You may remember me talking about #100DaysofDraft when I was a youthful upstart, bright-eyed and full of hope (you can read the full article here). Basically, I committed to drafting at least once a day, for 100 days, tracking my progress on Twitter as well as in a spreadsheet. But I wanted to check in now that the draft queue has been fired 100 times, to reflect on the experience – what I’ve learned and what knowledge I can impart.
Time was the most limiting factor (pun intended), and I think a lack of time to dedicate to this initiative is what limited me most. While I feel that I started off strong (as most starts tend to go), with a great deal of thought put into the decisions I encountered and a lot of feedback given by friends, as the weeks turned into months, interest began to wane.
Einstein is credited with saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results,” and when I didn’t take the time to reflect on my drafts, going through the motions felt futile. When you commit to something with no downtime, you force yourself to play through the slumps, and that can often be detrimental as you find yourself falling further and further down the rabbit hole with no end in sight. It was only after an extended period in this slump that I was able to pull myself up by the bootstraps and realize that drafting simply for the sake of drafting was maybe not the best use of my time, and I started actively working to involve my friends and Twitter followers in the draft experience.
That’s certainly not to say that the entire experience was without merit. Going from not drafting at all to diving into the world of Limited, you’re going to learn a thing or two – and if Core Set 2019 was good at one thing, that’s reinforcing the fundamentals. As someone who tends to favor aggressive and combo strategies in Constructed, I knew that getting better at Limited (where everything is essentially some form of midrange) would help me calculate combat math and evaluate threats – fundamentals that would also serve me well in Constructed.
The most valuable lessons came from friends who, after watching my gameplay, initiated a conversation about best utilizing removal. Coming from a more aggressive mindset, I had been conditioned to use removal to push through damage as quickly as possible. However, in Sealed and Draft, removal comes at a much higher premium, and playing out your threats (unless something must-answer has hit the board) before evaluating how to deploy your removal is usually correct.
If you are going to undertake a Draft challenge of your own, take the time to ask yourself why you want to pursue it, as well as how much time you are able to dedicate. Personally, I know that if I don’t schedule items into my life, they simply won’t get done. Realistic goal-setting and time management are of the utmost importance. If you only have time to draft on weekends, carve out time to do just that. If you can only stream once a week, build your schedule around it.
But more important than the act of drafting is carving out time to reflect. You can set Magic Online to save a text file of your draft picks – this is a great tool to review your choices and foster discussion. Record your games to rewatch and Skype in with friends. Most importantly, be open to feedback and foster conversation. The pros rarely think that they are 100% right, and if Hall of Famers are willing to discuss what minor (or major) changes they can make to eke out those all-too-valuable percentage points, you should be, too.
Finally, I wanted to give my most heartfelt thanks to everyone who came along on this journey with me – providing feedback on my posts, talking out lines of play or keeping me company on stream. Without you, I doubt I would have made it through all 100 days, and I definitely wouldn’t have learned nearly as much. I was able to play the Sunday PTQ of Grand Prix Denver (individual Sealed) with more confidence than I’ve ever felt cracking packs, and held my own to only pick up one loss through all six rounds. I have no doubt that this wouldn’t have been possible without the outpouring of support that I received from the community.
While I’m taking a small break from Limited right now to focus on an upcoming Standard and Legacy Grand Prix in Shizuoka, I can now confidently say that I’m not afraid of Limited, and I look forward to future Drafts and tournaments. I’m particularly excited to dive back in to the world of Sealed and Draft, and put my learnings to use at Grand Prix Vancouver at the end of December. Hopefully I’ll see you there!