Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Limited Resources Cube: A Draft Report

When you fall on hard times, sometimes you just can't draft anymore on magic online.  Sad, but true.  After two crushing defeats in the magic online cube I was tapped out on phantom tickets, but left with an internal fire burning in my heart, whispering to me: crush people in cube!

So what was I to do?  Well, I've been known to cube with people in real life, so what if that experience could be taken online, without the whole nasty money factor that you get with modo?  Of course, I had been looking to try out the Limited Resources cube for a long time.  As a long time LR fan, I had heard mention of it, and it had always been at the back of my mind, something I wanted to give a try but I never got around to.

Sometimes, what it takes is a good walloping to get your ass into gear, and after being thoroughly destroyed in a few modo cube drafts, I signed up for this past thursday's LR cube draft.  And not only would it be free, but the list of cards would be different, giving me a chance to try something new!  Win/win.

Before hand, I had given the cube a quick spin on cubetutor, seeing what archetypes were available, and trying to get a feel for each of the colors.  I quickly noticed that there was a very distinctive g/b graveyard theme in the mix, possibly incorporating blue if you got the spider spawning.  And if you got spider spawning, you could pretty much count on getting its best buddy, gnaw to the bone!

With that in mind, I took a bone shredder out of a fairly weak pack for my first pick.  Not only would this go well in a spider spawning deck, if that was open, but it would leave me open to other black options.  In more powerful cubes, black often gets left behind, as it only has one powerful planeswalker, and its powerful removal spells are often less good against decks full of creatures with comes-into-play effects.  However, a powered-down cube like this one doesn't have planeswalkers and some other bomby effects that black lacks, and the inherent power of black can shine just a little bit more.

Well, green wasn't open, ultimately.  While I kept picking up decent black cards, solidifying that as my main color, I struggled early in the draft to find a second color.  While I got great blue cards, I was getting some sweet white cards as well.  Esper control?

In the end, I ultimately couldn't justify including white in my pool, despite having a day of judgement and a little bit of white fixing.  I would have really loved to play day of judgement, because wrath effects are far rarer and thus harder to play around in the LR cube, but I opted for some more consistency.  I made a mental note to potentially side in plains for that, and the mortify and disenchant if I saw good targets, but it never came up.

The deck fell solidly into a blue/black control archetype.  I just couldn't stop myself from picking creatures that killed other creatures, with duplicant (one of my favorite all-time cards) topping the curve at that effect.  I was really happy with this, as the deck gave me both some early defenses and ways to grind card advantage.  Having five six drops was concerning, but I hoped that playing a high land count plus the signet would help me get there.  For additional synergy, I had THREE merfolk looters to help loot away any extra lands, further justifying the eighteen lands.

Round one I played against B0neReaver, and my hoped-for turn-around failed to materialize as his deck presented threats that were either well-positioned against me, or I simply played against badly.  I completely forgot that bone splitter doesn't target artifacts, which meant that it only killed an irrelevant master splicer than the crucial golem token.  I managed to land a volition reins on the behemoth sledge, hoping to use it to life-gain me back into the game, but skeletal vampire would have ultimate been the better target as it was just more important to develop my board in terms of creatures.

Round two started, and I played against DogPuppy, wielding a three color deck.  With a grisly salvage in his deck, I suspected he had been going for a graveyard/spider spawning strategy, but it hadn't been there for him.  He wasn't able to present an early threat, allowing me to build up enough mana for my swingy effects.  I decided to steal the lightning greaves, to ensure that all of my ETB creatures would be able to have their effects.

As the game wore on, I continued to grind, grind grind, with the added benefit of being able to equip the greaves onto a looter for an ultra-speedy loot!

In the next game, I was once again able to have time to build up my defenses so as to create a superior board.  Lightning greaves protected his yeva, yes, but it can only protect one creature at a time, which allowed me to enslave or otherwise deal with his other threats while continuing to build up my own board. At last, victory!  And it only took a six-mana mind control to do it!

Game three was against my third green opponent.  I guess I was right to hope out of green!  Well, I never really hopped in, but I had been actively looking for a reason to go green: a reason which never came.  Unlike my previous multicolor opponents, emerald was playing a more conservative straight green-blue build.  I knew I was in trouble when he landed a card which I just have an incredible amount of trouble defeating: juggernaut.

Yes, on the board my murderous redcap deals nicely with it, but none of my in hand cards would, and I knew that he would have some way to protect it. A briarhorn later, and I was in trouble.  I was able to build up my board with a domestication and a talrands invocation, but ultimately it wasn't enough and I succumbed to his threats.

Games 2 and three were more in my favor though.  Being on the play game 2 helped take some of the early pressure as I was allowed to reach turn three unscathed:

With three lands in hand, my plan was to essentially allow my opponent to play into a crushing life's finale, and follow it up with either mulldrifter or duplicant.  Although I decided to play the mulldrifter at five, to buy me a little more time to get more life's finale value, this was ultimately not a losing plan.

Game three was similarly "according to plan" as I was able to barter in blood for full value, following it up with any one of my sweet sweet creatures.

At long last, a 2-1 draft!  It had been a while, and it felt good to win again.  The power level of this deck was, I felt, incredibly high, so I couldn't take too much solace in the victory; how would I have done with a worse deck, after all?  Still, I felt like I was shaking off a slump.  I really enjoyed playing this style of blue-black control.  I didn't have card draw spells, and my sweepers were bad by traditional cube standards, but the inherent card advantage of my creatures was able to make up for those potential problems.

Looking back, I noticed that three of my opponents were green.  As was Asturiel, the draft coordinator!  with four players in green, I was happy I stayed out.  He had drafted the much-desired spider-spawning deck.  I wonder how high he took it?

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