Pack 1 pick 1:
Furyborn Hellkite has what it takes for a creature to dominate the game (it flies and is large), but it also has some very significant downsides. The main problem with the dragon is its high cost, both in terms of color and mana. If Red isn’t completely open then it will be quite difficult to play the Hellkite, and so it would be better to consider the safer pick: Pacifism. Pacifism doesn’t have the ability to turn a game around like the Furyborn Hellkite even though it’s still an excellent removal spell, but it’s far more likely that we’ll be able to draft a deck that utilizes Pacifism rather than the Hellkite because it’s far less color-intensive. If this pick came up further into the draft after colors had been established, then the decision may have gone the other way depending on what our deck looked like, but not with pick one.
My pick: Pacifism
Pack 1 pick 2:
Most of the cards here aren’t amazing which doesn’t give us much information about what color rare was taken. The best cards are Onyx Mage, Goblin Tunneler, and Plummet (basically nothing outstanding), all of which are fine. I prefer Onyx Mage the most because Black is one of the better colors, and the Mage is quite decent in most decks because it allows you to trade up with other creatures.
My pick: Onyx Mage
Pack 1 pick 3:
Shock and Gravedigger are the better cards followed distantly by Garruk’s Companion. It seems less likely that White is open judging by the presence of the other two cards which may mean that we’ll have to abandon the Pacifism. It’s arguable that Shock is better than Gravedigger, although that point is mainly valid once a specific archetype has been established, and in most other cases the Gravedigger is better because it offers inherent card advantage. Again, the point of it being early in the draft is going to determine the pick (Gravedigger).
My pick: Gravedigger
Pack 1 pick 4:
It’s becoming more apparent that Black is open more than any other color along with Green (potentially) because of the [card garruk's companion]Companions[/card]. Green tends to be slightly underdrafted compared to the other colors, and so seeing the Companions still doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a sure thing that the color is open. Mind Rot and Devouring Swarm are both fine, but they don’t provide the same advantage that Gravedigger does. Mind Rot is also a two-for-one, but it’s less likely to be as impactful because it doesn’t directly impact the board or interact with cards that necessarily have a high value on the Battlefield (Mind Rotting the opponent’s hand away may seem sweet until they discard two lands, whereas using Gravedigger to get back a creature that traded and then trade itself is much better).
My pick: Gravedigger
Pack 1 pick 5:
Fifth pick Jade Mage! This is unacceptable. Seriously, people have no respect for the card. Jokes aside, Jade Mage is one of those cards that will take over a game, albeit very slowly. Alone the Mage isn’t spectacular because it takes so much mana to get going, but it can be quite good in conjunction with other cards such as Overrun, Onyx Mage, and Devouring Swarm.
My pick: Jade Mage
Pack 1 pick 6:
Alabaster Mage is another decent card but it’s one of the only decent White cards that we’ve seen other than a Peregrine Griffin from pick four. When the shortage of White cards is combined with the plethora of Black and Green cards that have come by, it’s logical to assume that we should stay out of White. Both Diabolic Tutor and Zombie Goliath are fine, although they aren’t as awesome as Greater Basilisk because it’s very difficult to take down the 3/5. The Basilisk does commit us more to Green, but that’s not a problem here because it seems open comparatively.
My pick: Greater Basilisk
Pack 1 pick 7:
Unfortunately both Warpath Ghoul and Runeclaw Bear aren’t amazing, although they do have some usefulness because it’s important to have cheaper creatures around to make Gravediggers less clunky. Picking up inexpensive vanilla creatures won’t be difficult, and the value of taking one now over the superior Peregrine Griffin isn’t good. Yes, I understand that White is less likely to be open than Black and Green, but it’s still more open than Blue and Red, and our judgment about the open colors may have fallen victim to an uneven color distribution. In that case, it would be better to take the Peregrine Griffin because it has a higher value than the other two options by a fair margin, and so there’s little value lost from not taking either the Bear or Ghoul.
My pick: Peregrine Griffin
Pack 1 pick 8:
Bloodrage Vampire and Trollhide are the better cards. Titanic Growth isn’t as good as Trollhide even though there’s surprise value attached to it because Trollhide significantly increases the value overall of the creature that it’s attached to. Bloodrage Vampire is better than Warpath Ghoul most of the time because having four power makes it able to trade with some of the format’s more important creatures (like Giant Spider and Stampeding Rhino), however, it’s still not a very exciting creature as a 3/1 and would be in a deck mostly to support Gravedigger. Bloodrage Vampire is going to be better in a less aggressive deck than Trollhide because Trollhide is usually more productive when attached onto an attacker (since it’s going to be involved in combat more often when you have mana open to regenerate), but Trollhide is a more powerful card overall. It’s still relatively early in the draft, and so it’s difficult to say for sure which category the deck will end up in which makes the more powerful card more appealing.
My pick: Trollhide
Pack 1 pick 9:
The problem with Green decks is that they get weighted down with expensive creatures much more easily than the other colors, and so it’s easy to end up with a deck that’s just too clunky to compete against others. Greater Basilisk is a more robust creature on the Battlefield than either Child of Night or Sacred Wolf, but the Child is a better creature for the deck. Consider for a moment the fact that we have two Gravediggers and are also likely playing Forests with a Jade Mage. There’s a lot of late-game potential with what we’ve got going on, and so the task is to find cards that allow us to maximize our ability to interact early while still having reasonable usefulness later on. Child of Night fits that role because it’s cheap and has Lifelink.
My pick: Child of Night
Pack 1 pick 10:
There’s nothing for us here. The guy to our left doesn’t need any more incentives to play Red after we passed him Furyborn Hellkite and Shock, and so (s)he’ll be content enough with just a Goblin Piker which won’t be nearly as problematic for us to deal with compared to a Goblin Tunneler.
My pick: Goblin Tunneler
Pack 1 pick 11:
My pick: Reclaim
Pack 1 pick 12:
My pick: Runeclaw Bear
Pack 1 pick 13:
My pick: Distress
Pack 1 pick 14:
My pick: Zombie Goliath
Pack 1 pick 15:
The first pack went moderately well although it’s unclear as to exactly how open White is. If I were to rank the order of colors being open, it would be Black, Green, White, Red, and Blue in that order, and so it’s difficult to figure out how much we can lean on our White cards. It’s more likely that we’ll stick with Black/Green and maybe splash White for Pacifism if we need to. We didn’t pass too much good Black, and so it should be relatively open in the second pack. Black/Green can be a difficult color combination because of cards like Drifting Shade and Garruk’s Companion. Both colors can be quite demanding, and so we should stick with a Black option if possible since we passed a pair of Garruk’s Companions early on.
Pack 2 pick 1:
This is interesting. Stingerfling Spider is quite a beating, and quite good especially with two Gravediggers. However, Inferno Titan is a card that’s very hard to beat. Removal is the best way to beat Inferno Titan because creatures aren’t going to work against it, and when you consider the fact that we also have two Gravediggers, taking the Titan and jumping into Red doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. However, we have to consider the difficulty of drafting Red in our position. We saw very little Red from our right and passed the few good Red cards that came by which were more attractive than the other options, and so it’s less likely that we’ll see a high amount of Red in this pack either. Still, Inferno Titan is worth forcing because it’s so powerful, and when you look at the Green alternatives that we’re leaving behind, there’s not much of a comparison.
My pick: Inferno Titan
Pack 2 pick 2:
The two main options are Birds of Paradise and Child of Night. Garruk’s Companion overlaps with the Child a lot, but it’s mostly inferior because it doesn’t race flyers as well and is more color-intensive. Birds of Paradise opens up a relatively interesting option of splashing, and if we can pick up additional mana-fixing cards, we may be able to stick with Green and still play Inferno Titan. It’s difficult to splash a double-colored spell, but even if we’re unable to cast the Titan until very late in the game, it’s s till worth it. The value of Child of Night isn’t as high as Birds of Paradise because the two do similar things while the Birds also fixes the deck’s mana.
My pick: Birds of Paradise
Pack 2 pick 3:
It’s unlikely that we’ll play any card here. Naturalize is a good sideboard card because it fights problematic cards like Pacifism, Mind Control, and Jace’s Erasure (since Green decks tend to have difficulty putting enough pressure on a mill opponent), however it’s likely that we’ll be able to pick one up later on. Timely Reinforcements is the other option, and if for some reason we end up playing a matchup where Inferno Titan is bad (the quad-laser aggro Act of Treason/Fling deck), then Timely Reinforcements will be good.
My pick: Timely Reinforcements
Pack 2 pick 4:
A lot of people would slam Sorin’s Thirst and call it a day, but Acidic Slime is the better option because of a few reasons: 1. we have two Gravediggers 2. it rounds out the deck’s ability to answer all sorts of threats. Being able to profitably deal with non-creature permanents is a valuable quality, and Acidic Slime’s additional value of being able to trade with any non-flying creature makes it the superior choice.
My pick: Acidic Slime
Pack 2 pick 5:
Lurking Crocodile is going to be better against most Blue decks because most games involve racing against flyers, and the Croc does a much better job in that regard than the seven-mana Carnage Wurm. However against non-Island decks, the Wurm is much better because the Crocodile’s impact is significantly weaker. Lurking Crocodile is going to fit in better with Trollhide, but if we are going big with Inferno Titan, then it’s less likely that the Trollhide will be in the deck to begin with.
My pick: Carnage Wurm
Pack 2 pick 6:
My pick: Manalith
Pack 2 pick 7:
We already have one Distress, and with such a stretched manabase already, a second one seems far less necessary because it will clog up our hand. Brink of Disaster is the other option and is a fine card to use as a sideboard option against flyers. Generally Brink of Disaster fits better into an evasive deck because the opponent’s creatures won’t be able to block. Most Green decks can’t use Brink nearly as well because their creatures are all ground-pounders and not very profitable to run a Stampeding Rhino into a Zombie Goliath with a Brink on it. However, this deck is trying to go over the top with cards like Inferno Titan, and so the extra time that Brink buys will be valuable even if the card is a bit awkward.
My pick: Brink of Disaster
Pack 2 pick 8:
Hunter’s Insight is difficult to utilize at times. There’s often a lot of risk involved because it costs a moderate amount of mana, generally requires you to be ahead on the board or very close to parity, and also demands a creature that has at least three power. Drawing less than three cards is moderately underwhelming. Basically a lot of things have to be going right for the card to work. Hunter’s Insight is usually pretty good when it works, but often it’s not spectacular and not worth the trouble.
My pick: Vastwood Gorger
Pack 2 pick 9:
My pick: Manalith
Pack 2 pick 10:
My pick: Bloodrage Vampire
Pack 2 pick 11:
My pick: Naturalize
Pack 2 pick 12:
My pick: Auramancer
Pack 2 pick 13:
My pick: Angel’s Feather
Pack 2 pick 14:
My pick: Angel’s Feather
Pack 2 pick 15:
The second pack was quite odd for a few reasons, namely the lack of decent Black compared to Green. Additionally, we were presented with an Inferno Titan which will most likely be making an appearance in our deck thanks in addition to the support from a Birds of Paradise and two Manaliths. Had we not gotten the three fixers, then it wouldn’t be very realistic to play the Titan, but with them it shouldn’t be too hard. It’s difficult to determine what exactly to expect from the third pack considering that there was far more Black in pack one than two. Still, it’s reasonable to assume that Black and Green will still be the most abundant colors.
Pack 3 pick 1:
Giant Spider and Cudgel Troll are both good, but Fireball is on a totally different level. Fireball handles most creatures at any point in the game, dealing with multiple small creatures, one large creature, and so on, and will eventually kill off the opponent if the game goes long enough. What makes Fireball so good is its versatility. Cudgel Troll is an excellent creature, but can be easily shut down by a number of commonly-played creatures like Siege Mastodon. Despite its efficiency, Cudgel Troll doesn’t have the over-the-top characteristics that Fireball does.
My pick: Fireball
Pack 3 pick 2:
Devouring Swarm and Duskhunter Bat are out of place in the deck because it has shifted towards a more controlling Green base. The Swarm is a bit demanding on mana and the Bat is too aggressive which make the two mediocre choices from this pick. The other option is Llanowar Elves which should function well because it will help ensure that the deck’s curve flows smoothly. Stabilizing the board as early as possible is going to be important, and so the deck wants to curve out with Llanowar/Birds into Manalith into five-drops.
My pick: Llanowar Elves
Pack 3 pick 3:
As valuable as Llanowar Elves is to accelerate a Green deck, having good creatures to accelerate into is the other important half of the puzzle, and Cudgel Troll is a reasonably difficult fatty to kill that’s also undercosted which makes it much better. Cudgel Troll is important because it’s only four mana and can therefore enter the Battlefield a turn earlier than most of the creatures that Green uses to stabilize.
My pick: Cudgel Troll
Pack 3 pick 4:
Sorin’s Thirst and Giant Spider are the two main cards to consider. Sorin’s Thirst is good, but it doesn’t do enough to compare with the Spider. Giant Spider is very difficult to get through, deals with more creatures of the course of the game, and isn’t as demanding on the deck’s mana. If the deck were heavy-Black, then the case for taking Sorin’s Thirst would be stronger, but since it appears that Black isn’t the primary color, the cheap cost won’t actually translate well during gameplay.
My pick: Giant Spider
Pack 3 pick 5:
Normally Greater Basilisk would be the pick, but Plummet is actually the card that the deck needs more because of the number of flyers that we passed earlier. We already have enough good creatures for ground defense and need to help support the Giant Spider/removal that we already have.
My pick: Plummet
Pack 3 pick 6:
Combust and Plummet both overlap a lot within the Blue/White deck, however it’s more likely that we’ll need help against a deck with Red/Black flying creatures rather than needing Combust to stop a non-flying Blue/White creature (Gideon’s Lawkeeper) because flyers like Volcanic Dragon are more difficult to deal with.
My pick: Plummet
Pack 3 pick 7:
Drifting Shade is out of place in the deck because of the Swamp-light manabase. Wring Flesh is actually the first choice even though the two cards are pretty close which goes to say how much I personally like the Shade (most people don’t like it as much as I do). A third Manalith is overkill with because we already have three other rainbow sources in the spell slots.
My pick: Wring Flesh
Pack 3 pick 8:
Brindle Boar might be useful in this deck because it is a way to race against flyers while having the option of also gaining life in the situations where you won’t be able to outrace them and need another turn or two to stabilize the Battlefield. However, we already have two Plummets which should make the Boar unnecessary; it’s usually a weak maindeck card and not something to take highly. A second Naturalize for the sideboard will be good even though we also have an Acidic Slime because it’s the type of effect that you’ll need a lot of against certain matchups.
My pick: Naturalize
Pack 3 pick 9:
My pick: Giant Spider
Pack 3 pick 10:
Sutured Ghoul is moderately good in a Green/Black deck against the mirror because the creatures that are trading tend to be large, and with big creatures in this deck it’s easy to make a very large Ghoul.
My pick: Sutured Ghoul
Pack 3 pick 11:
My pick: Trollhide
Pack 3 pick 12:
My pick: Carnage Wurm
Pack 3 pick 13:
My pick: Greatsword
Pack 3 pick 14:
My pick: Bountiful Harvest
Pack 3 pick 15:
Pack three played out similarly to pack two which is what we were expecting, and we were able to capitalize on the fact that Green was open throughout the entire pack. Unfortunately we didn’t pick up much cheap non-restrictive removal like Doom Blade which is what the deck is unfortunately missing. Still, we’ll be able to construct our deck in a variety of ways to suit whichever matchup we’re facing and should be successful throughout the draft.
The main group of cards (16) that should be in the deck regardless of what the final build is includes the following:
Everything else that’s left over to make up the final six/seven slots includes:
There are some obvious groups of cards that are more likely to make it into the deck (like Fireball/Inferno Titan) that are surrounded by junk like Angel’s Feather. The on-color cards that are worth considering are:
If we were to stick with just a Green/Black build, then seven of these cards would make it into the deck. Seventeen lands would still be correct because of the high number of (five-seven)-mana creatures. I wouldn’t consider Brink of Disaster because if the deck sticks with only two colors, then it’s not really doing anything special to go over the top; the aura will be play out awkwardly in most games as a result. Similarly, Manalith won’t very great either because there aren’t many double-color spells to help cast. One Manalith would be fine just to increase the consistency of playing a five-mana creature a turn sooner, but it’s dangerous to include so many expensive spells that only produce mana because of the risk of flooding. Greatsword isn’t amazing either when being compared to Trollhide (with the exception of Jade Mage) because it’s so much more mana-intensive. In the end, the deck would look something like this:
The deck looks fine, but it’s nothing amazing and I wouldn’t expect it to go 3-0 in a pod as a result (unless being piloted by a master such as myself). The deck lacks powerful plays and is sacrificing a lot to increase consistency. There are quite a few off-color cards that are worth looking at to make the deck more robust, and they include:
Auramancer isn’t great because there’s only one Pacifism and one Brink of Disaster to interact with. Pacifism doesn’t usually go to the graveyard very often and so the Auramancer would only be useful against a very specific group of cards like Stave Off, Fling, Naturalize, etc. However, there simply aren’t enough auras to make the Auramancer a reasonable inclusion. Pacifism is the best White option and is the first card that should be included from White because it fills a gap in the deck: cheap spot removal. Timely Reinforcements and Peregrine Griffin are also good options, though they are better against specific matchups.
Inferno Titan and Fireball are the only two Red cards to consider playing, and they are both quite powerful. The main problem with Inferno Titan is that it requires two Red mana which is going to be a problem because we don’t have a lot of fixing other than the two Manaliths and Birds of Paradise. Colored mana issues may arise as a result which make cards like Distress not as good because they will make the deck too clunky. Even though we might have six mana in play, it is still very to foresee not being able to cast Gravedigger and Distress in the same turn. It’s going to be very difficult to splash more than one color, and Red is going to be a better choice than White simply because of power-level. Overall, the Red cards are going to be better against the field compared to the White options.
The Red splash should also include the two Manaliths which leaves three slots for other spells. The spells that will work out the best are those that prolong the game since we’re adding so many cards that are awesome as the game drags on. The best options include:
Pacifism and Plummet are the best two cards because they are the most efficient at dealing with creatures while the other four cards each do useful things. Runeclaw Bear is pretty bad, but it’s cheap and lets us stabilize at a higher life total (four) in most games. However, it’s really only useful as a roadblock on turn two-three and to make ramping into a Gravedigger more profitable. Peregrine Griffin is expensive but is generally better against White decks than Plummet because there aren’t many creatures that beat it in combat. However, as a five-mana off-color creature, it’s not necessarily going to arrive on time without the aid from a rainbow accelerant. Distress is another card that won’t be useful against most decks because of how the mana will work out with our deck, and it will only be good against other late-game spells. Timely Reinforcements suffers from the same problem that the Griffin does: the availability of White mana. We won’t necessarily be able to cast it on turn three when we need it which makes it comparable to Runeclaw Bear.
It’s possible to play Pacifism and no Plains because the three rainbow sources should be enough to support one White spell. Similarly, the three rainbow sources overlap partly with the Red requirements for Fireball which just leaves Inferno Titan. The Titan will need a few more Mountains two/three which leaves a moderate amount of slots for Forests and Swamps. Three Mountains is too excessive because we have so many Green spells and should have at least nine Forests. The balance between Swamps and Mountains is what needs to be decided on. It’s important to be able to play Wring Flesh, Onyx Mage, Child of Night, and Bloodrage Vampire early on which means that Mountains should be minimized. Stabilizing is important for this deck because it’s not likely to lose at any other point in the game, and so it’s necessary to include the maximum number of on-color land to let it do so.
The deck ended up going 3-0.
Inferno Titan was amazing; it always ended the game. It’s debatable whether Stingerfling Spider was the right pick, especially considering the signals that we’d seen during the draft. Still, the difference between what Titan and Spider do in-game isn’t comparable. Titan is going to be better against most creature assortments while Spider is going to be better against the larger uncommon flyers (but it still quite replaceable by cards like Plummet/Pacifism).
The mana was never too much of a problem. Perhaps I was just running above average, but it worked out quite well for the most part.
Sutured Ghoul never came in because I never played against another Green deck.
Peregrine Griffin was sideboarded in one time against a White/Blue flyer deck and was quite good because he didn’t have many ways to beat through it.
There weren’t many cards that I would have switched up. Vastwood Gorger and Carnage Wurm could have been interchangeable, but the potential gains from a 9/9 Wurm seemed like they were substantial enough compared to the slightly-cheaper Gorger to make it worth running a second Wurm.
The games played out much to my expectations, which is to say that I’d play a two/three-drop to trade, followed by a Spider/Troll, and finally by a five-drop into Manalith into bomb.