This past Saturday I got a chance to participate in an awesome Modern Masters draft at 20 Sided Store, where the prizes on the line were, appropriately enough, picks from a From the Vault: Twenty set. I hadn’t drafted MMA since making day two at Las Vegas, where I finished 3-3 in the draft portion, and so I was psyched to draft the set again. Here’s what I drafted:

UBw Faeries/Artifacts/Goblins

Creatures (15)
Latchkey Faerie
Auntie’s Snitch
Sanctum Gargoyle
Faerie Mechanist
Vedalken Dismisser
Warren Pilferers
Myr Retriever
Murderous Redcap
Deepcavern Imp
Thieving Sprite

Spells (8)
Bound in Silence
Runed Stalactite
Executioner’s Capsule
Death Rattle
Aether Spellbomb
Lands (17)
Terramorphic Expanse

Sideboard (12)
Syphon Life
Vedalken Dismisser
Perilous Research
Stinkweed Imp
Street Wraith
Festering Goblin
Death Denied
Reach Through Mists
Etherium Sculptor

The deck was fun, if a bit schizophrenic. I felt like the blue was flowing in pack one, and then it seemed to dry up in packs two and three. But I managed to make a deck out of it. I won round one against this fine fellow:


And then in R2 I faced Bert:


This was the really interesting bit. In game one, on the play, I had Bound in Silence, Warren Pilferers, Terramorphic Expanse, something else, and a couple of Islands in hand. On T1 I played Terramorphic, and cracked it on the end of Bert’s T1 to get a Plains for my Bound in Silence. Sure enough, on my T2 I drew a Peppersmoke—and on Bert’s T2 he played a 2/1 rebel searcher. I didn’t draw a Swamp for a billion years.

After the fact, I spoke with shop owner Luis about the play, and he and I both agreed that, given that I didn’t have a T2 play, I should have just—way counterintuitively—elected not to crack the Expanse, and waited to see what Bert was going to do. If I had done so, I would have drawn the Peppersmoke, seen the searcher, and known I needed—badly—to find myself a Swamp, ASAP.

I lost G1.

In G2, I had Latchkey Faerie and Peppersmoke in hand, with Esperzoa on the ‘field. On Bert’s turn, he cast Flickerwisp and blinked his guy with my Bound in Silence on it. On my turn, I planned to swing with Esperzoa and post-combat cast Latchkey Faerie (for regular, not prowl, cost)—and then on his turn cast Peppersmoke on Flickerwisp, killing it and drawing a card.

So I swung in with Esperzoa—and of course Bert snap-blocks with his (flying) Flickerwisp. D’oh. I let the trade happen, after considering whether or not it would be expedient for me to cast Peppersmoke to save my Esperzoa without the Faerie draw-a-card benefit. I honestly never thought about Flickerwisp having flying, because I was so committed, in my mind, to my plan.

So we get to the end of G2. Bert was at ten life. I had nine power worth of fliers on the table, with an Auntie’s Snitch and a Murderous Redcap with a -1/-1 counter on him. I drew for the turn and got a Runed Stalactite. I swung in with everybody, thinking Bert blocks my ground guys, I do nine in the air, and Redcap dies and comes back, pinging for one.

But of course this time Redcap stayed dead, as he’d already persisted. And I had the win in hand with Stalactite, which I hadn’t cast because—why would I? I already had the win. (This reminded me of my and my 2HG partner Christian’s decision not to cast Pacifism on one of our opponent’s creatures during the M14 2HG prerelease, prior to what we thought would be our opponents’ last turn of the game, due to milling.)

All this goes to show that, well—the best-laid plans of mice and men go awry.

In the first situation, the Terramorphic Expanse crack, I might should have held back, to see first what Bert was up to.

In the second situation, I should have been less focused on my plan, and given more thought to Bert’s side of the board.

And in the third situation, I should have—of course—just cast and equipped the Stalactite, because why not?  There was no strategic advantage—such as in a situation where you fear Wrath of God—to hold back my card in hand. Pride goeth before a fall.

In the end, I lost R2, and Bert went on to win the whole thing. (Congrats, man!) Due to the vagaries of tiebreakers, though, I ended up coming in ahead of the finals’ runner-up, Carrie, and snagged myself a Swords to Plowshares, Hymn to Tourach, Fact or Fiction, and Fyndhorn Elves—which I shipped to Hipsters’ own Matt Jones—for my troubles.

Of course, I had to get past one last opponent in R3—this handsome robot, Hipsters’ copy-editor extraordinaire Dave “Bones” McCoy:


“Bones” McCoy put up a good fight, but succumbed to my synergies. EVEN ROBOTS FEEL PAIN.

23/17 is a Hipsters of the Coast column focused on Limited play—primarily draft and sealed, but also cubing, 2HG, and anything else we can come up with. The name refers to the “Golden Ratio” of a Limited deck: 23 spells and 17 lands.

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