Drafting With Dave: Aether Revolt – Don’t Be Afraid To Splash
Well hello there. You don’t know me, but you also kinda do. I’ve been playing Magic: the Gathering since Mirrodin block, coming up for 14 years but with little success in terms of trophies and results. I have three PTQ top 8s to my name, all in limited, always preferring 40 cards to 60. A run-of-the-mill, reasonable, middling, competent local drafter, nothing more, nothing less. If you are here reading this, the chances are you might be in a similar position.
After having a child in 2012, MTG needed to take a back seat. If it hadn’t been for chancing upon a small group of players local to me in the very far north of Scotland, I wouldn’t be sat here in front of the keyboard talking with you now. It didn’t take long for the bug to bite once again – what is it they say, you never quit Magic, merely take an extended break?
So here I am, attempting to understand MTG all over again after five years out. One of the methods I have used to try and gain some footing on the limited meta is watching draft videos. The next natural trajectory is then record some of my own. And so here we are.
You may be questioning why you would watch a draft video from someone with relatively little success on a much beyond a local scale. Firstly, you learn more from watching players make mistakes than you do from watching the professionals follow perfect line after perfect line. Your fundamental knowledge of how to play a particular format needs to be solid as a base to build upon. You will see me make mistakes and you will wonder at some shocking picks and plays. The next time you come to draft, hopefully you remember them.
Secondly, what will make these articles different to what you have seen elsewhere is my intention to watch the draft back from start to finish and post all my thoughts on poor picks and plays. While this is intended to be cathartic, I am confident many of you local grinders could learn something you might not pick up from watching a pro drafting.
Without further ado…
Pick 1, Pack 1 – Yahenni, Undying Partisan: I dithered over this pick during the draft somewhat and actually, with hindsight, even ignoring subsequent selections, I am entirely confident that Yahenni is the right pick here in a vacuum. The card ended up being very powerful whenever I was able to make it stick throughout the three rounds.
Pick 5, Pack 1 – Spire of Industry: This pick will likely generate some discussion on the comments. Given what we had taken up to this point, Decommission is almost certainly the correct pick for our deck. What we have to consider as non-professional players on a budget, attempting to extract as much value out of each draft is when to rare draft. I’m pretty comfortable in my decision here to take the 2.5 ticket rare over a replaceable sideboard card.
The viability of rare drafting on Magic Online may be worth an article all of its own in the future should there be sufficient interest.
Pick 6, Pack 1 – Bastion Inventor: Something I have noticed from the less experienced drafters in my local playgroup is how quickly they lock into two colours. Whilst I can understand settling into one as quickly as possible, I think it is vitally important to try and remain as open to what might be open for your second colour for as long as you can. This ended up being very relevant as this draft went on.
Pick 3, Pack 2 – Battle at the Bridge: This pick with hindsight is so clearly Battle over Caught in the Brights and I don’t even think it’s that close. I am glad I made the right pick in the end but it shouldn’t have take so long to get there. As a matter of fact, there’s an argument to me made that if I was going to go for a white card here, it should have been Hidden Stockpile, not the white removal.
Pick 6, Pack 2 – Aether Poisoner: This is such a close pick between the Poisoner and the Maulfist Revolutionary. In a vacuum, the latter is the stronger card for sure but I am still reasonably comfortable with this decision given the importance of artifacts for my deck. Would love to hear your thoughts on this pick in the comments.
Pick 3, Pack 3 – Kujar Seedsculptor: I’m fairly confident this is just an outright mispick. We already have Unbridled Growth, Spire of Industry and Prophetic Prism so splashing for the Unlicensed Disintegration would have been straightforward. I have a tendency to avoid splashing in an attempt to keep my decks consistent but with three ways to generate the required red mana without running a single Mountain in my deck, there is no excuse.
Pick 4, Pack 3 – Cultivator of Blades: The second mispick in a row – by this point, my deck didn’t need large casting cost, splashy finishers. It needed the two and three drops to ensure I made it deep enough into the game to cast my impact cards. As such, Dhund Operative is the clear pick here.
The final build was greedy with an attempt to try and stretch and already awkward manabase by only running 16 lands rather than 17. As you could see from sideboarding throughout the rounds, removing a Fen Hauler for a basic land was the correct call.
Putting Unbridled Growth onto the tapped Forest towards the end of game one is an unforgivable mistake. I’d love to put it down to a lack of familiarity with the current MTGO client but honestly, there is no excuse.
During sideboarding for game two, I didn’t spot that the client added two basic lands rather than one. Again, such a simple and straightforward mistake to make.
Let’s talk about that keep in game three. I beat myself up about it at the time but the more I think about it, the more comfortable I feel with the decision. We had two draw steps to hit the second land and if we had done, we were in fantastic shape. With hindsight, I still believe it’s probably a mulligan but it’s a very close call. I’d love to hear all your thoughts on this in the comments. More than any other decision I made this draft, this is the one is the closest.
In game one, I could and should have sacrificed the Gifted Aetherborn to save Yahenni, Undying Partisan from the Deadeye Harpooner. Thankfully this didn’t end up costing the game but that doesn’t make it any less of a mistake.
Pretty sure I should have scryed away the Narnam Cobra in game two but it’s a close decision.
Watching the draft back, I think the hand we kept in game two was probably a mulligan. Again, it’s a very close decision.
Shouldn’t have sacrificed the Unbridled Growth towards the end of game three. There was nothing to gain from doing it then given we are tapped out as opposed to sacrificing the enchantment at the beginning of the following turn, turning on Revolt for a potential Vengeful Rebel. As it turns out, had we played it like that, we would have won game three two turns earlier, denying our opponent multiple draw steps.
I hope you consider this a worthwhile endeavour. I’m keen to get as much constructive feedback from you both in terms of the draft itself and the layout of this article for future attempts.
Until next time…