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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Oct 20 2016 11:00am
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Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success!  The Pro Tour is over and control is back in action.  Shota Yasooka won with a sweet Grixis Control deck that I imagine many will play to not as stellar results.  Not all of us are Shota unfortunately.  Along with a new Standard metagame we have drafts to analyze!  While the drafts aren't always the major draw to the Pro Tour, they are quite useful in getting knowledge of the new Limited format and using that as a baseline on how pick orders and the general mood of the environment is.

Today I'm going to be covering one draft in depth and then talking about the rest of the drafts in general.  I'm not looking at what colors people prefer or what they don't like, I'm looking for draft strategies.  After that I'll be tackling a draft of my own and looking over a Kaladesh sealed pool.  With that said let's get to it!

Kaladesh Pro Tour Draft

P1P1 – Snare Thopter vs Arborback Stomper. Fairly easy pick here. Snare Thopter is great in all decks and leaves you open to anything while taking a good card.

P1P2 – Ovalchase Dragster vs colored cards. Another pick where taking a good card and being open is preferable to committing to a color. You can’t do this in every pack, but as long as you get high quality artifacts you can’t go too wrong here.

P1P3 – Die Young vs. Eddytrail Hawk. Both are cheap cards, which makes sense after you take two 4 mana creatures. Die Young is the safer pick of the two since removal is generally something you want in any deck you play whereas the Hawk is a much narrower card.

P1P4 – Revoke Privileges vs. Underhanded Designs. Underhanded Designs is not too hard to build around since you’ll naturally have some artifacts in play and is an instant speed answer to Vehicles. Revoke does almost the same thing, but not quite. It’s more a tempo play since you want the game to last longer with Underhanded Designs as opposed to Revoke Privileges. Perhaps Paulo wants to be aggressive?

P1P5 – Trusty Companion vs. Fretwork Colony. One card is aggressive while the other is more defensive in nature given that it can’t attack right away. In the end it doesn’t matter as Paulo opts to stay open and takes Eager Construct. It’s a bit of a compromise since it’s a fine play on turn 2 and it does something later in the game.

P1P6 – Malfunction vs. Consul’s Shieldguard. Malfunction is a solid removal spell and can be splashed off a Prophetic Prism whereas Consul’s Shieldguard is making a small commitment to white. As we’ve seen before, it’s much preferable to stay open and so Malfunction is the pick here.

P1P7 – Spireside Infiltrator. There wasn’t much a choice here for Paulo as he easily takes a Spireside Infiltrator. This has to be a preference pick over a signal as while the card is fine, it’s not a big signal in my opinion.

P1P8 – Spireside Infiltrator. Paulo ran it back and LSV mentions that he believes Paulo wants to draft a much more aggressive deck than they thought, which makes sense. Infiltrator is a card that is only good on offense so if you take it early enough you want to be in an attacking strategy.

End of Pack 1 Interlude – Paulo’s very much open to taking any good cards he sees and going into that color combination. The downside to this strategy is that if the packs don’t cooperate with him he doesn’t have a direction in his draft. The key to pack 1 was him staying open and trying to set himself up for pack 2 when he has more information about the cards he has.

P2P1 – Veteran Motorist vs. Aviary Mechanic. Not much of a pick here since Veteran Motorist is a much stronger pull to RW than Aviary Mechanic and it works well with the two Vehicles he has.

P2P2 – Trusty Companion vs. Eddytrail Hawk – I would have liked the Hawk here, but the Trusty Companion is worth a shot if you’re looking to play with Aradara Express. It would need something else to crew it but it’s a card that can crew most Vehicles in the set.

P2P3 – Pia Nalaar vs. Malfunction – Malfunction can be seen as a signal here long with all the blue cards, but you’re not giving up anything that’s worth more than a Pia in a red aggressive strategy. Given the slight commitment to RW, it would have to be a good blue rare to make Paulo switch.

P2P4 – Sky Skiff vs. Inventor’s Apprentice. I like the Sky Skiff here over Inventor’s Apprentice since Sky Skiff is a generally good card as opposed to the somewhat limited Inventor’s Apprentice. Apprentice is quite bad late and/or without an artifact as opposed to a flier which always has value.

P2P5 – Fateful Showdown. I’m not a big fan of Fateful Showdown even though I recognize that it’s a powerful card. I would have taken Skyswirl Harrier but the correct pick is likely the Fateful Showdown.

P2P6 – Spireside Infiltrator. I would have looked at one of the two 5 drops just so my deck has a bit of reach, but who needs reach when you have a very low curve? I think we might be looking at a 16 land deck here given the choices made so far.

P2P7 – Thriving Grubs. There’s a pretty late Aether Meltdown there but the ship might have sailed on blue at this point. Few blue cards are bound to table and if Paulo put someone in blue they’re not going to pass good blue cards in pack 3.

P2P8 – Hijack. Gearseeker Serpent is in the pack but blue is no longer an option.

End of Pack 2 Interlude – First pick Veteran Motorist changed everything about the pack. If Paulo takes Aviary Mechanic or some other card it’s quite possible that we end up in UR. Instead Veteran Motorist is the pick followed by a Trusty Companion and a stream of red cards. Red was open so Paulo got rewarded for that but not much white. Like I said at the end of pack 1, being open is good but sometimes it can bite you in the butt. Thankfully Paulo doesn’t need much white to make a good two color deck.

P3P1 – Toolcraft Exemplar. A nice payoff for being in RW, now we might see some cheap artifacts being drafted to make Toolcraft Exemplar a 3/2 on turn 2.

P3P2 – Sky Skiff vs. Propeller Pioneer. Propeller Pioneer is a fine card to take but it’s not more powerful than a Sky Skiff and does damage not as frequently as a Sky Skiff does. Sky Skiff is also a cheap artifact that works well with Toolcraft Exemplar. P3P3 – Eddytrail Hawk. Cheap aggressive creature that can crew a Sky Skiff if needed.

P3P4 – Furious Reprisal vs. Brazen Scourge. I would have taken Brazen Scourge as 3/3 haste for 3 is quite good, but Reprisal is a fine card and might be better for curve purposes.

P3P5 – Salivating Gremlins vs. Hazardous Conditions. The Gremlins aren’t great in his deck since he doesn’t have a lot of Fabricate, but it works well if he gets the Servo Exhibition back. Hazardous Conditions is fine to try and hatedraft, but I don’t know how much play it’ll see regardless.

P3P6 – Pressure Point vs. Bastion Mastodon. If you want to have some staying power in the late game then you take the Mastodon, but if you want to be purely aggressive then Pressure Point is likely a better card.

P3P7 – Sky Skiff vs. Propeller Pioneer. We had this choice a few picks back and while Paulo runs it back I feel the third Sky Skiff is a bit too much but perhaps the first Propeller Pioneer will come back?

P3P8 – Built to Last. Nothing really in the pack for him, might as well take an on color card that is actually useful.

End of Pack 3 Interlude – All the buildup in the first two packs finally paid off in pack 3 as white was open and Paulo drafted a good RW draft deck. Like I said earlier, this can be a good strategy but it also has its risks as well. Staying almost mono red in pack 2 leaves you with options going into pack 3. You can be mono red, Rw, RW, or UR if you open a bomb blue card. My takeaway from this draft is to be open if you can and then find the open colors. This is a general draft strategy, but it’s easier to do here since you can take colorless cards before you commit to a colored card.

Looking at some of the other drafts at the Pro Tour I saw a few general strategies that people employed as they open their first pack.  Some players liked to commit to a strong colored card and see if they could make a deck with that card work.  Others opened an average rare and took artifact cards until they found the open colors and went into that color combination.  Lastly there were the players who decided to be open but take colored cards and have the fallback of being a 4-5 color green deck.  Generally speaking I feel players want to be open about their colors until they have to commit to something, unless they open something worth committing to.  Because of that I feel the beginning picks of a draft are very crucial since players can switch from one strategy to another depending on what is being passed to them.  I feel more often than not you'll pick a colored card and go from there, so you don't have to switch from one strategy to another.  Perhaps hedge against everything and go 5 color green from the start?

Kaladesh Sealed League

Something that is easy and hard about Kaladesh Sealed at the same time is the abundance of artifacts in the set.  You're going to be playing a fair amount of artifacts and they're all generally playable so you don't have to worry about putting random cards in your deck.  The downside is that these cards take away from the colored cards you normally would open in a different set, so finding the good colors is a harder task.  It also makes the colored cards much more important from pool to pool.  If everybody is playing generic good artifacts, when what is going to elevate one deck from the other?  The colored cards have to be at their best in order to make your deck.  You can't play with generic cards because that doesn't add to what you're doing.  You need something good and powerful, but at the same time you're limited in the quantity of cards you get in a color.  In a sense you have less options in Kaladesh Sealed, you either open good cards in a color or you don't.

As for my pool I have too many artifacts and not enough colored cards to make a good two color pair would the way I'd like it to be.  Red and green have the issue of not having enough cards that while they have some good cards, there's just not enough going on there. White is my best and deepest color so I'm going to be a white deck no matter what, so it all comes down to what color(s) I want to play with it.  For the time being I believe WBr is the best for me.   I don't believe it's a good option given what I expect to face, but it's the best I have.  What do you think?  What would you build/play?

Kaladesh 8-4 Draft

I think I drafted pretty well this week.  I tried to stay open even with a Chandra, Torch of Defiance as my first pick which gives me a strong push towards drafting red cards.  I was leaning towards RW after pack 1 but kept black in the back of my mind seeing as I got three black cards in a row to finish out pack 1.  I took Eliminate the Competition as a hedge towards RB since it's a very powerful card and I had few white cards at that point. Black didn't really pan out and a Veteran Motorist sealed the deal and I drafted a RW deck.  It may just be me but I think I value Wayward Giant and Skyswirl Harrier more highly than other RW drafters.  I don't want to be a typical RW Vehicle deck that has a target on its back.  Cards like Skyswirl Harrier and Wayward Giant give you a different angle of attack while also pressuring your opponent at the same time.

I ended up losing the second match of the draft by throwing away both games I lost.  I played poorly and my head just wasn't in the game.  It's unfortunate but there's nothing that I can do about it now.  I can take a little bit of solace in the fact that this deck should have made finals and prized out.  I may not have played to the result I wanted, but knowing I could have gotten there is not nothing.  Playing with Chandra actually made me realize how not good she is.  Yes, she's a planeswalker and she can do a bunch of things, but none of them are really too relevant.  It's hard to protect her, but if you can she can end the game quickly.

Conclusion

While drafting Kaladesh seems a little straightforward, it actually isn't and there's a lot of things you need to consider even when you're making your first pick.  Do you want to be flexible?  Do you want to commit to a color?  Are you drafting with Vehicles in mind?  Do you want them or not?  A lot of thought goes into this format even if it just seems like people are just picking cards and finding the open colors.  It's not an easy format once you get down to it and examine it in depth.

Next week I'll be back looking at a practice sealed, starting my league games and doing a Kaladesh draft.  If you have any comments, questions, or concerns leave them in the comment section below!

Thanks for reading/watching!