Sunday, April 17, 2016

A Weekend of Magic Booster Drafting

When I played in the Shadows Over Innistrad Pre-Release earlier this month, I expected that would be the last Magic: The Gathering event that I'd attend for a while. But I had a good time, and that prompted me to try something else I haven't done in a while - a booster draft.
Booster drafts are slightly different from the sealed-deck format used in the pre-release in a couple of ways. There are only three booster packs instead of six, and you don't take the entire pack at once. Instead, you pick one card from the pack then pass it to the next person. Then you do the same with the pack you just received, and repeat. It takes a bit longer to set up than sealed-deck format, but it's cheaper and requires a bit more thought (and skill).

I went over to Lowell again on Friday night, where Rookies was running a booster draft as their Friday Night Magic format (at the pizza place again). Unfortunately, the turnout was very low...only four people. Usually an event won't even run with less than eight, but the organizer was kind enough to go ahead and do it anyway. With so few people, it felt more like just a game night with a few buddies than an actual organized event, which I didn't mind at all.

I played red/black in this draft, with mostly small creatures but plenty of removal options. My favorite card was From Under the Floorboards, which I got to play twice to summon a bunch of zombies. I won all three of my matches, but even the games I lost were fun with the group we had. Even played a couple of side games, when the other match was still running after mine finished. There was almost no prize support with such a small group, just a couple of packs, but we did all get the Friday Night Magic foil promo cards. More importantly, we all were able to play a full round-robin set of matches, and everyone had a good time.

It turns out that weekends are a pretty popular time for people to run booster drafts, at least in this area, so there was also a place running one on Saturday. So I went out to The Gaming Warehouse (TGW) in Holland, which is about the same amount of driving as the night before, but in the opposite direction. This event had quite a different feel from the one on Friday. The store where we played was fairly busy, with lots of people coming in to look at everything from board games to Magic cards to video games. And there were more people at this event - a total of thirteen, which meant we broke into two separate groups (or "pods", in draft-speak). So it was really as if two events were going on at the same time, since everyone was playing against the others in their pod.

My very first creature in this draft was a Drogskol Cavalry, a big white flyer, so of course my initial thought was to look for more white cards. I saw very little in the way of good white cards after a few picks, though, which told me someone ahead of me in line was taking them all. (Found out later that it was the guy right next to me, who ended up with a mono-white deck.) All those white picks meant that a lot of good other colors were left, though. I ended up with a very good selection of red removal spells, and some decent-if-not-spectacular red and green creatures. In the end, the only rare I had that was usable was Devil's Playground. It's unfortunate when your rare cards can't help you, but in the booster draft format, solid common and uncommon cards are often more useful anyway.

I won all four of my matches in this event, too, though at least one was through no fault of my own. My opponent beat me handily in one game, but just had a really bad draw (not enough land) in the other two games. The other three matches were more competitive, but I was able to pull out wins in each. Largely this came down to simply wiping out every creature my opponent played with all my removal spells, and letting whatever creatures survived on my side finish them off. The one exception was against a mono-black deck with a whole lot of lifelink creatures, which took forever to win since he just kept gaining life.

The prize for this event was just under $20 in store credit, which worked out nicely since I've been meaning to get some new card sleeves anyhow. Picked up two sets of those with Shadows of Innistrad characters (Avacyn and Nahiri) on them. I can use those if I decide to build a deck or two out of my limited collection of recent Magic cards, or they'll work nicely for other card games as well.
All told, I had a good time at both events, even though they were pretty different. Met some new people and explored some new gaming spots. There's a few other places around the Grand Rapids area that run similar events at various times, so I might try a few others in the future.

No comments:

Post a Comment