Budde and Finkel on the Format

Posted in Event Coverage

By Worth Wollpert

Kai Budde and Phoenix Foundation

I sat down with arguably the game's two best players in Jon Finkel and Kai Budde and asked them for some thoughts on varying aspects of PTNY. Their responses were similar is some areas, different in others, but the basic gist of the conversation was that draft is superior to all other formats. (Big shocker there, no?)

Jon Finkel, playing this weekend on his usual Team Antarctica with the OMS brothers, would rather have the PT be all draft and do away with the sealed portion entirely. Kai on the other hand is playing on Phoenix Foundation (with teammates Dirk Baberowski Marco Blume), and mentioned that he actually liked the team sealed aspect of the PT, but he specifically pointed out that it is very easy for team sealed to become less about skill and more about the draw when the set lends itself to that. For example, he referenced that last year, it was far too easy to just build the u/w, r/g. and mono b/splash decks, whereas this year he thinks the format (with all the gold cards in the Invasion block) is very skill testing.

Winners in the Magic's past have historically been rabid about practicing. We've all heard the incredible stories to come out of England's Hampton Court Palace where they track and record all their playtest data, even to the point of making sure the data includes who went first how many times, mulligans taken and so forth. Jon is somewhat of an anomaly in this area, as he claims that other than GP Taipei (where Antarctica had a dismal showing, posting an 0-3 record) they haven't practiced much at all. Kai on the other hand said that he and Marco Blume have done a huge amount of testing for this PT, with Dirk doing less considering his full time job back in Germany owning a travel agency. Regardless, both have similar thoughts on placement of colors versus seats, not only for the team sealed day, but for the draft as well.

The majority (read:99.8732 %) of magic pros think that draft in all its various incarnations is the most skill testing of the formats. Some believe it's team Rochester draft, some think booster draft and still others think it's individual Rochester draft Both of these players try to put their best deck against red/black in seat A, their best deck against blue/white in seat B, and their best deck against green in seat C. In team draft, both guys feel like the person on the right needs to be at least partially red, to get as many shots as possible at the Planeshift red cards (Magma Burst, Flametongue Kavu, Terminate etc . . . ) Other than that, they've both mentioned that they feel like team draft shows the most skill in the way in which you react to what your opponents do. (i.e. not much strategy beyond being able to react on your feet to what your opponents do.)

I thought it was interesting to find out how these guys would rank the enemy color commons and uncommons in Apocalypse, both thought that w/b had the worst cards (remember now, this is commons and uncommons only), and that blue/green and blue/red were the best combinations with the former having Gaea's Skyfolk and Temporal Spring and the latter having Razorfin Hunter and Jilt.

Both Kai and Jon are doing quite well on their respective teams today, a trend that, given recent history, should probably continue. Make sure to check back often to see if it does!

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