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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Jun 09 2008 8:35pm
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Drafting Triple Morningtide

 

If you play constructed, now or in the future, you will probably putting these cards in a lot of decks. The will be Block and Standard staples until they rotate, Extended staples for 7 years, and will probably be played in Classic for a long time to come.

 
Bitterblossom
If you have your playset, congratulations. If not, it’s time to start working on them.
 
They are not getting any cheaper anytime soon. 

The problem is that Morningtide is, in effect, a third set. Third sets are always present in the smallest numbers, since drafters open triple first set for a while, then double first set and second set for a while, then first, second, third.  Assume, for the purposes of this example, that 300 drafts take place with each format. That means that the following number of packs were opened.
triple first set: 7,200 1st set.

double first,onesecondset: 4,800 1st set, 2,400 2nd set.

first, second and third: 2,400 1st set, 2,400 2nd set, 2,400 3rd set.

 total packs opened: 14,400 first set, 4,800 second set, 2,400 third set.
Mutavault


The third set is always going to be in relatively short supply.

Now, technically, Morningtide is a second set. However, Shadowmoor is the new main set, so drafts will be triple Shadowmoor. Morningtide will not be drafted much once Shadowmoor is in the queue.  Doubt that – see many Time Spiral drafts firing?     

Let’s do some rough estimates on numbers. Lorwyn came out last fall, and drafts ran at somewhere between 300 and 400 per day. (I think I got those numbers from Hamtastic.) Let’s assume 300 Morningtide drafts, from December through March. (I’m working offline, so I don’t have access to exact dates. Offline sux.)

Four months of triple Lorwyn drafts means 120 days * 3 packs * 8 players * 300 per day = 864,000 packs. (I’m not adding winnings, because packs won at draft almost always get used for new drafts, and they get counted there.)

Morningtide came out in mid March, IIRC.  Drafts continued on the 2.5 server until early April, then MTGO went dark. Drafts stayed down for a couple weeks, then slowly recovered. Drafts will probably continue through early June. Let’s say that drafts ran at the old rate for March and May – a total of 75 days..

Given those numbers, drafters busted /will bust something in the neighborhood of 1,224,000 Lorwyn packs, and 180,000 Morningtide packs. Looked at another way, that’s 3,825 playsets of Thoughtseize that entered the card pool via drafts. Only 1,125 playsets of Mutavault were and will be busted via drafts before Shadowmoor (hopefully) appears online.

Leagues, PEs and pure pack-busting added to those numbers before 2.5 went dark, but leagues and PEs aren’t happening now. That means that the numbers of Morningitde cards will be lower than if they had continued to be played.

Wizards has implemented triple Morningtide drafts. They don’t fire often enough to add a huge number of Morningtide cards to the card pool, but they should help. They can also be a lot of fun. The only downside is that the payout is Lorwyn, Lorwyn and Morningtide, so you cannot use the winnings from one draft to enter another. That’s a pain.

Since the prize structure means you cannot go infinite, the question is whether drafting MMM can pay off.  Let’s do some math.

Drafts cost three packs and two TIX. If you can win at least one round, that drops to one pack and two TIX. It’s a bit worse for MMM, since the prizes are 2/3rds Lorwyn, and I have seen two Morningtide packs trading for two Lorwyn and one  TIX. 

Those costs have to be balanced against the value of what you open. I pulled the prices off MTGOTraders.com earlier this week. Here’s what I found.

Rares:
 
The median (average) price for a Morningtide rare is $1.80. The mean price (half above, half below) price is $0.48. Eighteen rares are worth a buck or more. However, the only cards that will pretty much pay for your draft are Mutavault and Bitterblossom.   The only other rares that are worth more than the price of the pack are Chameleon Colossus and Reveillark.
Chameleon Colossus


Opening this guy in draft is a good thing.
 
In general, if you are drafting to build a collection, you will generally wind up with 2-5 rares. Sometimes you will open a useless junk rare, plus a strong common or uncommon. In that case, taking the card that helps win the draft is always a good play. For example, if you pack has a Slithermuse (retail price $0.14) and a Violet Pall (excellent, splashable removal spell), even financially it is worth taking Violet Pall.  Winning the draft is worth four packs – which are worth a lot more than $0.14. Besides, the Slithrermuse may well table. You may also pick up some other rares in the later picks. They will be junk, but rare junk.

In my (admittedly limited) experience, even if you don’t bust a Mutavault, you can probably pick up around $3-8 worth of rares. 

The same thing is basically true of uncommons.  The best uncommons (e.g. Bramblewood Paragon) are generally high picks, so they don’t pass far. On the other hand, you get to see a lot more uncommons in each draft. In general, you can count on getting 10-15 uncommons in a draft. The average retail price for these cards is not high – the mean is $0.16, the median is $0.11and the mode is $0.08.   Only six uncommons in the whole set sell for more than $0.20. So, typically the uncommons you can pick up in a draft are worth somewhere between $1.50 and $2.50.
 

The commons are basically worthless. After even a few drafts (or, better yet, sealed events) you tend to get draft sets plus lots of spares. Still, a draft can often let you fill in holes, especially for the marginal commons that can be picked up 13th – 15th pick.

So, in a typical Morningtide draft, you may pick up something like $5-$12 worth of cards to fill out your collection. That’s not a lot of money, but if you are trying to fill in holes in your collection, it’s worth something.   If you win just the first round of the draft, you at least break even, and probably make a profit. That shows the importance of drafting a real deck, not just doing the “precious metals draft.” (Precious metals means drafting gold, silver and foil.) This only works if you can win with the deck.
 
This also only really works if you are working on assembling a collection for building constructed decks. The prices I mentioned are all retail, not the price you can get for selling a card to the dealer. Prices vary, but generally cards are not worth much. I just sold a box of random paper Kamigawa uncommons to our local dealer. The box had about 700 uncommons, including three Tops, and I got $10.

Retail price for uncommons is a lot higher than $0.01 per card.

Like I said, this makes sense if you are filling holes in your playsets. Like I am.

I did a triple Morningtide draft, and was all set to record the draft for this article. However, I forgot to save the CSV of the deck. I then decided to do another, but I have been too busy. I’ve got an excuse – I’m writing this in my hotel early Saturday, at Pro Tour Hollywood.  

It’s raining. Seriously.  In LA. 

Anyway, I don’t have my decklists, but I can recreate my draft. I think.

I opened a bad rare, and took Nevermaker, an uncommon flier that I had only two copies pre-draft. Nevermaker is an elemental, a flier, and an emergency bounce spell. 

Second pick I snagged a Primal Beyond, a rare land I needed. It is also elemental-themed, but not necessarily that good a pick. The pack just didn’t have anything else exciting. 

Triple Morningtide drafting revolves around both creature tribes (Goblin, Elemental, Giant) as well as their classes (Warrior, Shaman, Rogue.) In Lorwyn, the creature subtypes that mattered were the tribes, and you drafted accordingly.  In Morningtide, you can still draft by tribe, but you can also draft by class. The set includes some equipment that enhances this theme – for example: 

pic=(Obsidian Battle Axe) 

Initially, I was looking to get into either Warriors or Wizards, but the packs were very uneven.   I could not really see any significant signals, and just stayed with elementals. I basically looked for cheap, fast elementals, plus some fliers to hold the path. Here were some favorites.

 
pic=sunflare shaman pic=(seething pathfinder) 
 

By the end of the draft, I had several copies of the first, plus three of the second. Fast, aggressive beats are so nice. I had a couple in the first pack, then I got an Eighth pick Supreme Exemplar which put me pretty solidly into elementals, with a subtheme in either Wizards or Shamans.

Another strong theme in Morningtide drafts is Reinforce. Reinforce can let you add +1/+1 counters to a creature at instant speed. This means a reinforce creature can either be a dude, or a decent combat trick. In my draft, I got just one on color reinforce dude – Brighthearth Banneret. He was fine, either as a cost reducer or as a mini-pump spell. 

I continued the draft, basically looking for cards I needed, removal spells, evasive dudes, cheap elementals and so forth. In pack two I busted garbage, but got a (Pyroclast Shaman). His ability to clear out opposing weenies is really strong – and worth playing even when my deck is mainly weenies as well. After all, he has a”may” ability: I only have to use it if it hurts my opponent more than it hurts me. 

pic=(pyroclast shaman)
 

In pack three, I opened a Tauren Mauler. This guy is nuts in multiplayer, and really good in draft. If my opponent cannot deal with it quickly, and do not have bounce, they will have serious trouble. 

In the end, I wound up with six rares, a dozen or so uncommons, and a decent URb deck. I was splashing black for on Violet Pall that arrived fifth pick (way too late). For other removal I had a Rivals' Duel, a Shard Volley and a Spitebellows. I also had some blue bounce. I had almost a dozen fast beaters, a couple fatties (like (Boldwyn Intimidators)) and a half dozen fliers. My fliers included the Exemplar, plus Latchkey Faerie, two Dewdrop Spies, and the Nevermaker. Several fliers, and a couple other cards, were Wizards, so I ran a copy of Sage’s Dousing. I also had a couple other fatties to clog the ground late.

My first round opponent had drafted a RG treefolk/shamans deck with a smattering of elementals. He mulliganed game one, and got off to a very slow start. I did not. I dropped a 1/1 on turn one, a 2/1 on turn two, a Banneret and two dudes on turn three and killed him by turn five or six by running around the one big treefolk that he got into play.   

The treefolk / warriors deck revolves around Obsidian Battle Axe and large warriors. His version had a few, plus some removal and one more annoying kinship dudes: (Leaf Crowned Elder). Kinship is a potent mechanic that lets you reveal matching cards from the top of your library to get some advantage. The advantage with the Elder – put extra cards into play – is huge.  

Game two he had a faster start, with two Bosk Bannerets: 1/3s that slowed up my beats. He also dropped the Elder, and it gave him quite a crew of tree dudes. However, I had dropped an early Mauler, and it soon reached double digit size.  We got into a ground stall, and I was able to kill the elder with Violet Pall. Eventually, my fliers started whittling him down, then he scooped when Supreme Exemplar hit play.

My second round opponent had drafted one of the other very strong archetypes: Rogues. Rogues gets some help from some great rares (e.g. Bitterblossom and Earwig Squad), but it at its core it is all about evasive weenies and Morsel Theft. The deck looks for Frogtosser Bannerets,  Oona’s Blackguard and the like. It can be blazingly fast. However, so can my deck, and I was able to overrun him game one, and pull out a tight game two when my (Rival’s Duel) took out two key blockers at the end. 

The finals had me facing a third archetype: Kithkin. I suspect my opponent was the only white drafter at the table, because he had an incredible mono-white speed deck. He had a lot of Kithkin Zephyrnauts – a 2/2 for 2W that uses kinship to turn into a 4/4 vigilant flier. That, plus a ton of two drop Order of the Golden Crickets and the like made for a blazingly fast deck. 

Basically, this matchup came down to the die roll. We both won the games in which we played first. Unfortunately, he played first game one. 

Two of the games were see-saws. He got a fast start, but if my (Pyroclast Shaman) became active, it could pretty much destroy his team. Pretty much, that is, unless he had reinforce. White has one of the best reinforce cards around – Burrenton Bombardier.   It is either a 2/2 flier for three or a permanent +2/+2 at instant speed. He had at least three, which is just wrong. But, like I said, he was probably the only white player at the table. 

Overall, the format is fun – but it is fast. Giant creatures, like Walker of the Grove, are generally too slow. Changelings, especially Game-Trail Changeling and War-Spike Changeling, are every bit as good as the better Changelings in Lorwyn. Removal is limited, so take it while you can. In general, fast, aggressive decks work – and those decks tend to have a strong tribe and/or class basis.

The tribal equipment is generally pretty good. It is often worth drafting the equipment very early, and then draft the appropriate tribes and classes. 

So, unless you already have a playset of everything in Morningtide, consider joining an MMM draft. It will probably be worth your time. 

 
PRJ
 
“one million words” on MTGO
 

24 Comments

by Anonymous (Unregistered) 208.125.107.150 (not verified) at Tue, 06/10/2008 - 14:21
Anonymous (Unregistered) 208.125.107.150's picture

As of last night, the queue paid out a mix of Lorwyn and Morningtide boosters... a tragedy.

Payment by Tropesso (Unregistered) 201.18.0.64 (not verified) at Tue, 06/10/2008 - 10:30
Tropesso (Unregistered) 201.18.0.64's picture

The format now pay in Morningtide boosters only, so you can go infinite now.

Agreed! (and to add...) by Sambfwin at Mon, 06/09/2008 - 21:10
Sambfwin's picture

Let's not forget that since the format doesn't support infinite play, only mediocre to average players join this queue. I've had my ratings go up 60 points by playing in this queue, and  I've never played an 1800. Most of my opponents are downright terrible. Rounders in poker always look for the easy game, and MMM has been the easiest game I've ever found on MTGO.

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