At GP Cleveland, a bunch of coverage people were out at dinner and got to talking about what would be the first pick in a Modern Rotisserie draft. (Rotisserie draft is where you draft all of the available cards face up)
The standard issue arguments and discussions ensued and after the dust settled, it was decided that we simply had to make this happen.
With Randy Buehler’s recent experience running the Vintage Super League, he was the obvious choice for who to run the thing.
He came up with a great lineup for the draft: Chris Pikula, Adam Prosak, Aaron Forsythe, Rashad Miller, Sam Black, Brian David-Marshall, Me, and of course Randy himself.
So what will happen is that we’ll be drafting decks, using the entire legal Modern card pool as our booster pack. We’ll draft 40 cards total to build a 40 card deck.
Our initial discussion broke down into two camps:
Camp 1: Plant a Flag. People in this camp advocated for taking a hard archetype card with your first pick in order to signal your intentions to the rest of the field. Cards like Splinter Twin, Cranial Plating, and Glistener Elf are good examples.
Camp 2: Stay Open. People in this camp advocated for taking generally good cards that go in multiple decks. Cards like Lightning Bolt, Snapcaster Mage and Path to Exile came up a lot.
My first inclination was to be in the first group; plant a flag in a super strong archetype and push everyone else out of it. This way you can use your early/mid picks on value cards and clean up later with key pieces to your deck that nobody else wants.
For example, if you take Glistener Elf first, you’ll want the Inkmoth Nexus as soon as you can get it. But then you can take cards like Noble Hierarch, Remand, Serum Visions, while saving the other infect creatures and pump spells for way later down the line.
After considering how the decks would actually look, I changed my mind. Even though this is called a Modern Rotisserie, we aren’t actually building Modern decks. Many decks in Modern require critical mass of key components to be good. Playing Splinter Twin with *one* Splinter Twin and *one* Kiki Jiki, Mirror Breaker isn’t super consistent. Especially when you consider that you only get one Pestermite and one Deceiver Exarch. There are other cards that are capable of completing the combo, but they are white or cost five mana—not ideal at all.
Also the nearly perfect mana bases we play with in Modern aren’t available. This is a big game changer as we tend to take it for granted how good the mana is in Modern.
I decided that while this was constrained to the Modern card pool, that the decks would be built more similarly to a Cube deck than a Constructed Modern deck.
As it turns out, I got the first pick in the draft. The nature of this kind of draft is that it “snakes” back and forth. So I pick my first pick, and then wait for 14 picks until I get another choice.
When I do a normal Booster Draft, I put a premium on staying open. In Rotisserie that premium is reduced, since everyone can see all of the picks. But when you have the first pick, it’s easy to plant a flag in a color and then watch your color get over-drafted for 14 picks until it’s finally back on you.
With relative openness in mind, these were my three frontrunners:
Lightning Bolt is perhaps the most efficient Magic card ever printed. It also goes in many different decks and never really disappoints.
Snapcaster Mage is in a color I’d like to be in, and provides a relatively unique effect with effectively no downside.
Batterskull is expensive by comparison, but is good in virtually all matchups.
I decided to stay open, and take the card that I felt had the most power while not committing to a color or strategy. I took Batterskull.
I figure that this gives me the best chance to keep an eye on how the draft is developing and then take a hard line at whatever I feel is being underdrafted. I also feel like Batterskull is effectively irreplaceable.
Cards like Lightning Bolt are great, but ultimately replaceable by slightly less efficient versions.
I don’t love taking a five mana card with my first pick, but I do love staying open and taking an outright powerful card that is good against effectively all of the decks I plan on facing in the draft.
We’ll be playing the games out on April 22nd, live on stream where you’ll be able to root for your favorite personality.
You can follow along with the picks by looking at the picks spreadsheet here:
That sounds real fun !
Can’t wait to see when you’ll start taking lands, and if the first one making the move will “force” other to do so.
It is so funny that as soon as the first person takes a land they just go in a flood.
That is actually typical for rotisserie drafts of many varieties. In Fantasy Football, as an example, all it takes are two or so QBs to go then there is a run for the next best 4 or 5.
Choke on some cock, f@ggotmagoo
My first thought was Tarmogoyf, as it’s the most efficient threat and can be played in a ton of decks. But Batterskull does have resiliency, provided you can survive long enough to start bouncing it, and obviously can be put into literally every deck you draft. I know Batterskull looks better under quadrant theory too : P
This is draft technically still, where goyf is generally considered a weak pick. At most you may have 2 fetchlands per deck, and even that is unlikely, as well as much less turn 1 discard. A turn two goyf may well be a 1/2 frequently in this format.
Ah, I didn’t consider that as much. I’ve never actually drafted a format with the card. I imagine it’s still a good threat, but the context definitely takes it out of contention for first-pick status.
Who knows, maybe affinity will still be open by the time you pick again and you can draft a robot deck with no concerns about manabase. Solid choice Marshall
If the format is at all similar to cube, how can Karn not be a consideration? That’d be my instinctive pick for most powerful card of the format.
Karn and Wurmcoil Engine are both similar to Batterskull, I think, but they cost more and don’t necessarily do more. You’re right that it’s definitely a card that should be in consideration; there’s a case to be made that Karn commits to a _strategy_ in ways that Batterskull doesn’t, though.
I feel like it’s worth noting that there are a LOT of solid lands in modern that don’t see play just because fetch/shock are the most efficient. In a less streamlined format like this (it is limited after all) you might even find yourself wanting to play temples. Also, as a 40 card deck, you don’t really need as many copies of a card to hit critical mass on anything.
Personally I think my first pick choice might be restoration angel, which slots well into GW based value and toolbox decks (which are nearly singleton even in constructed!), and UW based control and combo decks. Alternatively I might try and pick pestermite, as just taking that is probably enough to dissuade others from taking splinter twin pieces, and try to pick up restoration angel second pick, then just build UWR control and pick up other splinter twin pieces later if they’re available. I do think cryptic command is also a reasonable option, as while it does force you to be heavy blue, there are a lot of things you can do with a cryptic command.
Bolt leaves you more open than skull. Casting a 5 mana spell is more ristrictive to a deck strategy than any one color. An we all know Bolt goes in any deck, that is even remotely red.
Clear, inroemativf, simple. Could I send you some e-hugs?
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I think Batterskull could be replaced by Wurmcoil Engine or one of the better swords. After watching the VRD some people shy away from certain strategies based on what people ahead of them picked.
I know you want to be blue, so to me Snapcaster Mage is the easy first pick. It is the card that will go in every blue deck, but more importantly increases consistency and provides card advantage.
Batterskull, while excellent, gets worse post sideboard against artifact destruction, and like some people have said, costs 5, so will be easier to counter and harder to devote all your mana into in the later turns. You made the safe pick, but you were given the first pick you were in the perfect position to get greedy.
I think with this format its fine to stay safe on first pick. You’ll get a much better read on what everyone else is picking when it comes back for the second pick and then start dialing in on the deck you want to build. If you go greedy right off the bat, your initial plan may be derailed quickly when player 8 makes his first two picks sequentially. Easily recouperable if that happens early but easily preventable by going safe.
For me, I’d go either wurmcoil or lightning bolt. I’m curious to see what lands (outside shock and fetches) get picked for the fixing.
There are 3 modern cards that are banned in Vintage cube for being too good: Jace, Memory Adept, Shelldock Isle, Sword of Body & Mind. These cards are insane in 40 card environments. Just because they aren’t as good in actual modern means nothing in this format.
Based on what I’ve seen from the Vintage Rot Drafts (which admittedly are different) you’re more likely to see weak versions of constructed decks than decks that play out like limited decks. That to me makes batterskull a much dodgier picks as there’s no real archetype where it shines. If people are able to pull off any of the combo decks in the format then it just won’t be very good in that scenario. Maybe the drop off to modern is enough different that they will play like cube decks.
The other thing about Twin combo in particular is that the cards are (other than twin itself) reasonable on their own. You can just cast exarch or pestermite and attack or block with them as creatures and don’t lose that much even if you don’t draw combo pieces. And the twin shell allows you to play for a long game, so you don’t need to be that quick about finding the combo pieces either. That to me would be another reason to take snapcaster, which is definitely what I’d have taken in seat 1.
That being said I’ve done enough rot drafts to know how hard it is and batterskull is one of the first picks that will be hardest to get pushed off of, so it’s reasonable. I look forward to watching the draft unfold.
I actually really dislike drafting blue in cube type formats (literally just personal preference, blue is super good) but I think Snapcaster has to be the most powerful card and is easily splashable with tons of utility. I am sometimes amazed at the amount of cool stuff there is to flashback with him.
Batterskull still seems completely defensible as it is just a super powerful card all on it’s own. I guess you do need to pick up some other pieces to make Snappy great but I think he is my first pick if you would ask me.