Limited Lessons - A Mono-Black Draft Walkthrough
This past week I’ve spent a lot of time in the car which was not too enjoyable. It did give me a lot of time to think about new things to try in draft so I'm going to try out some new ideas this week and then write about them if they end up being any good.
For now I figured another draft walkthrough couldn't hurt and this time around I picked one where I didn't go Mono-Red (which are the majority of the drafts I've recorded so far).
Disturbing Plot Nurturer Initiate Aethertow Safehold Elite Barkshell Blessing Gloomwidow's Feast Spell Syphon Inescapable Brute Foxfire Oak Splitting Headache Woeleecher Lockjaw Snapper Roughshod Mentor Wasp Lancer Vexing Shusher
When I first looked at this pack I thought I was taking Safehold Elite. Then I considered Vexing Shusher before realizing that it would be totally unreasonable to take that first even with my absurd love of Red cards.
The safe pick here is definitely Safehold Elite as it offers the most options and is a great card. I'm a huge fan of the GGG cards (G meaning Guild Mana) though and going out on a limb for them often reaps great rewards. I decided to go with the riskier pick here in Wasp Lancer because it's a more powerful card overall and I prefer mono-colored or near mono strategies whenever possible in this format.
Pick: Wasp Lancer
Sickle Ripper Parapet Watchers Blight Sickle Ballynock Cohort Crabapple Cohort Traitor's Roar Prismwake Merrow Crimson Wisps Viridescent Wisps Cinderbones Mine Excavation Guttural Response Inkfathom Infiltrator Runed Halo
If you went with Safehold Elite first (as I assume the majority would) this pick is definitely Ballynock Cohort. As for me the pick is certainly the Infiltrator and a nice compliment to my first pick.
Pick: Inkfathom Infiltrator
Gravelgill Duo Fists of the Demigod Rune-Cervin Rider Tattermunge Duo Blazethorn Scarecrow Spell Syphon Rustrazor Butcher Aphotic Wisps Kithkin Shielddare Torrent of Souls Wild Swing Dream Salvage Mystic Gate
On actual Magic Online I definitely take Mystic Gate here because it's worth enough to justify it. Since this was the beta I get to make a good pick instead.
At this point I was mainly thinking Mono-Blue or Mono-Black if possible after the first two picks with UB still being a decent option. Gravegill Duo has been extremely mediocre for me every time I've had it in play so I decided to go with the potentially stronger option in Torrent of Souls. It won't be hard to splash for the Red half if I end up in Mono-Black anyway.
Pick: Torrent of Souls
I flirted with the idea of a second Torrent of Souls which could put me in some kind of reanimator deck involving Ghastly Discovery or Cinderhaze Wretch to discard off-color monsters and then possibly even swing in there with Haste. I've wanted to try this for a while but decided to instead just make a safe and strong pick in Torpor Dust.
The Dust is a card that I've liked more and more as I've played with it and it is a solid piece of removal that doesn't get respect equal to its value.
Pick: Torpor Dust
This pack was super interesting and I timed down quite a bit before making a decision.
A lot of the reason I was intrigued by this pack was because I haven't ever played with Wound Reflection and it seemed like it had potential to be very strong in an evasive deck like the one I currently had. Either way it will probably end up tabling.
The best pick here for me is Sootstoke Kindler especially because I already semi-committed to Black with the Torrent.
Pick: Sootstoke Kindler
It seems like the Black is really flowing in this draft and I decided now was the time to fully commit to it. Faerie Macabre and Crowd of Cinders are both awesome cards but I felt that the Crowd would likely end up being better if I got a bunch of Black dudes as I also already had Sootstoke Kindler.
Pick: Crowd of Cinders
I could still end up UB in this draft but I see no reason to take something like Somnomancer in this pack when Fulminator Mage and Rattleblaze are both here. I'm not sure about you guys but I pretty much hate having Rattleblaze and Blazethorn Scarecrows in my deck. That being said it's possible that Rattleblaze is just nuts in Mono-Black and I don't know it yet. This time around I went with the Gray Ogre as it helps power Crowd and can possibly blow up a land once in a blue moon.
Pick: Fulminator Mage
I'm probably a bigger fan of Splitting Headache than most people but I decided I had to take the Helm of the Ghastlord here because of Wasp Lancer Inkfathom Infiltrator and possibly more guys in pack 2. It's also fine on just a Black guy like Crowd which will still Specter them.
Pick: Helm of the Ghastlord
Burn Trail. Farhaven Elf Scuttlemutt Old Ghastbark Merrow Wavebreakers Scar Bloodshed Fever Loamdragger Giant Put Away Turn to Mist Elvish Hexhunter Tower Above Flame Javelin Sapseep Forest Wort the Raidmother
Pick: Flame Javelin
Burn Trail Wildslayer Elves Cinderhaze Wretch Silkbind Faerie Wanderbrine Rootcutters Scar Sinking Feeling Goldenglow Moth Smash to Smithereens Hungry Spriggan Loch Korrigan Gnarled Effigy Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers Mistmeadow Skulk
This pack is pretty ridiculous. That being said while I wanted to stay consistent here and take Wanderbrine Rootcutters to go with my Helm I couldn't possibly justify passing Burn Trail when I was already likely splashing for Torrent of Souls. Must be nice to be the guy next to me getting a third pick Silkbind Faerie.
Pick: Burn Trail
Wingrattle Scarecrow Old Ghastbark Ghastly Discovery Oona's Gatewarden Elsewhere Flask Cerulean Wisps Ember Gale Smolder Initiate Gloomwidow's Feast Flourishing Defenses Ashenmoor Gouger Moonring Island Deus of Calamity
Smolder Initiate is definitely awesome in Mono-Black but unfortunately there are just better options here. This pack allows me to get maximum use out of my Sootstoke Kindler by powering out a hasty Ashenmoor Gouger.
I did briefly think of Ember Gale for the splash but never seriously considered taking it.
Pick: Ashenmoor Gouger
Helm of the Ghastlord could definitely use some more help and thankfully I can take the Rootcutters here without passing anything great.
Pick: Wanderbrine Rootcutters
This pick is very close and I could definitely see going either way with it. This isn't the best type of deck for Ember Gale because most of my guys have evasion already but the Gale will still kill plenty of dorks these days which makes it even more valuable. I also have the Gouger who may want to get one last swing through in the mid-game. That being said I wanted some more solid men to fill out my curve and decided to go with Sootwalkers.
Wow. This pack was either completely insane or people just weren't picking from it.
At any rate getting Gloomlance this late should be a testament to the fact that Black is still very underdrafted. That or the players in this queue were sub-par as there are still two insane Blue cards here too.
I almost hate-drafted the Intimidator from this pack but decided there was some chance I'd play Scarscale Ritual so I took it. If this were an 8-4 on real Magic Online though I'd probably hate up the Initiate given the way the draft has gone so far.
Pick: Scarscale Ritual
This was actually a very tough pick since I don't have too much cheap Black stuff to trigger the Initiate often. I decided since I was going for an evasion plan that I'd rather have the Gatewarden on defense. Tapping out every turn is bad for the Initiate too.
Pick: Oona's Gatewarden
On the lap I picked up a late Scar second Gatewarden second Sootwalkers and a Chainbreaker which likely won't make the cut.
Gift of the Deity Clout of the Dominus Stream Hopper Wickerbough Elder Unmake Duergar Assailant Wilderness Hypnotist Monstrify Ballynock Trapper Smoldering Butcher Beckon Apparition Springjack Shepherd Hag Hedge-Mage Chaotic Backlash Glen Elendra Archmage
Have you ever drafted online and yelled "Got There!" while sitting in an apartment by yourself? I distinctly remember doing so after opening this pack.
I know it's not like a super lucky open or anything but I'm rarely in Mono-Black and whenever I am I never see any Unmakes or any of the other good Eventide reasons to get into the color.
Double Cleave Fire at Will Talara's Bane Nightsky Mimic Heartlash Cinder Banishing Knack Dream Thief Recumbent Bliss Grazing Kelpie Aerie Ouphes Shell Skulkin Quillspike Hatchet Bully Nightmare Incursion
I do also want to mention that I think in general the Mimics are overrated and that the UR one is actually the best because most of the UR commons are excellent and fit well into Mono-Red. It also fits the theme of Mono-Red better than the other Mimics fit into existing archetypes.
Pick: Hatchet Bully
Odious Trow Slippery Bogle Shorecrasher Mimic Favor of the Overbeing Clout of the Dominus Kithkin Spellduster Jawbone Skulkin Woodlurker Mimic Cenn's Enlistment Noggle Bandit Gilder Bairn Swirling Spriggan Lingering Tormentor
This pick was motivated almost entirely by mana curve concerns as well as future hopes in my remaining picks. Normally I like Lingering Tormentor but I already have plenty of four drops after tabling Sootwalkers. I went with Woodlurker Mimic here after considering moving into straight BR for Noggle Bandit. I think this option has some merit and it's possible this was a mispick but at this point I was focused on splashing for Red and still trying to get maximum value out of my Crowd of Cinders. It's possible I was sacrificing too much card quality by passing the Bandit here so please post your thoughts in the forum.
Pick: Woodlurker Mimic
Tilling Treefolk Hobgoblin Dragoon Talara's Bane Favor of the Overbeing Double Cleave Battlegate Mimic Hoof Skulkin Oona's Grace Drain the Well Harvest Gwyllion Idle Thoughts Restless Apparition
It would seem as though my last pick was right for this particular draft as I'd have trouble supporting the Restless Apparition with Noggle Bandit also in my deck. The Apparition is also far better than Harvest Gwyllion if you can cast it consistently.
Pick: Restless Apparition
Gravedigger here I come. Nice that he also turns on my Woodlurker
A side note is that Cauldron Haze has proven itself so far to be one of the weirdest tricks ever. I've been completely destroyed by it a couple of times and also seen it be completely useless and terrible.
Pick: Desecrator Hag
This pack is kind of annoying because I have enough four drops that I don't really want the Butcher and I also only have two BG guys to power up the Gift. Neither option is really great but I think the Gift has the most potential to actually become good if I table Odious Trow or pick up some other GB guys.
Pick: Gift of the Deity
Huh? I was totally confused to see Soul Snuffers here this late.
The only thing this could really mean is that nobody was drafting Black or there was possibly one other card that was better. Pretty tough to do since Snuffers is amazing but whatever. It was also the beta so who knows what people were doing.
Pick: Soul Snuffers
As I was saying Odious Trow usually ends up making his way around the table late. Gift is definitely getting played now.
Pick: Odious Trow
I got virtually nothing on the way back around except for a measly Fang Skulkin which likely isn't making the cut because it doesn't even work with Crowd.
Overall the draft went alright but I probably could've made some different picks along the way. I'll be interested to see what you guys think.
Crowd of Cinders
Gift of the Deity
Torrent of Souls
I debated between Helm of the Ghastlord and Splitting Headache and actually found it humorous when I played Splitting Headache after passing it for Helm. Whatever the case Helm had the potential to be awesome with more UB guys while Headache's value will remain similar regardless of the deck.
Unfortunately the matches were not exciting at all. In round 1 my opponent dropped and I was forced to report him since draft and drop is disallowed on the beta server. I waited for what seemed like forever before round 2 started.
In round 2 I instantly mulliganned to five in game 1 and got crushed by turn two Manamorphose into Talara's Battalion turn 3 Boggart Ram-Gang. Wish I was kidding. Whenever I record a draft I make a text file with game notes and this one was not very long. In game 2 I actually got going pretty well with Infiltrator on turn 2 into Wasp Lancer on turn 3. After hitting him a few times he drew a Mountain and Firespouted my team away. From here I played some 3/3's but he played Crabapple Cohort as well as Deus of Calamity (which I'm assuming he got super late) and they were too big for me to handle.
Overall I've had pretty good results with Mono-Black and I look forward to hearing comments from you guys in the forums.
Soooooo on MTGO