The second-best card is Silent Departure, and nothing else even comes close.
Deranged Assistant is more important in a dedicated self-mill deck, but I’m not sure whether I’ll take that route yet. I could be a more straightforward blue/black with only a couple Stitched Drakes/Maulers, or I might end up blue/white splashing the Evil Twin. Assistants tend to come around fairly late anyway.
Not an impressive pack. I’m not a huge fan of Delver of Secrets in blue/black (or at all, though it’s fine), as a lot of slots seem to get taken up by creatures, Dead Weight, Claustrophobia, and Sensory Deprivation. Think Twice is marginal; five mana puts you up a single card, and if you manage to mill it, your bonus isn’t that big. Usually, there just isn’t room for it. Spider Spawning thus becomes the easy pick. I’m not sure I’ll play it, but I don’t lose much by taking it here.
While Armored Skaab is clearly the superior turn 3 play, I prefer the first Alchemy to the first Skaab. I can find other ways to muster some form of early defense, and casting an Alchemy twice on a relatively stable board will usually go a long way toward locking up a win.
In an aggressive deck, the Diregraf Ghoul is obviously the pick. Here, I value being able to block with the creature the turn it hits play more than the mana I save.
Spectral Flight is kind of close here, but Fensnake is just better suited to this kind of deck. It’s a Zombie for stuff like Ghoulraiser, plus it finds its way to the ‘yard pretty easily to power up Stitched Drakes and Corpse Lunges.
I’m developing a Zombie subtheme, and truthfully, I don’t really want to branch out into another color at this point anyway. Both the colors that I’ve been taking seem as open as anything, and unless fixers fall into my lap, I doubt I’ll even splash the Spawning.
I assume everyone knows by now that Cellar Door is too unreliable to be a “real card.”
It’s not always easy to leave mana up for a Stitcher’s Apprentice, and it doesn’t have anything to get cute with at the moment anyway.
I was trying to pick the Armored Skaab, and my hand slipped right as I was clicking. Of all the rotten luck!
As I’ve mentioned, unless my deck is quite aggressive, I’m not a huge fan of Vampire Interloper, as it has all the defensive capabilities of Curse of the Pierced Heart. The Rig is a reasonable “value card” that provides some insurance against Bloodline Keeper, Murder of Crows, etc.
If I had known I’d get a 5th-pick Skirsdag High Priest, I would have taken that Stitcher’s Apprentice. In a vacuum, Priest is better than Dead Weight; in my deck as it stands now, Dead Weight is better. I decided that I still had time to make the necessary adjustments that would ensure the High Priest lived up to its potential. It’s definitely a close pick here, and I could see going either way.
Unbreathing Horde is basically unplayable 95% of the time and not that impressive the other 5%. With my Zombie count looking pretty healthy, I decided there was slightly more to be gained from taking it than from hating the Geistflame.
With my lower curve, my deck was starting to look more aggressive, and the ability to mill myself wasn’t looking especially important.
Generally, I actually favor the Rats over Corpse Lunge because Lunge has some stiff competition for the resource of dead creatures. Here, I only had a Makeshift Mauler (and a Ghoulcaller’s Chant), and I would benefit from some more targeted removal, especially with the High Priest in tow.
Hopefully, my pack 3 picks have all been self-explanatory so far. I’ve just been taking the best card in my colors in each pack, which fortunately has been the best card overall.
Though I have good odds of getting something back with Ghoulraiser, relatively flexible instant-speed removal still beats out a variable Gravedigger. Harbor wouldn’t be a consideration even without the Victim in the pack, as Spawning wouldn’t be good enough in my deck to try to splash.
As with Rats (though not as good), Crab is usually the pick over Corpse Lunge. Here, in addition to having the Priest, I’m not really hurting for four-drops.
If there’s room, I certainly wouldn’t mind playing this to turn on my Banshee and Priest.
The Interlopers didn’t make the cut because this isn’t a pure “racing” deck. If I had fewer playables, I’d have been fine playing them, but they just didn’t seem optimal. The second Ghoulcaller’s Chant should have been Claustrophobia (with an adjustment to the mana base), but I wanted to see how viable the Zombie card advantage strategy was. Delver of Secrets would have been fine, and in fact was my last cut, but all my other creatures were either better or Zombies. And it would take even more Zombies than I had to make Unbreathing Horde good. Right now it MIGHT come down as a 3/3 or 4/4, and that’s not good enough.
Round One vs. Blue/Green/Red
Game 1: My opponent played a Stitcher’s Apprentice that immediately sacrificed itself, then a Daybreak Ranger. I had Makeshift Mauler and Moan of the Unhallowed. I played Grasp of Phantoms on the Ranger, and he picked off a Zombie on its way out. A few turns later, he was at four life to my 4/5 and three 2/2s, and he dropped Moldgraf Monstrosity. I decided to suicide my team to get him to two life and enable Morkrut Banshee to finish off the Moldgraf, but this ended up being a poor choice.
At the time I thought it was riskier to leave the Moldgraf on the board; I figured with my opponent on the back foot, it would have been fairly easy to deal with the creatures he got back and then sneak in the last two damage. In retrospect, since I was at a high life total, I should have just left the Moldgraf in play and tried to alpha strike around it in a few turns. As it was, he got back Daybreak and Stitched Drake, then had Prey Upon for my Evil Twin on his Drake as well as Back from the Brink. At the end of one turn, I flashed in Snapcaster without a good target (I didn’t have a second Island for my Grasp) at the end of his turn, since I’d be able to make a good attack if I drew land #8; instead, I drew Victim of Night. I still thought I had a shot when I played Skirsdag High Priest, but his last card was, of course, Harvest Pyre. With no offense left, I fell to his Brink tokens.
Game 2: I boarded in the Interlopers and Delver. Since his late game was superior to mine, I wanted to try to kill him before it got to that point. My first opener was four Islands and three black cards, and the six-carder I kept was lands, Mauler, Ghoulraiser, and Ghoulcaller’s Chant. Long story short, he had two Silent Departures for my Mauler to always keep me on the back foot, and he again flooded the board with Back from the Brink tokens.