Wednesday, February 9, 2011

MTGO - Recent Play 2: Rare Drafting, Power Drafting, and Deck Building

I've been at it again this week.  Though I thought I was done drafting MTGO for a while, I realized that I had a bit more budget freedom to run a few more drafts and decided that I would give it a go again.  Once you get addicted to draft crack it is a very hard drug to kick.

So, the day before yesterday, I did one particular draft that I want to talk about from a very specific point of view - Rare Drafting.  In MTG Draft style limited tournaments, which I talked about in a previous post (which you can read here),   you are picking a card and passing it the pack.  In order to build a good deck, you might not always be picking the rare card out of that pack.  Sometimes, you want to pick up an uncommon or a common card over a rare because those cards make up the meat of any good deck.  However, if you pick a common, you end up passing up that rare in your pack, which means the guy next to you has a chance to pull it.

Rare drafting is the practice of entering a draft for the sole purpose of picking up as many rare cards as you can.  You go in with the mindset that you don't care if you win or lose; the only thing that matters is pulling as many valuable cards as you can.  Unfortunately, there aren't a whole lot of Rare cards in this set which people are going to pass up which are actually worth money, so at least in my opinion you don't really go into Rare Drafts trying to make cash off your pulls - I mean that would be a really difficult endeavor considering the cost of packs and the entry tickets. With that in mind, unless you rare drafted really, really well you aren't even very likely to win back your entry costs.  But, rare drafting has some other side benefits which I'll talk about a bit later in this post.

Getting back to my particular draft experience, I pulled a plethora of amazingly good and rare stuff.  I didn't really go into the tournament thinking I was going to rare draft, but the rares just kept up coming round the table and I kept pulling them.  I can't remember off the top of my head everything I ended up opening, but here are a few of the goodies that I pulled :

As far as the meta of limited goes, some of the cards I pulled are absolutely horrible.  Molten Psyche is one of the top 5 worst cards to play in draft as is Venser's Journal.  Memoricide makes it into a lot of B/U control decks, but in Draft it is much weaker since you don't really know exactly what your opponent is going to swing at you (after g1 if you are still alive it can be a bit better since you know what to zap out of your opponents deck).  Also, Grindclock is just very slow.  I actually pulled two of them in this particular draft (which was great since I am putting a play set of them together).

So, how did the draft go for me?  Well, apart from pulling, in total 9 rare cards and 2 mythic rare cards, I ended up losing every single game in every single match.  Although that might sound like a throw away, it was actually EXTREMELY close to being the opposite.  I ended up drafting into deck destruction in B/U control since I pulled the grindclocks and the Geth; every single game the opponent was down to around 0-2 cards on his deck when he ended up killing me; what this means is that if I had had one more chance to play, or had just hit him a little harder with my milling effects, I would have one every single bloody game....

Rare drafting may seem like a very bad proposition, but sometimes you just may be able to make it work.

Now, with that out of the way, lets talk about my draft yesterday.  It was quite the opposite when rare cards and mythics are concerned.  I ended up pulling only 2 rare cards of any note. 

I pulled the Hand simply because I was afraid of it hitting me.  That thing is brutal.  I have a playset of them in my poison deck and they are awesome (also a bit of a money card, not too pricey, but still very nice to have in any infect deck).  However, this time around I did end up pulling a lot of power cards for the format.  Although I pulled no power green rare cards, I did manage to get Acid Web Spider, Alpha Tyrranax, Ezuri's Archers, and several Molder Beast, and to top it all off a Bellowing Tangleworm.  This deck didn't have much of anything I didn't already have in my collection already, but it did have a lot of good synergies some good bombs and also the artifact backup to help out my big heavy hitting creatures.  I ended up with a G/U ramp deck and did a whole lot better than in the draft the day before.  I lost round 1 in 2 very, very close matches again coming down to about 1 life each.  In game 2, a top deck one the game for my opponenet.  But, in the next two matches I dominated.  They were close games, but I went 2-0 and then 2-1 to finally win two matches and take home a couple booster packs in prizes.  Awesome right?? 

Now, there is a method to my rare drafting madness in some of my drafts.  That reason is for deck building.  Sometimes I just want to pull some cards which are going to help me build better, funner decks later.  It might not be very economical to do it this way, since you can often buy a lot of singles for cheap in the marketplace (i spent about $4 last night and I think I built three mediocre decks using cheap rares that people get rid of easily) but sometimes in rare drafts you just get lucky.  Those games that I played were all very close.  Literally one turn away from victory in each case which means that I was very close to recouping a pack or two by the end of the tourney.  Also, sometimes in swiss drafts, people leave.  I have, on more than one occassion gone up against an opponent in r2 or r3 who lost earlier in the tournament and just decides to cut and run.  If you with through a bye or through a leave, you still get packs for that win (this is a bit of a shadey thing to hope for, but it has on several occassions gotten me packs - about 6-7 packs in total now).

That about does it for your daily dose of MTG.  I will be drafting again today after work with one of the guys from my clan.  We'll see, maybe there will be a wrap-up post about that after it is all over as well.

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