In the draft portion, the draft starts in green, but end up yielding very few other picks in the first pack. After picking white as their secondary color, they end up opening and passing two Essence of the Wild in pack 2 and pack 3. See how their decks comes out. Will they have enough to get there?
In round one, the opponent opens on turn 2 Mayor of Avabruck. Lacking a direct answer, our cunning drafters begin an intricate dance to keep the werewolf at bay. If you thought the mayor was a bomb rare, watch how it can be turned into a 1/1 that basically does nothing.
Watch some sideboarding discussion before the beginning of game two. The Mayor comes out once more and it’s dejà vu all over again as the boys keep on finding new ways of disrupting their opponent who’s trying desperately to make wolves. The game ends up in a tight race to the finish, with a few unlikely moves that end up paying off.
In round two, they face another black green deck that isn’t short on annoying cards. They fight a tight race and face some tough decisions on top of a game crash that dwindles a lot of their precious clock.
After fighting with Internet connection problems, the game resumes and our friends end up losing a tight game 1. They need to go through a very quick game 2 to have any shot with winning the round with any time left. They are rewarded with a quick start, as the deck comes out firing on all cylinders and shows how much blue white can out tempo its opponents.
In the decisive game of round two, it’s mulligan galore when our favorite drafters end up with a sketchy five card hand. It goes from bad to worse when they keep drawing land after land, yet manage to stay in the game on the back of Butcher’s Cleaver buying them infinite time.
Vince’s Final Advice: Drafting in general, signals and getting in touch with your inner noob
Drafting online can be a lot of fun, and you have the opportunity, at any time of the day or night, to play against some of the best players of the game (except during the dreadful down time where the server is offline). For sure, you sometimes get paired against a player that does not seem to know what he is doing, someone who forgets to play his EOT (end of turn) effects or again uses his tappers during your first main phase instead of the beginning of the combat step. This is rather the exception than the rule and on MTGO you will often be mesmerised by the precision and the synergy of the cards your opponents will play. Online drafting is also one of the best ways to learn how the cards work and master the intricacies of the ubiquitous stack. The best players online often become some of the best in real life, as we have seen for quite a while now. David Caplan, Canadian Worlds semi-finalist of this year, is a good example. Qualifying through Modo, he managed to perform incredibly well at the top level of the game.
Anyway, drafting Innistrad is quite challenging but it comes as a welcome change from the core set Magic 2012. I drafted my fair share of M12, playtesting extensively for the Canadian Nationals. The number of archetypes that you can draft, and the different strategies you can adopt, were however rather limited, especially if you compare with the expansions. Cards from the expansions tend to have more abilities and these are often more complex, leading to more intricate board states, allowing skills and outside-the-box thinking to play a bigger role in your matches. With Innistrad some deck archetypes can have a constructed feel, for example the GU splash r or b self-mill, as you mill almost your entire library, winning the late game with cards like Spider Spawning or Laboratory Maniac. During the current draft we switched to white after seeing some signals that led us to think that the color was open. Also, as it is the deepest color in the set (the one with the most playable commons), we were not that worried if several people used that color as it can support plenty of drafters at the same table. There are a few ways to define what a signal is, so let me elaborate a little bit on that.
You get a signal when you receive a card in a pack that is passed to you and you can see in it a card that is usually taken way earlier than that. For example, Bonds of Faith and Alvacyn Priest are the top 2 common in white and I often pick them higher than a lot of rares and uncommon. So If you see them in second, third or fourth pick, it is not quite a strong signal, but could mean that the guys feeding you the cards are not drafting that color, otherwise they would have taken it. However, if you see it fifth, sixth or seventh (!!) pick, well you can be pretty sure that there are not that many white drafters on the table, or that you are sitting in the presence of amateur drafters, commonly called noobs in the gamer slang, which, despite its negative connotation, is actually revealing of the upmost respect that magic community has for skills and a deep knowledge of the game.
The first step, and the most radical one a magic apprentice can take in his career towards spell-slinging excellence, is to get in touch and look in the face his inner noob, stop being in denial about it, and go on a personal conscious vendetta with him. The only problem with this inner noob is that it seems that you cannot get rid of him forever and once in a while, when your guard is down, he will re-emerge from your soul, and, in the blink of an eye, screw your current game, causing you to miss a trigger, forget a land drop, or miss a damage here and there.
When that happens, you finally realize that, despite all these years and all this work, this inner scrub was never totally gone and that, like it or not, you will have to assume that he is always there, in the background, whispering in your ears lies and false reasoning, leading you from one blunder to another. Maybe the solution is, instead of being in denial, just to accept with humility that perfection is just not attainable and that striving for it should not make you lose sight of the fact that, no matter how hard you try, you will remain, after all, only human.