Posted tagged ‘winning’

A Win with Boros in Kaladesh Draft

June 2, 2017

Yup, you read that right: Kaladesh, not Amonkhet. I still had a couple virtual boosters from that set and from Aether Revolt lying around on my account (obviously, now I have even more of them), because I did not get to draft that format quite as much as I’d wanted to, while also doing decently well in it. So I kept them until I felt like returning to that block.

Today I did, after once again failing to go 3-0 in a league, although I was pretty sure I drafted reasonably well, but then met a deck that looked simply way more powerful than mine and almost certainly hailed from another draft pod. I am not sure how much the idiosyncrasies of Amonkhet are responsible, how much the nature of draft leagues is, and how much it is just random variance, but I am just not doing as well lately as I am used to in drafts, and the issue seems to lie with my decks. I never was a great player, but I am pretty sure that I do not play worse now than I did in the last few years – I actually believe I even got a little better again due to spending more time with the game. I also don’t think that I draft worse. My decks just do not come together quite like they should, and my opponents always seem to have better decks than they should if they drafted in the same pod as I.

So, today felt like the right time to give Kaladesh block draft a farewell, and also to do a pod draft once again. Of course, I convincingly 3-0ed my pod, which succinctly proves that pod draft rewards skill more than league draft does! On a more earnest note, my impression that Kaladesh block had actually been a little faster than Amonkhet draft was reinforced (and it’s still just a medium fast format).

BTW, my FPFP was Freejam Regent, which I drew exactly once: On the very last turn of the last game in the finals, when my opponent was already dead on board (and tapped out) to my Destructive Tampering. (Angel of Invention I drew and cast once, resultig in an immediate concession from my opponent – oh, and one time I scryed it to the bottom of my library after a mulligan.)

Another Win with Orzhov in Amonkhet Draft

May 27, 2017

I’m drafting a bit more again the last couple of days, and consequently I get 3-0 results more often, which I will keep referring to as “drafts won”, even though technically they aren’t, since they happen in leagues. It has become a habit of mine over the years to post screenshots of all my winning draft decks as small data points for other drafters with a few comments, so here we go again:

I firstpicked Liliana’s Mastery, followed it up with Fan Bearer, and then somehow stubbornly forced Orzhov zombies, ignoring that Blue was wide open for me, counting on my persistence to pay off during the second half of the draft – which it did, although not quite as much as I had hoped for, but I got a Gust Walker and the Final Reward pretty late.

I realize the irony that, when finally getting those clear signals I had been missing in earlier drafts and complaining about it, I did not heed them, but I weighed the power of my early picks and the quality I would likely get in those colors during the rest of the packs against the likely rewards of switching to Blue, and at any point of the draft it seemed to me that I would likely still end up with a stronger deck if I stayed on course, carried by the high power level of my early black picks, the amounting mass of my playable white picks, the expection to push another drafter or two further down the table out of my colors by completely blocking them, and the strong synergies between Black and White in Amonkhet draft.

As you can see, I got there. This is now my 3rd win in 12 drafts (most of the others I went 2-1, although I had a couple of 1-2 results as well), and I have reclaimed a decent, while not spectacular overall win percentage in this format. (It also helped that, for a change, I did not play against Glorybringer several matches in a row lately.)

Two observations: My games took long or even extremely long to finish again, no matter what I played against; and this was the third time out of three that I went 3-0 playing Black. While with this sample size, one obviously cannot infer anything definite from the fact, I do believe that Black is just a good color to be in when aggressive decks are still overdrafted.

A Win with Orzhov in Amonkhet Draft

May 26, 2017

I’m aware that posting screenshots of decks that won a draft (or, more precisely, went 3-0 in a draft league) is one of the cheapest ways to produce content for a Magic blog, but that’s just why I do it – the alternative at the moment would be to stop posting altogether.

I think this was my 9th Amonkhet draft overall, and I’ve yet to draft one deck that turns out the way I want it too.  I’m not sure what happened to signalling, but I never get a clear impression of the colors open for me until it is too late – if at all. I find that very strange – shouldn’t leagues incentivize players to signal more clearly than in pods, because hate picks have less value?

Be that as it may, I have now achieved my 2nd 3-0 result, and this time with a deck that I would categorize as aggro, although a bit on the slower side of that strategy. I found myself unable to decide between Orzhov and Boros until the middle of pack two, and I did not manage to get more than just a few zombie synergies.

Interestingly, all three of my opponents this time had decks which fell into the aggro part of the spectrum, although only one of them tried to be hyperaggressive. In two of those matches I decided that I had to bolster my defenses (albeit not giving up on the option to go on offense) and sided in the Ruthless Sniper package. Against the Izzet Drake Haven deck however (yes – it was otherwise pretty aggressive), I decided I needed to be faster and just put in Throne of the God-Pharaoh and Forsake the Worldly. The Throne was satisfactorily good and allowed me to push through the last points of damage when my opponent just begun to stabilize behind his Haven. (Fan Bearer was a lot of help there!)

Although they were technically aggro mirrors, none of those matchups made for really fast games, especially not the ones where I went for the Sniper strategy (not that I ever got to use its ability – I think I drew it only once and then without cycling cards). While I beat my finals opponent in three games, I was also close to winning against him on time.

Dusk / Dawn, which is a great card in many matchups, was extremely disappointing this time. I sideboarded it out every match. The card which felt most powerful to me was Oketra’s Monument – it seems really hard to lose if you play it on turn three with a few creatures in your hand, and I didn’t.

Let me, for the umptieth time, reiterate this truth about draft environments: Being curve-conscious and tempo-based is not the same as being fast.

Escaping the Phantom Zone

June 5, 2016

I remember the event only very vaguely: Two years or so ago, for some reason or other, Wizards gifted every Magic Online account (or maybe not every account, but all of mine were among them) a certain amount of phantom points. Those could, as their name suggested, only be used to enter phantom events (limited events where you do not keep the cards you opened).

Well, I’m not one to turn down free limited play and proceeded to use those points up as completely as possible. There were issues here, though: Phantom points could not be traded between accounts, so once I fell below the lowest entry threshold, they sat around useless. I guess Wizards‘ plan was that at that point, people would start to enter phantom events by the alternate method of paying real money (or the equivalent in tickets), but I wasn’t that stupid.

Then, a year ago, phantom points got converted into play points at a ratio of 1 to 6. The upside was that they could now be used instead of tickets for practically every event. The downside was that play points are still not tradable. However, it turned out that I was now again above the entry threshold for phantom sealed (60 pp) on one account, so my “dead” points had been reactivated! (Technically, I can now also use 20 pp to enter 2-player queues, but since I do not play constructed anymore, this leaves only Momir basic, and I haven’t yet tried to get such a queue to fire, which seems an unlikely thing to happen to me.)

So, Shadows over Innistrad phantom sealed it was! My first effort left me at 2-1, which gave me exactly my entry back to try again, and so I did. This time, I managed to rattle off the required 3-0, and I have now enough play points to enter a “real” draft, because flashback drafts cost only 100 pp. I successfully escaped the phantom zone! (For now.)

The deck that did it didn’t look to great to me, and I still don’t think it is really good, but it worked out well enough. It helped that I played mostly well and didn’t get unlucky:

Phantom Sealed

The madness tricks were, of course, the best thing about this deck. Welcome to the Fold did good work, but Slayer’s Plate turned ot to be my biggest trump, especially in conjunction with Call the Bloodline – racing a 5/3 lifelink creature that just comes back every turn is outright impossble. I played Triskaidekaphobia because I thought I needed another way to win unfairly, not trusting in my deck’s ability to grind my opponent out, but that turned out to be unnecessary. The one game it won me I would almost certainly have won anyway, and I found myself sideboarding it out repeatedly.

Another thing to note is that I actually won one game by transforming my Thing in the Ice – quite a feat considering I have exactly 4 insteries in my deck! Once again, though, I would very likely have won that game anyway if the Thing had just been a 0/4 vanilla creature, which was the function I expected it to fulfill when I sideboarded it in. I did so every game, and I now realize I should just have started it instead of the silly rare enchantment.

I won several games by milling my opponent with Manic Scribe, and here I’m not entirely sure if I would have won those games if the Scribe had been just a 0/3 vanilla creature. I think I would have stabilized the board and put myself in a winning position anyway each game, but then again, the presence of the Scribe changed the dynamics of each match so much that it is hard to say how they would have played out otherwise.

I just realized I have a small backlog of winning deck lists which I forgot to post as an addendum to earlier entries, so I’ll get that done now: The first is still from one of my last OOB drafts. OOB was in my opinion the best draft format in years, but I had to let go of it finally.

Esper Linvala vanilla

Note that I always cast Linvala, the Preserver as a 5/5 flying french vanilla creature (okay, in one case that was only because of egregious stupidity on my part). That was good enough. The mythic rare didn’t really stand out, though.

To Shadows over Innistrad:

Orzhov 3 Naya opponents

Not much to say here, I guess. This time, my mythics were as good as advertised (meaning they were bonkers). Interestingly, I played against opponents running exactly Naya colors every single round!


This, however, was a pretty normal SOI deck. Okay, 4 Ember-Eye Wolf is maybe a bit off the norm, but essentially this is fast, focussed aggro with a lot of 2-drops and plenty pump effects. This is how you do it when you have to do without bombs.

I haven’t done very much SOI drafting so far for a number of reasons, one of them being that I do not like the format too much, and another that I have been overplaying the set when I was hyped about the new leagues. Maybe I will get a few more drafts in during the next few weeks, before I will probably give Eternal Masters a shot. It doesn’t seem like a great format to me either, but it will be available for so short that it would be silly of me not to at least give it a whirl!