Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Draft Report - Sep 26, 2010

This sunday we had a 9 person cube draft. The metagame brokedown to this:
- WG Midrange (6-0, 12-3)
- WU Aggro/Control (4-2, 9-5)
- WUB Control/Reanimator (4-2, 9-6)
- RG Midrange (3-4, 8-9)
- BR Control/Reanimator (3-1, 7-3)
- UB Control (2-4, 5-9)
- WBru Comes Into Play (2-5, 5-11)
- BR Midrange (0-3, 2-6)
- RG Beatdown (0-3, 0-6)

The 3 blue control decks had to split the blue control cards - especially the counterspells. This resulted in cards that are not typically played in control making it into the WU deck, like Aether Adept, Wake Thresher and Wind Zendikon, effectively making it an aggro/control. They played key roles, allowing that deck to play beatdown against the slower control decks and to defend against early beatdown. No wonder that player only lost to both midrange decks, which outraced his in the middle turns. Also note the deck has 45 cards.

WU Aggro/Control
9 Plains
9 Island

Aether Adept
Wake Thresher
Thalakos Scout
Soltari Lancer
Overbeing of Myth
Draining Whelk
Akroma, Angel of Wrath

Everflowing Chalice
Wind Zendikon
Sunspring Expedition
Remove Soul
Pendrell Flux
Recumbent Bliss
Wing Shards
Renewed Faith
Second Thoughts
Mind Spring

The BR control deck turned out to be quite interesting. Its player - who was experienced in constructed but had never cube drafted before - left early, but odds are he would have battled for the first places had he stayed longer. The deck's main plan was using a myriad of red burn and black removal to control the game until he had mana to take over with Kaervek the Merciless or Vampiric Dragon, a reanimated creature or overwhelm the opponent with Decree of Pain card advantage. However, some cards that are, again, atypical for control allowed him to become the beatdown when necessary: Dark Ritual, Shambling Remains and Maralen, comined with removal and reanimation.

BR Control
7 Mountain
7 Swamp
7 Gemstone Caverns
Dread Statuary
Bojuka Bog

Magus of the Scroll
Nezumi Graverobber
Taurean Mauler
Stinkweed Imp
Bottle Gnomes
Shambling Remains
Doomed Necromancer
Maralen of the Mornsong
Bone Shredder
Jiwari, the Earth Aflame
Kaervek the Merciless
Vampiric Dragon

Dark Ritual
Magma Spray
Seal of Fire
Wrecking Ball
Beacon of Destruction
Chandra Ablaze
Decree of Pain

I drafted a WG midrange which had good card quality but lacked a bit of cohesion. I played for the first time in the cube Birds of Paradise, Rhox, Aeolipile, Guardian of the Guildpact and Stunted Growth. Birds was great, always smoothing mana and accelerating me into the midgame, which was when the deck shone. Rhox was a threat in every game I drew it, putting the opponent in a 5 damage clock. Aeolipile is not the best of burns, but it did well in my deck, which was light in removal. Guardian of the Guildpact only showed up in matches that were already nearly won and in one I lost, when it was very underwhelming in front of Oona and a reanimated Phantom Nishoba. Stunted Growth was the good surprise. It was key to winning against control, disrupting their plans completely.

The good surprises: Rhox, Stunted Growth, Selesnya Guildmage
The bad surprise: Biorhythm (not enough removal to profit from)
What I wish I could have picked: Beastmaster's Ascension, Might of Oaks, Rampant Growth

WG Midrange
9 Forest
7 Plains
Evolving Wilds

Birds of Paradise
Savannah Lions
Kavu Primarch
Great Sable Stag
Selesnya Guildmage
Soltari Crusader
Guardian of the Guildpact
Emeria Angel
Loxodon Hierarch
Veteran Armorer
Arashi, the Sky Asunder
Phantom Nishoba

Wayfarer's Bauble
Journey to Nowhere
Krosan Grip
Call of the Herd
Kodama's Reach
Iona's Judgement
Overwhelming Stampede
Stunted Growth

The RB midrange and RG beatdown decks were played by inexperienced players, so it's natural they took the last places. To be honest, the R player had learned to play that very day, so two victories was a great result in such a complex environment. The RG player drafted a good beatdown deck, but he was a bit too shy to attack.

The UB control and RG midrange did not perform badly, but their pilots were a little disappointed. In neither, problem is simple and obvious, so I'm taking a closer look at those decks.

RG Midrange
9 Mountain
8 Forest

Godo's Irregular Troops
Essence Warden
Ironclaw Orcs
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Suk'Ata Lancer
Viridian Shaman
Flametongue Kavu
Giant Solifuge
Garruk's Packleader
Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs
Phantom Wurm

Genju of the Spires
Evolution Charm
Moment's Peace
Beastmaster Ascension
Sword of Light and Shadow
Elephant Guide
Arc Lightning
Rolling Thunder
Strength of the Tajuru

This deck was my girlfriend's (Kamila), who identified some of its problems - there is antissynergy between creatures that can't be enchanted (Solifuge, Gigapede, Genju) and the creature enhancements (Elephant Guide, Rancor, Tajuru and the Sword). The fact that her best buff was Beastmaster's Ascension backs up this. She also found the deck light in removal (Arc Lightning, Rolling Thunder and Flametongue Kavu), since when the opponent had the chance to play something nasty like Nishoba or Oona, there was little to be done about it. I suppose this is a problem in RG (so far successful in the cube with beatdown and ramping strategies, which deny the opponent that time).

UB Control
7 Island
7 Swamp
Soldevi Excavations
Jwar Isle Refuge

Reassembling Skeleton
Drift of Phantasms
Surrakar Spellblade
Faceless Butcher
Djinn of Wishes
Skeletal Vampire
Visara the Dreadful

Inquisition of Kozilek
Memory Lapse
Doom Blade
Marsh Casualties
Mana Leak
Last Gasp
Legacy's Allure
Worn Powerstone
Nuisance Engine
Puppet Strings
Diabolic Tutor
Control Magic

The first problem I did not notice last night but seems evident now that I counted the cards was: the deck had 16 lands, one of which was Excavations. This might have been fatal, mainly because of the double mana requirements in a lot of cards. Also, since the deck uses a limited number of finishers and very few counterspells to protect them, the winning conditions might have been too few in the control-heavy environment we played. Also, there might have been too much creature removal and defense (Drift of Phantasms, Puppet Strings, Nuisance Engine), which awarded him victories agaisnt the two RG creature-based decks, but were left unused against decks with few threats or hard-to-remove ones.

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