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Drafting with Juzam – Vintage Masters Draft #2

Hi!

For this week I have another Vintage Masters draft. At the beginning I was always taking card draw like Deep Analysis very highly and tried to draft control decks with a lot of removal but ended up losing a lot to cards like Battle Screech, Goblin Trenches, or Beetleback Chief that all make your Man-o’-War’s and Chainer’s Edicts look really bad.

I talked to some people about their opinion on the format and white weenie was generally thought to be the best archetype. It was what I was winning the most with as well, so it made sense. There are no common sweepers, Death’s-Head Buzzard sees pretty much no play, and even when they manage to play bigger guys than yours, you can usually deal the last few points of damage with shadow creatures.

The R/W Lightning Rift/Astral Slide cycling deck and U/G Madness are obviously very good as well and quite possibly even better when it all comes together, but everyone knows that so people are fighting over it. In all the fun formats like Cube, Modern or Vintage Masters, people are usually drafting some brews or something like Storm, Reanimator, 5-color, mono-red etc., but very few people are actually interested in the white aggressive creatures. For all those reasons I decided to start forcing white aggro and see how it goes. The fact that they made Battle Screech a common and somehow you can still get it as late as 3rd to 5th pick made this even more appealing.

Pack 1, pick 1

My pick: Empyrial Armor

I remember Empyrial Armor from when I started playing Magic. I borrowed a white weenie deck from a friend of mine and went to my first local tournament. I don’t remember how I finished (probably last), but every time I followed up a turn 2 Soltari Priest with Empyrial Armor it felt pretty good. There are cards like Man-o’-War, Rescind, Waterfront Bouncer, or Astral Slide that really punish you for playing Auras, but three of them are blue and we can just side it out in that matchup if we see a lot of them. And sometimes they just don’t have it and you just win.

Phantom Nomad is a fine though unexciting bear, but it does get better with enchantments that boost its power so it can never actually die in combat because there are no counters to remove. The best card in the pack might actually be Elephant Guide, but since we are forcing white weenie, I’m going with the Armor.

Pack 1, pick 2

My pick: Soltari Emissary

What’s the best target for Empyrial Armor? Shadow creatures. I’m not a big fan of Afterlife, I’ll usually play one but giving them a blocker is pretty bad and there aren’t that many creatures that you would really need to kill anyway. Again the best card in the pack is probably Psychatog, but it’s not white so we are not interested.

Pack 1, pick 3

My pick: Pianna, Nomad Captain

Soltari Emissary, Pianna Nomad Captain, and Su-Chi are all reasonable choices but I like Pianna just a little bit more than the other two. If it didn’t pump itself I would probably take one of the other two cards, but a 3-mana 3/3 that pumps your team and works great with Battle Screech is exactly what a deck like this needs. I do like Su-Chi a lot but I prefer keeping the curve as low as possible and the 4-mana slot is usually reserved for Battle Screeches.

Pack 1, pick 4

My pick: Mystic Zealot

This pack doesn’t offer us much. Mystic Zealot is great in R/W Slide because you fill your graveyard really fast with all the cycling cards but it’s not very exciting in this kind of deck because you hardly ever reach threshold. I’m still taking it because the rest of the pack is pretty bad and I want to cut white as much as possible. My next choice would be Fallen Askari, Rescind, or Krosan Vorine.
Breath of Life is definitely not what you want to be playing as it is basically a 4-mana card that will turn into a 2-drop that died earlier.

Pack 1, pick 5

My pick: Soltari Emissary

Serendib Efreet is really good, but not good enough to justify taking it over the Emissary.

Pack 1, pick 6

My pick: Elephant Guide

Noble Templar doesn’t really fit into the deck we are trying to draft because you need to play a creature on turns 2, 3, and 4 and be as aggressive as possible, so you can’t afford to spend 2 mana to get a land out of your deck. That means we are finally forced to take a card from another color. All the black cards seem very aggressive but I think Elephant Guide is just way better. It’s also great with Deftblade Elite.

Pack 1, pick 7

My pick: Shelter

Now that we already have 2 Auras, Shelter is a good way to make sure we don’t get blown out by the blue bounce spells. We should also look to pick some Benevolent Bodyguards.

Pack 1, pick 8

My pick: Shelter

Same reasoning as before. Death Grasp would be a great card if we were W/B but I don’t want to take a card from a third color.

Pack 1, pick 9

My pick: Fledgling Djinn

Nothing for our deck at all, which is unfortunate. Jungle Wurm is pretty bad and too expensive. It also costs double green and I don’t think we’ll be able to afford playing more than 6-7 lands from the second color. The most (and only) aggressive card is Fledgling Djinn, so that’s the pick.

Pack 1, pick 10

My pick: Spinal Graft

I could have hate-drafted the Spark Spray here but there’s a small chance I might end up playing the Spinal Graft. The correct pick here is probably Addle though, which is a fine sideboard card against Storm or the R/W Slide deck.

Pack 1, pick 11

 My pick: Afterlife

We are not interested in gaining life.

Pack 1, pick 12

My pick: Krosan Vorine

Krosan Vorine will actually be a fine card with the 2 Auras and we might even pick up some more.

Pack 1, pick 13:

My pick: Sudden Strength

Not sure if it will make the cut but I’ll take it.

Pack 1, pick 14:

My pick: Claws of Wirewood

This is more of a hate draft because we dont want others to be killing our Battle Screech tokens.

Pack 1, pick 15:

Pack 2, pick 1

My pick: Benalish Trapper

Not much to choose from but Benalish Trapper is great as it serves pretty much as a removal spell. Hopefully Secluded Steppe or Seal of Cleansing table. Great Mantis has a really bad power/tougness/mana cost ratio for an aggressive deck and we are not interested in ramping either.

Pack 2, pick 2

My pick: Mistmoon Griffin

Exile is not what we want because it’s not a proactive card. You do need some kind of removal but we will need to remove blockers, not attackers. Blastoderm is very good, but again I’d rather not take a double-green card that you need to play on turn 4. Roar of the Wurm is also a great card but too expensive if you don’t have a way to ramp into it or discard it to something. That leaves us with Mistmoon Griffin.

Pack 2, pick 3

My pick: Armadillo Cloak

Third-pick FTK and Starstorm is pretty gross but there is also a lot of good cards for us. Deftblade Elite would be pretty solid with the 2 Auras, Soltari Trooper is just a great card for this deck in general (might just be the third best common after Battle Screech and Benalish Trapper) but I think Armadillo Cloak is just a little bit better because the life swing it creates is just so big in the creature matchups. At this point we are definitely W/G, green being more of a splash.

Pack 2, pick 4

My pick: Elephant Guide

4 Auras is starting to be a little too much but I’ll take it.

Pack 2, pick 5

My pick: Gaea’s Embrace

I don’t actually think it will make the deck, but there is nothing else we might possibly play.

Pack 2, pick 6

My pick: Benevolent Bodyguard

Normally I think I might take the Radiant’s Judgment here to have something against cards like Psychatog or Arrogant Wurm, but with all the Auras, Benevolent Bodyguard has to be the correct pick here.

Pack 2, pick 7

My pick: Deftblade Elite

I’m actually pretty happy about having it in the deck with what we have now.

Pack 2, pick 8

My pick: Benevolent Bodyguard

Gilded Light is a great sideboard card against Storm but we really want the second Bodyguard.

Pack 2, pick 9

My pick: Seal of Cleansing

At least the good sideboard card made it back. The R/W Slide decks have a really hard time beating you without the enchantments.

Pack 2, pick 10

My pick: Exile

It could actually be better to hate draft the Wall here because Exile does nothing against our deck, but we might sideboard it against something like reanimator or U/G Madness.

Pack 2, pick 11

My pick: Deftblade Elite

Still happy about playing a second one.

Pack 2, pick 12

My pick: Death’s-Head Buzzard

I don’t really want to play against the Buzzard with all the 1-toughness creatures.

Pack 2, pick 13

My pick: Phyrexian Defiler

Pack 2, pick 14

My pick: Circular Logic

Pack 2, pick 15

Pack 3, pick 1

My pick: Mishra’s Workshop

One of the attractive things about Vintage Masters is the possibility of opening some of the expensive cards. Mishra’s Workshop is not the most expensive one but still probably worth taking over the other cards here, as it’s worth almost half the entry fee. If it weren’t in the pack I’d take the Pianna. There is also a solid chance one of the three-drops wheels, making me feel better about taking the Workshop.

Pack 3, pick 2

My pick: Deftblade Elite

Looking back, this was a bad pick as I wasn’t going to play the third Elite and would have liked to have another Seal of Cleansing in the sideboard. Thopter Squardron is too expensive.

Pack 3, pick 3

My pick: Gustcloak Harrier

We already have 1 Afterlife and playing two without any Battle Screeches so far doesn’t seem very likely. Gustcloak Harrier it is.

Pack 3, pick 4

My pick: Mistmoon Griffin

This looks like a close pick but I don’t think this deck wants Decree of Justice and would actually rather take the cycling land over it if I wasn’t taking the flyer, which just seems better as we need as many evasive creatures as possible.

Pack 3, pick 5

My pick: Simian Grunts

Tangle is a good sideboard card for the creature matchups but we need creatures.

Pack 3, pick 6

My pick: Elvish Aberration

We have too many Auras at this point and don’t even want to play the first Gaea’s Embrace. Even though I said that this deck can’t really afford to spend 2 mana to search for a land, its probably just fine if it is a colorless way to get the splashed color. I think there’s a very good chance the Armor of Thorns comes back, given that all the other cards are fine playables.

Pack 3, pick 7

My pick: Mistmoon Griffin

Not taking the Empyrial Armor here for the same reason as before.

Pack 3, pick 8

My pick: Soltari Trooper

That’s a pretty late gift for our deck.

Pack 3, pick 9

My pick: Gustcloak Harrier

One of the three-drops made it back so it worked out fine.

Pack 3, pick 10

My pick: Brilliant Halo

Pack 3, pick 11

My pick: Owl Familiar

Pack 3, pick 12

My pick: Secluded Steppe

Sweet.

Pack 3, pick 13

My pick: Sudden Strength

Pack 3, pick 14

My pick: Fledgling Djinn

Pack 3, pick 15

Even though it didn’t really feel like white was too open, we still ended up with a pretty good deck. It would be nice to have some of the Battle Screeches which is the main reason why we wanted to force this archetype in the first place, but at least I’ll get to see how good this creatures + Auras + protection deck is.

I decided to play Armor of Thorns because of the 2 Deftblade Elites and left Empyrial Armor in the sideboard because we have a lot of cheap cards that we all want to put into play so we wont have too many cards in hand. Simian Grunts didn’t make the cut because we only have 6 Forests and Mystic Zealot didn’t because we are never going to have 7 cards in the graveyard. The third Deftblade Elite is too many, same for all the extra Auras.

In the first round I beat a multicolor control deck by just playing creatures and attacking, plain and simple. Griffins were great against removal and Edicts and I made sure to play my Auras when I had Bodyguard in play or Shelter in hand.

I beat a R/W Slide deck in the second round by winning the die roll in the first game and flooding the board with creatures before he could get in control of the game. For game two I sided out the Auras for more creatures but he blew me away with Winds of Rath. He had a turn 3 Astral Slide in the last game but I drew my Seal of Cleansing and managed to not overextend into his Wrath.

In the finals I played against W/B aggro. We pretty much had the same decks but while my splash allowed me to kill his guys with Deftblade Elite, his was for cards like Carnophage and Fledgling Djinn which ended up doing too much damage to him. Bodyguard and Shelter countered a Paralyze and Expunge, and Armadillo Cloak was as good as ever.

For inspiration here’s how some of my other white aggro decks looked like, most of them were 3-0s.

For next week should I do another VMA draft or go back to Theros block?
Thanks for reading!

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