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By: xger, Xger
Jul 12 2017 12:00pm
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Join me in my brief break from the bar as I successfully tackle an Intermediate HHA draft! Turns out Blue Black works well, despite that being a relatively low combination in my personal preference. Let's get to it!

The Draft

This was my first out of the gate HHA draft, and I had only one prelease under my belt (I went 2-1-1, also with Blue Black). I didn't really have any preconceived notions on what I wanted to play, so I was just going to try and go with the flow.  Generally I exclude the last 3-4 picks of a pack unless they have significance, as there simply isn't much to look at there. Take a look:

  Pack 1 pick 1:

  My Pick:

This was an interesting first pack. There is nothing that I would consider a bomb in this pack, but wow is there a lot of removal. I relatively quickly narrow the choices to Hour of Glory and Puncturing Blow. While Hour of Glory is the better removal, the question I spent time contemplating was what my pick would do to my neighbor. I figure whichever I don't pick will be grabbed, so I could set myself up for good cooperation. In the end, I went with the better spell, and just decided to lessen my value on red, as my neighbor would likely go red.

  Pack 1 pick 2:

  My Pick:

This pick was pretty easy. While there is a lot of white, I am unsure I want to go into that color at the moment. Since Merciless Eternal is a strong creature that gives good advantages, I decide just to stay black and see what comes to me. I was really close to taking Oketra's Avenger as that card can be quite powerful.

  Pack 1 pick 3:

  My Pick:

Aerial Guide is the best Wind Drake they've printed, and seeing this alongside some other blue makes me start thinking blue is open. Not only is none of the black that much of a draw, I think at least one of them would wheel, if I decide I want them. In the end, it was just too hard to ignore the drake.

  Pack 1 pick 4:

  My Pick:

This may be the strangest pick in hindsight. At the time though, I thought it was better to mostly focus on black and see what colors remained open. Blue does seem fairly open though.

  Pack 1 pick 5:

  My Pick:

While I am fairly certain blue is open, I was quite impressed with Scrounger of Souls in the prerelease, and was unsure of the blue cards. It does seem like the white is being taken, as is the red. In hindsight, I probably should have taken Spellweaver Eternal as it fit my curve much better.

  Pack 1 pick 6:

  My Pick:

This pack was pretty uninspiring overall, but Hour of Eternity seemed like a rather strong late game card, so with its triple blue, I pretty much am set on being blue black. It also seemed the most appropriate given what was being passed.

  Pack 1 pick 7:

  My Pick:

Based on my experience at the prerelease, I don't think people have yet realized this is in the set. A functional reprint of Nephalia Seakite, the pop in and block seems great. It is also considerably better than Pouncing Cheetah, so I hope to get some opponent's with it. The rest of the pack seems pretty meh.

  Pack 1 pick 8:

  My Pick:

This was a pretty close choice between Marauding Boneslasher and Ruin Rat. My prerelease had three Ruin Rats, and there was never a time I was disappointed to get one, or the second, or even the third. But, a 3/3 for 3 is really good. I had already seen a Ruin Rat, so I hope to get one later, and take the beater.

  Pack 1 pick 9:

  My Pick:

I'm a bit surprised to see Sandblast wheel. Granted, I may overvalue it, but it seems odd to have 3 cost removal wheel. Maybe white is open and there just wasn't much opened. Regardless, I take the only card I could play in blue black.

  Pack 1 pick 10:

  My Pick:

I would play the second Scrounger of Souls before I would play the first Countervailing Winds, so this was pretty easy. I just don't think Countervailing Winds is good, as when you want it to counter, you might have 1 card in your graveyard. Later, it might get something, but that is variable. I rarely play counterspells, and variance is the last thing you want in a counterspell, I doubt it will pull its weight. Then you are playing it for the cycle, which I think there are better options. Playing the format will let me know if I am accurate there or not.

  Pack 1 pick 11:

  My Pick:

Blue must be open, because the 2 blue cards I left in the pack are still here. I don't know which of the two is better, but I doubt it matters much.

  Pack 1 pick 12:

  My Pick:

I would actually be happy with any of these three, so I am pretty satisfied with my color choices at this point.

Pack 1:

I think pack one went pretty well, and I have a decent start to a blue black deck. Onward!

  Pack 2 pick 1:

  My Pick:

This pack is pretty loaded, both for me and for others. Uncage the Menagerie could be quite strong in limited, as it could be essentially draw 3 or draw 4 creatures. But, I have no green creatures, and didn't see much green open in the first pack, so this is not really an option. Same goes for Appeal/Authority. Again, I like the blue, but I am fairly positive at least one of the decent ones will wheel, so the choice comes down to Lethal Sting and Banewhip Punisher. I waffle between the two for quite a while, but I decide on the one that is cheaper to use at once, even if it requires a creature on my side. While I would have liked to try Torment of Scarabs, I couldn't take that over premium removal.

  Pack 2 pick 2:

  My Pick:

This pack is less thrilling, and I think Supreme Will is decent ahead of the rest of the pack. I did consider grabbing Open Fire and splashing, but I didn't think it was worth it. I still had enough coming that I thought enough removal would come around.

  Pack 2 pick 3:

  My Pick:

I cannot imagine the players next to me are playing black at this point, since this is just a solid kill spell. Again, it's pretty far ahead of the rest of the pack, but I hope to get the Ruin Rat back.

  Pack 2 pick 4:

  My Pick:

I am not sure how Doomfall will be in this format, but I know between embalm and eternalize, it might do some work. But it might also just catch the second half of a Tah-Crop Skirmisher. With that in mind, I debate between Tragic Lesson and Imaginary Threats. I don't know if I have the right deck for threats to work. Also, during the prerelease, I was quite happy with Tragic Lesson, particularly when I get to bounce a cycle land I played early. So, I get to go to school, I guess.

  Pack 2 pick 5:

  My Pick:

This is the worst pack for me so far in the draft. I look over the pool, and decide I am low on early drops, so I think Cunning Survivor is going to work better for me than Desert of the Mindful.

  Pack 2 pick 6:

  My Pick:

I am not playing the mill deck (maybe someday), so Desert of the Glorified is the only real pick.

  Pack 2 pick 7:

  My Pick:

As I said a few picks beforehand, I am short on two drops, so I take this over the questionable Lurching Rotbeast. While the beast isn't bad, I am not sure how effective he will be.

  Pack 2 pick 8:

  My Pick:

I reluctantly take this.

  Pack 2 pick 9:

  My Pick:

Removal is always good, even iffy removal like Unquenchable Thirst. I just have to hope that I don't face a Dauntless Aven deck (spoiler - I do).

  Pack 2 pick 10:

  My Pick:

I will take the questionable sideboard card over a mill card.

  Pack 2 pick 11:

  My Pick:

Strange that I am making choices at this point, but I am. I decide I prefer the option for the third Scrounger of Souls over the second Striped Riverwinder. While the serpent is better, it seems unlikely I would want two if I am not a cycling deck.

  Pack 2 pick 12:

  My Pick:

This card impressed me during the prerelease, but I am dubious for draft. I might run it, as it can really wreck someone.

Pack 2:

Pack 2 tells me that I was definitely in the colors I was supposed to be, as I felt pretty happy with the cards I got. Let's hope pack 3 is as kind as the first two.

  Pack 3 pick 1:

  My Pick:

I am quite sad with this pack. Again I open some decent to good green. I debate between Bontu's Monument and Shimmerscale Drake. I've come to really enjoy fliers in Amonkhet, so I think the drake will be marginally better. I also think the 4 toughness is relevant. I don't think the monument is worth it in this instance, though I would be happy to have it in the deck. 

  Pack 3 pick 2:

  My Pick:

I really should have taken Drake Haven. I didn't feel I had enough cycling to justify it, and I convinced myself that the haven might wheel. In retrospect, not sure how I reached the conclusion that haven was more likely to wheel than Floodwaters. On the other colors, someone is getting some good white.

  Pack 3 pick 3:

  My Pick:

I am a little worried about my creature count at this point, but again I doubt this was the right choice. The remainder of the pack made this pick fine, but that shouldn't excuse making this incorrect pick. I am a bit sad to see Heaven/Earth and not be able to take it, because that card is really good.

  Pack 3 pick 4:

  My Pick:

I debate between Wasteland Scorpion and Cut/Ribbons. The aftermath is very good, but I don't really have the capability of splashing, so I have to take the deathtoucher.

  Pack 3 pick 5:

  My Pick:

Part of me here regrets not taking Drake Haven earlier so I could attempt the New Perspectives combo. Since I didn't, and I don't have the cycling, I think the Shadowstorm Vizier is the right choice. I like the vizier and, New Perspectives is quite expensive, even if it is a draw three.

  Pack 3 pick 6:

  My Pick:

As far as I am concerned, there is only one card in this pack.

  Pack 3 pick 7:

  My Pick:

While 5 mana, I am quite surprised, and quite happy, to see Final Reward as a seventh pick. Either the pack was loaded, or there are not many black drafters. Given what is left in the pack, it seems likely the pack was loaded, because there are still a number of strong cards left.

  Pack 3 pick 8:

  My Pick:

Arguably, I should have taken Splendid Agony at this point. However, I was hoping to see Drake Haven, and I felt pretty good about my removal, so I took the cycling sea snake.

  Pack 3 pick 9:

  My Pick:

It was a blue or black card.

  Pack 3 pick 10:

  My Pick:

I couldn't even bring myself to pick the only blue card.

  Pack 3 pick 11:

  My Pick:

I'm very surprised to see an 11th pick Cartouche of Knowledge, since it is the second best one. This is what lead me to believe that I am the only blue player at the table.

Pack 3:

While I didn't get anything nutty in Amonkhet, I did get a solid selection of cards. Time to get building!

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Amonkhet Draft Deck

Here is the draft pool

 

Overall, I'm quite happy with this pile. I did read that blue was open and got a strong set of blue cards as a result. That 11th pick Cartouche of Knowledge really seems to imply I might have been the only blue player at the table. The building of the deck was relatively straight forward, as the first 22 or so cards were set in stone with relative ease. Deciding on the land count and the remaining creatures took a bit of time, but it didn't seem too hard. I have enough cycling and card draw that I feel 16 lands is appropriate--I also have generally played 16 in Amonkhet, even without a ton of cycling, as the format had been fast enough that getting too many lands often meant losing.

The last two slots came down to the second and third Scrounger of Souls, the second Spellweaver Eternal, Without Weakness, Miasmic Mummy, River Serpent and Floodwaters. I had liked the Scrounger enough in the prerelease, that I decided on 2 copies to be the pseudo top end of my deck. I didn't have the synergy to really make use of the mummy, so I cut that, and I had enough two drops. Similarly, I was unconvinced that Without Weakness would be worth it, so I cut it. Floodwaters seemed like a card I would cycle 75+% of the time, so I decided to cut that as well. I decided on the River Serpent as a way to hold the ground while fliers took care of business. Here is my final deck:

Matches:

I managed to go 3-0, with the first match not being particularly close, against a 4 color rare drafter, I think. The second match was closer, against a red white aggro deck, but double to triple Scrounger of Souls

As I said in the header, I did video matches. While I do enjoy writing out the matches (as well as having the option for non-YouTube readers), the video ones take considerably less time, and I am in the middle of bar studying, so I didn't see much choice. Enjoy the matches:

 

Wrap Up

A great start to the format with the 3-0. I did enjoy that last match, and am surprised I came out on top. Hopefully this type of performance continues!

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