Drafting with Tim – Scars of Mirrodin #3!

Monday, November 8th – Evidence that Tim Aten is a real person has been put forth, and he does his third Scars draft. Follow along with Tim in today’s draft cap!

“You’re a real person.” –Brad Nelson *

Coming into today’s draft I’ve won my last three in a row. The first was a bonkers U/R deck with double Embersmith and double Contagion Clasp; the
second was a sick basically Mono-Black infect deck (splashing Arrest and Revoke Existence) that I admittedly backdoored into with a fortuitous third
pack and the third included Kuldotha Phoenix Tel-Jilad Fallen and Sunblast Angel. Basically I think I’m due for a loss but I’m not going to start
cherry-picking (unless that’s what you guys want). You’ve got to go forwards to get back. Better press on.

This week I intend to force infect. Its focused incarnations are the most powerful in the format and the cards have recently been going later than
they should on MODO. I’m perfectly willing to abandon this plan if I open something ridiculous like Hoard-Smelter Dragon or Infiltrator’s Magemark.

Pack 1 pick 1:

My Pick:

Scrapmelter is better than Volition Reins because of both converted mana cost and color commitment. I didn’t consider Tel-Jilad Fallen or Untamed Might because the Melter is too powerful and there’s no reason I couldn’t splash it if I end up in infect. Once I made my decision I counted the other playables to see what would come back. I figured Magnet Reins Glint Hawk Fallen Riddlesmith and at least one Myr would get taken meaning that if the other Myr was also taken I’d actually wheel the Untamed Might.

Pack 1 pick 2:

My Pick:

Necropede is so good that the aforementioned Mr. Nelson was seriously tempted to take it over Scrapmelter pick 1 pack 1 multiple times at GP Toronto. Kazuya Mitamura has it higher than Ichor Rats in his pick order and I thought it was better than Rats anyway. Throw in the fact that there’s little other competition and it’s an easy pick.

Pack 1 pick 3:

My Pick:

The choice is between Replica and Carrion Call. I’m still planning on forcing infect but I think Replica is strong enough to take over Call. I’d have begrudgingly taken a Cystbearer over the Replica though.

Pack 1 pick 4:

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 5:

My Pick:

I think Infiltration Lens is fantastic in poison respectable in a Shikari-heavy deck and pretty embarrassing otherwise. Playing against a Lens when you start at twenty life “Okay I’ll just take it” is usually a reasonable option; it becomes much less attractive when you only start at ten. Plus when someone is forced to block a Lensed infector his creature shrinks permanently compounding the detriment.

I guess Genesis Wave is okay as a curve-topper in infect if the game boils down to an attrition war. If things go according to plan however it’s too slow. Wave would be reasonable in the ramp-ish green decks I normally draft.

Pack 1 pick 6:

My Pick:

I suppose this is me putting my money where my mouth is. This was quite painful for me but in the immortal words of Courtney Love “I made my bed I’ll lie in it.” **

Pack 1 pick 7:

My Pick:

Holy crap—that’s a lot of green cards. I guess I won’t be seeing any Molder Beasts in pack 2…

Pack 1 pick 8:

My Pick:

Ordinarily I’d have been some other archetype at this point and moved halfway into poison. My plan to force is giving my deck some welcome cohesion.

Pack 1 pick 9:

My Pick:

I’m surprised the Tel-Jilad Fallen tabled but this pick was incorrect. Fallen is only the pick over Untamed Might when you’re worried about reaching a critical mass of infectors. I already had five infectors pretty early in the draft and all signs pointed to me being able to grab a bunch more pack 3. I’m pretty sure a thought crossed my mind that someone might see the Fallen tenth as a signal and move in which is a pretty sketchy rationalization. I hate when my brain stops functioning for a few seconds.

Pack 1 pick 10:

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 11:

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 12:

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 13:

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 14:

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 15:

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 1:

My Pick:

I believe Tumble Magnet is generally correct over Untamed Might in infect even without considering that Might occasionally tables and Magnet never will. If I already have a Magnet or two I’m more likely to switch it up and take the Might. It’s less likely this particular Might will table than the last one but there’s a definite chance.

Galvanic Blast would only likely be a Shock in my deck which is worse than being able to lock something down for three turns (or two things for a critical turn). Also I’m keeping G/B/r open as a possibility instead of assuming I’ll be mono-green with a splash and in the former scenario I want to keep my splash small so that I’ll have a reasonable mana base. As for the Contagious Nim I’m looking to have enough infectors that I don’t need a relatively bad one in lieu of a powerful support card.

Pack 2 pick 2:

My Pick:

A couple things combined to make Shatter a less attractive option here. First as I mentioned if I’m going to be G/B/r I don’t want a lot of Red cards. Also I already have a couple artifact destruction spells so my need for one isn’t as dire. My need isn’t dire for two-drop infectors either but Plague Stinger’s evasion really puts it over.

Pack 2 pick 3:

My Pick:

I wish I could’ve justified taking the Argentum Armor but I just planned on the games being over too fast for it to ever get equipped.

Pack 2 pick 4:

My Pick:

I don’t like taking Magnet over Grasp but I think it’s the play. When you expect the games to be over pretty fast the Magnet’s transience is less likely to be a liability plus the aforementioned ability to remove two blockers for a key turn can be vital. I was pretty happy with almost all my picks this draft (Fallen over Might being a noteworthy exception) but this one rubbed me the wrong way. Was this pick right wrong or somewhere in between?

Incidentally it also sucks that I have to pass up on Ichorclaw Myr plus someone’s getting a gift-wrapped bomb fifth or later in Tempered Steel.

Pack 2 pick 5:

My Pick:

How awful. If red ends up being a light splash I might actually be able to justify playing this as it could prove a useful topdeck even if I don’t have a red source.

Pack 2 pick 6:

My Pick:

It’s probably safe to say I’m the only green-based infect drafter at the table. If I had another Fallen I might consider Ezuri (or Tanglewurm) as a great way to break through but drawing him without a Fallen would be disappointing. Blight Mambas aren’t as good as Ichorclaw Myr but since I have some early drops my need isn’t pressing. I don’t have that many good ways to break through so weakening opposing defenses with a chump attack (or absorbing a removal spell) and recouping the loss with Cur seems a viable plan.

Which infect—or in a few corner cases non-infect—card I take here depends what my deck looks like at the time; I guess there’s a little more nuance to drafting infect than I had claimed. Still as long as you pay attention to curve while taking cards that say “infect” on them you can’t go too wrong.

Pack 2 pick 7:

My Pick:

Easily the scariest card for me. Sometimes blunting one attack is all an opponent needs to survive and take over.

Pack 2 pick 8:

My Pick:

Nihil Spellbomb will just be an awkward cycler unless I get a Throne of Geth and even if I get one I’ll have to draw them at the same time to be happy with Spellbomb. I don’t have that much black so I could still potentially be on a G/r plan with Ogre to help clear the way. Granted I don’t actually anticipate that happening and I wouldn’t have Ogred if I had a viable alternative.

Pack 2 pick 9:

My Pick:

Undeserved redemption is redemption nonetheless.

Pack 2 pick 10:

My Pick:

Shikari is arguably scarier for me than Auriok Replica because it comes out a turn sooner and sometimes has first strike.

Pack 2 pick 11:

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 12:

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 13:

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 14:

My Pick:

Did the guy on my right do a good job of cutting white pack 1 or what?

Pack 2 pick 15:

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 1:

My Pick:

Just what I was looking for—something to give my anemic beaters a little more oomph.

Pack 3 pick 2:

My Pick:

It’s still possible I splash Shatter but it’s not likely. With the Axe I’m more incentivized to play the Plague Stinger plus there might be another random black infector down the line. With no fixers and lots of colored spells I don’t want to compromise my mana base. That said Shatter is the only viable pick.

Pack 3 pick 3:

My Pick:

See above plus there’s now a further diminished marginal utility associated with Shatter. Barbed Battlegear kills some of my guys can’t be equipped to others and ironically makes Cystbearer worse a decent amount of the time.

Pack 3 pick 4:

My Pick:

I had the same rationale for taking this Cur as the first one and I had the same rationale for passing Mindslaver as for passing Argentum Armor.

Pack 3 pick 5:

My Pick:

Even with one fixer the red splash wouldn’t be worth the strain on the mana base.

Pack 3 pick 6:

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 7:

My Pick:

I’m a little low on tricksy cards and Withstand Death works pretty well with Tel-Jilad Fallen; the opponent will hope to trade one of his precious few colored creatures with Fallen only to have Fallen bounce back unscathed.

Pack 3 pick 8:

My Pick:

I didn’t actually have much interest in the first Barrage Ogre and I have none whatsoever for this one. I doubt the Wall will make the maindeck but there’s a chance I’ll side it in.

Pack 3 pick 9:

My Pick:

Sure. Why not?

Pack 3 pick 10:

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 11:

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 12:

My Pick:

The School doesn’t get enough respect.

Pack 3 pick 13:

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 14:

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 15:

My Pick:

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Blackcleave Goblin

2 Blight Mamba

Contagious Nim

2 Corpse Cur

3 Cystbearer

Fume Spitter


Plague Stinger

Sylvok Replica

2 Tel-Jilad Fallen

Carrion Call

Darksteel Axe

Infiltration Lens

Instill Infection

2 Tumble Magnet

Untamed Might

Withstand Death

11 Forest

6 Swamp

A splash isn’t feasible in this deck; the additional power wouldn’t be enough to compensate for the loss in consistency. I debated between six and
seven Swamps but considering Mamba regeneration and the double green in the Fallens I decided to err on the side of Forests.

It would’ve been nice to have one more way to break through and one less random infector. If only there were something I could’ve done!***
Beyond that the only real problem with this deck is its rigid curve; I want four lands on turn 4 and maybe another two over the next several turns
then no more for the rest of the game. Moving the Axe around and—again with apologies to LSV and everyone else—Corpse “re-Cur-sion” can
make some use of mana in the late game but these don’t necessarily smooth out the mana awkwardness enough.

Round One vs. U/G

Game 1: I kept four lands Blight Mamba Sylvok Replica and Fallen and I curved out as such. My opponent’s first few plays were Rust Tick and
Darkslick Drake. On my fifth turn I played Tumble Magnet and tapped the Drake getting in with Tel-Jilad Fallen. I then played Infiltration Lens
leaving up Sylvok Replica mana to take care of Rust Tick on end step if he didn’t play anything more threatening. My hope was that he wouldn’t have
another colored creature so that I wouldn’t need to bother killing his Tick to get maximum use out of my Magnet. Unfortunately his fifth-turn play was
a backbreaking Acid-Web Spider.

On my turn I played a Cystbearer the last of my spells. I decided to pull the trigger on killing the Rust Tick so I could start eroding his defenses
with Blight Mamba. If I had more action I might not have been forced into such an aggressive use of the Replica and I wouldn’t have been drawring
semi-dead to his turn 6 Volition Reins on my Tel-Jilad Fallen.

My opponent attacked with his other two guys leaving only Fallen back. After drawing Carrion Call I grudgingly sent my Mamba in to trade with the
Fallen. My opponent attacked me to thirteen with just the Spider then played Palladium Myr and Strata Scythe post-combat. At the end of his turn I
tapped his Darkslick Drake and played Carrion Call. He was at four poison so a topdecked Blackcleave Goblin Untamed Might or Axe would let me steal
it. Unfortunately I just drew Withstand Death so I swung for the fences and Withstood my blocked token putting him at seven poison.

My opponent continued dumping creatures on the board now in the form of Clone Shell and Leaden Myr. I drew the Untamed Might a turn late; I had no
good attacks and had to pass it back. A hit from the Scythed Drake put me to six and though my Tumble Magnet forestalled the inevitable for a turn I
just couldn’t get through his wall of blockers.

Game 2: I mulled a one-lander into a mediocre hand with only two Forests for land. After drawing a spell I drew two Forests then two Swamps then two
more Forests. I tried to make a game of it against his great draw (which included three Sky-Eel School) with my Corpse Curs but I was never really in

I hate when my apprehensiveness proves portentous especially before the judgmental eyes of the unforgiving public. Before you lambaste me in the
forums with your shamelessly results-oriented critiques just remember that I have feelings. I am after all a real person. ****

Timothy James Aten

*I won’t give you the context but I will say that this was said “reassuringly” and not sarcastically.

**I do in fact realize that Hole’s “Miss World” was not the first or most prominent instance of someone uttering a variation of this phrase.

***I’d like to think I wouldn’t need a footnote to explain this sentence was sarcastic but then again I’d “like to think” a lot of things.

****I’d like to think I wouldn’t need a footnote to explain that my feelings don’t actually get hurt when buffoons who don’t have the first clue how to
sling a spell deem my articles a waste of time and that this was just a cute attempt to tie the conclusion to the introduction and I’d like to think
that I’m over-explaining things most egregiously here but I. Would like. To think. A lot. Of. Things.