Feel the Hate

Posted in Limited Information on May 27, 2008

By Evil Steve Sadin

Hello. This is Evil Steve Sadin. While my twin was off playing in PT–Hollywood, he left his laptop unattended. He spent hours and hours toiling on an article about something nice and boring and then, with one sudden strike of the delete key, it was all gone.

Now, normally I couldn't be bothered to help my twin out. If I took the trouble to delete his article, I would let him know that his article was gone with just enough time for him to rewrite it, but only if he worked at a frantic pace.

But this week is different. This is Evil Twin Week, and I and a number of my evil friends have taken over magicthegathering.com. We're going to teach you a number of ways to inject more evil into your game.

Now before I get into the content of this article, I know you might be thinking that it would be better to delete my twin's article and not tell him so there would be no Limited Information article for a week and he would quickly lose his job. The thing is, that isn't real evil, that's just destructive behavior.

Real evil is sinister.

And today I'm going to show you how to do some really sinister things while a booster draft is taking place.

Hate Drafting

Gorilla_TitanAny two-bit hack can open up an off-color bomb rare in the second or third pack and take it away from their monkey neighbor who would go absolutely bananas if they got passed said bomb rare. But there's not much evil or fun in that (whoops, I just repeated myself there).

Most of the time it is actually best to pass the off color bomb rare in favor of a card that you will actually be able to play. For example, if I am drafting a blue-white deck and in the third pack I open an Æthertow and an Ashenmoor Liege, then I am probably going to take the Æthertow.

While you might feel inclined to take away the bomb Ashenmoor Liege from someone else's deck, the loss of Æthertow from your own deck will seriously lower your deck's ability to inflict evil. While one of your neighbors loses a potential Ashenmoor Liege from their deck, a different neighbor will gain an Æthertow. The collective net loss that your neighbors suffer is marginal, but the loss that you suffer is significant, making this an incredibly inequitable deal for you.

However, if you are drafting that same blue-white deck and you open up a pack with a Safehold Sentry as your best on-color card and a Midnight Banshee as your rare, then you will probably be best off taking the Midnight Banshee away from one of your neighbors, as you won't be giving up much from your own deck in order to inflict a significant amount of damage on a neighbor's deck.

So, if you generally don't want to hate draft bombs, when should you hate draft?

Well, pretty much anytime that you won't have to give up relatively much to do it.
In the example of Safehold Sentry versus Midnight Banshee, your deck probably isn't taking much of a hit, so you should feel free to take a bomb out of the draft.

Safehold Sentry
Midnight Banshee

But if your deck is in desperate need of a two-drop, then you are best off taking the Safehold Sentry for your own deck and then shipping the Midnight Banshee off to someone else. Heck, the person to your left might not be playing black, and then they might take the Midnight Banshee, giving up one of their picks in the process. (Pretty evil, no?)

So let's say there are ten cards or so left in the third pack, and your blue-white deck is basically built, when you get passed a pack that has nothing remarkable for you, but does have a Puncture Bolt that would love to make its home in a red mage's deck.

What do you do?

Well, if there's even an ounce of evil in you, you snag that Puncture Bolt without thinking twice about it.

When it is right to hate draft, especially if it is a marginal to good card, it is generally pretty obvious. If there is nothing for you in the pack, then you take a card away from someone else's deck (unless you are worrying about signaling, but I'll let people like my goody-two-shoes twin or Scott Wills worry about that).

Puncture Bolt
There are also times when there is a card that will be particularly devastating against your deck. That’s another time you should feel more inclined to take it out of the pool. If you have a red-green deck that can never handle a Godhead of Awe, then you should feel very comfortable giving up on a Puncture Bolt in order to take the absolutely devastating Godhead of Awe out of the pool. While I would think twice before passing on, say, a Boggart Ram-Gang, in favor of hating a Godhead of Awe, I certainly wouldn't criticize anyone for doing so.

Sometimes cards that are devastating against you aren't great for everyone, so you might see them a little bit late. Let's say that you are drafting an aggressive green-white deck with a lot of 1-toughness creatures, and you see a Leech Bonder in a pack that has a Raven's Run Dragoons that might be useful in your deck. Unless you have a particular need for the four-drop, then I would feel inclined to take the Leech Bonder out of the pool so it won't be able to stop you from committing any of your evil, aggressive deeds.

Sometimes you know that the person on your left has a particular need for a certain card to fill out their deck, and that means that you will be in a prime position to stop them from getting that card. Say you passed the person to your left a bunch of late-pick Chainbreakers that you are almost certain they took. If you see any late Fate Transfers in the third pack, you should immediately snatch them away if you can afford to.

Virulent Sliver
At the Two-Headed Giant Pro Tour–San Diego, my twin and his teammate Dave Humpherys didn't take anywhere near as many Slivers away from eventual champions Jacob Van Lunen and Chris Lachmann's decks as they could have in either of the two drafts where they were in the same pod. While my twin's team couldn't have single-handedly prevented Jake and Chris from getting awesome decks in those drafts, if everyone at their table had hate drafted just a few more Slivers than they did, it is likely that Jake and Chris would have wound up with decks that were quite weak (at least compared to the beastly decks that they actually had).

Another time when you should feel free to hate draft is if you get passed a pack that has nothing you would benefit from adding to your draft pool, even if there are cards in it that would normally be good in your deck. Now, it will be pretty clear if you already have two good seven-drops, then you shouldn't even bother looking at a Loamdragger Giant if it's the only reasonable on-color card in the pack. But the same thing applies if you have too many good four-drops and you see a Mudbrawler Raiders. If you don't need another four-drop, then you should be actively looking for something else to take. Be careful not to look too far, because sometimes that Mudbrawler Raiders that you know won't make the cut in your deck might still be the best card in the pack, meaning that it will be the best card to hate draft even though it is in your colors!

Now, be careful not to go too far overboard when you are hate drafting. Sure it's fun, but you can seriously hurt yourself if you do too much of it.

The Hook

Blight_SickleI know that my twin wasted a lot of your time talking about how to cooperate in booster draft. I mean sure, cooperation can be used for evil purposes, you can cooperate with your neighbors to make sure that each of you will be able to inflict a lot of evil. This type of cooperation is kind of boring, but it's still important.

But there was one part that really scratched my unfunny bone, and that was the part about switching colors on your neighbors when they are least expecting it. Please note that this maneuver is often referred to as "the hook" or "hooking" or pretty much anything with the word hook in it

Lets say that you open a pack with Incremental Blight, Leech Bonder, and not much else. You obviously take the Incremental Blight, as it is one of the most powerful and evil cards imaginable. Next pack you take a Murderous Redcap over a Consign to Dream. Then in the third pack you take a Gloomlance over a Merrow Wavebreakers. Then in the fourth pack you get passed a Consign to Dream and you take it, feeling fairly confident that you will receive a steady stream of blue during the rest of pack one and the third pack. Not only that, but because you haven't passed any good black cards, you are probably going to get a steady stream of black in pack 2.

All in all, you are probably on your way to a very good deck. But the person on your left could very well be in for a world of hurt.

When you use cooperation to lure your unknowing victims into a false sense of security and then you switch into one or more of their colors, you could very easily derail their draft. But, as usual, it's very important that you don't minimize your own opportunities to inflict evil once the games begin.

If you step into another person's color, you might wind up derailing your own draft in the process. If you are going to step into the colors of the person on your left, then you have to feel fairly confident that you aren't sharing both of your colors with them, and that you are going to get a continued stream of said switched-into color from the person to your right.

Know When to Bail

One thing to keep in mind is that even if you have started moving into a color that the person to your left clearly is in, there's no reason why you have to stay there. Let's say that you are getting a steady stream of blue from the person to your right, and then all of a sudden the well dries up.

ScarSure, it might seem pretty evil to stay in blue in order to spite the person to your left, at your own expense, but that won't accomplish anything. Our goal is to be evil and win, not to be evil and lose, but "I made someone else lose, hahahahah, isn't that cool, I'm so evil, hahaha...." No, that would just be self-destructive. What you should instead do is seriously consider getting out of the color. Unless you have an extremely good reason to be in a color that you are sharing with both of your next-door neighbors, then it just isn't something that you should deal with.

If you are still insistent on inflicting pain on your neighbor's draft, then you can sleep well at night knowing that even though you switched out of blue, you took a number of cards that would have been very good out of your neighbor's deck. So even if you don't play them, those picks haven't been wasted for the malicious drafter.

So, what I am ultimately getting at is that if you can still inflict evil while the draft is going on without hurting your own deck in any significant way, then you are committing even more evil acts than your normal evil-doing self would be able to accomplish during the average Magic draft. And, well, that's just a thing of beauty.

Anyway, I'm off to do more evil deeds.

Until next time,
Evil Steve Sadin

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