Last night I drafted Gatecrash at my local game store and bounced back a little from my recent slump. My first pick was a Wrecking Ogre, and after staying slightly open for either Boros or Gruul, it was pretty clear halfway through pack 1 that white was open, so I settled into Boros. I had a much better curve than my other recent Boros decks, though I still didn't have a single multicolor two-drop, which is sad. Early in the format I had a Boros deck with two Truefire Paladins and a Firemane Avenger. Ah, those were the days.
My decks have gotten progressively weaker since the beginning of the format, and as is often the case, it's difficult to tell whether this is largely due to variance, or other drafters are getting better, or I'm getting worse. Last night I had two relatively new guys to my immediate right (one hadn't drafted much; the other was drafting for the first time). Still, when you move in on Boros in pack 1, the hope is to get passed a guildmage or a paladin, but you should have a reasonably high probability of seeing one or more Wojek Halderdiers. I saw zero.
Though on the bright side I did pick up 2 Syndic of Tithes and 3 Skyknight Legionnaire. So I had a fine curve, with 16 creatures, a few combat tricks, and a few removal: a solid, but not super-exciting Boros deck.
The three rounds I won, I won 2-0, jumping out to fast starts and finishing with burst damage from the ogre or Boros Charm. In case it wasn't obvious, Legionnaires are awesome. I had enough evasive power to outrace just about any opponent. The single loss was a 2-1 match against Esper. I blew him out game 1, but was eaten alive game 2 by a Nightveil Specter suited up with Call of the Nightwing. My removal included a Mugging, a Massive Raid, and an Angelic Edict. Even if I had drawn the first two, they wouldn't have handled the Specter. My opponent was playing about half creatures and half removal, including 3 Devour Flesh, 2 Grisly Spectacle, 2 One Thousand Lashes, and a Killing Glare. I simply couldn't keep creatures on the board. The Specter actually stole a Plains, a Mountain, my Mugging, and a Skyknight Legionnaire. So yeah, I lost that game. Game 3 I sided out the Massive Raid and Holy Mantle, though I probably should have sided out all my tricks for my clunkier sideboard creatures. I kept a hand with a Skyjek and a Legionnaire, and only drew one more creature the entire game, an Assault Griffin. I had a situation where my opponent was at 14 life, with a Cloudfin Raptor with 1 counter and a Deathcult Rogue (both tapped) onboard, 2 cards in hand, and all his mana tapped. I had a Skyknight Legionnaire in play, and a Boros Charm, Aerial Maneuver, and Martial Glory in-hand. Attacking and using all my spells, I could get in 12 damage, putting him at 2. If he completely whiffed, I'd be able to attack to make him chump with the raptor next turn, then the Legionnaire would be lethal. I thought the probability of my pump spells being effective later was probably lower, since he had so much instant-speed removal, so I went all-in. In retrospect, I should have saved the Maneuver and put him to 4. That would have allowed me to potentially attack through a 2/3 Raptor or block and eat it on a subsequent turn, though that would have given him even more time. As it happened, he cast a Mindeye Drake the following turn, and that was that.
There are no good mono-red direct damage spells that target players in the format, which makes finishing your opponent off somewhat difficult. Everybody raves about Mugging being premium, but it is really just a shitty Shock. It's not instant-speed, which is huge, and even worse, it can't go to the face. Unless you rip a sweet rare that does direct damage, you're stuck pushing through lethal with creatures, and that can be a tall order sometimes.
Anyway, I again came out on the shitty side of equity. I was 3-1, but there were 3 other 3-1s ahead of me, nudging me out of the top 4 and into 5th place, where I only got a single pack for prize support. I believe 3rd and 4th both got 6 packs, so yes, that sucks balls. So I didn't rip any money cards, got the worse prize support possible for my record, but I did put in a solid performance. My match win percentage for Gatecrash is at 74.5%, which I think it just about as high as you can hope for, with a significant number of games being lost through mana issues. My highest win percentage for a format was M13, finishing the season with a 75.2%.
So hopefully I can get in a couple more practice Sealed events before Sunday and be positioned well for the tournament.