Saturday, March 16, 2013

My response to Kyle Ott's Gathering Magic Article

To preface this article, I would like to say that this is a response to Kyle Ott’s article on Gathering Magic relating to undervalued Gatecrash draft picks.  I recommend that you read his article before you commence reading this. This is also my first article on any website, so please feel free to comment, or email me with questions, comments, or suggestions.
Kyle Ott stated in his article that he thought Disciple of the Old Ways, Massive Raid, Shadow Slice, Riot Gear, Leyline Phantom, Guardian of the Gateless, and Metropolis Sprite were all undervalued picks.  As with most things I agree with some of his points and disagree with others.  I think the best format for this article is to list card by card my opinions on them, and then at the end of the article I will tell you a card that I feel is undervalued that Ott did not mention in his article.  
     So to start it off, Disciple of the Old Ways: Ott stated "Disciple of the Old Ways is a card that can play multiple roles in several decks, and it adds something to the game because of its ability. " I completely agree with most of that that statement, but I do not believe that it is good in most Simic decks. The Simic decks want to either play Frilled Oculus, Metropolis Sprite, Shambleshark, or Zameck Guildmage on turn 2. In my opinion Disciple of the Old Ways just evolves your creatures, and does nothing else, which although is sometimes good, most of the time you either do not have enough evolve creatures out, or they are already evolved past being a bear. It is also not worth splashing red for this card, unless you have several other good red cards. Several sentences later, Ott writes "A 2/2 body in Gatecrash is pretty respectable, and Simic often lacks early-game creatures to hold off assaults from aggressive decks." I could not disagree with this statement more. Simic has a very good early game, and should not be holding back to block. If Simic were this desperate it would be playing Clinging Anemones. Ott goes on to say "this creature really shines in Gruul, where it works to fill the curve...", which is a statement I can really get behind.  The Gruul deck needs lot of two drops, and in the late game Disciple has a favorable interaction with bloodrush.  Overall I think Disciple should be a fifth or sixth pick, and do agree that it is undervalued.
     Moving into the second undervalued card we have Massive Raid.  Massive raid is a card that I personally do not like, as it can, and will be a dead card in hand in some matches, needless to say that it can end board stalls, and even win some games that are not possible to win otherwise.  "On average, the spell will do anywhere from 3 to 4 points of damage at instant speed, making it equivalent to Annihilating Fire in terms of how useful it is as a removal."  I completely disagree with this statement.  Annihilating Fire is a great magic card, do not get me wrong, but in the Boros and Gruul decks I do not think that I would play Annihilating Fire, because the decks are too fast.  Ott goes on to talk about Patrick Sullivan's Grand Prix Charlotte which had two copies of Massive Raid.  I agree that Massive Raid can be used in some decks, but I think Ott just wanted to prove a point more than give useful information on this card.  I do not think that Massive Raid is undervalued in the Gatecrash draft format, because it does not fit the decks that can support it.
Shadow Slice is our next undervalued card.  Shadow slice "Of all the cipher cards in Gatecrash, with the exception of Stolen Identity, Shadow Slice can end the game the fastest."  Just when I was doubting Ott's limited knowledge, he made it all up with that statement alone.  I am one of the biggest fans of shadow slice out there, as you have heard if you are a listener to our podcast.  A turn five shadow slice on a Deathcult Rouge or a Kingpin's Pet will hit the opponent for 8 damage in a single turn, and cipher with extort in the later portion of the game, even if the encoded spell is not that great, you still get a two point life swing, which is most likely a very important thing.  Ott goes on to say "This is the card that makes the Dimir archetype something to fear."  The Dimir archetype is very poor in Gatecrash, and I do not think a one of card can fix and archetype.  I think that this card is best in Orzhov, because it has cards that help to support it, for example, the aforementioned Deathcult Rouge and other creatures with evasion.  I do believe that Shadow Slice is severely undervalued, and I would go as far as to say in a mediocre pack that this is a solid second pick.
     Next we have Riot Gear.  Riot Gear is a card that I have had mixed thoughts on since it first came out.  Ott wrote "In this formatRiot Gear acts very much like Trusty Machete did in Zendikar Draft, giving your small creatures the ability to swing without dying and giving you a way to capitalize on small, aggressive creatures into the late game."  Well this is a tough topic for me to cover, as the difference from draft to sealed is immense especially in the Gatecrash limited format.  I love riot gear in sealed, as it is a good twenty third playable easily, but in the draft format I see these going as late as twelfth pick, and I believe that is about where they should be picked.  A comparison to Trusty Machete in such an aggressive format.  The difference between a two point power boost and a two point toughness boost is immense.  In a slightly slower format I would say this card would be great, and if this was a Trusty Machete I would gladly play this in ANY deck.  Making a small aggressive creature have a higher toughness just accomplishes absolutely nothing in this format.  I think that Riot Gear is actually overvalued.
     Leyline Phantom is next on the chopping block.  Leyline Phantom, oh Leyline Phantom.  I think leyline phantom is one of the best cards in the set for Simic... or even Dimir.  I was skeptical originally, as with everyone else (excluding Marshall Sutcliffe) but the first time I played with this card I was blown away.  In the hands of a good player this card can do amazing things, and I have seen it do some amazing things (anyone remember the game at the pro tour when only 3 spells were cast?) I am quite surprised that this card is not picked at third or fourth pick.  This quote by Ott expresses my opinions on the card "The Phantom swings in and forces the opponent to either lose a creature or take 5 damage; then, the Phantom comes down again and evolves every other creature on the board."  I think that this card is severely undervalued, and I am never sad to have it in my hand.
     Next card is Guardian of the Gateless.  We had a quick discussion about this card during the crack a pack segment of episode 5 of Just Another Magic Podcast.  If you listened to the episode you could tell that I am one of the biggest fans of this card.  This card usually comes down on turn five with no issues, and it can trade for a couple of guys and Fog even if you are in a precarious spot.  I am not going to go into detail of why I liked it, because Ott says exactly what I would say, but I think this card is first pick material which Ott does not mention.
     Last, but not least Metropolis Sprite.  I have very mixed feeling about this card.  At first I thought that it was a horrible card that was being extremely overvalued by everyone, but I have been pleasantly surprised as this card has shown me some more aggression then I was expecting from the Simic deck.  I am not that big of a fan of the Sprite, but I think that it is a playable, and I will draft and play this card.  Ott says "For Simic decks,Metropolis Sprite is an excellent second-turn play, evolving early plays such as Experiment OneCloudfin Raptor, and Shambleshark."  This time Ott is looking at the optimal hand, and curve.  On an average deck, and an average hand you will not usually have that luxury for many reasons, one being how early Cloudfin Raptor is picked so you are lucky to get two in a draft.  I do not think that Metropolis sprite is undervalued, and in fact I would much rather pick a Crocanura, Ivy League Denizen or a Miming Slime over the Sprite any day of the week.  Thank you for reading my first article, and do not forget to comment!

Jason Gray, one of your hosts!

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