“Turn 1, Clockwork Beetle.”
“Turn 2, Bonesplitter, Equip.”
“That’s one swift kick in the nuts.”
Ah, I remember the days when I used to hurry to the local card shop to get the newest issue of Inquest or Scrye the very day it rolled off the presses. I’d bolt out of the house with a quickness unrivaled by even a Stealth Bomber and sprint down the street, knocking over everyone in my way. I couldn’t wait to be the first guy on the block to get the new issue.
Okay, so maybe it didn’t happen exactly like that.
Sadly though, when I was younger and less experienced in all things Magical, I did have a good amount of respect for what was written in these two supposed strategy magazines. The fact that I even read some of the stuff that they somehow saw fit to print still baffles me to this day. When you then consider that I actually believed most of it, you know we’ve got problems.
If Clockwork Beetle is a kick in the nuts, then I’m gonna have to warrant a guess that Chimney Imp is like getting clocked in the face with a baseball bat. Seriously, though, if this is what a kick in the nuts feels like, where do I sign up?
Anyway, back to reality. About a week ago I received an email from Oscar Flores saying that he had screenshots for a number of Mirrodin drafts from beta-testing Magic Online. This seemed like another great opportunity to get a Walkthrough out before Mirrodin is even released on Magic Online (if it ever is), so I jumped at the offer. I scanned a few of Oscar’s drafts before finding one that had enough debatable picks to make it worth writing about.
If this draft teaches you anything, it should be that choosing the right path early in the draft is incredibly important if you plan on sticking to it. Oscar chose a less-than-optimal route during the draft and then refused to switch out of it despite being given numerous opportunities. If you do happen to make a bad judgment call early in the draft and realize it, you can still salvage it by switching out later when you’re given the opportunity.
Let’s get to it, shall we?
The Draft: Pack One
This pack could be a Dilemma article all by itself, as two cards definitely stand out. After extensive drafting, I’ve found that in Mirrodin, unlike most Limited formats before it, there are a number of close picks that really require you to have done your homework if you wanna make the right call.
The rest of the pack is certainly solid, containing Swordsmith, Enforcer, Bloodletter, and Exile, but the Goblin and Mindslaver are simply much higher in power level. This shouldn’t require additional explanation.
The first issue here is certainly commitment. Spikeshot requires at least a small commitment to Red – as if we take him, we’re certainly going to want to play him, or at least splash him in the event we get cut off. Mindslaver requires no color commitments unless your lands are different from the ones I’m playing with, and they somehow tap for brown mana.
So what about power level?
This is where the amount of experience you’ve had in the format has a huge impact on which card you will select. Anyone with a brain cell can figure out that Spikeshot Goblin is good – but what about Mindslaver? The Slaver’s effect is more ambiguous, and so it actually takes some thought or experience to determine its value. If you’ve ever played with or against it, you’ll agree with me that it is one of the most annoying things that can happen most of the time.
While Mindslaver’s effect costs a total of ten mana over a couple of turns, it has a habit of turning games around and totally devastating your opponent’s board. I’ll list some Mindslaver scenarios that I’ve personally been involved in, or heard about, just to prove my point.
Example 1: In a PTQ, two players are entrenched in game three when the round ends and they enter extra turns. On turn three of the extra turns, one player activates Mindslaver and then takes turn four for his opponent. He alpha strikes for his opponent and blocks so that he will be able to survive and then attack back for the win. Without the Slaver, his opponent would’ve been able to play the Vulshok Berserker he topdecked on extra turn number four and attack for the win.
Example 2: I’m playing against Jeremy Darling in a two-on-two draft at the local card store. In one of the games I’m crushing Jeremy until he casts Mindslaver on turn 6. At this point, my board consists of about seven artifacts, one being Goblin Charbelcher, and a stupid Krark-Clan Grunt in my hand. On my turn, it is clear that I have to cast the Grunt and attempt to shoot it with the Belcher if I have any hope of surviving after he activates Mindslaver. The Charbelcher ends up only doing one damage and the Grunt lives, causing me to concede a game in which I was clearly going to win in any other circumstance.
To sum it up, Mindslaver is nuts and the cost isn’t nearly as bad as you’d think. Sure, sometimes it doesn’t just win the game, but you’ll almost always be able to get a good amount of card advantage from it by making bad attacks or making your opponent cast removal on his own creatures. It also doesn’t commit you to a color.
Well, it seems that Oscar probably hasn’t had the experience of playing with the Slaver, so he made the pick that most amateurs would, and took the Goblin.
So what do you do when there’s a number of similarly powerful cards in different colors? When should you commit, and why?
If you’re following my lead at this point, you aren’t locked into any color yet, so the real question becomes which card is the most powerful and also most splashable. The answer here is clearly Shrapnel Blast. The effect provided by this five-point explosion is extremely influential on a game, taking out a large creature – or more often, finishing off an opponent who has stabilized at a low life total. I’m always happy to splash something like this if I end up getting cut off in Red (which is quite possible at least for pack two, since I just passed Spikeshot).
If I was in Oscar’s shoes, this pick even becomes easier, as he’s already in Red. The Blast it is.
I do want to make some comments on Soul Nova, as I feel it is a bit overrated right now. The effect it provides is clearly insane when it works, but good players are always going to read 3WW untapped as an indication of a possible Nova. I, for one, never liked Second Thoughts, and rarely got wrecked by it. This card is basically the same, except it is harder to play around since it’s uncommon. Usually, though, I’d rather ship one and just bluff it if I have to, since anyone good will remember seeing it in the draft and play around it anyway.
Wow. Three first-pick quality White cards are still here, along with another Hoverguard, Deconstruct, and Vulshok Berserker. When you see this pack, you should be asking yourself one thing: Should I get in or should I ship the question to the next guy?
If there were no other quality cards here, I’d definitely take the Patrol or Ascendant. The pick between those two is close because the Ascendant is definitely the better card as long as there aren’t a lot of pinging effects in the draft (Spikeshot, Longbow, Granite Shard). Since I already shipped a Spikeshot, though, I’d probably take the Patrol here if I was going to take a White card. In Oscar’s case, you can make an argument for either card if you wanna jump into White under the assumption that you’ll get more in this pack and in pack three.
In my case, Deconstruct is definitely the pick, and for Oscar, you could argue that you wanted to stay Red and just take the Berserker. I think taking the artifact kill is the right pick all around, though.
So what happened here? Not only did Oscar pick a White card, he also picked the worst of the three! I really don’t think you can justify the Cub here, since if you’re going to take the risk and go White, you might as well just take the best White card. If he was taking the Cub as a possible splash, Deconstruct is just a better option all around.
At this point, Oscar has chosen the wrong path for this draft – and as you’ll see in the coming packs, he refuses to change course and is eventually punished with a weak deck instead of the ridiculous one he could’ve had.
The presence of Fangren Hunter here only reinforces what I said above about Deconstruct. Sure, you can’t expect to be shipped more Green, but I have no problem splashing a Deconstruct and it’s simply a better option than going into White with that many good White cards still in the pack. Taking the Deconstruct ensures some good picks out of the round of boosters in pack two. If you’re agreeing with my picks so far, there is no question that you take the Hunter here. He is the best Green common by far, and a huge beater that is a pain in the butt to deal with.
Since Oscar clearly won’t be taking the Hunter here, the next few cards are all up for consideration. Rustspore Ram is something that I’ll always include in my maindeck, unlike the less versatile Turn to Dust, as the Ram can be recursed by bounce or graveyard recursion, and still be a creature in the times that you need one and no equipment is showing up to be destroyed. Berserker is obviously good as a tempo element, and speeds up the game greatly when it is cast. Since Oscar has already taken the Spikeshot and Skyhunter Cub though, I think the correct pick here is the Gauntlets since it enhances both of those picks.
Already the playables are growing thin, and we’re only on the fifth pick of the first pack. There are still a few goodies here in Relic Bane and the Talisman… If you call those goodies.
One thing I’ve realized is that I’d rather run a Myr over a Talisman any day unless the Talisman is in two of the colors I’m playing. This is especially pertinent in splash situations, where the Talisman can help out a main color and a splash one at the same time whereas a Myr can only cover one. Myrs are just better in every other case though as they can attack, block, and be equipped. This is true even if they are off-color.
Since Oscar doesn’t really have a reason to take the Talisman here, I’d definitely hate up the Relic Bane.
Well there are only two cards in this pack as far as I’m concerned.
If you’re Oscar, you’re definitely taking the Hematite, while I’d be very happy to grab a Predator’s Strike with this pick.
Oh – and yeah, Duskworker is a last resort in terms of a playable card. Stop playing this guy so much! He rarely does anything except sit around and chump block. He’s too slow to be an aggressive attacker and you won’t have enough extra mana lying around to pump him unless you’re running a deck with six Cloudposts, like Paul Sottosanti did in one of our first Mirrodin drafts at CMU.
Oscar doesn’t like this pack. At all.
I, on the other hand, am still receiving a great creature in the Wurmskin Forger. If you still don’t know why this guy is good, may I redirect you to my article from two weeks ago, since you obviously didn’t read it? I’ve played as many as three Forgers in a deck and still been happy with him every time.
Synod Sanctum is a card that doesn’t get the respect that I believe it deserves. I’ve played with the card a few times, and it’s proven its worth in situations where you need another card, or have a ton of guys and are low in tricks and equipment. Even if they kill the card when you have creatures under it, it still drew out an artifact kill spell and you didn’t lose anything that you would’ve had if you didn’t have the Sanctum out anyway. Your creatures would already be dead in this case, and in the times when you can keep up two mana extra every turn, you will save at least two permanents that would’ve died otherwise. This card is also absurd with comes-into-play effects, and I’ve abused it with Looming Hoverguard, Rustspore Ram, and Viridian Shaman a few times to good effect. Oscar should certainly pick this here, as the rest of the cards are just awful in his deck.
I can’t really condone an off-color Malachite Golem in any normal situation. This pick was definitely wrong for Oscar’s deck. Six mana for a 5/3 is just too suboptimal even in this format.
Seems like I’ve got some decisions to make in this pack since there are still four playable cards for my deck.
Glimmervoid seems basically out of the question for both of us at this point, as neither of us have a significant number of artifacts. Sure, we could get them later, but I’d rather take one of the other cards. Oscar could certainly take this as he may be splashing multiple colors since he is still entrenched in Red and didn’t receive any White past the first Cub.
Turn to Dust is a great sideboard card, and Viridian Joiner is highly underrated right now. In a set full of Myrs, one would think that the Joiner would just be horrible – and I personally held of this opinion for quite a while, until I started playing Green more and realized that most of the good cards cost five mana. The Joiner is actually better than a Myr in a lot of Green decks, since it survives artifact removal and pinging effects, and also fits your curve better when you have lots of Fangren Hunters and Tel-Jilad Archers. Pumping up his power to make more mana rarely comes up, but when it does it is certainly going to be good.
The best Green card in the pack, however, is the Neurok Hoversail. When I’m Green, I always want at least one of these in my deck, and wouldn’t be unhappy to run two when I have a beefy creature base. This makes Fangren Hunter into an Air Elemental, and is basically game over on anything larger.
If Oscar were to take the Sail here, it would either be a hate draft or possible sideboard card, since I don’t really consider it playable in most decks outside of Green. There are, of course, instances when you have enough large creatures in another color that it is worthwhile – but in the majority of drafts, it sits in the sideboard if I’m not Green.
At this point in the draft, it is quite clear that Oscar’s deck would be much more powerful and synergistic if he had taken the Deconstruct and gone into Green. He would even have two Forgers, as one made the lap back. As it is now, the Cub pick is looking really bad since he didn’t even get any more White in this set of packs, and is highly unlikely to get any in the second go round after shipping Patrol and Ascendant that late.
If this were real Magic Online, or any casual draft where you get to keep the cards, you clearly slam the Chrome Mox here. Since it is the Beta version of Magic Online, and this is a strategy walkthrough, we actually have to talk about the alternatives.
Damn. I thought I was getting off easy on this one.
The relevant picks here are Altar’s Light, Arrest, Bolt, and Predator’s Strike. In my case, this pick is easy, as I already have the Shrapnel Blast that I want to splash, and Electrostatic Bolt is the best form of common Red removal.
For Oscar, it becomes a mere comparison of the White removal cards to the Bolt. In both cases, the Bolt wins out as a more effective form of elimination. If Bolt is better than Shatter 95% of the time, it’s definitely going to be better than the more cumbersome Altar’s Light. Also, Bolt deals with just about everything that Arrest will, with the exception of large colored creatures. The big difference is that the Bolt only costs one mana, is and instant, and cannot be removed by bounce or Elf Replica.
More Soul Novas; yay…
Um, right – whatever you say, Nick.
Okay, so I realize that the packs would be different if Oscar had followed my picks for pack one, but I still am going to continue with my picks, as I think it is relevant to see which cards are better in both cases. When I did this type of thing last time with Mike Turian, there were some complaints that it was unnecessary for me to build my deck at the end of the draft. I realize that it was probably not needed, since Mike would’ve gotten shipped different cards if he picked differently – so this time I’m just going to list my picks, but not list my”final” decklist at the end of the draft.
Happy now? Good.
From my perspective, there are three main considerations in this pack. One Dozen Eyes, the Archers, and Shatter are all possible picks for my deck at this point. Eyes is much better than the Archer in general, so it basically comes down to this format’s Desert Twister or the Eyes. Sorry, but Desert Twister as an instant for two mana is better than any creature.
Oscar’s pick requires no real deliberation, as he’s definitely taking Shatter.
I love Broodstar in this Limited format.
“That isn’t a viable pick for either of your decks at this point, you idiot.”
I hate you, Voice of Reason! Get out of my head.
Oh yeah, sorry – I’m supposed to be talking about a pick here. Stupid internal voices, always getting me confused.
Jeez, there are a lot of good cards in this pack. I could easily take Trolls, Mask, or Greaves here, while Oscar could take either piece of Equipment.
Am I missing something here? Skeleton Shard should never go later than third pick unless both of the other uncommons are better than it as well as the rare. Seeing as all of the uncommons and the rare are still present in the pack, the Shard should’ve been gone by now. This is the only Shard that’s fine to play even if you don’t have the required colored mana in your deck, and since it’s still pack two it’s early enough to get some good targets for recursion like Goblin Replica or Bottle Gnomes.
While there is still a Hoverguard in this pack, the Shard is simply the better splash card since neither of us is in Blue at this point.
Speaking of the Matrix…
What’s the deal anyway? How can so many people possibly call any of the three movies in the trilogy anything short of genius? While I don’t exactly like the fact that the storyline ends up following Christian theology (while I am a believer in the Christian faith, I do think they could have been more original in the overall culmination of the plot), I still feel that all three of these movies were absolute works of genius.
When the first movie came out, everyone was spellbound because nothing like it had been done before. It was only a movie, but the manner in which it was done made it live a life on an actual level of reality. Honestly, when I saw The Matrix Reloaded, I felt that they’d done an even better job with the plot than in the first one. The happenings of the second movie were nothing you’d expect, and the twists and turns of the plot and its eventual depth were absolutely brilliant if you ask me. I dunno what all of you are complaining about. (Bad dialogue, tension-free action scenes, and too little explanation of the logic behind Neo’s powers? – The Ferrett, renowned Matrix Reloaded-hater)
What really happened was that people were so speechless after the first movie that they expected such great things from the second one. Personally, I think those expectations were reached, but I guess a lot of people actually viewed it as a let-down. Maybe I’m just a fanatic or something, but these movies are definitely my all-time favorites.
Oh – and yeah, don’t pick Damping Matrix here. You knew that already, though.
So, after my little aside there, I looked up and realized that there was a Betrayal of Flesh in this pack.
Pick five, there’s a Betrayal of Flesh. Anyone see something wrong with that?
Betrayal of Flesh is probably the best possible splash card in the format. So why in the hell is there still one in this pack? Some things in life, just have no logical answer. This is one of those things. Betrayal is as good, if not better than Grab the Reins (which is a bomb!). I don’t really understand how people wouldn’t know this either, as the text of the card is quite simple…
Destroy Target Creature.
Not”Destroy Target Non-Black, Non-Artifact Creature.” Target Creature.
Oh, and the rest of the card reads”Zombify, and possibly ambush someone in their attack step with a huge creature, creating an eventual three-for-one.”
This makes absolutely zero sense, since Betrayal is infinitely better than the Shard and having both allows a switch into Black, or a Black splash at the very least.
There are three relevant cards here for either of our decks, since they are all colorless. You can immediately rule out Yotian Soldier, as it is the worst of the three, with the only benefit being that it is good with Vulshok Gauntlets. Bottle Gnomes is a nice creature, and absurd when recurred continually with the Skeleton Shard we already have. Stalking Stones is a high pick for any deck, and always makes the cut and helps out as another guy.
Apparently, Oscar is more fixated on his Vulshok Gauntlets than he is on his Skeleton Shard. Shard is the better card – and since Gnomes is better than Yotian in every game where you don’t draw either the Gauntlets or the Shard, this pick is really bad. You definitely take the Gnomes here for either of our decks.
Not too many cards for consideration are still left in this pack, and the only decent one that is, is the Granite Shard. An annoying thing so far is that neither of us have a Myr yet, so we kinda want to take the Talisman here, especially in my case as I’m likely going to end up G/b/r and the Talisman supports two of those colors. You can’t really pass the Shard here, though, even though I’m not a huge fan of it in this format.
I only listed the Fists of the Anvil here because this pack is just Godawful. Move along; there’s nothing to see here.
My initial impression of Nightmare Lash was that it was a bomb. After playing with it a few times, I can assure you that it is only okay instead of being insane. Unless you are nearly mono Black, this card isn’t even worth playing as three life is actually a good bit to pay if you have to move it around a couple times.
For my deck, the pick is clearly Fangren Hunter number two. Saucy!
Like I said, the man has a fixation with his Vulshok Gauntlets. I really can’t find it in me to understand it, but that’s the only explanation.
Hmm; we have a pretty close call here as far as I’m concerned.
The real debate is obviously Fireshrieker vs. Shatter. The Shrieker is one of the better pieces of Equipment around, and this debate is even tougher for my deck since it is nuts on my two copies of Fangren Hunter. In the end, I think you have to go with Shatter a majority of the time, and the exception can be made if you have lots of Cubs and Den-Guards, or aren’t playing Red at the time. Pick one, Pack one, I’d still have to go with Shatter. I think.
My deck faces somewhat of a Dilemma here, as both the Chosen and Pyrite Spellbomb are present. Oscar is clearly taking bomb, so let’s talk about my deck at this point.
I don’t have too many creatures yet, and am probably going to run the double splash, being slightly heavier on the Red side, so I think the Chosen is the right call for my deck.
Okay, now I’m really confused.
Am I living in a bubble or something, or are most of the people in this draft just illiterate?
Destroy target creature. No exceptions, cash back, or coupons.
Pick target card.
That’s basically what Betrayal of Flesh says. So why is it still in the pack!? What I find even more ridiculous is that Oscar shipped one to the right in the second pack when he should have taken it, and now one is coming from the right in the fourth pack!
Since there is no word in the English language to describe this type of occurrence, I had to make one up: Absoridiculous.
Okay, I give up.
How in the world are there no Green drafters in the four seats in front of Oscar. That’s half the table. Yes, Half. As in four out of eight. 50%.
This should never happen, and if someone in front of Oscar was in Green and took a non-Loxodon Warhammer card over the Slagwurm, they should be shot on the basis of pure stupidity.
If Oscar was in Green, and took both copies of Betrayal, the draft would consequently end with this pick. There’s no way you can lose with the”double-Hunter, double-Betrayal, fifth-pick Slagwurm pack three” deck. I’m sorry, but it’s the absolute truth.
Oscar’s Pick: Titanium Golem
My Pick: PLATED SLAGWURM!
Yeah, so has anyone seen The Matrix?
I’m not gonna rant any more, I promise. This pack is quite annoying since I love having Wizard Replica in my deck, but neither of us has any Myrs at this point in the draft. I’d think the pick would be clear and Oscar would take Gold Myr and I’d take either Gold or Silver as an off-color accelerant.
Then again, that would assume that this was a normal draft. What was I thinking? Oscar is clearly overrating Raise the Alarm here, and I’d never take it over an on-color Myr. But wait – Oscar doesn’t have any White cards anyway…
Wow, this pack is good for being so late in the draft. Flayed Nim is highly annoying to play against, as it provides an infinite blocker and also a virtually unblockable attacker. Ogre Leadfoot is also a good Red card here that Oscar might take if nothing else was in the pack.
Unfortunately, there is another Rustspore Ram here, which should definitely be selected in both of our decks. It can be returned with Skeleton Shard, and also doesn’t require any colored mana. Oscar already has a Leadfoot anyway.
I don’t even want to comment anymore. This pick isn’t even that bad, though I’d personally rather have the Ram.
So Oscar definitely takes Nim Replica here, just because it’s a guy and can be recurred with the Shard.
Apparently, Oscar would rather have a second Hoversail that he can’t use. Hey, whatever floats your boat, right?
To finish off the draft Oscar continues his trend of not getting anything on the lap, this time only picking up only a Clockwork Condor, which will make the cut and is good with the Shard.
I was going to list Oscar’s deck until I actually took a look at it. It turned out to be near mono-Red, splashing Auriok Transfixer, Skyhunter Cub, and Raise the Alarm. I’m sorry, but those aren’t cards I want to be splashing. The deck overall turned out to be pretty weak, whereas if he’d picked differently and gave up the White that he never really was in to begin with, his deck would’ve been almost guaranteed to win the draft.
The cards are there; you just have to know when to switch out.
Let this be a lesson to those of you out there that you shouldn’t always stick to your early picks and be afraid to abandon a color or splash another. And also, stop passing Betrayal of Flesh if you’re doing it, you’re going to drive me to the insane asylum if you continue.