Hello everyone out there in "Internetland" and welcome back to another edition of The Cardboard Witch. Hopefully you're having a great week after catching some savage Gamesday action this past weekend; unfortunately I couldn't make it to a weekend event and had to settle for a 14 man FNM the night before. I also happened to participate in my *first ever* MBS/SOM/SOM draft tournament this past Thursday Night and I've gotta say I absolutely adore this format. Don't get me wrong, double MBS certainly has it's charms; not the least of which is twice as many chances to open a Tezzeret/Sword of Feast and Famine. There is however a general lack of "synergy" in these drafts and I typically find myself trying to assemble the best pile of 22-23 cards in 2 colors rather than actually building a deck. Playing the format as it was designed to be played however was a different experience entirely; it really brings out the 2 card interactions between both sets and encourages a focus on synergy rather than just raw power. Personally I felt like I was building a pre-constructed starter deck the entire night rather than merely drafting. Let's take a closer look at this draft and the deck it ultimately produced :
"Vatican Assasin Drive-bys" - B/W Aggro w/ Graveyard Recursion:
3x Fume Spitter
1x Leaden Myr
1x Leonin Relic-Warder
1x Leonin Skyhunter
1x Perilous Myr
2x Kemba's Skyguard
1x Moriok Replica
2x Necrogen Scudder
1x Glimmerpoint Stag
1x Peace Strider
1x Geth, Lord of the Vault
Spells - 8:
2x Divine Offering
1x Glint Hawk Idol (really a creature)
1x Grasp of Darkness
2x Morbid Plunder
1x Piston Sledge
1x Sword of Feast and Famine
Lands - 16:
First and foremost I'd like to state that this deck is insane; the synergy and power-level presented in the cards I ultimately played with are completely off the charts. The deck is built around 3 separate but extremely effective packages; namely "flying + equipment", "187 creatures with great abilities" and "graveyard recursion effects".
In the early game this build is capable of playing passively or aggressively with equal ability. 3 Fume Spitters and a Perilous Myr tend to discourage early attacks while alternately 6 flyers that cost 3 or less mana go a long way towards establishing the early beatdown; with or without equipment. The Necrogen Scudders are especially strong in this build because I can offset the loss of 3 life so easily; making it a 3/3 flyer for 3 mana with essentially no drawbacks. Naturally of course if I *could* draw the early equipment and my opponent failed to destroy it my games would quickly degenerate into blowouts. While obviously the Sword is the more effective option in this deck Piston Sledge was also a beating; building your own 5/3 Dragon with a Kemba's Skyguard is pretty rewarding. The only real downside was that I didn't have a whole pile of disposable artifacts to sacrifice if my opponent managed to contain the original target. Even this wasn't REALLY a drawback; I could always sacrifice the Perilous Myr for free damage or the Peace Strider to set up a spicy Morbid Plunder in the mid-game.
In terms of the mid-late game this deck goes "big" with excellent cards like Skinrender, Glimmerpoint Stag and of course Geth himself. As regular readers of this blog already know I am *very* fond of the interaction between an in-play Skinrender and a just cast Glimmerpoint Stag; having drafted the combo on a number of prior occasions. What's more having two Morbid Plunders in the build allows you to create this interaction multiple times; I assure you after game 1 my opponents would rarely be interested in lethally blocking either creature for fear of setting the combo up again. The grave-robbing fun doesn't stop there however as Morbid Plunder also combined well with my 3 lifegain creatures, the Leonin Relic-Warder and my lone Moriok Replica to provide me with a constant stream of useful effects and on-board bodies. Finally while the deck was somewhat light on removal *spells* I still had 2x Divine Offerings and a Grasp of Darkness to ward off anything my "drive-by assassin" creatures couldn't handle.
Overall I would have to describe this deck as "borderline repulsive" and definitely rank it amongst the finest builds I've ever constructed. There are so many amazing two card interactions in this deck that during the tournament I often forgot that I had drafted a Geth/Sword of Feast and Famine until I actually drew them. As far as I can tell synergy is very important in the MBS/SOM/SOM format but this was ridiculous; I honestly felt like I was piloting an above average pre-constructed deck bought right off the shelf.
Round 1 - Gilles W/G/R Midgame:
My round 1 opponent turned out to be a longtime friend who I have been drafting on and off with since roughly Mercadian Masques. Gilles is a very strong player who's also a savy card player owing to years of playing Poker. Unfortunately he also seems to have the most horrible luck with land; if it weren't for mana floods and mana screws Gilles wouldn't have any mana at all to paraphrase the common saying. Note that I say this as someone who doesn't really believe in luck; Gilles' ability find horrible land draws completely transcends concepts like "disbelief" or "probabilities". After winning the roll I shuffled up and sincerely wished Gilles good luck as far too many of our games have been ruined by mana issues.
Game 1 started out fine for both of us and Gilles and I spent the early game trading removal spells. While his build was not exactly an infect deck he was playing early poison creatures and I had a little trouble figuring out how to approach it at first. I walked a Glint Hawk into a Veridian Corruptor early on but I was able to trade off a Kemba's Skyguard and then drop a Skinrender on Gilles best creature. Eventually I drew the Sword of Feast and Famine and strapped it onto a Necrogen Scudder; Gilles was short on removal and the game ended quickly when he proceeded to draw 3 consecutive land (putting him on 10 out of 20 cards for the game).
Unfortunately game 3 was a complete travesty; I cast a turn 2 Skyhuter and quickly followed that up with a Piston Sledge while Gilles drew no removal and got stuck on 3 lands, again. I was able to play out a couple of disposable blockers to stop the 1 infect creature he did play and 4 turns later the match was over.
1-0 (2-1) MVP - Broken equipment cards and my opponent's perpetual mana issues (tie). You never like to win a round because of your opponent's land but that's the game of Magic sometimes.
Round 2 would see me paired against another longtime friend and fellow competitor since Lorwyn block drafts. Moe was running an interesting deck based primarily around 4 Tine Shrikes, some power-boosting equipment cards and a couple of Arrests. While I certainly found it a little odd that there were *2* players playing G/W Infect variants in the same draft with only 1 pack of MBS I did recall an incredible number of Tine Shrikes moving around the table. Once again I won the roll and Moe and I wished each other good luck; after a long run of missing each other in tournaments this was going to be our 2nd match-up in 2 weeks and I suspect we were both looking forward to the battle.
Unfortunately game 1 would once again be marred by luck; in this case my good luck. My opening hand had both Divine Offerings in it and 2 of my first 3 cards off the top of the deck were Fumespitters. This naturally left my opponent in an uncomfortable position when he cast a turn 3 Tine Shrike (Plague Myr) and proceeded to lose his board for BB and a couple Fumespitters. Worse still I drew into a Morbid Plunder quite quickly afterward and proceeded to kill his next Tine Shrike the same way. I even managed to draw into my lone Grasp of Darkness to kill off his Blightwidow before she could touch me for a single Poison. The game ended when I strapped a Sword of Feast and Famine to a Kemba's Skyguard the turn after Divine Offering Moe's Strandwalker for 5 life.
Game 2 started out very similarly to game 1 with me keeping Moe off flyers/bodies through early removal and Fumespitters. Moe however managed to cast back to back Blightwidows in response to lock out the board for a number of consecutive turns; all the while slowly adding random equipment cards to the table for later use. I eventually drew a Piston Sledge and after strapping up a Scudder started executing Blightwidows in combat (and shrinking at the same time) but Moe was also keeping pace on the ground with a Rotwolf and a Bladed Sentinel. After trading the Scudder off for the 2nd Blightwidow it took me a couple of turns to find another artifact to sacrifice for it but eventually I topdecked the Perilous Myr, killed a Tine Shrike and started bashing away again with a 5/3 Kemba's Skyguard. When Moe cast a Strider Harness and sighed I figured the game was basically over and swung in with my flyer to take him to 3 life. Naturally of course Moe proceeded to topdeck a Tine Shrike and after strapping on 3(!) equipments crashed into me for 7 poison (and putting me at 9 poison on table); laughing my butt off I asked "do you have the Predation or Mettle?" to which Moe replied by showing me a last-card in hand Forest.
2-0 (4-1) MVP - Fumespitter. I could have also gone with "my opponent not drawing a Giant Growth" but killing 4 Tine Shrikes over 2 games with Spitters was pretty sweet.
Due to a couple of drops I found myself paired down against Tommy heading into round 3. After losing round 1 to yet ANOTHER G/W Infect deck (3rd in a single draft) he had apparently run through his opponent pretty good with a pile of removal and a Bonehoard. While I didn't realize it at the time Tommy's build was primarily a black-based equipment aggro deck and he was mainly splashing both red and white for removal cards (Red Sun's Zenith, Divine Offering, Revoke Existence and Burn the Impure) and the odd creature. I was also unaware that Tommy also had a Skinrender and had drafted a Go for the Throat and a Spreading Sickness out of his MBS pack. Once again I shuffled up and wished a good friend luck before settling down to focus on closing out the tournament.
Game 1 started out strong for me; I quickly forced out a turn 2 Skyhunter and followed that up with a turn 3 Necrogen Scudder on a perfect mana draw. Tommy was prepared however and dropped a Burn the Impure on my Scudder before I could run away with the game. The game started to bog down on the ground when Tommy cast a couple of blocker types but I managed to turn the engine back on with a timely Skinrender. Naturally Tommy responded by dropping a Skinrender on my Skinrender and seemed to have board control until I topdecked back to back Morbid Plunder/Glimmerpoint Stag. I proceeded to play out the Skinrender to kill his copy, attack with it on the next turn and the flash it out with a Glimmerpoint Stag post combat to kill something else. While I was pretty sure that would win me the game Tommy had one last surprise for me; an 8/8 Bonehoard. Thankfully I had already drawn a copy if Divine Offering and after destroying his Equipment mid-combat on the next turn he conceded and we headed to the next game.
Game 2 was something of a reverse of game 1 as this time it was Tommy on the beatdown early and me scrambling to find removal to stay in the game. Tommy however was curving out perfectly; with an early Flayer Husk, Necropede, Spin Engine and a Dross Ripper. I did manage to play out a Perilous Myr and a Glint Hawk Idol in the early game but they quickly died trying to block my opponent's early hoards. Eventually I managed to topdeck a Skinrender and a Necrogen Scudder (which I was forced to cast) but by the time I finally stabalized I was at 7 life and desperate to draw something off the top. Naturally I proceeded to do just that with a Grasp and a Divine Offering before drawing my Geth. Without thinking too much about it I slammed down the Geth (1st time all night) and shipped the turn back to Tommy who ominously informed me that if he drew a land I was dead. His face on the drawstep said it all but I simply had to know what he was going to do if I drew another land; he revealed a Red Suns Zenith that would indeed have been fatal if he had drawn another land of any kind. Laughing I thanked Tommy for the game and inwardly chided myself for not casting the Kemba's Skyguard in my hand instead of Geth.
3-0 (6-1) MVP - Skinrender. Again I was tempted to go with my opponent's complete inability to draw a land at the right time but Skinrender was just so huge for me in both games; killing your opponent's best creature and getting a 3/3 body out of the deal continues to be amazing in this format. Who knew? :)
Overall I'd have to say I am extremely happy with this draft. The deck played out almost exactly like I expected it to on building and I genuinely felt like the favorite in all of my match-ups. I was even guilty of sloppy play on a couple of occasions simply because the deck was so strong that I wasn't focused on thinking my decisions through properly. The only real disappointment was my inability to draw/play Geth in a game that wasn't already decided; when you draft a busted 6CC mythic in Scars you sorta want to use him to win games and I just never had the opportunity.
Well folks there you have it; the epic tale of my first ever MBS/SOM/SOM draft and my torrid love affair with Morbid Plunder. For those of you e-bombing my inbox with request for a "complete" draft report I hope you've enjoyed this article. As always thanks for reading and until next time always remember to build a deck that can win without drawing Geth; he doesn't like you anyways. Keep it weird gang.