It's the first week with Eldritch Moon on Magic Online, which means our first Eldritch Moon videos! Like always, the set release online lags a little behind the paper release so this past weekend was actually the online prerelease. As such, Swiss drafts were available and I decided to take full advantage. Before getting into the video though, I wanted to quickly talk about early-format drafting versus later-format drafting.
Early on in a format, people tend to rely on the information of others to guide them through card evaluations. It is not that they can't form their own card evaluations, but much like typing a math problem into google, if the answer is all you are concerned with, doing the work yourself is a waste of time and energy. The problem here is that the results are not all you should be concerned with.
As is often used when explaining high-level Magic to someone, the idea that giving someone a fish will feed them for a day, but teaching them to fish can feed them for a lifetime. If all you know are a list of pick orders and a ranking of archetypes, you might make it through the next three months just fine, but come next set, you need to learn it all over again. You'll need to repeat this process for every single set, which is just not an efficient use of your time. If you instead spend a little extra time up front, you can eliminate most of the upkeep time you created for yourself in that first situation.
As you have probably seen before, I have gone through and rated every single card in a set for Limited. While I usually give these ratings after playing with the cards, at times, I have done this before playing with a set. However, once I begin playing with the set, I approach it very much as though I had not written that review. I take things based on my experiences with past cards of a similar space or based on synergies that I can recognize in the pack or in the set.
I fully expect to be wrong some amount of the time, but being wrong is an essential part of eventually being right. By being wrong, you can unravel the process by which you got there and avoid it in the future. You can develop skills to make judgments for yourself. This is crucial because the guides and pick orders do not cover every variable that can be at play. They do not account for five pieces of fixing you have before telling you to splash that bomb or not, they don't account for the known Pyroclasms you passed this draft and therefore taking the two toughness stuff is a little riskier. Drafts have so many moving pieces that I find it best to learn the way they move on your own, not just take someone else's opinion as gospel.
What I really encourage and what I try to do in the video, is to explore the environment for your first few drafts. Obviously you will have looked over the spoiler and have an idea of what is going on in the format and I don't want you to just throw that all out, but don't come in expecting to fulfill a commitment or with such a strong notion of what you should be drafting that what is in the actual packs doesn't matter.
Take the rare and explore it. Try the main set theme that is being shoved down your throat. Explore that wonky uncommon build-around enchantment that looks like it will never work but sure is sweet when it does. These actions might bring some losses, but they provide you with knowledge that will pad all future drafts in that format and beyond.
As you continue to play the format, begin to combine your own personal experiences with the information you gather from other sources. With both of these influences, you now have a more accurate view of the format. Maybe you discovered something no one else did. In Gatecrash, my favorite strategy by far was one that was never widely adopted. The idea was to take as many cheap and evasive creatures as possible with auras, equipment, and pump spells to get in for large amounts of damage quickly. I had an alarming winrate with this deck and even got some friends and teammates to force the strategy to similar success. If we had stuck to the general layout for the format, this deck would have never been discovered.
With that said, enjoy the draft!