(Note: These drafts will all be MBS SOM SOM 8-4s.)
The relevant cards here are Bonehoard, Burn the Impure, Flesh-Eater Imp, and Go for the Throat. I wasn’t quite sure whether Bonehoard was more powerful than the others, but I knew it was close enough that it was optimal to just take the colorless card to keep my options open. I’m not one of those yahoos who take Sylvok Lifestaff over Indomitable Archangel “to stay open,” but here, it’s the correct call. After playing with the Bonehoard, I think it’s flat better than all the cards I took but not better than stuff like Viridian Corrupter or Corrupted Conscience. Incidentally, if the Bonehoard wasn’t in the pack, I would’ve taken Burn the Impure, as it’s approximately as good as the other two and, all else equal, it’s obviously better not to fight with your neighbors.
The best cards here are Spread the Sickness, Blisterstick Shaman, Viridian Claw, and Leonin Skyhunter. Blisterstick is right out. If I’m going to take a red or black card after passing good cards of both of those colors, I’m not going to try to guess what the dude to my left took; I’m just going to take the better card. Skyhunter didn’t get much consideration either, as it’s weaker than Spread and would make me lean heavily toward white unnecessarily. Viridian Claw is awesome, but I’m not going to pass up on a premium removal spell to keep my options open.
Now it’s between Morbid Plunder and Divine Offering. (I have no interest in going white infect, so Tine Shrike is right out.) A problem here is that I’ve passed both white and black cards. While every black deck wants a Morbid Plunder, and a lot want two, I’m not positive I’m black yet. I think Divine Offering is the superior card, so I continue with the theme of taking the “best” card and seeing where the packs lead me.
The best card in this pack is Vivisection; however, the presence of a handful of infect cards (albeit mediocre ones) makes me think I’m ready to commit. Digester is about as bad as Blackcleave Goblin, but I wasn’t positive on the other two, ultimately deciding that the extra mana in Scourge Servant’s cost was the deal breaker.
I backtracked a little here, but I think it’s defensible. First, Vivisection is easily the most powerful card in the pack. Second, even though I am closing in on an archetype, I’m not really committed to two specific colors yet. For the record, I will not strongly consider splashing in this format. Occasionally, it’s the right call, but even with all the artifacts in this block, I don’t like to subject myself to additional variance for a minor power boost. If I hadn’t taken the Vivisection, I believe Carapace is normally the call. With two common pump spells in this set (that usually go pretty late) and Untamed Might and equipment, and the fact that you need room in your deck for all your creatures and removal…I’m just not too keen on picking up a mediocre pump spell this early. Then again, in the specific case of this draft, I did miss out on a prime opportunity to potentially combo-kill people with Bonehoard.
Back on track, I suppose. I’ll get pump spells later or not at all, and either way, I’m not too concerned.
I’m never happy to maindeck a Pistus Strike, but I will if I need to shore up a maindeck weakness against fliers, and obviously it’s a good sideboard card. Melira’s Keepers are good against me, but in my deck, it’s just an arbitrary clunker that doesn’t deal damage in poison counters. Should I need a backup plan, I can get better dinosaurs than this.
Rather than take a somewhat unwieldy equipment that makes my creatures situationally more vulnerable, I prefer to give myself outs in case the infect stuff doesn’t come together perfectly.
Don’t judge me. It’s not like there was a rare present for any of my pick 2s. (In Mirrodin Besieged especially, don’t expect to get passed too many rares.)
I was dubious of the efficacy of Throne in my deck because the artifact counts of my post-Besieged infect decks seem even lower than before. In addition, the curve in my deck was sort of high, and I wanted to make sure I hit my land drops. As the infect creature curve is just higher in Besieged, you have to just hope that your curve will come together in the last two packs; this was a minor hedge in case that didn’t end up happening.
I might actually play it. (Spoiler: I don’t.)
Christmastime for the people on my right. I was tempted to take the Perilous Myr to smooth out the curve, but I deemed it better to just stay on-theme.
As slow as my deck is, removal is removal, and there are still a couple more chances to pick up mana Myr (if my deck still needs them when I see them).
The Tyrranax is better as a supplemental win condition, but here, I’m taking something that will help me make it to the late game.
Truly a gentleman’s first-pick.
I’m honestly not sure whether Grasp is better than Acid Web Spider, but I desperately need both solid early plays and creature removal. Ironically, even though Spiders are nearly as good as Oxidda Scrapmelter, there’s a chance one will table.
It’s a dark day for the poison mage. For the record, thanks to the Besieged-fueled power boost to the format, I believe Accorder’s Shield is now every bit the waste of space that we had all pegged it to be when Scars first came out. (That’s a mild exaggeration, but ideally, I will never maindeck it now.)
I really wanted that Argentum Armor, and under different circumstances, I would have snatched it right up. Yes, you can get blown out and end up wasting twelve mana if they have a Shatter, but first, you’re not obligated to toss it out there haphazardly before the board is stable, and second, they don’t always have the Shatter.
I may have been cut from the left somewhat, but I think pack 3 (and to some extent, pack 2) was just poison-light. I’m not really passin’ much better than I’m takin’ in this draft.
At this point, I have to be realisticâ€”the deck’s going to be a mixed bag despite my best intentions. Thus, I’m better off with something that lets me play my real cards faster than a mediocre one-power infector.
I’m not sure Asceticism is making my deck, but I’d rather have that for my sideboard than a Blackcleave main. The Goblin is just too little, too late.
Remember, this pack was incredible.
Wall of Tanglecord
Acid Web Spider
The mana count is a little high, but since over half of my creatures cost four or more, I had to play seventeen lands even with two Myr and the
Spellbomb. (Spellbomb obviously counts for only a fraction of a land.) I prefer Ezuri’s Archers main to Pistus Strike because it’s never dead; the
ability to soak up ground damage is more than a fair trade for the possibility of a poison counter. In more aggressive (and/or “better”) infect decks,
the Pistus Strike would get the nod. Tyrranax was unnecessary because I had plenty of fat monsters already, and Carapace Forger just barely made the
cut over the Mantis because of my awkward curve.
The experts I asked prefer to draw, as do I, but this deck felt like a “play”er. With nineteen mana sources, I should have no problem hitting my land
drops even without that extra draw step, and I want to be the first one to four mana (and don’t want to fall too far behind on the board).
Note: In most of my game recaps, I won’t include every single detail because that can get really tedious. Hence, if I mention I’m attacking with
something that wasn’t in my opening hand…that probably means I drew it at some point. *head tap*
ROUND ONE vs. B/W/r
Game 1: I chose to play and kept three lands, a Myr, Horizon Spellbomb, Morbid Plunder, and Sylvok Lifestaff. My opponent played out Copper Carapace,
Wall of Tanglecord, Phyrexian Digester, and Tine Shrike. After I traded a Plaguemaw Beast for the Digester, I got him to eight with Molder Beast while
he was hitting me to eight poison with Tine Shrike. I topdecked Spread the Sickness to kill the Shrike, but he brought it back with Corpse Cur.
Fortunately, by the time the Shrike was back online, I was ready with Acid Web Spider. He added a Flesh-Eater Imp to the mix, but he was so low on life
that he had to block with one of them when I attacked with the Spider. I played Ezuri’s Archers after combat so he couldn’t kill me with his remaining
infector, and I swung for the win the next turn.
I boarded Pistus Strike in for Lifestaff.
Game 2: On the draw, I mulled an unkeepable one-lander into a one-lander with both Myr, Wall of Tanglecord, Carapace Forger, and Molder Beast. Somehow,
I actually drew into more lands! He led with Etched Champion and Flesh-Eater Imp, and he blocked my Tel-Jilad Fallen with the Imp when I attacked,
telegraphing the inevitable Corpse Cur. I added Plaguemaw and Molder Beasts to the board, while he played the returned Flesh-Eater plus a twin and an
Origin Spellbomb. I smashed in with my Beasts (Etched Champion blocked Plaguemaw) and tossed out my topdecked Steel Hellkite. On his turn, he played a
Myr Sire and didn’t attack. I didn’t have green mana up for the Wall, and he was only representing eight poison counters, but I probably would have
blocked one of his Imps with my Hellkite. On my turn, I drew Necropede and sacrificed it to the Plaguemaw to double-ping an Imp; he sacrificed it to
the other one in response. When I attacked with Molder Beast and Steel Hellkite, he put Imp in front of the dragon and everything else he had in front
of Molder Beast. When he decided to sacrifice a bunch of his blockers (all artifacts) to pump his Imp before damage, the outcome wasn’t good for him.
ROUND TWO vs. B/R
Game 1: I chose to play and kept three lands, Ezuri’s Archers, Necropede, a Myr, and Core Prowler. He mulliganed and opened on Signal Pest, while I
calmly drew three lands in a row. Over the next few turns, he played a 3/1 and a 4/3, the former of which I took out with a topdecked Instill
Infection. Koth made an appearance on the other side of the table, so I Grasped his 4/3 and spent the next couple turns bashing into the planeswalker
to kill it. When I had four or five creatures to his Fume Spitter, he spat my 2/4 and then Black Sun’s Zenithed me back to the Stone Age. He had
Skinrender for my follow-up Myr, but my topdecked 10/10 Bonehoard proved more than he could handle. (I actually got to move it to an infector and kill
him with a pant-load of poison.)
Archers came out for Tangle Mantis.
Game 2: He chose to draw; if I lost game 2, I knew I would be doing the same against his deck. I kept five lands, Carapace Forger, and Molder Beastâ€”I
would have been correct to mull that on the drawâ€”then drew two more lands and a Blightwidow. My opponent played Necrogen Scudder and a 4/3, then hit me
with a Cerebral Eruption, which revealed an Acid Web Spider to clear my board and let his dudes knock me to eight. He attacked into the Spider on his
next turn, finished it off with Galvanic Blast, and finally flew over my lone ground guy by targeting a Flameborn Hellion with an off-color Flight
Fine, Archers back in for Carapace Forger.
Game 3: I chose to draw, which seems correct against his deck unless he has an early Koth. Well naturally, he had an early Koth, and I would’ve won
this game if I’d chosen to play. Story of my life. The path from his turn 4 Koth to my loss was a little convoluted, though.
My keep was Archers, Acid Web Spider, Scourge Servant, and some lands. He put Lifestaff on a Fume Spitter and swung in, and I blocked with Archers
rather than eat a bunch of early damage when I could just get wrathed at any time. I drew some business spells, but he had a replacement Fume Spitter
and Koth before I could get back on the board. Over the next few turns, he smashed me with Mountains and played Kuldotha Ringleader; I played the
Mantis and the Spider. At this point, my opponent had three Mountains and the option of getting Koth’s emblem, and there was simply no way I’d be able
to kill him before he pinged me out, since he still had a 4/4 with Fume Spitter backup to threaten me. He chose to be more aggressive, pushing Koth up
to six and animating another Mountain. This was almost as good as just going ultimate, but suboptimal play is suboptimal play, and this one nearly cost
When my opponent attacked with his 4/4 Ringleader and 5/4 Mountain, I put my 3/5 and Mantis in front of the Ringleader. Despite having a Signal Pest to
protect Koth, he opted to order the Spider first and throw Fume Spitter at it. This left me at five life, but I had a trampler to make sure Koth
couldn’t go ultimate the next turn. I took a necessary gamble on my next turn, casting Instill Infection on his Pest and hoping to draw a land to toss
out a Myr to chump-block with. I was successful, and I also knocked Koth back down to three loyalty. On my next turn, with Koth back at four, I
attacked him for three and played Blightwidow, leaving up mana for my freshly drawn Grasp. When my opponent attacked with a Mountain, I used the
instant on it; he was on five lands, and I wanted to forestall a possible Flameborn Hellion. He had no follow-up, so I untapped and finally greased
Since my opponent had passed up an opportunity or two to Black Sun me for value, I had to assume he didn’t have it, so I ran a Scourge Servant out. He
played a land and a Scrapmelter (sheesh, nice cards) with no legal targets, quipping, “It’s a sad day in Oxidda.” He took the full amount from my
infectors, going to seven poison, and I fortified my defenses with Tel-Jilad Fallen. Unfortunately, one of his hole cards (or a topdeck) was Cerebral
“Not like this!” I said before flipping over…Contagious Nim. My board was halved, but I was still alive, albeit at a precarious two. He didn’t trade
his Scrapmelter for my Mantis and shipped the turn. When I attacked with Blightwidow, he took the hit to nine poison. I’m pretty sure this play was
incorrect, not only because I might have had proliferate, but more importantly because he now had to topdeck a creature to live through the next turn;
he knew I had another two-power infector because of the Eruption. With his line of play, he could have drawn Flight Spellbomb to kill me, but blocking
would give him another chance to find Galvanic Blast or Black Sun’s Zenith. As it was, he drew his last card, and it was…
I looked back at my life total: still two. I only had two infectors, and he had two blockers, so now it was on me to rip. Unfortunately, all I got was
a useless Bonehoard.
My deck may not have looked like much, but it did take the combined forces of Koth, Cerebral Eruption, Black Sun’s Zenith, Skinrender, Oxidda
Scrapmelter, andâ€”oh, yesâ€”Blistergrub to bring it down. After making the finals of my previous five drafts, obviously I crumbled like an Oreo when I
subjected myself to a little public scrutiny. It’s not fair! (For the record, before those five, I lost three in a row in large part because I
wasn’t “drafting optimally.”) Maybe you bastards won’t jinx me next time.
Timothy James Aten
The Codfather of the The Glub Club
Best Sunday Dress on Modo