Any number of things influence a player when they sit down to draft a set of Magic Origins. Whether it's perceived strength, player tendencies or simply personal preference, there's a lot that goes into what card you ultimately choose to take when those 14 Magic cards are placed in front of you.
For 19th-ranked Mike Sigrist, sometimes his decision is even influenced by whom he's drafting with to start Day Two at Grand Prix Dallas/Fort Worth.
No. 19 Mike Sigrist looks over a pack in the first draft of Grand Prix Dallas/Fort Worth.
Upon opening up his first pack and looking at Lightning Javelin and Separatist Voidmage, Sigrist was faced with a tough choice right off the bat. On the one hand, Javelin is one of the best removal spells in the set and many times is an easy first pick. On the other, he knew that the player two seats to his right — 12th-ranked Josh Utter-Leyton — had a strong preference for red in the format. With Utter-Leyton passing cards to Sigrist for two of the three packs, he had a strong incentive to stay out of the color.
"I knew he was likely to go red, and I'm perfectly happy being blue in this format," Sigrist said. "Voidmage is really good and lets you go a lot of directions."
Changing your draft strategies based on who you're sitting with isn't an easy concept to tackle, and in some cases assuming to much can lead to trouble. But when the picks are close to strength in the first place — as with Voidmage and Javelin — Sigrist said it's something you should consider to set yourself up for success.
In this case, Sigrist — fighting for a qualifying spot at next month's World Championship — was dead-on: Utter-Leyton did indeed draft a red deck.
But even if your intuition is correct, sometimes you just can't change what's in the packs. Skyraker Giant was the best card in the next pack, after picking up a Disciple of the Ring and then Eyeblight Massacre and a few more on-color cards, it was the red spells that kept coming. A pair of Mage-Ring Bully rounded out the first pack, and Sigrist was firmly in red despite his best intentions.
The second pack started strongly with a Hangarback Walker and a Prickleboar, but things went downhill from there. By the end of a disappointing round, Sigrist had picked up another Mage-Ring Bully and a Fiery Conclusion even as he tried to move into black by taking a second Eyeblight Massacre.
"I was hoping to get into black after I saw the Massacre late, but it was too late by the time I tried," Sigrist lamented. "So I ended up having to play red and regretting my Javelin pick, even though red was overdrafted at our table."
In the end, Sigrist ended up with what he described as a mediocre deck, though it did have the power to crank out Thopters thanks to the Spy Network and eight artifacts or Thopter-producing spells.
"Spy Network is so good, I'd probably play it with as few as five artifacts, but you really want at least seven," he explained. "Overall this set is fast and the only color I don't ever want to be is green; there's only one removal spell [Wild Instincts] and the creatures are small so they get outclassed quickly."
Sigrist isn't the only player to think that way. Pro Tour Fate Reforged Top 8 competitor Jesse Hampton prefers to base his deck in white, and he got that opportunity on Sunday, drafting a black-white that eschewed the color combination's traditional enchantment theme in favor of efficient creatures. At a table full of some of the game's best — Jamie Parke, Michael Simon and Don Van Ravenzwaaij joined Sigrist, Utter-Leyton and Hampton at the table — Hampton's deck of economical creatures and removal spells seemed to have an edge, as he took down Utter-Leyton's red-black deck in the first round.
"The packs on my side were very strong," he said of the draft. "I have two Blood-Cursed Knight, and even without the enchantments it's a strong creature. Of course, if you ever turn it on then it's great. Early on I tried to go blue with a Sigiled Starfish — that's the best uncommon in the set — but I'm still very happy with my deck."