On July 14th, Nik proposed the idea of a Rotisserie Draft in a group text. Eight of us were in the group. No one responded. The idea of a new format can be daunting and this one in particular seemed to pose a logistical nightmare. How were we going to do this? Who is going to facilitate? Isn’t it going to take forever? What’s wrong with a regular draft? Instead of asking these questions, I quietly contemplated the role of Jace in Standard, the return of the Undertaker at Battleground, and how long it was going to take me to lug the drumkit back into my practice space.
Then two days later, unfazed by the collective unresponsiveness, Nik sent another message. This time with a link to a spreadsheet and a time in the week. 8PM Wednesday. Faced with an actual plan, the group chat became fertile ground for logistics questions, trash talk, and Max talking about how stressed out he was over the whole thing. I decided I should come up with a plan.
The night of the Rotisserie draft I decided my plan would be to take blue cards. This plan has worked out okay for me in the last five or so years of cubing, so why reinvent the wheel? Before I discuss the Rotisserie process, I want to do a brief introduction of the players:
Eric—My brother and perpetual slinger of red spells. I fully expected him to pick Goblin Piledriver early in the rotisserie.
Nik—A man hellbent on me putting Caustic Caterpillar in my Pauper Cube and enthusiastic about poisoning foes in Modern.
We decided to split the group into two houses, the Loot House (Eric’s place) and Tolaria West (my place). Everyone hopped on a computer and we had a google hangout and spreadsheet open. We used a random number generator to determine pick order and began drafting. The way Rotisserie works is that each player one through eight picks a card. Then after the first eight picks, the draft snakes backwards with player eight picking a card first and player one picking last. The draft goes back and forth in that order until pick 22 where each player drafts two cards at a time.
After ten pensive minutes and four and a half draft picks each, our decks looked like this:
I had assumed the first eight picks would all include pieces of the power nine alongside Sol Ring and Library of Alexandria. However, as you can see it didn’t quite go down that way. Both Garrett and Phil first picked conspiracy cards. While I haven’t had a lot of experience with conspiracies, Backup Plan and Power Play have powerful game altering effects that you have access to every game without paying mana. I was suprised to see both Thoughtseize and True-Name Nemesis go so early, but I know Max really likes hand disruption in powered cubes and assumed that Garrett picked True-Name as a signal to everyone he was going to play blue. I obviously ignoredi it. I specifically took a screen shot of this image because as soon as Phil took Goblin Rabblemaster everyone let out a collective “OOOOOOOHHHHHHHHH”. Despite not having any pieces of power, five picks in Phil had a direction and was uncontested in building his mono red aggro deck. Otherwise, after a couple picks in Tim had a reasonable Tinker package, Paul had the start of a good creature based deck, I had demonstrated my devotion to blue, Nik had the starting pieces of a combo deck, Garrett had a Bant Fish deck going, Max had demonstrated his willingness to pick mana fixing early, and Eric had some sweet cards.
Max trash talked Eric for the next several minutes and Eric seemingly vanished. The only thing we saw was his ceiling fan:
After two hours, many beers, some questionable picks, and a lot of yelling, our picks looked like this:
Eric—Tapout Esper Control. This deck has plenty of removal (Damnation, Vindicate, All is Dust, Hero’s Downfall), Disruption (Mind Twist, Inquisition, Liliana of the Veil), Card Advantage (Dig Through Time, Library of Alexandria, Snapcaster Mage), and the Unburial Rites/Gifts Ungiven combo.
Max—Five Color Aggro. Max valued fixing over everything else and was rewarded with all the gold cards no one else had the mana to play. I’m just imagining Bloodbraid Elf cascading into Kolaghan’s Command or Shardless Agent cascading into Ancestral Recall. Disgusting. Max also has a pretty nice Crucible of Worlds subtheme with six fetch lands and Strip Mine.
Garrett—While I’m still salty about Garrett stealing my Cryptic Command, it looks like he built a pretty reasonable Bant Midrange deck. Geist of Saint Traft, True-Name Nemesis, and Mother of Runes are nightmare cards for opposing removal and Garrett has plenty of removal of his own to make way for them (Swords to Plowshares, Detention Sphere, Council’s Judgment).
Nik—Sultai Ramp. Nik has the makings of a sweet mono-green ramp deck (Rofellos and mana dorks) with some sweet ones to ramp into including Ugin and Primeval Titan. Nik also has the option of going the Upheaval route while having some black based removal (Abrupt Decay, Maelstrom Pulse, Murderous Cut) to interact with opposing decks.
Shawn—URW Control. This deck is countermagic (Mana Drain, Counterspell, Remand, Mana Leak, Daze, Spell Pierce) and cube allstars (Jace, Treachery, Consecrated Sphinx). I tried to stay mono blue but opted to branch into red to play Dack Fayden, a card that I’ve found to be very powerful in powered cubes. I eventually branched into White after seeing that Balance hadn’t been taken after 140 picks. While Balance isn’t at it’s best in a control deck without a lot of artifact mana, it does get you back into potentially unwinnable games. I’m not sure exactly how far into white I’m going to go, but I picked up a late Ajani Vengeant just in case.
Phil—Mono Red Goblins. This deck is goddamn terrifying. No one else was taking red cards and Phil built the perfect red based aggro deck.
The Rotisserie draft was the most fun I’ve had in a while and we haven’t even gotten to play with the decks yet. While it requires a little bit of set-up, the experience was more than worth it. While a normal draft forces you to evaluate cards on a pack by pack basis, Rotisserie forces you to think about all possible picks and the power level of each. You can essentially draft whatever you want but have the added obstacle of everyone knowing about it and potentially being able to cut you. Garrett, I’m still mad about the Cryptic Command.
This upcoming Sunday we will be battling these decks at the Second Annual Wolfpack Invitational. I will report back on how badly Phil destroys the rest of us.
At age 15, while standing in a record store with his high school bandmates, Shawn Massak made the uncool decision to spend the last of his money on a 7th edition starter deck (the one with foil Thorn Elemental). Since that fateful day 11 years ago, Shawn has decorated rooms of his apartment with MTG posters, cosplayed as Jace, the Mindsculptor, and competes with LSV for the record of most islands played (lifetime). When he’s not playing Magic, Shawn works as a job coach for people with disabilities and plays guitar in an indie-pop band.