Ultimate Masters is out, and I must say, this is shaping up to go down as one of my favorite Draft formats ever. I love how deep you can go drafting this format, and how deep you can get into your deck in a lot of cases.

With a couple of Ultimate Masters Limited GPs coming up, let’s jump into another episode of Drafting with Siggy:

Pack 1 pick 1

My Pick: Glen Elendra Archmage

This format can be quite grindy and while there are a few powerful cards in here like Faith’s Fetters and Vengeful Rebirth, Glen Elendra is excellent at stopping just those kinds of cards. This is a pretty easy way to start the Draft.

Pack 1 pick 2

My Pick: Unholy Hunger

This pack isn’t super exciting and I’m considering two cards here: Unholy Hunger and Kodama’s Reach. Unholy Hunger is a fairly expensive removal spell but it’s the kind of card you need against cards like Ulamog’s Crusher. Kodama’s Reach could lead me down a ramp path, and while I usually play it, there are some aggressive green madness decks I wouldn’t play Kodama’s Reach in, while Unholy Hunger is always going to make the cut. The added upside here is that I could potentially wheel this Countersquall, though that plays no part in my decision here.

Pack 1 pick 3

My Pick: Last Gasp

I thought about this pick for a little bit. I’m interested in Laboratory Maniac and Faithless Looting as well as Last Gasp, but Laboratory Maniac is kind of a fragile win condition and Faithless Looting is an excellent card in this format. I don’t see much reason to branch out since I already have an Unholy Hunger and a Glen Elendra. I take the safe pick solid removal spell here, which I’ve been valuing more highly since I’ve played against a lot of heroic decks that demand early removal.

Pack 1 pick 4

My Pick: Forbidden Alchemy

Forbidden Alchemy is likely the best card in the pack. This card gained a lot of value because of delve. My U/B decks tend to have a lot of self-mill, delve cards, and Death Denied as a payoff for going deep into my deck. Alchemy is excellent in an archetype like this.

Pack 1 pick 5

My Pick: Moan of the Unhallowed

Moan of the Unhallowed is an excellent value card, and when you’re able to use removal to keep large creatures off the battlefield it can be an incredible threat. Moan of the Unhallowed is also a fairly high impact flashback card you can mill away and get value from later in the game. Marang River Prowler is also a card in this category, but seeing as it can’t block I’m not particularly interested in it in this kind of deck.

Pack 1 pick 6

My Pick: Stitched Drake

Not much for U/B here, and while I could branch into green and take the Kodama’s Reach, I think it’s better to pick up a copy of Stitched Drake, which is often pretty solid. One issue I have with Stitched Drake is that exiling creatures from your graveyard comes at a cost to both delve cards and Death Denied, a card I love to lean on in this archetype.

This pack makes it appear that green is fairly open with both Basking Rootwalla and Kodama’s Reach in the pack, and all of the uncommons and the rare still here. I could see it being correct to take Kodama’s Reach in case I end up three some kind of Sultai deck.

Pack 1 pick 7

My Pick: Think Twice

This is one of the problems I have with green. Kodama’s Reach and Hero of Leina Tower aren’t cards I typically want to play in the same deck, despite the fact that both are fairly good. This pack is weak, and the cards I’m considering are Think Twice and Sultai Skullkeeper. Think Twice is just a fine card for any deck, and Sultai Skullkeeper is a self-mill enabler, but a fairly weak one I’d rather not play. I’m just going to take the Think Twice as it’s a card I’m never unhappy playing.

Pack 1 pick 8

My Pick: Prismatic Lens

This is pretty late for a Prismatic Lens. Prismatic Lens is a card I’ll almost always play, and can help with true splashes, but also helps with flashback costs on something like a Forbidden Alchemy in a U/R deck. Great 8th pick.

Pack 1 pick 9

My Pick: Deranged Assistant

Deranged Assistant is one of the focal points of these U/B Self-Mill decks. It’s a mana creature that can fill your graveyard to make delve cards even cheaper, or put fuel in the fire for a big late game Death Denied.

Foil is a nice card to have access to in your sideboard because some games in this format are won and lost by powerful cards like Spider Spawning and Rise from the Tides. Having access to a way to counter a high impact spell is important and if you’re drawing enough cards, you can often just tap out with Foil anyway and not have to worry about discarding two additional cards to protect yourself.

Pack 1 pick 10

My Pick: Countersquall

Countersquall is a nice sideboard pick up. Bear in mind there were two Rolling Temblors in this pack so I’m not surprised to see one of them wheel.

Pack 1 pick 11

My Pick: Vessel of Endless Rest

Vessel of Endless Rest is a fine card to use to splash because of how often you can use it as a graveyard hate card. I’ve both gotten some flashback spells, and have had my flashback spells tucked away by Vessel. Offalsnout and Beckon Apparition are a little better at countering a reanimation spell, but Vessel is a fine card to main deck and has that additional upside.

Pack 1 pick 12

My Pick: Patchwork Gnomes

I haven’t been too impressed with Patchwork Gnomes but I’m not interested in anything here.

Pack 1 pick 13

My Pick: Marang River Prowler

I’m not excited about having another Think Twice, as it doesn’t look like my deck will have a spells theme. I can see sideboarding Marang River Prowler in some spots against pure control decks where a recursive threat is good, and against decks where the ground gets gummed up and I need an unblockable creature.

Pack 1 pick 14

My Pick: Pulse of Murasa

Last Pick: Dark Dabbling

So after pack 1, here’s what we’re looking at:

The deck is fine after one pack but doesn’t have a direction yet. I typically end up self-mill, but it’s possible to end up in U/B Madness as well with Frantic Searches and Twins of Maurer Estate. We’ll have to see where we end up heading.

Pack 2 pick 1

My Pick: Treasure Cruise

Treasure Cruise is closer to how good it was in Modern and Legacy in this format than it was in Khans of Tarkir Limited and even Standard. There’s so much self-mill that you’re often able to play a 1- or 2-mana Treasure Cruise to reload and then play the cards you draw immediately. There are some excellent green cards in this pack between Devoted Druid and Stingerfling Spider, but I’m happy enough with a Treasure Cruise.

Pack 2 pick 2

My Pick: Shriekmaw

Easy Shriekmaw here. In U/B you even get to see it so much more often with self-mill and ways to bring it back, and card draw like Treasure Cruise. One of the best cards I could hope for.

Pack 2 pick 3

My Pick: Unholy Hunger

I’ll admit, the first thought I had when I saw this pack with a Golgari Thug in it was “wow, I have a Shriekmaw and I passed a Phyrexian Tower. I could sacrifice the Thug and draw Shriekmaw whenever I want and dredge it back later!”

Needless to say, that is not a dream worth investing in, so I just took the second copy of Unholy Hunger. Not much else here I’m interested in, as the pack is fairly weak.

Pack 2 pick 4

My Pick: Moan of the Unhallowed

Moan of the Unhallowed gets even better in multiples. I’d happily play only the blue half of Fire // Ice if I needed a card, especially with a Prismatic Lens to occasionally cast Fire. Still, I’m just going to take the solid flashback spell here.

Pack 2 pick 5

My Pick: Sleight of Hand

Sleight of Hand isn’t spectacular but it’s a card I’d almost never cut. Fume Spitter is playable, but much better as a sideboard card. I wouldn’t mind Foil, but I already have a Countersquall and don’t want to miss out on a solid playable for a redundant sideboard card. Easy pick here.

Pack 2 pick 6

My Pick: Deranged Assistant

Easy Deranged Assistant here. Still need to acquire some more payoffs for self-mill but I already have two Moan of the Unhallowed and a Treasure Cruise.

Pack 2 pick 7

My Pick: Death Denied

There’s a good payoff for self-mill. Death Denied along with Deranged Assistant allows you to churn through your deck and pick up all your best creatures quickly. The fact that I have a Shriekmaw makes this especially good. Good pick up here.

Pack 2 pick 8

My Pick: Deranged Assistant

I seem to always be able to pick up three or four of these when I want to. Happy to add another one to my pile.

Pack 2 pick 9

My Pick: Sultai Skullkeeper

Not my favorite card to mill myself but there’s nothing here for me and it may end up making the cut.

Pack 2 pick 10

Taking another one here to make sure I have enough self-mill. Not interested in Sanitarium Skeleton as a card I can pick back up after milling because it’s so incredibly low impact and not a card I want to naturally draw.

Pack 2 pick 11

My Pick: Stitched Drake

Golgari Thug is interesting, and it’s possible it’s playable. I’m reluctant to cast it early and give my opponents the option to kill it and make me draw it again, especially for a card that’s not all that exciting. Stitched Drake is a fine card and small payoff for all of my Deranged Assistants.

Pack 2 pick 12

My Pick: Vessel of Endless Rest

I likely wouldn’t play two, but I can’t cast the other cards.

Pack 2 pick 13

My Pick: Sultai Skullkeeper

In retrospect I should have considered the Plumeveil here. I don’t think I’d ever play it but there may be some corner cases where I’d want a big flying blocker. I’m never going to want three Sultai Skullkeepers in my deck.

Pack 2 pick 14

My Pick: Offalsnout

Last Pick: Ingot Chewer

So after two packs this is where we are:

 

I’ve managed to pick up a good amount of removal, a decent amount of self-mill, and a little bit of payoff. The deck feels solid and just needs to continue down this path. If I can, I’ll pick up a bomb.

Pack 3 pick 1

My Pick: Treasure Cruise

Not much else here for me unfortunately. You may consider Grave Strength a payoff and a way to mill yourself but I’m not a fan of it in general, and even less so in this deck as my creature count isn’t very high. I’m not unhappy to have another Treasure Cruise but I’d much rather be using my first picks on more powerful cards and picking up Treasure Cruise a little later.

Pack 3 pick 2

My Pick: Ghoulsteed

I’m not sure if this is a mispick or not. While I’m a bit flooded on Sultai Skullkeepers, Crow of Dark Tidings is much better than those as enablers. Ghoulsteed was a panic pick as I was worried I wouldn’t have enough ways to close the game out. It is true my deck is lacking big creatures that can shut the door, and Ghoulsteed does add a little bit of self-mill value. I’m still not sure even after the draft what is correct here, but I’m leaning toward Crow of Dark Tidings.

Pack 3 pick 3

My Pick: Chainer’s Edict

I think this is two mispicks in a row sadly. Chainer’s Edict can be quite good in some matches, but in others it’s pretty bad. There are persist creatures and cards like Satyr Wayfinder that make Chainer’s Edict look silly.

In retrospect, I should have taken Gurmag Angler or Forbidden Alchemy here—leaning toward Gurmag Angler—so that I have another big finisher.

Pack 3 pick 4

My Pick: Foil

Weak pack all around here. I pick up a Foil that I don’t intend to maindeck.

Pack 3 pick 5

My Pick: Mahamoti Djinn

Now I’ve just about got enough ways to close the game. It’s good to have high impact creatures in your deck if you’re planning on using Death Denied and here’s another creature worth bringing back.

Pack 3 pick 6

My Pick: Deranged Assistant

My deck wants to play Deranged Assistant on turn 2 every game, and now I have another one. Dreamscape Artist would certainly be a consideration if I had a splash but that seems unlikely at this point. I’ve actually liked Rune Snag in this format when I can get multiples, but it plays much better in madness decks with Frantic Search and madness 3-drops like Reckless Wurm and Twins of Maurer Estate, so you can hold mana up and counter their spell or sneak in a threat during their turn.

Pack 3 pick 7

My Pick: Death Denied

I’m not sure that I actually want two in my deck, between two Treasure Cruises and my pair of Stitched Drakes, combined with a fairly low creature count if I don’t play my Sultai Skullkeepers. That said, this card is extremely good in some matchups so I’d consider the second copy a very high impact sideboard card at the worst and a solid playable at best.

Pack 3 pick 8

My Pick: Fume Spitter

Nothing exciting here but a solid card to use on an early creature and then exile for a Stitched Drake.

Pack 3 pick 9

My PickMark of the Vampire

Not much for me here. I could see maybe boarding this in at some point against a mono-red deck that can’t kill a Stitched Drake.

Pack 3 pick 10

My Pick: Just the Wind

I have no discard outlets other than Ghoulsteed so I likely won’t main deck this, but I could imagine bringing it in against a heroic deck that’s casting Umbras on heroic creatures.

Pack 3 pick 11

My Pick: Gurmag Angler

Well, the cards I should have taken are still here. I took Gurmag Angler because I wanted another high value target to get back with Death Denied. I can definitely see this being wrong as it’s really important to start the game off with an Assistant or Forbidden Alchemy the way my deck is looking to get the ball rolling on my Treasure Cruises.

Pack 3 pick 12

My Pick: Heap Doll

Pack 3 pick 13

My Pick: Defy Gravity

Pack 3 pick 14

My Pick: Spider Umbra

Last Pick: God’s Willing

All-in-all my deck looks solid, but unspectacular. One of the cards that I think is really important in this archetype is Archaeomancer. Archaeomancer allows you to mill away a Death Denied and get it back while also looping the two for value. I also think I missed out not having that extra Forbidden Alchemy or Crow of Dark Tidings.

Here’s the final product:

I ended up going 2-1 with this deck, and I think I was fairly lucky to do that. I would fall behind if my opponent killed my turn-2 Deranged Assistant or if I just didn’t draw one. I could have drafted a little better, and the cracks could have broken just a little better. Either way this deck is  fine and I wasn’t unhappy with it.

This is an example of the types of decks I like to draft in this format. Getting deep into your deck with self-mill or cards like Frantic Search and Faithless Looting allows you to access your most powerful cards often in a variety of different ways. If you haven’t yet done any Ultimate Masters Drafts I highly recommend it. This is my favorite Masters format other than Vintage Masters so far, and I can see it surpassing even that set. I’m a big fan of the Masters sets in Drafts, and this is one of the best.