Friday Night Magic

Although some of our other friends organized a poker game last night, Subrata is closer to my frame of mind and is more interested in playing Magic, and he suggested that we go last night to play the Friday Night Magic booster draft at Superstars (I found a list of their tournaments, although the URL of that page makes it look pretty temporary). Neither of us had gone before, but it was all pretty easy: We showed up around 5:30, signed up for DCI membership, and at 6:00 they seated everyone (18 players) for two drafts and we began. Subrata and I ended up in separate drafts, but that was fine.

The draft was in the Time Spiral block, which I mostly enjoy, although I find Future Sight somewhat disappointing. I had a mediocre draft, partly due to mixed signals I was getting: My first two picks were from mediocre packs, but I ended up solidly in green through the first pack. Planar Chaos – as it often seems to be – was my strongest pack, although I ended up moving into black and then blue during it. Then in Future Sight I didn’t seem to be getting many interesting cards.

Well, there was a reason for all of this: The player to my right was drafting white/blue, and the player to his right was drafting red/green, and the player to my left was drafting black/white. So I did well when there was a surplus of green and blue coming around, but poorly when there wasn’t. I ended up with green/blue deck more heavy in green. I drafted a few good black cards and one good red card which I therefore didn’t use (which was too bad mainly because I always enjoy playing cards like Enslave).

Tarmogoyf.jpgAfter the draft we play three matches as chosen by the store organizers. My first match was against a green/black deck, and other than my getting smoked in the first game, we were pretty evenly matched. In particular, Frozen Aether totally shuts down combat tricks using Flash, or one-shot creatures like Groundbreaker. Unfortunately, my mind had trouble getting into the mechanics of the game, and I could have won the third game had I played slightly differently, but instead I lost 1 game to 2.

(This opponent did point out that the Tarmogoyf I drafted, which is currently selling for over $20 on the secondhand Magic card market, so in theory I could turn around and sell it ad recoup my entry fee for the tournament. How about that?)

The second match I played against a boy who was there with his father, also their first event at the store. (Subrata ended up playing the father in his draft.) I suggested that they should check out the columns on the Wizards web site for tips on drafting and playing. Anyway, he was playing a black/white deck with a number of tricks, and he got some help from one of the observers at the store (which I tried to be a good sport about). I turned out to have just enough answers for his threats (three Utopia Vows saved my bacon a lot) and won 2-0.

The third match was against a green/blue/red deck, and again we were pretty evenly matched, but he ended up with somewhat better draws then I had, and I went down 0-2. He had a lot of green cards that I had really wanted (I still don’t have a Nacatl War-Pride, sigh), so now I know where many of those went in the draft.

So overall I won one match, and it turns out that players get one free booster pack from one of the blocks in current Standard expansions, so I took a Planar Chaos one. Subrata also won one match in his game. We were both fairly competitive, but not among the top players. But we had fun!

The store is actually quite nice to play in, with plenty of tables, and it’s clean and bright (a lot of specialty stores in the gaming and comics areas can tend to be a little dark and dingy, and it’s always nice to visit a store that’s working hard to be pleasant and welcoming). All the other players were nice, too.

I still need to work on my card evaluation, and also getting better at reading which cards are being filtered out to my right. There’s a lot of randomness in the packs, which makes the latter difficult: One pack might make it look like blue is open, while the next make it look like blue is closed. Obviously I’ve got some work to do there.

Plus, now I know I have another outlet for playing Magic when I have the itch!

But I promise not to relate the details of every draft I do. 🙂

4 thoughts on “Friday Night Magic”

  1. I’ve been paying more attention to Magic since you were up this summer. I’ve even played some games. I stick to 10th edition for the most part, though. I did play some Time Spiral/Planar Chaos and I loathed it. What the hell? Things are needlessly complex. How many mechanics can they possibly squeeze into a block? Things seemed totally random. And Planar Chaos? Shuffling the color pie around? DUMB. Anyhow — I’ll probably play more of the set in the future because that’s what people seem to be playing in the online beta (version 3). I hate it, though, so I don’t know…

  2. The Time Spiral block has a lot of eccentricities due to its theme – Future Sight especially. But I actually think it’s a very coherent block. The most common abilities are based around time: Suspend, Vanishing, other things that occur every turn (such as Thallid abilities), Haste, Echo. One spends a lot of effort trying to get the timing right, or figuring the trade-offs between mana, time, power, and so on. Then there are the tribal themes in the block: Slivers, Thallids, Rebels. There’s a lot of flexibility. I bet block-constructed matches are a lot of fun.

    Planar Chaos is actually my favorite set in the block. I think the color-shifting works very well: They limited how many shifted cards there are, and the ones they chose work well in their new colors. For instance, I think Essence Warden and Frozen Aether are excellent green and blue cards, respectively; the Soul Warden was a great white card, though I thought Kismet didn’t fit well into white. I think it shows how certain colors share a lot of similarities: White and blue are both about manipulation, white and green are both about power, etc. Anyway, at least one friend of mine doesn’t like PC, so there you go.

    I’m not a big fan of Future Sight. I think it introduced too much new stuff, and the quality isn’t quite there. On the other hand, I love the Scry mechanic, especially the ways they extended it. There are some nifty cards in FS, but I think it’s the weakest of the three sets. But some people (like the ones I drafted with yesterday at the store) love it.

    Time Spiral and Ravnica are (intentionally) similar in some ways but very different in others: Ravnica has color-fixing all over the place, lots of multicolored cards, lots of color interaction. Time Spiral has very little color fixing, but some unusual interactions between the colors, and a lot of emergent properties among cards. (Subrata found out to his dismay that Essence Warden and Grinning Ignus is a rather nasty combo.)

    So I think it’s a pretty solid block. I think Ravnica is a slightly better block, and I’m sorry I missed its heyday. I’m not sure which blocks you were playing when you were last active; certainly these blocks feel very different from Mirrodin. I haven’t yet played either Onslaught or Kamigawa, and probably won’t be able to play blocks before that for what I’m willing to pay.

    As you know, I’m a Mac user, and Magic Online doesn’t have a Mac client. It’s too bad – if they had a Mac client then I’d sign up in a minute. I considered getting Windows just to play MO, but dealing with the hassle of Windows (not to mention paying for it) just to play Magic seems ridiculous. Alas.

    I’ve poked at 10th edition a bit. It seems decent enough, but it seems like (and, from what I’ve read, is) pretty much a “whoever gets their big stuff out first wins” block (much like 9th edition apparently was). I don’t think they put many really nifty cards into the core sets anymore – it’s mainly just for getting new players up to speed, and providing core cards for people playing Standard constructed.

    The Lorwyn set sounds intriguing from what I’ve read so far. The new Planeswalker card type sounds intriguing… it’ll be interesting to see how it integrates into the game, and exactly how they work (are they creatures? Are they not creatures but can still be targeted by cards that target creatures? Hmm…).

  3. My own experience with 10th edition is that it’s the best basic set I’ve ever played (and I’ve played since 5th edition). It’s great. It’s well-balanced. I don’t see a “biggest first wins” problem. In fact, I’ve had a number of great, long games where I’ve been able to stabilize at 2 or 3 life and recover for the win. Very fun…

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