Saturday, April 18, 2009

Shards of Alara/Conflux Draft

So I finally attended my first ever Magic: the Gathering booster draft last night. I had a lot of factors working against me especially

  • I was unfamiliar with both of the sets we were using, so each time cards were passed to me I had to read through each one and try to make sense of how some of them might work together, and
  • I had never played in a draft style tournament before, so although I knew the idea of what I was supposed to accomplish, putting that into practice is entirely more complicated.
Although drafting was a little slow going, I did my best to balance understanding the cards and making a good pick with keeping things moving along as to not disturb the flow of the tournament. I ultimately went with a three color deck consisting of red, black, and green. Really I had the core of an excellent red deck, but green and black acted more as fillers, not bringing a whole lot to the table. I'd like to think given another shot at a Shards/Conflux draft I'd do significantly better, but since all the cards were brand new to me I couldn't specify which cards I may have passed up that I should have picked to take my deck to the next level.

The Cards

Some of the cards I drafted:
  • Predator Dragon (3RRR, 4/4, flying, haste, devour 2) This is one of those cards that no matter how unfamiliar you are with drafting strategy or with the sets involved, it's impossible not to recognize its significance. This one is a game breaker for sure. That being said over three rounds and nine games it only hit the table twice, once it was killed immediately because I didn't have any creatures out for it to devour, the second it devoured three creatures to become 10/10, flying, haste and ended the game. As far as big red creatures go, this one may be even cooler than the Shivan Dragon, an old favorite of mine.
  • Hell's Thunder (1RR, 4/4, flying, haste, at end of turn sacrifice Hell's Thunder, unearth 4R) A cheap, very powerful creature. Doesn't have nearly the game breaking quality of the Predator Dragon, but for a much lower casting cost, and still nearly as difficult for an opponent to deal with. Also, it can lay in wait in your graveyard for an opportune moment to be unearthed and spring back to life, hopefully ending the game.
  • Resounding Thunder (2R, instant, Resounding Thunder deals 3 damage to target creature or player, cycling 5BRG, when you cycle Resounding Thunder, it deals 6 damage to target creature or player) A good direct damage spell that I could have envisioned being cycled instead of cast late in a game, but it never worked out that way.
  • Volcanic Fallout (1RR, Volcanic Fallout can't be countered, Volcanic Fallout deals 2 damage to each creature and each player) This has the potential to be a great card in a limited environment, mainly for the mass damage aspect of the card. That being said I never once used this one effectively.
  • Blood Cultist (1BR, 1/1, T:Blood Cultist deals 1 damage to target creature, whenever a creature dealt damage by Blood Cultist this turn is put into a graveyard, put a +1/+1 counter on Blood Cultist) This seems to be a good card that I used effectively once or twice. However, there were several occasions where I didn't have the chance to bring her out since my opponent already had a creature with a similar ping ability controlling the board.
  • Ignite Disorder (1R, instant, Ignite Disorder deals 3 damage divided as you choose among any number of target white and/or blue creatures) This seemed like it may be better suited to sideboard play, but since my deck was a bit light on removal I mainboarded it. The cost and effect are both excellent, playing it simply runs the risk of the card being useless if your opponent isn't playing those colors.
  • Sprouting Thrinax (BRG, 3/3, when Sprouting Thrinax is put into a graveyard from play, put three 1/1 green Saproling creature tokens into play) Immediately recognizable as great fodder for creatures with the devour ability, this also has a decent power/toughness for the cost, so long as you are playing those three colors, which I was.

So, how did I do? Not great. I lost my first two matches 1-2, then won my final 2-1. There were eight players in the draft, so the top four played single elimination from that point out, but I wasn't in the top four so I went home to hang out with the Mrs. for a while.

Though I didn't place well, I did have a lot of fun. This experience confirmed to me that drafting is an excellent style of play, and I'm certainly ready to try it again. I got a taste of both Shards of Alara and Conflux, and both seem like very interesting sets. Most importantly I met some new people in the area that are into gaming, so perhaps I'll ultimately be able to find some board game opponents as well.

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