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By: JustSin, Dave
Nov 15 2010 12:47am
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Preconceived Notions

Hello all and welcome to Week 3!  There is a lot to get to so I don't want to waste a lot of time, but I do want to say that I hope you guys are enjoying reading this as much as I am writing it.  The feedback and comments I've had so far have been very positive and great motivation to continue on and I'm quite thankful.  I'm really putting a lot of faith in the attention span of my readers since these articles are turning out to be a little long, but I think they are worth it and it's all great information (modest I know).  This article is no exception, but I'm hoping with all the pictures and charts it helps ease the pain.

I really want this to be an opportunity for people to come and learn so feel free to ask questions in the comments.  There is no question too small or simple so don't be afraid to ask and if I don't know the answer I guarantee that there is someone reading who will.  Remember what I said last week, knowledge is your best advantage in this game.

Now I've decided that each week I'm going to add a set of links for the previous articles since this really is a story told over several weeks and I would hope that someone joining us in the middle would take the time to go back and see what's been happening!  So welcome to the new... schedule section!!

Previous Weeks:
Week 1 - An Introduction
Week 2 - Strength of Knowledge

Current Week:
Week 3 - Preconceived Notions

Soon to Come:
Week 4 - From Prince to Pauper
Week 5 - A Standard Transition
Week 6 - Limited vs. Constructed Buy-In

**NOTE: This is of course subject to change at my whim in order to maintain the best possible series that I can provide you.**

Last week I talked about the importance of taking time out to read articles and learn about the different interactions, formats, etc.  There is so much to learn and I find that every day I play this game or read articles I'm learning something new.  People are always giving great tips or showing you fantastic things that can all go a long way in helping you learn to be a better player.  I also briefly mentioned that it is important to keep an eye on the next goal ahead of you.  For me this is getting into Pauper constructed.  While I'm not going to get into heavy detail on Pauper until next week, you'll see that I am continuing to build towards that goal (I'll get to that more later).

This week I'm going to take a more detailed look at an idea/concept/something that I've been championing ever since I started playing MTGO and that is the value of pre-constructed decks for new players.  Now I know there has been a lot of comments from me in the past based on the argument of "barrier to entry" where I've said that new players can get a lot of value from buying the pre-constructed decks that were offered by Wizards and now it is finally time to put my money where my mouth is.

Now this section could take me forever so I've put a limitation in place.  I'm only going to be looking at the special deck sets that have been given to us such as Jace vs. Chandra and not the four or so pre-constructed decks that we get with each new set release.  But this doesn't mean don't look at these!  Seriously you should always be aware of what cards are in these decks even as a "pro" player.  At one point Elspeth, Knight-Errant was soaring high in the prices, but when news arrives that Wizards is releasing a pre-constructed deck with her in it the price drops.  This is important because it means first you can buy her in her new foily form through Wizards if you don't own one and two if you do own some it may be time to sell before she drops too far in price (yes I realize my tenses are mixed because the deck has been out for awhile).  With the release of these decks you can find cards you may want for cheaper then buying them as singles.  It all goes back to that lesson on research and learning!

So how am I going to analyze these?  Well if you'll take a look below I've created a couple of charts that help to track the individual prices of these cards if you chose to build these decks by yourself.  Then I've compared this to what you're paying when you buy these decks in the store and see if they are actually worth buying.  I've also added notes based on how many cards in these decks have use on a constructed level of play.  Finally I've gone through and ranked them based on the order of importance based on the aforementioned factors.  So less talk and more charts!

Now as a precursor to this I have to say that all prices were grabbed through MTGO Traders.  What you're not seeing here is that there is a back page to this spreadsheet where I priced every single card in the decks.  For the remake value I looked at what the cheapest option was to buy the card outside of buying a copy from the pre-made.  So for example if the cheapest version of Fact or Fiction was the one from the Jace vs. Chandra pre-made I didn't use that price when calculating the remake value.  Instead I went to the next cheapest version.  Now there were some crazy surprising numbers here.  On the high end is the Rubinia deck.  This Commander deck has a gain value of $26.56!  This means that by purchasing this deck from the MTGO store you're saving that much money, it would cost you $46.55 to make this deck (19.99 + 26.56) by buying all the individual cards.  Now just as surprising is the other end of the spectrum with the Elves vs. Goblins deck.  By purchasing this deck from the MTGO store you are actually spending $8.99 more than if you were to build these decks yourself.  Frankly the value is probably even more then that because several of the commons in those decks can be obtained for free from the free bots.  Now there is a bit more to these numbers then just the straight pricing.  The one big benefit to these decks is the premier cards that you can only get by purchasing these decks.  Take a look...

Now for those who may not care about having a fancy card or two there is an additional set of cards that can only be obtained from these sets.  Take a look...

Temple Acolyte Abolish Foil Invigorate Snuff Out Rhystic Study Seal of Cleansing Massacre Demonic Tutor (tmb=Terrian Generator) Daze Gush

See these cards are so rare that even PureMTGO hasn't even updated these cards into their system.  As you can see there is some value in buying certain sets just for specific cards.  Many of the top level control decks in vintage formats like Legacy require Daze as a full set and the only way, currently, to get this card is through this deck.  Now sure this maybe the only card on this list that you may end up wanting for constructed play, but it is always good to note on the off chance that a new set brings one of these cards into its prime.  On a side note please so Invigorate some love people.  I had an awesome Classic Casual deck that was Jund with Kavu Predator, Grove of the Burnwillows, Punishing Fire, and False Cure where Invigorate was game over.

Ok so moving on here is my suggestion as to the order in which you should look to buy these special pre-made decks.  I've ranked these with consideration with regards to cost comparison, constructed play, as well as playability of these decks on their own.  Now I searched for someone to help me out with the playability section, but unfortunately there were no volunteers.  So instead of a break down you're simply going to get a simple grading based off my looking at the lists and having never ran these decks before.  Sorry.

Divine vs. Demonic

Ok before anyone starts to call me out for it I do realize in the charts above you'll see this as AvD because I think it sounds better to call the deck Angels vs. Demons.  Just bare with me.  So here comes out last place deck, Divine vs. Demonic.  Now here is a deck that offers very little in the way of playability and constructed options.  There is some good stuff in this deck such as Demonic Tutor, which can only be gained through this pre-made, but outside of that there is very little.  Now again understand I haven't had the chance to play these decks and I'm going off instinct, but comparing the two decks I feel the black is underpowered in comparison.

Most Expensive Card: Demonic Tutor
Exclusive Cards: Demonic Tutor
Number of Cards in Deck: 120
Constructed Ranking: 8th
Card Value Ranking: 7th
Playability Ranking: 8th

Overall Ranking: 8th

Deathdancer Xira

Now the commander decks get a +1 for playability in my mind since they are built and ready to go for their format and unlike the other, 60 card decks these have a chance to actually be somewhat competitive.  If you take any of the 60 card decks into the Casual Room you may be a bit disheartened by what you face and how the decks stack up.  Now some may argue with me on this placement, but I am perhaps a little biased towards the Xira deck.  I have taken her and used her in a Commander deck that I feel fits her much better.  In fact I managed to draw more cards with that Jund Commander deck then I did with any of my decks containing blue.  Sorry side rant.  Now there are some nice playables in this deck, but as a whole I feel it's dragged down by playability.  The only special card from this deck is Massacre and even as a black mage I'm not thrilled.

Most Expensive Card: Massacre
Exclusive Cards: Massacre
Number of Cards in Deck: 100
Constructed Ranking: 5th
Card Value Ranking: 4th
Playability Ranking: 7th

Overall Ranking: 7th

Elspeth vs. Tezzeret

Now I think this is perhaps a bit of a low ranking for this deck, but its where the numbers landed it.  While Tezz doesn't get much love the release of this deck brought out the need to spend just with Elspeth, Knight-Errant alone.  At the time of release she was easily twice the price she currently is.  In addition to getting Elspeth this deck also offers three other cards that get individual love just from this deck, i.e. can't get them anywhere else.  Not that they are really good cards, but still you cannot find them elsewhere.  Now when it comes to playability, and again take this with a grain of salt, the Tezz deck doesn't look good at all.  Elspeth looks playable even just for the fact that it has Elspeth.

Most Expensive Card: Elspeth, Knight-Errant
Exclusive Cards: Temple Acolyte, Abolish, Foil
Number of Cards in Deck: 120
Constructed Ranking: 6th
Card Value Ranking: 6th
Playability Ranking: 4th

Overall Ranking: 6th

Phyrexia vs. The Coalition

Now as a black mage I was so thrilled to see this deck's release.  Suicide Black used to see time in Legacy, but has since died off in the wake of some newly released and much stronger cards.  At the corner stone of this deck was the Phyrexian Negator, which would later be reprinted in the form of Phyrexian Totem.  This deck still is a great one for the casual room and Phyrexian Negator is still the corner stone.  Additionally this deck provides some of favorites of mine through The Coalition deck as well.  I think with this set Wizards was starting to get back into making pre-made decks that could play well in casual games.  Additionally this deck was responsible for bringing down the over-costed Urza's Rage.  I loved this card for big deck formats, but it rarely sees play.

Most Expensive Card: Rith, the Awakener
Exclusive Cards: None
Number of Cards in Deck: 120
Constructed Ranking: 7th
Card Value Ranking: 5th
Playability Ranking: 3rd

Overall Ranking: 5th

Elves vs. Goblins

Now again this is a deck that I might have expected to be higher, but there were some substantial things holding this deck back.  The most important of which is the fact that a person could build this set of decks for less money then what you pay at the MTGO Store.  Conversely these decks perform very well along the lines of playability and the importance of the cards in some of the eternal formats.  We're all aware of the power of Goblins and Elves in all formats.  From Standard to Legacy these decks dominate and Wizards is always putting out new ones and keeping these two deck types alive and kicking.  By purchasing these you are able to get some of the staples for those decks, but you'll miss out on the fact that those constructed decks require full playsets for these cards.

Most Expensive Card: Goblin Ringleader
Exclusive Cards: None
Number of Cards in Deck: 120
Constructed Ranking: 4th
Card Value Ranking: 8th
Playability Ranking: 1st

Overall Ranking: 4th

Jace vs. Chandra

Now this is a cornerstone deck in my mind.  This deck was one of the first decks offered with Planeswalker battles and more importantly these tied back to the recent read of mine in those Planeswalker novels.  Something that I personally wish they'd continue with!  This deck is also incredibly important because of one card, Daze.  As I've already mentioned Daze is an incredibly important card to most decks in the eternal format.  Any deck running blue is running the typical package of Daze, Force of Will, and Brainstorm.  Now I was a little unsure on the playability of these lists, but the Chandra list seems pretty playable at least.  In fact the two decks look pretty comparable in my mind.

Most Expensive Card: Daze
Exclusive Cards: Daze, Gush, Terrain Generator
Number of Cards in Deck: 120
Constructed Ranking: 3rd
Card Value Ranking: 2nd
Playability Ranking: 6th

Overall Ranking: 3rd

Garruk vs. Liliana

Now I was seriously surprised where this ended up on my list at 2nd.  I didn't see a ton of playability in either deck and again these seemed unevenly matched against one another.  Where these decks make up for time is the fact that they have several cards that can see play in constructed formats and the value of the cards works out pretty well.  I really don't have much to say about these two because I was not real thrilled about them.

Most Expensive Card: Snuff Out
Exclusive Cards: Snuff Out, Invigorate
Number of Cards in Deck: 120
Constructed Ranking: 2nd
Card Value Ranking: 3rd
Playability Ranking: 5th

Overall Ranking: 2nd

Enchantress Rubinia

Ok now I'm sure this number one pick will be debated heavily and I will admit that it is perhaps a bit biased.  Now again being a Commander deck I feel this one gets bonus point on playability.  There is a lot of great stuff to this deck in my mind starting with the fact that it is based around enchantments!  There are some great cards in this deck including Sterling Grove, which is an essential part of the Legacy Enchantress deck, but is often hard to get in its original form.  Now granted you can create a much better Bant deck then this and the deck is vulnerable to mass enchantment removal, but you can't pass up this opportunity.  The card value is pretty awesome and there are a number of cards that have great value from Sterling Grove to Enlightened Tutor.

Most Expensive Card: Sterling Grove
Exclusive Cards: Rhystic Study, Seal of Cleansing
Number of Cards in Deck: 100
Constructed Ranking: 1st
Card Value Ranking: 1st
Playability Ranking: 2nd

Overall Ranking: 1st

Wow ok that was a lot of work!  I'm hoping this helps you decide, which deck is for you.  I'd also like to add that while I'm finishing this up I know they've just released two new decks to us.  There is a mono-red burn deck and then you can get what is essentially known as Death & Taxes, which is a strong deck from Legacy.  I'm personally shocked that they are just giving this deck out, but that's a rant for another time.  Unfortunately these aren't added into my consideration, which is annoying because it would have been an even 10 decks, but frankly at this point I've been working on this article for a week and it needs to be submitted or you won't be reading this the next week!  However, I will add that these two decks are really great.  They have high playability and pretty decent value.  I mean with the mono-white deck you're paying a third of the price for a deck that is highly competitive in Legacy.  Buy it.

Here are the rules of my new poor life as I have previously laid them out...

1.  Each week I will be held to a budget of $15.

2.  The $15 budget must include all purchases from tickets to boosters to singles to pre-constructed decks/sets.

3.  Any money that was not spent last week can be carried over to the following week.

4.  If there is a release event then an additional amount can be added to the weekly budget to cover only one entry fee for that event.  If I wish to participate in more than one event then the cost will have to fit within the $15 weekly budget.

5.  I can participate in any event (limited, constructed, PRE, etc.) that I want as long as the entry fee is within my budget.

6.  All spending and selling must be tracked and posted in each week's article in order to ensure my compliance.

7.  These rules are subject to addition only.  This means that only new rules can be added, none of the pre-existing rules can be modified unless deemed necessary by some unforeseen circumstance.

Each week these rules will be provided as a reminder not only to my readers, but to myself as well.  If you, like myself find this whole process to be interesting and if it sounds like a good time then I join you to participate on your own and see how you fare.  What better challenge for an experienced player then to see if they can start over and survive on a strict budget?

Now there are a lot of opportunities to earn additional money in game and increase your collection through what are known as Player Run Events (PREs).  Now for those who aren't familiar with these they are exactly what they say they are... tournament events that are run completely by the players and not supported by Wizards, but instead by sponsors in game.  When you end in the money with a PRE you are usually given prizes in the form of credit at a trade bot, which you can use to buy cards.

**NOTE: If you host a PRE that is not listed on this and you would like it added let me know in game or in comments and I'll add you to this schedule, which I'll be posting each article.  Also if I have the registration time incorrect let me know so I can fix it!  I'd like to support the PRE community the best I can and keep this section as a place where players can get information about PREs so any announcements or anything you may wish posted here let me know as well!**

It is very important anyone interested in PREs check out the Wizards' forum located here for constant updates about changes to your favorite event or rules about that particular event.

Here are this week's PRE announcements:
Heirloom: Just a weekly reminder that the Heirloom PRE is played on a Saturday/Saturday/Sunday schedule.  In order to determine when this is being held and other important information about the format check here at the Wizards' PRE forum.

Just to recap, I was coming into Week 2 with kind of a bad start.  I had used the packs and tickets that I had left over to fit in two drafts, but managed to lose both in just the first round.  Just to make things worse I didn't manage to draft any kind of big money trade cards such as Titans of a Planeswalker.  I did manage a Time Reversal, which gave me at least some satisfaction after trading it away for one ticket and some commons that I wanted for Pauper.

It was quite the disappointment and I was going into this week with almost no extra money to draft with.  This meant that it was all or nothing this week!  I was going to be able to do only one draft this week if I wasn't able to win at least one round.  So now I was faced with the decision of what to draft.  With the recent price hike on Jace, the Mind Sculptor I was tempted to play ZZW, but I knew better than to chase that ultimate dream.  I wasn't going to waste my one draft of the week with the hopes that I'd crack Mr. Moneybags in one pack; the odds just aren't good enough.  So that left SoM x3 or M11 x3.  Both have some value, but I figured that I might stand a bit of a better chance playing M11, not to mention the fact that hitting a Titan would mean nice money that you don't really see with most SoM cards.  Perhaps I'm just not totally informed, but it doesn't seem like a money set and despite opening several mythics during the pre-release events I haven't seen one since they ended.

So M11 it was!  I checked the latest prices to see that the bots were now selling M11 packs for 3.58 in most cases, but found it selling for only 3.5 at my trusty pack-bot.  So based off of my slight change to recording my spending for this experiment I went to the MTGO store and bought 11 tickets (I had one ticket in storage from selling Time Reversal and only needed one additional one for my entry fee... 3.5 x 3 = 10.5 - .5 from bot credit = 10 for packs + 1 for entry) and grabbed my packs.  Here's how my deck looked after construction...

Now as you can see this deck was far from great and I was a little down about it.  I had some removal and some big creatures, but no rare or mythic bombs.  I did feel a little more confident in the fact that I was really creature heavy and had two Sylvan Rangers and a Terramorphic Expanse to help avoid the typical mana flood mid-game as well as a Birds of Paradise to help against mana screw.  I was also a little happy to see that I did get some value from the Birds of Paradise being foil and was passed to me when I was already in green.  I knew I'd be setting it aside to sell later (though perhaps I should have tried to trade it for two non-foil versions, but unfortunately the trade market is harder to find people for compared to the buyer's market).  So a little discouraged I sat down determined to give it my best anyways and try my hardest to win at least one game.

So game 1 I find myself playing a mirror match against BG.  My opponent gets the best of me in the first game thanks to some fliers.  In game two I gamble on keeping a hand with one land and the Birds of Paradise and it pays off as the fast ramp brings me the win.  In game three I draw all three basilisks and drop them on turn 5, 6, and 7, which is too much for my opponent to overcome.  So now I'm looking at least two packs!  I sit to game 2 and am facing GW.  Through the two games we play my opponent plays and/or draws no real threats and am able to win easily (special thanks to (Prized Unicorn) in game 1).  In game two I ramp up with turn two and three Sylvan Rangers and get out some big creatures on time for the win.  Now I've guaranteed myself at least 3 packs, which means a draft for only 2 tickets!  Now I'm feeling good and head into round three.  In game 1 I have to mulligan to 5 cards.  I'm facing down mono-blue, which is not good.  As I was drafting I noted a ton of heavy blue passing my way, but every time I figured I couldn't jump the color or that I'd see no more and I was wrong every time.  This guy clearly got it all as we reach a creature stall in game one and an Alluring Siren forces my creatures to suicide.  In game two I get a fast start and drop things to 24v2 before they stall out, but I do eventually maneuver in for the win.  Finally game three... all or nothing!  I try to get an early start with Garruk's Companion, which gets countered and I face down a Water Servant.  I draw an Assassinate and have to take the chance on the Cancel, which plays in my favor, no counter!  Things don't get much better from here as my opponent gets enough to put himself in the position for the win.

Wow so the deck performed much better than I had expected.  I think it helped big time that at least two other people had drafted green because the green pool wasn't very deep.  When so many people play a color thin like that usually they all lose out, but this time it worked somewhat in my favor.  Now while I only wanted to walk away with one win and two packs I instead won two rounds and walked away with three packs.  With the money I had left in my budget I had enough to head over to the MTGO store one more time and buy two tickets to jump into a second M11 draft.  Confidence was running strong and the next day I drafted this...

Now again this deck didn't look good.  When drafting this deck I got caught up in the appeal of too much removal and too few creatures.  I had little expectations, but figured that at the very least I was walking away with an Inferno Titan, which I figured could net me at least 5 tickets on the re-sale.  However, again I go into the first game thinking positive and determined to give it my best.  There was some potential outside of the bomb that is Inferno TitanCrystal Ball is limited gold, let me just tell you.  Also I can get some love off of Fire Servant with Chandra's Outrage.  Also there is a surprising amount of life gain in this deck too.  While it may not be everyone's favorite main deck card I've added in Blood Tithe and the deck has two Corrupts as well.

In game one it seems like deja vu again as I sit to RG.  In game one he has an advantage on me with creatures, but I start clearing out with Chandra's Outrage.  My opponent's fast start with Goblin Chieftain, but I again get the edge as I can play Inferno Titan on turn 6, which will be game over.  Game two goes just as good with a turn 3 Crystal Ball (and let me just say this game defined the bomb that is Crystal Ball to me).  On my opponent's turn 4 he plays a pretty little foil Obstinate Baloth, but it dies next turn to Chandra's Outrage.  A couple of turns later I'm able to dodge a Chandra's Outrage by Flinging the targeted creature.  Again through scrying I'm able to find Inferno Titan just in time for turn 6, but it is met by Fireball before I can attack with it.  My opponent plays a Yavimaya Wurm followed by a Garruk's Companion, but I scry into Corrupt followed by Quag Sickness and my opponent concedes.  Moving onto game 2 I'm starting to think maybe this deck has what it takes.  The game starts and I find myself facing UW fliers.  Well in game one my opponent gets turn 3 Honor of the Pure followed by two Squadron Hawks on turn 4 and Serra Angel turn 5.  If you can't guess that was game over.  Game 2 doesn't go any better.  I have to drop to 6 and get a decent start with turn 2 Black Knight, but as the game goes on I find myself across from Serra Angel, Cloud Elemental, Squadron Hawks, and Stormfront Pegasus.  With no blockers for the fliers I can't get enough removal.  Unfortunately my Inferno Titan didn't show his face at all.  He would have been gg since my opponent didn't have any removal (that I saw at least).  At least game two was close and all I needed was a Corrupt or the Titan to pull it out.

So not all was lost here.  I did manage to crush my first round opponent and walked away with two packs.  At this point in time I sell off my foil Birds of Paradise and my Inferno Titan in order to grab more packs for drafting.  On this trip out to the Classified section it seems that the price has gone up again and I end up paying 3.58 for the pack.  Things are going great and I'm sold on my ability to draft another game after this!  I sit down, I pick my cards, and here's what I get...

Anyone else noticing a theme of not fantastic drafts here?  Once again I find myself in black (perhaps I'm a bit biased biased, being a black mage myself), but again I had the feeling that there was some power here.  This deck managed to have some control through Corrupt, Pacifism, Blinding Mage, Assassinate, and Quag Sickness alongside a decent creature count at 16.  Not to mention that there was some life gain through Tireless Missionaries and Corrupt as well as a lot of invasion with the fliers.  So I felt pretty good about the deck even though it wasn't great, but I figured that if I could win one round with that RB deck then I could win at least two with this one.

Things get worse as I find myself again in a first round against a mirror deck.  This one was scary similar even down to the Captivating Vampire.  Game one reaches creature stall until my opponent draws out a few fliers and slowly beats me down.  Game two isn't much different.  I get stuck at three lands until turn 8 and lose to fliers again after a creature stall.

Ok so a very disappointing third draft if I do say so.  Like I said I actually had some faith in this deck despite the fact that it wasn't great by far, but I just couldn't match the flier count of my opponent.

Well at this point in time I've spent myself out for the week so let's take a look and see what the numbers for this week look like...

Here's a better break down for how my spending went this week (done as much for my benefit as anyone else who is following along)...

So this was a much better week then last time I'd say.  I walked away with two tradable cards and managed to win 5 packs in three drafts.  Sorry I have to say I'm pretty burnt out on this week so I don't have a lot to say in addition here so let's just get straight into the market shall we?

Here's what I got for my money this week...

4x M11 Booster

*Foil* Birds of Paradise for... 1x Ticket
Inferno Titan for... 5x Ticket

So here's how this week went!  I played in three drafts and out of those three I walked away with 5 packs of M11.  In all three drafts I managed to end up in black as one of my two colors.  Also in these drafts I managed to pull out two tradable cards with a foil Birds of Paradise and an Inferno Titan.  This was a much better week and I'm hoping to continue though as a teaser I won't be drafting next week.  So here's the grading scale once again, and yes I know from the comments that this is quite the flawed grading system, but I'm not yet sure how to rework it so it'll stay this way for now...

Return on Investment: 4 of 5 points
Draft Performance: 5 of 5 points
Earnings: 4 of 5 points
Improvement of Play: 4 of 5 points
Cards Collected: 3 of 5 points

Weekly Grade: 20 out of 25 points, 80%, B

So again a much better week.  I managed to walk away with five packs won and I have to say there was a pretty good return on investment.  I paid my 15 bucks for the week and got three drafts out of it.  The only thing I missed out on for the week was to grab my free cards off of the free bots.  I've been having trouble finding them "open" so I haven't been able to get my cards for this month, but believe me I'm keeping on it to make sure that I get these cards this month.  When I come back to drafting I'll have to work on SoM and see if I can get things going there as well.

Well as I mentioned earlier next week I'm going to be taking a break from drafting in order to spend my week's budget on gathering cards for Pauper.  I'll be covering a number of Pauper decks next time and see where it can take me.  Unfortunately constructed play doesn't work out as well for me because of time constraints, but I'm still going to cover it and spend the money to build the decks so that when I do have the opportunity, time-wise, to play constructed I have the deck ready at my disposal.

-JustSin aka PoorMansMagic (IGNs)


nice article - you can see by dotstar at Mon, 11/15/2010 - 02:20
dotstar's picture

nice article - you can see you put a lot of time and work into it and it makes it a pleasure to read

Keep it up - look forward to the rest

An excellent work here by Paul Leicht at Mon, 11/15/2010 - 03:08
Paul Leicht's picture

An excellent work here JustSin. Probably worth reading more than once. Which for me is a rarity.

Great article/series! My tipp by Nagarjuna at Mon, 11/15/2010 - 04:02
Nagarjuna's picture

Great article/series!

My tipp for playing limited on a budget are the M11 4 Booster Sealeds. You only invest 3.5x4=14 for the boosters and you open 4 Rares/Mythics instead of 3 in the Draft. It takes less time to play those events what is good for me too. Actually those events don't fire often now, that's the bad with it...

Good luck for the next weeks and don't miss the next Heirloom event where you could earn 17 tix for finishing first :-)

thx for the commnet all, just by JustSin at Mon, 11/15/2010 - 07:54
JustSin's picture

thx for the commnet all, just an FYI I'm still hoping week 4 to be on time and be out next week, but I'm working on finishing up my final papers for my masters classes so I haven't even started it yet, but I'm going to give it my best in hopes of getting it out on time for you guys

EDIT: also could someone help me out, I have 7PDC listed as saturdays there, but is it sundays?

Your summary of the duel by Drbenwayy at Mon, 11/15/2010 - 10:10
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Your summary of the duel decks is very useful and interesting. I was aware of Daze being from the Jace vs Chandra but I wasn't aware of the other cards that were only printed in the other decks. Especially surprising was the value of the Commander Deck, something I'd never know otherwise. Learned a few interesting things here, keep up the good work!

thanks for the comment, the by JustSin at Mon, 11/15/2010 - 14:47
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thanks for the comment, the fact is that until recently Daze was one of two cards worth mentioning (the other was Rancor, which has since been released outside of precons), the others really don't have a lot of constructed value

Continue your job, it's great by Jeketerri at Mon, 11/15/2010 - 10:39
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Sorry with my bad english.

Hello JustSin, I comment that I love your articles, I would like to help if I could. I wrote a small article is not quality of the PureMTGO articles, this is in Spanish the link: http://mtg-mtgo.blogspot.com/2010/11/una-forma-de-empezar-en-el-mol.html

Great article! by radman99 at Mon, 11/15/2010 - 11:00
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You put a lot of time and effort into this one - much appreciated!
I have been thinking about the pre-cons and their ROI for some time. It's good to see your breakdown on it.
The new ones are both a really good investment, esp. the mono-white one. I will be getting one soon.

As for your drafts, I found better cards to play than Blood Tithe in each. Not sure if you had good luck with it, but there's a reason you don't see
it in other draft walkthroughs. Draft 1: Plummet, Elixir or even the 3rd Basilisk would be better.
Draft 2: Duress or Axe over it (esp. with the Elemental). Draft 3: Sign in Blood or Purge. It seems you have a love affair with that card!

Looking forward to your next article! May all your M11 packs contain Titans!!


yes perhaps I am too prone to by JustSin at Mon, 11/15/2010 - 14:53
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yes perhaps I am too prone to liking blood tithe, first thing is I'm hardly a pro drafter so my choices may not be always 'right' which is also why I don't make these articles focused on the drafts lol

I'd never MD plummet or purge and you can't convince me otherwise, too situational, I'd rather have a mediocre spell like tithe over a dead card like plummet

Drafting by Felorin at Mon, 11/15/2010 - 16:19
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Great article, and congrats on stretching your budget to cover 3 drafts! I was gonna say what radman99 did about Blood Tithe, in most decks it's a bad card. Also 16 lands is pretty risky unless your curve is very low. I like to play 18 but will do 17 sometimes, at 18 you seldom mulligan or get manascrewed. Also why no Honor of the Pure in the black/white, with 9 white creatures?

Plummet and purge are sometimes dead cards, but in each case you had an always-live alternative, like running the second Sign in Blood, a great card. I would argue that feed is also "sometimes dead" being essentially useless in any game that doesn't come down to a close race. If you're way ahead you didn't need it, If they're way ahead it isn't enough to save you. The potential upside of plummet, especially in a deck where you have no flyers and no giant spiders, is just higher. Purge is chancier to main deck than plummet but it's a reasonable gamble sometimes if you need filler.

I also think in your black/green you should have splashed Pacifism, you had enough fixing to make it an easy splash & that's one of the best removal cards in the set.

Also Swiss drafts and 8-4 queues give better EV than 4-3-2-2 drafts. Though I will admit I play 4-3-2-2 sometimes. Looking forward to seeing what you do in pauper next week!

true I never would have by JustSin at Mon, 11/15/2010 - 17:21
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true I never would have considered the Pacifism splash though it would have been easy... and as far as honor goes... I can't tell you that lol brain lapse? I didn't even know I had it until you just mentioned it and I had to double check ><

I know its crazy, but again I tend to run decks with 16-17 land going back to the dead card thing. I get so frustrated when I get land flooded, way more so then mana screwed so I always play it short... its two fold, first I dont often run into mana problems so why change? and two when I get frustrated I play worse and get more frustrated so it tends to be semi-psychological, now if I was a better average drafter I'd jump into 8-4s, but since I'm not a great limited player I'll stick to 4322 where I get chances like this to stretch one draft into three.

Thx for the comment and advice, after the Pauper break I really should try to better myself at SoM or Zen drafts to start building towards Std, try not to get too flooded on M11

Wow, lots of info here, and a by Leviathan at Mon, 11/15/2010 - 14:21
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Wow, lots of info here, and a nice review of the precons. I can tell you put a lot of work into this. Good stuff.

How was this week a success? by puremtgouser at Tue, 11/16/2010 - 16:29
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Can someone briefly recap how this week was a success?

9 packs opened for the price of 4 is nice. But considering you sold the money cards in order to enter the third draft, which was a bust, you basically spent close to $16 on a bunch of crap commons and uncommons that you could have just bought for way less than $5 from a bot.

And this is a good week?

hi and thanks for trolling, by JustSin at Tue, 11/16/2010 - 20:23
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hi and thanks for trolling, there's more to a "good week" then card value hence all of the variables on the table above, would you consider a good week just one where you earn lots of money? so you buy in for one draft, get two titans you resell for 20 tix and thats the good week? should you just not resell and then what youve had one draft and got some cards game over for the week? in my mind it is a better week where I get the opportunity to play more on no money and getting constructed playables is an added bonus. Going off of your suggested method I would draft once a week and slowly... very slowly at a draft a week build up to a constructed deck for std... by the time i got the cards for it new cards would be out and I've gained no ground, not to mention you could build a deck you think youd like and find that oh wait it just isnt working for you

Where's the added value for by puremtgouser at Tue, 11/16/2010 - 20:55
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Where's the added value for the budget player who's following you?

Lessons learned in this article:
1. Provided that you already have talent and or luck, you can convert that into a few extra hours of sanctioned play.

Isn't that a bit obvious? The trick is actually being able to do that, which you don't communicate to the player.

On top of that is the issue that, despite opening 9 packs, the player is still left with cards that don't even add up to the value of his or her original investment of 4 packs and 4 tickets. So the budget player has spent $15 and doesn't have any the ability to play much more Magic unless he or she dumps more money into the system.

First you're arguing in by JustSin at Tue, 11/16/2010 - 21:50
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First you're arguing in circles, you're countering my argument with your original argument unchanged. Yes there isn't any more ability to play as you put it, however in your scenario of one draft a week there is the same issue. Additional play comes from casual games, the majority of people playing MTGO (I'm willing to bet) spend most their time playing casual. Few people consider "playing more magic" as being constructed/limited/competitive magic only.

On your first point the value for the budget player that these articles is not directly related to my drafting. As you can see (and as I have said) this isn't a draft series and I try to minimize my recaps. The value of the article is intended to be the weekly topic (precon info in this particular article) and the addition of my personal experience is just an additional way for me to provide real life experience to some of the things I'm noting. Will they match up? No in most cases they won't. The point was to add something fun to the article as an addition to the same old boring "lecture" that we see all the time with people telling us how to play magic better or do this better or do that. We get enough of people telling us what to do in RL, why not add an additional piece of interest through someone's experiences on a budget?

Frankly I'm sorry you're not enjoying the series and it doesn't live up to your standards, but it is providing exactly the effect I wanted and is balanced as I intended between the weekly topics and information about my adventures being on a budget after living a life of Magic where I could spend freely. While I understand what you're trying to say there isn't going to be a resolution of agreement on what a "good week" is. I've had several people message me in game thanking me for some of the tips and information I've offered and honestly that's what is important to me.

Good week or bad week aside, by puremtgouser at Wed, 11/17/2010 - 12:11
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Good week or bad week aside, my issue is that the whole process has only rules but no goal. Okay, we've seen what one person can do with $15 per week to spend on MTGO. That's interesting in and of itself in a way. But it'd be nice to see a clear-cut goal.

Return on Investment: 4 of 5 points
Draft Performance: 5 of 5 points
Earnings: 4 of 5 points
Improvement of Play: 4 of 5 points
Cards Collected: 3 of 5 points

The actual grading, then could reflect that:

Return on Investment: 1/5 $16 spent, only about $2 or less worth of cards actually opened.
Draft Performance: 3/5 In my mind, going infinite = 5/5. The first two drafts score well. The third is a flop.
Earnings: 1/5 considering you're pretty much 100% in the red. 5/5 if you count the packs as earnings, but since you busted them instead of selling them, they lost their true "earnings" value.
Improvement of Play: 4/5 fine, could even be 5/5 if you wanted.
Cards Collected: 2/5 - doesn't look like you collected much, if anything at all, that you couldn't get for $0.02 or cheaper from a bot. That being said, there is some progress in the sense that the collection is slowing moving towards building a Pauper deck.

Total Grade: 12/50 - F

"the whole process has only by JustSin at Wed, 11/17/2010 - 12:44
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"the whole process has only rules but no goal."

now see if you had started there this would be a different conversation and not the first time someone had issue with the grading system so I guess it is only right I drop it and refocus the article to be as I said focused on the topic with the addition of my weekly performance being an addition and not a focus

No more updates? by True at Tue, 12/14/2010 - 17:17
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Seriously, you cant start running an article and then just stop writing. Well, you are the author, so I guess you can. It has been a month, and no followups. I am at least interested in seeing where you have ended up after this amount of time.
Thanks for writing the original 3 installments. I would be very interested in any others, as I have been debating for weeks whether to take up MTGO or MTGP (again)..