I’ve been somewhat enamored lately with Smokebraider, and have probably been forcing the Elemental archetype more often than I should. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I always like wacky decks, and especially decks that play four or five colors or just splash more often than is necessary. Smokebraider is my way to do that in this format. and so I’ve been doing some experimenting.
This week I want to share a draft walkthrough where I forced Elementals and learned a bit more about the archetype.
Streambed Aquitects, Stinkdrinker Daredevil, Nameless Inversion, Battlewand Oak, Hurly-Burly, Plover Knights, Paperfin Rascal, Boggart Forager, Ringskipper, Hunt Down, Triclopean Sight, Shriekmaw, Seedguide Ash, Veteran of the Depths, Militia’s Pride
As good of a pack as this is, the pick is simple. Shriekmaw is probably my favorite card to open because it is just busted and there are lots of ways you can abuse it even further. When I opened this pack I decided I was going to try to get into RBu Elementals because I feel that deck makes the best use of Shriekmaw, and also because I’m in love with Smokebraider but that’s another issue entirely. The truth of the matter is that after first picking Shriekmaw you can end up in any archetype in the format and just splash him without worrying about it. So while I’d like to say that opening him is my main reason for trying to get into Elementals, I actively look for reasons to do so no matter what so it’s a moot point.
I’m passing so many good cards in this pack it’s kind of pointless to look at signaling. I can be virtually certain though that the guy to my left will take Nameless Inversion second.
My Pick: Shriekmaw
Silvergill Douser, Avian Changeling, Eyeblight’s Ending, Mudbutton Torchrunner, Springleaf Drum, Oakgnarl Warrior, Judge of Currents, Inkfathom Divers, Needle Drop, Soaring Hope, Glen Elendra Pranksters, Entangling Trap, Final Revels, Galepowder Mage
I went to the time limit on this one and I’m interested to see if my pick is biased or not based on what you guys think in the forums.
First thought when seeing this pack is obviously to just take Final Revels here and stick with Black. Sure, Eyeblight’s Ending and Silvergill Douser are there too but this is Final Revels we’re talking about. Then I looked at the pack again and saw the foil Galepowder Mage that I’d missed at first glance.
The wheels started turning. It’s worth noting that once I get in this mode of drafting goofy decks and trying to assemble obscure combos, it’s not a good thing at all that the wheels were turning.
I decided to go against the grain here and take Galepowder Mage as it’s one of the best cards you can ever hope for in a deck like Elementals that is full of 187s. Even if I didn’t end up in that archetype, the synergy with Shriekmaw is just unbelievable and should end just about any game in which you cast it and then ship it out with the Mage for two free Terrors out of nowhere.
I guess what I’m saying is that it’s hard for me to tell if my love for cool things blinded me here and whether or not the Mage or Revels is the percentage pick in the long run.
My Pick: Galepowder Mage
Moonglove Extract, Boggart Sprite-Chaser, Oaken Brawler, Smokebraider, Giant’s Ire, Dawnfluke, Spellstutter Sprite, Black Poplar Shaman, Elvish Eulogist, Pollen Lullaby, Vivid Creek, Giant Harbinger, Gaddock Teeg
For any sane drafter, this is another easy pick and you should just take the Moonglove Extract and move onward no matter what you took with your second pick.
As I’ve already explained though, I was a man on a mission in this draft and I think I almost broke my mouse trying to click Smokebraider into my pile fast enough.
My Pick: Smokebraider
Boggart Sprite-Chaser, Thieving Sprite, Kinsbaile Balloonist, Whirlpool Whelm, Nath’s Buffoon, Faultgrinder, Rootgrapple, Goldmeadow Dodger, Ceaseless Searblades, Ethereal Whiskergill, Sylvan Echoes, Heat Shimmer
This pack offers a few good options for the Elemental drafter. Heat Shimmer, Whiskergill, and Searblades are all good picks and if you’re not familiar with the deck it may be a tough choice between the three.
The one key thing you have to realize is that the deck wins by abusing 187 abilities like Mournwhelk or Mulldrifter, and one of the best ways to do that is with Heat Shimmer. It is also sick because you can copy one of the opponent’s guys and completely swing a game in your favor out of nowhere. I think most players would be inclined to take the Searblades here, and honestly I don’t think it’s very close and you should be taking Heat Shimmer. There are plenty of common Elementals and you really want a Shimmer and/or Makeshift Mannequin so you need to be picking them highly.
I should also be able to table the Faultgrinder in this pack, which is nice to know.
If I was drafting normally and had taken Galepowder Mage with pick two, I probably take the Balloonist here. If I’d taken Revels then I think I go with the Whiskergill or possibly Thieving Sprite.
My Pick: Heat Shimmer
Fistful of Force, Quill-Slinger Boggart, Surge of Thoughtweft, Cloudcrown Oak, Springjack Knight, Ponder, Bog Hoodlums, Protective Bubble, Fire-Belly Changeling, Boggart Shenanigans, Vivid Marsh
No matter what direction we’d taken so far in this draft, this pack is pretty abysmal. It’s worth mentioning though that I think I’m taking Vivid Marsh here no matter what picks I took to get here, and it’s also worth noting that Vivid Marsh is far better in the deck I’m currently drafting than any normal kind of build. I suppose if you went Revels, Moonglove, Whiskergill you could take Ponder here but there is no way I’m taking Quill-Slinger Boggart over Vivid Marsh almost ever.
As sad as it sounds, I was actually ecstatic to take the Marsh here with no other real options in sight. Vivid Lands are one of the keys to supporting multi-colored Elementals.
My Pick: Vivid Marsh
Lys Alana Huntmaster, Consuming Bonfire, Wispmare, Thieving Sprite, Gilt-Leaf Ambush, Giant’s Ire, Lairwatch Giant, Spellstutter Sprite, Spiderwig Boggart, Entangling Trap
This is a pretty obvious pick for the deck I’m drafting, as Consuming Bonfire fits the theme well. I want to point out though that one thing I’ve found that I really like is playing Gilt-Leaf Ambush in slower Elemental strategies as it buys you lots of time and also has Clash. I’ve splashed for multiple copies of it once or twice, but I tend to prefer a slightly stronger Green presence so that I can pick up all of the Fertile Grounds that nobody else is taking. Fertile Ground is hugely undervalued in this format, and especially this archetype, as it’s almost as good as Smokebraider and not picked highly at all.
If I was on a normal path in this draft I guess I go with the Thieving Sprite here and hope that I picked the other one over the Whiskergill earlier. There aren’t too many options though.
My Pick: Consuming Bonfire
Axegrinder Giant, Quill-Slinger Boggart, Bog-Strider Ash, Spring Cleaning, Exiled Boggart, Shields of Velis Vel, Mournwhelk, Woodland Guidance, Forest
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. That seems to be the case with Mournwhelk as I tend to windmill it (since I’m usually in this deck) while nobody else wants it.
There really isn’t a whole lot else here if you’re taking a normal path, so I think you’re picking Mournwhelk regardless.
My Pick: Mournwhelk
Wanderer’s Twig, Woodland Changeling, Kithkin Greatheart, Lace with Moonglove, Exiled Boggart, Vivid Meadow, Sylvan Echoes, Swamp
One thing you should realize is when you’re drafting this archetype you always have a surplus of playables since you can essentially play anything. When it comes to picks like this, where you’re choosing between mana fixers, I’d almost always take the Vivid Land over Wanderer’s Twig because the land will make the cut every time and the Twig might not. Even if I didn’t have any White cards yet I’d be picking the Meadow here. The only real exception is Smokebraider as I’d always take him over a Vivid Land.
My Pick: Vivid Meadow
On the lap I somehow got Plover Knights 9th, Springleaf Drum, Pollen Lullaby, and Faultgrinder as notables that could make the cut. I liked how my deck was shaping up at this point, though I’m sure there are a number of you out there that think it looks like total garbage.
I’m also not going to talk about what I’d pick if I had chosen a different path with this draft in the following boosters because things would be totally different if I hadn’t shipped Final Revels or made a few other different decisions.
Hillcomber Giant, Streambed Aquitects, Stinkdrinker Daredevil, Nameless Inversion, Battlewand Oak, Hurly-Burly, Plover Knights, Flamekin Brawler, Tideshaper Mystic, Rootgrapple, Triclopean Sight, Fallowsage, Knight of Meadowgrain, Kithkin Mourncaller, Shelldock Isle
I guess the first picks in this draft are all going to be simple, as there is nothing anywhere near the power level of Nameless Inversion in this pack. Since I have nothing else to write about here, I thought I’d share a tough pick I had to make yesterday.
Pick one, Pack one, I opened Nameless Inversion, Briarhorn, and Thundercloud Shaman. What’s the best pick? A little food for thought and for the forums.
My Pick: Nameless Inversion
Boggart Loggers, Adder-Staff Boggart, Fertile Ground, Moonglove Extract, Hillcomber Giant, Sentinels of Glen Elendra, Wings of Velis Vel, Flamekin Brawler, Facevaulter, Warren-Scourge Elf, Blades of Velis Vel, Vivid Creek, Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tender, Shapesharer
So I took Vivid Creek again here, right?
C’mon now, give me some credit… there are at least other playables available in this pack. My first thought was to take Shapesharer as he’s amazing in Elementals and can use his ability via Smokebraider. Then I thought about it some more.
At this point in the draft I still didn’t have any Blue cards that were making the cut and while it’s likely that I’d be splashing for an Aethersnipe and or Mulldrifter if I saw one, those are easy to support off of just Vivid Lands. Shapesharer requires actual Blue mana every turn and I’d be running out of charge counters if I planned on using Vivid lands for him. This is the first draft I can honestly say that I was Elementals and had to pass on a bomb like Shapesharer.
I opted instead for the Moonglove Extract for some more cheap removal here. I want to mention also that if I was in a GR build of Elementals that I would likely take Fertile Ground over Extract, but that just isn’t the case in this draft.
My Pick: Moonglove Extract
Mulldrifter, Footbottom Feast, Lowland Oaf, Lignify, Kithkin Healer, Heal the Scars, Skeletal Changeling, Shields of Velis Vel, Fire-Belly Changeling, Elvish Branchbender, Captivating Glance, Boggart Harbinger, Wizened Cenn
As I was saying in the last pack, I will be slamming and splashing all Mulldrifters in this deck. The only other real option for me in this pack is Footbottom Feast and I don’t think I’d even take that over Mulldrifter in Mono Black.
My Pick: Mulldrifter
Aethersnipe, Herbal Poultice, Kithkin Greatheart, Oakgnarl Warrior, Lash Out, Hornet Harasser, Needle Drop, Springjack Knight, Heal the Scars, Inkfathom Divers, Summon the School, Thoughtweft Trio
How in the world are all of these insane cards still in the pack? I could rant all day about how absurd Summon the School is, and I think I did already in a previous article. The real options for me in this booster are Lash Out and Aethersnipe. One concept I don’t think I’ve hit on enough is that cheap removal is vital in this archetype because it allows you to get to the late game where you can cast all of your overcosted 187 guys. I think Lash Out is almost always the pick in this archetype over Aethersnipe, unless I already had three Smokebraiders or something ridiculous like that. In this particular build I only have Mulldrifter in Blue, and it makes the pick even more easier than usual.
My Pick: Lash Out
Deeptread Merrow, Goldmeadow Harrier, Fistful of Force, Soulbright Flamekin, Glimmerdust Nap, Inkfathom Divers, Boggart Birth Rite, Ingot Chewer, Soaring Hope, Entangling Trap, Merrow Commerce
I’ve seen other good players have Ingot Chewer in their Elemental builds regularly and I’m not quite sure what the big deal about it is. I’ve never once killed an artifact with it and I really don’t want it in my maindeck. Soulbright Flamekin on the other hand is excellent in the archetype, and I’ve sung his praises in recent articles so I feel no need to repeat myself here.
The only other card I could possibly take from this pack is Goldmeadow Harrier, since I have Galepowder and possibly Plover Knights making the cut anyway. The problem with this is the same problem that Shapesharer has and that is a lack of consistency for White mana. I can’t say for sure that I’ll be able to turn on the Harrier every game without totally disrupting my game plan.
Harrier may be a better card overall, and if I was heavier in a RW base I would probably take him, but the Flamekin better fits my needs at this point in the draft.
My Pick: Soulbright Flamekin
Dreamspoiler Witches, Runed Stalactite, Sentinels of Glen Elendra, Nath’s Buffoon, Caterwauling Boggart, Tideshaper Mystic, Broken Ambitions, Ethereal Whiskergill, Harpoon Sniper, Crush Underfoot
Dreamspoiler Witches is excellent, and I have Lash out and Nameless Inversion already to make for some nice two for ones. I considered taking the Whiskergill or Sentinels here, but I’m heavier in Black and decided to go with the Witches as it has the potential to be even better in this deck. If I had to choose between one of the Blue cards, I’d be taking the Whiskergill in this deck and Sentinels in any normal deck.
My Pick: Dreamspoiler Witches
Glimmerdust Nap, Kithkin Daggerdare, Surge of Thoughtweft, Wellgabber Apothecary, Aquitect’s Will, Mournwhelk, Zephyr Net, Lammastide Weave, Drowner of Secrets
Someone should have an absolutely insane Merfolk deck from all of the stuff I’ve been passing.
I’ve talked about Zephyr Net being playable in some archetypes in this format, and sadly Elementals is not one of them. Since you usually win by attacking with cumbersome guys, the Net will only buy you time but you’ll still have to kill the guy later, and there are simply better ways to stall for time.
Is anyone surprised that I was happy to get another Mournwhelk in this pack?
My Pick: Mournwhelk
Fertile Ground, Moonglove Winnower, Adder-Staff Boggart, Wispmare, Wings of Velis Vel, Goldmeadow Dodger, Faerie Trickery, Nectar Faerie
I was wishing I somehow got into the Green version of this deck when I saw this pack, as I would’ve had two Fertile Grounds. As it is I really needed some early plays in this deck to help me get to the late game. While I believe that in general the Moonglove Winnower is going to be a better card in BR based Elementals, I really wanted the Boggart in this deck.
My Pick: Adder-Staff Boggart
On the way back I got Vivid Creek (!), Footbottom Feast, and Broken Ambitions as the only real notables. Nevertheless, I was very happy about the first two.
At this point my deck looked alright but could use another Smokebraider and also some more early game options. I did have three Vivid lands already, so the mana was looking good, and I have Shriekmaw, Mulldrifter, and Galepowder Mage, which is something to smile about.
Mulldrifter, Weed Strangle, Mudbutton Torchrunner, Woodland Changeling, Springleaf Drum, Kithkin Healer, Footbottom Feast, Scarred Vinebreeder, Gilt-Leaf Seer, Protective Bubble, Ingot Chewer, Merrow Commerce, Veteran of the Depths, Thorntooth Witch, Hostility
Wow. Hostility and Mulldrifter are both huge for me, and it shouldn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that I’m windmilling the rare here every time. One of the main reasons I go into this archetype is that people tend to pass Incarnations late in the second and third boosters because they can’t support them, and this deck can cast any of the five relatively easily with Smokebraider, Fertile Ground, Vivid Lands, and all of the other fixing you pick highly. It just so happens that Hostility is the best one to open since the bulk of the Elementals are Red.
My Pick: Hostility
Consuming Bonfire, Boggart Loggers, Lys Alana Huntmaster, Runed Stalactite, Inner-Flame Acolyte, Nightshade Stinger, Blades of Velis Vel, Elvish Handservant, Dawnfluke, Broken Ambitions, Sentry Oak, Makeshift Mannequin, Scattering Stroke, Howltooth Hollow
I’m not sure things could be coming together any better except if I got another Smokebraider in this pack. Some people may be tempted to take the Bonfire with this pick, but if you look over what I already have you’ll see that I have plenty of removal in Inversion, Lash Out, Moonglove Extract, Shriekmaw, and a Bonfire. The one card I really want in this deck with all of my Evoke tricks is Makeshift Mannequin. I don’t think this pick is close either.
My Pick: Makeshift Mannequin
Quill-Slinger Boggart, Surge of Thoughtweft, Tarfire, Wanderer’s Twig, Gilt-Leaf Seer, Boggart Birth Rite, Zephyr Net, Bog Hoodlums, Prowess of the Fair, Elvish Harbinger, Changeling Berserker, Windbrisk Heights, Rebellion of the Flamekin
This was a very difficult pick for me and even after thinking it over more in between the draft and actually writing this walkthrough I still think it is very close. On one hand I have Tarfire, which is always going to be good and helps buy time to get to the late game. On the other I have the house that is Changeling Berserker, which is even better than usual in this deck with all of my comes into play abilities. Championing out Shriekmaw or Mulldrifter should be game over in most situations as my opponent not only has to stop a 5/3 Haste, he has to then deal with me getting the comes-into-play ability again.
In the end, this deck seemed on the clunky side and I really just wanted to survive to cast my better spells, so I went with the Tarfire. A final point in favor of Tarfire is the Dreamspoiler Witches I picked earlier in the draft.
If I was somehow in Green in this draft, I probably would take the Elvish Harbinger as yet another fixer/accelerator that can search up Nameless Inversion or whatever else I get.
My Pick: Tarfire
Stinkdrinker Daredevil, Dreamspoiler Witches, Battlewand Oak, Oaken Brawler, Hurly-Burly, Peppersmoke, Cenn’s Heir, Ringskipper, Black Poplar Shaman, Shimmering Grotto, Flamekin Bladewhirl, Rings of Brightearth
I suppose this pack makes my Tarfire pick look even better. I’d like to take both the Witches and Peppersmoke here, but I guess I’ll have to settle for the 2/2 flier. Peppersmoke wouldn’t be that great anyway, as I only have two Fairies.
My Pick: Dreamspoiler Witches
Deeptread Merrow, Goldmeadow Harrier, Fistful of Force, Soulbright Flamekin, Glimmerdust Nap, Boggart Birth Rite, Ingot Chewer, Soaring Hope, Shimmering Grotto, Hearthcage Giant, Veteran of the Depths
This pack looks oddly familiar as I made a very similar choice earlier in the draft.
I have a couple of options in this pack. First, I could take the Grotto which may or may not be good in this deck since it’s so top-heavy and I already have three Vivid Lands. I could also take the Ingot Chewer for the sideboard, or potentially the Hearthcage Giant though I already have two Mournwhelks and a Faultgrinder at the top end. I’m probably not going to play the Plover Knights, and keep my White to only Galepowder Mage, so taking the Harrier here really isn’t an option. Finally, I could take another good man in the Soulbright Flamekin.
If I didn’t already have so many Vivid Lands I probably would take the Grotto with this pick, but I ended up going with the Soulbright Flamekin
My Pick: Soulbright Flamekin
Hillcomber Giant, Nath’s Buffoon, Warren-Scourge Elf, Lairwatch Giant, Spiderwig Boggart, Boggart Forager, Ringskipper, Goatnapper, Boggart Harbinger, Howltooth Hollow
This pack is pretty terrible, and the only thing I can ever consider taking is Boggart Harbinger. It could even make the cut to search up Nameless Inversion or Tarfire.
My Pick: Boggart Harbinger
Tideshaper Mystic, Kithkin Daggerdare, Herbal Poultice, Amoeboid Changeling, Lace with Moonglove, Scarred Vinebreeder, Lys Alana Scarblade, Flamekin Spitfire, Surge of Thoughtweft
I guess I have a use for my two Soulbright Flamekins now. It’s definitely odd to get a Spitfire this late as he’s amazing in this format.
My Pick: Flamekin Spitfire
Moonglove Winnower, Nath’s Elite, Cenn’s Heir, Boggart Forager, Facevaulter, Hunt Down, Goatnapper, Vivid Crag
Not to be short, but do I really need to tell you what I picked from this pack? I have plenty of playables so Vivid Crag, obv.
My Pick: Vivid Crag
I picked up two Ingot Chewers, Inner-Flame Acolyte, and Shimmering Grotto on the lap and headed off to deckbuilding.
Overall I was happy with how the draft went, even if I may have made a couple of unconventional choices along the way. Here’s how I ended up building this monster.
2 Dreamspoiler Witches
2 Soulbright Flamekin
As you can see, Ingot Chewer found his way into the maindeck anyway. I decided not to play the Faultgrinder because I only had one Braider and not too much acceleration in general. The rest of the build seems pretty self explanatory and I was really happy with how the mana turned out.
The first round was a complete blowout. In game 1 I played Hostility on turn 4 and my opponent conceded. Not kidding. In game 2 I got a “normal” draw with Soulbright Flamekin and the game stalled out for a bit. Eventually I got Galepowder Mage online and then ripped Shriekmaw off the top and killed two of his guys. This is the one thing I really like about decks like this: they can do some very unfair things even if they may be a tad inconsistent overall.
Round 2 was rather silly as well, as I played turn 4 Galepowder Mage, turn 5 Shriekmaw and my opponent started complaining and then conceded. In game 2 he mulliganned on the play and cast his first spell in Glen Elendra Pranksters on turn 4. On my turn four I evoked Mournwhelk, nearly emptying his hand. He untapped and played a Knight of Meadowgrain (he just drew the 2nd Plains) and passed with one card in hand. I simply played a land and passed the turn and then cast Makeshift Mannequin on Mournwhelk in his upkeep and emptied his grip. It wasn’t too hard to win from there.
I had to split the finals because of other obligations. I apologize if the games weren’t very exciting to read about, but I certainly had fun playing them and enjoyed drafting this deck. Hopefully some of the ideas in this walkthrough will help to guide you if you feel like going out on a limb and drafting something crazy like this.
Soooooo & ThatsGameBoys on MTGO