This week I want to do a draft walkthrough, but with a twist. Instead of covering every pick in detail, I want to instead zoom in on key picks and give an overview of the easy ones. By doing this I can also examine some in-game situations from the draft without making the article too long and have people lose interest. I think it’s more valuable to take more time looking at the key picks and skim over anything else anyway, so I’m going to give it a shot.
This is from an 8-4 I did early last week on Magic Online. I chose this draft because I felt I could’ve really done a number of things differently, and I was very unhappy with the outcome even though my deck still ended up playable. This was one of those drafts that left a bad taste in my mouth as we headed to deck construction.
Willbender over Spiketail Drakeling
Terramorphic Expanse, Drudge Reavers, Temporal Isolation, Empty the Warrens, Drifter il-Dal, Subterranean Shambler, Thallid Germinator, Havenwood Wurm, Chameleon Blur, Dreadship Reef, Ghostflame Sliver, Fungal Reaches, Krosan Cloudscraper
The first two picks of this draft were relatively straightforward. It helped too that they combo with each other, but both cards I took were simply the best cards in the pack.
This pick is something I encounter all of the time, where you can go a few different ways and have a justifiable explanation for each. My initial thought when looking at this booster was to take the Thallid Germinator, as I have a strong Green preference and certainly like U/G as an archetype. After thinking some more on the pick, I found myself stumped as there are three nearly equal options present: Empty the Warrens, Germinator, and Temporal Isolation.
Last week I discussed how to break down picks like these in my Dynamics of a Draft Pick article. When going through the different variables for this particular pick, I couldn’t seem to find anything that made one card better than the other two. All three have longevity and potential, I can get Grinning Ignus or other cheap spells to power storm on Empty, Sprout Swarm for Germinator, and Mystical Teachings or something like Lost Auramancers for the Isolation. All three cards are strong picks.
In this case I think the Isolation and Germinator are both slightly better than the Warrens because U/R has gone down a little in value, and U/G or U/W are both better. I also think they are both slightly better than Empty now that the block is complete. After that, I’m sure you can justify taking either the Isolation or Germinator. In this particular draft I went with the Isolation, as I wanted to be U/W and felt my first two picks would be good in that color combination.
My Pick: Temporal Isolation
Stuffy Doll over Nantuko Shaman, Basalt Gargoyle, Suq’Ata Lancer, and Slipstream Serpent
Temporal Eddy over Assassinate
Cancel over Corpulent Corpse, Icatian Crier, Thallid Shell-Dweller
Urza’s Factory over Fiery Justice
Think Twice, Errant Doomsayers, Cyclopean Giant, Amrou Seekers, Durkwood Baloth, Screeching Sliver, Hypergenesis, Disenchant
This pick was kind of annoying since Baloth should never be here this late. At this point I’m still essentially mono-Blue and can take either the Seekers, Think Twice, or Baloth here.
Lots of variables from last week’s article come into play here, and I found it hard to balance them quickly enough to make a decision I was happy with. Taking Think Twice would give me another card that would definitely make my maindeck. Baloth is by far the most powerful card. Finally, Amrou Seekers is a nice evasion man and also a compliment to my Temporal Isolation. I can’t see taking Errant Doomsayers or Disenchant here with so many better cards.
The only way I could really narrow down the pick is to justify taking the Think Twice because it would definitely make my deck, and also make it much more likely that Urza’s Factory would make my deck. The correct pick here is almost definitely the Baloth, though you could argue for the Seekers. I was influenced by personal bias on this pick as I like Think Twice more than is healthy, and I also prefer to stay on color more than I should sometimes. While I think any pick is reasonable here, I believe the best pick is probably the Baloth since it is a strong signal that Green is open.
My Pick: Think Twice
Flamecore Elemental, Mana Skimmer, Feebleness, Brass Gnat, Blazing Blade Askari, Return to Dust, Spell Burst
This booster is kind of a downer, since I’m unsure of which direction to take. My initial thought was to take Mana Skimmer or Feebleness (not sure which is even better nowadays but I’d guess Skimmer) and see if any Black came along. After all, I did just take Think Twice last pick in order to be open to better options.
When it came time to pick, I have no idea what I was thinking because I somehow managed to take Spell Burst from the pack. I guess my logic at the time was to again stay mono-Blue and maybe sideboard it in to counter morphs? I don’t know. The best explanation I can offer is that I went temporarily insane and made a bad pick. I should’ve taken the Skimmer here.
My Pick: Spell Burst
Fortify, Skulking Knight, Ophidian Eye, Assembly Worker, Haunting Hymn, Island
This was another tough one.
As I mentioned above, I had a shot at a Corpulent Corpse and Assassinate and was now wondering if maybe I should’ve taken those. Even though I took Blue cards over both, it seemed now that maybe I should actually be in U/B because I would’ve then taken Mana Skimmer with my last pick.
As my deck stands currently, I can see taking either Fortify or Assembly Worker here, as the Worker does combo with Urza’s Factory to an extent. I ended up taking the Fortify because Blue has no trouble in the three-slot with all of the morphs available, and I thought Fortify could have value if my deck became more aggressive. I would have really liked to take Haunting Hymn here, and I think this was the point of the draft where I realized maybe I “kept my options open” a bit too long.
Return to Dust
Picks 13 to 15
Foriysian Interceptor, Detainment Spell, Glass Asp
Spitting Sliver, Aven Riftwatcher, Stingscourger, Vitaspore Thallid, Dash Hopes, Aquamorph Entity, Shade of Trokair, Uktabi Drake, Vampiric Link, Gossamer Phantasm, Prodigal Pyromancer, Lavacore Elemental, Deadwood Treefolk, Blood Knight, Spellshift
This was not the type of pack I was hoping to open.
I’m not anywhere near committed enough to White to make Shade of Trokair a reasonable pick here, and there aren’t any good Blue cards. I conceded right away that I was taking either Deadwood Treefolk, Stingscourger, or Prodigal Pyromancer. Once I figured that out, it wasn’t too tough a decision as I wasn’t in either of the colors, and Deadwood Treefolk is a more attractive splash option than either of the Red guys.
I wasn’t happy about this pick, but I’m not sure what I could really do differently.
My Pick: Deadwood Treefolk
Aeon Chronicler over Enslave, Citanul Woodreaders, Dreamscape Artist, Primal Plasma
The only thing I want to mention here is that I’d get the better card in Enslave if I had gone into Black like I should’ve in pack 1. The only comforting thing about this pack is that I still got a bomb in the Chronicler.
Dead/Gone over Cradle to Grave, Auramancer’s Guise
This pack just sucked and I had no other choice. At this point I have three viable splash options, Deadwood, Dead/Gone, and Isolation, and no clear second color.
Whitemane Lion, Mire Boa, Utopia Vow, Keldon Marauders, Dash Hopes, Shade of Trokair, Vitaspore Thallid, Brain Gorgers, Piracy Charm, Seal of Primordium, Pongify, Aether Membrane
This pick is another example of personal preference rearing its ugly head. As I’ve said in past articles, I really don’t like Pongify all that much. Nowhere near as much as the general population, and certainly not in a controlling Blue deck like the one I was drafting here. So I’m sure I’ll get hell for it in the forums and people will say Pongify is the pick here, but I’m still not sure I agree. In fact, I’d much rather have Piracy Charm in my deck than Pongify, which says something about my dislike for the uncommon.
In retrospect, I think the best pick for me was actually Piracy Charm, but I decided to finally take a leap and try to make Deadwood Treefolk work by taking Mire Boa with this pick. Was it wrong? I’m still not sure, but I definitely wasn’t taking Pongify in this deck.
My Pick: Mire Boa
Citanul Woodreaders over Primal Plasma, Hedge Troll, Pallid Mycoderm
Veiling Oddity over Midnight Charm, Mana Tithe
Midnight Charm, Utopia Vow, Brain Gorgers, Dust Corona, Seal of Primordium, Timebender, Circle of Affliction, Molten Firebird, Voidstone Gargoyle
Okay, so maybe I should’ve taken the Shades and been in White? I was so confused and frustrated at this point in the draft.
In fact, I don’t even know what I was thinking as I look back on this pick, as I clearly should’ve taken Utopia Vow with the direction my deck was headed. Instead I somehow justified taking Timebender (possibly my love of morphs) because I could combo it with Vesuvan Shapeshifter (big deal, right?). So yeah, this draft is a collection of weird packs and questionable picks on my part, but at least I can look back and honestly say that this was a marginal choice.
My Pick: Timebender
Aquamorph Entity over Uktabi Drake, Dawn Charm, Brute Force
Seal of Primordium
Picks 13 to 15
Wistful Thinking, Ghost Tactician, Circle of Affliction
Ghostfire over Fatal Attraction, Leaden Fists, Goldmeadow Lookout
Gathan Raiders over Leaden Fists, Second Wind, Logic Knot, Unblinking Bleb, Fomori Nomad, Grinning Ignus
Judge Unworthy, Leaden Fists, Quiet Disrepair, Saltskitter, Blade of the Sixth Pride, Sporoloth Ancient, Grinning Ignus, Mass of Ghouls, Lucent Liminid, Narcomoeba, Yixlid Jailer, Boldwyr Intimidator, Shapeshifter’s Morrow
Allow me to catch up a minute. With my first pick I took Ghostfire since there weren’t really any other good cards in the pack, and I still didn’t technically have a second color even though I did take Mire Boa and Woodreaders. I considered the option of being U/G and splashing for Dead/Gone and Ghostfire as well.
This pick I’m given the choice of Leaden Fists, Sporoloth Ancient, and Boldwyr Intimidator, and again I believe I dropped the ball and took the wrong card.
Thinking back on the draft, I don’t understand why I didn’t just take the Sporoloth Ancient and move on. It’s the best card, supports my other Green cards, and gives me some direction. Instead of doing this, I wasted a ton of time debating between the Intimidator and Leaden Fists as I wrongfully assumed I should just go into straight U splashing R at this point. The Intimidator would fit fine into this strategy since I’d easily have two Mountains by the time I had seven mana, but I may not be able to use his abilities to maximum effectiveness. I also already had some other late game options in the Chronicler, Stuffy Doll, and possibly Spell Burst.
I ended up deciding on the Leaden Fists, which I think is definitely better than the Intimidator in this situation, but the real correct pick was undoubtedly the Ancient.
It’s worth mentioning that if I stuck with U/W my deck would probably be insane now, as I would’ve taken the two Shades in Planar Chaos and the goods that were coming in these packs.
My Pick: Leaden Fists
Arc Blade over Blind Phantasm, Knight of Sursi
Fatal Attraction over Death Rattle, Blind Phantasm, Char Rumbler, Sarcomite Myr
Unblinking Bleb over Grinning Ignus, Lucent Liminid, Marshalling Cry, Llanowar Mentor
If I stayed Green earlier I’d take the Mentor here, but I do have a lot of morphs to use with the Bleb. U/W would’ve also been unreal at this point, and probably what I should’ve been in.
Cloudseeder over Thornweald Archer
Zoetic Cavern over Blade of the Sixth Pride, Sarcomite Myr
Unblinking Bleb over Fleshwrither
Picks 13 to 15
Blind Phantasm, Dust of Moments, Patrician’s Scorn
This draft is a prime example of what happens when you wait too long to choose your second color. There’s a delicate line in the middle of things and I clearly crossed it and waited too long, and things got complicated because of it.
In pack 1 I certainly should’ve been U/B and probably rode that out through the rest of the draft. There were Mass of Ghouls and other things in pack 3 that I didn’t list that would’ve helped fill out that deck. Since I didn’t go U/B, I definitely should’ve just bit the bullet and stayed U/W. Whether that means taking Shade of Trokair over Deadwood Treefolk or just taking all of the other White cards, I’m not entirely sure. U/W would’ve been great and U/G would’ve been fine as well if I took the right cards in the right spots. As it stood, I wasn’t happy with how my deck turned out, but I still thought I could win.
2 Blind Phantasm
2 Unblinking Bleb
The deck wasn’t too difficult to build correctly since I essentially backed myself into a corner during the draft. There are also all of the other sideboard options in other colors, but you can just scroll back up rather than having me list them all again.
I started with a Gossamer Phantasm on turn 2 and my opponent played out Blade of the Sixth Pride. On my turn 3, after playing my land for the turn, my hand was the following:
My board was two Islands, Mountain, and Gossamer Phantasm against Plains, Forest, Blade of the Sixth Pride.
This may seem like a simple turn to most of you, but I’m about to explain why it’s not as simple as it appears. The first play that should come to mind is to morph the Entity and then attack for two with the Phantasm. Reasonable enough, right? Hang on just a minute.
I could pass the turn keeping up Cancel and Think Twice mana, which might be a good play if my creature was anything but Gossamer Phantasm. The reason I say this is that my opponent can play a spell that targets it, and Cancel does absolutely nothing to stop that, and then I’ll take three anyway and only get to cast Think Twice with my mana. Playing the Entity is certainly the right course of action.
What about attacking with the Phantasm?
My initial thought was to attack, but the more I pictured what could happen, the more I wanted to stay back and trade. If any color combination is capable of easily dispatching the Phantasm, it’s G/W or B/R. G/W has things like Saltfield Recluse, Errant Doomsayers, or any possible combat trick from Dawn Charm to Might of Old Krosa that can turn into a removal spell in this case. My point isn’t that I’m worried about my Phantasm dying, but rather, I’d like to ensure that I get to trade it for an actual card rather than have it get owned by an activated ability. So I decided to hold back, which is odd since I usually favor aggression action. Thoughts on this would be appreciated in the forums.
As it turned out, my opponent refused to trade, and passed the turn after suspending Shade of Trokair. I ended up wrecking him by unmorphing the Entity after damage on the following turn, and forced him to use Whitemane Lion to little effect.
On the turn after he used the Lion to save his Blade and recast the 3/1, I had another interesting decision to make. My hand was as follows:
My board was the same except I now had a 1/5 Entity and my opponent had two Plains, two Forest, and the two guys I mentioned earlier, plus the Shade on two counters. I was also still stuck at two Islands and a Mountain.
I have a few options for this turn. I’m obviously attacking with the Phantasm so I got that out of the way first, getting my opponent to 16. I could simply suspend the Oddity or cast the Cloudseeder and pass. I could keep my mana up for Think Twice/Cancel/Leaden Fists. Or I could make a more aggressive play of casting Think Twice trying to hit a land, and then suspending Oddity or casting Cloudseeder.
While all of these are viable options, I think casting Think Twice hoping to draw a land is far too risky to make it right in this spot. I decided that the best play was simply passing the turn and waiting to see what developed.
Had I cast a spell or tried to draw a land here I surely would’ve lost this game, as my opponent cast Goldmeadow Lookout right into my Cancel.
On the next turn I was faced with a similar dilemma after drawing Vesuvan Shapeshifter. This time it was much easier to just pass the turn without playing any spells, as my opponent’s Shade of Trokair was suspending into play and I wanted to be able to Leaden Fists up my Entity if he played a fourth Plains and tried to pump through it.
This is exactly what happened, and I ended up Time Walking him while also creating a 4/8 wall that would be tough to get through. All the while my Phantasm attacked through the air.
I ended up winning this game largely because I kept passing the turn with three mana up, and was not eager to increase my board presence despite being stuck on three lands. It’s crucial not to panic in situations like this, and make sure you think everything through before you do it.
Game 2 was a blowout in my favor. I started with Phantasm again, and Cloudseeder, attacking him in the air. I also had Veiling Oddity on suspend on turn 4. My opponent’s big play was to Momentary Blink his own Krosan Cloudscraper and force me to chump-block it. What he didn’t expect to happen is for me to copy it with Vesuvan Shapeshifter on the turn my Oddity came into play and attack for lethal.
A similar situation to the one I described in detail happened in this game. To set the stage, it’s turn 4, and here’s the board position.
Two Mountains, two Swamps (all untapped), Corpulent Corpse suspended with two counters left.
Two Islands, Mountain, Dreadship Reef with one counter, morphed Zoetic Cavern.
My hand is:
I’ve already played a land, and we’re both at 20.
I attack with the Cavern for two and he doesn’t do anything, and now I have to make a decision. Again, conventional wisdom would suggest that I should play the Entity here, since my opponent isn’t doing anything and I want to put maximum pressure on him. I then have Cancel ready for his Corpulent Corpse on the following turn, and can Dead/Gone any small guy in my way. I can also play Willbender with mana up to morph it once I hit five.
For whatever reason, I felt like something fishy was up and decided to just pass the turn with Cancel, Dead/Gone, charge Dreadship Reef, or morph Zoetic Cavern all being viable options depending on what my opponent did. It turned out that this play probably won the game for me, as my opponent cast an end step Drudge Reavers which I wasted no time killing with Dead/Gone. He then untapped and cast Mass of Ghouls into my Cancel. I now had no real quick fix to the Corpse problem, but at least I had the initiative.
Later in the game I played cautiously keeping up mana for Willbender/Cavern as much as possible, and eventually answered the Corpse by making Factory tokens at eleven life. Chronicler finally got suspended for four thanks to Dreadship Reef, and I powered to victory easily from there.
The key turning point again was keeping my mana open on one crucial turn. In this example it is much less clear cut that the correct play is passing the turn, so I’m interested to see how many people would’ve morphed the Entity in that situation.
Unfortunately this game was a blowout, as my opponent got stuck on two mana and I got stuck on three. Being stuck on three was fine for me though, as I unloaded morphs on the table and then Cancelled his first creature and Temporal Eddied the next.
I went on to split in the finals since I didn’t think I’d be using this draft for a walkthrough because I felt I drafted pretty poorly. When I thought about it more, I realized this would be the perfect fit for an article like this one, as I felt there were a lot of places I could’ve improved my decision-making. See you next week.
Soooooo on MTGO