Saturday, March 07, 2009

Thoroughly spanked

That's how I would describe me after my latest Friday Night Magic (FNM) experience.

Last night I went to Dream Wizards for their weekly FNM tournament. This week's style was "booster draft", which was a style I wanted to see in action. I paid my $14 + tax entry fee and signed in, then awaited instructions.

There were 16 of us signed up this time (as opposed to 30+ at the sealed deck FNM I attended last month), and we were split up into 2 "pods" of 8 people. The 8 in each pod were arranged around two tables set up lengthwise against each other to form a square table space, with 2 people per side. The judge asked if anyone was there for their first draft experience.

I raised my hand.

I was the only one who did.

Of course.

So, the judge quickly ran through the idea for me. We would each be given 3 booster packs of Magic cards. 2 from the latest large set (Shards of Alara) and 1 from the most recent set (Conflux) [side note: presumably before Conflux was released this would have been 3 decks of Shards, and after the last set of the block, Alara Reborn, is released, it would be one of each]. Upon being told, we would each open up one pack of Shards, toss the basic land and insert card into the center of the table (they not being "draftable") and then look at the remaining 14 cards to decide which one card from that pack we would want to "draft" for ourselves, with the eye towards building a 40-card minimum deck to compete with later. Then the remaining 13 cards would be passed to the person on our left, and we would therefore receive 13 cards from the person on our right. This process continues, with one card being drafted from each set passed to us, until all 14 cards from each pack had been "drafted". Then we would open the second Shards booster, and repeat, only passing to the right instead. Finally the Conflux booster gets opened, and passed to the left again.

I wish I could tell you what I drafted each round, or what logic there was to my picks. The truth is there was not much logical thought involved. I picked cards that I could easily see how to play, without much thought on how they would play together. I focused on Red and Black, with a smattering of Blue. I got stuck with a couple of Green and White cards at the ends of packs, when there wasn't much to choose from. I quickly decided that I had no clue what the best method for drafting was, and that I was probably not going to do all that well. Still, I hoped it wouldn't be a disaster.

Basic Lands were made available to round out our decks, but I had brought my own. So, I picked the 32 cards I thought best, added 18 basic lands, and had a 50-card deck ready to go. The exact contents of the deck I'll post at the end like last time.

In Round 1 I faced off against someone I recognized from my first FNM (one of only two I can say that about). She had also been one of the "final 6" in Round 3. Unlike me, she won her last Round that night, and was one of the three top winners. This made me nervous to face up against her this time. She had been sitting to my right during the drafting. It turns out she had drafted an "Esper" deck, focusing on White/Blue/Black with a great deal of Artifact Creatures. She had cards that worked very well together, allowing her to regenerate her Creatures, gain life when she summoned an Artifact (or worse, take life from me while gaining life herself).
  1. in Game 1, while I did some damage to her, I never got her life total below the starting 20 life. She, on the other hand, drop my life steadily, 20 to 18 to 16 to 15 to 13 to 10 to 9 to DEAD.
  2. In game 2, I struggled mightily, held on for a MUCH longer time and finally defeated her. It wasn't easy, but I had the advantage of a Shore Snapper which I could give Islandwalk, and therefore it was unblockable since she had Islands in play. I whittled away at her life total, often only 2 points at a time, until she was finally defeated. Towards the end of this game the judge announced only 5 minutes left in Round 1.
  3. My opponent asked if I wanted to try a third game, since we had so little time left. Foolishly I agreed. We had a speed match, and while I manage to get her down to only 10 life, mine dropped 20 to 18 to 16 to 14 to 12 to 10 to 8 to 3 to DEAD. If I hadn't agreed on the third game, I believe we would have had a "draw", and each gotten 1 point towards the nightly total. Instead, she got 3 points for a win, and I got 0.
In Round 2 I faced off against the gentleman who had sat to my left during the drafting process. This was the fastest Round of the evening, and was extremely pathetic. Although he has lost his Round 1 (which was how we ended up against each other - we each had 0 points entering Round 2), he thoroughly trashed me (I'd say "ripped me a new one" is an appropriate expression in this case).
  1. Game 1: I never got in a point of damage against him. Meanwhile my life total: 20 to 19 to 14 to 6 to VERY DEAD.
  2. Game 2: I actually got a few licks in this time (I had had mana problems in Game 1), and got him down to 11. Meanwhile, I was 20 to 18 to 16 to 14 to 12 to 5 to DEAD.
  3. There was no need for Game 3 - the Rounds are best 2/3.
So I sit for a LONG time waiting for Round 2 to end, as mine went so quickly. I don't really know anyone at these affairs, and I'm not the greatest person in social situations (at least the initial getting to know someone part) so I sat alone, eavesdropping on conversations, toyed with my deck a little (you can modify your deck between Games & Rounds) and waited for everyone else to finish. Finally the Round 3 opponents are posted. Only two people in the tournament have 0 points at this time, me and my opponent for Round 3...

In Round 3 I think my deck and I gave the best showing of the evening.
  1. Game 1: this one was pathetic. I had massive mana problems, and should have mulliganed at the beginning to draw a new hand. I only got 3 damage in against him, while my life went 20 to 18 to 16 to 12 to 6 to 4 to DEAD.
  2. Game 2: big turn-around. He only got in 3 damage on me, while I picked him apart, finally hitting him at the end when he had 6 life left with a two-punch Blightning (for 3 points) followed by an attack of a Skeletal Kathari, which he couldn't block as it has Flying for 3 more points.
  3. Game 3 was a close match, but I got a slow start, which allowed him to pick at me initially. One more round and I would have had him (I had gotten Elder Mastery on my Undead Leotau so it was 6/7 and I could give it +1/-1 for R, but I only had four R available, so I could only hit him for 10, dropping him from 14 to 4), so while he was left with 4 life, I went 20 to 18 to 16 to 14 to 9 to 2 to DEAD.
So, I was the only person in the tournament to finish with 0 points. Really very sad. I held out a slim hope that I might win a random booster pack or special FNM foil. But, no, not even that. (My last opponent, however, did win one of the random foils - congrats to him). So, all in all, a pretty pathetic performance.

In case you would like to reconstruct my deck to see for yourself how truly sad it was, here's what was in it as of the final Round:
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