Journal of the Texas Guildmages, Meeting Number 790
Gatecrash Booster Draft
We don’t often have EXACTLY eight players for a booster draft. Eight is the “most pure” number for booster draft and, as luck would have it, that’s precisely the number we have this week. The two decks that reach the finals could not possibly be more different. I think you’ll find both decks interesting for completely different reasons.
Welcome to the 790th weekly meeting of the Texas Guildmages. For over sixteen years we’ve been meeting at my house just northwest of Dallas. Over time, the faces change but the desire to have fun and keep improving at the game we love continues.
The Finalists’ Decks from the Eight Man Booster Draft
Simic Guildgate x2
Greenside Watcher x2
Verdant Haven x2
Ivy Lane Denizen x2
Guardian of the Gateless
Foundry Street Denizen
Bomber Corps x3
Martial Glory x2
Firefist Striker x2
Skyknight Legionnaire x2
Act of Treason
Breaking Down the Finalists’ Decks from the Eight Man Draft
Here’s how we draft at the Guildhall. We seat the players randomly using regular playing cards numbered from ace to whatever number we are drafting with. For eight players, and occasionally seven, we play three rounds of Swiss. For ten to twelve players, the most we would ever draft with on a single table, we play four rounds of Swiss. For nine players we sometimes play three rounds instead of the mathematically correct four. After the Swiss rounds we cut to a top four with the best Swiss record playing the fourth place finisher and second and third playing each other. The two winners of the semi finals are free to split the rares, mythics and foils between themselves any way they wish. For the past couple of years they usually choose to game for the cards. They shuffle the prize cards face down on the table and spread them around randomly. Each finalist flips over a card. The person who flips over the highest casting cost card wins both cards. If there is a tie the two face-up cards are set aside and added to the next pair of cards flipped.
With eight players tonight, we play three rounds of Swiss before cutting to a top four. The draft was randomly seated in counter-clockwise fashion beginning with Jon and continuing with Mark, Eric, Steven, Hal, Joe, Lawson and myself.
Steven Bruce reaches the winner’s circle this week with a way out there green/blue deck that jumps through a number of hoops in order to play three red cards and one white card. Thinking outside the box in booster drafts is one of Steven’s calling cards, so is playing a forty-first card in his limited decks. For a guy that believes strongly in a lot of Magic’s rules of thumb, he serially breaks the rule of sticking to forty cards. One little rebel move that bites him a little with this deck because the inability to stick with forty cards has become, with this deck, the inability to stick to forty-one cards. This pile of hard-working Simic cards performs well in spite of ending up with forty-two cards.
I’m sure Steven’s opponents found it irritating (more irritating than usual) being crushed by a crazy five color deck like this. Yeah, he actually only plays four colors but his deck design is SO sold out for multi-color than it can indeed be rightly called a five colored deck. He has five lands that make two different colors, but there is much more color-fixing in the deck. Steven has Realmwright and a Gruul Keyrune. But wait, there’s more. Steven has two copies of Verdant Haven. Verdant Haven, it should be noted, does more than fix your colors, it also accelerates your mana. I like what this card does, but I’m not likely to play it in a booster draft deck anytime soon. I think the format is a little too fast for you to be able to extend into four or five colors with a card like this. The final pieces to Steven’s interesting mana puzzle are his two copies of Greenside Watcher. This card I like. This card should make the deck every time simply as a quality 2/1 bear for 1G. If you have Guildgates in your deck, and Steven has three, he’s even better. If you enchant one of your Guildgates with Verdant Haven things get even more interesting. I think this is too hard of a trick to go for, with too little potential upside to be truly viable. However, let me tell you what Steven was able to do with all his extra mana… He had more mana more often to activate Zameck Guildmage giving him the ability to have more creatures enter the battlefield with free +1/+1 counters. He also has extra mana more often in order to activate the Guildmage’s second ability and draw some extra cards. Steven also has the ability to generate a lot more mana than the average Simic deck in order to make Nimbus Swimmer a gigantic flyer.
Unfortunately, for a deck built around the concept of fixing mana and accelerating mana and generating EXTRA mana, Steven doesn’t have that many things in his deck that take advantage of his big mana engine. Steven has two copies of Mugging, I would never blame Steven for splashing for those. Pit Fight is a Gruul card but fits right into Simic decks with creatures with big butts. Massive Raid is a stretch, even with Steven’s crazy mana machine. It’s a stretch because the deck only erratically gives you access to two red mana at one time, and it’s a stretch because Steven’s deck doesn’t have the kind of creature base that would make Massive Raid, you know, massive.
Steven knows he’s fighting for his life with this deck, that’s why his is the first winning deck of the year to feature Tower Defense. Two copies of Ivy Lane Denizen are GOOD, having only five other cards that trigger the Denizen is BAD. Hard removal? Of course not, that’s not really what green/blue (his base colors) is all about. Steven has Agoraphobia, which isn’t at all bad, and Totally Lost.
Somehow, Steven managed to make his crazy-quilt of a deck greater than the sum of its parts. He’s actually quite proud of this deck, and I can imagine that it feels pretty good when you build the mana engine. It’s just too bad there isn’t a bigger payoff when it happens. Having said all this, never forget that Steven took home half the prizes from this booster draft with this creation. He obviously played it well.
Jon Toone wins this week with a tight Boros deck that invests deeply into two-drops. Jon gets quite a few of the better cards in Boros for his deck, but he wins mostly because he trusts his two-drops to work together to advance his game. That strategy works very well for Jon this week.
Sixteen land is aggressive indeed these days. The best two colored decks in Gatecrash drafts very often have so many cards that need both colors of mana that you need the seventeenth or even the eighteenth land to make it work. Going to sixteen land, in Gatecrash, is another strong move by Jon Toone. Jon has one Boros Guildgate. He would probably like a second one, if he had his druthers, but Jon isn’t going to spend a high pick on a Guildgate. Also, his deck is too fast to allow for very many turns to be slowed by a land coming into play tapped. Jon’s deck doesn’t quite have the two color requirements that a lot of Boros draft decks can have. Jon’s deck is mostly red. There are twelve spells that need only red mana, five that need only white mana and just five spells that need both red and white mana. This is the kind of mix of color requirements that lends itself to a sixteen land mana base. Of course, the most important thing, when you consider dropping a land (from the normal number, seventeen) is your casting curve. Jon has four one-drops and nine two-drops. All five of Jon’s three-drops are must-plays for Boros, it is only among Jon’s five four-drops and his one five-drop that you start to wonder if Jon was hurting for playables. The worst card in Jon’s deck is also his most expensive to cast, Knight Watch. This card is VERY playable, it just costs a lot in a deck that only plays sixteen land and which, like Ricky Bobby, “wants to go fast.” The fact that Jon’s WORST card is a very decent card like Knight Watch tells you how good his deck is.
I want to talk about the less-important cards in Jon’s deck first, like his one BOMB, Firemane Avenger. This card is extremely sick, probably good enough for constructed, a 3/3 flyer for 2RW. To make it really go, however, you need battalion. That’s no problem for Jon’s deck, I can assure you. When Firemane Avenger no longer has summoning sickness, I assure you that Jon will have at least two other dorks in play to attack with it. Jon probably wins every game where he attacks with Firemane Avenger two or more times with battalion. This is a very good card, but it’s not the reason that Jon wins most of his games with this deck. Holy Mantle is a certified uncommon bomb, it buffs any creature you enchant with it and it gives your guy evasion and protection from creatures and effects created by creatures. This is a very good card in this or any Boros draft deck, but it’s not the reason Jon wins most of his games.
Jon wins most of his games because of his one and two-drops. Big deal, all you have to do is draft all the one and two casting cost cards you see in Boros, right? It’s nowhere near that easy to do. That’s because players have an inherent fear of drafting weak cards. Boros Elite and Foundry Street Denizen, a pair of one casting cost 1/1s without any sort of game-breaking ability, are hard picks to make. Everyone wants to put the “good” cards in their deck, few are willing to commit to a truly aggro curve. Jon’s two-drops are easier for drafters to accept than those one-drops are. Not that I expect that Jon took either of those one-drops with a high pick, far from it. He may very well, however, have had to spend at least moderately high picks on his two Firefist Strikers. This creature’s ability to move potential blockers out of the way can be very frightening to the opponent. Because Jon was willing to play some one-drops, his deck has the ability to do things like this: turn one Foundry Street Denizen, turn two Firefist Striker, attack for two (because the Denizen triggered), turn three Skyknight Legionnaire, attack for six while Firefist Striker makes it impossible for one of (if not the only one) the opponent’s creatures to block. Jon has three copies of Bomber Corps, another card that fits perfectly into his strategy. Daring Skyjek and even the Gruul bear Skinbrand Goblin are helpful for the team. All of Jon’s three-drops are perfect for the deck including two Skyknight Legionnaires, Armored Transport and Warmind Infantry. Act of Treason is a must-play for this deck. Jon’s deck makes me want to start playing two copies of Act of Treason, the card can be so important for the battalion plan.
Jon’s deck is extremely aggressive and hard to defend against. I like everything about it. I played fourteen games between it and Steven’s deck and Jon’s won eleven of the fourteen. Case closed, advantage Jon Toone and advantage Boros! Strangely, Jon lost 0-2 to Steven in the second Swiss round of tonight’s tournament…
Year to Date Drafting Champs
This week, Jon becomes the first player to reach the finals three times in 2013 and Steven gets on the chart for the first time this year.
3 – Jon Toone
2 – Ian Jasheway
2 – Taylor Webb
2 – Joe Klopchic
2 – Lawson Zandi
2 – Mark Hendrickson
1 – Robbie Howell
1 – Scott Barrentine
1 – Michael Ferri
1 – Aaron Tobey
1 – Steven Bruce
In the House Tonight
Steven Bruce is the first to arrive. Steven has a lot on his plate these days, a little too much real world getting in the way of his card-playing desires. He took a manager’s position with his company that has caused his one-way commute to work to grow to about forty-five minutes… on a GOOD day. The second thing getting in Steven’s way is his wife. He doesn’t like to talk about that part! As a long-time husband, I completely understand. No good husband gets everything their way. Marriage is give and take, every single day. The other dudes call Steven a p-word but I’m telling you they just don’t understand.
Hal Brady surprises us with an appearance tonight. I don’t know why it surprises me that Hal’s here, he’s been clawing out more chances to play Magic out of his own busy schedule. That’s code for HAL HAS A JOB.
Jon Toone is not gainfully employed. I actually have no idea how Jon fills his hours each day. I’d LIKE to rib him with a joking speculation, but I won’t since I have no idea how close to the truth I might accidentally land.
Joe Klopchic makes it six meetings in a row this week. Joe doesn’t like movies or popular music. There, I said it. Make of it what you will. When quizzed about these matters, Joe demurely admits that he just isn’t really interested by such things. Sometimes you meet a type ‘A’ personality who doesn’t care about anything except for their work, or maybe one all-encompassing obsession. I don’t think this is true about Joe. It’s been said that Joe is really Eric Jones with a better haircut. The point being that Joe might be mechanical inside, the same way as we have suspected Perfect Gamer of being. I don’t think this is true. Besides Magic, Joe loves a collection of different professional sports. Not just hockey. Oh, and he actually plays hockey. I hope he’s careful on the ice because I think Joe is kind of pretty and genuinely wouldn’t want anything to happen to his good looks. No homo.
Eric Knipp joins the fray this evening. He gets away from home on Tuesday nights with a pleasing regularity. He is always welcome. His presence injects a warm, straight-forward maturity that we can almost always use a little bit more of.
Mark Hendrickson is the last man to show up tonight, though not late at all. Mark drives from way over in Allen. It’s almost an hour from his house to mine depending on traffic. Mark occasionally updates me on the cost of gas and tolls from one point to the other. Mark is another mature player that I enjoy playing cards with. I can remember when I was the only cat in the room over thirty. Nowadays thirty is probably about the median age.
One way you know your Magic team is getting old is when you can NEVER seem to get a six man team draft to run after the regular Swiss rounds draft. This is more understandable on a night like this when we only had eight players to start with. You know how it is, Lawson has school in the morning. Hal wanted badly to stay but says he has to be at work early. I think Joe stuck the third and fatal dagger into our late night team draft hopes this week. That’s quite alright, we’ll try again next week.
We do talk briefly about this Saturday’s PTQ in Plano before everyone heads their separate ways. Joe is judging at the PTQ while the other seven of us plan to play in it. That’s all you need to know about who’s serious about Magic! Eight players tonight… every one of them is headed to the PTQ on Saturday!
This closes the minutes of tonight’s meeting. See you next week.
Level II DCI Judge
Zanman on Magic Online
Texas Guildmage meeting #790, Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Roll Call (in order of arrival)
Jeff Zandi, Guildmage #7.
Lawson Zandi, junior Guildmage, 31st meeting in a row, 182nd overall.
Steven Bruce, Guildmage #29, 1st meeting in a row, 164th overall.
Hal Brady, guest, 1st meeting in a row, 11th overall.
Jon Toone, Guildmage #28, 5th meeting in a row, 138th overall.
Joe Klopchic, Guildmage #36, 6th meeting in row, 89th overall.
Eric Knipp, guest, 2nd meeting in a row, 46th overall.
Mark Hendrickson, Guildmage #26, 6th meeting in a row, 307th overall.
Meeting ran from 6:41 pm to 10:10 pm
Play-by-play of a match between the two finalists’ decks
T1 Steven keeps two Islands, Forest, Gruul Guildgate, Experiment One, Realmwright and Mugging. Plays Gruul Guildgate.
T1 Jon keeps four Plains, Mountain, Skinbrand Goblin, Scorchwalker. Draws and plays Mountain.
T2 Steven draws Guardian of the Gateless, plays Island, plays Experiment One, plays Realmwright naming Plains.
T2 Jon draws Firefist Striker, plays Plains, plays Firefist Striker.
T3 Steven draws Ivy Lane Denizen, plays Forest, plays Mugging targeting Firefist Striker, attacks with Realmwright and Experiment One (20-18).
T3 Jon draws Millennial Gargoyle, plays Mountain, plays Skinbrand Goblin.
T4 Steven draws and plays Forest, plays Ivy Lane Denizen, evolve triggers and Experiment One gets a +1/+1 counter.
T4 Jon draws and plays Bomber Corps, plays Plains.
T5 Steven draws and plays Island, plays Guardian of the Gateless, evolve triggers and Experiment One gets another counter, attacks with Experiment One (20-15).
T5 Jon draws and plays Firemane Avenger, plays Plains.
T6 Steven draws Simic Charm.
T6 Jon draws Act of Treason, declares attack, Steven plays Simic Charm bouncing Firemane Avenger back to Jon’s hand, Jon plays Plains, plays Firemane Avenger.
T7 Steven draws and plays Gruul Keyrune, attacks with Guardian of the Gateless (20-12).
T7 Jon draws and plays Mountain, attacks with Avenger and Bomber Corps and Skinbrand Goblin, battalion triggers and Avenger targets Experiment One(20-15), Bomber Corps targets Realmwright, Steven activates Gruul Keyrune, Keyrune blocks Bomber Corps, Denizen blocks Goblin (17-15), Jon plays Millennial Gargoyle.
T8 Steven draws and plays Verdant Haven enchanting Gruul Guildgate (19-15), activates Keyrune, attacks with Keyrune and Guardian and Denizen (19-7).
T8 Jon draws Boros Elite, plays Act of Treason targeting and taking control of Ivy Lane Denizen, attacks with Denizen and Gargoyle and Avenger, battalion triggers and Avenger targets Guardian of the Gateless (19-10), combat damage happens (12-10), Jon plays Boros Elite.
T9 Steven draws and plays Mountain.
T9 Jon draws and plays Plains, attacks with Boros Elite and Gargoyle and Avenger, battalion triggers twice, Avenger targets Ivy Lane Denizen (12-13), Steven activates Keyrune, Keyrune blocks Boros Elite (7-13), plays Scorchwalker.
T10 Steven draws Pit Fight, CONCEDES.
JON WINS GAME ONE ON TURN 10, LEADS MATCH 1-0
T1 Steven keeps two Forests, Island, Cloudfin Raptor, Ivy Lane Denizen, Realmwright and Mugging. Plays Island, plays Cloudfin Raptor.
T1 Jon keeps two Plains, Mountain, Knight Watch, Bomber Corps, Mugging and Skyknight Legionnaire. Draws Plains, plays Mountain, plays Mugging targeting Cloudfin Raptor.
T2 Steven draws Greenside Watcher, plays Forest, plays Greenside Watcher.
T2 Jon draws and plays Plains, plays Bomber Corps.
T3 Steven draws Nimbus Swimmer, plays Forest, attacks with Watcher (20-18), plays Realmwright naming Mountain.
T3 Jon draws and plays Bomber Corps, plays Plains, attacks with Bomber Corps (19-18).
T4 Steven draws and plays Verdant Haven enchanting one of his Forests (21-18), attacks with Greenside Watcher (21-16).
T4 Jon draws Bomber Corps, plays Plains, plays Skyknight Legionnaire, attacks with both Bomber Corps and Legionnaire, battalion triggers for each Corps, one targets Greenside Watcher and the other targets Realmwright (17-16).
T5 Steven draws Experiment One, plays Ivy Lane Denizen.
T5 Jon draws and plays Mountain, attacks with both Corps and Legionnaire, both Corps trigger targeting Denizen (13-16), Jon plays Knight Watch putting two 2/2 white Knight creature tokens with vigilance onto the battlefield.
T6 Steven draws and plays Island, plays Mugging targeting one of the Bomber Corps, plays Experiment One, Ivy Lane Denizen triggers and Steven chooses to put a +1/+1 counter on Experiment One.
T6 Jon draws and plays Mountain, attacks with both Knight tokens and Bomber Corps and Legionnaire, Corps triggers targeting Denizen, Denizen blocks Bomber Corps (7-16), Jon plays Bomber Corps.
T7 Steven draws Miming Slime, plays Nimbus Swimmer with X=3 so that it enters the battlefield as a 3/3 Leviathan with flying, evolve triggers and Experiment One gets a second counter, Denizen triggers and Steven chooses to put a +1/+1 counter on Nimbus Swimmer.
T7 Jon draws and plays Mountain.
T8 Steven draws Totally Lost, plays Miming Slime putting a 4/4 green Ooze token creature onto the battlefield, Experiment One triggers (evolves) and gets a third counter, Denizen triggers and Steven chooses to put another counter on Nimbus Swimmer, attacks with Swimmer (7-11).
T8 Jon draws and plays Holy Mantle enchanting Bomber Corps, attacks with Bomber Corps and one Knight token and Legionnaire, Corps triggers targeting Steven (6-11), Ooze token blocks Knight token (1-11).
T9 Steven draws Forest, attacks with Ooze token and Experiment One, Knight token blocks Ooze token (1-7).
T9 Jon draws Foundry Street Denizen, declares attack, attacks with Bomber Corps, Steven plays Totally Lost targeting Bomber Corps putting it on top of Jon’s library, Jon plays Foundry Street Denizen.
T10 Steven draws Tower Defense, attacks with Experiment One and Ooze token, Foundry Street Denizen blocks Ooze token (1-3).
T10 Jon draws and plays Bomber Corps, CONCEDES.
STEVEN WINS GAME TWO ON TURN 10, TIES MATCH 1-1
T1 Jon keeps four Mountains, Act of Treason, Boros Elite and Millennial Gargoyle. Plays Mountain.
T1 Steven keeps three Forests, Breeding Pool, Stomping Ground, Simic Guildgate and Greenside Watcher. Draws Island, plays Simic Guildgate.
T2 Jon draws and plays Plains, plays Boros Elite.
T2 Steven draws Gruul Keyrune, plays Forest, plays Greenside Watcher.
T3 Jon draws and plays Plains.
T3 Steven draws Agoraphobia, plays Island, plays Gruul Keyrune.
T4 Jon draws Mugging, plays Mountain, plays Millennial Gargoyle.
T4 Steven draws Forest, plays Stomping Ground (18-20).
T5 Jon draws and plays Bomber Corps, plays Mountain, attacks with Gargoyle (16-20).
T5 Steven draws Miming Slime, plays Forest, activates Gruul Keyrune, plays Miming Slime putting a 3/3 Ooze token onto the battlefield, attacks with Greenside Watcher (16-18).
T6 Jon draws Assault Griffin, plays Mountain, plays Assault Griffin, attacks with Gargoyle (14-18).
T6 Steven draws and plays Clinging Anemone, attacks with Greenside Watcher (14-16), plays Forest, plays Agoraphobia enchanting Assault Griffin.
T7 Jon draws Martial Glory, plays Act of Treason targeting and taking control of Steven’s Ooze token, attacks with Ooze token and Gargoyle and Boros Elite and Bomber Corps, Corps and Elite trigger, Corps targets Greenside Watcher, Anemones blocks Ooze token (8-16), plays Mugging targeting Anemones.
T7 Steven draws Keymaster Rogue, activates Keyrune, taps Keyrune for mana, plays Keymaster Rogue returning Keyrune, plays Breeding Pool tapped.
T8 Jon draws and plays Mugging targeting Keymaster Rogue, attacks with Boros Elite and Gargoyle and Bomber Corps, Corps and Elite trigger, Corps targets Steven (7-16), Ooze token blocks Boros Elite (4-16).
T8 Steven draws and plays Forest, plays Gruul Keyrune.
T9 Jon draws and plays Plains, attacks with Gargoyle (2-16).
T9 Steven draws Zameck Guildmage, CONCEDES.
JON WINS GAME THREE ON TURN 9, WINS MATCH 2-1