Robert Chesley

FNM Drafting – Good Karma

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We finally got to Dragon Maze spoiler season. While I do not currently have a preview card for the WatchPlayRead faithful, I can say that I am glad this block is going to be closing on a somewhat strong note. All of the cards previewed so far have been stellar. My favorite card and card I’m most excited to play with that has been spoiled so far is easily Advent of the Wurm. A lot of my favorite cards in all of Magic involve giving creatures a massive boost and trample. This takes it a step further, makes the effect fairly cheap. You look at this card and it is basically a 5/5 with Trample and Flash. That is amazing considering the cost. I personally think this card is going to pop up in many of my Selesnya decks in the future. Definitely a card that is going to be seeing a lot of play in the multiplayer arena, it is almost like a Green White counterspell or removal spell, because you are only going to be playing this at the end of their turn or in the middle of combat to stop a blocker dead in it’s tracks. It will be interesting to see how much populate will matter when the full block arrives.0g0viseo9e_EN

This week at FNM I had to go stag. Sam was not able to accompany me this week, which immediately makes me feel a little down. Magic is so much a social game and sometimes even playing in tournaments without anybody there to share the glory or the bad beats stories with it is a little discouraging. We almost did not have enough players this week but a few players showed up at the last minute and we had a full eight for a Triple Gatecrash draft. This will be my third time drafting Gatecrash and the format is so incredibly fast you really want to make sure you have the pressure early and constant. This week I was pushed into Boros, a guild that I feel is slightly overvalued at my favorite local game store. I pulled some bombs and had a decent curve, but I may have been a little light on removal and I may have messed up signals that I should have moved into black, even if just for a splash.

I am finally getting more and more comfortable at my particular game store. This will be the third week that I’ve played there in a month and while I am still somewhat shy when it comes to meeting new people. I am establishing myself as a decent player and not just an “unknown newbie” player. My first match was against a kid who was playing his first draft. After our match, I saw he was a little discouraged. I take responsibility as a player of Magic, to make sure everyone has a good time. Because honestly I want to see the game continue to prosper, and honestly no one tells you a lot about the specifics of drafting or what you should be doing. Since it was his first draft I asked if I could kindly take a look at his deck and help him rebuild it. He was heavy into Simic and actually drafted some pretty good cards. We trimmed his monstrosity of a deck down to 40, added some more creatures, fixed the mana and he won a game his next match which he was very excited about. If there is a peeve that I have is that there are some game stores out there that make no concerted effort in helping new players understand the rules of the formats they play. The younger kids I’ve encountered at FNM have little to no idea how a draft works outside of the basic “take one and pass it”.

After I helped two younger fellows with their decks and gave them some general guidelines on drafting for the future, they seemed genuinely more enthusiastic about their upcoming matches and future drafts. One might argue, why would you do something like that? It is just one of those things that I take upon myself. FNM to me is a place to have fun for a few hours on a Friday night. It is a place where you can just forget about the week you had a school or work and just enjoy slinging some spells with some good company. I’ll always look over people’s decks or help them out with deck choices. It is just something that I do as a Magic player to spread all the enthusiasm that I have for the game and pay the karma forward.

My next match was against a fellow named Wayne. From what some of the people around the shop were saying, he’s one of the top players around. I always love when I get to play against the best of the best competition. Most of our games were very close. I got game one by curving out to my best creatures and swinging fast and hard. The second game I had to mulligan to six and keep a very risky hand. I ended up not drawing the third and fourth mana I needed to complete the deed. So we were set up for a decisive game three. A quick aside, there is nothing more fun to me than playing a do or die game. Game threes are my favorite games in any tournament. We both landed haymakers and it came down to a final draw. Unfortunately for me, he drew his final removal spell and dealt me that last 3 damage the turn before I could.

I’m at 1-1 so far in the tournament and while I am not discouraged, I was a little miffed that I wasn’t able to pull out the second round victory. I replayed the game in my head and while I think I could have survived if I had chosen to kill one of his other creatures I think it was just too close to call. I try not to ‘tilt’ at FNM. I realize that variance is not only part of the game, it is what makes the games interesting and helps placate all the amazing plays and stories that Magic fosters. My third and final match was against an Orzhov deck. I typically love playing black white in Gatecrash I feel it not only has the most versatility, it is far more stronger than most other types of decks. With Orzhov you have to be careful you don’t run against all of the extort spells. Unfortunately for me, there was a card I overlooked in the draft portion. My opponent was fortunate or had the foresight to pick up multiple copies of Contaminated Ground. While I don’t think the card is particularly strong, he did manage to pick up three copies of it. One of the games I did win I just overpowered him with flight. The next two games I just couldn’t stop multiple Contaminated Grounds hitting my only sources of white or red mana.contaminated

So far in my FNM drafting adventure, I’ve won more than I’ve lost. by my count I have gone 5 – 3 overall. Which to me signifies about what I expected, that I’m a good, decent player but I have yet to take it the next level yet. While I’m working on it, I think drafting more and more each week we’ll get a better idea of what my actual playskill is.

This week I added a few more cards to my Puca Trade account. So far, no takers on any of my draft rares so far. While I realize that most of the cards that I am putting up for trade are from the easiest set to get a hold of, I was expecting at least a few bites on some of my more expensive sought after Standard rares from the set. My current balance at Puca is 500 points, which is about five dollars. I got all of those points just from sharing on Facebook and retweeting on Twitter. So far, this week I have not made any headway into my quest for power cards from drafting, but I am also in the process of setting up a trade binder to take with me to FNM and we’ll see how this experiment goes next week.

As for other Magic news, the allocation for Modern Masters is slowly leaking out. The general consensus is that you should get as much of this set as you can get your hands on. Most places will only be able to get a fraction of what was available for Return to Ravnica or Gatecrash. Wizards is playing it cool and advising that it will be available but it won’t be available for very long. I expect the entire run of Modern Masters to be sold out everywhere within a month of it hitting the shelves. If you are looking to draft the set try to secure a box or two from your local game store, but from the looks of it the best they’ll be able to get is three cases of product. Which sounds like a lot, but that is usually what most stores open solely for singles for their shops.

The box prices of Modern Masters have been going through the roof, if you are able to get a box for anything less than $130 then you are getting a great deal. Most places started at that price sold out immediately, raised the price to $170 and then sold out of that nearly immediately. I am not sure of a place online that is pre-selling the product at all. What does all of this mean? To me, it is good news. If products like this are very successful than that tells Wizards that the market is ready for more reprint style expansions that are not necessarily legal in Standard. But it is a double edged sword. Personally, I think that these kinds of expansions should have a much wider reach. I think if players want the cards, they should be able to obtain them in some kind of sealed product. The secondary market has been going crazy the past few years. Most cards have shot up in value and stayed high. It was announced today that many of the Legacy staple cards at Star City Games’ buy list have shot up again, probably pushing another segment out of Legacy and into Modern. It will be interesting to see how all of this shakes out. If there is one thing that I’ve noticed in all my years of playing Magic, formats come and go. Legacy may get to a point where it won’t be financially viable for Star City to run Legacy Opens on Sunday because the cards cost so much and people can only afford so much to play cards.

I’m just about hitting the top limit for my article. I’ll be slinging cards at FNM this weekend at Game Den in Orem, stop by and say hi if you’re around.

Robert Chesley has been slinging cards since ’96. He has become a FNM regular and plays sealed online on Mondays. Check out his ramblings on Twitter @urzishra.

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