Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Art of the Rare Draft

Everyone is familiar with the concept of rare drafting, but doing it well is really an art. The reflex responce to rare drafting is hatred, or misunderstanding. Most people don't like the concept of rare drafting, and don't understand why people do it. If you find your self in this lot you should read this article by Abe Sargent. In a nut shell, rare drafting almost guaratees you won't come in first (or in many cases even in the top half), but you may walk away with some cards you wanted. If you want to become a better drafter in the traditions sense, you are reading the wrong article.

Almost anyone who does any trading, or much competative playing in standard is going to be familiar with the bomb rares of the latest set. You pretty much are going to take a bomb-value rare if you open it, or have it passed to you. Inversly, most similiar players are going to know the dog rares when they see them, and will only take them if there really is nothing of interest in the pack. The real challenge is the mid range rares for a given set. You know those rares that trade for more then $2 but less then $5. This is where the art of the rare draft really becomes a factor.

Shadowmoor is kind of an odd set in that it has a very narrow mid range. The rare breakdown runs at 26% bombs, 56% crap, and 17% mids. This means that only about 14 cards are in the current mid range. Shadowmoor is also unusual for it's uncommons being of remarkable value. There are 12 uncommons with higher then expected values, and almost any of them can be equal to or worth more in value then the rare of the pack. In all these uncommon uncommons very often, but you need to know them when you see them. For instance Kitchen Finks is trading at a value of $4.00. There really are no bomb value commons in Shadowmoor, so commons need to be evaluated for their contribution to your deck, or hate drafted to remove them from the pool.

Now on to the mid range rares. Out of the 14 I mentioned earlier, 10 are creatures. This falls into the easy philosophy "If it has legs, take it". this is especially true if it's in color! Of those 10 creatures, 3 of them have flying as an evasion, and almost all of them have game altering effects, that have to be delt with. If nothing else thay become a magnet for the very limited amount of removal at most draft tables. This leaves the 4 non-creature mid range rares, which will be my focus for the remainder of this article.

First up is Enchanted Evening, with a reasonable value of $3. You may wish to consider taking this just for the decent value, and hope you can trade it off. More often then not this will sit in your binder, until you bulk it for $0.10 at some point in the distant future. This could be playable if you pick up enough enchantment removal. There is a much larger amount of enchant ment removal at most limited tables then there is other removal. This card makes those enchantment removal into anything removal. Most of those cards are in Green and White, so you would almost have to play this as a mono-white spell. The fact that it is almost unplayable a a blue spell, makes this very unatractive to me. This is a pretty niche card, and will most often be best passed for a good common which contributes to your deck strategy.

Prasmatic Omen is another niche card with an even more attractive value of $4. It is more likely to be traded, since it brings a lot of value to the casual table. In the draft this really is a fixer, saving you from combersome mulit-color decks. I say to draft a more focused deck, and let this one slide.

Runed Halo is an off switch for your oppoents biggest threat, with a respecatable $3 price tag. Unless you are running a lot of other control, I think you will find that you don't have this card when you need it. This will not spend much time in your trade binder though, as everyone is dieing to see this card broken.

Last up is Wheel of Sun and Moon with an potentially undervalued $3 price. This could easily be the hidden gem of this group. In limited, it shuts down the mill strategies that everyone has been trying lately in blue, and is also diffuclt to deal with in blue once it has resolved. It also puts removal in the catagory of temporary fixes, since anything they blast out will simply go back to your ever thining deck. This really only decomes a factor in a long games, but rare drafters hope for long games anyway. This is already finding it's way into the sideboard and occasional main deck of the good green decks, and it is only a matter of time before the extended scene discovers some way to abuse this card. I say pick it up at an undervalued $3.

So those are my thoughts on the Shodowmoor draft. By my count we have 3 more drafts before Eventide drops, and shakes everything up. Hope to see you all there on Friday. To close I will ask the question: "What is your favorite Shadowmoor draft strategy?" Please post your thoughts in the comment section below this article.

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