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Compulsive Research: Wax On, Wax Off

Written by LegitMTG Staff on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Limited

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The road to the MTGOCC continues, and so does my Vintage Masters journey. This week, I was joined by the one and only, Kenji Egashira; also known as NumotTheNummy in Twitch circles. Kenji is a very successful streamer, and has really solidified a name for himself as the premier MTG personality in the field. He is primarily known for his limited prowess, and has even been on the stream before to help us draft some triple Theros when it released on MTGO. Kenji has had a lot of success with Vintage Masters especially, and I was very excited to have him on the show this week. As many of the people before him have counseled, his advice is to open as many copies of Battle Screech as possible, and follow them down the rabbit hole. As luck would have it, we were able to get two drafts in this week, splitting one in the finals, and losing in round 2 of the other. Here’s the stream in case you missed it.

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The first draft felt really chaotic as we were stumbling over secondary colors for what felt like an eternity. We got very lucky in pack 3 to pick up some exceptional bombs which would on their own be able to quickly turn the tide in our favor; Goblin Trenches and Saproling Burst. I also was able to acquire the Dreampod Druid late with enough pants to really make him exceptional. JVL was discussing his love affair for the Druid when he was with us, and I can now completely understand the attraction. We decided after the draft that the base deck would decisively be WG, but that the Trenches and Kaervek’s Torch would be enough reason to splash the red we would need to run them. Here is the deck:


The second draft was a little cleaner, albeit in an entirely different direction. We started on Goblins, and after getting passed a Dack Fayden and TWO Prophetic Bolts, it very quickly was evident that we were to be RU Goblin Burn with such Blue bombs as Man-O’-War and Serendib Efreet. The deck seemed like it was going to fall off the rails again, but the Efreet and the second Prophetic Bolt really helped to round out the holes. Kenji unfortunately had to leave part way through the last draft, and I enlisted my favorite HeavyMeta SVU member, @SlickJagger to help play with the crazy deck Kenji had left us with. Speaking of said deck, here it is:


We ended up losing a close round 2, as a couple of bad misplays/clicks really put us too far behind to win the race. I missed an end of turn Prophetic Bolt opportunity which would have allowed us to win the following turn, and then threw the game away with an attack for too few dudes, giving the opponent a chance to come back with a timely Swords to Plowshares. (and his 2 Battle Screeches didn’t hurt either). Overall, I really felt like the Goblin deck is a much worse version of the white deck. All of your creatures can be blocked, unlike the shadow and flying legions of White, and although there is Burn to be had, it really just seems like that reach can be had through a splash into the white deck. I really hope that at some point we get some opportunity to draft the UG Madness deck. If the drafts I have been doing however are to be interpreted properly, people are simply fighting too hard over the archetype and it doesn’t seem to be coming together in most cases. We played against one person that ended up with a great version of the deck last week, but ultimately it fell to all of the shadow and flying creatures out of our WB deck. The other archetype that I can see through the draft is Slide, but in the drafts we have done so far, we have only seen 1 each of the enchantments needed to make it work.

From the work I have done thus far in the format, I have been able to determine a couple of things. Firstly, the archetypes, although extremely powerful in concept based on cards being in the set, many of them seem very difficult to actually pull together effectively, given the volume and mix of cards actually seen in any given draft. The only exception to this seems to be Wx Aggro, as perhaps there are just too many cards for it. Secondly, there is a strong differential in power among the cards in the set, despite rarity levels. Battle Screech is a very powerful card at common, and is arguably more powerful than over half of the rares in the set. The sheer innate card advantage it provides is staggering, and the goal of it lines up very well in the decks that want it. Wild Mongrel for example is a huge card as it not only enables the Madness archetype very well, but it similarly survives most of the conditional removal of the format, making it a premier common also. Compare these cards to a random Goblin and you will easily see what I mean. Some of the rares are completely unbeatable, like Saproling Burst, while some of the others are laughably bad. Thirdly, the strength of the deck is only part of the recipe for success in this format. These decks feel very complex and powerful in a lot of cases, and require an expert level of play in order to maneuver them to victory. Granted some of the decks are much more powerful innately than others, the disparity of skill between the pilots feels like it matters much more in this format, and more often than not, the better player will be able to craft situations where they can easily outplay the opponent. (Draft 2 round 2 for example… )

I have a special couple of people lined up to help out this week, as it is the last stream for me before heading to Wizards offices for the MTGO Community Cup, where my teammates and I will be playing hard to ensure another community victory. I can’t thank you all enough for the fantastic opportunity that your support has given me, and I will give everything I can to make sure I don’t let you down.

Tune in at 9pm tonight. Let’s blow the roof off this mother.

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