Pack 1 pick 1:
Woolly Thoctar is the front-runner of the pack. I’m not as excited about Akrasan Squire or Seaside Citadel as other people are. After those two cards, there’s nothing I’d consider taking over Woolly Thoctar.
My pick: Woolly Thoctar
Pack 1 pick 2:
Welkin Guide is a very unexciting second pick. While it helps punch through at the end, it often wheels in a draft. Deft Duelist would be nice had we taken the Akrasan Squire. Since we didn’t go down that path, it’s not very alluring. It seems necessary to explore a different route: black. The pack has both Bone Splinters and Blood Cultist. Considering the rare was taken over both, it’s not totally reasonable to conclude that a non-black card was taken. We could easily fit in either card to a Jund deck splashing Woolly Thoctar or a Naya deck splashing some black if we wanted to use both picks. I prefer Blood Cultist to Bone Splinters in either build.
My pick: Blood Cultist
Pack 1 pick 3:
Our previous pick (Blood Cultist) is a more controlling card. Keeping that in mind, we can evaluate our choices in this pack: Fleshbag Marauder and Goblin Deathraiders. In a super-aggressive version of black/red, I’d consider taking Goblin Deathraiders over Fleshbag Marauder. That’s more on the lines of Akrasan Squire over Oblivion Ring though. Fleshbag Marauder will be much more useful in most versions. There is Thorn-Thrash Viashino and Skeleton Kathari in the pack; both are bland filler cards.
My pick: Fleshbag Marauder
Pack 1 pick 4:
Rakeclaw Gargantuan keeps the thought of 5-power Naya open, but I feel that is a lost cause at the moment. There’s been very little Naya being passed from the right. There is a Blister Beetle in the pack which is fine for what we’ve been taking.
My pick: Blister Beetle
Pack 1 pick 5:
This pack is quite awkward. Resounding Roar, Obelisk of Esper, and Kederekt Leviathan are the better options. None of the cards fit directly into what we’ve drafted. Resounding Roar can help if we end up playing green and even more if we manage to fit in the Woolly Thoctar. The idea of pursuing Naya seems like it would be too much of a stretch. Obelisk of Esper could help splash a later pick, but that’s about it. Obelisks in general aren’t terribly exciting. Taking Kederekt Leviathan could turn the deck in a whole new direction if blue suddenly opened up in Conflux. We’ve passed nothing that screams play Esper/Grixis so far other than Bone Splinters, Puppet Conjurer, and Seaside Citadel. Taking the Leviathan keeps the blue option somewhat open.
My pick: Kederekt Leviathan
Pack 1 pick 6:
Some people would ask me hypothetical draft picks such as “Oblivion Ring versus Dregscape Zombie?” because I draft red/black so much. Furthermore, they’d question my answer after I reply back with, “O-Ring you idiot.” Yes folks, I’ve got some really nice friends”¦ Soul’s Fire is better than Dregscape Zombie; sorry buddies, I’ve got to disappoint you. As much as I love the consistent Dregscape Zombie (even with Fleshbag Marauder), I’ve got to side with Soul’s Fire; it’s just a wee bit better than the other options.
My pick: Soul’s Fire
Pack 1 pick 7:
Is Savage Lands is only good in sealed? Ok folks, in all honesty, this is going to be one of the crossroads of the draft. Dragon Fodder, Grixis Panorama, and Savage Lands are the avenues. Dragon Fodder is “good” with Fleshbag Marauder but restricts us more to a solid red/black deck. Grixis Panorama and Savage Lands obviously both open us up more to Grixis/Jund options. In Conflux, Grixis is stronger than Jund. Grixis gives you Brackwater Elemental, Parasitic Strix, and Sedraxis Alchemist versus Jund’s Ember Weaver and Matca Rioters. In Alara Reborn, Jund offers better aggressive cards like Colossal Might, Putrid Leech, and Jund Hackblade while Grixis has cards that allow you to grind out the opponent better like Etherium Abomination. Right now, I like what Jund offers in Alara Reborn more than what I expect from Conflux.
My pick: Savage Lands
Pack 1 pick 8:
Our last pick excludes Fire-Field Ogre as a pick. Carrion Thrash is a bit more exciting than Ridge Rannet.
My pick: Carrion Thrash
Pack 1 pick 9:
Dreg Reaver and Salvage Titan are almost comparable. Four toughness is much better than three. Obelisk of Jund isn’t something that I’d want to play even though it lets us cast Carrion Trash.
My pick: Salvage Titan
Pack 1 pick 10:
Resounding Wave is the only card I’d rather not play against. Everything else doesn’t matter.
My pick: Resounding Wave
Pack 1 pick 11:
My pick: Deathgreeter
Pack 1 pick 12:
My pick: Shadowfeed
Pack 1 pick 13:
My pick: Viashino Skeleton
Pack 1 pick 14:
My pick: Souls Might
Pack 1 pick 15:
Overall, pack one was disappointing. The cards that we’re probably going to play are Blood Cultist, Fleshbag Marauder, Blister Beetle, Soul’s Fire, Savage Lands, Carrion Thrash, and Salvage Titan. Seven cards is a bit below average for pack one. I was hoping for at least nine.
Pack 2 pick 1:
Drag Down, Canyon Minotaur, Nacatl Outlander, Voices from the Void, and Hellkite Hatchling are cards that we can play at the moment. Drag down is the only card that won’t wheel which makes it the pick. That’s what I’d take if I were in a draft that actually mattered. For all other cases, Noble Hierarch is the only choice. It’s worth too much both in real life ($12) and on Magic Online (9 tickets).
My pick: [card]Noble Hierarch[/card]
Pack 2 pick 2:
Fiery Fall is a fine card. It’s not very exciting. It fixes your mana and kills almost everything for your turn (six mana). On the other hand, Shambling Remains is amazing. It’s the Rhox War Monk of red/black. It’s harder to get more value on turn three out of a card than what Shambling Remains offers. Other cards in the pack of note are Pestilent Kathari, Yoke of the Damned, and Goblin Outlander. I’d expect most of those to wheel.
My pick: Shambling Remains
Pack 2 pick 3:
Wretched Banquet is the only real pick. It’s quite undervalued. Hopefully Canyon Minotaur wheels out of this pack.
My pick: Wretched Banquet
Pack 2 pick 4:
Wretched Banquet is still the pick here. Voices from the Void is decent, but not something I’d take over the other pick. Kaleidostone is a distant third pick.
My pick: Wretched Banquet
Pack 2 pick 5:
This pack is almost identical to pick three. Again, Wretched Banquet gets the nod.
My pick: Wretched Banquet
Pack 2 pick 6:
We’re not at the point of needing to play Infectious Horror. Molten Frame will be a much better pick as a sideboard option.
My pick: Molten Frame
Pack 2 pick 7:
Considering the three Wretched Banquet, it would be better to have Voices from the Void in the deck over Pestilent Kathari. While the Kathari does hold off creatures quite well (or trade with them/removal) and combo nicely with Soul’s Fire, Voices from the Void is going to be a Fugue or expensive two-for-one that eats away the removal/combat tricks in their hand.
My pick: Voices from the Void
Pack 2 pick 8:
If pack three gives us lots of Sewn-Eye Drakes and various Blades, having Spark Elemental will benefit us more than the Kaleidostone.
My pick: Hellspark Elemental
Pack 2 pick 9:
The first Canyon Minotaur wheeled like it should. While it’s the definition of vanilla, it still gets the job done.
My pick: Canyon Minotaur
Pack 2 pick 10:
I’m not a fan of Suicidal Charge, Maniacal Rage, or Rotting Rats. Pestilent Kathari is better than the aforementioned three.
My pick: Pestilent Kathari
Pack 2 pick 11:
My pick: Fusion Elemental
Pack 2 pick 12:
My pick: Quenchable Fire
Pack 2 pick 13:
My pick: Wandering Goblins
Pack 2 pick 14:
My pick: Infectious Horror
Pack 2 pick 15:
Pack 3 pick 1:
This isn’t what I wanted from the pack of Alara Reborn that I open up. Rhox Brute, Deadshot Minotaur, Anathemancer, and Veinfire Borderpost are the cards that we’re interested in. Veinfire Borderpost does very little for the deck. If there were an odd balance of spells (ex: lots of black spells and few red spells but all red are double red), then taking the borderpost would be reasonable. However, that isn’t the case here. We could rebuy our Salvage Golem with enough borderposts, but that seems pretty hard. Anathemancer is pretty terrible. It just doesn’t do anything. It’s one of the most heavily disguised Grey Ogres ever printed. That leaves us with Rhox Brute and Deadshot Minotaur. Rhox Brute is pretty simple; a four mana 4/4. That’s pretty cheap. Deadshot Minotaur is five mana and a 3/4. Not as good right? Wrong. Deadshot Minotaur is good in a much broader range of situations than Rhox Brute. It cycles if you need some other type of card (like a land). It kills almost every common and uncommon flyer. If we wanted to beat down, Rhox Brute would be good. We’re not really straight beatdown, so Deadshot Minotaur gets the nod.
My pick: Deadshot Minotaur
Pack 3 pick 2:
There are a few nice cards in here. Other than Vengeful Rebirth, none even come close to Bituminous Blast.
My pick: Bituminous Blast
Pack 3 pick 3:
Sangrite Backlash stands out in front of Deadshot Minotaur, Veinfire Borderpost, Violent Outburst, Firewild Borderpost, and Sanity Gnawers. It’s too bad that we have to pass the Firewild Borderpost, but there are still quite a few picks to find another green mana fixer.
My pick: Sangrite Backlash
Pack 3 pick 4:
There’s not much to debate with this pick. Slave of Bolas is quite good.
My pick: Slave of Bolas
Pack 3 pick 5:
Again, there’s not much to debate here. Terminate is much better than Sewn-Eye Drake. We should keep in mind that all removal isn’t as good as lots of removal and the right number of creatures. We’ll need to pick some more up on the wheel.
My pick: Terminate
Pack 3 pick 6:
Speaking of missing creatures, Sewn-Eye Drake is going to be more consistent in our red/black-based deck than splashing Putrid Leech. Unscythe, Killer of Kings is awesome, but we don’t have any blue fixing and it’d be hard to find enough this late in the draft.
My pick: Sewn-Eye Drake
Pack 3 pick 7:
I’m not really sure how Defiler of Souls managed to get this far, but the buck stops here; +1 bomb.
My pick: Defiler of Souls
Pack 3 pick 8:
Monstrous Carabid and Sanity Gnawers are both fine, but Valley Rannet is better. It’s the green mana fixing that we’re looking for and is a large dork in case we already have the green mana.
My pick: Valley Rannet
Pack 3 pick 9:
Veinfire Borderpost is better than Anathemancer. As I said earlier, Anathemancer is just not good.
My pick: Veinfire Borderpost
Pack 3 pick 10:
I suppose if we got Defiler of Souls 7th, then we could wheel Unscythe, Killer of Kings 14th. No folks, this is not a 4-3-2-2 queue. I’ve said before that I’ll never play in those. It’s only 8-4’s for your primetime entertainment. Jhessian Zombies is the only card we would conceivably want unless we really don’t want someone to play Brainbite to rain on our parade. We’re not too afraid of that.
My pick: Jhessian Zombies
Pack 3 pick 11:
My pick: Sanity Gnawers
Pack 3 pick 12:
My pick: Grixis Sojourners
Pack 3 pick 13:
My pick: Mind Funeral
Pack 3 pick 14:
My pick: Demonic Dread
Pack 3 pick 15:
Notes about building the deck:
1. Demonic Dread is actually good despite the deck not being an aggressive deck. The spells that we’ll cascade into are: 3 Wretched Banquet, 1 Blister Beetle, 1 Sangrite Backlash, and 1 Terminate. Blister Beetle is the weakest of the possibilities, but is only going to happen 17% of the time (assuming all cards are still in the deck). Playing Demonic Dread means we’re less inclined to run Molten Frame maindeck; cascading into Molten Frame isn’t going to be good very often.
2. Another option for the last few cards is to play Jhessian Zombies, Grixis Sojourners and an Island instead of two of Sanity Gnawers, Pestilent Kathari, and Demonic Dread. The Island also helps maximize Voices from the Void. Beyond that, the blue splash is rather unimpressive. Leaving the blue in the sideboard is going to be better.
3. This deck wants to draw every time. The extra card will prove to be crucial. Wretched Banquet, Blister Beetle, Fleshbag Marauder, Sanity Gnawers, and Voices from the Void are all better on the draw.
Game 1: This game was quite a slugfest. Evil (our opponent, yes that makes us “Good”) comes out of the gates with a turn three Woolly Thoctar, but we crush his dreams with one of our fifty Wretched Banquets. In exchange for some damage, we use Voices from the Void to gut Evil’s hand and then deploy our fatties. It’s starting to look good for us as we stabilize the board with Defiler of Souls, Deadshot Minotaur, and Blister Beetle, but Evil draws Maelstrom Pulse to save the day. After doing more trades than I did at the Alara Reborn prerelease, the two extra lands we’ve drawn aren’t worth as much as the Bant Sureblade and Giant Ambush Beetle that sprint in for blood. We die on turn sixteen; and no, it wasn’t sweet.
Game 2: The highlight of this game is Evil, our Naya-splashing-black nemesis, cycling Igneous Pouncer for a Swamp when he’s got no red source. Then he plays no red spells for the entire game as we play Sewn-Eye Drake, Bituminous Blast into Canyon Minotaur, and other assorted removal spells. Evil dies with five cards in hand. Go Igneous Pouncer! To be fair, we would have won regardless.
Game 3: Evil is wising up as he chooses to draw versus the “15-removal spell deck”. We screw around for a few turns with Pestilent Kathari and Blood Cultist to control his board along with Soul’s Fire. Unfortunately a Branching Bolt from Evil ends those shenanigans. We think of Pinky and the Brain and “Looks like it’s that time again”¦” as turn six rolls around summoning [card]Defiler of Souls[/card] to the top of our deck. Yes folks, mythic rares are sweet. Evil concedes at eleven life. I guess Maelstrom Pulse wasn’t an out.
Game 1: Evil took a wrong turn. Instead of going to the 4-3-2-2 queue, he ended up here and somehow managed to win round one. It looks like we’ll have to play around the second Rafiq. He opens up with Esper, playing Esper Panorama and Plains. Turn three yields the Spanish Inquisition: Forest and Deft Duelist. It’s alright though. We’ve got the heart of the cards and manage turn three Shambling Remains. Evil is on the next level, attacking for two and playing a post-combat [card]Angelic Benediction[/card]. No level of trickery is sufficient to fool Shambling Remains though because it doesn’t think; IT JUST ATTACKS! Evil is throwing his men in front of our guys like they’re on sale; “Hmmmm”¦ I’m on 16 life? Ok, I’ll block. I can’t go to 12; that would be unacceptable.” Eventually, his “plan’ runs himself out of cards and not even Rhox War Monk can stop us because Demonic Dread made it too scared to block; we didn’t even have to reveal the cascade.
Game 2: Evil is curving out with turn three Guardians of Akrasa and turn four Outrider of Jhess. It doesn’t beat our turn three Shambling Remains. Guardians of Akrasa chump when Evil is at twenty. Thanks? You didn’t need that 0/4 anyways.
10:32 DavidOchoa plays Canyon Minotaur35623423.234.
If Evil hadn’t been throwing his guys in front of the Freight Train that is Shambling Remains, then we could have educated him in the art of two-for-ones using by using some of the removal in our hand that’s collecting dust. Ardent Plea cascades into Sigiled Paladin and Evil’s Outrider becomes slightly more threatening. It’s ok, we’ve got the Wretched Banquet … and Terminate and Slave of Bolas.
Game1: We lose the roll and Evil chooses to play. Oh the humanity. Is there no justice in the world? Sanity Gnawers chows down on a Wild Leotau (yeehaw!) Evil’s Elvish Visionary gets through our Sanity Gnawers with the help of Rhox Charger. It’s ok though. We answer back with Fleshbag Marauder plus Wretched Banquet on his Rhox Charger. Evil opts to save his Beacon Behemoth with Might of Alara when our Fleshbag Marauder blocks it, but it’s dead to Sangrite Backlash. Reeling in pain, Evil is paralyzed and cannot stop our Carrion Thrash and Canyon Minotaur as they walk all over him.
Game 2: Evil mulls to five on the play. JUSTICE!!! I mean, er, “Good Game Sir.” “Rough beats dude.” I suppose Evil knew an article was being written about this draft and decided to leave a sour taste in the reader’s mouth. “Sir, have you no manners? I demand satisfaction. Pistols at dawn shall be a fate for the likes of you!” Turn four Canyon Minotaur went the distance. Yes, that’s basically the game:
Nice game eh?
In closing, I’d like to point out that it’s very likely that all three of our opponents passed the Defiler of Souls. In the end, it came for them.