I’ve played with M15 and yes, it’s good. It feels a fresh, open Limited format. A variety of archetypes and color combinations were successful across the release day drafts, which suggests that the format will be healthy, balanced, and fun (there likely won’t be nearly as many control mirrors as there were in M14).

Kinsbaile Skirmisher

I drafted monowhite with a light black splash for removal. I unfortunately had few tokens for my Convoke spells, but a whole slew of cheap creatures and Spirit Bonds made for a strong aggressive deck. Plus, I had enough flying creatures and Sanctified Charge to win a protracted game. It felt like a strong, consistent deck (lacking in many bombs, but able to smash face in the early and middle phases of the game).

My overall record was a disappointing 1-2. I’ve played enough Magic to be used to losing—after all, no one bats 1.000 (not even the best of the best of the best, which I certainly do not count myself among). Anyone who plays as often as I do will end up with losing records in draft now and then. On Friday’s draft, I had the benefit of playing only against players whom I respect and whose company I enjoy—these always make for great matches to play, win or lose. Instead… I found myself extremely, uncharacteristically frustrated with three of the four games I lost. What was so bizarre was the reason for my displeasure: screw.

Mana Screw At last year’s Grand Prix Toronto, I leveled up by acknowledging and not being frustrated by the amount of variance in Magic. I mulliganed almost every game, lost all but one die roll, and accepted that those were things I could not change. I played to the best of my ability and am proud of how I did. On Friday, the opposite happened.

I lost round two, game two to mana screw (kept a two lander on the draw, missed land for four draw steps, discarded to hand size, then missed land for another four draws and died to a Soul of Theros that I held at bay for several turns with Spirit Bonds), then lost game three to mana flood (kept a four lander on the play, drew seven lands over the next eight draw steps and died to Soul of Theros).

I wanted to whine about mana screw and mana flood, two necessary components of the game. I wanted to complain about how unlucky I was. Why? Wasn’t I already at peace with variance? Hadn’t I acknowledged that luck is a part of the game, one that I can only hope for and supplement with all the skill that I can muster? I did. However, something’s changed since Toronto. Time and Tide Now that I’m busy, I play Magic one to three times a week. A month ago, I played thrice as much. In May, I easily drafted at least one or two dozen times every week. I encountered far worse screw and flood when I was playing that often (and encountered it more frequently), but it was a lot easier to brush off when the next draft was right around the corner.

Last week, I drafted once, and it felt like three of my four game losses were to screw/flood. In other words, it felt as though 75% of my losses of the entire week were completely out of my hands. It’s a lot easier to understand why people (especially infrequent players) have difficulty brushing off bad luck (perceived or real) when a small stream of it can constitute such a large percentage of their time playing. Food for thought.

Double Take All frustration aside, I’m not going anywhere. I’m glad that I’m getting to experience a different mentality (that of the lapsing player) and that I’ve so much going on that I have such limited time for Limited Magic. I have every intention of getting back on the horse, becoming an expert at M15 and Khans of Tarkir Limited, and taking losses (and wins!) in stride. I look forward to sharing stories and strategy along the way.

And as always, thanks for reading.

—Zachary Barash

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Zachary Barash has been playing Magic on and off since 1994. He loves Limited and drafts every available format (including several that aren’t entirely meant to be drafted). He’s a proud Cube owner and performer, improvising entire musicals every week with his team, Petting Zoo. Zach has an obsession with Indian food that borders on being unhealthy.

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