Currently it’s 1:58 AM on Tuesday and I’m en route to Atlantic City with my buddy Lee for a week of grinding at the poker tables.
I’m obviously on a laptop, and one that is currently running out of power.
Funny story actually, I went to Best Buy today to buy a power converter so that I could just plug into the cigarette lighter in the car, but apparently one of those costs $50! Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I can’t afford the stupid thing, it’s just that I can’t justify spending more than say $30 on it. My reasoning being that I’m not on long car trips often enough to make it worthwhile.
When I think about it though, it doesn’t make sense. I’m unwilling to buy this semi-useful power converter for $50, but I’ll have no problem posting a $20 big blind in a few hours when we arrive at the casino. That big blind will probably get raised and I’ll have to throw my 73 offsuit into the muck and gain nothing in return for my $20. Go figure.
Lee and I were just talking too about how annoying it is that you can’t get internet access while on the road and how it would be nice to be playing some online poker right now on this long five-hour drive. Someone really should invent an easier way to get internet access while traveling. I do know that some cell phone companies offer it, but they charge by the minute and the access is worse than a 56k modem, which is just awful. I can’t imagine it’d be that difficult to get cable internet in cars with technology progressing the way it has been the last few years. Probably isn’t too far off.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, I do realize that I’m rambling.
This week I want to take a look at a draft that I recently did late one night on MODO in the 4322 queue (nobody was in 8-4). The draft was a bit crazy since some of the players clearly weren’t very good and some cards got passed later than they would in a normal draft. This made for some unusual twists and turns and I ended up with a deck that I wasn’t even trying to draft.
Pack One, Champions
Kodama’s Might, Ember-Fist Zubera, Kami of the Waning Moon, Orochi Ranger, Callous Deceiver, Nezumi Cutthroat, Devouring Rage, Waking Nightmare, Waterveil Cavern, Petals of Insight, Samurai Enforcers, Budoka Gardener
This is what I like to call an “Open Booster.”
The reason for this is that there really isn’t a definite right pick and the decision comes down to color preference or card preference since most of the good cards in this pack are pretty equal in power level. It’s a pack where you can make a clear argument for a number of different cards. Let’s take a closer look.
First we have Kodama’s Might and Budoka Gardener which are both very plausible first picks. If you had handed me this booster back in CCC, I’d have no problem picking either one of these Green cards because I liked the color a lot more back then.
While I think the drafting community is split almost down the middle in terms of whether or not they like Budoka Gardener, I’m on the side of that split that really likes him. Some people haven’t played with the card enough to know that his flip ability will happen often enough to make him better than just a 2/1 for two, and in U/G, his normal ability is amazing with the Soratamis. With that being said, if I were to take a Green card from this pack I’d still wind up taking the Kodama’s Might simply because of its raw power. Gardener is good in a U/G deck or a deck that can stall the game and needs a win condition, but this is the first pick of the draft and I have no clue what type of deck I’ll eventually end up with so I’d want the better overall card in the Might.
That’s if I was going to take a Green card.
The other options are Nezumi Cutthroat, Kami of the Waning Moon, and Petals of Insight (which I still value much higher than most people). It’s no secret that Waning Moon has gotten better with the addition of Betrayers, and Cutthroat has gotten slightly worse, but I’d still say that Cutthroat was the better overall pick unless you already knew what colors you were. For instance, the Waning Moon is better in BG since you want a way to get your fatties through and combos insanely well with Scaled Hulk.
As far as taking Petals first, I’d certainly do it if I could be assured that I’d end up in U/R or U/W. Clearly I can’t be sure of anything this early on, so I think it’d be a risky pick and not one many people would make.
In my mind, the pick comes down to Cutthroat vs. Kodama’s Might, and I went with the Cutthroat (despite my dislike for Black) for a couple of reasons. First off, this is a 4322 and we all know how much the little kiddies like drafting their Green decks. I don’t need to be fighting for Green with five other drafters. Second, while I don’t like Black, I don’t like Green all that much anymore either unless I’m able to assemble some sort of 4-color Kodama’s Reach deck that spits out a Blue Myojin or other ridiculously overcosted man.
It also doesn’t hurt that B/W and U/R are my favorite archetypes in this format and Cutthroat can start me right into B/W.
My Pick : Nezumi Cutthroat
Not a spectacular set of choices here for my second pick.
As I said in my last article, I don’t really like Pale Curtain anymore unless I’m U/W, since it tends to interfere with my own Soulshift as well as hindering my mana base with its double White casting cost. The pick here then is between Kami of Ancient Law and Pull Under, and I hope I don’t have to go into great detail about why I selected the Ancient Law over the costly removal spell. Ancient Law is something I really want at least one of in my B/W decks too since it can easily be reused via Soulshift if enchantments become a problem.
I also noticed that both of the first boosters had Waking Nightmare in them, so hopefully I’ll be able to table one in case I want to play it.
By the way, it’s worth mentioning that I think it’s almost never correct to take Pale Curtain over Ancient Law anymore. (unless you are a Call to Glory, infinite Samurai deck)
My Pick : Kami of Ancient Law
Burr Grafter, Indomitable Will, Scuttling Death, Uncontrollable Anger, Soratami Cloudskater, Humble Budoka, Ashen-Skin Zubera, Consuming Vortex, Order of the Sacred Bell, Okina, Temple to the Grandfathers
Now this is a little more like it.
There are a couple nice pieces of cardboard here in Scuttling Death, Consuming Vortex, Order of the Sacred Bell, and Indomitable Will. I’m really only concerned with the Scuttling Death and the Vortex here, since the other two cards aren’t really close in power level.
This doesn’t end up being a difficult choice since I think the Death is slightly better than Vortex overall, and I’m already heading into Black and haven’t seen any other Blue yet anyway.
One other thing I want to mention is that I think Humble Budoka has gotten a lot better with the addition of Betrayers if you are a Green beatdown deck. There are tons of targeting effects now and the fact that you can’t use your own pump spells on him isn’t as relevant now with one less pack of Champions as well as the existence of Roar of the Jukai. You’ll also get him late since he is still treated with much disdain.
My Pick : Scuttling Death
Back in the days of triple Champions, I can guarantee that many people would look at this pack and say:
“There’s nothing to see here, move along.”
As they were selecting the Nezumi Ronin…
Nowadays, I hope nobody would do such a thing. The pick is at least a consideration now, and actually favored in the direction of the Waning Moon if you ask me. It’s a Spirit with evasion that helps get your other guys through and is especially good with Ninjas. I honestly prefer the 1/1 flier in most of my decks, and with Scuttling Death already in tow I hope you agree. It helps that Betrayers has given us Takenuma Bleeder as another good beater in the three-slot that makes the Nezumi Ronin less important.
My Pick : Kami of the Waning Moon
Did I mention that I never really liked Giant Cockroach?
I always missed that extra toughness, especially in 8E booster draft where the Cockroach would immediately be Shocked into the bin whereas the more powerful Hill Giant would at least require a Volcanic Hammer.
I know, I’m an idiot.
This pack is kind of annoying actually since I’m definitely taking the Scuttling Death but I have to ship along Blessed Breath and Ancient Law which makes it likely someone on my left will get into White. Such is life though, and at least my Giant Cockroach has Soulshift 4 and a good ability.
My Pick : Scuttling Death
Okay so there has to be at least a few uninteresting picks during the draft and this happens to be one of them.
I don’t mind Kami of Lunacy really, especially in B/W since you can shift back something like a Hundred-Talon Kami which can in turn get back your Moonlit Strider and so on and so forth. Betrayers has made life hard for one toughness creatures with all of the easy removal like Frostling and the Nezumi Ronin is simply the better pick here. The real time for Kami of Lunacy is when you don’t have a lot of top end or you need a big flier, but I already have a pair of Scuttling Deaths (and yes, I know they work well with Lunacy), and I’d really rather just have the more efficient ground beater.
My Pick : Nezumi Ronin
Well this is an unlikely booster for this late in the draft.
Somehow Elder and Rainshaper are both in the pack still, as well as *gasp* two Indomitable Wills. Right.
I briefly flirt with the idea of taking the Rainshaper, but then I come back down to earth and realize that Ashen Zubera is quite the good fit in my deck and I need cheap Spirits anyway. Someone is lucky getting an 8th pick Elder though, that’s for sure.
My Pick : Ashen-Skin Zubera
This pack has nothing for me, but as it stands the Riftwalker is very good against my Spirit heavy deck. I also still don’t have a second color, but Vine Kami isn’t exactly my idea of starting a second color. I end up taking the Riftwalker here partially as a defensive draft, but also as something that may get played if I’m short on cards.
My Pick : Kitsune Riftwalker
Like I said back in Pick One, most people don’t like Petals of Insight. Why am I repeating that? Well, because it tabled. I also took Honor-Worn Shaku over a Harsh Deceiver since I thought I may use it with my Scuttling Deaths if I pick more five drops. I somehow also tabled Consuming Vortex, which should never ever happen, but did because this is a 4322. To round out my picks I got a Callous Deceiver and Counsel of the Soratami.
So I really still don’t have a clue what my second color is, I’d like to be White, but I also just picked up a bunch of Blue cards including the Vortex which was the best card in the pack after I took Scuttling Death from it!
Pack Two, Champions
Venerable Kumo, Kami of the Painted Road, Midnight Covenant, Gibbering Kami, Hisoka’s Defiance, Sakura-Tribe Elder, Mystic Restraints, Quiet Purity, Ember-Fist Zubera, Feral Deceiver, Cleanfall, Sideswipe, Sachi,Daughter of Seshiro, Uba Mask
Most players would look at this pack and be annoyed that they had to first pick a 2/2 flier for four.
Maybe I’m alone on this, but I’d honestly rather have Gibbering Kamis and Scuttling Deaths than Befouls and Rends if I’m playing Black. Gibbering Kami is the perfect Soulshift target for Scuttling Death and makes it very hard for your opponent to ever kill anything for good. It’s for this reason that I think Nine-Ringed Bo is actually a very viable sideboard card nowadays since the Spirits will keep coming back if you don’t get them removed from the game the first time. Just make sure to shoot it before combat damage if you are doing battle with a Scuttling Death so that they can’t respond by using the ability.
Unlike most 2/2 fliers for four, Gibbering Kami’s ability actually matters and I’m happy to pick him here.
My Pick : Gibbering Kami
Cage of Hands, Nezumi Cutthroat, Hearth Kami, Kabuto Moth, Reach Through Mists, Serpent Skin, Villainous Ogre, Kitsune Diviner, Wear Away, Ethereal Haze, Blood Speaker, Soratami Seer (rare missing)
Well, here’s my chance.
The draft has diverged in two directions and I have to choose which I’m going to take.
“How is this a hard pick? Don’t you just take Moth?”
That’s what I thought too, until I looked back on this draft and realized that this was actually a pivotal point. While it’s clear that Nezumi Cutthroat is nowhere near the power level of Moth, there are other things at work here. If you remember back to pack one, I did pass the late Ancient Law and Breath so it’s quite likely that the guy two to my left is probably in White. If I take the Moth here, there’s no assurance that I’ll get any other White cards for the rest of the pack and I may have just wasted a pick since who knows what will happen in Betrayers. If, on the other hand, I make the unorthodox pick and take the Cutthroat (who is amazing in Mono-Black), I could be setting myself up to really abuse Midnight Covenant with double Rat.
As I realized during deck construction, I honestly didn’t give this pick enough thought during the draft.
I really like drafting B/W in this format so I pretty much “autopicked” the Moth when I saw it and was happy that I had a reason to get into White. I know most of you would take the Moth here too, but you have to respect what has gone on so far in the draft. By taking the Moth you are just gambling that there will be enough White cards in the packs that some good ones will make it through to you.
I realize that because this is a 4322 I can’t really know for certain what is going on, but I was pretty sure at the time that sending those late White picks was going to put someone near me into the color.
Looking back, I wish I’d have at least spent more time thinking about this and probably taken the Cutthroat. It’s been my experience too that mistakes like this often happen when you’re on autopilot and you don’t take the time to think things through.
My Pick : Kabuto Moth
River Kaijin, Glacial Ray, Commune with Nature, Devouring Greed, Kitsune Healer, Floating-Dream Zubera, Matsu-Tribe Decoy, Soulless Revival, Soratami Rainshaper, Guardian of Solitude, Kumano’s Pupils (Uncommon & Rare missing)
I can only imagine what was already taken from this nutty pack.
No way in hell I can ever take the Glacial Ray, but I’m sure happy to see Devouring Greed also in the pack, since I’m pretty much all Spirits at this point. Hopefully the guy on my right is in Red (which is likely due to its absence in pack one) and will then hook me up in Betrayers.
My Pick : Devouring Greed
I remember writing an article way back in CCC where I devoted a portion of it to the question of which Rend was the better spell. I also remember that at the time I felt Rend Flesh was because it had Arcane and killed most of the important creatures.
Oh how the times have changed.
Rend Spirit is actually one of the most valuable kill spells in the format in my opinion since everyone has finally realized how good Spirits are. I definitely like the card better than Befoul (though don’t ever remember having had to make that choice), and Rend Flesh all too often sits in my hand unable to find a legal target against most opponents.
My Pick : Rend Spirit
This pick offers yet another interesting set of options for my colors.
When I first looked at the pack and was writing down its contents for use in this walkthrough, I had already decided on the Gibbering Kami as my pick. As I was writing down the cards though, I started thinking about it more and decided that maybe it wasn’t as clear cut as I thought.
My first distinction was that I definitely wasn’t taking the Blademaster. While that may seem hard to believe, the card isn’t at its best in a B/W spirit deck. I’d much rather have the Soulshifting Flier or the Kami of Old Stone that are in the pack. And yes, I’ve taken Old Stone over Blademaster before and been happy with the results.
The reasoning for this is that the B/W player is looking to create virtual card advantage with Soulshift, Kabuto Moth, and guys with big toughness on the ground (Anton Jonsson actually covered this much more in depth in his B/W article and I suggest you check it out if you haven’t already). While a Blademaster is certainly good at stalling the ground, it also has this annoying tendency to die to any burn spell your opponent throws at it. Kami of Old Stone on the other hand is much harder to remove and gives you time to set up your fliers, Scuttling Deaths, and eventually helps with Devouring Greed as well. Oh, and yeah, he can be Soulshifted in the unlikely event that he does manage to hit the bin.
I’d definitely rather have the Blademaster in U/W or W/R, but not in B/W.
So to make a long story short here, I think it’s a pretty close overall pick between the Old Stone and Gibbering Kami, and I ended up going against my gut instinct and decided that I didn’t have enough ground defense and went with the Old Stone. This turned out to be another misstep on my part and when I thought about it later on I realized that the Gibbering Kami is a much better pick since I’m guaranteed to be playing Black and still not sure about White. Part of the reason I changed my mind probably has to do with my love for Kabuto Moth and I was doing everything possible to try to get it in my deck.
Funny how one pick can have a domino effect and screw up an entire draft.
My Pick : Kami of Old Stone
I’d almost forgotten that I wasn’t in my usual 8-4 draft until I saw this pack. I told you that crazy stuff happens in the 4322 queue.
As I’m staring at this pack I realize that despite how much I want that Distress, I just cannot let Teller of Tales get by me here. I do have a decent helping of Blue cards already and I’d really rather not let anyone else get it this late. The funny part is that there are still plenty of other excellent cards in the pack like Frostwielder and Cloudskater.
My Pick : Teller of Tales
Now I’m just downright annoyed.
Right after picking up the Teller and considering moving into Blue as my other color, I get passed another White card that I like in B/W.
Let’s see, I have no legends for Eiganjo Castle, I really don’t like Kami of Twisted Reflection, so I guess I have no choice but to take the Hundred-Talon. Oh, and how the hell is there still a Reach in this pack when I’m drafting with a bunch of players who statistically love the color Green?
My Pick : Hundred-Talon Kami
Of course this would happen.
Here I am near the end of the second set of boosters and I’m jumping back and forth between my second color options with every pick. Not that I’m unhappy to get the Kaijin this late, it’s just that I’d rather be all set and ready to go when the Betrayers pack comes around. I’m not a fan of being stuck in the awkward situation where I have to make a coinflip decision between a White and a Blue card and just go with it as my second color and hope I make the right call. And believe me, I’ve been in that spot enough times to know that I want to avoid it at all costs.
But then again, it is all my fault that I’m in this predicament to begin with right? If I’d just used my better judgment and taken the Cutthroat over the Moth, and then obviously the Gibbering Kami over the Old Stone, I’d be all set to go with a very nice U/B deck. Instead my love for the Moth ended up making my draft very difficult, as well as deck construction as you’ll soon see.
My Pick : River Kaijin
So I ended up tabling the Midnight Covenant, Soratami Seer, another River Kaijin, and a Blue Zubera. Still not completely sure about my second color at this point, but leaning towards Blue after picking up all of those cards on the lap. At this point I was also kicking myself because I knew I’d made a mistake with the earlier picks.
Pack Three, Betrayers
Floodbringer, First Volley, Bile Urchin, Harbinger of Spring, Goblin Cohort, Waxmane Baku, Psychic Spear, Gnarled Mass, Ronin Cliffrider, Forked-Branch Garami, Throatslitter (foil), Yukora,the Prisoner
After first picking commons in both of my Betrayers boosters I’m quite happy to open this pack even though it does offer me a difficult choice.
The choice between Throatslitter and Yukora is not one I’d previously had to make (at least not in recent memory), so I had to look back at my deck to help determine the correct pick. It’s worth noting that I think the cards are pretty close in power level and which one you choose should be completely deck dependent.
Throatslitter is great in a U/B deck with Phantom Wings or Soratami Mirror-Guard to help power it through every turn but isn’t so hot if you don’t have evasion or some other way to even get his Ninjitsu off once. Yukora on the other hand is bad if your deck tends to stall out the game since he becomes worse with each non-Ogre creature on your side. Something as simple as Consuming Vortex can turn into a one-sided Wrath against you if you play Yukora at the wrong time in the wrong deck.
Looking over the cards I’ve already drafted, it’s pretty clear to me that I’m going to be taking the rare. I really don’t have any way to abuse the ‘Slitter, and practically no evasion. I do however have double Scuttling Death and the last time I checked soulshifting back a 5/5 Demon was quite good. Yukora is near a perfect fit for this deck, and the only thing I’d rather have him in is a B/R beatdown deck.
Oh, and yes, I did notice the Waxmane in the pack, but I honestly don’t think it’s anywhere near the power level of either of the Black cards especially considering that I’m definitely playing Black and not sure whether or not White will make my deck.
My Pick : Yukora, the Prisoner
Minamo’s Meddling, Heart of Light, Bile Urchin, Matsu-Tribe Sniper, Roar of Jukai, Quilmane Baku, Kami of False Hope, Takenuma Bleeder, Sakura-Tribe Springcaller, Genju of the Falls, Blinding Powder, Scour (again, rare missing.. go figure)
Still happy about picking up the Yukora, this pack now offers the choice between the Bleeder and Genju of the Falls in my colors.
Since I’m still not sure whether or not I’m playing Blue, the Bleeder is definitely the safe pick for me here. However, when looking back over the cards I’ve already drafted I realize that if I just take the Genju and commit to Blue I’ll be fine on three-drops since I have the two River Kaijins in addition to my Black creatures. The reason the Genju is the right pick here is because it allows me to commit to Blue and lock up all of those playables while still keeping my curve in tact. Stupid Kabuto Moth.
My Pick : Genju of the Falls
It’s like the packs are taunting me or something.
I briefly consider taking the Waxmane and getting back into White.
Then I remember that I just committed to Blue and there’s no way I’m flip flopping again. A deeper scan of the pack reveals that there is a perfectly fine card in the pack for me in the Ronin Warclub. While it’s not the best card in my deck since I want to be casting River Kaijin on turn three and my deck is more of a control deck, it’s still quite fine for my purposes and I can just cast it on turn four and then drop Teller or Soratami Seer on top of it on the fifth turn.
My Pick : Ronin Warclub
So I’m willing to admit that I was slightly wrong on the Ornate Kanzashi after all.
Since the time I said it was unplayable, I’ve witnessed it in action a few times and realized that it’s actually a fine card. It’s not something you want in every deck, but it is great in a Green deck with mana acceleration and fixing (Orochi Leafcaller makes it nuts), and also serves as a good late-game tool to a deck without other options. I definitely respect the card more now and consider it an option if it fits my deck.
This time, however, it should be obvious that it doesn’t mesh well with the rest of my deck. I have plenty of late-game and would rather be picking up the Okiba-Gang here or Three Tragedies.
While I said earlier that I didn’t have a huge amount of evasion for Throatslitter, I am now sure that I’m playing Blue and will probably table one of the Floodbringers at least. I also have plenty of five-drops already in the Scuttling Deaths, Soratami Seer, and Teller. All of these things make the Okiba-Gang the correct pick in this spot.
My Pick : Okiba-Gang Shinobi
This pack is essentially barren in my colors so I decide I’ll either be hate drafting or taking the artifact.
I immediately dismissed the Quillmane Baku because as I said, I already have plenty of five-drops as well as close to enough playables. There’s no way I’m putting another five-mana clunker in my deck. As far as the Veil of Secrecy goes, I’m not a huge fan of it in general and looking at my card pool it’s not likely to help me much.
I have played the Baku Altar before in a deck with two copies of Devouring Greed but wasn’t overly excited about the results and I don’t think it’d fit that well in this deck. The activation cost is usually too high to make it worthwhile to play the card, even though I am mainly Spirit based.
In the end, I decided to hate up the Scaled Hulk since it’s a good card against me (can get through my ground defense) and I’m in pretty good shape as far as playables are concerned at this point. Had I been low on playables though, I’d have taken the Altar (or definitely the Quillmane if I didn’t have so many five casters already). While it’s usually wrong to hate draft in an 8-man, I think that it is more than justified in this case.
My Pick : Scaled Hulk
Call me a fiend if you will, but I’m hate-drafting again and I’ll tell you why.
There was a Ribbons of the Reikai (the only card I want from this pack) earlier in the draft which I am certain will table since it is rarely played by anyone. Even if it doesn’t, I’m not sure if it makes the cut in my deck because I already have Petals of Insight (which I usually prefer over the Ribbons), and I’m not sure I’ll end up with 12 or more Spirits. Either way, I was pretty sure the other Ribbons was tabling anyway and I really don’t want to pass Moonlit Strider this late.
My Pick : Moonlit Strider
I consider rare-drafting the Genju of the Realm but then realize that this is a walkthrough and I’m not allowed to do that. Then again, I’d rather have the Phantom Wings anyway as it’ll probably make my deck if even as just a bounce spell.
Now that I think of it, the Wings is actually quite good in my deck with Yukora and Scuttling Deaths that would love to take the fight to the air.
My Pick : Phantom Wings
Interesting that the Sightbender is still in the pack this late.
Sightbender is a card I’m usually very happy to pick early since it combos well with Ninjas and can serve as a game ender if the board stalls out. In this deck though I’m not even sure I want to play it since I really don’t have much to use it with. I end up taking it anyway since it’s definitely better than the Skullmane Baku and it could find a way into the deck if necessary.
My Pick : Minamo Sightbender
I end up tabling Psychic Spear, Bile Urchin, Ribbons of the Reikai, Quilman Baku, and Floodbringer which helps to round out my deck. Overall I think I could’ve drafted a lot better here and certainly made some missteps even if my deck did turn out okay in the end.
Genju of the Falls
2 River Kaijin
Kami of the Waning Moon
Yukora, the Prisoner
2 Scuttling Death
Teller of Tales
Petals of Insight
A few notes on deck construction :
- I ran the Petals over the Seer which was a preference choice since I feel that Petals helps me win more games than the Seer would. You can definitely argue this though.
- Counsel didn’t make it because I liked all of my other three-drops better than it.
- There just wasn’t room for the Sightbender, and again, I chose Petals over the Ribbons
So the deck ended up quite good, though a bit short on removal.
The most important thing I learned here is that sometimes it’s right to ship the best card even early on in a draft if it greatly increases your chances of consistency. Taking the second Cutthroat over the Moth would have ensured that I also took Gibbering Kami over Kami of Old Stone and my deck would’ve been that much better with those two cards. It also may have tipped me into going for mono-Black which probably would’ve turned out quite good as well with the Midnight Covenant and other Black cards that I passed in favor of Blue ones.
Unfortunately there isn’t much to tell as far as the actual matches went as my first opponent was a pushover and my deck performed well in the other two matches making it quite easy for me to win the draft.
Even though I won the draft, it certainly doesn’t make my picks correct and sometimes we can be blinded by results instead of focusing on our drafting or play which is what is actually important.
Until next time.