Drafting Digest: Black Thumb

Masters 25 remains an unruly Draft format, and Ryan Saxe is here to pull the weeds! But after a tough first pick between Murder and Cultivate, will he find his choice has led him down a dark path?

Now that Masters 25 has been out for a while, some of the quirky decks are coming out.

While most good decks in this format fall under the category of either hyper-aggressive or multicolor midrange/control, there are plenty of other decks out there. Most of you are probably aware of the B/R sacrifice deck that uses Zulaport Cutthroat, Phyrexian Ghoul, and Act of Treason, but there are actually more variants of this deck.

You can pair Act of Treason with Lunar Mantle and Cloudshift to either sacrifice the card you steal or even keep it forever! You can also pair Zulaport Cutthroat and Phyrexian Ghoul with green token-makers like Broodhatch Nantuko and one-shot your opponent with Dirge of Dread.

There’s so much to do, and the format is a blast. What will this draft have in store?

Pack 1, Pick 1

The Pack:

The Pick:

I love Mesmeric Fiend, but it just hasn’t performed as well as I would have hoped. Don’t get me wrong, the card is fine, but it’s not a card I’m looking to first-pick. The 1/1 body dies too easily, and it can rarely ever attack or block. You can do some cute things with sacrifice effects and cards like Unearth, but all in all, I’d rather start my draft off with something more potent.

Cultivate is a great card in this format, but I’m not as high on it as I once was. Multicolor green decks can be powerful, but given the average speed of the aggressive decks, it’s not uncommon to just die after you cast Cultivate on Turn 3. I would rather take the powerful late-game bombs and then pick up a Cultivate. And it’s a common, so you’ll usually see more.

This leaves Murder and the rare. Brion Stoutarm is a good Magic card, but it’s not as absurd as it looks. Yes, it has a powerful ability and is substantially above-rate for a four-drop, but plenty of commons outright kill it. I would rather start off the draft with a solid card in what I perceive as the best color. So I’m taking Murder here.

Pack 1, Pick 6

The Picks So Far:

This is a pretty fun way to start off a draft. I’m sure I’ll be black, but what other color will I pair with it? Or maybe I’ll end up nearly monoblack with a bunch of Prophetic Prisms and splash whatever my heart desires. Let’s see if this pack provides some direction!

The Pack:

The Pick:

Neither Diabolic Edict nor Nezumi Cutthroat is really in consideration for me, but they are the black cards in this pack, so I think it’s important to illustrate why.

First off, Diabolic Edict is rarely a good card in Limited. Not that it’s unplayable by any stretch, but if you don’t have it in your opening hand, it can end up doing nothing. And even in your opening hand, it pretty much just trades. Now, there are situations where the card will eat a six-drop, but those don’t come up as often as you would think. So if this was your pick, consider getting out of the habit of evaluating cards by their best-case scenario.

Nezumi Cutthroat also doesn’t make much sense here. If you look at this draft so far, it’s very likely that I will end up in a controlling deck, which probably won’t want Nezumi Cutthroat. It can be a good sideboard card for those decks, and there’s still a chance I end up in black aggro, but I just don’t think it’s worth taking over either Perilous Myr or Sift.

I think this pick completely comes down to preferences. In my experience in this format so far, I would take Perilous Myr. I think it’s important to have cards that really throw a wrench into the aggro works. And given that I have Hell’s Caretaker and Zulaport Cutthroat, it’s likely that I’ll be able to abuse the death trigger on Perilous Myr. However, if you’re of the opinion that aggro decks aren’t that great or common in this format, then I could definitely see taking the Sift as a powerful card-advantage engine!