This quarter’s installment of MTG Draft Night has been brought to you by Battlebond.
Unlike many of the previous events, this one was far less planned out. Granted, we set the time long in advance and still had surveys to help decide what to do, but it just didn’t feel well planned (which I can say because I’m the guy whose responsible for planning them). Frankly, I feel like I dropped the ball on it, and I think it showed in the end result.
I think it was largely to do with a lack of follow-up emails. Back in May we did a draft of Ixalan, and promptly sent out surveys to review what worked and what didn’t, along with setting tentative dates for the next event. We all (sort of) agreed on July 27th. By that, I mean that it was the only proposed date where nobody seemed to have any conflicts–though it’s worth noting that many a person checked the “I can probably make it, but check with me closer to the date.”
I didn’t bother checking until about two weeks prior, and that meant that a couple of folks had made other plans. So, rather than have the fourteen people show up that we did previously, we were scheduled to have eight.
The good news is that I have a number of boxes of cards laying around that we can throw together for an impromptu event. So, with eight folks, it’s easy to work it out. Well, then just a couple of days before the event, I was told that someone had a last minute addition to throw in. To even things out, he scrounged up another player as well (because we learned from the last time that giving byes is for the birds).
So of all of my packs I have laying around for draft, my choices got noticbly smaller. Anything that I had that was a single box was going to be insufficient (because we draft four packs each), so I had to buy something where I could buy a couple of extra packs locally. I went to the local hobby store and they don’t seem to carry anything older, so I was down to Unstable, Battlebond, and Vintage Masters. We had already set a price on this draft at “not to exceed” $30 per person, and Vintage masters set me back about $280 for the two boxes I’d purchased. That would only leave $20 to feed ten guys.
I also recalled that someone shied away from Unstable, so we went with Battlebond. Between the base set and extra packs, that set the entry fee, and I used the remaining money (plus some extra) to cover food for the evening.
Do you see the problem yet?
I sure didn’t.
Well, when the day of the event rolled around, everyone chowed down on burgers, dogs, and doughnuts. I should stop here and say that we’ve a really good crew that pitches in to help prep & cook, helps to clean, brings extra food, etc. It’s just a great bunch of guys (and they’re ultimately the reason why these nights are so successful).
Anywho, while we’re all hanging out, we have a problem about how to break into teams. My initial thought was that the players who consistently do the best should not be on a team with each other. It’s already quasi-fair at best based upon skill levels of everyone involved, so pairing up two of our most solid players together would be no-contest. I had tinkered with the idea of letting those folks that habitually are in the bottom bracket pick their champions, but we eventually decided to just let my wife pick the teams. She doesn’t know anything about the game, and it’s a pure guess as to relative skill levels, so she paired people up pretty fairly I think. The teams were:
- Team Pro Tour (Travis & Sam), because Travis used to play on the MTG Pro Tour, and Sam went to World’s for Star Wars: Destiny
- Shawnico (Nico & Sean), an obvious amalgamation of their names. One that I could never remember, so they were either team Nicodemus, Shanequa, Shaqira, etc.
- Space Force (Joe & Brandon), a name that narrowly beat out “team Bro”
- Team Ron (A-A-Ron & A-B-Ron), Because both are named Aaron, and I’m easily confused
- Ram Rod (Me & Ben), because reasons
I was really happy with how the teams broke down, and we moved into the draft. Ben and I talked briefly about strategy before the draft. He said he liked a specific color (Blue, I believe), and I said that I just liked good cards. Our strategy was going to be to draft the latter, and play whatever came to us.
He and I really had similar opinions of most cards. He really liked creature removal, so we first picked that in many of the packs. In fact, the best cards in the packs we were seeing really seemed to be exclusively black and red. It wasn’t until halfway through the second pack that we decided to pick a different color: green. Frankly, it wasn’t an easy pick to delve into a third color, but it seemed that we were going to eventually have to, so we snagged some that looked viable when the red or black thinned out (granted, it wasn’t really better than the red/black options, but it would just give us more options).
The way we handled the actual draft was to split each pack as it came in, roughly evenly. Each of us would review our half of the cards, and sort in the order that we preferred. Then we’d trade hands and view what the other had seen/sorted. Really, our picks were very similar throughout, and only different a bit when it came to mediocre choices.
We originally planned on opening eight packs for the team, but after three packs, it felt like we’d had enough. There was some debate about changing horses in mid-stream, as others were not drafting a curve, but just drafting the best stuff each pack, so we eventually decided on drafting six packs per team. I guess the basic plan for Battlebond is that each team only drafts four packs, which seemed absurd, but in hindsight, it’s really not bad. Our packs were fair, I’d say. We didn’t open a single mythic, but we did open three rare “partner” pairs. That included Gorm & Virtus; Krav & Regna; Okaun & Zndrsplt; and Pir, Imaginative Rascal & Toothy, Imaginary Friend.
Oh wait. Did we actually open four of those? Egads, that’s insane. We definitely had seven of them, so I guess there’s a chance we were passed one–but that seems highly unlikely. We wound up drafting them all, except Zndrsplt. At that time we had no desire to play blue, and his ability didn’t seem pivotal. When I went and made my deck, I eventually wound up splashing blue for Toothy, so I might have also thrown in Zndrsplt had I known.
When it came to assembling decks, we made a black red deck (which seemed the better of the two at the time of construction) and a green red deck. We had a large amount of autonomy in the process, as we did with the draft, but still consulted each other throughout. The black/red was more speed & control, while the green was intended to ramp up so that I could help out with Assist cards for Ben’s deck. It didn’t really play out that way though, as we both were fairly speed-oriented for the most part. In fact, I eventually pulled out almost all of my ramp cards because they just weren’t ever seeing play.
Our decks consisted of:
- 1x Azra Oddsmaker
- 1x Borderland Marauder
- 2x Bull-Rush Bruiser
- 2x Dragon Hatchling
- 2x Ember Beast
- 1x Krav, the Undredeemed
- 2x Magma Hellion
- 1x Prakhata Club Security
- 1x Rushblade Commander
- 1x Swarm of Bloodflies
- 1x Virtus the Veiled
- 1x Assasinate
- 1x Auger Spree
- 2x Bathe in Dragonfire
- 1x Inner Demon
- 1x Lightning Talons
- 1x Shock
- 1x Luxury Suite
- 9x Mountain
- 7x Swamp
- 1x Boldwyr Intimidator
- 1x Chakram Slinger
- 1x Fertilid
- 1x Generous Patron
- 1x Gorm the Great
- 3x Kraul Warrior
- 1x Magmatic Force
- 1x Okaun, Eye of Chaos
- 1x Pir, Imaginative Rascal
- 1x Plated Crusher
- 1x Relentless Hunter
- 1x Toothy, Imaginary Friend
- 1x Giant Growth
- 1x Lead by Example
- 1x Fertile Ground
- 1x Combo Attack
- 1x Pir’s Whim
- 1x Seer’s Lantern
- 2x Tyrant’s Machine
- 10x Forest
- 1x Island
- 6x Mountain
The plan was to originally have each team play the others, but that broke down for two reasons. First, that I alluded to before, is that I had not planned things out very well. I knew we were going to have more than eight people, and we thought ahead to bring two extra people to “make the teams even,” but when we went for a two-headed giant pairing, we had five teams and were forced into byes again. Doh!
Secondly, one of the teams drafted heavy control decks, and then played them slowly. Like painfully slowly. Granted, it didn’t help that it was a multi-player game, so sometimes games would devolve into huge walls of things out stalemating for long periods of time, but in the spam of six hours, this team only managed to play four games–never completing a single match, despite never having a bye. Conversely, my team had two byes because of the way the rounds laid out, managed to play every team at least once and still got in seven games in. There were multiple factors involved there, but it was quite painful to watch/wait for.
I should mention that they did quite well in the games that they did play. In total, they went 3-1 for the evening, giving them probably the best overall score for the evening. My team went 7-2 (2-0, 2-0, 1-1, & 0-1). I don’t know how you declare a winner at that point, but then again it’s multiplayer, so I’m not sure how much that matters.
In total, I think Battlebond was a great success, but I definitely learned some things:
What I Learned:
- Everyone seemed to enjoy it, but I don’t think we’ll be doing it again soon. Despite having extra packs from this draft and another entire box, I don’t think we’ll be doing it again soon. We need to use the casual stuff sparingly, so I expect we’ll play something more competitive next time.
- It was slow. Drafting was slower for sure (though we don’t need as many packs, so that’s good), but making your deck, and playing games is also slower.
- Speed was good. Games where we could go first and drop the Rushblade Commander with a Kraul Warrior really helped establish a beat-down mentality.
- Sweepers were everywhere. I consider “Inner Demon” to be a sweeper of sorts, and with that in mind, every team had at least one of them–with two teams having two! I guess in multi-player games, it’s good to have ways to wipe a stalled board though.
- I have to keep in mind partners when evening out teams to avoid byes.