Drafting with Tim - Scars of Mirrodin #2!
Last week's Scars draft walkthrough was met with mixed reviews. Some people such as forum luminary Viridianus opined that the handful of second-best picks I made completely invalidated the article even though I identified what I did wrong and explained the correct pick. Others such as my random cronies Gabriel and Owen appreciated the abject honesty and strategic thinking. Regardless let's just hope I do better this time. If I don't win one of the next few I may have to start cherry-picking so we can see what a winning draft looks like.
Pack 1 pick 1:
The choices here are Sylvok Replica Glint Hawk and Ichor Rats. Taking either Glint Hawk or Ichor Rats first would involve making too many assumptions about the eventual composition of my deck. They're quite good once your archetype has been established just not powerful enough to justify as first-picks. Sylvok Replica lets me stay more flexible and is simply the best card in the pack anyway.
Pack 1 pick 2:
Since there are green cards here that are comparable to or better than the cards of other colors I have no desire to branch out. This leaves us with Asceticism and Cystbearer. Asceticism will be good regardless of whether I end up in poison and if the infect cards keep coming I can still move in. Granted passing Ichor Rats and now Cystbearer and Corpse Cur make it less likely I'll see infect cards pack 2 but a couple would probably trickle through.
Pack 1 pick 3:
The cards I considered here were Sky-Eel School Blight Mamba and Snapsail Glider. Eel is solid but blue is my least favorite color in Scars and again the Eel is neither strong enough nor enough of a "signal" to consider moving in this early. Infect is generally better than metalcraft if you're green making the Mamba the more attractive option. I'm not going to point this out every week but you can't get too hung up on what you're passing; it's a secondary consideration. If the infect keeps coming this pack it'll likely keep coming pack 3 and I wouldn't want to hook the guy to my left up with a better deck than mine just to avoid stepping on his toes. (If the infect doesn't keep coming this pack then I simply won't try to draft it.)
Pack 1 pick 4:
A couple of infect cards a Chrome Steed and an easy pick for me. Slice in Twain is a removal spell and a 2-for-1 and you can't let yourself get so caught up in the set's cutesy themes that you're willing to haphazardly sacrifice raw power. I'm pretty happy seeing a strong green card fourth.
Pack 1 pick 5:
The Ichorclaw Myr pick 4 (with Trigon I guess) isn't necessarily a sign that infect will keep coming but it might be. I'm still leaning in that direction for the deck and it's kind of early to be speculating on dinosaurs anyway.
Pack 1 pick 6:
Asceticism is quite powerful but I'd kind of want to vomit if I ever drew two. The pack is pretty dry other than black cards but black is fine by me if I'm going to end up poison. Flesh Allergy really isn't good without some form of synergy and cards that work well with it are surprisingly hard to come by in this format. Spitter is good against infect dudes Smiths Myr (obv) and many more commonly played cards. I'm pretty sure it's currently one of the most underrated cards in the set and I'll always be able to find room for one or two.
Pack 1 pick 7:
With only one artifact in my green-heavy pool my prospects of a metalcraft deck are with apologies to LSV (and everyone else) looking pretty bleak. Besides last pick's Spitter hardly commits me to black even if G/B is still where I'm leaning. I actually considered taking Lifesmith but life gain is even less relevant than usual in this format and one toughness is quite a liability. This leaves the blue cards. Disperse is more flexible than Steady Progress and would probably be better even if I end up in an awkward G/U infect deck as removing a key blocker is often more worthwhile than adding a single poison counter.
Pack 1 pick 8:
Instill Infection is the most powerful card in the pack plus it's a hedge between infect and non-infect. I'll have little use for an off-color Myr in a poison deck and Throne of Geth will be unplayable if I don't end up in poison.
Pack 1 pick 9:
I almost took Asp here to jumpstart the poison theme but logic prevailed. Fume Spitter is too good and the only infect card I have is a lowly Blight Mamba. It's probably time to officially eliminate poison as a possibility.
Pack 1 pick 10:
A nice gift but looking back this pack was pretty good the first time I saw it. Molder Beast is pretty underrated and I probably would've taken it over an off-color Myr.
Pack 1 pick 11:
Pack 1 pick 12:
Moriok Reaver isn't great because it doesn't fit with the set's two prominent archetypes but it's not unplayable. I have a decent amount of removal already so I may just need a couple of random beaters to actually win with. Tel-Jilad Defiance is solid but I can never actually find room for it in my decks.
Pack 1 pick 13:
Pack 1 pick 14:
Pack 1 pick 15:
Pack 2 pick 1:
It seems a little sketchy to first-pick something this slow and unwieldy until you use a process of elimination. The other viable contenders are Blackcleave Goblin Carapace Forger and Snapsail Glider. I don't really want to commit to infect with only a Blight Mamba after passing so much and Blackcleave is one of the worst infect dudes. Snapsail Glider and Forger are both unimpressive without artifacts and who knows how many I'll end up with? In the end I went with the high-impact card imagining that I'll be able to stall with removal. If I can reach a board state where my life total isn't in any danger if I waste a turn trying to equip something my opponent kills in response I'll be happy enough with the Armor.
Pack 2 pick 2:
If I were leaning toward poison or metalcraft it might have been harder to take the all-around "good" card.
Pack 2 pick 3:
The plan is just removal and arbitrary duders. Let the other people fight over the poison for the time has passed me by.
Pack 2 pick 4:
Grasp of Darkness is close but since I already have some -1/-1 cards as supplemental removal and because of that ever-important "draw a card" clause I'm taking the Slice. Grasp vs. Sylvok Replica would've been a tough call.
Pack 2 pick 5:
This is what's known as a "robust win condition."
Pack 2 pick 6:
Painsmith's utility in my deck is questionable but there was nothing else for me anyway.
Pack 2 pick 7:
Pack 2 pick 8:
Wow that's late for a Volition Reins. I guess the other drafters don't like blue much more than I do.
Pack 2 pick 9:
Carapace Forger is likely to be "fair" in my deck; if it ever becomes a 4/4 it will be later in the game when a creature of that size won't be dominant. Even as a Grizzly Bears with minor opportunity for upside it's a welcome addition.
Pack 2 pick 10:
Pack 2 pick 11:
Pack 2 pick 12:
Pack 2 pick 13:
Pack 2 pick 14:
Pack 2 pick 15:
Pack 3 pick 1:
Rusted Relic would never turn on in my deck. I do like that the Spikeshot Elder isn't worrisome for me.
Pack 3 pick 2:
This should've been Strider Harness. It was too late in the draft to expect to pick up enough artifacts to make Forger impressive and the Harness would've been a nice complement to the two I already had. I generally view Harness as "filler" just a half step above Tel-Jilad Defiance and I guess part of me was loath to take one second. Personally I don't think this slipup is grounds for firing me and replacing me with Jonathan Loucks but maybe I'm just biased.
Pack 3 pick 3:
Painsmith is the very definition of unexciting in my deck. I'm not thrilled about taking an off-color Myr third but it at least accelerates me to (and wears) my Argentum Armor.
Pack 3 pick 4:
I would've taken Lifestaff over an off-color Myr. Molder Beast would be better in my deck than the random late-pick Bleak Coven Vampires I got last pack but not "better enough" that I feel compelled to take it here. This was a very close pick between all three cards I considered. In the end rather than say "I just got a Myr so I don't need another one as much" I decided to go with "Screw the Iron Myr. I don't really want an off-color Myr in my deck anyway so I'll just play this over it."
Pack 3 pick 5:
I don't imagine there will be many drafts where I'm happy taking Bellowing Tanglewurm over Cystbearer.
Pack 3 pick 6:
If I only had one Fume Spitter I'd have strongly considered taking another one here.
Pack 3 pick 7:
That's a lot of Glint Hawks and unfortunately my deck doesn't have a lot of answers to 2/2 fliers.
Pack 3 pick 8:
Pack 3 pick 9:
Pack 3 pick 10:
This is kind of a gift since I'd like to put all those mana Myr that fell into my lap to good use.
Pack 3 pick 11:
Pack 3 pick 12:
This is definitely a gift. So long Bleak Coven Vampires!
Pack 3 pick 13:
Pack 3 pick 14:
Pack 3 pick 15:
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2 Carapace Forger
2 Fume Spitter
2 Leaden Myr
2 Sylvok Replica
2 Grasp of Darkness
2 Slice in Twain
Round One vs. W/R
Game 1: I played a turn 1 Fume Spitter and he played a turn 2 Gold Myr off two Mountains. He obviously blocked when I attacked and I spent the next two turns playing Myr. At the end of his fourth turn he only had two Mountains in play; at the end of my fourth turn I had Argentum Armor in play. After he drew for his turn we were on to game 2. (I sideboarded out Untamed Might for Carapace Forger #3.)
Game 2: Again my turn 1 Fume Spitter traded with his turn 2 Myr but this time he had a follow-up in the form of Kemba's Skyguard. His turn 4 play was Barbed Battlegear which I Sliced in Twain before dropping Molder Beast. He attacked me for two and played a Myr and then I attacked him for five and played a dinosaur. When he double-blocked my Molder Beast with two Skyguards on my next turn I had the Grasp of Darkness and he had seen enough.
Round Two vs. W/R
Game 1: His first few plays were Spikeshot Elder Golem Foundry and Glint Hawk returning a Snapsail Glider. Mine were Moriok Replica Instill Infection on the Spikeshot and a couple of Myr. He blocked my Replica with his Glint Hawk and I slammed down the Argentum Armor. He played a Cerebral Eruption to clear away my Myr and keep me off Armor but at the end of his next turn Darksteel Sentinel hit play. After taking one hit and one Vindicate from my 9/9 monstrosity he Arrested it but a Sylvok Replica for the Arrest finished it. (I boarded out Might for Fume Spitter #3.)
Game 2: This one began with the typical trade of Fume Spitter for Myr. After I Sliced a Snapsail Glider a standoff developed. His side of the board included Ghalma's Warden Auriok Sunchaser and a growing army of Origin Spellbomb tokens of which there would eventually be three. My squad was a Sylvok Replica a Myr and a Fume Spitter a motley crew but enough to hold the fort. When I played Molder Beast he answered with Barrage Ogre. He took a hit from the Beast and then I Grasped the Ogre before it could become active.
My opponent untapped and played a Memnite and his Spikeshot Elder. He didn't shoot my Iron Myr right away and naturally I waited till my turn to Fume Spitter the Elder so that my Molder Beast would make good use of its bonus when the Iron Myr died. I swung my 7/3 into his 4/6 3/3 and four 1/1 artifact dudes. He made the mistake of single-blocking so after sacking my Sylvok Replica and using Slice in Twain to clear out two 1/1s he took a boatload of damage without killing my Beast. He peeled Ferrovore to trade with Molder Beast on my next attack but when the smoke cleared he was down to a lowly 1/1 Sunchaser and two life against my two Myr. He traded with one then Arrested the other but a third Myr was able to deal the final damage.
Round Three vs. R/U Equipment
Game 1: On the draw I mulliganed four Swamps Grasp Molder Beast and Asceticism. These were replaced by three Forests Grasp Untamed Might and Sentinel which were also quickly shuffled back in. Ultimately I kept three lands a Myr and Asceticism; and I would go on to draw enough action to make a game out of it.
He searched up Darksteel Axe with Trinket Mage and followed up with Vulshok Replica. I took a hit from the unequipped Mage then traded Moriok Replica with it when it took up the Axe. I soon played Bellowing Tanglewurm and Asceticism and felt comfortable enough with the board state to swing in with the Wurm. I was in for a nasty surprise when he spent his turn playing Goblin Gaveleer and playing/equipping Strider Harness. "Oh God" I thought "not like this."
On his next turn he played Darkslick Drake and equipped Harness to it and I Sliced the Harness at the start of combat. I Grasped the Drake on his next turn and he ran the Axed Gaveleer into my regenerating Myr for some trample damage. When he equipped an Embersmith with Bladed Pinions I shot it out of the sky with Sylvok Replica and traded a Myr for it. He was at eight from my Tanglewurm but I was at seven facing down an active Replica. He chumped my next attack and shot me and he had the Sky-Eel School to finish me off before Wurm could deal the full twenty. (I again boarded out Might for the third Fume Spitter.)
Game 2: To keep it fair he double-mulliganed on the draw this game. His first two plays were Sylvok Lifestaves for the effective quad mull—these equipment-heavy decks sure don't mulligan well. I Sliced his first creature in Twain and mopped things up with Big Daddy Molder with plenty more in the tank.
Game 3: He led off with Ratchet Bomb and I answered with Iron Myr. He missed his land drop and Bauered my Myr. ("Bauering" named after the late Tim Bauer is using your precious removal to stunt your opponent's mana development typified by artifact removal on Myr.) Fortunately my deck and draw were both mana heavy so I welcomed this exchange. On my next turn I played a Carapace Forger and my opponent once again had double Lifestaff. I played Sylvok Replica and he hit his third land and played Vulshok Heartstoker.
My opponent blew the Ratchet Bomb to trade with Carapace Forger and I had another Sylvok Replica to double-block his 4/2. I had Argentum Armor and Darksteel Sentinel in hand so I wanted to avoid taking damage as well as just keeping him off creatures. I dropped said Armor on the next turn and his impressive follow-up was Strider Harness. Then I equipped my remaining Sylvok Replica and showed him the true meaning of Bauering. He ripped two more Mountains in a row but those just met the same fate as the first one.
I was pretty happy with how the deck turned out and it was nice to have a more "traditional" draft deck instead of forcing one of those boring ol' theme decks. Naturally I was pretty happy with the eight packs as well.
If there are any picks you disagreed with let me know in the forums. If you do though here's a quick pointer: Sentences starting with something like "I would have taken . . ." mean you're here for the intelligent exchange of information. Sentences starting with something like "You're a moron because . . ." mean you're a smelly troll who thinks he has a keen grasp of the format because he rules-lawyers casual rare-drafters at his FNM en route to the 3-0 and ten bucks store credit.
Next week: Same bat time same bat channel.
-Timothy J. Aten
Parvati on MODO (for these drafts anyway)