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Jeff Zandi is a five time pro tour veteran who has been playing Magic since 1994. Jeff is a level two DCI judge and has been judging everything from small local tournaments to pro tour events. Jeff is from Coppell, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, where his upstairs game room has been the "Guildhall", the home of the Texas Guildmages, since the team formed in 1996. One of the original founders of the team, Jeff Zandi is the team's administrator, and is proud to continue the team's tradition of having players in every pro tour from the first event in 1996 to the present.

 

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This Space For Rent

The Southwestern Paladin

Fun With Magic: Three Wide Fast Draft
A Fun New Format Somewhere Between Sealed and Draft
by Jeff Zandi
5.06.05

Looking for a fun, competitive limited format for just two players? After having played all the rest, I created a very quick draft format for two players. Each player needs five booster packs. In the current environment, I would suggest each player use three Champions boosters and two Betrayers boosters. Of course, this format is just for fun, so use whatever boosters you have available and you can still get a lot out of it.

A lot of times, you either feel like opening some booster packs, but you hate to just rip ‘em open without getting any play out of them. Other times, it’s just you and one other guy, you want to play booster draft but you don’t have enough players. This new format that I have developed, clumsily named Three Wide Fast Draft at this point, can solve both problems. Quicker than a draft, yet more strategic than sealed deck, this format gives two players an opportunity to rapidly select cards with which to build a forty card minimum deck. The total number of cards involved for each player is seventy-five, the same as in sealed deck play. Here’s how the Three Wide Fast Draft works:

Using three Champions and two Betrayers boosters each, the order in which the packs are opened and drafted should be all three Champions boosters followed by the Betrayers boosters.

Each player opens their first booster pack. Each player selects THREE of the cards from the booster and places these three cards face down in front of them. When each player has selected three cards from their packs, they each pass the remaining twelve cards from their first booster to the other player. That’s it. Pack one is finished. Each player now reviews their fifteen cards. When each player is finished reviewing, they each open their second booster pack and do the same thing. While players are looking at a booster and selecting the three cards that they are going to take from that booster, they cannot look at any of their other cards. However, between booster packs, players are always allowed to look at all the cards that they have drafted or received from their opponent. If the idea of ripping a pack open, taking the best three cards from it for your deck and then tossing the remaining twelve cards to your opponent sounds really simplistic to you, IT IS. It may sound TOO EASY, requiring too little skill. All I can say is I hope you will try this strange little format before you pass judgment. If you try this format, I think you and whoever you play with will be surprised at how much better your resulting decks are compared to an average sealed deck. I believe the decks that result in this format are normally as powerful as average booster draft decks.

FIGHTING FOR CARDS

One occasion when decks drafted in this format are not nearly as powerful is when both players lock onto the same colors in their first packs. There are two reasons for this. Obviously, if both players are focusing on blue, for example, there will be fewer high quality blue cards in either player’s deck. It may be less obvious that if both players are heavily drafting black, not only will each player receive fewer all-important removal effects, but many of the black removal spells will not work on black creatures. Black on black crime is the biggest danger in this draft format.
This would be true in the current limited environment no matter what.

Basically, the more the two drafters fight over the same color, the worse each of their decks will be. The more the two players stay out of each other’s colors, the better each player’s deck will be.

That having been said, I found that it was perfectly cool to defensively draft a truly dangerous card that was clearly not going to go into my deck.

WINNING WITH THE OTHER GUY’S JUNK

After five packs, you should be very happy with fifteen of your cards…BECAUSE YOU SELECTED THEM, three at a time, from full booster packs.
However, the cards that you receive as throwaways from your opponent will be almost equally important. This is because you NEED twenty-two or twenty-three playable cards in order to build your deck. In order to effectively build a decent deck limited to only two colors, you need to get quality cards from your opponent’s throwaways (the twelve cards you receive from each pack your opponent opens).

JUST DRAFT THE THREE BEST CARDS NO MATTER WHAT?

People that haven’t tried this format tell me they would just grab the three best cards from each pack they opened, then take their assembled cards at the end and build a deck just as though it was a slightly improved sealed deck format. I disagree with this strategy. Yes, I definitely rely on the most powerful cards in the first two packs I open to determine my primary color or even my primary and secondary color. Yes, it’s also true that a very powerful card in a third color could cause me to change my colors or to include a third color to my deck. But no, I don’t think the right play is to just draft the three most powerful cards in each pack. In the two decks below, you can see how several important lessons play out. First, each deck ends up with a power level at least equal to average booster draft decks thanks to the two players not fighting over colors. You can also see how the player drafting DECK B was faced with the possibility of playing very strong cards in red, black and green. By focusing on a deck with only two colors, DECK B’s designer was able to make better decisions in the third, fourth and fifth packs.

MORE FUN THAN SEALED

Most players don’t like to practice sealed deck play. Most players feel like sealed decks are simply a matter of stripping down whatever cards you receive to the most powerful deck as objectively possible. This format breaks this sealed deck complaint by giving each player more power over the cards that will go in their card pool. The draft portion of this format takes only minutes, which is a lot more like sealed deck than booster draft.
You can easily be building your deck ten minutes after you and your opponent open your first packs.

BUILDING A FAST DECK BUILT TO WIN

Basically, the optimal situation is this: draft three really good cards from each of your five packs, without defensively drafting any cards that you really don’t want to play in your deck. Now you have fifteen above average cards for your deck. Now you only need to find seven or eight cards among all the throwaways from your opponent to complete your deck. The key is to examine the cards tossed to you by your opponent from the first pack.
Reviewing these cards will help you figure out what colors your opponent is interested in and what colors he is “giving” you. It’s pretty hard figuring out what kinds of cards are missing from the first booster your opponent opened. It is far easier, however, to assess that if you opponent tosses you a powerful green card in the throwaways from his first booster pack, he or she is not playing green.

Figuring out what colors your opponent is drafting can help you keep from fighting with your opponent over colors. Figuring out your opponent’s colors also helps you design your deck as you draft it in order to optimize it for the weaknesses inherent in the color combinations of your opponent. For example, if you are drafting blue/white and you have a good idea that your opponent is in black/red, you can be pretty sure that he won’t have any ways to get rid of enchantments, making some normally-marginal cards perfectly useful in your deck. If you ARE fighting with your opponent over black cards, you may decide to rate Horobi’s Whisper a little lower in the last packs since you suspect that your opponent will have a lot of black creatures in his deck.

TWO EXAMPLE DECKS AND SOME PLAY-BY-PLAY

Below, you can see how two decks were drafted, pack by pack, using this new one-on-one draft format. You will see which three cards from the pack were taken by each player as well as which twelve cards were left behind from each player’s pack (and given to that player’s opponent).

DECK A
PACK 1
Takes: Kabuto Moth, Teller of Tales, Honden of Seeing Winds
Passes: Kami of Fire’s Roar, Midnight Covenant, Jukai Messenger, Field of Reality, Hearth Kami, Nezumi Ronin, Humble Budoka, Uncontrollable Anger, Soratami Cloudskater, Strength of Cedars, Kuro Pitlord, Cleanfall PACK 2
Takes: Kabuto Moth, Soratami Mirror-Guard, Samurai of the Pale Curtain
Passes: Joyous Respite, Psychic Puppetry, Serpent Skin, Nezumi Ronin, Reach Through Mists, Hearth Kami, Befoul, Vine Kami, Night Dealings, Strange Inversion, Horizon Seed, Feral Deceiver PACK 3
Takes: Otherworldly Journey, Honden of Infinite Rage, Kitsune Blademaster
Passes: Soulless Revival, Kami of the Hunt, Counsel of the Soratami, Sokenzan Bruiser, Kitsune Diviner, Ronin Houndmaster, Scuttling Death, Befoul, Shizo Death’s Storehouse, Reito Lantern, Desperate Ritual, Vigilance PACK 4
Takes: Ninja of the Deep Hours, Kyoki Sanity’s Eclipse, Budoka Pupil
Passes: Mending Hands, Ribbons of the Reikei, Frost Ogre, Skullsnatcher, Child of Thorns, Phantom Wings, Moonlit Strider, Gods’ Eye Gate to the Reikei, Quash, Crawling Filth, Petalmane Baku, Ire of Kaminari PACK 5
Takes: Moonlit Strider, Ninja of the Deep Hours, Horobi’s Whisper
Passes: Toils of Night and Day, Ire of Kaminari, Silverstorm Samurai, Shinka Gatekeeper, Sakura-Tribe Springcaller, Ribbons of the Reikai, Kentaro the Smiling Cat, First Volley, Unchecked Growth, Stream of Consciousness, Cunning Bandit, Traproot Kami

DECK B
PACK 1
Takes: Ronin Houndmaster, Mystic Restraints, Villainous Ogre
Passes: Ragged Veins, Wear Away, Thoughtbind, Akki Avalanchers, Kitsune Diviner, Serpent Skin, Reach Through Mists, No-Dachi, Mindblaze, Cut the Tethers, Ore Gorger, Quiet Purity PACK 2
Takes: Seizan Perverter of Truth, Swallowing Plague, Pull Under
Passes: Silent-Chant Zubera, River Kaijin, Unearthly Blizzard, Harsh Deceiver, Waking Nightmare, Kashi-Tribe Warriors, Ember-Fist Zubera, Soulless Revival, Feast of Worms, Sensei’s Divining Top, Order of the Sacred Bell, Cage of Hands PACK 3
Takes: Kami of Fire’s Roar, Strength of Cedars, Kodama’s Might
Passes: Crushing Pain, Ethereal Haze, Midnight Covenant, Sift Through Sands, Stone Rain, Harsh Deceiver, Cursed Ronin, Forest, Junkyo Bell, Horizon Seed, Hana Kami, Teller of Tales PACK 4
Takes: Okiba-Gang Shinobi, Horobi’s Whisper, Ogre Maurader
Passes: Terashi’s Grasp, Call for Blood, Traproot Kami, Toils of Night and Day, Sakura-Tribe Springcaller, Ribbons of the Reikai, Kami of Tattered Shoji, Frostling, Sowing Salt, Sakio Mother of Summer, Forked-Branch Garami, Crack the Earth PACK 5
Takes: Horobi’s Whisper, Cunning Bandit, First Volley
Passes: Silverstorm Samurai, Crawling Filth, Vital Surge, Blademane Baku Kami of False Hope, Harbinger of Spring, Teardrop Kami, Goblin Cohort, Phantom Wings, Shizuko Caller of Autumn, Sosuke’s Summons, Heed the Mists

HERE ARE THE DECKS CREATED FROM THIS DRAFT

DECK A
2 Kabuto Moth
1 Kami of Tattered Shoji
1 Kami of False Hope
1 Kitsune Diviner
1 Otherworldly Journey
1 Samurai of the Pale Curtain
1 Cage of Hands
1 Kitsune Blademaster
1 Moonlit Strider
1 Harsh Deceiver
1 River Kaijin
1 Honden of Seeing Winds
1 Ribbons of the Reikai
2 Ninja of the Deep Hours
1 Soratami Mirror-Guard
2 Teller of Tales
1 Teardrop Kami
1 Phantom Wings
1 Honden of Infinite Rage
1 Sensei’s Divining Top
2 Mountain
8 Plains
7 Island
IMPORTANT SIDEBOARD CARDS:
1 Terashi’s Grasp
1 Toils of Night and Day
1 Ethereal Haze
1 Thoughtbind
1 Quiet Purity
1 Silverstorm Samurai

DECK B
2 Hearth Kami
2 Cunning Bandit
2 First Volley
2 Ronin Houndmaster
2 Kami of Fire’s Roar
1 Shinka Gatekeeper
1 Soulless Revival
1 Skullsnatcher
2 Befoul
1 Okiba-Gang Shinobi
1 Scuttling Death
1 Swallowing Plague
2 Horobi’s Whisper
1 Ogre Marauder
2 Nezumi Ronin
9 Mountain
8 Swamp
IMPORTANT SIDEBOARD CARDS:
1 Ire of Kaminari
1 Pull Under
1 Sokenzan Bruiser
1 Frost Ogre

Here’s what three games looked like between decks A and B.

GAME ONE
T1 A goes first keeping Plains, Island, Honden of Seeing Winds, Cage of Hands, Kami of False Hope, Ninja of the Deep Hours, Sensei’s Divining Top.
Plays Plains, Kami of False Hope.
T1 B keeps Mountain x2, Swamp x3, Kami of Fire’s Roar, First Volley, Draws Hearth Kami. Plays Swamp.
T2 A draws Kitsune Diviner. Plays Island, Attacks with Kami, uses Ninja of the Deep Hours’ ability to return Kami to hand (20-18) draws Ninja of the Deep Hours.
T2 B draws Soulless Revival. Plays Mountain, Hearth Kami.
T3 A draws Honden of Infinite Rage. Plays Sensei’s Divining Top. Taps top putting Top on top of library and drawing Harsh Deceiver. Plays Kitsune Diviner.
T3 B draws Befoul. Plays Mountain, First Volley targeting Kitsune Diviner
(19-18)
T4 A draws and plays Sensei’s Divining Top, activates Top, replacing the top three cards of his library in this order, (first card replaced first, third card ending up on top of library), Otherworldly Journey, Plains, Plains.
Activated Top, drawing Plains and putting Top on top of library. Plays Plains, Kami of False Hope.
T4 B draws Hearth Kami. Plays Swamp, Kami of Fire’s Roar.
T5 A draws and plays Sensei’s Divining Top.
T5 B draws Shinka Gatekeeper, plays Swamp, Befoul targeting Island. A responds by activating Top, replacing the top three cards of his library in the following order, Otherworldly Journey, Kitsune Blademaster, Plains.
T6 A draws and plays Plains.
T6 B draws and plays Swamp, Shinka Gatekeeper. A activates Top replacing the top three cards of his library in the following order, Ribbons of the Reikei, Otherworldly Journey, Kitsune Blademaster.
T7 A draws and plays Kitsune Blademaster.
T7 B draws Befoul, plays Befoul targeting Kitsune Blademaster. Plays Hearth Kami, activating Kami of Fire’s Roar making Ninja of the Deep Hours unable to block. Attack with Hearth Kami, Kami of Fire’s Roar and Shinka Gatekeeper. A activates Top replacing the top three cards of his library in the following order, Ribbons of the Reikei, Teardrop Kami, Otherworldly Journey. A sacrifices Kami of the False Hope.
T8 A draws Otherworldly Journey. Activates Top replacing the top three cards of his library in the following order, Ribbons of the Reikei, Teardrop Kami, Plains. Activates Top placing Top on top of his library and drawing and playing Plains. Attacks with Ninja, blocked by Hearth Kami. With damage on the stack, A plays Otherworldly Journey targeting Ninja.
T8 B draws and plays Mountain. Attacks with Gatekeeper (16-18)
T9 A draws and plays Sensei’s Divining Top, Cage of Hands targeting Kami of Fire’s Roar. Attacks with Ninja, blocked by Hearth Kami. With damage on the stack, B activates and sacrifices Hearth Kami targeting Divining Top. A responds by activating Divining Top putting Top on top of library and drawing Teardrop Kami.
T9 B draws and plays Ogre Marauder. Attacks with Gatekeeper (13-18) T10 A draws Sensei’s Divining Top. Plays Top. Activates Top replacing the top three cards of his library in the following order, Ribbons of the Reikai, Phantom Wings, Island. Activates Top putting Top on top of his library, drawing Island. Plays Island, Teardrop Kami.
T10 B draws and plays Swamp. Attacks with Ogre Marauder. A sacrifices Teardrop Kami so that he can block with Ninja.
T11 A draws Sensei’s Divining Top, plays Honden of Seeing Winds. B plays Soulless Revival returning Ogre Marauder to his hand.
T11 B draws and plays Cunning Bandit, Ogre Marauder, attacks with Gatekeeper
(10-18)
T12 A draws and plays Sensei’s Divining Top, Harsh Deceiver.
T12 B draws Swallowing Plague. Plays Plague targeting Harsh Deceiver (10-24) and putting a counter on Cunning Bandit. Attacks with Bandit, Ogre and Gatekeeper (3-24)
T13 A draws Ribbons of the Reikei and Plains. CONCEDES DECK B WINS GAME ONE ON TURN THIRTEEN

GAME TWO
T1 Deck A plays first keeping Island x2, Sensei’s Divining Top, Samurai of the Pale Curtain, Kami of False Hope, River Kaijin and Teller of Tales.
Plays Island, Top.
T1 Deck B keeps Swamp x4, Mountain, First Volley, Hearth Kami, Befoul. Draws Horobi’s Whisper. Plays Swamp.
T2 Deck A activates Top replacing the top three cards of his library in the following order, Teardrop Kami, Kabuto Moth and Plains. Draws and plays Plains, Kami of False Hope.
T2 B draws Cunning Bandit. Plays Mountain, Hearth Kami.
T3 A draws Kabuto Moth. Plays Island, Kabuto Moth.
T3 B draws and plays Mountain, Cunning Bandit. Attacks with Hearth Kami blocked by Kami of False Hope.
T4 A draws Teardrop Kami, plays River Kaijin.
T4 B draws Mountain, plays Swamp, Befoul targeting Kabuto Moth.
T5 A activates Top replacing the top three cards of this library in the following order, Ribbons of the Reikai, Honden of Infinite Rage, Island.
Draws and plays Island, Teardrop Kami.
T5 B draws Swallowing Plague. Plays Swamp. Attacks with Bandit, plays First Volley targeting Teardrop Kami (sacrificed to tap already-tapped Bandit) and playing Horobi’s Whisper targeting River Kaijin, putting two counters on Bandit. (18-20) B flips Cunning Bandit into Azamuk, Treachery Incarnate. A activates Top replacing the top three cards of his library in the following order, Ribbons of the Reikai, Honden of Infinite Rage, Ninja of the Deep Hours.
T6 A draws and plays Ninja of the Deep Hours.
T6 B draws Soulless Revival, plays Mountain. Plays Swallowing Plague (x=4) targeting Ninja. (18-24). Attacks with Azamuki (13-24)
T7 A activates Top replacing the top three cards of his library in the following order, Ribbons of the Reikai, Honden of Infinite Rage, Moonlit Strider. Draws Moonlit Strider.
T7 B draws and plays Ronin Houndmaster, attacks with both (6-24)
T8 A activates Top replacing the top three cards of his library in the following order, Ribbons of the Reikai, Honden of Infinite Rage and Harsh Deceiver CONCEDES DECK B WINS GAME TWO ON TURN EIGHT

GAME THREE
T1 Deck A plays first keeping Plains x2, Island, Kitsune Blademaster, Cage of Hands, Kabuto Moth, Honden of Infinite Rage. Plays Plains.
T1 Deck B keeps Swamp x2, Mountain x2, Ronin Houndmaster, Shinka Gatekeeper, Scuttling Death. Draws Ogre Marauder. Plays Swamp.
T2 A draws and plays Plains.
T2 B draws and plays Mountain.
T3 A draws Moonlit Strider, plays Island, Kabuto Moth
T3 B draws Kami of Fire’s Roar, plays Swamp, Ronin Houndmaster. Attacks
(18-20)
T4 A draws Harsh Deceiver, plays Plains, Kitsune Blademaster.
T4 B draws and plays Mountain. Plays Kami of Fire’s Roar.
T5 A draws and plays Island, Moonlit Strider.
T5 B draws First Volley. Plays Mountain, Scuttling Death.
T6 A draws and plays Mountain. Plays Honden of Infinite Rage.
T6 B draws and plays Mountain, Shinka Gatekeeper.
T7 Honden deals one damage to Gatekeeper (18-19) Draws Ninja of the Deep Hours. Attacks with Kabuto Moth, activates Ninja of the Deep Hours returning Moth to hand, (18-17) drawing Teardrop Kami. Plays Kabuto Moth, Teardrop Kami.
T7 B draws and plays Cunning Bandit, Mountain.
T8 Honden deals one damage to Gatekeeper (18-16). Draws and plays Honden of Seeing Winds.
T8 B draws and plays Ronin Houndmaster, attacks with all, Scuttling Death blocked by Blademaster, Gatekeeper blocked by Strider, Houndmaster blocked by Kabuto Moth and Teardrop Kami, Cunning Bandit blocked by Ninja of the Deep Hours. Moth taps to give Moth +1/+2. Damage on the stack, Scuttling Death sacrificed to give Moth -1/-1. (14-16) B plays First Volley targeting Moonlit Strider (A responds by sacrificing Strider to give Blademaster protection from black.
T9 Red Honden deals two damage to Gatekeeper (14-14), Draws Island, Samurai of the Pale Curtain and River Kaijin. Plays Island, Harsh Deceiver, Samurai of the Pale Curtain. Attacks with Blademaster, Teardrop Kami (14-11).
T9 B draws and plays Nezumi Ronin, Ogre Marauder.
T10 Red Honden deals two damage to Ronin Houndmaster. Draws Mountain, Soratami Mirror-Guard, Kitsune Diviner. Plays Mountain, River Kaijin, Soratami Mirror-Guard, Kitsune Diviner.
T10 B draws Horobi’s Whisper, plays Whisper targeting Kitsune Diviner.
T11 Red Honden deals two damage to Nezumi Ronin. Draws Teller of Tales, Ninja of the Deep Hours, Island. Plays Island, Teller of Tales. Attack with Mirror-Guard (14-8).
T11 B draws Soulless Revival.
T12 Red Honden deals two damage to Ogre Marauder, Draws Island, Plains, Sensei’s Divining Top. Plays Cage of Hands on Kami of Fire’s Roar. Attacks with all (14-0) DECK A WINS GAME THREE ON TURN TWELVE

Of course, I’m always interested in hearing what YOU think.

Jeff Zandi
Guilty Tax Mages
Level II DCI Judge
zanman@thoughtcastle.com
Zanman on Magic Online

 


 

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