Saturday, 27 August 2011

Drafting M12 #4 - Rollercoaster of Success

Hey hey hey!

I've been quite a busy girl and have 4 drafts to bring you from the past week and a half.  The first two are my Nationals draft decks.

If you've never drafted in a high level event like Nationals, then let me tell you it's quite a different experience to drafting down the local pub or game shop.  All the cards are stamped, the foils removed from the packs, the packs are labelled and the draft is timed and they call out announcements like "You have 20 seconds to make a pick".  There's definitely no talking, peeking at  your neighbour's picks or looking at your pile between picks, you just get a brief period to review between packs.  Then you have to go and sit in silence (away from other people in your drafting pod) and record all your picks and your deck onto a deck registration sheet. 

Here is my first disaster of a draft deck:

M12 Draft Deck - Here Be Dragons

The packs in our pod felt a little odd somehow.  I started this draft quite solidly with 2 Doomblades, Stingerfling Spider then a Volcanic Dragon.  Then I couldn't decide what was open - definitely not blue or white, and the picks were all quite weak in the other 3 colours.  At the end of the pack I thought perhaps I was going to wind up green red splashing the Doomblades and Deathmark for the sideboard, although I'd picked up some mediocre black cards.  In pack 2 I opened Flameblast Dragon and got passed Furyborn Hellkite.  I got an Acidic Slime too then there were no more green cards to be found except for Titanic Growths.  I scrabbled around collecting quite poor black and red cards and artifacts.  There was pleanty of good green being passed in pack 3 but I felt like I had to stick to whatever black and red cards I could find now or I'd just make it worse.  I managed to get just enough playables for a red black deck in the end, but the pile certainly looked quite miserable.

When I built the deck I stuck to two colours because I thought the deck looked like it would have enough trouble without me splashing green for Stingerfling Spider, Carnage Wurm (and up to 3 Vastwood Gorgers!  Joking....), but on reflection I think I should have gambled.  Two Flings are hardly what you want to be playing when you only have 11 creatures.  My red and black sideboard options were Manic Vandal (which I didn't want to run main deck as I had 3 artifacts)  and a second Deathmark.  So my entire deck's plan was survive to 6 mana, make a dragon and win with it....

Round 5 (we'd already played 4 rounds of constructed that day, I was at 2-2) - I faced the person who had been to my right in the draft.  He was also black red which helps to explain why my deck ended up so poor.  His deck was also quite weak and I won game 1 with an agressive draw of Goblin Piker into bloodthirsted up Bloodrage Vampire then some removal and Flameblast Dragon, blazing him in the head.  I sided out my Deathmark for Manic Vandal.  Games 2 and 3 I did not draw as well as the first game, no dragons came out to play and I lost.

Round 6 - I got a bye, which I felt quite relieved by as it had been a long day, I was tired and I knew my deck wasn't very good - I wandered around the venue, had a cup of tea and got some cards signed by Greg Staples.

Round 7 - It was back to action stations.  This round was against Stephen Murray, a very good pro level player, so I knew I'd be up for a tough time.  He's drafted a green blue beat down deck splashing black.  In game 1 I get crushed by Cudgel Trolls and Frost Breaths.  I board in my 2nd Deathmark over a Fling.

Game 2 almost goes the same way as game 1.  He has a Cudgel Troll on board to my Rusted Sentinel and Bloodrage Vampire and we're hitting each other.  I Distress him and see Unsummon, Frost Breath and Garruk's Horde.  I take away the Unsummon as I have Doomblade and Reverberate in hand.  If he taps out for the Horde and there is no creature on top of his deck then I can kill both his creatures.  He does not tap out, drawing more land before making his Horde.  Thankfully for me there's just a Forest on top.  I Doom Blade the Horde, and when he goes for the Frostbreath to win, I Reverberate it, keeping his Troll tapped, and I can make my Zombie Goliath as a blocker.  My sad deck manages to win a game without a dragon on the back of some tight play!

Game 3 I unfortunately get quite unlucky.  I Distress on turn 2, he has a Forest, a bunch of blue cards including an Unsummon, Solemn Simulacrum and a Plummet (he has a Swamp and Forest in play).  My hand contains both Flameblast and Volcanic Dragon, so I take the Plummet as if he doesn't draw out of the bad hand it's the only thing he has that definitely interacts with me.  Unfortunately for me I just draw swamps to go with my one mountain.  By the time I find a second red source he's drawn out of it and I'm staring at two Cudgel Trolls I can't kill with my removal spells.

After these games I went out for Chinese with a selection of the Oxford and Milton Keynes players.  I was in two minds as to whether I wanted to play the next day, and decided to sleep on it.  In the morning I chose to stay in the tournament and do the next draft because for some reason I find the stern timed drafts fun, and I enjoy the hard competition.

Here is my draft deck from day two:

M12 Draft deck - Quad Grenade

This one had gone much better and I was very excited to play my matches.  I can't quite remember much from the draft (it was an early start...), but I do remember being ecstatic when a Goblin Piker wheeled and taking goblin cards over better cards in packs 2 and 3.

My draft pod only had 7 players, and one of them is my fellow Oxford player James Cleak.  He was hoping for the bye, we both go to the pairings board...

Round 8 - I got the bye.  Oh well....

Round 9 - After some wandering around and more coffee I get to play.  My opponent has a black blue deck.  In game 1 I am crushed by Frost Titan.  I board in a pair of Combusts over Deathmark and Lightning Elemental and hope he doesn't draw the Titan again.  Game 2 I get some goblins out, kill his things and throw a grenade at his head.  Game 3 was depressing.  We have a good start to the game, trading our creatures.  I have a Goblin Fireslinger that's furiously pinging him and he has a Warpath Ghoul left.  I draw 9 of my 16 lands and miserably die to the 3/2. :-(

Round 10 - James is definitely looking good for getting the bye this round - but someone has dropped and we're paired against each other.  Poor James!  Of course my deck curves out like a dream, firing grenades at his head and crushes his green white deck 2-0.  Sorry James!

3-3 is definitely a sad Nationals draft record, especially when two of those wins were byes.  I was certainly hoping to do better than that!  I played the last 4 constructed rounds as none of the side events were that appealing and I enjoyed playing my Bant Pod deck.  I went 2-2 in those, putting my final record at 7-7.  I came 56th and won 4 booster packs for my troubles.  At least I got to feel very excited for one of my Milton Keynes friends, Kevin Blake, who made top 8!  We went out to celebrate with pizza and cider :-)


My First Magic Online Draft

I've recently got a magic online account.  I did intend to do some drafts on there to practice for Nationals but didn't find time to actually do one.  I'd done a bit of playing in the new players room to get used to the interface and F keys.  My friend Tom had also come round and we did a couple of drafts together on his account so he could show me how it worked.  Wednesday evening was quiet, so I decided to give drafting on there a go by myself.

I entered a swiss queue because I'm not feeling that confident with the interface yet and didn't want to play in an 8-4 and get knocked out of the first round due to stupid user error :-)  This is the deck I drafted:

M12 Draft Deck - My First MODO Draft

It was a very sweet deck and for some reason that Flameblast Dragon I opened in pack 2 really loved me - it was in almost every opening hand!

Round 1 - This was against a blue black deck.  Game 1 I mulliganned to 6, stalled on mana a bit but got some goblins in play and attacking.  He had a Tormented Soul and Drifting Shade.  I mistimed my Stave Off when he went to put Dark Favour on his Shade - if I was less of a noob I would have done it after it had resolved so that he lost one life.  This mistake almost cost me the game as I had Goblin Arsonist in play, Lava Axe in hand and he was on 7 life..... doh!  I got there in the end with a Firey Hellhound trading up to Sengir Vampire followed by Volcanic Dragon and the Axe - I never got around to making the Flameblast Dragon.  Magic Online didn't record the next game but from memory I got an aggressive start and made a bloodthirsted Gorhorn Minotaur.  He Mindcontrolled it, but I made another one so they just stared at each other while I pinged him with a Goblin Fireslinger and attacked with Griffin Sentinel.  I eventually drew my Stave Off to remove the Mindcontrol and had an overwhelming board that killed him.

Round 2 - There are no recorded videos from this round, but it was against a green blue deck.  He seemed to have infinite Merfolk Looters, and both games he had Plummet for my Flameblast Dragon :-(

Round 3 - This was against a red blue deck wih Crumbling Colossuses, Lightning Elementals and Flings.  I didn't see any of this game 1, as I stormed out of the gates super fast and won on turn 6 with Shocks to spare.  Game 2 was a little slower as I killed him on turn 7, not even needing the Lava Axe in my hand.

2-1 wasn't bad at all, I really liked this deck's ability to suddenly put the game away, with the back up plan of slowly pinging the opponent to death.

The next day was draft night, here is Thursday's creation:

M12 Draft Deck - Bloody Ogres

Now this is a good red black deck!  I was in the 8 man pod.  Four other players at the table were all also drafting red, but it didn't seem to harm me much - they were on the other side of the table to me sitting in a row, and we'd apparently opened a ridiculous amount of good red cards.

Round 1 - This was against Mikey P, who had also drafted a red black bloodthirst deck.  I knew there were probably some Gorehorn Minotaurs out there somewhere, and I suspected he had some of them so I planned to play around them as best I could by trading my creatures with his in the early game.  Game 1 did not start well as I mulliganned to 5 cards on the play.  I keep a one lander with some guys and recover by drawing land.  Unfortunately for Mike he also draws lands and floods quite badly.  I get him to 5 then Axe him.

Game 2 I had pleanty of creatures in hand and I suspected he had a Minotaur as he sent his 2/1 men into mine.  I trade them happily.  Mike makes a non-bloodthirsted Minotaur which I Outrage while dropping a Fireslinger, then he follows up with Volcanic Dragon which attacks me.  I cover the table with bloodthirsted Ogre, Berserker and Bloodrage Vampire.  Mike attacks, and makes some 1/1s, I attack and he blocks in such a way that he drops to 5.... I have the Axe again, winning 2-0.

Round 2 - Nick is another red drafter, he has a nice green red deck with lots of beefy creatures and removal.  In game 1 he mulligans to 6, I flood a bit, all of my creatures are Chandra's Outraged and his men stamp me to death.

For game 2 I side in Mind Rot over Manic Vandal as I haven't seen any artifacts from him and if I'm lucky I can nab a couple of fatties straight out of his hand before he has the mana to cast them.  I get a good curve-out draw and Mind Rot him even though he has 4 cards in hand.  This is apparently very awkward for him, as "dammit" is the exclamation to what he draws next turn.  The game is over pretty quickly as he finds no resistance to put up against my creatures' attacks.

Game 3 - Nick mulligns to 6 while I keep a spicy hand with Act of Treason and Devouring Swarm.  Things turn out very well for me as Nick makes Grim Lavamancer.  I don't attack as he would be able to trade his Runeclaw Bear for my Goblin Piker and then get 2 cards in his graveyard.  I Act of Treason the Lavamancer, putting myself to 2 cards in the graveyard, use it to kill his Runeclaw Bear then sacrifice it to the Devouring Swarm.  This is far too devastating to his board position and I win 2-1.

Round 3 - John with his GW(r) deck.  I'd seen John's deck in action as everyone had been waiting for his duel versus Simon's UW control deck to finish before we could get on with the last round.  I knew he had a Stingerfling Spider, Carnage Wurm, Timely Reinforcements and Pentavus.  I'd also seen he had a swamp, so was quite confused when he made a mountain in our games - at the end he told me it was because he swapped his splash from red to black for a Deathmark against the UW deck.

Game 1 was a very silly game indeed.  John mulliganed to 6, and I kept a two land hand with lots of 3 drops.  I stall on land drops for a couple of turns but make both of my Bloodseekers.  He has a Druidic Satchel, and I'm quite sad that I can't make the Manic Vandal in hand to destroy it straight away.  He gets a saproling to block with at the cost of 2 life, revealing Arachnus Spinner.  That comes out and a Arachnus Web shuts down my Goblin Fireslinger.  I eventually draw some more swamps and Manic Vandal the Satchel and play out Devouring Swarm and Drifting Shade.  He Acidic Slimes my Mountain and due to this distraction I forget to drain him for 2 which is really, really stupid of me.  I attack with my fliers, he has to block the Devouring Swarm with his Spinner otherwise I can sacrifice my board to pump it up and kill him.  This means I can pump the shade up and put him to 2 life.  He then makes the world's least effective Warstorm Surge :-)  I have lots of red cards that could finish him off trapped in my hand, and eventually I draw the Mountain I need to Shock him in the head.

Game 2 I board in a Combust over Drifting Shade as he has white fliers and lots of spiders to kill the shade with.  It was a much quicker and less silly game - he mulligans, and I curve out with bloodthirted guys and removal for his creatures.  I chump block a strange attack with my Goblin tunneler as I suspect he has his Carnage Wurm which would be a reasonable clock if bloodthirsted (I'm on 22 life), and indeed he does have it, but without it's extra power it's just too slow.  I win 2-0.

It was a good feeling to go 3-0 again - feels like it's been a while!  Next week normal draft service should resume - there should be less content to go through and I can go into more depth.  Hope you enjoyed reading about my rollercoaster of lows and highs.

Happy drafting!

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Drafting M12 #3 - A whole bunch of drafts

Hey hey hey!

It's been a while since my last blog post.  Between helping out on a scout camp for a week, testing for nationals and going to parties I haven't found the time to write about my last few drafts.  I will cover the last 3 drafts at my local club in Oxford and summarise what I learnt from them.

M12 Draft Deck - Underrun

This draft didn't go so well.  I opened an Overrun and with nothing else interesting in the pack I ran with it.  I wheeled 3 Rampant Growths all in pack 1, so I was set up to play all the fatties and splash any removal spells I saw.

Unfortunately someone else took all of the large green creatures we opened apart from one lowly Vastwood Gorger.  And to add to my misfortune the only removal I saw in the entire draft was one Shock and one Pacifism.  The resulting pile kind of looked ok - I had a lot of creatures and I had my Overrun, but I was seriously lacking in the department of being able to interact with my opponent.  When playing the deck I kind of just made men and felt a little helpless.

Round 1 - I was stamped by Alwyn's RB bloodthirst deck with lots of removal for my guys, which topped out with a 12/12 dragon.  A sudden 7 drop was definitely a surprise out of his deck full of cheap spells.

Round 2 - I played against another RB bloodthirsty deck made by Ben, he had lots of enablers and rather less removal.  He won quickly in the first game, in the second game I powered out my Vastwood Gorger and beat him up with it.  The third game was incredibly frustrating.  I'd boarded in Circle of Flame which held him off from being able to attack me with anything, then proceeded to draw my Overrun and almost all of my lands.  Eventually he cast Consume Spirit at my face twice and I died.

Round 3 - I got paired with James's BW deck.  Unfortunatlely for James I found my Overrun game 1, and had my Shock ready when he tried to put Angelic Destiny on one of his small creatures in game 2, so I won the last round. 

1 - 2 is definitely not where I want to be in any draft.  I think my deck did have some problems and I didn't draw very well so it was understandable after some analysis.  I was very impressed by Jade Mage, it would have been sweet to have had my Adaptive Automaton set to "Saproling" at the same time.

So, next week - another draft.

M12 Draft Deck - Tricksy

At the end of this draft it was obvious I'd drafted too many tricks and not enough dudes.  In my sideboard was a second Unsummon, 2 more Stave Off, Guardian's Pledge and a Celestial Purge.  I'd mistakenly passed up on an Armored Warhorse and a Coral Merfolk that would have made my deck much better in order to take things like Turn to Frog and Celestial Purge (Turn to Frog may work sometimes, but in my deck it turned out to be a waste of space, being quite dead against Drifting Shades and Bloodthirsted dudes - I kept on boarding in my 2nd Unsummon instead).  In the end only 12 creatures can actually attack (and the looters don't really want to), so playing Swiftfoot Boots and Spirit Mantle was probably also a mistake.

Round 1 - Anthony had drafted a UG deck this week.  In game 1 I got some attacks in with some of my fliers, but he had Jade Mage out.  You guessed it.... Overrun for the win to him.  In game 2 Anthony mulligans, is a bit mana screwed and I get him with some attackers before he can draw out of it.  In game 3 we have a stupid fight over my Looter as he bounces it and I recast it due to having nothing better to do.  I have a choice to either bounce his Giant Spider and Mana Leak it on the way back down, or to do this to his Chasm Drake.  I do it to the Spider then regret this decision as all of my fliers get Plummeted and Stingerfling Spidered and he kills me in the air.

Round 2 - My nemesis Rob has drafted a BW midrangey deck which should be good at grinding out any long games with multiple Gravediggers.  In game 1 I mulligan to 5 and keep a 1 lander, and don't draw any more until it is far too late.  In game 2 we both mulligan to 6 cards.  I make a Looter, he Sorin's Thirsts it, then I make Jace's Archivist.  I Unsummon his creature then use the Archivist in his draw step, discarding my one card and his 6 and am greeted by a pile of Griffins (and apparently he just gets some lands)... teehee.  The large card advantage is enough to win that one.  In game 3 I again make a Looter and he kills it.  I top deck the Archivist again and proceed to win.  My nemesis has found his cardboard nemesis apparently :-)

Round 3 - Alwyn has also drafted UG.  In game 1 he plays Garruk, Primal Hunter.  Oh-oh.... I manage to kill Garruk from 6 counters by Turn to Froging his Chasm Drake, Mighty Leaping my Arbalest Elite and attacking Garruk with that and my Aegis Angel.  Then I die to beast tokens...  In game 2 I draw my perfect curve-out agressive draw (which felt very powerful - I am sure UW aggro is a good deck if drafted properly!), and all he does is make a Greatsword and Throne of Empires.  In game 3 I get to meet his other mythic rare - Primordial Hydra.  I Unsummon it when it starts to get out of hand, but he correctly reads that I have Mana Leak and refuses to replay it until he can pay the extra 3 mana.  My attacks are halted by a Stingerfling Spider, and despite my Looting I fail to find one of my other bounce spells to stop the 16/16 trampling Hydra from killing me.

Again a 1-2 performance, things were not going too well.  It was unfortunate that there were so many mythics and Stingerfling Spiders out there to get me, but there was a fundamental problem with my deck (not enough attacking creatures) so I place the blame on myself.  It might have helped if my Roc Eggs ever got broken - they either looked up helplessly at a flier beating me up, or were Pacifismed or covered in Arachnus Web. I definitely learnt not to overvalue cute tricks over solid 2 drop creatures this draft.

And now we come to last Thursday's draft deck.

Draft Deck - High 5

As you can see, this deck looked much sweeter than the last two, and I loved my deck's removal and top end creatures.  There were good blue cards also available to my seat, but I sort of forced the red as I'd already drafted WU twice and I wanted to experience some more variety in archetypes.  I was a little unlucky in the draft to not see more red creatures with Bloodthirst, but it was a 6 man pod so I assume we just didn't open that many.  One of my hardest picks in the draft was the one booster that did contain two Bloodthirst creatures.  I agonised between the Gorehorn Minotaurs and Stormblood Berserker, eventually choosing the Berserker because I had lots of enablers and it was easier to cast, and I couldn't think if I had enough cheap creatures at the time in my pile.  I think this was a mistake though - at the end, I had loads of two drops and only 1 four drop.  Even with plenty of enablers the Berserkers are very tricky to get as a 3/3 on turn 2, and the Minotaurs would have made much more of an impact on the board.

Round 1 - This round was against a UR deck drafted by Niels.  I'd never played him before (though I think he may have been to the prerelease), and I'd been feeding him very good blue cards in the draft - I knew he had at least 2 Aether Adepts.  I'm not sure how he ended up with red as his second colour though!  In game 1 he gets stuck with 2 land in play and my deck punishes him with a quick kill.  In game 2 I mulligan to 6.  This game was pretty cool - there was a stand-off between his Flameblast Dragon (now the red made sense!) and my Archon of Justice.  Thankfully he does not have the land + Unsummon to kill me, and he has to attack into the Archon and trade in order to use his dragon's blaze to kill my Stormfront Pegasus which is merrily flying down a goblin's tunnel at him.  I play some more men and kill him.

Round 2 - Time for another game against my nemesis Rob.  Rob's drafted a BR bloodthirst deck.  Game 1 was a sorry affair as he's not that quick out of the gates but I mulligan to 6 then get stuck on 2 land for ages.  I die before I can draw my 5th land for my Archon.  I go to my sideboard for a little help - he is even more agressive than me and all his men are pathetically small in general and his removal is for small creatures.  So I side in 2 Bonebreaker Giants and side out one Goblin Tunneler and the Goblin War Paint as I've seen instant speed removal from him.  Game 2 goes according to plan - he gets some early damage in, but I make some blockers and hold on to my Pacifism - I'm rewarded when I get to put it on something that matters, his Sengir Vampire.  He Combusts my Archon (so I get to remove one of his ground guys), and I have follow ups of Serra Angel and Bonebreaker Giant.  Game 3 I mulligan to 6 again.  I then make a terrible mistake by not listening to all the advice I'd read about going against your nature when playing against bloodthirst.  I should have traded my better Stormfront Pegasus for his lowly 1/1 Duskhunter Bat when it attacked.  The game spirals out of control as I can't do anything about his pumped Blood Ogre.  Again I would have been saved if I could have drawn a 5th land to make a big blocker, but I failed to buy myself the time by not making the Bat for Pegasus trade.

Round 3 - Conan (the littlest Barbarian!) and his GW enchantments deck.  Conan is a young player, but he's definitely learning very well.  I win quite quickly (although it's a good job my Lawkeeper made an appearance to deal with his Stingerfling Spider wearing Divine Favour and a Trollhide!).  We play a few friendly games and I help to give him some strategy advice, and Rob teaches him how to keep a land he doesn't need in his hand for bluffing.  He takes me down handily in our last friendly game with a very terrifying enchanted Sacred Wolf :-)

2 - 1 is good, and I learnt the hard way how important "bad blocking" is against RB bloodthirst. 

So that's it for live drafts before Nationals.  I hope you too may have learnt something from my mixed experiences.  Wish me luck!