Drafting With Tim – MSS #3!

Tuesday, March 8 – Tim Aten fires up the Magic Online (or MODO as the kids call it) for another Mirrodin Besieged-Scars of Mirrodin draft! Learn from this Limited master and take down one of our Draft Opens this weekend in Memphis!

  Pack 1 pick 1:

  My Pick:

This, of course, doesn’t count as a rare-draft because it’s arguably the best card in the pack. I’m not a fan of the unwieldy Strandwalker, and certainly not as a first pick. It’s basically a 2/4 artifact creature for five, as Shattering it removes any card advantage the Germ token could have given, and equipping it to something before the Germ dies is just asking for trouble. The other viable options are Blisterstick Shaman and Vivisection, but I think infect is still the most powerful archetype, so I’ll often lean in that direction if there’s a decision to be made. I could end up playing Nexus in a U/B semi-infect deck, but it’s improbable I’d try to squeeze it into a random non-infect deck. Plus, I mean…it IS worth a handful of tickets.

  Pack 1 pick 2:

  My Pick:

The other main contender here is Pierce Strider, but four-mana dudes are pretty interchangeable regardless of their bells and whistles, and Vivisection is on a high enough power level that it’s worth speculating over. I’m not going to take Priests of Norn just because it and my first pick both say “infect” on them; white infect is generally underpowered, and there’s no sense torpedoing a draft trying to cram your first pick into your deck. Copper Carapace is viable, especially since it’s solid in infect, but Vivisection goes better in the decks I like to play. I can end up with a U/B deck featuring proliferate, or I can end up abandoning one of my first two picks, and I’m fine with either, especially since none of the cards I’m taking or passing are remarkable.

  Pack 1 pick 3:

  My Pick:

Just your standard all-black-and-blue-cards pack with two uncommons missing. Steel Sabotage is cheap and effective, plus it’s the same color as the card I already have. Virulent Wound isn’t worth branching out over; I’m not married to the Nexus, and Nexus doesn’t force me into black anyway. Distant Memories is clunky and awkward, and if I don’t end up with something worth tutoring for, it’s just flat bad. I’m passing a lot of blue, but if it gets cut pack 2, I’ll just make whatever’s open my second color.

  Pack 1 pick 4:

  My Pick:

Almost everything a Treasure Mage fetches can be Shattered, so unless it’s spectacular (read: Thopter Assembly and probably Spine of Ish Sah), the first Treasure Mage is always better than the first treasure.

  Pack 1 pick 5:

  My Pick:

Even though I already have one, I think it’s the best card in the pack and a clear pick. Nested Ghoul is pretty good, but black can be quite contested, so I’m not going to use a random five-drop as an excuse to fight with the people who actually opened removal.

  Pack 1 pick 6:

  My Pick:

Look! A treasure! Etc.

  Pack 1 pick 7:

  My Pick:

This might should have been Spin Engine. (Author’s note: People in the South actually say “might should.” Isn’t that a riot?) Still, other than this foil Galvanoth, which isn’t actually that good, I haven’t gotten much of an indication that red is open.

  Pack 1 pick 8:

  My Pick:

  Pack 1 pick 9:

  My Pick:

It’s kind of late for a Crush, but to be honest, it’s a marginal maindeck card. Throw in the fact that I’m not red (yet…even though it does appear to be as open as anything), and it’s easy to dismiss. Rhino would give me another Treasure Mage target, but the tempo swing and versatility of Geyser make it way better.

  Pack 1 pick 10:

  My Pick:

This is pretty late for a Resister, especially out of a pack where it was one of the better cards the first time I saw it. I’ll be strongly considering red from here on out.

  Pack 1 pick 11:

  My Pick:

I debated taking the Memories, but seriously…tap four mana, put it in my graveyard, reveal Quicksilver Geyser? “Ooh, tough call. Sure buddy, you can keep that one. Have a ball.”

  Pack 1 pick 12:

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  Pack 1 pick 13:

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  Pack 1 pick 14:

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  Pack 1 pick 15:

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  Pack 2 pick 1:

  My Pick:

The best card in a barren pack is in the color I was leaning toward anyway. Mise?

  Pack 2 pick 2:

  My Pick:

While I’m blue and not green, I really wanted to take the Wall of Tanglecord here and possibly should have. It’s that good.

  Pack 2 pick 3:

  My Pick:

I’m not sure how frequently this will be soaring majestically, but what else am I taking here? I guess I could’ve taken Darksteel Myr, but I figured I’d scoop up enough artifacts by the end of the draft to make the Glider more worthwhile. I hope the packs are just crappy and not “just good enough for everyone who sees them before me to get something solid.”

  Pack 2 pick 4:

  My Pick:

  Pack 2 pick 5:

  My Pick:

So yeah, rather than getting to choose the best card for my particular deck from a variety of options, I continue to make do with my one viable option that’s approximately tied for best card overall in a horrid pack. Halt Order might have been a consideration in other decks, but I kind of want metalcraft, plus I already have two Sabotages.

  Pack 2 pick 6:

  My Pick:

This could have been Lifestaff for metalcraft, but I don’t think it’s that exciting in my deck otherwise. Its primary function would be to turn on Spire Serpent and make Neurok Replica a 2/4. I didn’t really want the Snapsail Glider to begin with—it was just the most attractive option in a bereft pack—so I’m not going to warp my future picks around it too much. Still, it’s a fairly close pick; I just happen to like having a counterspell or two in my blue decks.

  Pack 2 pick 7:

  My Pick:

Hey, I said “or two.” Here, I can take a mediocre three-drop so I can make the mediocre three-drop I already have somewhat less mediocre, or I can supplement my counterspell collection and not have to worry about those anymore. If I had known this was what my next pack was going to look like, I would’ve taken Lifestaff the previous pick and Snapsail Glider here. I think a pack like this—where another Rebuttal and a filler artifact are not only present but also the best options for me—is the only kind that would make me regret the previous pick.

  Pack 2 pick 8:

  My Pick:

Hey, when in Rome! But seriously, thanks, MODO, for making me feel extra stupid.

  Pack 2 pick 9:

  My Pick:

Oh sure, this Rebuttal wheels, but the essentially unplayable Inexorable Tide didn’t come back. I almost took the fourth Rebuttal here out of sheer defiance.

  Pack 2 pick 10:

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  Pack 2 pick 11:

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  Pack 2 pick 12:

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  Pack 2 pick 13:

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  Pack 2 pick 15:

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  Pack 3 pick 1:

  My Pick:

And Magic Online continues to mess with me by daring me to take Argentum Armor. If the Embersmith weren’t in the pack, I’d still take Tumble Magnet and Perilous Myr (and hopefully Wall of Tanglecord) over it, though. This locks up red as my secondary color even though I didn’t have much else.

  Pack 3 pick 2:

  My Pick:

  Pack 3 pick 3:

  My Pick:

Even though “artifacts matter” isn’t that big a theme for me, I definitely value an on-color Myr over a later-game artifact-hungry card.

  Pack 3 pick 4:

  My Pick:

  Pack 3 pick 5:

  My Pick:

Like Argentum Armor, the Tower is frowned upon because it’s slow and clunky but is a game breaker once it’s off and running. My counters and defensive guys will help me get to the late game, and the Tower will let me take control from there. This deck even has a couple Steel Sabotages to protect the Tower from artifact removal. I suppose this is a somewhat unconventional pick—I assume that most would’ve just taken the awkward Hill Giant—but this does up my artifact count and give me a little flood insurance.

  Pack 3 pick 6:

  My Pick:

Yeah, this is perfectly normal. (Spoiler: I never draw it, and I lose round 2.)

  Pack 3 pick 7:

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  Pack 3 pick 8:

  My Pick:

Ordinarily, with this low of an artifact count, I just take the Disperse. Here, though, I already have two Steel Sabotages and the Quicksilver Geyser for bounce, making Lumengrid Drake a more likely maindeck inclusion.

  Pack 3 pick 9:

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Spikeshot Elder

Silver Myr

Gold Myr



2 Neurok Replica

Snapsail Glider

Treasure Mage

Ogre Resister

Spire Serpent

Hexplate Golem

2 Steel Sabotage

Flight Spellbomb

2 Stoic Rebuttal

Trigon of Corruption

Tower of Calamities


Trigon of Thought

Turn to Slag

Quicksilver Geyser

9 Island

8 Mountain

Initially I had sixteen lands and the other Flight Spellbomb, but I realized I wanted a healthy amount of mana in the deck and also needed help with my
colored mana requirements. (The latter also explains why the Nexus didn’t make the cut.) I have an Embersmith and a lackluster Snapsail Glider, but
barring those, the extra artifact wouldn’t help much, and with seventeen lands and two Myr, I wanted my “business spells” to have an actual impact on
the game.

The Vivisection should’ve been a Neurok Invisimancer. My creature count is rather low, and none of the dudes are exciting to sacrifice beyond the two
Myr. I didn’t even realize how bad it was in my deck (since I’m used to it just being awesome), so I never even boarded it out. As it turned out, it
was hardly relevant, but that naturally doesn’t make it “okay.”

I’d be choosing to play with this deck, as it has plenty of mana sources and lots of ways to get ahead if I can get my mana out faster than the
opponent. Also, counterspells are better on the play.

Round One vs. G/R

Game 1: I chose to play and kept two of each land, two Steel Sabotages, and Ogre Resister. After playing land-go for several turns, I countered a Spin
Engine and a Lumengrid Gargoyle, deploying the Resister and Slagging a Tangle Angler in between. I played Treasure Mage and searched for Hexplate
Golem, and his only responses were a Palladium Myr and a Strata Scythe that he couldn’t afford to equip that turn. He took the hit from my team to fall
to two and soon scooped when he realized he couldn’t stop all my guys from getting through.

I took out the Snapsail Glider for the third Stoic Rebuttal. Neither the potential for flight nor the body size seemed relevant against his green deck,
whereas the Rebuttal can handle some nasty 5+ drops. If I had noticed how bad Vivisection was in this deck, it would have come out for Invisimancer.

Game 2: He chose to draw, which surprised me. Even setting aside the fact that most people still blindly choose to play in this format even though
drawing is correct more often than not, I think the average green deck simply risks falling too far behind on the draw. I felt obligated to keep two
Islands, two Stoic Rebuttals, Skimmer, Trigon of Corruption, and Turn to Slag. I missed my land drop for a turn, letting him land a Spin Engine. From
there, when I started drawing lands, I kept Rebuttal mana open rather than risk him playing something nasty by tapping out for Trigon. I was able to
counter a Tangle Mantis, then play a Neurok Replica and the Trigon over the next few turns, knowing I’d be able to bounce-counter if he played anything
really scary. I did exactly that to a Molder Beast, and he was out of gas, having gotten “Modo”ed (he had fourteen lands in play at the end of the

Round Two: U/R Mirror

Game 1: My opponent chose to play, and I looked at Mountain, Silver Myr, Embersmith, Stoic Rebuttal, Neurok Replica, Tower of Calamities, and Ogre
Resister. The Tower is a “virtual mulligan” here, of course, but I was weighing my odds of winning with this “six-card” hand versus a random
six-carder. If I drew any land, I’d be able to start firing, and the Neurok Replica would buy me more time to draw into additional lands. Ultimately,
this hand should’ve been a mulligan, but I was in WWLSVD mode and not “What Would Juza Do?” mode. (I’m not sure even Luis would keep this unless he was
on tilt.)

Rather than draw a land in my first three draw steps, I plucked running Steel Sabotages and the other Stoic Rebuttal. My opponent was a little
land-heavy and didn’t have much on the board, and I eventually got to Sabotage a Darksteel Sentinel. I made a game out of it, but I had no answer for
Neurok Invisimancer backed by Grand Architect and Flayer Husk.

Game 2: His deck didn’t seem to come roaring out of the gates (one of the cards he’d played was a Darksteel Myr, not typically indicative of aggro), so
I chose to draw. I mulled two Mountains, Hexplate, Ogre Resister, Slag, Rebuttal, and Vivisection (wow, if only that had been Invisimancer) into
Island, Mountain, Skimmer, Slag, Rebuttal, Geyser. On turn 3, now with two Islands and a Mountain, I played Gold Myr instead of leaving Rebuttal up, so
naturally he played an Argent Sphinx, and on the following turn, he had the obligatory Arc Trail to put me even further behind. By the time I could
Geyser the Sphinx at the end of his turn then counter it when he replayed it, he actually had enough mana to play a Darkslick Drake to bait out the
counter (which I obliged); this let me Turn his Sphinx to Slag. This was all irrelevant, as my life total was far too low, and a Quicksilver Geyser
cleared the way for his Darksteel Sentinel and other assorteds to kill me.

As I mentioned, there were a few things I could’ve done differently during the draft and construction, but none of them would have significantly
impacted the outcome. I took an unnecessary risk game 1 of round 2, probably from being on MODO-tilt from flooding every game in my previous eight
events, and I paid for it. Hopefully, I can shake the yips before next time.


Timothy James Aten

Lord of Vermilion

Dr. Lisa Cuddy on MODO