It's been weeks since my last post. Unfortunately this is because I've been ill since the start of the month with the flu then bronchitis.
So I don't have any live drafts to bring you, I've barely left the house at all. However, I've been able to draft a few times on magic online, so I thought I would bring you some of the more fun and interesting drafts I've done in my more lucid evenings.
M12 Draft Deck - Stop Fearing Green
I'd been avoiding drafting green as I was convinced it was the weakest colour, but I was often losing to it in drafts due to my love of Islands and things that fly, and green having so many Spiders and Lurking Crocodiles. In this draft I managed to put my fear of playing with green behind me. I started out with red cards, first picking Chandra's Outrage and a Gorehorn Minotaurs, and then I was passed the shiny Garruk's Horde. He seemed like something worth ramping into, and a signal that my neighbours are probably not interested in green, so for a change I decided to embrace my green side.
I took the Oblivion Ring quite early in the 2nd pack, knowing I could splash it fairly trivially, and got the Pentavus as a late pick. I did struggle to get enough 2 drops, and in fact in pack 3 I had to pass up Cudgel Troll as my 5th pick in favour of the 2nd Rampant Growth to help the deck as a whole.
I think I misbuilt the deck slightly and ended up playing too many lands. Because I had three 5 drops, a 6 drop and two 7 drops I was scared to go below 17 land, but I also had the 2 Rampant Growths and Manalith - half of my deck being mana sources was probably overkill. I did mana flood several times, but of course one of the games I lost was because of mana screw ;-). The relevant sideboard cards for this deck were Plummet, a 2nd Crown of Empires, a 2nd Brindle Boar, Slaughter Cry and Autumn's Veil.
I ended up going 2-1 with this deck, and it was fun to play and I didn't have the hopeless feeling I'd had last time I drafted green. The game with Pentavus was very entertaining (mostly because my opponent didn't seem to realise that he should stop trying to attack me while it was in play). I didn't get to play with the Garruk's Horde as in the only game where I cast it my opponent conceeded on the spot. I won a couple of games with the Sacred Wolf + Troll Hide combo. Mostly I learnt that green decks can be fun, just make sure the other colour(s) in your deck give you spells that let you interact with the opponent's permanents.
M12 Draft Deck - Mostly Black Control
This draft was pretty awesome, and had a very difficult 3rd pick decision. I opened Cemetary Reaper, and then was passed Rune-Scarred Demon for my 2nd pick. Sweet! The 3rd pick offered the dilema of Gravedigger, who is very good, and Oblivion Ring, which can deal with anything that isn't hexproof, including Planeswalkers. It is exactly the kind of card I want in a deck with a tutoring Demon, but there is definitely an arguement to trying to stay mono black and stop sending signals that black is open (I'd already had to pass Sorin's Thirst and Vampire Outcasts). And it's a Zombie, so goes nicely with my Cemetary Reaper. But I can't resist really good removal, so ended up taking the Oblivion Ring - what would you have done? Let me know in the comments.
For the rest of pack 1 I took artifacts and black cards. In pack 2 I opened Solemn Simulacrum, Consume Spirit, Serra Angel and Gideon's Lawkeeper. Here I had to make a decision as to how I wanted my deck to look - I already had 1 Drifting Shade and was fully aware how good almost mono black can be. After much deliberation I settled on the Solemn Simulacrum, as it would help me with keeping white a splash, and is the card advantage type creature a more controlling deck loves to have. The pack I'd opened as a whole was really deep, with Chandra's Outrage, Gorehorn Minotaurs and Aether Adept, and so the Consume Spirit tabled much to my delight. White was flowing to me in this direction, I picked up the 2 Pacifisms, Celestial Purge and then in the dregs I got Devouring Swarm, Zombie Goliath and a Buried Ruin which I suspected would end up in the deck.
Pack 3 rounded the deck out nicely, with 1st pick Doom Blade, 2nd pick Consume Spirit number 2, another Devouring Swarm, another Drifting Shade, a Deathmark and the crucial Sorin's Thirst (I ended up tutoring for it with my Demon more than once to kill something, give me a life buffer and let me play a 2nd spell in the turn).
This deck also went 2-1. The 1st round was against a UG deck, and I struggled a little against multiple Acidic Slimes, it being the deciding factor in game 2 that returned Jade Mage from under Oblivion Ring and I died to exactly lethal damage from saproling tokens after casting my Demon. I managed to win game 3 though despite the multiple bouncing of poor old Rusted Sentinel. The 2nd round in which I lost was against a BR deck well suited for attrition with multiple Gravediggers. He also had a Cemetary Reaper, and found it in game 1 and 3. The 3rd round was against another BR deck, with some more aggressive creatures, but my life gaining removal let me stabilise then take over the games.
My Cemetary Reaper didn't come out to play in any games, but I drew my Rune-Scarred Demon quite a lot. The Drifting Shades also had a habit of dying the moment I cast them. Buried Ruin was very useful in this deck as I had 3 artifact creatures to resurrect, and I got to live the dream and return the Solemn Simulacrum once. All in all it was a pretty fun draft, only slightly spoiled by my opponent in the 3rd round deciding to disconnect when I had the win on the table in the last game, making us all sit around pointlessly for 10 minutes.
M12 Draft Deck - Awesome Dudes
This deck was so much fun, so I decided I will do a full report on it (apologies that this makes the article quite long!). The draft itself was actually very interesting, and started with a first pick Aegis Angel. Yeah.... so how did I end up Red Black? My 2nd pick was a Stormfront Pegasus, and then in the 3rd pick there were no good white cards available. I begrudgingly took Gorehorn Minotaurs - I was worried because I'd already passed Incinerate followed by Blood Ogre, and this pack I was about to pass along also contained a Volcanic Dragon. I was setting myself up for a fight in the 2nd pack if I went red, but it seemed to be open to me from the right. The 4th pick had a tempting Cudgel Troll, but I took a Griffin Rider in the hopes that white may be open. I then get passed a 5th pick Incinerate and decide red is worth the fight with my neighbour (I also passed reasonable blue early, so they may not be my immediate neighbour). I get a Goblin Arsonist, Bonebreaker Giant, Manic Vandal, Crimson Mage and a late Goblin Fireslinger.
My pack 2, pick 1 seemed to be decidedly unhelpful. The commons are all unexciting, with only a lonely Goblin Fireslinger being on colour. Two of the uncommons are very good, but not red or white - Acidic Slime and Azure Mage. My rare is Royal Assassin, so I decide to hate draft it. The next pack contains Overrun, Goblin Arsonist and Wring Flesh. I sigh at the Overrun, and look at the Wring Flesh for a minute - I begin think to myself about how the white cards had seemed to dry up quickly in pack 1, and maybe it was being overdrafted? I consider abandoning white for black at this point, but I'm hesitant, and take the Goblin Arsonist. The next pack has no white cards and 3 decent black cards, so the colour switch begins - I take Gravedigger over Devouring Swarm and Mind Rot, hoping one of them will come back. Seeds of doubt are planted as I'm next passed an Assault Griffin, but I take Blood Ogre over it as I already have lots of bloodthirst enablers. Through the rest of pack 2 I collect a Lava Axe, Zombie Goliath, Devouring Swarm, Goblin Tunneler and his friend Fiery Hellhound.
Pack 3 sent my deck over the edge into awesomeness, and rewarded me for paying attention to the signals. I didn't open anything special myself - the rare was a dual land, there are no good uncommons, so I take a Gravedigger from the commons, hoping to wheel Goblin Fireslinger, Bloodrage Vampire or Devouring Swarm. I proceed to be passed Bloodlord of Vaasgoth, followed by Flameblast Dragon! (I had to pass a Sengir Vampire for it - for some reason I only ever see this guy alongside something even bigger and badder). Wow! The fun continued as I take Call to the Grave, which seems great with my high creature count, 2 Gravediggers and 2 Goblin Arsonists. I then take Trollhide and Plummet out of some packs with no goodies for me, then get Call to the Grave's best friend - Reassembling Skeleton. I take a Mind Rot over Drifting Shade and Fiery Hellhound as I'm slightly worried about my lack of removal spells (kind of forgetting several of my creatures have removal attached). I get the Fireslinger on the wheel that I'd hoped for, a second Fiery Hellhound, a Blood Seeker and a Slaughter Cry.
Building the deck was fairly straightforward. The only big decision was between Slaughter Cry and Lava Axe. I normally don't like Slaughter Cry that much but I was lacking in tricks and I had 19 creatures for it to be used with, so I put it in the main deck over the Lava Axe as my late game looked quite solid anyway. Other notable sideboard cards were a 2nd Slaughter Cry and Manic Vandal.
Round 1 - Vs. Black splashing Blue
Game 1 - I win the roll, choose to play and by turn 2 I have 3 creatures in play - 1 Goblin Fireslinger and 2 Goblin Arsonists. His Child of Night was not very effective, when he attacked me with it I traded it for an Arsonist. I get some early damage in, make Blood Seeker and then Fiery Hellhound. He trades his Devouring Swarm with Hellhound, and I make Royal Assassin. Strangely he uses Wring Flesh to kill the remaining Goblin Arsonist. His lands so far are all Swamps, so I expect some Drifting Shades and Consume Spirits to make an appearance eventually. Royal Assassin goes on the beatdown with the Blood Seeker while my Goblin pings away at him. I make a Blood Ogre, and unsurprisingly it's spirit is consumed. I make a 2nd Goblin Fireslinger then my following draws are all lands. He begins to recover with Warpath Ghoul and 2 Child of Nights, but they can't attack because of the Royal Assassin, and between Blood Seeker triggers and Goblin pings he dies.
Game 2 - I'm wary of combat tricks against black decks (at this point I don't know he has blue spells too as he didn't make any Islands in game 1), so I sideboard my Slaughter Cry for Lava Axe. He chooses to play. I make a turn 1 Goblin Arsonist, which he Wring Fleshes in my end step. This makes sense when his next 2 plays are Child of Nights. My Reassembling Skeleton holds them off however. On my turn 3 I Mind Rot away 2 lands from his hand, leaving him with 1 card. This turns out to be another Wring Flesh - he kills my Skeleton in my end step and bashes in with the Children. I don't draw a 4th land, but do draw an Incinerate. I leave my mana open, ready to return my skeleton or use the Incinerate if I have to. He bashes me for another 4, then makes Drifting Shade - I decide to dispatch it with the Incinerate as it may get very awkward to do so later (which was a silly mistake - I should have reasemled the skeleton so that he could be a blocker and then used Incinerate on my turn). I draw my 4th land, so the decision is to either make a Gravedigger or just return the Skeleton - I decide I can take the hit down to 8 while he goes to 31, and I return my Skeleton in his end step.
I draw a 5th land and for some reason don't notice the Goblin Arsonist in my graveyard which would have been a good thing to Gravedigger up and play, and instead make a Zombie Goliath. Thankfully he doesn't draw anything to deal with the Zombie, so I attack with it and make Devouring Swarm (again the Gravedigger would've been a better play! So many mistakes, I could easily have lost this game but my deck looked after me and his just gave him lands...). I draw my Flameblast Dragon, but with only 5 lands I attack with my Swarm and Zombie Goliath, and finally make the Gravedigger and get back the Arsonist and cast it. He again doesn't do anything except make a land drop. I sacrifice the Arsonist to my Swarm, killing one of his Child of Night, and attack with everything. He trades his other Child with my Gravedigger, so I play my 2nd Gravedigger returning the 1st Gravedigger. My Zombie Goliath is Consume Spirited, and he makes a Phantasmal Bear. I draw my 6th land and attack with the Swarm and Gravedigger. He doesn't block the Gravedigger because I will just get it back again with the Gravedigger he knows is in my hand. I make my land and play Flameblast Dragon - I probably would've held onto it if I didn't have Devouring Swarm, but as I did I was protected from Mind Control. He unluckily draws and plays another land - I attack back, killing the bear with the Dragon's ability before it can block, put him to 5 then finish him with Lava Axe.
Round 2 - Vs. UW
Round 1 was over pretty quickly, and we were the first to finish. As each other pair finished, I had a quick look at their replays to spy on what my potential opponents were playing. So, I knew that I was playing against a UW deck this round.
Game 1 - I get some early damage in, with both Goblin Fireslingers in play. He plays a Pride Guardian then a Timely Reinforcements to buy time, I make Royal Assassin. He plays a Siege Mastadon and then Serra Angel, which could be a problem - but I draw my 5th land for Bloodlord of Vaasgoth (easily a 6/6 with Goblin Fireslinger support). He makes Stonehorn Dignitary and then a strange suicide attack, I wonder if he has Guardian's Pledge, but I call his bluff, block and kill almost all of his creatures and continue to ping him. He soon dies to a couple of Bloodlord attacks plus pings.
Game 2 - I don't change my deck during sideboarding. I'm on the play and I have to mulligan down to 5 cards due to a lack of land in the previous hands. My hand is 2 swamps, a Gravedigger, Blood Ogre and Arsonist. He starts out very quickly with a turn 1 Phantasmal Bear, but has nothing for turns 2 or 3. I draw more swamps, and make a Devouring Swarm. He tries to Ice Cage it, so I sacrifice it to itself so that I'll be able to get it back with the Gravedigger. I draw a 4th swamp, so proceed with the plan, then trade the Gravedigger with the Bear when he attacks. He makes a Phantasmal Dragon, so I pray that I draw a Mountain which will enable me to make my Devouring Swarm, Goblin Arsonist, and sacrifice it to kill the Phantasmal Dragon. He adds an Assault Griffin to his board, and I fail to draw the Mountain in time.
Game 3 - For this game I decide to sideboard in a second Slaughter Cry as they are makeshift removal spells against my opponent's illusions. I choose to play, and keep a pretty sweet hand with my Reassembling Skeleton + Call to the Grave combo, Goblin Tunneler, Gorehorn Minotaurs, 2 Swamps and a Mountain. His turn 1 play of Elite Vanguard is stopped in it's tracks by the Skeleton. My Tunneler allows me to send the Skeleton past his Vanguard and Banalish Veteran, and make a bloodthirsted Minotaur which holds his creatures off. He plays Divination, and chump blocks my Minotaur with his Elite Vanguard. I play Call to the Grave so he has to sacrifice his Veteran in his upkeep. He made a valiant effort to stay alive, with Stonehorn Dignitary, Aether Adept, two Pacifisms, but I could just sacrifice and rebuy the skeleton, or sacrifice something Pacified and get it back with Gravediggers, and he didn't find a way to get back into the game.
Round 3 - Vs BG with Grave Titan
Due to my spying on replays again, I knew my opponent had a Grave Titan I needed to watch out for.
Game 1 - I win the dice roll and go first. I make a turn 1 Goblin Arsonist and he replies with a Llanowar Elves. I attack on turn 2, and am a little surprised when he blocks with the elf. I make a Goblin Fireslinger. Things make sense when he makes a turn 2 Jade Mage. I make a Fiery Hellhound, and he passes the turn with the 3 mana ready to make a Saproling. I draw the Jade Mage's natural enemy, Blood Seeker. I attack with my Fiery Hellhound as I suspect he doesn't want to trade his Jade Mage for it, and he also doesn't make a Saproling to chump block with. I pump the unblocked Hellhound up to 4 power and then make the Blood Seeker, he makes a token while it's on the stack. He makes a land and passes back. I've got him down to 12 already and don't fancy trading my Hellhound with 2 tokens, so I just make Devouring Swarm and pass the turn. He makes a Cudgel Troll, so attacking on the ground will now be very difficult. I draw a Gravedigger, play it returning the Arsonist, make my Arsonist and sacrifice it to the Devouring Swarm and kill the Jade Mage (I don't want to die to any Overrun shenanigans, so I can't let him keep his Jade Mage), and I attack with the pumped up flier. He's down to 7 and makes a strange suicide attack with both tokens and the Troll - I let the Troll through and eat his Saprolings with Gravedigger and Hellhound. He then makes his Grave Titan, losing 3 life to my Bloodseeker in the process and then he conceeds as he is dead to my Fireslinger and Devouring Swarm.
Game 2 - Once again, due to my opponent's black mana and and likelihood to have instant speed removal, I sideboard the Slaughter Cry out to bring in Lava Axe. He chooses to play first. My opening hand is mostly red creatures and 2 swamps, but it also has one of my best black creatures, Royal Assassin, along with the one removal spell I have that handily deals with Trolls - Incinerate. I will definitely be in the game if I draw a Mountain in 4 draw steps, so I keep it.
He makes a turn 2 Blood Seeker, and I get my Mountain right on time for turn 3, and make Blood Ogre. He misses his 3rd land drop and passes the turn back, I reply with an attack, and I've drawn a 2nd Mountain so I play a Hellhound. He finds a Forest and spends 2 turns playing Rampant Growths, while I attack him and make the Crimson Mage. On my next attack he blocks the Hellhound with Blood Seeker and Titanic Growths it as I only have 2 Mountains so can't trade with it. Unable to resist a 2 for 1, I Incinerate the Blood Seeker in response to the Titanic Growth. I make a Goblin Arsonist post combat. On his turn he makes a Sacred Wolf and a Duskhunter Bat. I draw a Gravedigger, so I send in my whole team. He trades the Wolf for the Hound, and the Bat for the Crimson Mage. I Gravedigger back the Crimson Mage as he has nothing on the board and I have my other Hellhound in my hand anyway.
He makes a Cudgel Troll and Jade Mage, tapping out. I draw my Reassembling Skeleton, which will go nicely with the Call to the Grave in my hand if the game goes that long. I attack with the Goblin Arsonist, he can't block it because then I can kill the Jade Mage. I play out the Crimson Mage and Skeleton. He makes a Manalith and a Saproling token, and I draw another 5 drop - my Bloodlord of Vaasgoth. I attack with my Arsonist, who once more gets through, dropping him to 7. Post combat I make the Royal Assassin, give it haste with the Crimson Mage and then assassinate my own Arsonist, killing off the Jade Mage. On his turn he casts Distress, and takes away the Bloodlord, leaving me with Call to Grave and Lava Axe - I think my opponent made a mistake there, as if I draw a 5th land the Lava Axe will guarantee that he dies next turn, which is exactly what happens.
This was one of the most synergistic decks I've drafted in a while, I go 3-0 with it and win the draft! I love it when my decks have pieces that go together well rather than being just a pile of cards, which is often I think why I get frustrated by core set drafts compared to block drafts. This was one of the fun exceptions.
Hopefully I'll be back to full health before the Innistrad prerelease, and my report of it will not be a horror story.... Until then, happy drafting!