No-one could dispute that the seating of Pod 1 looked like a fix. In a row you have Masahiko Morita, Masashiro Kuroda, Nobuaki Shikata and Osamu Fujita, all from the Osaka area, and good buddies to boot. There was bound to be some decidedly atypical (for Japan, anyway) co-operative drafting. Kuroda himself has enjoyed tremendous success in teams competition, but is still looking for that standout singles performance. This table seems tailor-made to help that happen, never mind that he finished Day 1 at 8-0.
Kuroda ripped open his first pack and sent Solar Blast to the front of the pack until he found Infest waiting for him at the back. He needed no time to decide on the mini-Wrath. Meanwhile, two players to his right, Tsuyoshi Shiwaku was taking Lavamancer's Skill and Morita on his immediate right was taking Sparksmith. Things were looking good. Kuroda solidified his black position with Soulless One (over Mistform Shrieker) while Morita and Shiwaku continued to go red.
Seeing Treespring Lorian and Tribal Unity in the third pack, Kuroda decided on green for his second color. He took the Lorian. Unfortunately, Morita next to him saw the black that was coming through and decided to derail that train, taking Smother. Still, Morita let enough black through to keep Kuroda interested. He scored a pair of Severed Legions that Morita passed him. The rest of the pack was somewhat uneventful. Kuroda got a late Wirewood Elf and a Tranquil Thicket, but the rest was just Birchlore Rangers.
Going into Pack Two, Kuroda could expect a hook-up from Shikata and Fujita. Fujita had seen the late Daru Lancers that were being sent his way and decided he wanted in on that action. Shikata, to Kuroda's immediate left, was a determined blue-red. In fact, Kuroda was one of only two green drafters at the table!
Kuroda cracked his pack and slumped. Staring back at him were Festering Goblin, Tempting Wurm and Aphetto Vulture. Nothing to write home about. He took the Goblin and hoped for better service. It came in the form of Wirewood Savage and Barkhide Mauler. He used the full allotted time to decide on the Mauler, silently wishing they'd come in separate packs. The next pack offered another tough call: Swat or Prowling Pangolin. He took the Swat, assuming that if he needed large monsters he'd get them in Legions. He spent the rest of the pack taking what cards came his way. He did get a late Primal Boost, and the Mauler/Savage pack came back with Fogbeast and Naturalize still in it, signaling that his position was secure.
For Legions, Kuroda would have four shots at Timberwatch Elf. None of the three people to his right were drafting green. He started with Skinthinner, and when Morita shipped him a Timberwatch his relief was apparent. However, the packs had other ideas. He had to settle for Needleshot Gourna from the third pack, and then just Gempalm Polluter from the fourth. He wasn't being cut off, the green cards just weren't there! Things got a little more sane in the middle, with Stonewood Invokers showing up with Krosan Vorine and Glowering Rogon in tow. Some late green goods made sure he'd have plenty of playables.
Laying out his cards for construction, Kuroda had to cut three to get down to twenty-two. His two Tranquil Thickets and big beasts demanded eighteen land. Counting his zombies it was clear that he couldn't run Soulless One, and so ditched the pair of Polluters. The only question that remained was how much he wanted to rely on his Rogons. He could pull his Severed Legions in favor of Anurid Murkdiver and Hundroog, boosting his big men count and easing up on his colored mana requirements. It also gave him more synergy with Infest. He tried a few combinations, but eventually went back to his gut instinct.
His deck turned out fine, if unremarkable. A solid curve of bears through to beasts backed by tricks like Tribal Unity and Primal Boost should give him a pair of wins. His shortness on spot removal could prove troublesome. Kuroda was satisfied, but his positioning in the draft should have handed him a 3-0 machine.
Grnd Prix Kyoto 1st Draft