Baghdad Bazaar: FFA Draft #3 - The Power of Merfolk
By Nathan Fealko on March 21st, 2008 · Filed in Baghdad Bazaar, Limited, Multiplayer, Variant Formats · Comments not available just now
The Free-For-All Draft is easily my favorite format to write about, but it was some time before my Army buddies from Iraq could all collect together on the same day. We decided to spend the afternoon at Seth's house instead of the local game shop. (Nerdy as I may be, the regular populace there make me look like a lumberjack. We decided to avoid them.) I invited five others (Leander, Seth, Kyle, Tom, and Christopher), half-expecting most to arrive an hour and a half late, if at all. After all, infantrymen are notorious for clubbing on Friday night and not waking up until halfway through Sunday.
The Free-For-All (FFA) Draft:|
Four or more players draft 3 boosters as in a regular Limited event, but they play a single mass game, winner take all. (Default rules allow players to attack anyone they choose, but only one opponent per turn.)
As it was, I was pleasantly surprised. Only Christopher was too drunk to answer his phone that weekend. That gave us a FFA playgroup of a whopping five people--our largest gathering so far.
I footed the bill for three boosters apiece (LWN-LWN-MOR) for our group; in return, they provided the play area and pizza. Since it had been some time since our last draft, I reviewed the main elements of booster drafting and special considerations for Free-For-All play. I also gave a little background on block theme and mechanics, since only Kyle had any experience drafting Lorwyn. (And Seth had never been in a draft at all; how far behind would he be?)
Once I was confident our playgroup at least knew which side of their cards was up, we cracked our first boosters.
Booster #1, take 1:
Oakgnarl Warrior, Lash Out, Hornet Harasser, Deeptread Merrow, Goldmeadow Harrier, Fistful of Force, Cenn's Heir, Ringskipper, Black Poplar Shaman, Shimmering Grotto, Elvish Eulogist, Flamekin Harbinger, Familiar's Ruse, Squeaking Pie Sneak, Sower of Temptation.
Besides BREAD, things to watch for in FFA Drafting:|
1. Creatures, creatures, creatures! Targeted removal is nice, but it's a lot less effective when you have 4 whole armies staring you down. Instead, draft a decent blocker with a useful ability.
2. Long-term resource advantage. FFA draft games easily last 15 turns or more, long after everyone has emptied their hand. Look for ways to draw more cards or to make use out of extra mana each turn (like with a token generator), for example.
3. Political implications. Faerie Tauntings might catch your eye; but will it go the distance, or will it just inspire 4 other players to kill you before your next turn?
First, the cards that caught my eye opening this pack. Hornet Harasser, Goldmeadow Harrier, Black Poplar Shaman, and Sower of Temptation are all decent creatures with abilities that come in handy in drawn-out wars of attrition. Other drafters might be attracted to the removal that Lash Out provides, the aggro Squeaking Pie Sneak delivers, or the control Familiar's Ruse promises, but in FFA it's very dangerous to spend your entire hand killing just one opponent. Instead, decent blockers with useful abilities are key.
Of those listed, I went with the evasive creature that could net me a Lairwatch Giant I didn't pay for. And with four other players at the table, targets would be aplenty.
My pick: Sower of Temptation.
Booster #2, take 1:
Woodland Changeling, Kithkin Greatheart, Mulldrifter, Footbottom Feast, Lowland Oaf, Lignify, Faultgrinder, Faerie Trickery, Warren-Scourge Elf, Lairwatch Giant, Spiderwig Boggart, Turtleshell Changeling, Wizened Cenn, Favor of the Mighty.
Mulldrifter is just as much of a house in FFA as in a regular draft (perhaps even more so, as you'll probably have the time to hard-cast it as a 2/2 flier.) Additionally, the ability to refill one's hand is invaluable. Lairwatch Giant and Turtleshell Changeling are also respectable in this format, but neither are quite as overwhelmingly-useful. I'm just glad the Drifter came my way.
My pick: Mulldrifter.
Booster #3, take 1:
Bog-Strider Ash, Aethersnipe, Tarfire, Herbal Poultice, Kithkin Greatheart, Oakgnarl Warrior, Judge of Currents, Blind-Spot Giant, Exiled Boggart, Ponder, Flamekin Harbinger, Final Revels, Eyes of the Wisent.
This booster was much less clear. Tarfire and Ponder are decent, but such cards are nearly useless without blockers. Final Revels is powerful, but it can easily make an enemy out of everyone else at the table. After an internal struggle, I went with the Judge of Currents. It both opened me up in White (a good combination with Blue in Lorwyn) and set me up for long-term life-gain--a surprisingly-solid strategy in FFA.
My pick: Judge of Currents.
Booster #4, take 1:
Springleaf Drum, Inner-Flame Igniter, Goldmeadow Harrier, Glimmerdust Nap, Aquitect's Will, Wellgabber Apothecary, Mournwhelk, Zephyr Net, Kithkin Harbinger, Cloudgoat Ranger, Sunrise Sovereign.
A Quick Note for the Astute: At more than one point, we had slip-ups in the drafting, when some of our newer players would accidentally grab more than one card or pass the wrong pack. As you can see, one of the cards was missing from this pack. We eventually resolved the issues so that we ended up with 45 drafted cards apiece (I forget how), but not before this pick.
There's some decent creature removal in this booster in our colors; but as you can tell from my last choice, I wasn't going to pick a non-creature spell unless it was really good. Cloudgoat Ranger and Sunrise Sovereign are also fair for FFA, but I already had another choice in mind. In particular, there was a solid creature that can easily set one up to win a defensive war, which a FFA often becomes. (Plus, I'd already seen it abused in our playgroup.)
My pick: Wellgabber Apothecary.
Booster #5, take 1:
Adder-Staff Boggart, Wispmare, Streambed Aquitects, Consuming Bonfire, Protective Bubble, Fire-Belly Changeling, Skeletal Changeling, Aquitect's Will, Kinsbaile Skirmisher, Turteshell Changeling, Faerie Taunting.
This time I didn't hesitate on the Turtleshell Changeling. Besides being a respectable defender, he can morph into a sizeable attacker when need be. (And he's a changeling--always useful.)
My pick: Turteshell Changeling.
And with that pick, we've seen all five boosters circulating the table! Booster #1 now returns to us, less a few cards...
Booster #1, take 2:
Lash Out, Hornet Harasser, Deeptread Merrow, Goldmeadow Harrier, Ringskipper, Shimmering Grotto, Flamekin Harbinger, Familiar's Ruse, Squeaking Pie Sneak.
(Again, a missing card.) For me, it was either the Deeptread Merrow or the Goldmeadow Harrier. I eventually chose the former, since I'd already drafted a few other Merfolk cards. I could have probably justified either choice, however.
My pick: Deeptread Merrow.
Y'all remember Leander, right? (My regular cameraBooster #2, take 2:
broke, so we had to use a crappy phone camera
Kithkin Greatheart, Footbottom Feast, Lowland Oaf, Lignify, Faultgrinder, Faerie Trickery, Lairwatch Giant, Turtleshell Changeling, Favor of the Mighty.
It's not a Merfolk this time, but it can discourage a hoarde of weenies. Perfect for FFA play. I chose it over the Turteshell Changeling, since I already had one of those anyway.
My pick: Lairwatch Giant.
Booster #3, take 2:
Aethersnipe, Tarfire, Herbal Poultice, Oakgnarl Warrior, Blind-Spot Giant, Exiled Boggart, Flamekin Harbinger, Final Revels.
Although in color, the Aethersnipe was a little too expensive for its ability, for my tastes. Instead I hate-drafted the Tarfire, just so I wouldn't have to see it again. (A solid argument can also be made for hate-drafting the Oakgnarl Warrior, but I was more concerned about losing my fragile Merfolk to spot damage.)
My pick: Tarfire.
Booster #4, take 2:
Springleaf Drum, Goldmeadow Harrier, Aquitect's Will, Zephyr Net, Kithkin Harbinger, Sunrise Sovereign.
I wasn't too hard up yet to draft non-creature pseudo-removal over a decent blocker with a useful ability.
My pick: Goldmeadow Harrier.
Booster #5, take 2:
Wispmare, Streambed Aquitects, Consuming Bonfire, Protective Bubble, Fire-Belly Changeling, Aquitect's Will.
I took a lesson from my last FFA draft and grabbed the flier that can also remove the Glimmerdust Nap I didn't draft.
My pick: Wispmare.
Last known photo of Tom by this particularBooster #1, take 3:
Goldmeadow Harrier, Flamekin Harbinger, Familiar's Ruse, Squeaking Pie Sneak.
You can never go wrong with a creature that can tap down enemy win conditions. Looks like I got both of these after all.
My pick: Goldmeadow Harrier.
Booster #2, take 3:
Kithkin Greatheart, Lowland Oaf, Faultgrinder, Faerie Trickery.
Again, I stayed away from the non-creature spells as long as possible.
My pick: Kithkin Greatheart.
Booster #3, take 3:
Aethersnipe, Blind-Spot Giant, Flamekin Harbinger.
My pick: Aethersnipe.
Booster #4, take 3:
Springleaf Drum, Zephyr Net.
My pick: Zephyr Net.
Booster #5, take 3:
On to the next set! Hopefully we'll have fewer hiccups this time.
Booster #6, take 1:
Boggart Loggers, Lys Alana Huntmaster, Runed Stalactite, Inner-Flame Acolyte, Neck Snap, Spring Cleaning, Blind-Spot Giant, Wellgabber Apothecary, Gilt-Leaf Seer, Boggart Birth Rite, Sylvan Echoes, Rebellion of the Flamekin, Changeling Titan, Wren's Run Packmaster, Axegrinder Giant.
Wren's Run Packmaster is just crazy-stupid in this format, when you'll have plenty of extra turns and extra mana to spend. Not to mention that deathtouch is one of the best ways to stall attackers in the whole game. I hate-drafted it without a second thought.
My pick: Wren's Run Packmaster.
Booster #7, take 1:
Inner-Flame Acolyte, Neck Snap, Pestermite, Leaf Gilder, Boggart Sprite-Chaser, Thieving Sprite, Caterwauling Boggart, Tideshaper Mystic, Elvish Handservant, Broken Ambitions, Cenn's Heir, Merrow Harbinger, Merrow Reejerey, Vivid Marsh.
Since I've already drafted a couple other Merfolk, a Merrow "Lord" could come in very handy. (Remember, the Neck Snap here is great, but we need creatures more than we need spot removal.)
My pick: Merrow Reejerey.
Booster #8, take 1:
Axegrinder Giant, Lignify, Silvergill Dowser, Oblivion Ring, Quill-Slinger Boggart, Inkfathom Divers, Boggart Birth Rite, Ingot Chewer, Shimmering Grotto, Vivid Crag, Final Revels, Seedguide Ash, foil Island.
This was one of those few instances where I would unhestitantly grab a removal spell in a FFA draft over a crit. Oblivion Ring is inexpensive, open-ended removal that doesn't find as much anti-enchantment to worry about in Limited as in Constructed. The next closest card in value would be the Silvergill Dowser, but, judging from our last draft, I was pretty sure it would make it around the table again.
(But Oblivion Ring being a pick 3 makes me wonder how good the other players were at judging card values.)
My pick: Oblivion Ring.
Booster #9, take 1:
Sentinels of Glen Elendra, Smokebraider, Gilt-Leaf Ambush, Moonglove Winnower, Skeletal Changeling, Aquitect's Will, Kinsbaile Skirmisher, Blind-Spot Giant, Boggart Shenanigans, Ego Erasure, Flamekin Spitfire, Cryptic Command.
I was getting vibes that Blue was open in this draft, but I think it was at this point I realized just how open it was. In fact, I stopped the draft right here long enough to exclaim, "Who passed this card???" Three people raised their hands, shyly explaining that it wasn't in one of their colors. Personally, I don't care; I'd hate-draft any of the command cycle if I had to. They're that good.
My pick: Cryptic Command.
Booster #10, take 1:
Hillcomber Giant, Sentinels of Glen Elendra, Stinkdrinker Daredevil, Dreamspoiler Witches, Oaken Brawler, Goldmeadow Dodger, Faerie Trickery, Blind-Spot Giant, Elvish Handservant, Goldmeadow Stalwart, Fallowsage.
He's both a Merfolk and a great way to keep my hand full over long games. He should fit in nicely. (On a side note, we've been seeing a lot of blind Giants lately.)
My pick: Fallowsage.
Booster #6, take 2:
Boggart Loggers, Runed Stalactite, Inner-Flame Acolyte, Spring Cleaning, Blind-Spot Giant, Wellgabber Apothecary, Boggart Birth Rite, Sylvan Echoes, Rebellion of the Flamekin, Axegrinder Giant.
Twice as much opportunity to protect my dudes can't be all bad.
My pick: Wellgabber Apothecary.
Seth is a good host and brings us soda.Booster #7, take 2:
Inner-Flame Acolyte, Pestermite, Leaf Gilder, Boggart Sprite-Chaser, Caterwauling Boggart, Tideshaper Mystic, Broken Ambitions, Merrow Harbinger, Vivid Marsh.
As long as we're settling into the "Merrow" theme, a way to tutor them up can't be half bad either.
My pick: Merrow Harbinger.
Booster #8, take 2:
Axegrinder Giant, Lignify, Silvergill Dowser, Inkfathom Divers, Boggart Birth Rite, Ingot Chewer, Final Revels, foil Island.
You may not believe it, but I actually do pay attention to all the comments you readers leave on each of my articles. And one of the observations I noticed was how undervalued Silvergill Dowser was in our playgroup. After a little thought on the subject, I decided to give your wild-fangled ideas a try.
(And man...you guys weren't kidding! But more on that later.)
My pick: Silvergill Dowser.
Booster #9, take 2:
Sentinels of Glen Elendra, Smokebraider, Skeletal Changeling, Aquitect's Will, Blind-Spot Giant, Boggart Shenanigans, Ego Erasure.
Although it's not a Merfolk, a 2/3 flier with flash can still be a pretty significant creature.
My pick: Sentinels of Glen Elendra.
Booster #10, take 2:
Sentinels of Glen Elendra, Stinkdrinker Daredevil, Oaken Brawler, Goldmeadow Dodger, Faerie Trickery, Goldmeadow Stalwart.
My pick: Sentinels of Glen Elendra.
I get the high, wobbly chair.Booster #6, take 3:
Spring Cleaning, Blind-Spot Giant, Boggart Birth Rite, Rebellion of the Flamekin, Axegrinder Giant.
Nothing in color here, so I just picked the card I least wanted to see targeting my Oblivion Ring.
My pick: Spring Cleaning.
Booster #7, take 3:
Inner-Flame Acolyte, Boggart Sprite-Chaser, Tideshaper Mystic, Broken Ambitions.
My pick: Broken Ambitions.
Booster #8, take 3:
Inkfathom Divers, Ingot Chewer, foil Island.
My pick: Inkfathom Divers.
Booster #9, take 3:
Smokebraider, Blind-Spot Giant.
I doubt anyone's powering out any Elementals in our group, but you never can be too sure.
My pick: Smokebraider.
Booster #10, take 3:
All right! We made it through that round without any mishaps, and my cardpool was shaping up rather nicely. Onto the Morningtide.
Booster #11, take 1:
Burrenton Shield-Bearers, Shard Volley, Elvish Warrior, Dewdrop Spy, Earthbrawn, Kithkin Zephyrnaut, Pulling Teeth, Mosquito Guard, Floodchaser, Morsel Theft, Luminescent Rain, Stinkdrinker Bandit, Veteran's Armaments, Redeem the Lost, Borderland Behemoth.
Let me begin by saying just how much our playgroup enjoyed the new cards in Morningtide. There are some retarded cards in the expansion (which I'm sure you already knew)! Since I hadn't taken much more than a glance at the spoiler myself before this point, I enjoyed the "new cards" experience as much as my friends.
That being said, this first Morningtide booster was a tough choice for me; I eventually drafted the Veteran's Armaments. My logic was that even though I wasn't using Soldiers, an equipment which can a) boost a flying attacker of mine for extra damage or b) boost a single defender of mine against an oncoming horde was probably worth maindecking.
(I was also very interested in the Floodchaser, but I knew no one else was drafting Blue. I'd be seeing it again, whereas I couldn't guarantee the same for the Armaments.)
My pick: Veteran's Armaments.
Booster #12, take 1:
Fertilid, Ballyrush Banneret, Brightheath Banneret, Squeaking Pie Grubfellows, Reins of the Vinesteed, Burrenton Bombardier, Merrow Witsniper, Morsel Theft, Stingmoggie, Lys Alana Bowmaster, Stonybrook Schoolmaster, Cenn's Tactician, Thieves' Fortune, Heritage Druid.
(I remember at one point we had a discussion on just how atrocious some of the cards names in the Lorwyn block are. Stingmoggie? Squeaking Pie Grubfellows? I mean, seriously...who comes up with these things?)
The choice here appears rather straight-forward, considering what we've drafted so far.
My pick: Stonybrook Schoolmaster.
Booster #13, take 1:
Seething Pathblazer, Final-Sting Faerie, Latchkey Faerie, Lunk Errant, Ink Dissolver, Coordinated Barrage, Merrow Witsniper, Blightsoil Druid, Kindled Fury, Diviner's Wand, Wandering Graybeard, Daily Regimen, Battletide Alchemist.
This was one of those choices where politics comes into play. Ink Dissolver certainly seems powerful enough in a dedicated Merfolk/Wizard deck, but all it's really going to accomplish is drawing massive hate and likely death. I stayed the heck away from it.
Merfolk Witsniper, on the other hand, was too underpowered. I understand it's a Harbinger-hoser, but I'm not keeping a potential blocker in my hand just for that one moment I can screw a single opponent out of 4. I'm dropping my creatures as quickly as is practical. Hence, this was another card I stayed away from.
Out of the remainders, Coordinated Barrage and Daily Regimen looked promising, but my final choice was the Diviner's Wand. For one, it fit in already with my deck's growing Merfolk theme; and second, it gave a way to draw extra cards at the end of opponents' turns.
My pick: Diviner's Wand.
Booster #14, take 1:
Distant Melody, Order of the Golden Cricket, Sunflare Shaman, Weed-Pruner Poplar, Stream of Unconsciousness, Merrow Witsniper, Morsel Theft, Stingmoggie, Lys Alana Bowmaster, Hunting Triad, Meadowboon, Ink Dissolver.
I obviously wasn't paying too much attention to this pack, or I'd have hate-drafted the Weed-Pruner Poplar on the spot. It offers far too much free spot removal for this format, and at a rather-reasonable cost. But I made a mistake.
Among the remaining choices, Distant Melody was promising, but I wasn't excited about paying for a spell dependent on the number of blockers I could keep in play. I eventually chose Meadowboon because, well, it was a decent block with a useful ability.
My pick: Meadowboon.
Booster #15, take 1:
Latchkey Faerie, Winnower Patrol, Seething Pathblazer, Burrenton Shield-Bearers, Mothdust Changeling, Blightsoil Druid, Mudbutton Clanger, Deglamer, Swell of Courage, Sage's Dousing, Sigil Tracer.
I don't think this pick was a mistake at all. Again, we see just how open Blue is this draft, since Sigil Tracer's ability is more than just "useful," especially with five players tossing spells around.
My pick: Sigil Tracer.
Booster #11, take 2:
Burrenton Shield-Bearers, Shard Volley, Elvish Warrior, Dewdrop Spy, Kithkin Zephyrnaut, Pulling Teeth, Mosquito Guard, Floodchaser, Stinkdrinker Bandit, Redeem the Lost.
My first choice would have been the Floodchaser. A 6/6 for , even if it can't attack for free, is still pretty efficient for a non-Green spell. However, after thought, I remembered that no one was drafting Blue. Meaning I should probably pick up a few key spells in my other color (White) before they disappeared. I was pretty confident the Floodchaser will make it all the way back around.
(Seriously, that's half the fun of a small-person draft--knowing your friends well enough to guess what they'll grab at, what they'll pass...and what might come all the way back around to you. It adds a new element to reading signals you won't find in a competitive 8-person draft.)
My pick: Redeem the Lost.
Bobbi, Tom's wife, must really love him if she'll letBooster #12, take 2:
him drag her to watch silly, nerdy games.
Ballyrush Banneret, Brightheath Banneret, Squeaking Pie Grubfellows, Burrenton Bombardier, Merrow Witsniper, Morsel Theft, Stingmoggie, Thieves' Fortune, Heritage Druid.
It's not a creature, but it's useful enough that it might make the main deck anyway. And I have a few fliers to get the prowl cost.
My pick: Thieves' Fortune.
Booster #13, take 2:
Seething Pathblazer, Latchkey Faerie, Ink Dissolver, Coordinated Barrage, Merrow Witsniper, Blightsoil Druid, Daily Regimen, Battletide Alchemist.
Apparently, no one is drafting Clerics either.
My pick: Latchkey Faerie.
Booster #14, take 2:
Distant Melody, Sunflare Shaman, Stream of Unconsciousness, Merrow Witsniper, Morsel Theft, Stingmoggie, Ink Dissolver.
Not a bad backup here for the Silvergill Dowser.
My pick: Stream of Unconsciousness.
Booster #15, take 2:
Winnower Patrol, Seething Pathblazer, Burrenton Shield-Bearers, Mothdust Changeling, Mudbutton Clanger, Sage's Dousing.
Mothdust Changeling is a perfect addition to my nearly-completed deck. Not only is it a Merfolk and a Wizard for such cards as Diviner's Wand, but it has free synergy with Wellgabber Apothecary, Stonybrook Schoolmaster, Judge of Currents, and Fallowsage.
My pick: Mothdust Changeling.
Kyle and I review a new card.Booster #11, take 3:
Burrenton Shield-Bearers, Dewdrop Spy, Pulling Teeth, Mosquito Guard, Floodchaser.
What did I tell you! This way, I net both good Blue and good White cards, instead of just a good Blue card and White dregs.
My pick: Floodchaser.
Booster #12, take 3:
Burrenton Bombardier, Merrow Witsniper, Morsel Theft, Stingmoggie.
I am not taking the Witsniper.
My pick: Burrenton Bombardier.
Booster #13, take 3:
Ink Dissolver, Merrow Witsniper, Daily Regimen.
Okay, fine. The Ink Dissolver is worse in FFA anyway.
My pick: Merrow Witsniper.
Booster #14, take 3:
Merrow Witsniper, Ink Dissolver.
My pick: Merrow Witsniper.
Booster #15, take 2:
And our drafting is done! Let's see what our friends put together.
Here are all five of our finished decks, as we played them (presented in clockwise order, starting with Tom).
Some nice beef, but could Tom draw it
Seriously, Tom's decklist makes me cry. It appears he nabbed every decent Kithkin creature that came his way (which are excellent at stalling ground wars) and spiced it up with some serious Giant beef. But he constructed a 60-card deck from them! (It's not as if he didn't know he could go as few as 40; he just chose not to.) Consequently, he had 20 extra cards to dig through to find his most powerful cards.
Take a lesson from the pros, kiddies. A good deck is like good alcohol. Don't water it down.
Um, ugh. Looks painful.
An interesting fact: Seth is likely the only one of our playgroup to avidly read my MTGSalvation articles. And as such, he paid particular attention to a certain article in which I named Treefolk as one of the best tribes in Lorwyn Free-For-All. As you can see, he drafted heavily both in Green and in Red, finally deciding to go with a Treefolk/Elfish theme with a splash of Red for direct damage.
Nothing too powerful, but in the crazy, politic-laden world of FFA, power isn't everything. Could Seth's deck survive long enough to get rolling?
No real theme here, but some decent
Leander's deck has a sub-theme of decent Rogue/prowl cards and a mishmash of other Green stuff. Nothing too impressive; but, as with Seth's deck, that might be exactly his method for survival. After all, impressive decks die first.
Certainly powerful cards, but how would
they fair in FFA?
Kyle, on the other hand, managed to land some excellent choices in his two final colors. His deck sports a respectable Elf theme and a handful of beefy trees help his end game. Either Liliana Vess or Maralen of the Mornsong, if they hit the board, could complete change the face of the game. I think this is the most capable deck we've seen thus far.
Well, this could get stupid fast.
To be honest, I was very happy with my final decklist. As a number of the forum posters mentioned, Merfolk were being sadly undervalued in our FFA group. Being able to nab every significant one among our boosters let me both a) build a strongly-themed tribal deck and b) set myself up to win a defensive ground war, hopefully lasting far into the end-game.
Whether or not my subtle plan worked, however, depended on how much spot removal my opponents drew and how much they simply wanted me dead.
Unlike my last FFA Draft article, I plan to go a little more in-depth into the actual game. For one, that should help us gauge how well a dedicated Merfolk deck works in chaos multiplayer. Second, there were a number of crazy turns that are just fun talking about.
Both Tom and Seth mulliganed for having too many lands. (Be sure to shuffle your deck well before the first game! I easily shuffle it ten times before I draw.) My opening hand was only marginally better, as I drew 2 Plains, 3 Islands, a Diviner's Wand, and a Latchkey Faerie. While in any duel I'd immediately ship this back for some quicker drops, I decided I could probably survive without blockers for a few turns in multiplayer. My gamble was that if there were any quick attacks, they would be made against the player with the most creatures. I.e. the biggest threat.
LET'S GET IT ON!!!Fortunately (for me), my gamble paid off.
Turns 1-2: I laid land while the others dropped weenies like Boggart Sprite-Chaser and Battlewand Oak.
Turn 3: I finally put down a Diviner's Wand, though I had nothing to attach it to yet. I think Seth and Leander had traded a few blows at this point; but for the most part, everyone kept to themselves. Making enemies too early is a bad thing.
Turn 4: I dropped a Latchkey Faerie as my first defender. No prowl cost, but a 3/1 flier should dissuade the smaller attackers.
Turn 5: I made my Mulldrifter stick as a creature.
-Kyle spooked the crap out of us on his turn when he played his Weed-Pruner Poplar. (Remember? That Treefolk I should have hate-drafted? It came back to haunt us.) I think Tom was still mana-flooding, with only a Kithkin Zephyrnaut on the board thus far.
Turn 6: I played a Silvergill Dowser and then attempted to grab control of Kyle's Weed-Pruner Poplar via a Sower of Temptation. Unfortunately, Kyle had a Pack's Disdain waiting in the wings. He kept his silly tree.
-Oddly enough, on his next turn, Kyle left my Latchkey alone (which the Poplar could have easily killed), instead knocking off Leander's Leaf Guilder. Was he afraid of the mana-acceleration?
Turn 7: Unlike my Sower, my O-Ring did stick, and Kyle was suddenly without his Poplar. I also played a Mothdust Changeling (my Wand auto-attaching) and attacked Kyle with my Mulldrifter and Latchkey (which traded with his Thieving Sprite).
The view from Leander's side.Turn 8: I played a Wellgabber Apothecary, pinged Kyle for another 2 points of flying damage, and passed.
-On his turn, Kyle finally attacked back with a Moonglove Winnower, a Seedguide Ash, and a Woodland Changeling, but my Silvergill Dowser/Wellgabber Apothecary combo stopped them dead, letting only 2 points through. (Remember, deathtouch can't trigger if the creature deals no combat damage!) The lines were drawn!
Turn 9: I dropped a hefty Floodchaser for some beefy defense and kept picking at Kyle with my Mulldrifter, which he could not block. I left the rest of my critters on defense, which was the strength of my deck.
Sidenote: Politics are very important in FFA. Tom laid a Faultgrinder on this turn and decided to be "nice," targetting only those with the most lands. I convinced him that Kyle deserved the honor, since his Heritage Druid gave him extra mana over his lands. This comment did double duty on my part, as it both knocked off one of Kyle's lands instead of my own and goaded Kyle into attacking Tom on his turn instead of me. Huzzah!
Turn 10: A timely Inkfathom Divers let me arrange the top of my library as so: Cryptic Command (yay!), Stonybrook Schoolmaster, then 2 Islands.
Yup, pretty hard to punch through those lines.Turn 11: I did nothing other the usual 2 flying damage to Kyle, saving untapped mana for my Wellgabber Apothecary/Mothdust Changeling combo and the Cryptic Command I just drew.
-During his turn, Kyle attempted to cast Liliana Vess. Knowing he could immediately force me to discard or tutor up some removal, I responded with my Command, choosing to both a) counter his Liliana and b) tap all other creatures. (Remember, I untapped on the very next turn.)
Turn 12: I finished Kyle's last 10 life points off, removing one of my Floodchaser's counters to do so. After playing my Schoolmaster, I still had three creatures on defense, so I wasn't as concerned about tapping out a few attackers. Also, at this point, I had enough extra mana to start drawing cards off of my equipped Changeling.
-Tom and Seth, both harrassed by a nasty Sunrise Sovereign/Changeling Titan duo from Leander (9/9 trample much?), decide to team up on their turns to kill him. Twenty points of life suddenly isn't so much when you're tapped out and everyone's enemy. Players left: 3.
Turn 13: This time, Tom received the pleasure of my Mulldrifter attack, which he also couldn't block.
-In turn, Tom attacked me with all 9 of his creatures, including a beefy Faultgrinder, Blind-Spot Giant, and Cloudgoat Ranger. But even with a Neck Snap killing my Divers, I still only took 3 damage from some unblocked Kithin tokens, saving all my other creatures in the process. You can't get through a solid Merfolk defense with combat damage alone.
Turn 14: Spending to beef my equipped Changeling twice (and draw 2 cards!), I swung in with exactly the 9 damage needed to kill Tom while his defenses were down. I felt it was now or never to finish him, as I could block most but not all his creatures. Additionally, he could have easily drawn the spot removal or extra creatures needed to punch through my Merfolk, and this was assuming Seth didn't chime in to help. Unfortunately, this action left me with only a Merfolk token and a newly-cast Wispmare on defense against Seth's growing army. Incoming Treefolk tokens dropped me to 6.
The final, epic showdown.Turn 15: By this point, I could see the army Seth had been amassing with his silly Reach of Branches/Battlewand Oak/Forests combo. Sigil Tracer came to the rescue, however, and I immediately played it. After my usual flying damage, Seth was at 7 life and I was at 6. It would be a close finish.
-When Seth cast his Reach of Branches for literally the 6th time this game, I was ready. Tapping all available Wizards (most of my Merfolk, actually), I copied it 3 times. His incoming army was blocked by 3 new Treefolk tokens and a Silvergill Dowser that tapped to prevent damage. I went to 4, but I was set up for the win.
Turn 16: With a topdecked Merrow Reejerey boosting most of my crits, I attacked Seth for 22 total points of damage. He had only two blockers to respond with and a single Forest in hand. Win!
So! We discovered Merfolk kick butt in FFA. But I think a lot of you guessed just that already, didn't you?
There were a few clear influences that set my deck up for success. The most obvious was that I was simply the only player drafting strong Blue, letting me grab a number of options for controlling the combat phase. Second, however, was the fact that most of the removal in the cardpool were sideboarded. Other than all three removal cards from Seth's deck (all, fortunately, aimed at Leander) and the Neck Snap that killed my Divers, I saw no other spot removal, apart from my own. Consequently, my Silvergill Dowser and Wellgabber Apothecary went untouched, and this fact (among others) eventually decided the game.
Just how applicable is BREAD for FFA?|
Bombs- Difficult to gauge in FFA; often are expensive creatures that would never be used in duels.
Removal- Spot-removal falls short against 3+ opponents. Reusable removal attached to a creature is better.
Evasion- Just as important in FFA. Hiding behind a wall and swinging with fliers works as well as the next plan.
Aggro- Cheap creatures are still key, but more as quick blockers. Don't be that one guy without defense.
Dregs- Pass these to your buddy.
So what do you think? Did you agree with the draft picks (or, at least, most of them)? What direction would you have gone? What final decklist might you have had? Think Merfolk are worth the hype, or was this game just a fluke?
And how would you deal with the mess of someone drafting too many/too few cards?
See you on the forums!
By Nathan Fealko on March 21st, 2008 · Filed in Baghdad Bazaar, Limited, Multiplayer, Variant Formats · Comments not available just now
About Nathan Fealko
Nathan Fealko graduated from a tiny, sequestered college in NY with degrees in Creative Writing, Communications, and Psychology that he still hasn't used. Taking a break after college, he spent time travelling the world and relaxing in exotic locations like the Korean DMZ and Baghdad. He also learned how to run really fast in ballistic armor. Recently out of the Army, he teaches English to small tots in Taiwan.