Welcome to the first installment of ‘Drafting with Woolie’. I’m a husband and a father of four with limited free time at normal hours, so playing Magic online is a great outlet for me, whether it is at 6 am or 11 pm. I started playing Magic in high school (Revised), and then switched over to Decipher Star Wars CCG when it was released, even trading the set of Antiquities I had worked hard to trade into for a set of Premier BB at one point. I met Strictly through the Discord channels and have really enjoyed being a part of his Patron community. I feel comfortable posting here, as I am aware of some of my shortcomings; I don’t always see the best line of play, sometimes I f6 when I shouldn’t- I know, never hit f6!
I downloaded the MTGO client shortly after getting back into the game in 2009, and discovered drafting through triple Zendikar queues. The draft itself was always fun, but time-consuming to complete a 3 round event, or disheartening to lose in round 1 of a single elimination queue. I enjoy seeing the different limited interactions, so swiss queues are what I prefer to enter. Over the years, I’ve only drafted occasionally (usually closer to set release when the best archetypes haven’t been decided on) and would not consider myself to be an expert by any means. Since I know that I am not an expert drafter, I like to keep a window open with MTGO bot prices and make sure that I don’t pass foil mythics that are unplayable but valuable to set redeemers (a free draft, is a free draft!).
Fast forward to Wizards bringing leagues to the client, which allow you to draft in an 8-person pod, build your deck, and then play the rounds on your own schedule. This changes the draft slightly: you don’t need to worry about hate-drafting cards you won’t play in your deck or would be good against you, as it is unlikely that you will be paired with anyone from your pod. The league structure allows you to take your time and play 1 match a day, or play 3 matches in a row very efficiently (since you don’t have to wait for the other matches in your pod to finish to move on to the next round).
With the abundance of video content available for Magic today, I fondly remember reading David Ochoa’s draft walkthroughs on ChannelFireball (ex: https://www.channelfireball.com/videos/according-to-webster-rtr-draft-1-with-videos/ ), and that is what I hope to leave you with today, a chance to look at my picks and decide what direction you would have taken (I am not posting the videos of the matches though, you’ll have to bear with my recaps).
On to the draft!
Pack 1, Pick 1: I see a white rare that flies and can have a great late game impact. I like Puncturing Blow, but not over this Angel. Also of note, there are 3 other white playables in the pack, we’ll see if I wheel one. (Angel of Condemnation)
Pack 1, Pick 2 : I thought about taking the life gain bird, but the upside to the blue enchantment is high, even if I am just scrying in the late game. (Riddleform)
Pack 1, Pick 3 : The Vizier looks like a strong card to help punch through defenders, and the Aerial Guide helps another attacker without the exert. (Aerial Guide)
Pack 1, Pick 4 : I was really hoping to see some quality removal in either Black or Red to help steer me into one of those colors, but it wasn’t there so I continued to take good creatures. The rare doesn’t look great to me unless you draw it at exactly the right time, leaving the cycling angel, another Aerial Guide and Oketra’s Avenger. I decided on the 2-drop. (Oketra’s Avenger)
Pack 1, Pick 5 : Although I wouldn’t consider myself locked in, I am definitely leaning towards a W/U fliers deck. This pack really didn’t offer much, so I took the cycler/conditional counterspell, most likely for the sideboard. (Countervailing Winds)
Pack 1, Pick 6 : I highlighted the 2-drop in my screenshot, which I like with the prowess as you can hold up mana during attacks to keep your opponent guessing. I have also noted that I passed a lot of solid green creatures, hopefully this will mean I see either white or blue passed to me in pack 2. Also on that note, I have also left playable white cards in many of the packs, so the payoff in pack 3 could be blue. (Spellweaver Eternal)
Pack 1, Pick 7 : Unsummon is an unspectacular playable, but the potential to get a second use out of the Cleric makes it the pick here. (Steadfast Sentinel)
Pack 1, Pick 8 : Being able to play on your opponents’ turn is always a useful tool to have, and flashing in a blocker to surprise an opponent or on their end step makes for efficient use of your mana. (Aven Reedstalker)
Pack 1, Pick 9 : The 1-drop doesn’t get me excited at all, whereas the chance to bring back the Naga Warrior at a discount does. (Sinuous Striker)
Pack 1, Pick 10 : I took the aftermath card as a hedge in case I turn to black in pack 2. (Consign // Oblivion)
After pack 1, I have 7 creatures, looking like the start of a decent (if unexciting) deck.
Pack 2, Pick 1 : I could see the Dauntless Aven being great in a deck with lots of exert, but the card advantage that the Champion offers (bonus if I can toss another Eternalize card) is excellent. (Champion of Wits)
Pack 2, Pick 2 : The red cards aren’t strong enough to make me want to leave my plan of W/U, same goes for the green creatures. The zombie can beat down and sometimes trade up. (Mummy Paramount)
Pack 2, Pick 4 : I like the cycling on the serpent, and the life gain on the bird, but I like the aggression more. (Oketra’s Avenger)
Pack 2, Pick 5 : Finally, a piece of (conditional) removal! I’ll grab it. (Sandblast)
Pack 2, Pick 6 : Very similar looking pack, and the same pick. (Sandblast)
Pack 2, Pick 7 : If I was all in on spells and walls, maybe the swarm intelligence is playable? (Unsummon)
Pack 2, Pick 8 : Unexciting pick of the cycle/tapper. (Djeru’s Renunciation)
Pack 2, Pick 9 : Imaginary Threats looks interesting, but I haven’t played with it yet and think that I want to be attacking and not blocking. Even though I don’t have a desert yet, I took the wall. (Wall of Forgotten Pharoahs)
I am now at 10 creatures, and would like to get above 15 in pack 3. I have a good mana curve and only one card with double white, many creatures have evasion or built in recursion. A concern is that I only have 2 pieces of removal, so getting a good counterspell or removal will be priorities in the last pack. My fliers should give me a chance to close out games, but I could use another top-end sphinx or angel.
Pack 3, Pick 1 : This picked really hurt! Oketra and her monument side by side. I think the monument is a bomb all by itself in a deck with a high creature count, but I have a high enough creature count that I think Oketra will be able to attack and block without her activations. Would the exert bird have been the safe pick here? (Oketra the True)
Pack 3, Pick 2 : I like the upside of the combat trick over the cycling. (In Oketra’s Name)
Pack 3, Pick 3 : I already have a few zombies (Eternalize and normal), so this 2-drop may get multiple uses, especially in the late game. (Binding Mummy)
Pack 3, Pick 4 : With Eternalize cards already in the deck, the multicolored bird warrior is a perfect fit. (Aven Wind Guide)
Pack 3, Pick 5 : The blue Cartouche doesn’t excite me since many of my creatures already have flying, and getting 2 for 1’ed with a removal spell always feels bad. A 2-drop with Embalm it is. (Tah-Crop Skirmisher)
Pack 3, Pick 6 : The camel doesn’t do what I want to be doing with a 5-drop in this deck, the counterspell should help me deal with a bomb, maybe out of the sideboard. (Essence Scatter)
Pack 3, Pick 7 : Okay, I guess I should have at least one camel in this desert plane. Maybe I should have taken the cycle/disenchant card for the sideboard if I face a monument or Sandwurm Convergence. (Supply Caravan)
Pack 3, Pick 8 : I like the trick, more likely that I will play it than the other spells to choose from. Lots of blue coming my way this pack! (Mighty Leap)
Pack 3, Pick 9 : The exert bird wheeled! Yay! That might be a game-ending card to play. (Tah-Crop Elite)
Pack 3, Pick 10 : I took the nice land. (Plains)
The blue cards certainly came in pack 3, and although they weren’t high quality in most cases, the Drake was a welcome inclusion to the main deck. The mana curve looks good, with six creatures at 2 and 4 mana, and a few tricks to buff them. Not a lot of situational sideboard cards, but there are at least a few options. I chose to run the Act of Heroism over Mighty Leap as I have some creatures that I will want to exert. My only regret is not opening any Unquenchable Thirst in the first two packs, which would have been an upgrade over my light removal package. Onto the 3 round friendly swiss league (2-1 will win me 2 packs)!
This was my 40-card main deck, I didn’t have many cycling cards so I went with 17 lands.
Round 1 I faced a RG big green creature deck, I had a great opener with both Oketra and Angel and my opponent was stuck on three lands, not a very exciting way to win but I’ll take it. Game 2 I kept a 2-lander with 4 cards costing 2, but was stuck on those two lands until turn four. My opponent started with an Exemplar of Strength and ramped into an early Sifter Wurm off an exerted Oasis Ritualist. I had no answer and was dispatched shortly after. Essence Scatter was brought in and Riddleform came out. Game 3 we both agreed to have no mana problems, and the race was on with his Exemplar and my small fries whittling down the life totals. The game got interesting when Oketra made an appearance to face off against the Wurm. Unfortunately for me, my opponent had enough removal to keep Oketra locked away when I needed her most and trampled over my feeble defenses.
Round 2 I faced a UG deck running Plains and Mountains, but I could not apply enough early pressure for my fliers to finish them off, and a Rampaging Hippo outclassed my blockers (and I didn’t draw the Sandblast to force a trade). Getting Unquenchable Thirst played on two of my creatures was the difference in this game. Once again I brought in the Essence Scatter to deal with their big creatures, and it came in handy game 2 when I used it to counter a Rhonas the Indomitable! Now I knew what I was really up against, and in game 3 my opponent got a turn 3 Rhonas and kept the creatures coming to bring my dream of prizes to a crashing halt.
I wasn’t going to let my first article ever be tainted with an 0-2 drop, so I soldiered on to play out the string against a UR cycling/eternalize deck with fliers. I had mana problems in game 1 and died to an Ominous Sphinx and Glyph Keeper. Game 2 was also uneventful as I curved out and got a concession on turn five. In Game 3 my early pressure, and my opponent’s Hazoret’s Favor had us both top decking for the win. My opponent had me down to 7 life with a hasted and exerted Khenra Scrapper. On the second last turn of the game, he chose not to use the haste ability on his Ominous Sphinx facing down my three small creatures, and I attacked right into it, getting to use Sandblast to great effect. His topdeck was the Glyph Keeper of course, and I acknowledged a ‘ggs’.
Unfortunately for my opponent, the sphinx counters the first ability that targets it every turn, so they were not able to attack me for lethal damage and the third round ended in victory for me!
To sum it up, I was 3-3 in games played and didn’t mulligan once, but the games that I had 4-drops in my opener ended in victory, and the games I had 2-drops didn’t.
I didn’t get to attack even once or use the ability on my first pick Angel of Condemnation, and when Oketra was live she was unstoppable (I would have like to have a couple more ways to generate tokens and support her). I feel like if I had been able to draft more/better removal that I could have realistically ended up 2-1, as the big green creatures gave me trouble in both my losses. Perhaps I should have drafted green in the first place!
Thanks for taking the time to read, and remember to let the Woolie win!
Craig is a husband, and father of 4, living in the frozen north of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Outside of collecting cards to build old school decks with, he has a love for merfolk in modern and occasionally drafting online.