Hey hey hey!
It's time for another M12 draft report. We draft each week in Oxford on Thursday. Usually around 12 people show up but this week we were in for a surprise. Perhaps it was the excitement of a new core set to draft - 20 people showed up to play!
Our TO decided to run two 10 man pods. Thankfully we had most of our usual area of the pub to ourselves so there was space to set up two large tables. To my right was a new face - an Austrian who is in Oxford just for a short while and had found out where the local magic scene was. I'd chatted to him a bit before the draft, but I didn't know how experienced he was at drafting. To my left was Sera, a casual player who doesn't usually draft, but comes to most of the prereleases. I knew she has a preference for aggresive decks.
My opening pick was the solid icy-manipulator-on-a-stick Gideon's Lawkeeper, passing the interesting Adaptive Automaton. Artifacts are appealing as a first pick as they are colourless, but Gideon's Lawkeeper is clearly the stronger card. The second pick was Pacifism over Assault Griffin and Dungrove Elder. For my third pick I got more confirmation that I am correct to be in white - a foil Honor of the Pure. I was now on a mission to draft an aggressive white deck.
I picked up a Banalish Veteran and a Guardian's Pledge, but I couldn't figure out what my second colour was supposed to be (appart from realising it was not red - this was definitely being drafted to my right). I got a late Merfolk Looter and an Unsummon, then the blue disappeared entirely. There were some decent black cards in the last few picks, including an incredibly late Onyx Mage which I passed in preference for Stave Off as it was something I'd definitely be playing.
I entered pack 2 with an open mind to my second colour - I was hopeful that I'd sent some good signals downstream and that I'd get some good white cards. I opened a Serra Angel (sadly having to wave goodbye to a Stormfront Pegasus) and pick 2 was another Lawkeeper. I was then passed a pack with a tempting Incinerate, but I was wary of going red as I wouldn't be getting any pack 3, so instead I took an interesting white card that I wanted to try out - Timely Reinforcements. The Limited Resources podcast had decided that Timely Reinforcements was not good as it only helps you when you are behind, but I wasn't convinced by their arguments and wanted to try it out in practice. Pick 4 was a non-exciting but perfectly servicable Peregrine Griffin.
Unfortunately this is where the draft appeared to go have gone wrong. After pick 4 I saw no white cards passed to me for about 6 picks. I couldn't figure out what had happened - did we open no white cards? Had someone to my left opened an awesome card in white and moved into it? I ended up taking some black cards, but I was not happy - in core sets I don't like pairing white with black unless one of the colours is a splash, as they both tend to be very coloured-mana hungry. Devouring Swarm, Duskhunter Bat, Consume Spirit and a couple of Wring Flesh were not exactly good splash cards. Later in the picks I found a Stonehorn Dignitary, which I wasn't sure of the playability of, and a Siege Mastadon. Hmmmm...... I wasn't feeling very confident that I'd get enough playables out of pack 3, and the plan of drafting cheap white creatures hadn't panned out at all.
My 3rd pack was less than helpful. The rare was a RG dual land, the only white card in the pack was Lifelink, and there wasn't a good black card there either. Frown town. The two best cards in the pack were Fireball and Overrun. Obviously Fireball is splashable and Overrun is not, so I passed the green bomb to my left to a shriek of delight from Sera. But then it was time for my shriek of delight (although it was inside my head rather than out loud) - hiding behind a perfectly acceptable Assault Griffin I saw a Frost Titan staring back at me. I decided that my second colour was now blue! After the Frost Titan a constant stream of good white creatures came to my draft pile, along with a Jace's Archivist.
This is the deck I put together -
3 x Gideon's Lawkeeper
1 x Stave Off
1 x Unsummon
1 x Honor of the Pure
1 x Pacifism
1 x Stormfront Pegasus
1 x Merfolk Looter
1 x Banalish Veteran
2 x Griffin Sentinel
1 x Guardian's Pledge
1 x Roc Egg
1 x Timely Reinforcements
1 x Jace's Archivist
1 x Arbalest Elite
1 x Stonehorn Dignitary
1 x Peregrine Griffin
1 x Serra Angel
1 x Siege Mastadon
1 x Frost Titan
1 x Fireball
8 x Plains
7 x Island
2 x Mountain
Sideboard Cards of note:
2 x Auramancer
1 x Griffin Rider
1 x Pride Guardian
1 x Alluring Siren
My deck looked slightly at odds with itself in some respects, as I had some very controlling cards in there (plan A: Survive until we can cast our Titan) and also some very aggressive cards. I wouldn't usually run a Guardian's Pledge in a controlling deck, but given I had 13 white creatures it seemed like it would range from a decent combat trick to a mini-overrun. I decided against running the Auramancers main as Pacifism ending up in the graveyard isn't the most likely of occurances, and Griffin Rider was destined for the sideboard as I only had 3 griffin creatures.
Some of the cards I wasn't 100% sure about by just looking at them (Stonehorn Dignitary, Timely Reinforcements, and Jace's Archivist). If nothing else I was going to learn a lot about these by giving them a go.
Onto the games!
The first round I am paired to Sera who I was feeding for the whole draft, so I knew she would be in green - mono green as it turned out. She certainly didn't keep it a secret, telling me all about the second Elvish Archdruid she'd been passed from the other direction to go with the one I'd passed to her, and how she'd been proritising hexproof creatures. She won the roll and took the play, this could be rough...
Game 1 - What I did was completely irrelevant as she went Runeclaw Bear, bloodthirsted Lurking Crocodile, 2nd Runeclaw Bear, Sacred Wolf, Overrun..... I am feeling very sad that I didn't pick up a random Negate or Cancel for sideboarding purposes. My thoughts when sideboarding were that I need men on the table asap to trade with hers and I can't afford to stumble with my mana. So I sided in Pride Guardian as it is good vs bears, taking out my Guardian's Pledge. I also wanted to swap an island for a plains so I swapped in an Auramancer for Jace's Archivist as it would be easier to cast.
Game 2 - I am again under pressure early as I decline to chump block a Runeclaw Bear with my Merfolk Looter, and down comes the island-walking crocodile all bloodthirsted up again. However this time I keep the crocodile under control with a Lawkeeper. Things start to get interesting when she makes her Dungrove Elder with 5 forests, and I loot up Frost Titan. She doesn't find the 6th forest, but does make a Sacred Wolf. I attack into them with Frosty - I have Stave Off in hand so if she double blocks it will be a blow out. She doesn't block and I make a Roc Egg and Pride Guardian. The Elder smashes the Egg, and the bird token is proptly eaten by a Stingerfling Spider. The game continues, I find some more fliers and won the game in the air.
Game 3 - I mulligan to a hand that doesn't have a 2-drop, but it has the lands the previous hand was lacking and also a great catch-up card in Timely Reinforcements. They were very timely indeed as her start was Gladecover Scout turn 1, then another Scout and a Llanowar Elves turn 2. My soldiers happily traded for the elves, thank goodness one of the two Archdruids weren't around! The rest of the game played out very similarly to game 2, both Frost Titan and Dungrove Elder showed up, and again I won: 2-1.
Hexproof creatures were a bit of an achilies heal for my deck, and I was relieved only one game had been decided by Overrun.
My Nemesis!!!! Rob and I have a friendly rivalry at the Oxford club, we seem to take it in turns at beating each other. This was going to be a UW mirror match, he was opposite to me in the big 10 man drafting circle and had gotten all the Assault Griffins I'd been forced to pass for better cards. Rob wins the dice roll and chooses to play. Boooooooo.
Game 1 - I keep a slightly risky hand as there is an Island and a Mountain but no Plains, but there is a perfect curve there and I'm on the draw so I risk it. Like a champ my first draw is the hoped-for Plains. He beats me down in the air early, but I find some Lawkeepers, Griffins and Serra Angel and take over the game.
Game 2 - This game demonstrated how Timely Reinforcements is pretty awesome on the draw, when I have a Merfolk Looter to his Azure Mage and Alabaster Mage, then suddenly I have a whole army. The tokens stop Azure Mage and Alabaster Mage from being able to attack. Jace's Archivist also made an appearance in this game and was probably my MVP. Rob couldn't really use his Azure Mage very effectively because if he spent 4 mana to draw a card at convenient times like my end step, then I would just draw a card as well but for only a single blue mana. I win 2-0 (must have been my turn to win this week).
My opponent Anthony's reconnaisance had completly put him on tilt as he'd already decided it was a forgone conclusion he could not beat my deck with his UR deck. It's true that his illusion creatures were going to probably die at the hands of my triple lawkeepers, but I told him to stop sulking, it is not a winning attitude. But I could tell his heart was not in it at all.
I Titaned him to death in the first game, he sided out his illusions. In game 2 he mulliganned but had Merfolk Looter to undo some of the damage. After he mana leaked my Fireball, I drew my Titan again. I feel fortunate to have drawn Frost Titan a bit more than was likely and I win 2-0.
My 9 points got me 3 prize pack, and I played pack wars with Rob where he got his revenge. There was another pack wars with my boyfriend Geoffrey when I got home. One of those packs contained new Jace, who is definitely not good in pack wars! (I think I will have to give him a try at some point when I'm testing constructed to see what he's like in UW control).
I did get in a few friendly games during the evening between rounds, so I got some play time with some of the cards I was unsure about. Here are some thoughts on those:
Timely Reinforcements - This card was very good for me almost every time I had it, and when it was not useful having it in my hand didn't really feel like a bad thing - it was like an emergency back-up plan. I think it was especially good with Gideon's Lawkeeper, because if their threat is getting tapped they'll have to make a 2nd threat, and it had added strength in my particular deck because of the two white creature pump cards I had. It may not be as awesome if you have a deck that does not have these things. However I think even an aggressive white deck may want to run it, because a lot of the decks in M12 will also be aggressive, so on the draw it is quite likely for you to have one creature and for your opponent to have 2.
Stonehorn Dignitary - This guy turned out to be pretty useful. He's hardly amazing, but he allowed me to spend my mana on getting another warm body onto the table rather than on activating my Lawkeepers, without any worry that I would be smacked in the face by something suddenly wearing an equipment or enchantment, or by a certain uncommon hasty dragon. The Dignitary's 4 toughness was pretty nice, and he was fine at sitting around until an alpha strike.
Jace's Archivist - Worst case scenario: you have a 2/2 beater because there is awesome stuff in your hand you can't cast yet. Best case scenario: you dump your hand out first and get to draw a bunch of cards and annoy your opponent. He was pretty interesting to play with, and when you've both run out of cards he can be used at the end of your opponents draw step to draw a card for yourself for 1 blue. He practically shuts down Azure mage and overall I thought he was pretty damn good.
Fireball - I wonder if I've been overrating this card and if splashing red for it was too greedy.
Format Speed - As anticipated the format is pretty fast, the only draw I saw happen was a game where one of the players was very inexperienced and played slowly.
That's it from me this time, I would be very interested to read in the comments about other people's experiences with the cards I went through at the end.