Friday, October 17, 2014

How many colors, exactly?

I've done some more triple khans drafts, and have continued to find myself steering away from four and five color builds.  When I first looked at khans, my expectation was that the vast majority of the time I'd be in a three color clan.  As I draft, however, I find that there's more to it than that.  Still, sometimes it is good to be in a clan:

This was what I pulled together at my LGS, a white-black build splashing green for some really, really powerful stuff.  However, in the draft I was too dismissive of just a straight b/w warrior build, which I could have gone into and possible have been even more powerful.  Similarly, I could have used the incremental growth I nabbed in the draft, and gone further into green for more power, but in picking up the powerful cards, I didn't have the picks I needed for getting lands.

In short, this draft gave me the opportunity to go in one direction towards consistency, and in another direction towards power, and I hedged, creating a middle-of-the-road deck.  I think that the deck suffered for this, and I went 1-2.  I was able to win against another just-alright deck due to some well-timed instants, but I got crushed by two mardu token decks that got out of the gate quickly and I was never able to fully stabilize against.

Well, I stabilized to a certain extent, but trumpet blast has a way of putting the last few damage through.  Heck, in round one my opponent played not just one, but two hordeling outbursts plus the ponyback brigade.  Even with me killing a couple of tokens on each of his attacks, he had so many to spare that he could just suicide them in to get me dead.

These round 1 and 3 losses to mardu tokens were disappointing, as I felt that with my early drops I should be able to stabilize quickly and take over the game, but my lands didn't cooperate.  A couple of scoured barrens or jungle hallows would have helped immeasurably.  Lesson learnt, however: I should be taking lands a bit higher, and the tokens deck is real, if it's open and the packs are there.

Going online, I tried as hard as a I could to stay open.  After opening a jeskai ascendancy, I decided to see if I could use it effectively in a deck.  I took the best blue, red and white spells that were being passed to me, and when the dust settled (and I realized that white just was not open) I ended up with a very sweet-looking u/r build.

In round 1, it did exactly what I meant it to do: it punished my four or five color opponent by establishing an early clock with a bunch of goblin pikers and disrupting blocking plans with my spells.  It was close, however, as a couple of the sanctuary lands would negate an entire wetland sambar hit, without costing my opponent much as he didn't have early plays to make anyway.  Still, I managed to pull it out.

Round 2 was interesting, as I found myself against another red/blue deck, which surprised me.  He must have been at the seat directly across from me, as we both had a lot of solid cards in those colors.  These games were all pure tempo, with whoever got on the board first and was able to follow it up with a disruptive spell pulling out the win.  In game three, I felt myself in a good position, as I was on the play and started things off well, but proceeded to just draw lands and die.  His set adrift was particularly brutal as it not only set my board back but also put me further away from drawing my threats and disruption.  One arrow storm or master the way was all I needed to win, but modo was not in a generous mood that night.

The red/blue deck in khans reminds me a lot of izzet in triple return to ravnica.  Canyon lurkers in particular fills the role of cobble brute from the set: a big dumb beater than when supported can hit your opponent for unreasonable amounts.  Flying crane technique does a similar job to teleportal, and singing bell strike and act of treason, in the proper board state, can also help reach through to just end the game.

But what about five color decks?  As a fan of the original ravnica block and the five-color green deck from modern masters, I feel comfortable going deep, and drafting more than my fair share of colors.  Have I become too disciplined?  Should I just loosen up a little?  It's hard to say.  I take the tri-lands very highly, as the last two decks show - they have tri-lands but none of the new sanctuaries.

I wonder if making four or five color works depends on drafting in a field of people trying to be disciplined and go two colors, as if most people are trying to draft a clan, they'll pick up those two color lands to support their three-color plan.  Even the allied life-lands go sooner than you'd think.  Listening to the latest limited resources, I find myself really hankering to go in that route.  Is it good enough to force?  I have a really hard time forcing myself to force: I've really trained myself to try to be receptive to what colors are flowing.  Still, tonight I'm going to keep my eyes open, and try to take lands more highly.

 Either that, or I guess I'll just take all the hordeling outbursts.

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