Alan Comer on Pro Tour Barcelona 2001
Alan Comer (left) faces off against Aaron Forsythe at Pro Tour Barcelona 2001
Pro Tour Barcelona was a roller coaster of emotions for me. In order to understand this draft, you really need to know what happened before. Let me explain:
I came to Barcelona thinking that I had a reasonable handle on drafting the sets. However, practice drafts that I did with the other pros didn't go very well, so I started the first draft not particularly happy about my chances. Draft 1 seemed to go very well. I got a deck that I thought was particularly good, but then I went 2-2.
The combination of bad practice drafts and going 2-2 with a good deck shattered my confidence. I went into the second draft of the day very depressed as I thought all was lost. I don't remember the first card of the pack, but I was then passed Elvish Champion. Now, I really disliked green in the format, but I was convinced that the Champion was really good, and after all, it was rare. In my state of mind rare was enough to push me over into taking it. I remember taking almost nothing but rares and elves. I didn't much care about the deck, and took the rares pretty highly. I figured the elves worked with the Champion, and I was going to be building a deck out of dredges that I received after drafting those rares. Not a particularly glamorous draft strategy, I know. Thing was, after pack 1, there were some good rares going around, and I starting thinking about how I was going to be able to play them. Elves tend to be pretty good about letting you play other colors, and I was supplementing them with Harrow and the like when I go the chance.
I didn't quite get enough good cards to play, but I had enough to make do. The deck wound up 5 colors, 10 Forests, 1 Swamp, 1 Plains, 1 Mountain, 1 Island and a ton of mana fixing. The really embarrassing part was that Vodalian Zombie that made the last card. I figured it would be valuable late game against the green decks, so I didn't mind that I my chance to play it turn 2 was almost nil.
Thing was, the deck really rocked. Turn 3 Phyrexian Scuta is not something draft decks like to see, and there were a ton of other just dumb cards because of all the rares. The most important part of the deck was it radically changed the temp of the game, in a way nobody was prepared to handle. Everybody had their decks tuned to be able to put out really fast men quick, and deal with decks that can do the same. Usually, by the time a large creature came out, they could just rush past it, lose a creature to it blocking, but kill you. However, when they started coming out a turn or 2 earlier, the tempo just wasn't right and peoples entire strategies collapse. Oh yeah, and a little luck didn't hurt. Remember that Vodalian Zombie? The green mage had some pretty juicy comments when he came down turn 2 against him...
|Alan's strategy won him $20,000
So, I 3-0 a table with a deck what seemed like the most improbable winner ever. That night, I start analyzing what had happened, and come to a few conclusions:
- Whilst the mana fixing allows me to play with some really good off color cards, it is the mana acceleration that is winning me games.
- The deck, being over 50% green despite four splash colors, can survive for a little while without the fixing if need be.
- Six color fixers seems like a minimum.
- The deck stabilizes against a ground rush very quickly, leaving the opponent with fast, small creatures to face off against too many large creatures.
- Against fliers, they are paying extra for flying, so often you are getting out big stuff at about the time they are getting out their 2/2 fliers. Your stuff is big enough that the creatures they normally draft to hold the ground just don't get the job done.
The drafting style still scared me, but I figured I was had nothing to lose now. I just had to hop the person drafting in front of me didn't take green. Then next day, I went 3-0 with another similar deck, and then at the top table, made it into the Top 8.
Now, onto the Top 8 draft!