12/8/2009 LI: "Putting the How in How Many"

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

with all due respect, a very weak article. i assume that it is hard to write something about limited every week, but simple video/prose coverage of a draft (even of older sets) would be much more edifying than this. this adds almost no value to anyone wishing to learn more about limited.
Agree. I have been reading the column for a long time and I find it more and more disappointing. It is full of "empty saying", I read the column in diagonal, nothing interesting to learn.

This needs to move from theory to real, posting videos of drafts and commenting them, explaining the decisions made, etc. Those bonus exercises like "which card do you first pick in this pack?" are ok, but far from the real time experience drafts, where you have much less time to decide.

Please, real draft videos or real draft decisions, from start to end of the drafts, with reasons explaining those decisions. Less theory, more practice.
I completely disagree. This is a very good article - putting into words several things that I've thought when doing three- or four-person drafts, and bringing more depth out of them.
This is a topic that's been virtually untouched-upon across the internet, and it's great to see a good article. Particularly interesting is the mention of hate drafting, and the way that it becomes more legitimate with fewer players.

Just because the article's not written about a topic you're interested in, don't call it weak. Call it what it is: interesting to many people but not to you.
(The last few drafts I did had: 2 players, 9 players, 6 players, 2 players, 4 players, 3 players, 2 players. We were really trying for 8 players one time, but a ninth turned up and we weren't going to turn him away. So this topic's very relevant to me.)

On the other hand, I do enjoy draft walkthroughs too, and it seems it's been years since there was one on mtgcom. I'm sure there hasn't been one since the rebranding to dailymtg and the move to the Awful forums.
I agree with the first 2 posts. Not much of substance in the article. Why cant you do draft walkthroughs? Thats how we see your theory in practice.
Look at the way LSV does them, thats how it should be done.
I say ignore the haters, Steve.

This was a great article that brought forward some interesting and relevant points. Good stuff, definitely.

I think the issues for drafting with different size groups are a worthy topic.  Personally, when we have 10 or 11 players, I always push for drafting in one big group, rather than two groups of five or six.  That's because the latter leads to anemic decks, while having one big table can make linear strategies viable that really wouldn't be in an eight player game.


I wouldn't mind seeing an article on drafting with atypical mixes of packs, either (like full Lorwyn/Shadowmoor block, or that sort of thing).  There are lots of ways to play Limited, and it's good to see them addressed.


If you really love LSV's drafting writeups, that's great, but why demand that Steve copy them?  It's not his style, so he'd just do an inferior job.  Go read LSV doing it, and let Steve write the best articles he can in his own way.

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...
very interesting. something i had thought of in the abstract but didn't understand much.
I think the issues for drafting with different size groups are a worthy topic.  Personally, when we have 10 or 11 players, I always push for drafting in one big group, rather than two groups of five or six.  That's because the latter leads to anemic decks, while having one big table can make linear strategies viable that really wouldn't be in an eight player game.

I wouldn't mind seeing an article on drafting with atypical mixes of packs, either (like full Lorwyn/Shadowmoor block, or that sort of thing).  There are lots of ways to play Limited, and it's good to see them addressed.


If you really love LSV's drafting writeups, that's great, but why demand that Steve copy them?  It's not his style, so he'd just do an inferior job.  Go read LSV doing it, and let Steve write the best articles he can in his own way.


Can't agree more about the article content. This was very good food for thought for me as I do draft IRL in a small shop and occasionally with firends, and non-8 player tables happen frequently. Granted, this is rather useless content for pure MTGO-only drafters, but I think it's the only LI article Steve ever wrote for which that's clearly the case, so people shouldn't overreact IMO.

I think groups of 9, 10 or 11 people should always draft on a single table, as do most draft organizers at shops, luckily. An 11-people table is awkward, but still better than a 5-people one.

12 : 6 + 6
13 : 6 + 7
14 : 6 + 8
15 : 7 + 8


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
First off, nice article, Steve.  I hadn't thought about a lot of these elements before.  I always like drafting, as you say, "gimmicky" decks, and now I know when would be the best time to draft them.

I do have one concern, though.  There's another reason to hate-draft you didn't mention:  Though it is true that you'll only be playing against a person you hate-draft once, at the end of the day your final scores will have to be compared with theirs.  It's a small issue, but if you see the kind of game-winning limited bomb that will win games the moment it shows up (I dunno, something like Baneslayer Angel?  Maybe Overrun?), it might be in your interest to take it if prizes and placement are your concern.

I still agree that it's something that should generally only be done in smaller drafts--the above case is only really relevant in larger drafts if the card in question can single-handedly win games when played--but I'm saying that there are other reasons to hate draft, too.
I rather enjoyed this one. Wacky sized drafts are not my ideal, but knowing how to manouvre in them can certainly make them more fun.

One point I would make about trying to draft 'daft' decks in bigger drafts (and in general) is that it tends to depend on the crowd you're drafting with. I find that the more 'serious' a draft I'm in, the easier it is to end up with a spectacular version of a rather silly deck. I think this comes down to how homogenous pick orders have become in a draft crowd.

Lets imagine that I'm at an M10 draft table where everyone concerned is pretty familiar with the format. They know what is good and what isn't, and will more or less stick to the clear 'good' archetypes if possible. At this sort of table, if I decide to aggressively draft a Tome Scour/Spreading Seas deck, then there is a fair chance that my deck will live up to its potential given the cards opened at the table. If I really want those Tome Scours, then I should get them. If the draft is 10-11 people, that could be a lot of Tome Scours.

If the same 10-11 people are less familiar with a format, then more unpredictable behaviour can really throw off wacky draft strategies, as cards that one might assume would be passed late get snapped up somewhere along the line.

Put simply, I've had more success with silly decks in 8-4 drafts online than 4-3-2-2's.

TW
First off, nice article, Steve.  I hadn't thought about a lot of these elements before.  I always like drafting, as you say, "gimmicky" decks, and now I know when would be the best time to draft them.

I do have one concern, though.  There's another reason to hate-draft you didn't mention:  Though it is true that you'll only be playing against a person you hate-draft once, at the end of the day your final scores will have to be compared with theirs.  It's a small issue, but if you see the kind of game-winning limited bomb that will win games the moment it shows up (I dunno, something like Baneslayer Angel?  Maybe Overrun?), it might be in your interest to take it if prizes and placement are your concern.

I still agree that it's something that should generally only be done in smaller drafts--the above case is only really relevant in larger drafts if the card in question can single-handedly win games when played--but I'm saying that there are other reasons to hate draft, too.

Doesn't seem relevant.  Why do you care which of your opponents beat your other opponents?  In a swiss or single elimination format, there will be the same number of people with each record regardless of how you pass.
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 only draft online, so not a good article for me.  Im not complaining though.  Steve has definatly helped me get better at drafting.   Thanks!


Doesn't seem relevant.  Why do you care which of your opponents beat your other opponents?  In a swiss or single elimination format, there will be the same number of people with each record regardless of how you pass.



It would affect your tiebreakers, so it is somewhat relevant.
I really enjoyed the article.  I draft almost exclusively with 4 people and this helped me to put a finger on some of the things I've been seeing but not fully understanding.  We've got a 5th person lined up for our weekly play group so hopefully we can find a 6th sometime soon and then our decks and the strategies available can get more powerful for our drafts.

Something I would like to see in the future would be an in-depth walk-through of a high-profile (maybe tournament winning) draft.  Analysis of each pick along with reads of surrounding players.  You could even spread it out over 2 or 3 weeks.  You can find stuff like this out on other sites, but it's usually just from low-stakes MTGO tournaments and the quality is usually lacking.  Having a top-8 draft laid out and explained by a drafting expert who has written English language skills would be very cool.

Something I would like to see in the future would be an in-depth walk-through of a high-profile (maybe tournament winning) draft.  Analysis of each pick along with reads of surrounding players.  You could even spread it out over 2 or 3 weeks.  You can find stuff like this out on other sites, but it's usually just from low-stakes MTGO tournaments and the quality is usually lacking.  Having a top-8 draft laid out and explained by a drafting expert who has written English language skills would be very cool.



That sounds good, though I don't care much for the Pro Tour.  Perhaps it's a little late for this, as M2010 is no longer the newest set, but I thought it would be a good idea if you did the automated draft that pops up on Monday with us.  You know, the Draft Simulator?  If you could go through one of those drafts the week after we do, we could have a better sense of what kinds of cards we may be over-drafting, or why this pick makes more sense over that one.