Robert Chesley

FNM Drafting – Triple Gatecrash

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wizards-magic-gatecrash-logoThe past few weeks has been interesting to say the least. With a goal of becoming more social or at least not being such a hermit as I tend to be, my wife suggested that we go play in Friday Night Magic again. I love playing Magic, but sometimes the tournament scene is not always my favorite place to be. I mean it was great when I was in college and just out of high school. Most of my friends were at FNM and we were all similar ages. As I’ve grown up a bit, my tastes have changed. While I still love playing Magic competitively, spending four hours in a terribly ventilated room with a bunch of guys likely far younger than me isn’t always the best way to spend it.

My wife suggested we find activities we can do together and that get us out of the house. She agreed to play at FNM with me but I have to promise to make sure we go each week. I was still a little reluctant. Mostly for vanity reasons, like “Oh, I’m not good enough” or “I won’t know anyone so I’ll feel awkward”. It’s a little social anxiety that I feel most people have. I’m not really sure why I have this anxiety about playing Magic. I’ve been playing for going on most of my life at this point. It isn’t like I haven’t been successful in the area (quite on the contrary I’ve won more tournaments in this area than my “hometown” of Price.) Such is life, the first time you go to one of these there is always so much awkwardness. Even if you’ve done it a million times. The first thing we did was search our area for shops that had FNM. It surprised me on how much the game has grown and in our area there are at least six or seven stores that have FNM each week. We decided that we were going to go to a place that held drafts. Drafts are the easiest format to get into competitively, you have to do little to no preparation just show up, pay the fee, crack packs, pass cards. While you should stick to a few general guidelines, such as be mindful of your mana curve, value removal, emphasis on 3, 4, 5 drop creatures, you don’t really have to bring anything else other than yourself.

The options in town were as followed, everywhere held draft. The prices varied on the prize structure and the level of competitiveness. Most places in town were charging $15 dollars a person, keep what you draft (meaning no rare re-drafting at the end, which is something that I frown upon local game stores doing), and a pack per each match win. The place we decided to settle on going to only gave out packs to the top winners but cost far less per draft. It ends up being close to $20 for us to draft. Which is close to two for one at other places. If you are in the area, drop by Dragon’s Keep in Orem on Friday and we can battle or trade. The store itself is pretty interesting. It’s a typical comic book/game store but it is also combined with a take out pizza place. Which in and of itself is pretty convenient. We have yet to try the pizza out, but man it smelled really good as we were slinging up cards. As for the game area itself has tables that are big enough, plenty of windows for natural light, and one of the most underrated features, high ceilings. This helps with noise. For example I never felt like I couldn’t understand or hear my opponent. All in all, it is the perfect place to go play on Friday night for us.

The first FNM we went to was a couple weeks back. We were both pretty nervous. I was nervous because of all the unknowns. It is tough to break into a new group. Most people know people from school, whether that is college or high school, it’s a little harder to break into it when you’ve been out of it for a while and you’re slightly older. I feel overall Sam had an easier time, because she was the only lady and she has been comfortable in these kinds of settings for a while. We sat down for the draft and I could immediately tell that my draft pod had all the ringers in it. The two guys with the most followers when we came in sat at my table. It was an understatement to say that I was sweating bullets. We passed the cards around. I pulled some good Orzhov cards and splashed a bit of red for some bombs that I opened. In my nervousness, or maybe the rust that I haven’t drafted in a while came to the forefront. I missed the signals that I should have been in Simic or Dimir passing up really excellent blue and green cards for mediocre white or black cards. I later learned that most of the six person pod tried to force black and white and I should have definitely been in other colors. This is one of the best things I can say about drafting, you’re always learning and second guessing your knowledge and perception.

The first round I was paired up against David. Who I learned won the draft the previous week. He was to my right in the draft pod. I kept a few questionable hands, there isn’t really much else to say about the match except I felt like I had a shot in the first game where I could have won if I had just another land and in the second game he had double Madcap Skills, one of the few cards that can just win games on it’s own in Gatecrash limited, and I was put on a two turn clock on turn three. So, while I don’t think I made any glaring play mistakes (sometimes your opponents just have it), it brought me down a rung on the pole and made me that much more hungry to get my first match win at this new store.mtg

My second match was against Jared, who informed me while we were shuffling for our match that this is the first time he’s tried to draft a control deck. He was playing Dimir. The first game I had to mulligan down to 5. Though I was still in the game. Jared windmill slams down a few flying fae who I cannot overcome and I succumb after losing to a hoard of flying horrors. The next game, I got down my guys who quickly outclassed his and I extorted to victory. We were down to the third and final game. It was a tooth and nail, grindy kind of battle that involved a lot of extorting and counterspells. I eventually landed a guy I needed and swung in for the final points of damage. Playing against Jared makes me feel great about playing at this shop. We were slinging spells and laughing about our own misfortunes.

The final match of the night pitted me against Matt who was guiding a plethora of Boros legion for the glory of Ravnica. I don’t remember much about this match. I know that Matt was having some difficulties finding the mana he needed for his spells and I was clicking on all cylinders at that point. Extort is a very powerful mechanic that basically adds a bit of burn and life gain to each of your spells. Creatures that are normally decent, become must play because of their extort ability. The outcome of both games came down that I just had more flying and was able to send the troops in by air and took Matt in two games. Just like the previous match there were no hard feelings and we ended the match laughing and having a great time. Which is exactly the point of Friday Night Magic in the first place. It was very refreshing.

My first foray into Friday Night Magic was successful. I went 2 – 1 in matches and lost to the eventual winner, David. I placed 7th out of 12 which is about middle of the pack. Considering I had not drafted Gatecrash before that night, playing in a new shop, and seeing many interactions for the first time I mark it as a win even though I didn’t make prizes.

This isn’t going the be the last time I talk about my forays into Friday Night Magic. It seems that I am pushing the upper limits of space at this point. My next Friday Night Magic at Dragon’s Keep was much more successful. If you follow me on Twitter or on Facebook then you’ve already heard all about it. I’ll save those stories for another article.

I wanted to close this article by talking a little bit about the You Make The Card contest going on at wizards.com/dailymtg. The first vote has already finished and the card type is going to be Enchantment. My vote was cast for lands because I feel that it is a more interesting card type and can potentially be used in many or all decks. For Enchantments it is going to be a little interesting to see which direction it goes in. The next vote starts on April 2nd and we’ll be deciding which of the five colors the enchantment will be. I am putting my hat into the ring for Red. Red has historically been one of the weakest colors in terms of playability and card quality. Sure Red gets amazing removal and direct damage, but outside of those strategies very few Red decks see the final tables.

I want to see an enchantment that does the following and mind you this is very rough and may not be worded correctly.

Enchantment – At the beginning of your Upkeep flip a coin, if the coin lands on heads this enchantment gains “Creatures you control have haste” until end of turn. If the coin lands on tails this enchantment gains “You have an additional Attack Phase after your first Attack Phase” until end of turn.

I think this plays up so many of Red’s interesting attack philosophies. It would be a fun and interesting card in competitive formats as well as many casual formats. It also plays up the chaotic flavor of Red’s color identity. If you want to join the conversation about You Make The Card, use the #YMTC hashtag on Twitter and while you’re there follow me @urzishra.

Robert Chesley has been spell slinging in Friday Night Magic since 2003. You can follow him on twitter @urzishra where he muses about Magic.

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