Draft Digest: Sever, Souls, Or Shrine?

Ryan Saxe gives an update on whether aggro works in Modern Masters 2017 Draft and serves up two fresh picks for you to ponder!

Before I get into the actual draft today, I want to talk about the question I asked last time: “Is aggro good?” And the answer is that it can be, but it’s more complicated than I expected given the staying power and tempo connected to the non-aggro decks. Hence why I want to spend some time on this. Let’s take a look at a B/R aggro deck I drafted:

Initially, I was pretty happy with this deck: multiple copies of every key card, a ton of hyper-aggressive two-drops, the best Threaten I have ever seen in Limited. But the deck didn’t play well; I went 0-3. That’s right: I got destroyed and it wasn’t close.

I didn’t even get unlucky (although, I didn’t get lucky either). I thought the deck was good because it was an aggro deck that seemed to have a lot of staying power with the aristocrat-style cards like Falkenrath Noble. The problem was that many of the cards trade poorly, and there are too many value creatures in this format. A turn 2 Spike Jester just doesn’t get there. How in the world am I supposed to beat a Penumbra Spider? (I actually did win a game by stealing and sacrificing my opponent’s Penumbra Spider, but that’s about it.)

In fact, so many cards line up well against Spike Jester to the point where I don’t know if I will ever be happy to put the card in my deck. If I were to draft a B/R deck again, I would definitely lean away from hyper-aggression and try and build a version with more value-style cards. For more information on this specific archetype, check out Tom Ross’s recent Premium article.

From playing with and against plenty of aggro decks, I learned an important fact about how they lose (other than just Lone Missionary…good luck beating that card). If a turn 4 Mist Raven can buy enough time, you’re not winning that game. You need to build your deck with this in mind. This means you have to try your best to get as much on the battlefield as possible. I have liked R/G bloodrush way more than I expected. If I am drafting an aggro deck, I want to overload on two-drops so that I can consistently curve two-drop into three-drop into double two-drop. Burning-Tree Emissary has severely overperformed for this reason.

Okay, enough knowledge for the day. Time to crack a pack!

Pack 1, Pick 1

The Pack:

The Pick:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: in these formats you pick fixing highly, but not more highly than overtly powerful cards. I think both Sever the Bloodline and Lingering Souls are powerful enough to disregard the Jungle Shrine here. But the pick between them is pretty close (at this point in the format, that is; I expect to eventually know for certain).

Lingering Souls is what I currently have as the best uncommon. The percentage of games I win when I cast Lingering Souls is well over 90%. It’s easily splashed in any white or black deck, so it’s not even much of a commitment. Lingering Souls is also spectacular when ahead, behind, or at parity, which is all you want in a card! There really isn’t much else to say. The card is great, so Sever the Bloodline has some good competition.

Sever the Bloodline is also a very good Magic card: a solid two-for-one, good flood-insurance, and more than just removal in this Limited format. What you might not realize is that there is a much higher chance that your opponent has multiples of a card in Masters Limited formats. This is because of the linearity of archetypes. If you end up in the right lane in your draft, you get last-pick playables for your deck, which significantly increases the probability of multiples. There are also numerous cards that make tokens in MM3. Considering this, how much better does Sever the Bloodline get? You see, if you were to remove that line of text, this pick would trivially be Lingering Souls, in my opinion.

Overall, I just like being proactive, even in my control decks, I want to set the pace of the game with cards like Mist Raven, rather than continually respond to my opponent. The pick is close, but I would rather have a consistent, proactive, card like Lingering Souls than a slightly-less-consistent, reactive card like Sever the Bloodline. So I’m taking Lingering Souls.

Pack 1, Pick 2

The Picks So Far:

The Pack:

The Pick:

I’m expecting almost all of you to take Mist Raven here, but that’s not my pick. I’m taking Dinrova Horror. Lingering Souls as a first pick certainly influenced this, but even without considering that, I think the pick would be Dinrova Horror. In fact, I’m starting to think Dinrova Horror is the best common.

Comparing the two cards, Mist Raven is smaller, but also cheaper and evasive. The enters-the-battlefield effects are comparable, but the Horror’s is notably more powerful. There is also a shortage of top-end threats in this format and a bunch of 3/3 creatures, which makes the body on Dinrova Horror quite relevant. And the last, and most niche, piece of information that lets the Horror take the cake is that it’s easier to cast!

That’s right, it’s a gold card, but it’s definitely easier to cast. I mentioned this in my last articlewhen talking about Putrefy, but I’ll mention it again: there is so much fixing in this set that it is easier to play gold cards than cards with double mana symbols. The UU cost in Mist Raven is a real downside, and although it doesn’t really make the card much worse, it does give Dinrova Horror an edge.

Although it’s unintuitive, Dinrova Horror is the real MVP of the commons in Modern Masters 2017. I kind of wanted to keep this to myself so I can continue to get the card seventh-pick online, but I’m not that selfish! So go ahead, first-pick this value threat. Pair it with some copies of Momentary Blink. I promise you won’t be disappointed.