Drafting with Noah – M11 #2!

Wednesday, October 13th – Some unbelievable picks in this draft! Follow Noah’s draft where he discusses almost every pick, including when to hate-draft and when to pick up sideboard slots.

Pack 1 pick 1:

My Pick:

This is where knowledge of the format comes in. If I’d never drafted M11 before or maybe even only drafted it ten times before I’d look at Hoarding Dragon. I like red and I like 4/4 fliers. I don’t hate red like some of the other players do and even if red is weak Hoarding Dragon is a good reason to try. In a vacuum the choice is interesting as Servant has a better ability but is more fragile.

But we aren’t in a vacuum and we know blue is a very strong color indeed. It will be fun to have these debates again when Scars drafting is more prevalent. M11 still has cards to debate but it’s not this pick.

Pack 1 pick 2:

My Pick:

While the first pick was a non-issue this one should generate some discussion. Why Water Servant? Because it not-subtly wins games. It’s just an absolute threat no matter the board. Don’t get me wrong I love me some Man-o’-War. I think a blue deck without at least one bounce effect is starkly underpowered. But for all that a 2/2 with a nice effect doesn’t warp the game like Water Servant can. If I knew I was U/W aggro or just had more picks to make a more informed decision well who knows? But for this pick I’m content with the intrinsically strong card.

Pack 1 pick 3:

My Pick:

Perhaps I spoke too soon on M11 being solved because I know Crystal Ball still gets a lot of debate. My thoughts? It’s good sometimes brilliant but it varies depending on the deck.

Where is Crystal Ball best? I like it if you’re playing control and can survive long enough to use it to full effect. I like it if you have a bomb that will outright win games. Ajani for example. I can even get behind it in super-aggro decks where you can do 10-15 quick enough and just need to dig for some Lava Axes to finish the job. Where I don’t like it is decks that have a medium curve that use their mana every turn. And Crystal Ball in blue can be superfluous.

What all this means is that while a lot of times you’re happy to have it it doesn’t quite reach Tier 1 status. And in my case it doesn’t seem to gel with the cards already drafted.

So I went with the removal. I don’t like Diminish and a third pick Sickness could be a signal. I was happy to give it a spin here.

Pack 1 pick 4:

My Pick:

Is that a little high for Stabbing Pain? Probably. I was on the fence with Viscera Seer and in retrospect maybe should’ve taken it. That one is underrated to be sure.

What else is there? Hate/splash Combust? Sylvan Ranger? My appreciation for Stabbing Pain has risen considerably in the last month. Sometimes it kills things ala Diminish but sometimes you just vomit a bunch of guys into play and have a mana left to tap their blocker. It depends on the deck of course but this card has been solid. Besides really weak pack.

Pack 1 pick 5:

My Pick:

Another weak one but Augury Owl is perfectly fine. The deck is shaping up to be tempo-based aggro U/B a fine archetype.

Pack 1 pick 6:

My Pick:

You can take all the arguments for Crystal Ball and apply them to Diabolic Tutor. I like the Tutor with Corrupt and maybe getting your fifth guy into play with Captivating Vampire against G/W being called the luckiest sack that ever; well anyway Tutor has its place. It’s not this deck.

If we put ourselves on U/B aggro and I can’t think of a compelling reason not to what is the pick between Child of Night and Deathmark? It wasn’t really a choice for me I take and maindeck Deathmark every time. I mean I’m U/B so there are two dead colors that are being cut. And while Child is fine it doesn’t have the blowout potential of “play a dude kill your five drop.” I put Deathmark under Doom Blade and Sickness but only just and vastly ahead of Assassinate.

Pack 1 pick 7:

My Pick:

Cards I do not like: Phantom Beast Ice Cage Assassinate Diminish. They’re all playable technically but aside from corner cases I find their inclusion to be a draft where something got messed up. I do not like cards in Limited that you hope work! All this stuff is theoretically undercosted for what you get but you’re just hoping and hoping and hoping and I’m a pessimist. I assume my opponent always has the answer because well they sometimes do. I took Beast here because that’s the deck we’re building and I’ll probably play it and hope to do four to them before they tap it with Blinding Mage or whatever.

Pack 1 pick 8:

My Pick:

Nightwing Shade isn’t as good as I thought it would be the first time I saw it but it’s still perfectly fine. I would never play three and I’d be wary at two but I’m happy with one in almost any black deck. This seemed like as good a time as any.

Pack 1 pick 9:

My Pick:

I thought about this pick for quite a while. The first Negate versus a second Stabbing Pain is a good question. It’s rare for Stabbing Pain to be as truly dead as Negate can be but at the same time Stabbing Pain is just a spell with limited blowout potential. I think this was a mistake and Negate is probably the right pick.

Pack 1 pick 10:

My Pick:

Both are sideboard cards to me but if necessary Bog Raiders has more potential strength as a maindeck card than Disentomb.

Pack 1 pick 11:

My Pick:

I’m happy to hate the best card out of this pack but an argument could be made for Back to Nature simply as an access to enchantment removal. I think taking Fling out of the draft will have more real-world applicability though.

Pack 1 pick 12:

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 13:

My Pick:

I just grab the uncommon on instinct but Hornet’s Sting is the correct pick. Phylactery Lich notwithstanding.

Pack 1 pick 14:

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 15:

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 1:

My Pick:

Some strong players on this site like Preordain a lot for all formats. I like it too but it’s no 2/3 flier for three.

Pack 2 pick 2:

My Pick:

Toughest pick of the draft. Azure Drake is merely excellent while Aether Adept ranges from average to game winning. Ultimately the pick came down to curve and tempo issues. I was concerned about a glut of 4+ spells in my hand and the way the deck was shaping up I predicted a faster aggressive deck that Aether Adept would shine in. To be sure 2/4 fliers also shine in decks that attack but for whatever reason the Adept seemed better suited this time. Honestly on another day of the week I may have gone the other way. I’d be curious what other people think here.

Pack 2 pick 3:

My Pick:

Happy to have it and nothing else in the pack was on the radar.

Pack 2 pick 4:

My Pick:

Not that there was competition but I’m happy to get a Thief after all the tappy bouncy stuff already drafted.

Pack 2 pick 5:

My Pick:

I think this was the wrong pick. Wall is okay but in this deck it’s not a maindeck card. Is it superior to a maindeckable Negate/second Shade? Don’t get me wrong I’m happy to have the Wall available. I just don’t think it promotes my deck’s plan like the other cards in the pack.

Pack 2 pick 6:

My Pick:

I’ll endure one Phantom Beast but there’s no way I’ll play two. Turbo Bog Raiders against black decks is perfectly viable especially with an Unholy I’m bound to get at some point. Trust me after the third time you learn not to cast Unholy Strength on your Pee Beast.

Pack 2 pick 7:

My Pick:

Axe is merely okay but as there are doubles of good cards in a particular color hate-drafting here is almost completely pointless.

Pack 2 pick 8:

My Pick:

Curve considerations gave the Knight the nod here.

Pack 2 pick 9:

My Pick:

Bam! Plan B.

Pack 2 pick 10:

My Pick:

Okay I swear this was an 8-4. I do not think the pack exists that someone should get a ninth-pick Azure Drake. Someone took Clone over it which I’ll go on record as saying is never correct.

Pack 2 pick 11:

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 12:

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 13:

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 14:

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 15:

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 1:

My Pick:

Juggernaut is not bad here. Our curve has lightened a bit and it fits our aggressive tempo-based plan. I simply think the Specter is the stronger more flexible card.

Pack 3 pick 2:

My Pick:

A second Black Knight is excellent increasing your chances of mising out a white deck and helping to create a first strike ground defense. Neither Mana Leak nor Child offers that kind of potential making this pick an easy one.

Pack 3 pick 3:

My Pick:

Two-mana creatures which this deck has are amazing with Gravedigger. You get the chance to play two spells in one turn! Sick! But as much as I wanted one I couldn’t pass up the chance what would likely be harm removal.

Pack 3 pick 4:

My Pick:

Another tough one. Vampire and Assassinate were right out as cards that did too little (Stabbing Pain combos notwithstanding). Looking at the cards drafted so far it appeared that black would be a more dominant color than blue. That’s not a big deal for Harbor Serpent per se since by the time you get to six you likely have the Islands to cast it. But it did mean if they were not blue the Serpent wouldn’t likely be attacking. I’d already drafted my Wall; I didn’t need another.

Between another Thief and another Deathmark the choice is awfully tight. There was no question I would maindeck either pick. Thus which card was more likely to offer what this deck wanted? In the end I had to give the nod to the Mark because supra playing two spells in one turn is awesome. I didn’t quite have the cards to guarantee Thief getting through every time and besides I did that deck last week. I wouldn’t mind someone taking Scroll Thief here but I’d probably stick with Deathmark every time.

Pack 3 pick 5:

My Pick:

Specter gets better in multiples and I’m always pleased to throw in another two-power flier for three.

Pack 3 pick 6:

My Pick:

I like Rise quite a bit especially in conjunction with two Specters (i.e. either another discard or grabbing what they pitched). It’s also a fine one-two punch with Deathmark although if Mark is hitting I was probably in great shape anyway. Mind Rot is fine but it was yet another three-drop and not a threat besides.

Pack 3 pick 7:

My Pick:

$^@^ you green deck. I guess it’s obvious by now I give consideration to good sideboard cards. Flashfreeze is such a card over Harbor Serpent or another Shade. If Flashfreeze wasn’t in the pack either of those cards would be fine but my deck was so loaded with playables I didn’t mind taking a quality sideboard card over a marginal (if that) increase in maindeck quality.

Pack 3 pick 8:

My Pick:

Great with all the CIP creatures and also fitting the tempo theme. I always like to have one.

Pack 3 pick 9:

My Pick:

Again a reasonable sideboard card over a mild hate-draft.

Pack 3 pick 10:

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 11:

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 12:

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 13:

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 14:

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 15:

My Pick:

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Final deck:

Aether Adept

Air Servant

Augury Owl

2 Azure Drake

2 Black Knight

Cloud Elemental

2 Liliana’s Specter

Nightwing Shade

Phantom Beast

Scroll Thief

Water Servant

2 Deathmark

Mind Rot

2 Quag Sickness

Rise from the Grave

Stabbing Pain


Warlord’s Axe

10 Swamp

7 Island


3 Bog Raider

3 Unholy Strength

Stabbing Pain



Wall of Frost

Armored Cancrix

You can’t go wrong with a clean curve and the mana to support it. The Deathmarks were a gamble but the rewards were too nice not to try. I also
had a robust sideboard. There’s nothing splashy here just a lot of solid cards that worked well together. I liked this deck.

Round 1 – U/W

Game 1: I keep a sketchy hand on the draw with two Black Knights Specter three Islands and a Swamp. I don’t draw the second Swamp until far
too late by which time he’s cast Juggernaut equipped it with Axe Armored Ascensioned it then cast Serra Angel for good measure. In
retrospect and not being results oriented I should’ve mulled. Even if I draw a Swamp now I have four lands and three spells and one of those
spells is supposed to come down on T2 instead of T4. In good news the “all-in” aura deck is certainly vulnerable to what this deck can put

Out: Rise from the Grave. In: Stabbing Pain.

Game 2 goes far better. On the play I lead with Black Knight into Specter into Drake. I’ve got Stabbing Pain backup and although he’s
casting Aether Adept and Jace Beleren he can’t muster any kind of serious defense. He concedes to my own Aether Adept a few turns later.

Game 3: my opener is four lands Augury Owl Stabbing Pain and Scroll Thief. I’d be terrified with that hand if it were Sage Owl instead of
Augury but the scry 3 makes me feel comfortable with the keep. His first spell is Aether Adept on the Owl which likewise feels good. I guess his deck
is aggressive U/W but he seems to have a lot of window dressing without much substance. I debate whether to play Scroll Thief or Cloud Elemental on
T3 but decide on Thief since it puts away any Ascension schemes that would otherwise be annoying to deal with. He plays his fourth land and does
nothing which is just totally confusing. The Cloud Elemental also resolves. At some point you start thinking Day of Judgment.

The next turn he taps three of his four and casts Jace and draws to two loyalty. Seems odd against Cloudy but I figure he’s got Unsummon or
Diminish waiting in the wings. Well he’ll have choices as I Quag Sickness the Adept and throw Scroll Thief at him and Cloudy at Jace. He does
have the Diminish to save Jace but I still get card advantage off Thief. He decides to pick up his last card with Jace then taps out for Serra Angel.
Deathmark attack for three draw a card Nightwing Shade seems like a good turn 6 and just a few opponent grumbles later we’re


Round 2 – R/W

Game 1: He rolls out four Mountains in a row so I play like he’s a mono-red deck. Basically that means blowing removal on weaker creatures to
save life points because if he’s all red he doesn’t have better. Just more dudes and burn and Shiv’s Embrace to play cleanup.

I’m feeling okay with Phantom Beast and Air Servant when he randomly drops a Plains and tosses out Blinding Mage. A very alive Blinding Mage.
Mage wails on the Beast (hate you) then contains Air Servant. But he’s not actually delivering any damage back; we both seem to be flooded. I
put him on Embrace in hand which is obviously garbage against the Air Servant. Eventually I find a Scroll Thief and equip it with Axe and somehow the
Servant lives the entire game. Enough to win the first.

Out: Phantom Beast Warlord’s Axe. In: Flashfreeze Mind Rot.

Game 2: I have a very clean turn plan. First I Stabbing Pain an Infantry Veteran then cast Mind Rot then Azure Drake Azure Drake. Unfortunately my
opponent throws a wrench in when he misses his fourth land drop. Discard is pretty dumb when they can’t cast the spells they have to pitch. So I
go aggro with the Drakes and they don’t quite get there. I liked my setup fine; he just drew out of his mana screw and I kept drawing lands.
Had I cast the Mind Rot on schedule I may have had the time to draw out of it. As it was an Aether Adept and the Drakes were the only creatures I
drew that game. Not so hot versus double Blinding Mage.

Game 3: Since I’m on the play I switch Mind Rot for the second Stabbing Pain. My opener is excellent: Specter three lands 2 Drakes and
Flashfreeze. I Flashfreeze his Ember Hauler then cast Liliana’s Specter.

As an aside does anyone else get scared like I do that some off-color deck randomly sides into Obstinate Baloth? Maybe a green first pick that
didn’t pan out? I’m not saying it’s a good plan just what would be a terrifying response. Thankfully it hasn’t happened yet.

I go running Drakes. He has Fiery Hellhound and Blinding Mage but I keep playing stuff versus his mana activations. This creates a Mindslaver effect:
if I leave a guy back he’s forced to waste his turn pumping the Hellhound rather than develop or just not attack at all which is also good
during racing. As expected he’s not in a position to get out of that and a key Stabbing Pain on an untapped Blinding Mage is enough for the


Round 3 – Splitsky

The question of whether to split online can be complex. Not for this draft since my deck wasn’t that good and I had work the next day. For some
utterly unknown reason there’s no right-click split option in 8-4 drafts anymore so these days the process requires trust. It’s
gratifying when as here that trust is vindicated. And everyone walked away satisfied.

Until next time thanks for reading.