Thursday, 11 November 2010

Drafting with Wagz #8 - Beating Poison

By Wagz

Hi all, apparently I haven't done one of these in a while. Zendikar and Worldwake were truly awful draft formats but I'm not sure why I didn't bother with Rise. Probably because I was having too much fun drafting to spend time writing about it. Zendikar and Worldwake regularly beat be out of tickets and boosters on Magic Online because each time you have exactly a 1/8 chance of winning the draft and those odds are hard to beat. I bought enough tix to do a Rise of the Eldrazi prerelease and have ridden that investment, going infinite for a while. I drafted a lot of Rise and then M11 2-3 times a week before Scars of Mirrodin came along.

This draft format is hard!

But fun. So many options, lots of things to do with your mana on any given turn, and very skill intensive. With Zendikar draft, even the stupidest of opponents couldn't much up happening to have a 1-drop, 2-drop, 3-drop draw but I've seen many opponents throw away games in Scars because there is so much to play around and so much to do.

My going infinite got me down to a mere 10 tix and a booster yesterday, however. I sold off a couple of Mythics I'd got during M11 (Gaea's Revenge has gone up in value ^^) to get me up to 20 and invested in the remaining 2 boosters to fire up an 8-4. Here's how it went:

  Pack 1 pick 1:

  My Pick:

I was obviously tempted by the rare but he's not very good in draft. The real options were Clasp, Red Trigon and Plague Stinger. These are all good in infect decks but the Clasp is good in any deck so I took it to keep my options here. I love drafting infect as much as the next man but when all 8 players are drafting it, as it seems to be on magic online at the moment, it doesn't often come off. I was, therefore, a little disheartened to be passing a Plague Stinger because this basically guarantees one of the two guys on your left will be in infect, sadface.

  Pack 1 pick 2:

  My Pick:

I guess I should have taken Glint Hawk Idol here but I was still living the infect dream and Cystbearer is really good. Plus he's fine in a G/X control deck, so fit in many of the same decks as Clasp. The other option is Sylvok Replica, who is really good but puts you mostly in the same Green control deck when you're passing this many infect guys.

  Pack 1 pick 3:

  My Pick:

*holds onto dream*

  Pack 1 pick 4:

  My Pick:

*gives up*. Arrest and the other white cards here are a clear sign that White is open on my right. I don't rate Auriok Edgewright at all but since it is the 4th white card it lowers the probability that there were more white cards in here before and so increases the likelihood that white is open. Slam down the Arrest (which I didn't see for a while because the foil Soliton was shiny).

  Pack 1 pick 5:

  My Pick:

Slice in Twain also should not be this late. Infect is clearly a dead end so I'm prepared to be a Green/X control deck at this point, probably Green-White although I'm not sure what that deck would look like.

  Pack 1 pick 6:

  My Pick:

Ooh, a rare! This will help with all my mana problems! Yes, that'll do.

  Pack 1 pick 7:

  My Pick:

I like the Wall a lot. At this point we notice a few blue cards have gone round, the Lumengrid Drake last pack and 2 Invisimancers. The Wall of Tanglecord will definitely go in any colour control deck though and moving in on a 2/1 for 3 isn't amazing. Obv I didn't notice the rare.

  Pack 1 pick 8:

  My Pick:

Nothing really here except the Trigon which is okay but not amazing. It costs a lot of mana but card advantage is card advantage and it's a better option than the rest of the pack.

  Pack 1 pick 9:

  My Pick:

Really had no good picks for the rest of the pack.

  Pack 1 pick 10:

  My Pick:

Oh, except this one was interesting. The Ezuri's Archers are a good sideboard card against Poison decks (well, Plague Stinger decks) but if I do end up control then I need some way to finish the game. The Hellion will be good if I can pick up removal. The Panic Spellbomb is also good but I prefer it when I'm definitely a lot of red, definitely not splashing that one.

  Pack 1 pick 11:

  My Pick:

  Pack 1 pick 12:

  My Pick:


  Pack 1 pick 13:

  My Pick:

  Pack 1 pick 14:

  My Pick:

  Pack 1 pick 15:

  My Pick:

  Pack 2 pick 1:

  My Pick:

I heard this guy was passable in a control deck so I drafted him to try him out. You should always try out rares that look okay to get a feel for them. That is to say I am now White based control because this guy is absurd.

  Pack 2 pick 2:

  My Pick:

White Myr will be very good with the Angel I've just taken. I'm itching for a couple of the other cards but this guy will always make my deck and always be very good. One thing to notice at this point is that infect wasn't an option, but also metalcraft isn't the way this deck is shaping either. I'm willing to be in the market for just good cards if they have a deck strategy at least - control. One way to get ahead here is to go in on fliers and stuff up the ground - this means I might actually go in for blue cards. Blue was open but we don't really have any blue cards yet. We do still have all those green cards, but I'm kind of okay to let them go if I'll get set up for the rest of the draft - at this point I'll be on the lookout for Blue being open from my left as well.

  Pack 2 pick 3:

  My Pick:

Revoke is a great control card and we pass on Invisimancer #17.

  Pack 2 pick 4:

  My Pick:

Sky-Eel School is a funny one. It's very good, but it never gets taken. That's because it's just a `good stuff' card. I think that blue mostly just wants to be a good stuff colour (well, it is the best colour in Magic) so we take it but accept that it might not be a signal. Trinket Mage also being in the pack, however, might be.

  Pack 2 pick 5:

  My Pick:

Control needs counter spells, but this will most likely just be a sideboard card.

  Pack 2 pick 6:

  My Pick:

Erm, so 4th pick and 6th pick Arrests presumably means I'm the only white drafter. Not sure why the packs have been relatively empty then but I happily take the #1 common removal spell.

  Pack 2 pick 7:

  My Pick:

Gotta love the fatties. I'm not a big fan of this guy but you need a way to win somehow and he essentially has unblockable because if they have no artifacts they probably have nothing on the table.

  Pack 2 pick 8:

  My Pick:

Definitely the only white drafter - screw my green cards!

  Pack 2 pick 9:

  My Pick:

Bad removal is still removal and it gets better when you have more good removal because you don't have to waste your good removal on their less good things.

  Pack 2 pick 10:

  My Pick:

The jury's still out on this one in draft as he's bad against infect but I need him in this deck.

  Pack 2 pick 11:

  My Pick:

  Pack 2 pick 12:

  My Pick:

  Pack 2 pick 13:

  My Pick:

  Pack 2 pick 14:

  My Pick:

  Pack 2 pick 15:

  My Pick:

  Pack 3 pick 1:

  My Pick:

This was a bit empty. Part of me wanted to take the Galvanic Blast to keep the green and red splash open but this seemed a bit greedy as I only really had a Shania Twain that I would want to splash in green. I take the mana Myr because I really need a few of those in this sort of deck. I've plenty of removal so I'm on the lookout for 1-2 more mana myr and a few more 4-5 drop fliers at this point, as well as anything else ridiculous the packs happen to offer me.

  Pack 3 pick 2:

  My Pick:

This guy is a great stalling mechanism in an empty pack. There's a stoic rebuttal here and there was one in the last pack so one will probably come back to me, which is nice.

  Pack 3 pick 3:

  My Pick:

Mana Myr - check!

  Pack 3 pick 4:

  My Pick:

Something ridiculous - check!

  Pack 3 pick 5:

  My Pick:

4-5 drop fliers - check! Getting into a decent shape here.

  Pack 3 pick 6:

  My Pick:

Didn't need it but wasn't going to play anything else except the remote possibility of Darksteel Myr. Turn to Slag deals with the only ways we have of winning though so I remove it.

  Pack 3 pick 7:

  My Pick:

The snapsail glider is decent but will mostly be a 2/2 in this deck. There's another 2/2 for 3 in this pack who interacts very favourably with 4 of our 2-drops (3 mana and the perilous Myr) so we take it for a bit of curve and synergy.

  Pack 3 pick 8:

  My Pick:

I take the Accorder's Shield in case I need to Shield up my ground creatures or fliers in fights but it's unlikely to be great for me.

  Pack 3 pick 9:

  My Pick:


  Pack 3 pick 10:

  My Pick:

I take the Certarch in case I need him and the Liquimetal Coating from pick 6 comes back in pick 14 but I don't have enough artifacts here. I'm still missing a good flier so I'm a bit concerned but I do have plenty of removal and a good curve.

  Pack 3 pick 11:

  My Pick:

  Pack 3 pick 12:

  My Pick:

  Pack 3 pick 13:

  My Pick:

  Pack 3 pick 14:

  My Pick:

  Pack 3 pick 15:

  My Pick:

The rest of the packs don't give me anything to work with so I set about constructing my deck as:

Gold Myr
Copper Myr
Leaden Myr
Perilous Myr
Wall of Tanglecord
Contagion Clasp
2 Revoke Existence
Myr Galvaniser
Stoic Rebuttal
2 Arrest
Halt Order
Darkslick Drake
Bonds of Quicksilver
Trigon of Infestation
Sky-Eel School
Trigon of Thought
Sunblast Angel
Darksteel Sentinel
Volition Reins
Scrapdiver Serpent

I don't have replays of my matches but round 1 was against RB poison hybrid (not enough poison guys) and I shut him out on the ground before getting in with some fliers. I didn't even have my Angel this match but a 2-0 win in classic Magic™ fashion was enough.

My opp for round 2 didn't show up, leading me to believe that I'd accidentally clicked on the swiss queue and lost my first round. When I came to my senses I realised I'd been given a bye to the finals, very strange.

The finals was against UGB poison with not enough poison guys. This is the problem with poison at the moment - everyone's scrabbling for the guys and no-one gets enough playables. The best way to capitalise is as I did - solid cards and fliers. Since you have to trade a lot against poison, metalcraft decks struggle to hold onto metalcraft so you may as well play cards which are good anyway. Ways to stop the Plague Stingers are pretty key so Contagion Clasp-a-likes and slightly bigger fliers will blunt the assault very quickly (but don't play Blunt the Assault). When you have them unable to do anything you can pull ahead with your superior cards and card advantage mechanisms.

I now have 10 tix and 8 boosters in my account - guess I'll try to keep going infinite for a while.


  1. Congrats.
    No consideration for Golem Artisan P2P4?

  2. It's really good and I probably should have thought more about it but in a deck that'll want to play lots of lands and few artifact creatures I'm happy with natural flying + a loot. I wouldn't be unhappy either way really.

  3. You draft very differently to me.
    p1p3 I feel is a waste since the trigon is slow (and not close to the best card in the pack) and WILL table unless there is a poison drafter in the 2-3 players to your right. You could easily pick up the necrogen scudder so as to keep the player to your left from moving into black. Or if you're a fan of mana myrs (as all the pros seem to be) you could just pick that.
    p1p4 if you're super-intent on poison you should take the fume spitter to cut black, given the picks you already have giving away an arrest to put the players to your left out of poison will give you a better deck than taking the arrest.
    p1p8 i'd take replica since i've seen it cast a lot more than blue trigon and you do have a few cards to move in on the RB aggro deck if poison doesn't work out. (a well established escape route from poison)
    p1p9 on the note of the RB escape route - goblin gaveleer or necrogen censer are fine, since they fit in that archetype
    p1p10 again an RB aggro card - pyrite spellbomb
    p1p11 ferrovore and be happy to be settling into the RB aggro archetype, but still able to go poison with your cystbearer should your signals be read and you receive a dearth of poison cards in pack 2. The RB aggro deck is full of late picks after all
    p1p12 another gift for RB in vulshock heartstoker

    p2p1 Ok, sunblast angel is a bomb and given the cards you actually drafted is a fine pick. But it costs 6 mana and with the cards I would have drafted to this point I would probably have stuck to my guns with a grasp of darkness and hopefully someone to my right steps solidly out of poison with the angel so I can clean up in pack 3 as well.
    p2p2 slam the axe, not close - great in RB or GB

    After that, I can't really judge bassed on the draft I would have done since your picks have an influence over what you get passed. It looks like I would have ended up in BR aggro most likely since the poison cards aren't really flowing from the left.

  4. edit: p1p3, i'd pick a blackcleave goblin over the trigon in my infect pick order and you may even get both if you pick that. I split an 8-4 the other day with 3 in my deck, I don't think they're that bad in the context of a good curve of infect creatures and people don't play around it at all.

  5. I can see the case for the BR aggro deck but I'm not really a fan of that deck. I'd defo pick Trigon over Blackcleave Goblin in infect because the goblin is pretty awful and is way more likely to table though.

  6. Hey Rob. I've also been going infinite with SoM drafts (though bizarrely, whilst I was able to beat the 1/8 odds for ZZW, I sucked at RoE) and I'd have definitely gone a different direction with this. I agree that poison is overdrafted right now, but I don't feel it's AS overdrafted as all that, in 84's, at least. Every time I've gone for it, I've not found myself fighting.

    Anyway, having talked about poison, I wouldn't have gone that way. P1P1 Clasp is easy, P1P2 I'd definitely have gone with the Idol. I have something of a bias towards WR metalcraft, but the format is light on fliers and ways to deal with fliers, and the idol has always been ridiculously good for me, even if I only have one, let alone multiples. I'm not really faulting Cystbearer, it's obviously the pick if you want to try and force infect, but I prefer only to do that if my other options are weak, which isn't the case here.

    Moving on to pick 3, whether you were going into poison or not, I'd have taken the Painsmith. The pump is still relevant for the poison decks (generally more so than making a 1/1 infecter for 6 mana) but he really shines in aggressive decks, and WB is not nearly so awkward in SoM draft as it often is, because with all the artifacts, colour requirements are so much lighter. Definitely seems better to me. Note that I'm not as big a fan of picking Myr as some people are, though that's generally because I prefer to be very aggressive and they don't help all that much with that strategy.

    P1P4 is ridiculous. There are six cards I would more than happily take from this pack given the three I've already taken; Idol, Perilous, Arrest, Hawk, Tick and Spitter. Obv you take the Arrest, but you can almost guarantee you're going to get SOMETHING back at least!

    For P1P5, by my picks I now have Clasp, Idol, Painsmith and Arrest. Slice in Twain's pretty good, but I'd actually be really tempted by the Fume Spitter here, especially given that we already have a clasp. I've found him to be at least average at almost any point in any game I've played him, and he's often far better than that, especially since so many people cheat on lands because of Myr. Again, I don't think it'd be wrong to take the Slice, but for personal preference, I think I'd go with the Spitter, because it supports the aggressive plan far better.

    P1P6...eugh. Hate the Furnace Celebration? (For my deck, obviously, not yours).

    P1P7 I'd probably also go with the Wall, despite looking to be aggressive. Being an artifact for Idol and metalcraft and having 6 toughness against poison makes it better than a random 2/2 dork that might have a relevant ability once in 3 matches.

    P1P8 I really don't understand why Vulshok Replica's still there, but I'd take it, simply because 3 power for 3 has rarely bad anyway and being an artifact is relevant. We're also not yet committed to black, and splashing a little red would be easy enough if we were to, say, see a Galvanic Blast (I'd be foreshadowing, but obviously I've already seen it).

    From there, obviously, things change based on the picks, but I'd have ended up differently due to not starting out by forcing poison (though funnily enough, I'd still have taken a different pick 3rd even if I were!). Good job on the 'free' win though ;P