Analysis of a video draft by Pierre Liebsch

Pierre asked me for feedback on his newest draft video at Magic Universe, but since we’re both publishing drafts there now (after endless delay, I really hope my video will finally be up tomorrow! – edit: and here it is!), I don’t think I should comment directly at that site. Instead, I decided to do a full-on analysis here at 00zero.

(Please note that all content on Magic Universe is in German.)


First booster round:

Pick 1:

Bolt of Keranos seems the correct pick to me. However, I do not agree with Pierre that this booster is „below average“. With a reasonable selection of strong maindeck cards, albeit no outstanding first pick, this is rather typical Born of the Gods fare.


Picking Pinnacle of Rage is totally wrong here – Pierre completely overestimates a card I would only grudgingly maindeck at all! Better picks in order are Akroan Skyguard, Nyxborn Triton, Asphyxiate, Vanguard of Brimaz, Setessan Oathsworn, Rise to the Challenge & Mortal’s Resolve; all but the last one being cards which will generally make my maindeck in contrast to Pinnacle.


Pierre complains there is „no good red card“ – well, there IS a Nyxborn Rollicker, which is good, if not exciting, and Pharagax Giant is not bad as he says (it’s average), but of course the white cards are stronger. Picking Elite Skirmisher is fine, but with Oreskos Sun Guide as competition it’s close (and NOT „without competition“, as Pierre claims).


The triple-red mana cost in Fated Conflagration is a serious issue and should make one consider other options. I believe going with Archetype of Aggression would have been better here.


Taking Cyclops of One-Eyed Pass to cut Red is okay.


God-Favored General is close to unplayable – I have no idea what put the idea in Pierre’s mind that this stinker was good at all! At this time, White does not seem to be open, so it might be a good idea to branch into Black with Felhide Brawler. Alternatively, one could take Springleaf Drum, which is a solid accelerator helping with awkward mana costs (like that of the Conflagration).


Okay, so maybe White IS open? You want the excellent 2-drop Akroan Skyguard over Akroan Phalanx, though, especially since Red should not be taken for granted at this time, with Bolt of Keranos the only really good card here (Conflagration might not make even a red deck if Red is not the primary color).


Taking Rise to the Challenge is okay, since Black (which offers the stronger Nyxborn Eidolon) is less likely to be played than White now.


I can see Mortal’s Ardor here, which might make a White-based deck short on tricks and heroic enablers, but I don’t think it would’ve been too late to pick up Nyxborn Eidolon here in case that Black might replace White or Red. Ardor would certainly be no big loss.


Excoriate is decidedly wrong; that’s a card no aggressive deck should ever maindeck. Due to the low creature count so far the correct pick would have been Reckless Reveler; with a different selection of cards in the pool, Rise to the Challenge would have been more attractive.


Another big fail: Taking the almost unplayable Siren Song Lyre over Pharagax Giant is wrong on principle, but especially with a low creature count!

Not much to say about the rest of the picks in the first booster round, but I’m irritated by Pierre hiding Hold at Bay immediately, seeing how he keeps way worse cards on display.

Second booster round:

Pick 1:

Lightning Strike over Heliod’s Emissary is wrong in general – Pierre obviously does not realize how valuable a card which so aggressively gets you closer to winning the game is! With his low creature count, a bad pick becomes a catastrophic one.


Wingsteed Rider is a good pick. At this time, it’s important to realize that Red as the main color has become distinctly less appealing, so the double-red cards in Pierre’s pool (other than Bolt of Keranos) must be considered expendable.


As strong as Wingsteed Rider is, and as urgently as Pierre needs creatures, this is an unbelievably terrible pick. A reliable removal for one mana like Chained to the Rocks can not be prized highly enough in this environment!


Getting another Wingsteed Rider is great, but now at the latest Pierre should have realized that White has become his main color, and evaluated his earlier picks accordingly.


Arena Athlete is the correct pick.


Lagonna-Band Elder is okay, but only because of Pierre’s still low creature count. When I draft RW, I usually notice early if I need a redundant 3-drop, and the Elder is one of the lowest options on my list here, so I will often be in a situation where I can go for the sideboard card (Ray of Dissolution).


As Pierre mentions, taking Ray of Dissolution would have been correct, but he prefers to goof around here for whatever reason. If you want to hatepick, there are actually good options, but as far as Opaline Unicorn is concerned: If soemeone wants to build a deck which needs it, LET HIM DO IT! Why prevent people from playing bad decks?


Flamespeaker Adept is reasonable here.


Leonin Snarecaster is the correct choice.


It’s simple: If Pierre thinks Akroan Crusader is bad, it does NOT mean that the card is bad, but rather that Pierre is! It also demonstrates Pierre’s unwillingness to improve, since he’s obviously aware that his assessment is unusual. The Crusader does not make every red deck, but in many builds it is a solid choice. By the way, it is especially hilarious that Pierre at the same time likes God-Favored General so much!

Not much more to say for this booster round.

Third booster round:

Pick 1:

Magma Jet is correct. What’s wrong is Pierre’s idea that this card was anywhere close to Divine Verdict in power level! For an aggressive (the vast majority) white deck which has come together as it should, the white card is something nice to have one copy of in the sideboard, and that’s it.


Coordinated Assault is still better than Observant Alseid. Third best choice would have been Chosen by Heliod.


Unless your RW deck is low on heroic and high on Two-Headed Cerberus / Flamespeaker Adept, it usually wants Chosen by Heliod over Titan’s Strength (if it isn’t short on power-enhancing cards overall). If it has no less than THREE Wingsteed Rider, there is no excuse to take the instant over the aura!


And again, it is wrong to pick Titan’s Strength, this time over the solid 2-drop Traveling Philosopher, which Pierre’s Deck needs more.


Deathbellow Raider is fine.


Last Breath is also fine. Note that with the three Riders, that card is actually reasonable in the maindeck!


Spearpoint Oread is fine again.


None of those cards constitutes an urgent hatepick, so it would have been correct to pick Silent Artisan for the sideboard (sometimes – rarely, but it happens! – you want the tough 5-drop).


Traveling Philosopher is fine.


Satyr Rambler is fine.


Hatepicking Felhide Minotaur makes some sense, but Pierre overrates the strength of that card against his deck. Wild Celebrants are a useful sideboard card, and that’s what he should have taken!


After a rather rocky draft, Pierre proceeds to completely misbuild his deck with awkward mana, not enough focus, and bad card choices in general. There is simply no way, and also no necessity to try and make Fated Conflagration work in a deck with 3 Wingsteed Rider!

Here is what he should have built:

Lagonna-Band Elder, Great Hart, Mortal’s Ardor, Last Breath: These cards are concessions to bad drafting; usually they don’t make a good RW deck, but they’re serviceable.

Closest cuts: Hold at Bay, Cyclops of One-Eyed Pass.

Sideboard cards to keep in mind: Pinnacle of Rage, Excoriate, Silent Artisan.

While there were several chances missed in the draft, the resulting deck would still have been pretty solid and could, with some luck, take down a draft!

A few remarks about the Games

Game 1:

Not offering to trade Arena Athlete for Daxos of Meletis by tapping the legend before combat is terrible. Best play might’ve been to keep two potential blockers back, though, since you cannot race an active Daxos and need to do everything in your power to stop him from connecting. Things worked out for Pierre this time, but that does not mean he made the right play!

Not offering to trade Cyclops of One-Eyed Pass for Wavecrash Triton is also bad, since Triton dominates Pierre’s creature-light board (also, the opponent probably would have let Cyclops through for fear of of a trick; which makes not attacking doubly bad, since you volunteer the information that way that you hold no trick).

Bestowing Spearpoint Oread on the Cyclops against the Triton when the opponent has five cards in hand is practically a concession, since your opponent now only has one creature to deal with by tapping it down, which you must expect him to be able to do!

Pierre then walks into a telegraphed Divine Verdict, which he will do again later, and then complain how hard it is to play around that card: It is not! You simply do NOT attack (and, if you can, add to your board). If your opponent insists on not playing any cards by keeping Verdict-mana open at all times, fine! Use these turns to get board advantage. Alternatively, if you feel that waiting game does not favor you, you might offer him a less relevant creature. Do NOT just play into your opponent’s hands by allowing him to get your best creature! Playing around Divine Verdict is actually really easy (this is why it isn’t really a great card, not even in Theros, where people tend to grow large attackers). You just have to do it!

A bit later, not using Pinnacle of Rage + Magma Jet to kill two of the opponent’s creatures (and scry) then finally IS the concession, since Pierre takes now too much damage next turn and has no way to get back into that game. He might have lost anyway, since he was extremely flooded, but he played worse against a quite bad opponent and thus deserved to lose.


Coming from the deck list I posted above, I would exchange Great Hart for Cyclops of One-Eyed Pass to punch through those high-toughness creatures. (Yup, that’s exactly the card Pierre TOOK OUT!)

Game 2:

That Mulligan is obvious, and it also demonstrates nicely why you should never build your deck in the way Pierre did!

When the game starts, Pierre should use Bolt of Keranos on the Oreskos Sun Guide to keep his momentum going (and scry), since he has no trick in hand and thus cannot rely on blocking succesfully with Traveling Philosopher against any number of possible tricks, including the two Chosen by Heliod he already saw the game before. Actually, Chosen on the Guide would almost win the game for the opponent right there! Things again worked out nicely for Pierre, especially with Daxos of Meletis coming down next turn, but he was just lucky with a bad play which only seemed to redeem itself later.

When Pierre refuses to play around Divine Verdict for the second time, this might have been the moment he lost that game and match.

It is also bad to scry away a creature which was able to attack into that 2/6 Wavecrash Triton. You must work with what you have!

Then, not using Magma Jet on Battlewise Hoplite when his opponent is tapped down to Gods Willing as the only possible trick is also unspeakably terrible. What more does Pierre expect the Jet to do? And if there IS Gods Willing – will the Jet ever do anything then? Why does Pierre take several rounds worth of damage from one of the best possible targets for his Jet instead of just using it? This allows his opponent to go on the offense instead of playing defense – exactly what Pierre must avoid!

Later, Pierre uses his Pinnacle of Rage in the probably most inefficent way – but maybe at least it dawned to him after these games that this 6-mana sorcery is just not good!

Again, it’s unclear if Pierre could have won that game against Hopeful Eidolon and later Hundred-Handed One, but since he tried everything in his power to lose it, he has no right to complain.

Overall, I’m still anything but impressed by Pierre’s drafting, deckbuilding and playing skills. There is still a lot of room for improvement at all fronts!

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8 Gedanken zu „Analysis of a video draft by Pierre Liebsch

  1. Jashin sagt:

    Somehow I find it very amusing that you are writing in English about a person most of foreign readers won’t know at all. They won’t even understand his reasoning if they watch his video.

    • Zeromant sagt:

      Yup, it’s kind of strange, but I decided not to switch between languages on 00zero. Also, you do not necessarily have to understand Pierre’s commentary to follow his draft/play decisions – if you watch a game in coverage, you have no insights into the players‘ thoughts either, but can still follow the action (as long as you can see the cards).

  2. Olaf sagt:

    Before last week I haven’t watched MU draft videos but once. Then the comparision between Pierres and your draft drew my attention to his video again.
    Well, after a few minutes I immediately remembered why I have watched these drafts only once so far.
    Making bad pick decisions or qustionable plays is one thing. But getting the basics wrong is a completely different beast. Just two examples:
    G1, Turn 4: „trading Meletis two for two“ -> nope, Chosen by Heliod draws a card.
    G2, Turn 3: „a potential two for one“ -> nope, Bolt of Keranos is a sorcery.
    Beside this the video was a wicked demonstration of „how do I manage to lose winnable games“. Only after this gets better we can discuss about somewhat more elaborated questions like „What is the point of a Pinnacle of Rage against a deck containing a couple of Chosen by Heliod?“

  3. HanHeinrich sagt:

    Hi Andi,

    I finally had a chance to watch your draft video at MagicUniverse. A very convincing application of your draft principles. It was kind of funny to see you succeed with UR tempo, as Frank Karsten basically declared the colour combination almost unplayable in his article today:
    [ ]
    „Blue/red is easily the worst color combination in BTT draft. There’s no synergy, no good gold cards, no devotion or heroic synergies to build around, and it rarely wins. Avoid it if possible.“

    Although it seems that in his general evaluation of the draft format he echoes a lot of your sentiments.
    I would be interested in your opinion regarding his article.

    I’d like to end with a question: would you by any chance be interested in reviewing and critizising Sealed pools/builds? As the next PTQ season is Sealed, it might be interesting for your audience (at least for me 😉 ) to see how you would build decks from different Sealed pools.
    I’m sure people would send you their pool lists and the decks they built out of it for you to evaluate. (I know I would.)



    • Zeromant sagt:

      Hi Artie,

      interesting to see you comment here instead of directly at Magic Universe…

      I agree that this draft was especially instructive; that is why I chose to have it published (if MU hadn’t wanted it, I’d done it here on 00zero). My card selection was certainly not overpowered, and it is correct that UR tempo lost quite a bit appeal with BNG (I say so myself in my BNG preview on MU); but if these are the colors open to you, and you build a focussed deck and play it accordingly, it can get there with a little luck, even if faced with annoying opposition like that RB x/3 deck or the Daxos + double Sun Guide special.

      It’s not exactly correct that UR has no synergy – even disregarding Flamespeaker Adept – it just tends to have less than other color combinations. Early pressure and explosive growth effects coupled with tempo cards which do not care abot creature size go quite well together. Also, both blue bounce/tap and red burn/steal can end a close game in your favor. The trick is to get your opponent low enough on life that he can neither defend against them nor survive them.

      About Frank’s article: It’s mostly a giant pick order, and obviously I disagree with a lot of things – too many to mention here. My own preview ratings are still a lot closer to what I believe is correct today, although naturally my views on some cards have shifted a bit. Maybe it would be worth to do a pick order article of my own, now that the environment has become a bit better explored, and it makes sense to compare cards of similar power level in a ranking?

      About Sealed:

      You do realize that I actually almost never play Sealed anymore since I stopped going to RL tournaments? That’s a big caveat when it comes to me analyzing Sealed decks – I might not evaluate the differences to draft (which no doubt exist, although they seem to be a lot smaller than it seemed at first) correctly. I might have suggestions, but I don’t think I should portray an expert here when I lack any real experience with that format.

      • HanHeinrich sagt:

        Commenting here: that’s just kind of a comfort-zone lazyness on my part.

        Pick orders: I have to say I preferred Frank Kartsten’s method in his article about Theros, where he made a pick order with more generic categories: bombs, top Rares, top Uncommons, top Commons, good cards etc.

        Sealed: I would think that someone like you – with an extensive overview of the format and the deep knowledge about most interactions of cards and deck concepts – would very well be able to give some hints and pointers on how to build a „good“ deck out of a given sealed pool.
        I do understand that the dynamics of a Sealed format might be different from that of the Draft format, but I think that the basics of what is a good or well-constructed THE/BNG-limited deck are common to both Sealed and Draft.
        And to be honest: I’d prefer valuable input and comments on my Sealed pool from „only“ a draft expert as opposed to a pro/good player that has general Magic experience but is clueless/misconcepted about the Limited format in general (as quite a few of the more vocal people on the Magic sites seem to be).

  4. Kilian sagt:

    Hello Andi,

    it took a while for me to find your new site. I really miss Zeromagic, especially your long comments on single cards.

    I wonder if it would be possible for you to somehow cover a draft with one of your cubes? I think they make for better drafting and gameplay than the preconstructed sets so a „recorded“ draft with one of these might be extremely interesting. Of course covering a draft is much harder in RL than on Magic Online, but maybe you’ll find a way.


    PS: I like your recorded drafts on Magic Universe. Apart from Simon Görtzen’s I consider them the only serious drafts in the web. But even Simon does not seem to know how to draft correctly with Born of the Gods, so I really appreciate your drafts.
    The advantage he has is his clear pronunciation and he often has more vigour in his voice, which makes his recordings really enjoyable.
    Especially your English drafts could use a clearer pronunciation (and less music & accent).

    • Zeromant sagt:

      Hi Kilian,

      was it really so hard to find 00zero, coming from Zeromagic? The first thing you should see when you visit my old blog is a link leading here…

      I’m afraid there is no possibility that I will ever record a next level cube draft, and I also doubt that (m)any other people would find that interesting – sorry!

      I agree that Simon is much better at recording than I am. Some of the issues you mention will not persist, though: I tried background music once and won’t do it again. Also, as things stand now, I will publish any further draft videos on Magic Universe, commentating in German.

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