Welcome to an Innistrad draft walkthrough! I prefer the text-based versions to videos; when I tried to do videos there were a lot of complaints about the quality so I'm just going to be old-fashioned and write this up the long way. If you don't like it get off my lawn.Pack 1 pick 1:
There's not really that much of a decision here. Divine Reckoning is fine but white is the wrong color for that effect. White in Innistrad has mostly just a lot of small creatures which is exactly the opposite of what you want with Reckoning; it would be much better in say green where you have a few large five- and six-drops or black where you can remove their last guy standing. It's still playable but I'm not going to go crazy and take it first. Even Grasp of Phantoms would be preferable but still better is the black card Moan of the Unhallowed. Moan would be fine even if it didn't have flashback which gives you some idea of how good it is with it. Four Zombies in a single card for a reasonable price is a ton of value and you can't go wrong by picking this early and often.
Pack 1 pick 2:
The flip card is missing and there's still a Mirror-Mad Phantasm in the pack. That's a little worrying because it's not unlikely that the guy to my right took a Bloodline Keeper over it which might end up stranding my Moan. Mayor of Avabruck or Instigator Gang are other possibilities I suppose although that pick would be a lot closer. I personally wouldn't take Daybreak Ranger over Mirror-Mad Phantasm first because of the color commitment but it's not out of the question.
Anyway my pick here is fairly clear; there's nothing that compares to the power of the Phantasm. It's a shame the pack has several other solid blue cards in Makeshift Mauler Moon Heron and Spectral Flight but Phantasm is good enough—especially in U/B—that you just have to take it. A 5/1 flier for five is already very good and it's immune to Bonds of Faith Claustrophobia and Rebuke as well as anything else when you have mana up. Dumping cards in your bin is just gravy.
Pack 1 pick 3:
Our options here aren't quite as rosy but it's still a fine pack. Chapel Geist and Travel Preparations are probably the two best cards but they aren't worth moving into another color for when Silent Departure is so close behind. This card is a massive tempo play—bounce your guy play a guy swing next turn bounce it again swing can be very hard to come back from and it's great to have a copy or two if you end up with Armored Skaabs Deranged Assistants Forbidden Alchemies and the like. As it happens we already have a Mirror-Mad Phantasm!
Pack 1 pick 4:
We have a few options here; Stitcher's Apprentice Moon Heron Markov Patrician and Typhoid Rats are all fine creatures that you'll rarely cut from any but the very best U/B deck. Typhoid Rats is good when you're short on early game Stitcher's Apprentice when you have Falkenrath Noble/Morkrut Banshee-type effects Markov Patrician when you need a midgame stabilizer and Moon Heron when you want the late game + fliers. Since it's so early in the draft it's impossible to tell which card our deck will want the most so the more inherently powerful card is the choice. In this case it's Moon Heron. Four-mana three-power fliers have always been good in every Limited format ever and Innistrad is certainly no exception.
Pack 1 pick 5:
We now have three blue cards and one black card (Moan of the Unhallowed) so it's safe to say that we're definitely blue but aren't as solidly locked in to our second color. However that one black card is pretty insane so we'd certainly like to stay in U/B if possible; we need a very strong signal to want to change colors. This pack illustrates the dilemma we have—do we take the great off-color removal spell (Prey Upon) or the OK on-color creature (Abattoir Ghoul)? How much of a signal is that fifth-pick Prey Upon? Bearing in mind that we've seen very little green up to this point I went with the safe pick—Abattoir Ghoul. Prey Upon is very good but Moan of the Unhallowed is even better and it's more likely than not the late removal spell is an anomaly. Also U/B is a better color combination than U/G thanks to cards like Forbidden Alchemy Ghoulraiser and Ghoulcaller's Chant.
Pack 1 pick 6:
Our options here are Ghoulcaller's Chant Stitcher's Apprentice and Typhoid Rats. Ghoulcaller's Chant is pretty good in an archetype that runs lots of Zombies naturally and Deranged Assistant/Armored Skaab make it more of an Eladamri's Call than a Disentomb. However we can pick one of those up later should we need it. Stitcher's Apprentice is a fine card but not really exciting in U/B; it's excellent with Traitorous Blood or Elder Cathar / Thraben Sentry or Festerhide Boar—but black is really short on the sweet synergies Stitcher's Apprentice needs to make it great. I do very much like Typhoid Rats in U/B though. You're typically short on early blockers and long on late game and fliers and Typhoid Rats fills that hole perfectly. It seems that people are catching onto Sensory Deprivation but I still see no love for the Rats :( Also of the five cards we have four cost four or more mana and one is Silent Departure not exactly a curve-filler.
Pack 1 pick 7:
Here it's between Think Twice and Village Cannibals. Cannibals has very little synergy with the U/B shell but it's a pretty solid card anyway particularly against white opponents. Think Twice is worse in general; it's a very durdly card but it has a ton of synergy with everything else in your deck. You play like a control deck most of the time so you want the extra card and milling it is always good news. Generally I find I want at least one Think Twice in my U/B decks to grind them out that little bit more effectively. Village Cannibals for all its solidity is just a dork I can take or leave. If I was B/W it'd be a whole different story but...
Pack 1 pick 8:
It's unlikely we'll play this guy given how many four-drops we already have. That said he's still better than Night Terrors which is pretty much exclusively a sideboard card.
Pack 1 pick 9:
Not bad—it still surprises me how late you get these. We'll need a few more early creatures to make it good of course.
Pack 1 pick 10:
Pack 1 pick 11:
This card may be very bad but I hate playing against it. It's too random and it can become a huge issue if they have the right spells at the right time.
Pack 1 pick 12:
Pretty happy that one of these wheeled.
Pack 1 pick 13:
See above re: Stitcher's Apprentice.
Pack 1 pick 14:
Pack 1 pick 15:
So first pack went pretty well. We're locked into U/B at this point for better or for worse but we have a couple nice cards already in Mirror-Mad Phantasm and Moan of the Unhallowed. The color combination has seemed open so far with three very playable cards wheeling (Spectral Flight Stitcher's Apprentice Ghoulcaller's Chant) and it's looking like we won't be short on playables. We have a lot of four-drops though and should be looking to pick up some cheaper spells throughout packs two and three.
Pack 2 pick 1:
Not actually a pack I wanted to open. Galvanic Juggernaut is great in R/B aggro but leaves a lot to be desired in the deck I'm looking to draft. I don't have much in the way of removal and I'm much more control than aggressive—Juggs is going to hit for five and then get jammed up while my opponent's Darkthicket Wolves beat my face in. For me it's between Delver of Secrets and Forbidden Alchemy. Alchemy is a better card in general but I don't have any of the Makeshift Mauler/Stitched Drake-esque guys that rely upon it and I do already have three very good instants and sorceries (Think Twice Moan of the Unhallowed Silent Departure) with an option on Ghoulcaller's Chant as well. Also my deck needs early plays more than it needs late game durdling.
For all that I still took Forbidden Alchemy. Delver is a high-variance card and it's not something I feel comfortable picking first unless I'm absolutely positive it's going to be great. Besides it might wheel right?
Pack 2 pick 2:
Civilized Scholar's a looter that costs three which has historically ranged from awesome (Cephalid Looter) to barely playable (Reckless Scholar). In Innistrad the flashback cards make it great but the tempo-oriented nature of the format make tapping out for a 0/1 on turn three not necessarily something you want to do. Nevertheless in U/B it's pretty special firing up all your shenanigans with Makeshift Mauler or Ghoulcaller's Chant or just Think Twice. Civilized Scholar is nice...
...but a second Moan of the Unhallowed is even nicer. This card goes a long way itself towards justifying all the Forbidden Alchemies and Think Twices I've been taking because it's a massive board presence all on its own. It's another four-drop sure but I'll get some Deranged Assistants somewhere down the line.
Pack 2 pick 3:
Did you like the foreshadowing? Yeah there isn't really any question what I'm going to take here. I suppose if I was really cocky I'd take Kessig Wolf Run because it's worth half a ticket and then win the draft anyway because who needs good cards that you can play? Chumps that's who.
Pack 2 pick 4:
Nephalia Drownyard is pretty reasonable as a land that gives value and eventually wins the game not something that many lands can do for you. However Unburial Rites is just amazing. Zombify would already be fine but flashback pushes it over the top and it's almost impossible to run out of gas in a U/B deck that draws this. It's also a card that has the rare property of making Armored Skaab potentially awesome whether it's in your deck or your hand. And you get to play your bombs that much more often—Mirror-Mad Phantasm anyone? It's well worth running a couple white sources for; it's much easier to splash Unburial Rites in a black deck than in a white deck. Because if you miss your Plains Zombify is still perfectly fine.
Pack 2 pick 5:
Pretty blank pack for most people really. I guess someone is happy with their Thraben Sentry but there's only one card for us.
Pack 2 pick 6:
I was really starting to regret pick 1 pack 2. We now have four more instants and sorceries for a full seven we're certainly going to play and the possibility of picking up more later. Further we have Deranged Assistant and Assistant + Delver is a cute little combo—look at the top card in your upkeep and decide if you want it or not before moving into your draw step. While Delver ordinarily is not amazing the way this deck is shaping up it's one of the cards I want most. By the time you get past seven cards that trigger it Delver starts becoming one of the best blue commons.
Pack 2 pick 7:
Still not sure if I'll be playing these things but they're certainly a better choice than Brain Weevil who sucks unless you have like double Morkrut Banshee.
Pack 2 pick 8:
It's Frightful Delusion vs. Lost in the Mist—marginal counterspell #1 vs. marginal counterspell #2. With the curve the way it is I like Frightful Delusion here. It really helps that I have double Think Twice and Forbidden Alchemy so leaving mana up on turn 3 isn't a waste of a turn if they don't happen to tap out. It also triggers my Delver. Certainly not the best card in the world but stranger things have made it into the maindeck.
Pack 2 pick 9:
Pack 2 pick 10:
Pack 2 pick 11:
Pack 2 pick 12:
Not bad at all—one of these and one Plains should be enough to occasionally have flashback potential on Unburial Rites. If I pick up a Shimmering Grotto later all the better.
Pack 2 pick 13:
Pack 2 pick 14:
Pack 2 pick 15:
The second pack wasn't quite as good as the first mostly because of our weak open but double Delver and seven to nine instants and sorceries represent some pretty dangerous starting hands. Between those and the Deranged Assistant we've come a fair way towards having enough early game to support that double Moan + Mirror-Mad Phantasm. A few more early drops would be nice (bear in mind that Think Twices don't really count) as would a removal spell or two and I'm really hoping to pick up a third Delver from pack 3.
Pack 3 pick 1:
Yeah this card is actually insane. It doesn't look all that flashy on the surface—but unconditional removal is few and far between in this set and even if it didn't have flashback this card would be a first-pick (Have you noticed that's a theme in this draft? Probably a good sign.) But with flashback ugh. It kills their two best creatures for one card and god help them if they have Essence of the Wild or Cackling Counterpart or Spirit nonsense or even just two of the same guy. Incidentally the best card bar none that you can inadvertently mill into your bin. Mirror-Mad Phantasm is looking better all the time. This also triggers Delver for what that's worth.
Pack 3 pick 2:
Army of the Damned is actually worth considering. If you can survive until turn 8 and cast it the game is over on your untap which is of course the acid test eight-drops need to pass to be playable in Limited. I'm probably playing seventeen lands + Amulet + Deranged Assistant anyway as this deck looks to be mana-hungry—between double Moan Sever and Forbidden Alchemy—and I have enough Moans and suchlike that I can probably survive until turn 8.
I'd really like to take Army here. I'm a fan of going big and Army is actually the biggest. But this deck needs late game less than it needs early removal—I already have lots of powerful cards to flashback at seven mana—and Tribute to Hunger is a great card to help stabilize. On turn 9 it's not so great but on turn 3 it kills a good creature and gains you some life and turn 3 is where I need the most help.
Pack 3 pick 3:
Again not really a decision. Dead Weight is much better than Blazing Torch not close particularly with as few creatures as I currently have and it supports those Moon Herons/Mirror-Mad Phantasms very nicely.
Pack 3 pick 4:
This is an interesting decision. Shimmering Grotto is a card my deck will play—I'm not excited about it and I'd usually hope to get it later but it does help to flashback Unburial Rites. Bonds of Faith is a card that's a little more exciting. It's a very good removal spell that unfortunately my mana will have to bend a little to include. Right now I'm already splashing for Unburial Rites but that's not much of a splash—bear in mind Rites is still good when you don't have white so I wouldn't typically include more than two sources. If I'm running Bonds as well I'll need at least three.
So the damage to my manabase is not huge—but is it worth it? I'm not short on playables and splashing affects consistency adversely in two ways. One you have less sources of your main colors and two you have a card that's difficult to cast. Bear in mind that Traveler's Amulet is only like 0.6 of a white source because sometimes you'll need to use it early to get blue and then draw Bonds of Faith on turn 6.
In the end I decided my deck was good enough to not need the power and opted for consistency instead taking Shimmering Grotto. In retrospect though I think I would do the opposite. It's not a completely terrible pick but Grotto doesn't improve my deck by much and Bonds of Faith is going to be a lot better than whatever 23rd card I would otherwise run. The consistency argument comes from the right place—I don't really need more power—but Bonds provides substantial power and at not that big a cost I was going to run Plains anyway.
Pack 3 pick 5:
Given I already have Deranged Assistant and Forbidden Alchemy Stitched Drake is looking a lot better than Battleground Geist (it usually does anyway). I don't have a ton of creatures but hey you only need one.
Pack 3 pick 6:
If I'd taken Bonds of Faith over Shimmering Grotto we'd actually have to make a choice here with the second Traveler's Amulet being a strong candidate over the dorky Village Cannibals. As it is I don't need the extra fixing at all and the dork will hold the fort until my better cards take over.
Pack 3 pick 7:
Always good to get these guys late. Obviously he's fantastic in our deck with an abundance of excellent flashback cards to put in the bin.
Pack 3 pick 8:
There's nothing for us here so I took the card I least wanted to play against. Moment is underrated in this format. Games are very tempo-oriented making the life swing huge and instant-speed removal is few and far between—there's not much to punish you for playing tricks.
Pack 3 pick 9:
This card is not even all that bad especially when you have fliers but I don't think he's going to make the cut.
Pack 3 pick 10:
Wish I had that Bonds of Faith now huh...
Pack 3 pick 11:
Pack 3 pick 12:
Pack 3 pick 13:
For what it's worth I think I should've taken Manor Skeleton here. There's always some foolish red drafter who took like five Bloodcrazed Neonates.
Pack 3 pick 14:
Pack 3 pick 15:
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2 Delver of Secrets
2 Think Twice
Tribute to Hunger
2 Moan of the Unhallowed
Sever the Bloodline
1 Shimmering Grotto
Cards that didn't make it:
2 Spectral Flight: I don't have very many creatures at all and even fewer that actually want this effect. It's much better in aggressive decks that play it on bears to do lots of damage early.
Ghoulcaller's Chant: I normally like this a lot and will even run two but there just aren't enough creatures in this deck and its job is performed better by Unburial Rites.
Cards that did make it:
Frightful Delusion was the 23rd card and it overperformed. Before playing the deck I didn't appreciate how good it was to leave three mana up and counter draw cards or Tribute to Hunger as necessary. This card becomes a ton better when you have other three-mana instants—if you can leave mana up for it it's less likely to be dead and when it's not dead it's actually extremely good.
Round 1 I played against a R/B opponent. Game one a Delver that flipped on turn 2 made short work of him. Game two I again had a sweet curve with Delver into Deranged Assistant into Armored Skaab into Mirror-Mad Phantasm. Phantasm was joined by a Moon Heron and the two took large chunks out of his life total while Skaab + Moan held the ground. I made a terrible block on a Kruin Outlaw wielding a Butcher's Cleaver throwing away a creature I didn't have to but obviously I ripped Silent Departure to flip my Delver and put the game way out of his reach.
Round 2 I played against G/W. Game one we played some spells then I masterfully hit Mirror-Mad Phantasm off a Deranged Assistant activation on turn 5 which allowed me to Unburial Rites it. He couldn't deal with a five-power flier and that plus a timely Sever the Bloodline ran away with the game. Game two I mulliganed to five and kept four land + Mirror-Mad Phantasm. I figured I was just dead if he had a reasonable draw but luckily for me he had nothing nothing turn 4 Avacynian Priest nothing Kindercatch. By this time I'd played both Phantasm and two Moans of the Unhallowed. I traded lots of Zombies for Kindercatch + half of Travel Preparations and went for an activation on my Phantasm milling Sever the Bloodline and Silent Departure. From there it was academic—Sever on the Priest and kill him five points at a time.
Round 3 my U/W opponent played a turn 1 Champion of the Parish turn 2 Silver-Inlaid Dagger turn 3 equip. I durdled around casting Think Twice and Forbidden Alchemy and on turn 4 I could Dead Weight his guy but I figured that wasn't necessary—instead I just Moaned and passed the turn. He played Bonds of Faith on his 4/1 Feeling of Dreaded my two blockers and hit me for six. Hmmm didn't expect that but that's ok—Deranged Assistant Dead Weight Delver of Secrets was my turn 5. He replied with Divine Reckoning clearing the board.
I rebuilt with Think Twices and he added Makeshift Mauler. Typhoid Rats was tapped and the equipped Mauler hit me to just three. At this point I was very scared of a second Feeling of Dread so bounced Mauler with Silent Departure rather than flash back Moan of the Unhallowed which may have been wrong. On his turn he played Gallows Warden and now I lost to Feeling of Dread anyway and had to stay back with Moon Heron. I flashed back Moan instead of Forbidden Alchemy which was definitely a mistake—two Zombies don't add any pressure to the board. I needed to find a good card to deal with his 3/3 which I have plenty of. I had Unburial Rites in hand as well and just needed to put a good creature in the bin.
He played Battleground Geist and now if he didn't attack I lost unless I ripped :/ I stared at the screen mentally willing him to attack and thanks to my amazing mind powers he did!! I traded Moon Heron for a 3/3 then promptly ripped first Tribute to Hunger and then Mirror-Mad Phantasm next turn—so I never needed that Unburial Rites anyway.
Game 2 I was really all over. I took longer to kill them than I could have because I was playing around Divine Reckoning and held Moan in hand for basically the whole game. He had some decent guys but Sever the Bloodline killed two of them and Silent Departure stopped the third from doing anything relevant until it was too late.
I hope you enjoyed this! Until next time