Friday, December 14, 2012

Grid Draft - Dec 03, 2012

This week we tried a format I read about in the MTG Salvation forums, called Grid Draft. Designed as an alternative to Winston Draft for 2 players, it's supposed to create more focused decks that tend less to tricolor midrange.

"Traditionally", Grid Draft is a format for two players, with the following drafting method:
1 - Randomize 18 packs of 9 cards.
2 - For round 1 to round 9:
2.1 - For each player P:
2.1.1 - Place the cards from a closed pack face up in a 3x3 grid.
2.1.2 - P drafts an entire row or column from the grid (3 cards).
2.1.3 - P's opponent drafts an entire row or column from what's remaining of the grid (2 or 3 cards).
2.1.4 - Discard the remaining cards in the grid.

We modified this method slightly to work with 3 players:
1 - Randomize 24 packs of 9 cards.
2 - For round 1 to round 8:
2.1 - For each player P:
2.1.1 - Place the cards from a closed pack face up in a 3x3 grid.
2.1.2 - That player drafts an entire row or column from the grid (3 cards).
2.1.3 - The player at P's right drafts an entire row or column from what's remaining of the grid (2 or 3 cards).
2.1.3 - The player at P's left drafts all the remaining cards (3 or 4 cards).

The decks that came out of that draft were very focused, despite the pools being much more colored that in regular drafts. I liked this small group draft variant much more than Winston or Winchester, especially considering it's a fast draft with fun decisions to make.

BR Aggro-Control (Kam) 3x0 WG Midrange (Max)
BR Aggro-Control (Kam) 1x2 UR Milling (Naka)
WG Midrange (Max) 0x3 UR Milling (Naka)

UR Milling

6 Mountain
6 Island
Shivan Reef
Mystifying Maze
Soldevi Excavations
Evolving Wilds

Mesmeric Orb
Curse of the Bloody Tome
Archive Trap

Force Spike
Psionic Blast
Burst Lightning
Flametongue Kavu
Brittle Effigy
Oblivion Stone

Man O'War
Sphere of the Suns
Dungeon Geists
Tuktuk the Explorer

Card Draw/Filtering
Thirst for Knowledge
Gitaxian Probe

Wild Ricochet

A deck completely focused on milling the opponent, which sacrifices control capacity to take games more quickly by running more win conditions.

I started out by drafting UB Aggro-Control, but it did not work out as black was very sought after. After toying with the idea of going to UR Aggro, one of the packs opened had a row of Curse of the Bloody Tome, Tuktuk the Explorer and Millstone. Archive Trap soon joined a pool that already had Wild Ricochet and Reverberate and I was set for playing a deck as close to combo as I had ever dared to.

The deck is mostly about tempo control and finding win conditions. Mesmeric Orb is beastly, Curse of the Bloody Tome is consisnteny and Millstone is... well, it's Millstone. The Archive Trap + Reverberate or Wild Ricochet combo took more than one game - milling 26 cards in limited is game over. I kind of regretted running 16 lands, as I had mana issues in some games, but the benefit I got for doing so is hard to evaluate.

BR Aggro-Control

9 Mountain
8 Swamp
Akoum Refuge

Bladetusk Boar
Goblin Wardriver
Dauthi Horror
Precursor Golem
Reassembling Skeletone

Creature Buffing
Flayer Husk
Dolmen Gate
Vulshok Armor
Sylvok Lifestaff
Dolmen Gate
Grafted Wargear

Hymn to Tourach

Fire Imp
Hammer of Bogardan
Arc Trail
Shrine of Burning Rage

Mox Diamond
Night's Whisper
Orcish Settlers

A BR Aggro deck a bit light on creatures, which makes it closer to Aggro-Control than plain Beatdown. There is a lot of creature buffing - 4 pieces of equipment - which increase the value of every creature tremendously, especially Dauthi Horror and Bladetusk Boar. The other half of the deck is built to keep the way clear and create card advantage. Shrine of Burning Rage turned out to be a good Aggro-Control enabler, acting as a fast pinger.

While the deck aims to win before the opponent fully develops, it's tuned to roll out slower than a typical BR Aggro, but much more consistently. The card advantage built in the 2-3 mana spells makes the deck keep pressure for a long, long time.

WG Midrange

8 Plains
8 Forest
Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree

Sakura-Tribe Elder
Explosive Vegetation
Solemn Simulacrum

Great Sable Stag
Obstinate Baloth
Archon of Justice
Serra Angel
Eternal Dragon
Phantom Nishoba
Protean Hydra

Creature Support
Lightning Graves
Armadillo Cloak
Scout's Warning
Fauna Shaman

Faith's Fetters
Oblivion Ring
Swords to Plowshares
Magus of the Disk
Leeching Bite
Story Circle
Goldmeadow Harrier

The classical WG Midrange deck, tending towards a control build rather than ramping. The deck has a great long-term plan, but is slow in the early game, which led to its 0-6 record against an Aggro-Control and a fast Milling deck.

A positive aspect is how broad the removal suite is. Faith's Fetters, Oblivion Ring and Magus of the Disk are very versatile, and there are several other more specialized cards which will solve about any situation. I feel the creature support was too heavy for a midrange deck that had no mana elves. Splitting those cards between acceleration and medium threats would have made it faster and less vulnerable to removal.

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