Pack 1 pick 1:
This pack is quite stacked; [card slayer of the wicked]Slayer[/card], [card bonds of faith]Bonds[/card], [card mentor of the meek]Mentor[/card], Stitched Drake, Gatstaf Shepherd, and Geistflame are all quite good. The two best cards are Slayer of the Wicked and Mentor of the Meek because they outperform the normal one-for-one cards; both cards will be at least a two-for-one. Slayer of the Wicked can kill roughly 1/3 of the creatures in the format and generally creates a significant tempo swing in the game. Mentor of the Meek takes longer to provide card advantage but has a much higher potential than any of the other options. A case could be made to take Gatstaf Shepherd because it’s the best non-White card and would set up a potential gold mine for pack two, but the argument is flawed because it’s unknown what the drafters to our right are doing; taking the most powerful card is generally correct during the initial picks of the draft. Furthermore, the Shepherd is considerably weaker than the White options; there would be merit if the cards were very close in terms of power-level.
Pack 1 pick 2:
This pick is much easier. Fiend Hunter is by far the best card. It’s important to be careful when playing with the Hunter because of potential two-for-ones during combat that can be set up by an opposing removal spell.
Pack 1 pick 3:
Unfortunately there are multiple good cards in two different non-White colors. The Red options are a bit better than the Blue because they are removal spells. Stitched Drake and Makeshift Mauler are both excellent creatures and central to the Blue-based graveyard decks, but they aren’t always going to fit well into a deck. For example, it’s much harder to cast Stitched Drake in a White deck with a lot of flyers unless you’re milling yourself. Into the Maw of Hell and Skirsdag Cultist are much easier to use than the Blue options because they aren’t as dependent on an underlying theme. Skirsdag Cultist is actually quite good when combined with White because of cards like Doomed Traveler, Elder Cathar, Thraben Sentry, and various uncommons like Mausoleum Guard. Between the two Red cards, Into the Maw of Hell will be able to get you out of trouble against the better uncommons and rares that you’ll face, but the Cultist is going to be better against everything else.
Pack 1 pick 4:
There are still some Blue options open but none good enough to lure us away from either Red or White. Crossway Vampire is the best option for an aggro deck which is where most non-Blue, Red-based decks tend to be. Doomed Traveler and Traitorous Blood are the other two options that work out better with the few cards that we already have. The problem with being Red-based is that the creatures are mostly bad whereas White has much better options and is why Doomed Traveler is the pick. Doomed Traveler works quite well with the Cultist and Mentor while keeping us White-based. We can always shift our base later on if the signals are pointing that way.
Pack 1 pick 5:
Bloodcrazed Neonate seems like it should be good. If Stromkirk Noble is good so should the Neonate, right? Wrong. The Neonate takes a lot of work to make optimal and will usually involve a sequence of perfectly-timed tricks including removal and Falter effects that come together more rarely than not while also requiring you to run better than your opponent. Traitorous Blood isn’t as good as Elder Cathar because the Threaten is usually only good in a deck that can take advantage of the tempo or has a lot of sacrifice outlets (most of which are not amazing on their own). On the other hand, Elder Cathar is fine in most White decks will still having the sac-outlet interaction that Traitorous Blood has.
Pack 1 pick 6:
Unfortunately the options here are very unexciting. Grimoire of the Dead is usually just so, dead in most games. It’s very slow and only playable against controlling decks (usually a milling deck). The other option is Spectral Flight which could be good if we end up leaving Red in favor of Blue. Spectral Flight can be fine with most creatures, although it’s specifically good with Invisible Stalker. Elder Cathar is also moderately good with the Stalker. Overall it’s more likely that we end up in Blue than Grimoire being good.
Pack 1 pick 7:
Skaab Goliath is usually decent in the graveyard decks, but that’s not where we’re at at the moment. Besides the Goliath, there isn’t a strong indication that Blue is open other than the quantity of options in the pick. The Red options aren’t amazing either and are limited to Riot Devils and Feral Ridgewolf. The Ridgewolf is the better of the two in this deck because it can potentially hit for a bunch of damage, although that’s rarely how it works in gameplay.
Pack 1 pick 8:
Scourge of Geier Reach is usually decent because it will often be able to trade for multiple creatures.
Pack 1 pick 9:
Nightbird’s Clutches is another useful tool against the slower decks but not what you’ll want against another aggro deck because more trading will occur.
Pack 1 pick 10:
Feeling of Dread isn’t great without flashback being an option because you don’t get enough value from the card. Furor of the Bitten is a very narrow card that’s only good in a very aggressive deck. Feeling of Dread is more likely to be useful but only if we end up in Blue whereas Furor of the Bitten could make it into the deck if we end up with a ton of Red creatures that need support.
Pack 1 pick 11:
Pack 1 pick 12:
Pack 1 pick 13:
Pack 1 pick 14:
Pack 1 pick 15:
The first pack was moderately hostile because Blue seemed like it was more open towards the end than Red and White. Hopefully that’s not the case for the remainder of the draft, and that we are able to settle into a favorable Red/White seat from here on out. We managed to pick up some good cards like Mentor of the Meek, Fiend Hunter, and Skirsdag Cultist, but the quality ends there and we’re left with a bunch of chaff. Hopefully the initial pack doesn’t have too much of a negative impact regarding the amount of White that we see in the second pack, but all we can do is hope.
Pack 2 pick 1:
Stromkirk Noble is one of those cards that will win games on its own if you’re on the play against a fair number of decks, although its value drops significantly after the first few turns. Meanwhile, Bonds of Faith is always going to be an excellent removal spell that’s useful at every point in the game. There are decks that want the Noble more and usually involve a low curve, but this isn’t one of them.
Pack 2 pick 2:
Harvest Pyre is usually very mediocre in a deck without Islands or Mulch because it can be very difficult to make it deal more than two/three damage. Gallows Warden is the next best pick although it’s nothing amazing due to its high cost.
Pack 2 pick 3:
Pitchburn Devils causes problems for a lot of color combinations because it will often be a natural two-for-one, although it’s on the slow side which is makes it fall short of being amazing. Midnight Haunting is the best option because flying creatures are difficult to combat in this set; there aren’t many ways to interact with them short of removal. Midnight Haunting has a significant upside because the power it provides is divided amongst multiple creatures which can be advantageous with equipment and against removal.
Pack 2 pick 4:
Rebuke is mediocre because it’s difficult to fit into your curve. In decks with a low curve it’s often dead (because you’re aggro) while being uncastable in slower, more controlling decks (because your spells cost too much). Rebuke is decent in the aggro mirror or in a deck with a lot of evasion creatures that force the opponent to race. Overall, Rebuke is more difficult to use than it initially appears and will lead to serious leaks in tempo if you skip a turn to hold mana open to cast it while the opponent plays around it. Butcher’s Cleaver is the best pick because it’s difficult for aggro to race if you have sufficient humans while making your small creatures match up well against a control deck’s larger creatures.
Pack 2 pick 5:
Our options are pretty bad here: Urgent Exorcism, Thraben Purebloods, Desperate Ravings, and Curse of the Pierced Heart. All of these cards hide in the sideboard of most decks with Urgent Exorcism being the more useful candidate against White/Blue decks because of the concentration of spirits along with aura-based removal ([card bonds of faith]Bonds[/card]/Claustrophobia/Sensory Deprivation).
Pack 2 pick 6:
Moment of Heroism is usually pretty good for the same reasons why Butcher’s Cleaver is good although it doesn’t have the long-term reusability value attached to it. A second Nightbird’s Clutches is unnecessary because we aren’t extremely aggressive. Mask of Avacyn is another card that can be very useful (although it’s very slow) because shroud is another difficult ability to fight against. When combined with a flyer/large creature, the Mask will cause a lot of trouble for the opponent. However, against most decks the Mask is a bit too slow and only useful when combating certain specific cards and/or protecting specific creatures. A second Scourge of Geier Reach is going to be the best because it requires the least from our deck to be a reasonable creature compared to the other cards.
Pack 2 pick 7:
Ashmouth Hound is fine, but it’s not suited for our deck as well as Village Bell-Ringer. The deck has a curve that’s higher than normal with no two-drops while also having a Butcher’s Cleaver and other cards that take advantage of a long game (Mentor of the Meek).
Pack 2 pick 8:
Pack 2 pick 9:
There’s nothing that we want to splash at the moment which makes Traveler’s Amulet not as attractive as our other options. Silver-Inlaid Dagger is a reasonable option because most of our small creatures are human and it will make it easier for them to attack through larger opposing creatures. However, our deck won’t need as much help against a control deck compared to an aggro one which is where Moment of Heroism will perform better than the Dagger; Moment of Heroism has useful functionality against control decks as well.
Pack 2 pick 10:
Pack 2 pick 11:
Pack 2 pick 12:
Pack 2 pick 13:
Pack 2 pick 14:
Pack 2 pick 15:
The second pack wasn’t exciting, but that was to be expected after we had passed Bonds of Faith and Slayer of the Wicked in pack one. However, we still managed to open well enough and pick up some decent cards like Butcher’s Cleaver and Midnight Haunting. Blue still seems like it could support another drafter but it’s going to be difficult to switch into with only one pack left to go; if we don’t have any good options we should consider moving in.
Pack 3 pick 1:
Pack 3 pick 2:
This pick is far less exciting for us with only a third Elder Cathar or Abbey Griffin for us. Alternatively we could take Grasp of Phantoms or Silent Departure and try to splash it, but that’s less of an option because we’re heavy White with many of our Red spells being double-colored. Abbey Griffin is usually not great because it doesn’t defend well in addition to being inferior to the other common flyers (Chapel Geist, Voiceless Spirit, etc.), however we don’t have many flyers at the moment which makes the Griffin slightly more appealing. Elder Cathar has the added bonus of being human, and thus working better with Butcher’s Cleaver (and also Skirsdag Cultist). The synergy that the Cathar has with the rest of the deck is going to better than the defensive potential of the Griffin against other flyers.
Pack 3 pick 3:
Cloistered Youth is quite good when combined with a non-defensive deck and a few tricks like pump spells because it’s a very cheap threat that’s also moderately large. Cloistered Youth will be able to beat through most defenses without needing much help.
Pack 3 pick 4:
A second Cloistered Youth is more than welcome especially when considering that it’s helping fill out the low-end of our curve.
Pack 3 pick 5:
Sharpened Pitchfork is moderately good in our deck, but it doesn’t help a lot of our creatures attack through four-toughness defenders. Moment of Heroism is a better choice because not only does it help solve the aforementioned problem, but it also doubles as being an excellent utility spells against other aggro decks.
Pack 3 pick 6:
Unruly Mob isn’t very useful most of the time because it requires a deck with a lot of creatures in addition to being on the Battlefield early. Additionally, the Mob doesn’t attack/block well at all until it has grown to at least a 3/3 and won’t work unless the opponent is being forced to trade a lot and also has small creatures.
Pack 3 pick 7:
Pack 3 pick 8:
It’s unlikely that our deck will be able to effectively utilize the tempo granted by Crossway Vampire whereas a second Doomed Traveler is going to be at home with our Butcher’s Cleaver, Mentor of the Meek, Instigator Gang, and Skirsdag Cultist.
Pack 3 pick 9:
Pack 3 pick 10:
Pack 3 pick 11:
Pack 3 pick 12:
Pack 3 pick 13:
Pack 3 pick 14:
Pack 3 pick 15:
The last pack mirrored the first two: mediocre on average along with opening a pretty sweet card. Blue was definitely the color to be in and not Red, although in the beginning the Red cards were pairing better with our White than the Blue would have. From our seat, which was being fed White and Blue, we would have needed to prioritize a way to take advantage of the Blue Zombie creatures that we saw being fed nonstop to us. Stitched Drake, Makeshift Mauler, and Skaab Goliath are good, but they require cards like Armored Skaab and Forbidden Alchemy to work efficiently (and to a lesser extent Deranged Assistant and Selhoff Occultist), and it’s difficult to have one group be effective without the other. Without the graveyard enablers we’d be unable to summon our zombies unless we could fill our graveyard via combat. Even though Blue was wide open in pack three (and to a lesser extent pack two), it wasn’t as clear in the first pack when we were still looking for a solid footing; unfortunately we made the wrong choice.
The draft wasn’t a total disaster, but it was quite evident that we passed up what would have been a good Blue deck. Nevertheless, we should be able to manage to scrape together a deck that should be able to 2-1 a normal pod.
We’ve got a few cards that are automatically going to be in our deck; they include the following list of twenty-one (21) cards:
The deck will be a bit slow out of the gates if it doesn’t have a Cloistered Youth on turn two, and as a result that makes Doomed Traveler a bit better because it will be able to help swing the game tempo into our favor; Moment of Heroism will also function similarly to Doomed Traveler but have a broader use overall.
There are thirteen humans in the deck to make Butcher’s Cleaver awesome, although Cloistered Youth is non-human once it flips and isn’t very resilient otherwise. However, the Cleaver will still be fine with the two youths excluded.
The remaining slots can are most likely to be filled with utility spells because the only other creature remaining is a Feral Ridgewolf; the cards include the following:
It’s easy to see that the options aren’t great here. The Ridgewolf is fine, but would be much better if we had something like a Sharpened Pitchfork to ensure that it doesn’t die in combat. The closest option to a Pitchfork is the Mask of Avacyn which is fine, but is a bit slow as was mentioned earlier.
Spare from Evil is better when combined with large creatures, but unfortunately we don’t have any Thraben Sentry and are solely reliant on the two Scourge of Geier Reach and Instigator Gang. Smaller creatures won’t necessarily be able to have sufficient power to kill whatever is blocking them, and as a result Spare from Evil will lose a lot of its value.
Nightbird’s Clutches and Traitorous Blood are both underwhelming also, the Blood more than the Clutches because the deck lacks sufficient two-drops to create sufficient early pressure to the point of utilize either trick as effectively as possible. Traitorous Blood is the most out of place of the two because it has less impact on the game; the Clutches can be used in two attacks while the Blood is good for only one. We do have the Skirsdag Cultist, but it’s the only sacrifice outlet and isn’t consistent enough to warrant including the Threaten. Nightbird’s Clutches is one of the reasonable choices, although mediocre as I already said, because its usefulness will be matchup dependent.
Urgent Exorcism is almost always a sideboard card baring passing a high number of spirits/enchantments that you’re likely to play against. In most games there are rarely more than two targets it.
The best two choices are Mask of Avacyn and Nightbird’s Clutches. The equipment will create favorable power/toughness matchups for our creatures while protecting them against tricks while we use our tricks (Elder Cathar/Moment of Heroism). The Butcher’s Cleaver and two Moment of Heroisms should give us enough of an advantage in the aggro matchup to the point where we can focus on the control matchup (where Nightbird’s Clutches will be the most useful).
Unfortunately we met a formidable adversary in the finals and lost round 3 (*shakes fist* soooo many mulligans!) In any case, the deck performed quite well considering what we had to work with.
Doomed Traveler was quite good because of the incredible synergy with Skirsdag Cultist and Butcher’s Cleaver.
Cloistered Youth was also quite good, although that may be clear to many of you; two-mana 3/3’s are pretty nice given the right deck shell is built around them.
Mentor of the Meek was amazing and won all the games that it survived (a few).
Elder Cathar was only fine and never exceptional. They pumped some other humans at times, but it never felt like I was cheating in any sort of way; it was just fair.
Skirsdag Cultist was an all-star thanks to its supporting cast of two Doomed Travelers, three Elder Cathars, and Midnight Haunting. Without a lot of cheap creatures the Cultist is still quite good, although it’s much easier to run out of gas.
Mask of Avacyn was only okay. There were some situations where it was used in tandem with Moment of Heroism, and knowing that the possibility of falling victim to a two-for-one had been eliminated certainly played a role in the setup of the play. The Mask definitely has a unique quality to it that’s valuable at times, although it isn’t always for the maindeck.
Nightbird’s Clutches wasn’t terribly useful. It was still used to setup a game win in one of the rounds, but often it got sideboarded out because it was out of place for the matchup. If the deck had been faster, then the case would be different.
Butcher’s Cleaver was quite good; it made the small spirits and humans very difficult to combat profitably.
Midnight Haunting was also quite good; it ambushed many one-toughness flyers and provided a threat that the opponent hadn’t planned to deal with when they decided what their line of play was going to be.
Traitorous Instinct was the all-star sideboard card that was brought in almost every round. There were a lot of problematic creatures to deal with and some of the games would go on for a while to the point where drawing both the Threaten and Skirsdag Cultist became realistic.