Friday, 24 May 2013

Relative size

(Found this in a draft folder from last month, posting it now as I hadn't then apparently)

Thinking about it, I should find it odd that I think two opposite things at the same time, but it makes sense to me.

Whenever me and Liz talk about Kaleb's size, I think he is both big and small. It's all relative to various factors though. Compared to other children his age, he is quite tall, and compared to when he was a newborn, he has grown a lot.

However, when he's sitting on the floor, especially if I'm standing up, he looks so small (and when he's crawling across the floor I wonder where he stores all that energy).

One minute I can see him clapping his little hands with his tiny fingers, and the next I'll be wondering how long it's been since he could reach the top of the table...

Saturday, 11 May 2013

First Dragons Maze Draft

Unlike the last set, I actually found time to draft this new set, which I'm happy about as I usually prefer draft over sealed. Due to the numbers at the comic shop, we had a number of smaller pods, so I was drafting with 5 others. 

Opening the first pack (Dragons Maze), I found a Warleader's Helix, but was more interested in the foil Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch, which I took. This sort of set the tone for the draft, and I picked up as many red and black cards as I could. I also like playing green, so took a few late, but also knew that white could work well too, so kept an eye out for those. At the end of the first pack, I had Blood ScrivenerCarnage Gladiator, Punish the Enemy, Ubul Sar Gatekeepers (but no gates...), Riot Piker and Phytoburst, as well as two cluestones. 

In the second pack, first picking a Stomping Ground from a fairly weak pack, I picked up of note a Scorchwalker, a Pit Fight and a Gruul Keyrune. I did also get a Wojek Halberdiers, but didn't really have much white to play, and the card needs to come down early so isn't a great splash. I did know, however, that if I was in black red, and possibly green black, I would have more to choose from in the final pack, where I did pick up a Korozda Guildmage, Electrickery, Giant Growth, Dead Reveler and Gore-House Chainwalker

Building the deck, I did need to include green as I didn't have enough black red cards to stick two colour, which is not entirely unexpected. I did have three mana fixers (four if you include the shock land), but didn't want to add a fourth colour just for two cards, so stuck with three. My curve topped out with one card at 5, so, with the mana artifacts I played 16 lands. 

I won both games of the first round, the set is a fun one to play. Some of the games took a surprisingly long time, considering I was in theory playing a fast deck - the games were very attrition heavy. 

In the second round, I won two of three matches, playing some very close games. One game my opponent tried to get the upper hand in a trade with Weapon Surge, so I played my own one to even things out. In the last game, I narrowly won a race, getting just enough creatures on the battlefield at the end so my opponent couldn't do much about them. 

In the final round, I won a close first match being dead on board next turn. My opponent had played a Sluiceway Scorpion, as the only blocker (a good blocker to have), and to win I drew my second additional green source so I could activate Gruul Keyrune and play Phytoburst on it to trample enough damage through. I was running out of steam at this point, but luckily had done enough early damage that I only had a little more to do to win. 

The second game I faced a turn two Pack Rat. I started racing a bit, but think I should have thought ahead a little more. I saw it in the first game, but killed it with Electrickery before it could do anything, but didn't have anything this time. 

In the final game, I was ahead after my opponents slow start, but they were starting to stabilise. They ended up having a good blocker that they could pump, so I could only profitably attack with a Wasteland Viper, getting in a little bit of extra damage before he played a creature to trade with it. Then, with them on 7 and me on 18, time was called and we had to start 5 extra turns. My opponent calculated that he couldn't win, but by returning a card to give his pumpable creature lifelink, he could get a draw instead. He had to tap out to do this, and I had played out my hand (hoping to get some value out of Blood Scrivener, but it was killed before I could draw). I drew for the turn and attacked with my 2/2 and 2/4. They blocked one so I used the bloodrush from Scorchwalker on the unblocked creature to deal the exact 7 required to win.  Another very close, but fun game. 

I do enjoy this set, hopefully I'll be able to draft it again at some point. There seems to be a lot of scope for many different decks, which looks interesting. Again, playing in the last round made me remember why I prefer drafting over sealed; the final round in sealed is usually the 5th, so including deck construction it is a long time to be concentrating while playing. Drafts are generally 3 rounds, so even though the pre-game part may be longer as it involves the draft and deck building, the draft is finished before I get to the point of starting to lose concentration (like I did at the pre-release, losing only in the final round). 

Plus, this draft I did have Liz and Kaleb there to keep me company.  Kaleb more active than the last draft when I had him on my lap, so I gave him a token card at one point to entertain himself, which he decided would look better folded in half and chewed...

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Dragons Maze prerelease

Being busy with Kaleb, I don't play Magic as much as I used to, but still try to get some games in when I can. I only managed one draft after the Return to Ravnica prerelease, and only played Gatecrash once at the prerelease for that. I generally try to get to the prerelease events when I can at least, even if I can't get to anything else, so for the Dragons Maze one, I ensured I registered in advance.

In the morning, before getting ready, I thought it would be fun to write a little app that could flip 5 coins for me, on the off chance I needed to due to the new Planeswalker (Spoiler: I didn't, but it was fun to code nonetheless).

Liz and Kaleb were not going to be playing, but travelled down with me so they could go shopping. We arrived almost exactly on time; good train picking skills on Liz's part there.

I had picked Golgari as my main guild (wearing the guild T-shirt I got too), with part of me hoping for Gruul as those are the two guilds I picked for the other two prereleases. My actual secret guild was Orzhoz, so I started to get into the mindset of having some longer games.

Opening the pool, I think I got a decent set of cards. I figured my guild packs were good enough that I would probably play them, so decided I would start thinking from a different point of view, and pick a colour to not play, if possible. The first colour eliminated was blue, as I didn't really have all that much worth playing.

I almost eliminated red, but really wanted to play Ruric Thar and Warleaders Helix, so thought I would see if I could keep them in. I almost set aside Advent of the Wurm before realising that if I was paying green-black and white-black, I was also playing green-white...

My big Orzhov bomb was the mythic Blood Baron, and I had Alms Beast too. Other good cards included Dread Mangler, Toil & Trouble (and I could play both halves with my red splash), and two Ubul Sar Gatekeepers, which I was happy to play as all 6 gates I got were in my three main colours.

About half my deck needed black mana, so I played 6 swamps, the rest being covered by gates, and a couple of plains and forests, as they were also covered by the gates. I played one mountain and two red cluestones (boros and rakdos) to cover my two and a half card red splash, but I think I could have gotten away with just the cluestones and a prism in retrospect.

I won all four of the first matches I played, my deck seemed to play quite fast. Not by number of turns as it took me a few turns usually before I had played that much, but whenever I did play something, it was usually really good. One game I was able to play a turn three cluestone into a turn four Blood Baron. I think in those four matches I only lost one game to a madcap skills creature with double strike and a flyer, but being hit for 17 in one turn isn't something I was expecting.

The whole day I had been having fun and feeling relaxed, but come the last round (the finals), the games were very tense. Very fun, but still very tense. I lost the first game, I think it was close though. The second game I won, but that was close too. In the third game I think I made a few mistakes and lost, but was impressed with my record part the first round really, so didn't mind that much. One mistake was I was being attacked with a 5/2 and 5 power of double strike and temple, I had a 5/5 to block and blocked the one with double strike, I should have blocked the other one to trade as I took 10 in any case. Another mistake I think was that I held on to the gatekeeper waiting to draw my second gate (all other games I played I had two gates out quite quickly), when I should have played it earlier to either trade or hold off some damage. I did spend a turn playing two cluestones and not developing my board which was also a mistake.

All in ask it was a fun day. I'll see if I can actually get to draft this set unlike the last one when I didn't have the time. I wasn't too good when I last drafted a set that encouraged more than two colours, but I think this one supports it better, so hopefully I'll be OK :-)