Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Drafting with Wagz #3 - When it goes a bit wrong

By Wagz

Today we look at what happens when a draft isn't going so well. Here it's because we quite clearly were passing too many cards in our colours and weren't getting cards in other colours to move into. You can probably make up your own morals and apply them to other situations, but it's worth knowing when things aren't working out and what you can do to remedy it, even if it involves taking a gamble.

------ ALA ------
Pack 1 pick 1:
Dreg Reaver, Cylian Elf, Resounding Thunder, Call to Heel, Yoked Plowbeast, Naturalize, Obelisk of Grixis, Resounding Scream, Bloodthorn Taunter, Knight of the Skyward Eye, Drumhunter, Grixis Battlemage, Rockcaster Platoon, Crucible of Fire, Island

I take Resounding Thunder here as it's by far the best card, but I take note of Knight of the Skyward Eye and Drumhunter and consider that Naya might not be the shard to go for, depending on what I can cut.

Pack 1 pick 2:
Knight of the Skyward Eye, Resounding Scream, Naya Panorama, Cancel, Rakeclaw Gargantuan, Bloodthorn Taunter, Druid of the Anima (FOIL), Soul's Grace, Mosstodon, Waveskimmer Aven, Naya Charm, Grixis Battlemage, Invincible Hymn, Plains

I know what I just said, but Naya Charm is much stronger than anything else in the pack. However, I am passing another Knight, Rakeclaw, Mosstodon and Druid. I am in the middle of sending "Naya is open" signals but have nothing good to move into. This is dangerous territory. The best way to combat it is to ignore one colour in the shard completely and hope that the person sticks to that side of things. So I am moving into Red if this continues.

Pack 1 pick 3:
Dregscape Zombie, Cylian Elf, Soul's Fire, Vectis Silencers, Welkin Guide, Bone Splinters, Shadowfeed, Rip-Clan Crasher, Lush Growth, Arcane Sanctum, Blood Cultist, Angel's Herald, Swamp

Arcane Sanctum is the best card here, but it's just a good card, not a signal. I take Soul's Fire as I don't want the guy seeing Red Removal and it's a decent card anyway. Hoping if he is in Naya then he'll take the Welkin Guide (I would).

Pack 1 pick 4:
Court Archers, Viashino Skeleton, Call to Heel, Excommunicate, Viscera Dragger, Soul's Grace, Mosstodon, Waveskimmer Aven, Angelic Benediction, Exuberant Firestoker, Salvage Titan, Swamp

I consider the Viscera Dragger as it is a good card but a part of me doesn't want to abandon Naya Charm so I take Mosstodon. Not sure about this one, but it reinforces my I'm Red-Green signals by cutting the best cards in those colours each time. Don't try to pretend the Court Archers is better than Mosstodon btw, 1/3's do not block the 3/2's that are attacking due to Alara Reborn.

Pack 1 pick 5:
Excommunicate, Viscera Dragger, Druid of the Anima, Thorn-Thrash Viashino, Yoked Plowbeast, Bloodpyre Elemental, Soul's Grace, Kathari Screecher, Naya Battlemage, Rockcaster Platoon, Mountain

Bloodpyre Elemental is a clear sign that Red is open now, but Naya Battlemage is dangerous. We take the Elemental as it is a good removal spell, but we very much believe now that Blue-Black is being taken heavily to our right and the guys to our left are going to read us as passing Green-White. This is not ideal for us as having only 1 defined colour can lead to getting passed rubbish in the 3rd pack. We want to continue taking Red and cut another colour, preferably Green,

Pack 1 pick 6:
Welkin Guide, Bone Splinters, Deft Duelist, Savage Hunger, Hissing Iguanar, Steelclad Serpent, Tortoise Formation, Shadowfeed, Dawnray Archer, Mountain

Iguanar is a fine card which we take. A late Deft Duelist will hopefully persuade the guy on our left to go Bant Colours with his White-Green.

Pack 1 pick 7:
Shore Snapper, Incurable Ogre, Windwright Mage, Cloudheath Drake, Obelisk of Naya, Esper Panorama, Behemoth's Herald, Sacellum Godspeaker, Swamp

I consider the Incurable Ogre but I fancy trying Sacellum Godspeaker. We are likely to splash for random bombs as we are so colour ill-defined and they might have large powers. While we have to find the colour for them, this guy will bring them down earlier. Note the Red-Green and Red-Black basic landcycle creatures in Alara Reborn have 5 or 6 power. Forward planning is a must in drafts because you can tell the context of a card and what to draft around it. You don't have Jam, Meat and Icecream in one dish despite them being all tasty - you draft the cards which work well with one another. Knowing what will be available in the future affects what cards are good to take now.

Pack 1 pick 8:
Shore Snapper, Waveskimmer Aven, Coma Veil, Soul's Grace, Jund Panorama, Obelisk of Bant, Thoughtcutter Agent, Island

Panorama is much-needed Manafixing. We take.

Pack 1 pick 9:
Dreg Reaver, Cylian Elf, Yoked Plowbeast, Obelisk of Grixis, Bloodthorn Taunter, Crucible of Fire, Island

Take the 2-drop Grizzly Bear for curve. If you have to resort to 5 colour big stuff then fitting it around a creature curve will help.

Pack 1 pick 10:
Resounding Scream, Bloodthorn Taunter, Soul's Grace, Waveskimmer Aven, Invincible Hymn, Plains

I can never deal with Waveskimmer Aven so I take it out, even though that's not being friendly with my neighbour. But i'm not sending bad signals anyway.

Pack 1 pick 11:
Cylian Elf, Shadowfeed, Lush Growth, Angel's Herald, Swamp


Pack 1 pick 12:
Viashino Skeleton, Soul's Grace, Angelic Benediction, Swamp


Pack 1 pick 13:
Soul's Grace, Rockcaster Platoon, Mountain

Platoon is a fine movie / sideboard card, but with too much white for us to consider it seriously.

Pack 1 pick 14:
Tortoise Formation, Mountain

I take the playable card, Mountain.

Pack 1 pick 15:

------ CON ------
Pack 2 pick 1:
Esper Cormorants, Parasitic Strix, Aven Trailblazer, Kaleidostone, Ember Weaver, Exploding Borders, Lapse of Certainty, Scattershot Archer, Yoke of the Damned, Nacatl Savage, Fusion Elemental, Hellspark Elemental, Volcanic Fallout, Extractor Demon, Swamp

Interesting pick. Volcanic Fallout is clearly strong, but Extractor Demon is humungous. We take him and consider going more Jund, splashing Naya Charm.

Pack 2 pick 2:
Toxic Iguanar, Faerie Mechanist, Wall of Reverence (FOIL), Gleam of Resistance, Sedraxis Alchemist, Vedalken Outlander, Wandering Goblins, Brackwater Elemental, Suicidal Charge, Maniacal Rage, Paragon of the Amesha, Elder Mastery, Sacellum Archers, Mountain

The best on-colour card here is Sacellum Archers, but that's only good if we're playing a bunch of white mana. But then why wouldn't we play Wall of Reverence? Take the foil rare.

Pack 2 pick 3:
Beacon Behemoth, Zombie Outlander, Matca Rioters, Darklit Gargoyle, Wretched Banquet, Rotting Rats, Asha's Favor, Grixis Illusionist, Gluttonous Slime, Skyward Eye Prophets, Fleshformer, Font of Mythos, Island

Beacon Behemoth is the pick, we need solid creatures to fit the curve, and a couple more bombs.

Pack 2 pick 4:
Canyon Minotaur, Traumatic Visions, Zombie Outlander, Kaleidostone, Salvage Slasher, Brackwater Elemental, Exploding Borders, Maniacal Rage, Controlled Instincts, Skyward Eye Prophets, Scepter of Fugue, Mountain

Canyon Minotaur is not a strong card. It is the correct pick here as it fits a curve nicely. Traumatic Visions is the strongest card here but we cannot afford to change to such strong Blue. Maybe the guys on our right will appreciate it and pass us more Green & Red in pack 3.

Pack 2 pick 5:
Faerie Mechanist, Bone Saw, Gleam of Resistance, Sedraxis Alchemist, Wandering Goblins, Brackwater Elemental, Suicidal Charge, Maniacal Rage, Countersquall, Filigree Fracture, Forest

The best Green or Red card here is Filigree Fracture. There are no other good Red or Green cards in the pack. This is worrying because it probably means the guys to our left were confused about the signals we sent. Filigree Fracture is a fine card in a world of Borderposts and might make main deck or great sideboard card so we take it and hope.

Pack 2 pick 6:
Toxic Iguanar, Bone Saw, Sedraxis Alchemist, Wandering Goblins, Brackwater Elemental, Suicidal Charge, Maniacal Rage, Dreadwing, Scarland Thrinax, Island

Finally, a card to favour Jund - Scarland Thrinax. This guy is the pimp.

Pack 2 pick 7:
Canyon Minotaur, Traumatic Visions, Zombie Outlander, Salvage Slasher, Brackwater Elemental, Maniacal Rage, View from Above, Unstable Frontier, Plains

Canyon Minotaur is curvy. We note the number of Zombie Outlanders going around, 3 so far is it? Another Traumatic Visions there too. Shame the blue was lacklustre in pack 1.

Pack 2 pick 8:
Pestilent Kathari, Asha's Favor, Vectis Agents, Molten Frame, Knotvine Mystic, Voices from the Void, Inkwell Leviathan, Forest

I take Molten Frame for sideboarding. If the deck isn't ace then having a good sideboard will help a lot. Leviathan is good and Pestilent Kathari is fine, but we're not changing colours now, just splashing good cards if we get any more in Reborn (who doesn't get good cards in Reborn??).

Pack 2 pick 9:
Kaleidostone, Lapse of Certainty, Scattershot Archer, Yoke of the Damned, Nacatl Savage, Hellspark Elemental, Swamp

Nacatl Savage might seem like the obvious pick, but it's for more reasons than that. We want to be free to draft the best cards in Reborn and not take 2-drops, so we want our early defence now in order to take big cards later.

Pack 2 pick 10:
Wandering Goblins, Brackwater Elemental, Suicidal Charge, Maniacal Rage, Elder Mastery, Mountain

Suicidal Charge is a fine sideboard card.

Pack 2 pick 11:
Rotting Rats, Asha's Favor, Grixis Illusionist, Fleshformer, Island

Fleshformer could still make the deck.

Pack 2 pick 12:
Maniacal Rage, Controlled Instincts, Skyward Eye Prophets, Mountain

Prophets is the strongest card.

Pack 2 pick 13:
Suicidal Charge, Maniacal Rage, Forest

2 Charges gives us game against weenie hordes.

Pack 2 pick 14:
Suicidal Charge, Island

3 gives us reassurance.

Pack 2 pick 15:

------ ARB ------
Pack 3 pick 1:
Bant Sureblade, Terminate, Leonin Armorguard, Cerodon Yearling, Jhessian Zombies, Grixis Grimblade, Vedalken Ghoul, Sigiled Behemoth, Violent Outburst, Grixis Sojourners, Zealous Persecution, Reborn Hope, Illusory Demon, Nemesis of Reason, Island

Now that's what I'm talking about! If we had a good deck we'd take Terminate. Luckily, we've been setting ourselves up for taking bombs and manafixing in Reborn so we take Nemesis of Reason since it randomly wins games you have no reason to be playing in. It's like Cascading the exact right spells sometimes - gets you games you weren't in.

Pack 3 pick 2:
Bant Sojourners, Zealous Persecution, Vithian Renegades, Nulltread Gargantuan, Knotvine Paladin, Swamp, Mistvein Borderpost, Monstrous Carabid, Talon Trooper, Trace of Abundance, Grizzled Leotau, Stormcaller's Boon (FOIL), Architects of Will, Fieldmist Borderpost

Possibly the wrong pick. I wanted to splash that last guy so I took the Mistvein (Blue Black) Borderpost. Trace of Abundance may have been better as acceleration as well as splashing the colours.

Pack 3 pick 3:
Fieldmist Borderpost, Mistvein Borderpost, Monstrous Carabid, Talon Trooper, Sangrite Backlash, Trace of Abundance, Grizzled Leotau, Valley Rannet, Bant Sojourners, Demonspine Whip, Skyclaw Thrash, Morbid Bloom, Plains

Sangrite Backlash is good removal so we take it. Good removal makes bad decks tick better than they should.

Pack 3 pick 4:
Colossal Might, Jhessian Zombies, Naya Sojourners, Firewild Borderpost, Jund Sojourners, Captured Sunlight, Trace of Abundance (FOIL), Etherium Abomination, Lorescale Coatl, Reborn Hope, Mayael's Aria, Swamp

Tempting as Jund Sojourners is, Firewild Borderpost is the dual land of choice for this deck. Colossal Might is good in a different deck.

Pack 3 pick 5:
Architects of Will, Mistvein Borderpost, Monstrous Carabid, Grizzled Leotau, Valley Rannet, Bant Sojourners, Ardent Plea, Unbender Tine, Dragon Appeasement, Sovereigns of Lost Alara, Mountain

Valley Rannet will help us fix our mana and is good with that Sacellum Godspeaker we talked about earlier. Plans, together, come?

Pack 3 pick 6:
Terminate, Leonin Armorguard, Cerodon Yearling, Vedalken Ghoul, Sigiled Behemoth, Violent Outburst, Grixis Sojourners, Vengeful Rebirth, Nulltread Gargantuan, Swamp

Terminate is #1 removal. However, I am going to take more landcyling guys so Vengeful Rebirth is the pick for me. I love the card a lot. I've talked to Mick and he disagrees with me on this but I didn't give him the full draft as context - what do people think?

Pack 3 pick 7:
Naya Sojourners, Singe-Mind Ogre, Demonic Dread, Offering to Asha, Firewild Borderpost, Giant Ambush Beetle, Reborn Hope, Illusory Demon, Island

I get passed Giant Ambush Beetle every draft and I don't know why. Is it too hard to cast or something? Do I overestimate 4 power of haste and removal spells? I sincerely doubt it. I take it.

Pack 3 pick 8:
Pale Recluse, Singe-Mind Ogre, Brainbite, Grixis Sojourners, Valley Rannet, Shield of the Righteous, Marrow Chomper, Forest

Valley Rannet would be good. We want to splash Naya Charm and possibly Wall of Reverence. We take Pale Recluse.

Pack 3 pick 9:
Jhessian Zombies, Vedalken Ghoul, Sigiled Behemoth, Violent Outburst, Grixis Sojourners, Reborn Hope, Island

Jhessian Zombies might help us to splash our bombs. Not un-worth taking.

Pack 3 pick 10:
Bant Sojourners, Nulltread Gargantuan, Swamp, Monstrous Carabid, Trace of Abundance, Stormcaller's Boon (FOIL)

Got my chance to amend for my earlier mistakes. I take Trace of Abundance.

Pack 3 pick 11:
Monstrous Carabid, Bant Sojourners, Demonspine Whip, Morbid Bloom, Plains

Demonspine Whip is good against slow controlly decks. I've lost to it before.

Pack 3 pick 12:
Naya Sojourners, Jund Sojourners, Reborn Hope, Swamp

Tabling Jund Sojourners? Okay.

Pack 3 pick 13:
Unbender Tine, Dragon Appeasement, Mountain

I seem to get this pick a lot. I had more Unbender Tines before this pick.

Pack 3 pick 14:
Sigiled Behemoth, Swamp

Take the unplayable 5/4 for 6 with a relevant ability...

Pack 3 pick 15:

I won't bore you with a decklist as there aren't tonnes of playables and it hardly seems relevant. Instead, a couple of play moments / quizzes.

What is the play here?
I elected to unearth the Demon and attack for 10. If I had a removal spell then I would have killed the Outlander and kept a guy back to block, so I looked desperate. Jund Sojourners was the only card I could have to win in this situation as far as I could tell, but is that more likely than me having a non-green guy to play, in which case not blocking gives him the win? Hard to tell.

He didn't block and I cheekily cyled my Sojourners for the last point, but I don't think he misplayed.

Game 3 of that match I made turn 4 Extractor Demon off turn 3 Sacellum Godspeaker. It got immediately Crystallizationed but he had no other way of targeting it (I kept milling his Agony Warps and Alchemists, rather rude of me). That game I drew 6 non-land cards: Godspeaker, Demon, Valley Rannet, Soul's Fire, Resounding Thunder (which cycled into) and Vengeful Rebirth (I could get the Thunder back and have RGW untapped). Actually, his turn 3 Puppet Conjuror looked pretty comedic opposite the Demon.

Lost in the final to a good deck. Ah well, think we did the best we could.


  1. I think you drafted this very well, I disagree with a couple of picks (pack 3 pick 4 I would take sojourners, you have enough fixing and can expect to pick something up later if you really wanted it), and I would take the rebirth over terminate. Rebirth is not only easier for you to cast but is also more poweful. If you needed the early defence, maybe terminate, but you don't so rebirth is the pick. For the "what is the play" then I think it's perhaps better to not unearth the demon. You lose either way if he blocks, but this way he is less likely to block and go to 6 as there is nothing (aside from rebirth) that he dies to, at which point you win. By unearthing, there are tonnes of things in the format he dies to if he takes all the damage so he will be more likely to block.

  2. Well, plenty of people unearth in desperation, just to see if they had lethal. I think Jund Sojourners and Exploding Borders are the only cards I can have that win me the game with the way I played it. If I had a non-green creature to play instead then he was right to not block.

    The other cases are where I have burn spells. If I have non-green creature-removal then I would just kill the Outlander anyway and not attack, so I don't have that. I don't think there are any burn spells that hit players but not creatures, or anything like that. Basically, if I could deal with Outlander then I would have tried to do so.

    Another thing to note is that he had WUUB up - representing any Counterspell in the block, what I did was uncounterable. I wish I knew what card he had, but that doesn't make the play right or wrong in itself.

  3. He must have had a counter, otherwise blocking is definately the right thing to do as there are actually a ton of things that could finish him off on 1 life such as resounding thunder or souls fire, or any pump spell (as its unlikely he had bounce and decided not to use it) or even hissing iguanar or gluttenous ooze (since you have the thrinax).
    Also, is Nemesis of Reason really the best pick over terminate in the 3rd pack?

  4. Nemesis of Reason wins drafts for no reason. He is the nemesis of said reason. I have plenty of time to support him and I don't think Terminate shores up enough holes in the deck to take over a way of winning. Nemesis also combos with Demon in a very small way (big bomb that mills). I like Terminate, but I didn't need it.