10/13/09 Limited Information: Taking Charge of your Zendikar Draft Decisions

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Limited Information Article, which goes live Tuesday morning on magicthegathering.com.

I would like to disagree with Steve's assessment of Demolish.  I ran it in a couple successful Zendikar sealed decks, and I would happily do so again.  It regularly slowed down my opponents, messed up their colors, exacerbated mana-screw, and blew up some of the ubiquitous equipment in the set, like Trusty Machete.


In fact, my only real regret with Demolish was the game when my opponent's hand was empty, I expected to win next turn with fliers if nothing went wrong, and so I blew up one of his Swamps to weaken his Shade and reduce his ability to play removal spells.  So what happened?  He top-decked Eldrazi Monument, a Mythic Rare I hadn't seen yet that match, and hit me with several indestructible flying creatures, while leaving others back to block.  I lost, because I didn't save my Demolish for a turn "just in case".  I probably should have, as a Spidersilk Net would have been annoying as well (although not disastrous the way the Monument was).


I haven't played Desecrated Earth, but it is card advantage.  The format is a little fast for it, but if you have a fast deck of your own, it seems like a fair way to top your curve and keep your opponent off of his high-end bombs that would turn the game around.

Thanks to everyone who helped with the design of the plane of Golamo in the Great Designer Search 2!
My Decks
These are the decks I have assembled at the moment:
Tournament Decks (4)
Kicker Aggro (Invasion Block) Sunforger/Izzet Guildmage Midrange (Ravnica/Time Spiral/Xth Standard) Dragonstorm Combo (Time Spiral/Lorwyn/Xth Standard) Bant Midrange (Lorwyn/Shards/M10 Standard)
Casual Multiplayer Decks (50)
Angel Resurrection Casual Soul Sisters Sindbad's Adventures with Djinn of Wishes Sphinx-Bone Wand Buyback Morph (No Instants or Sorceries) Cabal Coffers Control Zombie Aggro Hungry, Hungry Greater Gargadon/War Elemental Flashfires/Boil/Ruination - Boom! Call of the Wild Teysa, Orzhov Scion with Twilight Drover, Sun Titan, and Hivestone Slivers Rebels Cairn Wanderer Knights Only Gold and () Spells Captain Sisay Toolbox Spellweaver Helix Combo Merfolk Wizards Izzet Guildmage/The Unspeakable Arcane Combo Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind and his Wizards Creatureless Wild Research/Reins of Power Madness Creatureless Pyromancer Ascension Anarchist Living Death Anvil of Bogardan Madness Shamen with Goblin Game/Wound Reflection Combo Mass damage Quest for Pure Flame Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle/Clear the Land with 40+ Lands Doubling Season Thallids Juniper Order Ranger Graft/Tokens Elf Archer Druids Equilibrium/Aluren Combo Experiment Kraj Combo Reap Combo False Cure/Kavu Predator Combo Savra, Queen of the Golgari Sacrifice/Dredge Elf Warriors Eight-Post Sneak Attack Where Ancients Tread Zur the Enchanter with Opal creatures Tamanoa/Kavu Predator/Collapsing Borders Esper Aggro Mishra, Artificer Prodigy and his Darksteel Reactor Theft and Control Unearth Aggro Soul's Fire Vampires Devour Tokens Phytohydra with Powerstone Minefield Treefolk Friendly? Questing Phelddagrif Slivers Dragon Arch Fun I'm probably forgetting a few...

I disagree with the article as well.  Demolish is one of the few ways to get rid of Artifacts in Zendikar.  You might not maindeck it, but you'd want it on the Sideboard just in case.  I can see how Scythe Tiger might be bad if you draw it late in your deck, but it is a common, and if you're talking draft instead of sealed you have to grab the first one if you're hoping to grab multiples.


I agree with the rest of the cards he mentioned, and would add Shieldmate's Blessing, Spreading Seas, and Magma Rift to that list.  They're pretty bad cards.


 

I can't read the text close to the wide pictures; the picture goes right over it.


I can't read the text close to the wide pictures; the picture goes right over it.


I had the same issue.  Try highlighting the text with your mouse.
Thanks to everyone who helped with the design of the plane of Golamo in the Great Designer Search 2!
My Decks
These are the decks I have assembled at the moment:
Tournament Decks (4)
Kicker Aggro (Invasion Block) Sunforger/Izzet Guildmage Midrange (Ravnica/Time Spiral/Xth Standard) Dragonstorm Combo (Time Spiral/Lorwyn/Xth Standard) Bant Midrange (Lorwyn/Shards/M10 Standard)
Casual Multiplayer Decks (50)
Angel Resurrection Casual Soul Sisters Sindbad's Adventures with Djinn of Wishes Sphinx-Bone Wand Buyback Morph (No Instants or Sorceries) Cabal Coffers Control Zombie Aggro Hungry, Hungry Greater Gargadon/War Elemental Flashfires/Boil/Ruination - Boom! Call of the Wild Teysa, Orzhov Scion with Twilight Drover, Sun Titan, and Hivestone Slivers Rebels Cairn Wanderer Knights Only Gold and () Spells Captain Sisay Toolbox Spellweaver Helix Combo Merfolk Wizards Izzet Guildmage/The Unspeakable Arcane Combo Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind and his Wizards Creatureless Wild Research/Reins of Power Madness Creatureless Pyromancer Ascension Anarchist Living Death Anvil of Bogardan Madness Shamen with Goblin Game/Wound Reflection Combo Mass damage Quest for Pure Flame Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle/Clear the Land with 40+ Lands Doubling Season Thallids Juniper Order Ranger Graft/Tokens Elf Archer Druids Equilibrium/Aluren Combo Experiment Kraj Combo Reap Combo False Cure/Kavu Predator Combo Savra, Queen of the Golgari Sacrifice/Dredge Elf Warriors Eight-Post Sneak Attack Where Ancients Tread Zur the Enchanter with Opal creatures Tamanoa/Kavu Predator/Collapsing Borders Esper Aggro Mishra, Artificer Prodigy and his Darksteel Reactor Theft and Control Unearth Aggro Soul's Fire Vampires Devour Tokens Phytohydra with Powerstone Minefield Treefolk Friendly? Questing Phelddagrif Slivers Dragon Arch Fun I'm probably forgetting a few...

The picture/text issue is anoying, but that really is the fault of the people editing the article..


As for demolish, he did say starting 40, having it in the sideboard might indeed be useful.


Another thing that having loads of playables do is making drafting mono colored possible. Even if there are some other people in the draft near you in your colors, it is still possible for example to get a very good mono red deck. Other red drafters wouldn't pick spire barrage as high as you would in mono red, as such you often end up with at least 2 and sometimes more spire barrages. This card is obviously insane. Backed by a solid curve such a deck can be very good. Mono white and mono black might also have incentives to draft them, without so many playables, this probably wouldn't be possible.

Why cant we have draft walkthroughs once in a while? Theory is fine, but why not back it up with a draft to show us examples and reasoning behind picks?


I used to love Limited Information, but after reading the coloumn for some years its really starting to repeat itself (not so today since were discussing a new set).


Please please please.


Why cant we have draft walkthroughs once in a while? Theory is fine, but why not back it up with a draft to show us examples and reasoning behind picks?


I used to love Limited Information, but after reading the coloumn for some years its really starting to repeat itself (not so today since were discussing a new set).


Please please please.




Agreed 100%.


Instead we see draft overviews from online where the winner (and others in the pod) consistently illustrates some of the worst picks to be made.

He's quite right about being able to switch colours late. In this format, you can switch colours halfway through pack 2 and still come up with a great deck.


However, I'd like to note that I think signals are absurdly overrated in Zendikar draft. I've heard people say that signals are going to be more important than ever, and that couldn't be further from the truth. There's weak syngergy across the whole set in ZEN, and building a cohesive deck is going to be much more important than getting the most powerful cards. Being able to see how grazing gladehart and sky ruin drake fit together nicely is more important than knowing where things lie in the pick order or who's in what colour.



Yeah i noticed that to, some of the drafts are totaly ridicoulus and makes me wonder why the heck these people are doing in t8 in the first place.


At least there are other sites that does very nice draft walkthroughs both with and without videos.


Please take a look at how Draftbetter and LSV does it, they provide info about the format and the picks while actually showing you pick by pick and matchup analysis.



I can't read the text close to the wide pictures; the picture goes right over it.


I had the same issue.  Try highlighting the text with your mouse.



Not seeing this issue on Firefox, IE, or Safari. Can I get some more details? A screen grab?


 


Thanks.

Noble Vestige, Sunspring Expedition, Trapfinder's Trick, Desecrated Earth, Mindless Null, Demolish, Beast Hunt and Scythe Tiger.


at the prerelease i played noble vestige, sunspring expedition, desecrated earth, and scythe tiger. if i was running red i would have played demolish, too. i'm an amateur. Smile


i probably wouldn't run scythe tiger again, and noble vestige was really just to up the flier count in my deck. nothing could get me to run beast hunt.


i am not having that problem with the pictures/text.

Wotc_jenkot, I was also having the images-overlaying-the-text problem when I first read this article last night, but it's not happening now. Don't know what might have changed. I'm on IE.


I can't give you a screen grab, but the basic description is that for the images that are column-wide, the text was running behind them.


More specifically:


* The paragraphs between "Sure, I'll be playing" and "you should too!" were behind the PT Austin image.


* The paragraph starting 'When drafters place a low value on allies" and either the paragraph before or after it (I don't remember) was behind the allies composite image.


* Some or all of the paragraph starting "If you went into a draft knowing" and the two following it were behind the shepherd of the lost image.


Like I said, the article is fine now.

You mean I'm not supposed to right align images that are supposed to be centered? Smile Dumb mistake and strange result in IE. Thanks for the help.


Tom J

A reason such as "I haven't gotten passed any relevant white cards up to this point, so I'm pretty sure white isn't available" is perfectly good cause to look for other options in the pack. But a reason such as "It's already pick 5 and I don't have any white cards" is not valid.


This is the most important sentence in the article, especially for less experienced drafters.


Why cant we have draft walkthroughs once in a while? Theory is fine, but why not back it up with a draft to show us examples and reasoning behind picks?


I expect these will show up once Zendikar shows up on MTGO, probably because Steve is being a little lazy/more interested in practicing for PT:Austin.

Steve great article honestly one of the best articles I've read about magic in awhile actually.

I don't want to hate on other peoples commens but screw you haters nit picking on some awful 23rd cards being actually playable.  This article contained information about the format that was very useful and add to that was written very well.


First, the impression I got was that even some of the 23rd card type cards that would make the deck in some formats aren't playable in this format because of how strong the commons or cards in genearl are in this format. 

More importantly though I love these kind of articles where it disects the theory on how to approach drafting the format.  I could just copy paste the entire article but this was some great stuff that I haven't seen in awhile. 

Once again fantastic article, magnificient job Steve on a wonderful piece of work.  Hope to see something like this in the future, thanks for helping us out


Steve great article honestly one of the best articles I've read about magic in awhile actually.

I don't want to hate on other peoples commens but screw you haters nit picking on some awful 23rd cards being actually playable.  This article contained information about the format that was very useful and add to that was written very well.


Sure, it's a fine article, we never said otherwise.  However, I don't think contributing further discussion on the value of individual cards makes us "haters".  What a strange thing to say.
Thanks to everyone who helped with the design of the plane of Golamo in the Great Designer Search 2!
My Decks
These are the decks I have assembled at the moment:
Tournament Decks (4)
Kicker Aggro (Invasion Block) Sunforger/Izzet Guildmage Midrange (Ravnica/Time Spiral/Xth Standard) Dragonstorm Combo (Time Spiral/Lorwyn/Xth Standard) Bant Midrange (Lorwyn/Shards/M10 Standard)
Casual Multiplayer Decks (50)
Angel Resurrection Casual Soul Sisters Sindbad's Adventures with Djinn of Wishes Sphinx-Bone Wand Buyback Morph (No Instants or Sorceries) Cabal Coffers Control Zombie Aggro Hungry, Hungry Greater Gargadon/War Elemental Flashfires/Boil/Ruination - Boom! Call of the Wild Teysa, Orzhov Scion with Twilight Drover, Sun Titan, and Hivestone Slivers Rebels Cairn Wanderer Knights Only Gold and () Spells Captain Sisay Toolbox Spellweaver Helix Combo Merfolk Wizards Izzet Guildmage/The Unspeakable Arcane Combo Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind and his Wizards Creatureless Wild Research/Reins of Power Madness Creatureless Pyromancer Ascension Anarchist Living Death Anvil of Bogardan Madness Shamen with Goblin Game/Wound Reflection Combo Mass damage Quest for Pure Flame Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle/Clear the Land with 40+ Lands Doubling Season Thallids Juniper Order Ranger Graft/Tokens Elf Archer Druids Equilibrium/Aluren Combo Experiment Kraj Combo Reap Combo False Cure/Kavu Predator Combo Savra, Queen of the Golgari Sacrifice/Dredge Elf Warriors Eight-Post Sneak Attack Where Ancients Tread Zur the Enchanter with Opal creatures Tamanoa/Kavu Predator/Collapsing Borders Esper Aggro Mishra, Artificer Prodigy and his Darksteel Reactor Theft and Control Unearth Aggro Soul's Fire Vampires Devour Tokens Phytohydra with Powerstone Minefield Treefolk Friendly? Questing Phelddagrif Slivers Dragon Arch Fun I'm probably forgetting a few...

not only that, but he said "screw you," which comes across as a lot more hateful than "i disagree with your evaluation of this card." odd, indeed.


I disagree with the article as well.  Demolish is one of the few ways to get rid of Artifacts in Zendikar.  You might not maindeck it, but you'd want it on the Sideboard just in case.  I can see how Scythe Tiger might be bad if you draw it late in your deck, but it is a common, and if you're talking draft instead of sealed you have to grab the first one if you're hoping to grab multiples.


I agree with the rest of the cards he mentioned, and would add Shieldmate's Blessing, Spreading Seas, and Magma Rift to that list.  They're pretty bad cards.


 




I wonder how bad Scythe Tiger really is too. The cat does hurt a lot very fast, and can only be dealt with with quality blockers, not removal spells. 4+ thoughness dorks don't typically come out too fast (except for the surprisingly excellent Kraken Hatchling, possibly the single best foil to the Tiger in the format). I could envision a very low-curve beatdown deck with a few Tigers doing good, but maybe the drawback really is too bad, I don't know.

I agree with you completely on Shieldmate's Blessing. For hell's sake, that's a weaker Healing Salve, who thought that was possible ? Especially considering that with the new rules, damage prevention got nerfed badly.


However, for the two other cards you mention, I don't agree. Spreading Seas is a cycling card with a mana screwing/nonbasic land neutering bonus effect, which is marginal but certainly playable. As for Magma Rift... How is that bad ? It's a red removal spell that can kill fatties for a reasonable price. The sacrifice a land thing is a heavy enough drawback to say that it is far from the best removal spell in the block, but to say it's unplayable ? If card disadvantage disgusts you so much, why do you defend Scythe Tiger, which has the exact same drawback but is much more likely to hurt your mana development ? I don't get it.

Magic The Gathering DCI Lvl 1 Judge Don't hesitate to post rules question in the Rules Q&A forum for me and other competent advisors to answer : http://community.wizards.com/go/forum/view/75842/134778/Rules_Q38A



I disagree with the article as well.  Demolish is one of the few ways to get rid of Artifacts in Zendikar.  You might not maindeck it, but you'd want it on the Sideboard just in case.  I can see how Scythe Tiger might be bad if you draw it late in your deck, but it is a common, and if you're talking draft instead of sealed you have to grab the first one if you're hoping to grab multiples.


I agree with the rest of the cards he mentioned, and would add Shieldmate's Blessing, Spreading Seas, and Magma Rift to that list.  They're pretty bad cards.


 




I wonder how bad Scythe Tiger really is too. The cat does hurt a lot very fast, and can only be dealt with with quality blockers, not removal spells. 4+ thoughness dorks don't typically come out too fast (except for the surprisingly excellent Kraken Hatchling, possibly the single best foil to the Tiger in the format). I could envision a very low-curve beatdown deck with a few Tigers doing good, but maybe the drawback really is too bad, I don't know.

I agree with you completely on Shieldmate's Blessing. For hell's sake, that's a weaker Healing Salve, who thought that was possible ? Especially considering that with the new rules, damage prevention got nerfed badly.


However, for the two other cards you mention, I don't agree. Spreading Seas is a cycling card with a mana screwing/nonbasic land neutering bonus effect, which is marginal but certainly playable. As for Magma Rift... How is that bad ? It's a red removal spell that can kill fatties for a reasonable price. The sacrifice a land thing is a heavy enough drawback to say that it is far from the best removal spell in the block, but to say it's unplayable ? If card disadvantage disgusts you so much, why do you defend Scythe Tiger, which has the exact same drawback but is much more likely to hurt your mana development ? I don't get it.





Well I think they are pretty bad cards in limited because they're more situational.  Spreading Seas is actually not too bad given all the dual lands in the set, but it's not clear that including one in your deck is better than including another creature or spell.  I do think the drawback on Magma Rift is too much, especially since you can't target your opponent.  Scythe Tiger at least has the chance of killing multiple creatures and damaging your opponent.  Okay, so these cards aren't Spellbook, but neither are the other cards he named.  They're all 22nd or 23rd cards at best.

 

Well I think they are pretty bad cards in limited because they're more situational.  Spreading Seas is actually not too bad given all the dual lands in the set, but it's not clear that including one in your deck is better than including another creature or spell.  I do think the drawback on Magma Rift is too much, especially since you can't target your opponent.  Scythe Tiger at least has the chance of killing multiple creatures and damaging your opponent.  Okay, so these cards aren't Spellbook, but neither are the other cards he named.  They're all 22nd or 23rd cards at best.


While far from unplayable, Spreading Seas still is filler and sideboard material, we can all agree on that. But I think most good drafters would also agree with me that you're flat-out wrong on Magma Rift. It's the very important removal spell you keep for the late game in a Red-Blue or Red-Green deck and that allows you to deal with a fattie you couldn't normally in those colors. The late game nature of that card makes it so that the sacrifice a land effect most often isn't a liability at all, especially since you regularly play more lands in your deck for landfall triggers. It's a way to get more value out of that late extra land after it did its job with landfall, and that's how the card's been designed. As I said, not the best removal spell in the format, but rarely a 22nd card for me either. I think you're guiving way too much importance to the fact that it can't hit the player, which is a relatively minor issue in Limited. Getting rid of creatures is the more important use of burn there by far.


 

Magic The Gathering DCI Lvl 1 Judge Don't hesitate to post rules question in the Rules Q&A forum for me and other competent advisors to answer : http://community.wizards.com/go/forum/view/75842/134778/Rules_Q38A

shieldmate's blessing is truly awful.