So, the Scars Sealed PTQ season is over and hasn't it been fun! It seems to be a pretty skill-intensive format, from the looks of the top 8 competitors at the PTQs I went to. My own record was 5-1-1 (lose quarters), 5-2 (lose semis), 0-2, 5-2 (9th) and 4-0-2 (lose semis), which is a success that comes with its own disappointment. Although the information is no longer really relevant to anyone not competing at worlds (hope they're reading this :p), I thought I would compile a small report on two top 8 draft decks. Firstly I have Mick Edwards' draft from the top 8 of Manchester (won by Grant Hislop).
Arrest over Razor Hippogriff, Red and White Myr and Glimmerpoint Stag. Obviously a difficult one, with so many good white cards in the pack. The best non-white card was the red Myr, however, so signals be damned - just take the best card.
Grasp of Darkness over Turn to Slag, Palladium Myr, Stoic Rebuttal and Ichorclaw Myr. The choice is mostly between Grasp and Slag and the cheaper removal is better in draft but I'd rather have a Slag in sealed for silly bombs everyone has.
Darksteel Axe over Grasp of Darkness and Rusted Relic. I disagree with this one. I know Mick likes aggressive decks and the Axe suits him but after one Grasp I think the second is a massive auto-include, whereas there are decks I don't play Axe in.
White Myr over Clone Shell, Black Replica and Bladed Pinions. Seems correct, he can splash the Arrest in a mainly Black deck with this pick and it keeps his options open, but the Black Replica seems okay too.
Ghalma's Warden over Strider Harness and Disperse. The pack is starting to look pretty empty. Mick is a massive fan of the Warden for some reason; I've never seen it have much impact on a game except to help my opponent to not die as quickly.
Strider Harness over Green Trigon. By now the packs are getting as empty as my knowledge of the names of cards in cycles but this card always has a chance of making some deck. In a non-infect deck the Green Trigon is a really bad version of the Black Trigon.
Tel-Jillad Fallen over Blue Trigon and Tel-Jilad Defiance. This Fallen is quite late but there hasn't been much of the Infect going before it so it could have just been a strong Infect pack. I like the Trigon more, even if it is just a 24th card a lot of the time.
Black Replica over Lumengrid Drake and Infiltration Lens. Further cementing his Black but could Blue be open?
Accorder's Shield, Wing Puncture, Abuna Acolyte, Razorfield Thresher, Necrogen Censer, Glimmerpost.
Not looking to be in good shape after pack 1 but apart from the Axe / Grasp pick there really haven't been any opportunities for a great deck.
Oxidda Scrapmelter over White Myr and Rust Tick. More bad packs for Mick here. The Scrapmelter is by far the strongest card even if it warrants another colour. The Arrest can always be splashed still as it's the only good white card Mick has so far.
Rust Tick over Bloodshot Trainee, White Spellbomb and Ghalma's Warden. More keeping the options open, Rust Tick is good in any deck. We need to see a sign for what colours to play soon to make the most of the picks we get going forward.
Black Myr over Barbed Battlegear, Cystbearer and Riddlesmith. Some good cards for strategies we don't have access to and a Myr for some cards we are playing.
Tumble Magnet over Memnite, Red Myr and Tel-Jillad Fallen. Mick is Tumble Magnet's biggest fan but I would have taken the Red Myr after the Scrapmelter as it seems far more relevant.
White Spellbomb over Ghalma's Warden. This card is good but it's a bit of a mediocre deck - need to see some pack 3 power.
Heavy Arbalest over Saberclaw Golem. This card is quite good and gives him an opportunity for some removal in a mana-heavy draw.
White Replica over Instill Infection and Blistergrub. I quite like Infection but Mick isn't a fan and he takes the body to make sure he has a curve whatever colours he ends up in.
Vedalken Certarch over Loxodon Wayfarer, Golem Foundry and Necrogen Censer. Dry pack, the Certarch might warrant a change to Blue?
Wing Puncture, Dross Hopper (over Corrupted Harvester), Bleak Coven Vampires, Blistergrub, Whitesun's Passage and Turn Aside.
Oh dear, we're in bad shape at the moment but he's making sure he has a curve with playable creatures whatever happens. When the packs aren't being kind it is prudent to make sure you end up with maximal playables.
Red Trigon over Black Replica, Grafted Exoskeleton, Hand of the Praetors. As mentioned here I like Grafted Exoskeleton and see it as a way of winning in an underpowered deck. I would still have taken the Black Replica over the Red Trigon.
Golem Artisan over Chrome Steed, Volition Reins and Cerebral Eruption. Finally a pack with some decent cards. I like Artisan best, Reins is way too blue for us and Cerebral Eruption is not a good card, but I mentioned it so I could say this, how self-referential!
Darkslick Drake over Blue Trigon, Barrage Ogre and Flameborn Hellion. Not sure about this, the Blue seems too late to move into as we already have White and Red removal spells and don't even have a Red Myr so could do with picking one as a secondary colour (probably white). I think the Barrage Ogre is a safer pick myself.
Necrotic Ooze over Glint Hawk, Sylvok Lifestaff and Barbed Battlegear. Seems correct, Glint Hawk is good but we have a few activated abilities already and a 4/3 for 4 is a good size for limited.
Darksteel Sentinel over Black Spellbomb and Bleak Coven Vampires. The packs are still a bit empty but this guy is very reliable as an attacker and blocker. Yes he's "bad against Infect" but he's really good against everything else and that's what sideboarding is for.
Sky-Eel School over White Trigon. With his move to Blue as well this makes sense as it's a very good card and there really is nothing else to play.
Blue Spellbomb over Neurok Invisimancer and Stoic Rebuttal. I don't like this, if we want to play Blue then Stoic Rebuttal seems better as we want to stop the opponent from casting their cards which are undoubtedly better than ours.
Razorfield Thresher over Bladed Pinions. Zzzzzz.
Fume Spitter, Fume Spitter, Seize the Initiative, Soul Parry, Vault Skyward, Vault Skyward.
Some gift Fume Spitters at the end and the White instants can be good sideboard cards.
Overall we don't end up with a very good deck, but apart from the the highlight discrepancies I don't think that Mick had much control over his fate. I think he ended up playing Black-Blue but sided into Black-White, which is what I would have played. He lost in the quarters to Kenny Hall - another Leeds player; who in turn lost to Martin Sylvester - the other Leeds player in the top 8.
Secondly I have my deck from the top 8 of Nottingham (won by Stuart Horden). I think my deck was pretty good so I was a bit disappointed to lose out but that's the way it goes. I was one of one-and-a-half Infect drafters at the table and the only guy in black for a few seats to my right so the goodies just kept coming. I beat someone I am afraid I don't remember the name of in the quarters (he was a nice guy but I had good draws) before succumbing to Stuart in the semis with a tight game 1 and big screws game 2.
1 Horizon Spellbomb
3 Blight Mamba
1 Plague Stinger
1 Livewire Lash
1 Contagion Clasp
1 Grasp of Darkness
3 Moriok Replica
1 Carrion Call
1 Corpse Cur
1 Tel-Jilad Fallen
1 Trigon of Infestation
1 Instill Infection
1 Slice in Twain
1 Contagion Engine
1 Untamed Might
With Worlds coming up next week the Standard metagame will get thrown up a little (but it doesn't sound like there's anything surprising, the SSG Open Series is keeping it fresh) but we should expect the Extended meta to be set up for the new year's PTQs. Does anyone have any particular stories they want to share from this round of PTQs? If it's too long for the comments then remember that we're always soliciting guest writers :), hear from you soon.