Saturday, 12:30 p.m. - Plans, and How to Avoid Them

Posted in Event Coverage on August 20, 2011

By Rich Hagon

Rich Hagon combines a deep knowledge of the players of the Pro Tour with a passionate love of the game. He's a regular commentator for Pro Tour and Grand Prix live video coverage, and is the official Pro Tour Statistician. He has been covering Magic events since 2006.

Yesterday, Seb Parker went 3-0 in his first M12 draft here at Great Britain Nationals. A big fan of both red-blue and red-white, he got himself into red early and stayed there, while it took a little longer to put together his second color, since bits and pieces of blue and white kept coming. Eventually, he ended up with this:

Seb Parker's 3-0 Draft Deck

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All very satisfactory, and the deck propelled him from 3-1 to 6-1 overnight. Now, though, he had a new set of decisions to make, and his plans to head down a similar red-white or red-blue route were comprehensively destroyed when he opened Garruk, Primal Hunter. That's really tough to pass, and even tougher to leave in your sideboard.

Chances were, Seb would be playing green.

Although he took Stingerfling Spider and Lurking Crocodile soon after, most of his first pack was blue, featuring Merfolk LooterPhantasmal Bear, and a pair of Aven Fleetwing. As seems typical in this format, there were a couple of useful sideboard cards (CancelAutumn's Veil) late.


 

As pack two began, Seb briefly considered dipping into black for Doom Blade, before he found the princely uncommon Mind Control towards the back of the pack. From there, the blue was all systems go. Belltower SphinxÆther Adept, a late Djinn of WishesMana Leak - only Giant Spider represented an addition to a small green collection. There was one intriguing pick very late (pick 11) when he left Cancel in the booster, taking Sunpetal Grove. At the time, this felt like a moment of rare-drafting weakness, especially as Cancel is precisely the kind of card opponents sideboard in to deal with big threats like a Djinn of Wishes or a Garruk, Primal Hunter...


 

There was more to that pick than met the eye, however. Pack three opened with Æther Adept, before Arachnus Web and Stingerfling Spider cemented the green. With his fourth pick, Seb found two quality white cards - Pacifism and Oblivion Ring - stacking up against not much for either green or blue. Knowing that Oblivion Ring was an effective answer to his Planeswalker, Seb defensively drafted it, but now the taking of Sunpetal Grove took on more significance. Should he feel the need, a white splash was now a more palatable option, and Oblivion Ring exactly the kind of card that might need to be summoned to his rescue sometime during the next three rounds.

When Timely Reinforcements and Spirit Mantle joined his pile, the white splash was increasingly an option. Drafting green? Not the plan.

White splash? Not the plan. Knowing when to change a plan? Now that's a plan worth having.


 

Afterwards, we spoke with Seb about the draft:

Seb Parker

Did you ever contemplate not taking Garruk?

It's the only card I can open that puts me in green. Maybe Primeval Titan. I've heard the Hydra is good, but I still don't think I'd take that. There are some uncommons I'd take over the Hydra . But Garruk is just super-stupid!

You took Giant Spider over Llanowar Elves. Explain.

I don't like Llanowar Elves that much. I've avoided green a lot in draft, and picking cards like Llanowar Elves is like putting extra lands into your deck, so you increase the risk of flooding out. But Giant Spider is always solid, and helps you hold things up until Garruk arrives. I'm also headed towards blue rather than green.

How happy were you to see Djinn of Wishes pick six in pack two?

I was in shock. It shouldn't go that far round the table, and it's a massive signal that blue is coming from the left, and makes me confident that I've chosen the right colors.

You kept avoiding Cancel, but seemed pleased to get Mana Leak. One is a hard counter, one isn't. What's up with that?

The format is aggro, and at that point I had so much late game that I needed the early game, so Mana Leak is a potential early drop to complete my curve and compete with the early drops that other people have. If you Mana Leak an early guy, then they have to cast their Blood Ogre without Bloodthirst, and then you drop Giant Spider....that's what you want. Cancel often just does the same job for one more mana.

What were you thinking when you took Sunpetal Grove?

Green-blue has UnsummonArachnus Web, and Æther Adept at common.

None of them deal with a huge creature, so the Sunpetal opens up the possibility of a white splash if I open Pacifism or Oblivion Ring, and I can get a Rampant Growth to go find a Plains.

Æther Adept over Pentavus. Don't you like Pentavus?

My deck is Mind ControlStingerfling Spider, Garruk, Belltower SphinxDjinn of Wishes....I don't need the late game, I need to get there, and Æther Adept helps me do that.

Tell us about the Oblivion Ring pick. Purely defensive, or were you thinking about the Sunpetal Grove and a splash?

The picks were connected, but I decided not to play the splash. I didn't pick up the Rampant Growth, and my deck is really strong, and I didn't want to destabilize my mana.

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