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Attention to Detail #24
Five Chances
by Jordan Kronick
June 2, 2006

Welcome to the 24th edition of Attention to Detail. I'm writing this after a long and exhausting day of playing Magic. Today was the first day of Dissension release events on Magic Online, and I've been going all out to try to get a piece of the big prize. So I'm going to recap my exploits from the day to show a bit of what worked and quite a bit of what didn't.

This afternoon I decided to do a Dissension-Disse
Dissensionnsion-Dissension draft to pass the time before the premiere events opened. I went into it without really giving a lot of thought as to what I'd play. I was so excited to be using Dissension cards that I didn't plan a strategy from the beginning. As the rest of my events for the day show, maybe this was a good idea. I cracked my packs and saw some decent Simic stuff and jumped right on it. Now, you have to understand that there are basically two decks in DDD drafting. Either you fight with everyone else for the blue, green and white cards and play them all together or you try to pick up all the incredible Rakdos stuff that's flying by while other people are picking Simic Ragworms. I ended up with some very decent Simic cards including one of my personal favorites, Leafdrake Roost. To supplement that, I picked up a Supply//Demand to help me find my Roost. That served me well. I had three tough matches that went to three games apiece but in the end I pulled ahead and won the whole draft. That had me feeling pretty good about myself and my skill with the format. As you'll soon see, this may have been premature.

I joined a 2x release event and when my card pool came up, I knew I
was in trouble. My best card was a Crime//Punishment. That's a good card, but it's an answer and not a threat. And Ravnica block depends on having good threats. I commented to a friend the other day after a paper-based RGD draft that I had a deck full of good creatures and decent removal but it didn't seem to be working. The old theories for deck construction just don't apply in Ravnica. You need to have a ton of creatures or something special or tricky or you're just going to be dead in the water. I didn't really have much hope for my deck in this event, but I decided to tough it out (what choice did I have?) and try to get lucky. Luck didn't come and I went down like a knackered lift. That is to say, I lost badly. I went down 0-2 in two consecutive matches and dropped from the event before the digital ink had dried on my match slip. I was a bit disheartened, but I chalked it up to a bad pool. After all, I had some pretty decent games and I never got too terribly hosed on my mana. It just came down to card quality. Sometimes even the best decisions and best luck of the draw doesn't matter because your cards just stink. This event was that in spades.

So I moved myself back over to the draft queues. I
didn't have quite enough product laying around for another premiere event, but I could afford a draft so I hopped into the RGD queue. This time I had a plan. I decided that I would try to pick good blue cards from Ravnica and go either red/blue/green or blue/black/white. I ended up getting some very decent green cards as well out of the first pack, and I thought things were looking good. Unfortunately things didn't pan out in Guildpact. I couldn't find a decent card to save my life and my fortunes rested almost completely on Dissension. It ended up providing for me, and I got some of my favorites like a pair of Vigean Hydropons and a Patagia Viper. The deck was a little shallow on quality cards, but I hoped I had enough power to pull through. Unfortunately, after an afternoon of good luck on my draws, I was burnt out of fate. My mana didn't cooperate in either game and I lost quickly. I began to doubt my abilities with the format or at least my luck for the day.

I took a break and had some dinner and watched a bit of The Office. I relaxed and let my concerns float away. Then I got back on the horse. I pulled together enough product for another 2x Premiere Event. A friend of mine had joined one just before that so I knew at least I'd have somone to report my successes to. I cracked my deck and things actually looked much better. I opnened a nice selection of blue, green and white cards and decided to go for it. I even splashed red for Demonfire, which I knew was going to come in real handy even with two mountains in the whole deck. I was proven right in my first match. I finished off my opponent in game three with a 10 point untargetable Demonfire to the head for the win. It was glorious! If every game could go like this, I'd be sitting in the top 8 before too long. The second round surprisingly did follow this pattern. I drew the right cards and finished one game with a big Demonfire. A 2-0 start feels great, but I knew that I've been jinxed before in this situation. I only needed to win one more match and I'd be set for the easy road to the top 8 (which would have given me some time to write this column as well). It just didn't happen that way. I lost my 3rd round match after drawing 9 lands in a row when all I needed was one more point of damage for the win. I knew my deck was good and that I had a real good shot of winning, so I moved on to round four cautiously optimistic. And then I got slammed. My opponent was playing a deck nearly identical to my own. Two white/green/blue control decks with Mark of Eviction bouncing each other's creatures slowly and not doing a whole lot for most of the game. Early in the game I tried to pull away by using my Demonfire to take out his only defence against my slow moving flying onslaught. He had the Plaxmanta to counter it and as soon as he played it I knew I'd made the wrong choice. The game dragged on for another 10 turns after that at least. I managed to bring him down to 4 life and I could do nothing but stare at the Demonfire in my graveyard. If I'd just saved it instead of trying to be clever in the early game, I would have made top 8. Eventually he managed to overcome my fliers with Tolsimir Wolfblood and Momir Vig. It was pretty vicious but eventually he won. After examining the standings I realized that I had no chance of making top 8 anymore. I played out the fifth round in an attempt to salvage some of my lost rating points on the day. Because that's the way these things work, I had two incredible games. Both times I managed to draw the Leafdrake Roost that I hadn't seen in the previous four rounds. When all was said and done, I ended up in 9th place. I've wound up in that unenviable position more times than I can count. On the plus side, my friend had managed to make the top 8 in his event, so at least one of us was getting something for the effort.

After all that I wasn't quite falling asleep yet, so I decided to do one more RGD draft. I sold the Blood Crypt I'd opened in the last event (good idea to sell those early before the price drops, after all) and jumped in the queue. This tim, I thought, I was going to try to build a blue/red/black deck to evenly space myself amongst the packs and hopefully end up with a balanced pile. Here's the picks I made in the order I made them;

Vedalken Dismisser
Compulsive Research

Tidewater Minion
Snapping Drake
Strands of Undeath
Szadek
Lurking Informant
Cloudstone Curio
Induce Paranoia
Dimir Machinations
Convolute
Lurking Informant
Sadistic Augermage
Twisted Justice
Zephyr Spirit

Electrolyze
Skarrgan Firebird
Izzet Chronarc
Wee Dragonauts
Leyline of the Void
Repeal
Dunebrood Nephilim
Vacuumelt
Thunderheads
Frazzle
Shattering Spree
Hissing Miasma
Gigadrowse
Starved Rusalka
Lionheart Maverick

Unliving Psychopath
Seal of Doom
Rakdos Ickspitter
Sky Hussar
Seal of Fire
Macabre Waltz
Helium Squirter
Simic Signet
Vigean Hydropon
Coiling Oracle
Enigma Eidolon
Blessing of the Nephilim
Slaughterhouse Bouncer
Haazda Exonerator
Thrive

The deck looked great except for one glaring problem – the mana. I never saw a single Signet or Karoo in my colors. Things looked so bad that I
considered running the Simic Signet just for a little acceleration. I opted against it, and I guess that may have been my demise. Other than that problem, I was very happy with this deck. My early blue picks were strong and I picked up the 6th pick Szadek that made me really happy. I hoped that would allow me to get some real decent Rakdos removal in the third pick, and I did get a couple Seals. Deck construction can't make up for bad luck though. In the first game I couldn't find a swamp to save my life. In the second game, I couldn't find enough land period. Let that be a lesson to you all – Ravnica moves fast and you need to have mana that can keep up. Simply hoping you draw the right basic lands will very likely not be enough to save you.

So what did I learn from my ill-fated foray into the release events? Well, first of all I learned that the best laid plans, etc etc. Secondly, I learned that I may very well be cursed to come in 9th whenever things are looking good. All in all, it was a disappointing day. I lost nearly 80 points off my rating, which was painful. I spent an awful lot of money with very little to show for it, which was downright agonizing. I'm not done yet, though. I'll be playing more events this week. Ravnica block is going to be with us for quite a while, and I intend to master it to the best of my abilities. Here's hoping that I've absorbed enough bad luck for all of us.


 




 

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