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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Jun 09 2015 11:00am
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Hello and welcome to another edition of Sealed Success!  I've been drafting Modern Masters 2015 online a fair amount and I've been having a lot of fun, although it does make me wish that paper drafts cost the same as they do online.  I'd much rather pay 24 dollars to hit the foil 'Goyf lottery as opposed to 35 and it makes me appreciate the MSRP of the original Modern Masters set (even if you couldn't find it at MSRP).

Speaking of foil 'Goyf, I suppose most of you have heard about the pick heard around the world.  Normally I wouldn't really mention it, but since we're going to be looking at the featured drafters at the top 8s, it's hard not to talk about it.  Personally, I love the pick if for no other reason than to say that you have the only foil 'Goyf that has a Top 8 stamp.  Sure, some people disagreed and may have been a little hostile in doing so, but none of that really matters in the end.  Whether or not you play Magic as a professional, amateur, or casual player, we are in the end playing a game.  Games are meant to be fun and cause joy and laughter, not hate and negativity.  My belief is: if you're not having fun then you're not doing it right.  Live your life how you want to live it, and hopefully that's something full of fun and joy.

Foil 'Goyf discussions aside, I want to talk a bit about the Top 8 drafts that happened at the several Modern Masters 2015 Grand Prix.  I had a feeling that players would gravitate to an archetype or two that they felt comfortable with and would stick to that if at all possible.  This is based on availability of product, time commitments/constraints, and money.  Realistically most people weren't going to do more than a few drafts leading up to the Grand Prix weekend.  It's simply too expensive to do multiple drafts unless you have a sizeable bankroll, so if you're limited on funds you're going to try to make your drafts count.  If you're doing less drafts, you're less likely to actually explore the format and draft multiple archetypes.  Instead, you might take notice of an archetype or two that performed will in your draft pod and look to draft what they drafted in your next draft.  If the archetype continues to perform, then you try to learn how best to play/draft that deck and hope it's good enough.    This reasoning led me to believe that after watching Shaun McLaren's stream that he would draft 4-5 color if he had a feature draft at GP Vegas, and that's exactly what happened.  Basically: "If it ain't broke don't fix it".

With that said, let's look at the first Top 8 that happened at Grand Prix Chiba:

Top 8 Grand Prix Chiba drafts

  • Pick 3 of pack 1 for Albert Bunisanjaya is a clear indicator that he would like to draft a red based deck, quite possibly an aggressive deck. Taking Inner-Flame Igniter over more powerful cards like Shadowmage Infiltrator and Electrolyze is not something that happens right away!  That is a clear decision to take a card of an overall weaker power level, which suggests that the card is a step towards drafting an archetype.
  • Brute Force over a 2nd Sunlance once again is an example of taking a weaker linear card over a more powerful generic card which again suggest a preference for red and/or aggressive strategies.
  • End of pack 1 interlude: Aside the Splinter Twin picks, it seems that Albert forced red from the start or at least moved in that direction after taking Brute Force over Sunlance and got rewarded by being able to move into UR after getting the Electrolyze back.
  • I was watching this draft live and let me tell you how excited the chat was when he took the Ulamog and made it clear he was rare drafting.  You gotta have fun sometimes ya know?
  • Inner-Flame Igniter over Narcolepsy is a bit of a strange one assuming he's in UR at that point.  Narcolepsy is pretty solid removal whereas Inner-Flame Igniter can just be a generic 3 mana 2/2 at times.
  • End of pack 2 interlude: Red is clearly underdrafted at the table and Albert is reaping the rewards.  Note that there could still be another red drafted and red appear to be underdrafted.  The red aggressive cards that are making their way to Albert are only really good in an aggressive shell.  If other people are drafting RG domain, a card like Gorehorn Minotaurs and/or Inner-Flame Igniter is quite underwhelming there.
  • End of pack 3 interlude:  Red was woefully underdrafted at the table with the majority of the players picking blue, white, and green cards.  Albert decided to play Mono Red with Ulamog in the deck (which was hilarious).  He did lose power from not playing the blue cards but he did gain consistency and aggression by staying in red, which fits what he was trying to do from the start.
  • Pick 2 of pack 1 is a pick you make based on you prefer to draft.  Rampant Growth, Gnarlid Pack, Rusted Relic, and Waxmane Baku are around the same power level but take you in a different direction depending on which one you take.  The commentators note that Junya had success with BW Spirits earlier in the tournament, so it makes since to take Waxmane Baku and see if that deck is open.
  • End of pack 1 interlude:  I think there are two ways pack 1 gets drafted: a push into UW Metalcraft or keeping your options open and then moving into the open archetype.  Junya chose the latter and I'm inclined to believe that's the correct move, although I would have pushed into UW Metalcraft personally.  Modern Masters 2015 is about synergy and if you can wait and move in on the open synergistic deck then you're going to be immensely rewarded.
  • End of pack 2 interlude:  Pack 2 was relatively straightforward.  Getting the Necrogenesis at the end of pack 1 gave Junya incentive to draft GB and it was relatively open enough in pack 2 that there was no reason to change course.
  • Algae Gharial is a stupid card, especially in this type of deck.  If you're Junya you're very happy right now.
  • End of pack 3 interlude:  Well the last pack was cut off so we weren't able to see how the rest of the pack panned out but it's more than likely that pack 3 ends up going as well for him as pack 2 did.

Junya and Albert drafted relatively straightforward once they knew what they wanted to draft: mono red for Albert and GB for Junya.  The important takeaway from the draft is this: finding the open color(s) is key to Modern Masters 2015 so you can draft a good deck with synergy and cards that it actively wants.

  • From what I can tell Spikeshot Elder was a snap first pick for Pascal, but I could be wrong about that.  Spikeshot Elder isn't a fantastic card really, it's a fine 1 drop but you could do better in the format.  What this means is that by taking it over something like Tumble Magnet, Boros Garrison, or Wayfarer's Bauble is that he's looking to make a strong push early as opposed to trying to be open with a colorless/flexible card.
  • Cathodion, Hikari, and Glint Hawk Idol are relatively safe picks, they're powerful generic cards that can really go in any strategy.  The point where this draft changes is the Hobgoblin pick.  This makes it clear that RW is not being drafted together and that the RW double-strike deck is open. By taking Hobgoblin you're moving in a direction where RW is likely to be your color combination.
  • End of pack 1 interlude:  RW was open in pack 1 and Pascal was right to jump in with the Hobgoblin pick
  • Mighty Leap over Goblin Fireslinger is a pick I disagree with.  The double-strike deck often ends up lacking creatures and the Fireslinger isn't a bad creature to have when you already have Copper Carapace.  I also think you want to draft a bloodthrist subtheme and the Fireslinger is a great way to make that viable.
  • I also disagree with Kitesail over Sunspear Shikari.  I understand the pick, but you still need guys in the deck before you start thinking about giving them evasion.
  • End of pack 2 interlude:  Pack 2 was less impressive than pack 1 was in my opinion.  There were a lot of 8th-9th pick cards that ended up in the deck after this pack and he didn't pick up too many creatures either.
  • I like the Blood Ogre pick over Dispatch.  Yes, Dispatch could be a good removal spell in his deck, but he needs creatures badly.  If your RW deck is removal heavy and has a bunch of 1/1s and 2/2s as threats, that's not a very good deck.  Playing small aggressive creatures and playing enough removal that games go late is not where you want to be.
  • End of pack 3 interlude:  RW double-strike can win games easily, but it can also flounder if the opponent puts up a reasonable defense.  Do I think the Burst Lightning would have made the difference?  Not really.  I think the deck was missing a bomb creature or two, not a removal spell. He drafted the open archetype, although it felt a bit underpowered by the end of the draft.

Modern Masters 2015 Drafts

Conclusion

From what I saw in these top 8 drafts, I think it's clear that it's important to know what you're drafting and what cards you need.  Modern Masters 2015 is a format that doesn't have as many generic powerful cards as the first iteration, so having the wrong cards in your deck is more likely to happen here.  It's okay to be open and try and read the draft at the start, but if you don't know what you're trying to do by pack 2 then your draft is going to be a train wreck.  You have to commit at some point otherwise you could end up playing half of a metalcraft and half of a graft deck and draw the cards in the wrong order and not have a functioning strategy.

As far as my own drafts go, I do apologize if it seems like I'm trying to draft the same type of deck again and again.  Like I said at the beginning, giving monetary constraints, you're more likely to draft an archetype you've had success with as opposed to reading the draft and expanding your range naturally.  I think the format is slow enough/there are enough 4-5 color drafters that drafting a fast 2 color deck is a way to expose the weaknesses of those archetypes and get easy match wins.  The Bloodthirst deck is a great way to exploit those decks since they become much harder to block once you get hit and can tempo you out if they have enough removal/pump spells to make your blocks really ineffective.  You're damned if you do, damned if you don't.

The mono white deck that I ended up playing in the 2nd draft was certainly something I didn't expect would happen and it could have been built RW, but I thought red didn't offer me much outside of 3 cards.  If you only watch one of my drafts, I'd recommend watching round 2 game 3 of my second draft.  It's one I'll remember for quite a while.

If you have any comments, questions, or concerns please leave those in the comments section below!  Modern Masters 2015 drafts will almost be at their end next week, so for that article I'll be doing some more drafts and saying farewell to the format, then transitioning back to Dragons of Tarkir for a week before Magic Origins spoilers start happening.

Thank you for reading/watching!