Thursday, July 04, 2013

Drafting Again?

Recently lots of people I know have started talking about Magic. James started a new blog where he's mentioned Magic a few times. Matt keeps posting pictures of game stats from online drafts. Randy and Josh through comments on some Starcity threads about coverage. And there's been some Hall of Fame discussion  as well. I was up early this morning and decided to see if I could try out a draft of this crazy new set and blog about it despite knowing next to nothing about the set at all.

For the most part, it worked out fine. I was a little surprised at how expensive the draft was (25 tickets for an 8 man draft seems high to my memory) but I figured it was worth a shot anyway. I knew the set had lots of cool decks you could build if you drafted the right cards. Thallids, or 5 colour green, or rebels, or giants. But I didn't know what cards actually existed let alone which were good for any given archetype. So I pretty much drafted at random. I raredrafted a Blinkmoth Nexus to start, and then took Etched Oracle second and tried to build a green centric sunbursty deck. I was really looking forward to posting the draft itself to get feedback on what other people thought I should have been taking.

That all got shot to hell, however, when I tried to find the log of the draft to send through the parser I used to generate my previous draft posts. It turns out that Magic Online doesn't log your drafts by default. You have to drill down 4 levels deep through menus and buttons to turn that option on, and I hadn't done that yet on this computer. So in terms of being able to generate a draft blog the morning and the $25 was wasted.

It boggles my mind why this is an option. Who is the person that actively wants this feature disabled? Who's hard drive is so small that they can't stand to have a second small file generated each time they draft? I'm not suggesting everyone needs to have it turned on, but that no one needs to have it turned off. Most people probably don't care one way or the other and a few people want it on. That it occupies screen real estate on an option menu seems bad. Options should be for things that some people want on, and some people want off, and that doesn't feel like the case here to me.

I spent some time in the tub this afternoon thinking about how that option got in there and couldn't come up with an answer I really liked. My best guess is that someone coded this feature in on a lark at the request of a friend and to play it safe they added it as an option that was turned off. So if something went terribly wrong with the feature (maybe it wiped out hard drives or something because of a weird bug) the general public wouldn't be hurt by it. And then once it got enough actual use to test it no one bothered to go back and default it to on or remove the option entirely and just force it on. Or maybe there's some good reason for it to exist, and my inexperience with actual software development is keeping me from seeing it. I don't know. But it frustrated me today that it exists like this, and that makes me sad.

At any rate, I ended up not even playing green at all despite drafting 9 green cards including tromp, moldervine cloak, and 2 search for tomorrows. My 2 etched oracles and 2 skyreach mantas also got cut. I ended up playing a UR artifacts deck with some card draw and a lot of 4/4s for 6 or 7. It felt like my deck was full of mediocre cards and didn't have a strong archetype. I guess 2 frogmites and 3 myr enforcers with 11 artifacts is a mediocre try at an affinity archetype? I don't know. (Turns out I had 2 coloured artifacts and a blinky too, so maybe 14 artifacts?)

My deck!

1 Relic of Progenitus
1 Perilous Research
1 Shrapnel Blast
1 Æthersnipe
1 Arcbound Worker
1 Rift Bolt
1 Jhoira of the Ghitu
1 Æther Vial
1 Tribal Flames
1 Epochrasite
1 Faerie Mechanist
1 Frogmite
1 Blinkmoth Nexus
1 Logic Knot
1 Arcbound Stinger
1 Errant Ephemeron
1 Etherium Sculptor
4 Mountain
3 Myr Enforcer
2 Thirst for Knowledge
1 Frogmite
11 Island
1 Glimmervoid
1 Careful Consideration

1 Greater Mossdog
1 Brute Force
2 Skyreach Manta
1 Tromp the Domains
2 Search for Tomorrow
1 Trygon Predator
1 Raven's Crime
2 Etched Oracle
1 Moldervine Cloak
1 Grapeshot
1 Sylvan Bounty
1 Fiery Fall
1 Gleam of Resistance
1 Echoing Courage
1 Kokusho, the Evening Star
1 Thundering Giant
1 Life from the Loam

I joined the first queue that filled up, which was a 4-3-2-2 draft. That was fine by me, because I wanted to have 3 rounds of games to blog about. It wasn't until the end of the first round when I saw that all the losers were eliminated that I remembered that the thing linking the 4-3-2-2 draft and the swiss draft isn't that they both allow 3 rounds guaranteed, it's that they both have substandard prize distributions for people who win a lot. Oh well.

Round 1 - Game 1

My opening hand is I, I, M, Epochrasite, Jhoira of the Ghitu, Frogmite, Perilous Research. I kept, and he played first. My first draw is Ethereum Sculptor. His turn 2 is to suspend Giant Duskwasp. I draw mountain and play sculptor. He plays Drag Down on my sculptor on his turn. I draw another mountain and play Jhoira.  He plays Penumbra Spider. I draw Myr Enforcer. Am I supposed to use Jhoira here? I don't know. He plays Dreamspoiler Witches on his turn and I Jhoira out epochrasite and enforcer. Just you wait 4 turns! I draw Shrapnel Blast (which I got 14th pick I think) and play my 5th land and froggie. His duskwasp comes into play and he cracks me for 7 down to 11 and plays a Stinkweed Imp. I draw an island, play it, and say go. He swings with the team, I research away a mountain into an island and a Thirst for Knowledge, then I chump spider with froggie and sac it to shrapnel his duskwasp. I draw another island, thirst into Errant Ephemeron, Myr Enforcer, and island. I pitch two islands, play a third, and say go. He swings with everything again, I chump with Jhoira and fall to 5. He plays another duskwasp. My team finally comes into play, I draw my 3rd Myr Enforcer, and concede since I can't cast Ephemeron and he has enough flyers to kill me.

Round 1 - Game 2 (sideboard out Jhoira, in Fiery Fall)

I choose to play first. My hand is I, M, Rift Bolt, Thirst for Knowledge, Errant Ephemeron, Arcbound Stinger, and Logic Knot. Any land in the first couple turns and I'm gold so I keep. My first draw is Epochrasite and I suspend ephemeron. He landcycles main phase on his turn 2, getting an island. He didn't play any islands or blue cards in game 1. I draw Myr Enforcer on my turn 3 and play stinger. He has no play on turn 3. I draw mountain and play it. He plays Imperiosaur on turn 4, and I thirst into Relic of Progenitus, Faerie Machinist, and Aethersnipe. I pitch the relic. That's why I'm playing it! I draw mountain and play the machinist which gets me Etherium Sculptor. He swings for 5, plays a 5th land, and says go. Ephemeron comes into play and I draw a mountain which I play. For the record I'm playing 11 islands and 4 mountains and now have in play 1 island and 4 mountains. And have a UU counter in my hand. *sigh* At any rate he might have a kill spell or something so I cast my stuff pre combat since I need affinity to cast it all. Out comes sculptor, epochrasite, and enforcer. I swing with my first 3 creatures and he Death Rattles the ephemeron. He takes 3 making it 15 all. He swings, I chump with epochrasite. He plays Eternal Witness getting back the rattle. I draw island and swing with my team and he chumps enforcer with witness. He plays Drag Down to finish off the enforcer. I bust out Aethersnipe to bounce his 5/5. He replays it on his turn. I draw island and swing for 3 in the air. He plays Giant Dustwasp and says go. I draw another island, Rift Bolt his wasp, and swing with my team. He tries to kill the snipe with the death rattle from before, but I Logic Knot it and he scoops.

Round 1 - Game 3

He choose to go first. My hand is I, I, I, Thirst for Knowledge, Thirst for Knowledge, Careful Consideration, Faerie Machinist. Well, either he kills me early or I will win through sheer number of cards drawn. I keep. I draw Aethersnipe on my first turn and play an island. He has no play but land on turn 2. I draw Shrapnel Blast and also have no turn 2 play. He has Stinkweed Imp and all 3 colours of mana on turn 3. I draw Blinkmoth Nexus and play it. He swings for 1 and has no play. I thirst into Relic of Pregenitus and two islands, pitching the relic. I draw Tribal Flames, play an island, and the machinist which digs up Frogmite. I discard an island at end of turn due to having 8 cards in hand. His turn 5 is a comes into play tapped land. I draw Glimmervoid, play it, and froggie. He has Masked Admirers on turn 6 which is a little scary if the game goes super long. He might be able to match my card draw! I draw island, play it, and carefully consider to draw Myr Enforcer, Fiery Fall, Arcbound Worker, and Errant Ephemeron. I discard island and worker, suspend ephemeron, and say go. He swings for 3 and I'm afraid of the recursion so I don't trade. He busts out Imperiosaur. I draw foil Frogmite. I decide my play is to bounce his 5/5 with my 4/4 and then kill it next turn with one of my 5 damage spells. I also swing with my team to try to clear stinky out of the way for the 4/4. He obliges by trading with my faerie. He then spends his turn Death Rattling my frogmite and Eternal Witnessing it back. In order to have the mana to do this he had to remove stinky from his graveyard. This does kill off glimmervoid though, which is my only source of red mana...

Until I draw mountain, that is, which is my very next turn. I play it and froggie. His turn is Penumbra Spider and Riftsweeper which makes me very sad. My Ephemron only has 2 suspend counters on it. Thankfully he either doesn't know what riftsweeper does or thinks stinky is more important as he shuffles stinky back in. I draw another mountain and play enforcer for 6. He finally replays Imperiosaur. My 4/4 flyer enters play, I draw Logic Knot, and I swing with the flyer. He chumps with the spider. I say go. He swings back with the 5/5 and I decide to hold my removal by double blocking it with aethersnipe and froggie. Snipe dies. He has a second Imperiosaur. I thirst at end of turn into mountain, Epochrasite, and Perilous Research. I pitch Epochrasite. I then draw Myr Enforcer on my turn. I swing with ephemeron, he death rattles, I logic knot. I am a little worried about Tromp the Domains (I passed a second one) so I use tribal flames on his 2/2 leaving shrapnel mana up. He swings with his 5/5 and I again block with a 4/4 and a 2/2. He has Moldervine Cloak for his spider token, which I kill with shrapnel blast and froggie. He plays his last card, Reach of Branches. I research into Rift Bolt and Aethervial, saccing a mountain, and draw island on my turn.

The board state is now me with 7 lands, 16 life, 5 cards in hand, and a 4/4 flyer. He has 9 lands, 14 life, no cards, and a 3/2, a 2/1, and a 2/5 in play. I swing with ephemeron and play vial and enforcer. Then I realize I have 1 mana left over and should have swung with my nexus too. At least I'm noticing these mistakes as I'm playing! He dredges the cloak back making his witness 5/4 and swings with the 3/2 and the 5/4. I kill the 3/2 and fall to 11. He is dead once I use my 2 burn spells in hand (1 on the 2/5 and 1 on his face).

Round 2 - Game 1

I'm on the play and my opening hand is I, I, I, M, Blinkmoth Nexus, Glimmervoid, Aethersnipe. What a terrible hand. I keep. He plays plains and Bonesplitter on his turn. I draw Shrapnel Blast, slap myself in the head for not playing blinky first, and play it on turn 2 instead. He has nothing but land on turn 2. I draw Logic Knot and decide not to swing with blinky in order to keep counter mana up. He land cycles at end of turn but has no play on turn 3 either. I draw Arcbound Worker and play it leaving blast and knot mana up. He plays Cenn's Enlistment on his turn which I decide to counter since that seems good with his equipment. I draw Frogmite, activate nexus, swing for 2, and play froggie. He ditches a land to replay the enlistment from the graveyard. This is the first time I've ever seen retrace in action and it seems awesome. I draw Faerie Machinist, play it to get Myr Enforcer, play Glimmervoid, and activate blinky to swing for 4 after he declines blocking. His turn is equip a token, swing for 3, and play Saltfiend Recluse. I draw Thirst for Knowledge. It looks like this is a game I might be able to win on tempo alone (despite the 6 land and a 6 drop opener) so I bust out snipe on his recluse and swing with the team. This time he trades a token for the worker, and I buff my faerie. He entwines a blinding beam on my 4/4 and cracks for 3. I draw island, swing for 1 with blinky, and play my enforcer. He has Bound in Silence for the enforcer and swings for 3 more. He is now at 9 and I have 9 power in creatures... I know there's an Angel's Grace in the pod as I opened one and he has a white up... Before I can make a plan to play around it he concedes.

Round 2 - Game 2 (again siding out Jhoira)

He plays first. I have I, M, Aether Vial, Rift Bolt, Etherium Sculptor, Myr Enforcer, and Careful Consideration which I keep. He suspends Ivory Giant. I draw island and play vial. He plays Rathi Trapper. I draw Shrapnel Blast and play sculptor. He plays Saltfield Recluse. His board is hard to attack through. I draw Frogmite which I play while suspending rift bolt. He says go without a 4th land. I bolt the trapper and he Test of Faith's it. I could blast in response but it'll only have 5 toughness so I can do that later. First I want to get my affinity on. I draw a second Frogmite so I play it and enforcer off of my 3 lands, with a mana to spare. He finds a 4th land and taps out for Cenn's Enlistment. I draw island, shrapnel blast away vial and trapper, and swing with enforcer which gets shrunk by recluse so he takes 2. Giant arrives, tapping my team. He swings for 5 and Bound in Silences my enforcer. I draw Tribal Flames and rather than use it to kill his annoying recluse I decide to consider into island, Epochrasite, Myr Enforcer, and Perilous Research. I have a prime target for that in the bound enforcer but I pitch it and the island. I swing with my team and the recluse means I only do 2 damage. He does 5 back and enlists 2 more dudes. I draw mountain and finally flames the recluse. He shrinks a frog in response. I play out epochrasite and enforcer. Then I swing with my 2/2 and my 0/2. Oops! He decides 2 life is more important than his 2 guys and trades with the 2/2 instead of just killing the 0/2. Note he is at 16, and I am at 10. Then his turn is Blinding Beam. Gee, I wish that 0/2 was untapped and a 2/2... He then Path to Exiles epochrasite and swings for 5. I draw Aethersnipe and thanks to the bonus land from the path I can play it. I decide I need to win fast since every land he draws is 2 more tokens and I'm at 5. So I bounce Ivory Giant knowing full well if he plays it again I lose that turn. But he's 2 mana away from casting it for real and if he does that he isn't enlisting tokens.

My opponent comments that that was the best possible card I could have. I don't know anything about the set and tell him that, but I take his word for it since it seemed pretty hot. He does nothing. I draw Glimmervoid and swing with my team except my 1/2. He takes 10 down to 6. He plays Amrou Scout on his turn. I draw island, swing with the same guys, and he takes 2 down to 4 while chumping with both tokens. He has Bound in Silence for snipe. I draw another island and swing with everyone. He chumps enforcer, uses Otherworldly Journey to save his guy, and falls to 1. I did attack with my 1/2 this time so I might well die if the scout can find 2 more power somewhere. Like, say, a Bonesplitter. He doesn't have it, and concedes.

Round 3 - Game 1

I choose to play first and have an opener of I, M, M, Perilous Research, Thirst for Knowledge, Faerie Machinist, and Myr Enforcer. My opponent mulligans to 6 and only has island on turn 1. I draw island and say go. He plays a mountain and a Mogg War Marshal. I draw another island and say go. He pays echo and swings for 2. I thirst into Rift Bolt, Myr Enforcer, and island and decide to pitch research and island. I draw Aethersnipe on my turn and play Machinist who finds Aether Vial. He has War-Spike Changeling. I draw Epochrasite and play it while rift bolting his 3/3. I swing for 2 in the air. His turn is Reach Through Mists splicing on Dampen Thought and Glacial Ray killing my machinist. Uh-oh. I draw mountain and play vial and enforcer. I think I probably should have held onto vial in case I draw a second thirst. He has no play on his turn. I draw another Myr Enforcer and swing for 5. He double chumps the enforcer, but then using a second Reach Through Mists splicing Dampen Thought and Glacial Ray to finish it off. I'm down to 15 cards in my deck. His turn is an island and go. I play snipe on his remaining goblin token and swing for the fences but my opponent casts Glacial Ray splicing Dampen Thought and Dampen Thought and I'm down to 6 cards in my deck with him having 2 dampens in hand. I make him cast them before conceding in case he shows me more info and he does, by splicing Horobi's Whisper on as well despite not having a swamp.

Round 3 - Game 2

I choose to play first again and have an opener of I, I, I, M, M, Arcbound Stinger, Shrapnel Blast. Probably too slow, but I keep. He has no play on turn 1. I draw Relic of Pregenitus and play stinger. He has no play on turn 2. I draw Thirst for Knowledge and swing for 1. He has no play on turn 3. I thirst into swamp, Errant Ephemeron, and Fiery Fall and pitch the relic. Note I sided in the swamp, fall, and Raven's Crime in the hopes of stopping the dampen engine. I then draw mountain on my turn, suspect ephemeron, and swing for 1. He has a Latchkey Faerie. I draw Thirst for Knowledge and cast it mainphase finding Tribal Flames, Etherium Sculptor, and Frogmite. I decide to pitch froggie instead of 2 lands and play the sculptor. He has no play on turn 5 but land. I draw Logic Knot and swing with just the sculptor. He declines the trade. I then say go. His turn 6 is land and nothing else. I draw Raven's Crime, swing for 2, and go to work on his hand. He ditches island. End of turn he flashes out Pestermite and then swings in for 5. I was trying to not get milled and he's going to kill me with flyers! He prowls out a second Latchkey Faerie and I decide to counter it to deny him the card and to keep the flyers under control. Ephemeron comes into play but he counters it himself with Cryptic Command for a card draw. I draw Blinkmoth Nexus, pitch a mountain to crime him again (pitching Dampen Thought), and swing for just 1. I play blinky and say go. He 7 mana's out an Errant Ephemeron which I hit with Fiery Fall. I draw Glimmervoid and cash that in for a crime (Reach Through Mists). I finally cast flames on his 3/1 flyer (probably should have done that 5 turns ago) and swing for 2. His turn is Stingscourger on my stinger. I draw mountain, cash that in for a crime on his last card in hand. He casts it in response. It was Dampen Thought. So I've saved myself from being milled for 16 by siding in that crime. I have 15 cards in my deck. I replay stinger and swing with my 1/2 into his 2/1 and 2/2. He falls for my trap by blocking with his 2/2. I shrapnel blast his 2/1 saccing my stinger which puts the +1/+1 counter on my 1/2 right away.

His board is empty except land, he has no cards in hand, and he's at 12. I have a 2/3 and a blinky, no cards in hand, and 15 life. He does nothing on his turn. I draw Aethersnipe but have nothing of note to bounce so I just swing for 3. Maybe I should have swung for 2 and played my 4/4? He does nothing on his turn. I draw island and crime him, getting a mountain. I swing for 3. He does nothing again. I draw Jhoira. Huh, guess I forgot to side her out. Oh well, she's a body at least. Swing for 3 and play her. He plays Reach Through Mists and says go. I draw island and cash it in for a crime hitting mountain. He's at 3 and I swing for 5. He dies.

Round 3 - Game 3 (sided out Jhoira again for something)

He's on the play. My hand is I, I, M, Tribal Flames, Grapeshot, Shrapnel Blast, and Raven's Crime. I think I brought in the grapeshot to deal with all his 1 toughness dudes. I keep since I have my crime. Now I just need some black manas! He does nothing and I draw mountain. His turn 2 is suspend Errant Ephemeron. I am jealous, so I draw mine on my turn and suspend it back. He has Countryside Crusher on his turn which is very scary. I wish I had an artifact to sac to blast him! He had spent a lot of time sideboarding so I'm now worried he's sided out of dampen thought and the stupid crime in my hand won't do anything useful. I draw island on my turn and have no play. His turn reveals Hammerheim Deadeye and then he plays Fury Charm on his ephemeron which brings it out right now. He swings for 7, I'm at 13 and very scared of dying. I draw Arcbound Stinger and play it leaving 2 mana up. My plan is to chump block and sac it to kill something. My opponent then decides he doesn't like winning and plays his deadeye before attacking. No chumping for me! Unfortunately for him the trigger on that guy is not optional. So I sac my flyer to shrapnel blast his giant. He kills his own flyer with his second giant. And he doesn't have mana to pay the echo, so he loses that guy too. I draw mountain and say go. He has stalled on 4 land but suspends another ephemeron. I draw Etherium Sculptor and play it. My ephemeron also arrives this turn and I punch him down to 16. He bounces my ephemeron with Stingscourger. I am sad. I held back a land last turn in case I needed to discard it to crime or thirst or consideration, but now I can't hard cast ephemeron right away if I draw a 7th land. On my turn I draw an island. So I play a land and say go. He echoes his guy and swings for 2. I draw Frogmite, play my 4/4 flyer again, and swing for 1. He has a 5th land and plays Cold-Eyed Selkie. I know he has a 3/1 flying rogue in his hand from his 2nd crusher reveal so I really don't want to let that guy hit me. On my turn I draw Thirst for Knowledge. I play it and draw Faerie Machinist, Arcbound Worker, and Rift Bolt. I pitch froggie, play the worker, suspend the rift bolt, and grapeshot away his board. I swing for 5 putting him at 10 and say go. His ephemeron comes into play swinging which knocks me to 7 and he has no play. I bolt his flyer and follow up with tribal flames to kill it off. I draw another thirst. I play machinist which finds Myr Enforcer. He has Pestermite to tap my 4/4. I swing for 2. He attacks back, I still don't want him prowling, so I trade faeries. He has War-Spike Changeling to gum up the ground. I draw Fiery Fall. I cast thirst into island, Epochrasite, and Perilous Research. I pitch crime and island and play epochrasite and enforcer. Then I swing for 4 in the air, knocking him to 4. His turn is Reach Through Mists and Latchkey Faerie. But now he is tapped out so I use fall to kill the faerie and kill him with ephemeron.

Victory! I had no idea what I was doing, and I got screwed by the client to lose the draft, but I did manage to win the tournament which salvages pretty much the entire entry fee. Woo!


Matt said...

Wow - so much to say. I had to keep Notepad open while reading so I could write down comments.

Do the phantom drafts - much cheaper.

Always check card values if you're playing for real (rare draft!)

Play Swiss.

Most of the cards you're mentioning are bad/mediocre in this format:

- Tromp, Cloak
- Shrapnel Blast? Tribal Flames? Aether Vial? Perilous Research?

UR artifacts is not an archetype...until now! Wacky to see some of the synergies. Normally it's UW artifacts with 2/3 Gargoyles that bring them back.

Definitely suspend with Jhoira - it combos with epochrasite!

Riftsweeper play - wow.

R2G1 - never keep 6 lands.

Retrace is okay. First time for me too. This is where Relic is good!

No one is playing Angel's Grace!

Scout can't search for Bonesplitter?

Whisper with no Swamp is interesting.

IIIMM, Stinger, Blast is awful!

Raven's Crime SB is a good idea. It owns Dampen Thought.

Counters his own Ephemeron? Wow.

Grapeshot is good against faeries and goblins. Also with all the free artifacts. Interesting.

Deadeye trigger - WOW. I actually just noticed that it was mandatory earlier today.

Screwed by the client to lose the draft? I don't understand.

I appreciate the write-up. And it's ridiculous that you have to turn the draft recorder on.

Nick Page said...

By lose the draft I meant lose the log of the cards I drafted. I totally somehow won the draft. I feel like my opponents were all pretty bad as opposed to me just being rusty and ignorant?

I wasn't worried about Scout searching out Bonesplitter, but that I was at 5 life and he was a 3/2 with the journey counter. So if he topdecked Bonesplitter he could play it, equip, and kill me.

Sthenno said...

This was awesome. 25 for a draft is definitely expensive - this format was intentionally made expensive. Even at 25 there are cards you can open that pay for your draft and then some.

I disagree with Matt about cards being bad in this format, I don't think you'd find a wide consensus on the matter. Shrapnel Blast has such raw power that it seems worth looking at, and Tromp - while pricey for this powerful format - is still Overrun and it still wins games. The card I'd pick out as bad is Jhoira... four turns after your fourth turn is a really long time.

This is meant to be a high skill format, so it was nice to see that your general play skill could beat out some presumably more experienced but less skilled opponents. That being said, I would thin that unless you do some research on the format an 8-4 would be pretty dicey. Your deck was pretty sketchy compared to what you can put together under better circumstances.

Nick Page said...

Jhoira really seemed bad, so I took her out. Vial was also pretty bad, but at least that I could discard to thirst or sac to blast or research.

Matt said...

The "bad" cards I mention are ones I never see anyone play. And I've done a lot of drafts in the past month.