Pack 1 pick 1:
There aren’t many good cards to choose from. Avacyn’s Pilgrim, Think Twice, Sensory Deprivation, Lumberknot, Delver of Secrets, and Abbey Griffin are the playable cards, the first three being the most interesting. None of the choices are broken which means our pick should be the one that is the most important to a certain archetype. Think Twice is important in a Burning Vengeance deck while Avacyn’s Pilgrim is a key card to the Green/White decks. Think Twice has a very relevant effect with a cheap flashback cost, two important aspects of cards that are central to the Burning Vengeance archetype. Avacyn’s Pilgrim lets Green-based decks (White in particular) take over the board much more quickly than normally with their cheap creatures and combat tricks. Overall, we’re more likely to end up being a Green-based deck than one with Burning Vengeance which makes the Pilgrim more likely to be the optimal pick.
My pick: Avacyn’s Pilgrim
Pack 1 pick 2:
The rare is missing which doesn’t indicate much about which direction to go. The better cards are Ghoulraiser, Pitchburn Devils, Chapel Geist, and Desperate Ravings. Ghoulraiser can be bad quite easily if you don’t keep track of the number of zombies you have, in particular if you’re not also Blue. Additionally, if you’re loading up on cards like Corpse Lunge and Stitched Drake, cards that utilize your graveyard’s creatures, Ghoulraiser can also be a bit underwhelming. Pitchburn Devils is fine and very problematic for certain decks, but the downside is that it’s both expensive and Red. Red is the weakest color to play (despite having tons of removal) because its creatures are quite bad. Five-mana spells aren’t what I’d like to load up on unless they are quite overwhelming, and Pitchburn Devils just isn’t. Chapel Geist is fine but nothing special; it fights effectively against other flyers excluding Stitched Drake and has a low mana cost (although double-White). Desperate Ravings is also a fine card but isn’t good unless you’re also Blue. At the moment it’s less likely that we’ll be both Red and Blue which makes Ravings less interesting than Pitchburn Devils. Chapel Geist is the pick because it’s cheap and evasive while not needing any support from other cards/colors (like Ghoulraiser/Desperate Ravings).
My pick: Chapel Geist
Pack 1 pick 3:
This pack supports Blue/Red quite well with Stitched Drake, two Harvest Pyres, and a Village Ironsmith. Harvest Pyre is usually mediocre in non-Blue decks because they won’t be able to fill their graveyard with fuel on a whim; it’ll take work from multiple turn cycles of combat. Butcher’s Cleaver is the pick because it allows you to trade up with creatures while racing profitably if you have a modest number of humans. White, Green, and Red have the most humans (in that order) which makes Cleaver the best in those colors. Stitched Drake is the next best pick but isn’t going to be as useful as the Cleaver because it’s more likely that we end up in White, Green, or Red than Blue.
My pick: Butcher’s Cleaver
Pack 1 pick 4:
Seeing Avacynian Priest this late is a good enough sign that White is open (assuming this pack wasn’t loaded with other sweet White cards in other rarities like Geist-Honored Monk and Slayer of the Wicked). Besides the Priest there’s nothing that really stands out other than Villagers of Estwald (which is decent but nothing close to the Priest).
My pick: Avacynian Priest
Pack 1 pick 5:
Markov Patrician and Ashmouth Hound are the best two cards. The Hound is quite good in the early stages of the game as well as trading up (since it’s effectively a 3/1 when dealing with creatures). The problem with taking the Patrician is that we haven’t seen any good Black cards at this point, and that makes it likely that it’s being drafted heavily. Ashmouth Hound is a decent option because we haven’t seen much Green yet in addition to there being a moderate amount of Red creatures (though none of the good removal). I don’t like going into Red unless there’s removal floating around, and other than the pack with the two Harvest Pyres in it, we haven’t seen anything enticing. If we end up going into Red, we won’t miss out on one Ashmouth Hound. White seems like it’s the most open, and so cutting it off at this point is only going to help even if what we’re taking are moderately low-impact cards like Selfless Cathar.
My pick: Selfless Cathar
Pack 1 pick 6:
Morkrut Banshee can be good if used in a deck that’s moderately aggressive. Being aggressive is important because you need to be able to trade creatures on your turn for the Banshee to be anything more than a vanilla 4/4. We should ignore Skaab Goliath and Morkrut Banshee because we haven’t seen anything from Blue/Black other than these two mid-level picks saying that the two colors even exist. The pick is really just Voiceless Spirit versus nothing. Some people may point out that Village Bell-Ringer is an option because it’s ‘better’ with Butcher’s Cleaver (because it’s a human and will therefore have lifelink), however that reasoning is flawed because Voiceless Spirit would be a 5/1 flying, first striker (a ‘bit’ better).
My pick: Voiceless Spirit[card]
Pack 1 pick 7:
This pick is interesting because it’s the first time we’ve seen a really good Green card and have the alternative of taking a moderately good White creature. Prey Upon is the best Green common in decks that aren’t also White; then you’d be able to compare it with Travel Preparations. Prey Upon is so good because it’s only one mana and often a Flame Slash, or in simple terms, cheap and effective removal. If Green isn’t open, then taking Mausoleum Guard is the clear and obvious choice. For example, if we end up in Red, the Guard has a lot of potential if we manage to pick up a Skirsdag Cultist, etc. Mausoleum Guard also is quite difficult to beat through and can be easily used to generate a ton of tempo regarding combat (being able to trade with a ground bear and immediately have two evasive attackers on the following turn is huge). We’ve been waiting for a signal from a second color that’s safe to dip into, and Green is it. Even though the Guard is good, there are often better White cards to take over it which isn’t true about Prey Upon.
My pick: Prey Upon
Pack 1 pick 8:
This pick is mediocre and the only cards that we’d consider playing at the moment are Shimmering Grotto and Spare from Evil. Spare from Evil can be good but is really matchup dependent (although being Green/White humans goes a long way towards making it better because you’re reducing the pool of opposing humans). Shimmering Grotto isn’t great because it effectively puts you under a Sphere of Resistance, but it has the benefit of being able to splash a third color. It’s far more difficult to pick up a late Spare from Evil than Shimmering Grotto which means that taking the Grotto here is the better choice.
My pick: Shimmering Grotto
Pack 1 pick 9:
Thraben Purebloods would be a fine creature in other formats, but it’s rarely a go-to inclusion for most Innistrad decks. The biggest problem regarding the 3/5 is that it’s just too clunky to play in this fast format. Ranger’s Guile is far more likely to make the cut even though it’s not the best trick for combat; it gets more value as an Intervene to stop opposing tricks.
My pick: Ranger’s Guile
Pack 1 pick 10:
My pick: Caravan Vigil
Pack 1 pick 11:
My pick: Unruly Mob
Pack 1 pick 12:
My pick: Gnaw to the Bone
Pack 1 pick 13:
My pick: Full Moon’s Rise
Pack 1 pick 14:
My pick: Brain Weevil
Pack 1 pick 15:
The first pack was a bit rocky because we didn’t have a convincing direction to go in, and as a result we had to make some picks that weren’t completely optimal (Selfless Cathar). Nevertheless, we found our way after reading some signs and have somewhat settled into what should become a Green/White deck. From this point on we should focus on keeping a low curve of two/three-mana creatures while acquiring pump spells when possible. Most Green/White decks use their low curve to punish slower opposing draws; it’s important to remember that.
Pack 2 pick 1:
This is a reasonable pack for ‘not us’ with Civilized Scholar, Moan of the Unhallowed, and Grasp of Phantoms; our options are far less attractive. Rebuke isn’t an option because it’s dead the vast majority of the time (we’re the beatdown); the remaining options are just as mediocre. Silverchase Fox, Gallows Warden, and Unruly Mob are our choices. Unruly Mob has the potential to be a fatty creature but suffers from the problem of not being able to attack or block well for the first few turns that it’s on the Battlefield. Either way, you lose a lot of tempo by summoning it for little gain; it’s certainly no Festerhide Boar. Silverchase Fox fits the curve the best but is underwhelming because it dies very easily. The only benefit of having the Fox is that its low cost makes it awesome with Travel Preparations and a good utility creature against cards like Bonds of Faith, Claustrophobia, and Curse of Death’s Hold. Gallows Warden is the ‘best’ creature because it’s a three-power flyer, but it costs five mana (that’s a lot!). Like I mentioned earlier, Green/White decks take advantage of the sluggishness of others, but it’s difficult to do that when you start throwing five-mana creatures (mediocre) into the mix. Still, the other options are depressing and much worse.
My pick: Gallows Warden
Pack 2 pick 2:
This pack is pretty sweet because we’ve got a few good choices, namely Avacynian Priest, Prey Upon, and Fiend Hunter. Fiend Hunter is quite good because it can remove any creature in play but forces you to play more conservatively or else you’ll be likely to walk into a two-for-one (after the opponent casts Victim of Night to get back Morkrut Banshee, kills your flipped Gatstaf Shepherd, and then trades with your Darkthicket Wolf plus turn when you’re forced to pump it). Fiend Hunter immediately deals with any creature the turn it enters the Battlefield which is one of the huge upsides it has over Avacynian Priest which won’t always be able to deal with threats in as timely a manner (Mausoleum Guard, Thraben Militia, etc.). The Priest has the upside of being reusable, which is to say that it can be used on whatever monster is the most threatening at the time. Using Fiend Hunter to exile a Pitchburn Devils may seem like a good idea until the opponent summons a Balefire Dragon. Prey Upon is the last choice and is one of the most efficient removal spells at your disposal. Green’s creatures are usually larger than other creatures (Darkthicket Wolf/Villagers of Estwald) and that is even truer when cards like Travel Preparations and pump spells are factored in. Being able to kill off a creature and summon another on an early turn in the game is just back-breaking regarding tempo and is one of the ways that Green-based aggro decks will win games. Prey Upon, while good, is trying to do the same thing in tandem with another creature that Fiend Hunter is doing alone.
My pick: Fiend Hunter
Pack 2 pick 3:
Lumberknot is a lot like Unruly Mob in that it can’t fight in combat the first few turns that it’s on the Battlefield. However, the Knot does have a lot of upsides because it grows much faster and has hexproof. Summoning Lumberknot and then going into combat is often a good line of play because you’ll be able to grow it to a 3/3-5/5 rather quickly. Grizzled Outcasts is the other option and generally better than the Lumberknot for a few reasons: 1) the Outcasts is as large as a Lumberknot will potentially be, 2) the Outcasts is human on one side (better with Cleaver), and 3) the Outcasts is better initially with Prey Upon. Both creatures cost roughly the same amount of mana which makes the Outcasts a much better choice against most decks.
My pick: Grizzled Outcasts
Pack 2 pick 4:
A second Grizzled Outcasts isn’t as much of an option because there are cheaper creatures and we already have a few five-drops. Festerhide Boar is fine, but it’s also expensive and quite similar to the Outcasts. Green/White typically doesn’t want to trade off creatures because the strategy is to use tricks like Travel Preparations and Moment of Heroism to ensure that your creatures don’t die. The two best options are Voiceless Spirit and Spidery Grasp. Both cards are fine, and generally it’s easier to overload on pump effects than creatures (which makes the evasive 2/1 the pick).
My pick: Voiceless Spirit
Pack 2 pick 5:
Travel Preparations is the key to making aggro Green/White work because it’s a pump effect that’s also permanent and can also be spread across multiple turns/pairs of creatures.
My pick: Travel Preparations
Pack 2 pick 6:
Blazing Torch is removal, but it doesn’t gain you tempo like traditional removal will because it forces you to keep back a creature that would normally be able to attack. Tempo is a critical concept to grasp, and maintaining tempo (the rate at which a game is progressing) is important to ensure that the opponent never has a chance to stabilize their side of the Battlefield. Hamlet Captain is another creature that’s somewhat overrated because it doesn’t always have a lot of synergy with the rest of your creatures. Often times you’ll have creatures like Darkthicket Wolf and Orchard Spirit alongside with the Hamlet Captain which makes it a bit underwhelming. Other times you’ll have twelve-plus humans and the Captain is a crusade-on-wheels; the case is the former more often than not. Geistcatcher’s Rig is usually quite decent but it’s not for this deck because it’s so expensive; all we want to do is beat down. Orchard Spirit it the pick because it’s the only evasive choice.
My pick: Orchard Spirit
Pack 2 pick 7:
Both Elder Cathar and Silverchase Fox are both comparable. The main advantage of the Fox is that it costs two mana, but the Cathar is slightly better because of the +1/+1 counter that it leaves and because of Butcher’s Cleaver.
My pick: Elder Cathar
Pack 2 pick 8:
Abbey Griffin isn’t ideal because it’s expensive, doesn’t beat many common flyers, and only attacks for two; however there isn’t a better alternative.
My pick: Abbey Griffin
Pack 2 pick 9:
We already have one Unruly Mob and won’t necessarily be playing it which makes a second unnecessary. Silverchase Fox is a better alternative because it can attack better immediately and also has an applicable utility.
My pick: Silverchase Fox
Pack 2 pick 10:
My pick: Somberwald Spider
Pack 2 pick 11:
My pick: Village Bell-Ringer
Pack 2 pick 12:
My pick: Urgent Exorcism
Pack 2 pick 13:
My pick: Spare from Evil
Pack 2 pick 14:
My pick: Ghostly Possession
Pack 2 pick 15:
The second pack was only slightly better than the first, although any improvement is still good. Our deck has the problem of being short on two-mana creatures which is something that we’ll have to prioritize in pack three when possible; we also need a few more pump effects.
Pack 3 pick 1:
Mayor of Avabruck is one of those cards that has a wide range (like Stromkirk Noble); it will win games by itself on turn two while being mediocre at other times. Nevertheless, we can’t complain about opening this sweet two-drop.
My pick: Mayor of Avabruck
Pack 3 pick 2:
My pick: Bonds of Faith
Pack 3 pick 3:
There isn’t much selection here and we’re stuck with a third Voiceless Spirit.
My pick: Voiceless Spirit
Pack 3 pick 4:
This pick is interesting. Cloistered Youth is one of the better two-drops because it hits so hard immediately while Travel Preparations is the most useful pump spell accessible. Our deck suffers from a lack of two drops which makes the Youth desirable and also is missing a sufficient amount of pump spells to ensure that our creatures can attack freely. Travel Preparations will do more for the deck than Cloistered Youth because of the drop-off in quality between each card in the category that it’s in. For example, Gatstaf Shepherd, Darkthicket Wolf, and Cloistered Youth are the better two drops because they’re difficult to trade with alone. Afterwards there are a few creatures that fill the two-drop creature slot that can still attack but not nearly as well (Silverchase Fox, Spectral Rider, and Unruly Mob). The selection of pump spells isn’t as deep as creatures (Travel Preparations, Moment of Heroism, Ranger’s Guile, and Spidery Grasp) and the quality drops of much more than with creatures because all the other cards are until end of turn. Cloistered Youth on turn two will go a long way alone, but if you already have a developed board as a result of the game being at a later stage, then Travel Preparations is more likely to allow multiple creatures to attack without risking unprofitable trading.
My pick: Travel Preparations
Pack 3 pick 5:
A second Silverchase Fox would normally be the pick because it fits the curve better, however we are lacking a sufficient number of pump spells to help ensure that our initial assault is enough to win most games. As a result if is better to take a second Grizzled Outcasts because it’s going to be a very large threat on its own. If we had more pump effects like Moment of Heroism and Spidery Grasp, then taking the Fox would be better, but without them the small creatures aren’t nearly as effective.
My pick: Grizzled Outcasts
Pack 3 pick 6:
My pick: Festerhide Boar
Pack 3 pick 7:
Rebuke isn’t normally a card that would make it into the maindeck of this archetype, but we’re on the slower side and could benefit from a sideboard card for the aggro mirror where we won’t necessarily be the definitive aggressor.
My pick: Rebuke
Pack 3 pick 8:
My pick: Spider Spawning
Pack 3 pick 9:
My pick: Ranger’s Guile
Pack 3 pick 10:
At this point we have two Travel Preparations and two less-exciting Ranger’s Guiles as cards that can be used to keep our creatures alive. Generally it’s better to have a few more pump spells, and generally not counting Ranger’s Guile because it’s less effective when fighting creatures compared to spells. However, the assortment of creatures we have at the moment includes a lot that are evasive (three Voiceless Spirits, one Orchard Spirit, and one Gallows Warden) in addition to some larger fatties (two Grizzled Outcasts and one Festerhide Boar). It’s less likely that those evasive/big creatures will need the support of pump spells than the smaller creatures (Silverchase Fox), and also that the quantity of those former creatures is high enough to warrant taking the Orchard Spirit.
My pick: Orchard Spirit
Pack 3 pick 11:
My pick: Curse of Stalked Prey
Pack 3 pick 12:
My pick: Nightbird’s Clutches
Pack 3 pick 13:
My pick: Make a Wish
Pack 3 pick 14:
My pick: Hysterical Blindness
Pack 3 pick 15:
Pack three was better than the previous two, although not amazing excluding the Mayor of Avabruck that we opened. Still, we were able to pick up some relatively good cards like Bonds of Faith and Travel Preparations that will make our games a bit easier to win. Overall the draft went fine; it didn’t feel like we were in the wrong colors or positioned badly. We don’t have the quantity of good two-drops that’s optimal, but we’ll still be able to construct a decent deck.
There are twenty (20) cards that should make up the core of the deck; they include the following:
Afterwards there are a few other options that we can use to fill the remaining slots based on what the deck needs in order to flow well and succeed. The remaining cards include:
Unruly Mob may be a two-drop in the sense that its CMC is two, but it functions more like a four drop because it requires a developed board and game progression before it can enter safely combat and emerge unscathed.
Both Elder Cathar and Village Bell-Ringer function more efficiently in the early game than Unruly Mob simply because they can fight well enough. If we were concerned about being overrun, then Village Bell-Ringer would be a good addition because of its cost, toughness, and utility. However, it’s more likely that we’d keep the Bell-Ringer in the sideboard and only bring it in for the mirror because it has trouble attacking.
One good point to note about the creature suite is the fact that we have three Voiceless Spirits which can be used quite effectively to counteract a fast opposing draw and regain tempo.
Festerhide Boar is usually quite good on the play when you’re able to have command of the board, but is only passable on the draw because it’s somewhat clunky at four mana. Still, the threat of a four-mana 5/5 is nothing to be ashamed of, although it’s suited more for a low curve. In our deck it’s more likely to be a 3/3 because we won’t have a surplus of guys to trade to build a 5/5.
Butcher’s Cleaver isn’t the greatest in this deck because it’s a slow combat trick that doesn’t boost toughness, but it does work well with our spirits (two Orchard/three Voiceless) and is another way to regain tempo if we’re at low life in conjunction with our larger humans.
Of the ‘Good options’, it seems like the last slot is between Silverchase Fox and Festerhide Boar with Village Bell-Ringer and Unruly Mob in the sideboard and Elder Cathar in the maindeck. The deck is less beatdown and more controlling than most Green/White decks because it has multiple Ranger’s Guiles/Prey Upon and less traditional pump spells (Moment of Heroism/Spidery Grasp) with assorted two-drops like Darkthicket Wolf. Our games are going to play out slowly than one would normally expect, and so having Festerhide Boar is going to be more worthwhile because it functions better in long games.
The deck managed to easily go 3-0.
The deck played out a bit slowly as expected, and so the Travel Preparations weren’t as explosive as they could have been if the curve were lower. Even so, Travel Preparations is an extremely effective card because of the long-term benefits that it grants that other utility cards don’t.
Ranger’s Guile was actually quite good, and I was quite happy with how it functioned in the deck. There would often be times where I wouldn’t have enough mana to summon two creatures, and Ranger’s Guile would allow me to profitably interact on the overall turn cycle; I’d cast a spell on my turn and the opponent’s while they’d only cast one on theirs. There were multiple instances where I’d summon something on turn three and then Voiceless Spirit on turn four with Ranger’s Guile up to protect it from various removal (Grasp of Phantoms, Corpse Lunge, etc.).
The sideboard card that I brought in the most was the Village Bell-Ringer, mostly due to the fact that I played against Red/Black twice and was able to eat a few creatures. Overall it was quite good every time I drew it and especially so when Evil attacked with a Vampire Interloper and Kessig Wolf against my 4/3 Voiceless Spirit and 3/5 Fiend Hunter; I never got a chance to block…
Elder Cathar was passable though very unexciting like expected. The problem with the Cathar is that it doesn’t interact incredibly well with the board as a Gray Ogre along with the fact that there wasn’t anything sneaky that the deck could do with him (Altar’s Reap, Skirsdag Cultist, etc.).
The Grizzled Outcasts were fine, although a bit slow.
Avacyn’s Pilgrim was amazing whenever I drew it; its usefulness was magnified due to the fact that the deck’s curve was higher than normal.