We’re a few days away from the end of another Magic Arena season, in the dog days of summer, and I can’t fathom doing even one more Streets of New Capenna (SNC) draft. The best way I could describe the experience was like having my wisdom teeth removed: I’m glad I underwent the process and my life is demonstrably better for having done so, but you couldn’t pay me to do it again.
Instead, I wanted to toss a throwback column your way: how to game the Quick Draft bots, Innistrad: Midnight Hunt (MID) edition. My previous look at the wayward AI focused around blue, but I wanted to give you a better idea of how to dominate your matches by mostly forcing Dimir. According to 17Lands, the color pair represents 43.15% of all trophies since the event started, and users are winning a scintillating 63.5% of their games. I would be tempted to say that’s the highest I’ve ever seen on the site.
We’ll kick things off with a quick look at my current pick order. Then I’ll give some specific thoughts on how to take advantage of the computer pick orders to guarantee you wheel great cards.
The Best Cards and Organ Hoarder
No huge surprises here, but I’ll note that Lier, Disciple of the Drowned is particularly effective with this current iteration of Quick Draft because of the number of spells that are currently wheeling. It’s not hard to pick up quite a few Geistwaves once you have a Lier in tow and protect it until your opponent ropes you out of frustration.
I’m not sure what beats Morbid Opportunist on rate right now. It dominates any game in which it’s not removed. Organ Hoarder remains ridiculous, but I can’t tell you how often I see it Pick 5 in Pack 1 and wonder who programs these machines and if they’ve ever tried to unplug them and plug them back in.
The Top Commons and Okay Rares
I’m in the camp that Ecstatic Awakener is the best common in this deck, but don’t tell the Hoarder Fan Club. The 4/4 body is punishing when you play so many tricks and counterspells. Turning a 2/2 Zombie with decayed into a card is what gets you so far ahead here. Champion of the Perished wasn’t a standout for me in Premier Draft, but it shines with the sheer volume of free Zombies you’ll get onto the battlefield. Delver of Secrets is a whole sub-strategy I’ll get into later. The bots love Overwhelmed Archivist, so I tend to reach if I see one in a pack, as this deck loves to loot. Nebelgast Intruder might be a bit high considering we get free Startles all draft long, but you don’t mind having evasion, either.
Mostly Removal and Mediocre Rares
The exile part of Eaten Alive turns out to be big game in the mirror when they’re running Crawl from the Cellar, Azorius disturb, or something you’re just tired of seeing on the battlefield. Olivia’s Midnight Ambush is your best instant-speed option in this tier and shouldn’t be underestimated. You can have some draw-go turns early on, and being able to deal with a Werewolf can be the difference between winning and losing. Mask of Griselbrand is a weird one; I’m partial to turning my decayed bois into cards, but it’s not a windmill slam.
Novice Occultist and Morkrut Behemoth tend to be the commons that suck people in but don’t have a place in the deck. You’re not hurting for things to sacrifice or finishers, so you can ignore these for the most part. Corpse Cobble, Ghoulish Procession, and Heirloom Mirror are your uncommon traps and should be rare inclusions.
Cards I Would Take Pack 1, Pick 1 Instead of Forcing Dimir
These are the only eight cards in the set that make it worth getting out of the Dimir lane, and even a card like Brutal Cathar I’d be more inclined to splash than make a run at Azorius. It’s tough, because you may see a card like Angelfire Ignition and then nothing in Dimir beyond a Falcon Abomination. Clearly, Ignition is a better card, but I know I’ll be rewarded so heavily for being in Dimir (and definitely not in Boros) that it makes it an easy call.
Value Town: Cards You’ll See for Free
Outside of Siege Zombie, these cards should wheel if you see them in your first three picks. Siege randomly comes back depending on what the bots are up to, which is a nice bonus. If there is a seat drafting Dimir, it’s usually busy gobbling up Morkrut Behemoths. Flip the Switch is nearly undraftable by the bots, so I never take one before Pick 7. People are doing a solid job of playing around Startle lately, but it’s still a cantrip and gets you a body for your effort, so I’m not cutting them.
The bots aren’t really sure what to do with Delver of Secrets, leading to a lot of them wheeling lately. Usually, it shines in Izzet spells builds, but we wind up playing a bunch of spells and being decent at manipulating the top card of our library with Larder Zombie. I’ve been having a ton of luck with it, a lot of counterspells in the form of Flip the Switch, and generally playing at instant speed. This deck is great at finding things to do with extra mana at the end of an opponent’s turn, whether it’s flipping an Ecstatic Awakener or dumping out a Stormrider Spirit. This is also a version of the deck that loves the random blue day/night card, such as Firmament Sage.
Keep Your Removal in Check
We’re stacked with spot removal here, but I watch people go way too deep on it in the draft and run low on threats. Decayed Zombies can only do so much on their own, and when opposing threats either get value on entering the battlefield (Organ Hoarder) or come back via disturb (Covetous Castaway), having too much one-for-one removal can backfire on you. Eaten Alive tends to go later in these packs compared to Defenestrate, which every black deck wants, and Olivia’s Midnight Hunt. Foul Play is excellent in the mirror in terms of picking off annoying threats like Bladestitched Skaab or Skaab Wrangler while netting us a Clue.
Don’t Be Afraid to Run Sixteen Lands
This deck can run out of gas with very few mana sinks, and the hand smoother certainly incentivizes us to run light on lands. You should end up with a couple of cantrips in your 40 that can dig you to an Island or Swamp if you’re hurting, but the other way around leads to easy L’s.
Your Speed Run Starts Now
There’s still ample opportunity to make Top 250 and earn your shot at the Qualifier Weekend, which will be Sealed Deck. Try not to get too excited; it’s Alchemy: Baldur’s Gate, which apparently will be an entire thing we’ll need to learn. Beats drafting SNC, though, right?