MMD Drafter's Guide - White
Yeah, I have returned. And just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, hmm? Not that I expect much fanfare, or a mariachi band to provide accompaniment as I wade my way through this quagmire of an introduction. Far from it. Just a"hello" will suffice. Constant reader, it's good to see you, too.
So where have I been? Drafting, mostly. But besides that, I've been off the pen-sauce. No paragraphs or even sentences for this lad - I lost my smile for a while, Kyle. Grand Prix: Columbus was a rough one for this cowboy. With two byes, I failed to make Day 2 and had to watch by the sidelines while fellow Sarnia player Mike Clark, playing with no byes, smashed his way to a 6-0 start and a Sunday draft seat.
Here's his report (in which he asks for respect because he had the best record out of those Sarnia players attending. Feel free to send him some kind words) it's a fun little read.
The match against Justin Schneider in particular was fun to watch, but I was only told about it third-hand, since I was back in my hotel room, phoning the front desk for directions to the nearest bridge.
I knew I had to take a break after that awful experience, so I did. Then I started drafting again. Then I started winning again. And then...after a good while to collect my thoughts on the format, I started writing again. The result will be, hopefully, a series of pick order/card analysis articles about MMD draft. If you think this irrelevant with Fifth Dawn on the horizon, I can only say in my defense that if you play on Magic Online, you won't be seeing Fifth Dawn in your lifetime. Better make arrangements to freeze your head like Ted Williams.
These words come with some small about of credibility attached - as of this writing, my Magic Online Limited rating is 1913, good enough for 58th on the entire server. And I only had to bribe thirty or forty guys to do it. Did I say thirty or forty? I meant,"none."
Yes, yes. I covered that up pretty well. It was seamless.
Still got it!
The guide is simple. I give you my personal pick order, then I make a few comments about each card. There's a lot of humor and such in here - because I didn't want this whole shebang to creak along like a rusty drawbridge. Whether or not you find it funny, well - I can only cross my fingers and hope. The numbers in brackets beside the uncommon and rare picks are where they should be inserted in the common listing if you want to create a master list. (This is the same system I used for my OLS U/R drafter's guide).
Fair warning, drafters! Card choices in Mirrodin are highly dependent on what you've already got in your pile. I've tried to mention this where possible, but keep in mind that pick orders often change as the draft goes along based on certain factors. For colors like Black, Blue, and Red, that factor is usually the number of artifacts. For White, the main factor is the amount of Equipment. There are four or five White cards that really need a bunch of Equipment to shine, so keep that in mind.
That said, these listings aren't based on any special set of assumptions - they're my own personal lists and they work whether you have one Bonesplitter or four (I would still take Skyhunter Patrol over Skyhunter Cub). Have fun, and enjoy the read.
White Mirrodin Commons
2. Blinding Beam
3. Skyhunter Patrol
4. Raise The Alarm
5. Auriok Transfixer
6. Gold Myr
7. Skyhunter Cub
8. Leonin Den-Guard
9. Soldier Replica
10. Awe Strike
11. Razor Barrier
12. Ancient Den
13. Titanium Golem
14. Leonin Elder
15. Sunbeam Spellbomb
x. Loxodon Mender
x. Sphere of Purity
Sometimes that fat creature sells a few too many tablets and the DEA has to roll up in Ann Arbor and get him. For the low, low price of 2W, you too can join the investigation. You po-po? Yeah, you po-po.
Players on the receiving end of this particular removal spell tend to waive their right to remain silent. The choice between Arrest and Blinding Beam is close, but I take Arrest over the Beam simply because Beam does a lot less to help you"not lose." When you're beating down, they're both amazing, but this saucy enchantment plays excellent defense as well, dealing with all sorts of opposing baddies that the Beam can only hinder. In the common slot, Spikeshot Goblin is a good example - and Arrest does top notch work against bomb rares as well, defusing such explosive cards as Arc-Slogger, Pentavus, and Glissa Sunseeker.
No one is going to shoot you if you take Beam first, though. Beam is better when you're up against Arcbounds with sacrifice effects, and it's not so easily stopped by cards like Razor Barrier, Annul, Elf Replica, and Aether Spellbomb, all of which generally make maindecks.
All things serve the Beam.
February 29th, 2004. 10:00PM, Eastern Standard time. Noteworthy not just because of the leap year or because I chose that day of the week to stop drafting and take a shower, but because I actually lost a game where I cast Blinding Beam with a couple of creatures on the table.
Yeah, I know - I was just as surprised as you! I think the guy had three Electrostatic Bolt in hand or something, that's the only possible explanation for it.
Blinding Beam turns an even match into a win and an advantage into a complete rout. In your quest to deal twenty damage as quickly as possible, you will find no better companion than this saucy instant, one of Mirrodin White's hottest tamales. As sordid as this unfortunate bulletin may seem to you if you're an experienced attacker, Magic has these things called"blockers" that often prevent us from smashing the face directly. Blinding Beam is perfect for clearing these guys out for a couple of turns, which is more than you'll need if you're barreling towards the face with a 3/x and his 2/x sidekick. If your men are carrying Specter's Shroud or powering up Talon of Pain, that's just gravy on top of an already sumptuous 3W entree.
Don't be one of those fools who looks at Blinding Beam and Skyhunter Cub and says "I could have a 5/3 flyer with Bonesplitter, nuts to this Beam nonsense!" Unless Mr. T, (that esteemed van-riding, gold-wearin' philosopher) has led me astray, fools never win, and should be pitied. Pass that Cub! Take that Beam!
The best common creature that White has available, you've been making a mistake every time you grabbed Skyhunter Cub or Leonin Den-Guard over this fine flying feline. It's simple:
Patrol + 'Splitter = 4/3 flying, first strike
Den-Guard + Splitter = 4/4, does not tap to attack
Cub + Splitter = 5/3 flying
Patrol by itself = 2/3 flying, first strike
Den-Guard by itself = goalie that couldn't dent a tin can
Cub by itself = The Mighty Gray Ogre, Able To Leap Tall Goblin Huts In A Single Bound
Just take the Patrol, you'll be glad you did.
Raise The Alarm
Ring a ding ding ding! Ring a ding ding dong!
The second best"creature" spell in Mirrodin White, this card does it all. Ambushes bad players, holds off good players, passes around Viridian Longbow like a joystick at a crap game. (Boxcars!) Beats for respectable damage, trades with two x/3's if you have Bonesplitter. Thunderstaff is simultaneously your best friend and worst enemy if you're playing Raise. And oh, you should be!
Raise the Alarm has great synergy with many cards, such as Echoing Courage (*ka-thud!*) and Spawning Pit (*splish-splash*) and gives you a couple of bodies to work with if you're playing a"build your own monster" type of deck with Equipment, Tooth of Chiss-Goria, and/or Green pump effects. If you've got a Bonesplitter and a Vulshok Morningstar, after all, you don't really care what hapless minion is under the full arsenal, so long as it beats for at least five. Soldier tokens have no union, so send 'em into the Red Zone with full field Equipment - you won't hear a peep.
I love this girl. Show me a pack with Transfixer and Den-Guard/Cub and I'll take the Transfixer every time - her ability is the place where octane goes when it gets off work.
What does she do? What does she *do*?
Constant reader, what *doesn't* she do?
Auriok Transfixer stops Darksteel Gargoyle from beating your face in the late game.
Auriok Transfixer stops Crystal Shard from tampering with your all-important combat phase.
Auriok Transfixer shuts off that Thunderstaff that is preventing your army of 1/x's from getting in there
Auriok Transfixer carries the 'Splitter and acts as a hitter, baby!
Having an early game is more important than ever nowadays, and the Transfixer is probably the strongest first turn creature in the environment. Well, it's either her or Disciple of the Vault. And Disciple of the Vault lacks that certain something I like to call"titillating attire." Just look at her - I don't know whether to pay a W or pull out some beads and a camcorder.
When fourth pick plus rolls around - you better believe I like Goooooooooold.
It's funny - I have some decks that can do without this guy, and then there are the double Patrol decks where turn 3 is a party and everyone is invited except for Darksteel Colossus (he's so rude!). Again, Skyhunter Cub and Leonin Den-Guard aren't *that* good, and the jury is still out on whether they're *good* at all. Now in Gold Myr, you've got a proven commodity. Let the turn three Patrols and Battlemages fly!
I've spent the last while bashing this poor lad, and for good reason - Simba takes a nap until you hand him something to bash with (in the circle of light!). That said, you could do a lot worse than a Gray Ogre with an upside, so don't dismiss the Cub entirely. Sometimes the old ways are still the best, and if you get the four pieces of equipment you need to make this guy better than mediocre, nothing will be able to wipe the smile off of your face while you go to town to the tune of four or five damage/turn.
All in all, pretty much what you'd expect from the childhood friend of a flatulent warthog and a wisecracking hyena. Or whatever Timone is. The only Veldt I'm familiar with taps for W/G and uses depletion counters.
The thing I like most about the Den-Guard is that he plays solid defense even without the tools to make use of his ability. Putting the brakes on those Alpha Myr, Tel-Jilad Chosen, and Needlebugs isn't a glamorous job, but someone has to shovel in those hours, and this gent is more than up to the task.
Then you draw your Bonesplitter and, like Dylan said: "The game gets rough."
Some people see Den-Guard late and then have an aneurysm like they just got passed a seventh pick Razor Golem. Calm down, guys. He attacks for one a lot of the time. I can bang my fist on the table and do more damage than that.
"Alright men- time for the army physical! Drop those drawers!"
Okay, so he's not like a flesh and blood Soldier in every regard, but close enough for government work. The important thing here is the ability to knock a Hoverguard Observer out of the sky or trade with a 4/4 as early as turn 4. If your deck is short on ways to deal with evasion creatures, Soldier Replica is a fine solution, and he even swings for a point while waiting to sacrifice himself for your greater glory. Higher picks or not, cards like Fangren Hunter, Neurok Spy, Leonin Skyhunter, Rustmouth Ogre, and Nim Shrieker all hit the boneyard when the 1W gets paid and all is said and done.
This is why robotic fighters are the wave of the future here on earth and in Mirrodin both. You'll find that the Soldier Replica nearly always trades for a higher pick than himself, he never gets tired, never goes AWOL, and only occasionally succumbs to"Universal Soldier" - like bouts of homicidal rampage against his creators.
Crush. Kill. Destroy.
You say "Awe Strike". Your opponent says "Aww $%&^!!"
White's number one "man, if he has it, I'm screwed" card in Mirrodin, the good part about Awe Strike is that sometimes you *do* have it, and they still have to attack that 7/7 Fangren Hunter into your five blockers anyway. It's a close call between this and Razor Barrier, which has a similar function in combat on most occasions and also fizzles removal, but the extra mana makes the difference. It may not seem like it, but the difference between keeping 1W open and keeping W open is big enough in the early game to be most gruesome. Given the choice, run the Strike unless you're up against multiple Arrests or you have a Platinum Angel or other bomb to protect and you think it's your only way to win.
Once you have your fourteen (or fifteen) creatures all set to go, flanked in the deckbuilding area with your obviously powerful tricks and trappings like Sword of Fire and Ice, Grab the Reins, and Crystal Shard, you'll probably have four or five slots left in your deck for utility cards that, while not backbreakingly powerful, are very useful. Razor Barrier (and the above Awe Strike) are two such cards that your White decks should be glad to have.
Razor Barrier is excellent at trading for a pick higher than itself, and can often be used to fizzle opposing removal spells. That's not all, though. It can free a creature from beneath Arrest or Psychic Overload, nullify combat damage after it's on the stack, or provide an important creature with pseudo-evasion just long enough to hit the red zone to land the fatal blow.
Your goal in the Darksteel pack is partly to pick up as many Razor Golems as you can. If you do manage to get any Razor Golems, this card is something you don't want in your deck. For this reason, you can't justify taking the Den early. You're also not likely to get it late, as people tend to hate draft artifact lands away from dangerous Affinity decks instead of taking that third copy of Turn to Dust. As such, you probably won't see much of Ancient Den at all.
This land is best in a W/R deck with Shrapnel Blast, Krark-Clan Grunts, and maybe a Myr Enforcer or Frogmite. If you're playing heavy White or W/G, you won't want it, nor will you want it if you have even a single Razor Golem in your pile. That said, sometimes you don't have a Golem and you've picked up a Somber Hoverguard or some Nim Shriekers, or your white is just a splash. Then it's worth getting your hands on.
Magic Online makes figuring this sort of thing out an easy task, since you can view your picks as the draft progresses. In cardboard drafts, you have to keep rough track of what sort of White deck you're drafting if you expect to know where to take your Dens.
This card, possessed of both a nickname that I cannot repeat here and a considerable level of pure mediocrity, is one of those dudes that goes in when you don't have fourteen *good* creatures. He's ugly enough that you'll seriously consider dropping to thirteen in such a scenario, and if you've got a good spell sitting on the sidelines, you might be correct to thin the ranks a little and take a gamble. Most playable when you're U/W with Vedalken Engineers, ask yourself how often you draft *that* deck and I'm sure you can figure out for yourself just how frequently you'll be singing the praises of this dog.
Bottom line, if you're playing Titanium Golem, your deck probably isn't very good.
At least Titanium Golem attacks for three and fends off Oxidda Golems and Vulshok Berserkers. Typically, Leonin Elder gains you a few life and then hops on the wagon during a gang block with his fingers crossed. Sometimes you get a creature that is better than he has any right to be (usually when you drop him first turn and suit him up with a Bonesplitter, or when you get him out early against an Affinity deck).
Sometimes you draw him on turn 7. Sometimes you're playing against Green. There is no deck that really"wants" the Elder. You never look upon his whiskered countenance and say to yourself "alright, I'm going to be incrementing more numbers than my tax agent." I don't care if Spawning Pit lives in your pocket or and Nuisance Engine nests in your beard, you do not want this guy. You want a good creature.
Scraping the bottom of the barrel, this usually draws you into the next card, which you hope is something good. Sunbeam Spellbomb gets played more in non-White decks than it does when you're running the Plains, which is not exactly the most ringing endorsement under the sun. The second ability actually reads: "You get to gain enough to not die, you get to see your next card, and it better be good because you're obviously taking a bunch of damage that you can't stop."
Play this if you're short on playables and you want to dig for your bombs. I personally have never played it, but I've seen better players than me run it, so it's not a total dud.
Overcosted by only one colorless mana, that's enough to make it almost completely useless. Just to give you an idea of how bad this guy is, I find any excuse that I can to run fourteen creatures, up to and including the use of such platinum hits as Lumengrid Warden, Viridian Acolyte (in two color decks), and Leonin Den-Guard (with no Equipment).
If Mender is the only guy I have available when I'm up to thirteen creatures, then you can bet your bottom dollar that I will be running only thirteen creatures that day. An extra land is better.
Sphere of Purity
The chief reason to take this card? Well, a foil is worth 1/8th of a ticket, so there is that. What *I* do, though, is use my Timex to record exactly how long it takes me to click on"Hide this card" and then, the next time I take a Sphere of Purity, I try to *break* that record.
Current time? 0.2 seconds. This has the distinction of being one of those cards that I have never had played against me, even after a couple hundred MMD drafts. And I play a lot of 4-3-2-2, so that's saying something. Even the 1394-rated raredrafting accounts know how useless this card is. I suggest you join their ranks in this regard.
White Mirrodin Uncommons
1. Leonin Skyhunter (2.5)
2. Slith Ascendant (2.6)
3. Auriok Bladewarden (4.5)
4. Altar's Light (4.6)
5. Roar of the Kha (6.5)
6. Taj-Nar Swordsmith (6.6)
7. Pearl Shard (6.7)
8. Soul Nova (8.5)
x. Tempest of Light
Part of the most memorable uncommon run on Magic Online - the infamous"Leonin Skyhunter, Looming Hoverguard, Lightning Greaves" triumvirate. If you open that pack, you want to take the Greaves, even if you're going to go White later - it's just better. If you get passed a pack with a couple of uncommons missing and a Skyhunter waiting for you, you can be fairly sure that White will be open for you this draft.
The merits of the card should be obvious. Skyhunter comes out fast, hits hard, it's just as efficient as all hell.
Once you've drafted a Skyhunter, watch your mana. Slith Firewalker is not a pick you should be making unless you've already got more Chromatic Spheres than a San Francisco Christmas tree (you literally need three Chromatic Spheres in your pile to make that pick over even a moderately comparable card). You should likewise be avoiding cards like Annul, Krark-Clan Shaman (News Flash - he's good now) and Disciple of the Vault (just take the Pewter Golem!).
A potential game winner, the Ascendant starts off fragile and usually draws more removal than Christopher Rush. If you have a choice between this card and a Skyhunter Patrol, make your decision based on what cards you already have. If you've got Lightning Greaves, scoop up the Ascendant. If you can't base the choice on cards you already have, then tailor your future picks to the choice you make. Whispersilk Cloak is a fine companion for the Ascendant (don't worry, you'll get it late), while any deck with a Skyhunter Patrol is going to want those Gold Myr more than life itself.
If you're playing W/R and you've got a Spikeshot and a Fractured Loyalty in your pile, you should fall over and weep at the feet of almighty Buddha if you get shipped a pack with this guy. A great Spikeshot and"Big Fracs" enabler, the Bladewarden is terrific with Equipment and acts as a sort of"poor man's Leonin Battlemage" if you have nothing for him to work with.
I find the Bladewarden to be best in W/R and W/G (where you can Predator's Strike him and turn any blocking situation into a complete asshammering), but he's a fine card almost anywhere. The only negative is the small body. If this card were a 1/3, it'd be illegal.
No it isn't, I tried lifting one once while I was LARPing.
Oh, you mean the card.
Yes, it's fine. Which is more than I can say for that joke. I'm never sorry to have an Altar's Light in my deck, if only because I know there's no Welding Jar or Pteron Ghost that will save that opposing blocker or bomb when the time comes. It has an aura of finality about it that you don't experience with more pedestrian removal spells like Arrest. Arrest, ha! Any jackhole with a five cent Elf Replica can get out from under that card. You don't escape Altar's Light!
(P.S.: In no way am I condoning the taking of Altar's Light over Arrest, which is much better. We now return you to your regularly scheduled draft article.)
Roar of the Kha
Someone asked me once at an event if I liked "RotK" and I said:
"Yeah, I love it! On a sunny afternoon, there's nothing I'd rather do that adventure along with Liu Bei and his oath brothers in their quest to unify China and free Luo Yang and the child emperor from the villainous Dong Zhuo and his chief lieutenant Lu Bu, mightiest warrior of the era!"
It was an awkward moment for all concerned.
Eventually someone else asked me. I said it was very playable, but I wouldn't feel bad leaving it in the board if I was short on men and long on removal and better tricks.
What you essentially get with Taj-Nar Swordsmith is both the Equipment and a medium-sized man to stick it on. An obvious inclusion when you have bomb gear like Skullclamp, Sword of Fire and Ice, or Loxodon Warhammer, the Swordsmith is a fine man when you need to search out something more mundane like Bonesplitter, Viridian Longbow, or Leonin Bola. In fact, I think the best possible use for Swordsmith is to run him turn 5 and grab a one-mana pig sticker of some sort. Card advantage! I seem to have some vague recollection of being an authority on that subject.
Ah, yes - my articles were revered by all. (This memory blocking stuff really works!)
Somewhere, long ago, a curious explorer pried upon a huge clam and grabbed him some booty. And you get to benefit.
This card consistently goes late, and that's good for you, since it will make your maindeck 90% of the time. Pearl Shard isn't obviously powerful, but when it's on the table you'll find that you can control the flow of the game with ease by dominating combat or nullifying evasion creatures. In this way, Pearl Shard is not a defensive card, but an offensive one as well - it's easy to keep attacking when your guys aren't going to die, and it's easy to win a race when your opponent is swinging for X minus two.
I rarely draft awful decks.
My opponent rarely has three Arrests.
I usually get an Echoing Calm (not that it matters, since that card is also awful).
What does this all mean? That you should never, ever play Tempest of Light unless the stars align just right, the sky goes black as sackcloth and the moon becomes as blood.
White Mirrodin Rares
1. Solar Tide (0.1)
2. Leonin Sun-Standard (0.2)
3. Leonin Abunas (0.3)
4. Luminous Angel (3.4)
5. Auriok Steelshaper (8.6)
6. Loxodon Punisher (8.7)
x. Second Sunrise
x. Loxodon Peacekeeper
x. Rule of Law
Some cards in Limited go beyond a mere dalliance with ridiculousness by actually wallowing and reveling in utter unfairness. Wrath effects tend to be of this wallowing breed, and Solar Tide is no exception. Decimating a board either completely or with scalpel-like precision, there is no White card you'd take over this ridiculous bomb, an apocalypse-unleashing sorcery that few expect and from which even fewer recover.
I'm wasting my time with this. Saying Solar Tide is good is like saying "Jacko is weird," or "Bill Gates is rich." It's beyond elementary, entering into the realm of the brutally obvious. So I say to you, Mr. Reader:
Yoda is old.
War is hell.
Phil Samms is awful. (+thxb)
And Solar Tide is a first pick.
This card is not fair. If your opponent doesn't remove it right away, the game will be over. Sure, it's an artifact and easy to remove, and sure, it doesn't do much without a creature on the board, but if you've got a couple of Raise tokens in play alongside a couple of other passable beaters, the game is over.
It reads like a Greek tragedy. You play creature, he plays creature. You play creature, he plays creature. You play creature, he plays creature. You play Sun-Standard and attack. If he blocks, he loses everything. If he doesn't, he dies.
Nope. Which is fine with us.
R/G decks are hard to draft these days - sometimes they don't get the removal they need, and sometimes they get cut off in Red and stuck with mediocre Darksteel Green. Sometimes the Deconstructs, Shatters, Goblin Replicas, and Electrostatic Bolts don't come, and the deck is forced to play a mediocre beatdown game without the artifact hate that is the signature of the archetype.
Worse still, sometimes you play this guy on turn 4 and render Echoing Ruin.dec as impotent as the Iraqi police force. You can't burn him, you're hard pressed to beat through him, and you can't target his supporting cast. If you draft an Abunas, shift your artifact creatures up a little in the pick order - it's worth it. Better than any White uncommon or common by a good margin, you should want to pass a gallstone sooner than this guy. Anybody packing Deconstructs and more will wilt like yesterday's erection as soon as the miggity-miggity-miggity-miggity mack daddy makes his presence felt.
Overrated. Luminous Angel is a virtual mulligan until around turn 7, only works in heavy-White decks (not that those are all that rare), and generally sits around being uncastable while you should be throwing out stuff like Razor Golem and Blinding Beam.
On the other hand, it's a 4/4 flier that leaks Spirits like a ruptured keg in Dublin. Why complain? Just don't expect this card to be as good as the last three rares - it's not even close. The Luminous Angel is only a bomb in the loosest possible sense, and I mean loose as in"hanging in flaps", loose as in seeing 50% of flops, loose like my qualifications for being featured in "Ask The Pros."
You shouldn't first pick this, because the days of taking a White card and then hunting for Equipment for three packs while passing Skyhunter Patrols are long gone, dead as old Davey Jones.
You won't get it late, though, because no one knows that the previous paragraph is true, and all the 1650-1700 players are trying to draft White-equip like there was a ticket to Willy Wonka's chocolate factory hidden inside every third copy of Leonin Scimitar. They see this card and their eyes light up. Don't let this sort of thing happen to you.
Take the Steelshaper if your deck is evolving along Equipment lines (it's a fun little beater when it works, and good stuff with Viridian Longbow!). Otherwise, look for any reason to pass it.
The only thing this guy punishes is the clod that drafts him expecting him to be good. He's almost strictly worse than Skyhunter Cub, he's clunky, and even if he gets loaded up with gear, you can still chump block all day. I prefer to play with creatures that don't need to fight with an armory lodged up their asses.
Run him if you've got four equips - that's probably the minimum (the same is true of another platinum mis-hit, the deceptively awful Auriok Glaivemaster). Five or six is what you really want, and that's stretching it far enough to make childbirth look mild by comparison.
I have never played this. It's symmetrical and the symmetry is very hard to break - not worth the trouble. Draft a beater instead, and leave Second Sunrise to bad Constructed players.
A walking joke. (ur mom lolz)
Rule of Law
Another symmetrical card that is almost impossible to put to any good use when you're playing Limited. Don't play it, but draft it if you need that 1/3rd of a ticket. They add up after a while, like toenail clippings behind the great bed of capitalism.
White Darksteel Commons
1. Razor Golem
2. Pteron Ghost
3. Loxodon Mystic
4. Auriok Glaivemaster
x. Metal Fatigue
x. Ritual of Restoration
x. Echoing Calm
Some have called this card the best common in Darksteel, and while I'm not sure whether that honor should fall to Razor Golem or Barbed Lightning (or, as some have said, Grimclaw Bats!), the card is clearly ridiculous. The fact that Razor Golem arrives in the Darksteel pack has rendered Ancient Den all but unplayable, so coveted is the"turn 3 Raizy" opening.
Pteron Ghost is only one slot away from Razor Golem in the pick order above, but don't let that fool you. The two are separated not just by a gulf of card quality but an out-and-out chasm, complete with precarious precipice leading downward into the abyssal pits of Tartarus. If you ever take Pteron Ghost or any other White common over Razor Golem, you sir are a buffoon.
Razor Golem is good with everything that makes a White deck great. It is fast beats, plays defense, works terrific with Longbow - I just can't sing the praises of this fine card enough. Now if only I could do something about all those unpleasant deaths to Electrostatic Bolt...
Welding Jar on wheels. Or wings, as the case may be. Considering how underrated Welding Jar is (I thank the heavens above when I have Jar on the table and I'm playing a bomb Equipment or Isochron Scepter/Panoptic Mirror), it isn't a big leap to the realization that this is a fine card that should almost always make your deck if you're playing the Plains.
One of the most common things you can do with Pteron Ghost, just to give you an idea of how versatile and useful the cards is, is to double-block with the Ghost and an artifact creature against a larger adversary (say, your Pteron Ghost and Arcbound Bruiser blocking a Fangren Hunter). After damage is on the stack, regenerate the Bruiser! Congratulations - you've traded your 1/1 Ghost for a 4/4 monster!
Stop taking Glaivemaster over Ghost just because you have a Bonesplitter. *Anything* is good with a Bonesplitter. Auriok Glaivemaster sucks - the Ghost is where it's at. Jive turkey.
Rock solid ability, but that casting cost is as pliable as a fat man's belly. You'll fill the holes in your deck with the Mystic, and that tapping skill will win you a few games, too. Just don't expect miracles. If it can't beat Wanderguard Sentry in a straight-up fight, I say hang your hat somewhere else, maybe the kingdom where five mana gets you something big, nasty, and Green.
But enough about your mom. Let's move on.
Auriok Glaivemaster basically gives your opponent the ability to decimate your army by destroying your Equipment. If you play a Skyhunter Patrol or a Loxodon Mystic and suit it up with Bonesplitter, your enemy is still staring down a sizable body, even if the Splitter gets the hook. If you have Glaivemaster and Bonesplitter, you're stuck backing a horse that couldn't bend cardboard in the face of a Rustspore Ram.
Glaivemaster is fine with five pieces of Equipment, minimum. And they should be quick pieces, too - by far the best ones are Bonesplitter and Specter's Shroud. Any other scenario and you should be taking anything else.
Hallow deserves mention because of how good it is against Essence Drain, Consume Spirit, Shrapnel Blast, Barbed Lightning, and Fireball. If you see multiples of or a combination of those cards, side it in. Seriously. It *will* win you the game on occasion, and also works against Grab the Reins! Not bad for a 14th pick. I always try to get one.
A poor man's Blinding Beam. Not just any poor man, either. The poorest S.O.B. this side of Mogadishu. We're talking poor, poor, poor, poor, poor. When you ring his doorbell, he leans out the window and yells"Ding!" (PS: This card is awful.)
Ritual of Restoration
I've heard of it being played. If you only have one way to win and you're not afraid to admit it, there are worse things to have than a little insurance. That said, something went right to hell during the draft if you're running this sucker.
Goes in against that three-Arrest deck. I have yet to encounter the three-Arrest deck, but I'll keep you posted.
White Darksteel Uncommons
1. Test of Faith (0.5)
2. Leonin Battlemage (0.6)
3. Stir the Pride (0.7)
4. Emissary of Hope (1.5)
5. Purge (1.6)
Test of Faith
Wow, is this card good. If you've got it in hand, you can turn any combat situation into a complete disaster for your opponent, probably killing one of his creatures and leaving a large monster behind. Some good targets for this include Spikeshot Goblin, Auriok Bladewarden, and any Arcbound creature - but in a pinch, even a 5/5 Elf Replica is pretty scary. Test of Faith is the number one White uncommon in Darksteel. Try it - you'll be beside yourself with glee. This spell leaves your opponent leaking in places he probably didn't even know he had places.
Some guy in #mtgwacky was telling me shortly after the set was released that this was a bomb, and that it was dominating the table whenever it happened to show up. I tiraded back, saying it wasn't that good and sometimes you just get a bad Nantuko Disciple.
Leonin Battlemage is insane. Even without the ridiculous synergy with Viridian Longbow, it would be insane. I have won games from out of nowhere with Bonesplitter (pump), Razor Barrier (pump), Predator's Strike (pump), irrelevant creature (pump), attack with everything. And nothing compares to the sinful pleasure you get from running a"Raise the Alarm, untap, block, pump." In R/W, he's another targeting effect to turn those Big Fracs into 1R Control Magics.
Stir the Pride
I used to think this card was completely ridiculous and the number one White uncommon in the set. Turns out I was half right. It's still ridiculous, and it wins games by itself, but you generally have to wait until turn 7 to bring the pain. You'll rarely have a choice between this card and the above two bombs, but if you do, take either the Battlemage or the Test of Faith - they really are better. Of course, if a Spirit Link + Overrun is what you have to settle for, you shouldn't exactly be beside yourself with grief. If you have three creatures or so and cast this on turn 7 during an attack, you're probably winning.
Emissary of Hope
Mmm... clock negation. I don't often draft dedicated Affinity decks, and whenever I see this little pest hit the table, I'm very glad of that fact, glad like a man who just missed taking a red-eye flight that plunged, burning, into the Atlantic. Emissary of Hope is a creature that some decks can't race, and that property alone makes the unremarkable 2/1 body and the clunky 1WW casting cost more than worth the effort.
That said, the decks I draft usually aren't bothered overmuch by the Emissary. This is probably due in part to my emphasis on drafting Viridian Longbow, and also because I cheat a lot when playing in real life and usually keep an Electrostatic Bolt up my sleeve for just such an occasion.
What do you take if you open Razor Golem and Emissary of Hope? Both require a heavy White commitment, so it comes down to other factors. If your deck wants artifacts, you take the Razor Golem. If you have cards like Talon of Pain and Specter's Shroud and need evasion, you might consider the Emissary. Perhaps a more common scenario will be the Razor/Emissary choice when you've already got a couple of Ancient Dens and an Atog. In that case, you're setting yourself back by taking the Golem.
Will they ever print "Binge"?
The precon could be called "Bulemia Blast!", or maybe "Huuuuuuuuuaaaauuuuuuurrghf!" (Or was that an Onslaught Beast?)
This card was designed to be the polar opposite of Terror, and you'll be glad to get it - the weakest of the fab five is still a very fine card that can swing a game. Nothing negative can really be said about a card that can get Nim Shambler out of your hair, or (and this is perhaps the best and most common use) blow that damn Pewter Golem right to Christ out.
It's a shame to see Black mages go through so much trouble to keep that 1B open, only to have their plans disintegrate like so much wet tissue paper.
White Darksteel Rares
1. Pristine Angel (0.1)
2. Pulse of the Fields (0.2)
3. Leonin Shikari (1.7)
4. Turn the Tables (3.5)
5. Steelshaper Apprentice (3.6)
For Limited play, the best White card in the block. If you open Pristine Angel, you should literally switch into a three-color build (or dump your second color, if you can), because this card is, as they say in some circles, "approx the dumbest ever," a.k.a. "obv ridic" a.k.a. "hl, hl indeed." [HL translates to"How Lucky" for those who aren't hip to the lingo, yo. - Knut]
You can't attack into the Angel, and you won't have much luck defending, either - even something so trifling as a Battlegrowth with result in tons of pain for whatever cadre of fliers you've assigned the unenviable task of stopping the busty, sword swinging babe with the killer smile. (And I do mean"killer".)
Cast it turn 6, but don't be coy. Just shut up and win.
Pulse of the Fields
True story: Famous funnyman and lush W.C Fields requested in his will that some of his fortune be allocated to build a home for orphan white boys and girls. The request was never honored.
Also a true story: Pulse of the Fields will win you games whether you're white, black, asian, Martian, orphan or heir to the throne of Saudi Arabia. Opponents *will* request that you stop nullifying their attack phases and generally spread-eagling and sodomizing every attempt to win the game that crawls forth, bawling with wretched weakness, from their pitiful decks... but like the executors of Fields' ill-fated last testament, you may feel free to ignore them.
This card is too good for words. So let's just sit here silently for the next ninety minutes. I run my mouth too much anyway.
The second coming of the White Weenie messiah is just a bear. Sometimes it's a little more - the ability is pretty useful on occasion, especially with Leonin Bola - but basically you're just drafting a solid creature. I sometimes take it over Razor Golem because it's worth a ticket. In any draft with more than online rating points on the line, you should pass it along and take the Golem. If you do nab him, though, you can pull some good tricks like nudging that Mask of Memory/Specter's Shroud over to the unblocked man, or passing Lightning Greaves around like a bottle of hooch at a Louisiana bridal shower.
Oh, and White Weenie still sucks. It's going to take more that Skullclamp to revive that deck, it's going to take Jesus himself.
Turn the Tables
A little better than Soul Nova is, and that's no big ticket, because Soul Nova just isn't that good. It's clunky, it's color intensive, it telegraphs itself like Samuel Morse after three lines of China White. The same goes for Turn the Tables, but Triple T is different because it's a fog (unless they sacrifice or otherwise remove the target, in which case Turn the Tables doesn't do jack squat) as well as removal for a big attacker.
If you have to first pick this out of your Darksteel pack, that is one awful pack. If you're low on creatures going in, you even have to take Pteron Ghost or Loxodon Mystic over this.
Almost unplayable. I've run him in Sealed (where, if nothing else, he can block and bounce himself every couple of turns while searching out all your Equipment) but draft decks are faster and more focused. If he was a 3/3, we'd be in business, but he somehow ended up as a 1/3, which is just terrible.
If you have a Warhammer/Sword/Clamp and your deck is a veritable elephant graveyard of mediocre and blisteringly bad cards, why not throw him in? It certainly can't hurt (how many copies of Goblin War Wagon does one man need to run?) and it might help you mise enough games to make something of that draft gone awry.
If you ever draft six Ancient Dens, four Gold Myr, four Talismans, and eight or nine other artifact creatures, feel free to play it.
What else can be said?
Well, maybe that the rotten, gangrenous foulness of this awful card gnaws at me like the bite of a serrated and diseased tooth belonging to the most putrid, vomitous and cursed vermin ever excreted into the realm of the living by whatever unholy powers are responsible for such bile-flecked abominations.
Besides that, though, nothing much can be said.
Except that my stomach churns with the pestilent nausea of a thousand influenza corpses whenever I reluctantly lay my offended eyes on this stinking, flyblown, lungbutter-encrusted abortion of a card.
That's it though.
That's it for the MMD White Review. Remember kids- fourteen creatures all the time, sixteen lands with three or less Myr, fifteen lands with four or more. Read your signals, pay close attention to opportunities to make earlier picks more useful (i.e. synergy) and you too can achieve a 1900 Magic Online rating and be featured in "Ask The Pros" like your old buddy Geordie (and hey, nobody deserves it more!)
It's good to be back. I think I'll write some more of these. In the meantime, happy drafting! And if you have any questions or comments about the pick orders or card strategies, feel free to email me or chime in on the forums! (Make sure all emails have the subject line"ENRALGE YUR MANHOOD")
Until next time, it's been real.
FP_GLyM on MODO (1913 Limited - personal best!)
GT__ on #mtgwacky