(Editor’s Note: Every time I think I’m out, Chris pulls me right back in.)
(Editor’s Note 2: The first standard tournament on Star City Games after the release of this set was filled with these types of jokes. I’m not hip enough to actually know the source of the joke. I am just hip enough to understand that it is a joke and to chuckle when I hear it. We truly live in a wondrous time.)
I was out. Way out. Orbiting the planet with plans to travel to Mars out. In the past when I’ve been out, I’ve stayed connected through tournaments on Twitch. I wasn’t even doing that this time. Chris had a group that he played modern with, so I wasn’t even as inspired to keep connected for our monthly nerd nights. I honestly thought that I might be done with the hobby.
That all changed with Kaladesh spoilers. The set looked so much different from anything else they’ve released recently. While the story is just as depressing as recent sets, the art direction is much more bright and cheerful. Though, as I said to Chris, “The next set is called Aether Revolt”, so it is only a matter of time before the Eldrazi or Phyrexians or Phyrexdrazi return to bring the pain. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
My actual return to the game started with a draft. Let me explain. Before you think that I’ve evolved from an awkward Caterpie to a Social Butterfree, it was only between me and Chris. Unlike him, I have little to no use for constructed Magic. It is always the same decks and strategies with almost no room for imaginations. Once decks are found that work, they are set. Vintage is Eldrazi or Shops (sometimes both) and Jace. Legacy is Miracles or bust (and, by extension Jace) and modern is all about comboing out by turn four. I don’t mind watching them, but I don’t know if I’ll ever play any of those formats. I used to say the same about Standard, but there are some interesting control decks that are evolving in the format. I might try some of hem if I can ever get the computer set up long enough to use xMage.
Draft doesn’t have that problem. Since you open fresh packs per person, everyone is on an even field with respect to availability of cards. Well, still to busy or nervous or both to make it out to an actual store with other people to play, I started researching ways that Chris and I might be able to draft. I admit that I didn’t have much hope for our prospects.
Magic is traditionally between two players, but the limited formats always seem to favor between 6 and 8. Imagine how pleasantly surprised I was to find several two player draft possibilities. I settled on Winchester and Chris went along with it after I explained to him how it worked. I made a date to play, grabbed the appropriate amount of packs, and got to it.
For those who are interested, we chose a Winchester draft according to these rules. (Edit: The page that I got the rules from seems to no longer be active. Guess that means that we can write our own. Look for that soon!) This removed much of the mystery and strategy of not knowing what cards were chosen. We further removed any of the unknown by keeping our choices face up. Honestly, though, most of the surprise was gone simply by having only two players.
Don’t interpret that to mean that we didn’t have fun or that there was no challenge. Quite the opposite. I still found it quite challenging to find the cards to build a deck from my half of the hodge podge of cards presented by the 6 packs. The games were fun, too I’m almost positive that Chris felt the same way because he agreed to redraft and then to get together after Kaladesh release to do it all again.
That draft got me back into the game, but Kaladesh cemented my interest and has kept me coming back for more. I watched the first SCG event after the release and even watched the top 8 of the GP. I’m glad that I did because control was on full display in those matches and I’m a huge control fan.
I love the games that go on for time and then need turns after to settle. Clog the board to stave off defeat and then crush your opponent’s will in the late game. Blue Magic is the only true Magic!
That’s what I did to Chris in our two Kaladesh head to head drafts. It is tough to do a pure control build in draft unless you get a bomb (we didn’t), but I put together a decent Esper-ish (mostly UB with a splash of W for Dovin Baan) deck that stabilized after a sizzling opener by Chris. Not overly impressed by the card, Dovin Baan actually helped greatly.
I don’t remember if we redrafted this time. I should really start keeping a record of these things if I’m going to report out on them. In any case, I had Dovin Baan in both games. The second game went much like the first game expect Chris got me much lower much fater in that one before I stabilized. Also, Dovin Baan wasn’t as integral in my plan. We was more of the “win more” card I expected him to be when I first saw him.
Kaladesh more than lived up to my expectations. That’s saying something because I had high hopes for the set. It did not disappoint and was fun to play as a draft set. More surprising, the set got me to watch Standard and even get excited about the format. As Chris agreed when I texted him that I wanted to watch Standard and was excited for it, “That never happens.” Heck, I even clicked on Wizard’s link for “Standard show down” when it popped up in my feed. I’m not going to enter, but I considered it briefly, so that’s something.
Finally, and least important to everyone but me, I have started collecting again. I took my spending money from the last few checks to buy boxes and fat packs of the sets that I missed during my break from the game. After the holidays, I plan to do some singles shopping to fill out my binders. I will also have to buy Aether Revolt.
As much as I’ve ever been, I am back into the Magic scene. I’m not going to be entering any tournaments (but, as always, I might to a draft or two), but I am watching them. I’m not building competitive decks (though I have proxied a Legacy/Modern dredge deck that I might try to construct), but I do have 3 fun Tiny Leaders decks and ideas for others plus a few Commander decks. Who knows? I may grow bored again or find some other expensive distraction. For now, though, I am completely and totally invested in Magic.