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By: MirrorMage, Daniel Corradi
Mar 01 2008 1:29pm
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Jon Finkel.

I am Jon Finkel.

Or will be. Soon, very soon.

I don’t want to play like Jon Finkel. I want to become Jon Finkel. And for that to happen, I need to think like him, act like him, and sleep like him. I need to draft like him. So, I’ve prepared a list of three things any player should do to become more like Jon Finkel.

Everyone has beaten to do death the proverbial “I can’t believe he picked Goldmeadow Stalwart eighth pick he is the greatest magic player who ever lived I wish I could marry him” horse. Tiago Chan, Nick Eisel, and Brian-David Marshall have all professed their undying love for Jon Finkel.

That’s what separates you and I from them. Fake magic players try to copy the best. The best magic players become the best. And so, ladies and gentleman, I will outdo Tiago “I draft Blue Black Faeries every time” Chan, Smoking Nick Eisel and Rich "I only get to talk because of my accent" Hagan. I will teach you the art of becoming Jon Finkel.

For I am Jon Finkel.

The Personality Required to be like Jon Finkel

  • Be stressed: I’m not talking about sighing heavily or scratching the back of your head. No, I’m talking about the whole shebang! You need to consistently massage your scalp, shrug your shoulders, breath heavily, sweat, and slowly gnaw on your computer table. Only then will you will be stressed like the Jon Finkel. (Note: This has many powerful benefits. For one, you create a quasi-emotional attachment to the game where losing has uncontrollable consequences. This is a well-kept pro-secret. Just don't keep a bottle of Snapple or any blunt object nearby.)
  • Learn to take a beating: Jon Finkel was bullied as a kid. Some of us don't know what it's like to have such a troubled childhood. Never fear. There are still methods to obtain a tormented Finkel mind. Enter a biker bar and insult everyone's mothers. If that's not possible, jail. You could always go to jail.
  • Drink… a lot: Yes. Drink. I have replayed the pro-tour draft in Kuala Lumpur over and over again, and I can only come to one conclusion. Jon Finkel was drunk. Seriously people, let’s examine the evidence: 
    1. He drafted Kithkin: Only new players draft Kithkin, and then they end up beating your well-tuned Smokebraider deck which was perfect... PERFECT! I hate Kithkin.
    2. He drafted Kithkin: Twice. For emphasis.
    3. He’s come back to Magic: This is the crux of my argument, without it- everything I’ve just written falls apart like most of my league decks in game three.

      Let’s face it, the life of a Magic: The Gathering pro isn’t lavish or even comfortable. We’ve all sat next to the player who’s never used deodorant in a pre-release. In comparison, the life of a Poker player in Vegas is. Why would Finkel trade up skimpy sexy showgirls, intricate cocktails, and buckets full of money for magic? There can only be one reason:

      Jon Finkel has an alcohol problem.

      Think about it. He rose to fame at a very young age he’s never gotten over bleaching his hair to look at a giant cue tip. Then he was introduced to the horrid pressures of the Poker underworld where he almost lost an eye to the Yakuza (Okay, I made that up, but it might have happened.)

      Faced with rising gambling debts, Finkel now squanders his money on alcohol, lavish cigars and returning to his childhood dream of playing Magic: the Gathering. I mean, they wrote a book about him, maybe they'll make a movie too.... Fear and Loathing in Kuala Lumpur.

So, one haircut later, I can comfortably present you with the Jon Finkel Drunk Draft Strategy. 

Preparing for the Jon Finkel Drunk Draft:

You will need:

  • Alcohol of choice. A nice drink with a pleasant aftertaste that you will happily knock down. I recommend a combination of hard liquors and beers. Whiskey or Scotch is a safe bet. Just make sure it's on the rocks. If you mix it with some caffeinated sugar-infested soft-drink, I will hunt you down. As for beer (or "lager), drink nothing from the United States or United Kingdom. Instead, drink imported beers such as Brahma, Stella Artois, and Budvar.
  • A Trendy playlist of easy listening tunes. It's a no-brainer that music influences your mood. Go with something that relaxes you. Personally, I suggest Jack Johnson, Bob Marley, Katt Nash, Feist, and other easy-listening artists. (Note: For the extreme drafters, music can help with your stress levels. I recommend listening to Swedish Death Metal. For maximum effect, listen to it six hours straight before a draft. Screaming and punching a pillow repeatedly is highly recommended)
  • The willingness to let your inhibitions about signals and splashes go. Just have fun.

    First, you need to become inebriated. This is the tricky part, finding the perfect balance between being so drunk you pass out before you can 2nd pick a Wizened Cenn and being sober enough to still draft some elaborate strategy. (Note: The author does not endorse this type of drinking. This should only be done under great care and adult supervision. For instance, I left a post-it note on my door asking that if I still wasn’t drunk, my room mates would force me to down a shot. Drafting sober might be dangerous to your inability to make bad judgment calls and should be avoided if possible.)

    Once you are certain you’ve reached the appropriate level of drunkess. Blast your playlist of easy listening songs. (Note: Bonus points if you sing along, unless it's Swedish Death Metal in which case screaming repeatedly will suffice). Dump your cooler with ice-cold beer next to your laptop table or any place in arm-grabbing distance, open and down a drink of choice, and jump in the queue.

    The Rules for the Jon Finkel Drunk Draft

    You must boast in the draft room, queue, and in the draft itself about how great you are. Be creative; mention that you are Jon Finkel. Repeatedly. This will not only help with your self-esteem, but it is a sure-fire way to strike fear in your opponent’s hearts. If any girls are in the room, they will be instantly attracted to you. Not only has the probability of winning this draft gone up significantly, but the probability that you may score has gone as well. (Note: For the love of all that is holy, do not, I repeat, do not do this in real life. Especially if you in Detroit or Delaware.*)

    Additional Rules:

    1. You must not commit. As far as you are concerned, your first seven picks are meaningless and trivial at best. A Finkel waits like an African liger** for the right time to strike.
    2. You must draft Kithkin if it is open.
    3. Only for the very brave: You must take a shot if you are passed a Wizened Cenn, Knight of Meadowgrain, Goldmeadow Stalwart, or Kithkin Harbinger pick eight onwards.
    4. Dress smart.

    An Example of the Jon Finkel Drunk Draft

    I planned ahead. I picked a night where me I was already on the lash***, bought three packs of Lorwyn, placed DraftCap running in the background, kept Adobe Photoshop minimized for screenshots, and installed a program that would record my voice so I wouldn't have to interpret all of my pics.

    In reality, I barely managed to turn DraftCap on in time, I wasn't sober enough to take screenshots, and I didn't bother to record my voice- instead, I went into Ventrillo and bragged how drunk I was. (This may have benefits, as anyone in the vent server can attest to how drunk I actually was.)

    After drinking copious amounts of alcohol at various establishments, I finally stumbled back at around three in the morning. Dressed smartly, I poured myself a glass of Black Label, took a deep breath, put some of Bob Marley in the background, and delved in.

    Ladies and Gentlemen. I present you with the first ever, Jon Finkel Drunk Draft.


    Pack 1 Pick 1: Imperious Perfect (Forgot to record these picks!)

    Pick 2: Lash Out

    Pick 3: Warren Pilferers, Lowland Oaf, Fistful of Force, Quill-Slinger Boggart, Surge of Thoughtweft, Ponder, Bog Hoodlums, Protective Bubble, Fire-Belly Changeling, Skeletal Changeling, Prowess of the Fair, Pollen Lullaby

    Pick: Fistful of Force

    Pick 4: Lignify, Weed Strangle, Kithkin Healer, Deeptread Merrow, Kithkin Daggerdare, Herbal Poultice, Lace with Moonglove, Blind-Spot Giant, Exiled Boggart, Ponder, Faerie Tauntings, Kithkin Mourncaller

    Pick: Blind-Spot Giant

    Pick 5: Soulbright Flamekin, Surge of Thoughtweft, Weed Strangle, Mudbutton Torchrunner, Woodland Changeling, Inkfathom Divers, Needle Drop, Soaring Hope, Goldmeadow Stalwart, Captivating Glance, Adder-Staff Boggart

    Pick: Woodland Changeling

    Pick 6: Fertile Ground, Moonglove Winnower, Whirlpool Whelm, Leaf Gilder, Adder-Staff Boggart, Spiderwig Boggart, Flamekin Brawler, Tideshaper Mystic, Rootgrapple, Rings of Brighthearth

    Pick: Leaf Gilder

    Pick 7: Hillcomber Giant, Warren-Scourge Elf, Lairwatch Giant, Spiderwig Boggart, Boggart Forager, Ringskipper, Vivid Creek, Familiar's Ruse, Nettlevine Blight

    Pick: Vivid Creek

    Pick 8: Stinkdrinker Daredevil, Oaken Brawler, Hurly-Burly, Peppersmoke, Elvish Eulogist, Wings of Velis Vel, Goldmeadow Dodger, Hoarder's Greed

    Pick: Stinkdrinker Daredevil

    Pick 9: Runed Stalactite, Goldmeadow Dodger, Wings of Velis Vel, Facevaulter, Warren-Scourge Elf, Goatnapper, Thousand-Year Elixir

    Pick: Runed Stalactite

    Pick 10: Spring Cleaning, Exiled Boggart, Shields of Velis Vel, Mournwhelk, Boggart Shenanigans, Ego Erasure

    Pick: Mournwhelk

    Pick 11: Quill-Slinger Boggart, Bog Hoodlums, Protective Bubble, Fire-Belly Changeling, Prowess of the Fair

    Pick: Fire-Belly Changeling

    Pack 2 Pick 1: Wispmare, Streambed Aquitects, Consuming Bonfire, Boggart Loggers, Lys Alana Huntmaster, Runed Stalactite, Nightshade Stinger, Faultgrinder, Faerie Trickery, Warren-Scourge Elf, Changeling Berserker, Fodder Launch, Vivid Crag, Swamp

    Pick: Lys Alana Huntmaster

    Pick 2: Smokebraider, Gilt-Leaf Ambush, Moonglove Winnower, Kinsbaile Balloonist, Inner-Flame Acolyte, Paperfin Rascal, Blades of Velis Vel, Cenn's Heir, Ringskipper, Black Poplar Shaman, Knight of Meadowgrain, Vivid Crag, Forced Fruition

    Pick: Gilt-Leaf Ambush

    Pick 3: Cloudcrown Oak, Tarfire, Wanderer's Twig, Silvergill Douser, Avian Changeling, Bog-Strider Ash, Aquitect's Will, Kinsbaile Skirmisher, Spring Cleaning, Blind-Spot Giant, Elvish Promenade, Crush Underfoot, Inner-Flame Igniter

    Pick: Elvish Promenade

    Pick 4: Bog-Strider Ash, Aethersnipe, Tarfire, Herbal Poultice, Kithkin Greatheart, Oakgnarl Warrior, Skeletal Changeling, Aquitect's Will, Spring Cleaning, Blind-Spot Giant, Boggart Shenanigans, Ethereal Whiskergill

    Pick: Blind-Spot Giant

    Pick 5: Neck Snap, Boggart Sprite-Chaser, Thieving Sprite, Whirlpool Whelm, Broken Ambitions, Cenn's Heir, Boggart Forager, Thundercloud Shaman, Benthicore, Rebellion of the Flamekin, Plover Knights

    Pick: Thundercloud Shaman

    Pick 6:  Springleaf Drum, Kithkin Healer, Axegrinder Giant, Lignify, Elvish Branchbender, Wellgabber Apothecary, Aquitect's Will, Mournwhelk, Zephyr Net, Faerie Tauntings

    Pick: Elvish Branchbender

    Pick 7: Consuming Bonfire, Wispmare, Gilt-Leaf Ambush, Nightshade Stinger, Elvish Handservant, Dawnfluke, Fodder Launch, Elvish Harbinger, Forest

    Pick: (Elvish Harbinger)

    Elvish Harbinger

    Pick 8: Soulbright Flamekin, Glimmerdust Nap, Wanderer's Twig, Hornet Harasser, Needle Drop, Heal the Scars, Hoarder's Greed, Lammastide Weave

    Pick: Wanderer's Twig

    Pick 9: Wispmare, Consuming Bonfire, Nightshade Stinger, Faultgrinder, Warren-Scourge Elf, Vivid Crag, Swamp

    Pick: Consuming Bonfire

    Pick 10: Inner-Flame Acolyte, Paperfin Rascal, Blades of Velis Vel, Cenn's Heir, Ringskipper, Black Poplar Shaman

    Pick: Blades of Velis Vel

    Pick 11: Aquitect's Will, Spring Cleaning, Blind-Spot Giant, Crush Underfoot, Inner-Flame Igniter

    Pick: Blind-Spot Giant

    Pack 3 Pick 1: Mudbutton Torchrunner, Springleaf Drum, Oakgnarl Warrior, Goldmeadow Harrier, Glimmerdust Nap, Warren Pilferers, Wellgabber Apothecary, Gilt-Leaf Seer, Boggart Birth Rite, Zephyr Net, Bog Hoodlums, Merrow Harbinger, Summon the School, Marsh Flitter, Wort, Boggart Auntie

    Pick: Marsh Flitter

    Pick 2: Weed Strangle, Kithkin Healer, Deeptread Merrow, Lash Out, Kithkin Daggerdare, Herbal Poultice, Avian Changeling, Kinsbaile Skirmisher, Lace with Moonglove, Scarred Vinebreeder,Springjack Knight, Kithkin Harbinger, Sylvan Echoes, Changeling Titan

    Pick: Changeling Titan

    Pick 3: Nath's Elite, Moonglove Extract, Boggart Sprite-Chaser, Oaken Brawler, Smokebraider, Shimmering Grotto, Elvish Eulogist, Giant's Ire, Lairwatch Giant, Spellstutter Sprite, Jagged-Scar Archers, Goldmeadow Stalwart, Arbiter of Knollridge

    Pick: Jagged-Scar Archers

    Pick 4: Hillcomber Giant, Stinkdrinker Daredevil, Battlewand Oak, Hurly-Burly, Plover Knights, Broken Ambitions, Nath's Buffoon, Faultgrinder, Rootgrapple, Benthicore, Ghostly Changeling, Gaddock Teeg

    Pick: Ghostly Changeling

    Pick 5: Axegrinder Giant, Woodland Changeling, Kithkin Greatheart, Footbottom Feast, Boggart Birth Rite, Ingot Chewer, Soaring Hope, Shimmering Grotto, Judge of Currents, Glen Elendra Pranksters

    Pick: Woodland Changeling

    Pick 6: Boggart Sprite-Chaser, Thieving Sprite, Boggart Loggers, Adder-Staff Boggart, Fertile Ground, Triclopean Sight, Faultgrinder, Faerie Trickery, Hunter of Eyeblights, Forest

    Pick: Faultgrinder

    Pick 7: Quill-Slinger Boggart, Bog-Strider Ash, Herbal Poultice, Kithkin Greatheart, Scarred Vinebreeder, Gilt-Leaf Seer, Protective Bubble, Ingot Chewer, Guardian of Cloverdell

    Pick: Guardian of Cloverdell

    Pick 8: Hunt Down, Giant's Ire, Dawnfluke, Spellstutter Sprite, Black Poplar Shaman, Jagged-Scar Archers, Burrenton Forge-Tender, Heat Shimmer

    Pick: Jagged-Scar Archers

    Pick 9: Oakgnarl Warrior, Glimmerdust Nap, Wellgabber Apothecary, Gilt-Leaf Seer, Boggart Birth Rite, Zephyr Net, Bog Hoodlums

    Pick: Gilt-Leaf Seer

    I'm going to be blunt; I don't remember much. The match summaries aren't going to be extravagant, but I think I can piece some of the games together and remember bits from the others. The draft itself is very foggy. First pick Imperious Perfect and second pick Lash Out settled my colours immediately.

    I'm surprised, and a bit disappointed, I managed to draft as well as I did. In fact, I'm more surprised I managed to stay conscious through out the draft and most of the games that followed considering I was barely able to crawl home. Here is the final deck:

    All I can say is, wow. Maybe I should draft drunk more often.

    Match One:

    Ahh, le match un!!

    Match one was quite memorable. His deck utilized "187" creatures such as Benthicore, AEthersnipe, and Cloudgoat Ranger alongside vast piles of removal. There wasn't any tribal theme that I could observe, just strong consistent cards that swung board position. I managed to get him down to six life before he stabilized. I scooped, and we went into sideboarding. 

    At this point, I barely kept myself from just falling asleep on the keyboard so I wasn't going to waste my time trying to sideboard cards in. I just had to focus on staying conscious.

    My opponent never came back.

    But I was patient, so I waited. And waited.

    And then I won in the most glorious of ways.


    I was blissful and ecstatic. With very little effort, I had already beaten every single expectation I had for this draft. Most people will probably try to pin this victory on a sudden crisis or by hypothesizing that his internet died, but the real answer is much more skillful than that.

    I, Jon Finkel, psyched him out.

    Remember how I boasted I was Jon Finkel? My opponent simply got cold feet, he knew I would come from behind to win games two and three. Because that's what Jon Finkel does.

    And I am Jon Finkel.


    Match Two:

    Here we have a problem. I can't seem to remember the first two matches. No matter how long and how hard I try, I keep drawing blanks. But, I did copy and paste the chat log from game three and for some reason I took a screenshot of my opening hand from one of the first two games. So sit back and enjoy the most comprehensive part of this draft walkthrough.

    I open with a Twig and make every single land drop. He plays Smokebraider on turn three followed by Lowland Oaf on four. I play my Huntmaster, then next turn play a Fire-Belly Changeling. He plays Changeling Berserker. I follow up with an Imperious Perfect. He's slowly amassing heavy hitters, playing Axegrinder Giant, but I play Gilt-Leaf Ambush on his end of turn. With no removal, I'm slowly amassing an army of 2/2 elves. I play Leaf Gilder then attack with everything. He blocks, I play a Blades of Velis Vel, wiping his board and letting me swing for the win on turn seven.

    Not bad. Not bad at all.


    Match Three:

    This was the mirror match. My opponent was playing red/green, but not elves- his deck instead had high-casting Treefolks, heavy hitters such as Cloudthresher and Oakgnarl Warrior, churning them out early with the help of Springleaf Drum and Fertile Ground. I lost game one to basic Math. I swung with too many tokens, letting him alpha strike next turn.

    "For future reference: If you have X tokens. You should hold back with Y tokens to chump. Do not attack with all X tokens, slam your face gently against the keyboard, and then look confuzzled when your opponent kills you."

    Game two I won. How? I can't exactly remember

    Game three saw a slow hand. I'm pretty sure I lost.

    I didn't care though. I had come in 2nd.

    While drunk.

    This may have been the best day of my life.

    At this point, I had every single reason to be content, but I wasn't. Instead, I felt guilty. In reality, I cheated. I didn't draft our beloved Jon Finkel Kithkin deck. I went back on Vent and briefly chatted with one of my clan mates.

    Me: Should I draft again?

    Zonko: I can think of one million reasons why you shouldn't draft again.

    Me: I'm going to draft again.

    So I jumped into the fray again and drafted the following deck:

    It was then that I discovered that none other than Evan Erwin, the producer of the "Magic Show" on Star City Games, was in the draft as well. Seeing as he's one of my only Magic heroes (I don't look up to Pro-Tour players at all. Oh, well.... umm- except for Jon Finkel of course). I took the opportunity to private message him. In the end it went something like this:

    Me: Hey man, I love your show. You're the greatest.

    Him: Thank you.

    Me: I'm drunk.

    Him: Oh...

    Me How'd the draft go?

    Him: Allright I guess, ended up getting the nuts in pack three.

    Me: Yeah. I'm drunk!!!!

    Me; I love your show.

    Me: I'm Jon Finkel btw. Check out my article coming out soon and you'll see what I mean.

    It turned out we were actually paired against each other! He drafted white/blue Merfolk and had a very strong deck. I ended up losing 0-2 and we talked for a while, I would have talked more had the light from the sun not crept into my room. Though, I wish I could have made a better impression. In any case, I'm happy to  to say that I got my kaboose kicked by Evan Erwin. Though I'm not sure what that will do for Finkel's reputation.

    Looking back, I don't think this deck was too shabby. Evan played well, but I'd like to think my loss was attributed to a couple of weak draws, and the small fact that I was drunk. I do wish I could have played the third match though, but ahh ces't la vie.

    All Good Things Must End

    At this point, it was already seven in the morning. So I finally decide to head in. (Not like there was any choice, I had class in three hours.) The Jon Finkel Drunk Draft was for me, a total blast.

    It's not often you put yourselves in the shoes of a profesional Magic player, and I can tell you that it's not easy being Jon Finkel. But, don't take my word for it- I dare you, yes dare you, to do a Jon Finkel Drunk Draft of your own!

    The next morning wasn't as fun. I sat, staring blankly in my economics seminar, in complete agony, fighting off migranes, until I could finally come back home and pass out on my bed. This draft strategy is definitely not the feint of heart.

    There's one more thing. I'm back to above 1600 baby! I can strike fear in my opponent's hearts again without mentioning that I'm Jon Finkel.

    My rating says it all.

    So until next time, this is Jon Finkel-  losing to the guy who does the Magic Show so you don't have to.

    Token Rocky Quote: "Yo Adrian! I did it!!" - Rocky, Rocky II

    Song of the Week:  Bob Marley - Iron Lion Zion (12" Mix)

    Number of Times “Jon Finkel appeared in this article: 29

    * There is no real threat in Delaware, but it is already lame and uninteresting. It’s situation does not need to be exacerbated.

    **. A liger is a male cross between a male Tiger and a female Lion. A friend suggested I change this to “Lion”, but I decided to capitalize upon this and now, if you are frustrated that you spent twenty minutes reading a draft walkthrough with no practical advice, you can be relieved to know that you have now learned what a Liger is. Good for you.

    *** From Wikipedia:: Rapid and prolonged consumption of alcoholic beverages, such as White Lightining (Example: "Let's go on the lash"; "I got incredibly lashed last night"). Of course, you should NEVER under any circumstance drink White Lightning.


    by emeng (Unregistered) (not verified) at Sat, 03/08/2008 - 04:22
    emeng (Unregistered)'s picture

    terrific article. really good stuff - boosts this site by itself.

    Yes by CutToTheChase (Unregistered) (not verified) at Tue, 03/04/2008 - 08:25
    CutToTheChase (Unregistered)'s picture

    You are Jon Finkel...and yes the caps were neccessary

    HIlarious! by MechtaK at Mon, 03/03/2008 - 13:28
    MechtaK's picture

    'Nuff said.

    Thank you! by MirrorMage at Sun, 03/02/2008 - 06:40
    MirrorMage's picture

    Thank you all for the kind words! The article was loads of fun to write, and it's great to hear that many people enjoyed it. 

    Just remember don't drink and draft, unless you're Jon Finkel. 

    ! by MagicStop (Unregistered) (not verified) at Sun, 03/02/2008 - 19:27
    MagicStop (Unregistered)'s picture

    Hilarious, well written article. More please!

    by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Sun, 03/02/2008 - 03:48
    Anonymous (Unregistered)'s picture

    +1! Write more!!

    by urzishra (Unregistered) (not verified) at Sat, 03/01/2008 - 15:15
    urzishra (Unregistered)'s picture

    i loved the screenshot "the use of caps in not necessary" and everyone in the room is like "yeah whatever".. i loved it.. good times.. this should be on the tournament center at the mothership.

    by largebrandon at Sat, 03/01/2008 - 15:31
    largebrandon's picture

    This was the greatset article of all time.  It deserves a peabody.  Yes I'm drunk.

    by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Sat, 03/01/2008 - 19:21
    Anonymous (Unregistered)'s picture

    LOL, please write more.

    My hero by Zonkothesane at Sat, 03/01/2008 - 21:58
    Zonkothesane's picture

    You are an inspiration to us all.

     Also, props for the cameo. Now I too can share the your illegitimate fame.

    by Rasparthe at Sat, 03/01/2008 - 22:02
    Rasparthe's picture

    I like the warning too but DONKEYOT gives him the burn in the same screen shot.  Priceless!  Nice article

    Magic + Booze by Arnnaria at Sat, 03/01/2008 - 14:30
    Arnnaria's picture

    Magic + Booze = good times.  I can't think of a Premier Event that I've played in where I wasn't drinking something to help me relax.  Maybe that's why my rating is so low.

     Great job Mirromage.

    haha by mtgotraders at Sat, 03/01/2008 - 14:29
    mtgotraders's picture

    I don't advocate drinking either but holy crap that was funny. Grats on placing 2nd while drunk.