Thursday, 23 April 2009

View from Above

By Wagz

Hello, as a counterpoint to my Noobflogger Boss column, when I am not playing and the format is Constructed I will be taking Feature Match reports, trying to take in the exciting new decks and the top table at the end of the night. I have covered 4 matches this week, with my beautiful assistant Ben Heath covering another match in the last round - report to follow.

Match 1: Craig Stevenson (Grixis Control) vs. Andy Devine (Dark Bant)
Game 1:

Craig wins the dice roll and leads off with a fairly unrevealing Reflecting Pool, which Andy answers with a Treetop Village. Sunken Ruins then a tapped Murmuring Bosk carry on a slow start from both players. Graven Cairns is met with a Reflecting Pool and a Treetop Village attack to draw first blood and put Craig on 17.
Craig misses on a land drop but Andy only attacks for another 3 and lays down another Village. Craig misses again, discarding Broken Ambitions. Andy attacks for a further 3 and discards a Kitchen Finks, neither player seeming to like playing spells. Craig finally hits a Secluded Glen and after being attacked down to 8 he Broken Ambitions a Noble Heirarch for 1, the clash revealing a Graven Cairns and Ancient Ziggurat which both players elect to very much keep, thank you.
Land go meets Ziggurat, Heirarch? Okay, activate the Village, attacks? Cryptic to bounce the Village and draw Fogs Craig into another turn, which he uses to play a Reflecting Pool. Andy asks if he can declare attackers and Craig Volcanic Fallouts to kill the Heirarch and make the life totals 6-18. In response Andy taps the Heirarch for the mana to Path to Exile it. A Plumeveil flies down to block the only 3/3 Village and all Andy can do is lay down the previously bounced Village.
Island, Demigod of Revenge is Craig's tempo shift turn, putting Andy on 13. A Rafiq resolves but the Path to Exile on Demigod is met with Broken Ambitions for 1 revealing a shipped Crumbling Necropolis and a kept Llanowar Wastes. Craig evokes a Mulldrifter and plays a Cascade Bluffs before attacking for another 5 and then a Banefire for exact on Rafiq. Llanowar Wastes, Chameleon Colossus and Rhox War Monk all come down for a big turn for Andy but the next attack from Craig drops him to 3. Andy activates a Village and declares attackers. Everything goes into the Red Zone, but a Mannequined Mulldrifter and a Plumeveil come down to wreck the day. After the dust is cleared, a Plumeveil and a Demigod are facing a Rhox War Monk and the lives are 6 apiece. Doran sees action with a Reflecting Pool but it doesn't look healthy when Craig attacks Andy to 2 with his now smaller Demigod. The Mulldrifter gets mannequined again and only Doran survives the combat opposite the tapped Demigod. A Kitchen Finks is Counter-Drawed with Cryptic Command and after Craig makes a Mulldrifter Andy looks at his top card before moving onto game 2.

Game 2:

The slow start of game 1 had to favour Craig's more controlling deck but going first is always good for a Birds deck. Both players mulligan once before Andy leads off with a tapped Bosk. Tapped Secluded Glen passes to Birds of Paradise, Brushland and Relic of Progenitus out of the board to deal with the Demigods. A Sunken Ruins continues Craig's manabase but can do nothing to stop a Rhox War Monk from getting into the Battlefield. Swamp from Craig sees Ancient Ziggurat, a resolved Noble Heirarch and the Pancake Flipper making the life totals 16-24. End of turn Plumeveil must have been annoying as it can't block the 4/5 Monk very well.
Sunken Ruins is another land-go turn from Craig. Doran reolves and an attack with the Flipper makes things 11-29. Crumbling Necropolis finally gives Craig some Red mana and the War Mink makes the life totals a precarious 6-34 before Birds of Paradise is played. Reflecting Pool gives Craig 6 mana but a Primal Rage means the attack is more than lethal to give Andy game 2.

Game 3:

Craig starts but not before Andy has to mulligan down to a 4 card hand, never good news. Reflecting Pool meets Treetop Village and an Island meets Brushland, Birds. Sunken Ruins into an evoked Mulldrifter means Craig is looking to draw into the gas with which to win the game and all Andy can do is send the Village in for threesies followed by a land. Secluded Glen then land, a resolved Wilt-Leaf Liege and a Birds attack from Andy start to speed things up on the Green side of the board. Cascade Bluffs enables a Demigod for Craig which has to stay back on defence mode. The Demigod is Pathed and an attack to send Craig to 12 is followed by Glen Elendra Archmage with no mana untapped.
Reflecting Pool into a second Demigod on defence opposes a Noble Heirarch which enables the Treetop Village to trade with the Demigod and trample for 1. Craig has other ideas as he plays Graven Cairns and the third Demigod getting the second back from the 'yard. An evoked Mulldrifter ends the turn, clearly looking to churn through his library.
Time is called after Andy draws his card and he passes the turn. Turn 1 is a Volcanic Fallout and a Swamp to put the players at Craig: 9, Andy: 18. A mannequined Mulldrifter stocks up Craigs hand and he sends in one Demigod to dock Andy 5 juicy life points. An Ancient Ziggurat and the Liege attacks in to be blocked by Mulldrifter. A pain is taken to Path a Demigod. Turn 3 gives Reflecting Pool, attack with the one remaining God and Sower of Temptation the Liege. Turn 4 only sees a Birds of Paradise to hopefully block, but on Turn 5 the hotness that is Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker steals it and lethal damage is made, giving Craig the win.

Craig 2 - 1 Andy

Match 2: Jim Marlow (Jund Ramp) vs. Grzegorz Engiert (Red)
Game 1:

Greg starts and sticks down a Mountain. Jim replies with Treetop Village before a Mountain and a Hellspark Elemental draw first blood. Mountain comes down and finds itself a Fertile Ground to start the ramping process. Mountain enables a Boggart Ram Gang to swing in. Reflecting Pool, Garruk, untap, evoked Shriekmaw the Ram Gang is Jim's mana-intensive turn. Greg unearths the Hellspark Elemental to drop Garruk down to 1 counter. Jim uses Garruk's untap ability to make a Broodmate Dragon and drops a Savage Lands. Mountain and Volcanic Fallout offs Garruk and puts the players at Jim: 12, Greg: 18. A Magma Spray finishes off the token but its friend remains.
A Forest and a Garruk to untap lands enables a Colossus to come down. Mogg Fanatic doesn't look like the biggest of oppositions and it does nothing to stop a Treetop Village being made and Garruk giving the team an Overrun when the Colossus is pumped.

Game 2:

Greg starts again and leads with a Mountain. Forest from Jim meets another Mountain and Hellspark again. Fire-lit Thicket enables a Rampant Swamp, and Greg once again lays Mountain, Ram-Gang to stick Jim on 14. Fire-Lit Thicket #2 and a Kitchen Finks gives Jim some life. No Magma Spray in hand means the Finks trades with the Ram-Gang and Ghitu Encampment and Everlasting Torment come into play for Greg.
Chameleon Colossus threatens to be a big threat, but it gets Flame Javelined after an attack for 3 with the unearthed Elemental. Sadly for Greg another Colossus gets made and all he can respond with is the techy Vithian Stinger (Gnarled Effigy anyone?). Twilight Mire and an attack is followed by a Kickered Shriekmaw on the Stinger. Ghity Encampment attacks Jim to 11 and Stinger is unearthed to put a -1/-1 counter on the Colossus. Fertile Ground on the Swamp and an attack to put Greg to 10 come from Jim. A second Ghitu Encampment gets played and a Volcanic Fallout offs the Shriekmaw and makes the Colossus a 1/1, but Jund Charm reverses this to 3/3 with the totals at Jim: 9, Greg: 8. Treetop Village and an attack to 5 are followed by Broodmate Dragon. A second Fallout makes the guys smaller but they will steal kill Greg next turn so he scoops.

Jim 2 - 0 Greg

Match 3: Paul Wray (GW Overrun) vs. Andy Edwards (Jund Ramp)
Game 1:

Andy starts with a Savage Lands and Paul answers with Brushland, Noble Heirarch. A long pause is had before Andy plays a Swamp and then Banefires the Heirarch into oblivion. Manascrewing your opponent is often a good tech if it can work for you. Windbrisk Heights into Burrenton Forge-Tender puts Paul on 18 after pains. Karplus Forest and Loxodon Warhammer are put into play for Andy and if he can get a guy to carry it then the Hammer should carry Andy all the way. Another Windbrisk Heights means Paul's mana is still a little stunted and he attacks in for 1. Forest gives Andy a Chameleon Colossus and is met with Treetop Village, Spectral Procession. The Colossus picks up the Hammer and a Treetop Village is made. Brushland then attack with the 3 dudes allows Windbrisk #1 to make another 3 dudes but Forest, attack and pump the Colossus puts the totals at Paul: 3, Andy: 30. Cloudgoat Ranger comes down but nothing can be done about the Hammer-wielding Colossus smashing in for loads.

Game 2:

Paul elects to start the second game and likely hopes his mana works out a little smoother for him, since lots of guys in play and some kind of Overrun effect is very powerful. Forest and Birds is good and is met with Treetop Village. Wooded Bastion lets Paul make a 2/2 Figure of Destiny and Karplusan Forest gives Andy only a Rampant Swamp. Reflecting Pool, attack for 2 and Ranger of Eos for another Figure and a Forge-Tender. I love Ranger so much and want a French Playset if anyone is reading this :D Karplusan Forest and a Fertile Ground give Andy mana left over for a Firespout to clear the board but pain him to 17.
Windbrisk Heights, Figure and Forge-Tender stack the board again but the Figure gets Deathmarked and a Rampant Forest is made. Forest and attack for 1 before a Ranger finds another Figure and Forge-Tender, the Figure is made. Swamp from Andy is laid to pay for a Deathmarked Forge-Tender.
Plains is laid and attacks declared before Andy taps his 4 lands for 6 mana to make Cloudthresher. This swats the Figure out of play before combat damage makes the life totals Paul: 18, Andy: 10. Paul makes Garruk and a Beast and the Forge-Tender. The Forge-Tender is Shriekmawed as he turns off Andy's wraths very effectively and the turn is passed. A second beast is made to give Paul 3 creatures and the turn is passed again what with a massive Cloudthresher in the way. The Shriekmaw attacks Garruk to kill him off and then a Firespout leaves only an untapped Cloudthresher in play. A Chameleon Colossus comes down, paining Andy to 9 but it immediately gets Path to Exiled. Plains is played by Paul but he looks to be out of gas and Andy activates Village to attack Paul to 8. Nothing is drawn so Paul scoops them up. Unfortunate as the deck looks pretty hot but Andy has so many wraths and relevant point removal spells with hard to deal with creatures.

Paul 0-2 Andy

Match 4: Ben Coltman (Dirty Naya) vs. Wayne Cook ("Artifacts, and not very good" - Ben)
Game 1:

Ben starts with a plains which is met with the unconventional Mutavault, Chromatic Star start from Wayne. I should point out that the top table is being reported on by Ben but I wanted a special look at two interesting decks facing off one another on this table. Naya Panorama from Ben is cracked after Wayne lays Caves of Koilos and attacks with the 'Vault. Treetop Village and a Mogg Fanatic come in for Ben. Wayne makes an Island and trades his manland for the Goblin. Reflecting Pool gives Ben a Vanilla Cliffunner Behemoth and Wayne only answers with a Reflecting Pool. The Behemoth and Village bring Wayne to 12 and a second Mogg Fanatic gets down.
Island and a cracked Chromatic Star give Wayne a Master Transmuter which might threaten to get silly, but it is forced to block the Behemoth. A Sanctum Gargoyl gets it back but this is Naya Charmed and Ben swings in for lethal.

Game 2:

Wayne sets the game off with Arcane Sanctum, which is met with Jungle Shrine, both players playing the very good Trilands from Shards of Alara. Island and a Burrenton Forge-Tender set off the creatures and a Jungle Shrine plus Mogg Fanatic are played by a visibly frustrated Ben. Caves of Koilos and Master of Etherium give Wayne two 1/1s. Savage Lands are laid before Ben attacks with his Goblin. The Forge-Tender blocks it but it is sacced to kill the Master of Etherium and the Forge-Tender sacced to prevent this damage. Island and Etherium Sculptor gives Wayne more mana and a bigger Master who swings in for 2. Wooded Bastion gives Ben another turn 4 Cliffrunner Behemoth but Wayne plays a Swamp and a Scourglass, paining himself to 19. Jund Panorama and Knight of the Reliquary are played to level up the Behemoth who swings in and is blocked by the Etherium Sculptor. In Wayne's upkeep he blows the Scourglass leaving only the Master in play. Caves of Koilos and Sanctum Gargoyle for the Scourglass back, an attack to 21 and the Panorama becomes a Mountain.
Treetop Village and yet another Behemoth enter play so Wayne lays the Scourglass again and flies in for 3, putting both players at 18 after some pain lands. A Naya Charm offs the Master and the Treetop Village helps the Behemoth drop Wayne to 10. The Scourglass kills off another Behemoth and a Tidehollow Sculler force Ben to reveal a hand of Naya Panorama and two Sarkhan Vols, ouch) before the Gargoyle attacks for 2. Naya Panorama and the remaining Sarkhan Vol steal the Gargoyle, who with the Treetop Village attacks. The Village is blocked by the Sculler, putting Wayne at 3 and a Mogg Fanatic is played. Island and Ethersworn Adjudicator give Wayne the trump creature, but a Vol-threatened Adjudicator and Treetop Village swing over for loads of damage.

Ben 2-0 Wayne

The final results for the night were:
1) Nick Doropoulos
2) Emanuel Fertig
3) Robertus Aluzas
4) Craig Stevenson
5) Andy Edwards
6) Greg Engiert
7) Paul Suciu
8) Mick Edwards

Next week is Block Constructed and the next time we have constructed, all the decks will be thrown off by the inclusion of the fantastic new Alara Reborn cards. See you all soon Wagz xx

Monday, 20 April 2009

Judgement day

By Jim Marlow

Hey everyone,

I hope everyone is still excited about standard excited on the back of the national qualifier held this weekend, i know i certainly am. Sadly i may not be playing, depending on numbers, because i have, for some time now, said i was going to begin judging, and the next few weeks may well be the best time for me to make a start.

Having said this, with Rob not playing in order to secure nationals qualification on rating, there may be no point in offering myself as a judge for the next few weeks, which is a bit of a shame, but honestly i think i need the constructed practice, as i will be testing decks for the next qualifiers, and it serves me right for not judging when i had the chance.

Nevertheless, i have been preparing by familerising myself with the rules in various ways, reading reports on questions that judges are frequently asked, and so forth. I also got drunk and facebooked Riki Hayashi a few questions, so i thought i would post them on here, it is highly embarressing as i was very intoxicated, but here's some of the pearls of wisdom that Riki was kind enough to share.

1) What essential skills/pieces of knowledge should someone have before entering the judge programme?

Respect. And that cuts both ways. The candidate should obviously respect his or her mentors and the system, but somewhat underrated is that he or she should have the respect of the community of players. Essentially, you have to act like a Judge before you ever become one. And the same thing applies to each individual level. Promotions should be welcomed with a sense of "It's about time."

2) What peice of advice would you most like to have been told when you were a new judge?

I wish I had known more about the wider world of judging at GPs and PTs. As is, I got kind of a false start where I didn't go beyond my local area for several years. I've made up for things in the past two years though, and I think that one of the reasons I work so hard is to make up for lost time.

3) What is the best thing about being a magic judge?

Being in a program that allows you to excel. The entire system is set up to help you grow in whatever direction you want. If you put in the time and effort, you will become a better Judge and a better person. I've exploded onto the scene these past two years and I have received only encouragement and positive messages. In other organizations, I could easily see my ambitions being stifled out of fear, jealousy, or resistance to change. At the same time, if you are content with just judging FNMs and going no further, that's fine too.

4) What does it take to be a good magic judge?

The ability to give and take criticism. To become better, it is absolutely key that you listen to what people tell you. Even if you disagree with their assessment of you, it can be a huge benefit to understand why they might think that about you. On the flip side, if you are able to give good feedback and help other Judges grow, you will be more of an asset to the program.

5) What other magic judge do you admire the most?

Just one? Well, I'm not one to hedge my bets and make a long list, so I will say John Carter, L4 and current Judge Coordinator. In Magic terms, I am definitely his barn. His dedication to getting the job done right is something I strive for constantly.

Well there we have it, hope you find that interesting, maybe next week i will get pissed and email LSV about how to break extended? anyways, it's kind of cool Riki was kind enough to answer the questions, and he certainly gave me some advice about becoming a judge, and being good at it.

I guess i am a little nervous about the prospect of judging, knowing that perhaps i dont have a 100% knowledge of every rule an interaction (in fact, far from it), but then again it seems like most of these things are found out on the job, and there is also the internet and other judges to consult, and even if a judge makes a wrong call, im sure the guilt of doing so will ensure he/she never makes the same again (if only this were true of players).

If i am not needed in a judging capacity i am almost certainly going to be playing a new deck. Over the last couple days i 'decided' i was playing non-kithkin white weenie, i knocked up this list for it.

4 x figure of destiny
4 x knight of meadowgrain
4 x knight of the white orchid
2 x kitchen finks
4 x wilt leaf liege
4 x cloudgoat ranger

2 x ajani goldmane
1 x elspeth, knight errant
4 x spectral procession
3 x path to exile
3 x glorious anthem

4 x windbrisk heights
2 x mutavault
19 x plains

I still have the deck proxied up and have been testing with it on workstation, i like it a lot more than kithkin, because i i like that you can sit around with your 2 mana 2/2's doing all the beating, and not have to unload your hand to get a dominant board position, as with kithkin. This allows you to avoid over extending into a wrath effect, or in some cases, just dominate, as your first strikers get bigger with anthems and lieges.

So this is still a strong contended for me, but i would have to borrow a lot of the cards if i want to play it, so i thought i would knock up something else just in case.

Here's what i came up with

4 x kitchen finks
4 x broodmate dragon
3 x shriekmaw
2 x cloudthresher

4 x rampant growth
4 x fertile ground
2 x primal command

4 x garruk wildspeaker

4 x volcanic fallout
2 x firespout
2 x banefire
1 x loxodon warhammer

4 x savage lands
4 x treetop village
3 x fire-lit thicket
3 x twilight mire
2 x reflecting pool
4 x forest
2 x mountain
2 x swamp


4 x mind shatter
2 x puppeteer clique
2 x cloudthresher
2 x firespout
2 x primal command
1 x shriekmaw
2 x violent ultimatum

I have been fooling around with this deck at home a lot and i really like its matchups all round. I added 2 firespouts in the main to the staple 4 volcanic fallouts, and although it makes a control matchup a little worse, standard is all about the aggro at the moment. Lots of fatties in the form of cloudthresher and broodmate dragon mean that it only takes 1 creature to get the job done, and all i have to do is clear the board for it, plus i can make most of these guys turn 4 if i get good draws.

5cc looks like it might be a tough matchup, but i think it comes down to getting them to tap out in order to resolve a mind shatter, easier than it sounds, but with extra threshers boarded in i may be able to get something to stick.

So i will see everyone wednesday, I have contacted the guy who is supplying the Team Leeds t-shirts and he said they were getting delivered this week, so hopefully i will have them by wednesday. If you havent yet paid me for yours, bring some money along in the next couple weeks (£9). If you didnt order a t-shirt and want one, come talk to me and i can arrange to order some more if we get enough people, although they may be a couple of pounds more expensive if less people order.

See you all wednesday, either making you all mad by beating you with one of the above decks, or making you all mad wit hurrendous judge calls (or neither).

Until then,


As always, feel free to comment on anything about this article, or anything unrelated to magic whatsoever. If you would like to contribute to the TLM blog, please email any ideas, articles, pictures or anything else to

Saturday, 18 April 2009

A brief report on regionals

By Jim Marlow

Hey everyone,

Im writing this fresh of the back of going 2-2-1 in a pretty hurrendous day that involved going 1-2-1 in regionals, then 1-2'ing a draft that was a total cockup.

I did some last minute testing before regionals, and some less than perfect results made me feel a bit uneasy about my deck. I have heard a lot of people say that reveillark is just not good enough. I still think its one of the best decks in standard, but my realization is that it kind of needs to all come together, and in a tournament where a loss and a draw probably meant no spot at Nats, this was a worry.

Hilarious, my first 2 rounds i ended up 0-1-1 - losing to one of the guys playing a G/W token deck that i like quite a lot, and also drawing against matt kitchen's kind of odd deck. I was forced to mulligan in 4 out my first 6 games, which annoyed me, and the odd matchups which i felt could have gone my way just didnt this time around. I was pretty bummed about these 2 matches, but i thought i would play to 2 losses anyway to maybe stem a ratings bleed.

Round 3 i played against red deck wins, forgive me for forgetting the name of the opponant, but i had played him this year at Sheffield champs, and remembered him as both playing red deck wins, and making lots of mistakes. Luckily, well not so much on the RDW front, neither had changed, and when he decided not to attack with a demigod of revenge because i had a stillmoon cavalier, my sower of temptation made light work of him.

My fourth round was against a hilarious noggle (yes noggle!!, amused - jim) deck, which he told me only contained commons and uncommons because his deck got stolen from Fanboy 3 in Manchester (which comes as a total suprise, the shop is probably the nicest in the north, and Dave is a hero). Game 1 i stabilised on 1, and managed to turn it around. Game 2 he managed turns 2 and 3 hellspark elemental, turn 4 unearth them. I was on 8 for a long while. After this i managed to get him to 0 cards, had some guys, i think some reveillark, sneaky ninja says: i have a small penis, shanagens went on. I let an end of turn shock resolve to put me to 6, he draws and banefires me for 6.....urgh.

He then asked me how the rating system worked, so i guess i well and truly got my ring busted opened then, so much for a ratings salvage.

I got a bit annoyed at the results, but im not too much of a hard loser, because i know winning unwinnable matches is the stone cold nuts. I signed right up as the 8th man in a draft, and so i thought i might be ok to do well at something today.

The draft was stupid!

Well im pretty sure everyone i spoke to was well aware, but my first 4 picks of pack 1 put me into esper, with good red cards going imagine my suprise when i found myself shipping red cards back right pack 2. Luckily for me the guy to my left had tried to force epser after opening a scourglass. We both did badly as a consequence, and i guess its testimony to the importance of well given and recieved signals, in both directions. Never mind, i made play errors as well and went 1-2, what you gonna do, eh?

Well my reveillarks are almost certainly put away for the rest of the regionals series, and i will most likely be playing something with spectral procession and cloudgoat ranger. Having said that, i think i accidently put my playsets of both in the bin today when i was binning some commons from the draft, so thats a shame (if anyone has either for trade, im looking for them!)

This is my latest concoction, based upon the g/w deck that got a nationasl invitation today

4 x figure of destiny
4 x noble heirarch
4 x knight of meadowgrain
4 x kitchen finks
4 x wilt leaf liege
4 x cloudgoat ranger

4 x path to exile
4 x spectral procession
2 x garruk
2 x ajani goldmane
1 x loxodon warhammer

4 x windbrisk heights
4 x treetop village
4 x mutavault
4 x brushland
2 x woodedbastion
5 x plains

Burrenton forge tender x 3
Martial coup x 3
Stillmoon cavalier x 4
Celestial purge x 3
Cloudthresher x 2

This is pretty janky, and im still wondering if there is any reason at all to be playing this over b/w or just ordinary kithkin. That said, i think the manlands provide a huge problem in a format defined as those decks with wrath, or those that hope their opponant doesnt draw it. What do people think?

Until next time


As always, feel free to comment on anything about this article, or anything unrelated to magic whatsoever. If you would like to contribute to the TLM blog, please email any ideas, articles, pictures or anything else to

Thursday, 16 April 2009

The fundamental rules of drafting - #3

By Jim Marlow

Hey everyone,

Well i really hope this series of articles is useful for anyone looking to improve their drafting skills, and this article will address the last of my 7 fundamental rules of drafting and give a brief summary.

If you have any questions or comments about this series of articles, i would really appreciate your thoughts, either at the end of the article, or emailed to me at, or even just talk to me at a WNM.

So these final pieces of advice about drafting are really just some final thoughts that should help cover all elements of how to become a successful limited player. Although these final 2 rules are aimed at a less experianced level of player, i believe the points raised in this article are often overlooked by people who are more experianced.

Rule 6) Building your deck and manabase

A draft deck, in my opinion, should never, ever, be over 40 cards. I have once or twice played the elusive 41st card or more, but in reality it is never worthwhile, throws the amount of mana needed off balance, and reduces the chances of you drawing the best card(s) in your deck.

Most of you will know the basic rules of deckbuilding, but here they are in case you dont know/have forgotten or are unsure. (all are subject to some change, it will be explained later)

- a draft deck should have 17 lands and 23 spells
- around 14-15 creatures, with 8-9 non creature spells
- try to draft on a mana curve, with a range of spells with different converted mana costs.

Obviously these are not set in stone, but if you remember these basic guidelines it should stop you from diverging too far from this.

However, it is fine to play a deck with 15 or 16 lands in it, if all of your spells have a very low converted mana cost, or if you have lots of mana accelerants. Also, you may wish to play 18 or more if you have lots of spells with high converted mana costs, or if you a lot of different colours in your deck.

The same rule applies with the creature/non creature spells. I tend to aim for around 15 creatures, but sometimes when playing a 5 colour deck, for instance, my deck may only have 8 or 9 creatures, but plenty of removal, cantrip or accelerants.

Building your manabase is almost as important as picking the mana fixing for your deck during the actual draft, because of course if you dont have the land, you cant play the spells. There are a lot of considerations to make when building your manabase.

Some people have very serious mathematical ways in which they choose the number of each type of lands to play, but i do not. Im probably building my decks slightly wrong but i will go through the processes of how i determine my manabases.

1) count the number of mana symbols in each card.

I count each mana symbol in the corner, plus those in the activated abilities i intend to use (you may only plan to use 1 of a battlemage's abilities to avoid a splash for example).

This gives you the a basic proportion for the number of lands you need of each type.

for example 10 white symbols, 4 blue symbols, 3 green symbols can roughly translate to 10 plains, 4 island, 3 forests.

After this i then look at when i need the man for these spells, meaning that despite having the 10 white symbols, these might all be for 5 and 6 mana spells, with all my green and blue requirements being for 2 and 3 mana spells. I would then adjust the numbers of lands to suit the costs of my spells and the colours based on costs, although i still need a high number of plains, i will have drawn more cards by the time i will be looking to play the spells with higher converted mana costs.

After this i factor in the mana fixing i have picked up in the draft, for example my panorama's might fetch 2 of my colours, meaning i can count it as a blue and white source, but i may need an extra forest for example.

This is a pretty rough guide, but once you have a basic proportion of the lands you need you just need to tweak it based upon the time at which you intend to play each spell, and the fixing you have, and you cant go far wrong.

Rule 7) Hate Drafting

I thought i would mention hate drafting because it is certainly relevent in certain, very isolated occasions, but on the whole i do not really advocate hate drafting cards.

Hate drafting is basically taking a pick out of a pack which you do not want someone else to have, over choosing a card for yourself.

The only time i really see hate drafting as relevent is round about the time of the 9th to 11th picks, where an elusive good card may have stuck in a deep booster and which you may take over the random other chaff in there because your not going to play it anyway.

However, even in this situation, especially in pack 1 where you hope to solidify a draft strategy, i would prefer to take an on colour card in order to not send mixed signals to the person drafting to my left.

Say for example that around 12th pick i am drafting naya and get a pack with a cloudhearth drake, an obelisk of naya and a load of other off colour chaff. The obelisk is semi-playable, but it will probably be in my sideboard. The drake is much better, and i dont want to get beaten around the noggin with it by an esper guy, but if the guy to my left sees the obelisk, particularly if he is in jund, he might question whether i am in naya and may pick some of the white green or other naya cards i would otherwise recieve in pack 2.

Of course, you may not want to pass it if you have put the person to your left into esper, but still, you have to question how strong you think your signals have been through the first pack, because the drake is only 1 card, but if you get a further 2 packs of solid, above value picks through the draft, your deck will end up better.

Another question is hatedrafting bombs, for example what does the esper drafter do with his pack 2 flameblast dragon or broodmate dragon etc. In my opinion, unless there is anything at all relevent in the pack (very unlikely), just ship it. There is always an answer for any problem you pass to your left, and most likely in the same pack, so it really doesnt matter if you pass the broodmate if you take the resounding silence, or the flameblast if you pocket the oblivion ring. Even though its pack 2, it doesnt mean people know what shard both you and they are in yet, so you still need to signal, and passing these bombs reinforces your signals and, assuming you get passed good cards too, means everyone will have better decks, which is always awesome.

So basically hate drafting is something to consider doing, but for me its really a last resort, because i always think there is something more productive to be done with each draft pick.


Well those are the fundamental rules of drafting. Hopefully armed with these people will be able to improve their level of drafting and their overall game. Of course, these are only the basics, and as i have found, there is a huge number of articles and other writings across the web, and i would reccomend reading as many as possible if you wish to become a better drafter.

Drafting is after all, a very relative excercise, and there are many ways to be successfull at it.

I hope you have enjoyed these articles, sorry for the length of each one, i tried to be concise but there is sadly to say quite a lot to learn, particularly for the more advanced techniques.

If you have any questions, queries, alternative opinions, or anything you would like to say about the 7 rules i would love to hear it.

I hope to see everyone at the next WNM, i just hope i dont do really badly because then i would look like a massive tit.

Anyway, hope to see everyone at the nationals qualifier this saturday, so see you then and next week will be the report from the tournament and the beginnings of my judging career, including some questions i asked riki hayashi about judging

Until then,


As always, feel free to comment on anything about this article, or anything unrelated to magic whatsoever. If you would like to contribute to the TLM blog, please email any ideas, articles, pictures or anything else to

The fundamental rules of drafting - #2

By Jim Marlow

I hope everyone is finished racking their brains over the first couple of rules of drafting, so i thought would move on to the next couple.

I have specifically chosen to write the rules in these separate articles because i think that the rules can be grouped together for people of different play skill.

Rules 1 and 2, covered earlier, are the bare bones of the draft, which i am sure almost all members of Team Leeds has got to grips with.

Rules 6 and 7, covered in the final article, are more general considerations, which i think are sometimes overlooked by people of all playskill, despite being very basic elements of magic (mana base), and so i believe are different to the others.

It is the three rules covered in these articles however, which i believe are arguably the most important to the players of Team Leeds. I believe that it is the perfecting of these skills that will allow people who can generally rely on a 2-1 draft to maybe push and 3-0 every so often, or a person who can consistantly 1-2 to move up to being able to confidently finish in the prizes every week. I know a lot of players in Leeds who have been playing a long time, and although may have won a WNM or two, cant seem to take that small step to becoming one of the more formidable players in Team Leeds; so if you are reading these articles and you think you might be such a player, pay attention.

Rule 3) Signalling

I am really struggling to emphasise how important signalling is in becoming the next level of drafter, because it is in knowing what the people around you are drafting, that makes for you to have a better deck.

Signalling is probably the most potent tool in a magic player's drafting arsenal, and this is a rough guide in how better to both read and recieve signals.

The first thing you need here is of course a good knowledge of the power levels of the cards in the format, because this allows you to recognise that a card in the pack your picking up should not be there, meaning that you are being signalled a shard is open. Likewise, you should know that passing a card that is above the power level of the rest of the pack allows you to guide the player, or players to your left into a particular shard.

Here are some hypotheticals.

You open your first booster of the draft and the notable cards you see are these

- sigil of distinction
- vithian stinger
- jund charm

The pick here is obviously the sigil, but more than this you are almost certain that the player to your left will take one of the other two cards, and possibly that the player the his left will take the other, which is valuable knowlegde.

Of course, you may then get passed these notable cards.

- woolly thoctar
- tidehollow strix
- bone splinters

So what do you take here?

Well, your sigil of distinction means any of these will fit into your deck. I personally would consider the best card to be the thoctar, followed by bone splinters, then strix. Yes, i know i said pick removal above creatures, but i will talk about when to abandon these rules later.

So if the thoctar is the best, do you pick this. I would pick it yes, but not just because it is the best, because the person to your left may be signalling that naya is open. The bone splinters is also a close pick, but using our knowledge that 1 or more of the players on our left is in jund/naya - we can force them further away from our naya shard by passing the bone splinters, and of course we can only hope that the next guy takes the strix and goes grixis with his stinger as well.

Now i know this probably all sounds very familier to most players at Team Leeds, because im sure almost anyone would pick the sigil and then the woolly thoctar, but it is the extra information gained about what other people around the table are playing which can be helpful.

So what other information can be gained about the second pick when we take our woolly thoctar, well we can also begin to deduce what shard the person to our right is in. When you look through the pack, have a look at what card is missing from the pack, and if you have a good knowledge of the power level of the set, you should be able to guess within 2 or 3 cards what is gone, especially when the rare is still in the pack.

When the rare is gone it is a little harder to know what the person to your right has taken, because i have already listed quite a few bombs that you would windmill slam and do a little dance at opening. (i forgot the plainswalkers - take them!!!) So when the rare is gone you may have to rely more on what is left in the pack and the next few picks for this knowledge

However, lets look back at our hypothetical 2nd pick - and a common is missing from the pack

So who can tell me what the person has taken from this pack?

well basically there are only a few cards

- oblivion ring
- resounding thunder
- branching bolt
- sanctum gargoyle

These are just about the only cards that i would think anyone could consider taking over the cards we saw in the pack - however, we can narrow this list down by looking at the pack and thinking of what the person who made the pick might think.

If the person took the resounding thunder or branching bolt, he knows he is sending people in the direction of naya by passing the woolly thoctar, so this is possible, but if it was me i would probably just take the thoctar thus leaving the thunder/bolt and bone splinters in the pack so the people to my left can fight it out over jundish type decks and leave me free.

The sanctum gargoyle is also a possibility if someone had decided to steer clear of all the naya/jund cards in the pack, and may wish to force themselves into a shard by commiting early. Moreover, the other jund/naya card in the pack means the tidehollow strix may even be passed all the way round to me. However, the power of the woolly thoctar cant be denied, as it is a borderline bomb, i believe the card that was taken from the pack is more likely the oblivion ring.

The oblivion ring is by no means a bad pick here, as i discussed it keeps the person open, but pushes me and people to my left towards other shards. Obviously therefore i can assume that the person intends to draft either a bant or esper deck, which is fine by me, because despite both shards containing white, the type of white cards we will be looking to draft are different.

I can use this information to my advantage later in the draft, for example in pick 5 or 6 i may be torn between a hissing iguanar and a steward of valeron. knowing one of the guys to my left is in jund, i may pick the iguanar here and try to table the steward, even though it may be better placed in the aggresive naya deck i hope to be building

To summerise.

In just 2 picks i have been able to put at least 1, if not 2 people to my left in different shards from me, and know that i can be expecting to recieve some good cards for my first couple of picks (especially naya cards).

Also i have been able to deduce that the person feeding me has taken either a sanctum gargoyle or more likely an oblivion ring, and is drafting esper/bant, so i can expect some good picks to continue from the right and in pack 3.

The extra information i have recieved in this draft about my opponants has allowed my to realise which shard i need to be drafting, whether or not this means abonding my first pick bomb or not, and also allows my to guide my next picks because i may pick cards that i know wont table and chance getting other cards back to me.

Obviously being in different shards to your opponants is key, because it means that you all draft better decks, and then the extra knowledge you have about them will be able to give you the edge - for example you may want to pick the 11th pick naturalize in case you get paired against the guy from your right who you know to have a sanctum gargoyle or oblivion ring.

Rule 4) When to abandon the pick order

This rule is not really that complicated, its basically a more complex way of looking at the pick order in a draft, which will hopefully increase your level of drafting and the power of your deck.

My basic pick order, if you dont remember, is this

- bombs
- removal
- mana fixing
- creatures
- combat trick (giant growth etc)
- hate drafting

Any drafter can follow these to a basic level and have a degree of success, but it is adapting the order of picks based upon your deck which can bring you to a higher level of drafting.

Let me give you some examples.

if in your first pack you have drafted some solid black red cards - goblin deathraiders, blightning, hells thunder, vicera dragger your need for mana fixing may go down if you think you are going to continue to draft an aggressive B/R deck.

Therefore you may wish to take more creatures over the mana fixing, for example picking a second vicera dragger over a savage lands.

On the other hand, you may have landed in a 5 colour strategy, with various powerful spells of 3 or more colours. Therefor when faced with the pick between a paragon of the amesha and an armillery sphere, your pick may be dependent on the quality of the mana fixing allready in your deck.

The lesson to learn here is that the pick order changes relative to the previous picks you have made, so for example if you have 5 or 6 quality removal spells but only a couple good creatures, you may wish to pass removal spells in order to take some good creatures, because after all most limited games are won by creatures.

This is not that hard to get to grips with, but the key is looking at each set of cards you pick up and knowing the other cards you have already picked, meaning that the power level of the cards you look at is also relative to the order of picks that the deck you are drafting demands.

I think one of the most important, and definately underused, element of the draft is the review period. I can not stress enough the importance of using the review period wisely. Although it is only a minute, this should be enough to determine the following things.

1) the number of playable cards you have drafter
2) the number of creatues
3) the number of non creatures (in particular removal)
4) are there any gaps in the mana curve.
5) how much mana fixing do i have

By doing this, you can then alter your picking order to draft more creatures, or removal spells, more mana fixing or do i need more 2-3 drops, or do i need to fill in the higher end of my curve with 5+ mana fatties.

By pack 2, you should be fairly set in a shard, as should most players round the table, so it will be not be a problem passing a better card by this stage, it is more important that your deck is the best it can be, so learn to use your review period and alter the order in which you pick certain types of cards and your drafting will certainly improve.

Rule 5) Mana Fixing

This will be pretty short because it is fairly straight forward, but because of the importance of mana fixing in Ala/Ala/Con i thought it deserved its own section.

The importance of mana fixing is huge in any deck, because you can not win without being able to successfully play your spells.

In a format where the better cards are 2 or 3 coloured, therefore, the importance of mana fixing goes up.

You will have seen that i place mana fixing in my order of picks above creatures, this isnt to say to pick a naya panorama above a resounding thunder, but because games can, and often will be, won or lost on the ability to play your 3 colour spells early.

It is very tempting to take other cards over the tri-lands or panoramas, but believe me a 1st pick tri-land is nothing to be ashamed of, because they can simply mean you play your turn 3 woolly thoctar, and bash face whilst your opponant sits across from you not being able to play his removal.

As previously mentioned however, you should be aware of the need for mana fixing in the deck you are drafting, as well as the type of mana fixing that is best for your deck. In an aggressive, low curved deck, i try to steer clear of the obelisks, because the acceleration they offer comes at the wrong time, and i want to playing guys during these earlier turns. On the other hand, the obelisks can be awesome in a 5 colour deck which has lots of multicoloured, high costed spells, or lots of different splashes.


I hope these rules will help people to increase their drafting, even a little, particularly if people begin to take note of signalling and information other than the cards they pick up, because i think this is one of the most advanced drafting skills (and one in which i am pretty bad)

Anyway, hope somebody finds this useful, look out for the final 2 rules after i have taken a large nap, i am pretty tired from writing 2 really loooong articles, and im sure you guys will be bored of reading them, so it may not go up till tomorrow.

Untill then


As always, feel free to comment on anything about this article, or anything unrelated to magic whatsoever. If you would like to contribute to the TLM blog, please email any ideas, articles, pictures or anything else to

The fundamental rules of drafting - #1

By Jim Marlow

Hey Everyone,

So having spoken to a few people at WNM i have had some great feedback about the blog and its awesome to hear that people are reading the articles we are writing for it, i was worried that people hadnt been paying much attention because there had been fewer comments made on each article, but its great to have any feedback about the blog, especially if its positive.

The feedback i got reminded me that i have somewhat forgotten the players of Team Leeds that are'nt currently as competative as some of the more experianced players in our group, so i decided that i would write a set of articles with some very basic rules that i think will help people of all skill levels to increase their drafting and play skill.

Just to let people know that i am no Finkel or Ruel when it comes to drafting, and in my limited rating is certainly not very impressive, so please dont blame me if following these rules leads to a bad perfomance.

The fundamental rules of drafting

rule 1) Pick order

I basically follow this rough guide in the order i pick things

- bombs
- removal
- mana fixing
- creatures
- combat tricks (giant growth etc)
- hate drafting

I must first say that, as with all of the rules i have listed, is subject to the type of deck you are drafting, for example if your deck is mono-coloured, mana fixing is less important to you than other cards.

I was told this rough order by Robertas Azulas the first time i ever drafted, and although every format and deck within that format is different, sticking to this guide of the importance of certain types of cards has served me well since i heard it.

There are a number of cards that i would consider bombs in the current Ala/Ala/Con format, for example -

- flameblast dragon
- vein drinker
- battlegrace angel
- broodmate dragon
- bull ceredon
- hellkite overlord
- sigil of distinction
- martial coup

These are quite clearly cards that you would almost never pass pick, 1, pack 1, because the power level is so high. Obviously, opening a broodmate dragon in pack 2 when you have solidly drafted esper is not the best thing in the world, but in my opinion, you should almost always take a card thats better for your deck than hate draft - but i will talk about this more in another section.

rule 2) Your first few picks

The first few picks in a draft are in my opinion the most important of all. In my first few picks, roughly the first 4-5, i hope to have solidified my place at the table into a colour/shard/tribe or whatever depending on the format (for the purposes of this article i will refer to the current Ala/Ala/Con format), as well as hopefully putting my person(s) to my left into a different shard, as well as knowing what shard the person(s) to my right are in because of whats missing from the pack - i will speak about signalling in a different section.

There are two main arguments about what to do in your first couple of picks in draft, basically whether to commit; or whether to stay open.

By this i mean from your first pick do you pick something like a sanctum gargoyle, or a naya charm, or something that immediately commits you to a particular drafting strategy that you can force yourself into from the word go.

Commiting or forcing a shard can be very productive, because if by coincidence the shard is open from your right anyway, you can end up with simply ridiculous decks, meaning literally unbeatable in the pod. Similarly however, you may end up having to switch shards, if your shard dries up mid way through the pack, meaning that your first picks will be wasted, and as will be mentioned later, you may end up in the same shard as the guy to your left.

My personal preference in approaching a draft is to try to stay as open as possible for the first 3 picks, by which i can generally tell what colour or colours are open from the right, even though this may mean passing some objectively more powerful cards to my left. By this i mean that i very rarely like first picking a charm or a battlemage, or really any card that puts me firmly into 3 colours, and my favourite thing is staying mono for as long as possible for the first couple picks.

Of course, because some cards are just plain bombs, you can be forgiven for taking them, even if they are 2 or 3 coloured. Take broodmate dragon for example, the card is so powerful that you would take him, because even if you end up esper, it is only 1 missed pick, and at least your opponants dont have it. If you first pick a 2 or 3 coloured bomb, this also makes it far more acceptable to force yourself into a shard, because even if your deck is slightly worse than it could have been had you been more objective, the fact you have an extremely powerful card in your deck makes up for this.

For the record my all time favourite card to open in ala/ala/con draft is . . . .

- Sigil of Distinction

This is a big bomb, it wins games, and goes in any deck, what more can you want!, this is simply amazing.

this is followed closely by

- flameblast dragon
- caldera hellion
- mycoloth
- vein drinker
- battlegrace angel

Notice anything...yep all 1 colour, why? because i can play my battlegrace angel in a naya, esper or bant deck, whichever seems the most open after a couple of picks.


There is a fair amount of information to swallow in this article so i decided to split the fundamental rules of drafting into 3 parts.

The next 2 article will cover the following rules

rule 3) - signalling
rule 4) - when to abandon the pick order
rule 5) - mana fixing
rule 6) - building your deck and manabase
rule 7) - hate drafting

I hope the first couple rules help people to draft more succesfully, i will post the next two articles in the next day or 2, so everyone who wishes to will have enough time to digest and remember all the rules for the next WNM draft in Leeds, which i believe to be in 4 weeks time, due to the 5 week month meaning it will be

Standard on the 22nd April
Block constructed on the 29th April
Standard on the 6th of May
Draft on the 13th May

Thanks for reading


As always, feel free to comment on anything about this article, or anything unrelated to magic whatsoever. If you would like to contribute to the TLM blog, please email any ideas, articles, pictures or anything else to

Noobflogger Boss

By Wagz

Hi all! Last night I didn't play but I came along to watch the draft. I figured I could make myself useful and watch Jim's picks, so without further ado, let's go:

Pack 1:

P1: Stoic Angel, Bull Cerodon, Tidehollow Strix and Drumhunter are possible picks. I see an Excommunicate and a Ridge Rannet in there too so I wholeheartedly agree with Jim's picking of the Bull Cerodon.
P2: Soul's Fire, Knight of the Skyward Eye, Bloodpyre Elemental, Archdemon of Unx and Resounding Roar fill up a strong pack and Jim looks between the first two, picking up the Knight of the Skyward Eye. I'm not 100% sure on this but both cards are very strong. I like picking up as much removal as I can though.
P3: Drumhunter is taken in a pack also containing Akrasan Squire, Rip Clan Crasher, Bant Panorama and Bone Splinters. Some good in-colour cards are having to be shipped, but power is being taken and I love the Drumhunter.
P4: Jungle Shrine looks great for the deck, but what are Tower Gargoyle and Executioner's Capsule still doing in there? Tower Gargoyle is the best uncommon/common in the set so I don't know how three rares got in that pack. Not good enough to switch away from what looks like a good deck that's open for Jim though.
P5: Bone Splinters is taken over Mosstodon, Jund Battlemage and Steward of Valeron. I really disagree with this as it is a whole extra colour but mostly because 5 power guys doesn't like to sac creatures.
P6: A boring pack here. Thorn-Thrash Viashino is taken over Goblin Deathraiders and ... Marble Chalice? I dunno, mise well take the in-colour card for signals.
P7: Naya Battlemage is great and we notice a Waveskimmer Aven and Bant Obelisk still in there, suggesting White Green is the more open side of Naya.
P8: Cylian Elf and Dregscape Zombie suggest people don't like taking playable creatures but Resounding Silence gives Jim some of the removal he was lacking.
P9: Pack 1 comes back to us, and the Drumhunter has wheeled... The Ridge Rannet, Excommunicate and a Naya Obelisk are also in there, but the Mana Accelerant and Card Drawing POWERHOUSE gets ripped out of the pack with a shake of the head.
P10: Jim takes a Cavern Thoctar and it's between that and the Resounding Roar - I guess getting the Fatties in now is a good idea as there is plenty of time for the intermediary creatures and this Thoctar is late in the packs.
P11-P15: Wild Leotau, Etherium Astrolabia, Savage Hunger, Godtoucher, Swamp *yawn*. I disagreed with the Godtoucher over the Prince of Thralls searchy guy because some people play those terrible things (3 for 1-ing yourself is not good) and they can be hard to deal with.

Pack 2:

P1: Manaplasm is staring back at us which is a card I love, but a Resounding Thunder is in there and is much needed. Also in there are Sprouting Thrinax, Sigiled Paladin, Knight of the Skyward Eye and Rakeclaw Gargantuan, so I think Jim would rather be playing Sealed.
P2: Woolly Thoctar, thanks very much. A Bloodpyre Elemental and Jungle Weaver were also in there.
P3: Foil Knight of the Skyward Eye, Wild Nacatl, Bone Splinters and Jungle Weaver are some of the few playables here. The Knight gets the nod, which is eminently correct having 2 Drumhunters in there already.
P4: Algae Gharial is a good pick with Jund Battlemage and Fleshbag Marauder also in the pack. I think at this point Jim needs to (and looks like he's chosen to) ignore the Black completely as there are too many good white cards in his pool.
P5: Magma Spray good, everything else in the pack bad.
P6: Rockcaster Platoon is a pet card of mine that gets picked up here. Also in are Excommunicate, Relic of Progenitus, Volcanic Submersion and a very late Fatestitcher.
P7: Welkin Guide gets the nod over Bant Obelisk and Grixis Panorama. We really need some manafixing, but Conflux is rich with it and Welkin Guide is solid at getting the big guys in for damage.
P8: Coma Veil or Windskimmer Aven? Aven gets picked but we're basically just taking cardboard now.
P9: Oh wait, Court Archers, Sigilied Paladin and Angelic Benediction are still in here. Is Jim just opening better cards than everyone else? Court Archers is a great pick as fatties can lack flying defence, even if you won't be attacking with just 1 guy a lot.
P10-15: Incurable Ogre, Relic of Progenitus, Cunning Lethemancer, Vectis Silencers, Shore Snapper, Forest.

Pack 3:
P1: Exploding Borders, Sacellum Archers, Manaforce Mace and oh, wait, Martial Coup? Sack!
P2: Inkwell Leviathan, Gluttonous Slime, Celestial Purge and Drag Down are all alright but Sylvan Bounty is taken and I nod sagely.
P3: Scarland Thrinax is cool, as is the very slow Manaforce Mace, but Nacatl Hunt-Pride is sick.
P4: Drag Down, Ignite Disorder (that'll table, thought I) and Might of Alara are all playables but Rupture Spire is needed.
P5: Aerie Mystics, Armilliary Sphere and Exploding Borders are present. Jim takes the Borders but I'm convinced the Sphere is better as you might get random domain cards and Matca Rioters fit the deck greatly with 5 basics out.
P6: Worldheart Phoenix is what I would take, having taken the Sphere in the last pick. Gluttonous Slime just doesn't do enough in this deck, so a second Exploding Borders is taken. We've filled out on good manafixing now, which is always nice. Note that the Borders is actually fine in the big guys deck because when you've hit 4 mana is when you want to Rampant Growth into the big stuff. Normally having a Rampant Growth attached to your Lava Axe is alright but not great but here the Rampant Growth does happen at the right time.
P7: Paragon of the Amesha is really good and punishes not taking the Sphere. Still gets taken over a Gleam of Resistance and Might of Alara.
P8: All the boosters start to look the same now, with Nacatl Savage, Lapse of Certainty and Sedraxis Alchemist. The Alchemist gets picked here - you don't want to face it and don't really need the Savage to beat Esper.
P9: See the previous pack, although there was an Aven Trailblazer in there which would have been great for the deck.
P10: Yoke of the Damned gets hated out. There was the terrible Mana Cylix and the pants Quenchable Fire that could have been board material. Yoke is definitely a card to take away from someone else though.
P11-15: Nacatl Savage, Ignite Disorder (tabled), Frontline Sage, Valiant Guard, Swamp.


2x Knight of the Skyward Eye
Naya Battlemage
Woolly Thoctar
Paragon of the Amesha
Court Archers
Incurable Ogre
2x Drumhunter
Algae Gharial
Welkin Guide
Bull Cerodon
Cavern Thoctar
Nacatl Hunt-Pride
Rockcaster Platoon

Magma Spray
Sylvan Bounty
Ignite Disorder
Resounding Thunder
Resounding Silence
2x Exploding Borders
Marital Poo

Jungle Shrine
Rupture Spire
1 Island
1 Swamp
4 Forest
4 Mountain
5 Plains

*Ninja Edit* Jim won his pod, doing stick stuff like turn 3 Thoctar, turn 4 and 5 Drumhunters, draw loads and crush. I saw him win with Martial Coup still in hand a couple of times too, filthy.

I may well me hanging up my sleeves until June 10th as that is when the ratings are taken down for Nats qualification. I need to see exactly what my rating is when everything I've played in has processed to be sure. I will, however, continue to attend WNMs for fun and giggles, so if anyone would like a report done on their draft please let me know in advance and I'd love to jot down your picks and stuff :)

*Pirate Edit* I can't think of a good name for this column - any ideas?

*Zombie Caveman Robot Edit* Got one

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Finalised regionals deck

By Jim Marlow

Hey everyone,

So i had a great time tonight at tonights WNM in Leeds, not half because i managed to 3-0 with a nifty deck, but also because it was great seeing all the Team Leeds chaps again.

Regionals is now fully upon us, and whether i like it or not, i am pretty determined/desperate to qualify for this years nationals in Brighton. I set myself the target this year of both breaking 1700 rating in all formats, and qualifying for Nats, and although i have just about managed to do the former, i think the latter will prove far harder than anticipated.

My choice of Esperlark is based upon the supposed decline of Fae (which is in fact no worse than it used to be) and the growth of popularity for various W/x aggro decks, which i think are all pretty easy matches, and only get better for me post-board.

This is my final list, based upon some last minute tech from Heathy to inlclude a miser's mistmeadow witch (favourite card in the deck), instead of the 4th path, which is reluctantly relegated to an allready crowded sideboard.

4 x mulldrifter
4 x stillmoon cavalier
4 x tidehollow sculler
3 x reveillark
3 x vendilion clique
2 x sower of temptation#
1 x mistmeadow witch

3 x path to exile
3 x wrath of god
4 x esper charm
4 x cryptic command

25 lands (cant be bothered listing - same mana base as before)


4 x burrenton forge tender
2 x scepter of fugue
2 x glen elendra archmage
1 x wrath of god
2 x infest
2 x jace beleren
1 x path to exile
1 x sower of temptation

I am very happy with the main deck right now, i think i have pretty good matchups against the decks i expect to face, and basically stillmoon cavalier is so hot right now, and reveillark is always going to be a good source of card advantage.

My only proposals are changing the sideboard round a bit, im not 100% sure on the infests, i was putting them in there to combat teeg and maybe board against fae, but i almost want to take them out for 1 x martial coup and 1 x scepter of fugue

The scepters, glen elendra archmage's and jace helps in the fae match, and i think its just going to have to be a match i conceed to being not that great, but hopefully all the super fast dark bant and kithkin decks will hate out the faerie decks in the first few rounds.

I think a 3rd scepter will put the 5cc match heavily in my favour, and the martial coup will be awesome against b/w tokens and kithkin, but are the arguably more versatile but less effective infests better for my board.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated


P.S (no-one pack lark hate for saturday, im playing blightning)

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Monday, 13 April 2009

April Update - regionals and other things to come

By Jim Marlow

Hey everyone,

I trust everyone from Team Leeds had a great Easter, mine was pretty cool, but im glad to have returned to Leeds, and am looking forward to catching up with everyone on wednesday.

Im sorry for the slight lapse in article production for the blog over the last two weeks, but i have been really busy at home with other stuff (meeting the queen and that, you know), so i thought i would write a brief summary of some things that have happened over the last couple of weeks with me and the Leeds scene in general and also list a few articles i will be writing over the next few days.

Im glad to hear that Greg qualified for this years Nationals with a kithkin deck, in a heavily aggro meta, which may interest those looking to take part in the qualifier in Leeds.

Back in Bury St Edmunds i attended my last WNM at Runik Games, which was a T2 tournament, but sadly i had left my deck at home, shame. I managed to knock up the following list with some help from simon and what cards i had in my folder

4 x treefolk harbinger
4 x doran, the siege tower
4 x imperious perfect
4 x wren's run vanquisher
4 x chameleon collosus
4 x kitchen finks
2 x shriekmaw

4 x nameless inversion
3 x garruk wildspeaker
3 x profane command

4 x murmuring bosk
4 x gilt leaf palace
4 x twilight mire
4 x treetop village
1 x wooded bastion
5 x forest
2 x swamp

Long story short i went 1-2, which i think was a bit poo considering i dont think the deck was too bad, but most of the game i played were really close, which was cool.

As for upcoming articles, in the next few days i will be giving some additional details regarding the 'Finks' invitational raffle, my updated esperlark deck for regionals, and a short drunken facebook based interview i had with riki hayashi, which will all be very exciting.

Keep an eye out for these things and more in the next few days.


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Friday, 3 April 2009

Update to Regionals Dates

By Wagz

Hi all. A couple of Regionals have been and gone, but the list of dates has expanded, including our own date. So, the current list of dates (taken from the DCI):
04/04 - Sheffield
04/11 - Oxford
04/11 - Dundee
04/12 - Yeovil
04/18 - Leeds !!!!!1oneoneone
04/19 - Plymouth
04/19 - Glasgow
05/09 - Swansea
05/09 - Richmond
05/09 - Birmingham
05/10 - Leicester
05/10 - Bristol
05/16 - Reading
05/16 - Coventry
05/16 - Cambridge
05/17 - Ipswich
05/17 - Cardiff
05/17 - Altrincham
05/23 - London
05/25 - Gravesend

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Tournament report - WNM at Runik Games, 1st April

By Jim Marlow

Hey everyone,

I know i said i would be documenting another of my shambolic drafts here but i forgot that the format being played ar Runik Games in B.S.E tonight was of course......Vintage?!?

So all the players from East Anglia descended on Bury St Edmunds tonight and played some hearty 2 turn games......which could also be translated as 5 people brought decks, whilst i managed to get a 10 man standard event sanctioned, huzzah!

Huzzahs from me were quickly finished when i realised that i didnt have a lot of cards for my deck.

I was missing the following,

4 x esper charm
4 x tidehollow sculler
1 x mulldrifter
4 x arcane sanctum
4 x vivid lands
1 x sideboard

i managed to procure most of this from Symon, with the exception of the mulldrifter and a sideboard of any kind. This wasnt too bad because i know the standard of play is not through the roof there, and its only fun anyways.

Round 1 - Darren

Quite hilariously while i was trying to ask people about getting the tournament sanctioned i was playing some casual standard matches with Darren, who has only been playing about 6 months, and beat him quite convincingly two or three times, so kind of an awkward 1st round pairing.

Game 1 - Darren was playing a 5 colour elementals deck with some pretty big bombs to be fetched with the harbinger, such as horde of notions, i also saw a maelstrom archangel as well randomly. Darren fooled around with a wanderers twig into one of the WUBRG knights from conflux (they seemed pretty good in the deck). Sadly i drew multiple paths, a wrath and i think triple stillmoon cavalier, and the game was over without me losing a point of life.

Game 2 - this started much the same as the first, which double wanderers twig, for turn 5 horde of notions, but i already had a vendilion clique and stillmoon cavalier. I tapped darrens team when the horde resolved because i wanted to be a massive cock and sower of temptation it, but when he killed my sower i pathed his horde like i should of done in the first place. Darren drew a few blockers, but with the horde gone he was chumping, and elementals certainly doesnt perform on the back foot.

Round 2 - Richard with ?

Game 1 - I was on the draw and we both kept, so fearing and aggro smash when richard played naya panorama to fix mana, i played turn 2 tideholllow sculler, choosing to keep a vivid and arcane sanctum in hand - i saw 5 lands, sylvan bounty and conflux. I played a stillmoon cavalier next turn and after that drew and attack until richard was dead. I shat myself briefly when i pumped the cavalier for no reason just because and next turn richard attempted conflux with me tapped out. Luckily my keen eyes spotted he only had 7 lands, one of which was an ancient ziggurat, o dear!

Game 2 - This time richard made the blue and white prop bears, which seemed better than his game 1 plays, from there however i wrathed, and the game became very similar to the first. I won the match without losing a point of life in either game.

Round 3 - Rob

Rob is another fairly new player, but he is pretty good actually and he had some pretty strong cards in his deck, which was a bant number,

Game 1 - I won the die roll and opened up with a turn 2 sculler, yoinking a rhox war monk, the only other nonland being rhox bodyguard or something. After this i made mulldrifter and drew lost of cryptics.

Game 2 - Rob played and got pretty aggresive with 2 steward of valerons, which was a bit naughty. I managed to stall with a stillmoon cavalier, but then i played a reveillark and somehow the cavalier died, not sure. Rob played some creatures and then i wrathed = stillmoon cavalier + mulldrifter, from here it was a matter of time.

Round 3 - Chris

Chris is a good player, and was playing Shuheii's Swans deck from Kyoto, i think card for card, so i was a bit scared about this one.

Game 1 - I got ahead with a sculler, 2 esper charms and a vendilion clique, with sadly met a volcanic fallout. I drew quite a lot of land, but had a full grip so i wasnt really scared. I played a reveillark to put some pressure on, with only the sculler in the bin, which was poo. I cant remember what happened from here but basically Chris drew spells which were good against me such as volcanic fallout (played in response to me wrathing swans), chandra, and tidings. I matched his drawing skills with stuff like wrath and sower, bad times. Eventually his ghitu encampment and mutavault had done enough between counter wars to get the job done.

Games 2 and 3 - Sadly these games were both non entities, with Chris getting mana screwed both games. I drew well in both, which really helped seeing with no sideboard i thought i was going to be royally boned. Anyway i drew double esper charm into 3 cryptics, which basically countered chris' plays whilst bouncing a vivid land. I allowed chris to tap out to banefire a reveillark (no threats in graveyard), but i just pumped my stillmoon cavalier many times and cracked back with him and a drifter for 11, putting him to 3. He needed pyroclasm, he plays tidings with 2 mana dice (it was the next card, hard luck dude)

Anyways apologies for chris for the bad beats, it must be good to be able to will mana screw on my opponants when its pretty much my only out.

Thanks go again to Symon Rose at Runik Games for a wonderful evening, i am really getting to know some of the guys there and they seem like a great bunch of players.

I was given 3 boosters of Shadowmoor for my troubles this evening, which was awesome seeing as the tournament cost nothing (having already paid my £2 for the evening), and i said to Symon that i would donate them to the Finks charity raffle. Symon kindly agreed to match my donations, so thanks to Runik for kindly donating 6 shadowmoor boosters to the prizes for the raffle, hopefully they can raise a bit of cash.

Hope you enjoyed the article.


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