Simon Says #56: To Surf or Not To Surf (THS 8-4)

Pro Tour Theros is in the books but the limited format is far from solved. One of the key questions in Theros draft is how to position yourself in the right colors. With powerful mono-colored options, but also a rare and an uncommon cycle of gold cards, the choice isn’t always easy!

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  1. I drafted the other night and opened the exact same first pack as you, with Keepsake Gorgon, Titan, etc. Misread the titan, not seeing the R mana symbol next to its activated ability and grabbed it.

    That being said, I like Keepsake Gorgon \ black, but I don’t think it’s that fun of a color. I’ve never had a super exciting black deck, they just seem slow and plodding.

    I think my favorite decks are red/blue and red/green, or Phalanx/Evangel white.

  2. Not to surf.

    Or play these overpriced drafts with poor prize support. Some people never learn.

  3. For some reason the intro video just cuts off at 2:12. You can see the youtube thumbnails for later, but no matter how hard I try, I can’t get it to play. Not sure whose end that problem is on, but wanted to bring it to attention. The gold cards are very strategically interesting to me so I’m really looking forward to see what you have to say about them.

    I’m going to rewatch the draft portion to see if anything comes to me to specifically comment on. I remember thinking it was a bit of a trainwreck, but in the few drafts I’ve done of Theros that’s happened to me at least half the time as well. Seems like it’s hard to get a good read on what’s open because some packs will be very deep in a color and void or almost void in another. Also you may not pass much of a color and still get cut off the next pack randomly (or again have some packs lacking your color).

  4. Same thing for me – can’t get the opening discussion to play all the way through.

    Only half-way through the draft, and it really went sideways for you, Simon. I know you were talking about not committing to two-colors with a gold card, but sometimes you can be very rewarded and isn’t that chance worth it, especially since some of the gold cards can be easily splashed, especially if you are base green anyway!

    You had several chances in this draft to commit to a two-color gold card – 1st pick Hoplite (U/W), 2nd pick Murder King (R/B – which it looks like halfway through pack 2 you went that route anyway), and even a chance at 2 Reapers (G/B). I love the U/W anyway, so I would have been going that route straight off and would have been rewarded with a pack sphinx! But committing to the R/B in pack 1 would also have been a sweet agro deck where the Murder King could have shined.

    Ill be back later to see how your draft ended up!

  5. Kezz, I know we are supposed to ignore the trolls, but he is playing an 8-4 draft – isn’t that the best EV of all the draft choices?

  6. Something is wrong with the intro-video. I thought you should try to go more red-green then stay on black! And the black cards are all also very splashable! Okay Gorgon with 2 Black, but the rest all one black. Sadly your deck has nothing against flyers, you lost two times against a flyer…
    Overall a very nasty draft, with no clear signals, but that happens sometimes. I think theros is really good, because you have so many options, so this set will never be “solved”! I think thats a good thing, because it is very boring to draft over and over 3-5 strategies, in theros there is any two-color combination fine plus even splashes…

  7. @random and @mperetti and @frizzell That error was very strange. I’ve never run into something like that on Youtube before. I went ahead and reuploaded the intro video to Youtube, so go ahead and try it now.

  8. I’m not sure I agree on the lack of signals. Pack 1, P3 Anthousa and P4 Reverent Hunter are pretty clear signs that green is open. Neither are powerhouses, but they are both very respectable early picks. Moving in on green earlier would have yielded a better deck, and the signs were definitely there.

  9. Thanks for the draft Simon! A shame the games went as they did, but you managed to make a very good deck from what you had, all things considered. Nessian Asp would probably be better than Nemesis for this deck, as you mentioned.

  10. Thanks for the content Simon. I think you we’re a little off your game today though.
    I think you waited one or two picks too late to move into red. At that point I think you should have just abandoned it and had a very solid BG deck.
    You also passed on a couple of Voyaging Satyrs while bemoaning your curve (at least I think I remember seeing a couple get passed – I could be mistaken.
    Another point… you should never take Guardians over any playable or even a sideboard card. No one takes them as you could tell by ending up with 3 of them.
    It also seemed obvious that your deck was going to be weak to flyers at the point that you took Nemesis over Nessian Asp which is a better card anyway unless you’re playing Commune With the Gods.
    Finally, I think that your saying that you couldn’t beat his draw in the last game was a cop out. Given how weak your deck was to flyers I think that you had to kill the Wingsteed Rider as soon as possible while he was tapped out. It would have been an uphill battle once he bestows his centaur, but also much more winnable.

  11. I’ve done 4 or 5 Theros drafts so far. Without a doubt, the worst sinking feeling is when you start green or black, then get a super strong signal in the other color and absolutely nothing else. There is so little early action in these colors that whenever I’ve wound up there (or watched a draft that wound up G/B) the deck was overloaded on 4s and 5s. When everyone at the table wants to have W, R, or U as a color and you start with G or B, it just feels terrible. I suspect that Simon felt this and tried to avoid the green signal, when perhaps the best course of action was to immediately switch (pick 2 or 3) and abandon the black.

    It looks like G/R was the right combo for this seat, although decent W and U cards were coming late too. Having a starting core of Anthousa, Voyaging Satyr, and Reverent Hunter would have led to a solid deck.

    I’ve seen at least one successful G/B deck (I think it was Marshall on this site?), but this still just feels like a weak combination. Maybe with multiple Voyaging Satyr, Baleful Eidolon, and Sedge Scorpion, but unfortunately all of those tend to be early-ish picks.

  12. Intro video works now, so thanks for fixing it. Gold cards are still a very interesting proposition to me. Very often these cards go very late. I’ve seen the UW hoplite go 13th, and I also just 2nd picked it in my last draft. I first picked the phalanx leader and 2nd picked hoplite, but white was cut so I took a bunch of blue cards and then saw a very late shipwreck singer (yet another of these gold cards) and transitioned to BU and won the draft. I think seeing these cards late is a good sign people within a couple seats of you are not in those specific colors, so that helps some. In the end these tough decisions are what makes drafting Magic so much fun.

  13. Thanks for the videos. Always very informative.
    I think you should do a recap video on game 1. I didn’t rewatch the whole game but I can’t help but think that you should have won that game.
    I know there was one turn when you bestowed the satyr, kept both creatures back and then promptly took 6 damage because you had no good blocks. I think you either need to make up your mind to race him or make sure you can block effectively and get his 6/6 off the table before you are all the way down to 7 life.

  14. match 1, (game 1), at 10:32 you missed 9 point of damage by not attacking, later, that damage would have mattered

  15. Reminded me a lot of several of my drafts. Can’t make up your (my) mind about which colors to go with and end up spread thin and very mediocre hoping for perfect draws to make things work.

    It’s an easy trap to fall into when the colors you want to run appear to be drying up.

  16. Simon, I think you showed one of your key weaknesses here in that you heavily favor control archetypes and lean that way during the draft even when a stronger aggro path is open to you. You saw a ton of great aggressive cards, esp. in red, but ended up getting a mess of a deck because you just don’t like to play that way.

    It also cost you a bit one game because you kept holding back your guys, when racing was probably the better (of two not-so-great) options.

    You’re definitely a strong player, and a fantastic control player, but you really need to be able to turn on an aggro mindset when the occasion calls for it.