Welcome back! This week we will be discussing the importance of preference while drafting.
So, let’s define preference in the context of a draft. Preference is when you prefer a certain color combination or strategy over others. Blind preference would be something like, “I always draft aggressive green decks.” Informed preference could be, “in Kaladesh block drafts I prefer green/x aggressive decks.” Informed preference will always be better than blind preference.
Many players will pretend personal preference does not matter during a draft. This is complete malarkey. I would use a much stronger word, but I try and keep it PG. Everyone has a preference. When you pick up your first pack, you will hope to open a certain card or cards that play well in your prefered color or archetype. To deny this is absolutely idiotic. HOWEVER, the existence of preference does not mean you should just follow it blindly if you want to maximize your win percentage.
Let’s begin by looking at a few places that preference comes into play during a draft. We will then follow that up by looking at how preference can be used to benefit our drafts but also when it damages our options. We will also spend some time understanding our preference and analyzing the rationale behind our preferences.
Preference is at its most prevalent during the first few pics of a draft. When you are looking at some number of cards which have equal or similar value in an objective sense, you will necessarily pick a card based on your preference. If you identify as a control player, you will likely prefer to be in some combination of U/X. You will often see a removal or card advantage spell as a great first pick during your draft.
During the first few pics of a draft is when your preference is the most damaging. Picks early tend to be relatively deep. If you focus too much on your ideal archetype, then you can easily slip into the idea that your archetype is open and pick cards that are narrow to that archetype. This preference will often dictate you pick a card that is spectacular in your particular preferred archetype, but not other archetypes. Next article, I will be discussing pick order with some detail. In particular, I will emphasize the idea of Staying Open during the early picks. An easy example of this is when you pick a good gold card because those are the colors you like to play. If EITHER of those colors become cut, you are very unlikely to play your first pick. This is why it is often better to pick the next best card that can be played in multiple archetypes.
The next way preference plays a part in your draft is mid to late picks. Early picks tend to be more versatile if you are following the idea of Staying Open. Mid and late picks tend to force you into particular archetypes and play styles. This is when preference is the MOST beneficial. If you prefer to play aggressive decks, then taking a mid to late pick card draw spell will not be ideal. It pushes you into playing a more long interactive game. If this is opposite of what you are more comfortable with playing, then you should be picking early aggressive creatures and the occasional trick or removal spell.
You must PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS. If you are a good aggressive player, then you should mind your preference and draft accordingly. This doesn’t mean you should never branch out, but it does mean if given the option during the draft, you draft aggressive decks.
I want to bring back up the importance of informed versus blind preference. If you sit down at a chaos draft, then blind preference is the only way to go. This is very unlikely to be the case. You will have some access to data prior to a draft. I recommend educating yourself as to the archetypes that are good in a particular format, and creating your informed preference accordingly. In Kaladesh, I have a very strong preference toward aggressive G/x draft decks. As such, I tend to value those cards accordingly. Many times, I will force this color because green is so deep here. This is when preference is key. If you know a particular color or archetype is strong enough to warrant multiple strong decks at one table, then having that preference be correspondingly as strong is clutch.
The second part of this article will expand on preference by linking it to the pick order and the aforementioned Stay Open axiom. Come back to learn more!
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