What’s the Situation?

I’ve got a piece of “Limited Information” for you guys to analyze from one of our regular drafts at CMU. I ended up arriving a little bit late this week since I had to give my best friend Jeremy Darling a ride down to CMU. We got there just as the first draft was starting as a result of his sluggishness, and I decided that it would be better to help Dr. Martel draft than to just sit around and do nothing until another draft started up. In doing so, a very interesting pick came up and I’d like to get input from you guys on it, since Martel and I didn’t agree initially.

I am so sick of school.

Senior year is supposed to be a breeze right? Somehow it’s been the complete opposite for me, whereas every other year was a breeze and this year is a complete pain in the ass.

It’s almost over though, so I know I should just ride it out and stop complaining.

I have a funny story about school though, even if it doesn’t exactly pertain to me. We all know how easy it is to copy/paste stuff off of the internet for a research paper and then doctor it up and think we are some kind of literary genius. Some people, however, are too dumb to cover their tracks when doing something like this that they know is wrong.

My Mom is a Biology teacher at one of the local high schools and teaches mainly Juniors and Sophomores. She came home to tell me a hilarious story the other day about the most blatant case of plagiarism she’d ever seen. One of her students had missed a few days of school, and upon returning, she informed him that he had to write a one page, double spaced paper on Enzymes. The information for this paper could be grabbed from articles on the internet or wherever he could find them and no bibliography was necessary. The student returned the next day with a ripped out piece of notebook paper that was scrawled in pen.

Remember that, because it’s important.

He didn’t type the paper on his computer, he wrote it in pen.

The last sentence of his paper read…

“Click Here to View Our Products”

Yes, that actually was written in pen!

Not only did he plagiarize an entire paper word for word, but he actually was stupid enough to write down that sentence. And it wasn’t even like an assignment like this would be difficult. One page, double-spaced? C’mon, that’s like five whole sentences!

Mind boggling, but hilarious at the same time.

But yeah, on to the topics of the week.

A Day in the Life of a Doctor

Joe Crosby used to do a weekly column for Sideboard.com called Limited Information. The premise behind these articles was to take polls on a given pick and see what the public thought and then compare that to the opinions of many top pros.

Sometimes you’d have to make a pick in the middle of a draft and Joe would give you the beginning contents of your deck, but most of the time it would just be a first pick, first pack type of decision. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I really enjoyed these articles, and have been incorporating the same type of situational questions as much as possible into my own writing for some time now. Unfortunately we don’t have the same resources here on StarCityGames.com to put all of the card images up inside the article to make it more like you were actually picking from a pack, but we can still make due with what we’ve got.

So anyway, I’ve got a piece of “Limited Information” for you guys to analyze from one of our regular drafts at CMU. I ended up arriving a little bit late this week since I had to give my best friend Jeremy Darling a ride down to CMU, and he took his good old time getting ready. We got there just as the first draft was starting as a result of his sluggishness, and I decided that it would be better to help Dr. Martel draft than to just sit around and do nothing until another draft started up. In doing so, a very interesting pick came up and I’d like to get input from you guys on it since, Martel and I didn’t agree initially.

The first two packs of the draft went pretty smoothly for the Doc, and he found himself in a nearly mono-Black deck that was planning to splash Glacial Ray, Godo, Bandit Warlord (accompanied by his Maul of course), and a Ronin Houndmaster. Below is the list of playable cards before pack three was opened.

Wicked Akuba

Wicked Akuba

Cruel Deceiver

Nezumi Shortfang

Glacial Ray

Tenza, Godo’s Maul

Oni Posession

Rend Spirit

Ronin Houndmaster

Villainous Ogre

Waking Nightmare

Cursed Ronin

Cursed Ronin



Scuttling Death

Gutwrencher Oni


Godo, Bandit Warlord

And then, everything went out the window when the third booster was cracked. It contained the following highlights:

Meloku the Clouded Mirror

Dance of Shadows

Hideous Laughter

Glacial Ray

and also

Kodama’s Might

Cage of Hands

With four bomb picks that he could possibly take, it’s safe to say that the Doctor had a dilemma on his hands.

Thankfully I was standing over his shoulder to help by continuously taking Meloku out of the pack and putting it on top of his draft pile.

Jason didn’t think the pick was quite that simple though, and he was right to take some time to think about it.

Let’s review the options.

Meloku the Clouded Mirror

Arguably the best rare in the set (although Kodama of the South Tree is awfully close).

As Tim Aten said in his Blue article this guy should be taken and splashed 99% of the time.

Even if you already have a splash, it’s probably correct to abandon it and just splash this guy instead. The only time I might pass him is if I already had a splash and I was taking something like Blind with Anger instead. Incidentally, Ken Krouner mentioned in his last article that Blind with Anger is the best card in the set, and while I believe it’s certainly top five, I’d still take Meloku, South Tree, and any dragon over the Ray of Command. The pick in question here for Jason is the 1% of the time that it may be correct to pass Meloku.

Dance of Shadows

KK hit the nail right on the head with this one, and it’s highly undervalued even by many good players at this point. This card is almost the same thing as Overrun, since it gives evasion. Trample is all well and good, but a horde of blockers can still soak up most of the damage. When your whole team gains fear though, it’s usually game over unless your opponent is playing Black.

This card is excellent in combination with the rest of the stuff that Jason has already drafted, since his deck is already very aggressive and this card will just be game over when it’s cast. You really can’t ask for much more in a finisher, as Dance is also nuts with the two Akubas he’s got.

Hideous Laughter

Massacre? With Splice?

I shouldn’t have to explain why this card is good, but the real question is… how good is it with the rest of the stuff Jason has already drafted?

Glacial Ray

This wouldn’t even be a consideration among the ranks of Meloku and Dance of Shadows if Martel didn’t already have a copy of it in his deck along with a couple Arcane spells to splice onto. Still, it is the best common in the set and is worth considering, since there is already another copy of Glacial Ray in the deck and they get nuts with multiples.

Okay. I’ve sorta revealed already which two cards make up the real decision involved in this pick just by some of the comments I made in my above overviews. In case it wasn’t evident to you though, the real pick is between Dance of Shadows and Meloku and I’ll tell you why.

Hideous Laughter, while an excellent removal spell, just doesn’t mesh well with this deck. We have no Zebras to gain advantage from it, and it basically kills most of our own creatures. The thing I’ve found with this card is that it is either amazing or horrible based on the other cards that make up your deck. Clearly it is more appealing in a control-oriented build than something aggressive like what we have here. Glacial Ray is simply outclassed here by bombs, and although Martel kinda wanted to take it just because it would be the second one, he knew it wasn’t an option.

The real decision in this pack is made difficult by a number of factors.

First off, Jason already has a working splash implemented into his deck with the three Red cards and he’s pretty hesitant to just dump them. Godo is excellent when you can search up the Maul, and Jason already has a number of other legends to pump with it too. Godo also allows both Cursed Ronins to attack multiple times, which should end the game the first time it happens if either Ronin is pumped to any reasonable level. Obviously the Ray is powerful, and the Houndmaster fills a hole in the three-slot that really doesn’t have much going for it at this point. Not to mention he’s also a Samurai.

Another important thing to look at when looking over the deck before we make a pick here is how mana intensive it is in Black. With double Akuba, Befoul, and Cursed Ronin, a heavy commitment to Swamps is required. This makes it hard to run the “double splash” by just taking Meloku and keeping the other cards in the deck.

Looking at the cards themselves, they are both game winners. Both are also exactly what you need to break a stalemate. The real distinction is that Meloku is likely to win more games when he’s played than Dance is. This is because Dance does absolutely nothing to help you when you’re already losing while Meloku can actually save you in that spot.

My solution to this problem was to just take Meloku, since he is by far the better card overall, and hope that the rest of pack three brought enough good Black to fill out the deck. This was a reasonable assumption, considering the amount of good Black Jason was getting late in the earlier packs.

Jason’s deck turned out to be insane and he still only managed to 2-1.

The real question is whether or not it would have been better to just take Dance and keep the aggressive stance in the deck, since Meloku kinda pushed the deck into a more controlling temperament. I think the pick is extremely close and either side has equal defense. Maybe it would have been better to keep the aggressive deck and not lose the Red cards by taking the Dance?

I look forward to hearing what you guys have to say about it in the forums.

Some New Toys

As usual, I’ve got some new pet cards to talk about. Some of these are rares and I know they won’t come up that often, but it’s still worth knowing their value in my opinion. Especially since most of the ones I talk about are pretty obscure.

Nezumi Bone-Reader

This guy is immediately regarded as trash by most people, since it’s a 1/1 for two with a very mediocre ability. Just recently I found out that he is actually pretty solid, and I assume I would have done so earlier if I actually drafted Black more than once every fifteen drafts. He complements Soulshift, and is absolutely nuts in combination with the Black Zebra.

Basically, he’s an early drop that can get some beats in and constantly threatens your opponent’s hand. He’s also nuts with the Green Zebra, since you can also sac the token it makes, and I don’t even want to know what happens if you sacrifice more than one Zebra to him in the same turn. So here’s a card widely considered to be trash, that’s actually pretty solid.

Kami of Ancient Law

Dear lord does this guy get the shaft by most people.

People are finally starting to realize how important Enchantment kill is in this format because of cards like Mystic Restraints, Cage of Hands, etc., yet this guy is still not getting picked high enough. I’ve actually been maindecking Wear Away quite frequently. [Bleiweiss and I learned this after our first four or five drafts together. Enchantment removal matters again. – Knut] Kami is certainly better than Indomitable Will and many of the other cards I see people taking over him.

Speaking of Indomitable Will, by the way, I don’t know what the big deal is, but some people are still touting this card as a much better thing than it actually is. Blessed Breath is a hundred times better and I have kept Will in the board a number of times because I had better tricks. The effect really isn’t that powerful and no decent player is really going to fall for it. Why not pick something that is near impossible to play around and has much more versatility like Blessed Breath instead?

But anyway, back to the Kami, he’s a staple, and a Spirit, so give the guy some damned respect, will ya?

Moonring Mirror

Here’s a tricksy rare for ya that I doubt many of you have tried.

This card is excellent and is a first to fifth pick for almost all decks. Since nobody knows that though, I’ve routinely been picking it up tenth or later and been happy with it every time. Once it gets rolling, it is almost like a personal Howling Mine with no charge like the usual Jayemdae Tome or other drawing device.

The nice thing about it too is that if you remove your hand from the game with it, you don’t actually lose the cards for good and can get them back on the very next turn. This is a powerful card drawing engine that should be picked relatively highly and is nuts in Green decks with lots of acceleration.


This little number is a great addition to any sideboard that can reasonably bring it in. Arcane decks are the best archetype in the format and this thing allows you to redirect all targets of one Arcane spell. I’m not recommending that you pick it up early or maindeck it, but it’s nice to grab in the mid-late picks and have waiting in the board.

Got a Kodama’s Might with Ray and something else spliced onto it? No problem.

Horizon Seed

This guy is soo undercosted! Five mana for a 2/1 with a completely irrelevant ability?

It doesn’t get much better than this.

Or does it?

So moving along to the more relevant question… Why in the hell was this card even printed?

Sorry I just really had to get that off my chest.

Lava Spike

So how can a card that doesn’t affect the board state at all be any good?

Come on, it’s Spark Elemental in Sorcery form right?

One word, my friends: Arcane. While this isn’t exactly something you hope to have in your deck at the beginning of the draft, this card is actually much more playable than people give it credit for. If you have double Glacial Ray and not that many Arcane spells this card is auto-include. I’ve run as many as three Spikes in conjunction with two Rays, and a number of other burn spells including double Swallowing Plague.

Give it a try sometime you might be surprised.

Kami of Fire’s Roar

Annoying man of the week here, this Spirit is highly aggravating to play against if he’s in an aggressive deck. This is like the poor man’s Teller of Tales in that they both try to achieve the same thing, but Teller is infinitely better at it. That said though, this guy gets the job done just as well, and if you get multiples of them out it’s basically like casting Falter every single turn. You should strain to get one of these if your deck is aggressive and can trigger it often enough.

Horobi, Death’s Wail

Or as we’ve been calling it at CMU, Horobi, Death Weasel.

The “Sharp Weasel” is an interesting rare that requires special attention to be put to maximum efficiency. Trust me, I’ve tried it enough times to know. The first few times I played this guy, he ended up stranded in my hand because my opponent played Kitsune Diviner or some other annoying piece of crap that would not allow the powerful weasel into play. Anyway, he needs to be played in a deck with a lot of removal, preferably B/R, and your deck should include at least one Unearthly Blizzard. This way, even if Diviner is out, you can still cast Horobi and Blizzard on the same turn, nuking your opponent’s team. One of my decks on Tuesday contained double Death Weasel and double Blizzard and boy is it a sick combination.

So this guy is solid, but not a bomb by any means unless combined with Blizzard or something else that targets multiple things like Terashi’s Cry.

“Seven mana, wrath your team” makes me all warm inside reminiscing of Shower of Coals.

Cut the Tethers

Another obscure sideboard card, this card keeps getting better as people realize how good Spirits are and migrate towards decks that contain more of them. I got wrecked by this card last week when my entire side of six Green men was returned to my hand when I tapped out one turn. It’s brutal when used correctly, but don’t start it in the maindeck.

Next week I’ll hopefully have the Snapping Thragg thing done and soon after we can get into a few walkthroughs.


Nick Eisel

[email protected]

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