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Friday, August 30, 2013

Fallen Empires Draft Strategy

Mohan doing acrobatics! by Tambako the Jaguar from flickr (CC-ND)

Dark Sphere LGS in London recently started running unusual formats every Wednesday. What was meant to happen this week was a Homelands draft - and I simply had to go, given how famously awful Homelands is.

It turned out they accidentally misordered the box, and instead of Homelands we got to play Fallen Empires. It was an interesting challenge, since I've never even seen any of its cards (I briefly looked at Homelands cards to get some idea, but I knew nothing whatsoever about Fallen Empires), and the set wasn't designed for drafting in the first place.

Since boosters back then contained just 8 cards, instead of opening one 15-card booster at a time, you open 2x8-card boosters simultaneously (for a total of 6 boosters).

There are a few major differences between drafting such ancient sets and drafting anything recent. First, since sets were really small you'll be seeing multiples of the same common a lot. Second, since it was before the New World Order, commons are often extremely impactful. Add these two together, and you can make a deck unlike anything you could do these days.

If you compare Constructed now and back then, creatures got a lot better - but the difference is not that huge in case of Limited. I'm not sure if that's specific to Fallen Empires, or if it was more common, but cards seem to require far greater color commitment than now. They also had a lot more really brutal hosers than recent sets, but I never took advantage of it (I had one anti-blue and one anti-black hoser, but even against a white/black deck it seemed like not worth siding)

Oh, and by the way - level of respect for the color pie in the entire set is pretty much nonexistent - green and white both got burn effects and at common.

Anyway, after making these observations while looking at cards I just opened, I drafted monogreen Thallid deck and went undefeated with it:

  • 16 Forest
  • 1 Fungal Bloom
  • 1 Thallid Devourer
  • 2 Elvish Hunter
  • 4 Spore Flower
  • 3 Thallid
  • 2 Feral Thallid
  • 9 Thorn Thallid
  • 2 Thelonite Druid

There are a few interesting things about it:

  • 3x Spore Flower is infinite fog
  • 1x Spore Flower + 1x Fungal Bloom is another way to achieve infinite fog
  • 9x Thorn Thallid - they are fairly bad pingers, but they are pingers and they can repeatedly murder everything. It's a pretty ridiculous draft that I was able to get 9 of them, and sometimes had as many as 5 on the field at once.
  • Feral Thallids and Thelonite Druid were meant as wincon (I never got to play with Thelonite Druids)
  • Elvish Hunter works surprisingly well as a bad pacifism (I had two more sideboard, but it's not a card I terribly want a multiple of due to heavy mana requirements)
  • one land cut because monocolor deck doesn't have to worry about color screw, and I can theoretically achieve full fog lock with just 2 Forests

Generally the format is very slow, and it's very easy to stabilize. As far as I can tell, monogreen Thallid is the best control archetype in the format.

Neither red nor green really has any good fast aggro, blue doesn't have enough evasion and seemingly none of the usual archetypes really does much.

The only archetype that seems fast enough to possibly kill before Thallids can stabilize seems to be white/black based around creatures that are hard to block like Farrel's Zealot and Necrite with a lot of backup from various damage prevention and pump creatures, with a bit of backup of Icatian Javelineers to kill any remaining utility creatures. I faced such deck in the finals and it felt like a lot of early pressure, but it was still a turn or two too slow.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to drafting other ridiculous formats, and if anything interesting happens I'll keep you informed.

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