Sunday, 9 January 2011

Drafting Magic: Online

For the first time since I installed the Magic Online client, I participated in a draft online. Well, two actually (M11 followed by Scars of Mirrodin). The first one (M11) I didn't do too well in, but still had fun, and the second (SOM) I managed to win (both were Swiss drafts, i.e. 3 rounds, no knock-out). 

For the M11 draft, I started out with a Pacifism, followed by a Blinding Mage (so heavily into White from the start). I picked up a few Blue cards as well in the first pack. Second pack started off with a Brittle Effigy (good removal in any deck), and I got a White Knight, another Pacifism, and some flyers (both White and Blue). Nothing particularly interesting to report in the third pack, mainly more White and Blue flyers amongst other things. 

The first round, I played against a Black Green deck. After not getting much land and having a pacifism duressed early on, I eventually lost to flyers. I managed to win the second game, unsummoning a Howling Banshee, and eventually Exiling it with the effigy to get enough damage in. The final match I was up against a Liliana and a Primeval Titan, but did manage to hold on for a few turns before being defeated by Liliana's Ultimate ability. 

Into the second round, playing against W/R, we both play a Blinding Mage, but I put an Ice Cage on theirs. After some attacking with some flyers, they got the Ice Cage off, so I exiled the Mage, and win a few turns later. The second game they get an Honour of the Pure, Mystifying Maze, Serra Angel and Prodigal Pyromancer. I exile Serra after a stand off (I had an indestructible flying knight), but in the end loose to something being flung at me, and Pyromancer damage. The final game was fairly close, I was managing to attack with two creatures to lessen the effect of a Mystifying Maze and was close to winning, but their clock ran out so I won anyway. 

In the final round, I Mulligan for the first game (on the draw), and risk keeping one land with a brittle effigy, blinding mage and pacifism. Luckily the first card I draw is another land. Unluckily they play Gaeas Revenge with me having no way to deal with it. I lost the second game too, but haven't got any notes from it so its probably not too interesting. 

My second draft of the day was a Scars of Mirrodin one. I have only drafted this in real life a few times, but think it is a fun set so went in hoping to be able to explore the set further. I'll put the draft picks at the bottom for any pointers. 

My first pick was a Carnifex Demon, followed by an uninteresting pack that got me a Vector Asp. A third pick Contagion Clasp (to go with the Demon) and fourth Corpse Cur made an infect strategy possible. I then got a Trigon of Rage (thinking it would go well with infect if I got more), and Steady Progress (keeping proliferate in mind to go with both the Demon, and an infect strategy).  I then got an Ichor Rats to allow me to look heavily into getting infect cards now, and a Painsmith (I had a number of artifacts already, and thought it would go well with infect). Also of note from the pack was a Trigon of Infestation. 

I started off the second pack with an Infiltration Lens (to put people off blocking my infect dudes, and net me lots of cards if they do), and got a second pick Wurmcoil Engine, thinking that its got to be good, even if I do go fully infect. I got an Untamed Might and an infect creature, as well as some general filler, but nothing too interesting from the rest of the second pack. 

Starting off the third pack was a Strata Scythe, which seemed powerful with infect (and my mainly mono-black with probable splash deck at this point). I got another Untamed Might and some more creatures (both infect and not). In the end, the deck I put together looked like this:

Confident I had a solid deck together, I submitted it and waited to start the first match. My first match was against a Mono Blue deck, and after getting two poison counters on them, they played what would be an unblockable 5/5 (I had an artifact), my two small infect creatures went through unblocked, and finished the match with a large Untamed Might. The second game I started off with Ichor Rats and Trigon of Rage, and I quickly got them up to 8 poison counters. They got some creatures out (including that 5/5 unblockable) so I played the Carnifex Demon to clear the board (and lessen the power of the unblockable creature). I used the Green Trigons a few times to get a number of infect creatures, and got enough through to win the game and match. 

Red/Green was the deck my second round opponent played. I got an early concession in the first match, thanks to the help of Blight Mamba and Painsmith, keeping the pressure on. 

The second game was very close indeed. I had a slow start, not having any creatures to play, but got an Infiltration Lens and Strata Scythe onto the board. They play a Molder Beast with a Darksteel Axe, and two 2/2 Myr, and I go down to 4. I play the Carnifex Demon and remove one counter (using all my mana), leaving a 6/2 beast, and 2 1/1 myr, which they attack with on their next turn. I block the beast with the demon to trade, and take 3 damage in total (one trample). On my next turn, with one life left, I play a Painsmith, make an Insect with the Trigon of Infestation and attach the Scythe to it (as well as the infiltration lens), giving me a 6/6 infect insect. They decline to attack the next turn, luckily for me. I play another Trigon of Infestation and give the insect I have out +2/+0 and deathtouch from the painsmith. I attack with the insect (I have enough mana spare to make another one so can block both their creatures next turn if needed), but they don't block, so I play Untamed Might to deal 11 poison counters in one hit, winning the match. 

The third and final match started, against a W/B deck. I start with a Vector Asp and Painsmith, they play a Auriok Sunchaser and Salvage Scout. I play a Contagion Clasp on the Sunchaser, and they play a Plague Stinger. I play a Fume Spitter to get rid of the Plague Stringer, and a Trigon of Rage. We trade some creatures, and I get out a Contagious Nim, which trades with a Blackcleave Goblin. They play an artifact creature and exile my contagion clasp. I get an infect insect and blight mamba out, followed by another insect. The blight mamba holds the ground for a bit while I get a Corpse Cur and another insect, until it is killed by a Skinrender. I play the Contagious Nim I got back the previous turn. They play a Grafted Exoskeleton, equiping it to the Auriok Sunchaser which had just hit metalcraft. They give me 5 poison counters that I can't block (no fliers), so I make another insect (4 now, I had proliferated once giving me an extra counter on the trigon). I untapped and did some maths (and got Liz to help me double check it; she is a maths teacher) as I was dead next turn to a 5/5/ infect flyer. I attack with four 1/1's with infect, and two 2/2's with infect. They block the 2/2's and a 1/1 with their 3 untapped creatures. I activate my Trigon of Rage for the first time all game on one of my unblocked tokens, and give another +4/+4 from an Untamed Might to deal a full 10 poison counters in one attack (I thought I had to use the Trigon for +3 for 2 mana, as I wouldn't have had enough with Untamed Might X=6, but didn't remember that I had already given them a poison counter previously). 

For the second game of the final round, I got an early Plague Stinger, followed by a Contagious Nim that was killed by a Skinrender. After getting a couple of turns of poison damage in, an unblocked Plague Stinger powered up with an Untamed Might was enough to win me the game, and the match. 

All things considered, I had a fun time drafting online. I drew the Wurmcoil Engine that was in my deck twice, but didn't need to play it either time in the end. Infect as a draft strategy is a pretty powerful one, especially with a selection of power pumping spells (I quite like the Trigon of Rage as you don't have to be in Red to run it), but can be risky if you don't get enough creatures. I think with this in mind, it makes the Trigon of Infestation a moderately high pick if you plan on drafting infect, as it silently ups the creature count (multiple times over a few turns too). 

Draft Picks
In the comments are my draft picks from the SOM draft, let me know if there is anything you would have done differently, or if there was a better card that I missed.