Draft Fundamentals, Part 2

I’m going to pick up where we left off last week—what happens after you stayed open?

3. Determine Your Colors

Once you’re done with the first pack and you’ve stayed open, usually your picks 7–10 should give you an idea of what is available to your right. Yet, it’s important to remember what you passed to your left since they are now feeding you for the second pack.

Let’s say you started the draft with 3 blue cards, then toward the end you got significant red and black cards to assume that those were open colors, and blue faded away. Well you should still expect to receive blue in the second pack since you most likely didn’t give the drafter on your left any good reasons to be in that color, so don’t be too hasty in discarding a color that dried up in pack 1.

The average scenario is that at the end of the first pack you are settled into a mix of three colors (the best scenario would be one or two of course). In the example above, you would be in Grixis. At this point, you should cement your 2-color combination according to what you are getting fed from the left, keeping in mind that black and red will most likely be open in the third pack.

Many things can happen in the second pack, but the only successful paths include are the ones in which you land in two of the possible three colors. Even if you are passed a Stasis Snare, it’s too late, you are better off picking up a filler than switching at this point, especially since you’ll be giving it to the neighbor on your right, one of whom is likely in white since you saw no reason to be in that color in the first place. If they weren’t completely sure whether they should be in white, now you give them a better reason to do so—and not be in one of your colors—setting up yourself up better for the third pack.

4. Do Not Hate Draft

This is part of setting yourself up for a better third pack—if you hate-draft a Tajuru Warcaller in the middle of the second pack because you don’t want to play against it, you might push the drafter on your right out of green and encourage them to steal one of your colors. I’m repeating myself, but basically hate-drafting and trying to drastically switch colors in the second pack are the same thing, both will result in train wrecks.

I would hate-draft only in the third pack, and only when there is nothing for you—not even a sideboard card.

Remember, it’s only relevant to hate-draft a card because you don’t want to face it when you actually face the guy who would’ve had it AND he draws it. It’s not going to affect you at all if he beats other people with it.

5. Curve

At this point in the draft, you should prioritize curve over power, but only when you get to the third pack after favoring power throughout the first and second packs. Once you’ve got a reasonable amount of power, you actually need your deck to function and that’s where you can start picking any 2- or 3-drops over even removal if your curve needs it. Last weekend I picked Mist Intruder over my third Complete Disregard and I felt extremely good about it since otherwise I would’ve been short on early plays, yet, I would’ve never done that with more than a pack to go.

My go-to ratio for an average draft curve would look like:

3-4 one- and two-drops
4-5 three-drops
4-5 four-drops
2-3 five-drops
1-2 six+ drops

These do not necessarily need to be creatures, just as long as the cards can affect the board on time. Dampening Pulse is fine on 4 mana, so is Touch of the Void on 3, while Seek the Wilds on turn 2 isn’t—it’s not defending or pressuring anything.

Of course, these numbers can change depending on your draft strategy, some control decks might not need as many 2-drops, in fact they could easily function without them as long as their 3-drops are always better than an opposing two.

6. Use Your Memory

This is obviously useful for many things, even moreso if you know what to use it for. When playing around cards in a match, it is incredibly convenient to remember how many Inspired Charges, Swarm Surges, and other sub-par cards like that were in the draft. Basically, any cards that no one would take highly but are niche key cards to some decks. The same goes for all playable instant-speed cards you would expect to play around at some point.

If you saw zero Inspired Charge in the draft, it’s very likely that the guy playing a deck that it would be good in has either zero or one, since he would simply not pick it highly and you would’ve had the chance to see it first.

7. Wheel!

You should not count on wheeling certain cards, but it helps to know it can. In the same vein of using your memory, once you’ve selected your pick, always count the number of good cards left in the pack and figure out what is likely to come back. This is especially useful when you are building around niche cards that nobody else would want or when you are looking for curve fillers. When you have the choice between one great 3-drop and one great 4-drop and you remembered passing two okay 4-drops at the beginning of the pack, you might as well take the 3, expecting to have enough 4s once they wheel.

Thanks for reading and may the Limited master in you awaken!

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