The packs sit in front of each of us. Six individual bundles of fifteen sleeved cards, held together with bands of white paper are awaiting the draft, and then we begin. The first pack is picked up, the band of paper is removed, and we look at our first pack.
The excitement of thumbing through that first pack of cards in any draft is intense, and hard to describe, but let me tell you, I love it! The idea that in just a short time I can go from having nothing, to building a Commander deck based on random cards is amazing to me.
Pack one, pick one…
As I looked through the cards in pack one, I couldn’t really help but take this amazing dragon legend. He is in colors that I love to play, and is pretty darned powerful to boot. The problem is that we implemented a rule that we could only look at our previous picks in-between packs, and then I forgot what colors I was drafting. Soon after I picked up Oros, the Avenger and for some reason his colors stuck in my head. I was drafting solidly in white, black, and red. However, the idea that I might be able to pull a five-color Commander at some point, particularly Scion of the Ur-Dragon, had me still taking the legendary dragons whenever I saw them wheel, so I had an idea that I might go into a full five-color deck at some point in the back of my mind. I made the decision to really go for it too late though, and didn’t obtain as many mana rocks or ramp spells as I would have liked, but in the end I did get the Scion… and Progenitus! I was heavily drafting based on Oros of course, and with a few other big creature pulls, I decided that I needed to take anything and everything that said I could return a creature from the graveyard. My problem turned out to be that most of it went to my hand or on top of my library. My basic premise was this… get the Scion into play, use him to tutor and discard all of my dragons, then wait for the opportune time to cast Living Death! My final deck had somewhere around seven or eight dragons to search for and at least four or five graveyard recursion cards. I was feeling pretty good.
My opponents each had pretty good drafts as well. David’s pack-one, pick-one was Dromar, the Banisher, and he stuck with it the whole draft. He even pulled Sharuum the Hegemon AND Sculpting Steel, but luckily Eric pulled the Disciple of the Vault before it got to David, and he didn’t have enough artifacts to make Sharuum viable enough to even put in the deck! Doug stated that after pack one he hadn’t seen a Commander yet, which was wrong because I had seen them wheel, but I guess he just meant he hadn’t seen one that he liked. In the end it was a toss-up between Edric, Spymaster of Trest and Animar, Soul of Elements, and he chose Animar. Eric’s starting Commander was Crosis, the Purger, but he changed his mind a few times and ended up with Ghave, Guru of Spores.
The game started off fairly well for me, but amazingly for both Eric and Doug, even though Doug hit a plateau with his mana (I believe he was stuck on five land for a while). The trick was that Eric had Ghave out early, but only after playing Primal Vigor! This also benefited Doug’s cheap commander, Animar, as he received double counters every time he cast a creature, speeding up his deck immensely despite the mana shortage. I was hitting my land drops and putting some things out, and eventually I started building towards my goal. I even had the Living Death in my hand. It was casting Buried Alive that really did me in however. It alerted everyone what I was up to, and Eric destroyed me with a well timed Angel of Finality. Shortly after I re-cast Scion of the Ur-Dragon, it got tucked by a Chaos Warp from Doug. My game was pretty much shut down at that point.
At this point David only needed to get hit for one more point of Commander damage from Animar to be out of the game, and while my life total was high, my chances of pulling anything game winning out of my deck were pretty low. Eric had a life total in the seventies thanks to Ghave, Primal Vigor, and Wall of Reverence. I tried to slow down Doug and give Dave a little more time, but it was not to be. Eric and Doug both started coming at me next, and a few turns later I was gone. It was a very close finish even given Eric’s high life total, and in the end Eric was able to squeek out the win, although there was some discussion as to how it would have played out had Doug realized that Bow of Nylea only gave Eric’s creatures deathtouch while attacking, and not while blocking.
The first four player draft of my Commander Cube ran for about four hours, which in my opinion is really good. The actual draft and deck-building portion went much faster than I anticipated, particularly with the low level of draft experience that we all have. I was worried that we wouldn’t even get a game in for this first time. I know that I had a good time and I am relatively certain that everyone else did as well. The only question left was what to do for next time. While Eric and myself wanted to re-draft the next time, both Doug and David wanted to hold on to the decks so that we could play those decks again. We did decide that we would take a few minutes to “sideboard” before we play next time.
There are several things that I am considering in how the Cube runs, and it is just a matter of play-testing until we are happy with how it runs. First, if we want to speed up the games, we could run 30 life instead of 40. This time I was actually pretty happy with how long the game ran, and the risk of “decking” given that we were playing 60 card decks turned out to be pretty low. Our libraries, while certainly low, were not anywhere near decking territory. If we want to decrease the consistency of the decks then we could easily move to building full 100-card decks, or perhaps draft four packs instead of six. Having a pool of 90 cards from which we would only need about 36 was quite nice, but as the saying goes, limitations breed creativity, so if we increase the deck size or decrease the card pool, then the decks wouldn’t be as strong as they were this time unless someone really focuses on one chosen strategy right from the start. These are just thoughts and ideas at this point, and we will certainly put in a few more drafts before we decide on changing anything.
Without a doubt, I am anxiously awaiting the next game night!