Robert Chesley

FNM Drafting – TBA

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Sometimes you’re just under the weather. This is why I didn’t get to attend FNM this past weekend. I had a rough week at work and it just caught up with me on Friday. I literally just crashed on the couch after work and the cat slept on me until I needed to go pick up my wife. That doesn’t mean I didn’t get any Magic playing in this week, just means the quest at FNM will be postponed this week. I did play in another phantom MTGO Gatecrash sealed event for MTGO Monday.

image001I thought my sealed pool was pretty good, it wasn’t nearly as easy to build as my last sealed pool that we had a few weeks back, but I thought it had potential. I kind of got suckered into playing Dimir. Which of all the guilds in Gatecrash, is probably the weakest and most swing worthy. I thought that my strong suite of mill spells would get me there. Doing a postmortem on the pool it appears I probably should have went with the much stronger red green cards in the pool and maybe splashed blue for some of the better Simic cards. This isn’t the first time that I’ve overvalued Dimir cards. The milling seems really good and the creatures that are hard to block seem good on the surface, but fact of the matter is when it comes to Gatecrash sealed, you need to be as fast as possible to get wins.

I don’t remember too much about the games, I do know that I won my first match and then lost my second. In the final and deciding match, I had a few opportunities to win the game, but as it happens, I drew five lands in a row. If it were any spell in my deck, I would have pulled out my second straight MTGO event in the money. But variance is a thing in Magic, it is something that can be the most exciting thing in the world or the most heartbreaking. I can’t imagine Magic being a very interesting game without it. I tend not to dwell on the bad beat stories, I try to learn from my mistakes and carry them forward and learn from them. I will say a few things, I haven’t played a format as fast as Gatecrash since Zendikar draft. Zendikar was heavily influenced by landfall and cards that killed quickly. One of my most successful tournaments was a Zendikar prerelease where I went undefeated sporting a deck with Vampire Nighthawk and World Queller. Not only was Vampire Nighthawk one of the best cards in the set, it was so incredibly powerful and very tough to beat. Usually the lifelink didn’t matter so much, you were always after the deathtouch and the flying. That meant it was basically a removal spell for their best creature. But I will say a few more things about Gatecrash. I can’t wait until we can do full block drafting in a few weeks.

4-1 phantom sealed

Because Gatecrash was so fast and Return to Ravnica is comparatively slower, it’ll be interesting to see how Dragon’s Maze will merge these two very different draft formats into a unified format. Personally, I think that the format will be much faster than Return to Ravnica, yet slower than Gatecrash. So far, the best cards of the set have been the “guild champions” which are gold legendary creatures of each corresponding guild. For limited picking up any of them is probably a good bet, so far the only guild champion I wouldn’t really play much is the Dimir one. It’s kind of slow and clunky, it does have a decent mill effect, but it requires an attack phase and no blocks. And sometimes, those are premiums that you just can’t afford, even in sealed or draft. My strategy when the full block comes around is try to stick to position myself for either Gruul or Orzhov in Gatecrash  which will then let me be in either Golgari or Selesnya in Return to Ravnica. I feel that those color combinations are the strongest. There is also a pretty decent strategy of ending up in Boros/Orzhov/Rakdos, which I will imagine will be one of the more popular archetypes in full block draft. I’m not sure I would want to be in the Simic/Azorius/Selesnya camp but I can definitely see the benefits of going that route as well. I think you’ll want to try to force a base of red or black for Gatecrash, if only because the removal in Gatecrash in those colors are much stronger than the removal in Return to Ravnica, besides you want the focus of that last pack to be the stronger more resilient creatures that Return to Ravnica has to offer. There are so many different potential archetypes that I cannot wait to see how it shakes out.

Wizards recently gave us an update on the guild leader board. That means how many Planeswalker Points that each guild has accumulated since we were allowed to pick a guild (which, correct me if I’m wrong, was way back in September).  Here is the list that we got in our email today. The number next to each guild is the amount of Planeswalker Points they have accumulated.

1)    Azorius (3,390,302)

2)    Izzet  (3,330,408)

3)    Dimir (2,485,106)

4)    Simic (2,209,464)

5)    Golgari (1,628,324)

6)    Boros (1,597,323)

7)    Orzhov (1,519,002)

8)    Selesnya (1,392,553)

9)    Rakdos (1,214,476)

10) Gruul (889,470)


For those wondering, I am a member of the guild Dimir. The reasoning I am a member of that guild is two-fold. One, I’ve always gravitated towards Black/Blue decks in general. My first tournament I took 3rd place with a “suicide black” deck for a Junior Pro Tour Qualifier tournament back in 98. The first deck that I can remember building and doing well with was a deck that has a lot of similarities with what the Dimir guild tries to do now, and that is to mill the top cards of people’s libraries until they are gone. While I didn’t win many games, I had a lot of fun taking cards off the top of people’s libraries and I’ve always been drawn to discard, rouges, being sneaky, and counterspells. All of these things define the Dimir guild to me. So for me, the flavor of playing for the Dimir guild it is the same as playing a Rouge or any other shady character in an RPG. You are independent and you take orders from yourself and no one else. You also don’t have a strict world view when it comes to laws and “what society thinks” which is also me philosophically.  Sam’s guild is Gruul. She likes to smash face and ask questions later. She just wants to watch the world burn. Which is something that I can respect. I think the Gruul guild is criminally undermanned in my opinion.

You can head on over to Guilds of Ravnica to take the quiz and figure out which flag you should wave as you try to fight your way through the Dragon’s Maze this spring.

As for what I think of the standings, I think blue guilds are over emphasized. Blue is probably the most popular color among players who play in a lot of tournaments. The Azorius guild is over represented because most DCI judges identify with the guild that makes and follows the rules, yeah I know typical. I feel all the cool kids choose to be a part of the Simic or Izzet guilds. If Doctor Who was in a guild, he probably would be in the Izzet guild. I know many of the people in my playgroups would probably represent Rakdos, the punk rockers of Ravnica or Golgari, the metal heads of Ravnica. One guild I don’t think I could ever get behind and that is Boros guild. I don’t know if I want to be known as the “cops” of Ravnica. That being said, of all the guilds, I’ve had the most success with Boros. As for how the other guilds translate, Simic are the mad scientists of Ravnica, Gruul are the incredible hulks of Ravnica, Orzhov is definitely the political, religious, mobsters of Ravnica, obviously the Selesnya are the hippies, and finally the Dimir are the men in black of Ravnica.

Puca watch this week. Still no changes. That being said I have not blostered the content of my trade list yet and I will do that sometime this week when I have some time. That being said, there is so much that I like about Puca trade. For one, if you have excess cards you are not using, why not trade them away for cards you are using  and get as close to “full value” as you can for them. It is better than trying to eBay them away or selling them on web forums. The bad thing is you can’t “value trade” as much on Puca as you can with other systems. What I mean by that is you can’t trade one of your cards for more than it is worth to people who are unaware or not as savvy as you are when it comes to the value of cards. Like I mentioned in my previous article, this is one of the things I wish would go away in our community. The thought of  ripping people off because they are not necessarily as up to date on the prices as you are. There are some things I wish Puca would work on. The first, and most obvious, is a way of purchasing points. Right now the only way you can get points without trading in Puca is by buying into Puca Pro or donating via their crowd source funding method. Not that these are bad ways to add points into the system, it really isn’t friendly for the end user. For example, if there was a card that I wanted on Puca that was available to me and I had 1200 points and I needed 300 points, the only way I could get those points is by signing up Puca Pro, which should be noted that only works once, or trading away something else that you may want to keep. However, these are all minor complaints. I am super excited to actually get going with it. I do have boxes and boxes of cards that I am no longer using and can probably serve a better purpose by being shipped away.

I am approaching my upper limit for an article but there is one more thing that I wanted to talk about. You Make The Card is now in the card creation phase. Depending on when this article goes live, you may still be able to submit your design (designs must be in by Wednesday night). I realize that thousands of people will be competing for a spot to be in the final voting phase but it is always fun to participate in this kind of thing. It was suggested that we design a “top down” design, meaning the function is derived from the flavor of the card rather than the other way around. I have always thought that demonic possession was a cool thing. It is something that I have very seldom seen in Magic in general. I am not sure why because it has been one of those fantasy tropes that have been brandied about over the years. Anyways here is my submission for demonic possesion:

At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice a creature and pay 3 life, put a creature that is a copy of target creature onto the battlefield, if you do, the token gains haste and “at the end of your turn sacrifice this, if you do, return a creature sacrificed by [card name] to the battlefield tapped”

I realize that my wording may be a little off, I also have no clue on what the card will be costed. But I do think the effect is very black. The idea that your creatures are being possessed by the spirits of other creatures seems very black to me. I also think that since it is an effect that you have to do every turn makes it interesting. Maybe you don’t want to sacrifice something and you have to. Maybe you don’t have the 3 life to give. Either way, I think this would be a pretty interesting card and I hope it gets a chance at a community vote.

I will be making it a point to make sure I attend FNM this week. If you’re at Dragon’s Keep Orem say hi or trade with me.

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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