Ask the Pros:

Posted in Event Coverage on March 27, 2004

By Duncan McGregor

Play or Draw?

In almost every constructed format and in most limited formats, if a player is given the choice between playing first and drawing first, the automatic response is "Play." The tempo advantage gained from being the first player on the board will far outweigh the advantage your opponent gains from the extra card. In sealed deck, though, this has not always been the case. Some players choose the extra consistency granted by drawing over the possible tempo advantages. We asked some of the pro players for their opinions on the subject.

Darwin Kastle is a big fan of playing. In this format, he believes that many people will play too little mana or too many colors, and it is important to be in a position to punish people quickly when they stumble as a result of this.

Neil Reeves also usually plays. He sees the format as still being very tempo based, and because many of the bombs cost a fair bit, he thinks it is important to be able to play the bombs early.

Eric Taylor believes that drawing should be better, for the consistency, but he's been playing today.

Joshua Wagener said the same. He thinks that drawing is better in this format, but he likes being very aggressive, so he has been playing.

Antonino de Rosa thinks that it is very dependent on the deck. If your cards are good, you draw because your overall quality will be better; if your deck is bad, you play and hope to take out the opponent quickly. But if you have no mana Myr, you always play.

Mark Zajdner thinks that playing is better, but notes that he has been choosing to draw today, due to his deck containing Barter in Blood and Death Cloud.

Patrick Sullivan also professed this – he says that if your deck is aggressive, you play, but if it is controlling, you draw, especially if you have board sweepers like Solar Tide.

Finally, Eugene Harvey also thinks that it is somewhat deck-dependant, and says that he is drawing today due to the high number of removal spells that he is playing, so that if he can go one-for-one with his opponent, he will come out on top. He also notes that drawing reduces the chances of mana-screw, which nobody wants to have happened.

The overall consensus seems to be that the choice of play or draw needs to made with consideration of the contents of your deck, and not just defaulting to one or the other. But as Eugene Harvey said, just the fact that the choice needs to be made is an indication that the format is a good one, and the attendance here at the GP shows that he isn't the only one to think this.

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