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Metagaming in Limited

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Greetings and salutations, kind readers. Before we jump into today’s article, let’s get the introductions out of the way. My name is Greg Peloquin, but pretty much everyone in the Magic community calls me G Pelly. I am an ardent PTQ warrior and level 1 judge. I’m no pro, but I’ve had my fair share of small successes, with some PTQ top 8s and GP day 2s.

My good friend and fellow judge, Chris McNutt, asked me if I'd be interested in writing for this here site. After mulling it over a bit, I entertained articles about EDH, cube, Standard and judging. That sounds like I should have no trouble finding article worthy material.

I was in.

Not too long after, I’m chatting with Dylan, my esteemed editor.

“Nice to meet you, Greg. I would like you to write about Limited.”

Oh bother.

Instantaneously, my genius ideas evaporated. What am I going to write about now?

Obviously, I did what any studious writer with a deadline would do. I put it off. Fortunately, inspiration hit like a sack of bowling balls to the face. If I had to give someone else one piece of advice about Limited, what it be?

Metagame.

Just like in Constructed, metagaming in Limited is a valuable tool to have in one’s arsenal. It’s important to zig when everyone else is zagging. It’s all about figuring out what they are going to do, and drafting something to beat them, or just avoiding colors/strategies that will inevitably be overdrafted. Metagaming in limited accounts for what little modicum of success I have happened upon.

For example, I love me some cube drafting, especially pauper cube (commons and uncommons only). When I sit down to cube with my fellow grizzled PTQ veterans, I have one main strategy: Avoid Blue.

It’s no secret that Blue is the best color in most pauper cubes. The combination of counterspells, control magic effects and card draw are hard for other colors to compete with. You can draft some very powerful Blue Control decks in this format.

The problem is everyone else at the table wants to be the one doing all the cool things. I’d rather just win. I opened the following in a 3-on-3 team draft after scrubbing out of a PTQ not too long ago:

I took one look at the pack and instantly slammed the Sparkmage. I was rewarded with an insane mono Red deck and had little trouble going 3-0. I try to go mono red aggro when possible as you simply overrun the slower Control decks. Genju of the Spires is actually in my top 5 cards to draft in my 750 card cube.

Over the summer, I was playing M11 limited in as many Grand Prix: Portland trials as possible and couldn’t quite close the deal in the draft portion. I ended up muscling my way to the finals of the fourth one due to correctly guessing that everyone passing to me was going to be in Blue. I passed every Blue card I saw and was rewarded with a fairly powerful nearly mono Green deck with two Pacifisms. The draft was a train wreck for the people to my right as they all fought over Blue and White and ended up with subpar decks.

I would love to tell you I carried the day and hoisted the trophy triumphantly in the air as throngs of women enveloped me. Sadly, it was not to be. I lost to Palace Guard in the finals (don’t ask). As it turned out, I ended up doing fairly well online with this strategy as well as I found Green open a fair amount of the time.

Now I know what you are thinking: G Pelly, how is this relevant to me right now? How can I gain an advantage in Scars of Mirrodin Limited? The first step is to figure out what types of decks you will face most often. In this case, in sealed you will see Red/White Metalcraft and a smattering of Infect. Most of the R/W decks are going to hit you with Shatters, Revoke Existences and bombs.

During the GGSlive coverage for GP Nashville, they mentioned that Ari Lax opened a rather underpowered Sealed deck for day 1. So what did he do? He loaded his deck up with as many large creatures as possible and played few to no artifacts. Although the decklist isn’t available, I believe they mentioned he was playing creatures such as Alpha Tyrranax, Molder Beast and Flameborn Hellion. His lack of artifacts, and his abundance of hard to deal with threats, blanked his opponents Shatters and allowed him to cruise to a 9-1 record in day 1. This same plan was used in the draft portion (both draft decks reportedly contained 3 Molder Beasts) and landed Mr. Lax in the top 8.

A buddy of mine, Justin Rider, has been using this plan in the 8-4 draft queues on Magic Online to similar success. He showed me some of his winning decks and I looked at him like he was insane. How do you win with THAT? It’s too slow. Again, it was the same story, they simply couldn’t answer his bevy of boom-booms.

I haven’t employed this strategy too much myself, but hopefully I will get the chance. The fun thing about Scars draft is there are a fair amount of strategies that are off the beaten path that can be successful. I’ve won a couple of drafts (one online, the other in real life) with Green/White Metalcraft. The deck wants to be very aggressive and the plan is to scoop up those late Carapace Forgers no one wants. I get them on the wheel fairly routinely. The deck combines those with the more traditional Metalcraft cards such as Chrome Steed and Rusted Relic. Even Auriok Sunchaser isn’t too bad here, but I wouldn’t want to pick it too highly, since you want 15 artifacts, meaning your non artifact spells need to be all-stars to make the cut. This is also the deck where Ezuris Brigade and Ezuri himself become bombs that just take over games. I actually dug through my draft leavings and found most of the deck for the real life draft. I will post it for you here and reconstruct the rest:

Carapace Forger 3
Chrome Steed 2
Sylvok Replica 2
Sylvok Lifestaff
Rusted Relic
Darksteel Axe
Ezuri Renegade Leader
Revoke Existence
Arrest
Copper Myr
Snapsail Glider
Iron Myr
Razor Hippogriff
Strider Harness
Origin Spellbomb 2
Auriok Sunchaser
Liquimetal Coating
Auriok Replica
Untamed Might
Forest 9
Plains 7

It’s not the strongest deck I’ve ever drafted, but it ran over the Metalcraft decks fairly easily. That about wraps it up. Join me next time as I brave the shark-infested waters of a Scars of Mirrodin Sealed PTQ.

-Cheers
Greg ‘G Pelly’ Peloquin

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