When I’m getting ready to draft, I decide in advance whether I’ll be writing a walkthrough. The naturalistic approach keeps me honest (i.e. no
cherry-picking) and, on average, gives you a realistic depiction of a “typical” draft. For today’s installment, however, I actually had
three false starts.
In the first of these, I opened a nice, satisfying Viridian Corrupter; unfortunately, I also opened an Inkmoth Nexus, which is worth a rare-draft. I
don’t think I’m above rare-drafting in a walkthrough, but since I knew I was going to do several more drafts before my deadline, I figured there was no
reason to write up a draft with a tainted first pick.
In the second, I opened a Viridian Corrupter again, but this time, the draft went a little too smoothly. I settled into infect right away,
then opened a Contagion Engine pack 2 before getting passed a Contagion Clasp and finally opening a Hand of the Praetors pack 3. In a vacuum, I would
have no problem submitting this draftâ€”some will naturally be more straightforward than othersâ€”but I went G/B (semi-)infect in my first
walkthrough. This early into a new format, I thought some variety would be more helpful.
Then, in the last of these, things were proceeding smoothly until I opened my third pack. I was U/R, and the pack I opened had a Venser. There was a
perfectly acceptable Tumble Magnet for me in the pack, but in the end, Venser’s ticket value caused me to take him, which sent me down the wretched
path of splashing. As I mentioned last week, I think splashing is generally a bad idea, and this particular pick turned my draft into a train wreck in
which I botched about half of the relevant pack 3 picks. So here, not only was there a rare-draft, but I also had to consider that literally anyone can
post a poorly thought-out draft. It was a close call, but I ultimately decided to scrap it.
Incidentally, the first pick of that draft was Kuldotha Flamefiend over Slagstorm, a pick I’d already made in a previous draft. Apparently, my
instincts were correct; after the draft, I asked the two players whose Limited opinions I respect the most, and they both agreed with me. Anyway…
Green Sun’s Zenith is fortunately only worth about three tickets, so I wasn’t obligated to snatch it and abandon yet another draft write-up. Monetary concerns aside, the Zenith is definitely not worth first-picking, as you can’t be sure you’ll end up with a bomb green creature that will make this better than an arbitrary dude. It’s just not powerful enough to make me lean toward green at the start of a draft. Lumengrid Gargoyle is solid, but as I’ve said, almost everything that costs five or more is replaceable. Gargoyle is better than Razorfield Rhino, but it’s not far enough ahead that it’s worth taking over something good when you know that the Rhinos will always be there later. (Of course, there’s also the whole “artifacts are easier to kill” deal.) I like black a lot anyway, so this pick was easy.
Viridian Corrupter is tied for best uncommon in the set with Corrupted Conscience and Mortarpod, with Flesh-Eater Imp and Kuldotha Flamefiend right behind. I take some or all of these over many “bomb” rares, such as Bonehoard, Phyrexian Vatmother, Slagstorm, and Thrun.
While clunkier to use (for the first three activations) and sometimes more fragile, Anatomist is essentially a Trigon of Corruption, sometimes with non-negligible upside. With all these blue cards in the pack, one might be tempted to think the color is open, but it’s pretty hard to read early picks as signals, especially in this format; often the missing cards will be a rare and an uncommon. This probably goes without saying, but Mirran Mettle is far too weak to consider taking in order to “stay on track.”
Plaguemaw Beast is a clunky supplement to an infect deck and too small to be effective as a dinosaur. I’ll usually play him in infect when I can pick him up for a low price, but I’m not going to slam him fourth. Phyrexian Rager is good value, and as PT Atlanta 2005 finalist Don Smith once said, “The values that are valued are, y’know, whatever.”
As you can see, I will frequently avoid strong commitments early, as I don’t want to miss out on prime opportunities to be in an under-drafted color. Whether this is a little late to be seeing a Skyhunter depends on the initial depth of the pack. When making “flexible” picks such as this, you just have to gauge how much you’d regret not having the cards you’re passing. I don’t like to maindeck Pistus Strike; Rusted Slasher dies to the various -1/-1 effects and may be hard for me to regenerate; Hexplate Golem is awesome, but it’s slow and lacks evasion, and I may see one later. Finally, Infuser complements surprisingly little in Scars of Mirrodin. Beyond good Trigons and Tumble Magnet, the pickings are quite slim.
The same stuff I said about Green Sun’s Zenith sort of applies to Treasure Mage, but there are a few key differences here. There are fewer six-drop artifacts than there are green creatures, of course, but any six-drop artifact is a good find, since it will be a free card. Also, at this point in the draft, I was already leaning toward blue. I can understand Virulent Wound here, but it would likely be underpowered in my deck; I haven’t seen much indication that infect is open.
I was underwhelmed when I saw Nested Ghoul on the spoiler, but after playing against it a few times, I now realize it can be a pretty big hassle. I continue to pass Rusted Slashers because they simply aren’t right for this deck.
It’s certainly not exciting, but it blocks assorted Hawks and Skyhunters all day long. Copper Carapace won’t be good in my deck because I’m looking to build an advantage over a long game with cards like Rager, Anatomist, and Ghoul, not go all-out trying for a quick win.
I didn’t expect this to come back, but I’m not gonna complain.
I doubt I’ll play this (see above), but there’s even less chance I’ll want the Carapace (see above).
I definitely love Rebuttal in this style of deck, but it’s still early enough in the draft that I can reasonably expect to see a Soliton or two. Besides, as clunky as it is, it’s not like Arbalest is dead without Soliton. I honestly think I would have taken Rebuttal over Moriok Replica here, though it’s very close.
As much as I love a Wall of Tanglecord, I would have taken an on-color Myr over it. By the way, however good you think Wall is, it’s probably better. Normally, when one sees a card that can’t pressure the opponent at all and doesn’t stop him from swinging in with multiple dudes because of its zero power, one would expect it to be marginal. In the case of Wall of Tanglecord, R+D were really generous with the stats; it can hold off just about anything. I think Walls should be going fourth or fifth pick, but as you may have seen last draft, I’m not above first-picking them.
Again, I would’ve taken the Myr were it on-color. I’d been underrating the Dais, but it’s thwarted enough of my Control Magics and minimalized the damage of enough of my removal spells that I’m finally willing to give it some respect. You can only be vexed by a “bad” card for so long before you realize your appraisal was off.
Bla bla Soliton, bla bla “IF THEY WERE ON-COLOR…” blee blee.
I don’t anticipate getting enough artifacts for this little bugger, but it could happen.
Another underrated card that should be seeing more love; it can spoil a good number of otherwise game-breaking plays, and the price is right. If I didn’t have the Wall, I probably would have needed to take the Seastrider.
I somehow managed to forget about my Treasure Mage. I clearly should have taken the Sentinel. If not for Treasure Mage, though, I’d stand by this pick. I don’t have many early drops, and Ichorclaw is an artifact for my assorted Forgemasters/Certarchs/etc. that could help contain opposing infectors. In addition, if I get a little more infect, there’s a chance I could poison people out with Arbalests.
Regardless of which Myr I take here, I’ll simply play one fewer land of the corresponding type. That said, is it better to take the Myr of my main color or my splash color? Does it matter? I honestly don’t know.
These packs haven’t been very good, have they?
I’m probably not playing it, but wowâ€”another nice pack.
Since I already had a Seastrider and a Wall, at this point, I figured a little Treasure-hedge couldn’t hurt.
Wall of Tanglecord
Not my best work, but when is it ever? Plus, the packs were weak! You saw them! And these were the only underpowered packs in the world that didn’t
include a half-dozen Solitons to boot!
In addition to my buffoonish blunder of passing up a solid treasure, I probably should’ve maindecked the Twisted Image. Nihil Spellbomb might make
Snapsail Glider fly and might nullify a Morbid Hunger if I draw it at exactly the right time, but Twisted Image is more likely to have an impact on the
board. I can’t cycle it without a guy in play, but that’s probably not a big deal.
I’ll be choosing to draw. Drawing complements my “incremental advantage” plan, and I have enough early game that I don’t need to worry
about being swarmed.
Round One vs. U/B do-nothing mirror
Game 1: My opponent chose to play, and I kept four lands, Arbalest, Snapail, and Spread. Several turns into the game, he attacked a Myr Sire into my
Darkslick Drake and Snapsail Glider when he had a Fume Spitter, Trigon of Rage, and three lands open. I double blocked; he had the Virulent Wound; and
I lost a bunch of mana but gained a card. After drawing a billion lands, I finally got a Sky-Eel School. When he answered back with Trigon of
Infestation and Tumble Magnet, I thankfully topdecked Vedalken Anatomist. The Anatomist kept his board under control while my School flew over for
basically the full amount.
Game 3: Not anticipating a repeat of that game, I chose to draw. He mulliganed, and I kept three Islands, Seastrider, Darkslick, School, and THE
THRESHER. I was fortunate to draw Leaden Myr, so my fliers came out early. He protected his life total a little with Tumble Magnet and got a Spire
Serpent online to start bashing me with. As the game wound down, I stole Lumengrid Gargoyle with Volition Reins to remove his metalcraft. Empty-handed,
he topdecked his own Reins to take it back, but he was at one life with his Magnet and flier against my two fliers and Anatomist.
Round Two vs. G/B/W
Game 1: I kept five lands, Darkslick Drake, and Instill Infection on the draw. My rationale was that I had a reasonable shot of drawing a two- or
three-drop by turn 3, and then Darkslick could hold the fort or Instill could take out a Vulshok Replica or whatever. What actually happened was that I
drew three straight lands to open the game, so I lost after being too far behind the whole game. The cards he played included Necrogen Scudder, Loxodon
Wayfarer, Rusted Slasher, and Pistus Strike, along with the second off-color (not that “off-color” really matters) Trigon of Rage I’d seen
in as many rounds. I resolved not to lose to this deck.
Twisted Image came in again.
Game 2: I chose to draw; my opponent mulliganed; and I kept three lands, Ghoul, Seastrider, Instill, and Treasure Hunter. I traded Treasure Mage for
his Contagious Nim and managed to use Arbalest on Wall and Seastrider to take out his Scudder when I was at fourteen life. Eventually, he had a Thrun
and Rusted Slasher staring down my Wall (seriously, how good is this card?) and Hexplate Golem. He cast Tine Shrike and used Flesh Allergy to throw it
at Hexy, emptying his hand. I had Dais in play to keep me from taking damage and put him even further behind in cards, and it wasn’t hard to
re-stabilize the board when I had a full grip.
I brought Accorder’s Shield in for Stonework Puma (Snapsail Glider) as additional Troll protection and Forgemaster in for Thresher to bring my curve
down a little. It’s possible that the additional Treasure target was a bit ambitious, and I should have contented myself with a maindeck
Game 3: Quite frankly, my opening hand this game looked like what one would expect to see when accidentally drawing off one’s sideboard: Wall of
Tanglecord, Twisted Image, Swamp, Island, Accorder’s Shield, Hexplate Golem, Plated Seastrider. Needless to say, I won easily (and not even in
the LSV sense of the word). Twist let me trade my Plated Seastrider for a 3/3 Contagious Nim after a very fortunate Fume Spitter topdeck took out his
Tine Shrike. He had a threatening Tel-Jilad Fallen, but my Treasure Mage ensured I wouldn’t have to “waste” my Spread on it. After he
emptied his hand, he had a bunch of assorted do-littles, while I had Forgemaster, Treasure Mage, Myr, Wall, and Hexyback. I actually got to Forge up
Arbalest to seal it.
I was so happy to make the finals that I did a pants-less victory lap in the freezing cold. Looking back on the draft, this was sort of an
overreaction, as my deck wasn’t weak relative to the packs. Regardless, by the time I got back to my computer, the tournament was over.
Timothy James Aten, Esq.
Consortium of Calm Casual Professionals (CCCP)
Sandra Diaz Hyphen Twine on Modo