Starry-Eyed Wonder

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The letter I! think I have a problem, you guys. I like to do something repeatedly. I don't mean riding the same rollercoaster twice, or planning to go back to the same vacation destination down the road. I mean doing the exact same thing, again, repeatedly. I'm talking about a format du jour, a way to play you just can't shake.

Sometimes I get a little too excited about something new. This is one of those times.

Last week's article touched on my first experience with Star Draft, and I asked you if getting into gritty details was desired.

Do you want to see the complete details of a Star Draft?
Yes 1506 70.7%
No 623 29.3%
Total 2129 100.0%

That was easy.

Star Power

For those of you who need a refresher on the format, you can click "Show me the rules!" and I'll, well, you know.

While I'm getting ahead of myself here, those of you who want to see a draft breakdown have a handy chart of my first through fifteenth picks in all three packs:

Pick Ravnica Guildpact Dissension
1 Hour of Reckoning Steamcore Weird Soulsworn Jury
2 Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion Orzhov Signet Freewind Equenaut
3 Tattered Drake Belfry Spirit Azorius Signet
4 Skyknight Legionnaire Train of Thought Freewind Equenaut
5 Veteran Armorer Poisonbelly Ogre Celestial Ancient
6 Conclave Equenaut Izzet Chronarch Rakdos Signet
7 Barbarian Riftcutter Torch Drake Plumes of Peace
8 Barbarian Riftcutter Wee Dragonauts Azorius First-Wing
9 Benevolent Ancestor Skarrgan Skybreaker Ogre Gatecrasher
10 Festival of the Guildpact Streetbreaker Wurm Sandstorm Eidolon
11 Festival of the Guildpact Orzhov Basilica Rakdos Carnarium
12 Votary of the Conclave Gelectrode Beacon Hawk
13 Viashino Slasher Izzet Guildmage Slaughterhouse Bouncer
14 Incite Hysteria Drowned Rusalka Beacon Hawk
15 Zephyr Spirit Douse in Gloom Delirium Skeins

As you can tell, there were some strange things happening with this draft. I was extremely lucky to open a premium foil Hour of Reckoning, a card I happened to have been hunting for Commander. All of the token makers were getting picked elsewhere, so I quickly settled into a long term draft plan:

  • Ravnica: red-white
  • Guildpact: blue-red
  • Dissension: white-blue

There were many things I considered along the way. Multiplayer life-loss machine Poisonbelly Ogre and the other black cards that were floating around late led me to consider switching my plan up. Izzet Guildmage reminded me that I was not picking up many noncreature spells. Celestial Ancient encouraged me to grab Plumes of Peace (which turned out to be invaluable). But, above all, I just grabbed all the cards I wanted to play with. It's why I loved drafting Ravnica block so much!

I really like a flying army, and my final deck showed it. For the card achievement completionists among you, here's the list I settled into:

From other multiplayer engagements, it's easy to believe that every multiplayer deck must be able to both defend and attack. I wanted to be attacking, and with a little political maneuvering I knew I could get the help I needed to knock an enemy out quickly.

Having an army of flying fighters is fine, but surviving to make the most of them is important too. Hour of Reckoning can be devastating when there's more than one opponent, and the two oddball copies of Festival of the Guildpact could soak some damage up as they helped me dig down for something useful.

It's also useful to know who's who, and where they're sitting. This is Star Magic, and these are the stars:

That's me!

Name: "Stybs"
The Set When You Started Playing: Mirage? Tempest?
Favorite Magic Card: Primeval Titan (This answer is subject to change on a whim.)
Seat/Turn Order: First

Science! It works!

Name: Nick
The Set When You Started Playing: Revised
Favorite Magic Card: Arcanis the Omnipotent
Seat/Turn Order: Second

The most featured friend in Serious Fun.

Name: Brendan
The Set When You Started Playing: Portal
Favorite Magic Card: Dune-Brood Nephilim
Seat/Turn Order: Third

He really does love the Dune-Brood!

'Sneaky' says it all.

Name: Mo (without an "e")
The Set When You Started Playing: Urza's Saga
Favorite Magic Card: Nicol Bolas
Seat/Turn Order: Fourth

Mo was dominated by Bolas long ago...

From Jerusalem, with Magic.

Name: Jamie
The Set When You Started Playing: Revised
Favorite Magic Card: Reaper King
Seat/Turn Order: Fifth

While many of these faces aren't necessarily fresh—I have a really great group of friends—I was especially excited to sit down with Jamie again. When I first found myself back in Magic, Jamie and I spent quite a bit of time travelling back home from the store. Over car rides and card plays, we shared a lot about ourselves. When his work took him to Jerusalem, Israel a little over two years ago the store just didn't feel the same.

Back home, visiting for the holidays, it was excellent timing for him to stroll into the store: he filled out the fifth slot of our draft!

The Reckoning is at Hand

With the crew settled in and ready to roll, we fired things off the usual way by playing mana for the first few turns. There were a few early drops along the way—Brendan and Boros Recruit, Mo and Elves of Deep Shadow, and Jamie with Aquastrand Spider—but it was Nick's Necroplasm that got the table's attention. This, of course, came immediately after my Gelectrode.

While everyone spent another round of mana growth, Jamie used a Pyrotechnics to kill the 'Plasm as Nick added an Unliving Psychopath to his team. Brendan decided to get frisky too by adding a Fencer's Magemark to a fresh Silhana Ledgewalker. Mo stole the show when he shared a Hunted Horror with Brendan.

Dangerous foes.

Mo also had an Ostiary Thrull. He was "doing okay" as he put it. Facing down Brendan's tokens, Jamie made a Streetbreaker Wurm and grafted it. I sat on a Festival of the Guildpact for a turn while Mo and Brendan started discussing joint victory. Nick dredged back his Necroplasm, which killed the tokens at end of turn. My Gelectrode nailed Brendan's Mourning Thrull in response to an Infiltrator's Magemark.

But, again, Mo levied the biggest toll and took a size seven chunk of life away from Nick using the Horror. Jamie added a Skyknight Legionnaire, looking to get in on the "Bash Nick" action, but Nick stymied the aggressive efforts with a replicated Gigadrowse. I used my Festival to draw a card at the end of Jamie's turn. I needed to dig.

With my main phase online, I replicated Train of Thought, using Gelectrode's untap trigger to take out Ostiary Thrull. Bingo! I found my Hour of Reckoning. Unfortunately, I was stuck at five lands (though two of them were "bounce" lands). After looking over my cards I reread Hour of Reckoning.

"Convoke?" I almost said aloud when I realized that I could cast my Beacon Hawk, keep it around, and use it to cash my answer. Triple white was a tough prospect for me otherwise. But getting there would cost me. Both Brendan and Mo took advantage while my shields were down, and dropped me to just 6 life. Before it finished wheeling to me, Jamie took the offensive against Nick, reducing him to 10 and casing Gristleback and Bloodscale Prowler, both bloodthirty!

As I squeezed the last little pinpricks out of Gelectrode, the Hour of Reckoning was at hand.

Many died so that I might live.

Nick didn't skip a beat as he immediately reloaded with Orzhov Guildmage and Golgari Rotwurm. Brendan had his second Silhana Ledgewalker (and a menacing grin for me). Mo transmuted Drift of Phantasms for Consult the Necrosages, and chose to draw two cards. The game had slowed wonderfully.

I finally made my first "real" creature with Belfry Spirit, but having blockers for Brendan's Ledgewalker didn't seem to faze him. Nick cast a Sporeback Troll, which everyone took note of, before attacking Mo down to 14. Brendan, who still wore an evil grin, cast Beastmaster's Magemark on his Ledgewalker. He chose to attack Jamie, and knocked him to 15—still the highest life total.

Mo had drawn into something spicy, as he cackled and tapped a ton of mana: Angel of Despair. Nick's Rotwurm went away, and Jamie had a similarly spicy Loxodon Hierarch to jump back up in life. I was still struggling with mana—stuck at five lands that gave me seven mana—so I went for the play I that would give me even more time: Izzet Chronarch to return Hour of Reckoning to my hand, and Azorius First-Wing to allow me to convoke the third white mana again.

At the end of my turn, Nick pinged everyone with Orzhov Guildmage, then untapped to start his by dredging back Necroplasm. There was a flurry of activity.

  • "You should take out [Adam's] tokens!" Brendan implored.
  • "Yeah, it would be really helpful if you could to that," Mo chimed.
  • "You can take out my Bats, but both of those guys are my enemy and I'm your ally," I reasoned back. "While it's definitely in their best interest to get me, it probably isn't in yours. Just pointing that out."
  • Jamie just shrugged, and deftly ignored our cajoling.

The final result was that Nick cast Necroplasm, but also chose to graft a +1/+1 counter over. My tokens were safe! Hurray logic!

Brendan stayed on the offense against me, but I just chump blocked with the Belfry Spirit to haunt one of my Bat tokens. Mo, instead of attacking me as I expected, swung at Nick with the Angel of Despair, which dropped Nick to a very precarious 4 life! Jamie, while admittedly unfamiliar with Ravnica Block, showed his multiplayer chops by playing Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree. That explains to general lack of token-makers I saw!

On my turn, after double-checking my mana, I decided to get an attack in before blowing up the world. My flying critters took Mo down to nice life, and the second Hour of Reckoning swept away everything aside from a regenerated Sporeback Troll (Nick) and my two Bat tokens (one still haunted by Belfry Spirit).

I still had a ton of creatures in hand. This Hour sealed the deal against others.

On their turns, Nick poked Jamie, Brendan only had his second Gruul Signet, Mo an Azorius Signet, and Jamie a Carven Caryatid before Aquastrand Spider. Success! I could get back in this!
I attacked Mo for 2 on my turn before I cast Conclave Equenaut. Nick and Brendan just passed theirs, and led right to Mo who transmuted Muddle the Mixture for Overrule. Jamie could only attack Brendan for 3, putting him down to 14.

With Mo holding a juicy, life-gaining counterspell, I simply attacked him for 5, dropping him down to just 2 life. Nick knew too that Mo would likely counter anything cast, so back came a dredged Necroplasm to hit the Overrule wall. Mo went up to 10, but neither he or Brendan had any plays. Jamie pumped out a Saproling at the end of Mo's turn, and attacked Brendan down to 10 before making another Streetbreaker Wurm.

Jamie and I began our own joint victory plotting, agreeing that the only way either of us would lose is if we started beating on each other. Instead of trying to set up a race by attacking Brendan, I continued to pound Mo. My Skyknight Legionnaire let me swing for 7, putting Mo back to 3.

Nick, still using dredge to its fullest, brought back the Necroplasm yet again, but this time did not graft a counter over. While my two Bats died, Belfry Spirit's haunt trigger gave me two fresh Bats, unlike Jamie, who simply lost his small pile of Saprolings.

"Look! I untapped your Bats for you!" was Nick's way of apologizing.

"Well, not really," I replied. "But I'm pretty sure I'm still fine."

"Thanks for rubbing it in!" Mo was not as pleased with how things were going.

I was taking the high road... Jamie took over the low road.

Brendan, the consummate chaos player, had nothing else to do but cast Taste for Mayhem... on Nick's Necroplasm. The game was in its final throes. Mo ripped a Patagia Viper off the top, and Jamie used Cleansing Beam on the Necroplasm (which finally snuffed out my Bats completely), then Galvanic Arc to deal with Sporeback Troll to finish off Nick. The Plumes of Peace I had been holding tapped Mo's Viper, and Brendan completely whiffed on drawing something useful.

Two hours to catch up and create a new memory. Thanks for visiting, Jamie!

The Road Less Travelled

There was another poll placed last week:

Do you want to see the complete details of Filth Casserole game play?
Yes 1050 63.8%
No 597 36.2%
Total 1647 100.0%

While the name may be a mouthful, I'm sure a catchy nickname will take hold someday (like, say, "FC"). Elder Dragon Highlander was a cumbersome to present, but EDH is still common vernacular for our 99-card piles of fun. Expect to see some FC down the road soon!

This week's poll is a little less format specific:

 Have you given, or do you plan to give, Magic as a gift for friends or family?  

Next week's theme week is a fine theme indeed, but I have a very different type of game I want to capture and share. While what, exactly, I'm doing will stay a secret for now I can tip you off with two hints:

  1. I've discussed approaches to handling this in at least two previous articles.
  2. This week's poll is relevant for next week's article.

Whether it's to sound off about Star Draft or guess at next week's article, please jump into the forums, send me an email, or mention @the_stybs on Twitter. I'm always listening.

Catch you next week!

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