xger's picture
By: xger, Xger
Apr 27 2017 12:00pm
Login or register to post comments

If you haven't seen one of my few draft articles in the past, I almost always will do text versions (though I sometimes also do videos). So, sit back and pick apart my draft!

The Draft

So, this was my first Amonkhet draft, but I had played in a couple sealed events by this point. The main implication I had was that Black White Zombies is a very strong archetype, and given its prevalence in sealed events, I was hoping it would be deep as well.


 Pack 1 pick 1:

  My Pick:

So, with this pack, I see a few options in Decimator Beetle, Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons, Cartouche of Knowledge, and Rhet-Crop Spearmaster. I'm a bit torn here, and I think the Vizier is quite powerful in the right deck, but it would be a very risky first pick, whereas Decimator Beetle will always be good in any deck it ends up in. The blue cartouche is probably in the two top cartouches, so that is an option also, though it is completely apart from White Black Zombies. In hindsight, I should have taken the spearmaster, as it can be quite powerful, and first picking a gold card is a recipe to not use it.

  Pack 1 pick 2:

  My Pick:

This pack is unexciting except for the Binding Mummy. The mummy is quite good in the aggressive white black deck. The other options--Sparring Mummy, Festering Mummy, and Oashra Cultivator--all seem much more likely to table than the Binding Mummy, so that is what I take. A quick note: The reason I list the Oashra Cultivator is because it does really well with the green/black self -1/-1 cards. You can throw two on it and still get the land afterward. I imagine it'll be underrated overall, but quite decent in the right deck. Which, if I stayed with my first pick, this could be reasonable. But, the Binding Mummy seems better overall.

Pack 1 pick 3:

  My Pick:

The choice doesn't seem particularly close to me here, as Tah-Crop Elite seems strong, and Gust Walker seems more likely to come back or be passed later. Plus, this is a solid finisher, so I will take it when I get the chance. Overall, the pack actually has a decent selection, if I wasn't semi trying to force White Black. I haven't seen Rhonas's Monument, but it seems like a beating, and Ornery Kudu is also pretty good. At the prerelease, Naga Oracle actually did a lot of work for me, so I could see that as a pick as well. Finally, Evolving Wilds might be an earlier pick than normal, simply because this set has so little fixing.

Pack 1 pick 4:

  My Pick:

I think Those Who Serve is generally better than Vizier of Remedies against unknown opponents, as white doesn't place a lot of counters on itself, and there aren't a lot of effects that this stops, so being a 2/1 for 2 seems mediocre. It easily could be a high variance card where it is just great against certain decks (such as ones filled with Cartouche of Ambition and Splendid Agony if you can pump the vizier). Again, I assume Festering Mummy would come back, and I don't know that this archetype wants Lay Bare the Heart.
Pack 1 pick 5:

  My Pick:

Against my better instincts, I took Doomed Dissenter. I probably should have taken Impeccable Timing. While the 1/1 can do some work, it isn't a zombie until it dies, and so the opponent has a decent amount of control over when you get the token. Beyond that, I'm not sure if any of these cards are good in any deck...

Pack 1 pick 6:

  My Pick:

At this point, I notice that blue seems open, with the fliers coming around. I've passed enough blue that I am a bit wary of moving in on it. This pack also has a good amount of red open, so it's possible this was simply a really good pack. I end up with the cat because nearly everything I have is white, and I think the cat does really well if you can get even the smallest synergy with it.

Pack 1 pick 7:

  My Pick:

There are three options here, Tah-Crop Elite, Cursed Minotaur, and Splendid Agony. Perhaps I overvalue the flier, but I think it will generally be better than the minotaur, and I am still very unsure of the Splendid Agony. It costs three and maybe kills some tokens. The real issue is that since it costs 3, you can pretty easily put an opponent on it when they leave back a bad block and leave mana open. I fully admit I could be wrong on it though.  

Pack 1 pick 8:

  My Pick:

With zero white or black cards, I took Colossapede because it matches my splash. Red seems really underdrafted.

Pack 1 pick 9:

  My Pick:

I doubt I'll have the ability to us Nest of Scarabs effectively (i.e. getting 3+ tokens), so the Sparring Mummy it is.

Pack 1 pick 10:

  My Pick:

In hindsight, I should have taken Oashra Cultivator in case I ended up green. Odds are I wouldn't play any of these though.

Pack 1 pick 11:

  My Pick:

Good ol' rare drafting.

Pack 1 pick 12:

  My Pick:

  Pack 1 pick 13:

  My Pick:

  Pack 1 pick 14:

  My Pick:

  Pack 2 pick 1:

  My Pick:

This is where I am presented with the crossroads of my draft. The two clear contenders are Lord of the Accursed and Ahn-Crop Champion. Since I am already heavy white and have some green, the champion seems better than Prowling Serpopard. But, I don't have much exert--just the two Tah-Crop Elites--and I have a decent amount of zombies. Considering I wanted to push into White Black Zombies, I go for it and don't look back. None of the other cards compare in power level, at least based on my evaluation so far.

Pack 2 pick 2:

  My Pick:

This is an awesome pick. It can be a finisher with Binding Mummy by tapping three blockers. It also allows for an instant speed creature, plus drawing a card. I think with the deck I have and am hoping to build, this will be better than (Winged Shephard), and is definitely better than Gust Walker. I wonder if the person to the left is playing red, as this pack is devoid of it...

Pack 2 pick 3:

  My Pick:

I take this as a sign that I am drafting the right deck, as the Wayward Servant goes extremely well in my deck. And it was a foil! I am a bit sad to pass Vizier of Many Faces, because that card is quite the bomb, but I am nowhere near blue. 

Pack 2 pick 4:

  My Pick:

I am very unconvinced by Seraph of the Suns. Darksteel Gargoyle wasn't that great then, and this doesn't seem super great here. Further, the block is about -1/-1 counters, so players can still handle it. On the other hand, Edifice of Authority is a card that I originally thought little of, but has continually risen in my opinion. It's cheap enough and it does solid work, so it seems like the easy pick here. It's pretty awesome that it stops blocking and activated abilities eventually as well. Next would be Painful Lesson, but it doesn't seem close here.

Pack 2 pick 5:

  My Pick:

While I don't have any cartouches yet, the Trial of Ambition seems like the clear winner here. I believe it's better than Compulsory Rest, which has been disappointing in this set. The sacrifice option is actually very relevant, both for embalm and for the 2 life. 

Pack 2 pick 6:

  My Pick:

Not only am I aggressive (or hoping to be), but I do not like Luxa River Shrine. It's rare for straight life gain to be good, and I have yet to be concerned if an opponent plays one. Between Cursed Minotaur and Sparring Mummy, I think I am more likely to see the latter again, so I take the menacing horn head.

Pack 2 pick 7:

  My Pick:

I puzzle over this for a bit, as Pitiless Vizier is quite good. The problem is that I have so little cycling that I doubt I'll be able to successfully bluff. So, I take Honed Khopesh, as a Leonin Scimitar has always been playable, and it works quite well in this set. 

Pack 2 pick 8:

  My Pick:

And the copies of  Sparring Mummy I have been putting off start coming back.

Pack 2 pick 9:

  My Pick:

I can see the argument for Supply Caravan here, but I still want to try and squeeze in the Decimator Beetle. I haven't gotten an Evolving Wilds and am starting to doubt I will, so I grab this, despite it being a generally bad card.

Pack 2 pick 10:

  My Pick:

Here, I should have taken Vizier of Remedies, but I didn't. Don't really have a reason why.

Pack 2 pick 11:

  My Pick:

I am actually quite pleased with this 11th pick. There are not a lot of combat tricks in Amonkhet, and this one has added bonuses, such as blanking removal and getting ETB triggers. I am also low on removal, so this might have to stand in.

Pack 2 pick 12:

  My Pick:

  Pack 2 pick 13:

  My Pick:

  Pack 2 pick 14:

  My Pick:

  Pack 3 pick 1:

  My Pick:

So, I think the options here are Bone Picker, Impeccable Timing, and Wander in Death. I am quite light on removal, so the timing seems an option, but I dismiss it when compared to other more powerful cards. I really like the Bone Picker, ever at 4 mana, as it is a solid flying creature, so I take it over the two-for-one in Wander in Death.

Pack 3 pick 2:

  My Pick:

I briefly fantasize about getting the Approach of the Second Sun win, but quickly come back to reality. Fliers seems to be at a premium in this set, and Blighted Bat is even a zombie, which works quite well. It's possible I should have taken the Evolving Wilds, but I am starting to doubt that I will play the Decimator Beetle.

Pack 3 pick 3:

  My Pick:

I take Devoted Crop-Mate primarily because I have a significant number of 1 and 2 drops that this can rescue. It seemed more likely that I would play this than a second Those Who Serve.

Pack 3 pick 4:

  My Pick:

I have the Trial of Ambition I need to fuel, and now I have several fliers that I can pump, so the Cartouche of Solidarity seems like the solid choice.

Pack 3 pick 5:

  My Pick:

I'm happy to see Unwavering Initiate as it is one of the many value embalm creatures. I do consider Soulstinger as well, but I decide the embalm-zombie synergy is the better choice.

Pack 3 pick 6:

  My Pick:

Well, what do we have here? A sixth pick Prepare/Fight? Yes, I will take that, thank you very much. The front half of this is powerful enough--particularly with the paucity of combat tricks--that I would likely play it without access to green. I don't think the added splash is problematic for me, so I do think this could lead to some big blowouts. 

Pack 3 pick 7:

  My Pick:

Quite happy to see another Cartouche of Solidarity, even it is one of the weaker ones.

Pack 3 pick 8:

  My Pick:


Again, I like Sacred Cat quite a bit, and I would run 2 of that before I would run 2 Sparring Mummy in an aggressive deck. What's most shocking is that I am passing a Cartouche of Knowledge pick 8.

Pack 3 pick 9:

  My Pick:

While not fantastic, In Oketra's Name seems fairly clearly better than Painful Lesson here.

Pack 3 pick 10:

  My Pick:

Rare drafting again (and this time actually getting more than a ticket out of it).

Pack 3 pick 11:

  My Pick:

  Pack 3 pick 12:

  My Pick:

  Pack 3 pick 13:

  My Pick:

  Pack 3 pick 14:

  My Pick:

This draft converter created by Benjamin Peebles-Mundy.
Visit the draft converter today!

So, for my first Amonkhet draft, I am not too displeased. While I would have loved a Fan Bearer or another Binding Mummy, I still like the deck.

Amonkhet Draft Deck

So, here is my pool:


Overall, I'm pretty pleased, and I have a decent depth to worth it, so I do not feel as though I am stretching to hit 23-24 playables. After I set up the deck, I decide that I can likely play 16 lands, as I don't have any card that can only be cast for more than 4. Considering I am attempting to do a speedy aggressive deck, I think 16 will be better against flooding as well. In the end I did decide to cut the Decimator Beetle--it was the last card cut. It was increasing my curve too much, and I didn't like having to have a green source to get any use out of it--whereas Prepare/Fight allowed me to play the front half even if I couldn't access the back half. So, here is what I ended up with:

Black White Zombies in Amonkhet
Aggro time! - 40 Cards Total
1 Binding Mummy
2 Tah-Crop Elite
1 Those Who Serve
2 Sacred Cat
1 Sparring Mummy
1 Bone Picker
1 Lord of the Accursed
1 Wayward Servant
1 Cursed Minotaur
1 Blighted Bat
1 Unwavering Initiate
1 Festering Mummy
14 cards

1 In Oketra's Name
2 Supernatural Stamina
3 cards

1 Stir the Sands
1 cards

1 Edifice of Authority
1 Honed Khopesh
2 cards
2 Cartouche of Solidarity
1 Trial of Ambition
3 cards

1 Prepare/Fight
1 cards

7 Plains
1 Forest
7 Swamp
1 Painted Bluffs
16 cards


Draft Match 1:

Game 1: I keep Sparring Mummy, Unwavering Initiate, Honed Khopesh, Those Who Serve, Cartouche of Solidarity, and land. While a bit land light, I think it is worth the risk, as one more land lets be get a strong board going. My opponent leads with Initiate's Companion, so I start with Those Who Serve to prevent mana ramping. My opponent then adds Hooded Brawler and passes back. I attack and then use Sparring Mummy to untap. Next, my opponent goes brutal, and plays Trial of Solidarity, then Cartouche of Solidarity on his cat, and attacks for 13 as they exert the Hooded Brawler with vigilance. Then they add Fan Bearer. I attempt a comeback with my own Cartouche of Solidarity and then add Edifice of Authority. My opponent plays Compulsory Rest on my 3/5 Those Who Serve and basically presents lethal, so I concede.

Game 2: I keep Honed Khopesh, Blighted Bat, Those Who Serve, Bone Picker and land. My opponent starts with Naga Vitalist and follows with Hooded Brawler, while I start with the equipment, the 2/4 zombie and the 3/2 flier. Next, my opponent plays Cartouche of Solidarity on his brawler, attacks with exert, then plays Sparring Mummy to untap it. I respond by mirroring their play--playing my Cartouche of Solidarity on my Bone Picker and then equipping the flier to attack for 5. I add Blighted Bat afterward. I wanted the block back in case of shenanigans, and I was presenting a 2 turn clock whether I equipped or hasted the bat. My opponent adds another Hooded Brawler and attacks me down to 10. I then get to swing in the air for 7, brining my opponent to 6, and then add my own Sparring Mummy to the board. My opponent flashes in Pouncing Cheetah and then on their turn alpha strikes, exerting both brawlers. At this point, I block in a way that presents the best chance of my flier surviving so that I can swing for lethal. Since I am at 10 life, taking 6, there is only Synchronized Strike to kill me, which would likely lead to my death the turn after anyway, so I play it the way that gives me the chance to kill the next turn. My opponent concedes after combat. 

Game 3: Opener is Supernatural Stamina, Edifice of Authority, Those Who Serve, and land. My opponent mulls to 6, then leads with Fan Bearer. I draw and play Binding Mummy, while my opponent is stuck one 1 land. They hit another Plains and add Trueheart Duelist, and I then add Those Who Serve. They pass the next turn, and after I attack, I try to use Supernatural Stamina to keep my Binding Mummy alive. Unfortunately, they use Impeccable Timing to kill in response. They hit land 3 and embalm the duelist. I add Cartouche of Solidarity and start using my Edifice of Authority. My opponent finally hits a Forest after a few turns of passing while I drew lands, and they play Hooded Brawler. Next turn, they add Those Who Serve and another Hooded Brawler. After that, I get Bone Picker down. On my opponent's turn, I get distracted by my toddler, and forget to activate my edifice, so my opponent exerts both brawlers and attacks. I do have Prepare/Fight to kill one and gain the life to stop the other. Previously, they had cycles Oketra's Attendant in search of lands, so now they embalm it. I start using the edifice to get in with my Bone Picker when my opponent is tapped down. I have to use In Oketra's Name to kill the other Hooded Brawler. Eventually, my opponent gets Stinging Shot for my flier. I've added Cursed Minotaur and Unwavering Initiate. After I get Lord of the Accursed down, I start attacking, losing the minotaur to a flashed in Pouncing Cheetah. My opponent adds Bitterblade Warrior. My opponent starts finding all the lands they missed at the beginning, and I finally stop flooding--embalming my initiate, adding Sacred Cat, Tah-Crop Elite, and Wayward Servant. My opponent adds Initiate's Companion, while I get a hasty Blighted Bat. I chump attack my cat to get the zombie token, and keep swinging to bring my opponent to 7 (6 after the Wayward Servant drain). Then my opponent plays Gideon's Intervention, naming Blighted Bat. Going to be honest, I did not expect that. I draw (Trial of Ambition), and use the edifice to leave my opponent with 2 blockers to my 5 attackers, and I give zombies menace with Lord of the Accursed, drawing the concession from my opponent. 

Draft Match 2:

Game 1: Buckle in for a doozy. I start with Tah-Crop Elite, Cursed Minotaur, Trial of Ambition, Edifice of Authority, and Swamps. My opponent plays a one drop in Flameblade Adept. An interesting choice in this format, as I think such a card is unlikely to pull its weight enough of the time. However, since whenever I play Trial of Ambition, the likely sacrifice target is the 1 drop, I play the trial on turn 2 for mana efficiency. My opponent passes turn 2, cycling Stinging Shot on my turn, after I dropped Cursed Minotaur. On my opponent's turn, they hit the 3/2 with Magma Spray. I add Tah-Crop Elite, and then my opponent plays Bitterblade Warrior, giving it a Cartouche of Zeal. However, they misclick and pass the turn without attacking. I put out the edifice and stop the attacking. My opponent, still stuck on 3 lands, adds Thresher Lizard. I play Unwavering Initiate and keep up Supernatural Stamina and the edifice. When my opponent plays Cartouche of Strength and targets my initiate, I play the trick on it, hoping to get a 3 for one. However, I got to learn that the cartouche fight is a may ability, so it just turns into a mediocre expensive aura for my opponent. I add Blighted Bat, giving it haste and bring my opponent to 12.

Unfortunately, my opponent adds a Giant Spider, so potentially, my assault grinds to a halt. I decide to use the edifice on the spider, as it now has 3 counters, and then I add Lord of the Accursed. Then my opponent plays the Heaven half of Heaven/Earth to kill my fliers. With the Earth half in the graveyard, I start playing with a strong awareness. Currently, my opponent's creatures are 4/4, 3/2 (possible a 4/4), 2/4, and a newly added 4/3 Emberhorn Minotaur. I have to lock the new creature, because if it exerts, my opponent can sweep for 3, killing my board and leaving him with too much. I draw a Festering Mummy and add it to the board as it allows me to take out something should Earth hit for 3. Next up for my opponent is another Giant Spider, while I draw and hold Stir the Sands. Playing it for the full value would just immediately draw the sweeper, and the surprise 3/3 could be handy. My opponent goes on the attack, and I trade the Festering Mummy and Unwavering Initiate for the beefed up Bitterblade Warrior, leaving the counter on the Thresher Lizard. Then my opponent adds Desert Cerodon, which severely complicated my position. I draw land and just embalm. My opponent goes on the attack again, and I trade the token for the lizard, and risk blocking with the Lord on the spider. My opponent only attacked with 1 spider, and has 1 card in hand. Given how they have been playing, I am fairly certain their card is something too expensive for their mana, so I think the block is safe. Luckily, there was no trick. Unlucky for me, I've been drawing land. The next draw is Binding Mummy, which does present some options with Stir the Sands, as I can tap 3 creatures, and use the edifice. So, I start looking to set that up in hoping of hitting for 7. Sadly, my opponent keeps hitting gas (at this point their deck is 20 cards, probably 10-11 lands), as they add Nef-Crop Entangler and keep carefully attacking, bringing me to 12. With nothing else to do, my opponent cracks their Cradle of the Accursed. At this point, I am about 99% positive that my opponent has forgotten about the Earth half of Heaven/Earth. There is no reason to add two weak creatures if you are planning to use the sweeper. Still, I hold Stir the Sands for the surprise value and to avoid reminding my opponent of the sweeper.

Despite me having 8/16 lands already, my next two draws are land, bringing me to 10 lands in the top 21 with 16 lands. As I am now down to 9, I have to cycle and surprise block the exerted 5/4 minotaur, trading away the Binding Mummy. The cycle gives me Honed Khopesh, and I draw In Oketra's Name. My opponent finally hits land 7, and plays the card I am assuming they have been holding for 10 turns: Greater Sandwurm. In a very fortunate turn for me, I get Cartouche of Solidarity, bouncing my Trial of Ambition, which eats the zombie token. With a 4/5 first striking lord, I feel much safer. Even if my opponent finally plays Heaven/Earth, they would have to kill all but 1 of their creatures, and I still have Edifice of Authority. My opponent adds Colossapede, and then I add Sparring Mummy. At this point, turn 19, the board seems firmly stalled out. We play lands and pass back and forth a few times. I then draw Prepare/Fight, so I attack with Sparring Mummy with the Honed Khopesh on it. I then get to eat the Desert Cerodon. While I would have liked to get the Fight half with lifelink, I don't want to lose my mummy, so I pass back, now at a healthy 16 life. We go back to land and pass for a turn each, then I hit the second Cartouche of Solidarity, making my Sparring Mummy a 5/5 first striker, bouncing the Trial of Ambition, which eats the Nef-Crop Entangler. I attack my opponent, but don't risk the blow out if I pump. My opponent adds Initiate's Companion, and then I draw Supernatural Stamina. I then use the Fight half of Prepare/Fight to kill the Colossapede, give all my Zombies menace with Lord of the Accursed--Sparring Mummy as a 6/6 first strike, Those Who Serve as a 3/5, and a 3/3 zombie token. I attack with everything (including 2 1/1 tokens), which overwhelms my opponent's blockers. This was quite the epic game, though I do feel as though my opponent lost the game more than I won it, because they could have used the Earth half of Heaven/Earth on several different turns and killed me in short order. I don't know if they forgot, or if they didn't want to kill their own creatures. Even if you kill 1 or 2 of your own, if you wipe your opponent's board and still have a couple of strong creatures, it's worth it.

One consequence of this 23 turn game. I have 7 minutes on my clock (I had a child emergency right as I accepted the match that ate a few minutes), and my opponent has 10:30 left. 

Game 2: I keep Cartouche of Solidarity, Festering Mummy, Tah-Crop Elite, Binding Mummy, In Oketra's Name, and 2 Plains. Given the time constraints, this hand seems strong, as it can be quite aggressive, which is what I need, and might allow avoiding a repeat of game 1. Unfortunately, my opponent starts with Flameblade Adept, and I don't hit a Swamp off the top. I play my mummy, and my opponent adds Thresher Lizard. I draw, play, and equip Honed Khopesh, and use the Cartouche of Solidarity to make a 4/4 first striker. My opponent adds Emberhorn Minotaur. Annoyingly, I draw the 1 Forest in my deck instead of a Swamp. I play out the Tah-Crop Elite anyway and attack in, bringing the life totals to 14-12 in my favor. My opponent adds Giant Spider and I finally get a Swamp. I play the Festering Mummy, tapping the spider, which lets me get in for 6. My opponent responds with Ornery Kudu--strangely placing the -1/-1 counter on itself instead of the mostly useless Flameblade Adept. My opponent goes for the alpha, and I block the lizard with my 1/1, and the spider with my 2/2 mummy carrying a Khopesh. I use In Oketra's Name to kill the spider and trade the token for the lizard, but leaving me at 1 (there was no way for me not to go to 1). However, after combat, my opponent uses Fling to kill me.

Sadly, planning those last blocks eats some of my time, and I am left with 4 minutes for game 3, while my opponent has 6.5. 

Game 3: I keep a super aggressive 2 Sacred Cat, Cartouche of Solidarity, Tah-Crop Elite, Supernatural Stamina, and 2 Plains. On turn 2, I have 4 power on the board, 2 first strike, 3 lifelink, and 1 vigilance. My opponent plays Flameblade Adept on turn 2, which blocks some of my offense. I hit my Swamp on turn 4. So, I decide to suicide the 1/1 cat so I can play Bone Picker and then embalm. Unfortunately, the 2/2 cat eats a Magma Spray and the Bone Picker eats a Stinging Shot. My opponent is stuck on 3 lands, and I hit my fourth to drop Tah-Crop Elite. I play Lord of the Accursed and leave up Supernatural Stamina. I attack with all and exert the flier. At this point I still have 2.5 minutes (to my opponent's 5), so I feel fine individually selecting the creatures (why I mention this will be apparent shortly). My opponent adds Initiate's Companion, and I draw more land so I pass. They hit their fourth land and bring out Giant Spider. With a big butt down, I am more concerned about my clock, so I use the "Attack with all creatures" right click option. Which does not let you exert a creature. So, I attack with a 2/2 Tah-Crop Elite into a 2/4 reach spider. And my other creatures are far more vulnerable. My opponent blocks the flier with the Giant Spider, obviously. Then they double block the Lord of the Accursed with the cat, and a Bitterblade Warrior. Finally, they get to eat my 1/1 with Flameblade Adept. Had I exerted, this would have been an extremely favorable combat to me. Without exert, it is pretty bad for me. I also have to eat up time, trying to decide whether to use Supernatural Stamina on the Tah-Crop Elite or on the Lord of the Accursed. Since I am low on time, I am unable to analyze the lines as well I would have liked, so I take the 2 for 1 by hitting my lord. This leaves the life 30-6 in my favor, but I still have to deal with Giant Spider which can block any of my creatures. Unfortunately, my opponent's next play is Colossapede, a formidable blocker. I continue to hit land, and my opponent hits Emberhorn Minotaur. My draws for 4/5 land, and then Edifice of Authority. My opponent adds Desert Cerodon, and then another Giant Spider. I hit more land, and my opponent adds Nef-Crop Entangler, and continues attacking, bringing me to 8. I finally hit a non-land in Wayward Servant, which does give me an out if I hit Stir the Sands. But, my opponent alphas, and though I survive combat, they have Fling to finish me. My clock had 8 seconds, theirs had 54 seconds.

Incoming rant/discussion of Exert/Attack with All interaction.

So, I lost this match. But, I really think I can pinpoint it as the Exert and Attack all interaction that Wizards has discussed. If I hadn't experienced this match, I might have been more indifferent. However, having been under a time pressure in a match that I don't think I wasted the clock (brief child emergency>MTGO). Wizards seemed to believe that the exert implementation was the best, and the it was implied that attack with all would not exert. While this may sound harsh, if it were any other program, that would not be the case. Wizards generally does not do the best with technology, so on a blank slate, I don't think I would have a strong presumption that they think there is. My assumption was that the game would give me the option. Earlier, I hadn't risked it, but I was starting to feel the time. Turns out the quest for 'minimizing clicks' trumped intuitive and smooth gameplay. While I understand the desire to minimize clicks, players are going to be okay with clicks if it ensures they play correctly. 

My natural inclination is that there should be two options: the normal attack with all, then another that says something along the lines of "Attack with all creatures, and exert each creature with exert." Apparently, Wizards considered something close to this, as the blog post notes: 

There are several options that were considered by the team and were not chosen.  It’s easiest to look at the options that weren’t chosen and the reasoning behind the choice:

  1. Have “Attack with All” not attack with creatures with exert, players must add them separately. This option was rejected quickly, because if people select “Attack with All” and hit OK quickly, they won’t have attacked with creatures with exert even though they meant to.
  2. Add a prompt after you declare attackers for each creature with exert. This option was rejected because it required extra clicks. For the base case, you expect to make that decision as you declare attackers, just as you would decide whether a creature was attacking a player vs. a planeswalker.
  3. Add a second “Attack with All” option so that creatures with exert will exert. This option was rejected because it was deemed to be confusing: Are you attacking with all creatures and exerting all of them that can exert, or attacking with only creatures with exert and exerting them all?

So, under the Wizards phrasing it was confusing. I don't disagree completely, but this post implies that there is only one phrasing. My suggested phrasing above would eliminate the confusion--as far as I can tell. Regardless, I feel that having the option--even if it confusing--is far superior to discovering the issue through a failed attack in a match that someone is paying for. Unfortunately, I feel this falls in line with how Wizards (presumably) tests things. Sometimes it seems as though Wizards fails to test things with people outside the process--such as the Invocations legibility (Aaron Forsythe seemed to imply that perhaps the attempt to make it not seem like English succeeded too well). And, the beta testing primarily revolves around card interactions and bugs, but UI implementations. With a beta pack draft, you would be unlikely to be in the position to have an attack with all exert. Hopefully, Wizards learns something from this and at the least makes it so beta testers can test UI implementation. 

Draft Match 3:

Game 1: I keep Unwavering Initiate, Trial of Ambition, Sacred Cat, and lands. My opponent mulled to 6, and their first play was a Cursed Minotaur, which I fine using Trial of Ambition for. It seems a good choice when my opponent gets stuck on 3 mana and passes with no play. I get out the initiate and a newly drawn Honed Khopesh. Meanwhile, my opponent cycles Oketra's Attendant, clearly in search of land. They do hit the Plains, and then play Binding Mummy and Festering Mummy. I attack with my creatures, and trade for my opponent's, then play Tah-Crop Elite. My opponent adds Sparring Mummy and I reply by embalming the cat, equipping the flier and playing Edifice of Authority, with mana to stop the attack (or play Supernatural Stamina is necessary. My opponent passes with no play, and when I attack, they use Impeccable Timing. I use the stamina to keep my flier up. My opponent plays Binding Mummy and passes. I draw land, which allows me to embalm Unwavering Initiate and still use the edifice. Once my opponent adds (Winged Shepherd), I have a new lockdown target, and keep attacking in the air. Next, though, my opponent plays Seraph of the Suns. I make it unable to do anything, then use Prepare/Fight to kill the shepherd and gain 11 life, putting my opponent to 1. I then get to play Bone Picker for 1 as well. On my opponent's draw, they concede.

Game 2: I start with Sacred Cat, Honed Khopesh, Sparring Mummy, In Oketra's Name, Tah-Crop Elite and land. I start off getting the cat to a 2/2, and my opponent's first play is Splendid Agony to kill the cat, which must be painful. My opponent plays Binding Mummy and I get stuck on lands, but they are unwilling to trade their mummy for my 2/2 cat token. Next, my opponent adds Soulstinger. I finally hit land 3 on turn 5, and play Cursed Minotaur. My opponent does nothing, and when I attack I get to use In Oketra's Name to kill the Binding Mummy, get in for 5, and gain 4. My opponent adds Seraph of the Suns, so I skip creatures and play Edifice of Authority to get that under control. Then, my opponent plays Cartouche of Ambition, making my token weaker (it was holding a sword--meow). They get in for 4 this turn, and add Cursed Minotaur. I get Cartouche of Solidarity, making a 4/3 first striker. My opponent then adds (Winged Shephard). I trade my token and minotaur for the soulstinger, which lets me cast Bone Picker since I am still on 3 lands. At this point I assume my opponent's last card is a land, and they drew a land, because they concede. That's all that makes sense, because that would be 9 lands in the top the 17.

Wrap Up

So, while I did end up 2-1, I truly believe if the UI implementation of exert with attack with all was better, I would be 3-0. Even though I lost that second match, its first game was one of my favorite I have ever played. There was plenty to consider at most points of the game and it went back and forth a lot, even if my opponent was forgetting Heaven/Earth.

I hoped you enjoyed the article! As always, I appreciate comments and discussion!



777vii77 on Twitter