Practice Makes Perfect

Frank finishes his synopsis of M14 Limited by walking you through a draft he participated in on Magic Online.

Hello and welcome back for my final article on M14 Limited. As it turns out, I wasn’t able to attend SCG Open Series: Baltimore or the Pennsylvania PTQ this weekend due to family matters. Although having to skip major tournaments is definitely a downer, it hasn’t put a damper on my desire to draft M14 online. I still think the format is sweet and can’t wait to play in a Sealed PTQ. As promised, today I’m going to walk through one of my 8-4 online drafts and discuss the thought process behind my picks. I do think I made a few errors during this draft, but that just leaves us with more to learn from. Let’s begin.

Pack 1 Pick 1

Trollhide Capashen Knight Corpse Hauler Cyclops Tyrant Celestial Flare Advocate of the Beast Trained Condor Blur Sliver Shrivel Fortify Forest Gnawing Zombie Wall of Swords Windstorm Guardian of the Ages

My Pick

I was definitely underwhelmed when I first saw this pack. There’s nothing that really jumps out as a first pick, and no decent removal spell outside of Celestial Flare. I ended up taking Gnawing Zombie for two reasons. First off, it has a pretty decent body that can get in front of most of the small creatures in the format. Second, the ability can be very powerful in the right deck and serves as one of the enablers for the R/B sacrifice deck. Wall of Swords is a great defender that could have easily been the first pick here. Unfortunately, white is a weak color in this format, so I tend to stay away from it.

Pack 1 Pick 2

Negate Naturalize Zephyr Charge Sentinel Sliver Goblin Shortcutter Scroll Thief Mark of the Vampire Celestial Flare Advocate of the Beast Swamp Corrupt Staff of the Death Magus Bramblecrush Quicken

My Pick

Corrupt is a powerful card and something more along the lines of what I’m looking for in the early picks. Paired with a Gnawing Zombie, first pick Corrupt was an easy slam-dunk second pick.

Pack 1 Pick 3

Blood Bairn Claustrophobia Fog Trollhide Trained Condor Blur Sliver Shrivel Fortify Mountain Battle Sliver Phantom Warrior Dark Prophecy Door of Destinies

My Pick

This is where things got a little interesting. Dark Prophecy is a very powerful card that plays best in a mono-black deck with sacrifice outlets. Corrupt is also at its best in mono-black, and I already had a solid sacrifice outlet in Gnawing Zombie. However, Claustrophobia is a more consistent card, and seeing it third pick can be a good indicator that blue is open. Taking Dark Prophecy isn’t flat out wrong here, but it’s an all-in move on mono-black that may not pan out.

Pack 1 Pick 4

Hunt the Weak Show of Valor Siege Mastodon Lava Axe Altar's Reap Pacifism Academy Raider Coral Merfolk Mind Rot Forest Encroaching Wastes Galerider Sliver

My Pick

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much going on here in terms of black. Although Altar’s Reap looks like it will be good in my deck, it is an easy card to come by in the later picks. I ended up taking Pacifism because it is the most individually powerful card that can be easily played in a black-heavy deck.

Pack 1 Pick 5

Master of Diversion Time Ebb Smelt Ranger's Guile Accursed Spirit Tome Scour Canyon Minotaur Minotaur Abomination Plains Glimpse the Future Dragon Egg

My Pick

Back on track with a solid black card. I think Master of Diversions is a more powerful card, but because of the black heavy requirements of Corrupt and Dark Prophecy, I wanted to stay black based as much as possible.

Pack 1 Pick 6

Wring Flesh Messenger Drake Thunder Strike Sensory Deprivation Auramancer Sporemound Deathgaze Cockatrice Plains Wall of Swords Indestructibility

My Pick

This was definitely a deciding moment in the draft. Messenger Drake is one of the main reasons to play blue, and seeing one sixth pick is a very strong signal. Deathgaze Cockatrice is a good card for sure but definitely not on the same level as the Drake. Moving in on the blue here would have been a smarter pick and set me up for pack 3.

Pack 1 Pick 7

Naturalize Merfolk Spy Mark of the Vampire Blur Sliver Fortify Swamp Shimmering Grotto Spell Blast Brave the Elements

My Pick

Not much to say here. Not only is Mark of the Vampire the only black card in the pack, but it’s something I like to have at least one of in my black decks. Between Accursed Spirit and Cockatrice, I already have good targets for the Aura.

Pack 1 Pick 8

Lightning Talons Brindle Boar Vile Rebirth Seacoast Drake Goblin Shortcutter Divine Favor Mind Rot Forest

My Pick

I usually look to pick up at least one Mind Rot for my sideboard. Most times I don’t even mind playing it as a 23rd card maindeck. If I’d taken the Messenger Drake or Claustrophobia earlier, I definitely would have taken Seacoast Drake here.

Pack 1 Pick 9

Cyclops Tyrant Shrivel Fortify Forest Wall of Swords Windstorm Guardian of the Ages

My Pick

I could easily have taken Shrivel here as a sideboard option. However, mono-black decks can end up threat light and have trouble closing out games. Although Guardian isn’t the best threat, it can get the job done in a pinch.

Pack 1 Pick 10

Naturalize Zephyr Charge Swamp Staff of the Death Magus Bramblecrush Quicken

My Pick

Although I hope this doesn’t make the deck’s final cut, you never know.

Pack 1 Pick 11

Blood Bairn Fog Shrivel Fortify Mountain

My Pick

Tabling Blood Bairn here was absolutely awesome. It’s exactly the card I needed for this type of deck, and getting it eleventh pick was a small gift.

Pack 1 Pick 12

Siege Mastodon Coral Merfolk Forest Encroaching Wastes

My Pick

Pack 1 Pick 13

Smelt Plains Glimpse the Future

My Pick

Pack 1 Pick 14

Auramancer Plains

My Pick

Pack 1 Pick 15

Coming out of pack 1 I wasn’t feeling too great about the deck. Although I had a strong base going, I definitely needed to get some hookups in the next two packs to put a winning deck together. I also had a pretty bad feeling I was going to get pelted with top tier blue cards in pack 3.

Pack 2 Pick 1

Lay of the Land Capashen Knight Essence Scatter Seismic Stomp Undead Minotaur Frost Breath Deathgaze Cockatrice Cancel Wild Guess Canyon Minotaur Plains Spell Blast Wall of Frost Doom Blade Planar Cleansing

My Pick

Doom Blade was a solid pickup here. One-for-one removal is always good in Limited, and Doom Blade is about as efficient as it gets. The only other card I really considered was Planar Cleansing, but I knew it would make my mana way too awkward even if I did end up splashing black.

Pack 2 Pick 2

Rootwalla Festering Newt Shadowborn Apostle Lightning Talons Seacoast Drake Nephalia Seakite Trollhide Naturalize Seismic Stomp Show of Valor Swamp Fireshrieker Congregate Darksteel Ingot

My Pick

Even though there wasn’t a powerful black card in this pack, I was happy to get Fireshrieker. It is a very strong equipment that plays well with the evasive creatures I already have and works wonders with Mark of the Vampire and Deathgaze Cockatrice.

Pack 2 Pick 3

Soulmender Accursed Spirit Cyclops Tyrant Negate Naturalize Hive Stirrings Elvish Mystic Goblin Shortcutter Mark of the Vampire Island Woodborn Behemoth Congregate Garruk's Horde

My Pick

Here we see some strong green cards next to a somewhat underwhelming Accursed Spirit. Even though Garruk’s Horde is a big bomb, it does cost seven mana and doesn’t do much to win the game on the spot. Instead of trying to move in on green, I stuck to my guns here and grabbed Accursed Spirit, hoping to either table or pick up another Mark of the Vampire to go with it.

Pack 2 Pick 4

Dark Favor Hunt the Weak Chandra's Outrage Regathan Firecat Nightwing Shade Disperse Canyon Minotaur Griffin Sentinel Tome Scour Plains Shimmering Grotto Staff of the Sun Magus

My Pick

A fourth pick Chandra’s Outrage made me look twice, but in the end the double red cost kept me away. Although I don’t love Nightwing Shade, it serves as another evasive body.

Pack 2 Pick 5

Suntail Hawk Festering Newt Ranger's Guile Lay of the Land Auramancer Disperse Nightwing Shade Canyon Minotaur Plains Rod of Ruin Glimpse the Future

My Pick

Not much going on in this pack. Since I had just taken a Nightwing Shade, I didn’t want to grab another and overload on expensive cards this early. Festering Newt is a fine creature to have on the team to stem early aggression as well as sacrifice to cards like Blood Bairn and Gnawing Zombie.

Pack 2 Pick 6

Seismic Stomp Frost Breath Plummet Shock Siege Mastodon Demolish Giant Spider Island Staff of the Wild Magus Blessing

My Pick

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a good black card to take this pack. One of the biggest risks of drafting a monocolored deck is missing out on playables in packs where your color just isn’t there. I decided to cut Shock here because on top of being a solid removal spell it matches up especially well against my double Accursed Spirit and Deathgaze Cockatrice.

Pack 2 Pick 7

Zephyr Charge Undead Minotaur Child of Night Angelic Wall Armored Cancrix Duress Swamp Accorder's Shield Fleshpulper Giant

My Pick

An easy pick over Undead Minotaur. If I end up needing an Undead Minotaur to fill out my curve, I’m sure I can get one down the line.

Pack 2 Pick 8

Brindle Boar Duress Pay No Heed Giant Growth Tome Scour Groundshaker Sliver Minotaur Abomination Swamp

My Pick

The way the deck is fleshing out at this point having access to a decent finisher is more important than picking up a sideboard card like Duress.

Pack 2 Pick 9

Capashen Knight Seismic Stomp Undead Minotaur Frost Breath Wild Guess Plains Spell Blast

My Pick

And there it is.

Pack 2 Pick 10

Shadowborn Apostle Trollhide Naturalize Seismic Stomp Show of Valor Swamp

My Pick

Pack 2 Pick 11

Soulmender Cyclops Tyrant Naturalize Island Woodborn Behemoth

My Pick

Surprising to see this late. Probably not many green drafters at the table.

Pack 2 Pick 12

Dark Favor Canyon Minotaur Tome Scour Plains

My Pick

Pack 2 Pick 13

Suntail Hawk Auramancer Plains

My Pick

Pack 2 Pick 14

Seismic Stomp Island

My Pick

Pack 2 Pick 1

Pack 2 turned out decent. At this point my deck was lacking powerful cards, and my fingers were crossed that I’d get what I needed in the final pack.

Pack 3 Pick 1

Vile Rebirth Dawnstrike Paladin Nephalia Seakite Dark Favor Goblin Shortcutter Liturgy of Blood Mind Rot Deadly Recluse Striking Sliver Island Woodborn Behemoth Serra Angel Congregate Chandra's Phoenix

My Pick

Unfortunately, this pack had a very powerful card in the wrong color. Although Serra Angel was the best card in the pack, it wasn’t better enough than Liturgy to make me try to jump into white at this point.

Pack 3 Pick 2

Marauding Maulhorn Claustrophobia Suntail Hawk Festering Newt Elvish Mystic Goblin Shortcutter Scroll Thief Mark of the Vampire Celestial Flare Advocate of the Beast Forest Encroaching Wastes Rod of Ruin Clone

My Pick

Queue the top tier blue card pelting. Getting another Mark of the Vampire here was ok,but I wish I had moved in on blue earlier so I could take the Claustrophobia.

Pack 3 Pick 3

Time Ebb Soulmender Verdant Haven Claustrophobia Corpse Hauler Regathan Firecat Pay No Heed Vile Rebirth Nephalia Seakite Mountain Opportunity Illusionary Armor Warden of Evos Isle

My Pick

Queue me weeping in my chair. Having to take Corpse Hauler over Opportunity is a pain I hope I never have to feel again. The fact that there was also a Claustrophobia, Warden, and Seakite in the pack just served to kick me while I was down.

Pack 3 Pick 4

Duress Armored Cancrix Trained Condor Altar's Reap Dragon Hatchling Hive Stirrings Sliver Construct Island Illusionary Armor Water Servant Sengir Vampire Sanguine Bond

My Pick

Although there’s another amazing blue card in this pack, it does look like Black is open as well. Sengir Vampire is a great win condition for any black deck, and I actually would have taken it over Water Servant even if I were playing both colors.

Pack 3 Pick 5

Seismic Stomp Festering Newt Master of Diversion Smelt Siege Mastodon Lava Axe Brindle Boar Forest Tenacious Dead Stonehorn Chanter Staff of the Sun Magus

My Pick

I was really happy to get a Tenacious Dead from this pack. It is one of the tools that makes the sacrifice cards so powerful, and having one in my deck improved its overall quality a lot.

Pack 3 Pick 6


My Pick

I’m pretty sure I briefly fist pumped when I saw Corrupt this late. Pretty much the best card I could have asked for in a mono-black deck lacking power.

Pack 3 Pick 7

Fog Trollhide Capashen Knight Corpse Hauler Cyclops Tyrant Lava Axe Forest Bubbling Cauldron Elixir of Immortality

My Pick

I agonized over this pick for the entire draft timer. On one hand, Bubbling Cauldron is a sweet card that works well with sacrifice friendly cards like Festering Newt and Tenacious Dead. On the other hand, I felt like my deck was low on creatures, and I wanted to be able to reliably stick a Mark of the Vampire or Fireshrieker on one of my guys. I ended up taking the creature, but I’m still not sure this was correct.

Pack 3 Pick 8

Duress Lava Axe Brindle Boar Sporemound Canyon Minotaur Minotaur Abomination Swamp Diabolic Tutor

My Pick

Even though I knew I probably wasn’t going to play it maindeck, there was no need for an additional Minotaur Abomination.

Pack 3 Pick 9

Dawnstrike Paladin Dark Favor Goblin Shortcutter Striking Sliver Island Woodborn Behemoth Congregate

My Pick

Congregations Dark Favor. You won the only black card in the pack award.

Pack 3 Pick 10

Marauding Maulhorn Suntail Hawk Festering Newt Forest Encroaching Wastes Rod of Ruin

My Pick

Pack 3 Pick 11

Soulmender Pay No Heed Vile Rebirth Mountain Illusionary Armor

My Pick

Pack 3 Pick 12

Duress Altar's Reap Hive Stirrings Island

My Pick

I was actually pretty happy grabbing an Altar’s Reap. It works well with Tenacious Dead and Festering Newt and can turn my other small creatures into Corrupts later in the game.

Pack 3 Pick 13

Siege Mastodon Forest Staff of the Sun Magus

My Pick

Pack 3 Pick 14

Dragon Hatchling Plains

My Pick

Pack 3 Pick 15

As it turns out, I did manage to get some of the more powerful cards I needed to make my deck good in this pack. Having to pass so many great blue cards was downright depressing, but I’m not actually sure there were enough of them that it was correct for me to have been blue. Here’s the deck I ended up playing:


In the end, the deck more or less built itself. Had I taken the Bubbling Cauldron, I definitely would have played the second Festering Newt main. I decided to bench Mind Rot and Diabolic Tutor for more controlling decks. Although this didn’t end up as my dream deck, I felt like it was perfectly capable of going 3-0.

Match 1

Round 1 my opponent was playing a U/B deck packed with a lot of fliers. I was on the play game 1 and was able to get through some early damage with Child of Night and Blood Bairn. The board stalled out after a while, and I managed to grind out the last few points of damage using the powerful combination of Gnawing Zombie and Tenacious Dead.

For this matchup, I sided out one Mark of the Vampire and Child of Night in favor of Mind Rot and Diabolic Tutor. Even though I didn’t see much removal from my opponent game 1, U/B is definitely a color combination that has access to ways to punish Mark of the Vampire. I took out the Child because the matchup wasn’t about racing and my opponent played a couple of Festering Newts game 1, which do a good job of stopping the Vampire.

Mind Rot is a card I like to have in against more controlling decks, especially on the draw. It makes for a good two for one that is backbreaking against an opponent trying to build up resources. Due to the grindy nature of game 1, I wanted access to Diabolic Tutor as a way to reliably get my powerful cards later in the game. Since his deck wasn’t very fast, I knew I wasn’t in danger of losing the game with the Tutor stuck in my hand.

Game 2 the power of Fireshrieker shined. I was able to curve Diabolic Tutor into Sengir Vampire and equip it the turn after. Between the double striking Sengir on offense and a double striking Deathgaze Cockatrice on defense, my opponent wasn’t able to do anything to interact.

Match 2

Round 2 my opponent was playing a G/R deck with a lot of big creatures. Unfortunately, game 1 began with a mulligan from me, and I stalled on three lands for the entire game. A turn 5 Kalonian Hydra quickly put me out of my misery. Even if I hadn’t missed land drops, I don’t think I would have been able to beat the Hydra without drawing one of my removal spells.

The only change I made this time around was removing a Corpse Hauler for a Mind Rot. His creatures were big enough that I didn’t want that many 2/1s in my deck, and I figured the lifelink from Child was more important. I brought in Mind Rot because of how slow and top-heavy his deck was. I wanted to be able to snipe the last two spells from his hand and get a chance to hit Kalonian Hydra if my opponent decided to hold it back and bait out my removal.

Game 2 began with another mulligan on my end. I kept a six-card hand of four Swamps, Minotaur Abomination, and Mark of the Vampire. Although this hand isn’t great, I figured it was better than an average five and could steal a win if I drew a flier or Accursed Spirit to put Mark on. Although I did end up drawing an Accursed Spirit on time, my opponent quickly punished me with a Chandra’s Outrage the turn after I Marked it. As the game progressed, I flooded out and lost due to my land-heavy keep, while my opponent was able to draw a ton of spells thanks to a turn 4 Into the Wilds. The big takeaway of this game is how well sideboarding Mind Rot in worked out. I was able to hit my opponent’s last two cards, an Enlarge and Garruk’s Horde, which is pretty much as good as it gets.

Although the draft didn’t end up going my way, it serves as a good learning experience. Although black was definitely open, I think I could have had a stronger overall deck if I’d made the move into blue. Being stubborn and sticking with your early picks when the signals tell you to do otherwise is a big pitfall of drafting.

I hope you enjoyed my synopsis of M14 Limited! Next week I’ll be bringing something of an entirely different nature to the table.