Monday, 29 July 2013

Can You Draft Angelic Accord?

Angelic Accord is not nearly so exciting a card as Strionic Resonator, but if you can get it to work in a draft then you are likely winning that game.  Just one angel token is usually pretty good news.  Two makes it hard to win for your opponent.  Three pretty much ruins the game.

A quick review of how the card actually works.  It checks the amount of life you gained this turn, not the difference between your life at the start and end of the turn.  If you gain four life and lost four life in the same turn then you get an angel.  Also, the card triggers once and makes up to one angel - gaining twenty life in a single turn still only gets one.

We can do a similar calculation as we did with the resonator.  In order to make the accord worth playing you probably need at the very least seven cards that work with it.  Unlike the resonator, this is going to be very hard to do because there are very few commons that support it.  Also unlike the resonator, if you can get one trigger at any point in the game there is a good chance the card was worth playing.  Even using two cards to get one angel is usually going to be profitable in limited.

But how are you getting your four life?

Soulmender, Child of Night, Dawnstrike Paladin, Divine Favour and Verdant Haven all get you part of the way there, but combining two or more of these cards to add to four is not going to happen often.  I'd probably leave Soulmender on the sidelines in any event and I wouldn't want Verdant Haven unless I could actually use the accelerant and fixing.

I'm not going to say much about Brindle Boar.  It's not quite a Gray Ogre, but it's not a whole lot better unless the accord hits the table.  Obviously you'd rather not play these if you can avoid it, though if you manage to get multiple accords then it might be worth it.

Solemn Offering gets you four life without costing you a card, but only if your opponent has something to target with it.  There is only one common artifact in the set and half the uncommon artifacts are quite weak, so I wouldn't count on having one of those to destroy.  There are quite a few very nice enchantments, including both of blue's removal spells and pacifism.  Still, I don't think that main decking this card is a good idea because the last thing you want is having both and accord and an offering and having both be useless.

Mark of the Vampire is the real winner at common.  With a little bit of ris-+k you can turn your early drop into a turn five threat plus an angel.  This card can also be powerful when you don't have the accord down.  Unfortunately it is vulnerable to all the things auras are vulnerable to.

At Uncommon we have several cards that can get us an angel into play.

Bubbling Cauldron plus accord is obviously what you are really hoping to get.  That combo turns all of your creatures into 4/4 angels, one turn at a time, and even let's you turn your angels into more angels if some nasty fate would otherwise befall them.  The angel production dries up a bit after that, though.  Congregate
The accord says angels are drawn to benevolence,
but it seems a lot more like they are drawn to live sacrifice.
and Elixir of Immortality would both make one angel, but are just plain lifegain when you don't have the accord.  Corrupt is a high quality card that you'd almost surely play in black/white but is not guaranteed to spit out the angel.  Stonehorn Chanter gets you at least one angel but at the cost of twelve mana.  Staffs could technically trigger the accord, but it would be very hard to do with one, and they are very terrible, so putting them in your deck is probably a mistake.

You can't start a draft by planning to get any particular rare, but you might choose to pick up an accord after getting a rare that will make it work.

Trading Post is even better than Bubbling Cauldron at turning Accord on.  Drawing a 4/4 angel every turn is hard to beat.  Syphon Sliver will generally be able to get you the four life you need, even if only once or twice.  Archangel of Thune will start sprouting angel friends on it's second hit, but that's almost certainly what we call "winning more."  Finally, Path of Bravery could get you four life in one turn, but it requires a lot of setup.

It's obvious that the Angelic Accord deck is going to be there in some draft and that if someone picks it up they are going to clean house with it.  But does chasing the deck make any sense when you start a draft and see it in your opening pack?

Well, let's say you see an accord and not a cauldron pick one.  Let's also say you can usually pick up cauldron sixth unless someone has a witch - and that the times when it goes seventh or eighth and the times when it goes fourth or fifth cancel out somehow.  That gives you right about a 50% chance to get a cauldron to go with your accord.  Once you have both in your deck you have about a 7% chance to draw them both by the eleventh card in your deck.  If you draw both you presumably have a high chance to win the game, but it's not a lock.  You can likely augment this with a Mark of the Vampire or two.  Even still, in games where you draw the accord you are looking at a very significant chance of it doing nothing.

Now if you could get two cauldrons and two accords then you would be much better off.  You have a 37% chance of getting the combo in those first eleven cards - and getting multiples of one certainly doesn't hurt, especially multiple accords.  There is also about a 13% chance that you'll draw two of one and none of the other.  That's not quite a bad as drawing both is good, but it's bad.

But the odds of those being in the draft and you getting them are small, probably around 16% if you open an accord or 22% if you open and aggressively pick a cauldron.  For the chance to put together a combo that will win you one in three games - and possibly lose you one in ten - it's a legitimate question as to whether that's worth giving up your first pick for a clear non-first-pick card.

Generally I think the accord deck is there on the fringe and could come together, but my hopes that it will work were severely stifled on the weekend while watching Louis Scott-Vargas and Greg Hatch stream an all pro Magic 2014 draft.  In the chat there was a discussion about the card and the consensus seemed to be that you could make it work.

One thing that is absolutely fatal to this strategy is if anyone else thinks it can work.

So I'd say until enthusiasm about the card is completely killed off by a string of failures on the part of those who like it, there is no point in even trying to go this route.  When you open an accord you should be able to draft your first eight cards keeping it open and then pick it up ninth if it looks like you are going to be able to use it.  If it is getting picked up on that trip around the table then there was no hope.  Someone else at your table thinks that card is good, which means it is bad, bad, bad.

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