Posted tagged ‘winner’

Why is it Always the Bad decks that Win?

April 26, 2013

Okay, it wasn’t quite as bad as this one. But it was still another train wreck draft, where I couldn’t decide if I was (primarily) Orzhov or Dimir until less than two minutes before the first round started. I really finished my deck with less than 10 seconds on the clock, after oszillating between Black or Blue for secondary color for most of the rest of the time. But if I look at it another way, this time I had at least options, and was not forced to play Prophetic Prism just to fill up the deck. This time, though, I would have needed a prism badly, since I played two and a half colors without any fixing at all – come to think of it, maybe this deck WAS worse…

I have a theory, though: I am, overall, a very competent drafter. When one of my drafts goes really badly, chances are that the reason for that is the card distribution in boosters, making it too hard or even impossible for players to find their colors in time. When that is the case, it’s not just me who fails to draft an adequate deck; it’s everyone. Also, I am really good at troubleshooting when a draft goes badly, so that I might end up with the least bad deck at the table (the one-eyed rules the blind). And, of course, there’s this thing calles variance, and the fact that we notice things which seem to make no sense much more strongly than those which do.

Still, I have a hard time accepting that the two really good decks I drafted before (Gruul & Boros) both lost in the second round (a 4-3-2-2 and an 8-4), and that this THING took me to an 8-4 victory…

8 Swamp
7 Plains
3 Island
1 Dutiful Thrull
1 Thrull Parasite
1 Basilica Screecher
1 Wight of Precinct Six
2 Armored Transport
1 Corpse Blockade
1 Slate Street Ruffian
1 Assault Griffin
1 Zarichi Tiger
2 Syndicate Enforcer
1 Urbis Protector
1 Treasure Thrull
1 Dinrova Horror
1 Death’s Approach
2 Devour Flesh
1 Orzhov Charm
1 Grisly Spectacle
1 Knight Watch
1 Totally Lost

Notable SB:
Shielded Passage, Hold the Gates, Murder Investigation, Cloudfin Raptor, Metropolis Sprite, Sage’s Row Denizen, Simic Fluxmage, Spell Rupture, Way of the Thief, Last Thoughts, Midnight Recovery, 2 Purge of the Profane, Psychic Strike.

I used the Passage once and the Recovery once, and in one match I actually sided into sealed mana (well, it was named such more than a decade ago, I mean 6-6-6 lands), because I played a mirror. My opponents were Orzov + Blue; Orzhov + Blue & Red, and Simic + Red – confirming my theory about a draft gone wrong for everyone (although the Simic-based deck, which I met in the finals, didn’t look too bad). Games were decided either by color screw or in the very late lategame (I won once using Dinrova Horror on my own Urbis Protector), and the finals was especially absurd, with my opponent being unbelievably screwed in the second game and me in the third… but we were both WINNING these games! (In the first game, after he discarded twice, he put down a Simic Manipulator which I couldn’t remove for my life, and in the other he had to rush killing me because he was low on time and walked right into my Horror when I finally drew black mana, and suddenly I was able to just survive against his flooding draw and actually even turn the tide – he went into timeout, but unbelievably as it would sound to anyone who saw me chumpblocking half a dozen times before, I was actually on the verge of winning that game fair and square.

My limited rating is now back up to 1826, and I have actually won more than I invested so far in my Gatecrash drafting, which allows for the comclusion that I can put my drafting skills to good use in that environment, but also the theory that the last days of a dying draft environment might just be a good time to be successful. I don’t know. Since winning is always more fun than losing, and since I sport 16-6 match score so far, if I haven’t miscounted, I have come to like Gatecrash draft a bit better than in the beginning. It still reminds me a bit of Rise of the Eldrazi; but also a bit of Zendikar – and there’s more than a smidge of Alara in it, now I’ve come to think of it (you draft guilds instead of shards, but the point is, in both environments you’re not really multicolored in the way of chosing your colors freely). I’m not sure if I keep drafting Gatecrash a little longer (I still have stuff for nearly 4 drafts, not counting possible winnings), or if I take a break and wait for Dragon’s Maze. In any case I now have some playing experience with these cards and developed likes and dislikes, which will help me decide which cards from that block will go into my limited card pool.

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Possibly the most terrible deck to ever win a Gatecrash draft

April 24, 2013

Okay, since winning an 8-4 meant winning 8 boosters, I did the obvious thing and drafted some more. I entered another 8-4, drafted again Orhzov splash Blue (a bit more Blue this time, but also better supported) and lost in the second round. I then drafted Boros in yet another 8-4 and lost in the finals. Still with lots of boosters to go, I decided to fire up yet another draft, even though it was already rather early than late, but I was in the swing of things. I landed in a swiss this time, and during the draft noticed that I was too tired to concentrate. I kept my options open between Orzhov, Boros and Gruul way too long, and then I decided for Orzhov when it should have been Boros, but I had drafted a Lord of the Void and tired me just couldn’t let go of it. The resulting deck list is a shame to myself, but since I am committed to post all my winning draft deck lists, here we go:

8 Plains
8 Swamp
1 Prophetic Prism
1 Orzhov Keyrune
1 Daring Skyjek
1 Gutter Skulk
1 Wight of Precinct Six
1 High Priest of Penance
2 Armored Transport
2 Slate Street Ruffian
1 Kingpin’s Pet
1 Zarichi Tiger
1 Urbis Protector
1 Lord of the Void
1 Shielded Passage
1 Smite
1 Death’s Approach
1 Aerial Maneuver
1 Devour Flesh
1 Executioner’s Swing
1 Arrows of Justice
1 Angelic Edict
1 Debtor’s Pulpit
1 Immortal Servitude

Sideboard:
Essentially 1 Boros Elite (sided in once for the Prism), a Shadow Alley Denizen and a million cards which were either even more unplayble or in other colors.

Yes, I won one game with the Lord. The Protector worked a lot harder, though. I never drew Servitude or Pulpit. I essentially always played a couple Armored Transport and Slate Street Ruffian supported by some removal and tricks and won the damage race against decks which could not handle 3-mana power-2 creatures with pseudo-evasion (one Boros deck, one base Gruul and one base Orzhov).

That’s it, the chronicler did his duty.

A winning Gatecrash deck list (I’m not using Couchdraft anymore)

April 23, 2013

I know – that draft environment is near dead. Actually, that is exactly why I convinced myself to give it a shot before that chance would pass. Before, I had been really busy with other stuff, and the Gatecrash draft environment also didn’t seem very attractive to me – it reminded me (and still does) of Rise of the Eldrazi, where you were forced to commit to an archetype before you could be sure it was open for you, and where your success largely depended on seeing enough key cards for your archetype during the draft, and then drawing them. Gatecrash is in the same vein, although not quite that extreme, but also a lot faster (but not nearly as fast as Zendikar, because this time, you CAN block).

I did two drafts so far, as alyways joining whichever draft would start first. So, my first draft was swiss. I was tempted into Simic with a first pick Master Biomancer and never saw good reason to deviate from that plan. A few guildgates made a splash of Black possible, which would consist of Dinrova Horror and Killing Glare. I missed my two opportunities at Shamblesharks for an Experiment One and a Simic Charm, but still got a reasonable curve with 2 one-drops and 4 two-drops. I had as little removal as you would expect in Simic, though (I had taken the Killing Glare over the only Pit Fight I saw), but a pair of Spell Rupture, a Gridlock and a Totally Lost. It was not a bad deck, but nothing great, either. I decided I wanted 19 creatures and left one Spell Rupture and the Totally Lost in the SB – the latter proved to be a mistake. I won two matches against at most mediocre decks and lost without a chance with underwhelming draws against an excellent Gruul deck which would go on to win the draft.

My second draft was an 8-4. I started with a Sepulchral Primordial over commons of Shambleshark quality. My 2nd pick was Guardian of the Gateless, and I considered myself 90% on the way to Orzhov. Over the next few boosters, Boros seemed open, though, but I decided to stick to my plan by chosing Daring Skyjek over Wojek Halberdiers (and either Massive Raid or Martial Glory) twice. In the next two packs, it got clearer and clearer that Boros was underdrafted, but it was always just a little too late for me to profit from a switch. In the end, I had a mana curve a bit too high for my taste, and a bit too few removal, and I maybe missed a gate to make my splash of Blue (again, for Dinrova Horror, which is everything Voidwielder wasn’t) really effortless, but was satisfied overall. (I think I drafted that Devour Flesh over a 2nd Sepulchral Primordial!) Here is the list:

9 Plains
7 Swamp
1 Island
1 Dimir Guildgate
1 Thrull Parasite
3 Daring Skyjek
2 Syndic of Tithes
1 Wight of Precinct Six
1 Vizkopa Guildmage
1 Basilica Guards
2 Syndicate Enforcer
1 Guardian of the Gates
1 Dinrova Horror
1 Sepulchral Primordial
1 Shielded Passage
1 Smite
1 Devour Flesh
1 Grisly Spectacle
2 Angelic Edict
1 Debtor’s Pulpit
1 Knight Watch

Used SB cards: (another) Knight Watch, 2 Zarichi Tger, Purge the Profane.
Usable, but unused: Nav Squad Commando, Shadow Slice, Corpse Blockade, Shattering Blow, Riot Gear, Skyblinder Staff.

During the first two rounds, I was badly colorscrewed in one game, but in the other games I managed to get to the lategame without difficulty and win with my high-impact spells or a couple hits with multiple Skyjeks after softening my opponent up with extort. In the finals, I met a Gruul ramp deck, against which my sideboarded Purge the Profane did wonders. I think I won both games (after losing the first to a barrage of critters for 6+ mana) on 1 or 2 life, both times barely stabilizing with my Primordial, crossing my fingers that my opponent was out of gas, and realizing both times that he actually was. This is certainly not a great deck, but I believe it is perfectly serviceable.

Oh, as you will have noticed, I did not put this draft up on Couchdraft. It didn’t seem to work for me this time – there were cards missing in the packs of the walkthrough, and the deck itself didn’t load up at all due to having the wrong size – whatever that means. I could possibly find out what the issues are and correct them or have them corrected, but the whole point of using Couchdraft was that it was an easy way to share drafts. If it is no longer for me, I won’t use it anymore. Simple as that.

A Masters Edition 30-card-sealed winning deck

November 26, 2012

Alright – I missed the drafts, okay? Sealed is really not my favorite, and 30-card sealed especially is an abomination. However, I had never played with any of the Masters Editions before, and I was curious. Also, I feel I should support limited events with older editions so that they do not die out due to a lack of interest.

This was the first time I built a 30-card sealed (actually, I didn’t, but we’ll get to that in a moment), and I was unsure how to proceed. Obviously, I had to play Black and Green, aka “the color containing my playables) – there was almost nothing in both Blue and White, and I didn’t even have a single playable artifact creature, which I believe is rather unusual in this format (one booster from each Masters Edition, in case you don’t know). This was my pool:

1 Aysen Bureaucrats
1 Order of the Sacred Torch
1 Lesser Werewolf
1 Winter Blast
1 Healing Salve
1 Plains
1 Orcish Farmer
1 Elite Cat Warrior
1 Vodalian Knights
1 Disenchant
1 Urza’s Tower
1 Righteous Avengers
1 Drift of the Dead
1 Detonate
1 Wild Aesthir
1 Staff of Zegon
1 Bestial Fury
7 Swamp
1 Mountain
1 Mindstab Thrull
1 Sengir Vampire
1 Slashing Tiger
1 Roots
1 Elven Lyre
1 Heavy Fog
1 Death Speakers
1 Enervate
1 Baron Sengir
1 Brainstorm
1 Crimson Kobolds
1 Stampede
2 Mountain
1 Word of Undoing
1 Krovikan Sorcerer
1 Errantry
1 Sivitri Scarzam
1 Chain Lightning
1 False Summoning
1 Benthic Explorers
1 Forked Lightning
1 Yavimaya Ancients
1 Armor of Faith
1 Ashnod’s Transmogrant
1 Pyroblast
1 Soul Shred
1 Hasran Ogress
1 D’Avenant Archer
1 Goblin Caves
6 Forest
1 Sleight of Hand
1 Snow-Covered Mountain
1 Spinal Villain
1 Oubliette
1 Gangrenous Zombies
1 Illusionary Wall
1 Young Wei Recruits
1 Fumarole
1 City of Brass
1 Nicol Bolas
1 Weakstone
1 Tracker
1 Active Volcano
1 Sea Serpent

I was really glad that I had the City of Brass (not just because that’s the only card in my pool worth anything), because without it , I would effectively have been forced to either play a really bad BG deck or play with old times sealed mana (5-5-4 with double-colored mana in two colors and even at lower costs). With it, I decided on BG splash R for Forked Lightning. After some deliberation, I also put Fumarole in. This was the deck:

2 Mountain
1 Mindstab Thrull
5 Forest
1 Sengir Vampire
1 Ashnod’s Transmogrant
1 Lesser Werewolf
1 Gangrenous Zombies
1 Slashing Tiger
1 Fumarole
1 Forked Lightning
1 Tracker
1 Roots
1 Oubliette
1 Hasran Ogress
1 Elven Lyre
1 Yavimaya Ancients
1 City of Brass
1 Elite Cat Warrior
1 Young Wei Recruits
6 Swamp
1 Soul Shred

I didn’t use the Chain Lightning, because I wanted to keep the red splash small due to all those double-colored mana costs, because I already had a lot of removal (my deck’s only real strength), and because I thought 3 damage wouldn’t be enough to deal with the real bombs I expected to see in that format anyway. Well, let me put that shorter: I didn’t play the Chain Lightning because I was an idiot.

I played 31 cards because I really couldn’t do with 13 lands, but 14 lands in 30 cards were just too many – that’s like nearly 19 lands in a 40-card deck! The smaller the deck, the harder it becomes to get the right percentages of overall mana and colored mana, since you cannot play half cards. Adding a card can be a workable compromise.

My first opponent played WG, opening with Order of Leitbur and 3 Plains – quite a good start against me, since my early game and removal both are mainly black-based. However, he didn’t have a good follow-up for a long time, and I was able to gum up the board and let his Order grow Roots without dropping too low. I was a bit irritated when he played Feast or Famine on my Elite Cat Warrior using his Fellwar Stone – I never saw a Swamp from him in both games! Just when I had the upper hand in a ground stall and with my Sengir online, he dropped a Forcefield and slowed the game down to a crawl. I saved a bit removal and got ready to deck him, while pecking at him with the Sengir when I didn’t risk too much, but at some point he just conceded – I’m not really sure why.

I sideboarded into a three-color deck, introducing Chain Lightning and Detonate in exchange for Gangrenous Zombies and Young Wei Recruits. In the second game, he was a bit land-shy, but I didn’t have too much pressure, collecting removal in my hand. On four lands, he finally dropped a Fellwar Stone and played Sylvan Tutor for Serra Angel. I decided to Detonate the Stone, since I already had taken a good chunk out of his life total and would be able to keep attacking for the foreseeable future, and I wanted to capitalize on his obviously slow hand. The Serra did hit the table with the help of an Astrolabe, but my Sengir matched it, and when he attacked into the Vampie with me having Elven Lyre active, I blocked and only saw… Lightning Blow! When I sacced the Lyre, he conceded. Hm.

My second opponent was BW. His first play was a Mishra’s Factory. I went all in going first, with Ashnod’s Transmogrant, Hasran Ogress and more curve creatures, allowing the Ogress to hit us both until it traded with the Factory, setting him back a turn. A bit later, a White Knight showed up for him, but I now had my green creatures on the board, and he conceded soon (again, this was a bit prematurely, I feel) Yes, I won that one with beatdown…

After sideboarding, I once again had Chain Lightning and a little more Red. My removal kept the board favoring me, and when he tried Feast or Famine on my Elite Cat Warrior (deja vu!), I just sacrificed my Transmogrant to save it and make the cat even bigger, prompting him to concede.

In the finals, I met an excellent UW deck. I still cannot believe how many flyers and creatures with horsemanship he had! Cloud Dragon, at least two Screeching Drake, Spotted Griffin, Shu Elite companions, Wu Elite Cavalry – and the card which killed me: Lu Xun, Scholar General. I got rid of it once, but it returned via False Defeat and drew him about 12 cards. I was able to kill every other threat of him for a while, in the end hoping to deck hin, but he managed to defeat me with just one card left in his library. The game might have gone different, if I had been able to access GG for my Slashing Tiger and the ability of Tracker, but I didn’t, and that the City was my only source for green mana didn’t help either.

However, I knew that after sideboarding, I could virtually not lose if I drew my mana and my spells in a sensible ratio, because I could bring in Winter Blast, Spinal Villain, Active Volcano, Pyroblast and of course Chain Lightning, killing everything he could muster and some. I took out my cheaper black creatures (except for Mindstab Thrull, which I didn’t draw the whole tournament, by the way), the Lyre and the Transmogrant, and things went as planned in both games, although he managed to put my Spinal Villain in a Serra Bestiary – even with False Defeat, Heal and Word of Undoing this was just too much for him. He also made a terrible misplay once, when I was a little flooded and attacked with Elite Cat Warrior and Lesser Werewolf into two Screeching Drake, double-blocking the werewolf instead of the cat, so that with BB open I could kill one of his drakes without losing a creature., but since I started to draw myself out of my flood afterwards, I would have won anyway. Also, his time was running out (I might have won in time, but he conceded with less than two minutes left in a terrible position). His deck was clearly better than mine, but the amount of hate I had for him was just ungodly.

So, I won, which means I actually had a lot of fun! To be honest, if I had gone 1-2 or so, I would have hated that tournament – 30-card-sealed is silly, the Masters Editions are barely stomachable even in draft, and 20 tix is really a lot to pay for an entry fee. As things stand, though, I won 6 boosters on the first try, so I will certainly do at least another draft. Also, while the format is pretty random, I get the impression that this is doubly true for most players in these queues (albeit admittedly I only saw a small sample) – I’m certainly not good anymore, but these guys seemed really bad, with each of them walking into an on-board trick once, and two of them conceding with enough time on the clock when I was myself not at all certain I had those games in the bag…