Drafting Strategies and Forumlas

Drafting Strategies and Forumlas

Postby craniumslows » Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:36 pm

I have spent the last 2 weeks drafting nearly everyday I finally stopped when I had to work late last night. I am wondering what strategies and rules others have come up with in this fun limited format.

I usually evaluate these rules as I'm drafting.

0. Shiny or Money cards if in that mood
1. Is there a bomb or best in class card ie nessian asp ?
--->Yes--> Is it in my colors or can I splash it?
--->No--> Pass on it
2. If I am multicolor grab the fix if its there (opaline unicorn)
3. Do I have 13+ creatures yet
---No--> Grab best creature in the color
---Yes-> Go to 4
4. Grab the removal spell if present.
5. Grab the creature buff
6. Remove the largest threat if you were playing against it

I try to build my curve heavier on the bottom since mana ramp is more scarce and land screw happens more than in normal play.

13+ creatures, 17 lands, 23-Creatures for support with bias towards counter spells and absolute destruction then direct damage.

Look forward to discussing this.
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Re: Drafting Strategies and Forumlas

Postby eldashgato » Wed Feb 05, 2014 9:31 pm

There's actually a popular mnemonic device that many players use when drafting, called BREAD. When sizing up a pack, BREAD drafters argue that you should take cards in the following order:

Bombs - cards that are just so good you'd be an idiot not to take them. This often includes planeswalkers or creatures that easily dominate the board once they hit. In RTR block, for instance, Pack Rat was widely considered the best card you could possibly open in a booster draft.

Removal - just what it sounds like. Kill spells. These are usually black (Doom Blade, etc.) or Red (Lightning Bolt).

Evasion - creatures with flying, shadow, horsemanship, and landwalk abilities. Some players even try to draft around the idea of evasive creatures, e.g., Blue/White fliers decks.

Aggro - creatures that punch face, and very quickly. In Zendikar block, cards like Plated Geopede filled this role. Also includes combat tricks like Giant Growth.

Dreck and/or Dudes - These are the dregs that wheel back to you late in a pack. Stuff you're forced to grab but don't necessarily want.

This is how I try to draft, but if I open or get passed an unplayable card that I know to be worth money, I often pick it up just to help offset the cost of the draft. A lot of players turn their noses up at rare drafting, though. I like sitting to the left of those players.
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Re: Drafting Strategies and Forumlas

Postby craniumslows » Thu Feb 06, 2014 7:50 am

That makes alot of sense. Where does mana fixing come into BREAD? Often that Opaline Unicorn won't make it all the way around, but should I really pass up on that death touch creature for it?
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Re: Drafting Strategies and Forumlas

Postby eldashgato » Sat Feb 08, 2014 10:51 am

Well, I'm not sure there's a "correct" answer. It depends on how many colors you're trying to play in the deck, whether you have big spells you need to ramp into, etc.
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Re: Drafting Strategies and Forumlas

Postby MattH » Sat Feb 08, 2014 9:02 pm

BREAD is extremely outmoded and misleading... I think the last set where that would produce "correct" drafting was, like, M10, maybe? It comes from a time when removal was great, creatures were awful, and board stalls were common. None of that applies to modern-day draft formats, in which decks are like mini-constructed archetypes. It's particularly awful for Theros, where the removal was intentionally powered-down to allow the Voltron strategy to not be just pathetically embarrassing.

To succeed in draft you have to have a good idea of what decks exist in the space of all possible decks, and always be taking a card that brings you closer to one of those 'platonic ideal' decks, while also balancing this goal against the pool of cards you're being fed (and sometimes the card valuation of the other players in your pod - which is why cross-podding is so offensive). Synergy and curve are of the utmost importance. Sometimes that means passing removal for a vanilla 2/3, because that's what your deck needs more. And I don't bring that up as corner-case example - BREAD would lead you astray, making easily a dozen poor picks per draft.

(And all this even sets aside the question of how you know what is a "bomb" - in order to identify a bomb, you have to know the fundamental qualities of what makes a card good. But if you have a good handle on that, you're already light-years beyond the point where BREAD is useful. )
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Re: Drafting Strategies and Forumlas

Postby craniumslows » Mon Feb 17, 2014 7:28 am

Thanks for your response and assistance. I think that helps out quite alot. It does make me think of another question related to drafting.

1) I have an Oreskos Sun Guide and Ephara's Radiance. Those are happy together netting 5 life for 2 mana each turn. To get them to come out together and early enough won't I have to run 3+ of them each ? I'm not sure how to evaluate the weight of card interactions and with only 13-14 creature slots and 10 spells it seems that I keep making the wrong choice.

2) Can you pull off devotion and go 2 color in draft? It seems that this is a powerful mechanic that if done right would be pretty solid.

3) Picking your big game changing card. In pack 2 or 3 if you pull a god or planeswalker that is out of color almost everyone would keep because of the value, but money aside is it worth splashing or trying to play an off color bomb? You are planning on using this card later in the game so you can wait for the lands to show up or is that just asking for trouble?

I could probably just go to a more general deck building section if it's getting off topic.
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Re: Drafting Strategies and Forumlas

Postby MattH » Fri Feb 21, 2014 12:20 am

It's almost never worthwhile to abandon a color you already have strong playables in for just one bomb rare. This is because NOT ONLY are you losing all your prior picks, if you have done things right you're about to get passed MORE good cards in those colors (because you've been cutting the good cards in those colors off from the people around you, right?).

So when IS it right to take (with the intent to play) an off-color bomb? Well first, it has to be a true bomb. The gods mostly aren't, and are especially bad to splash since that makes them virtually impossible to turn on. Theros in particular has a lot of rares that are very good in the right deck, but don't do a lot for other decks. Anything with devotion is very hard to use effectively as a splash.

Second, it should be castable. That's a function of three things:
a. the manafixing you have available (if you already have a couple Nylea's Presence or Opaline Unicorn, or a Temple, your options open up)
b. the amount of colored mana it requires (5R is a lot easier than 4RR)
c. the turn you need to cast it on to be good

I want to expand on that last one. An expensive card is easier to splash than a cheap one. Think about it like this: in order to cast a splash card, you need to draw one of your few mana sources that produce that color. If your splash card needs to be cast by turn 4 to be effective, you'd need to fill your deck with a bunch of sources for that color in order to draw one by turn 4. But that might ruin the rest of your deck's mana, especially if you're splashing a third color into a solid two-color deck. So while Anax and Cymede or Battlewise Hoplite are amazing cards for their respective color pairs, neither is really splashable into a white-green deck, because they're likely to be stranded in your hand until they're no longer effective. But a Medomai the Ageless is very easy to splash if you were already one of its colors, because you have a minimum of 6 turns to find your mana to cast it "on schedule", and it's still effective even late in the game. Similarly, while Magma Jet is a MUCH better card than Rage of Purphoros, Rage is actually the better splash most of the time, because by the time you draw your combo of "burn spell+mountain", the threats your opponent is presenting are much more likely to be X/4 than X/2.

Third, you need to consider a factor that I've heard in baseball referred to as "value over replacement player": basically, what else is in the pack? What are you giving up to take this card? Let's say I'm green/black, and open a nice card like Sea God's Revenge in pack 3. That's cool and all, but if there's a strong black or green common like a Voyaging Stayr or Nessian Asp in that pack, that common is still a top pick. Even if it's not as powerful as the splash card, it's close, and basically guaranteed to make my deck. The Jack that you can cast is way better than the King you can't. Similarly, the weaker card that will 100% make your deck is a much better pick than the stronger card that only has maybe a 30-50% chance of actually earning a spot in the final build.

Finding and recognizing where to draw the line on decisions like these is one of the major skills of drafting. There are a lot of factors to weigh, and only seconds to do it in!
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