Last weekend, I played in a very small, very important tournament. No, I’m not talking about the 41-person Regional PTQ in my hometown of Portland, Oregon. I’m talking about the Radvitational #6.

The Radvitational is, as the name implies, pretty rad. Every month, my friend Conrad Kolos picks a format and invites some Portland-area players to compete for prizes both glamorous and silly. The winner sometimes gets a cash prize, or the cards used for the limited format. Often, there are prizes for things like “most glamorous victory” or “making GCB saltiest”.

The formats for Radvitationals alternate each month between limited and constructed. The formats for the first five were as follows:

1. Unified modern no banned list (you have to build three decks, the four-card limit applies to all your decks, etc)
2. One-word draft: a draft with cards created entirely by Conrad, all of which have one-word names and none of which were duplicated in the draft.
3. Build your own block.
4. Vintage Rotisserie Draft.
5. 4-card.

I played in the first three Radvitationals and did not do particularly well: I’m kind of a classic-format guy, it turns out. Figuring out totally new or strange formats on the fly does not take advantage of my skills. For my return in Radvitational #6, I had to find a way to play to my advantages.

The format for Rad 6 was chaos bid-draft. Eight drafters, 24 assorted packs from the history of Magic, and 200 poker chips per person. Packs were picked first, then opened individually, and each card was bid on by the table, with each person bidding once and the pack opener bidding last, with the ability to go over the top of anyone.

When I saw the available packs, I formulated a plan: I grabbed the Judgement pack with my first pick, and picked up Ravnica as well. My plan was to find a draft archetype that had existed across the history of limited magic, to increase the likelihood that there would be enough cards for my plan in all these crazy packs. I also wanted to find cards that other players wouldn’t be especially interested in, so I could avoid a bidding war: with the Judgement pack, I sent an early signal that I would be White/Green. Ravnica, which contains Selesnaya cards, reinforced that. My plan was to draft Angry Little Men: efficient creatures and giant growths.

Here’s what I ended up with:

Angry Little Men of All Ages

Creatures (16)
Icatian Scout
Wild Nacatl
Leonin Squire
Cylian Elf
Nantuko Tracer
Mycosynth Fiend
Skyhunter Skirmisher
Jamuraan Lion
Kashi-Tribe Elite
Angry Mob
Phantom Centaur
Fungus Elemental
Jaddi Lifestrider
Okina Nightwatch
Scatter the Seeds

Spells (7)
Stand Firm
Leeching Bite
Repel the Darkness
Holy Light
Warrior’s Honor
Spirit Flare

There was a [casthaven]Leaf Arrow[/casthaven] and a [casthaven]Crimson Acolyte[/casthaven] in the sideboard. The giant growths that were opened were a little disappointing, but the deck pretty much looked like I thought it would. I got out-bid on the only borderline bomb ([casthaven]Paladin en-Vec[/casthaven]) that would have fit in my deck, and other than [casthaven]Phantom Centaur[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Leeching Bite[/casthaven], my deck was a big pile of average! There were a couple of excellent black and red decks at the table, though, and my deck had some nice hate cards against them.

I lost my first game against a Red/Black deck, but won the second two with some help from Acolyte and [casthaven]Phantom Centaur[/casthaven]. The deck ran very smoothly in round two, and the games were never in doubt against a slow deck with lots of colors. The finals were against Seamus Campbell, playing another classic format: Blue/White flyers. Our games were quick but exciting, and I won game one when Seamus missed land number five for one turn too long. In game two, I had [casthaven]Leaf Arrow[/casthaven] in my opening hand, allowing me to steal the initiative when he had a turn two flyer and I could spend my turn one mana killing it. That was enough to swing the match and earn me my first ever Radvitational title.

The format was really fun, although assembling the collection of old packs was not easy (I hear). It was also fun to draft something familiar in an unfamiliar format. Magic has changed a lot over the years, certainly, but a few things have remained the same.

Gabe Carleton-Barnes has been playing Magic for over 20 years, mostly as a PTQ grinder and intermittently as a Pro Tour competitor. Currently based in Portland, Oregon, where he is an Open Source web developer by day, Gabe lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, for three years. While there, he failed to make a documentary about competitive Magic but succeeded in deepening his obsession with the game. Gabe is now a ringleader and community-builder for the competitive Magic scene in Portland, wielding old-timey slang and tired cliches to motivate kids half his age to drive with him to tournaments.

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