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Posted June 1, 2015 by Scott Gerhardt in Card Games

In Defense of Pascal Maynard

So I woke up this morning with a friend saying “Do you wanna hear the scuttlebutt from GP-Vegas?”  Considering I had gotten home from Vegas at 5am and was trying to sleep, no, I didn’t, but that didn’t stop them from telling me.  “Pascal Maynard drafted a Foil Tarmogoyf in Top 8 and it’s all the scandal on the internet”  I went onto Twitter to indeed see people crucifying him for this pick, how it cost him Worlds, and how others “had lost all respect for him”.  For those people I have one simple thing to say:

Get over yourself.

People want to be all self-righteous about the pick, about how value drafting in the Top 8 of a GP is absolutely absurd and how he doesn’t deserve to go to Worlds now.  Now while my own performance at the tournament certainly wasn’t even close to as noteworthy (10-5 for Top 200 and $200, same tournament as Maynard) I’m going to give you plenty of points that will fairly well shoot down all of that crap.

First of all, let’s look at the obvious point:  Foil Tarmogoyfs are anywhere between about $230 (what I saw dealers at that GP buying them for) to $350 (an average price I see dealers selling them f0r). While it’s definitely not the difference between $1,000 and $4,000 or 4 Pro Points and 8 Pro Points, it’s definitely no small amount of money, and it’s a guaranteed sure thing.  You don’t lose it if you get mana screwed.  It doesn’t go away because your opponent got their Karn down and you just couldn’t deal with it.  There are not a lot of “sure things” with Magic, but drafting that Goyf was one of them.

Now, let’s look at the value in the deck.  It seems clear that Goyf aside, Burst Lightning was the right pick.  Agreed, Burst Lightning would have made his deck better, but really. how much better?  In virtually every draft, you’re cutting playables before you hit your final deck.  Cards Pascal drafted but did not play include a 2nd Mighty Leap, Goblin War Paints, and Raise the Alarm, any of which could have been played in his deck and nobody would have really said anything about it.  So, since we’re full up on playables, it stands to reason that Burst Lightning would take the place of the 24th card in his deck.  Mighty Leap, Brute Force or  Flayer Husk I think are all reasonable candidates for what that cut would have been.  Given his deck, how much better was Burst Lightning over those cards?  If the Goyf had not been there, and it had been Burst Lightning vs any of those 3, how bad is the internet crucifying him now?  Does having the Burst Lightning really help enough to justify losing one of those more synergistic cards?  On a very small scale, yes, but the difference really, really close to negligible.  Now, had there been something like a Sunforger in the deck and he took the Goyf, then that might be a different scenario as that would be a card that would be a significant upgrade for the deck.  Pascal has been around this game long enough and has drafted enough times that he knew everything I said above and made the pick accordingly.

Next, let’s also consider this – if Pascal passes the Goyf, someone else ends up with it.  I don’t know who between Stark, Lewis, Maginnis, and Jetha were to Pascal’s right.  It would have likely found a place in Stark’s deck over the Spider or a Manta.  For Lewis it wouldn’t have been any good in his U/W deck.  McGinnis’s R/B deck wouldn’t have used it either.  Jetha’s deck could have shed his Spider, Strider, or Affliction to make his deck better.  Either way, assuming “purity” this ends up in a Finalist, or possibly Semifinalist’s matchup’s deck (I think it’s fair to say it would not be in the pack for pick five).  Someone was forced to put in their own 24th card rather than get to play the Goyf.  And yes, I know Goyf isn’t nearly the card in limited it is in constructed – I drafted one in a green deck this weekend and didn’t play it, but that deck also was good enough that Goyf wouldn’t have fit well, unlike the examples above. If you’re in a R/W rush strategy, giving your opponent a 2 CC drop that can potentially slow you way down or grind your aggressive strategy to a halt isn’t the worst pick ever.

In the end, I just think people are choosing to look at this pick in a bubble rather than consider the whole picture here.  Pascal is a very bright guy and an obviously brilliant Magic player.  If he looked at that pick and decided the Goyf was the right pick, I can tell you he considered everything above and determined it was the right pick.  I can tell you that I certainly agree with it.  Obviously no one faults him if he takes the Burst Lightning, but when you look at everything, you shouldn’t fault him for taking the Goyf either.

Update:  Holy shit!  This eBay Auction

Scott Gerhardt

Scott has....thoughts. They can be about this, that, or just about anything. Seldom at a loss for words, you can find his thoughts chronicled here