I need to start by saying I thought my deck was fantastic, and I was extremely pleased with the draft portion of the night. Over the past week I’d done a lot of research about M14 limited. I read several articles, watched a couple streamed drafts and listened to hours of the podcast “Limited Resources“. (I discovered listening to podcasts is pretty much the best way to pass time at work.) LR is a very good podcast that I recommend to anyone as obsessed with draft as I am. I just discovered it, so I had a lot to catch up on. The biggest thing: their M14 set review. The hosts took several hours to go through and talk about every single card in M14 and what their impressions of it was. I thought it was very helpful, even if I didn’t necessarily agree with them 100 percent of the time. But it was full of information, and I felt more prepared (by far) than last week. (Not hard, I suppose.)
The draft went really well. I’d decided I kind of wanted to play green this week and I was lucky because it was wide open. The only other committed green drafter at the table was completely opposite me, so we didn’t cut each other off at all. I first-picked a Rumbling Baloth over Silence, which is terrible, a Kalonian Tusker and an Opportunity. Some people questioned it, but my reasoning was straightforward: the tusker is awesome, but getting double green on turn two is hard unless you’re very committed to green. I didn’t want to do that right off the bat. Double green by turn four is more likely, and I felt more comfortable taking that. I didn’t take the Opportunity because I was worried blue would be over drafted — it’s one of the strongest colors in the set and people really like the Opportunity deck. I also knew that by passing it I would be signaling very well to the person to my left, and might actually force him into drafting blue. I’m not sure that is actually what made him go blue, but he did actually end up drafting a very strong blue card-draw deck. And I ended up getting two Kalonian Tuskers anyway, so I was very happy. I actually also ended up with a Marauding Maulhorn as well, so I had four beasts with an Advocate of the Beast. Not bad, considering how few beasts are actually in the format. I also got passed a Megantic Sliver in pack two, which made me very aware that Slivers were probably open. I’d picked up a couple already — some are just good on their own — so I just picked up a couple more. I didn’t force them, but if there wasn’t a better green or red card in the pack, I went with the sliver. I ended up getting a couple very strong slivers, too. I also opened a Witchstalker, which was awesome because it make a great target for my Lightning Talons. I even picked up a Howl of the Night Pack, which can just completely take over games. So overall, I was very happy after the draft and building my deck. I had a couple cards in my sideboard that I was kind of sad not to run, but I figured if my deck didn’t work out, I could always side them in. A good plan, but I never did… even though it might actually have helped me. Oops. (Among that list: A Fleshpulper Giant, a Dragon Egg and a couple slivers.)
Match one got off to a spectacular start. I couldn’t ask for a better start than turn two Kalonian Tusker and turn three Advocate. I was able to put the pressure on him early, and it was great. Unfortunately, my plans were foiled when he played an Enlarge on turn five. He got me down to one life, and so I couldn’t attack all out like I was hoping. And he had the white creature that causes your opponent’s creatures to come into the battlefield tapped, so I was very vulnerable. I couldn’t attack the following turn because I had to block with my creatures that weren’t tapped. Very frustrating. But definitely not as frustrating when he plays ANOTHER Enlarge. I could block all but one of the damage. I wasn’t too discouraged going into game two, though. I knew the chances of that happening again were fairly slim, and he hadn’t actually played too many creatures. I was able to get another turn two Tusker, which was nice. I followed it with a turn three Rootwalla, which wasn’t too bad either. Unfortunately, I never got another land. I also made a pretty big error while attacking into his slivers. He double blocked my Rootwalla with the toughness booster and the vigilance sliver. I could have pumped my Rootwalla and killed one of them, but instead played Thunder Strike on my Tusker to put him down to six. If I’d pumped my Rootwalla, I probably would have killed his vigilant sliver, which might have been the better play. I don’t know if it would have ultimately made a difference since I was never able to play another creature and he had the Master of Diversion so he could tap my blocker every time he attacked, but it might have allowed me to get some more damage through. So all in all, it was a pretty disappointing first round, but I wasn’t too discouraged… just annoyed.
Round two was my only win of the night, even though it started off poorly. I had to mulligan down to five cards on the play, which was painful. It was still a close game, despite that though. My slivers were kind of working for me — I had the red pump sliver and my sliver construct out. My opponent won by casting Act of Treason and getting my red pump sliver. Game two was the opposite — my opponent mulled down to five. But my starting hand was great again. I got my Witchstalker out, and was able immediately put Lightening Talons on him. My opponent never even got the chance to play a blocker, and on turn three I cast another creature so turn four was lethal. Game three was similar, except this time it was my Baloth doing the beating. I felt bad for my opponent — it sucks to lose because of mana issues and unlucky draws, but it’s all part of the game. I tried to keep reminding myself of that throughout the night.
I played the blue drafter at my table during my next match. It was pretty brutal. I never saw the Opportunity, but I did see multiple Divinations. He was playing blue/ black, and I got a good start in game one, but the board state got stalled. He eventually got me with his Water Servant, two Blood Bairns and a Tenacious Dead that he was able to sacrifice multiple times. Game two was a lot more promising and I was able to build up a strong board state with my slivers. But then I stopped drawing anything but lands, which gave him the chance to build up his defense and his board. I top-decked my Megantic Sliver, which would have won me the game straight up, but was so excited I forgot to check his mana. Sure enough, he had Essence Scatter in hand, and my epic Sliver move was thwarted. He got me 2-0, so maybe I should have drafted the blue/ black deck. Oh well. In game I played a Blur Sliver as if it didn’t have haste, which my opponent pointed out later. It probably wouldn’t have mattered since he was at six at the end, but you never know.
The fourth round went a little better just because I lost 2-1 instead of 2-0. The first game was a really good one. It was close, and we both had good attacks. It was pretty much your standard race, but he ended up coming out ahead because of well-timed Time Ebb on my Giant Spider. I dominated him in my second game. I got my Witchstalker out and my Blur Sliver. He didn’t get any good blockers out, so it was over fairly quickly. Game three was not really a good game for either of us. Both of us got mana flooded. Several turns were just us saying “land for turn, OK go”. The board was pretty stalled out, but what changed the tide was when he top-decked his Air Servant. He was hovering at five life throughout this stalemate, so had I pulled my Volcanic Geyser it would have been over. Or my Howl of the Night Pack. Or any number of things in my deck, actually.
My last opponent didn’t show up, so I got the win by default. I took the time to just hang out with my friends, which was nice. And while we were discussing how the night was going, one reminded me that records don’t always reflect the skill of the player. I’m pretty hard on myself when I lose sometimes, but sometimes there is nothing you can do. Your deck just didn’t work out as you planned and unexpected things come up. Like two Enlarges. Or getting mana flooded. It’s part of Magic, and if it wasn’t the game wouldn’t be the same. But I did make some misplays, so I’m definitely not blaming the night on bad luck. I just need to learn how to anticipate longer games better, and not get discouraged or sloppy.
All for now,
How did your FNM go? What do you think is the most frustrating way to lose a game of Magic?