My hopes and expectations were both high on Sunday morning of Grand Prix Boston-Worcester. I had gone 9-1 on Day One, and was sitting comfortably in 21st place. Unfortunately, I hadn’t drafted much M13 before the Grand Prix (about 4 or 5 drafts), but I’ve always done reasonably well in Grand Prix and Pro Tour drafts in the past, even when I haven’t gotten much practice.
I had talked with quite a few people about the M13 draft format during the week prior to the Grand Prix, so at least I didn’t feel completely out of the loop. From my discussion with others and drafting the format a handful of times, I had a general idea of how I wanted my drafts to go. I knew going in that many people viewed green as the best color. Although I wanted to be in green if possible, I wanted to avoid it if it was going to be overdrafted. Since it seemed like a lot of the best players favored green, I decided I would step into green only if I was being passed good green cards. If I opened with a good green card, I would be sure to keep my options open and ditch the color quickly if I was being cut off.
From my first few drafts, I had good experiences with blue control. The UB or UR Archaeomancer deck is a legitimately good archetype if it can come together by the end of the draft. Sometimes three-color control decks can even be good in M13 draft, and I’ve almost always seen them be UBR. Another direction to go with these colors is UB with a lot of fliers. Although UW skies is reliable in any draft format, UB skies is pretty good in M13 mainly because of the common Bloodhunter Bat.
BW Exalted is a popular archetype that is easy to draft and very powerful. I don’t particularly like drafting it unless that’s all I’m getting passed, however, since it’s particularly weak to Cower in Fear and Chandra’s Fury. Also just like green/X, it tends to be very popular, and unlike green/X it has a harder time supporting multiple drafters. This is not only because of how deep green is in M13, but also because green pairs well with pretty much any other color. Although green/blue and green/black aren’t as prevalent as green/red and green/white, I’ve seen successful builds of all these archetypes.
These were some of my initial thoughts of M13 draft as I sat down for my first draft on Sunday morning. My draft pod included:
Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa
Here is the deck I drafted:
Notable sideboard cards:
In this draft, I first picked an Archaeomancer out of an extremely weak pack. I got a relatively early Cower in Fear, and then I got both Mark of the Vampires in the first pack as well. I got passed all my rares except for the Akroma’s Memorial, which I opened in pack three. Overall, I liked the deck, and I expected to be able to put up a 2-1 record with this deck, and possibly a 3-0 if I ran really well.
I don’t actually like Gilded Lotus in most Limited decks. This might be surprising, since I played it in both my Sealed deck and my first draft deck at this Grand Prix. In my Sealed deck, it was easier to justify since I needed the color fixing, and I was already running two Volcanic Geysers. In this draft deck it’s a lot harder to see the use for Gilded Lotus, but I chose to run it in the spot where I might have otherwise run an 18th land. With Akroma’s Memorial at the top end of the curve and the ability to draw extra cards with Disciple of Bolas, having the extra mana is relevant in this deck.
Mark of the Vampire is a card that I really like in M13 Limited. Oftentimes the draft games are determined by who can set up a single threat that the opposing player can’t deal with. Mark of the Vampire helps you turn any one creature into a threat that must be stopped, while simultaneously gaining you the life to be able to race any threat your opponent has. Like most auras the potential to get blown out by a removal spell is still there, but Mark of the Vampire will also win you most of the games where it isn’t dealt with in a timely fashion.
In the first round of this draft I played against Ian Reasor with a UR deck. He mentioned that his draft went terribly, and his deck definitely wasn’t very good. I beat him relatively easily with Mark of the Vampire in two games. 10-1.
In the second round I played against Michael Lapine. He had a very good UW deck with a lot of fliers and a lot of Soldiers. I lost game one pretty easily, simply because his creatures were better than mine. Game two was a lot closer. I lost when I was one turn away from dropping Akroma’s Memorial to give myself a chance to stabilize. I definitely could have played this game differently, and I probably should have played more defensively in the early turns of the game to give myself more time. I was playing very aggressively by attacking in the air, and I quickly was put on defense when he played two Crusader of Odric into a Captain’s Call. It’s hard to say who would have won this game if I had had the time to play Akroma’s Memorial, but I could have given myself a better chance. 10-2.
In the last round of this draft, I played against Anthony Buscaino who drafted a pretty typical BW Exalted deck. Game one was extremely one-sided after I mulliganed to four. Game two was a much closer game that might have played out differently if I had seen one of my two Cower in Fear. I was stuck on four land for a bit, but fortunately it wasn’t a problem as I was able to play out almost my whole hand anyway. We were at a bit of a standstill when I drew my fifth land and dropped Gilded Lotus into Watercourser, leaving me with Liliana of the Dark Realms as the only card left in my hand.
I died a little bit inside when Anthony played Ravenous Rats on the following turn to make me discard my Liliana. Although she is far from a game-breaking planeswalker, at this point in the game it would have easily given me the advantage. I would have been able to fetch a land or two and start picking off any guys he played, since it was already protected by the Watercourser and my other creatures. It’s possible that I should have just played the Watercourser without playing Gilded Lotus in order to play around Ravenous Rats. Ravenous Rats is kind of an obscure card to try to play around in draft, but when I’m playing against BW Exalted, I should have expected him to have it. After losing my Liliana, I got gradually run over by random small creatures thanks to his multiple exalted triggers. 10-3.
It was extremely disappointing to go 1-2 with a deck that I thought could do better than that. Unfortunately, my goal of making Top 4 to qualify for Pro Tour Seattle was now over. I still wanted to come home with some amount of money of course, so I pulled myself together and sat down for my second draft pod:
Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa
Here is the deck I drafted:
Notable sideboard cards:
Although this deck was undoubtedly one of the most fun decks that I have drafted in M13, it had some problems. The first I noticed when I was building the deck was the sheer number of four-mana permanents. On paper it seemed like my deck would easily lose to any early pressure, since it didn’t really start to do much until turn four or turn five. The other issue was that I wouldn’t have a reliable way to win the game. Most of the cards in my deck generated card advantage, but I didn’t have many finishers. Liliana’s Shade seemed like my best way to close out a game, and that’s a pretty weak strategy to depend on. I was disappointed after I finished building, but after showing it to a few people who really liked the deck, I gained a bit of confidence.
For the first round with my deck I was paired against Conley Woods. Conley had a powerful UG deck with Talrand’s Invocation, Predatory Rampage, and two Rancor. Game one was an extremely long and drawn out game and Trading Post almost got there for me. Although I don’t really have much synergy with Trading Post in this deck, I ended up using it to gain 4 life every turn for at least five consecutive turns by throwing away extra land. This helped me stay alive at one life against his Talrand’s Invocation tokens, while I started to stabilize. Eventually he drew a Rancor to finish me off.
Game two he mulliganed to five and was too far behind by the time he hit his land drops. Game three I mulliganed to five, but we had a really close game nonetheless. On my very last turn, Conley was at 3 life and I had a Sign in Blood in hand. I cycled my Trading Post to try to find one of my multiple outs, but unfortunately I didn’t get there. 10-4.
After playing with my deck against Conley, and losing a very close match, it seemed that my deck wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was. Even though I lost, I had much higher hopes for my other two matches. However, I knew I needed to win both of them in order to take home some money.
The next round I played against PV, who apparently was having just as tough of a time in Day Two as I was. Since he was in my first pod, I knew he had gone 1-3 in his past four matches as well. He was playing a very aggressive GW deck with two Prized Elephants and a Predatory Rampage. Game one he got off to a really slow start, and I was able to stabilize and then take over the game with Staff of Nin. Games two and three weren’t very close at all as he ran me over with multiple creatures that were too big for me to deal with. 10-5
Even though I was out of contention for finishing in the money, I decided to play out my last round anyway just to boost my spirits. Unfortunately, my morale flagged further when I got paired against my friend Harrison Beach, and lost in another three-game match. 10-6.
So I finished Day Two with a draft record of 1-5. This is by far the worst I’ve ever done in any Grand Prix or Pro Tour draft to date. So what went wrong? Well besides the obvious conclusion that I should have drafted the format more before the Grand Prix, I might have overvalued the UB archetype in M13 draft. Although I wasn’t specifically looking to be in UB before the draft started, and I definitely wasn’t looking to be in UB for both drafts, I wasn’t unhappy to draft that color combination. I think you can usually draft a reasonable UB deck, but it seems to me that the decks that do the best in M13 draft are usually more aggressive. Neither of my decks were very aggressive, even though the first one was kind of trying to be.
Archaeomancer isn’t nearly the archetype-defining card that I thought it would be. Although it can be very good at times, the controlling Archaeomancer-based decks just aren’t fast enough to be able to keep up with the green decks and the white decks. Picking Archaeomancer early in the draft is something that I will also try to avoid from now on. There are certain decks that might want it, but if you pick it too early it forces your hand. Sometimes it’s okay to pick such a niche card early on in a draft, but in my opinion, even the good Archaeomancer decks aren’t even that great in this format.
After the Grand Prix, Brandon Nelson, Matthias Hunt, and I decided to unwind with a couple team drafts. In the first team draft, I drafted a deck that I would have killed to have drafted in the actual Grand Prix. I didn’t lose a single game with my nearly mono-green deck:
Thanks for reading,
greyknight7 on MTGO