Yes, I'm a loser at booster draft. Trouble is, it's the format my local FNM does, so unless I get better, it's either the Sunday tournaments (and I don't have a powerful enough constructed deck for that) or nothing.
I've drafted three times. First time, I actually came in 10th out of 18; I guess I got lucky. Second time, 22nd out of 23rd. Third time, 24th- dead last. I had a creature heavy deck, but was completely oblivious to the fact that the player on my right was in my colors, and yanked every bomb. I was grabbing lots of fliers and evasion, but my deck died when it hit mid-game, since I didn't have any creatures with a power greater than 2. How do you know what you're missing when you never see it in the first place?
Anyway, I need some help and general advice. Third draft, my problem was signaling, obviously. Second draft, the issue was selecting colors too early. I pulled a Mercurial Chemister first pack, and locked myself into Izzet immediately. My first draft was obviously beginners luck, as I opened two major bombs in the same color in my first two packs- Niv-Mizzet, and Jace. So I'm pretty sure I know what I did wrong each time, I just don't know enough to really avoid it.
So- some questions.
-How long do I wait before selecting colors? I guess just grabbing the best cards for the first three or four picks in every pack, then seeing what I've got from there?
-Where does ramp/color fixing rank on priority in general? When should I grab a keyrune or guildgate over a 2/2 flier? (Okay, the Azorius Keyrune -is- a 2/2 flier, and was the only reason I lasted to mid-game in my third draft games at all.)
-Should I actually separate my picks into BREAD piles to make sure I'm getting enough bombs? It's probably obvious to everyone else at that point what I'm doing, but right now, I'm more worried about getting a playable deck than anything else. (FNM does zone drafting, so I'm not too worried about mixing up the card piles.)
-Are there any obvious hints for signalling that I can pick up? (In general, I'm Mr Oblivious, so I need a signal to tap me on the head like a rubber mallet.) The player to my right was flabberghasted I'd picked the colors I did once all the picks were done, since he knew he'd yanked all the bombs.
Plus any general advice would be appreciated!
Go easy on yourself. It's not as easy as we make it sound. I screw up a draft every now and then. Sometimes I make a crazy good deck and go 1-3...it happens.
First of all the BREAD acrynm is useful but don't follow it TOO closely.
Play your style of cards.
I do recommend for new players to use the first half of pack one to pick all the best cards. You'll have 37 more picks to make the first 7 cards work.
Trial by error will be your best friend.
You can't read the signals until you know the relative strengths of the cards.
How would you rate Voidwielder , Centaur Healer , Drudge Beetle , call of the conclave ??
You should know these things as you will only have a few seconds to pick an answer...so you should have an idea of what you would pick over what.
Drafting is hard. Take no small amount of comfort in that.
Here's a ratio to remember: 16:7. That stands for 16 creatures and 7 removal spells. That's your most basic limited deck, if you include 23 lands as well. I strongly recommend against deviating from this ratio for new players. Ultimately, the key here is any combination of on-curve* cards that add up to 40, including lands, but the 16:7 has worked pretty consistently for newbies and pros for many years.
It's always best to know a set. It just helps you figure out what you might see in the next pack, and what's missing from the packs you're getting. You can't pick up on signals if you don't know a set.
I've had successful drafts where I didn't pick the colors I was playing until the middle of pack 2. I've had successful drafts where I snagged a bomb pack 1 pick 1 and never had to deviate thereafter. Generally, I have my colors figured out by pick 6 or 7 of pack 1.
*Curve is key in any deck. Having a turn 1, turn 2, and turn 3 play will almost always put you well ahead of your opponent.
Thoughts on the cards-
Voidweilder- temporary removal combined with defense, but expensive. (I know a lot of people say it's good, I just haven't seen it in play.) If I've got other cards with effects that trigger when something enters or leaves the battlefield, its value goes up significantly.
Centaur Healer- half a thragtusk for 3 mana. Looks like a solid card, but not a bomb. Life gain shouldn't be a goal in and of itself.
Drudge Beetle- fills in the gaps if you're low on creatures, but the ability is overpriced. Of course, in draft, you can actually get the mana needed to scavange it for late game. A 2/2 for 2 isn't fantastic though, considering the next card-
Call of the Conclave- 3/3 for 2 is good, can be out on turn two for major damage unless they can deal with it. Do I have populate cards to work with?...
If I had to rank these, I'd pick Call of the Conclave, Centaur Healer, Voidweilder, and Drudge Beetle, in that order.
Am I way off?
As far as draft, it just really takes a lot of practice. Mana curve is a really big thing to consider as well. I find it to be one of the more important things to learn to keep in mind as well as keep filled out. There are several web sites devoted to mostly draft videos and I would suggest checking them out. (namely Channel Fireball and Draft Magic)
One problem you will face right now is the format has matured so a lot of people know what cards are good and not good. While you are fighting the battle of figuring out the format while also learning to draft. In about a month there will be an entirley new format and you will be on more even ground with other drafters. I would took the time until then just to get better at basics of drafting rather than master this format. The BREAD is a good basic and starting point. Though not the end all be all. Mana curve is another good one.
Signals are tough. To anybody a color can seem really open while the person in front of them is in the color. You also have pack distributions where sometimes a pack has a lot of good cards in one color and maybe none in another. AVR seemed the worst at this as you could open 4 packs and none of them have a certain color so it would seem to everyone that color is cut while nobody is in it. You need to balance between power of the cards in certain color while the numbers of cards in other colors.
I also agree that you can't let the results get you too down. Everyone has those times where they get an amazing deck in draft but scrub out simply due to bad draws. Then many people have the most horrible decks, but happen to draw the 1 or 2 good cards in their deck every time and enough mana to cast while the opponents have mana issues and win. I know I've had many examples of both.
I recommend going on youtube and searching "return to ravnica draft"
You will find more than two dozen draft videos where the drafter speaks aloud his pick choices. This will give you a good idea about what other fairly successful drafters are thinking as they do it, how they value their picks, etc. They're not perfect but it should give you some good insights.
My first booster draft was the last FNM draft of the 2013 Core set at my local store before the release of Return to Ravnica made that the new drafting set.
Since then, I've been drafting anywhere between one and three times a week with only a handful of exceptions, addicted to the format (and the game itself, something I'm quite new to) and have grown from consistently ending up 7th or 8th out of 8 people in a single draft to holding my first flawless "1st place" at the end of the year, and on average ending up 3rd or 4th.
Practice is a huge element, learning from both mistakes and examples which cards are or are not as reliable or significant tools to victory, and which ones ended up as dead weights every time you played them. Your response to Urzasapprentice on the cards he gave seemed just about perfect (though I would personally consider Voidwielder a better bet than Centuar Healer because of how strong bounce and quasi-removal effects are in Return to Ravnica).
In response to your questions, though, here's my advice from what I've learnt over time. I cannot stress enough that they are just my own opinion and I am very new to Magic the Gathering relative to most people on the forum, so take everything I say with a pinch of salt.
While some people at my store would disagree, I find it's usually simplest to make your first 2 or 3 picks under the assumption you're going to play a specific guild, usually chosen depending on the best cards on offer in the first two picks. Let's say, first pick Dreg Mangler (after seeing an unimpressive Rare like Conjured Currency ) and second pick a Thrill-Kill Assassin . In this example, you're ready to play Golgari colors (Green-Black) and should stick to that, and you have two strong creatures to start with. That said, if need be you should still be particularly open to taking some GOOD white or Red cards in case you want to shift your focus or just splash into Rakdos (Black-Red) or Selesnya (Green-White) colors.
If you get to your third pick, its not usually easy to see what colors the people near you ARE playing...but you can probably see what they're NOT playing. In this circumstance, if I saw a Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage or a Call of the Conclave , I would make the assumption nobody that the two people to my right are not playing Selesnya Colors yet. If you get to your 9th pick and you're seeing commons like Centaur's Herald , then I would take it and change to playing dedicated populate-based deck then and there, because its clear not many other people on the table are fighting for cards to enable these decks.
The later you see what you'd call 'good' cards, the more sure you can be that not many people are playing those colors.
In general, start with 2 colors in mind, and if you find yourself struggling to get many playables by 6th pick, then try to move into an adjacent 'guild' if possible. Like giving up the Green-Black Golgari for the Black-Red Rakdos, where you might still be able to make use of some of the cards you've already got, while opening yourself up to a hopefully less-contested color of card. Try to keep at least one of the 2 colors you chose at the start.
By the start of Pack 2, you should be locked in to at LEAST 1 of your 2 colors. By the end of Pack 2, you should now know what colors you're playing for certain and what cards you need to finish your deck (say, creatures or removal or high-costs or low-costs or mana fixing if you're playing 3 or 4 colors).
Hopefully that wasn't all too confusing. To summarize: Choose two colors, and be ready to give up one of them if better cards present themselves.
Ramp and Color Fixing
Guildgates and Transguild Promenades are of very little value if you're getting enough good cards (enough 'playables') in two colors on their own. Guildgates of your guild are good to pick if there's nothing else of interest, but they're rarely much more valuable than simple basic lands. True, they prevent you from being screwed on a color as easily, but they also slow you down - and if you're only playing 2 colors mana fixing like them is rarely necessary.
In particular, if you're playing Rakdos colors you might steer away from the Guildgates because they slow you down - not something Red/Black handles well. Compare to Golgari or Selesnya, who can usually afford the slower nature of the guildgates for their reliability, because these guilds aim for the late-game.
If you're playing 3 or more colors, THEN mana fixers become necessary, or at least useful. If I'm playing Green/Black with a handful of Red cards (like Rakdos, Lord of Riots , Hellhole Flailer and Cobblebrute ), then a Rakdos Guildgate is valuable, and useful even if it takes me a while before I draw any red cards after playing it. Also, because I'm splitting my land already, Golgari Guildgate should decrease the chances of me being left without Forests or Swamps when I need them to play my cards.
The Keyrunes, though, tend to be good cards even in two-color decks, though they shine most when used for mana-fixing as well. While, again, fast-paced decks will be slowed down by them, they serve multiple purposes. They ramp, provide fixing AND can double as creatures for blocking or attacking. They're usually good picks regardless of your guild, as long as they're in your colors.
Although not the right pack I found the youtube videos made by Jack, the Mind Sculptor to be helpful. Unfortunetly the FNM place that is close to where I work on fridays doesn't always have enough people for a draft only managed it 2 times out of the 4 I have gone but gotten first and second.
BTW I have noticed that people who are good at using a limited card pool to make causual decks are good drafters. Both my brother and I have been coolecting for awhile however we did not get a massive amount of cards like other people between this and budgeting our decks (grabbing 1$ cards that do similar things to the 5$ cards) we have become pretty good at working off for a lack of a better phrase bad cards.
What can be fun and supprising relivant is pull out your old cards with some friends and just make decks from your cards that just are not very good, it will help you learn how to fit together bad cards.
Last time drafted I made a control agro deck using low mana selsnia and a large amount of azourus arrestor
And also READ YOUR CARDS I have won quite a few games because my opponents did not read their cards.
voidwielder is a good splash in almost any deck. I've used him in a base golgari deck.
I am not a great drafter myself but that is because I'll pick sexy cards that I would like to add to some conglomeration of cards to call a casual deck. And I'll tell myself it's a 'hate' pick when it really isn't.
Don't hate draft at least until after the 9th pick
As far as the Call of the Conclave Voidwielder comparison, here is some food for thought, having opened your first pack, rushing to the rare and see a Slaughter Games you have narrowed your pick to a call, a voidwelder and a Splatter Thug the pack is slanted towards Golgari now by slanted I mean there are solid cards for that guild like Trestle Troll which is a solid pick along with Golgari Decoy In this draft the call would be my choice and my reasoning would be along the lines of 2 things. First, by the time the voidwelder is online you probably have swung at least 2 turns with the centaur and at least have knocked of some random dude.
Having made that pick, i would now force selesnya, focusing on tokens, which ups cards like Eyes in the Sky Seller of Songbirds and Druids Deliverence . My focus is now set on token generators and combat tricks that keep my weenies alive while they
One thing about Return to Ravnica is that there is a serious stall element in limited formats, which means a way to punch through damage later in the game when the game has stalled out. which makes cards like Blustersquall valuable in this format
Well, hurray! I no longer consider myself a total loser! Placed 19th out of 23 and managed to win my first round, after reading up and some heavy draft simulation over the internet. (I do go to a shop that many people have noted as being very competative, with a lot of stiff competition.)
I just followed some of the advice I was given- took the best picks through the first pack, didn't decide until later what colors I'd go into. My first pack started out with a Sphinx of the Chimes , which I grabbed as a bomb, but the next few picks had excellent cards in white and green, so I started leaning Azorius with some splash for green... while still grabbing a Stab Wound when it came up.
Then, second pack, I opened a foil Vraska the Unseen . Quickly glancing at the rest of my picks, I ended up switching gears entirely, and going Golgari... mainly. Ended up with a spread of 4 Plains, 5 Forest, and 9 Swamps, ditching blue entirely. I was not optimistic about going three color in draft, but it only affected one game- where I ended up with no swamps and couldn't play the majority of cards in my hand. (Really should have mulliganed that time.) Most games I ended up with at least one land of each color, which, in RtR, is enough to cast most spells.
I ended up winning my first round 2-0, and going 1-2 in the second round. (I lost the third round 0-2, but got mana-hosed the first game.) So it looks like things are starting to turn around. I'm glad that booster draft is flexible enough to let you switch colors 1/3 of the way through without significantly affecting your game.
I think the mistake was made when you went all in on vraska. Your mana split is very heavy black, pretty much saying screw my entire first pack! I've seen 5 color and what not do very well, its really just about if you can snatch up a gate or 2, or get a promenade when hitting 3+ colors.
We could also help you a little further if you would post your draft pools and decks.
The last one with Vraska (for example) could be very interesting and you might learn how to get the best out of such situation.
I don't think that changing entirely your guilds after pack1 was particularly a smart move.
During all pack1, you have been cutting White, Blue and to some extent Green. This means that you have good chances to have 2-3 players to your left drafting Golgari/Rakdos (and perhaps Izzet but I doubt it). Guess how many "good" black cards will go through that pack2?
So you endup at the begining of Pack3 with many green cards, some white cards, some blue cards (that you disregard) and some very average black cards (except for the Wound and the Vraska). You are now in 4 colors with no consistency at all...
While for most drafters, P3 will be useful to pick mana fixers and fillers, you will need good bodies and ALSO mana fixers, leaving you more than once in doubt if you should take a guildgate or a Tower indrik... I could bet that your deck, let out Vraska, was very average. Then, if you don't draw Vraska, imagine what is the logic ending of the game.
You were already in W/G and probably would have been better off staying W/G splashing black for Vraska.
Don't give up, you are on the good way.
About draft...Jump right in.
During your first draft you shouldn't think about signals. In fact your group might not be good at "cooperating" or "hating" anyway.
For the first 4-5 picks just take whichever card you feel to be the best of the pack, after that you might try to angle towards a certain guild. But if you get a bomb in pack two or three you may still be able to change gears.
Some people have success really quickly and others struggle for a while.
Sometimes you build a great limited deck and still go 1-3.
Sometimes you build a mediocre deck but draw well and go 3-1.
Don't be intimidated. Just view it as any new skill. You will probably not be great at first but if you continue to learn and try new things it will all become clear. You just have to jump in and learn to swim.
im not very good at draft but i found an app for android called mtg booster. its free..ish. < some set are .99c it simulates a draft lets you build your deck w/lands and look at sample hands. not sure how reliable it is as a learning tool but i have learned a little from it. best of all you open fake packs which is much cheaper than real ones.
Loser no more! I placed 5th at last night's FNM (Out of 17). Granted, it was mainly due to a third round bye, but I'll take it. We had a tiny pool- six people, and one had never even looked at RtR before (first time he'd played since Innstrad.) I actually think he really hurt the draft by grabbing random stuff, but whatever. First pack, I opened an Overgrown Tomb , so I won the draft, if not the tournament. Grabbed a few good cards, started leaning Selesnya. Then noticed there was lots of good black removal, and not much good W/G. Then I got a pack rat, which it turns out four(!!) people passed. Ended up going Junk... With some major advice on deck-building from one of the guys who ended up placing top four. Hey, even though I didn't do it all myself, two thirds of the game is the actual draft and how you play the cards.
Anyway, had fun, and that's what matters. RtR drafts are over now that GtC is out, so the learning curve on the cards just got reset. Looking forward to drafting and learning more!
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