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A Time Spiral-Time Spiral-Planar Chaos Draft walkthrough.

Walk the Walk

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The letter T!here's nothing like analyzing how you draft to really dissect your Limited game. There are often lots of little errors in people's draft methods that distinguish between a good and a perfect (if at all achievable) draft. Upon reflection, there are often other mistakes made that are completely subjective to that draft, be it veering away from a draft order or whether to go with power or synergy.

Mages_ContestMost of my draft walkthroughs will be from an 8-4 queue on Magic Online. These are essentially packed with more difficult opponents and as such the quality of the games and the draft itself are better. This is actually better for you if you hope to improve your drafting skills as the signals will be more reliable, rare drafting will occur less (as the incentive is to make the final, as opposed to just winning the first round) and you will be better rewarded for making the correct picks.

However, most people draft in an environment much like that of the 4-3-2-2 queue, so for my first installment I will try to examine the minor nuances that this environment brings. These will also often be similar to most PTQ Top 8 drafts where there was a small field to start with or a general lack of high quality players. I've heard it said that drafting online is much like a Catch-22, whereby, in order to improve you should draft in the 8-4, but you seemingly have less chance of making the finals so will often lose more product in the effort to improve, and so, if on a low budget, will often not play enough Limited to improve.

This is not true. Most people reckon they can squeeze one win out of a draft deck, and hence play the 4-3-2-2 so that they get two boosters back and can keep drafting. However, it is likely that if your deck is capable of winning the first round, it has at least an okay shot of winning the next, so that you make the finals. If you are not that great a drafter, your decks will often be erratic – some very bad and others good, where you were in the right colors at the right time. If you get one of these good decks, you have a far greater chance of winning two than you do of winning one with the bad deck. In an 8-4, you only need to win two before you can intentionally draw the finals and receive six boosters. You will generally only need to reach the final of an 8-4, two wins necessary, once for every three wins you achieve in a 4-3-2-2! You need one extra win in a 4-3-2-2 to win the same amount...

Added to this is the fact that even if you get quite good and make the finals of a 4-3-2-2 quite regularly, and even win it – you only break even. Sure you get some rares, but they probably average around one tix a draft, meaning you have to win to actually make the slightest of profits. It is only the 8-4 queue that offers the chance to make a profit.

MTGO economics aside, to the Draft er.... Cave!

Pack 1, Pick 1


Viscerid Deepwalker, Ironclaw Buzzardiers, Search for Tomorrow, Icatian Crier, Dark Withering, Goblin Skycutter, Cyclopean Giant, Brass Gnat, Savage Thallid, Screeching Sliver, Fledgling Mawcor, Phantom Wurm, Plated Pegasus, Nether Traitor, Avoid Fate

Click here.

Aside: During the first few picks, once I have decided what card I will pick, I work out how many solid playables there are in the pack to see if I know what will wheel. It is often the late picks and the foreknowledge that something as simple as a Basal Sliver or a Jedit's Dragoons will wheel, that will determine which card you might pick earlier.

Pack 1, Pick 2
Temporal Eddy, Mogg War Marshal, Terramorphic Expanse, Drudge Reavers, Psychotic Episode, Jedit's Dragoons, Sprout, Foriysian Interceptor, Basalt Gargoyle, Celestial Crusader, Saltcrusted Steppe, Magus of the Candelabra, Flying Men, Plains

Click here.

Pack 1, Pick 3
Aether Web, Cloudchaser Kestrel, Drudge Reavers, Goblin Skycutter, Cancel, Drifter il-Dal, Subterranean Shambler, Mindlash Sliver, Havenwood Wurm, Telekinetic Sliver, Paradise Plume, Curse of the Cabal, Dragonstorm

Click here.

Pack 1, Pick 4
Strength in Numbers, Zealot il-Vec, Snapback, Momentary Blink, Ancient Grudge, Greenseeker, Foriysian Interceptor, Basal Sliver, Voidmage Husher, Firewake Sliver, Hail Storm, Penumbra Spider

Click here.

Pack 1, Pick 5
Ironclaw Buzzardiers, Temporal Eddy, Mogg War Marshal, Psychotic Episode, Sprout, Aetherflame Wall, Pit Keeper, Scryb Ranger, Spirit Loop, Restore Balance, The Rack

Click here.

Pack 1, Pick 6
Ashcoat Bear, Cloudchaser Kestrel, Thallid Germinator, Sage of Epityr, Divine Congregation, Mindlash Sliver, Thallid Shell-Dweller, Jhoira's Timebug, Tectonic Fiend, Dralnu, Lich Lord

Click here.

Pack 1, Pick 7
Pentarch Ward, Thallid Germinator, Zealot il-Vec, Chameleon Blur, Bewilder, Detainment Spell, Spell Burst, Honorable Passage, Thrill of the Hunt

Click here.

Pack 1, Pick 8
Errant Doomsayers, Corpulent Corpse, Aetherflame Wall, Detainment Spell, Thallid Shell-Dweller, Bewilder, Call to the Netherworld, Skittering Monstrosity

Click here.

Pack 1, Pick 9
Icatian Crier, Cyclopean Giant, Brass Gnat, Savage Thallid, Screeching Sliver, Plated Pegasus, Avoid Fate

Click here.

Pack 1, Pick 10
Temporal Eddy, Drudge Reavers, Psychotic Episode, Sprout, Foriysian Interceptor, Plains

It unlikely that Sprout will make our deck given that we have shipped so many Thallids and have yet to pick up any Herd Gnarrs or Primal Forcemages, so I pick the Temporal Eddy as it can often ruin white-green's aggressive starts.

Pick: Temporal Eddy

Pack 1, Pick 11
Aether Web, Drudge Reavers, Drifter il-Dal, Havenwood Wurm, Paradise Plume

This pick is close given our relative lack of combat tricks, but now that we have two Cloudchaser Kestrels, the Aether Web seems weaker than the Havenwood Wurm.

Pick: Havenwood Wurm

Pack 1, Picks 12, 13, 14 and 15
Ancient Grudge, Foriysian Interceptor, Voidmage Husher, Firewake Sliver
Pick: Firewake Sliver

Psychotic Episode, Sprout, Spirit Loop
Pick: Psychotic Episode

Divine Congregation, Mindlash Sliver
Pick: Mindlash Sliver

Chameleon Blur
Pick: Chameleon Blur

When it comes to this late stage of a draft, you will seldom pick up any playables. So you should be looking for rarely used sideboard cards, and if these are not present, you should be taking cards that you do not wish opponents to play. I'm talking about sorceries and instants – cards you cannot easily play around. You'll know what I'm talking about if you've ever lost to a fifteenth-pick Traitor's Clutch.

Pack 2, Pick 1


Scarwood Treefolk, Slipstream Serpent, Gaze of Justice, Strangling Soot, Fathom Seer, Mwonvuli Acid-Moss, Viashino Bladescout, Ophidian Eye, Molder, Children of Korlis, Molten Slagheap, Pendelhaven Elder, Dreadship Reef, Stronghold Overseer, Avatar of Woe

Click here.

Pack 2, Pick 2
Scarwood Treefolk, Orcish Cannonade, Amrou Scout, Keldon Halberdier, Mana Skimmer, Skulking Knight, Brass Gnat, Dream Stalker, Watcher Sliver, Fool's Demise, Harmonic Sliver, Ixidron, Jasmine Boreal, Restore Balance

Click here.

Pack 2, Pick 3
Orcish Cannonade, Strangling Soot, Gemhide Sliver, Mindstab, Gaze of Justice, Viashino Bladescout, Mystical Teachings, Thrill of the Hunt, Shadow Sliver, Spell Burst, Dementia Sliver, Phyrexian Totem, Squall Line

Click here.

Pack 2, Pick 4
Tolarian Sentinel, Trespasser il-Vec, Spinneret Sliver, Fortify, Spiketail Drakeling, Skulking Knight, Brass Gnat, Dream Stalker, Watcher Sliver, Saltcrusted Steppe, Primal Forcemage, Sacred Mesa

Click here.

Pack 2, Pick 5
Fortify, Tolarian Sentinel, Benalish Cavalry, Eternity Snare, Molder, Children of Korlis, Sangrophage, Molten Slagheap, Fallen Ideal, Foriysian Totem, Magus of the Mirror

Click here.

Pack 2, Pick 6
Fathom Seer, Chromatic Star, Gorgon Recluse, Herd Gnarr, Blazing Blade Askari, Glass Asp, Traitor's Clutch, Plunder, Volcanic Awakening, Durkwood Tracker

Click here.

Pack 2, Pick 7
Herd Gnarr, Trespasser il-Vec, Ground Rift, Eternity Snare, Skulking Knight, Sidewinder Sliver, Ignite Memories, Skittering Monstrosity, Mistform Ultimus

Click here.

Pack 2, Pick 8
Bogardan Rager, Traitor's Clutch, D'Avenant Healer, Glass Asp, Primal Forcemage, Gustcloak Cavalier, Dreadship Reef, Thallid

Click here.

Pack 2, Pick 9
Slipstream Serpent, Gaze of Justice, Mwonvuli Acid-Moss, Ophidian Eye, Molder, Children of Korlis, Dreadship Reef

Click here.

Pack 2, Pick 10
Scarwood Treefolk, Skulking Knight, Brass Gnat, Fool's Demise, Harmonic Sliver, Jasmine Boreal

Bo-Real!

Pick: Jasmine Boreal

Pack 2, Picks 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15

Gaze of Justice, Viashino Bladescout, Shadow Sliver, Spell Burst, Dementia Sliver
Pick: Gaze of Justice

Tolarian Sentinel, Skulking Knight, Brass Gnat, Dream Stalker
Pick: Dream Stalker

Eternity Snare, Children of Korlis, Sangrophage
Pick: Eternity Snare

Traitor's Clutch, Volcanic Awakening
Pick: Volcanic Awakening

Skulking Knight
Pick: Skulking Knight

Nothing too exciting here, other than a slight disappointment that the Forcemage didn't wheel. Instead, the far more powerful Tolarian Sentinel and Dream Stalker were still in the pack – another indication of a 4-3-2-2's lesser skill level.

Pack 3, Pick 1


Giant Dustwasp, Dreamscape Artist, Ridged Kusite, Dawn Charm, Dust Corona, Vitaspore Thallid, Dash Hopes, Primal Plasma, Essence Warden, Mana Tithe, Sulfur Elemental, Ana Battlemage, Shrouded Lore, Magus of the Tabernacle, Body Double

Click here.

Pack 3, Pick 2
Battering Sliver, Reflex Sliver, Midnight Charm, Saltfield Recluse, Evolution Charm, Shade of Trokair, Fury Charm, Vampiric Link, Brute Force, Prodigal Pyromancer, Sulfur Elemental, Deadwood Treefolk, Molten Firebird, Magus of the Library

Click here.

Pack 3, Pick 3
Mire Boa, Battering Sliver, Aven Riftwatcher, Shade of Trokair, Vitaspore Thallid, Brain Gorgers, Fury Charm, Wistful Thinking, Simian Spirit Guide, Piracy Charm, Fa'adiyah Seer, Phantasmagorian, Shivan Meteor

Click here.

Pack 3, Pick 4
Stingscourger, Synchronous Sliver, Utopia Vow, Spitting Sliver, Wistful Thinking, Keldon Marauders, Dash Hopes, Healing Leaves, Sinew Sliver, Venarian Glimmer, Gaea's Anthem, Dreamscape Artist

Click here.

Pack 3, Pick 5
Cradle to Grave, Giant Dustwasp, Aquamorph Entity, Uktabi Drake, Ghost Tactician, Firefright Mage, Bog Serpent, Piracy Charm, Dismal Failure, Malach of the Dawn, Magus of the Bazaar

Click here.

Pack 3, Pick 6
Erratic Mutation, Cradle to Grave, Reflex Sliver, Dreamscape Artist, Poultice Sliver, Firefright Mage, Pallid Mycoderm, Bog Serpent, Sophic Centaur, Dichotomancy

Click here.

Pack 3, Pick 7
Synchronous Sliver, Vitaspore Thallid, Deadly Grub, Aquamorph Entity, Firefright Mage, Fa'adiyah Seer, Merfolk Thaumaturgist, Mantle of Leadership, Keen Sense

Click here.

Pack 3, Pick 8
Ridged Kusite, Uktabi Drake, Deadly Grub, Dust Corona, Reality Acid, Blightspeaker, Merfolk Thaumaturgist, Waning Wurm

Yay, a Drake.

Pick: Uktabi Drake

Pack 3, Pick 9
Ridged Kusite, Dust Corona, Vitaspore Thallid, Dash Hopes, Primal Plasma, Essence Warden, Mana Tithe

I regretted not being able to take the Essence Warden the first time as it works incredibly well with the rest of the deck. An easy choice over the Mana Tithe and straight into the deck.

Pick: Essence Warden

It should be noted that on MTGO you can review all the cards that you have drafted whilst you draft. You should hide the cards you will not be playing, meaning you can look at what your deck will look like. Late in the draft you will realize that you already have enough playables and so can start ignoring cards and taking cards for the board or away from your opponents. It is harder to do this in real life, so unless you have a very good memory, stick to your own colors rather than hating.

Pack 3, Picks 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15
Battering Sliver, Reflex Sliver, Midnight Charm, Fury Charm, Vampiric Link, Sulfur Elemental
Pick: Sulfur Elemental

Battering Sliver, Fury Charm, Wistful Thinking, Fa'adiyah Seer, Phantasmagorian
Pick: Fury Charm

Synchronous Sliver, Spitting Sliver, Wistful Thinking, Dash Hopes
Pick: Synchronous Sliver

Ghost Tactician, Firefright Mage, Dismal Failure
Pick: Dismal Failure

Reflex Sliver, Sophic Centaur
Pick: Reflex Sliver

Firefright Mage
Pick: Firefright Mage

No more cards for the deck. The only thing of note was snagging the late Sulfur Elemental – a happy occurrence.

Deck building was relatively simple. The two Gaze of Justices didn't warrant inclusion in the deck, nor did the Momentary Blink. This left us with 24 playables, and after much umming and errring the Pendelhaven Elder was cut as he is a little too passive and adds less to the deck than all the other cards. It should be noted that the deck is very good, despite us not getting any good first few picks and disappointing cards in Planar Chaos. This is because I was able to follow the signals that were being sent, rather than stick to any predetermined strategy or unwillingness to abandon my first pick.

The quarters were rather uneventful as my opponent was quite bad and my deck was really good. The Icatian Crier won me one of the games on the back of Scryb Ranger – making rather more creatures than seemed fair. I overran him with my good quality fliers in the other whilst Saltfield Recluse held the ground.

I lost a near un-losable game in the semis to a Fortune Thief when I had Gaea's Anthem and Sacred Mesa out against a red-black mage, but I destroyed him in the third game thanks to a sexy draw involving Essence Warden, Icatian Crier, Uktabi Drake and two Herd Gnarrs.

I lost the first game of the final to a 7/7 Errant Ephemeron (thanks to a Spike Tiller), and my slow draw couldn't race him. I won the other two in the same, incredibly sick fashion as can be seen in this screenshot:

Click to enlarge

Let me know in the forums if there are other things you would like me to focus on whilst drafting. Until next week,

Q

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