A quick look at some early picks, or ten things not to do with Lavamancer's Skill.
Franck Canu found himself with only Nicolas Labarre as a recognised player in his first draft pod. As everyone knows though, this isn't always a good thing in Rochester or any other form of draft. On the Pro Tour, the French have a reputation as erratic drafters, and this pod showed that absolutely insane picks are not restricted to the top french drafters.
- Sebastian Bernaud
- Nicolas Labarre
- Gregory Leininger
- Laurent Payen
- Fabian Verdy
- Adrien Claudel
- Mathias Veron
- Franck Canu
Sebastian Bernaud opened a booster and took the best card, Arcanis the Omnipotent
, although it's arguably close in power to Lavamancer's Skill
. Nicolas in seat couldn't take the Skill with a blue drafter to his right, so he took Nantuko Husk
and let Gregory grab the enchantment. It was a strong pack, and there was still a Gustcloak Sentinel
for Mathias Veron in seat 7. This created a problem for Franck Canu since he had decided to force white, so he wheeled Mistform Dreamer
and Piety Charm
to make his intentions clear and try to make Mathias back down.
Pack two was a doozy. Nicolas took Goblin Sharpshooter. Now Gregory already had a Lavamancer's Skill, there was another one in the pack, and Nicolas had first-picked a Nantuko Husk, so it's difficult to find words to describe how bad his pick of Nantuko Husk was. Perhaps there are too many players in the French Nationals. The Lavamancer's Skill eventually went to Fabien Verdy after Laurent takes a Symbiotic Beast. Mathias didn' fancy fighting with Canu and took Screeching Buzzard, leaving Franck to take Glory Seeker and Piety Charm.
Pack three also contains a Lavamancer's Skill, so with a Skill and a Husk already it's easy to imagine the logic that led Gregroy to take Hystrodon. At least it was a good card. Fabian took his second Skill, with everyone staying in color at this point. Canu took Ascending Aven to confirm that he was specifically forcing Soldiers, as well as another Piety Charm.
Pack four was yet another shambles. Laurent took Prowling Pangolin
, a perfectly reasonable pick. Now at this point, Fabian had a Swat
and two Lavamancer's Skill
s. He's got a black player to his right, and the nearest blue player is four spaces away in seat one. At this point you would naturally think that if he ignores his Swat
and tries to go Red-Blue, he will inevitably end up with a good deck. In any case there were only red cards in the pack for him – a straight choice between Shock
and Solar Blast
. His choice was Threaten
, slightly surprising given the fact he had qualified for a National Championship.
He had a great chance to redeem himself in pack five – he opened virtually the best possible card – Lightning Rift. Of course he decided to fight for black with the three people passing to him and took Swat, another great pick. Adrien got the Lightning Rift to go with his Skirk Commando and Solar Blast, and looked to be building a very nice Red-White deck. Franck was still forcing the soldiers, having grabbed a Gustcloak Skirnisher and Gustcloak Harrier. Nicolas was in a very awkward position since he was in black-red with too many other black players at the table, and had to branch out into green.
One thing for sure was that the packs being opened were of a high quality. There were two Rifts, three Skills, and a Starstorm in the first set of boosters, but luckily for the non-red players they were distributed at random among the clueless drafters.
Franck continued to take only Soldiers throughout Onslaught, and was rewarded in Legions when the white player two spaces to his right valued Wingbeat Warrior over Daru Stinger, gifting Franck with three. Nicolas struggled to deal with the madness to his left, although he did get a Visara, the Dreadful in his second Onslaught booster. He ended up three colors and will be hoping to draw his Wirewood Channeler a lot.
Predictions : Franck 2-1, his soldier deck is very, very good, but there are just too many Lavamancer's Skills and Sparksmiths around the table for him to realistically hope for a perfect record. Nicolas 1-2 : he wasn't helped by the other players, and his overall card quality is quite low. Given the drafting in the first five packs, who knows what will happen...