en Rubin did not know it but he was sitting down with his next round's opponent drafting to his left. Both he and Alex Alepin were undefeated yesterday. Ben was the winner of the last Grand Prix in this country. The last tournament that Alex won was a Grand Prix Trial just this past Saturday. Despite his relative anonymity to the world at large, Alex is a fixture in the Bay Area Magic scene. He has been to Pro Tour several times and has been waiting to ratchet his game up to the next level. His 8-0 run yesterday was a good start.
The two players were unwittingly cooperative in the draft. Ben took a first pick Somber Hoverguard over two viable green cards. Alex took Skeleton Shard over Domineer and the two players steered clear of each other's colors for the rest of the draft. Alex took One Dozen Eyes with his second pick while Ben c=found nothing affinity-ish in his next pack and took an unexciting Bottle Gnomes.
Ben was happier to see a Neurok Spy in his third pack. He took a Silver Myr and a Seat of the Synod before nearly falling out of his chair in the sixth pack when he saw another Neurok Spy waiting for him. Alex was the beneficiary of a pair of Consume Spirits and a Predator's Strike. He did not find any artifact creatures to exploit with his Shard but his deck was shaping up as a reasonable green-black build.
Ben was rewarded with an eighth pick Thoughtcast and a smattering of late artifact lands including Great Furnace. He seemed especially pleased to nab a thirteenth pick Overide. His deck needed some of the staple creatures for affinity-Myr Enforcer and perhaps another Hoverguard and he would only have one pack to find them.
Ben kicked off the second set of packs with a Domineer that he took over Goblin Replica. Alex happily snagged a Terror. Ben took a Frogmite wit his second pick and had to take a Shatter over a much-needed Somber Hoverguard in the third pack. Alex seemed very pleased with how his draft was going when he picked a Viridian Shaman and Tel-Jilad Archers in his next two packs.
There wasn't much waiting for Ben in those packs and he had to take another Frogmite with his fourth pick. He did manage a Wizard Replica, Aether Spellbomb, and a fistful of artifact lands but was lacking the Myr Enforcers he wanted to make his deck powerful.
Alex's good fortune's continued in the first Darksteel pack when he took Sword of Light and Shadow with a big grin. Ben took an Echoing Ruin and considered taking a Furnace Dragon with his second pick but opted for an Arcbound Slith instead. Alex took the Arcbound Fiend that Ben had briefly considered in his last pack.
Ben took a Vulshok War Boar over Spire Golem while Alex found a Tangle Golem with pick three. Ben took a Spire Golem in his next pack while Alex was snapping up Tangle Spider. While there were no Myr Enforcers there were plenty of Quicksilver Behemoths. Ben passed on one of them up for a Blinkmoth Nexus but ended up with two in his pile when he got one of them sixth and another eleventh. He had a shot at an eighth pick Spire Golem but took Psychic Overload instead. Alex meanwhile was taking a steady stream of modular men.
After the draft I asked Ben about his deck. He was disappointed that there were not more of the high end affinity creatures in the early packs and was wary about his limited removal spells. "That is why I had to take the Psychic Overloads over Spire Golem. I also really like Arcbound Hybrid but I had to take Echoing Truth instead."
"I did think that more Behemoths would come back which is why I took the Blinkmoth Nexus over it. I may have been the only player drafting blue at the table-there can't be more than two of us at the table."
As Ben started to lay his deck out he was pleased with his five artifact lands and Blinkmoth Nexus. He was not playing the low land count decks of PT Amsterdam though. He had only one Myr and few Spellbombs. "I am playing seventeen lands…I just can't figure out what the last card in is going to be."
He was debating between Sunbeam Spellbomb, Yotian Soldier, Bottle Gnomes, Quicksilver Behemoth, and a Cobalt Golem. He decided on the Spellbomb but was still dissatisfied with his deck, "I have so few creatures…" He ultimately put in the second Behemoth and took out a Tooth of Chiss-Goria.
I asked him if he regretted the Shatter over the Somber Hoverguard and he was definitive on that pick, "That was standard operating procedure. The last pack though…I don't know my pick orders. Like do I take Spire Golem over War Boar? It beats me."
Grand Prix - Oakland, Day 2, Draft 1