Magic the Gathering post. Be aware, here be dragons, etc.
Unless you’re into that kind of thing.
It’s been a while since I’ve drafted. It used to be a sort of Sunday ritual. Like church, but in a game where you summon demons, hydras and fuzzy little agents of terror. Booster draft. It’s a format where eight people open boosters, pick a card and pass the pack to their left. Players continue to pick cards from each booster that comes their way until all of the packs have been picked clean. Then they each open a new pack and continue the process, passing to the right this time. They open one more booster, passing to the right and by that point they should have enough cards to put together a deck. It’s often referred to as “limited”, as the decks are usually temporary. Players take them apart after they’ve played a few rounds with them. When I used to play on Sundays at my local game store Vagabonds in Takapuna (R.I.P. Vagabonds), other players would pay for my entry and get the cards I won. It was a sweet deal. I usually did alright, I didn’t have to pay a cent and my “sponsor” got the prizes.
A store here in Toronto was doing $10 draft till you drop to celebrate the release of the new set. You got a nifty promo card just for playing, and a draft for $10 (which is pretty cheap). If you won the pod (single round elimination between eight players (so from one to three matches)), you got entry into another draft free. Drafting is fun, you get the chance to open flashy, expensive cards (the game’s half lottery) and create powerful/synergistic/goofy decks. With such a low buy-in, it was a super casual environment. Most players split in the finals, meaning that if you won two matches, you and your third round opponent could agree to halve the prize. Since a draft was $10 to start with, it meant that if you were halfway decent you could do draft after draft for $5, which is an insane deal (since packs are usually $3 each).
Starting things off with a bang, I opened an invocation version of Omniscience. Invocations are special foiled versions of often popular cards. They’re incredibly rare. The odds of pulling an invocation are around one in 144 packs. If you’re drafting, you get three packs. So chance odds to open one of the 20 invocations are once every 48 drafts. The 20 invocations in this set range from around $20-$100. I pulled one that’s worth $70-$80. It’s not the most expensive piece of cardboard in the game, but it’s pretty up there. So go me.
I did well in my games too. I kept a) drafting green, b) opening Overcome (a powered down Overrun is still pretty damn great) and c) doing better than I expected, especially since I wasn’t drafting well. Signals were weird, given a bunch of new players. It made it harder to understand how the colours were flowing at the table. First round I put together a GB deck that had consistent three drops, three or so bits of removal and a chunky high end on my curve. Turns out sometimes if you keep hitting your land drops, playing solid creatures and attacking, you can win games. Round two I had a super aggressive RG deck with standouts like Earthshaker Khenra, Ambuscade and other great removal. Once again, I got to the final round and split.
My last draft didn’t totally come together. I started out GB again, then pivoted into GU after seeing how free the colour pair was. I had a bunch of super solid creatures on the ground, two Aerial Guide, three Ambuscade, Ramunap Hydra and two Unquenchable Thirst. I figured that removal plus evasion would equal wins, but I got mana screwed a bunch of times and couldn’t beat my opponent’s aggressive RW deck.
Altogether, I got to play three rounds of draft, picking up a couple of rad cards along the way and an absurdly valuable rare. I technically made money on my investment, which is funny considering I was using store credit from a card I traded in last week. My habit is paying for itself. If Vegas has told me anything, it’s time to take the money and run.