It’s Draft o’Clock again! This time, while the deck I ended up with was certainly powerful, it was lopsided in a couple of unfortunate ways. See what
you think you would have done differently…
A number of powerful cards here. Septic Rats is one of the more powerful infect creatures; Burn the Impure is always fantastic. Viridian Claw is great, but best in an infect deck that probably wants to pick up the Rats as it has the chance. I almost picked Burn the Impure, but I enjoy drafting infect when I can, so I went for the Rats.
Hoo boy. Rare is missing, so I don’t want to read much into this pack, but Flamefiend is kind of ridiculous. The difficulty is that passing Mortarpod is tough, as it’s great in infect. In the end, however, I can’t pass up on Flamefiend.
While I will stand by this pick, it turns out that Skyhunter would have made a bigger difference to my deck. Given how rarely a draft deck will end up looking quite like the one I ended up with, I’m completely comfortable with this pick.
And, as seems to usually be the case, white is wide open.
Normally I’d pick Rusted Slasher here, but I don’t think I’ve ever played against Darksteel Plate, or had it available in an archetype in which it made sense to consider (the other being infect, where rendering your smaller creatures indestructible means your opponent won’t be able to stop them grinding through their defenses given time). I resolved to pick it and see if I couldn’t try it out.
If I’m happy to third-pick it; I’m even more happy to seventh-pick it.
Spin Engine is really good in aggressive decks as this is shaping up to be, but Resister is just too big to pass. One of the potential weaknesses of R/W is a lack of sizable creatures once you get past the early turns, and Resister fills that hole nicely, either attacking for a good amount of damage or holding off opposing creatures while your fliers get in.
Partisan is a little on the slow and small side, while Concussive Bolt could either be a great card for us or a blank. On the chance I end up able to consistently generate metalcraft, Bolt is outstanding at pushing lethal through in the late-game, so I’ll pick it up just in case.
An aggressive R/W deck? Opening Kemba? Must be nice, right? It felt nice at the time, for sure! Not drawing him in eight games, many of which were pretty long? That didn’t feel so great.
Nothing particularly exciting. I don’t really want Myr in an aggressive deck, and Warden and Glider both need metalcraft to do much. It’s at least easier to satisfy the metalcraft requirement on Glider, so I picked it up. Besides, Warden and Gaveleer will probably table anyway.
Now that I have Kemba I’m prioritizing Equipment a little higher, and Lifestaff is a fine one. If both of these Gaveleers table, I’ll be looking at some real potential for aggressive starts.
Is white being cut from my left? It doesn’t feel like it should be, after only passing a couple of decent white cards in the first pack. Edgewright is pretty much the definition of unexciting, as his metalcraft is unreliable, and he has annoying colored mana requirements. He’s only my second two-drop, however, and I’ll take him over everything else here.
I guess either I’m not being cut after all, or this pack was particularly deep in white. Who knows.
My fourth piece of Equipment, and I’m probably not looking to play any more at this point.
Saying that, I’m going to take Harness over complete blanks to give myself a bit of flexibility. Specifically, I’m going to want to board out the Darksteel Plate against infect.
A bit of a decision here and a tipping point between an aggressive approach and a slower midrange equips approach. I went with Gaveleer because I love the little guy, and because I don’t really have a hugely impressive late game to drag the game out to with Warden.
I don’t, sadly, really have the cheap artifact base (or a sufficiently high hope of building one) to pick Glint Hawk here, although I’m hardly unhappy with Revoke (I’m now up to two Revoke, two Divine Offering, and a Leonin Relic-Warder, so I’m starting to push up on the limits of how much artifact removal can be safely maindecked without compromising some matchups completely).
If there were a strong, aggressive two-drop like a Glint Hawk Idol in the pack, this might have been something of a decision, but I have plenty of three-drops already. Even then, the lure of a strong removal spell that hits everything my Offerings and Revokes miss would probably prove too strong.
I definitely would have picked a decent two-drop over Shatter. At this point, I don’t even know if Shatter will make the maindeck, while a Smith, Shikari, Idol, or even another Edgewright would go a long way to improving my curve.
Well, I guess I’m Removal Guy today. Even with Turn to Slag’s high power level, I would not argue strongly against picking up Origin Spellbomb here for all the previously mentioned reasons. While a 1/1 and a card draw isn’t the most aggressive turn 2 play, it smooths your draws while giving you a warm body to hold equipment.
I wasn’t kidding when I said I disliked Myr in R/W aggro. In a deck heavy on three-drops with only a couple of fours and more expensive cards, Myr are likely to be rendered irrelevant very quickly, while Skyguard is a solid evasive threat that holds equipment like a trooper.
Metalcraft is looking quite unrealistic at this point, while I can conceive of situations in which I would want to board in Darksteel Sentinel to give me a bit more late-game oomph.
Not a huge surprise, but nice to get.
1 Barbed Battlegear
1 Darksteel Sentinel
1 Fuel for the Cause
1 Melt Terrain
1 Hexplate Golem
1 Necrogen Censer
1 Salvage Scout
1 Vigil for the Lost
1 Ogre Geargrabber
1 Loxodon Wayfarer
1 Spiraling Duelist
1 Kemba’s Legion
1 Concussive Bolt
1 Septic Rats
1 Copperhorn Scout
Yeah, that’s Shatter in the sideboard of a R/W aggro deck. I went light on land because I only have five cards that cost more than three mana. My
chances of hitting my third land drop, on the play, and without considering mulligans, are 80%, and I’m hardly short on cards to play against most
opponents even on two mana. My chances of having red for Gaveleers turn 1 on the play are 77%, 82% on the draw, and I’m just under 60% to hit WW on
turn 2 on the play, 67% on the draw. The color conflict between Gaveleers and Edgewright/Relic-Warder, and general lack of two-drops, is probably the
biggest hole in the deck. Any that relies heavily on artifact creatures or its own equipment, or which is weak to a quick start with Gaveleer, should
be easy pickings, while something like infect could be trouble, with both fewer good targets for artifact removal and potentially awkward creatures
like Cystbearer, Necropede, and Blightwidow.
I lose the roll, and my opponent chooses to draw. I keep Mountain, Plains, Panic Spellbomb, Divine Offering, Blisterstick Shaman, Snapsail Glider, Ogre
Resister. Blisterstick Shaman kills off a Flayer Husk germ on my third turn, then he refuses the trade when I attack with it into his freshly cast Myr.
My Snapsail Glider is countered by Steel Sabotage, then he drops Mirran Spy and equips it with Flayer Husk. I Panic the Spy, drawing and playing a
second Mountain, then attack and play Auriok Edgewright. Sadly his turn 6 Scrapdiver Serpent is a little more impressive, and when he has Burn the
Impure for my Ogre Resister, we’re on to game 2 pretty quickly.
Game 2 goes completely the opposite direction, as we trade off early plays, then I look for a second Mountain to Turn his Serum Raker to Slag in order
to get through with a Harnessed, Lifestaff-wielding Skyguard. Before I can do so, he draws Trigon of Corruption and whittles my Skyguard and
Relic-Warder to nothing, reloading with Steel Sabotage when he runs out of counters. Thanks to the Lifestaff, I’m way up on life, and I settle in for a
long game. My first attempt at killing the Trigon is met with Stoic Rebuttal; Turn to Slag takes down Scrapdiver Serpent; the second artifact removal I
draw has to plug his Golem Artisan;, and eventually I set up a hand of Ghalma’s Warden, Blisterstick Shaman, Goblin Gaveleer, and Accorder’s Shield
with the Trigon on two counters and Lifestaff in play.
I play Blisterstick Shaman, killing one of the Myr that’s been attacking me (along with a Spy and Husk germ token), then trying to equip the Lifestaff.
He bites, killing it in response with the Trigon, and I cast and equip the Warden, holding the Shield back, as I don’t have the mana to cast and equip.
He moves Flayer Husk to the Spy and passes. I draw Master’s Call, play and equip Accorder’s Shield, and trap him into blocking with Spy, using the
Trigon to keep his Spy alive, only for Master’s Call to pump the Warden and leave him nearly defenseless. Post-combat, I drop Gaveleer and move the
Shield to it. The 3/5 Warden, 6/4 trampling Gaveleer, and Myr tokens make short work of him to round off what seemed like a hopeless game at several
Game 3 is quite a bit quicker. I play a turn 1 Gaveleer and manage to play around Steel Sabotage to get it equipped when my opponent drops Mirran Spy
on turn 3. I’ve drawn three Plains and a Mountain to go with a hand of Ogre Resister, Kuldotha Flamefiend, Turn to Slag, Revoke Existence, and Divine
Offering, so I send the Gaveleer into his Mirran Spy and Flayer Husk Germ on turn 4. Sure enough, he has the Sabotage to bounce Accorder’s Shield but
oddly chooses to block with the Germ rather than the Spy. Divine Offering on the Husk punishes that decision, and I pass after replaying the Shield. He
casts Serum Raker, and I draw Panic Spellbomb that both gets an attack through and draws me into my second Mountain. After he equips Viridian Claw to
his Serum Raker, it gets Turned to Slag, discarding Ogre Resister with the sixth land for Flamefiend waiting in hand. Flamefiend does what, well,
flaming fiends do, and the game is over quickly from that point.
Round 2 was a somewhat unfortunate affair for my opponent, who ran into what must have seemed like the worst possible matchup. Running a very
equipment-heavy B/G deck that didn’t seem like it had managed to pick up enough infect creatures, he managed to steal game 2 after an early attrition
war while I lacked a second Mountain. His Blightwidow and Flesh-Eater Imp picked me apart. The other two games were characterized by completely brutal
Turn to Slag/Divine Offering/Shatter/Revoke Existence plays that pick up 2- or 3-for-1s at every turn. Master’s Call mid-combat for the metalcraft pump
through your 4/2 first striking Phyrexian Rager? Turn to Slag your Blightwidow with Lifestaff? Attack Gaveleer with Accorder’s Shield into your
Painsmith with Accorder’s Shield, then Relic-Warder the Shield after you block? It wasn’t pretty.
Alas, although my opponent opened up the third game on the play with Goblin Gaveleer and Embersmith, he didn’t seem to be as heavy on artifacts as that
might imply (or at least, they didn’t surface in our games). His Arrest for my first play let my Ogre Resister brick wall his smaller creatures. I
Harnessed up the Ogre and went on the offensive, only to lose it to Dispense Justice. While I had Skyguard to Harness up and swing, and Master’s Call
to try for trades when he sent in his Gaveleer, Embersmith, and a Kuldotha Ringleader, he had Galvanic Blast to keep his Embersmith alive. I played
Edgewright, double-blocking the Ringleader on his next attack and losing the Skyguard, only to draw Darksteel Plate and double-equip the Edgewright. At
six life staring at Embersmith and either one or two cards in hand, I cracked in to take my opponent from twelve to six. His next turn was a real kick
in the teeth, as he played Signal Pest, pinging me, Glint Hawk, then replayed Signal Pest, taking me to four, then attacking with Embersmith. My attack
prompted a chump from Signal Pest, but I’d drawn land rather than the Divine Offering I would have needed (to gain three life by targeting the Plate
when he attacked for four next turn).
Game 2 was similarly frustrating. I set up a Resister with Strider Harness and, later, Accorder’s Shield while my opponent plinked away with Glint Hawk
and Signal Pest, playing a series of artifact creatures each turn after combat that ate removal spells and allowed me to swing past for five. At ten
life, he Dispensed the Ogre, and we ended up in a situation where only Glint Hawk was getting through for damage, while his Darksteel Juggernaut ran
into my Accorder’s Shield, but I couldn’t draw a flier or removal spell to get rid of the Hawk. Barrage Ogre quickened the clock substantially, and I
ended up succumbing with my opponent at four life, with only the Glint Hawk and Ogre left in play when the dust cleared.
The big decision in this draft was really the second one. The first pick of Septic Rats vs. Burn the Impure could have gone either way, but picking
Mortarpod over Flamefiend, accepting the less powerful (but still excellent) card that worked better with my first pick, would have been potentially
disastrous, or at least disruptive. When a rare is taken, you have to be careful not to read too much into it, but Flamefiend is in the unusual
position of being arguably better than every red rare. As such, a passed Flamefiend is a better signal than â€˜rare missing vs. top quality uncommon in
the pack’ tends to be. This would not be true, for example, of white in Mirrodin Besieged. While Leonin Relic-Warder is very nice, for example, there’s
absolutely no chance of someone taking it over Phyrexian Rebirth, Mirran Crusader, or White Sun’s Zenith. Corrupted Conscience is in a similar position
to Flamefiend, although both blue mythics will definitely be taken over it. I guess you just need to decide whether you feel lucky, punk!
I only drew Darksteel Plate once, and it was frustrating to pick an unusual rare, play it, and not really get the chance to actually experiment with
it, so I guess I might try and repeat that particular experiment some other time. I also need to make sure to pack plenty of catnip next time because
Kemba hiding for all eight games of the draft is not acceptable…