In my last article I went over the basic guidelines for drafting what I consider to be the most powerful archetype in MD5 Limited. This week I’m going more in depth with a step by step approach to drafting and then building one of these monsters.
The original plan was to have this walkthrough done by last Friday, but I only managed to do three Magic Online drafts in that time and I didn’t feel that any of them had enough difficult decisions that would translate into a good Walk With Me article. Most of the picks ended up being pretty self-explanatory and I wasn’t satisfied with that. So I decided to give myself more time, and after a few more days I’d amassed ten total sets of draft data and found a few worthy candidates to cover here in this column.
I chose the draft below because it gives a general idea where you pick certain cards for the archetype and also because the deck I ended up with was solid, but not extremely overpowered or uncharacteristic of what you should be looking for should you try to force this deck in a draft. Since I covered so many of my drafts I didn’t end up writing down any of the unplayable cards (ex: Contaminated Bond, Chimney Imp) in case you were wondering why some of the pack lists are shorter than they should be. The draft covered is from an 8-4 queue on Magic Online.
That’s enough babbling on my end though, so let’s get to the actual draft.
Oh, and as usual, I won’t be listing what I picked until the analysis part below each pack, so I want to encourage you to try and make your own choices before reading over what I actually did.
Iron Myr, Chromatic Sphere, Somber Hoverguard, Predator’s Strike, Skeleton Shard, Thirst for Knowledge, Barter in Blood, Tower of Champions, Nim Shrieker, Soldier Replica
The opening pack of the draft contains quite a few solid picks for the 5c strategy.
Let’s start with the Skeleton Shard, which I’ve ran quite a few times in this deck. It has always proven solid, since you usually end up with some janky artifact guys like Cobalt Golem, Arcbound Bruiser, and Thermal Navigator and recurring them can easily swing the tide of a game. Not to mention if you grab a Bottle Gnomes. Thirst for Knowledge is a powerful card drawer especially in decks with a number of cheap artifacts and Artifact Lands.
The pick here for the archetype we’re trying to draft though has to be Somber Hoverguard, simply because it’s a cheap evasion creature that we really need, and it is easily powered out by Myr, Artifact Lands, and Spellbombs. I think you could make a good case for the Skeleton Shard simply because I usually end up with the Bruiser (insert random modular creature) + Navigator combo and recurring that combo is game over almost instantly.
Honestly though, like I said in the pick orders in my last article, there is very little I’ll take over a Hoverguard or Neurok Spy, as they are essential to the base of the deck. Thirst for Knowledge is weaker than the Hoverguard since we’re already planning on grabbing a bunch of removal spells to splash and we’d rather have a top notch creature here than a card drawer. Remember, the idea is to get a solid base of creatures and then most of the spells should be removal if possible.
Another nice thing about this pack is that along with all of the early picks like Barter in Blood, Soldier Replica, and Predator’s Strike, there is also a Chromatic Sphere and Iron Myr and I could possibly get the Sphere on the way back around if I’m lucky.
Bonesplitter, Neurok Spy, Vulshok Gauntlets, Ancient Den, Somber Hoverguard, Aether Spellbomb, Necrogen Spellbomb, Journey of Discovery, Taj-Nar Swordsmith, Viridian Shaman, Golem-Skin Gauntlets
Before you ask, the guy who opened this pack took the rare (so you don’t think I accidentally forgot to list it).
Could this pack possibly get any stronger? Almost every card is at least playable, and most of them are pretty high picks to boot. Somehow the pack contains both Spy and Hoverguard and we’re not going to be able to take either of them! Un friggin’ real.
Obviously Viridian Shaman gets the nod here, as it’s a bomb. I hope I don’t have to explain why Flametongue on steroids is good in this format.
The really annoying thing about this pack is that there is a Spy, Hoverguard, and Aether Spellbomb, all of which will put people behind us into Blue and take away some of our Darksteel picks. At least we’re playing 5c though, so they can’t cut us off completely.
Clockwork Condor, Tel-Jilad Archers, Ancient Den, Elf Replica, Leaden Myr, Journey of Discovery, Goblin Dirigible, Thirst for Knowledge, Myr Incubator
And now for something completely different…
Okay, maybe not completely, but definitely different.
This pack is a stark contrast to the previous one, with far less playables. That’s fine for us though, as I already emphasized in the base article how important and powerful Tel-Jilad Archers is in this archetype. And here again we are taking a top notch creature over the powerful card drawing presented by Thirst for Knowledge. Write this down kiddies, it’s gonna be on the test.
Consume Spirit, Cobalt Golem, Silver Myr, Tel-Jilad Exile, Alpha Myr, Auriok Transfixer, Mirror Golem, Fireshrieker, Rustspore Ram
Remember back to the days of MMM draft?
Mirror Golem was damned near close to being a bomb wasn’t he? I remember when I covered a draft that Mike Turian did at CMU in that format where he took Mirror Golem over Leonin Abunas and we argued for weeks about it. While I still don’t think it was correct, Mike is without a doubt one of the best Limited players the game will ever see and I do respect his opinion.
Honestly though, Mirror Golem’s stock has dropped significantly with the introduction of the last two sets of the block since he’s just easier to stop now. Think about it, you’ve got Stasis Cocoon, Echoing Ruin, and tons of other answers out there. I still think he’s a solid pick, but he’s nowhere near the level he was when Mirrodin first came out.
In fact, his value has dropped so much that I didn’t hesitate to take Silver Myr over him in this booster. The pack has a few other decent cards that are worth talking about though. Fireshrieker has dropped to almost unplayable in my opinion as five mana is way too much to pay unless you’re a dedicated Green deck with a good amount of tramplers. Rusty Ram is still holding strong, killing Longbows and Bolas, and I’d definitely pick him up if this were around 7th pick or so. And obviously Consume Spirit isn’t as good anymore since the release of Fifth Dawn, simply because mono or near mono-black is no longer that great of a draft option with only one Mirrodin pack to pick up multiple”Drains.”
Thoughtcast, Blinding Beam, Leonin Scimitar, Nim Lasher, Sunbeam Spellbomb, Goblin War-Wagon, Myr Enforcer, Flayed Nim
What in the world is Blinding Beam still doing in this pack.
Ah, I’m so glad the 8-4 queues are back on MTGO. The prize payout is far better than 4322 while you also get a good amount of mediocre or bad players that are willing to play for”higher stakes” if you will. No way are you getting Blinding Beam 5th pick in one of the 9-5 drafts that used to be in the now extinct 1700 room.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I took Beam here and none of the other cards even come close to it in power level, not even the Myr Enforcer that is also still lingering around. Another thing is that I used to play Leonin Scimitar somewhat regularly, and now I can’t remember the last time it made the cut in one of my decks. It’s only real purpose would be in a White deck with Skyhunter Cubs and Leonin Den-Guards, or as a last-ditch effort Trinket Mage target, It’s gone wayyy downhill. Morningstar is such an upgrade on the sword it’s unbelievable.
Gold Myr, Predator’s Strike, Seat of the Synod, Neurok Hoversail, Extraplanar Lens, Trolls of Tel-Jilad, Nim Lasher, Lifespark Spellbomb
Hmm, Trolls of Tel-Jilad eh?
This pack is still pretty potent for being a 6th pick, with a Myr, Strike, Seat, and Trolls all picking up the rear. While I am leaning towards a more U/G based build this time, I still would rather have the Gold Myr here than a big Green fatty. Not only is his regeneration ability going to lose some of its effectiveness because we’re drafting 5c, but the fact of the matter is that you can always pick up playable fatties with your late picks. Things like Tyrannax, Sawtooth Thresher, and even Arcbound Fiend are all fine additions to the top of your manacurve if you need some beef.
My rule is that I always take the fixer or powerful spell over a big creature because there are enough big, mediocre guys in this block that you can pick up some late to round out your curve. The five-drop slot is especially easy to fill with things like Anodet Lurker, Wanderguard Sentry, etc. Gold Myr is clearly the pick here as it compliments our Blinding Beam as well as accelerating the deck and powering Sunburst. Another thing that I should mention is that you should always take off-color Myr over on-color ones in this deck since they power Sunburst and help your splashes. You’ll be running plenty of land in your main colors and you want to make sure that you can distribute the mana well across all four or five colors that make up your deck.
Disciple of the Vault, Raise the Alarm, Vault of Whispers, Steel Wall, Turn to Dust, Taj-Nar Swordsmith, Golem-Skin Gauntlets
Not bad, not bad.
This pack has a 2nd Swordsmith, so somebody is probably piecing together a strong White deck. For our deck though, we’re more than happy to pick up the Vault of Whispers to help out our Hoverguard and whatever we may get later in the draft. If I haven’t said it enough yet, Artifact Lands are extremely powerful in this deck.
Wail of the Nim, Alpha Myr, Tree of Tales, Titanium Golem, Neurok Hoversail, Tel-Jilad Exile
While most people would take the Exile here since we do have a number of good Green cards, it would certainly be the incorrect pick. Getting the second Artifact Land in Tree of Tales is amazing here and the deck is looking very solid.
On the way back around I pick up a Soldier Replica, Journey of Discovery, and also a late Cobalt Golem which will definitely make the cut.
Loxodon Mystic, Essence Drain, Spire Golem, Quicksilver Behemoth, Tangle Golem, Darksteel Ingot, Auriok Glaivemaster, Skullclamp, Murderous Spoils, Roaring Slagwurm
Wow, what a decision this pack presents.
While I’m definitely a huge fan of Skullclamp, I really don’t think the powerful card meshes that well with the stuff we’ve picked up in Mirrodin. The only X/1’s we’ve got so far are the two Myr, and we’re not going to be eager to Clamp them away early in the game.
The pack provides other options in the way of Essence Drain, Tangle Golem, Spire Golem, Quicksilver Behemoth, and of course, Murderous Spoils. While all of the commons are worthy of being first picked, I’m going to have to go with the Spoils here, since it provides such a game-swinging effect. The nice thing is that I’ve got a Vault of Whispers to help support it since I also want to power out my Affinity cards with the Artifact Land, and I think taking the powerful removal spell is just better here since we don’t have to focus our deck around the Skullclamp then and take X/1’s over better cards. The real power of Clamp in Limited is to use it a few times early and get a huge jump on your opponent in card quantity. From there it’s pretty easy to run him over. Doing this requires drafting a large number of guys that are able to be cashed in for two cards, and I think that will hinder our drafting strategy far too much. Despite all of the other good cards in the pack, I’m definitely going with the Spoils here.
Vulshok Morningstar, Arcbound Worker, Echoing Decay, Pteron Ghost, Vedalken Engineer, Darksteel Citadel, Spincrusher, Echoing Courage, Soulscour
The guy feeding me here took an Uncommon for his first pick and left me with a decision between Engineer, Decay, and Morningstar.
Since I don’t have that many artifacts yet, I’m going to pass on the Engineer for now and look closer at the Morningstar and Decay. I just picked a nice Murderous Spoils that the Decay will complement very well, and if you look over our creature base the Morningstar is only mildly effective. It does help power out the Hoverguard, and boosts our Myr in the late game, but I’d rather have another Black removal spell here so that I can play more Black lands and solidify that splash. Not to mention that Decay is simply a better card than the equipment.
Razor Golem, Quicksilver Behemoth, Arcbound Hybrid, Tel-Jilad Wolf, Arcbound Stinger, Death-Mask Duplicant, Oxidize, Soulscour
Jeez, another Behemoth. Hopefully the first one will make the lap because I’d really like one for this deck.
Anyway, yeah, apparently Oxidize got shipped twice so I think I’m gonna have to take it.
Darksteel Ingot, Spire Golem, Tel-Jilad Wolf, Grimclaw Bats, Drill-Skimmer, Scavenging Scarab, Unforge
Helloo Spire Golem.
From what people were saying in the chat window, this pack was absolutely nuts, so I can understand how the Golem is still in here. He’s still a powerful man even considering that we aren’t just base Blue this time, but more of a dual colored U/G with a splash of the other two or maybe three colors. Spire Golem will still usually be a four-drop though, which is more than acceptable.
Tangle Golem, Tel-Jilad Outrider, Drill-Skimmer, Mirrodin’s Core, Voltaic Construct
Here we have an interesting decision. While I don’t usually want Tangle Golems in this deck since the most common build is base U or U/R, this time I was actually hoping to pick up one or two of the fatties. However, if we take this one we’ll be passing up one of the best manafixers the deck can ask for in Mirrodin’s Core.
I debated over this one for almost the entire length of time allowed before finally following my rule and shipping the fatty in favor of the fixer. I think it was correct though as it shouldn’t be hard to grab a Tyrannax or something in Fifth Dawn to fill that slot.
Quicksilver Behemoth, Tangle Spider, Darksteel Pendant, Arcane Spyglass, Tel-Jilad Wolf
Yes! Another Behemoth!
I’m certainly taking this one, and if another tables that will more than make up for having to pass the Tangle Golem last pick. My view on Tangle Spider is that it’s slightly playable, but I really don’t like to run it unless I have no way of stopping fliers as only an idiot would attack into it.
Pteron Ghost, Tanglewalker, Carry Away, Darksteel Reactor
Ooo, Reactor.. Unfortunately I have no Coretapper to attempt to run it, and that would also require opening Energy Chamber. But yeah, Tanglewalker is excellent for a 7th pick and will jump right into the maindeck.
Arcbound Stinger, Echoing Truth, Wirefly Hive, Arcane Spyglass
I looove Arcbound Stinger by the way. It’s by far the best of the Arcbound guys, with Worker and Bruiser coming in a close second.
On the way back I picked up a Roaring Slagwurm, Drill-Skimmer, and not much else. Unfortunately no Behemoths tabled. Frown.
So Darksteel went pretty well for the deck as I picked up a couple of removal spells, some more solid creatures, and I’m all set in my U/G splash W/B build.
Thermal Navigator, Leonin Squire, Tyrannax, Goblin Brawler, Cackling Imp, Fill with Fright, Healer’s Headdress, Skyhunter Skirmisher, Etched Oracle, Magma Giant
Hey, there’s the Tyrannax (commonly known as T-REX) that I was looking for.
But what about Etched Oracle?
Yeah, 4/4 that sac’s to draw three cards for one mana, where do I sign up?
The rest of the pack is solid, if unamazing, and I don’t really have a solid opinion on Magma Giant yet, as I’m always drafting this deck and I haven’t had the chance to try him out yet. Fill with Fright though is excellent and still underrated.
Rain of Rust, Myr Quadropod, Fleshgrafter, Healer’s Headdress, Stasis Cocoon, Krark-Clan Ironworks, Steelshaper’s Gift, Eternal Witness, Artificer’s Intuition
Unfortunately I have another easy pick here, and not much to talk about since Witness is just stupid. Not much else in the pack though besides the Cocoon, so I won’t be seeing anything on the way back.
Serum Visions, Wayfarer’s Bauble, Thought Courier, Blind Creeper, Pentad Prism, Tangle Asp, Tyrannax
Some goodies here for us in the form of Visions, Bauble, Prism, and of course T-REX.
Prism isn’t really that good in our deck right now, as the only thing it really helps is the Oracle and we should have a pretty solid manabase to get him out early anyway. While I really like Serum Visions, I like Wayfarer’s Bauble even more and it is invaluable in this archetype. Bauble is the pick for sure.
Skyreach Manta, Condescend, Fill with Fright, Lose Hope, Horned Helm, Thermal Navigator
How lucky, a Manta this late.
I wasn’t really expecting this, but it’s certainly a welcome addition. I usually like splashing a Fill with Fright too if I have some other Black splash cards (like in this case), and there are a number of Fills going around so hopefully one makes its way back to me.
Condescend, Goblin Brawler, Tangle Asp, Thought Courier, Anodet Lurker, Opaline Bracers, Loxodon Stalwart, Endless Whispers
Here we have a tricky pick between Thought Courier and Condescend.
Since I already have the two Myr, Stinger, Wayfarer’s Bauble activation cost, and Echoing Decay, it doesn’t seem like the Courier will be getting into play on turn two often enough since I’d rather play a Myr or use the Bauble almost every time. With that in mind, we don’t really have a lot of spells at the top of the manacurve yet and Condescend is fine in both the early and late game. My pick is the best Power Sink ever.
Sylvok Explorer, Stand Firm, Advanced Hoverguard, Serum Visions, Neurok Stealthsuit, Synod Centurion
Another close call here between Sylvok Explorer, Synod Centurion (who shouldn’t be here this late), and Serum Visions.
While I’d normally want the Explorer in one of these decks, I already have Mirrodin’s Core, 2 Myr, and Wayfarer’s Bauble to smooth my mana, and I have enough cheap artifacts and the two Artifact Lands to support the Centurion. 4/4 for four mana is a huge bargain and I think it’s right to take it over the fixer and the Visions. If I had more solid creatures in the mid-range I’d probably end up taking the Visions here since the effect it creates is extremely useful for the mere cost of one mana, but in this deck I need the guy.
Conjurer’s Bauble, Opaline Bracers, Myr Servitor, Feedback Bolt, Ferropede
Now that we’re down to the bare scraps, it’s time to pick up a Conjurer’s Bauble to thin the deck and also help out with Affinity guys. A note on Ferropede also, it’s a solid creature for the cost and it just gets better if your opponent has a decent amount of things that use counters (and there are plenty in the format). I love picking off Arcbound Stingers and Workers with this guy and if you have something like Cranial Plating or Mask of Memory he’s just absurd. We have nothing like that in this deck and so we’re better off with the Bauble.
Lose Hope, Suntouched Myr, Thermal Navigator, Arachnoid
Suntouched Myr should be at full power on a regular basis in our deck, and he also helps to fill out the creature curve. Normally I like to have a Thermal Navigator as they’re good with Modular and Equipment, but we really have nothing that he works well with in this deck.
On the way back around I picked up a Tyrannax (told ya I’d get one.), Fill with Fright, and a Krark Clan Iron-Works just in case I felt like building a combo deck. (Whatever you say, Nick)
After a few cuts the final deck in curve form looked like this:
Fill with Fright
Tree of Tales
Vault of Whispers
The deck ended up extremely solid and I didn’t lose a single game on my way to taking down the draft. The deck basically accelerated into a good creature and then used it’s efficient removal to clear the way. A few of my games got into semi-stalemates where Blinding Beam proved invaluable and Murderous Spoils broke one of them wide open.
Hopefully you have a better idea now how to draft this archetype and even though this one was more of a dual color base, the usual outcome is more concentrated in Blue. Feel free to email me or post in the forums if there’s anything further you’d like me to cover on this archetype.
Soooooo & ThatsGameBoys on MODO