This past week, after an awesome pre-birthday weekend which found me upstate in a cabin, doing this:


Well of course I came right home and got sick as a dog, having possibly caught actual dog pneumonia from my brother, who caught it from his new pup, Boo, who we see here looking *actually* sick as a dog (and yet still damn cute):

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 8.13.15 PM

It didn’t really hit until Monday afternoon at work, after which I came home and mooned around and felt bad. On Tuesday morning I woke up and felt REALLY bad. So I stayed home from work. And I stayed home again on Wednesday, my actual birthday! That sucked.

On Tuesday, though, we had a Team Draft League game scheduled, initiated by me. I was too sneezy and hacky to go out, though, so I took a powder—which is a great piece of slang, if you don’t already know it—and bailed.

That did, however, allow me to get in a few games of Magic Online, which is not something I’ve been doing a lot of lately. I dunno, it’s just better for my relationship with my fiance if I play paper Magic, and am out of the house when I do so. That way there’s never any bad or hurt feelings with respect to me playing a game on the couch and not paying attention to/talking to her. She’s not demanding, don’t get me wrong—it’s just (understandable) mixed signals.

Anyway, I played some MTGO. I kind of hate MODO (which is the old-school name for the program, and which rolls off the tongue better than MTGO), because it seems to bring out my worst shouting-at-the-screen impulses, whereas playing IRL encourages my best sportsmanlike impulses. But I’ll play it, if it’s around.

I played three tournaments, all Theros: a phantom sealed; a Swiss draft; and an 8-4, in that order. Guess how I did in these tournaments? Again, in that order, I went 0-2-bye, 1-2 … and 3-0.

Go figure. Here’s the sealed, a classic pool pulling you in two directions:

11-12 Theros sealed deck

You can’t see all the white and green cards, but white had Spear of Heliod and green had Bow of Nylea. But red/black, which I ended up playing in the configuration you see here, had Tymaret, the Murder King, Underworld Cerberus, and trips Gary, Car Salesman of Akron. Plus an Ember Swallower. Sure, the curve was weird, but I dunno—I laid out both decks and RB just looked stronger. I think, though—looking at it again—that I was suffering from a classic case of bomb-blindness. The Garys and the Rakdos cards just seduced me with their triple- and gold-ness, and I was swept away from the more sensible GW build. And the curve—man, that’s just shit. Maybe in a control deck this kind of curve would be (more) acceptable, but in what’s supposed to be an aggro deck? No way. I just don’t have the early support, as is evidenced by my Akroan Crusader and lone non-Tymaret two-drop. So I went 0-2-bye. BOO.

Next up I drafted, Swiss. I first-picked a Battlewise Hoplite and never looked back. Here’s the deck:

11-12 Theros draft deck 1

Problem was, I should have (looked back, that is). As you can see, while I did snag a pair of Ordeals and a Heliod (which, whatever), I never saw a single Wingsteed Rider, Favored Hoplite, or another Battlewise Hoplite. I ended up having to play Bronze Sable and Anvilwrought Raptor in order to keep my curve as low as possible (with Horizon Scholar and Prescient Chimera in the board, which I almost always boarded into).

This deck suffers from classic case of high-school boy- or girlfriend syndrome. What’s that mean? It means you think your first pick is the love of life, and you’re always going to be together, and you’re going to be one of those couples who can answer, “He/she was my high-school sweetheart,” and you can listen to Jack Johnson forever and never have your illusions broken. Guess what? It doesn’t work. Next thing you know you’re back after your freshman year of college and she’s off at the lake with some pack two, pick one from her college, and you’re left lamenting your lost love to your pals at Chili’s.

I dunno—don’t mind me; I’m on a few cold meds.

But anyway, my point is, I should have ditched the Hoplite and switched into—well, what colors, I can’t say; I can’t remember what was open or not during the draft. It’s good to note, though, what you’re NOT seeing. No Wingsteed Riders or Favored Hoplites to be found in pack one? Well, white’s probably getting cut. Although it’s probably too late to abandon both of your colors, it might be good to sniff around and get a sense of maybe a second color to pair with—in this example—blue.

So I went 1-2 in the Swiss. Man I was mad. Then I jumped straight into an 8-4. This, kids, is not the way to max out value on MTGO. This is what we call “angry drafting,” and it should be avoided at all costs. I did it, though—I’m not going to lie. I was in a fey mood, which is a word I learned when reading The Return of the King, the third Lord of the Rings book, back in junior high. It means sort of “wild and death-crazed,” and it implies a sense of heedless madness. Once in high school I felt this way, and I played the best damn game of Basoccyball (basketball–soccer–hockeyball, naturally) I’ve ever played (and I’m not much of an athlete). I did not fear death, you see.

And here at this point I did not fear losing. So what I did was, I first-picked the Bident of Thassa. Then I heedlessly second-picked a Lightning Strike. Then, fuck it, I think I picked a Nessian Asp. Then a Steam Augury. I don’t give a shit.

And that was actually good. I wasn’t paying any attention to my first few picks, so instead I was really just reading the packs as they came around to me, snapping up the smashiest of smashy RG cards. It pained me to pass the Hythonia, the Cruel that I opened in pack two (I have an unreasonable love for that card, I dunno why), but I was rewarded with a fourth-pick Polis Crusher, which is like a Ghor-Clan Rampager on steroids. Forget about the high-school girl- or boyfriend, kids: Someone better will come along. This is what came along:

11-12 Theros draft deck 2

Worry not, Dear Reader: After I took this screenshot, I remembered to get my Temple of Abandon in the deck. That would have been a huge boner, no doubt.

I smashed the shit out of this draft! It was awesome. I think I lost one game to a 8/8 unblockable (thanks to Aqueous Form) lifelinking (thanks to Hopeful Eidolon) post-Ordeal of Thassa-ed Wingsteed Rider, or some such; and I shouldn’t even have lost that game, if I had known the rules interaction with Portent of Betrayal and Ordeal of Thassa; I stole my opponent’s Rider prior to the Ordeal popping, thinking that I would get the two cards—but no. Oh well. I seem to remember some interaction from like M14 or something where my opponent stole a card of mine and *did* get a similar effect, but it was probably because the effect was coming from the creature rather than an aura on the creature.

I got to the finals—against, ahem, iLikeFarts—and offered the split, because my fiance Kim had just gotten home and I wanted to stop playing. But my opponent declined, so I smashed him, too!

Long story short: Stay open and don’t draft angry (or sick)—but if you do, draft an angry deck and smash the hell out of everyone.

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. Follow Hunter at @hrslaton.

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