Baghdad Bazaar: Drafting FFA with Fealko



Good news first! I am pleased to say that my unit has finally redeployed back to its home in Ft. Carson, Colorado. This explains why you have heard nary a peep out of me since November--the time since then has been hectic with packing conexes, handing our battlespace over to the next unit, and generally getting our entire battalion ready to pick up and move to the other side of the world. You try it sometime; you'll see what I mean. It's like relocating a small country.

But we're finally here! And, hopefully, that fact will leave me with more free time and more opportunities for Magic.

("So why keep the 'Baghdad Bazaar' column title?" you may ask. For several reasons, actually. First, I'd like to think people have grown accustomed to associating the phrase with my articles...and hopefully, in a good way. Second, it's a tip of the hat to both where I began my Magic writing career and to where I had some of the most important growing-up experiences of my life. But that's a weighty topic for another time.)


They call Ft. Carson "The Mountain Post."
I wonder why that is?

Not that I haven't been keeping myself busy in the Magic department just the same. The group of hardcore infantryman that I had painstakingly cobbled together over the past year met a few last times for some exciting Lorwyn Free-For-All drafting action. (If you want to read about our past experiences with this unusual format, go here.) Today, I aim to lay out one of those aforementioned drafts, complete with picks and perhaps a thoughtful insight or two. Perhaps.

Before I begin my draft picks, I should put out a few disclaimers. First, I'd drafted Lorwyn only once before this point, and my block draft strategies at were less than robust. Second, I spent more time recording the draft picks than I did actually thinking about the draft picks. My choices could easily have been different if I'd put away the pen and paper and simply just played... but then where would your article be?

Third, I didn't exactly win the FFA game. Although this doesn't necessarily mean my picks were wrong, it does mean I'm not a perfect player. Or a perfect drafter. If you see a choice better than the cards I snatched, feel free to speak up!

With those thoughts in mind, let's look at the boosters I opened.




DA DRAFT:

The draft in question took place on the night of November 30, 2007. Ben, Kyle, and me you'll remember from previous articles, but we had a new addition to the party in the form of "Christopher." If I recall correctly, Chris had only played two games with us till this point and hadn't touched Magic cards since at least Ice Age. However, he'd evidenced more than just a basic grasp of the game in that short time, and he cheerfully agreed to join us for our newest FFA draft. (I guess learning Magic must be like riding a bike; once you grasp the principles, it's never unfamiliar.)

Booster #1, take 1:



Smokebraider, Nameless Inversion, Fertile Ground, Moonglove Winnower, Plover Knights, Whirlpool Whelm, Warren-Scourge Elf, Blades of Velis Vel, Cenn's Heir, Ringskipper, Black Poplar Shaman, Entangling Trap, Turtleshell Changeling, Flamekin Spitfire, Thoughtweft Trio.

The obvious picks in this booster include the Nameless Inversion (no duh there), the Turtleshell Changeling, the Moonglove Winnower (this is FFA after all, and good blockers are key), and the Thoughtweft Trio. But as nice as the other choices are, there is really only one correct choice. Especially when you consider that it can keep three other players' armies at bay and attack your most dangerous opponent at the same time. And considering my previous thoughts on the best Lorwyn cards for multiplayer, I was more than happy to start my deck with this useful rare.

My pick: Thoughtweft Trio.


Booster #2, take 1:



Springleaf Drum, Kithkin Healer, Footbottom Feast, Axegrinder Giant, Lignify, Silvergill Douser, Caterwauling Boggart, Tideshaper Mystic, Elvish Handservant, Broken Ambitions, Treefolk Harbinger, Silvergill Adept, Wizened Cenn, Guardian of Cloverdell.

I really appreciate the pseudo-spot-removal R&D has been finally giving Green with cards like Utopia Vow and Lignify. The Silvergill Adept is also worth a second look, but in a format that rewards creatures more than anything else, I had to go with the Guardian. Its little horde is great both on defense and life-gain, and it combos well with the Trio I'd already picked up. So far, my draft was off to a good start.

My pick: Guardian of Cloverdell.


Booster #3, take 1:



Pestermite, Hurly-Burly, Peppersmoke, Lys Alana Huntmaster, Consuming Bonfire, Wispmare, Blind-Spot Giant, Exiled Boggart, Ponder, Heal the Scars, Skeletal Changeling, Squeaking Pie Sneak, Gilt-Leaf Palace.

I'm not completely sure what I was thinking here. I went for the Heal the Scars, as it can be both a Holy Day or a way to gain life off of the largest creature on the board. At the same time however, I completely overlooked a perfectly respectable flier with a solid toughness that doubled as a Disenchant. Since none of the cards here are powerful enough to warrant splashing just yet, I should have just picked up a Wispmare.

My pick: Heal the Scars.


Booster #4, take 1:


Goldmeadow Harrier, Deeptread Merrow, Fistful of Force, Soulbright Flamekin, Cloudcrown Oak, Kinsbaile Skirmisher, Spring Cleaning, Blind-Spot Giant, Wellgabber Apothecary, Gilt-Leaf Seer, Vivid Grove, Ethereal Whiskergill.

There were a lot of solid options here in my colors (WG) for FFA, the most notable of which were the Goldmeadow Harrier and the Cloudcrown Oak. However, from previous experience, I know that the terror that is the Harrier, since it can Pacify an opponent's win condition or tap down the defender keeping you at bay. And if nothing else, I simply wanted no one else to use it.

My pick: Goldmeadow Harrier.

And here's where things get interesting! Unlike regular drafts, in our 4-person draft there are only 4 boosters circling at any one time. Meaning you have more than one opportunity to pick up cards you see. Plus, reading what colors are open is a little easier. It's a unique variation you should try.


Booster #1, take 2:

Smokebraider, Nameless Inversion, Fertile Ground, Plover Knights, Whirlpool Whelm, Warren-Scourge Elf, Blades of Velis Vel, Cenn's Heir, Ringskipper, Entangling Trap, Turtleshell Changeling.

Well! I was pleasantly surprised to see that Nameless Inversion had made it all the way back around. After all, removal is high up on the BREAD acronym, and a card that leaves Last Gasp in the dust is worth grabbing. (Particularly in this tribal-heavy format.) I didn't think twice and was more than happy to splash B.

My pick: Nameless Inversion.

Again, if I had been able to spend more time studying the pack instead of recording what was in it, I might have noticed that the Moonglove Winnower, the Black Poplar Shaman, and the Flamekin Spitfire had been picked up, cluing me in to what colors the other players might have been drafting. But I digress...



A less-than-flattering picture of our latest addition.
(Sorry, Chris. It was all I had.) And I wonder if
you can tell that's my laptop in the background?

Booster #2, take 2:

Kithkin Healer, Footbottom Feast, Lignify, Silvergill Douser, Caterwauling Boggart, Tideshaper Mystic, Elvish Handservant, Broken Ambitions, Treefolk Harbinger, Silvergill Adept.

Having already drafted a Treefolk, I grabbed the quick defender with a tutor effect on the side.

My pick: Treefolk Harbinger.


Booster #3, take 2:

Pestermite, Hurly-Burly, Peppersmoke, Lys Alana Huntmaster, Consuming Bonfire, Blind-Spot Giant, Exiled Boggart, Skeletal Changeling, Squeaking Pie Sneak.

Once again, I looked to removal, grabbing the quasi-Darkblast. Do you think it was the wisest choice?

My pick: Peppersmoke.


Booster #4, take 2:

Deeptread Merrow, Fistful of Force, Cloudcrown Oak, Kinsbaile Skirmisher, Spring Cleaning, Blind-Spot Giant, Gilt-Leaf Seer, Vivid Grove.

Hooray, the 3/4 anti-flier is back! Plus, he's a Treefolk, which my first Lorwyn FFA draft was sadly lacking in. Since he was easily my second choice the first time around, I forcibly enlisted him.

My pick: Cloudcrown Oak.


Booster #1, take 3:

Smokebraider, Fertile Ground, Whirlpool Whelm, Warren-Scourge Elf, Blades of Velis Vel, Cenn's Heir, Entangling Trap.

Having already set myself in a WBG draft scheme, I went for the creature with the solid body. I didn't think it was late enough to start picking up mana fixers just yet.

My pick: Cenn's Heir.


Booster #2, take 3:

Footbottom Feast, Lignify, Silvergill Douser, Caterwauling Boggart, Tideshaper Mystic, Elvish Handservant.

The Elvish Handservant was a nice first-turn drop, but I chose the green spot-removal over it. My logic was that it can not only staple a flier to the board but turn a 1/1 into a respectable defender. However, that Elvish Handservant has come back to kick my little butt in other FFA games, when two out of every three spells count as a Giant spell. Was I wrong?

My pick: Lignify.



Brian (from earlier articles) stops in to eyeball Ben. I mean,
to check out his cards.
Booster #3, take 3:

Pestermite, Hurly-Burly, Lys Alana Huntmaster, Exiled Boggart, Squeaking Pie Sneak.

Having splashed Black only for removal so far, I drafted the green creature. Even if I drafted no other Elves or changelings, it might make my deck simply as an extra body.

My pick: Lys Alana Huntmaster.


Booster #4, take 3:

Kinsbaile Skirmisher, Blind-Spot Giant, Gilt-Leaf Seer, Vivid Grove.

I'm not sure about my choice here on this one. I was probably thinking back to my Thoughtweft Trio and Guardian of Cloverdell and making a Kithkin-style deck. If I had to do it again, however, I might just as easily have picked up the draw-manipulation powers of the Gilt-Leaf Seer.

My pick: Kinsbaile Skirmisher.


Booster #1, take 4:

Fertile Ground, Whirlpool Whelm, Warren-Scourge Elf.

I decided a little mana-fixing was in good order.

My pick: Fertile Ground.


Booster #2, take 4:

Caterwauling Boggart, Elvish Handservant.

Glad it made it back around.

My pick: Elvish Handservant.


Booster #3, take 4:

Exiled Boggart.

All right! On to the second wave of boosters.


Booster #5, take 1:



Tarfire, Herbal Poultice, Kithkin Greatheart, Oakgnarl Warrior, Lash Out, Hornet Harasser, Scarred Vinebreeder, Springjack Knight, Ponder, Bog Hoodlums, Protective Bubble, Scattering Stroke, Boggart Harbinger, Fodder Launch, Garruk Wildspeaker.

Well, this was a non-decision! And he's even in one of the colors I was drafting. I decided to forgo actual thought in favor of the card that pays for half of my draft. And wins games on his own.

Just please don't ask me to explain why he's so good.

My pick: Garruk Wildspeaker.


Booster #6, take 1:



Gilt-Leaf Ambush, Hillcomber Giant, Makeshift Mannequin, Springjack Knight, Stinkdrinker Daredevil, Nameless Inversion, Battlewand Oak, Soaring Hope, Elvish Branchbender, Wellgabber Apothecary, Aquitect's Will, Crib Swap, Imperious Perfect, Ashling the Pilgrim.

The two cards that stood out were Nameless Inversion and Crib Swap. I went for the Crib Swap, since giving your opponent a "french vanilla" 1/1 usually is fair trade for the Oakgnarl Warrior he just paid for. Plus, it keeps the creature out of the graveyard so your opponent can't use cards like Footbottom Feast.

My pick: Crib Swap.


Booster #7, take 1:



Tarfire, Wanderer's Twig, Silvergill Douser, Avian Changeling, Bog-Strider Ash, Goldmeadow Dodger, Nightshade Stinger, Faerie Trickery, Blades of Velis Vel, Elvish Handservant, Turtleshell Changeling, Thorntooth Witch, Squeaking Pie Sneak.

It stands to reason that if, in the BREAD acronym, "Bombs" and "Removal" rank as the first two draft strategies, then something that combines them is even better. Thorntooth Witch is one of those awesome cards that I didn't even know about before this draft. Luckily, I had enough wits about me to nab it. Not only is it non-damage-based removal on a decent body, but it's a Treefolk, fitting in nicely with the "Ent" subtheme I'd already begun. (And just imagine it triggering off a Nameless Inversion... drool.)

My pick: Thorntooth Witch.


Booster #8, take 1:



Paperfin Rascal, Dreamspoiler Witches, Runed Stalactite, Nath's Elite, Sentinels of Glen Elendra, Caterwauling Boggart, Goldmeadow Dodger, Faerie Trickery, Nightshade Stinger, Blades of Velis Vel, Flamekin Bladewhirl, Ghostly Changeling.

Okay, I'm pretty sure I missed the boat on this one. I think I was concentrating too much on drafting a Kithkin/Treefolk deck (since both are pretty robust in multiplayer) and let my preconceptions get the better of me. I should have picked up the Ghostly Changeling for a sturdy defender or even the ho-hum Runed Stalactite for extra beef. But I simply didn't have enough cheap aggro to justify my pick of Goldmeadow Harrier. What a waste.

My pick: Goldmeadow Harrier.


Booster #5, take 2:

Tarfire, Herbal Poultice, Kithkin Greatheart, Oakgnarl Warrior, Lash Out, Hornet Harasser, Scarred Vinebreeder, Ponder, Bog Hoodlums, Boggart Harbinger, Fodder Launch.

Here, the vigilant trampler seemed the best fit for a WBG deck that wants to survive in multiplayer. It's a little expensive, but if you can survive to cast it, it can both pound your favorite enemy and stay untapped to defend against the others.

My pick: Oakgnarl Warrior.



This is probably Kyle's opinion of the photographer. Likely.

Booster #6, take 2:

Gilt-Leaf Ambush, Hillcomber Giant, Springjack Knight, Stinkdrinker Daredevil, Nameless Inversion, Battlewand Oak, Elvish Branchbender, Wellgabber Apothecary, Aquitect's Will, Imperious Perfect.

Well, once again, our favorite removal card made it way around the table. Especially with a Thorntooth Witch now in our card pool, I don't let it get away a second time.

My pick: Nameless Inversion.


Booster #7, take 2:

Wanderer's Twig, Silvergill Douser, Avian Changeling, Bog-Strider Ash, Goldmeadow Dodger, Faerie Trickery, Blades of Velis Vel, Elvish Handservant, Squeaking Pie Sneak.

My last Lorwyn draft suffered from both a lack of changelings and of evasive creatures, and my decklist consequently felt the pain. As much as the Bog-Strider Ash might have been useful, I already had a number of solid choices for the high-cost creature slots. I went with the more reliable choice.

My pick: Avian Changeling.


Booster #8, take 2:

Paperfin Rascal, Dreamspoiler Witches, Nath's Elite, Caterwauling Boggart, Faerie Trickery, Blades of Velis Vel, Flamekin Bladewhirl, Ghostly Changeling.

Again, I managed to grab a decent creature in my colors. It might not be a very strong card in a non-monoblack deck, but it's better than the Goldmeadow Dodger I picked from this pack last time around.

My pick: Ghostly Changeling.


Booster #5, take 3:

Herbal Poultice, Kithkin Greatheart, Hornet Harasser, Scarred Vinebreeder, Bog Hoodlums, Boggart Harbinger, Fodder Launch.

I wasn't likely to see many Goblins from my deck, apart from the few changelings I've been picking up, but at least grabbing it got it out of the hands of other people. Count this as a hate-draft-with-a-possibility-for-actual-useage.

My pick: Fodder Launch.



The hunchback of Orzhova!!! Nah, it's just me, faithfully
writing down draft picks.

Booster #6, take 3:

Gilt-Leaf Ambush, Hillcomber Giant, Springjack Knight, Battlewand Oak, Elvish Branchbender, Imperious Perfect.

Another decent Kithkin card pushed me farther towards the Kithkin/Treefolk idea. I hoped the rest of the card pool would hold up, as the Battlewand Oak might have been a better choice just then.

My pick: Springjack Knight.


Booster #7, take 3:

Wanderer's Twig, Silvergill Douser, Blades of Velis Vel, Elvish Handservant, Squeaking Pie Sneak.

Again, the Elvish Handservant caught my eye; but instead I went for the mana-fixer to help my three-color deck. Great creatures mean little if you can't cast them quickly.

My pick: Wanderer's Twig.


Booster #8, take 3:

Nath's Elite, Faerie Trickery, Blades of Velis Vel, Flamekin Bladewhirl.

Another "meh."

My pick: Nath's Elite.


Booster #5, take 4:

Hornet Harasser, Bog Hoodlums, Boggart Harbinger.

None struck my fancy in my non-Goblin deck, so I hate-drafted the card with the removal attached to it.

My pick: Hornet Harasser.


Booster #6, take 4:

Battlewand Oak, Elvish Branchbender.

The Oak has served me nobly in previous games, so I already knew how to best take advantage of it.

My pick: Battlewand Oak.


Booster #7, take 4:

Squeaking Pie Sneak.

On to the last wave of boosters!


Booster #9, take 1:



Adder-Staff Boggart, Wispmare, Streambed Aquitects, Consuming Bonfire, Boggart Loggers, Lairwatch Giant, Spellstutter Sprite, Spiderwig Boggart, Flamekin Brawler, Tideshaper Mystic, Goldmeadow Stalwart, Hoarder's Greed, Thundercloud Shaman, Wanderwine Hub, foil Mountain.

It's time for yet another episode of "Did I Miss the Boat?" As mentioned earlier, the Wispmare was always a solid option. A Lairwatch Giant, although not a Kithkin or a Treefolk, would have provided massive defense and still be in my colors. And even a Hoarder's Greed would have given my deck a Night's Whisper-like boost to the card draw. (Not to mention that that foil Mountain was really tempting. [/sarcasm])

Instead, I picked up the Goldmeadow Stalwart. I don't think the choice was completely in error. This being my third pack, it was now time to start filling in the holes in my decklist. And as the decklist currently stood, I could have used a few more inexpensive creatures. At least it wasn't as lame as the Goldmeadow Dodger I'd picked up earlier, but I now think the Stalwart would have come back around if I'd grabbed something else. Something a little higher on the power curve, for example.

My pick: Goldmeadow Stalwart.


Booster #10, take 1:



Deeptread Merrow, Lash Out, Kithkin Daggerdare, Herbal Poultice, Avian Changeling, Warren Pilferers, Mournwhelk, Zephyr Net, Scarred Vinebreeder, Gilt-Leaf Seer, Protective Bubble, Hearthcage Giant, Ego Erasure, Vivid Creek.

As my deck was currently shaping up, the best picks were the Kithkin Daggerdare and the Avian Changeling. I chose the Daggerdare for its spot-beefing ability, but I think I could have nabbed the evasive changeling and still been all right. What do you think, at this point in the draft?

My pick: Kithkin Daggerdare.


Booster #11, take 1:



Wanderer's Twig, Silvergill Douser, Avian Changeling, Bog-Strider Ash, Eyeblight's Ending, Mudbutton Torchrunner, Tideshaper Mystic, Rootgrapple, Triclopean Sight, Nightshade Stinger, Elvish Harbinger, Drowner of Secrets, Arbiter of Knollridge.

Hmm, the first four cards are exactly the same as Booster #7's. How disappointing. The three best candidates in my colors were the Eyeblight's Ending, the Avian Changeling, and the Bog-Strider Ash. I decided to pick up the fairly-reliable removal in place of yet another warm body.

My pick: Eyeblight's Ending.


Booster #12, take 1:



Leaf Gilder, Vivid Creek, Boggart Sprite-Chaser, Thieving Sprite, Amoeboid Changeling, Spring Cleaning, Exiled Boggart, Sentry Oak, Mournwhelk, Shields of Velis Vel, Lys Alana Scarblade, Sygg, River Guide.

Here, the best pick did seem to the beefy defender with a chance to be just a little more. Worst case scenario, it'd keep the heat off of me for a while.

My pick: Sentry Oak.


Booster #9, take 2:

Adder-Staff Boggart, Wispmare, Streambed Aquitects, Consuming Bonfire, Boggart Loggers, Spellstutter Sprite, Spiderwig Boggart, Hoarder's Greed, Thundercloud Shaman, Wanderwine Hub, foil Mountain.

I never actually drew it in any game I played, but Hoarder's Greed was an excellent pseudo-Night's Whisper and the only card draw I'd found in my colors so far.

My pick: Hoader's Greed.



Proper card selection takes hard work!

Booster #10, take 2:

Deeptread Merrow, Avian Changeling, Warren Pilferers, Mournwhelk, Zephyr Net, Scarred Vinebreeder, Gilt-Leaf Seer, Protective Bubble, Ego Erasure, Vivid Creek.

I think I finally got a clue this time around. Also, there weren't any other solid choices in my colors.

My pick: Avian Changeling.


Booster #11, take 2:

Wanderer's Twig, Silvergill Douser, Avian Changeling, Bog-Strider Ash, Tideshaper Mystic, Rootgrapple, Triclopean Sight, Nightshade Stinger, Elvish Harbinger.

It was either the Bog-Strider Ash or the Rootgrapple (after all, I'd been grabbing a goodly number of Treefolk and changelings.) But a warm body is just straight-up better than expensive, pinpoint removal in FFA, when you're staring down three other armies across the table from you.

My pick: Bog-Strider Ash.


Booster #12, take 2:

Leaf Gilder, Vivid Creek, Amoeboid Changeling, Spring Cleaning, Exiled Boggart, Mournwhelk, Shields of Velis Vel, Sygg, River Guide.

Leaf Gilder might have given some decent mana acceleration, but I decided I'm lacking on reliable enchantment removal. (Too bad I didn't grab those Wispmares earlier, or I wouldn't be having this problem.)

My pick: Spring Cleaning.


Booster #9, take 3:

Wispmare, Streambed Aquitects, Consuming Bonfire, Boggart Loggers, Spellstutter Sprite, Spiderwig Boggart, foil Mountain.

Ah, it seems I spoke too soon. Plus, it was the only option in my colors.

My pick: Wispmare.



Chris begins assembling his deck.

Booster #10, take 3:

Warren Pilferers, Mournwhelk, Zephyr Net, Scarred Vinebreeder, Gilt-Leaf Seer, Ego Erasure.

It was a cheap creature, and it helps your smooth your draw. Not a hard choice here.

My pick: Gilt-Leaf Seer.


Booster #11, take 3:

Wanderer's Twig, Silvergill Douser, Avian Changeling, Triclopean Sight, Nightshade Stinger.

It seems passing on those changelings earlier didn't come back to haunt me after all. I'm just lucky no one else at the table had picked up on their usefulness.

My pick: Avian Changeling.


Booster #12, take 3:

Amoeboid Changeling, Exiled Boggart, Shields of Velis Vel, Sygg, River Guide.

We were out of good options in my colors, and there was nothing else good enough here to hate-draft.

My pick: Shields of Velis Vel.


Booster #9, take 4:

Consuming Bonfire, Boggart Loggers, foil Mountain.

At this point in the draft, perhaps I should have just hate-drafted the removal. Instead, I went for the critter.

My pick: Boggart Loggers.


Booster #10, take 4:

Warren Pilferers, Mournwhelk.

My pick: Mournwhelk.


Booster #11, take 4:

Wanderer's Twig.

Good mana-fixing in this format shouldn't have been pick 15. But I gladly took it.




DA DECKS:

Here are the decks our group finally created, in clockwise order:

Kyle's Blue/Red Deck (42 cards):Magic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
Blue Spells:
1 Forced Fruition
1 Spellstutter Sprite
1 Drowner of Secrets
1 Paperfin Rascal
1 Broken Ambitions
1 Familiar's Ruse
1 Ponder
1 Ringskipper
1 Glimmerdust Nap
1 Silvergill Douser
1 Protective Bubble
1 Sentinels of Glen Elendra

Red Spells:
2 Lash Out
1 Flamekin Brawler
1 Ashling the Pilgrim
1 Consuming Bonfire
1 Hamletback Goliath
1 Soulbright Flamekin
1 Tarfire
1 Blades of Velis Veil
1 Inner-Flame Acolyte
1 Goatnapper
1 Adder-Staff Boggart
1 Stinkdrinker Daredevil

Others:
1 Springleaf Drum

Land:
10 Mountain
5 Island
1 Vivid Creek



Unfortunately, with rare exception, Kyle's deck was completely devoid of any power cards. As consistent as it might have been in its mana base and mana curve, it's very difficult to achieve victory on just the backs of creatures like Inner-Flame Acolyte and Drowner of Secrets. (I myself have learned this, to my dismay, in sanctioned Limited events.)

Ben's Blue/Red Deck (43 cards):Magic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
Blue Spells:
2 Turtleshell Changeling
1 Ethereal Whiskergill
2 Streambed Aquitects
2 Pestermite
3 Tideshaper Mystic
1 Protective Bubble
1 Scattering Stroke
1 Faerie Trickery
1 Captivating Glance

Red Spells:
1 Hearthcage Giant
1 Hostility
1 Inner-Flame Igniter
1 Flamekin Spitfire
1 Boggart Sprite-Chaser
1 Tarfire

Others:
1 Wort, Boggart Auntie
1 Sygg, River Guide
1 Runed Stalactite
1 Herbal Poultice

Land:
1 Plains
7 Island
1 Swamp
8 Mountain
1 Vivid Creek
1 Wanderwine Hub



Unfortunately for Kyle, Ben was drafting the exact same colors. And doubly-unfortunate for Kyle, he was upstream (since we passed twice to the right and only once to the left). As you can tell, Ben nabbed the power curve of Blue and Red, netting two Turtleshell Changelings (wicked in FFA), a nasty combination of a Hearthcage Giant and a Hostility, and a couple instances of evasion.

Christopher's White/Black/green Deck (40 cards):Magic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
White Spells:
1 Arbiter of Knollridge
1 Lairwatch Giant
1 Plover Knights
1 Hillcomber Giant
1 Kithkin Greatheart
1 Kithkin Healer
1 Wizened Cenn
1 Wellgabber Apothecary
2 Neck Snap
1 Soaring Hope
1 Entangling Trap
1 Triclopean Sight

Black Spells:
1 Makeshift Mannequin
1 Thieving Sprite
1 Warren Pilferers
1 Spiderwig Boggart
1 Footbottom Feast
1 Boggart Birth Rite

Green Spells:
1 Rootgrapple
1 Fistful of Force

Others:
1 Doran, the Seige Tower
1 Herbal Poultice

Land:
9 Plains
5 Swamp
1 Forest
1 Gilt-Leaf Palace
1 Vivid Grove



How cruel is fate! That I deliberately drafted WBG Treefolk, and Christopher ended up with a first-pick Doran, the Seige Tower! How cruel, that Doran rear his head in our cardpool and yet not get passed to me!!!

Vexing aside, Chris's cardpool didn't turn out badly. It had a number of respectable threats, a few wisely-chosen pieces of removal, and a few methods of graveyard return. It would remain to be seen, however, whether he would get the time to cast his game-deciding giants before the rest of us brought his life to zero.

Nathan's White/Black/Green Deck (40 cards):Magic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
White Spells:
1 Thoughtweft Trio
1 Goldmeadow Stalwart
3 Avian Changeling
1 Goldmeadow Harrier
1 Crib Swap

Black Spells:
1 Thorntooth Witch
2 Nameless Inversion
1 Eyeblight's Ending
1 Fodder Launch
1 Hoarder's Greed

Green Spells:
1 Garruk Wildspeaker
1 Guardian of Cloverdell
1 Oakgnarl Warrior
1 Cloudcrown Oak
1 Battlewand Oak
1 Kithkin Daggerdare
1 Treefolk Harbinger
1 Heal the Scars
1 Lignify

Others:
2 Wanderer's Twig

Land:
5 Plains
5 Swamp
6 Forest



If you've been paying attention, you'll notice that exactly two players drafted UR and exactly two others drafted WBG. In one sense, this was a good thing, as it meant the power cards were equally spread out among the players. Everyone had a chance to get the cards they needed, and no one player came out on top because he was the only person drafting his colors. (Although Kyle did seem to be a bit on the receiving end.)

I'd like to say that I'm glad Wizards of the Coast realized how hard it was to draft a single-tribe deck, even with the nice changelings. Hence, any tribal cross-over cards really helped tie a two-tribe deck together, as with mine. Aside from bemoaning the loss of Doran, I thought my card list came out rather strong. Though it is stretched over three colors, I managed to land two excellent mana fixers. Additionally, I had no shortage of win conditions and a healthy amount of serious removal to back them up. (Okay, more than a healthy amount.)




DA GAME:

So who won the game? Christopher did.

Thanks for reading. See you next time.

...

Actually, I'd planned to keep the "game" section of this article brief. For one, it's already 8000 words and growing, and I'm sure you all had at least one other thing you wanted to do with your day. Second, "who won" isn't actually as important in a Free-For-All game as you might expect. Unlike regular duel matchups, in which the victor is determined both by a judicious combination of (1) deck construction and (2) play skill, in FFA there is a third factor: (3) who gangs up on whom. And reputation has a lot to do with that last element: if you're halfway-decent, expect to lose first.

But here's a quick run-down just the same:



Oh! The insanity of it all! It's all just too gruesome for words, I know.

I received a starting hand of a Swamp, Forest, Wanderer's Twig, Goldmeadow Harrier, Nameless Inversion, and Avian Changeling, and thought this was more than strong enough to start the game on.

Kyle claimed the first attack of the night, charging into Ben with a Flamekin Brawler and Adder-Staff Boggart. Ben returned the favor with a Streambed Aquitect. Nearly flipping a coin between the two, I finally chose Kyle as my first opponent, attacking him with an Avian Changeling and a Kithkin Daggerdare (immediately losing both to removal). Chris completed the two-on-two by nicking Ben with his Thieving Sprite. From there, it was a race of which "team" could take the other out first, before one-on-one squabbles ensued.

Athough my Garruk never showed up, I did quickly topdeck my Thorntooth Witch and began to wreak havoc with Nameless Inversions and Treefolk Harbingers. Until I foolishly walked the Witch into a Neck Snap, that is. (Never put your win condition in jeopardy, kids!) Ben almost immediately drew and played his Hostility/Hearthcage Giant combo; we were lucky his deck held few direct damage spells. Chris dropped all the way down to 2 life before he could stabilize with an endless supply of beefy defenders like a Lairwatch Giant, a Hillcomber Giant, and even Doran himself.


A game-winner. Who'd have
guessed?

Kyle, unfortunately, drew nothing but an Inner-Flame Acolyte and lands for most of the game. When Ben finally dealt him his final 3 damage, our tenuous balance of power collapsed. Judging me as the next big threat, Ben then quickly swept past my meager defenders for another easy kill. Chris had lowered Ben to 4 life, thanks to his unblockable Hillcomber Giant, but it was only a matter of time before Ben's unstoppable army outmaneuvered his.

But all was not lost. One turn before Ben seized victory for his own, Chris topdecked his Spiderwig Boggart and evaded in with Doran and his giant for the win.

I guess the moral of the story is: don't knock new fashion, even if it involves arachnids.

So, what do you think? How were the picks, both in a vacuum and in light of the final, epic battle? How were the final decks, both as stand-alone structures and compared to each other? If you got together with a group of friends and played the same decks, which do you think would reign supreme?

(Oh, I already know many of you are cringing at the atrocious draft picks I made. It's okay. Remember, FFA metagaming is a little different than regular booster drafting; this may be part of it. And it may just be that I suck.)

And if you live anywhere near Ft. Carson and would like to start up a regular playgroup, I'd love to hear from you! Perhaps I can post embarrassing photos of you in an upcoming article as well.

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