SCG Daily – RGD Sealed Dissected #4

I drafted Gruul/Izzet/Simic today, and it rejuvenated my soul. Playing Simic is like starring in an Herbal Essences shampoo commercial. My guys have Trample (yes!). They can jump over the other guy (Yes!). They even regenerate (Oh God, YES!).

I’ve realized something. Dissension’s really made Magic a lot more fun for me. In particular, it’s the Simic and Graft. It’s just amazing to rediscover the inner Timmy within yourself. I drafted Gruul/Izzet/Simic today, and it rejuvenated my soul. Playing Simic is like starring in an Herbal Essences shampoo commercial. My guys have Trample (yes!). They can jump over the other guy (Yes!). They even regenerate (Oh God, Yes!). And they have +1/+1 counters to boot.

Here’s a dilemma for you. I open my first pack in RGD draft with Vedalken Dismisser, Firemane Angel, Faith’s Fetters, Brainspoil, and Bramble Elemental. Which card would you take?

I took the Dismisser, because I wanted to force GRU. The guy next to me took the Angel and ended up defeating me in the finals. It was something of a questionable call, simply because he took three Ogre Savants in pack 2. No Steamcore Weirds for me. (I still ended up grabbing two Savants, though.)

As I’m writing this daily (I do the hard lifting first and the introduction and extra stuff last), Green/Red/Blue has demonstrated itself to be the most popular and (apparently) powerful archetype in RGD draft. I’m glad that my initial read on the color combination was right. Don’t let your lamp oil run out, or GRU is going to eat you alive in a move.

Moving right along…

Yet again, we’ve got a tough pool to deal with. Here’s your white space.

Like tapioca, White’s flavor doesn’t have any zest. We’ve got two removal spells, Devour in Light and Carom. Both are annoyingly situational. Carom’s handy when slamming a beater into an army of blockers, and can take out an annoying Rakdos Ickspitter or Minister of Impediments. It even hands you a card. But we’ve only got Conclave Equenaut and Absolver Thrull as backup. Those double-White cards just don’t look good.

For the third time this week, I’ve got to write off Red as unsalvageable. When your best card is Goblin Spelunkers or Fiery Conclusion or Sandstorm Eidolon, you’re in trouble. Taste for Mayhem’s more playable than Street Savvy, so it’s not the worst creature enchantment in the set.

Today’s Green runs deep. We’ve got the early mana production and fixers with Elves of Deep Shadow, Farseek, and Civic Wayfinder. We’ve got Ghor-Clan Savage, and my favorite Green common, Cytospawn Shambler. He can make lots of your army trample. We’ve even got a few funky tricks like Flash Foliage and Scatter the Seeds. But I don’t trust Elemental Resonance. Elemental Resonance can ramp you up to seven mana on turn 5 (if you play it on a three drop of yours), but it sets you up for mana burn later on if your opponent doesn’t remove the card it’s enchanting first. Don’t put your trust in Elemental Resonance.

The mono-colored Black doesn’t really inspire me. Dissension’s handed us Nettling Curse and Slaughterhouse Bouncer. Bouncer is reasonable 23rd card filler if you don’t mind playing with sub-par cards… but in Ravnica block it’s not that hard to splash a fourth color’s card with a lot more impact. If you’re playing with Slaughterhouse Bouncer, you’re probably not working hard enough. Nettling Curse doesn’t excite me in the slightest, but if you’re up against a deck of fatties and have enough walls, it could be sideboarded in.

The real cards to talk about here are Plagued Rusalka and Douse in Gloom. They’re the only cards that make me want to play Black here. Thoughtpicker Witch is great with decks with three or more token producers, but we’re not going to see that today.

Blue’s got only one Dissension card, but it’s my favorite common in the set. Helium Squirter is incredible. Play him. Next turn, attack with him, then play a burly creature. They fly in the next turn. Follow up with another brick. That brick flies at your opponent the next turn. We’ve already got some guys with +1/+1 counters already, so it’s going to shine today.

But that’s not all! We’ve also got the handy Snapping Drake, which is much more of a threat in Sealed than it is in draft. (RGD draft teems with cheap two power fliers. Sealed is a much more land-bound affair.) Tidewater Minion can do some nifty tricks and can attack in the late game. Surveilling Sprite and Vertigo Spawn are excellent early game cards. Backed up by Peel from Reality and Telling Time, this Blue’s excellent.

Shifting into the gold cards, we see some handy playables in Boros. Boros Fury-Shield, Flame-Kin Zealot, and Skyknight Legionnaire aren’t shabby. Flash Conscription and Rally the Righteous are also pretty strong. Boros wants a base of cheap, efficient men, though. I don’t think we’ve got the fodder to back these cards up.

Selesnya Evangel’s all the Conclave can muster today. It’s still an excellent card in Sealed, but its stock’s crashed in Draft. There are too many flyers in the draft format to keep Evangel at its former level of prominence.

The Golgari inspire Fonz imitations. Heyyyyyyyy. With all our Graft men, Shambling Shell’s amazing. Then there’s Vulturous Zombie, no stranger to +1/+1 counters himself. He doesn’t need Helium Squirter’s aid, but gets the ability to trample. Golgari Guildmage’s too pricey to make a difference most of the time, but he’s still a Grizzly Bear.

Dimir has Perplex, which may or may not be handy. Dimir Aqueduct’s a gem of a land, and we’ve even got Moroii. Four mana fliers don’t get any better than Moroii.

Gruul and Izzet bring little to the table. Streetbreaker Wurm is never a bad card, but it’s not quite splashworthy. It’s solid enough to make any Red deck, but the Red’s appalling. Izzet Signet is fine and dandy. I don’t care for Petrahydrox in the slightest; it’s only decently costed and it’s too skittish to stay on the table when it counts.

Orzhov’s laid out a good spread for the guests. Debtors’ Knell virtually spells doom for any opponent the turn after it hits the table. Agent of Masks verges on playability. Mourning Thrull’s only really good when you’ve drafted two Moldervine Cloaks. With more flyers around thanks to Dissension, I don’t think he’s going to fare too well.

Azorius no-shows. Bad for fans of the guild, good for me.

Rakdos has a Karoo and Riot Spikes. Given the large number of annoying one-toughness men in the format (Ghost Warden, Rakdos Ickspitter, Gelectrode, Thundersong Trumpeter, Shrieking Grotesque), it’ll be a rare deck that leaves Riot Spikes in the sideboard.

Simic brings up two cards excellent in the mid-game and late-game, Vigean Hydropon and Leafdrake Roost. The Wall of Hats has nice synergy with Convoke men and graft tricks. Leafdrake Roost’s fairly costed for the late-game, and locks up lots of matches. You need to run a lot of mana to get it online, though.

After all that deliberation, I cut the playables down to GBU, keeping an eye on White for an Evangel splash.

1cc: Elves of Deep Shadow, Plagued Rusalka, Thoughtpicker Witch, Riot Spikes
2cc: Golgari Guildmage, Mourning Thrull, Selesnya Evangel, Surveilling Sprite, Vertigo Spawn, Farseek, Izzet Signet, Peel from Reality, Telling Time
3cc: Civic Wayfinder, Restless Bones, Sadistic Augermage, Shambling Shell, Vigean Hydropon, Douse in Gloom, Flash Foliage, Perplex
4cc: Moroii, Nullmage Shepherd, Snapping Drake, Torch Drake
5cc: Ghor-Clan Savage, Helium Squirter, Tidewater Minion, Vulturous Zombie, Leafdrake Roost, Scatter the Seeds
7cc: Cytospawn Shambler, Debtors’ Knell

Dimir Aqueduct, Rakdos Carnarium

First to go were the Thoughtpicker Witch, Perplex, Sadistic Augermage, and Torch Drake. There isn’t enough to search for in the three-drop slot. Mourning Thrull does get better if you can graft counters on it, but there isn’t enough pump to get that trick working. Tidewater Minion’s untap ability does absolutely nothing for this pool, so it gets the axe as well. Last to go is Scatter the Seeds. Yes, it’s a nice trick if you have the Vigean Hydropon out, but without the Hydropon, it just doesn’t have enough oomph to make the grade.

Our final build looks like this.

1cc: Elves of Deep Shadow, Plagued Rusalka, Riot Spikes
2cc: Golgari Guildmage, Surveilling Sprite, Vertigo Spawn, Dimir Signet, Farseek, Peel from Reality, Telling Time
3cc: Civic Wayfinder, Shambling Shell, Vigean Hydropon, Douse in Gloom, Flash Foliage
4cc: Moroii, Nullmage Shepherd, Snapping Drake
5cc: Ghor-Clan Savage, Helium Squirter, Vulturous Zombie, Leafdrake Roost
7cc: Cytospawn Shambler, Debtors’ Knell

6 Forest
5 Island
3 Swamp
Dimir Aqueduct
Rakdos Carnarium

1cc: CCS
3cc: CCCSS
4cc: CCC
5cc: CCCS
7cc: CS

Splashing a single White for a two-drop that dies to almost every removal spell in the format feels utterly unwholesome, so Selesnya Evangel also got cut.

The deck isn’t amazing, but it’s probably good enough to go 4-1-1 at a PTQ with luck. We’ve got a solid late game, with absolute bombs in Debtors’ Knell and Vulturous Zombie, and we’ve got enough guys to trade and stall in the mid-game. Debtors’ Knell loves dredge, and Shambling Shell lets us pull that trick off as well as improve Helium Squirter and the big Shambler. The deck wants to stall until its big beaters hit the table. We need some evasion, as it’s critical to supersize Ghor-Clan Savage if you draw him. There isn’t nearly as much removal as I’d like, but at least we’ve got the ability to take care of the annoying 1/1s.

Thanks for keeping up. I look forward to hearing responses in the forums.

Eli Kaplan
japaneli at hotmail dot com