Walk With Me, but Don’t Raredraft

The overall opinion on the format seems to be that Black is the dominating color, and Green is pretty bad unless you can get in a position where you’re one of two drafters at the table pulling for it. The pick here seems to be Spikeshot Goblin without a question, though you could make a case for the Den-Guard or Trolls if you want to fight strongly for either color.
Jerry, the pilot of this draft, explained that he wanted the Glimmervoid for a Standard Affinity deck and didn’t think the pick affected the overall result of his draft.

Well it’s been a while.

Since I’ve written a”Walk With Me” article, that is…

A number of people requested a while back that I take a look at a draft that went sour in one way or another, and offer some advice as to how the choices that were made could have been altered to improve the outcome of the draft. A friend of mine who drafts regularly on Magic Online recently came to me with a writeup of the following draft, in which he felt almost everything went wrong.

Now it’s our time to dissect it with the hopes of offering some possible solutions.

The Draft

Pack One

Pack 1

Glimmervoid, Trolls of Tel-Jilad, Spikeshot Goblin, Leonin Den-Guard, Welding Jar, Fists of the Anvil, Nim Replica, Copper Myr, Annul, Razor Barrier, Fabricate

The opening pack of draft presents a few problems in terms of color choice. Spikeshot, Den-Guard, and Trolls are all fine cards, and the Glimmervoid is certainly worth a few tix online.

The overall opinion on the format seems to be that Black is the dominating color, and Green is pretty bad unless you can get in a position where you’re one of two drafters at the table pulling for it. The pick here seems to be Spikeshot Goblin without a question, though you could make a case for the Den-Guard or Trolls if you want to fight strongly for either color.

Jerry, the pilot of this draft, explained that he wanted the Glimmervoid for a Standard Affinity deck and didn’t think the pick affected the overall result of his draft, as you’ll see later.

Pack 2

Isochron Scepter, Synod Sanctum, Clockwork Condor, Mindstorm Crown, Tel-Jilad Exile, Thoughtcast, Cobalt Golem, Pyrite Spellbomb, Silver Myr

The likely picks here are the Exile, Pyrite Spellbomb, or Isochron Scepter, as it’s far too early to be taking something like the Condor or a Myr which we aren’t even sure is going to be on-color. I think this pack is rather easy, and you just follow up the Spikeshot with the obvious Pyrite Spellbomb.

Jerry says in his analysis that he’s had lots of good experiences with Isochron Scepter, especially with the Echoing Decay and Truth being added to the cardpool, so he went with the Scepter. This is somewhat reasonable, especially after passing the Spikeshot for the money rare in pack one, but if you’re drafting to win, you should take the Goblin and follow it up with the Spellbomb for sure

Pack 3

Fatespinner, Needlebug, Stalking Stones, Fractured Loyalty, Viridian Joiner, Gold Myr, Leaden Myr, Wurmskin Forger, Irradiate, Welding Jar


Since nothing immediately jumps out here, we have to look a little closer. There really isn’t anything exciting though, and the Stalking Stones is simply the best pick at this point in the draft. It’s going to make the cut regardless of the eventual colors of the deck, and it’s a solid man in addition to not taking up a card-slot like actual creatures do.

Jerry also went with the Stones here, for many of the same reasons.

It’s worth noting, however, that you could make a case for Fatespinner, if you were hopeful to jump into Blue. The effect it provides is a huge nuisance for an opponent to play effectively around. I’ve found myself skipping my draw step numerous times against this guy, and while I still went on to win the game, anything that makes your opponent even consider skipping his draw for the turn is certainly a hot item in my book.

Pack 4

Flayed Nim, Pyrite Spellbomb, Auriok Bladewarden, Hematite Golem, Ogre Leadfoot, Chromatic Sphere

And now, the trouble starts.

Clearly if you’re following my advice you’d have an obvious pick here in the second copy of Pyrite Spellbomb. Since Jerry’s is more in the open though, after taking the Scepter and the Glimmervoid, he’s given himself plenty of room for error by not using specific cards to define his draft. Here he took Flayed Nim, planning to go into Black to some extent. While this is an okay pick here, the real problem is that he’s gotten himself off the beaten path right off the bat by taking the Glimmervoid. Now he’s put himself in a situation where certain picks are justifiable because of previous actions, but he really should have never gotten himself involved in the first place. If he’d just made the correct pick off the bat, he wouldn’t be in such an ambiguous position.

For any of you who play Poker (and I know much of the Magic crowd has converted over to Holdem by now), a similar situation constantly comes up when you’re in the small blind. The term used to describe it is Compounding Error. The basic definition is that you complete your small blind with less than adequate values and then get a small piece of the flop. After the flop you are compelled to make calls because of pot odds and other considerations, and you are correct to do so. Unfortunately, most of the time you’re just shown a better kicker, or better hand, and you lost all those bets because you completed the small blind without having the required values to begin with. Situations like this can really get you into trouble.

This example shows why it’s so important to start off on the right foot in a draft. Once you make a questionable pick, you change the entire dynamic of the draft (by shipping a Spikeshot), and are then lead down a dead end path, with many picks being made in the dark. Make a pick, and be sure about it. Don’t go the”I’ll keep all my options open” route unless it’s a special case.

Pack 5

Trolls of Tel-Jilad, Krark-Clan Grunt, Slith Firewalker, Necrogen Spellbomb, Awe Strike

Again, the same problem from the pick before has come back to haunt us. Clearly I’m going to advocate taking the Slith Firewalker, as it goes so well with the rest of our Red cards as well as being the best card in the pack by a good margin.

Jerry didn’t have it so easy this time though.

I mean, honestly, what do you take? You’ve just passed a ton of Red, as well as passing another Trolls and an Exile in the process. This pack is the precise reason I talked about the problems with compounding error above and how one decision has a lot of weight on another. Jerry took the Grunt here, as he said he really had no clue what to do at this point and could feel the draft slipping away from him. I’d say that he should probably take the Trolls or even the Spellbomb because things are certainly going downhill, and fast.

Pack 6

Moriok Scavenger, Dragon Blood, Titanium Golem, Leonin Elder, Wail of the Nim, Raise the Alarm

This pack provides almost nothing for our near mono-Red creation, but there is at least one playable for Jerry’s pile of random cards: Moriok Scavenger. If you’re following my route, I’d take the Dragon Blood here, even though it probably won’t make the maindeck.

Pack 7

Living Hive, Tel-Jilad Exile, Chromatic Sphere, Regress, Alpha Myr, Great Furnace

Well apparently Green is up for grabs. At this point Jerry should see a big flashing sign in this pack that says”Offering You a Second Chance!”

If Jerry saw that sign, he certainly decided to ignore it. If he’d picked the Trolls earlier from that abysmal pack, he could easily take the Hive or Exile here (probably Hive, just because his deck isn’t very good and is going to need big monsters to win). Instead, he decides to stay where he’s at and keep passing the Green, picking up a Chromatic Sphere instead.

While this isn’t a truly horrible pick as the card is very playable, I think that when a draft is going poorly for you, you need to be constantly on the lookout for chances of redeeming your deck. You can argue that he’s already shipped too much Green to his left, but honestly, I think the potential chance to fix his draft far outweighs the possibility of being cut in pack two. Remember, it’s still a chance, and it’s still better than sticking with nothing (which is what he has at this point).

If you’re following my choices, I’d most likely take the Tel-Jilad Exile here, or maybe even Great Furnace, since I’ve shipped a lot of Green already. Either is a fine choice though.

Pack 8

Tel-Jilad Chosen, Gold Myr, Nim Lasher, Sunbeam Spellbomb, Woebearer

Ah, the Chosen. A sweet reminder of what could have been. Anyway, enough of that, here Jerry picks Woebearer, which is consistent with the rest of his deck, but not really spectacular in any sense of the word. I’d probably follow up with the Chosen here after taking the Exile above, simply because Green is really flowing late in these packs and if I get the hookup in pack two, I can also be sure to get more in Darksteel.

On the lap back Jerry grabs an Annul and Cobalt Golem, as well as a Fractured Loyalty.

My thinking so far is that this draft is a great example of drafting on autopilot. It’s an easy thing to fall into, especially when a draft is going badly, and it will almost never help to dig you out of the hole you’ve fallen into. Whenever a draft starts going sour, you need to actually become very aware of it and start looking for any possible fallback plan, since your deck isn’t gonna go anywhere if you don’t do something about it. You need to strive to draft great decks, not just draft the cards you’re given.

Pack Two

Pack 1

Barter in Blood, Terror, Mesmeric Orb, Myr Retriever, Assert Authority, Clockwork Condor, Raise the Alarm, Malachite Golem, Vulshok Berserker, Soldier Replica, Goblin War Wagon

Well, Jerry has certainly hit the jackpot here, opening up a nice Barter in Blood for his deck. Barter is certainly better than Terror in his deck, seeing as it’s a slow piece of junk at the moment, and he’ll usually be able to get two for one off of it before even casting another spell. For my advice on the draft, the pick is also clear in the Vulshok Berserker.

Pack 2

One Dozen Eyes, Granite Shard, Skyhunter Patrol, Hematite Golem, Cobalt Golem, Wanderguard Sentry, Battlegrowth, Great Furnace, Auriok Transfixer

Here comes the Green hookup from both directions. Like I said earlier, while I personally don’t like the color that much in the format, I do believe that you should draft it when the evidence is there that you’re gonna get the goods from both directions in every pack. Here I’d take the Eyes to go with my Exile and Chosen, or if I’d taken the Great Furnace earlier I’d probably go with the Hematite Golem and stick to heavy Red. Basically, if I wanted to commit to Green, this pack would be the time where I said Okay, I’m R/G.

Jerry took Granite Shard here, and I have a lot of trouble figuring out why. My initial instinct tells me that this should again set off a lightbulb in his head telling him to take the Eyes and switch or at least splash. The pick to me seems to be Eyes no matter how you look at it though.

Pack 3

Crystal Shard, Lodestone Myr, Soldier Replica, Neurok Familiar, Nim Shrieker, Nim Lasher, Elf Replica, Talisman of Indulgence

Last time I checked Crystal Shard was a first pick…

Apparently these people seem to think otherwise, even considering that this was a 9-5 draft consisting of what should be at least competent players who would never ship a Shard third. Especially with the rare still in the pack! I don’t know what common was taken over this, but someone is certainly crazy for not taking it and splashing it themselves.

Need I say more? Shard is the only pick here, move along.

Pack 4

Grid Monitor, Myr Enforcer, Thoughtcast, Leonin Scimitar, Bottle Gnomes, Tel-Jilad Chosen, Journey of Discovery, Cloudpost, Scale of Chiss-Goria, Lumengrid Warden

I’d like to say that I am a big fan of the Grid Monitor, especially in Red decks. If we’d taken the Grunt earlier, I’d probably advocate taking the Monitor here. A lot is dependent on earlier picks, as if I’d taken the Great Furnace I’d surely take Myr Enforcer and hope to get more cheap artifacts. So you can justify a lot of cards in this pack based on what happened earlier.

For Jerry though, there is only one pick, and that’s the Myr Enforcer he selected.

Pack 5

Rustspore Ram, Vulshok Gauntlets, Elf Replica, Soul Nova, Ancient Den, Journey of Discovery, Necrogen Spellbomb

The packs are already starting to run thin on the fifth pick here, and the only two cards to even consider are the Ram and Gauntlets. Since neither of us have any of the creatures that work well with the Gauntlets, the Ram is an identifiable choice.

Pack 6

Lifespark Spellbomb, Auriok Transfixer, Altar’s Light, Wanderguard Sentry, Viridian Joiner, Tree of Tales

Drawing slim indeed, and there’s next to nothing that either of us wants here. I’d take the Tree of Tales to help out the Myr Enforcer if I had it, and Jerry can either take that or Wanderguard Sentry if he wants to actually solidify Blue as a color to go with the Crystal Shard. I’d personally be planning on splashing it at this point, unless I get a big reason to do otherwise.

Pack 7

Aether Spellbomb, Goblin Dirigible, Wail of the Nim, Neurok Familiar, Leonin Elder, Tree of Tales

Jerry is obviously going to take the Spellbomb here, since he took the Wanderguard Sentry a few packs ago and is hoping to solidify a U/B deck. My deck could sorely use a flier in the Dirigible though, and that’s what I’d take out of this one.

Pack 8

Seat of the Synod, Taj-Nar Swordsmith, Talisman of Progress, Ancient Den, Neurok Hoversail, Override

A Seat for Jerry, and not much for me. I’d take the Talisman as a helper for the Crystal Shard though, and it is quite surprising to see a Swordsmith going around here.

At this point, Jerry’s chances of creating a winning draft deck are almost next to none. Sure, he could get lucky and grab some bombs in Darksteel, but let’s be honest here, his card pool so far is really just a big mess. Nothing really sticks out except the Crystal Shard and most of the creatures are tiresome and slower than molasses. This is what you have to be willing to go through when you wanna raredraft that Glimmervoid for your deck first pick though, as taking the Spikeshot would lead you on a course to a more powerful deck. It’s much harder to do that when you pass the Goblin along.

Pack Three (Darksteel)

Pack 1

Chromescale Drake, Neurok Transmuter, Specter’s Shroud, Thunderstaff, Grimclaw Bats, Echoing Truth, Echoing Ruin, Darksteel Ingot, Arcbound Bruiser

This pack is just loaded with goodies.

Every card listed above is playable in some form, and most are highly attractive to many draft decks. We all know I’m a huge fan of the Transmuter, but I’m also a promoter of Thunderstaff, and I think it’s very underrated.

So let’s get down to business.

Clearly my deck is gonna want the Echoing Ruin, so we can get that out of the way right now. Jerry’s decision, however, isn’t as easy. If you’ll remember way back in the first pack he took an Isochron Scepter, so that alone makes Echoing Truth a very enticing possibility. The Drake, Transmuter, Bats, and Staff are all also likely choices.

Since Jerry doesn’t have any Terrors or artifact destruction, I think we can rule out the Transmuter right away, as he won’t be as effective as usual in this cardpool. The Drake could prove to be playable, but it also requires a complete commitment to Blue. The Bats seem poor for Jerry’s current deck, and the Staff will probably table, since most people are unaware of how good it is. In this case, Jerry took the Transmuter, and while it’s not an awful pick, I don’t really think it has enough synergy with the rest of his cards. I’d probably take the Drake here and hope that I can win some games just based on it (I’d also be looking for as many artifacts as possible in the coming packs).

Pack 2

Murderous Spoils, Pulse of the Tangle, Essence Drain, Dross Golem, Razor Golem, Neurok Prodigy, Whispersilk Cloak, Karstoderm


This pack is completely busted in more than one way. Pulse of the Tangle and Murderous Spoils are both huge picks, as well as the Drain, Razor Golem, and Prodigy.

Jerry correctly selects the Murderous Spoils for his deck, but what exactly would someone following my advice choose here? I’d probably go with the Pulse and hope to get more Green, since we’re already splashing the Crystal Shard and can’t take the Spoils. This, of course, depends on how much Green we have already, but there have been ample opportunities to pick up a few cards and we should be able to support the Pulse at any rate, and the effect it creates is just silly.

Pack 3

Pristine Angel, Dross Golem, Tanglewalker, Quicksilver Behemoth, Darksteel Citadel, Darksteel Pendant, Arcbound Worker

Dear lord.

This is a 9-5 draft?

Well I’m obviously taking the Tanglewalker here, even though I’d be sick for days about shipping along a Pristine Angel. I have to take the Walker though to compliment the Pulse of the Tangle from the previous booster.

Jerry, however, cannot resist the Angel’s temptation. He takes her with the plan of splashing, which I can’t really say is such a bad idea, given the current state of his draft pool.

Pack 4

Essence Drain, Vedalken Engineer, Loxodon Mystic, Arcbound Stinger, Unforge, Krark-Clan Stoker, Arcbound Bruiser

Well now, Jerry is finally getting some meat to fill out his deck. Essence Drain here is a very happy inclusion to that deck. For my deck, I’m afraid we’ll have to settle for a Stoker or possibly Arcbound Stinger. Either way, we’re getting a vanilla creature out of this booster unless we’re hate drafting something which may not be a terrible idea anyway.

Pack 5

Loxodon Mystic, Oxidda Golem, Grimclaw Bats, Arcbound Worker, Mirrodin’s Core, Whispersilk Cloak

Something for everyone here, as I obviously want the powerful Oxidda Golem. Jerry gets a nice manafixer in the Core, especially now, since he’s splashing the Pristine Angel, and also who knows what he’s gonna do with that Granite Shard from earlier.

Pack 6

Auriok Glaivemaster, Arcbound Worker, Reap and Sow, Darksteel Citadel, Unforge


Not much here, select the Citadel or Reap and Sow and move along.

Pack 7

Darksteel Pendant, Krark-Clan Stoker, Leonin Bola, Pteron Ghost, Death-Mask Duplicant

Leonin Bola is a card that I really like, that I think is underrated by most players. While it doesn’t really fit very well into either of our decks, I think there are plenty of times where someone passes it when it could have filled a good hole in their deck. It’s especially good in decks that have no way to deal with fliers or other evasive men like Neurok Spy.

Here we’ve got a Stoker for me and a Darksteel Pendant or Duplicant for Jerry. Jerry went with the Duplicant, which I can agree with, though his deck is already very clunky and I am a fan of the filtering ability of the Pendant.

Pack 8

Echoing Courage, Arcbound Stinger, Chimeric Egg, Shield of Kaldra

Not a difficult pack here, with the Stinger and Courage for Jerry and I respectively.

All in all, I think the draft presented a number of curveballs, especially with the Crystal Shard and Pristine Angel being passed much later than they should, as well as the constant switching of colors. Had Jerry not fallen off track immediately though, I think he would’ve come up with a solid R/g build that could probably make it at least to the finals. As it was, he ended up playing U/B splashing White for the Pristine Angel, and ended up getting hammered in two straight games in the first round.

The next time you find yourself in a draft that starts to go downhill, you need to stop and pull together all of you attention in search of a place to switch your strategy. Continuing downhill never helped anybody.

Nick Eisel

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