Constructed Criticism - Drafting With Balefire Liege: M10 #2
Since I received so many positive responses to last week's article about my first online M10 draft and also because I'm pretty bored with the current Standard environment (the only relevant environment at the moment) I thought I might do a few more drafts for your viewing pleasure. Last week had me drafting a Mono-Black deck with 4 Doom Blades 2 Tendrils of Corruption Consume Spirit and a host of mediocre creatures. I made a few mistakes during draft picks that probably ended up costing me the final match but I believe that I've learned a lot about the format since then so let’s hope this time is better. Anyway I'll go ahead and just jump right into the action.
Lately I feel as if Mono-Black has become one of the more popular draft archetypes and I've been trying to avoid it. Also I didn't want a repeat of last week's draft so I decided to take Pacifism instead of the Doom Blade to mix it up a little. They are fairly close as far as removal is concerned and I can pass the Gravedigger and Doom Blade to help signal my friend to the left that Black is wide open. While you could argue that Divine Verdict and White Knight are bad signals to be passing I don't think they are on the same power level as Doom Blade and Gravedigger and should be disregarded until the 3rd or 4th person to my left sees them.
Pack 1 pick 2:
This pack was very light on playables and I decided to stay the course. I'm a huge fan of Razorfoot Griffin in this format since he has evasion and is a contender with most of the cheaper creatures that tend to gum up the ground in the mid-game. Additionally he answers all the common flyers with the exception of Illusionary Servant.
Pack 1 pick 3:
Safe Passage is a great card that I've come to grow a lot of respect for. I don't mind playing 2-3 of these in any deck where white is a major color and will often take it over Divine Verdict. It is a blowout combat trick that can counter the format's best bombs (Overrun Fireball Consume Spirit) and even blank some of the other good removal like Lightning Bolt Seismic Strike and Tendrils of Corruption.
Pack 1 pick 4:
I really like playing White-Blue (Blue being the minor color) and I've passed a ton of Green already so taking Llanowar Elves would be a huge mistake. Also I don't like playing GW because you will often have two colors that work better when they are the dominant color in a deck and you will end up with a lot of commons and uncommons that require WW or GG in order to cast. Divination is a great card for playing Blue as the minor color and probably the best card left in the pack (pretty close with Llanowar Elves).
Pack 1 pick 5:
I've grown to hate Elite Vanguard as he just becomes outclassed so quickly in this format that he is generally as bad as a Runeclaw Bears. Snapping Drake at 5th pick is a pretty clear signal that Blue is open and is a fine card.
Pack 1 pick 6:
It is hard to stress just how good raw card advantage is in this format. Mulligans can be devastating to your gameplan and having a few Divinations (or Mind Rots in Black) can go a long way in regaining lost cards.
Pack 1 pick 7:
This pick was a bit tricky. I really like Illusionary Servant but I still didn't think that I wanted Blue to be my dominant color for my deck. Terramorphic Expanse is the next best card so I took it in hopes to help me play Wu since there aren't any manafixers for White or Blue beyond the Terramorphic Expanses in M10.
Pack 1 pick 8:
8th pick Veteran Armorsmith is a huge signal that we have made correct decisions thus far. While we have no soldiers yet it shouldn't be too hard to pick up a few. At the very least Armorsmith is a great early drop that keeps opposing 2/2's in check while you set up your Blue fliers to take control of the mid to late-game.
Pack 1 pick 9:
Darksteel Colossus lapped!?! All kidding aside White Knight still being in the pack is pretty phenomenal and I'm very surprised by it. He is a great beater and just crushes Black-based decks (obviously). I'm very happy to pick him 9th.
Pack 1 pick 10:
Nothing great here and Illusionary Servant is still an okay creature even if White is the primary color.
Pack 1 pick 11:
Here I just hate draft the card that crushes all my dreams and sends them spiraling towards a fiery death at the bottom of an active volcano.
Pack 1 pick 12:
Pack 1 pick 13:
Not great but definitely playable.
Pack 1 pick 14:
Pack 1 pick 15:
Pack 2 pick 1:
On top of being worth a few tickets Ajani Goldmane has the upside of being an absolute bomb. I'm glad I decided to stick towards a White-heavy deck and I'm happy to pick the 'Walker. I'm also going to reward my friend to the right for being in Green by shipping the Acidic Slime and Stampeding Rhino. There is no good Blue here so hopefully I'll get hooked up in the next pack as well.
Pack 2 pick 2:
The pickings are mighty slim here but I'm never unhappy with more soldiers. Hopefully I'll get a few more and make them all that much better. We're also passing Rise from the Grave (much better than I originally thought) and Gravedigger solidifying our neighbors to the right into Black and hopefully Green too.
Pack 2 pick 3:
Another Armorsmith is pretty good here but I would like to be picking better cards on picks 2 and 3 in the 2nd pack but I'll take what I can get. Passing Acidic Slime #2 is pretty disheartening but hopefully I will be rewarded greatly next pack.
Pack 2 pick 4:
Another White Knight makes me very happy. If I play against a Black-based deck there should be little chance of him beating one of my resolved White Knights.
Pack 2 pick 5:
This pack is pretty horrible. I considered taking the Awakener Druid but I don't want to give the guys to the right the wrong idea by passing them no Green. I'm not very afraid of the Druid and shipping it shouldn't be a problem. I hate counterdrafting cards in the first two packs because you don't want to give bad signals to your neighbors and in return get cut off because they had to switch colors. Hate drafting a card like Ignite Disorder is okay because it is a sideboard card specifically designed to beat my archetype. However hate drafting a decent card that would otherwise give bad information to the person on my right is not better than taking a mediocre sideboard card for my deck.
Pack 2 pick 6:
Yet another Black hoser. I'm not seeing a lot of good Black cards coming around so hopefully 1-2 people are trying for Mono-Black and I want to get paired against them pretty badly.
Pack 2 pick 7:
This combat trick is decent with all of my first-strikers and should prove worthwhile since I have decent flying threats for my opponents. There isn't anything better for me and I'd rather not counterdraft the Entangling Vines.
Pack 2 pick 8:
Pack 2 pick 9:
I count zero playables in this packs. My only peeve of M10 drafts is that there are a ton of packs that have only 5 or less playable cards. There are so many random filler cards. However my deck thus far is pretty good so I can't complain too much.
Pack 2 pick 10:
Horned Turtle is an okay guy. He keeps my opponent from running me over in the early game but will probably sit in the sideboard since I'm heavier on the White-side of things. If I play against a non-Black deck I'll probably side out the Undead Slayer for the Horned Turtle to give me a bit more defense.
Pack 2 pick 11:
Pack 2 pick 12:
Let them have Grizzly Bears!
Pack 2 pick 13:
Pack 2 pick 14:
Pack 2 pick 15:
Pack 3 pick 1:
Pikemaster is one of the better soldiers and makes all my other soldiers infinitely better. The Merfolk Looter is close but not quite as good as the Pikemaster.
Pack 3 pick 2:
Pack 3 pick 3:
There is only one better archetype for Sleep than Wu (Gu) and getting one 3rd pick makes me very happy.
Pack 3 pick 4:
Here we can see that passing all that good Green in the last pack is finally paying off! Getting 3 great Blue picks in a row has me feeling very confident about my deck.
Pack 3 pick 5:
Make that 4 great Blue picks in a row.
Pack 3 pick 6:
Snapping Drake is a good Blue card but not great. We will stop the "great Blue streak" for now. Passing the Ignite Disorder makes me unhappy but I'd much rather have the Drake for my deck. He's pretty fantastic when you’re on offense or on a gummed up board.
Pack 3 pick 7:
Another Armorsmith makes the rest that much better. As an aside I hate Ice Cage. It is probably just a personal bias but every time I cast it my opponent has Equipment or Giant Growth or something to blank it. This makes me a very unhappy camper. However every time my opponent has one against me it just seems like Arrest. This is one pick that I wanted people to debate upon because I'm still not sure as to how good or bad Ice Cage is or if it is even playable most of time. At this point I would just rather take the Armorsmith.
Pack 3 pick 8:
I considered Cancel and probably should have taken it to keep my opponents from killing me with a bomb but I have so many WW two drops that playing it inside of a reasonable time-frame just seemed difficult. Inferno Elemental is very hard for my deck to deal with so I hate-drafted it to keep it from beating me.
Pack 3 pick 9:
Pack 3 pick 10:
This is coming around much too late. White is the color that relies on tempo to steal games and Excommunicate is a great tempo-booster for this format. A lot of decks rely on Auras to keep them in the game or some 5-7 drop fattie to stabilize. While Excommunicate is not hard removal it does put your opponent in some very awkward positions and can keep them manascrewed while you develop your board and attack with your dorks.
Pack 3 pick 11:
Good thing they both tabled.
Pack 3 pick 12:
Pack 3 pick 13:
Pack 3 pick 14:
OMG Thank you so much!
Pack 3 pick 15:
This draft converter created by Benjamin Peebles-Mundy.
Visit the draft converter today!
After looking over my picks here is the deck I constructed:
And onto the matches!
Round 1 against Mono-Green (?)
Game 1 he mulligans to 6 and I keep my 7 of Plains Terramorphic Island 2 Divination White Knight Djinn of Wishes. I promptly draw some Veteran Armorsmiths play turn 5 Djinn of Wishes and he is stuck on one land the whole time. When he starts drawing land his cards can't handle the Djinn and we are off to game 2.
Game 2 is a bit better for him. I keep a hand with a lot of WW two-drops Snapping Drake and Excommunicate with lands to cast all of my spells. He plays some Runeclaw Bears which look pretty awkward against my First Strikers and Armorsmiths. I attack a lot with Snapping Drake and hold back my squad to not lose a few creatures to double blocks. I Excommunicate a Stampeding Rhino a few times all while attacking with the Snapping Drake. He still can't attack because I have 2 White Knights in play at this point. He gets an Entangling Vines on my Snapping Drake and decides to attack with team. Safe Passage trumps his Giant Growth and he loses most of his squad. A few attacks later and he is low on life but he stabilizes with a few more green dorks. Even though I drew 10+ lands to his 7 (2 of which were fetched via Borderland Ranger) I eventually draw Fliers and Rhox Pikemaster which threaten lethal with Glorious Charge. He plays Giant Spider and Cudgel Troll to shut me down but a topdecked Mind Control saves me. I steal the Spider and Alpha Strike.
Round 2 against Bg
Game 1 is pretty straightforward. I draw White Knight and Veteran Armorsmith early on. He plays a few dorks but I have the nut draw with Ajani Goldmane on turn 4 and swing. He can't block profitably and goes down to 12 life. After I resolve a Djinn of Wishes and Mind Control he concedes. This game is a prime example of overwhelming your opponent with bombs.
Game 2 I mulligan and keep a hand with White Knight Divination Sleep 2 Plains and Terramorphic Expanse. I draw out of the mulligan quickly and use Snapping Drake and White Knight to beat him down and use Sleep in combination with Ajani Goldmane to great effect.
Round 3 against GW
GW is possibly my least favorite color combination. You have removal spells and creatures but the two colors don't harmonize well in this format. However my opponent has won most of his games by overwhelming his opponents by playing a ton of creatures and attacking (replays are available).
Game 1 I win the roll. My hand is Divination Ajani Djinn of Wishes and 4 lands. Fortunately he doesn't have a creature before my turn 4 so Ajani looks to go Ultimate! I play Djinn of Wishes and he attacks into my 6-countered Ajani with his 2/2 First Striker. I'm fearing Giant Growth here and figure he might have an answer to the 20/20 even if Ajani does get to use his finishing move. Ajani takes 2 damage and Djinn starts going to work. I play a few guys use Ajani's +1/+1 ability and attack with the Djinn. Next turn I have mana up for Safe Passage (which doesn't protect Planeswalkers) and confidently block the 5/5 Djinn on the 2/2 Razorfoot Griffin. Instead of Giant Growth he has Divine Verdict (boo!). I still have a large force in play and play out a few more dorks and keep using Ajani's +1/+1 ability. He eventually succumbs to the board presence and can't beat my Mind Control on his Serra Angel.
Game 2 I keep a sketchy hand on the draw but it is fine as long as I draw a land. White Knight on turn 2 holds the fort and I draw the land to cast 2 Excommunicates in a row on his Deadly Recluse. However I'm still lacking Blue mana. He plays Borderland Ranger and Elvish Archdruid (awkward) and passes turn unable to attack. I finally draw Blue for Snapping Drake but lose the Island to an Acidic Slime. I traded the Drake with Bramble Creeper because I'm having to be very defensive as I'm far behind on board. I draw Armorsmith and eventually another Blue source to play Snapping Drake #2. After a Divination I play Razorfoot Griffin. He plays Prized Unicorn and starts bashing me with his team. However I have Ajani in hand and another creature so things aren't looking horrible and I'm still at 14 life. He plays Guardian Seraph and I make a horrible attack with an Ajani pumped Snapping Drake into his Deadly Recluse. Now I can't profitably block the Seraph and have to just sacrifice the Ajani on his next attack. It was a horrible mistake and I immediately saw what I had done after it had happened. However all was not lost and I still had decent power left in play and Mind Control in hand with only an Island in play. I needed to get lucky here to win but miracles happen sometimes right? He plays Indestructibility on Prized Unicorn which is a sick combo. However I draw the Island and steal the Guardian Seraph blanking all of his 2/2's and I beat him down quickly with Fliers.
I won the draft 6-0 in games and only felt behind in the last game of the draft against the Acidic Slime and Prized Unicorn suited up with Indestructibility. I knew the Acidic Slimes might give me trouble but cementing the guy to my right in Green definitely helped me out in pack 3 and ended up making my deck ridiculous. Drafting bombs… it’s nice.
I don't feel like I made any huge mistakes in the picking-card portion of the draft but I'm sure I made a few more errors that were not mentioned during gameplay. For some reason you can't replay all of the games on MOL that you have played and generally only one game out of every match. However most of the games were short and there wasn't a lot of thought to be put into "Mind Control your Serra Angel attack." This is one of the best M10 draft decks I've gotten so far and I've had a few amazing ones for it to contend with. Luckily my deck was much better than the rest of the decks in the draft.
On a side note I'm currently in the middle of doing an M10 Sealed deck. I finally opened a pool worthy of note:
My sideboard has some good cards too but the colors were too thin to play:
I’ve really enjoyed doing these draft walkthroughs as they not only give me a change of pace content-wise but help improve my Limited game with all the (constructive) feedback from the forums. Last week I learned a few things and I'm very appreciative of that. What will I learn this week? Let’s find out!
Thanks for reading.
strong sad on MTGO