Limited Lessons — A Tenth Edition Draft Walkthrough

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Last week, Nick asked the forum folk a question: would they like to see a Tenth Edition Draft walkthrough. The answer was a resounding yes, and today Nick makes good on his promise. He takes us through each difficult pick, and gives us some food for thought with intricate game scenarios. If you’re looking to improve your Limited game, this is the article for you!

As promised, this week I have a walkthrough from Tenth Edition. This was the first draft I did online, and although this is from an 8-4, it seems that 4322 is the more popular format by far for XXX. My guess is that this is because a lot of more casual players are interested in the format.

I’m not going to list the basic lands in the pack lists, since there is one in every pack and it’s pretty pointless. I’m also going to be less detailed on the obvious picks so that I can make more room at the end for detailed in-game situations.

Pack One

Pack 1
Unsummon, Ravenous Rats, Giant Spider, Ghost Warden, Incinerate, Viashino Sandscout, Reviving Dose, Skyshroud Ranger, Venerable Monk, Horseshoe Crab, Stampeding Wildebeasts, Nekrataal, Creeping Mold, Scoria Wurm

This is a pretty solid booster as a whole, even if it does only offer a few possible picks for me to reasonably make. It was pretty obvious to me right away that I was taking either Nekrataal or Incinerate from this pack. Which is better?

In a vacuum Incinerate is the safer pick since it’s something you can easily splash, it’s cheap removal, and it can go to the dome. As far as overall card quality, assuming you’re able to play whichever card you pick in one of your main colors, Nekrataal is slightly better since it’s a free Terror that leaves a reasonable dude on the board.

The factor that pushed this pick towards Nekrataal for me was that I think Black is really strong in XXX, and Red is only okay. I can understand taking Incinerate here from a consistency standpoint in that you’ll always get to play it, but I really think Nekrataal is the better pick in this spot.

I also can’t see taking either the Wildebeasts or Giant Spider here, with better options available.

My Pick: Nekrataal

Pack 2
Bogardan Firefiend, Spined Wurm, Bandage, Sea Monster, Contaminated Bond, Goblin Piker, Demystify, Natural Spring, Sage Owl, Treetop Bracers, Sylvan Scrying, Composite Golem, Blanchwood Armor

If I’d taken Incinerate I’d follow up with Bogardan Firefiend here, but since that’s not the case I have some thinking to do.

The viable picks here are Firefiend (not a great idea after passing the burn spell), Spined Wurm, Blanchwood Armor, Composite Golem, or Sea Monster.

None of these options are great, but Spined Wurm is the best card by far. If there was a specific reason to take Sea Monster here then that would be understandable, but there just isn’t one. A reason could be that Blue was overdrafted in the format, or that U/B was an incredible archetype. I’m only exploring these possibilities because I don’t like taking a Green card from a heavy Green booster like this one if it just means I’m going to get pushed out later.

I’m probably making too big a deal out of this, but I ended up taking the Spined Wurm and not being too happy about it. Maybe I should just take Composite Golem? Seems pretty weak, but it could make some sense.

My Pick: Spined Wurm

Pack 3
Boomerang, Llanowar Elves, Severed Legion, Lightning Elemental, Youthful Knight, Demystify, Robe of Mirrors, Canopy Spider, Sage Owl, Soul Warden, Academy Researchers, Femeref Archers

This pack offers two reasonable options since I think Femeref Archers is better than Canopy Spider at that particular job. Llanowar Elves can also be eliminated fairly early, since I believe this format is very much about getting the most out of every card and trying to avoid being mana-flooded. The Elves is still playable, but I’d want a lot of ways to get card advantage in my deck to offset having another card that will only be mana in the late game. The format is slow enough that Llanowar Elves doesn’t enable too many busty draws that would make it shoot up in value.

Since there aren’t really any opportunities to branch out into another color in this booster, the decision is between Severed Legion and Femeref Archers.

Both creatures are fine and serve a different purpose, but I decided that I definitely wanted to play the Nekrataal if possible and I wasn’t sure if I’d be in Green or not since I’m passing a lot of it. I could understand taking the Archers here, but I prefer the Legion.

My Pick: Severed Legion

Pack 4
Llanowar Elves, Lightning Elemental, Youthful Knight, Dehydration, Shimmering Wings, Smash, Holy Strength, Grizzly Bears, Stun, Drudge Skeletons, Goblin Lore

This pack sucks for a fourth pick.

I don’t consider Youthful Knight or Lightning Elemental to be motives to switch into another color, so I’m left with either Llanowar Elves or Drudge Skeletons.

I believe I should’ve just taken the Skeletons here, especially after not taking the Archer with my last pick and shipping all of the Green in the booster before that. Instead I went with the Llanowar Elves on the hope that I stayed in Green. Go ahead and put a tally mark in the mispick column for me on this one.

My Pick: Llanowar Elves

Pack 5
Viashino Runner, Aggressive Urge, Boomerang, Stun, Contaminated Bond, Natural Spring, Vampire Bats, Sudden Impact, Forbidding Watchtower, Nomad Mythmaker

Another mundane booster with few options. If I’d taken Drudge Skeleton like I should have, I believe the pick is Vampire Bats. Since I took the Llanowar Elves, I guess I just have to cross my fingers and take Aggressive Urge and hope these colors pan out for me.

My Pick: Aggressive Urge

Pack 6
Recover, Rock Badger, Duct Crawler, Commune with Nature, Honor Guard, Lumengrid Warden, Wall of Air, Academy Researchers, Hurkyl’s Recall

For what it’s worth, I really disliked Commune with Nature the first time it was available, and I doubt it’s any better in XXX even though I don’t have the testing experience to back up my theory.

At least I finally get a small reprieve with this booster in Recover, and I’m happy to take it. It’s worth noting that Wall of Air is still here, and Blue seems to be flowing even if I’m just seeing the same garbage like Academy Researchers. Rock Badger is also a good indicator that Red is at least somewhat open in front of me, in case I need to switch and plan for pack three.

My Pick: Recover

Pack 7
Scathe Zombies, Goblin Elite Infantry, Overgrowth, Tundra Wolves, Demolish, Starlight Invoker, Might Weaver, Head Games

I’ve mentioned this before and in my last article on this format, but I believe the primary objective in XXX draft is to generate card advantage wherever possible, since the format is slow and the person with more effective cards will usually win. Head Games is an excellent way to ensure that you’ll be far ahead on cards if your opponent has a bunch of spells in hand when you cast it. While it doesn’t exactly make him discard his whole hand, it does let you see his entire deck and give him a grip of lands (or spells he can’t cast).

This kind of information is rare in a Core Set format, and I’m honestly surprised to see the card go this late. I guess the format is too new for people to understand the impact this Sorcery can have.

My Pick: Head Games

Pack 8
Uncontrollable Anger, Looming Shade, Holy Day, Pincer Beetles, Horseshoe Crab, Naturalize, Wurm’s Tooth

Looming Shade is a much better creature than Pincer Beetle for so many reasons. I’m also definitely in Black, and probably heavy Black if possible, while Green is still uncertain at this point. I’m unlikely to get much Green in pack two, so I was planning on jumping ship if an option presented itself.

My Pick: Looming Shade

On the lap I got Horseshoe Crab, Composite Golem, Demystify, and Natural Spring. I guess I didn’t need to take Composite Golem earlier after all.

Pack Two

Pack 1
Benalish Knight, Bogardan Firefiend, Rootwater Commando, Rampant Growth, Highway Robber, Skyhunter Patrol, Civic Wayfinder, Angelic Blessing, Spineless Thug, Lava Axe, Stronghold Discipline, Fountain of Youth, Thundering Giant, Serra Angel

Well now, here is a real decision.

While the pack is strong all the way through, I immediately narrowed the pick down to Serra Angel or Civic Wayfinder. Each card has its benefits, which makes this pick difficult.

Civic Wayfinder is on color for me, and also allows a potential future splash if I open or get passed something. Serra Angel is a huge bomb flier and also the out I was looking for in terms of switching colors and dropping Green.

I used quite a bit of time thinking about this pick, and eventually decided to go with the Serra. My thinking is that Serra is a huge bomb in a format of mainly bland cards. I also really wanted out of Green, and felt this was the ticket.

My Pick: Serra Angel

Pack 2
Uncontrollable Anger, Snapping Drake, Skyhunter Prowler, Recover, Steadfast Guard, Unholy Strength, Raging Goblin, Honor Guard, Overgrowth, Yavimaya Enchantress, Rod of Ruin, Telling Time, Sunken Hope

My experience in past formats suggests that Rod of Ruin is awesome in base set draft. Formats like Eighth or Ninth Edition draft also seemed much quicker than XXX, and the Rod was still very playable there. Based on that thinking, Rod should be even better in Tenth, and certainly better than Recover or Skyhunter Prowler.

My Pick: Rod of Ruin

Pack 3
Hill Giant, Venerable Monk, Mass of Ghouls, Youthful Knight, Grizzly Bears, Firebreathing, Mind Rot, Demystify, Wall of Fire, Telepathy, Leonin Scimitar, Windborn Muse

Woah. I’m pretty sure this should never happen, since two commons are missing and Windborn Muse is plenty good enough to splash for. If someone took Overrun or Persuasion or something then I could understand, but Terror/Incinerate/Essence Drain are the only things I can really think of, and I might be tempted to splash for the Muse instead of taking one of the Black cards.

At any rate, this is very lucky for my decision of taking the Serra, and I’m definitely hopping on the White train and staying there.

My Pick: Windborn Muse

Pack 4
Wild Griffin, Anaba Bodyguard, Sift, Ravenous Rats, Aven Cloudchaser, Dross Crocodile, Cloud Sprite, Distress, Icatian Priest, Regeneration, Clone

This was a difficult pick for me because I’ve never had to make it before, and I was still getting used to the format. As a whole I feel that Cloudchaser is the slightly better card. The way my deck was shaping up at this point in the draft though, I felt I needed some faster guys to either buy time or gain an advantage, which would then let me play a bomb and win without being under a lot of pressure. I also thought I’d probably get a Pacifism or Heart of Light, which would make the ‘Chaser worse.

This could’ve been a mispick looking back, because B/W is very good at gaining life with Venerable Monk, Highway Robber, and Essence Drain all in the common slot. Because of this it’s possible I should just make the more controlling pick here and again try to push the card advantage issue.

My Pick: Wild Griffin

Pack 5
Aggressive Urge, Highway Robber, Venerable Monk, Robe of Mirrors, Sage Owl, Goblin Sky Raider, Angelic Blessing, Ornithopter, Tempest of Light, Tidings

It sucks to pass a Tidings this late, but I’ve already made my switch into White and I’m certainly not moving back out with two bombs in my deck. I’m content to take Highway Robber with this pick.

My Pick: Highway Robber

Pack 6
Unsummon, Stalking Tiger, Assassinate, Samite Healer, Raging Goblin, Skyshroud Ranger, Warrior’s Honor, Plague Beetle, Spirit Weaver

Not much to say here except that I need more removal and there aren’t a lot of options. I have seen a lot of Unsummons in this draft though, so I’ll be sure to play around those if the situation makes it possible.

My Pick: Assassinate

Pack 7
Rock Badger, Skyhunter Prowler, Crafty Pathmage, Goblin Elite Infantry, Unholy Strength, Fists of the Anvil, Cruel Edict, Skyhunter Skirmisher

Here’s another pick I’m still not entirely sure about. Again, I wanted removal so my first instinct was to take the Cruel Edict. There are two good White fliers available here though, and maybe I should’ve given them more consideration. How good is Cruel Edict anyway? It obviously gets better the more removal you have, since you can isolate the guy you want to Edict, but on its own I’m not so sure. I still picked it because I figured the format is slow enough that sometimes my opponent’s first guy will be a four drop like Hill Giant, and I will get to trade with it for only two mana, which is a pretty good deal.

If I had Leonin Scimitar or something similar here I might consider the Skirmisher more, and if the Edict wasn’t in the pack I would probably take Skirmisher, though the Prowler does fit better with the controlling theme of B/W.

My Pick: Cruel Edict

Pack 8
Venerable Monk, Angelic Wall, Spineless Thug, Firebreathing, Mind Rot, Spirit Weaver

This pick is very close, and I think a case can be made for any of the three cards. And no, Spineless Thug is not one of those three cards. I’m talking about Mind Rot, Angelic Wall, and Venerable Monk.

Since I wanted to make sure that the game went on long enough for my Serra Angel or Windborn Muse to have an impact, I decided the Wall was probably a little better for me than the Monk.

As far as the Wall against the Mind Rot, I decided to favor setting up a defense and giving my better cards a chance to kick in. Having an Angelic Wall in play gives you a bit of leverage in terms of when you want to use your Nekrataal, since the Wall can block the random guys and you can wait for a better target. I could be wrong with this pick, but I also already have Head Games and I think the Wall is the right choice for my current deck.

My Pick: Angelic Wall

On the lap I picked up Benalish Knight, Steadfast Guard over Unholy Strength, Venerable Monk, Distress, Angelic Blessing, and Plague Beetle. Needless to say, I made out alright with the last bunch of picks in this round of boosters. I was especially happy about Distress and Benalish Knight.

Pack Three

Pack 1
Hill Giant, Afflict, Civic Wayfinder, Benalish Knight, Sea Monster, Bloodrock Cyclops, Elvish Berserker, Fear, Cancel, Demon’s Horn, Soul Warden, Diabolic Tutor, Soulblast, foil Land

This pack presents the choice of Diabolic Tutor or Afflict.

I believe the general population would probably take Afflict in this situation, especially if they based their thinking on previous Core Set formats. As I’ve been saying throughout this walkthrough, Tenth is a much slower format and I think this pick would be wrong given my current deck.

I have a plethora of good targets for a turn 4 Diabolic Tutor. I can go get Head Games and ensure my opponent is locked into topdeck mode for the duration of the game. I can get Serra Angel or Windborn Muse and crush almost anything. I can get Nekrataal, Assassinate, or Cruel Edict to deal with pretty much any threat. I can get Recover to get back a bomb. The options are all there.

For what its worth, I think Diabolic Tutor is an excellent pick either early in a draft when you have the potential to fill out options for it, or late in a draft when you already have lots of good targets to search up. While its value obviously depends on your final deck, I feel it will be a bomb more often than not in XXX since it lets you search for a way to break the game open in your favor.

Afflict is a great removal spell, sure, but it doesn’t let you set up an entire game or search for that one backbreaking answer to ruin your opponent.

My Pick: Diabolic Tutor

Pack 2
Anaba Bodyguard, Essence Drain, Steadfast Guard, Assassinate, Dross Crocodile, Fists of the Anvil, Tundra Wolves, Llanowar Sentinel, Peek, Spirit Weaver, Sky Weaver, Rage Weaver, Paladin En-Vec

The first thing I did was a quick price check on Paladin En-Vec and found that he wasn’t worth much at all. After that the pick was pretty easy, and I took Essence Drain without thinking too much. Yet another great Tutor target.

My Pick: Essence Drain

Pack 3
Lightning Elemental, Gravedigger, Stalking Tiger, Heart of Light, Elvish Berserker, Cancel, Robe of Mirrors, Angelic Wall, Spineless Thug, Aura Graft, Shatterstorm, Llanowar Wastes

Most people would agree that this pick is simple on the surface. No card in the pack compares in power level to that of Gravedigger. However, Llanowar Wastes were being bought for four event tickets, and I felt my deck was already amazing, so I decided to gamble a bit and rare-draft with this pick. In a 4322 I would take the Wastes without a doubt, but being that this was an 8-4 I think the pick is a bit riskier, and if you weren’t as confident in your play ability I would just bolster the deck by taking Gravedigger.

Call it being cocky if you want, but I already felt like I could win this draft, and I wanted those four tickets.

My Pick: Llanowar Wastes

Pack 4
Twitch, Festering Goblin, Shock, Dross Crocodile, Viashino Sandscout, Unholy Strength, Cloud Sprite, Distress, Hate Weaver, Demon’s Horn, March of the Machines

This pack is pretty poor and I decided I wanted Festering Goblin more than I wanted a second Distress. This could be a mistake as I’ve realized how amazing Distress is in XXX since then, and having multiples is probably a good idea if you can make the mana work. Honestly, when you Distress someone on turn 2 in this format, they will generally only have one really good card in their hand and you also gain the knowledge of any Incinerates, Shocks, Boomerangs, Unsummons, Remove Souls, or Terrors that could turn the game in their favor if you didn’t know about them. Distress is really powerful at two mana, and a reason to draft heavy Black on its own.

It’s also entirely possible that I should’ve taken the Dross Crocodile as a defense measure against Green mages, but they tend to go late and I like having a Festering Goblin for some early game.

My Pick: Festering Goblin

Pack 5
Rootwalla, Looming Shade, Lumengrid Warden, Holy Day, Duct Crawler, Naturalize, Reviving Dose, Knight of Dusk, Flamewave Invoker, Fog Elemental

If I were Mono Black I would definitely take another Shade here, as well as take the Distress with the last pick. There is no way I’m abandoning my White cards in this draft, so Knight of Dusk becomes the more sensible pick since Looming Shade is mana intensive and I already have one.

My Pick: Knight of Dusk

Pack 6
Dusk Imp, Heart of Light, Suntail Hawk, Treetop Bracers, Vampire Bats, Smash, Wall of Wood, Composite Golem, Threaten

Dusk Imp is better than Suntail Hawk since it can actually trade with some fliers, and I’d rather not have to play Plains on turn 1. With that said, I’m not a huge fan of the Imp in XXX due to the presence of Cloud Elemental, Skyhunter Patrol, Skyhunter Prowler, and other three-toughness fliers. He also dies to Afflict and other pinging effects, but somehow remains playable.

My Pick: Dusk Imp

Pack 7
Llanowar Elves, Mass of Ghouls, Loxodon Mystic, Fear, Goblin Sky Raider, Suntail Hawk, Lava Axe, High Ground

This is a late and unexpected gift. I’m not sure what else to say here except that I’m extremely glad I made the leap and went into White with the Serra Angel.

My Pick: Loxodon Mystic

Pack 8
Twitch, Kavu Climber, Festering Goblin, Cloud Sprite, Terramorphic Expanse, Plague Beetle, Treasure Hunter

I didn’t want another Festering Goblin due to the format being slower. Expanse should help fix any mana problems I could have, since I’m heavy Black but do still want double White in the mid-game for my Serra or Loxodon Mystic.

My Pick: Terramorphic Expanse

To round out the draft I got Soul Warden, Dross Crocodile, Unholy Strength, and Holy Day.

The Deck

Angelic Wall
Benalish Knight
Dross Crocodile
Dusk Imp
Festering Goblin
Highway Robber
Knight of Dusk
Looming Shade
Loxodon Mystic
Serra Angel
Severed Legion
Venerable Monk
Wild Griffin
Windborn Muse

Cruel Edict
Diabolic Tutor
Essence Drain
Head Games
Rod of Ruin

Terramorphic Expanse
7 Plains
9 Swamp

Relevant Sideboard:
Angelic Blessing
Steadfast Guard
Soul Warden
Holy Day
Unholy Strength
Plague Beetle
Composite Golem

This deck was not very difficult to build correctly. I ended up getting a Dross Crocodile anyway, and I think they are a very good thing to have in a world of Spined Wurms and Giant Spiders. They get even better if you have something like Whispersilk Cloak. Since the deck was easy to build, I want to move on to the games.

Round 1
My opponent’s rating suggests he’s competent and he’s playing U/R. The first game started out with me on the play and him taking a mulligan. Nothing happened until turn 4, when I cast Diabolic Tutor searching for Head Games. My opponent made it easy for me and tapped out for Hill Giant on his turn, and I went searching through his deck and gave him a nice hand of five Mountains to go with his board of three Mountains and an Island. This was even more impressive than usual, as some of the highlights I saw while looking through his deck were 2 Shock, 2 Boomerang, Unsummon, Remove Soul, Thundering Giant, Ambassador Laquatus, Dragon Roost, and Prodigal Pyromancer. He also had Wall of Air, so I gave him a bunch of extra dead draws since he didn’t have the second Island. Despite this, he managed to topdeck a couple of times including drawing Remove Soul for my Loxodon Mystic the turn after I Essence Drained the Hill Giant off the board. He drew Sage Owl but only found one spell in the top four, and I easily won with some random dudes a few turns later. I sideboarded in Demystify for Looming Shade since the Shade is weak against multiple bounce spells and Shocks.

Game 2 I kept a questionable hand on the draw.

Festering Goblin
Essence Drain

The reason I kept this hand is that my opponent’s creatures are mostly four-drops, and he had a bunch of bounce spells that don’t really do much since the game is going to take a long time. A few of my guys have comes into play abilities, which makes his bounce even less effective. I also have my sideboard card to handle his Dragon Roost, which is the only thing I was really worried about. Finally, I have Distress to ensure that I have time to get set up. All in all, I think this is a reasonable keep in this situation.

I ended up drawing a couple of lands, Distress took his only creature, an Anaba Bodyguard, while seeing a hand of Boomerang, Dehydration, and Dragon Roost. I drew a Severed Legion only to have it Shocked off of the board a turn later. Eventually he went for the Roost, and I killed it immediately and went on to untap and Essence Drain his Hill Giant. Festering Goblin and Highway Robber went the rest of the distance.

Round 2
Game 1 my opponent kept a very marginal hand of Phyrexian Vault, Aven Cloudchaser, and five lands. I know this because I Distressed him on turn 2. My hand was pretty strong. I felt that it’d be very hard to lose after I took the Vault, and subsequently used Nekrataal on his Cloudchaser. His deck tried to get him back in the game with Ballista Squad, but I just shut that down with Loxodon Mystic. After a bit of struggling, we were headed to sideboarding.

I sided in Demystify and Plague Beetle for Angelic Wall and Severed Legion. I saw a Pacifism, and also Mass of Ghouls and Ballista Squad, so I didn’t think the Wall would be very good past the early turns. I brought the Beetle in because I felt Severed Legion was subpar in the matchup, and I didn’t see any Afflicts or Festering Goblins. Neither Beetle or Legion seemed good at the time, but I felt Beetle might actually have an impact whereas it was unlikely the Legion would.

Game 2 I kept another borderline hand on the draw.

Dusk Imp
Looming Shade
Rod of Ruin
Serra Angel

This hand could die to some early pressure, but I’m not even sure that is a valid concern in this format, especially since my opponent is also B/W. He ends up building a turn 4 Skyhunter Prowler with Unholy Strength and starts attacking me with it. Fortunately, I’ve drawn Diabolic Tutor by this time and just go find my Nekrataal. Man, Tutor is amazing in this cumbersome format. At a later stage of the game, a somewhat tricky turn came up that I wanted to share. The game state is as follows.

Opponent (19 life) One Card in Hand
3 Plains, 3 Swamp, Mass of Ghouls tapped from attacking, Ghost Warden (just cast)

Me (12 Life) Five Cards in Hand
5 tapped Swamps, Nekrataal tapped from attacking on my last turn, Looming Shade

Okay, let me clear a few things up. First of all, I’m tapped out because I topdecked Essence Drain on my last turn and killed my opponent’s Loxodon Mystic and then attacked him with Nekrataal. It’s currently his turn, and after attacking me with Mass of Ghouls and casting Ghost Warden, he casts a Mind Rot at me. My hand is the following.

Rod of Ruin
Benalish Knight
Dusk Imp
Serra Angel
Highway Robber

What do you discard? Initially, I had no idea and then I did some thinking. Study the board and try to figure out what you’d do in my position here before reading what actually happened.

In order to figure out what the right cards to discard are, I must first come up with a plan. With five Swamps in play you could easily just say that I should discard both White cards and move on. Guess what? You’d be very wrong. With the board as it is now, I need a precise plan if I have any hope of mounting a comeback in this game. The best way to figure out which cards to discard is to come up with a plan and figure out which cards I actually want to keep. Then you can go back and make sure the plan is sensible, or revise it and discard something else. This is much easier than sitting there debating about what to pitch for a few minutes, trust me.

The first thing I considered was sitting back on Looming Shade mana and trading for his Mass of Ghouls. This would let me cast Dusk Imp if I draw a land but doesn’t really get me anywhere in the grand scheme of things as my opponent can just elect to hold his guy back and force me to keep mana up more often. I decided that the solution to this problem was that I was going to need to draw a Plains and then try to orchestrate a double block with Nekrataal and the Knight to pick off the Mass of Ghouls without even losing a man. Okay, so the Knight stays.

I next determined that I needed Rod of Ruin for the long game, since Ghost Warden was going to prove annoying, and I can also actually cast the Rod. Keeping that one.

The last card is usually the toughest to decide on, but in this case it really wasn’t that hard. First I checked my life total to see that I’m still at a relatively healthy twelve life. My opponent will be hard pressed to burn me out unless he has multiple Essence Drains and or Soul Feasts, so that’s not a huge concern. I am also pretty stable on board since I can hold the fort until I draw a Plains and then be in great shape. Finally, I have longevity thanks to the Rod of Ruin in my hand. I don’t exactly need the lifegain provided by the Highway Robber in this situation. It obviously wouldn’t hurt, but if you look at my mana situation, I can cast Dusk Imp and still have mana for the Knight if I draw a Plains, and this would also trick my opponent into attacking into my ambush. Deciding whether to keep the Imp or the Robber is just a matter of mana versus life at this point, though the Imp has the added benefit of being evasive for when I eventually start to attack.

So, I discarded Serra Angel and Highway Robber, and felt confident about my plan.

On my next turn I drew Terramorphic Expanse. Not the worst turn of events, but not an actual Plains. I played the Expanse and just passed, and my opponent decided not to trade his Mass for my Shade and passed the turn back after doing nothing. This was probably the best thing I could’ve hoped for, as I now have a Plains online. On my next turn I drew a Swamp, bringing me up to seven mana, and I decided to go for a type of semi-bluff. You may need to scroll back up to the game state I provided earlier, as the only thing that has changed is that my opponent played a Skyhunter Prowler on his turn.

My bluff was casting Rod of Ruin leaving open only Swamp, Swamp, and Plains. My hope is that my opponent will think I merely forgot about the Ghost Warden, and that he is free to attack away with his Mass of Ghouls and I can’t even trade with my Looming Shade. Then obviously I ambush with the Knight, and shouldn’t have trouble winning from there. Everything seemed to be going according to plan, as my opponent drew and quickly attacked on his turn. When I went in for the ambush he showed me the Afflict he had topdecked, and I felt crippled and was already having thoughts of game 3. He also played Skyhunter Patrol post-combat, which was even worse news for me.

The game dragged on after that, as I traded Shade for his Mass finally and played out Dusk Imp and Festering Goblin. Down to three life, I finally got a break when I drew Wild Griffin. He could no longer attack effectively as I could shoot my own Goblin with the Rod and block the Patrol without losing my Griffin. I started drawing into more spells and eventually came back and won thanks to Windborn Muse, Cruel Edict, and Assassinate. Now that was a close game.

Round 3
Unfortunately these games weren’t really close at all.

Game 1 he had Vedalken Mastermind with Sage Owl and Phyrexian Rager, but I stopped that nonsense with Rod of Ruin pretty early. I also had Serra Angel and Windborn Muse both online by turn 6, and Angelic Wall to hold back the dorks. Eventually Serra and Rod took it down.

Game 2 I cast a turn 5 Head Games followed by turn 6 Serra Angel. My opponent said his deck wasn’t impressive to begin with, and that even if it was he’d have trouble beating that opening. I think I have to agree with him on that.

So there you have it, I went 6-0 in games in my first XXX draft on Magic Online.

Nick Eisel
[email protected]
Soooooo on MTGO