Pack 1 pick 1:
Malakir Bloodwitch, Trusty Machete, and Hideous End are the better cards. Malakir Bloodwitch is simply better than the other two cards. It’s nearly impossible to kill, flies, is large, and all for an affordable five mana. Trusty Machete is also pretty insane because it turns your creatures into walking two-for-ones.
My pick: Malakir Bloodwitch
Pack 1 pick 2:
Giant Scorpion is the best on-color card, but vastly weaker than Journey to Nowhere (the best non-black card). Giant Scorpion is better than Guul Draz Vampire because three toughness is one of the defining qualities in the blazing-fast format that is Zendikar.
My pick: Journey to Nowhere
Pack 1 pick 3:
There are quite a few good cards here. Judging by the pack, it would appear that white is being drafted in front of us. Plated Geopede is the best card overall, but would put us into a third color. Blue’s options aren’t as appealing. Into the Roil and Sky Ruin Drake are both good, but not on the same level as Plated Geopede. Nimana Sell-Sword is okay and so is Heartstabber Mosquito. Both are on the slower side. White’s Allies aren’t strong offensively which wouldn’t combine well with Vampire Lacerator, Guul Draz Vampire, Surrakar Marauder, as well as whatever fast white creatures that are drafted. Given that both black cards point towards a slower deck, Heartstabber Mosquito would be a better card to have. It’s as effective offensively as Nimana Sell-Sword with the added bonus of being able to kill something if played late enough in the game. We could jump out of white and into red with Plated Geopede, but I’d rather wait another pick or two to see if that’s the right move.
My pick: Heartstabber Mosquito
Pack 1 pick 4:
Seeing a Disfigure this late means that black is definitely the color to be in. I wouldn’t say that Spire Barrage still being in the pack is a sign that red is open. It’s one of the red cards that are seen in packs later than other cards simply because it’s harder to support in two-color decks.
My pick: Disfigure
Pack 1 pick 5:
Evasive and efficient, Surrakar Marauder is one of the best common black creatures.
My pick: Surrakar Marauder
Pack 1 pick 6:
Brave the Elements is a good trick in a heavy white deck. Whiplash Trap is the best card in the pack and should have been taken by now. Blue is underdrafted so far. If white ends up not being our second color, it seems like blue is a strong contender to replace it.
My pick: Whiplash Trap
Pack 1 pick 7:
Cliff Threader is average. Aether Figment is slightly above average. It’s comparable to Sky Ruin Drake. The problem is that it’s slow. Hagra Crocodile is good in an aggressive deck if you can hit your land drops. If we’re unsure how aggressive we are, then Aether Figment is going to be better than Hagra Crocodile because it’s more versatile.
My pick: Aether Figment
Pack 1 pick 8:
Soul Stair Expedition is better in sealed. However, it’s still a fine card. Getting access to multiple spells with one card is important when decks are running higher land counts.
My pick: Soul Stair Expedition
Pack 1 pick 9:
Spreading Seas isn’t very good. It cycles and can sometimes stop a player from casting a double-color spell, but nothing else beyond that. Pillarfield Ox is a fine card. It’s not quite Giant Scorpion, but still accomplishes similar things.
My pick: Pillarfield Ox
Pack 1 pick 10:
I’m not a fan of Paralyzing Grasp. It’s very situational. Pillarfield Ox is a better choice.
My pick: Pillarfield Ox
Pack 1 pick 11:
Bold Defense is okay, but not as good as Sky Ruin Drake. It’s harder to make an unkicked Bold Defense good whereas Sky Ruin Drake is almost always good.
My pick: Sky Ruin Drake
Pack 1 pick 12:
Ior Rune Expedition is overrated, but still playable.
My pick: Ior Ruin Expedition
Pack 1 pick 13:
Having access to a Lethargy Trap is always good. Fewer people play around it than Whiplash Trap (for good reason) making it much easier to set up a blowout.
My pick: Lethargy Trap
Pack 1 pick 14:
My pick: Swamp
Pack 1 pick 15:
Black is definitely one of our colors. It’s unclear whether white is open, as Pillarfield Ox usually goes pretty late. Blue has given us some okay cards, though most are slow. It going to be important to determine early whether blue or white will be the better choice to compliment our black.
Pack 2 pick 1:
Punishing Fire is the best card in the pack, but unfortunately we’ve given up on red. Kor Hookmaster is the best card within black, blue, and white. It’s actually very good on both defense and offense. Defensively, Kor Hookmaster will tap down a creature you can’t efficiently block and trade with the next best creature. Offensively, Kor Hookmaster will get rid of their best blocker or tap down their biggest creature (if you’re racing).
My pick: Kor Hookmaster
Pack 2 pick 2:
Kor Hookmaster and Guul Draz Vampire are the two choices. Kor Hookmaster is going to be better because our deck is not fast. Our creatures are not evasive. The deck won’t be able to get the opponent down to ten life with the effectiveness required to play Guul Draz Vampire. Even if our deck were faster, Kor Hookmaster would still be a better choice because its effect has much more of an impact than a large Guul-Draz Vampire. A large Guul Draz Vampire would kill a non-black opponent. A Kor Hookmaster would kill any opponent with the help of whatever creatures got him to below ten life. If both cards function in a similar way when the opponent is low on life, but one is significantly better than the other when they’re at a higher life total, then the choice of which to play is simple.
My pick: Kor Hookmaster
Pack 2 pick 3:
Hideous End is the easy choice. Hopefully we’ll get a Kor Sanctifiers later on to deal with the Trusty Machete that we passed in pack one.
My pick: Hideous End
Pack 2 pick 4:
Journey to Nowhere is going to be better than Giant Scorpion. Against decks with just a bunch of 2/2 creatures, the pick becomes much closer. However, Journey to Nowhere is going to be better almost every time against the majority of decks we’ll face. Being able to deal with a flyer is a good quality.
My pick: Journey to Nowhere
Pack 2 pick 5:
Again, Hideous End is the easy choice.
My pick: Hideous End
Pack 2 pick 6:
Kor Outfitter and Hagra Crocodile don’t fit into our deck very well. They’re much more aggressive than the rest of the deck and would be out of place. Their value goes down significantly in the late game. Mind Sludge is another card that is overrated. Generally it’s a turn slower than what is needed in this format. Now that isn’t to say it’s a bad card overall. Against some decks it will be amazing. However, on average it’s not going to be better than Mind Rot.
My pick: Mind Sludge
Pack 2 pick 7:
Ondu Cleric is okay, but really needs to be played in a deck with lots of allies to be useful. Alone, it’s simply too underpowered. Heartstabber Mosquito is a better choice. Even though it’s slow, it will still impact the board more if it’s played simply as a Primal Plasma.
My pick: Heartstabber Mosquito
Pack 2 pick 8:
Windborne Charge is good, but not in our deck. We’re looking for ways to survive and allow us to grind out the opponent with our two-for-one trades; Narrow Escape helps with that. It has synergy with the multiple CIP-ability cards we have (other than Malakir Bloodwitch) and can also help with enabling Soul Stair Expedition. We’re more likely to use Narrow Escape than Desecrated Earth. There’s one Valakut in the draft for sure, so it would be good to pick up a Desecrated Earth later on for insurance.
My pick: Narrow Escape
Pack 2 pick 9:
Noble Vestige and Mindless Null aren’t very good. Noble Vestige would have more of a place in our deck simply because it lets us survive longer. A second Soul Stair Expedition is going to be better than the creature options. We’ll be able to recycle our finishers if the opponent has lots of removal along with our other good creatures like Kor Hookmaster and Heartstabber Mosquito.
My pick: Soul Stair Expedition
Pack 2 pick 10:
Caravan Hurda is a better option than Landbind Ritual because the color ratio is heavier black in our deck as well as having multiple double-black cards and Mind Sludge. Caravan Hurda is a card we’d be more likely to play in the maindeck than Landbind Ritual.
My pick: Caravan Hurda
Pack 2 pick 11:
My pick: Expedition Map
Pack 2 pick 12:
Shieldmate’s Blessing is at least playable against very aggressive decks. Grim Discovery isn’t needed considering our two Soul Stair Expeditions.
My pick: Shieldmate’s Blessing
Pack 2 pick 13:
My pick: Bold Defense
Pack 2 pick 14:
My pick: Swamp
Pack 2 pick 15:
Pack two was excellent. We were able to settle into two colors and pick up some very good cards midway through the pack. Hopefully pack three will be as good as this pack. One problem is our creature curve is higher than what I’m comfortable with. Our removal makes up for this problem a bit. However, it would be good to pick up some Giant Scorpions if possible.
Pack 3 pick 1:
The two best cards are Halo Hunter and Pitfall Trap. Since we’re into pack three, it’s much easier to see what the deck is missing. What isn’t missing for sure is removal. Pitfall Trap would join Disfigure, two Journey to Nowhere, two Hideous End, and to a lesser extent two Heartstabber Mosquito and two Kor Hookmaster. Granted, the last two cards are more situational. Outside of getting wins by grinding out the opponent, the deck doesn’t have many cards that can win on its own (excluding Malakir Bloodwitch and maybe Mind Sludge). If we were short on removal, then I’d be inclined to take the Pitfall Trap. However, Halo Hunter increases the “Oops, I win!” draws by itself.
My pick: Halo Hunter
Pack 3 pick 2:
Blazing Torch is slow. At this point we can be more restrictive about what removal spells we take. A third Heartstabber Mosquito isn’t needed for similar reasons. Cliff Threader would only be useful to trade with an early Grizzly Bear as we aren’t too interested in racing. Kor Sanctifiers is the best option. We currently don’t have removal for equipment or enchantments. Being a 2/3, Kor Sanctifiers also acts as [card]Moat[/card] before we can get Pillarfield Ox into play.
My pick: Kor Sanctifiers
Pack 3 pick 3:
There’s not much here. Ondu Cleric doesn’t provide much help here. It’s not playable by itself (unlike Kazandu Blademaster). Hedron Scrabbler isn’t very good defensively and wouldn’t be as useful as Stonework Puma because it can’t kill a Bladetusk Boar. Cliff Threader is the best option. It will trade with whatever creature the opponent attacks us with early on.
My pick: Cliff Threader
Pack 3 pick 4:
Cliff Threader and Bog Tatters would be good in a more aggressive deck as a sideboard option. Giant Scorpion is exactly the card we want to see. It’s one of the best ways to take the steam out of the offense. Alone, it will easily hold off three Grizzly Bears.
My pick: Giant Scorpion
Pack 3 pick 5:
There aren’t many on-color options. Hagra Crocodile will help provide the necessary offense if we play against a milling deck.
My pick: Hagra Crocodile
Pack 3 pick 6:
Feast of Blood is unplayable in our deck. Blood Seeker and Ondu Cleric are similarly useless. They don’t fit into the deck’s strategy. Living Tsunami would give us the most trouble.
My pick: Living Tsunami
Pack 3 pick 7:
This pack is similar to the last one. Bold Defense is more useful to us, though it won’t be needed because we’ll be killing everything and winning with Soul Stair Expedition and Heartstabber Mosquito. Geyser Glider isn’t something we want to play against because we’ll have to waste a removal spell on it instead of trading a creature with it.
My pick: Geyser Glider
Pack 3 pick 8:
Vampire’s Bite will help against aggressive decks.
My pick: Vampire’s Bite
Pack 3 pick 9:
I wasn’t thinking about Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle at the time so I took Narrow Escape.
My pick: Narrow Escape
Pack 3 pick 10:
My pick: Heartstabber Mosquito
Pack 3 pick 11:
My pick: Mark of Mutiny
Pack 3 pick 12:
My pick: Bog Tatters
Pack 3 pick 13:
My pick: Grim Discovery
Pack 3 pick 14:
My pick: Feast of Blood
Pack 3 pick 15:
We keep seven (2 Swamp, 2 Hideous End, Caravan Hurda, Halo Hunter, and Heartstabber Mosquito) on the draw. Evil is green/white and has a slow start which gives us time to take advantage of our slower, more powerful spells (E: 19 [Misty Rainforest]). Timbermaw Larva meets a Hideous End (E: 17). We try the same thing with a Turntimber Basilisk on the next turn but Evil has Vines of Vastwood to protect it.
Kor Hookmaster stops the Turntimber Basilisk for a turn while we get a Soul Stair Expedition into play, and Evil plays a Territorial Baloth. We gamble that Evil doesn’t have any more lands in hand and summon Halo Hunter, but our hopes prove to be too much to ask for as Evil lures our demon while smashing with his Baloth (G: 14). Afterwards, he summons a Vastwood Gorger.
Caravan Hurda buys us some time while Soul Stair Expedition gets its second counter. Another land next turn would make the two Heartstabber Mosquitoes in our hand very good. Evil sends both his monsters in. We can’t afford to play around a second Vines of Vastwood or a Bold Defense so Caravan Hurda blocks the Territorial Baloth making the net damage four (G: 10). Evil tries to push more damage through next turn by playing an unkicked Oran-Rief Recluse. The problem with his play is that our Kor Hookmaster in play stops his plan barring a combat trick.
Our turn yields a seventh land which brings our Mosquitoes and Soul Stair Expedition online. From this point Evil is in trouble as our deadly insects begin to pick off his gargantuan creatures. Kor Hookmaster chumps his 6/6 Territorial Baloth to ensure we don’t die to Vines of Vastwood or Primal Bellow. Evil’s hand has puttered out of gas as we summon the second Mosquito. He doesn’t block the first one for whatever reason when we attack (E: 14) with it.
Savage Silhouette turns the Oran-Rief Recluse into a formidable creature (G: 8). We counterattack (E: 9, G: 9) and summon Malakir Bloodwitch (E: 8, G: 10). Evil equips Adventuring Gear to his recluse and attacks. Malakir Bloodwitch blocks and dies to Primal Bellow. We attack again (E: 3, G: 11) and get back Malakir Bloodwitch and Kor Hookmaster with Soul Stair Expedition. The Hookmaster is enough to prompt a concession.
Sideboard: -1 Cliff Threader, +1 Narrow Escape.
We keep seven (2 Plains, Soul Stair Expedition, Journey to Nowhere, Narrow Escape, Giant Scorpion, and Heartstabber Mosquito) on the draw. Evil’s draw is faster this time as he curves out with Adventuring Gear, Khalni Heart Expedition, and Lotus Cobra. We think about using Journey to Nowhere to ensure no crazy shenanigans occur with the snake. However, with Narrow Escape to combine with Journey to Nowhere, the concern seems unwarranted. Instead, we summon a Giant Scorpion to hold off the snake.
Evil puts Savage Silhouette on the Lotus Cobra, but doesn’t have a fourth land (one Forest and two Swamps) to make the snake a giant and be able to attack through our scorpion. Instead, he can only pass the turn. Taking into consideration Evil’s lack of White mana and a fourth land, it becomes obvious that using the Journey to Nowhere now instead of waiting for one more land will prove to be better overall. Giant Scorpion charges in for one so it isn’t left out of the party (E: 19) while we play and charge a Soul Stair Expedition.
Evil has nothing for a few turns while we play a second Expedition and a fifth land (E: 17). Finally, a second Forest allows Evil to summon a Timbermaw Larva. At the start of our turn Hideous End is our main play, but Kor Sanctifiers ends up being better as it destroys Evil’s two-counter Khalni Heart Expedition.
Evil equips his Timbermaw Larva, plays a Forest and offers to trade it with the Giant Scorpion. We are more than happy to do so especially considering the two Soul Stair Expeditions we have in play. The attack is very poor. Evil summons a second Timbermaw Larva. Hideous End makes quick work of it (E: 15) while we bash in with Kor Sanctifiers (E: 13).
Evil’s hand is finally unlocked as he continues to churn out fatties; this turn it’s a Territorial Baloth. Fortunately for us, we draw a third Swamp to purge his hand with Mind Sludge. Territorial Baloth attacks (G: 16), but that’s all Evil has for now. We counterattack (E: 11) and lock down the Baloth with a Kor Hookmaster. Heartstabber Mosquito next turn is too much for Evil to come back from. We emerge victorious.
We keep seven (4 Swamps, Halo Hunter, Kor Hookmaster, and Journey to Nowhere) on the play. Evil summons a Goblin Bushwhacker. We immediately draw a Plains. Plated Geopede is Evil’s next creature as he attacks with Goblin Bushwhacker (G: 19). Kor Hookmaster delays the Geopede for a turn as Evil regroups with a Hedron Scrabbler and Trusty Machete.
Journey to Nowhere removes the Plated Geopede from play. We can only brace for Evil’s next attack. Teetering Peeks makes the Goblin Bushwhacker a 3/1 while Trusty Machete makes the Hedron Scrabbler a 4/3. We trade the Kor Hookmaster with the Goblin, but still take lots of damage (G: 15). Makakir Bloodwitch regains some of the life we lost from the previous turn (E: 19, G: 16).
Goblin War Paint makes the Hedron Scrabbler too big to block (G: 10). We begin to attack with the Bloodwitch (E: 15). Hideous End kills the Hedron Scrabbler inside Evil’s attack phase (E: 13). The Bloodwitch hits Evil again (E: 9). We could play Halo Hunter but opt for Mind Sludge instead (because Evil has two cards in hand). Unfortunately, Evil plays Unstable Footing in response (G: 5). Our play becomes even worse when Evil finds Goblin Bushwhacker on top of his deck and cracks in for four (G: 1).
Attacking with Malakir Bloodwitch is a bad idea right now. We hold back and summon Halo Hunter threatening to kill Evil next turn. Evil finds another Goblin Bushwhacker and forces a trade with the Malakir Bloodwitch. We attack with Halo Hunter (E: 3) and summon a Cliff Threader, hoping the Evil draws a blank. He does and we win.
Sideboard: -1 Mind Sludge, +1 Vampire’s Bite.
We keep seven (2 Plains, 2 Swamps, Journey to Nowhere, Surrakar Marauder, and Heartstabber Mosquito) on the draw. Evil plays Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle on turn one, while we have Soul Stair Expedition. Zektar Shrine Expedition follows shortly for Evil while we summon Surrakar Marauder. Ruinous Minotaur is exiled with Journey to Nowhere as we get to work with the Surrakar Marauder (E: 18). In order to beat Valakut, we’ll need to go on the offensive.
Evil summons a Molten Ravager and makes an Expedition Map as his Zektar Expedition Shrine gets up to two counters. The Marauder holds back for a turn to gang-block Molten Ravager along with our Heartstabber Mosquito. Our two creatures stop his Ravager, but we get hit for seven by the elemental from his Shrine (G: 13).
Soul Stair Expedition gets back the Surrakar Marauder and Heartstabber Mosquito; we replay the 2/1 while Evil finds a Mountain with Expedition Map. Evil is not done yet, as Torch Slinger shoots the Surrakar Marauder and forges a Trusty Machete. We are falling behind in the race as Valakut is now active and spewing forth its ashes. Evil equips his goblin and attacks (G: 9). A Mountain deals three damage to us (G: 6). Heartstabber Mosquito kills the Torch Slinger. However its damage has been done. Evil plays Unstable Footing and a Mountain on his turn to finish us off.
We keep seven (2 Swamps, Giant Scorpion, Surrakar Marauder, Heartstabber Mosquito, Hideous End, and Disfigure) on the play. Evil has Goblin Bushwhacker on turn one while we have Surrakar Marauder on turn two. A second Goblin Bushwhacker gives Evil the momentum to push ahead in the damage race (G: 16). However, Giant Scorpion shuts down his offense as we battle with Surrakar Marauder (E: 18). All Evil can do is play a Zektar Shrine Expedition and a land afterwards.
Surrakar Marauder gains fear again and attacks through Evil’s goblins (E: 16). Heartstabber Mosquito also joins our offensive. Evil threatens to break through the wall our Giant Scorpion has created with a Ruinous Minotaur. More lands fuel Surrakar Marauder as it again infiltrates Evil’s defenses along with Heartstabber Mosquito (E: 12). Hideous End ensures the Ruinous Minotaur doesn’t do any damage to us (E: 10).
Hedron Scrabbler creates a barrier for the Marauder, but not the Heartstabber Mosquito (E: 8). Halo Hunter threatens to end the game in conjunction with the Disfigure in our hand. Evil passes the turn without doing anything. However, he is unprepared for our tricks. A land gives the Marauder fear as we kill off the Hedron Scrabbler with Disfigure and attack with our three Evasive creatures. Evil doesn’t survive.
Magic Online was unable to save this game replay for whatever reason, so I only have a brief recap based on my ailing memory. His deck is slow because it has a lot of four-drops (multiple Bladetusk Boars, Shatterskull Giants, and Kor Cartographers to name a few) along with Geyser Glider and Shepherd of the Lost. We go back and forth for a bit trading creatures for our removal and creatures until we finally draw a fourth Swamp to Mind Sludge his entire hand. From that point we kill him with a Malakir Bloodwitch and a Heartstabber Mosquito that stings something.
We keep seven (2 Plains, Journey to Nowhere, Hideous End, Giant Scorpion, Malakir Bloodwitch, and Heartstabber Mosquito) on the draw. Our first two draws are Swamps (yea, it is nice I guess) which doesn’t bode well for Evil. His first play is Molten Ravager on turn three. We are ready with Giant Scorpion. Evil doesn’t want to trade his Molten Ravager and his turn for our Scorpion. He instead settles on summoning a Kor Cartographer.
Pillarfield Ox continues to muck up the ground for us as we are content with playing the waiting game. A Geyser Glider from Evil threatens to cut the party short, however we have our choice of removal for it between Hideous End and one of two Journey to Nowhere. Having drawn a Soul Stair Expedition, we opt for using a Journey to Nowhere to exile the Geyser Glider.
Emeria Angel is Evil’s next play. We have drawn a fifth land to summon Malakir Bloodwitch and decide to use our mana more effectively (E: 19, G: 21). Evil didn’t have a land the turn he summoned the Angel, so it isn’t much of a threat. Evil finds a land on top of his deck to make a bird token and summons Shepherd of the Lost. We aren’t concerned and remove both his angels with Hideous End (E: 17) and Journey to Nowhere, as well attacking him with the Bloodwitch (E: 13).
Journey to Nowhere removes our Giant Scorpion allowing Evil to attack with his Molten Ravager and Kor Cartographer. We block the Cartographer with Pillarfield Ox. Evil then decides to use Punishing Fire to kill his own Kor Cartographer. OOPS! Really, we don’t need the help to win this game (G: 19). Pillarfield Ox and Malakir Bloodwitch counterattack (E: 7) while we summon a kicked Kor Sanctifiers to free our Giant Scorpion. Evil is flustered and plays the last card from his hand, Kor Cartographer. Two attacks and twenty minutes of waiting later, we are victorious.