Returning to Winning in Return to Ravnica

I must admit, I was really keen to draft Return to Ravnica (I still am, but the server is going down for maintenance, and there is this thing called real life which will probably prevent me from going on with non-stop-drafting…)

It took me another six drafts, I believe, to win my next tournament, but that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t succesful at all – I lost several times in the finals and failed only once to reach the semifinals, so that my booster supply is still quite healthy, and my rating didn’t take too much of a hit either (I know it’s inconsequential, but I still consider it a measurement of success, or more precisely, a way to compare myself to other drafters). Naturally, my strongest decks failed to give me the ultimate success – the better my mana is, the more often the shuffler screws me just to prove that it can, or at least so it seems…

The deck that did it this time has reasonable mana and good card quality, so it’s not an unworthy victor, but it doesn’t exactly showcase a perfect draft, just like its predecessor, and the games I won with it were… strange. At least one of my opponents seemed to be a complete newbie (I mean that he or she actually struggled with the basics of the rules and the controls), although I met him in the semifinals, and another one just stopped playing during the first game of the match (which admittedly didn’t look too good for him, but he would have had enough time to win two more, and his deck seemed quite strong to me) – and that was in the finals! I actually believe there was also something fishy about my first round opponent – there was a duel when my opponent conceded the whole match after a close loss in the first game, and I believe that was in the very same tournament…

Be that as it may, here is the list:

7 Island
4 Swamp
3 Mountain
2 Izzet Guildgate
1 Rakdos Guildgate
1 Blood Crypt
2 Crosstown Courier
1 Gore-House Chainwalker
2 Goblin Electromancer
1 Izzet Staticaster
1 Stealer of Secrets
2 Sewer Shambler
4 Runewing
1 Voidwielder
1 Isperia’s Skywatch
1 Sphinx of the Chimes
1 Pursuit of Flight
1 Izzet Charm
1 Annihilating Fire
2 Auger Spree
1 Launch Party

relevant SB:
Dead Reveler, Dead Reveler, Mind Rot, Bellows Lizard, Guttersnipe, Tenement Crasher, Electrickery, Rakdos Shred-Freak, Volatile Rig

I kept Black to the necessary minimum (actually, against Rakdos I sided in Electrickery, Bellows Lizard and a Mountain for the two Shamblers and a Swamp, to make my draws even more consistent). My high-end cards look nice, but I never cast anything for more than four mana in the whole tournament…

Oh, and in all eight (I think) tournaments I played, every opponent who at least put up a fight had a good number of 2-drops in their decks – those few who didn’t (or were unlucky enough not to draw them) were nothing more than victims. It seems that the MTGO community is a lot faster on the uptake than the German net community… The environment is definitely both quite fast and tempo-oriented, even a bit more so than I had anticipated. For example, the Selesnya beatdown deck is only marginally slower than Rakdos aggro, and it is actually possible to draft Izzet aggro around Pursuit of Flight – what I didn’t realize is that access to two 2-drops which are either exclusive to Izzet or much stronger in that guild (Goblin Electromancer and Frostburn Weird, respectively) mean that you actually haven’t too hard a time building up a good curve, even though many blue and Izzet spells are not worth using in that strategy. Even on a lowly Crosstown Courier, Pursuit can win a game fast, and of course it’s even better on a Weird – you just need to make sure that you are able to force your opponent to spend his removal before you put down the Pursuit.

Overall, I like drafting RTR – since you are actually trying to be two-colored, there is enough manafixing going around for those few players who really need it; and there aren’t too many unfair bombs, and you can often beat them via tempo. It feels a bit like a hybrid between Zendikar draft and Ravnica block draft to me, two formats I liked a lot, although they were quite different. Alas, I haven’t quite the advantage here which I had in those evironments where many people didn’t realize how much tempo those environments actually possessed (Ravnica wasn’t too fast, but it was still a mistake to priorize bounce lands over signets; and Zendikar was blindlingly fast, making even the lowly Hedron Scrabbler a higher pick than ANYTHING which cost 6 mana), but I’m still doing fine.

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