Greetings, Kaijudo duelists! If you were able to make it past the absolutely horrible title that I decided to use, you will now be rewarded with an article about my drafting experience at League!
I'm sure most of you know how booster drafts work, but for those who may not, each of the entrants paid $20 entry fee for 5 packs of 3RIS. After that, we all sat around a table, opened one of our packs each, took one card to keep, and then passed the rest, either clockwise or counter-clockwise. Once all the cards in each pack had been taken and each player had 9 cards, we moved to the next pack, passed it the opposite way, and continued until each player had received 45 cards. Then, we narrowed down our selection to create decks with a 30 card minimum. Since we kept the cards we drafted, taking the rares out of each pack was a priority, but in general, we were able to also create some very diverse and unique strategies using cards that might never be able to shine in constructed play; one of the main reasons I enjoy booster drafts so much.
Unfortunately, though we thought we'd have about 8 to 10 entrants, only 5 showed up, as conflicts with work and other things prevented some people from making it to the shop. Even so, I personally had a lot of fun, getting 2nd place to EarthP0w3R, and I'd like to use the rest of this article to share some general tips and ideas I've found to be important when drafting.
The Biggest Question: What to Draft?
Ah, yes, THAT feeling. Opening up the first booster pack and having a few solid choices staring back at you out of the nine cards in your hand. They're all different civilizations, of course, and often require entirely different strategies to be of use. If one just takes the "best" card out of every pack passed to them, there is a strong possibility that he or she might end up with a mismatched 45 cards with an almost equal number of each of the civilizations, or as I like to call it, "the Pile".
To avoid drafting the Pile, and finding myself in a rough position when creating my deck, I try to have a general idea of the kind of deck I want to draft before the first pack is even opened. Of course, you can't always act on that idea, especially since 3RIS is such an expansive set and pulls are unpredictable, but I find it always helps to stick to my strengths. For example, I'm a control player. Given the opportunity, I'll always try to draft a deck with a control-type theme, usually including Water and Darkness. This was my goal going into this draft. I ended up with a rather versatile Water/Darkness/Light deck that had elements of control and some aggression to it as well. Here's the list:
2 Aqua Commando
2 King Ponitas
2 Logos Scan
1 Ice Blade
1 Skeeter Swarmer
2 Grave Scrounger
1 Black Feather of Shadow Abyss
1 Acid-Tongue Chimera
2 Bone Blades
1 Death Smoke
1 Thunder Cruiser
1 Sun-Stalk Seed
1 Jade Monitor
1 Razorpine Tree
1 Stalker Sphere
1 Shaw K'Naw
1 Spyweb Scurrier
1 Nimbus Scout
1 Argus, Vigilant Seer
1 Radiant, the Lawbringer
1 Stobe Flash
The deck came to a total of 32 cards. My original intention was to draft Water/Darkness/Fire, and I picked up one or two Fire cards before the first pack was done being passed, but upon opening my second pack I came face to face with the Radiant, the Lawbringer. Besides basically having to take it because of its rarity, it also convinced me to start stocking up on Light support so I could run that civilization, which brings me to my next point.
The general rule is that most cards become much better in Limited play, such as a booster draft, than they are in regular Constructed play. In regard to creatures, this includes everything from the standard Double Breaker with no other effect to the lower-cost "vanilla" cards which have no effect whatsoever. When I saw the Radiant, I knew I should play it because having strong Double Breakers can really make a draft deck come together.
Almost nothing in the set can beat Radiant in raw power, and the ability to run otherwise standard removal spells is limited. In a Constructed tournament, almost every deck running Darkness will include three copies of Terror Pit, yet only one was pulled in our entire draft (which unfortunately did not go to me). Cards like Terror Pit become that much more important in drafts, but their scarcity makes cards like Radiant incredibly playable. One of the main problems I discovered with my deck was actually the overall lack of finishers. After I took the Radiant, no Double Breakers from any of the civilizations I chose to run found their way into my hands, which was disappointing. Even a King Bullfang would have been much appreciated!
Limited matches generally end much faster than Constructed matches, as players are forced to build more aggressive decks. The cards just usually don't come together to build a focused control deck, so even decks like the one I drafted have to have the ability to put some early presence in the battle zone. This is why I took the early blockers I could, as well as cards like Grave Scrounger, which can recycle those early cards as well as break shields when the situation calls for it.
Building a dedicated rush deck is about as hard as building a dedicated control deck, but aggressive decks thrive in Limited. I lost a game to Kevin, who was running Fire/Nature/Light, in our match because of a very rush-esque opening on his part. He went first, had a first turn Blaze Belcher, a second turn Vorg I believe, a third turn Super Bazooka, and the fourth turn Comet Missile and Blaze Belcher to answer the Jade Monitor I had put on the board. This is an extreme example of course, but it shows the power that aggression can have in these games.
There comes a time in every Limited deck's life when it's forced to behave like an aggro deck. The worst thing a deck can do is lose its momentum and start top-decking with a small field, so I always take cards that work against that. The only dedicated draw that I drafted was the 2 copies of Logos Scan, though I made up for it through the 2 copies of Teleport, Voidwing, Black Feather of Shadow Abyss, Argus, and the Grave Scroungers. Black Feather was definitely one of the best cards in the deck, being able to combo well with a ton of other cards, like the slayers, tap abilities, and pure destruction.
Going hand-in-hand with the necessity of finishers and a selection of powerful creatures in general is the necessity of ways to deal with your opponent's cards with the same function. I was able to draft the Bone Blades and Ice Blade to help against early aggression, along with the generic bounce of the 2 copies of Teleport. The problem was that the only ways I could deal with opposing finishers on a permanent level were the two slayers I ran along with the lone Death Smoke, which isn't always effective. This was ultimately my demise in the finals, as I was beat down by a Moorna, Gatling Dragon that EarthP0w3R was lucky enough to pull. Though I held the Death Smoke for it, he was able to Dark Return it back at a very crucial time and take the win, proving how powerful big creatures like that really are in the draft. My Radiant was sadly nowhere to be found!
Speaking of the final match in our draft, it's on YouTube! Please check out EarthP0w3R's channel if you want to see how decks like these played out, as the matches were very fun indeed. Also, there's another video on his channel which contains our draft deck profiles. My list is above of course, but to see the decks Kevin and EarthP0w3R drafted, be sure to check that one out as well!
And that wraps it up for our booster draft! It was super fun, and I encourage you all to try it out at your local stores if you have players willing to do it. It really helps open your mind up to new strategies and card combinations. Until next time, leave a comment down below and let me know what you thought of the article and what you'd like to see in the future. Thanks for reading everybody, and I'll see you next week!