Drafting with Noah – M11 #1!

Wednesday, October 6th – Noah Weil is a lean, mean drafting machine! Follow his first M11 draft on StarCityGames.com pick by pick.

Pack 1 pick 1:

My Pick:

Three choices pop out although I only gave two of them serious thought. Sleep Reassembling Skeleton and Lightning Bolt represented the strongest cards in the pack. Of those I dismissed Sleep first.

Sleep was one of the most hyped Limited cards out of M10 but almost two years later it’s safe to say that it’s not the ultimate blowout people feared. To be sure sometimes Sleep is amazing. You’ll have lethal on the board but you can’t attack but then you can! And you win the game. Obviously that scenario happens but it’s hardly guaranteed.

What I hate is drawing Sleep in my opening hand. It’s a great topdeck but drawing it at the wrong time means that instead of developing your board and actually making future-Sleep worthwhile you’re just stuck getting run over. We can all agree Sleep as a slow Fog is not worth the card.

So I’ll pick one up but I like to know that I’m blue first. In my pick order it’s third or fourth.

Reassembling Skeleton may seem odd as a first pick but I’m utterly enamored with it. It goes in my favorite M11 deck (B/R Act of Treason) but even barring that coming together it turns on a lot of options. The two Vampires that use him a) are common b) go late and c) really really use him. Some decks simply cannot contain a Bloodthrone/Skeleton board. At the worst he gums up the ground.

I gave it thought but still went with the Bolt. People hate on red on M11 but Bolt is Bolt. Play it main or splash it; it’s a safe card you’re never sorry to have.

Pack 1 pick 2:

My Pick:

Two Skeletons would’ve been exciting but I’m certainly not going to dip into it now when a lovely Foresee stares us back.

Pack 1 pick 3:

My Pick:

Right now we have two good splashable cards. Juggernaut promises open options albeit in a fairly killable way (a 5/3 for four isn’t what it used to be). I call the best card in the pack Jace’s Ingenuity and I’m happy to grab it here. We’ll remember there’s a Juggernaut in the draft in case that Vandal comes back around.

Foreshadow: Lightning Bolt is the perfect complement with to all the card draw. Raw card advantage is great but you’ll see decks going crazy with card draw only to be stuck with fat spells in hand while the white deck flies over. Cheap spells are amazing with card draw and Bolt is obviously the best of them. Plus looking at all those cards is like a slow subtle mana fix if/when R becomes r (in other words if the red is a splash).

Pack 1 pick 4:

My Pick:

Scroll Thief is the Fact or Fiction of M11. It forces your opponent into serious dilemmas. People have a visceral “opponent card advantage bad” reaction but Scroll Thief forces the player to balance the opponent’s card advantage with the opponent’s life gain. What’s the math on attacking with Assault Griffin in exchange for getting hit back with Scroll Thief? Every game is different but Scroll Thief gives the opponent a chance to screw up and that’s a nice perk.

That’s the subtle stuff but sometimes they just miss a drop or you go Aether Adept crazy and it’s a blowout. Altogether an easy pick here.

Pack 1 pick 5:

My Pick:

If a 5/3 for four isn’t what it used to be a 4/3 for five is even worse. Sometimes Fire Servant is the sickness but it’s been disappointing to me in “normal” decks. I was happy to dismiss it here.

Which leaves Rotting Legion Giant Growth and Silvercoat Lion. I went with Giant Growth using a similar vein of logic to the Lightning Bolt/Foresee discussion above. Rotting Legion is fine but since I haven’t seen much black and sent some downstream I don’t expect to reap much for packs 2 and 3. Lion is fine I suppose but kind of meh.

Pack 1 pick 6:

My Pick:

I know why I made this pick but I regret it. The thinking was that the last 4-5 packs were an aberration and that red was still open. Earth Servant is a good man and even splashable but the pick is still a green card. Plummet might be correct although Prized Unicorn with Giant Growth and Scroll Thief is kind of cute.

Pack 1 pick 7:

My Pick:

Preordain is perfectly serviceable but Giant Growth is still a genuine power card. If I’m green and I think I am I’d rather have Giant Growth in my decks.

Pack 1 pick 8:

My Pick:

When you take a bunch of Growths you start looking at guys with more appreciation. Wolf isn’t great without some permanent bonus e.g. Shiv’s Embrace or Armored Ascension but it’s not horrid either. Plummet was still probably the right pick.

Pack 1 pick 9:

My Pick:

In for a penny…

Pack 1 pick 10:

My Pick:

It already sucks but Armored Cancrrinxnxncix is thoroughly outclassed in G/U. The Vandal is far more useful to have around.

Pack 1 pick 11:

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Pack 2 pick 1:

My Pick:

Cultivate and Rootbound Crag serve the same function here helping the Lightning Bolt splash come to fruition. There’s no way a G/U deck isn’t playing its Bolt so the only question is how hard I want to make it for myself. As I said above card advantage is a type of mana-fixing so I didn’t feel against the wall at this point in the draft.

It wouldn’t matter anyway as Air Servant is just a game winner. It did cross my mind that leaving Cultivate and Crag left a small chance one would table but regardless of what would happen to those cards Servant is the pick here.

Pack 2 pick 2:

My Pick:

Call to Mind is cute in a Scrooge McDuckian swimming in card advantage kind of way. Regardless game winners trump game enablers. The Call may or may not table (unlikely in such a bland pack) but again no real question.

Pack 2 pick 3:

My Pick:

Underwhelming but still fine with triple Giant Growth. I kind of hate Phantom Beast.

Pack 2 pick 4:

My Pick:

Boring pack easy pick.

Pack 2 pick 5:

My Pick:

I suppose you could make arguments for the other green creatures but compared to Baloth they aren’t very compelling. It’s not quite bomb level but Baloth sure is solid.

Pack 2 pick 6:

My Pick:

Pyroclasm is great in U/G and the Giant Growths make it even more effective. With no other option even in color ‘Clasm was a nice pickup.

Pack 2 pick 7:

My Pick:

The green cards have some merit but I still like Scroll Thief. The lack of bounce is troubling but infinite pump and Pyroclasm will do the job as well. Someone is putting together a tough white deck.

Pack 2 pick 8:

My Pick:

Yay bounce! For similar reason to ‘Clasm (tempo mostly) Unsummon shines in U/G.

Pack 2 pick 9:

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Pack 2 pick 10:

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Pack 2 pick 11:

My Pick:

Do people like Autumn’s Veil? I’ve had it be okay but it’s never truly sick. Making your spells cost one more is a real price to pay not to mention inherent timing issues. It’s not unplayable but compared to the other colors’ excellent hosers Autumn’s Veil is the obvious runt.

Pack 2 pick 12:

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Pack 2 pick 15:

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Pack 3 pick 1:

My Pick:

If there was something on the level of Air/Water Servant or Cudgel Troll I’d give thought (thought!) to passing Fireball. It’s the strongest card in the pack but I’d start getting concerned about pushing out another red card. Is Fireball > Water Servant + Pyroclasm? Difficult question but moot as far as this pack is concerned. Fireball is the easy welcome grab.

Pack 3 pick 2:

My Pick:

Mana Leak is fine but my green decks feel really underpowered without an Elf or two. It’s not flashy but they lead to the best starts in the format. I’m sure people will disagree but I was happy to get Elf here. The second Pyroclasm never entered the picture although its existence was tucked away.

Pack 3 pick 3:

My Pick:

Lots of Clasms but I was very happy to grab Aether Adept. More guys are welcome especially a positive tempo positive Scroll Thief card. Expanse was never seriously considered.

Pack 3 pick 4:

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 5:

My Pick:

Scroll Thieves do not get worse in multiples. If I hadn’t just grabbed Aether Adept I mayyyyy have considered a green creature but with Adept there was no question.

Pack 3 pick 6:

My Pick:

This pick on the other hand went to the wire. I know Giant Growths with Yavimaya Wurm seem great but it’s often extraneous. If they’re double blocking you’re in fine fine shape. You feel great with Growths in hand and Wurm in play of course but to me the Giant Growths are equally valid for each creature.

I don’t know why I went with Cloud Elemental except I like the card and it fit the G/U aggro-tempo build the deck was turning into. I probably should’ve taken Wurm considering how the deck ended up but I’d be hard-pressed to say it was an absolute mistake at the time.

Pack 3 pick 7:

My Pick:

The fourth Scroll Thief along with three Giant Growths is pretty amazing. T4 you attack they block you Growth then play a second Thief. Two Thieves to no blockers is great and more Thieves make it more likely. Cloud Elemental is perfectly legit here and fits fine into the other half of the deck. I like Thief here but Elemental or even Flashfreeze is not ridiculous.

Pack 3 pick 8:

My Pick:

I could see my curve on the computer screen; there was literally no chance I’d play Cancel. I don’t even like the card much but it was still a better sideboard card than hating Mighty Leap. Have no idea what I was thinking but it was wrong.

Pack 3 pick 9:

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Final deck:

Aether Adept

Air Servant

Cloud Elemental

Cudgel Troll

Garruk’s Companion

Llanowar Elves

Obstinate Baloth

Sacred Wolf

4 Scroll Thief

Sylvan Ranger



3 Giant Growth

Jace’s Ingenuity

Lightning Bolt

Mana Leak



7 Islands

8 Forest

2 Mountain


Autumn’s Veil


Back to Nature

Wall of Vines

Earth Servant

Armored Cancryxsdfsdzxcz

Wurm’s Tooth

Thirteen creatures is a little shy but I don’t know what spell you’d take out. I’d love to replace that Sacred Wolf with something
that doesn’t suck but nothing materialized. Overall though I really liked the final product.

Round 1 – G/R

Both games were thoroughly uneventful. He mulled a few times and Goblin Pikers are just about the worst card against this deck ever. Some timely Giant
Growths and Pyroclasm led to a speedy 2-0.

P.S. No one expects the third Giant Growth.


Round 2 – U/W/r

This match was a little more serious. Opponent had triple Squadron Hawk Serra Angel and other fliers with Wall of Frost and cheap dudes to hold the
ground. Growths let the Scroll Thieves through a bit and Jace’s Ingenuity and Foresee brought me further ahead.

We were both around ten when I drew a glut of land. But they came in handy when I drew and played Air Servant. Crazily Opponent had Clone which
really gummed up the board. However I drew a Bolt later to take out the facsimile Servant. My real copy plus all that mana plus the opponent
starting to get flooded was enough to finish off the game.

In game 2 I started with a mull into a six-card hand of zero action. Opponent took a long time to consider ultimately keeping. He was stuck on two
Islands and discarded a Pyroclasm(!) but I had nothing to take advantage. My first spell was Jacentrate which found a Cudgel Troll. By this time
he’d gotten out Azure Drake Pegasus Charger and two of three Squadron Hawks. My Pyroclasm was quite clutch here but all I could do was attack
and follow up with a Thief.

Opponent hit back with Drake then Cloned Cudgel Troll. I drew and my hand was literally three Giant Growths and lots of land with lots of land in
play. I cracked with both he blocked Thief with Troll I Growthed and I was back to a decent spot. The block was a little strange; he didn’t
know my hand but he did know that if I had a guy I would’ve played it already. So I’d have to have drawn a guy that turn or I
wouldn’t have had blockers left for his massive Troll-infused return strike.

I didn’t know his hand here but he was at a fairly high life. Letting the card happen and making a big return hit seemed right.

I kept laying out Thieves and even though Opponent had out Aether Adept and Wall of Frost then Air Servant Drake kept holding back to block a Thief.
I can say with complete certainty he should’ve been attacking for many more turns than he was. The end result was that I only started taking
damage from Hawk and I drew Obstinate Baloth to really put me back in it.

Next turn still with those two Giant Growths I attacked with two Thieves and two four-power guys. He put Air Servant in front of Baloth Wall in
front of Troll and the Drake and Adept in front of the two Thieves. Timid timid; if I were at a lower life that Servant would’ve stayed well
out of combat and I’d be dead on the return. But now he was forced to trade his Servant for my Baloth except I Giant Growthed the Baloth
except he Redirected the Giant Growth (!!!) so that I was forced to use the other one to resolve the trade.

Redirect is cool and it’s great against the deck. Another reason to be attacking.

Combat stopped at this point so that I had even more time to draw Foresee and use that to find Fireball which I did for the match.


Round 3 – U/W

Ughhh this round was annoying. Opponent had two Mind Controls to grab Servant and Troll right off the bat. I dealt with those but then he started up
with Palace Guards and the like then Temple Bell then Ajani’s Mantra then Jace’s Erasure. All those cards added up to a solid foil to
Scroll Thief.dec. Cancel took care of the Baloth which left me so little power that by the end of the game I didn’t have enough lands to
Fireball for seventeen or whatever he was at.

Game 2 he again led with two Mind Controls against the same two creatures. I had to trade off the first guy but for the second I was happy to take
hits until I found one of my sideboard cards. Sure enough a fantastic Back to Nature knocked off the Mind Control Mantra and Erasure in play. I got
to hit back for a while; although Harbor Serpent + Mystifying Maze were good stoppers. Eventually I drew Fireball so I bounced Serpent and took him
down to around seven. He played a land and tapped to two to replay Serpent leaving only one card in his hand.

Now you think about Mana Leak here but the fact is every turn you give him is another to draw Cancel or whatever. Fireball for seven was sadly met
with a Mana Leak and a smiley face from the opponent. Grrrr… Harbor Serpent islandwalked for the kill.