Nick Eisel Presents – A Champions Draft Walkthrough Gone Wrong

Nick drafts a four-color pile of awfulness in his latest Champions of Kamigawa Draft Walkthrough. Think I’m kidding or wondering how he ended up with the deck? See for yourself.

Well, I’m almost there.

Almost at the end of the hardest semester of college in all of my four years, that is.

The past few weeks have been really hectic with stupid projects and whatnot, so I ended up taking the whole week of Thanksgiving break off to go to Atlantic City and Buffalo to get some time in at the poker tables. This, of course, is why I haven’t written in a couple weeks. With only one week of classes left followed by finals, however, I should be pretty much back on a regular schedule soon enough.

Despite all of this, I have still been drafting regularly and we did a marathon session last week at CMU followed by a number of my own MTGO drafts. This week I’ll be diving into one of those MTGO drafts my first Champions Walkthrough as I have with past blocks.

So let’s cut to the chase, shall we?

The Draft

Pack One

Pack 1

Befoul, Feral Deceiver, Terashi’s Cry, Sakura-Tribe Elder, Waking Nightmare, Brutal Deceiver, Indomitable Will, Quiet Purity, Student of the Elements, Reciprocate, Kashi-Tribe Reaver, Orochi Hatchery

This is one of those packs that makes me want to scream.

It’s the beginning of the draft, and you’re looking to get a solid foothold in at least one color right? Well this pack is out to make sure that’s not going to happen. We all know how much I love Green in this format, and this pack boasts Elder, Deceiver, and Kashi-Tribe Reaver all in my favorite color. Along with those monsters comes Befoul and Reciprocate as what I deem to be the top five cards in the pack.

My gut reaction here is to just take the Elder and say screw it and hope I don’t get cut too badly in pack two. But there is the obvious problem that at least one person to my left is going to end up drafting Green with the other two guys still in there.

Then there’s the two removal spells.

I’ve warmed up to Black a little more lately, though I’m still not a huge fan of it unless I’m in Devouring Greed.dec. The reason I don’t want to take Befoul here is simply because I feel that not only is Black overdrafted, but it is also overrated as a color by most players and I’d rather just avoid it unless I’m receiving tell-tale signs that I should jump in.

So after a little overthinking (more on this later) I convince myself that Reciprocate is the right pick because it’s splashable and is also the only good White card in the pack.

My Pick : Reciprocate

Pack 2

Orochi Ranger, Mothrider Samurai, Devouring Greed, Call to Glory, Devouring Rage, River Kaijin, Innocence Kami, Tenza, Godo’s Maul, Gale Force, Journeyer’s Kite

Well at this point I’m kinda wishing I’d have taken the Befoul, since there’s a Greed staring back at me. But I don’t sweat it too much, because as I’ve said a million times, I’d rather just let everyone else draft Black and not have to fight for it.

After first picking the Reciprocate, I really only have to choose between two cards here since none of the others are all that appealing at this point. Obviously the pick is between Mothrider Samurai and Innocence Kami, and I actually made a point to ask a bunch of other good players what they would take, and the consensus seems to be that Samurai is correct. I still think it’s a pretty close pick though and one that could easily change later in the draft. My rationale of course is that Mothrider is cheaper and more aggressive and the Kami usually seems to be a tad on the slow side for this format. It helps too that Mothrider interacts with the other White tribal effects like the Call to Glory that I may table from this pack.

My Pick : Mothrider Samurai

Pack 3

Vine Kami, Waking Nightmare, Devoted Retainer, Devouring Rage, Callous Deceiver, Orochi Ranger, Kami of Fire’s Roar, Ragged Veins, Orbweaver Kumo, Oni Posession, Konda’s Banner

And now I find myself staring at an utterly atrocious pack.

Honestly, there is almost nothing good about this pack. I’m a huge fan of Devouring Rage, but there’s no reason to take it this early as I’ll get one very late if I want one. After scratching my head for a few minutes I wind up taking the Kami of Fire’s Roar, since there really isn’t anything else worthwhile to be found.

My Pick : Kami of Fire’s Roar

Pack 4

Call to Glory, Kami of the Waning Moon, Orochi Ranger, Floating-Dream Zubera, Lava Spike, Ragged Veins, Kashi-Tribe Warriors, Kami of Twisted Reflection, Strength of Cedars, Honor-Worn Shaku

I love when this happens.

You get the absolute nut-low pack for your third pick, and then in pick four there’s a card that never ever should still be in the booster. Things like this just amaze me because they don’t make sense. Oh, and before you ask, yes, this is an 8/4 draft.

So yeah, I’m really wishing I took that Elder now.

Strength is definitely splashable and I will always splash it since it’s a late-game card anyway, but the real question now is why I actually took that Reciprocate in pack one. Looking back on it, it seemed like I just “overthought” the situation instead of just going with my gut instinct and drafting the deck I know I can win with. All is not lost though, as this is the type of mistake you want to be making though during a draft. When you’re able to reflect back and realize where you slipped up it serves as a huge learning tool for anyone looking to step up their game. The mistake is not that costly in the overall picture since Reciprocate is still a fine card, but I really should’ve just went with the Elder and not cared about the other two Green cards in the pack.

My Pick : Strength of Cedars

Pack 5

Kami of the Hunt, Soratami Rainshaper, Brutal Deceiver, Gibbering Kami, Wear Away, Brothers Yamazaki, Jade Idol

And into Green it is. Damn.

Odd that there’s still a Rainshaper in here, but it’s not like I can make any use of him. The only thing even worth commenting on is the Brothers Yamazaki, which are fine, but unspectacular unless you have Tenza, Godo’s Maul. I’ve played two Brothers in one turn before and it really wasn’t all that great as they are so fragile and once one dies they go back to being average Grey Ogres. Brutal Deceiver is fine also, but nowhere near the level of Kami of the Hunt. I also rarely run the Jade Idol as I think it’s just too dependent on the rest of your deck and if you start misfiring with it then it just becomes horrible.

Soilshaper is a much more attractive option.

My Pick : Kami of the Hunt

Pack 6

Kitsune Healer, River Kaijin, Venerable Kumo, Yamabushi’s Storm, Kami of Twisted Reflection, Sift through Sands

Hmm. Another thoroughly horrible pack.

I’m not a fan of Kitsune Healer really and I do only have the two White cards so far. Reciprocate is still a splash option, so I think the best pick here is to take River Kaijin and keep my options open in case I go into Blue. While he’s not that great in U/G in general, he’s clearly the best card in the pack and I gain very little from taking any other card.

My Pick : River Kaijin

Pack 7

Villainous Ogre, Orochi Eggwatcher, Uncontrollable Anger, Midnight Covenant, Terashi’s Cry, Uba Mask

The hits keep on comin’. I can tell already that this deck is gonna be a saucy number. And I mean that with every ounce of sarcasm. These packs are simply awful.

I’m not sure I ended up making the right pick here as I probably should’ve taken Uncontrollable Anger after looking back on it, but I took the Eggwatcher guy just to sort of cut off any last minute Green cards even though I realize it doesn’t matter that much at this point. It’s also a three-drop and semi-playable if you have some other Snake tribal effects but nothing I’d maindeck on a regular basis. The one good thing that happened in this first round of packs is that I didn’t end up passing much Green after the booster I opened, so I don’t think I should be in that bad of shape for pack two.

My Pick : Orochi Eggwatcher

Pack 8

Counsel of the Soratami, Kitsune Diviner, Distress, Pious Kitsune, Horizon Seed

Here again is a decent Blue card and a White card that I’m not really a huge fan of in the Diviner. Obviously I take the Counsel here and try to keep my options open

My Pick : Counsel of the Soratami

On the lap I grab a Waking Nightmare, Callous Deceiver, Orbweaver Kumo, and Honor Worn-Shaku as the only cards of note. Yes I just said Honor-Worn Shaku. I’ll be talking more about this one in next week’s article, but just know for now that it’s a bad Darksteel Ingot when you need some mana acceleration or have a bunch of five-drops.

Pack Two

Pack 1

Mystic Restraints, Ronin Houndmaster, Sakura-Tribe Elder, Wicked Akuba, Soulless Revival, Villainous Ogre, Kitsune Diviner, Kami of Old Stone, Sensei’s Diving Top, Kami of Lunacy, Jugan, the Rising Star

Finally, a ray of light at the end of the tunnel.

There are few things more satisfying than cracking a Dragon in your colors when your deck is godawful at the start of pack two.

Concerning the rest of the pack, it’s annoying to have to pass another Elder, but not much else is noteworthy.

My Pick : Jugan, the Rising Star

Pack 2

Kitsune Riftwalker, Midnight Covenant, Gibbering Kami, Venerable Kumo, Kami of the Painted Road, Hisoka’s Defiance, Kumano’s Pupils, Samurai Enforcers, Petals of Insight, Eiganjo Castle

With no Green in sight in this booster, I’m left to choose between Samurai Enforcers and Petals of Insight.

While this may not seem like a huge decision, it really serves as the turning point in the draft since I have to decide whether I’m going to continue deeper into White or just splash the Reciprocate and take the Petals in favor of Blue. I’ve written about my love of Petals in previous articles, and I’m not going to go too heavily into detail here but the idea is that I’m not sure how much White I’ll be getting in pack three since it feels like the guy two to my right is drafting it and will be cutting it off again in pack three. I end up going with the Petals for that reason and because I’m not a huge fan of the W/G archetype.

My Pick : Petals of Insight

Pack 3

Call to Glory, Lantern Kami, Matsu-Tribe Decoy, Kodama’s Reach, Battle-Mad Ronin, Lava Spike, Tranquil Garden, Soratami Seer, Gifts Ungiven

Thank God.

With a manafixer, this deck finally has some direction.

I’d like to talk a little about Gifts Ungiven though because even though it is a rare, I still think it’s a pretty decent card that doesn’t really get picked highly enough. The natural comparison is to Counsel of the Soratami since they both essentially “draw” two cards. The difference here is that Gifts is an instant and also guarantees that you will draw two “quality” cards instead of two random ones. It’s not a great spell, but it’s certainly maindeck worthy if you’re lacking in the card-drawing department.

I don’t think any explanation is required as to why I’m taking Reach over Tribe Decoy.

My Pick : Kodama’s Reach

Pack 4

River Kaijin, Unearthly Blizzard, Matsu-Tribe Decoy, Order of the Sacred Bell, Ashen-Skin Zubera, Commune with Nature, Kitsune Healer, Konda’s Hatamoto, Dosan, the Falling Leaf

Choices in pick four are finally somewhat diverse as there is another Matsu-Tribe Decoy, Order of the Sacred Bell, and River Kaijin as viable choices.

I decide quickly that I’m taking one of the Green guys, since they’re both just better than the Kaijin with the cards I’ve already drafted. So it becomes mainly a manacurve issue since the cards are pretty similar in quality unless you have something like Sosuke, Son of Seshiro or Serpent Skin to help out the Decoy. I’m lacking right now in the four-drop department so I end up going with the Sacred Bell.

Another nice thing to take notice of is that White isn’t really coming in this direction either, so my Petals choice looks even better since I’d likely have to strain to get the Enforcers in my deck.

My Pick : Order of the Sacred Bell

Pack 5

Serpent Skin, Hearth Kami, Soulless Revival, Reach Through Mists, Villainous Ogre, Nezumi Ronin, Painwracker Oni

Lots of goodies still in this booster, but unfortunately, very little for me.

Hearth Kami is worth some consideration, but the problem is that I barely have any Red at all yet. I also briefly consider hate-drafting the Oni because it’s highly annoying to play against when you’re short on bounce or removal, but I decide instead to take Serpent Skin since it’s a solid card that isn’t given enough respect. Maybe I’ll pick up a Decoy later too.

My Pick : Serpent Skin

Pack 6

Sokenzan Bruiser, Humble Budoka, Blessed Breath, Thousand-Legged Kami, Lantern-Lit Graveyard, Night Dealings

Grumble. More bad packs.

Not really anything to think about here as Humble Budonkadonk is unplayable in my book except in the direst of situations. Blessed Breath it is.

My Pick : Blessed Breath

Pack 7

Lantern Kami, Harsh Deceiver, Sift through Sands, Vine Kami, Battle-Mad Ronin, Nezumi Bone-Reader

Sigh. At this point I’m dabbling with the idea of a G/W/u construction since there really isn’t anything else coming. Vine Kami is okay, but not exactly what I want in my deck and there have been a million of them going around so I should easily get one on the lap or in pack three. The pick here is Lantern Kami just in case I do end up playing the White since he’s actually quite good in G/W providing an early and consistent clock.

My Pick : Lantern Kami

Pack 8

Matsu-Tribe Decoy, Order of the Sacred Bell, Devouring Rage, Vine Kami, Devoted Retainer, Quiet Purity, Okina, Temple to the Grandfathers

Finally an interesting decision!

Somehow this pack is still loaded with stuff for me and I have to choose between Decoy, Sacred Bell, and the Green land. Since I don’t have any legends yet at this point besides the Dragon, and I’m lacking playables I think we can throw any hopes of taking the land out the window. This time around I’ve picked up a Serpent Skin and I already took Sacred Bell over Decoy before so I’m now going to make the opposite pick in the name of diversity.

My Pick : Matsu-Tribe Decoy

On the way back around I somehow table Ronin Houndmaster from my booster. No clue how that happened, but I take it since I really don’t have a second color solidified as of yet. I also pick up Kumano’s Pupils, Tranquil Garden, and a Mindblaze for the sideboard.

Pack Three

Pack 1

Villainous Ogre, Hundred-Talon Kami, Uncontrollable Anger, Orochi Sustainer, Burr Grafter, Ronin Houndmaster, Kitsune Blademaster, Lure, Akki Coalflinger, Soratami Seer, Part the Veil

If this draft teaches you anything it should be how to cope with a really bad set of packs and still end up with a decent deck. Here I have a pretty valid set of options but nothing that jumps out as the correct pick right away.

I just picked up the Houndmaster on the lap in pack two, so I could take another one here and slide into some weird four-color Green deck that focuses in G/R and splashes for Petals and Reciprocate. I could also stay with the G/W/u plan and take Blademaster or maybe even Soratami Seer for the splash, but I don’t really like any of these plans.

While keeping options open during the draft has always been a priority for me, I also don’t like wasting picks. Therefore, I’m going to pass up some strength in this booster and go with a card that is certain to make it into my deck since I’m not really sure where I’m going with my second color yet. I therefore take Orochi Sustainer as it’s definitely going to make the cut and is a great accelerant.

Sometimes you have to pass up on attractive options like the Blademaster and Houndmaster and just go for something that is definitely going to make the cut.

My Pick : Orochi Sustainer

Pack 2

Kami of Ancient Law, Burr Grafter, Frostwielder, Harsh Deceiver, Vine Kami, Peer through Depths, Sift through Sands, Blood Speaker, Zo-Zu, the Punisher

Okay, well if Petals vs. Enforcers wasn’t the defining point in picking my second “main” color in this draft, well then this booster certainly is. The pick is clearly between Frostwielder, Kami of Ancient Law, and Burr Grafter.

While Grafter is the more consistent pick, I really think it’s time to stop screwing around and just go ahead and decide on a second color. He’s also not as strong as Orochi Sustainer where I just made the safe pick and stay with the Green card. In Red at this point I have Houndmaster and Kami of Fire’s Roar while in White I have Reciprocate, Lantern Kami, and Mothrider Samurai. To make a long story short, I end up going with the Frostwielder since I’m lacking removal and the Kami of Fire’s Roar looks like it will be really solid in my manacurve and in combination with the rest of my other Spirits. It also works nicely with Strength of Cedars. Another thing to keep in mind here is that I don’t want to dilute my manabase too much because I do have the GGG that I have to support in Jugan’s mana cost.

So I decide on a G/R base splashing Petals at this point, and possibly Reciprocate if necessary or if I somehow pick up more manafixers.

My Pick : Frostwielder

Pack 3

Soratami Rainshaper, Lantern Kami, Unearthly Blizzard, Callous Deceiver, Dripping-Tongue Zubera, Bloodthirsty Ogre, Otherworldly Journey, Guardian of Solitude, Shimatsu, the Bloodcloaked

If you got excited by the last couple of packs, all I can say is that I’m sorry.


Because we have to return to looking at terrible packs again already in pick three. I consider taking Otherworldly Journey but decide that if I splash White I only want to be splashing Reciprocate so that I can run one Plains and also the Tranquil Garden to fix my mana. There really isn’t anything of interest in this pack now that I’ve decided on G/R/x so I take the Green Zubera since it’s a Spirit and will definitely make the cut.

My Pick : Dripping-Tongue Zubera

Pack 4

Waking Nightmare, Soratami Cloudskater, River Kaijin, Harsh Deceiver, Ethereal Haze, Commune with Nature, Kami of Fire’s Roar, Kuro, Pitlord

Now we’re getting somewhere. Double Kami of Fire’s Roar is never a bad thing, and it makes me feel a lot better about third-picking a friggin’ Zubera. Unfortunately there’s just not too much to talk about in this pack.

My Pick : Kami of Fire’s Roar

Pack 5

Hearth Kami, Soratami Cloudskater, Nezumi Ronin, Reach Through Mists, Quiet Purity,

Well I can I’ll be taking that Hearth Kami now, since I actually have a reason to be in Red. The deck is looking slightly better since it now has the Spirit theme with two copies of Fire’s Roar, but overall it remains pretty janky due to the lack of playable in these packs.

My Pick : Hearth Kami

Pack 6

Pull Under, Soratami Rainshaper, Kami of the Painted Road, Distress, Soul of Magma, Soulless Revival, Matsu-Tribe Decoy, Time of Need

What a weird draft. I’m third-picking Zuberas and then in pick 6 the pack is just full of playables. Here the pick is between Tribe Decoy and Time of Need. Usually Time of Need isn’t even worth playing with one Legend in your deck, but this time is clearly the exception. I’m stocked full of creatures, and really the only way I can have any hope of winning this draft is if I find my Jugan, the Rising Star consistently. When your deck is bad like this one, you have to take the risk of drawing a dead card in order to maximize your chances of finding your bomb and winning. Hell, maybe that Zo-Zu guy will table and I’ll find a second target.

My Pick : Time of Need

Pack 7

Counsel of the Soratami, Soratami Cloudskater, Scuttling Death, Kami of Palace Fields, Jade Idol

Right, Scuttling Death in the pack seventh…

Apparently I’m in the wrong colors. The thing is though, while there were a decent number of Black cards, there wasn’t really any point where it made me think I should get in. Maybe if I’d first-picked befoul, or taken something over Serpent Skin, but who knows. Here I’m gonna take the Cloudskater since it’s actually a nice splash card that works like a Compulsion in the late game. Yes, I said a two-drop 1/1 was a splash card.

My Pick : Soratami Cloudskater

Pack 8

Cruel Deceiver, Kitsune Healer, Waking Nightmare, Ethereal Haze, Sift through Sands, Yamabushi’s Storm

I consider hatedrafting something here, but instead just take the Tremor for the sideboard.

My Pick : Yamabushi’s Storm

I pick up an Uncontrollable Anger, Vine Kami, and Unearthly Blizzard on the way back, and it’s a good thing too since it’s likely that all three are making the cut.

The draft didn’t go all that well. I’m really not sure there was any big turning point either, though the Elder pick at the very beginning was definitely a mistake and maybe I should’ve been in Black. This is one of those drafts where I was left wondering what I could’ve done better to possibly change the outcome. I’d be interested to hear your opinions in the forums if you have any on this as well.

The deck ended up being really low on playables so I squeezed in everything I had. Have a look below.

The Deck

Dripping-Tongue Zubera

Hearth Kami

Orochi Sustainer

Soratami Cloudskater

Ronin Houndmaster

Orochi Eggwatcher

Matsu-Tribe Decoy

Kami of the Hunt

Order of the Sacred Bell

2x Kami of Fire’s Roar


Jugan,the Rising Star

Orbweaver Kumo

Vine Kami

Kodama’s Reach

Petals of Insight

Time of Need

Strength of Cedars


Serpent Skin

Uncontrollable Anger

Honor-Worn Shaku

Tranquil Garden


2 Island

7 Forest

6 Mountain

While I’m not going to go into all of the details of the games since my first two round opponents played pretty poorly for an 8-4 draft, I will say that splashing the Cloudskater ended up winning me three games since we entered topdeck mode and that guy allowed me to draw out. I also won a couple of games to mistakes made by my opponents, and overall the deck didn’t play out to be as bad as it looks. Strength of Cedars obviously pulled its weight in gold, and the Time of Need was crucial in the finals. I also rarely play the “tap” lands, but I was really happy with the Tranquil Garden in this build as it helped keep the Green sources up for Jugan while still supporting Reciprocate.

I ended up winning the draft, though I was still left wondering if I’d actually made any big mistakes in my picks, and hopefully this will shed some light on what to do when the run of packs is bad and you still want to escape with a decent deck.

See ya in the forums.

Nick Eisel

[email protected]

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