Black Magic – Drafting Besieged

Friday, March 4 – Sam Black has become unstoppable at Mirrodin Besieged drafts online – let him teach you the ins and outs of the format and what strategies work. Maybe you can stop by SCG Open: Edison and win one of our Draft Opens!

I should know better than to write a Limited article. No one cares. You’re here for decklists and, if you’re clever, metagame analysis, and you
probably have Extended PTQs to win.

Unfortunately, the only thing I know about writing is that you have to write what you know.

Right now, the only thing I know is MSS drafting.

Drafting won’t prepare me for any upcoming tournaments, so I should really be playing Standard for SCG Opens and GP Barcelona and Dallas, but drafting
has been too fun. This is likely because I’ve been winning more than ever before. I know this format, so if you just like drafting online, and you’re
trying to figure out the new set, this article’s for you.

In triple Scars of Mirrodin, I claimed not to have any real color preference, and I just wanted to take good cards and draft whatever was open. That’s
no longer the case. I suspect my preferences will balance out once people get better at this format, but for now, people consistently over-draft some
colors and under-draft others online, and that gives me strong leanings in my drafts.

Almost all of my losses involve playing black. I occasionally win with black, but the color almost never seems to be open. I suspect people are taking
Spread the Sickness and Morbid Plunder too highly, and as a result, I feel strongly motivated to stay out of the color. I also tend to avoid red, but
that’s because I don’t like the red cards in Mirrodin Besieged much, rather than because I think they’re over-drafted.

Blue and green are the colors I want to play. Blue is criminally under-drafted, and green is absurdly powerful.

I can take or leave white.

I go into most drafts assuming I’m U/G control until given a reason to do something else.

I’ve heard people casually mention that they don’t want to move into one of those colors if they’re already in the other one, as though blue and green
couldn’t mesh well, so I think most people don’t understand the archetype. I’d like to show you how these colors can work together.

My goal is to blank as many of my opponent’s cards as possible, and U/G is surprisingly good at doing that. I want as many creatures that are hard to
attack into as possible, and I’ll figure out actually winning the game as something of an afterthought.

These are the cards I expect to play (cards in parenthesis are cards I expect to side in frequently):

1 mana:

Flight Spellbomb

Horizon Spellbomb

Steel Sabotage

Twisted Image

(Ezuri’s Archers)

(Turn Aside)

(Withstand Death)

(Wing Puncture)

2 mana:

Viridian Emissary

Perilous Myr


Myr Sire


Wall of Tanglecord

Blight Mamba

Tel-Jilad Defiance

(Plated Seastrider)


3 mana:

Sylvok Replica

Neurok Replica


Rot Wolf

Palladium Myr

Rust Tick

Trinket Mage

Heavy Arbalest

Stoic Rebuttal

(Pistus Strike)

4 mana:


Darkslick Drake

Tangle Angler

Corpse Cur

Slice in Twain

Tel-Jilad Fallen

Trigon of Infestation


Fuel for the Cause

5 mana:

Sky-Eel School

Acid Web Spider

Melira’s Keepers


Tangle Hulk

Quicksilver Geyser

6 mana:

Fangren Marauder

Volition Reins

(Alpha Tyrranax)

7 mana:

(Scrapdiver Serpent)

(Quilled Slagwurm)

The list is a little weird in that in involves some uncommons I want and not others I really want, but these are cards I’m taking higher than
other people, and other people will also take Contagion Clasp, Corrupted Conscience, Viridian Corrupter, and Mortarpod very highly.

Pay attention to the cards that aren’t on this list. Most notably, mana Myr. I’ll play them, and sometimes my curve will work out such that I’ll
actively look for one, but look at my two-drops. I have a plan, and that plan involves Vivisection. I also don’t want cards like Blisterstick Shaman
and Arc Trail to be good against me. I have no reason to rush to get my expensive cards into play if my defense is cheap enough, and I’m in no hurry to

I don’t like equipment. My guys are good enough to stand on their own, and most of the pieces I might play are taken much earlier by other people.
Heavy Arbalest is the exception. U/G isn’t good at killing creatures, but this card is. It gives the deck exactly what it needs: an answer and a
finisher, and I take it over almost everything. Not only am I willing to first-pick it, it’s the card I hope to open.

The power level of this deck is outrageous, but people don’t take most of these cards highly because they don’t interact with a lot of common plans in
this format.

That’s Plan A, but it’s supported by knowledge of the rest of the format and a host of fallback plans, so let’s move into some more general advice,
like the best commons and uncommons in each color in order:

Mirrodin Besieged:

White Commons:

Divine Offering

Priests of Norn

Leonin Skyhunter

Blue Commons:

Quicksilver Geyser

Steel Sabotage


Black Commons:

Spread the Sickness

Morbid Plunder

Virulent Wound

Red Commons:

Burn the Impure

Ichor Wellspring

Blisterstick Shaman

Green Commons:


Fangren Marauder

Rot Wolf

Scars of Mirrodin:

White Commons:


Revoke Existence

Glint Hawk Idol

Blue Commons:

Sky-Eel School

Neurok Replica

Stoic Rebuttal

Black Commons:

Grasp of Darkness

Plague Stinger

Fume Spitter

Red Commons:

Galvanic Blast

Turn to Slag


Green Commons:


Sylvok Replica

Untamed Might


Divine Offering, Priests of Norn, and Leonin Skyhunter are all extremely close in power level, and which is best depends very strongly on the deck you
end up playing.

Quicksilver Geyser is always the best blue common. I thought Steel Sabotage was better at one point, but every time I expect Quicksilver Geyser to
underperform in a deck or in a specific game, it impresses me, usually by flat-out winning the game. I want at least one in any blue deck. Also, I
don’t mean to completely hate on Serum Raker. It’s a very powerful card, particularly in U/W Aggro; I just prefer to draft the Vivisection decks.

The black commons are very good, and Phyrexian Rager could easily make this list. I like the cards in the color, but I never see them, and the decks
never work out, as I mentioned earlier. I can only attribute this to people over-drafting black online at the moment.

Ichor Wellspring was included with the red commons as a bit of a joke, largely because I couldn’t stand putting Ogre Resister, a card I’ve never
played, on the list, but I didn’t know that any of the other commons were better than it. This is why I said above that I just think red is weak in
Mirrodin Besieged. Also, Ichor Wellspring is one of the best commons in the set, and I like it most in red, but it’s not entirely fair to put it on the
red list and not also first on the white list and probably second on the blue list.

I mentioned earlier that green is very powerful in Mirrodin Besieged, and I’m still shocked at how true it is. I think Blightwidow is the best common
in the set (though I expect substantial disagreement with that statement), and I think Fangren Marauder is definitely Top 5, possibly as high as
second. On top of that, there are decks where I’m happy to play every single one of green’s commons. Actually, there isn’t a single unplayable green
card in the set. I don’t know of another set where that’s been true of any color.

Other decks in the format:

I’m happy to draft blue as a control deck with any color, but I prefer green because green has the easiest time invalidating most of my opponent’s
creatures. Similarly, I’m willing to draft large green creatures with any other color (although I’m hesitant about G/W control).

I’m a big fan of good versions of U/W evasion, particularly if they have two Quicksilver Geysers. However, I feel like these decks are harder to get
because they need more specific cards. On the other hand, a lot of those cards, like Neurok Invisimancer and Kemba’s Skyguard, aren’t especially
desirable to other people.

Obviously G/B Infect is still absurd when you get all the pieces, but that’s hard to do, and people know how to play against it.

The one time I played G/W Infect, I won the draft very easily with nine infect creatures and eight combat tricks. Seize the Initiative was gold, as was
Abuna Acolyte, and many of the cards it wants most go very late, so I think it has real potential.

I like the R/B colored-creatures and removal deck in theory, but I never end up there because of my preferences early in the draft.

I don’t like most R/W aggro metalcraft/battle cry decks because they’re often completely cold to a Fangren Marauder. The biggest draw is Concussive
Bolt, which is almost assured to table and is absurd if the deck comes together, but that’s just not quite enough to make R/W worth drafting to me.

B/W attrition with or without poison looks pretty good in theory, but it needs powerful finishers (bombs) and removal, which means it needs a lot of
high picks. It makes great use of things like Morbid Plunder, Phyrexian Rager, and Priests of Norn, but those haven’t been available late enough for me
to want to be there in most of my drafts.

I drafted R/G Molder Beast/Furnace Celebration fairly often before Mirrodin Besieged came out, but Ichor Wellspring is really the only thing that makes
me want to play red early these days, and green doesn’t actively take advantage of Ichor Wellspring as much as white or blue.

I find monocolor aggro surprisingly impressive, and I’ve had success with that approach in every color (another rarity about this format). Almost every
time I end up monocolor, my deck turns out to be really good, possibly because it only happens when my color is wide open.

Sample drafts:

This is the last U/G deck I drafted. It 3-0ed:

These are the drafts from the 64-player Premier Event I won:

And the second draft:

I hope all that helps. I feel pretty confident in what I’ve been doing.

Anyway, despite not having played Constructed since Paris, I’ve been thinking about it some and will try to comment a little.

From what I can tell, Stoneforge Mystic is exploding in both Standard and Extended, and rightfully so. I’d strongly consider playing it in both formats
myself. I love what Gerry did in DC and expected big things as soon as he tweeted about what he was playing that morning. Now that people know about
Gerry’s deck, it’s not quite as good but still very reasonable.

I think Nature’s Claim is probably the most underplayed card in both formats at the moment, and I think RUG with sideboard Nature’s Claims could be
excellent in Standard right now.

I wouldn’t stop at Nature’s Claim for hate either, by the way. I like Manic Vandal in Vampire’s sideboard, for example.

In Extended, I’d like to look at U/G Omen with Nature’s Claims, U/W/(g) Stoneforge Mystic, and obviously Faeries.

Mirran Crusader with Stoneforge Mystic and Elspeth, Knight-Errant sounds very good to me. I also like the idea of getting Vengevines off an opponent’s
Sword of Body and Mind in an Extended Bant deck, but I don’t know if that’s a realistic plan.

Constructed looks interesting despite the current domination of Caw-Blade. I actually look forward to working on it as soon as I can pull myself away
from the drafts.

Thanks for reading,


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