Usually I have to wait until a new set is actually available on Magic Online before doing any walkthroughs. Thankfully, a friend of mine let me do a few drafts on his Beta account, and I recorded them and chose one to cover today.
Before I get into the actual draft, I want to say a few things about my personal style in this format. There are plenty of ways to approach this environment, and I think there are more spots in SSE than in previous blocks where the actual direction of the draft can be debated. What I mean by this is that there are situations where a good player may actually prefer a weaker card that is in the color he usually forces instead of the accepted best pick in the pack. That looks rather weird when I read back over it, but I’m not sure how else to get the point across here except to use myself as an example.
I believe Red is by far the best color in this format. Whether or not this is widely agreed upon, I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that I would rather take a marginal Red card in a lot of spots than try to get involved in other archetypes with which I have less experience. If I happen to open a bomb, that’s a different story, and I’ve certainly drafted other archetypes in SSE. My overall point here is that I have a super strong preference for Red, and this could lead to some marginal picks in order to ensure that I end up in a Red deck. In the majority of my drafts, I have some number of Mountains in my deck. Take all of this with a grain of salt, as again it is just my preference, and I wanted to get that out of the way at the beginning.
Mudbrawler Cohort, Sickle Ripper, Parapet Watchers, Blight Sickle, Ballynock Cohort, Crabapple Cohort, Aphotic Wisps, Woeleecher, Memory Sluice, Giantbaiting, Blazethorn Scarecrow, Deepchannel Mentor, Sapseep Forest, Boggart Ram-Gang, Wheel of Sun and Moon
I think a lot of players see this pack and take Ballynock Cohort.
While there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, there is also no way I am ever passing the Ram-Gang here. I can totally see arguments for the Cohort, and that the Ram-Gang is less consistent, blah blah blah. I think either pick is fine here, even though I could only see myself taking the Gang. This is sort of what I was trying to say about personal preference impacting draft picks, as both cards are spectacular and there really is no “right” pick.
Pick: Boggart Ram-Gang
Traitor’s Roar, Gravelgill Duo, Torture, Fists of the Demigod, Rune-Cervin Rider, Juvenile Gloomwidow, Emberstrike Duo, Gleeful Sabotage, Kithkin Shielddare, Prismwake Merrow, Inescapable Brute, Pale Wayfarer, Spiteflame Witch, Prison Term
Should I eat my words now or later?
It really sucks to be passed a Prison Term after ranting about how much you love Mono-Red and taking Ram-Gang over Ballynock Cohort, trust me. That being said, I’m kind of crazy and decided to try and set up a good pack 2 by passing all of these good White cards.
For the first thirty seconds I spent thinking about this pick, I was sure I was taking Prison Term and making a color decision based on what was passed. That’s what any good player would do, right?
The more I thought about it though, the more I decided that doing so would be conforming to the “accepted” pick instead of just forcing what I truly believe is the best archetype (and it is also very easily forced since most of the cards aren’t overly desirable to anyone else).
Flame away in the forums, because I took Spiteflame Witch here and I am still fine with the pick.
Was it the “best” pick based on overall card value? Definitely not.
Was it the pick that I believe will win me more drafts? Very possibly.
The reason I say this is because I seem to win or at least make the finals of every draft where I’m Mono-Red, and have mixed results with other archetypes. After opening Ram-Gang, it’s even more of a reason to pursue the road to Red and I decided to take it.
One final point on what is certain to be a controversial decision; passing the Prison Term will surely set the guy on my left into White, and WR is not really a great archetype, so he should give me the hook up in pack 2.
Pick: Spiteflame Witch
Tattermunge Duo, Sickle Ripper, Torpor Dust, Blight Sickle, Somnomancer, Crabapple Cohort, Safewright Quest, Splitting Headache, Barrenton Medic, Memory Sluice, Poison the Well, Mistveil Plains, Fossil Find
This is a pretty simple pick no matter how you’ve gone so far in this draft. If you took Ballynock Cohort and Term, you obviously take Somnomancer here.
As far as for me, Tattermunge Duo is one of the best commons for any Red-based archetype, and I’m always excited to take one.
Pick: Tattermunge Duo
Gravelgill Axeshark, Sootstoke Kindler, Steel of the Godhead, Safehold Elite, Nurturer Initiate, Foxfire Oak, Pili-Pala, Cinderbones, Apothecary Initiate, Fate Transfer, Lockjaw Snapper, Kithkin Rabble
This is a common spot that comes up for me when I draft Red.
Pili-Pala and another decent Red guy like the Kindler or Mudbrawler Cohort. Early in the draft I want to take Pili-Pala if possible, because I’ll gladly splash Presence of Gond and I want to be ready if I lucksack into a Power of Fire.
I also find that Sootstoke Kindler tables quite often, while the little Scarecrow will never table. Later in the draft I’d definitely take the Kindler if it was likely I wouldn’t end up with a gun for the Pili-Pala.
Mudbrawler Raiders, Torpor Dust, Burrenton Cragtreads, foil Plains, Toil to Renown, Emberstrike, Barrenton Medic, Whimwader, Dream Salvage, Raking Canopy, Mana Reflection
This is a simple pick in the Mudbrawler Raiders.
I’m sure there are those of you who are shaking your head right now saying that I should be in White. I think I’ve explained myself well enough and I’m fine with taking a slightly less powerful card if it gets me into the archetype I know will win a lot of drafts.
Pick: Mudbrawler Raiders
Faerie Macabre, Traitor’s Roar, Somnomancer, Rattleblaze Scarecrow, Viridescent Wisps, Ashenmoor Cohort, Thornwatch Scarecrow, Mine Excavation, Resplendent Mentor, Pyre Charger
I like Pyre Charger more than most, especially when I get my hands on a Tattermunge Witch.
Pick: Pyre Charger
Fists of the Demigod, Helm of the Ghastlord, Gravegill Duo, Inescapable Brute, Splitting Headache, Woeleecher, Prismwake Merrow, Guttural Response
The card with the best chance of making my deck at this point has to be Splitting Headache. It’s possible I end up in something like UR for sure, but Prismwake Merrow is not going to be a reason to push me in that direction. Since I already have Spiteflame Witch, I think the Headache is best here. I also rarely if ever play Fists of the Demigod, since it’s been very underwhelming.
Pick: Splitting Headache
Parapet Watchers, Crimson Wisps, Viridescent Wisps, Cinderbones, Mine Excavation, Blazethorn Scarecrow, Cursecatcher, Counterbore
The pick here is between the Wisps and the Blazethorn Scarecrow for sure. I’ve played the Wisps much more than the Scarecrow, though both are certainly fine in Red builds. I decided to take the Wisps here, as it will more often make my deck and is excellent if I get something like Intimidator Initiate.
Finally, I like having a Wisps in my card pool as a potential answer to the God Auras.
Pick: Crimson Wisps
On the way back around I grabbed a Blazethorn Scarecrow, Traitor’s Roar, Poison the Well, and Foxfire Oak. So far this deck doesn’t look like anything special, but that’s usually how my Red decks look and they win consistently, so I was fine with how the draft was going. Of course, if I could predict I’d be passed a Prison Term I’d have taken Ballynock Cohort first and went that route, but I’ve been over this enough already.
Scar, Mudbrawler Cohort, Raven’s Run Dragoon, Chainbreaker, Silkbind Faerie, Consign to Dream, Pili-Pala, Bloodshed Fever, Manamorphose, Turn to Mist, Scarscale Ritual, Trip Noose, Illuminated Folio, Blowfly Infestation, Rhys the Redeemed
I honestly considered the Mudbrawler Cohort here, before coming to my senses and realizing that more often than not it will make the lap back around in a pack this strong. Trip Noose is by far the best card for me, and not that much worse than Silkbind Faerie anyway.
Pick: Trip Noose
Boggart Arsonist, Presence of Gond, Briarberry Cohort, Safehold Sentry, Consign to Dream, Traitor’s Roar, Smolder Initiate, Scrapbasket, Strip Bare, Drowner Initiate, Scarscale Ritual, Seedcradle Witch, Pyre Charger, Knollspine Dragon
The funny thing about Knollspine Dragon is that I’m not even that excited about it in Mono-Red. Yeah, it’s a huge flier that can finish someone off when they’ve stabilized. The problem is that I almost never get to seven land in Mono-Red, especially now with Flame Jab around.
I obviously can’t complain too much because it’s still a dragon, and in all likelihood will win me a game or two. I’d much rather have a Burn Trail any day though, and I’m not kidding.
Pick: Knollspine Dragon
Burn Trail, Wildslayer Elves, Cinderhaze Wretch, Wanderbrine Rootcutters, Scar, Loamdragger Giant, Put Away, Turn to Mist, Elvish Hexhunter, Smash to Smithereens, Inkfathom Witch, Gnarled Effigy, Hollowsage
Speaking of Burn Trail…
Just remember when you’re flaming my Spiteflame Witch pick in the forums that Burn Trail is better in Mono-Red than Prison Term is in a White deck, in most instances. While I can’t be certain since a rare was taken, passing that Term could’ve hooked me up with the burn spell here in an archetype I’d much rather be in.
Pick: Burn Trail
Safehold Sentry, Puncture Bolt, Safehold Duo, Wingrattle Scarecrow, Old Ghastbark, Ghastly Discovery, Intimidator Initiate, Elsewhere Flask, Niveous Wisps, Rite of Consumption, Tattermunge Witch, Advice from the Fae
When this pack first popped up I saw Tattermunge Witch and got excited because of my Pyre Charger.
Then I saw the Intimidator, and thought “Oh, never mind.”
Then I saw Puncture Bolt, and the rest is history.
I think this qualifies as getting hooked up big time in pack 2.
Pick: Puncture Bolt
Cultbrand Cinder, Mudbrawler Cohort, Wanderbrine Rootcutters, Sootwalkers, Manaforge Cinider, Manamorphose, Cerulean Wisps, Strip Bare, River’s Grasp, Wicker Warcrawler, Crowd of Cinders
Back in SSS I used to hate taking Cultbrand Cinder over Mudbrawler Cohort because I’d always want as many Cohorts as possible to rush someone before they could even get in the game. Now that Eventide is around I don’t worry so much about this pick, because there are Mimics that come late as well as good one-drops like Stream Hopper and Duergar Assailant.
I think the Cinder is the best card for sure here, and would rather have the Cohort than Sootwalkers or Warcrawler.
Pick: Cultbrand Cinder
Briarberry Cohort, Sootwalkers, Blistering Dieflyn, Presence of Gond, Shield of the Oversoul, Scrapbasket, Scuzzback Scrapper, Rite of Consumption, Put Away, Slinking Giant
I strongly considered taking Presence of Gond here, and splashing it (and Foxfire Oak). I nearly timed out on this pick before deciding to just stay the course and take Sootwalkers. I think Sootwalkers is definitely better than Slinking Giant because I don’t have Intimidator or Ember Gale yet, and I also don’t have Power of Fire, which is very strong on the Giant.
Chainbreaker, Sinking Feeling, Goldenglow Moth, Smash to Smithereens, Hungry Spriggan, Loch Korrigan, Torrent of Souls, Tattermunge Maniac, Inkfathom Witch
Usually I have multiple Giantbaitings, Burn Trails, and Mudbrawler Cohorts, which make Tattermunge Maniac much more desirable in this type of archetype. While that isn’t the case this time around, I still think it’s better than splashing for Torrent of Souls or taking Smash to Smithereens for the sideboard.
Pick: Tattermunge Maniac
Oona’s Gatewarden, Runes of the Deus, Safehold Duo, Medicine Runner, Elsewhere Flask, Cerulean Wisps, Smolder Initiate, Merrow Grimeblotter
Runes is always solid in Mono-Red, and I’ve got three good GR guys to get maximum value out of it. I’ve won some games simply by putting it on Pyre Charger in the late game and creating The Abyss.
Pick: Runes of the Deus
The rest of the Shadowmoor picks were very good for me. I got an Illuminated Folio over Pili-Pala, another Pyre Charger (making me wish I took Tattermunge Witch), and somehow tabled two Mudbrawler Cohorts. I was very happy with my deck going into pack 3.
Battlegate Mimic, Puncture Blast, Favor of the Overbeing, Slippery Boggle, Beckon Apparition, Snakeform, Hoof Skulkin, Noggle Bridgebreaker, Raven’s Crime, Oona’s Grace, Harvest Gwyllion, Wistful Selkie, Hearthfire Hobgoblin, Cache Raiders, Scarecrone
As far as Limited burn spells go, it doesn’t get much better than Puncture Blast. The sweet thing about this pack is that Hobgoblin has a decent chance of tabling in my experience, since the cost is awkward for the colors it is in. I’ve gotten one back as late as 12th pick before, and this pack is very strong so it’s a definite possibility.
Pick: Puncture Blast
Merrow Levitator, Drain the Well, Cinder Pyromancer, Hobgoblin Dragoon, Wickerbough Elder, Edge of the Divinity, Desecrator Hag, Antler Skulkin, Ballynock Trapper, Cenn’s Enlistment, Wilderness Hypnotist, Phosphorescent Feast, Flickerwisp, Savage Conception
This pack basically sucks for me. The only real options are the Pyromancer and the Elder on the splash. The Pyromancer will almost always table, and while I’m not exactly looking to splash with double Pyre Charger in my pile right now, the Elder is definitely a reason to consider doing so.
Pick: Wickerbough Elder
Odious Trow, Stream Hopper, Shorecrasher Mimic, Fang Skulkin, Desecrator Hag, Grazing Kelpie, Hotheaded Giant, Recumbent Bliss, Noggle Bandit, Noggle Ransacker, Patrol Signaler, Selkie Hedgemage, Overbeing of Myth
This pack is much more like it.
All of the Red cards here are very strong and staples in Mono-Red. The Ransacker is more of an odd card, but a nice way to refill once you’ve emptied your hand. Unfortunately this isn’t too difficult of a pick, as Noggle Bandit is just amazing, and better than Hotheaded Giant in almost all circumstances. The only time I could ever see taking the Giant would be in a deck without any four-drops that also had a bunch of one-drops. Since there are tons of good Red four-drops in Shadowmoor, this situation will almost never come up.
Pick: Noggle Bandit
Merrow Bonegnawer, Duergar Assailant, Banishing Knack, Kithkin Zealot, Monstrify, Monstrify(foil), Snakeform, Woodlurker Mimic, Shell Skulkin, Duergar Mine-Captain, Razorfin Abolisher, Glamerdye
If I had Power of Fire I would certainly take the Mine-Captain here. Since I don’t, I think Snakeform is by far the best choice from this pack.
Merrow Levitator, Nip Gwyllion, Nettle Sentinel, Tilling Treefolk, Battlegate Mimic, Trapjaw Kelpie, Jawbone Skulkin, Raven’s Crime, Unnerving Assault, Sturdy Hatchling, Restless Apparition
Not much here in the way of options. The thing about Mono-Red in comparison with other archetypes is that it usually doesn’t care if it’s just taking a 2/1 for two that will rarely trigger like Battlefield Mimic.
I really have an issue with Jawbone Skulkin, too as Sootstoke Kindler is a thousand times better and the Skulkin doesn’t even turn on Mudbrawler Raiders on turn 2. Seriously, what were they thinking when they made this junker? Even Crimson Wisps puts it to shame.
Pick: Battlefield Mimic
Stream Hopper, Merrow Bonegnawer, Inside Out, Monstrify, Noggle Bridgebreaker, Beckon Apparition, Fang Skulkin, Talonrend, Indigo Faerie, Altar Golem
Most people wouldn’t get excited about a Goblin Balloon Brigade in Limited. I have to say I’m not one of those people, and I’m more than happy to play multiples of this guy (especially if I get Clout of the Dominus).
On a related side note, my roommate and I have done a bunch of EEE drafts and are convinced that the best strategy is actually just Stream Hoppers, Riverfall Mimics, Noggle Bandits, and Clout of the Dominus. Sure, Puncture Blast and Flame Jab don’t hurt, but the other day I had a deck with 5 Hopper, 4 Clout, 4 Mimic, 4 Bandit and never came close to dropping a game. Take that, WB mages.
Pick: Stream Hopper
Riverfall Mimic, Cinder Pyromancer, Nettle Sentinel, Nightsky Mimic, Scourge of the Nobilis, Clout of the Dominus, Aerie Ouphes, Grazing Kelpie, Wilderness Hypnotist
Here I have the choice of another random 2/1 Mimic since I only have two UR spells, Pyromancer, or Clout (which is even worse than the Mimic here). I could also take Aerie Ouphes for the splash.
I think the choice comes down to the Pyromancer and the Ouphes, since the Mimic doesn’t look like it will trigger and I have a ton of two-drops already. I decided to go with the Ouphes and solidify my splash, as well as having a good answer to fliers.
Pick: Aerie Ouphes
Heartlash Cinder, Slippery Boggle, Shorecrasher Mimic, Edge of Divinity, Hoof Skulkin, Cenn’s Enlistment, Impelled Giant, Savage Conception
I haven’t tried out Impelled Giant yet, and I was strongly considering it with this pick. If I was straight Mono-Red with no splash and running both Pyre Chargers, I think this would be the optimal moment for the Giant.
Another consideration from this pack is Hoof Skulkin who makes the cut in some of my Mono Red builds with lots of GR guys. This time I’m actually splashing, so it’s even more likely that Skulkin will be good. I definitely considered him especially because of the positive interaction with Aerie Ouphes, but in the end I went with Heartlash Cinder which will definitely make the deck no matter what mana situation.
Pick: Heartlash Cinder
As expected, Hearthfire Hobgoblin tabled along with Cinder Pyromancer and Inside Out.
Overall, I was happy with how this draft went, and while I know the Prison Term pick was controversial, I go to extreme lengths to end up in Red in this format and it’s paid off so far in the actual matches.
2 Mudbrawler Cohort
Runes of the Deus
I went with 17 land here instead of my usual 16 because of Knollspine Dragon, as well as wanting an extra Forest. Also only one Pyre Charger made the main, and I wasn’t really happy about him being there with five Forests in this build. I guess I could’ve run Pili-Pala, to fix mana as well as provide a bit of evasion. There wasn’t really too much in the way of sideboard options except the Crimson Wisps against opposing God Auras.
Round 1 I won the die roll and literally killed my opponent on turn 5. I guess I’m exaggerating a touch, since I didn’t actually kill him, but he instantly conceded after drawing his card. My draw went Stream Hopper, Mudbrawler Cohort, Boggart Ram-Gang, Puncture Blast your guy, Burn Trail your guy. Game 2 wasn’t quite the blowout, but I started quickly again with Stream Hopper and Cohort and got in a bunch of damage before he played out Parapet Watchers and started attacking with two Briarberry Cohorts. I drew into Noggle Bandit while my Cinder Pyromancer was going to work on his face, and the Bandit was enough to go the distance.
Round 2 started off poorly for me as I mulled to five on the draw and my opponent started with the ominous opening of Safehold Elite and Shield of the Oversoul. Clearly with no maindeck answer to this, we were shuffling up shortly thereafter. I boarded in my Wisps in exchange for Pyre Charger and kept seven cards on the play. This game dragged out for a while until I wrecked his Archon of Justice with Snakeform and untapped and dropped Runes of the Deus on my Tattermunge Duo. He eventually dealt with that with Recumbent Bliss, but not before taking a couple of hits putting him low on life. With my Pyromancer keeping his lifegain at bay I just needed to draw into spells to finish him off. I guess my deck realized this as it offered up Knollspine Dragon into my empty grip, and I also drew two cards off the pinger. Game 3 I kept the following hand on the draw:
I never drew another land after that, and he beat me pretty easily.
Overall, I thought this was an interesting draft because of my somewhat unorthodox passing of Prison Term, as well as my overall strategy of forcing Red if at all possible. I’m sure there are those of you who will disagree and flame on in the forums, and that’s fine. For the rest of you, feel free to comment or ask questions.
Soooooo on MTGO