Last weekend was Worlds. Unfortunately, I got to experience it the way most of the rest of us did — remotely. On the plus side, I played a bunch of Magic Online and watched the coverage. It was a nice snowy weekend, with dogs, a fire in the fireplace, and online release events. It almost made up for not being there.
Ingrid was there. Wizards had an odd number of women judges sponsored, so they had a free bed. (Judges get to sleep just two to a room. Just like most players, right?) As a result, they could offer free room to a female judge, and Ingrid got it. I could have volunteered, but after Berlin, we had no money and no vacation left. It was a case of Ingrid goes, or we both go and don’t eat for the rest of the year.
Not sure I made the right decision. What’s food compared to Worlds in Memphis?
The “weekend” really started on Wednesday, when I put Ingrid on the plane for Memphis. Her flight was ridiculously early, which meant I got into work about 5:30am. I also got out of work a bit early — early enough to get into Tempest drafts within a few hours of Tempest drafts firing for the first time.
Tempest is nothing new for paper Magic — Tempest rotated out of Extended years ago. However, it has just been released online for the first time. Sales started a week ago last Monday. Drafts started at 2pm, Madison time. I got home and started drafting a few hours after that.
For the Tempest release, Wizards is trying something new: 321 Swiss drafts. This means that all drafters play all three rounds, and you win one pack for each match you win. Wizards was also offering 8-4 and 4-3-2-2 Tempest drafts at the same time.
If this was Shards drafts, I would be all over Swiss drafts. True, I would win fewer packs, but my limit for Limited play is the number of packs I can afford (I can’t go infinite unless I sell the rares I draft, and I want them for Constructed. For that matter, I probably could not go infinite even if I sold all my packs.) In any case, Swiss drafts mean that I can play more games, even if I get blown out in the first match. Single elimination, on the other hand — well, there’s that whole “elimination” thing.
For Tempest release events, however, I really wanted to draft enough to get four Wastelands, then go play some Classic and hammer some manabases. Single elimination drafts are either going to be faster, or more profitable.
In point of fact, however, I found that I usually entered whatever draft was closest to firing, rather than wait for a favorite type. I suspect that a lot of other players did that as well.
The first draft I entered was a 321 Swiss, however. I first picked a Grindstone (since the Grindstone / Painter’s Servant combo is playable in Classic.) I second picked a Diabolic Edict. After that I saw zero Red or Black cards, and wound up with a decent UW deck with a bunch of fliers and shadow guys, some counters and a few Time Ebbs. The deck worked fine, except for one match where I lost the die roll and got blown out by speed and double Rolling Thunders, then mana flood plus Rolling Thunder. The rest of the draft went just fine.
For Ingrid, things did not go just fine. She arrived, met another judge (who was waiting for lost luggage), and eventually got to the hotel. The hotel did not have her room ready, so she was stuck in the lobby (and environs) for a few hours. Still, she was a lucky one — she eventually got a room. The hotel messed up, and a few judges didn’t have rooms at all. Her day got better. The players’ party was at Graceland. The judges were invited, but when the buses WotC chartered arrived, they turned out to be hotel courtesy shuttles, not real busses. Since the players were also registering at Graceland, the priority became players first, judges later. “Later” turned into “not at all” when the supply of busses ended before the judges got a lift. John Carter, the judge manager, took the judges who got stranded out to a local restaurant, but only after waiting for an hour or so in the cold for an empty bus.
I had to wait for almost 10 minutes for my draft to begin. It wasn’t cold — I was stretched out on the couch, with the laptop on the coffee table and a fire in the fireplace. Once the draft started, I sat up, and the dogs teleported onto the couch on either side. I swear you can’t see them move — they are just suddenly there. (Yes, I know letting them on furniture is a bad, but we gave up on that rule when we rescued Bailey. He was middle aged and clearly a lifelong furniture climber. He even knew how to crawl into the bed, under the covers.)
Anyway — drafting on the couch, with dogs, in front of a fire, or waiting in the cold for an hour to see whether there will eventually be room on a bus? Which would I prefer…
No question — Ingrid had the better deal. On the other hand, I did read the online coverage, which included some pictures of the player party. I saw more of Graceland than she did.
One difference with doing a Swiss draft — despite losing round 2, I got to play round 3. That took me moderately late, and I was tired. (I had gotten up at 3:30am to shovel out so I could get Ingrid to the airport. 3:30 is stupid early.) I decided against another draft, and played some Constructed instead. I played a couple of matches each of Standard, Extended, Classic, 100 card Singleton and Pauper, and worked on an article. Then I crashed.
Thursday Ingrid was working the main event. I was just working. I did a long day, so I could get out early. On the plus side, I got to listen to and read the coverage that evening. It’ not like being there, but it is better than nothing.
Friday, the Tempest sealed events started. I wanted to play in a few, for one very bad reason — I have always liked the art on Tempest Mountains. I have a bunch, and my draft box has 18 of each land pre-sleeved. The Mountains are all Tempest. I was looking to collect 20 or so of my favorite picture for constructed play. Of course, a Tempest sealed deck tourney has 1-2 of each of four different Mountain cards, so it is hardly a cost effective way to collect those Mountains. Maybe I should call it a justification instead of a reason.
The bad news was that the only sealed events that were being run this release were the big prize / big minimum Top 8 draft events — and they were only running once every 5 hours. The first had fired an hour before I got home. The next started late in the evening. Too late. I drafted instead, then went and did some non-Magic stuff.
Saturday was a mixed day. I got up early and joined the first PE. My pool was marginal, at best. I built an okay deck, but nothing I was really pleased with. The event was going to go seven rounds, and I got blown out round one by a far better deck. I won round 2, decided I wasn’t having all that much fun and dropped. I had other things I had to do.
For example, my dog Buster had apparently decided the carpet in the den tasted good. He chewed a hole in it about a foot long and six inches wide. True, it was old carpet and we were planning on redoing that room, but not immediately. Instead, I got to spend the time between rounds ripping up carpet strips and pulling staples.
After running some errands and stuff, I checked the notes on the prerelease events. They paid packs all the way down to 32nd place! I should have stayed in — I could have won at least a draft set.
After lunch, I decided to try again. I got a decent pool, and build what seems like a decent deck. Better yet, we had 63 players, so we were going just six rounds.
I won round 1 with little trouble.
Round 2 did not go quite so well. I mulliganed three straight no-landers. He was fast. I played one irrelevant spell that game. Game 2 I finally drew my second Mountain when I had just three life left. My opening hand had Aftershock and the first Mountain. On the plus side, my opponent’s deck was nuts, and he went on to win the match.
That stuff happens.
Round 3 I played a decent match, and punted game 2. Game 1 I won, game 3 I was slower and don’t really know that I could have won, but game 2 was mine, if I hadn’t put stupidity on the stack, announced targets and paid all costs.
Round 4 I had a bye.
Round 5 I faced an opponent with a 1470 rating. I didn’t assume it would be completely easy, and it wasn’t. His deck was good, but I slowly tricked him into a bunch of misplays, and ripped some removal when necessary. I ended up with three creatures in play, nothing for him, and him dead on the board unless he could stop at least two attackers. He dropped a second Swamp, to add to his solid GR manabase, and played Living Death.
Game 2 I fought like a maniac to play around Living Death, and even when he played it to great advantage, I still managed to clear his board and wind up with a couple 2/1s to win with. He had played the Death, and both Rolling Thunders, and two other burn spells, and used up his Gravedigger. I was past his bombs, and just needed a few turns of beatdown to pull the match out. Then he dropped Verdant Force.
My rating, at this point, was down over 60 points. I was not happy, but my tiebreakers were insane, and if I won, I could still squeak in to the top 32 and win a draft set.
Round 6 I learned something. Online, you can get two byes in the same tournament.
I managed to win exactly one match in this event, and still get a draft set.
On the plus side, the Worlds coverage was interesting, and I could watch between matches. When I wasn’t moving desks and bookshelves to rip up carpet.
Sunday morning I tried one last time. This time I’ll even provide the card pool. If you have been building Alara sealed decks recently, this should make a nice change. Sealed decks were a lot easier back in Gerrard’s time (Tempest block, I mean.) Besides, this pool almost builds itself.
1 Angelic Protector
1 Armored Pegasus
1 Circle of Protection: Black
1 Circle of Protection: Red
1 Circle of Protection: White
2 Clergy en-Vec
1 Cloudchaser Eagle
1 Knight of Dawn
1 Hero’s Resolve
1 Hanna’s Custody
1 Soltari Emissary
2 Soltari Trooper
1 Clot Sliver
1 Dark Banishing
1 Darkling Stalker
1 Dauthi Horror
1 Dauthi Marauder
1 Dauthi Slayer
1 Disturbed Burial
1 Blood Pet
1 Pit Imp
1 Rain of Tears
1 Rats of Rath
1 Canyon Wildcat
1 Giant Strength
1 Goblin Bombardment
1 Lightning Elemental
2 Lowland Giant
1 Mogg Fanatic
1 Renegade Warlord
1 Sandstone Warrior
1 Canyon Drake
1 Heart Sliver
2 Stone Rain
1 Bayou Dragonfly
1 Elvish Fury
1 Frog Tongue
1 Fugitive Druid
1 Heartwood Treefolk
1 Muscle Sliver
1 Natural Spring
1 Needle Storm
2 Pincher Beetles
1 Rampant Growth
1 Seeker of Skybreak
2 Serene Offering
1 Skyshroud Ranger
Instead of white space, I’ll talk a bit. I enjoyed this event a lot. Normally, I hate waiting between rounds, but this time I could watch the coverage of the Top 8 and the team competition. I was rooting for Team USA. That was fun.
I was also rooting for the Green Bay Packers. As I was growing up, we used to refer to them as the Mud Bay Slackers (from a John Kovalic cartoon strip). They are living up to that name once again. Sad, just sad.
Here’s the deck I played. The only card I really debated over was the Giant Strength. It absolutely stinks against any Blue deck, because they just Capsize or Time Ebb you. Both of those are bad, but if you give them a 2-for-1,it is worse. However, against decks with pingers or Mogg Fanatic, if you stick it on a shadow dude, it becomes almost unstoppable.
1 Canyon Wildcat
1 Clot Sliver
1 Darkling Stalker
1 Dauthi Horror
1 Dauthi Marauder
1 Dauthi Slayer
1 Lightning Elemental
2 Lowland Giant
1 Mogg Fanatic
1 Renegade Warlord
1 Sandstone Warrior
Round 1 I started having fun. My opponent played a 2/1 shadow dude. I played Mogg Fanatic and killed it. He played Fireslinger. I Reanimated Mogg Fanatic and killed it. He played a 3/1 shadow dude. I played Gravedigger and fetched the Fanatic back. He played out a Lightning Elemental, and swung. I chumped with the Gravedigger, played my second to fetch the first, plus Fanatic to kill the shadow dude. He played another. By now, I had six lands, so I cast Disturbed Burial with buyback for the Fanatic, cast it and killed his shadow dude. He conceded.
He PMed me: “Man, I hope I saw all your recursion. That was nutz.”
I responded: “Let’s see — you didn’t see Living Death yet, did u?”
It was a factually true statement — if a bit misleading.
I lost one match to the person that eventually ended up in first place after the Swiss. His deck was good — and my play, watching game 1 on replay, might have been shaky. At one point, I did not Reanimate a Fireslinger early on, so he got in an extra hit or two with a Dauthi shadow dude — and eventually managed to get a Mogg Raider into play, so the single ping could no longer kill it. I’m not completely sure it was a mistake, nor that I could have pulled this out had I done it any differently, but I’m not happy with the replay.
One card I was surprisingly happy with was Deadshot. It often killed some of his dudes, and won one match when I used it to tap his 2/2 regenerating flier so I could kill him with my 4/3 giant.
I played two tight matches against opponents with Capsize. In the first game, I got two Gravediggers down, and just kept beating with them. He couldn’t bounce them, and didn’t have chump blockers, because they had already traded. In game 2, I sided out the Giant Strength for the Boil, and got rid of his Islands. Boil won me three games — and two matches.
I won’t provide all the details of all the matches. In my final match, I could win and be certain of Top 8, while a loss probably still had me in, since my tiebreakers (losing to the first place player) were great. I got a turn 2 Goblin Bombardment, and that pretty much negated my opponent’s removal, in that I always got a last hit in.
Top 8 took a long while to start. The last few Swiss matches dragged on, as did the Packer’s debacle. The US / Australia match, however, was fun to watch.
Here’s the draft. Maybe someone with a better knowledge of Tempest drafts can tell me what was going on.
Pack 1 pick 1:
Endless Scream, Rootwalla, Rolling Thunder, Clot Sliver, Respite, Mogg Conscripts, Soltari Lancer, Marsh Lurker, Gaseous Form, Circle of Protection: Shadow, Servant of Volrath, Trumpeting Armodon, Mindwhip Sliver, Verdigris, Spirit Mirror
My pick: Rolling Thunder. This should not be too surprising.
Pack 1 pick 2:
Master Decoy, Diabolic Edict, Broken Fall, Thalakos Mistfolk, Dauthi Slayer, Frog Tongue, Rampant Growth, Lowland Giant, Spell Blast, Bayou Dragonfly, Shatter, Charging Rhino, Abandon Hope, Scabland
My pick: Diabolic Edict. The only downside to RB is that sometimes everyone is trying that.
Pack 1 pick 3:
Master Decoy, Coercion, Mogg Conscripts, Circle of Protection: Red, Shadow Rift, Squee’s Toy, Elite Javelineer, Shimmering Wings, Circle of Protection: White, Dark Ritual, Cinder Marsh, Flickering Ward, Imps’ Taunt
My pick: Master Decoy
Not Red, not Black, but a decent tapper.
Pack 1 pick 4:
Rootbreaker Wurm, Manakin, Spike Drone, Mogg Conscripts, Whispers of the Muse (FOIL), Wall of Diffusion, Time Ebb, Seeker of Skybreak, Stone Rain, Whispers of the Muse, Segmented Wurm, Stinging Licid
My pick: Lotus Petal. Just “rare” drafting for constructed. I wasn’t really excited about anything here.
My pick: Circle of Protection: Green… might as well go White, and take something for the sideboard.
My pick: Apocalypse. Just a raredraft, since I don’t think you can play it and recover in Limited. At this point I thought I would be UW, and the pack has nothing for that color combination.
Pack 2 pick 1:
Wind Drake, Disenchant, Coercion, Soltari Foot Soldier, Manta Riders, Spinal Graft, Canopy Spider, Canyon Wildcat, Dream Cache, Natural Spring, Giant Strength, Spontaneous Combustion, Legerdemain, Wasteland, Rootwater Shaman
My pick: Wasteland. There are better cards for the draft, but I still hadn’t seen one all weekend, and I really wanted them for Constructed. Later, however, I looked at just how many packs we were playing for, and I cursed a bit.
Pack 2 pick 2:
Disturbed Burial, Pincher Beetles, Shadow Rift, Dauthi Slayer, Skyshroud Ranger, Power Sink, Enfeeblement, Shimmering Wings, Circle of Protection: Black, Rats of Rath, Skyshroud Condor, Sudden Impact, Steal Enchantment, Wood Sage
My pick: Power Sink. Great Black, but that was the only color I wasn’t.
Pack 2 pick 3:
Disturbed Burial, Dauthi Horror, Respite, Mogg Raider, Skyshroud Elf, Wall of Diffusion, Giant Crab, Seeker of Skybreak, Crown of Flames, Fylamarid, Invulnerability, Wind Dancer, Thumbscrews
My pick: Fylamarid. Wish I was Black.
Pack 2 pick 4:
Lightning Elemental, Rootwater Hunter, Tranquility, Manakin, Armored Pegasus, Soltari Trooper, Volrath’s Curse, Circle of Protection: White, Rats of Rath, Rootwater Diver, Serene Offering, Meditate
My pick: Aftershock. Really? Seems like this is very solid removal. I have been very happy with this card every time I drew it (with the sole exception of the time I drew it with just two life left.) Okay, maybe Red is open, from the wrong side.
My pick: Counterspell
My pick: Dream Cache
Pack 3 pick 1:
Skyshroud Troll, Lightning Elemental, Power Sink, Spike Drone, Stun, Armored Pegasus, Soltari Trooper, Pit Imp, Thalakos Sentry, Talon Sliver, Sadistic Glee, Soltari Crusader, Mnemonic Sliver, Worthy Cause, Cold Storage
Pack 3 pick 2:
Rootbreaker Wurm, Mogg Fanatic, Counterspell, Manakin, Spike Drone, Trained Armodon, Wall of Diffusion, Time Ebb, Seeker of Skybreak, Stone Rain, Legacy’s Allure, Staunch Defenders, Stinging Licid, Nature’s Revolt
My pick: Mogg Fanatic. Sure, guess I’m UR.
Pack 3 pick 3:
Cloudchaser Eagle, Endless Scream, Skyshroud Troll, Winged Sliver, Lotus Petal, Advance Scout, Pit Imp, Thalakos Seer, Talon Sliver, Servant of Volrath, Vec Townships, Barbed Sliver, Chaotic Goo
My pick: Lotus Petal. I was really hoping for something that would save this draft. The Petal would save a TIX or so, while the 1/1 flier probably wouldn’t do much of anything.
Pack 3 pick 4:
Broken Fall, Skyshroud Ranger, Mogg Raider, Muscle Sliver, Flowstone Giant, Dream Cache, Heartwood Dryad, Giant Strength, Apes of Rath, Firefly, Flailing Drake, Eladamri, Lord of Leaves
My pick: Dream Cache. Card drawing. Look at all the Green!
My pick: Phyrexian Splicer.
My pick: Telethopter
My pick: Wind Drake
My pick: Lotus Petal. I think this pick indicates that I pretty much gave up on this draft. I have nothing going in three colors.
If anyone sees a better path through this draft (other than the Wasteland pick), let me know in the forums. I have now drafted Tempest three times, so I’m probably missing something, but I don’t know what. Should I have gone Green earlier. I saw monsters, but almost none of the 3/3s that Green seem to require.
Even the match play was weird. I mulliganed on the draw, then kept a two lander. I missed my third land drop, and my opponent hit me with back-to-back Stone Rains after that. I held on for a while, but Power Sink while you are down a couple lands is not a plan. Close, but no cigar.
Game 2 I was pulling it out when I cast Dream Cache. Dream Cache: Sorcery, 2U, Draw 3 cards, then put two cards from you hand both on top of your library or both on the bottom of your library. I drew two lands, to go with the other lands in my hand, so I carefully clicked on bottom of library. It asked me what order I wanted to put them on top of my library, and then put them there. I don’t know if this was a bug, or if I really did misclick, but drawing two stones put me too far behind to catch up.
On the plus side, I have a slightly better understanding of Tempest sealed, now. I may try another PE, if I can squeeze on in before they end on the 19th. The one that fired (at 4am local time, I must admit) had only 36 players. It should not be too hard for even me to make Top 32 in an event like that.
“one million words” on MTGO.