Draft Report: Team Draft Strategies

Posted in Event Coverage on April 18, 2004

By Michael Thicke

This weekend is the first time there has been a major event using the Mirrodin-Darksteel team limited format. This Grand Prix should set the tone for the PTQ season as far as Team Rochester goes, so PT-hopefuls world-wide will be looking to the pros for guidance. I asked a few of the well-known teams about their draft strategies to try to get a handle on the format.

Your Move Games, currently running high at 9-0, employs a very open-ended strategy, just trying to get good matchups for themselves.

Zebuton Nemonauts – Gary Wise, Mike Turian, and Eugene Harvey – has a solid strategy of "Opening bombs" and "Drafting good decks," according to Wise. Slightly more usefully, he noted that most people seem to put removal-heavy decks on the corners, so they try to put decks that are resilient against removal – red/black and white/green – in the A and C seats. By default, this leaves blue/black affinity for the B player.

Team Re-Elect Gore, consisting of Brian Kibler, Jon Finkel, and Eric Froelich, has a more developed strategy than most teams. They feel that the strongest colors in Darksteel are black and white. Black is very deep, and white specifically contains Razor Golem, a card they do not want to ship to their opponents. Because of black's depth, and the flatness of its power curve, they typically put their black drafter in the B seat and the white drafter in C. This also makes sure that they will have the best opportunity to get Razor Golems out of Darksteel and Blinding Beams out of Mirrodin. By default, this usually puts the green drafter in A. Kibler also noted that their green deck is often more of a five-color-green, splashing a few colors and allowing them greater flexibility in preventing the other team from getting too many good cards shipped to them.

Antinino Delarosa credits his team's strategy to Team Togit. Much like Your Move Games, they feel the most important thing is to get good matchups. Usually this results in their A player playing black/red against affinity, B playing affinity against a base-white deck in B, and white/green against black/red in C. If they have to commit to colors before their opponents, they default to putting an affinity deck in A, white/green in B, and black/red in C.

Overall it seems that flexibility is very important in this format; you don't necessarily want to go into a draft with a preset color strategy, beyond perhaps some general preferences. Many of the successful teams are far more concerned with drafting decks to beat their opponents than getting the right colors in the right seats. Given the artifact-heavy nature of the sets, and the fairly even power distribution of the colors, this seems to make sense. Even if you have a player in a poor position, it is fairly easy to get enough cards to fill out their deck.

This should make for an interesting and very skill-intensive draft season, as the successful ones will be adaptable, and teams will not be able to get by on preset, robotic strategies.

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