Friday, 23 March 2012

Four Player Rotisserie Draft

I have not done one of these for a long time as they are very time consuming and really draining on your mental reserves. For those not familiar with the rotisserie draft format it involves laying out (as best you can) the cube and then taking it in turns to pick a single card. The starting player takes one card and then the next person clockwise takes one of the remaining cards and so on until the last player is reached. The last person to pick a card takes two cards and along with the starting player is deemed to be on the "wheel" which is the best position to be in. Once the last player has picked two cards the direction reverses with everyone picking a single card again until the starting player is reached and they pick two as well and the direction carries on bouncing back and forth between the two wheels.

We decided to use the power as it is least unfair in this format, we also had the B and C cube on hand so basically if you could name a card that hadn't been picked you could put it in your deck. With only four players this did lead to slightly more hosers getting picked than normally would be the case. The other downside of only having 4 decks being built is that there is a good chance most of a colour wont get played, in this case it was red. At six or more players it gets tediously slow but much more interesting in terms of the competition. Six people is also great for a team draft which is probably the hardest thing you can do in magic. Obviously that is because I think rotisserie drafting cubes is the hardest solo magical endeavour you can undertake. There is so much information to take in and account for in your picks. You have to build complex and smooth decks in a linear manner and adapt to things changing your plans unexpectedly.

Below is a list of our picks. For the sake of anonymity and reference I have given the other players pseudonyms. "The Changeling" was to begin, I was to his right, followed by "Pieman" and finally "Magnum Force" was the second wheel. The overall pick order of the cards can be worked out by snaking down the list starting from left to right. I did try putting in some helpful arrows to show this but it looked horrible so if you care about the exact pick number of something I guess you will have to work it  out, sorry.

Pick “The Changeling” Me “Pieman” “Magnum Force”
1 Sol Ring Time Walk Ancestral Recall Black Lotus
2 Mox Jet Mox Emerald Mox Sapphire Umezawa's Jitte
3 Mox Ruby Fastbond Mox Pearl Mana Crypt
4 Tolarian Academy Time Spiral Sensei's Divining Top Skull Clamp
5 Mana Vault Force of Will Mana Drain Stoneforge Mystic
6 Tinker Eternal Witness Jace, the Mind Sculptor Mox Diamond
7 Strip Mine Timetwister Snapcaster Mage Chrome Mox
8 Emrakul, the Eons Torn Frantic Search Brainstorm Swords to Plowshares
9 Phyexian Matalmorph Cryptic Command Path to Exile Wheel of Fortune
10 Metal Worker Temporal Manipulation Library of Alexandria Land Tax
11 Balance Fact or Fiction Counterspell Mox Opal
12 Mishra's Workshop Grim Monolith Elspeth, Knight Errant Karakas
13 Wasteland Ancestral Visions Vendillion Clique Kor Skyfisher
14 Ancient Tomb Remand Trinket Mage Student of Warfare
15 Crucible of Worlds Time Warp Mana Leak Winter Orb
16 Tezzeret the Seeker Treachery Mystical Tutor Tanglewire
17 Karn Liberated Bird of Paradise Wrath of God Thalia, Guardian of Threben
18 Myr Battlesphere Cunning Wish Austere Command Phyrexian Revoker
19 Tumble Magnet Gifts Ungiven Disenchant City of Traitors
20 Talisman of Dominance Sakura-Tribe Elder Force Spike Yawmoth's Will
21 Spellskite Capsize Baneslayer Angel Hex Parasite
22 Demonic Tutor Life from the Loam Arcane Denial Scrubland
23 City of Brass Regrowth Tundra Vindicate
24 Lodestone Golem Nature's Lore Flooded Strand Marsh Flats
25 Everflowing Chalice Mind's Desire Mindbreak Trap Godless Shrine
26 Wurmcoil Engine Sunscape Familiar Celestial Colonade Dark Confidant
27 Mindslaver Helm of Awakening Adarkar Wastes Isamru, Hounds of Konda
28 Talisman of Progress Nature's Claim Hallowed Fountain Lingering Souls
29 Trinisphere Exploration Oblivion Ring Armageddon
30 Batterskull Harrow Ponder Hero of Bladehold
31 Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas Noble Hierarch Nevinyrral's Disk Aether Vial
32 Duplicant Garruk wildspeaker Spell Pierce Thoughtseize
33 Academy Ruins Tropical Island Pact of Negation Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
34 Polluted Delta Windswept Heath Thirst for Knowledge Inquisition of Kozilek
35 Underground Sea Misty Rainforest Seat of the Synod Grand Abolisher
36 Watery Grave Savannah Gideon Jura Ethersworn Cannonist
37 Azorious Signet Breeding Pool Mystic Gate Ancient Den
38 All is Dust Flooded Grove Scalding Tarn Flagstones of Trokair
39 Voltaic Key Heartbeat of Spring Preordain Dark Ritual
40 Seal of Cleansing Mirrari's Wake Into the Roil Duress
41 Revoke Existence Palinchron Ratchet Bomb Spectral Lynx
42 Inkwell Leviathan Stifle Consecrated Sphinx Cataclysm
43 Sphinx of the Steel Wind Vapour Snag Lat-Nam's Legacy Mana Tithe
44 Palladium Myr Azourious Chancery Daze Porcelain Legionnaire
45 Sun Titan Lonely Sandbar Day of Judgement Revilark
46 Goblin Welder Temple Garden Counterbalance Knight of the White Orchid
47 Volcanic Island Beast Within Negate Orim's Chant
48 Lightening Greaves Lotus Cobra Mental Misstep Abeyance
49 Bloodstained Mire Horn of Greed Teferi, Mage of Zalafir Catastrophe
50 Burning Wish Zuran Orb Meddling Mage Blinkmoth Nexus

Overall this looked pretty representative of how I would expect a powered cube rotisserie to play out. The most powerful cards were picked in roughly the right order with only a few slipping through to be come late pick ups. After the power comes a few cards to cement a core for the decks followed by trying to hoover up all the powerful things you might want that others also might want. As the powerful cards dry up people either move into picking their mana bases or taking the very narrow cards for their deck that others wouldn't likely take. The final stages tend to be the slowest ones where people only have a few picks left and are trying to plug the holes in their deck or get useful sideboard cards. There also tends to be a late panic to grab any leftover powerful cards too despite often not being needed.

This draft had a couple of curious picks, some things very late and others rather early. There was also a wide range of experience playing at the table and so given the difficulty of the format I was pretty impressed with the efforts. Here is a very brief list of a few of the notable cards that were picked either surprisingly late or early.

Late Picks:

Yawmoth's Will
Zuran Orb
Goblin Welder
Library of Alexandria
Mishra's Workshop
Elspeth, Knight Errant

Early Picks:

Kor Skyfisher
Student of Warfare
Sensei's Divining Top
Emrakul, the Eons Torn
Phyrexian Metalmorph
Myr Battlesphere
Temporal Manipulation

A few picks I thought were really inspired:

Thalia, Guardian of Threben
Austere Command
Snapcaster Mage
Ethersworn Canonist
Blinkmoth Nexus

A few really dud picks:

Lotus Cobra
Teferi, Mage of Zalafhir
Sun Titan

Below are the final decks each player built. As you would expect with few players there were a lot of blue drafters so as to make sure the really powerful cards are split up most evenly. The three blue drafters then split into their different directions; combo, control and artifact based (blue can easily support an agro disruption blue deck as well as or instead of one of these). If we had another two players I would expect a BG rock style deck and an aggressive red deck to also get built. The blue decks tend to still see play as you strip away players as they have the most early power picks thus if just one or two people are left with free reign on blue they end up with stupidly good decks. I was really scared of The Changelings archetype and tried to over compensate with ways of beating him including a hate draft of his Grim Monolith. In the end this fixation with what I was facing lead me to construct quite a horrible deck that was midway between a storm deck and a turbo land deck.

My UGw "no idea how I win" Combo Deck

23 Spells

Zuran Orb
Mox Emerald

Sunscape Familiar
Time Walk
Grim Monolith
Life from the Loam

Eternal Witness
Horn of Greed
Heartbeat of Spring
Frantic Search
Cunning Wish

Force of Will
Temporal Manipulation
Mind's Desire
Time Spiral

17 Land

2 Forest
6 Island
Tropical Island
Temple Garden
Breeding Pool
Misty Rainforest
Windswept Heath
Lonely Sandbar
Flooded Grove
Azorious Chancery

I really didn't like my final build and realised I had made a few critical draft errors. Firstly I was reliant on too few spells to get me to high enough mana to start casting my end game things of which I also had too many. I really needed to have taken more one and two drop card quality and draw spells such as Sylvan Library, Brainstorm, Ponder, See Beyond etc. I could have had a much more consistent deck that did one thing well and if necessary boarded into a slightly different win mechanism. I also should have taken Mana Drain over Force of Will as the mana ramp would have been far more useful in going off and there were too many cards I really didn't want to exile to the Force. The early pick of Emrakul set me on edge for trying to win through Brain Freeze and the prominence of things that messed with your mana base sent me in a direction towards Life from the Loam but with no specific plan in mind. I frequently sided out Grim Monolith, Zuran Orb, Exploration and Harrow for more robust cards like Cryptic Command or Garruk depending on the match up.

Piemans UW Draw Go Control Deck

26 Spells

Mox Pearl
Mox Sapphire

Force Spike

Sensei's Divining Top
Mystical Tutor
Path to Exile
Ancestral Recall

Mana Leak
Lat-Nam's Legacy

Arcane Denial
Mana Drain
Snapcaster Mage

Trinket Mage
Vendilion Clique
Oblivion Ring

Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Wrath of God
Nevinyrral's Disk

Gideon Jura
Baneslayer Angel

14 Land

Library of Alexandria
Flooded Strand
Hallowed Fountain
Celestial Colonnade
Scalding Tarn
Mystic Gate
Adarkar Wastes
Seat of the Synod
2 Plains
3 Islands

I like this deck although I tend to play far less card filter effects, particularly the sorcery speed ones, and favour a higher land count. I would also have played the Austere Command over the Disk for sure. It was a touch threat light for a deck devoid of any way to reshuffle your graveyard back in or recur threats. This deck was always going to find the format the hardest as trying to control an aggressive creature disruption deck, a fast artifact mana deck and a storm style deck is a tall order. The deck did have good sideboard options, particularly against my deck.

The Changelings Bazaar of Craziness.dec

28 Spells

Mox Jet
Mox Ruby
Everflowing Chalice

Voltaic Key
Sol Ring
Goblin Welder
Mana Vault

Lightening Greaves
Azorious Signet
Talisman of Progress

Talisman of Dominance
Demonic Tutor
Burning Wish

Metal Worker
Crucible of Worlds

Lodestone Golem
Phyrexian Metamorph
Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas

Tezzeret the Seeker
Wurmcoil Engine

Karn Liberated
Myr Battlesphere
Emrakul, the Eons Torn

12 Lands

Strip Mine
City of Brass
Ancient Tomb
Tolarian Academy
Academy Ruins
Mishra's Workshop
Polluted Delta
Bloodstain Mire
Underground Sea
Tropical Island
Watery Grave

This is sort of what you get when you draft as much of the powerful things as you can get. I am not a big fan of this deck, rather like mine it is trying to do too many things and as a result has too many holes. It shouldn't play either Balance or Emrakul, the mana is too weak for the former and the latter is optimistic and should be in the sideboard to deal with Brain Freeze only. A few threats should also be traded for some extra consistency, cards like Faithless Looting would be outstanding in this deck as would the simple Chromatic Star. A Memory Jar would have been a good pick up to offer some serious card draw to the deck which it presently lacks and an Upheaval would have been really at home in this deck and been great against all the match ups. An extra land or two would have been great too as it was muliganing lots. Despite me not liking the way in which the deck was polished off the core is pretty safe and does still offer the chance to make a lot of very early big threats and is still competitive as a result.

Magnums Force's Trusty Beatdown Deck

28 Spells

Mox Diamond
Crome Mox
Black Lotus
Mox Opal
Mana Crypt

Inquisition of Kozilek
Mana Tithe

Student of Warfare
Isamru, Hound of Konda
Hex Parasite
Swords to Plowshares

Winter Orb
Umezawa's Jitte
Phyrexian Revoker
Dark Confidant

Stoneforge Mystic
Thalia, Guardian of Threben
Kor Shyfisher
Grand Abolisher

Lingering Souls
Tangle Wire
Yawgmoth's Will


12 Lands

5 Plains
Ancient Den
Flagstones of Trokair
Godless Shrine
Marsh Flats
Blinkmoth Nexus

I also like this deck a great deal. It was a good choice given the directions taken by the other players and had a great deal more options later in the draft than any other player had. It could have gone heavier black or splashed green or red instead as both were pretty untouched in areas this deck would be interested in. I would like to have seen a way to include Land Tax so as to be able to recover better from Armageddon and Cataclysm better but with only five basics and a really hard time with the black mana this probably isn't a viable option. The ratio of disruption to threats which is perhaps a little high, even given the match ups. The threats are all also very cheap and thus the fast mana can become somewhat useless. I would like to see either a more expensive equipment like Sword of Fire and Ice or even the Clamp so as to make use of the mana. An Elspeth would also have been ideal although a Bitterblossom or the Sorin would have worked fine given that Pieman picked up Elspeth. The Tangle Wire is the first disruption card I would bin, after that it is probably one of the discard spells but overall the list is pretty tight and so making these minor improvements is tricky.

The final results were;

Pieman 0-3
The Changeling 1-2
Me 2-1
Magnum Force 3-0

I cannot speak for all the games but Piemans results were not reflective of his performance in the draft. He would have beaten me if he had ever played against a deck like it before and his game against Magnum Force was incredibly close. He also had the most difficult task as a control deck against three very different strategies. The Changeling should also probably have beaten me but took too many muligans, he effectively beat himself too by telling me about Squall Line as a Cunning Wish target to win the game. Magnum Force destroyed me like he were gold fishing his deck. It was a good cube in which I predicted The Changeling to win after he picked Spellskite. The moral of the cube is that when three people are drafting broken blue power strategies beatdown with some appropriate disruption is a good route.

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