If you have drafted M11 a few times you must have asked yourself at least once what would have happened if you had picked all the Tome Scours and Jace’s Erasure you had been passed. I’ve tried it twice and both times even though the deck looked pretty decent I ended up losing (once in the semis and once in the quarters). As my brother told me that he and a friend had been going 3-0 with a Tome Scour deck I started reconsidering the strategy. Basically Antoine advised me to go for it if and only if I get an early Temple Bell or possibly Jace Beleren or Traumatise. One of my decks did have Traumatise but it was still not good enough so I decided to try the deck the next time I received an early Temple Bell.
Therefore you won’t be surprised to hear that this is the story of how I tried the seemingly impossible archetype for the third time. As I hadn’t decided to go Tome Scour from the start this draft is like any other at the outset.
The three best cards are Armored Ascension Pacifism and Lightning Bolt.
Armored Ascension is the card with the highest potential but it is also the one which commits me the most and therefore the one which has the best chance to push me in the wrong direction and to remain in my sideboard. Next I think the other two cards are about as good as each other but Pacifism is the easiest one to deal with (Disenchant effects bounce spells). Also when there are three good cards and two share a color it is much better to go for the third as far as signals are concerned.
Two options here: Black Knight and Ice Cage. The Knight is a better card but I really don’t like Black-based decks when Blue is by far the color I like the most in M11.
In a deck with a lot of removal Scroll Thief may be the best common in the format. If I hadn’t opened the draft with two removal spells I’d have gone with the Pyromancer. A pretty questionable pick I’m aware of that but I think I can make it work out.
(Post Draft note: I am soon to turn to the dark side so we won’t know how this choice would have turned out but the next draft I’ll be posting is an example of the Scroll Thief / removal archetype).
I play Cancrix once in a while as a filler but it shouldn’t be too hard to get a card of that level. As for Phantom Beast the card can actually be good in an aggro deck but I don’t like having it and Ice Cage (they see one and they sideboard against both) in the same deck. The two options left are Diabolic Tutor and Elite Vanguard. The 2/1 is a better card but there is still a small chance I’ll play Diabolic Tutor (after all I have only one non-blue card so far so a three-color control would be possible) so I pick it.
I stay loyal to the plan here. The more Thieves I can get the better the deck will be.
An excellent sideboard card I could be using while the odds I end up running Nether Horror are close to zero.
I know there should be another one coming so I pick it just in case
The pick with Augury Owl is close but I don’t really see myself saying no to a removal spell in this archetype.
The correct pick here should be Foresee. However I must try the Temple Bell here. Of course I need to try this archetype. Of course it’s fun. More importantly it’s not too late to switch.
Indeed there should be 3 or 4 copies of a common per draft. Only 2 Tome Scours were opened so far and I’m 99% sure that Erasure is wheeling as well as the previous pack’s Call to Mind. Therefore I should be able to get many more cards for the archetype and I already find myself with a pretty decent control deck (including Diabolic Tutor which should be pretty good here).
With a deck of this style of marginal archetype mana issues are a much bigger deal than in any classic deck. Just miss a couple of land drops or don’t find your second Blue and you might be screwed. Also one aspect of this archetype is that it has a lot of playables (7 or 8 a pack like everyone else plus 1 or 2 in which no one is interested). However this pick was wrong and I’ll miss the 0/7 a lot.
When you only need tempo and have many Scroll Thieves Unsummon is nearly as good as a removal spell.
Sorcerer’s Strongbox would be helpful but it is a card which would cost me tempo and I can’t really allow that.
Merfolk Sovereign and Gargoyle Sentinel were interesting options as well but the games should be decided fast enough for Mana Leak to be a real Counterspell. Also I believe my Ophidians can already get past the defenses and I won’t really have much mana open to give my 3/3 flying.
A Fog effect and the possibility to draw with Scroll Thief make Sleep a pretty useful card.
Not exactly a card I’d like to face.
Another card I would mind facing. A pretty good combo with Reassembling Skeleton though but I wouldn’t be able to make any use of that.
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3 Tome Scour
1 Drowned Catacomb
1 Quag Sickness
1 Temple Bell
1 Mind Control
1 Call to Mind
1 Diabolic Tutor
2 Doom Blade
2 Mana Leak
1 Ice Cage
1 Maritime Guard
2 Scroll Thief
4 Jace’s Erasure
1 Reassembling Skeleton
2 Elixir of Immortality
1 Solemn Offering
1 Bog Raiders
1 Viscera Seer
1 Jinxed Idol
1 Kraken’s Eye
1 Inspired Charge
1 Runeclaw Bear
1 Lightning Bolt
1 Goblin Tunneler
1 Air Servant
1 Cloud Crusader
I decided to run only 16 lands. Three will be enough to cast most of my spells and as I should draw about three cards with no impact on the board each game (Tome Scour and Jace Erasure are virtually mulligans) drawing fewerlands than my opponent even if it’s only one would be pretty helpful.
Quarter finals versus WB
In the first game I miss land drop on turn 4. I still open with Jace’s Erasure and Doom Blade on Stormfront Pegasus. On turn 5 I find Temple Bell and activate it but still no land. Annoying considering I’m facing Liliana’s Specter and Howling Banshee.
I do find lands on the next two turns though and can start playing a pair of removal spells and a first Tome Scour. When he casts War Priest of Thune it must seem like the game is over from his side but I’m actually looking pretty good as I can go Jace’s Erasure plus Sleep if I find a sixth land. Two draws and two misses later I still tap all his guys and fight to stay alive. On turn 8 while I’m on one life I can reduce his deck to one card and then zero on his draw. That’s a little short.
As I didn’t draw really well faced a pretty good draw and still came one card from winning I still have hopes for game 2. I shouldn’t. The good show I put up in game 1 was mostly due to Temple Bell. With only one card a turn all the milling spells seem pretty useless or at least much too slow to contain his beatings. I end up losing pretty quickly.
I’m not saying I’ll never try this archetype again. After all I would have won at least one if not two games against most non-White decks but still it is unlikely the fourth try will be any time soon. Indeed the archetype may be pretty decent if you can get Temple Bell but I think it is between decent and very bad any other time. The deck is too irregular and whenever your plan doesn’t go exactly as you want you just lose.
Until next time…