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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Feb 16 2016 12:00pm
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Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success!  This week I'm going to be covering two drafts that happened at PT Oath of the Gatewatch: Day 1 draft with Luis Scott-Vargas and Day 2 draft with Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa.  These pros spent a lot of time practicing and playing with these cards so by analyzing their drafts we can get some insight into what they believe should be done in OGW draft.

Almost as important as that: I got a new microphone!  My Dell laptop came with a built in microphone that I've used for all my videos and it was not really worth all the hassle that came with it.  For starters, I would make videos without any editing software so you would hear the background noise along with any other noise that is normal in my life (dog, lawnmower, airplane) and those are distracting to hear.  I eventually started editing my videos and recently got a little bit better at it but the time it would take edit them was quite miserable on my part.  The hope is that now with this new microphone that I'll be able finish recording and upload my video without ever having to touch Audacity.

The microphone came in on Saturday and I recorded a quick video just to see how it worked, and it seemed a lot better than my previous videos. Unfortunately I could only do one video since I had to leave to run errands and play Game Day, so my only day to record a draft video was the day after.  As such, I only have one set of videos today.  My microphone has three settings, and I used the second one when I did those videos, and the volume is a bit lower on that setting than on the first.  I'll have that fixed by next week but the videos I did make should be serviceable enough.

With all that said let's begin analyzing these drafts!

Day 1 Draft - Luis Scott-Vargas

P1P1 - It's a very easy Fall of the Titans here, not even close.

P1P2 - Isolation Zone over Captain's Claws and Jwar Isle Avenger - Captain's Claws is great but it commits you to an aggressive deck and is less flexible than the other picks.  It comes down to Avenger vs Zone and you don't pass up premium removal.

P1P3 - Zada's Commando over Jwar Isle Avenger - Zada's Commando works better with Fall of the Titans since it can turn on the Surge cost, not to mention you want to have attacked/damaged your opponent before you Fireball them.  Note:  Wall of Resurgence is here but you don't want it in RW since the 0/6 body does nothing and it's a liability to make a 3/3 land on turn 3.

P1P4 - Zada's Commando over Ondu War Cleric - You want to be base red so taking the second white card over the third red card doesn't make much sense.  Also, Commando is better at attacking than the War Cleric.

P1P5 - Saddleback Lagac over Makindi Aeronaut - Here I would have taken Aeronaut since RW Allies seems to be open and I want to play Isolation Zone.  The thing is, both Marshall and LSV think Lagac is the best green common and seeing it pick 5 could be a signal that green is open.  Note: Second Wall of Resurgence could be a signal that white is open, although that depends on how highly you rate Wall.

P1P6 - Saddleback Lagac over Kor Sky Climber - I again would take the white card because of my second pick Isolation Zone, but if you believe Lagac is the best green common then you take it once again and you're pretty confident that green is open.

P1P7 - Goblin Freerunner over Tajuru Pathwarden - I would take Pathwarden since I think it's the best green common, but Freerunner makes more sense since it's better able to leverage Fall of the Titans and there's a good chance you can play it on turn 4 with a Zada's Commando.

P1P8 - LSV is a master.  Mina and Denn, Wildborn is a great card to get as a payoff to pivoting to RG.  Getting this pick 8 means that not only is RG open, it means that the table has seen the card and chosen not to take it making LSV the only RG drafter (in theory).

Rest of Pack 1 - After locking in on RG LSV takes the best cards for his deck in every pack and they're pretty straightforward although I would have taken Canopy Gorger over Sparkmage's Gambit.

P2P1 - Might as well run back Saddleback Lagac right?  Cyclone Sire is tempting, but you don't take the first blue card over a green card you rate highly.

P2P2 - Zada's Commando over Eldrazi Aggressor - The pick isn't really close here, Commando is the pick no matter what but you do have to worry about not getting a card for your deck when the pack tables.

P2P3 - Nissa's Judgment over Cinder Hellion.  The Hellion is a nice better but Nissa's Judgment buffs two of your creatures and make it so you can very easily kill one creature if you previously played a Saddleback Lagac.  At this point you want removal over creatures.

P2P4 - Boulder Salvo over Saddleback Lagac - See above ^

P2P6 - Zada's Commando over Tajuru Pathwarden - At this point you have two options, you either try and play a smooth curve with the Pathwarden or you try to make your Saddleback Lagacs as best as they can possibly be.  Taking Zada's Commando means your pick order is something like this: premium removal -> cheap creatures/tricks ,-> 5-6 drops.  It's not a bad strategy to have so long as you commit to it early enough.

Rest of Pack 2 - Here you see LSV take red/green cards when possible and get a gift when the Lagac comes back from pick 4.  Like Marshall and Randy say, it's quite possible that he's the only green drafter there.  Going into pack 3 I imagine that the pick order will be this: premium removal -> efficient creatures -> top end.  The top end is optional because you can dump your hand out quickly and augment that with Saddleback Lagacs, but it wouldn't hurt to have one or 2 5-6 drops that can take over a game.

Pack 3 - Pack 3 started off great with a Stonefuy that can double with Nissa's Judgment to take down an opposing big threat.  The pick I like the most is taking Tajuru Beastmaster because it functions as another Saddleback Lagac but it has a better body and makes a top deck Zada's Commando even better than it already would be.  LSV drafted this seat quite well and got rewarded with a deck that was very open.  The lesson to be learned here is that when you see a card you rate highly in a different color later than it should be that you should take a chance and take it because the odds of it working out are high.  It's also a better play than taking a mediocre card in one of your colors because you don't want to take the most medium cards you can find, you want to take the best cards that you see and it's a lot easier to do that when you have the pick of the litter if you find the open color.

Talking more specifically about RG, it appears that a RG beatdown strategy is preferred over a more midrange strategy that supports Tajuru Pathwarden and Canopy Gorger.  We saw time and time again that cheap aggressive creatures were preferred over larger creatures that require a more immediate answer.  Perhaps this is how RG should be drafted?  If that's the case then where do you want Canopy Gorgers and Tajuru Pathwardens? I feel like you can draft both RG Aggro and Midrange, it just depends on what strategy is being passed to you.

Day 2 Draft - Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa

P1P1 - This is a very easy Embodiment of Fury and it's not even close.

P1P2 - Jori En, Ruin Diver over Saddleback Lagac - If you're taking a blue card here then you might as well take Jori En since you'd want to end up in UR if you take a blue card and it's going to be hard to stray away from Embodiment of Fury.  The only choice is between this card and the Lagac, and the potential upside of Jori En beats out the common.  Now, if you want to stay open I think you take Sweep Away or Saddleback Lagac.

P1P3 - Immobilizer Eldrazi over Maw of Kozilek - Maw is a nice defensive option that can attack later on in the game, but if you're playing Jori En and Embodiment of Fury then you want to take a more aggressive stance.  Because of that line of thinking it's better to take the Immobilizer Eldrazi so you can curve out more easily.  Additionally, you want cheap spells when you're playing Jori En.

P1P4 - Blinding Drone over Corrupted Crossroads - This is an actual decision here.  Taking Crossroads makes it quite easy to play UR Devoid and not worry about mana, but on the other hand the Blinding Drone is good removal.  The decision is to take the tapper or take the card that could enable a tapper and the answer is to take the tapper since it's quite likely that you get the Crossroads back.

P1P5 - Gravity Negator over Warping Wail - Warping Wail aka Eldrazi Charm is a nice card once you're playing colorless mana, but it's not as powerful as Gravity Negator being able to break board stalls with the flying ability.  Note: there was a Cinder Hellion in the pack that could have been taken. Not taking it here means that Paulo wants to be in UR Devoid as opposed to UR good cards.

P1P6 - Crumbling Vestige over nothing - Here you're taking Vestige no matter what since you need colorless mana to make your cards works and there's no guarantee that you get another chance at one before you head into BFZ.  Yes, you can pick up Skyspawners and Incubators in BFZ but you want consistent colorless mana, not conditional mana.

P1P7 - Walker of the Wastes over Gravity Negator - I like this pick as opposed to what Ian and Marshall said.  Gravity Negator is good but you already have one and if you're going to be using the ability you want creatures that hit hard, and that's something Walker of the Wastes does. A lot of UR creatures are small, so you need something to back up those creatures and Walker does that just fine.

Rest of Pack 1 - The rest of the pack goes well and it's clear that blue is open.  The problem is that there weren't that many red cards and the Stormchaser Mage did not come back, so perhaps someone is in Ru while Paulo is in Ur?  If I'm Paulo I'm looking to get out of red or at least be open to potentially moving into another color, which might be green?  There was a late Void Grafter so UG as a color combination is open, especially with a last pick Canopy Gorger.  That card should not go that late.

P2P1 - Didn't we already do this pick?  Even if you're unsure that red is open, you have to take Fall of the Titans.  Worst case scenario you're heavy blue with a red/colorless splash for Jori En, Embodiment, and Fall of the Titans.  That's quite the potent deck there so there's no reason to shy away from red regardless of what you felt last pack.

P2P2 - Holdout Settlement over Seer's Lantern - You could take a red creature here to try and push red even more, but you have too many colorless costs that you have to prioritize mana first over a medium creature.

P2P3 - Grip of the Roil over Eldrazi Aggressor - Grip is better over medium red card because you know you're base blue so you might as well take a card you know you'll play.  I'm a little concerned about no good red card being passed so taking a blue card is even more important since you don't want to waste a pick on a card you might not play.

P2P4 - Crumbling Vestige over Roiling Waters - I would not have had the restraint to pass Roiling Waters in my base blue deck!!  Vestige is the correct pick here, it's just a little sad that it had to be taken over Roiling Waters which is a very powerful card.  

P2P5 - Holdout Settlement over Immobilizer Eldrazi - Holdout also fixes for red and that's something I feel could be a splash as opposed to a main color.  Red has not been open at all this pack with the only strong red card being the one that was opened in pick 1.  Did red get cut off by passing the Stormchaser Mage?  Or was red getting cut off 1-2 seats from both Paulo's left and right?  There's definitely at least one other red drafter at the table and it feels like they're near Paulo.

Rest of Pack 2 - Paulo gets some red creatures so the red is starting to be more of a main color than a splash color, but it's hard to tell if red is open or not.  It might be open enough that Paulo's insane red cards make up for the weaker ones and he plays red anyway because at this point you're committed to red since you don't have a backup color.  Pick order from this pack seemed to be: colorless mana -> blue cards -> red cards.

Pack 3 - Pack 3 was insane for Paulo.  Blue was so open that almost every pick was going to give him a high quality blue card, not to mention he got passed a Brutal Expulsion!  Even though there wasn't too many red cards taken in this pack, there was enough high quality blue cards that the red cards he does play get to be the best of the best and there's no problem being a UR deck.

What I take away from this draft is that it's okay to take a good multicolored card early if you're already in one of those colors, and how to draft blue/colorless/x decks in Oath.  You saw Paulo prioritize colorless sources to make sure that the abilities of these creatures can be activated and not hinder his manabase.  Holdout Settlements give the ability to tap for any color given you tap a creature while Crumbling Vestige can be played on curve and cast the colored creatures and then the next turn activate the colorless abilities they have.

OGW Draft #4

Normally I don't like to blame factors outside my control to why I don't do well, but I think in this case I was stuck in a bad seat.  Looking back at pack 1 several hours later I saw a lot of very medium packs after pick 5.  You could make a case that I shouldn't have been taking white cards if I'm passing white cards, but since I choose which cards to pass I can take the best ones for myself, not to mention I cut the person to my left for 2 packs whereas they get to cut me for 1.  I'm fine taking that exchange because during pack 2 I know this is going to happen and choose cards of my second color.  Pick 10 of Pack 1 had Affa Protector, Scion Summoner, Canopy Gorger, and Spawnbinder Mage still in the pack.  White and green are clearly open if that's the pack I get pick 10.  Pack 2 went a lot better for me but even still there were packs where I didn't have a good card to take and was essentially staring at a blank pack.  Pack 3 was a litte better than pack 1 but not as good as pack 2.  In this pack I didn't have many choices, either I took the only card in my colors or I took a card I wasn't going to play.  I didn't have many opportunities to pick removal or have to decide between one good card over another.  This is how I saw things, but what about you?  Did I miss something?

Conclusion

I couldn't really translate much from what I saw in the PT drafts to my own draft, but the one thing I did see was that getting colorless sources is a high priority if you start taking cards that need colorless to either be cast or used to their full potential.  PV took a Crumbling Vestige over Roiling Waters and now I see why that was the choice.  If you don't get enough colorless sources in your deck then it's hard to use some of your awesome creatures and at that point they become generic mediocre creatures that don't do anything.  So if you're looking to be the colorless deck or have creatures that need colorless, I would highly recommend prioritizing colorless mana because it's really hard to get it in pack 3 and at that point you rather be taking a really strong card for your deck as opposed to mana.

One thing I will say is that I have a lot to learn before I can even think about getting to the level that these pros are at.  They play far more than I do and have more experience to fall back on so if I ever want to get there then I need to play much more than I do now.  If you have any comments, questions, or concerns leave them in the comments section below!  Next week I'll be back with more drafts and one last release sealed.

Thanks for reading/watching!