Draft 1 (English)

Posted in Event Coverage

By Wizards of the Coast

by Mark Wraith

The first Rochester Draft found two of France's best-known players drafting next to each other. The two are good friends who travel together a lot to Grand Prix, and they were two of the designers of Go-Mar, one of the top decks in Invasion Block Constructed. Nevertheless, Antoine wasn't too happy to be next to Feanck - "He always goes five-colors!"

The pod was as follows:

1 Bertrand Viel
2 Bastien Lies
3 Julien Zarka
4 Franck Canu
5 Antoine Ruel
6 Jerome Mouton
7 Axel Sanchez

It was one of three seven player pods caused by the odd number of players. The first pack is always important in a draft, especially so in Rochester. Arguably Franck and Antoine had the best positions. The booster turned out to be an unusual one, with no playable cards in White or Green, which meant that somebody would probably be wasting their first pick since the table couldn't support seven Red-Black-Blue drafters.

The best card in the pack was Agonizing Demise,which was taken first. The other good cards were Recoil, Scorching Lava, and Hate Weaver, so the second and third picks were particularly surprising. Bastien took the Hooded Kavu, over the Scorching Lava. The Kavu is only any good if you are Red-Black, and Bertrand had already committed to Black, so the Lava was almost certainly a better choice. It's probably superior to Hooded Kavu whatever colors you are playing, and it would have left the option open to play Red-Green.

If this wasn't a mistake, then the third pick, by Julien Zarka, almost certainly was. He picked a Slinking Serpent! Staying away from Red made sense, but almost everyone would prefer Recoil to this rather weak creature. Franck then took Scorching Lava, giving Antoine a Hate Weaver. The rest of the pack gave Antoine a Recover as well, and a Darigaaz's Attendant to Franck. The Recoil eventually went seventh to Axel Sanchez.

It quickly emerged that Julien was the proverbial loose-cannon in the draft. Bastien took a Shivan Zombie, which further committed him to Red-Black - perhaps his plan was to force these colors and persuade Bertrand to switch out of them. This left Julien with a nice choice, to follow up his Slinking Serpent he could take either Duskwalker or Faerie Squadron, or if he didn't want these there was also an Exotic Curse, and a Distorting Wake. Matt Vienneau has written an interesting article on Faerie Squadron versus Duskwalker, admittedly not quite applicable in this situation, but Julien had obviously read the Canadian's astute advice. I think that an article defending his pick of Ruham Djinn would be very difficult to write. Franck seemed confused as to why Zarka had switched out of his colors to pick a horrible card, and he took a Kavu Climber. There were no good Red cards in this booster, and with no one yet having taken a Green card, now was a good time to declare his colors.

This left some nice gifts for the next four players - Antoine took Distorting Wake, then the picks were, Faerie Squadron, Exotic Curse, and Duskwalker. Ruel got a potentially playable Razorfoot Griffin on the rebound, which was his first non-black card.

Julien continued to cause consternation to Franck by first picking Charging Troll, a card that Canu obviously expected to come to him, in the third pack, forcing Franck to take Pincer Spider. Once again there were plenty of good Blue-Black cards like Tower Drake, Repulse, Trench Wurm and Vodalian Zombie. If Zarka had not intended to play Blue-Black then his first pick makes even less sense, he could have taken the Scorching Lava instead. Antoine moved into Blue-Black-Whiteby taking a Stormscape Apprentice. He was unusually uncooperative on the rebound. Thirteenth pick there was still a Yavimaya Barbarian in the pack, which could have gone to Franck, but Antoine snatched it away from him, leaving Canu with Harrow. I asked Franck about this after the draft, and he said that he prefers Harrow anyway! Antoine's comments about Franck always being a five-color player seem more believable in this light.

Anyway the rest of the first set of packs saw the two players solidify their colors. Franck found a niche in Red-Green-White with a Thornscape Apprentice, a Hunting Kavu, Assault/Battery, Canopy Surge, and Pouncing Kavu, while Antoine got Shackles, Agonising Demise, Faerie Squadron, and Galina's Knight (the latter two being particularly nice in seventh and tenth picks).

Neither player managed to pick up anything broken in the second set of packs either. It appeared that Franck might have got a Treva in the ninth booster, but Jerome first-picked it, although he was Red-Black for sure by this point. This sort of counter-drafting in Rochester rarely pays off especially if there is a good card in your colors. Nevertheless this booster was good for Canu, as he got a Benalish Trapper, and then an Explosive Growth thirteenth pick! Jerome also managed to counter-draft an Armadillo Cloak, but other players in the draft were helping Franck out a little to make up the balance. The irrepressible Julien decided to take Holy Day over Aggressive Urge, despite the fact he was playing green.

The biggest help for Canu's deck came at the the start of the Planeshift packs. In the third pack, Julien took a Steel-Leaf Paladin over a Magma Burst. I'll be polite and call this a 'questionable' pick. Franck snatched up the Magma Burst at lightning speed. By this point Canu was committed to playing White-Green-Red, and his mana base was perhaps a little shaky, as he had Yavimaya Barbarians, Llanowar Knights, and Sunscape Master. This explained why he had taken Scorching Lava over Skizzik as he had no intention of playing both double-Green and double-Red casting cost spells.

He rounded out his deck in Planeshift with two Hobbles, then the aforementioned Magma Burst, Aurora Griffin, Mirrorwood Treefolk, and a Stone Kavu. Antoine found it rather harder to find good cards for his deck. The second Invasion pack was particularly unkind to him - his first pick was Plague Spores which he would probably not play! He did manage to get some decent cards in Planeshift, however, including two Aurora Griffins, a Hobble, Silver Drake, and Phyrexian Scuta.

The decks on this table were not as good as might be expected - the packs were not particularly strong and the erratic drafting of a couple of characters contributed to this - so Antoine and Franck should not be disappointed with their draft. In fact Franck probably has the best deck on the table. Axel Sanchez has a good deck as well, I predict either him or Franck to go 3-0, and Antoine probably 2-1 (remember there is a bye on this table so that 1-2 is the minimum possible score).

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