oing into GP Anaheim in December, Rubin described himself using adjectives like "casual" and "amateur." After winning that Grand Prix, coming twenty-first in Amsterdam, and now making the top eight here, the IRS may disagree.
Ben started out the draft well, first-picking Loxodon Warhammer. Gabe Walls, feeding him from the right, also started strong, picking up a Fangren Hunter. As Rubin had just shipped a Hunter to Mike Turian on his left, he looked to be set up perfectly for drafting blue. A second pick Sculpting Steel and third pick Bottle Gnomes from a disappointing pack left him without color-commitments.
Walls looked to be going green/white to Rubin's right with a Blinding Beam, so blue, black, and red were wide open. A fourth pick Hematite Golem and fifth pick Cobalt Golem put him tentatively into blue/red, so it looked like he was setting himself up in the right colors. He changed gears slightly in the next couple of packs, taking Relic Bane and Slith Bloodletter. These are fairly decent black cards, so he probably thought that black was looking like a good color to be in.
To round out the pack, Rubin picked up Cobalt Golem, Thoughtcast, Disciple of the Vault, and Steel Wall. At this point he looked to be blue/black. Gabe Walls, to his right, was now drafting red/green, having picked up no white cards after the Blinding Beam, and Turian was green/black to his right. Rubin was potentially in a fight for black with Turian, but otherwise looked to be in a great spot. That being said, his deck wasn't looking spectacular. He had Warhammer and Sculpting Steel leading the charge, but otherwise his deck looked to be a very slow, somewhat awkward affinity deck.
In the second pack a first pick Shatter over Bonesplitter signaled a potential switch to red (he also had Hematite Golem at this point), or he could just splash it in his blue/black deck. In the next few packs he picked up some mediocre affinity spells - two Thoughtcasts and two Frogmites. Although these cards are good in the deck, he had to be wishing to see Myr Enforcers and Somber Hoverguards in their places. It was not to be, though, as he ended the pack picking up artifact lands, a Chromatic Sphere, Disciple of the Vault, and nothing else of note.
Shuffling though his cards before the third pack, Rubin moved his black cards to the rear, deciding to try for blue/red affinity instead of the black version he had started out with. His Shatter and Hematite Golem outclassed the black cards, but having only seen Hematite Golem for red in the first pack, it wasn't clear that he could expect to see more from Darksteel. At this point, Walls was strongly in red, with probably green accompanying, so Rubin's red inclination probably wouldn't pay off.
Darksteel started off decently for Rubin, with an Arcbound Crusher. This certainly wasn't the Arcbound he was hoping to open (Ravager), but it is still quite strong in a heavy artifact deck. His second pick was a surprise - for me at least - as he chose Neurok Prodigy over Hoverguard Observer. After the draft he said that he was worried about having too many four-drops (never a good thing), and that he thinks the two are actually quite close in quality. In the next pack, though, Rubin had another chance at Hoverguard Observer, so he got to have a good mana curve as well as a four casting-cost 3/3 flier. A fourth pick Vedalken Engineer gave him some much-needed acceleration. Darksteel Citadel was a welcome surprise, as affinity doesn't usually get to pick up artifact lands in Darksteel. Arcbound Stinger next gave him and early drop that would help accelerate out his affinity spells.
For his eighth pick, Rubin found a gift in Chromescale Drake. Remarkably, the drake had made it through every other deck at the table, signaling that Rubin was probably the only heavy blue drafter at the table. To finish off his deck, Rubin took Echoing Truth over Arcbound Bruiser, feeling that he needed a trick over a solid body.
Ben feels that the draft went well - not great, but decently. He wished that he had more of the high-end affinity spells instead of just Frogmites and Thoughtcasts, but overall his deck was solid. In the end, his only red spells were the Hematite Golem and Shatter, as Walls had actually ended up playing a (crazy) mono-red deck. One pick that Rubin regretted was the Slith Bloodletter in the first pack over an artifact land. At that point he thought that someone upstream was stealing his affinity cards, so he would have to move into a more normal black/blue deck. That wasn't the case - there just weren't any affinity cards to be found anywhere, but he couldn't really know that at the time.
Rubin's first round opponent, Ken Ho, has a monster of a mono-black deck, so we'll have to see if Rubin can overcome yet another challenge.