Drafting with Tim – Scars of Mirrodin #4!

Monday, November 15th – Join Tim Aten for this week’s Scars of Mirrodin draft. Follow his picks, count the name-drops, and discuss in the forums!

Pack 1 pick 1:

My Pick:

That is some interesting pack distribution. My pick is easy; it just sucks that I have to pass Grasp of Darkness as the next-best card. While signaling is overrated one time it can actually be relevant is when you open a pack heavy in one color. You have no idea whether the person to your left will jump in but people farther downstream will see powerful cards of the color later than they normally would. Several of them might see the color as open and jump in leading to it being over-drafted at the table. Thus I plan to avoid green if possible. I do realize the green cards here aren’t the best but once the Grasp is gone they’re the only “signal” left in the pack.

Pack 1 pick 2:

My Pick:

I guess someone opened a Scrapmelter Skinrender or Arc Trail. Good for whoever but better for me since I get one of those plus a Battlesphere! If I had to make such a decision pick 1 pack 1 I actually think I’d take Skinrender over Battlesphere but Battlesphere over Arc Trail or Scrapmelter. I just asked Luis and he said he’d take all three over Battlesphere so I guess I’m glad I didn’t have to make that decision.

Pack 1 pick 3:

My Pick:

I considered taking Sylvok Replica even despite what I said earlier but Rust Tick is roughly as good as Replica and doesn’t steer me toward another color.

Pack 1 pick 4:

My Pick:

After picks 1 and 3 I’m basically washing my hands of green and there’s nothing I can really open (other than possibly Ezuri’s Brigade) that will make me regret that. With Tangle Angler and full-strength Horizon Spellbomb out of contention Snapsail Glider is simply the best card remaining. Perhaps today is the day we’ll catch a glimpse of the fabled black metalcraft deck.

I won’t take Furnace Celebration unless it’s already good in the deck I’m drafting or the pack is a complete blank. As I may have said I don’t like running lots of suboptimal cards in hopes of drawing the one card that ties them all together every game.

Pack 1 pick 5:

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 6:

My Pick:

Are these packs unimpressive or what?

Pack 1 pick 7:

My Pick:

Even though black metalcraft is even more likely after that fifth-pick Steed I don’t need to take Vampires this early. Expensive metalcraft win conditions are basically interchangeable and it’s likely I’ll see more Vampires in future packs with less attractive alternatives. Examining the contents of this pack if I’d seen it one pick sooner I’d have a reasonable chance of wheeling these Vampires. Unfortunately it’ll be a last-pick Plains for me.

Carrion Call and Blight Mamba could be signs that green infect is open but they’re too little too late for me. Oh and I took Fume Spitter over Moriok Replica because it’s just a better card as Moriok Replica isn’t that good.

Pack 1 pick 8:

My Pick:

While I respect Instill Infection it’s only pack 1 and I already have two -1/-1 effects. If not for the Spellbomb I’d take the Instill and probably play it but that Chrome Steed ain’t gonna pump itself.

Pack 1 pick 9:

My Pick:

I’m not sure what made me take Dross Hopper here—I guess because it’s a black card and/or I was imagining my friend Mehran (Latif1)’s disappointment at my passing it. Disperse is heavily underrated works well with Skinrender and Sphere and is more likely to make my deck than Hopper even though I don’t know if I’ll be blue yet. Apparently green didn’t rise to popularity at this table since two of the four solid green cards came back . . . but looking back at the original contents of the pack someone did take Copperhorn Scout. Hm.

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:

The options in this nearly blank pack are Ooze Blast and Copper Myr. I want Myr for the deck but it’s worse than the other options and it’s early enough in the draft where I can reasonably hope to get a couple later. Blast would be better than Ooze if I were B/R already but since I don’t have a second color yet Ooze is good enough that I’d rather take it than branch out.

Pack 2 pick 2:

My Pick:

An easy choice as my curve is a little high and I already have a Rust Tick.

Pack 2 pick 3:

My Pick:

This was a close decision between Neurok Replica and Clone Shell. Clone Shell is slow and unreliable but here I have Battlesphere and Skinrender to possibly mise into. Replica is underwhelming if I don’t end up in blue but it’s still playable with just the Silver Myr (and sometimes acceptable with no blue sources at all). At the time my deck was still a little top-heavy so I went with Replica. I didn’t receive much of a signal for any color pack 1 so blue seems as reasonable a candidate for a secondary color as any especially since it tends to be under-drafted.

Pack 2 pick 4:

My Pick:

This is basically the same as the previous pick. Even though my curve is a little lower now quite frankly I just don’t care for Clone Shell and avoid it whenever possible. I’d rather have a deck that’s solid all-around than try to go crazy with Shell (and possibly Dross Hopper . . .*shudder*).

Pack 2 pick 5:

My Pick:

This is a relatively bold statement about my willingness to dip into blue. I don’t like to go too Spellbomb-crazy because decks need win conditions; you can’t expect to go far with just four Chrome Steeds and 21 Spellbombs.

Pack 2 pick 6:

My Pick:

I’m pretty happy I got this one in a pretty blank pack after passing up the last one.

Pack 2 pick 7:

My Pick:

Gotta turn that metalcraft on early. Strider Harness is close but I want to avoid a potential three-drop glut.

Pack 2 pick 8:

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 9:

My Pick:

Here’s the general game plan: Early on I play Spellbombs. Then when I have enough artifacts for metalcraft without them I cycle them and hope to draw Trigon of Thought which will help recoup the virtual card disadvantage of low threat density caused by playing essentially sixteen lands in a 37-card deck. Metalcraft decks sure are well-oiled machines!

Pack 2 pick 10:

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 11:

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 12:

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 13:

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 14:

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 15:

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 1:

My Pick:

Grindclock would be good against me but I’m not sure it’s fast enough to beat those insidious infect decks. Perilous Myr gets the nod over Rust Tick for curve considerations. Tragically this pack is weak enough that the Bleak Coven Vampires might not table. At the time I think I had convinced myself they definitely would come back.

Pack 3 pick 2:

My Pick:

I figured the odds of me picking up two Copper Myr and splashing the Sylvok Replica off those were greater than those of playing Arbalest without having picked up any of those Solitons or of needing a fourth Spellbomb. In hindsight Arbalest would’ve been a better choice but in all likelihood the card I take here won’t be making my deck.

P.S. What is wrong with these packs? (This is an observation* not a complaint as I happen to love universally weak packs.)

Pack 3 pick 3:

My Pick:

Yet another Clone Shell and this was the easiest one to pass.

Pack 3 pick 4:

My Pick:

This Instill Infection barely edged out the Bleak Coven. Infect is a frighteningly real deck and you have to be able to kill Plague Stingers and Ichorclaw Myr. Passing another set of Vampires—with apologies to LSV and everyone else—sucks but I already have other upper-end options and it’s conceivable this one tables. If it doesn’t come back I might at least get a Moriok Replica out of the deal.

Pack 3 pick 5:

My Pick:

I already have all these artifacts so I might as well put them to use. At the time I was expecting one or both of the other Vampires to table. It’s unclear how realistic this expectation was so it’s possible I should’ve just taken the Bleak Coven here. Even though I am “black metalcraft” and even though it’s the only black card that actually says “metalcraft” on it it’s not like they’re essential to the deck. Either way it’s a real shame that I have to pass another Clone Shell.

I guess here is as good a place as any to remind you to keep Tel-Jilad Fallen in mind when drafting metalcraft especially if you’ve passed a couple. There’s no need to completely retool your deck because of Fallen’s existence but make sure you at least have some Plated Seastriders (or something) for the board if your maindeck has few answers for it.

Pack 3 pick 6:

My Pick:

It’ll be nice to have another win condition if no Bleak Covens table. I have little need for something that’s just a “double artifact” and no need whatsoever for another Pinions.

Pack 3 pick 7:

My Pick:

The fact that I had three Spellbombs made me more comfortable taking the Steed over the Myr. Chrome Steed is a better pick than Myr early on but later in a draft which you take depends on the composition of your deck; neither is absolutely “correct” in a vacuum.

Pack 3 pick 8:

My Pick:

Even though passing Arbalest was incorrect I still don’t particularly regret it. Arbalest would’ve been too slow and clunky in this deck; I don’t think a single Soliton is incentive enough to run it.

Pack 3 pick 9:

My Pick:


Pack 3 pick 10:

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 11:

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 12:

My Pick:

Whew again.

Pack 3 pick 13:

My Pick:

Alright already!

Pack 3 pick 14:

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 15:

My Pick:

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2 Bleak Coven Vampires

2 Chrome Steed

Fume Spitter

Leaden Myr

Myr Battlesphere

Necrotic Ooze

Neurok Replica

Perilous Myr

Rust Tick

Silver Myr


2 Snapsail Glider


2 Flight Spellbomb

2 Instill Infection

2 Nihil Spellbomb

2 Trigon of Thought

12 Swamp

4 Island

The Sky-Eel School didn’t ultimately seem worth the color commitment and I wasn’t lacking for late-drops; as you can see I didn’t even end up playing
all the Vampires. With 25 spells in the deck I knew I wanted my last cut to be a colored card so Certarch had to go. I realize that most people
reading this would’ve cut the Disperse but that only serves as evidence to my point that it’s underrated. It’s an all-purpose card that most people
won’t expect plus it can’t be negated by Embersmiths and Fume Spitters. I want one in my deck 100% of the time I’m blue in this format.

Round One vs. U/R

Game 1: He made me go first so OBViously I had to mulligan (*eye roll*). My six-card hand included a Fume Spitter but I didn’t play it on turn 1. If
it looks like my hand could be aggressive or if I won’t have mana free for the next couple of turns I’ll run it out there on turn 1; otherwise I
don’t want my opponent to know his first one-toughness dude is getting killed making him more likely to lead off with a good one. I ended up using
this Fume Spitter on his turn 2 Iron Myr and he followed up with Vulshok Replica. At that point I had three lands in play but none in hand and my
hand included two Instill Infections and a Skinrender. Did I draw a land for turn 4? No no I did not.

My opponent’s turn was spent playing and equipping Accorder’s Shield. I drew the land and used Skinrender on the Replica and over the next few turns
I used my Instills to kill a Silver Myr and finish off a Neurok Replica that blocked my Skinrender. Thanks in part to my extra cards from Instills I
was able to play a Battlesphere on turn 7 despite missing a land drop for a turn (a mana Myr was involved). After chumping that for a turn my opponent
packed ’em in.

Game 2: After mulliganing my opponent recouped his card with an Arc Trail on a mana Myr and a Snapsail Glider. He filtered a bunch of lands out of the
way with Riddlesmith and I added Rust Tick and an unkicked (un-crafted? you know what I mean) Bleak Coven Vampires. He played a Saberclaw Golem so I
had to lock that down and play Perilous Myr rather than cast another Bleak Coven.

Side note on looters: When my opponent looted away a spell it was probably correct to do so but it reminded me of a point—you don’t always have
to loot. If you play an artifact with Riddlesmith in play and only Skinrender left in hand do you loot and say “I sure hope it’s a bad card since
I’m discarding it anyway?” What kind of sense does that make? Obviously it’s usually correct to loot but don’t dismiss it as automatic.

My opponent played a Sky-Eel School and didn’t block my incoming Vampires with it falling to nine. I played another Vampires without metalcraft and
my opponent equipped Eel with Accorder’s Shield making his board the 3/6 flier a mana Myr and Riddlesmith. On my turn Disperse sent the Eel back
home to mommy and a double-block on a Vampires left him at four life with no board. I played a Necrotic Ooze post-combat and on his turn he scooped
in the face of lethal combat damage. It was kind of a shame my attack would’ve killed him outright as he had both Vulshok Replica and Iron Myr in his
graveyard for my Ooze.

Round Two vs. B/G infect

Game 1: I probably mulliganed since my opening hand notes only list six cards. My opponent led off with Blight Mamba and Contagious Nim. Since I had no
action before turn 4 I Dispersed his Nim during combat hoping he’d play a Tel-Jilad Fallen for me to Skinrender. He only ended up replaying the Nim
though so I played a 2/2 Chrome Steed. I was hoping I could afford to save Skinrender for something evasive and I was hoping to mise an easy trade.
Unfortunately he had Slice in Twain to put me up to five poison counters with no board. On my turn I felt compelled to Skinrend his Blight Mamba just
to avoid dying to Untamed Might. He simply Grasped that played an Arbalest to get two more counters around the creatures I played and finished me off
with Ichor Rats. Cool mechanic Mr. Rosewater! I’m glad you didn’t let it see the light of day with only thirteen years of effort/experience!

I sided out the Trigons for Certarch and Wall of Tanglecord.

Game 2: I kept a four-lander and quickly drew two more but his first play was a Tel-Jilad Fallen which I promptly Instilled. By the end of his eighth
turn the board had become somewhat cluttered: we each had seven lands and he had two Cystbearers Tangle Angler Skinrender Trigon of Infestation
and an Insect token to my Wall Certarch Steed Ooze and Leaden Myr. I topdecked a Steed and when I didn’t tap anything on his turn he swung in
with just the Tangle Angler making a Steed block.

This play only really makes sense if he has Untamed Might so I didn’t just shove all my guys in front of it. Instead since he only had one Forest
open I tapped that during the declare attackers step. As expected he floated a mana and also as expected he seemed surprised when he was alerted
that his mana pool would empty before I had to declare blockers. (I know I was surprised when I lost mana this way over a year ago; new rules can be
tricky.) He ended up pulling the trigger on his Untamed Might anyway and I was content to trade just Steed for it.

He soon cluttered the board further with Acid-Web Spider but my Battlesphere showed up to give me a potential attacker. I tapped his Spider and then
on my turn his Skinrender with Certarch and I swung in with Sphere Steed and Ooze; the Battlesphere trigger took him to seven. My opponent’s last
card in hand was Carrion Call which was unpleasant but not the worst as he still didn’t have lethal poison on board. It’s hard to say how this game
would’ve played out—the outcome would’ve been dubious at best—but my opponent must have forgotten that the trigger took him to seven as he
blocked only the Battlesphere and took lethal damage from my other two guys despite having hordes of blockers.

After that unexpected ground clog I boarded in School Serpent and Pinions for the Nihil Spellbombs and something else changing two of my Swamps to
Islands as well.

Game 3: I started off with Leaden and Perilous Myr and my opponent began with three Forests and a Cystbearer. After playing a Swamp (luckyyyyy!) he
attacked Bearer into my Perilous Myr and had Tel-Jilad Defiance to save his dude. With two other artifacts in play I cast Chrome Steed and fearing
Slice in Twain I didn’t block when he attacked Cystbearer into my 4/4. Indeed he Sliced my horsey post-combat. Then the game really got

After playing a land I had five mana in play and Battlesphere in hand. I wanted to cycle my in-play Spellbomb and the Instill to hopefully hit seven
mana in two turns. When he attacked with Cystbearer I made it a 1/2 drawing a land. Unfortunately his draw from either Slice or that turn netted him
Tel-Jilad Fallen and after using that Instill I was staring at a hand with no answers to it. Fortunately between my Spellbomb draw and draw step I
drew two colored creatures—Certarch and Bleak Coven—and dumped them both into play.

Not to be outdone he slammed down a Bellowing Tanglewurm and smashed me up to seven poison. I ripped a land and came over the top with Battlesphere
providing blockers for Cystbearer and turning on Certarch to tap Tel-Jilad Fallen. My opponent’s turn passed with little fanfare and I suited up
Battlesphere with Pinions and smashed for ten damage total in the air. My opponent peeked at one last card before conceding.

Round Three vs. G/R

Game 1: I noticed my opponent had 41 cards. I used to be fine with playing 41 on rare occasions if it was the only way to make the mana “feel right”
but after reading an excellent argument by PV I play exactly forty cards every time. Basically he said that no one can possibly understand the
precise mathematical ramifications of playing 17/40 vs. 18/41 and the effects will be so negligible as to go completely unnoticed over the course of a
given draft. The argument for forty is as simple as the argument for sixty in Constructed so there’s no need to go into further detail. In sum unless
decking is a consideration post-sideboard start at forty and stay at forty.

My opening hand was an underwhelming three lands two Spellbombs Fume Spitter and Perilous Myr. Because I’d be using my mana the Spitter came out on
turn 1 and eventually killed Blight Mamba in response to a Lifestaff equip. My opponent’s Wall of Tanglecord was a sufficient roadblock for my Snapail
Glider and a Ferrovore soon joined the party. When he double-equipped the pig and sent it in I blocked with Snapsail Glider since it wasn’t getting
past that wall anyway and the Perilous Myr could deter an attacker with three toughness. On turn 7 I played my trusty Battlesphere hoping he didn’t
have a Shatter for it because that would leave me in the words of Don Vito “plum ah’l cold.” **

On his turn he just had a Tanglewurm. On mine I attacked with Battlesphere and got to tap a total of six Myr for it; he chumped with his
double-equipped Wall. I had the Instill ready if he’d tried to double-block and I ended up using it on a Vulshok Replica on his turn. He had to chump
Battlesphere with Tanglewurm and he played another chump blocker in the form of Palladium Myr. My draw yielded Necrotic Ooze and that meant I didn’t
have to wait another turn to win; I played the Ooze attacked with Sphere and tapped my six guys used Ooze as a Plague Spitter to kill my own Perilous
Myr and used the Perilous trigger to clear out his Palladium Myr before blocks.

Game 2: This was a ridiculously drawn-out affair and this article has already gone quite long so I’ll summarize briefly. My opponent’s play was
sloppy but he had Ezuri’s Brigade to make my life miserable. I was forced to bounce it several times but eventually he made an attack where I could
afford to block it. On one of the last turns he attacked with three guys and I had to let one through; since I was at five life and an Untamed Might
would kill me no matter what was getting through I left Necropede unblocked. He mistakenly thought Necropede dealt me regular damage and aimed a
Galvanic Blast at my head. I was at one when the dust settled and apparently he didn’t have any more burn in his deck because he scooped soon after.
(I had five cards left in my deck.)

I appreciate the positive feedback I’ve gotten thus far and I hope this week’s edition was informative. As always intelligent criticism of my picks
(and of course unabashed praise) is welcome in the forums though you won’t be capable of changing my mind about Disperse.

Timothy James Aten

TotalAmoral on MODO (Parvati is back to being semi-retired.)

*If indeed one can consider a rhetorical question to be an “observation.”

**Here “out of action.”