Despite some concern about whether or not we would be welcome at a mono-Japanese hobby store, Zeilend and I went down for the FNM draft last friday. We had been doing a lot of drafts on the tcgplayer utility to try and get familiar with the sets again. I hadn’t drafted since the week of the Conflux release, and Zeilend hadn’t played Magic in about 6 months.
After a short subway ride + walk, we arrived at the store around 5:30pm. We watched a little Legacy action and registered for the draft. We got a full 16 people, so the organizer split us into two pods. Thankfully, he put Zeilend and I together so that she could translate for me. Luckily for both of us, the organizer also elected to use English packs for our pod. There was some grumbling about this and Zeilend told me that it was not a popular decision. Instead of handing out packs as prizes, all the rares would be pooled after the tournament and the players would re-draft them according to place.
I don’t remember the specifics of the draft, but in the 1st pack I 1st picked a Naya charm, 2nd picked a Magma Spray, and picked up two Druid of the Anima and two Dragon Fodders. Both Fodders tabled back to me, getting them 8th and 10th pick.
2nd pack I 1st pick FOIL Sarkhan Vol, 2nd pick Resounding Roar, 3rd or 4th picked a foil Wild Nacatl, and also got a Rakeclaw Gargantuan, 2 Mosstodon, an Exuberant Firestoker, and a Naya Panorama.
3rd pack I 1st pick Armillary Sphere, passing a Nicol Bolas, which the player to my left windmill slammed. I end up getting a couple Matca Rioters, a Wild Leotau, a Beacon Behemoth, a Viashino Slaughtermaster and a Paleoloth!!!
I end up with around 23 playables, and decide to play my Gustrider Exuberant main deck since I had 5 creatures with power 5, and I imagined recurring it with Paleoloth might be a nice way to break a stalemate. I ended up playing one Swamp that I could mise to pump my Slaughtermaster and Matca Rioters.
Zeilend’s deck looked pretty scary. She had a blue and black Capsule, three Glaze Fiend, 2 Parasite Strix, 2 Sedraxis Alchemist, Resounding Wave, Fate Stitcher, Puppet Conjuror, Oblivion Ring, Sanctum Gargoyle, Grixis Slavedriver, and some Landcyclers. Basically, the BDM dream deck.
Apologies to all opponents for not knowing their names, I could not read them. I got by with gestures and one-word sentences.
Round 1 I get paired against a five-color deck that seemed heavily Jund. The guy had a lot of Unearth, some pingers, and both Sprouting and Scarland Thrinax. I lost game 1 to a pretty quick draw. He got both his Thrinax out, and starting growing the Scarland. We were trading hits back and forth and I thought I was winning the race until he started counting up all his creatures. “Soul’s Fire?” I asked. “Hai.”
I got pretty aggressive draws games 2 and 3. Game 2 I surprised him with lethal off of a Viashano Slaughtermaster that got pumped by Resounding Roar.
Game 3 I hit Wild Nacatl, Druid, and then 5-power creatures until he scooped.
Round 2 I am against another five-color deck. I kept a really loose hand game 1, six lands and shiny Sarkhan Vol. I runner four straight lands and scoop it.
Game 2 we both mulligan, and I think he must have been missing colors because he barely played anything the whole game, even though he was making land drops. Maybe he just kept a slow hand since he saw no spells from me game 1. I played guys, turned them sideways, and won pretty quick.
Game 3 he mulligans and keeps a 1-lander. He misses his 2nd land drop, but I have mono-forests and am beating with a 1/1 Nacatl (this is humorous to his friends who are observing us). He starts drawing lands, but I make a Druid and start dropping big men. I end the game quick by pumping up a Slaughtermaster with a Resounding Roar again.
Last round and I am paired against the other 2-0 from our pod. He was the player to my left that I had passed the Nicol Bolas to, and like my first two opponents he was also playing five-color. Game 1 he has the option of playing a Wretched Banquet on my Druid or my 1/1 Matca Rioters. Of course he chooses the… Rioters. Druid was the only source of non-green mana I drew all game, and I am pretty sure he would have rolled me if he had just killed the Druid.
Game 2 I side in Molten Frame, thinking I could use it to blow up an Obelisk. Of course I drew it in my opening hand and saw that it would not be nearly as helpful as I thought. I had a pretty good curve, mising my Swamp for my Slaughtermaster, and allowing me to make 4/4 Rioters. Imagine how excited I was when my opponent makes a turn 4 Tower Gargoyle, giving my a target for the Molten Frame. Since he had shown me no artifact Creatures game one, he was pretty shocked to see that I had brought it in. Rather than try to explain that I had misread the card, I said nothing and let him believe I was just that good. He drew some more removal, but I was getting in for damage and made a good trade with Resounding Roar. My opponent top decks a needed land and windmill slammed a Charnelhoard Wurm. He is at 4, and I have two 1/1 goblin tokens in play. Luckily, I top deck Naya Charm and swing with both tokens. He blocks 1, and I charm to regrow my Resounding Roar, pump the unblocked token, and win.
I won the pod, which meant I was the “Ichi” and would get first pick of the rares. The winner of each pod also got a Kitchen Finks FNM promo, which was pretty nice. I tried to convince everyone that the Path to Exile should be laid out with the other rares, hoping that I could pick it 9th. They didn’t get the joke, and shuffled it in with the other uncommons to be dealt out. I first picked the foil planeswalker, and also got a Sphinx Summoner, Death Baron and Mindlock Orb.
So that was my draft in Japan. I don’t think my deck was really spectacular, but it was definitely well matched against the slow decks that my opponents built.
Next time on Price of Progress: Extended decks, a topic I have been putting off for too long.