Vorthos-ish

Posted in Limited Information on September 2, 2015

By Marshall Sutcliffe

Marshall came back to Magic after discovering Limited and never looked back. He hosts the Limited Resources podcast and does Grand Prix and Pro Tour video commentary.

I'll be honest: I'm not much of a Vorthos. I do enjoy some of the flavorful things about Magic, but that's hardly my central focus. I'm usually aware of the broad storylines for each block, but lack much specific info about which Planeswalker is planeswalking where. I'm okay with that. Our game is so broad in nature that it's able to accommodate many different approaches.

For me, the closest I get to being a true Vorthos comes in a couple of forms.

First, I have a certain nostalgia for the older cards, specifically with regard to their artwork. I have a set of basic lands from Beta that I use in my decks, and I love them. Looking at the artwork on the old cards brings me back a bit to a happy time in my life, and I appreciate that.

I like to note how the general aesthetic of the artwork and cards has changed over time. The new cards are slick, lean, and mean pieces cut from a honed-down style. The old cards were more of a varied take from many different artists. Some were kind of absurd, and others were ahead of their time.

Second, I occasionally participate in a few Draft types that are more Vorthos than Spike. It turns out you can do some pretty crazy stuff with a Booster Draft if you really want to. I've done Backdraft, Stipulation Drafts in various different forms, Flavor Draft, and even a Judge Draft.

I thought we'd go over a few of these offbeat ways to draft this week, in honor of our Vorthos cousins.

Stipulation Draft

This one is pretty open-ended, but the idea is that you put a set of rules about what can be drafted and even how you can play the cards in the games. These can be really fun, and are usually quite silly.

The best example is from the Community Cup. There have been multiple Best Dressed drafts, where you are compelled to take the card out of the pack that has the best dressed thing on it, based solely on the artwork. For times when there may be a disagreement on which card is best dressed, you can call in an impartial third party.

An example:

Clearly, Anointer of Champions is the better dressed of the two, so you would be forced to take the Anointer if these were the only two cards in the pack.

One of my more fond memories was doing a Stipulation Draft with my friend James from LoadingReadyRun (the comedy team that makes Friday Nights). We were playing a Magic 2013 draft together on Magic Online, and we came up with the stipulation that I was not allowed to attack at all during the match. I had to come up with a different way to win the game, and that way was this:

Not a likely win condition, to be sure. I also dislike this card for Limited, and James knows this, which is why he made it a main win condition for the deck (amongst some other mill cards). I had to do so much nothing that simply drawing my whole library over and over again would allow me to outlast my opponent's library.

I realize how absurd this sounds (and it was), but the honest truth is that it was really fun and I feel like I learned a lot from it. Far more than I thought I would at the onset, that's for sure. Just the massive paradigm shift from trying to shorten the game by winning as quickly as possible to trying to have the game go forever was eye-opening.

You can watch the video of the entire draft (from 2012) here.

You can also mess with the stipulations for after the draft has already taken place. One of the funniest ways to implement this is with Flavor Rules. Flavor Rules basically usurp the regular rules in scenarios where the flavor of the cards doesn't line up with what they are doing in the game. Your Bird creatures can't wear armor. Your Akroan Jailer can't tap Hixus, Prison Warden. Your Turn to Frog doesn't do anything to a Frogmite.

You get the idea. This, like the others, is more for fun than anything else. You'll have some disagreements about different fashion styles of the cards you are playing, but getting it sorted usually isn't too bad—assuming you are amongst friends.

Backdraft

This isn't particular to flavor, but I wanted to mention it because of how crazy and fun it is.Backdraft is where you draft an entire deck with the idea that you are making the worst deck you possibly can. We're talking about horrible mana bases, massively expensive spells, super cheap spells that don't do anything, and zero mana fixing when possible. Usually the decks are swapped after the draft so that you have to try to win with someone else's terrible deck.

I've only done this twice in my life, but each time I have it's been super fun.

Judge Draft

Judge Draft is probably my favorite category here. And as much as I love and appreciate the Magic judges who keep things running smoothly during a tournament, this isn't about them. Judge Draft is putting it all out there into the world, on stage, for review.

Here's how it often goes: You're at a restaurant/lobby/friend's house/game shop and you have a bunch of people who want to draft. But you realize that you won't be able to stay where you are for long due to whatever reason. Since many people really love the draft portion of the experience the best, a sweet alternative to playing the games out is to ask a trusted third party to judge the decks themselves. No actual playing of Magic.

If this sounds a bit ridiculous, it's because it is. When I have done these, the parameters that the judge planned to use were unknown to all the people drafting. One fun way to leverage this is to have each person draft whatever they want, but with the idea in mind that they are trying to impress the judge with their final deck. This depends heavily on who the judge is, of course.

I've been the judge and also drafted this format myself, and it's hilarious. I gave high marks to my friend and co-worker Craig Gibson, who drafted something like seven hand-disruption spells in one deck. It was a heck of a theme! Most people like to go hard for one specific theme to sufficiently impress the judge.

After it's all done, the judge gets to look at each deck, ask any questions they have, and ultimately pick a winner.

Wrap-Up

It's important to spread your wings a bit. I've learned quite a lot from trying out these extreme and sometimes silly formats. They can really challenge you to try new things and look at common scenarios in new ways. Plus they are just plain fun, let's not forget that.

That will do it for this week. Next week we'll back to our regularly scheduled Spike programming.

@Marshall_LR

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