Drafting with the Undefeated World Champion

Posted in Event Coverage on April 17, 2016

By Marc Calderaro

already, just a few picks into the first Day 2 draft. He grabbed Bygone Bishop, followed with a Bound by Moonsilver. Not bad.

“Honestly, at that point I was pretty locked into White.” No one can really blame him. Even though his neighbor was solidly in the color as well, the packs were deep enough to let Manfield stay solidly one-color through most of the first pack. “The cards weren’t spectacular, but they were definitely making the main deck.”

This draft was the champ’s ninth or tenth draft in the format. He felt he had a pretty good handle on things when it came to when to commit. “Flexibility is good, but committing to one color early isn’t really a problem.” But like most formats, he was wary of two-color early picks. “The Planeswalkers, and the enchantments with off-color activations are really risky.”

In the first pack Manfield stayed solid, while passing some solid other colors, until he saw a sixth pick Aberrant Researcher. “It’s not amazing or anything, but I was like, ‘Oh, I guess I’m supposed to take this.’” Though Blue had be going around previously, that high of a card was good enough for him to make the switch. “It’s pretty good, and that was definitely later than I was expecting it.”

“Blue isn’t really that great, but I was hoping to use it as a support color.” He thinks the depth of the creatures overall in the color isn’t quite there as a backbone. But in the rest of the packs, even with one neighbor White and the other Blue, there was more than enough for Seth to get a solid White-Blue Skies. The Blue support plan ended up just fine. “I’m just trying to win the air.”

“I hadn’t drafted this archetype before, but I think it can work pretty well.” He made some specific picks to make that possible. Out of packs two and three, both his first picks were two-drops—Thraben Gargoyle and Unruly Mob. And he picked them over much more powerful cards. This led into how important Seth feels low drops are in the format.

“It’s not that the format’s blazingly fast ... but the rewards for the top-end just aren’t there,” he said. Or at least aren’t there as strongly as they often are (unless you’re in a linear archetype like Rise from the Tides—see Jake Van Lunen’s article on Chris Fennell’s masterpiece). Add that to the Clue tokens to use your extra mana, and you have a smaller-costed format.

“Clues are the card advantage in the format.” Manfield continued, “I can win early with flyers, but I can also chill and draw some cards.” He said that all the investigate cards are exceeding his expectations. He mentioned both Weirding Wood and Root Out. Even though they aren’t “great” cards, or even sometimes maindeck-able, they are solid performers.

“The good decks are just lower to the ground,” he said. “At least so far, aggression is good.” As Manfield considered a True-Faith Censer as his 23rd card he mused, “and equipment is actually pretty good in this format.” He said it’s combination of a better environment for them, because of the smaller decks, and their overall quality. “I think they made an effort to make the equipment a little better.”

“If I put the Censer on one of these Drownyard Explorers they’re 4/5 vigilance that drew me a card.” That seemed worth it to him, though he was still unsure about his last choice. “Still trying to figure out how many lands to play. I’m pretty low, I could go to 16.” But looking at his two Angelic Purges, he considered otherwise. “I can usually afford to sacrifice two lands but maybe not if I have sixteen ... unconditional removal in this format is just so good.”

Manfield settled on 17 lands, and wound up with a solid deck. When East-West Bowl teammate and Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch Top 8 finisher Andrew Brown saw the deck, he immediately said, “Wow. Ok. That’s a good deck.” Manfield just smirked.

Blue-White still isn’t Manfield’s favorite archetype, but it certainly fits with his expectations of the format. “I like to play Human decks in general. At least so far, aggression is good.”

Aggression is good. It’s like Gordon Gecko over here. But we shouldn’t expect anything less from the World Champion though, should we?

(3) Seth Manfield's White-Blue – GP ABQ

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