Magic Draft: JBT White/Black

Finally made time to do another Magic draft today. Either I was extremely lucky (very possible, as you’ll see), or this could be a turning point for me in my drafts. Possibly it was just a very weak card pool which I took advantage of. But the outcome was good!

  Pack 1 pick 1:

  My Pick:

A weird first pick. Bearer of the Heavens is not a good card. I’m not confident enough in my drafting to make a go of a deck built around Riptide Chimera, though it does enable some neat tricks. Fellhide Petrifier is very good, Feast of Dreams can be very good, and Bladetusk Boar is very good.

Ultimately I decided that I am a little tired of playing red decks, which both the Petrifier and the Boar would push me towards (plus I played a Minotaur deck a few weeks ago and it went poorly). So I picked Feast of Dreams.

  Pack 1 pick 2:

  My Pick:

This is very similar to the last pack, right down to Feast of Dreams and the same rare, Bearer of the Heavens! Colossal Heroics and Oakheart Dryads got a look from me, and I briefly considered Akroan Mastiff, but I decided to take the second Feast.

  Pack 1 pick 3:

  My Pick:

The two Black cards here are enh. Stormchaser Chimera is a good card, but not where I want to go after two Black picks. I looked briefly at the Pensive Minotaur, but it’s really a filler card. So I picked the 2-mana 2-drop.

  Pack 1 pick 4:

  My Pick:

Really tempting to take Extinguish All Hope here – if it cost 5 instead of 6 I might have done it. But the early play seemed like the better pick.

  Pack 1 pick 5:

  My Pick:

I’m not sure why I picked the Hulk instead of a second Fortifier. I think I felt like I was heading for a more controlling deck than an aggro deck. Did I make a bad choice, or did I have an intuitive feel for what my deck wanted?

Also: The packs to this point had been pretty weak. I didn’t feel like I was giving up a significant amount of power with any pick rather than, say, taking something in another color.

  Pack 1 pick 6:

  My Pick:

Four Black and White cards here, and none of them really thrilled me. The Trailblazer does fit nicely into what I suspect is my growing control deck, so there we go.

  Pack 1 pick 7:

  My Pick:

Possibly I should have taken Oppressive Rays here, but the dearth of White and Black cards make me wonder whether I should consider an alternate color to White. Plus, the word on the street is that Oppressive Rays is better in aggro decks than control decks.

  Pack 1 pick 8:

  My Pick:

I puzzled over this pack for about 30 seconds before I realized, “Hey, Ajani’s Presence is actually a top-notch card!” At this point I’m starting to think that the packs are just really weak overall, perhaps especially in White and Black.

  Pack 1 pick 9:

  My Pick:

My original pack. Cruel Feeding is not something that really interests me, but it’s on-color.

  Pack 1 pick 10:

  My Pick:

I don’t want any of these cards. Renowned Weaver is a component of Green control decks so it felt worth cutting. The other cards here are basically junk.

  Pack 1 pick 11:

  My Pick:

Now I have 2 Rotted Hulks. This definitely feels like a control deck.

  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:

Asphyxiate is exactly the card I want here. I did consider Spiteful Returned, but Asphyxiate is premium removal.

  Pack 2 pick 2:

  My Pick:

I did consider Scourge of Skola Vale here since I am not committed to White yet. But I feel its not a really good card, and another 2-drop feels like the right thing. I could have taken Snake of the Golden Grove.

This pack is not really very good.

  Pack 2 pick 3:

  My Pick:


  Pack 2 pick 4:

  My Pick:

More with the yes!!!

  Pack 2 pick 5:

  My Pick:

  Pack 2 pick 6:

  My Pick:

Should I have taken Drown in Sorrow here? Reportedly it is not a very good card in this format, and it might hurt me more than it hurts my opponent (then again, wouldn’t I want to use the card when I choose and not when my opponent chooses?). Mortal’s Ardor is not a great card, but it has its uses. Lifelink might fit into my control strategy.

I observed here that I am pretty low on creatures, and need to prioritize them going forward, as I have 3 premium and 2 solid conditional removal spells, which seems like plenty.

  Pack 2 pick 7:

  My Pick:

And that’s just what the doctor ordered!

  Pack 2 pick 8:

  My Pick:

Technically a creature. Basically inferior to Rotted Hulk.

  Pack 2 pick 9:

  My Pick:

This was probably my #2 choice from my original pack, so I’m happy to see it wheel.

  Pack 2 pick 10:

  My Pick:

  Pack 2 pick 11:

  My Pick:

  Pack 2 pick 12:

  My Pick:

This is actually a pretty good card for my deck at this point.

  Pack 2 pick 13:

  My Pick:

  Pack 2 pick 14:

  My Pick:

  Pack 2 pick 15:

  My Pick:

  Pack 3 pick 1:

  My Pick:

I could not have asked for much better than this in my first Theros pick.

  Pack 3 pick 2:

  My Pick:

This was a very tough pick. Ultimately I decided that any deck would want an Observant Alseid, but only some decks would want the Scholar of Athreos. So if there was any chance one would wheel, this was the way to go.

  Pack 3 pick 3:

  My Pick:

I just can’t bring myself to pick generic minotaurs. Read the Bones seems important to dig for threats or answers.

  Pack 3 pick 4:

  My Pick:

Sadness – nothing here I would play. So I’m going to cut something. Pharika’s Mender is a component of decks I really don’t want to play against, so it’s the choice. Chronicler of Heroes or Prescient Chimera would be my next choices, but they’re cards I can deal with via my removal. I don’t want my opponents to be recurring stuff from their graveyards.

  Pack 3 pick 5:

  My Pick:

Nice! But I really need to get more creatures.

  Pack 3 pick 6:

  My Pick:

Probably should have taken the Traveling Philosopher here – I’m unlikely to play a 6-drop which will only yield 2-4 power worth of ground-pounding creatures.

  Pack 3 pick 7:

  My Pick:

A reasonable card at this point.

Aside: When you cast one of these and it enters the battlefield, Magic Online asks you to pick the target, and then asks you whether you want to use the triggered ability. Confusing!

  Pack 3 pick 8:

  My Pick:

A good card this late. Wonder what other White cards were in this pack that other people took?

  Pack 3 pick 9:

  My Pick:

Technically a creature.

  Pack 3 pick 10:

  My Pick:

Awesome, it did wheel!

  Pack 3 pick 11:

  My Pick:

On-color removal, sure.

  Pack 3 pick 12:

  My Pick:

  Pack 3 pick 13:

  My Pick:

  Pack 3 pick 14:

  My Pick:

  Pack 3 pick 15:

  My Pick:

So here’s the set of cards I drafted:

(click for larger image)
(click for larger image)

I’m not real happy with my draft. I have good removal, some good supporting cards, but my creatures are pretty weak. They’re not awful but I don’t have any fatties, only one flier, and there are a lot of cards I can see myself having trouble with. Also notice that I didn’t draft a single rare.

It takes me a while, but I eventually submit this deck:

Deck List

Only 14 creatures, but the ones I didn’t play are not very good. I dithered for a while over whether to play Read the Bones or another creature (probably a second Silent Artisan, or perhaps a Great Hart), but I talked myself out of it. MTGO recommended 9 Swamps and 8 Plains, but I went the other way because I felt it was important to hit my early creatures consistently. 2 Heroic creatures and really only 5 ways to target them. But they were good ways!

This deck is not awful, but I don’t feel confident. So I hit the Submit button…

Round 1:

In the first game, my opponent plays nothing but Swamps and an Odunos River-Trawler, which he trades with my Stonewise Fortifier. I run him over with weenies. Since I didn’t really see anything, I don’t make any sideboard changes.

In game 2, he plays Green and then Black, but no creatures. I start running out my creatures and smacking him. He had Drown in Sorrow which he used to get rid of some of my creatures. I get Sentry of the Underworld out, and he plays Leafcrown Dryad, but never chump-blocks my flier. I held up Ajani’s Presence and Battlewise Valor in case he did block and had a trick. He eventually plays a Nessian Asp, which I immediately Asphyxiate, and the Sentry gets the job done. He reveals his hand when I win:

Round 1 Game 2

I don’t get it: He certainly had threats, and he even had removal for my creature (Spiteful Blow), but he never played any of it. I guess he just gave up? I probably would have prevailed had he pushed back, because I had a huge lead, but it was still strange.

Round 2:

Game 1: He mulliganed to 6, I mulliganed to 5, I played some stuff, but he had answers. I made a game of it, but he overwhelmed me:

Round 2 Game 1

He was playing Black/Red, and had no enchantment creatures that I saw, so I sided out my Feasts of Dreams and brought in Necrobite and Last Breath (the latter of which is the perfect answer to minotaurs, it turns out!)

Game 2 seems to stall out, and I worry that he’s playing a grindy strategy this time and he might out-grind me with a near-unkillable Servant of Tymaret:

Round 2 Game 2 Scene 1

Kragma Warcaller is pretty tough to deal with, but I have some threats too. He decided to gang-rush me, and I have blocks which counter his stuff and finish off his Warcaller (I even have Necrobite in hand to ensure it), and he concedes:

Round 2 Game 2 Scene 2

I guess he didn’t have a trick, and I would be swinging back for 6 with my two Vigilant creatures, with more cards on the way. Still, it felt like a premature concession – there was a lot of game left to play.

Game 3 starts out rough as he has Satyr Nyx-Smith and seems to know how to use it. I get off to a lead and decide to use it and my Scholar of Athreos to let me take some damage rather than risking my creatures, or trading cards for his Elemental tokens:

Round 2 Game 3 Scene 1

The Stonewise Fortifier really gets the job done here, killing Elemental tokens without dying itself. I have to decide several times whether to let it die in order to spend the mana on the Scholar’s ability. He plays the Fellhide Petrifier I’d passed on with my very first pick, but I eventually Excoriate it. And at last the Scholar grinds him down, just before his time clock runs out:

Round 2 Game 3 Scene 2

That was a very close match. I’m a little amazed I managed to pull it out. On to the finals!

Round 3:

I wish my opponent good luck, and he does the same. I lead with my nut draw, Lagonna-Band Trailblazer into Ordeal of Erebos. He plays nothing but islands and concedes on turn 3.

The second game I wish him better luck than last time, and then lead with Pharika’s Chosen into Ordeal of Erebos. He shows himself to be Blue/Green. My Ordeal triggers and he discards two expensive green cards. He chumps my 4/4 Chosen and uses Hour of Need to get a 4/4 flyer. I follow up with more stuff and am in the driver’s seat:

Round 3 Game 2 Scene 1

He has creatures, but I have Ajani’s Presence in case he has tricks, and I force him to decide whether to sacrifice both his creatures to my 4/4 Deathtouch guy, and he concedes:

Round 3 Game 2 Scene 2

Again, I think there was still some game to go here, and they keep saying on Limited Resources not to concede until defeat is certain (such as a lethal attack you can’t repel); you might have the answer in your next card, or your opponent might mis-play.

But all that aside, I won! And yes, I was playing an 8-4 draft, so I won 8 packs! Whee!

I was pretty happy with how I played, especially since I had a couple of mulligans, and the middle match was a tough one. I think I had several tricky choices to make and I made some good decisions. I also got lucky in my first and third matches, since making my best draws as my opponent was stumbling seems not to happen all that often. I made a few misplays, but I felt my opponents made some as well.

Was the card pool weak? Maybe. I guess the bottom line is that my deck was good enough, and I gave myself chances to win. I think the draft gave me a lot to think about. I’m sure future drafts won’t feature the luck I had in the first and third matches.

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