the first interesting one I hit…

Let’s start with the draft:

Pack 1 pick 1:
Waveskimmer Aven, Windwright Mage, Goblin Assault, Swamp, Glaze Fiend, Tidehollow Sculler, Obelisk of Naya, Executioner’s Capsule, Gift of the Gargantuan, Skeletal Kathari, Esper Panorama, Dawnray Archer, Elvish Visionary, Infest, Dragon Fodder

My pick:
Goblin Assault

This draft started off wrong. I was distracted with something — dogs, coffee, writing, whatever — and I didn’t notice it start. When I looked up, I had picks, and the timer was flashing. I right clicked the rare (right clicking means that the card is automatically picked if time for the pick expires), started to look at the other cards — and I was on to the next pack. I was very happy to see that I had only missed one pack. I thought I might be several missed picks into the draft already.

Pack 1 pick 2:
Goblin Mountaineer, Waveskimmer Aven, Grixis Panorama, Bull Cerodon, Esper Panorama, Etherium Astrolabe, Oblivion Ring, Hindering Light, Master of Etherium, Wild Nacatl, Island, Agony Warp, Glaze Fiend, Grixis Battlemage

My pick:
Master of Etherium

I wanted to try forcing Esper — but even so, Oblivion Ring was probably a better choice. My problem is that I’m an incorrigible rare-drafter.

Pack 1 pick 3:
Dragon Fodder, Bant Charm, Knight of the Skyward Eye, Resounding Scream, Tortoise Formation, Relic of Progenitus, Rip-Clan Crasher, Forest, Sanctum Gargoyle, Naya Panorama, Dragon’s Herald, Resounding Wave, Rhox Charger

My pick:
Bant Charm

If I wanted to force Esper, why did I take Bant Charm over the Sanctum Gargoyle? No idea — especially since I won a draft on the back of triple Gargoyles earlier that weekend.

Pack 1 pick 4:
Druid of the Anima, Swamp, Shore Snapper, Mosstodon, Jund Charm, Sphinx’s Herald, Yoked Plowbeast, Viscera Dragger, Banewasp Affliction, Steward of Valeron, Thorn-Thrash Viashino, Jund Battlemage

My pick:

Mosstodon is very solid in an Esper deck.

Pack 1 pick 5:
Dregscape Zombie, Behemoth’s Herald, Vectis Silencers, Soul’s Fire, Welkin Guide, Carrion Thrash, Ethersworn Canonist, Cylian Elf, Outrider of Jhess, Gift of the Gargantuan, Plains

My pick:
Ethersworn Canonist

Just a rare draft, folks. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Pack 1 pick 6:
Dreg Reaver, Viashino Skeleton, Mountain, Mighty Emergence, Dragon’s Herald, Resounding Roar, Elvish Visionary, Blood Cultist, Soul’s Grace, Viscera Dragger

My pick:
Resounding Roar

Viscera Dragger is the best option for Esper, so I guess I had committed to Bant — or at least to Green.

Pack 1 pick 7:
Algae Gharial, Banewasp Affliction, Outrider of Jhess, Mindlock Orb, Island, Excommunicate, Jungle Weaver, Vectis Silencers, Resounding Silence

My pick:
Jungle Weaver

Pack 1 pick 8:
Yoked Plowbeast, Soul’s Might, Protomatter Powder, Forest, Undead Leotau, Metallurgeon, Angel’s Herald (FOIL), Gustrider Exuberant

My pick:

My commitment to Esper wavered a bit, but Metallurgeon is okay as a Drudge Skeleton, if nothing more.

On the lap, I picked up the following: Gift of the Gargantuan, Grixis Battlemage, Rip-Clan Crasher, Yoked Plowbeast and trash. I did get a Vectis Silencers to keep the dream of Esper alive, but just barely.

Pack 2 pick 1:
Jungle Weaver, Bull Cerodon, Sighted-Caste Sorcerer, Deathgreeter, Etherium Sculptor, Volcanic Submersion (FOIL), Behemoth’s Herald, Bone Splinters, Tortoise Formation, Kederekt Leviathan, Mountain, Scourge Devil, Tidehollow Strix, Thorn-Thrash Viashino, Steward of Valeron

My pick:
Bull Cerodon

I was heavily GW at this point, with almost nothing in U or R except some bad rares. This seemed like the best option.

Pack 2 pick 2:
Angel’s Herald, Dispeller’s Capsule, Angelsong, Blightning, Soul’s Grace, Tidehollow Strix, Rockslide Elemental, Plains, Lightning Talons, Grixis Charm, Cathartic Adept, Godtoucher, Ad Nauseam, Kathari Screecher

My pick:
Tidehollow Strix

Here’s one of those mistakes I mentioned above. I had dumped Esper — most of my deck was WG. Sure, Strix and Metallurgeon is tricksy, but Rockslide Elemental is a much better friend of Bull Cerodon.

Pack 2 pick 3:
Mountain (FOIL), Seaside Citadel, Exuberant Firestoker, Swamp, Obelisk of Bant, Grixis Battlemage, Goblin Mountaineer, Gift of the Gargantuan, Glaze Fiend, Goblin Deathraiders, Elvish Visionary, Carrion Thrash, Jund Panorama

My pick:
Seaside Citadel

I was undecided about which colors to follow, so taking a color fixer seemed like a good way of — well, not deciding.

Pack 2 pick 4:
Corpse Connoisseur, Cavern Thoctar, Jund Charm, Druid of the Anima, Naturalize, Obelisk of Esper (FOIL), Resounding Scream, Bloodthorn Taunter, Forest, Obelisk of Grixis, Ridge Rannet, Steelclad Serpent

My pick:
Obelisk of Esper (FOIL)

Ditto. The Ridge Rannet would have been nice with the Bull — but the Druid would have been better, and locked me into a nice RWG deck. Which is what a good drafter would be doing by now.

Pack 2 pick 5:
Godtoucher, Rockcaster Platoon, Resounding Wave, Savage Hunger, Island, Marble Chalice, Gustrider Exuberant, Steelclad Serpent, Blightning, Metallurgeon, Clarion Ultimatum

My pick:

How did I avoid raredrafting here? Simple, I already have one copy of Clarion Ultimatum for my Singleton decks. (Yes, that’s a joke. Clarion, Singleton. Get it? Err — next pick.)

Pack 2 pick 6:
Cancel, Immortal Coil, Mountain, Naturalize, Sangrite Surge, Court Archers, Jhessian Lookout, Angelsong, Bloodthorn Taunter, Mountain (FOIL)

My pick:
Court Archers

About now I remember all the Green cards I have drafted.

Pack 2 pick 7:
Kiss of the Amesha, Filigree Sages, Call to Heel, Plains, Cloudheath Drake, Court Archers, Viashino Skeleton, Deathgreeter, Excommunicate

My pick:
Cloudheath Drake

Two Metallurgeons convinced me to take the evasive beater over the Kiss. Still not sure that is right, but I don’t have that much offense, if I end up playing UWG. Offensively, I’m better with WGR, and I probably should have taken the Archers and stayed in one shard.

Pack 2 pick 8:
Skeletal Kathari, Vicious Shadows, Savage Hunger, Rockcaster Platoon, Soul’s Grace, Kederekt Creeper, Coma Veil, Swamp

My pick:
Rockcaster Platoon

Well, whatever else I end up doing, I am almost certainly playing GW, so I adopted the hippo.

On the second time around, I got Etherium Sculptor, Cathartic Adept, Gift of the Gargantuan, Steelclad Serpent, Gustrider Exuberant and trash.

Pack 3 pick 1:
Obelisk of Grixis, Court Archers, Viashino Skeleton, Call to Heel, Forest, Bant Panorama, Ooze Garden, Sigil Blessing, Fatestitcher, Drumhunter, Undead Leotau, Blister Beetle, Cavern Thoctar, Spell Snip, Corpse Connoisseur

My pick:

Fatesticher or Drumhunter? I don’t know in the abstract. I do know that I was still struggling to choose a shard, but that Drumhunter was going to make the deck either way, while Fatestitcher was not going to be in the same deck as the Bull Cerodon.

Pack 3 pick 2:
Jungle Weaver, Obelisk of Grixis, Mountain, Etherium Sculptor, Blister Beetle, Cavern Thoctar, Jhessian Infiltrator, Marble Chalice, Dispeller’s Capsule, Topan Ascetic, Volcanic Submersion, Qasali Ambusher, Thorn-Thrash Viashino, Spell Snip

My pick:
Qasali Ambusher

GW is a given. In the abstract, I don’t know whether Topan Ascetic is better than the Ambusher, or not.

Pack 3 pick 3:
Esper Panorama, Jund Panorama, Blood Cultist, Island, Savage Lands, Lush Growth, Sighted-Caste Sorcerer, Incurable Ogre, Executioner’s Capsule, Kathari Screecher, Angelic Benediction, Hindering Light, Obelisk of Bant

My pick:
Kathari Screecher

Okay, way too late to go with Esper and the Capsule here, but I figure several picks into the final pack I should finally choose a shard. Bant it is — and I take a flier.

Pack 3 pick 4:
Minion Reflector, Goblin Deathraiders, Obelisk of Esper, Obelisk of Jund, Cathartic Adept, Naya Panorama, Coma Veil, Forest, Lightning Talons, Onyx Goblet, Shadowfeed, Crumbling Necropolis

My pick:
Crumbling Necropolis

I have never played Minion Reflector, and I’m not sure if it is any good. On the other hand, I did want a Necropolis for a constructed deck…

Pack 3 pick 5:
Dragon Fodder, Rip-Clan Crasher, Relic of Progenitus, Sunseed Nurturer, Woolly Thoctar, Hindering Light, Swamp, Guardians of Akrasa, Shore Snapper, Obelisk of Naya, Jund Panorama

My pick:
Woolly Thoctar

Well, maybe I haven’t chosen a shard, yet. The Necropolis can help me splash both ends of the RGWU spectrum. I guess. Yes, I know that the Guardians, Nurturer and/or Relic are all probably better.

Pack 3 pick 6:
Obelisk of Jund, Skeletal Kathari, Jhessian Infiltrator, Cancel, Lush Growth, Volcanic Submersion, Onyx Goblet, Plains, Rakeclaw Gargantuan, Spell Snip

My pick:
Jhessian Infiltrator

I need beaters more than the cycler.

Pack 3 pick 7:
Shadowfeed, Dreg Reaver, Filigree Sages, Kederekt Creeper, Jhessian Lookout, Resounding Roar, Welkin Guide, Tortoise Formation, Mountain

My pick:
Resounding Roar

Green. I may not know my shard, but I know one color, at least.

Pack 3 pick 8:
Ridge Rannet, Kederekt Creeper, Grixis Panorama, Carrion Thrash, Savage Hunger, Swerve, Island, Incurable Ogre

My pick:
Ridge Rannet

Running down. On the lap, I got Ooze Garden (Yay, a rare that tabled! Even in the 8-4s on a NIX TIX weekend, you get a lot of rare drafters, so it does not happen much). I also got Spell Snip, Coma Veil and Guardians of Akrasa.

Building the deck came down to deciding between Bant and Naya — or a UGWR hybrid with way too little mana fixing. In the end, I went with Bant.

The Deck
1 Bant Charm
2 Resounding Roar
1 Ooze Garden
1 Obelisk of Esper
1 Spell Snip

1 Qasali Ambusher
1 Cloudheath Drake
1 Court Archers
1 Drumhunter
2 Gift of the Gargantuan
1 Guardians of Akrasa
1 Gustrider Exuberant
1 Jhessian Infiltrator
1 Jungle Weaver
1 Kathari Screecher
2 Metallurgeon
1 Mosstodon
1 Rockcaster Platoon
1 Steelclad Serpent
1 Yoked Plowbeast

5 Plains
5 Forest
5 Island
1 Esper Panorama
1 Seaside Citadel

Nothing amazing — I don’t like making decisions, and it showed.

Match One, Game One

We exchange “hello, gl, have fun” and begin. My opponent chooses to play last, and we both keep. I drop lands, he drops an Island and Plains, and a Courier Capsule. I drop a Kathari Screecher. He does nothing, and ends up blowing the Capsule at the end of my fourth turn. He then drops a Screecher of his own, but by then I am beating with an Infiltrator as well. He does nothing on turn five but bounce my Mosstodon during combat, and I replay it. On turn 6 he taps out for a Skeletal Kathari, which trades for my trampling Mosstodon. On turn 7 I unearth my Kathari and swing for the win.

Game Two

He again chooses to play last. I mulligan a one-lander, and keep. The skinny on this game is that he played two Etherium Sculptors, Resounding Scream, a Call to Heel targeting his dude and a boatload of lands. I played on Obelisk, a Guardians of Arkasa and a Cloudheath Drake. We both beat, slowly. I did not block the Etherium with the Drake, playing around Infest or the like, and the Drake killed him on turn ten.

This game was just plain bad. My hand, at the end of game: Ooze Garden, double Resounding Roar, Bant Charm, Gift of the Gargantuan — with no Forests. He said his hand was all land, which would indicate that he drew 13 lands and four spells all game. It is hard to say that my play skill actually won this game — because other that choosing what to discard and playing around Infest, I did nothing. Luck won me this game.

Match Two, Game One

We exchange “hi, gl, hf” and are off. He plays first, and opens with a Steward of Valeron on turn 4. I already had a Guardians in play, and nothing else so he didn’t beat turn 5, but he did drop a Waveskimmer Aven. I dropped a Cloudheath Drake, which could at least race. He dropped Rafiq of the Many. I had a response:

One Million Words: well crrrp

He then proceeded to drop another Waveskimmer, Sigiled Paladin, more Exalted guys and then Clarion Ultimatum copying the Waveskimmers, Sigil Paladin, Akrasan Squire and lands. My outs consisted of Bant Charm and/or getting an active Metallurgeon and chumping with the Drake. I managed to chump with a Jungle Weaver, but didn’t draw the Metallurgeon until the turn I had to chump with the Drake — so I lost.

During sideboarding, I complimented on his insane exalted deck, and wished him luck in the finals, since I figured I had no chance of beating Rafiq and a dozen exalted guys. I sided out the Ooze Garden for a Coma Veil.

Game Two

I chose to play first. We both kept our sevens. Mine was a Plains, 2 Forests, Cloudheath Drake, Metallurgeon and Steelclad Serpent. I drew a Guardians and played a Plains.

He dropped a Plains and an Akrasan Squire.

I played a Forest and a Metallurgeon.

He played an Island, beat with the Squire and dropped a Deft Duelist.

I played a Forest, and did nothing.

He played an Island and a Sighted-Caste Sorcerer, then beat with the big, fat Duelist. I chumped and regenerated.

I played a Guardians and attacked with Metallurgeon. I missed my land drop.

He played a Bant Panorama, fetched a Forest immediately, then beat for four.

I missed my land drop. I had a Plains and two Forests in play, and Spell Snip, Resounding Roar, Coma Veil, the Drake and Steelclad Serpent in hand. I beat with the Metallurgeon again, hoping to bait him into attacking the guardians. Next turn, he did, and the Roar pumped the Guardians and offed the Duelist.

I dropped a Plains. He dropped Rhox War Monk. I swore.

Next turn he beat for a bunch of life with a very big pancake flipper, but I ripped an Island and dropped Coma Veil on it. I then drew a couple lands and got the Cloudheath Drake into play. Next, I resolved Drumhunter and Mosstodon while he got a few more Exalteds guys into play. He had two Waveskimmers and was beating down with one of them, but I kept regeneration mana up and kept chumping with the Drake. He was up to 27 life, off the Rhox War Monk and a Soul’s Grace, but I was getting through for four a turn with the Drake.

About turn 13, he tried double blocking with the two Waveskimmers. I killed one Waveskimmer, regenerated the Drake then dropped a Gustrider Exuberant and chumped. I was still hanging on at 14 life — but dead in two hits. He stopped blocking at that point — but did manage to resolve Clarion Ultimatum. I resolved a Gift of the Gargantuan and dropped a Jungle Weaver. By now, my Drumhunter had meant I had outdrawn him, despite the Ultimatum. Finally, I drew the Jhessian Infiltrator off a Gift, played it and started beating. He drew nothing that could get past my regenerating blocker, but I drew the Rockcaster Platoon and had a Resounding Roar. The Roar pumped the Infiltrator which knocked him to two, and the Rockcaster killed him. It was turn 18.

I was still holding the Bant Charm I drew turn 2. I was saving it for Rafiq.

The good news was that I was even. The bad news was that I had about 7 minutes left on my clock, and my deck was slower than his.

Game Three

The final game started the same way — he got out a couple of exalted guys and beat me down to around 10 life before I got Metallurgeon and started chumping. I started to establish some control, got an exalted guy of my own on the board and started beating. He used a couple Soul’s Graces, but I soon had the Mosstodon / Drumhunter working, and got a couple other fatties out. I had a Resounding Roar and had him dead in a few turns — but I was running out of time. He dropped Rhox War Monk, and bashed. I chumped the 5/6 Rhox with the Yoked Plowbeast, then cast Resounding Roar — and in my rush I targeted his pancake flipper instead of my Plowbeast. He gained too much life, the wrong creature died, and I timed out before I could kill him.

He was into the finals after all.

What Went Wrong:

The simple answer would be that I misclicked. That did indeed cost me the game — but the critical mistakes were all made a bit earlier.

I did spend some time chatting during the match — and that clearly cost me some time. That wasn’t the critical point, though.

The first error happened game 2, turns 4 and 5. He was stuck at four lands. I was stuck at three — with no Islands in play. I had visions of topdecking an Island and nailing Rafiq with the Spell Snip I was holding. I held on to it for a couple turns, instead of cycling it immediately. I had the Bant Charm for Rafiq, if I needed it. I needed the Island more. Cycling it would have sped me up a couple turns.

The next major errors were also in game 2, in the later turns. I was beating with the Cloudheath Drake, and letting it get an exalt boost. Instead, I should have been beating with the Mosstodon, and possibly other creatures as well. I was worried about a return Alpha strike — but I should have looked more carefully at the game clock and at the array of 1/1s on his side. Even if he had something like Sigil Blessing, I could Bant Charm in response, and all his 1/1s would have stayed 1/1s. Sure, I wanted to save the Charm for Rafiq, but needs must.

Either of those actions could have shaved a couple turns off game 2. A couple turns could equate to at least a minute — maybe a couple minutes. Even one more minute would probably have meant taking more time / care in targeting the Plowbeast, and that extra time would have won the match even with the mistake.

The same thing is true in the final game — I should have pushed harder and attacked with pretty much everything. I would probably have had to use up the Roar and Bant Charm screwing up his blockers, but I would have been a bit faster. Sure, if I blew Bant Charm to kill extra blockers, he might have topdecked Rafiq and blew me out — but that still required him drawing that card in his stack of 20 or so. The odds favored going all out and hoping to win faster.

I did not have / take the time to figure that out, so I lost.


“one million words” on MTGO