Entering the Era of Darksteel
Well, here we are, roughly 24 hours before Darksteel goes on sale to the public. This means that it will be the talk of the town and be dominating discussions on the internet for the next few weeks. That's to be expected though. That's all that's going to be on anyone's minds.
I personally got my first real chance to draft using the new Darksteel cards. It was interesting. I have heard some players griping that the colored cards don't carry enough weight when coupled with Mirrodin. I didn't find this to be so. We sat down in a draft with myself and seven respectable players from my store and drafted after hours.
The draft itself was pretty awkward. On myself of the table both myself and the players to either side of me were playing green. This made some picks a bit difficult on our side of the table. In the end, my deck ended up being green and white. Unfortunately, I had drafted a Spikeshot Goblin and a Fireball that I couldn't use. The player to my right ended up playing Red/Green and that hurt me just a bit. Funny as it is, even with all the difficulty on my side of the table, I ended up winning the draft. I think part of the reason was that I was able take advantage of some card picks that I knew others would pass up.
Early on in the draft I took a Skyhunter Cub and a Leonin Den-Guard. This looked like a great start on White, but I failed to get any equipment to go with them. I had already had to abandon red, so things weren't looking good. What I ended up doing was taking some of the decent in-between green spells. I just acceptable that my deck was going to be a little more difficult to play. I started to take cards like Battle Growth and Predator's Strike. I also got a Fangren Hunter and a Tel-Jilad Chosen. I also got a Tel-Jilad Archers at some point. This lead me to believe later that there were some amazing first and second picks in green that I was going to be facing down later. I did also become aware that some players overvalue cards like Turn to Dust. Even though I had very few cards to get rid of artifacts, I just made it a point to pass those on. I knew there were very few equipment cards, because I was looking for them for my white creatures. It ended up being a non-issue.
My removal was light as well, with me getting a singular Soul Nova. Fortunately for me, I had done some reading of the Darksteel card list, so I knew that there were some neat tricks available in white in the last pack. There were some good middle line green cards to be had. The pack provided me with: Loxodon Mystic, Oxidize, Purge, Stir the Pride, Tangle Spider, and Test of Faith. I also got a couple of Metal Fatigue which also ended up being useful against one of my opponents with blue that was artifact heavy.
The trick I think is that with Darksteel being introduced, you shouldn't worry so much about the quality of each pick. Think more about the synergy of your picks and the general usefulness. I was able to take a deck with very few superstar creatures and pull out some wins, because of cards that would help my creatures do battle on a level playing field. Now, that beings aid, I did have to have some interesting plays. My games weren't any easier, but there was a tournament win nonetheless. Darksteel hasn't seemed to hurt the draft at all in my eyes. I think too often players are worried about what other players are drafting and that doesn't help either. You really have to bear down and concentrate on what you're doing. Focus on yourself more.
Anyway, enough talking about myself for one week. Let's talk a little more about what the potential environment could look like with new cards and new decks once Darksteel hits the scene.
With all the talk going on about White Weenie, I figured I would throw an interesting version into the hat.
4 Auriok Glaivemaster
4 Auriok Steelshaper
4 Leonin Shikari
4 Savannah Lions
4 Silver Knight
4 White Knight
3 Sword of Fire and Ice
4 Raise the Alarm
I like this version, because it has a LOT of creatures. This can generally be a huge pain for your opponent, which is what you want. The other thing to note is that it has the typical mark of white weenie, which is EXTREMELY cheap an efficient creatures. Everyone one of these creatures has a great ability. Now, I'll let it be said that I, like Jonathan Pechon Yesterday am completely unsure if this is even an optimal version. It just seems to have all of the cards that could be problematic to a lot of decks. Also, if you dole your beats out steadily without overcommitting, you shouldn't have a huge issue with board sweepers. I do agree with a lot of internet writers that Darksteel did a lot to make cause White Weenie to show up in more tournaments. Now that being said, I don't think that White Weenie is unplayable NOW. I think that Darksteel makes it possible for some builds that are just generally more obvious.
Here's a Goblin Deck with new cards:
4 Goblin Sledder
4 Skirk Prospector
4 Goblin Piledriver
4 Goblin Warchief
3 Goblin Sharpshooter
4 Seige-Gang Commander
4 Petriarch's Bidding
2 Gempalm Incinerator
4 Bloodstained Mires
3 City of Brass
OK, so maybe there aren't a lot of new cards in this build. Honestly, there is probably something better to add in here and I just missed it. The only "obvious" card to me was Skullclamp. With so many cheap creatures and the fact that you're playing Patriarch's Bidding, you can get some crazy combo oriented plays off. This version just helps the goblins search for their key card late to help put the game away. This version should play like most old versions for the most part.
Let's see, what other notes to I have? Here's something along the lines of Affinity.
4 Myr Enforcer
3 Aether Spellbomb
4 Assert Authority
4 Pyrite Spellbomb
4 Talisman of Progress
3 Thirst for Knowledge
3 Welding Jar
4 Ancient Den
4 Great Furnace
2 Tree of Tales
4 Seat of the Synod
What does Affinity get out of the new set...well, Machinate. That's about it. Even then, I only included one. I think that if I was going to play affinity based blue decks, I would find a way to add in a few more creatures. Maybe something along the lines of Lodestone Myr. Also, you sideboard has to have things like Pyroclasm to give you a shot against WW, Elves, Goblins and the like. This deck is annoying to a lot of people though. It's definitely interesting and tough. A good discussion has surfaced recently with the questions of whether or not Darksteel Forge belongs in the deck. It does cost nine mana to cast. However, with a few changes in the deck, you can easily get your mana production up high enough to play it. This would keep the deck from fearing Akroma's Vengeance so much. Who knows? It's a neat idea though.
Well, those are three of the popular decks you'll be running into without a doubt. Don't kid yourself though, these aren't the only good decks out there. We know that White/Blue control has been making a comeback. We know that Red/Green got some good options with the inclusion of Darksteel. Even Zombies have the potential to make a comeback. Nothing is predetermined by far.
Well, I've been rambling for a while here and I still have some regular weekly business to complete. Let's start with the strategy tip of the week.
This tip is a bit shady. also, let me preface this by saying that I do not usually openly endorse nor encourage shady play or tactics. This one is perfectly fair and legal. There have been time sin tournaments that I've played opponent's and know that I have a huge advantage in the deck matchup. We blaze through he first game and I win easily. In between games, I don't reach for my sideboard. I can initiate conversation. I'll talk about my ride to the tournament. I'll talk about how tough the room is. I'll talk about the weather and the temperature. I make it point to not mention any particular cards or decks in the discussion. I shuffle for about a minute or so and then present my deck to my opponent. A large percentage of the time, they present their deck, you both cut and play. During this time neither of us have sideboarded, which still leaves me with the advantage. The problem with this is that once you present your deck to be cut, you can't take it back. I had a guy try to lure me in like this. I wasn't sure if he was laying bait or if he was just neglecting to sideboard. When he presented his deck, I cut it and then went to my sideboard. He attempted to sideboard and then I had to call of a judge who made him leave his deck how it was and he got a warning. He was a bit upset, but thems the breaks.
My card of the week is Skullclamp:
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