Friday, July 10, 2015

DDF Draft #1: My Final Dragons/Dragons/Fate Draft

I had thought that I was done with Dragons/Dragons/Fate drafts, since my local game store doesn't hold FNM on the eve of a pre-release, giving the judges a chance to rest before the madness of the weekend.  However I'm fortunate enough to live relatively close to multiple game stores, and one of them was holding a FNM draft.  And so I decided to give Dragons/Dragons/Fate one last whirl.

The Draft

The store had 43 drafters, which were broken up into three 8-man pods, one 9-man pod, and one 10-man pod.  I was fortunate enough to be placed in my preferred 8-man pod.

My first pack had a Corpseweft, a bunch of mid-pick black cards, an Enduring Scalelord, and a Sandcrafter Mage.  I was tempted to take the Corpseweft... but my eye kept going back to the Sandcrafter Mage.  It feels like White and Green are both often underdrafted; if I took the Sandcrafter Mage, perhaps that would encourage the people to my left to split Black leaving me alone with all the White goodness.  Heck, the Enduring Scalelord might even wheel!

So I took the Sandcrafter Mage, and my second pick seemed to validate my choice: Dromoka's Command!  I was set!

Or so I thought.  My next picks filled my draft pile with reasonable Green and White creatures - but little in the way of removal, and the Enduring Scalelord did not wheel.  I persisted nonetheless, and Pack 2 was much of the same (I did take Sidisi, Undead Vizier because I, uh, thought it was more valuable than it was).  I still got decent creatures like Enduring Scalelord, Misthoof Kirin and Lightwalker, but nothing earth-shattering.  That was when I started to suspect that I was getting cut.

I was also passing Blue cards at an alarming rate, and by the end of Pack 2, when I saw nothing interesting in my colors, I started taking Blue cards like Ojutai's Breath and Sidisi's Faithful as a hedge.

Fortunately I opened up a bomb in my Fate pack: Dromoka, the Eternal.  My second pick was a choice between a Temur Sabertooth and a Sandblast.  Part of me thought that the Sandblast was better since I was light on removal, but in the end I decided to take the 'mythic uncommon' instead.  I was pleased to take an Honor's Reward, and extremely happy to take a Wandering Champion and Mardu Woe-Reaper - both great creatures for a Green-White aggro strategy - relatively late.

The Deck

As the pod started building decks, the guy to my left said, "Oh hey, did we all go Green-White?"  I looked to my left; I looked to my right; and that was when I realized that three of us in a row had, indeed, all gone Green-White... and I was the poor sucker stuck in the middle.

How had that happened?  I still don't really know, except to say: perhaps I'm not great at reading signals, and perhaps I become far too tied to my initial picks.

Still, it was too late for regrets.  This is what I built:

Atarka Beastbreaker
Champion of Arashin
Conifer Strider
Dromoka, the Eternal
Enduring Scalelord
Glade Watcher
Lurking Arynx
Mardu Woe-Reaper
Misthoof Kirin
Orator of Ojutai
Sandcrafter Mage
Sandsteppe Outcast
Temur Sabertooth
Ugin's Construct
Wandering Champion
Battle Mastery
Artful Maneuver
Center Soul
Dromoka's Command
Honor's Reward
Return to the Earth
Scale Blessing
  LANDS (17)
Blossoming Sands
Forest x7
Plains x9
Abzan Runemark
Aven Surveyor
Coat with Venom
Deadly Wanderings
Harsh Sustenance
Jeskai Barricade
Learn from the Past
Monastery Loremaster
Ojutai's Breath
Rakshasa's Disdain
Reduce in Stature
Servant of the Scale x2
Sidisi, Undead Vizier
Sidisi's Faithful
Tasigur's Cruelty
Territorial Roc

It's nothing earth-shattering, with an attempt at a quick early-game followed by two dragons to close things out.  My only removal spell was Dromoka's Command, but I did like my combat tricks.  And I threw in the Battle Mastery with the vague thought that it might be able to steal me a win.

Round 1

I won the roll and curved out perfectly in the first game, a wonderful mix of cheap creatures and combat tricks to overcome his own creatures and removal.  The second game was nearly as smooth, helped by my opponent's mulligan to five.

I talked with my opponent afterwards.  He was playing Blue-Black-Red in a dreaded even split.  How had that happened?   He had gotten conflicting signals starting with the second pack and had never been able to settle into two primary colors.

That was when I realized that although the draft had been distorted towards Green-White at my end of the table, the draft had been equally distorted at the opposite end.  That meant... I had a chance!

Result: W (2-0)

Round 2

My next opponent was playing a Black-Red aggro deck that he described as a "pile of trash".  His deck had 20 creatures, 3 combat tricks, and (nearly) no removal, as the people around him had taken it all.

What he did have was two Goblin Heelcutters.  But fortunately, despite being stuck at three mana both games, my deck was fast enough to go over his.  Honor's Reward was an all-star.

Result: W (2-0)

Round 3

My opponent and I agreed to an intentional draw in order to split the store credit prize. However, there was only one FNM promo available per pod, and so we played a "fun" match to determine who would receive that.

He played a Blue-Red deck that had lots of draw, but little removal or big threats.  Both our games had a similar pattern: we would each stabilize a few turns in, and then he would draw cards while I would play bigger and bigger creatures.  I was able to consistently attack and whittle down his smaller creatures, and in the end I simply overwhelmed him.

Result: ID, W (2-0) for the FNM Promo


I guess the draft worked out after all!  I am still not sure if the fact that I was in the middle of three Green-White drafters in a row meant that I had badly misread the table; or if the fact that I won meant that I had drafted correctly after all.

Overall, my deck turned out decent-but-not-great.  It was helped by two things:
  • An aggro deck can be really strong if an opponent isn't prepared for it.
  • Both ends of the draft table competed with each other for the same colors, resulting in a suboptimal draft pool for everyone.
What the hell, I'll take it!

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