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According to Webster – M11 Draft #3

M11 Draft #3

Check back later this week for David’s thrilling Nationals report, as he recounts his adventures in Minneapolis en route to a 4th place finish!

Pack 1 pick 1:

 

Magma Phoenix is a very powerful creature, and provided that you have a high enough life total at the time it’s summoned, the Phoenix will dominate the board. Magma Phoenix takes a lot of mana to get rolling, but it will quickly take over a game that goes beyond turn seven. The main problem with Magma Phoenix is that it’s Red, the worst color in M11. If there were any other good card to take in Black, Blue, or White over the Phoenix, I’d be sold on passing it simply because of color preference which is exactly the case with this pick. Doom Blade is the best Black removal spell and is in a much deeper color than Magma Phoenix is.

My pick: Doom Blade

Pack 1 pick 2:

 

There are a few non-Black options, but they aren’t enticing enough to lure us into a second color. Llanowar Elves is a critical part of Green-based decks because the ramp versions of Green need to be summoning big creatures like Spined Wurm on turn three/four to have a reasonable chance at overpowering the opponent. Green isn’t a very good color to go into though because the color tends to be underpowered compared to White, Blue, and Black. Green’s weakness can be attributed to its lack of good spells. The other non-Black option is Stormfront Pegasus, a quality two-drop. White is one of the more desirable colors to be in because it has many flying creatures, removal, and a good curve. While Stormfront Pegasus would be a great place to start for building, Black/White tends to be an awkward combination because the mana can be quite difficult. There are many cards that demand that Black be the primary color (Quag Sickness, Corrupt, Nightwing Shade, Sign in Blood, Black Knight, etc) and the same is also true with White (Infantry Veteran, Blinding Mage, Stormfront Pegasus, White Knight, Cloud Crusader, Armored Ascension, etc). The last card to consider is Sign in Blood, which is still a reasonably good card. Sign in Blood offers non-Blue decks a source of raw card advantage and is a good way to pull ahead of the opponent. Without knowing which way our draft is going, it would be better to stick with Black and increase the likeliness that we’ll be able to play Doom Blade without having to splash it.

My pick: Sign in Blood

Pack 1 pick 3:

 

We’re seeing a healthy amount of White, Blue, and Black still, which is a good sign (though the White is mostly support spells and not premium creatures). Aether Adept is quite good, but without having seen any Blue in the last pack, I’d be hesitant to take the new Man-o-War/Mana Leak over another Black card. There are some more Green cards (Sylvan Ranger and Greater Basilisk), but Green is still a trap and should be avoided for now because we have good options in Black. Child of Night is another solid two-drop like Stormfront Pegasus, but ends up being not quite as important to take early as Sign in Blood because it tends to wheel more often even though they are almost comparable in game play.

My pick: Sign in Blood

Pack 1 pick 4:

 

It’s the fourth pick and that means we should start looking for a second color to pair with Black. Coincidently Black has dried up for us in this pick. There are some Red cards (Berserkers of Blood Ridge and Fiery Hellhound), but Red should be avoided like the plague if possible (more than Green) because it is the weakest color in M11. Most people will take the removal and leave the sub-par creatures (Goblin Piker, Manic Vandal, and Canyon Minotaur). White is still well represented with Excommunicate, Celestial Purge, and Wild Griffin with the Griffin being the best maindeck option over Excommunicate because the Time Ebb is better suited for an aggressive deck, whereas the Griffin fits into any strategy, even though it’s one of the weaker flyers that White has to offer.

My pick: Wild Griffin

Pack 1 pick 5:

 

Stone Golem is fine, though it’s mostly a filler card. The five-mana slot will usually fill itself without a problem, and we would rather play Nightwing Shade over the Golem. The best option by far is Gravedigger because it is naturally a two-for-one in most cases. Being able to generate card advantage naturally by means of a creature and get back your best creature in the process is quite a powerful effect that shouldn’t be passed up.

My pick: Gravedigger

Pack 1 pick 6:

 

Silvercoat Lion is not good outside of an aggressive deck with pump spells like Inspired Charge and/or other tricks like Excommunicate because it doesn’t affect the board enough beyond turn three/four. Bog Raiders isn’t much better and will almost always be watching games from the sideboard barring a shortage of creatures at the end of the draft. However, Bog Raiders shines when paired up against another Black deck and that makes it good enough to take.

My pick: Bog Raiders

Pack 1 pick 7:

 

There are multiple options to choose from. White Knight is the best but conflicts with our mana the most. If anyone else can remember back to Zendikar Limited, they’ll undoubtedly remember the terrible manabases of Black/White decks (the Gatekeeper of Malakir/Kazandu Blademaster special). With such a slant towards Black, it would be better to pass up the White Knight for a Black card that will make our draws more consistent. Barony Vampire and Nether Horror are okay but lack the presence that Rotting Legion has. Rotting Legion is a lot slower than the other two options, but is much more resilient on the Battlefield because it takes a few normal creatures to kill it. If we knew that the deck’s curve was lacking in a particular spot, then we might make a different pick, but this early in the draft it would be better to take the creature that has the most value.

My pick: Rotting Legion

Pack 1 pick 8:

 

There’s not much here. Elite Vanguard isn’t something that this deck is going to have success playing because of the way that it affects the manabase. After eliminating Elite Vanguard as an option, there’s not much else to choose from. Jace’s Erasure _CAN_ be okay if all the pieces of a defensive deck come together, but often the deck just doesn’t work out well enough. There are a few Red options, though Earth Servant isn’t exactly the best card to splash because it’s just a more expensive Rotting Legion. Act of Treason is the best option because it would make the Black cards that would be mediocre in our deck before taking Act of Treason (Viscera Seer/Bloodthrone Vampire) much stronger afterwards. The Act of Treason deck is quite powerful like most gimmick decks if there’s only one person drafting it per table (generally because there aren’t enough Act of Treasons/Squadron Hawks/Jace’s Erasures to support two drafters). What makes the Act deck particularly good is the swing that Act of Treason will generate when you also have a sacrifice outlet like Fling, Bloodthrone Vampire, and/or Viscera Seer.

My pick: Act of Treason

Pack 1 pick 9:

 

It’s good to see that at least one of the Black cards from this pack wheeled. Child of Night is exactly what we want to see wheeling after having taken two copies of Sign in Blood.

My pick: Child of Night

Pack 1 pick 10:

 

My pick: Infantry Veteran

Pack 1 pick 11:

 

My pick: Elite Vanguard

Pack 1 pick 12:

 

My pick: Celestial Purge

Pack 1 pick 13:

 

My pick: Demolish

Pack 1 pick 14:

 

My pick: Ajanis Mantra

Pack 1 pick 15:

Mountain 

The first pack went well enough. We entrenched ourselves in Black and were rewarded for it throughout most of the pack. However, our second color is a bit shaky. White has given us some fine cards, though they are generally underwhelming outside of an aggressive deck, which puts a real strain on our mana due to the number of Black spells we have (Sign in Blood). We may continue with White for the remainder of the draft or abandon it if we’re presented with the opportunity to take a strong card in another color.

Pack 2 pick 1:

 

Honor of the Pure can be quite a powerful card. In conjunction with Squadron Hawk and other cheap creatures like Elite Vanguard, Silvercoat Lion, and Infantry Veteran, Honor of the Pure will lead to quick wins. The main problem with Honor of the Pure is that while it only costs 1W, it requires the deck that it’s in to have a very high number of White creatures to be consistent. We would have to take White creatures much more aggressively and shift our color-base away from Black and towards White, which is possible, though less likely in this pack because we passed a moderate amount of White in pack one and will have to wait for pack three to really see a return on our investment. Another option is Prodigal Pyromancer which means that we’d be abandoning White in favor of the Act deck. However, with only one Act of Treason and no sacrifice outlets yet, the jump into Red is going to be quite a risk especially when you consider the fact that we passed Magma Phoenix at the beginning of the draft. Our last option is Rise from the Grave (the safe pick) which would allow us to maintain our position in Black and go with the flow of whatever we get passed. Rise from the Grave is decent and especially good in a deck that has a moderate amount of removal. Rise from the Grave’s value is directly proportional with the creature quality in a match. The shift towards White for Honor of the Pure will take too much effort to make it worthwhile. Prodigal Pyromancer is good, but it doesn’t provide enough by itself to cover the shortcomings of Red and what we should expect to get from the color in this pack. We would have to rely heavily on Black to make a Red pairing successful and that doesn’t seem like the case from what we’ve seen/passed in the last pack.

My pick: Rise from the Grave

Pack 2 pick 2:

 

There’s another Act of Treason here but there’s a better pick: Corrupt. We’re heavy Black at the moment, a spot where Corrupt is right at home. Being able to run at least eleven Swamps makes Corrupt a strong removal spell that can take down most creatures.

My pick: Corrupt

Pack 2 pick 3:

 

Act of Treason and Safe Passage are the only cards that we would consider playing. Elixir of Immortality can also be useful in a deck with a lot of removal and card-drawing spells because it allows you to recycle your removal and grind out the opponent. Safe Passage won’t help us much because most of our creatures are small and on the aggressive side. For Safe Passage to be good, we’d need larger creatures that require multiple blockers to kill _OR_ be a defensive deck that is likely to be in combat situations where the opponent is trying to force through damage. The second Act of Treason gives us a real shot at being able to draft the deck successfully especially when you consider the Viscera Seer and Act from two/one pick(s) ago (respectively) that are likely to wheel.

My pick: Act of Treason

Pack 2 pick 4:

 

We don’t have many creatures right now and only two true removal spells (Doom Blade/Corrupt) which makes a second Rise from the Grave excessive. A second Rotting Legion is going to make our deck quite clunky especially when you consider the Rotting Legion, Rise from the Grave, and Corrupt that it will join. A better choice is to take a second Child of Night because it races quite well, makes it more likely that we’ll reach the late-game if we’re a controlling deck, lowers/smoothes out our curve to make an aggressive start more likely if we end up being more of a beatdown deck.

My pick: Child of Night

Pack 2 pick 5:

 

Mind Rot and Assassinate are both good. Generally Assassinate is going to be a bit better than Mind Rot because it’s removal and not dead in aggressive matchups where you need spells that affect the board more than a two-for-one trade that doesn’t. Assassinate would normally be the pick here but Reassembling Skeleton is going to be better this time for a few reasons: 1) We’re going to move in on the Act deck where Reassembling Skeleton is quite good in conjunction with Viscera Seer and Bloodthrone Vampire. 2) Reassembling Skeleton is good on its own against decks that don’t have a lot of flyers (not quite as good as Assassinate, but similar to the effect that Blinding Mage can have if you’re being attacked constantly).

My pick: Reassembling Skeleton

Pack 2 pick 6:

 

Lava Axe doesn’t usually make the cut except in aggressive decks that can’t beat through a board once their creatures get outclassed. We shouldn’t have the problem of beating through cluttered boards because Act of Treason will clear whatever roadblock(s) the opponent has set up.

My pick: Nether Horror

Pack 2 pick 7:

 

Goblin Tunneler is actually decent when you consider the synergy that it has with Bloodthrone Vampire, Child of Night, and Nightwing Shade. We should look out for one on the wheel if we pick up enough of the aforementioned cards. For now, we have should take a third Act of Treason over the Mind Rot because Act of Treason is the most important card in the deck.

My pick: Act of Treason

Pack 2 pick 8:

 

My pick: Siege Mastodon

Pack 2 pick 9:

 

Viscera Seer is another crucial piece to the Act deck, and we need to pick up a few more of these cards to make the deck consistent.

My pick: Viscera Seer

Pack 2 pick 10:

 

Both the Viscera Seer and the Act of Treason wheeled which means that we’re in good shape as long as we can pick up a few more cards that sacrifice creatures.

My pick: Act of Treason

Pack 2 pick 11:

 

My pick: Duress

Pack 2 pick 12:

 

My pick: Rotting Legion

Pack 2 pick 13:

 

My pick: Holy Strength

Pack 2 pick 14:

 

My pick: Disentomb

Pack 2 pick 15:

Plains 

The second pack gave way to a dramatic change in our deck strategy as we abandoned our mediocre White cards for a more the comboish Act of Treason deck. We now have four copies of Act of Treason and one Viscera Seer which means that taking sacrifice outlets is a high priority.

Pack 3 pick 1:

 

Nantuko Shade is a reasonable threat, especially in a heavy-Black deck. The Shade can be quite a difficult creature to overpower and will fit perfectly into our deck.

My pick: Nantuko Shade

Pack 3 pick 2:

 

Nightwing Shade is going to be good, but we’ve already got a number of five drops and should pass it up for the Corrupt. It’s unlikely that we’re going to need more than six Red sources in our deck with the way the deck is shaping up which is exactly what Corrupt needs to be awesome.

My pick: Corrupt

Pack 3 pick 3:

 

Liliana’s Specter is another excellent creature (similar to Gravedigger) that naturally creates two-for-one trades and is much better than previous incarnations (Ravenous Rats) because the discard effect is attached to a 2/1 flyer instead of a near-worthless 1/1. Think of Liliana’s Specter as what Mind Rot has and will always want to be.

My pick: [draft]Lilianas Specter[/draft]

Pack 3 pick 4:

 

Viscera Seer is here over nothing else which is good because passing good cards for “bad” ones is never something that people like to do.

My pick: Viscera Seer

Pack 3 pick 5:

 

Terramorphic Expanse would be good in our deck because we want to maximize the number of Swamps that we have for the two Corrupts and Nantuko Shade while maintaining the ability to cast the few Red spells that we have. However, Bloodthrone Vampire is a more important pick because it will be the third sacrifice outlet that the deck will have to get rid of the creatures that we steal from the opponent via Act of Treason. Without a reasonable number of each piece (Acts/sacrifice outlets), the deck will be inconsistent and underpowered.

My pick: Bloodthrone Vampire

Pack 3 pick 6:

 

Captivating Vampire isn’t going to steal creatures in most games, but being able to pump the two Viscera Seers, one Bloodthrone Vampire, and two copies of Child of Night that we have will create a noticeable effect on games.

My pick: Captivating Vampire

Pack 3 pick 7:

 

Destructive Force isn’t very good mainly because it’s so expensive. Wrath effects can be tricky to use profitably at times, and one that has terrible synergy with Corrupt and Nantuko Shade should be ignored. A second Bog Raiders would help a lot against other Black decks, but Fling is the best choice because we need another sacrifice outlet for Act of Treason.

My pick: Fling

Pack 3 pick 8:

 

Getting milled in Limited is a traumatizing experience and you’re never really quite the same afterwards.

My pick: Traumatize

Pack 3 pick 9:

 

My pick: Silvercoat Lion

Pack 3 pick 10:

 

My pick: Bog Raiders

Pack 3 pick 11:

 

My pick: Reverberate

Pack 3 pick 12:

 

My pick: Demolish

Pack 3 pick 13:

 

My pick: Lilianas Caress

Pack 3 pick 14:

 

My pick: Dryads Favor

Pack 3 pick 15:

Plains 

Pack three yielded the sacrifice outlets that we were looking for as well as a few more good cards (Nantuko Shade, Corrupt, and Liliana’s Specter). To some people this deck may look like our draft went awry, but I assure you that it will turn out to be a surprisingly powerful archetype.

Deck:

The obvious problem people will/did have with my deck is having Nether Horror in the main and Rise from the Grave in the sideboard. The reason why Nether Horror is getting some play time is because the deck doesn’t have many creatures that can win on their own if the Act/”sac outlet” is excluded. In games where only one half is drawn, many of the deck’s creatures won’t be able to stand on their own very well; Nantuko Shade and two Rotting Legions are going to be doing all the heavy lifting. The deck only has three true removal spells (Doom Blade and two Corrupts) (Liliana’s Specter can be removal also in theory) which makes Rise from the Grave harder to utilize.

Round 1:

Game 1:
Evil wins the roll and chooses to play first. He keeps his hand as do we.

 

[T: 1] Evil plays a Mountain while we [d: Swamp] play a Swamp.

[T: 2] Evil plays a Plains and summons a Steel Overseer while we [d: Nantuko Shade] play another Swamp and summon our Child of Night.

[T: 3] Evil plays a Plains and summons a White Knight while we [d: Liliana’s Specter] play a Swamp and summon Liliana’s Specter; Evil discards an Earth Servant and puts a counter on his Steel Overseer (1).

[T: 4] Evil plays a Mountain, summons a Vulshok Berserker, and passes. [d: Mountain] We play the Mountain, attack with our Specter [E: 18], and then summon our Captivating Vampire after combat. Evil puts a counter on his Steel Overseer (2).

[T: 5] Evil plays a Plains and gives his Vulshok Berserker wings as he puts an Armored Ascension on it before he attacks with it and the Steel Overseer. Perhaps he doesn’t realize that our Child of Night gets +1/+1 from our Captivating Vampire, but we don’t waste time asking questions and immediately trade [G: 17]. [d: Mountain] We play the Mountain, attack with the Specter [E: 16], and summon our Rotting Legion.

[T: 6] Evil attacks with his 6/5 Berserker [G: 11] and passes. [d: Viscera Seer] We play Act of Treason to steal Evil’s Vulshok Berserker and then attack him with it and our Liliana’s Specter [E: 8]. Afterwards we summon our Viscera Seer and sacrifice the traitorous Berserker (leaving Act of Treason on top).

[T: 7] Evil plays a Plains and summons a Triskelion. The Construct immediately throws its limbs at our Captivating Vampire and Viscera Seer, eviscerating them in a flurry of magnificent artifice. Trike was probably one of the last cards that we wanted Evil to play, but at least he didn’t use it properly and left us with Liliana’s Specter. [d: Act of Treason] We attack with the Specter [E: 6] and summon our Nantuko Shade.

[T: 8] Evil stops our airborne assault by putting Pacifism on our Specter. [d: Fling] We can save our spells for when the board gets more complicated. Right now the Red Zone is where we want to be. We attack with our Rotting Legion and Nantuko Shade. Evil blocks with Triskelion and White Knight respectively as we pump our Abyss-on-wheels to ensure it survives.

[T: 9] Evil passes without action while we [d: Swamp] play our Swamp and attack again. Evil decides that this game is a lost cause and concedes.

Sideboard: nothing.

Game 2:
Evil chooses to play first like last game and keeps his hand; we keep our hand as well.

 

[T: 1] Evil plays a Plains while we [d: Swamp] play a Swamp.

[T: 2] Evil plays another Plains while we [d: Mountain] play our last Swamp and summon our Nantuko Shade.

[T: 3] Evil plays a Mountain and summons a Roc Egg while we [d: Swamp] play the Swamp and attack with our Shade. It’s business time! Evil immediately blocks and we pump our Shade once.

[T: 4] Evil plays a Plains, summons a Vulshok Berserker, and counter-attacks with his team. We’re ready with [card]Doom Blade[/card] to kill his Bird token, but the Berserker gets through [G: 17]. [d: Swamp] We play the Swamp and attack with our Shade, pumping it four times [E: 14].

[T: 5] Evil plays a Plains and attacks with his Berserker [G: 14]. He summons a Wild Griffin after combat. [d: Corrupt] We attack again with the Shade. Evil isn’t ready to block so we give him business for the full amount [E: 8].

[T: 6] Evil plays another Plains and attacks with his Berserker [G: 11], having no plays after that. [d: Corrupt #2] We play a Swamp and point a Corrupt at Evil’s face [E: 4, G: 15].

[T: 7] Evil plays a Plains and attacks with his Vulshok Berserker; we trade our Shade for it. [d: Mountain] We play a Mountain and point our second Corrupt at Evil. He doesn’t have Safe Passage and is consumed by our sorcery.

Round 2:

Game 1:
We win the roll, choose to play first, and keep our hand.