Here's some things I'm not enjoying about the current Gatecrash draft environment:
Despite the fast speed and "percieved increase" in mana screw frequency, I was still enjoying Gatecrash a lot because of the deep game play once you get past those hurdles. But recent deck tech has changed the way the set is drafted. Simic decks are geared to try to chain a 1-drop evolver into 2-drop evolver and sport 18 to 20 creatures to consistently trigger evolve; some Gruul decks run only 1-2-3 drops and 15 land; Boros decks want as many 2-drops as possible (this part isn't recent); Orzhov decks focus on cheap spells; Dimir decks pick 2-drops highly in order to trade with the other guilds' 2-drops. All of this is contributing to "2-drop mania" in the 8-4 drafts. One-dimentional Style of Drafting You Have No Control Over
Because of this, 2-drops seem to be in high demand and they disappear very fast. It's like the whole drafting process is a contest of "Who gets the 2-drops?" My problem with this is that it's making the drafting stage into a very one-dimensional process. You don't have a whole lot of choice over how many you get to pick up, and you don't have an alternative direction to go in.
In many 8-4 drafts, I've experienced a severe draught of 2-drops. It seems many people were drafting decks that aim for eight+ 2-drops. When people succeed in doing so with Boros, Gruul, or Simic, they result in decks that are very hard to put up any resistance against, especially when your seat was denied the 2-drops for fighting them.
Now, if everyone is doing that, it shouldn't be possible for any one player to get such a high concentration of 2-drops. But there must have been less savvy players who don't value 2-drops interspersed between the ones trying to build the decks with eight+ 2-drops and snatching up every 2-drop they see, because I still get beaten over the head by decks that cast a 2-drop on turn 2, either cast a 3-drop on turn 3 or a 1-mana trick (like Bloodrush) and a 2-drop, then cast two 2-drops or a combat trick + one 2-drop on turn 4.No Alternatives Means the Pendulum Doesn't Swing Back
It's very frustrating when everyone is converging on the same target, and the answer that counters that thing (2-drops) is the same thing (casting 2-drops of your own). This kind of fight for the 2-drops is not very deep. When everyone is doing it, it feels like the amount of 2-drops you get is based on luck and seating order.
Even when you sense that area (2-drops) is being overdrafted, there's no other space to move into. I wish there were more 2-drops that aggro players don't want (something like a Doorkeeper
), so that the situation can be more of a self-balancing pendulum.Only Choice for Players: Find the Underdrafted Guild
Currently, I feel that the only control that you get over this situation (of trying to pick 2-drops but not seeing any) is in quickly finding out the guild that is most open and moving into it, but switching Guilds is also a risky proposition when you're often trying to draft a 18-creature deck. It's difficult to know when to do it. It seems some players are coping by drafting one color intensively so that they can move into either of the adjacent color as their guild. That's good, but I feel that drafting shouldn't all be about just finding the open colors or Guild, and right now it has become too much of a dominating factor."Draft the Cheaper Card" is Boring
It's not just 2-drops; so much of the card evaluation process in drafts has turned into "draft the cheaper card," and that is one-dimensional.Cool Archetypal Diversity, but Each Archetype Requires the Same 2-Drops as a Foundation
I do like the fact that many of the Guilds have multiple viable builds, like a controlling Orzhov vs. aggro Orzhov, milling Dimir vs. aggro Dimir, 15-land Gruul vs. big/multicolor Gruul. There is a lot of depth there, and I guess that being able to understand and navigate between those builds is also another aspect that players can have some amount of control over. However, it's still stressful that these different builds all need the same 2-drops.Existence of 5-Color Deck is Awesome but Not a Solution to This Problem
The 5-color control deck is a glimmer of hope. But it seems to be (rightfully) a fringe archetype, and it can probably only support one drafter per pod. My guess is that the archetype isn't available frequently enough to consistently provide an alternative way to draft. It may be more frequent than I think, but the risk is also great as it can result in a train wreck when there are several players drafting it and it doesn't come together. And the 5-color deck also needs the 2-drops! This Problem Surfaces as the Environment Matures
It's funny, the set still drafts similar to the time it was just released in many Swiss pods (many people who only draft online are still experiencing their first drafts), but in the 8-4s the players are more savvy to recent deck tech from draft decks that performed well in the Pro Tour. 2-drops dry up so fast. I've had many 8-4 drafts where I try to pick up 2-drops, but I hardly see any. Will the Metagame Swing Back?
Is this a trend that can swing back? I wonder if this situation will correct itself when literally
everyone goes for the 2-drops so that no one player can build such focused mono-low-drop decks.
I doubt it, but maybe the contest of "Who gets the 2-drops?" becomes more balanced and evened out as more players learn to join that contest. Theoretically, it's possible that mono-low-drop aggro decks get diluted by so much competition that they become unfocused. That would be fine.
But even if it does, just picking cards based on cost like this makes the card evaluation process during drafts very boring; it also feels like many aspects of that contest is out of your control.