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By: MysticLancer, Lance Cothern
May 08 2007 1:02pm
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Drafting with MysticLancer: Black and Red
 
     Welcome to Drafting with MysticLancer! This week I'll be drafting 999 again, and as usual I'll talk about my picks, have revised picks, and the other typical stuff. After the draft I'll focus on how exactly you are supposed to win with a black and red deck in 999, as well as naming some of the better cards in the colors. Next week will be my last 999 article for a while (at least that is what I'm aiming for) and after that I'll move onto TTP. The most important thing to remember while reading is that drafting is fun! It can also be heavily influenced by luck, such as who you are drafting with, what cards are in the first pack you open, or what 7 card hand you draw. However, if you have the knowledge of the general drafting environment you can be at an advantage, and thats why I write, to try to give you an advantage when drafting. Now, on to the draft!
Pack 1:


Pick 1

My Original Pick: Blaze

My Revised Pick: Blaze

This pick wasn't easy, although Blaze is superior in this case. Flowstone Slide is a really good card and the other contender for my first pick, but without having any previous picks I'd rather take something I could splash than a good card that might not end up working out for me. Blaze is probably better anyways in most people's opinions.

 

Pick 2

My Original Pick: Blaze

My Revised Pick: Blaze

And then there was another Blaze! I did a double take to make sure somehow the same pack hadn't popped up and was happy it hadn't. Blaze was definately the best card in this pack.

 



Pick 3

My Original Pick: Enfeeblement

My Revised Pick: Enfeeblement

And now I ran into a dilemma, there are no good red cards worth drafting so I had to pick a second color. There are no bombs, so the next thing I look for is removal, which we have in Enfeeblement. Its double black casting cost slightly worries me. Execute is also removal, but it is situational and not worth picking up this early. The other contenders for this pick are Counsel of the Soratami, a good card drawer, Treetop Bracers, one of the few enchant creature cards worth playing, and Giant Growth. It is too early to take the Counsel, and I'm just not a huge fan of green so I took the Enfeeblement.

Pick 4

My Original Pick: Highway Robber

My Revised Pick: Highway Robber

Either these packs had no red in them or someone is taking it, chances are someone is taking it. Looking at our choice of cards Highway Robber would fit in with our previous black pick. Rootwalla is also nice, but I think I want to go for a black and red deck, if the red comes through.




 

Pick 5

My Original Pick: Hollow Dogs

My Revised Pick: Hollow Dogs

At this point I'm almost certain someone ahead of me is drafting red. However, if we stick with black Hollow Dogs is a great creature. Aven Fisher, Elvish Warrior, and Glory Seeker are also playable in this pack.

Pick 6

My Original Pick: Enfeeblement

My Revised Pick: Enfeeblement

I'm thinking sticking with black might work out very well for me at this point. I'm still not a fan of Enfeeblement's double black casting cost but it is removal, or it at least weakens a strong opposing creature. Crossbow Infantry, Venerable Monk, and Festering Goblin are also playable.


 

Pick 7

My Original Pick: Razortooth Rats

My Revised Pick: Razortooth Rats

Getting passed a Razortooth Rats is very nice for black due to its fear ability. Mana Leak, Ravenous Rats, Suntail Hawk, and Yavimaya Enchantress are also playable.

Pick 8

My Original Pick: Foul Imp

My Revised Pick: Foul Imp

Staying in black, I take Foul Imp. Yavimaya Enchantress is about the only other playable card in this pack.


 

Pick 9

My Original Pick: Goblin Piker

My Revised Pick: Goblin Piker

Looking back to Pick 1, we can see what has been taken from this pack. The Flowstone Slide and Shock are gone in red, and the Gravedigger is gone in black. We can also see there have been 3 blue picks made so far, so blue doesn't look like a good color to get into. White didn't have anything here, and green's Giant Spider is gone. Looking at this pack Goblin Piker is the best card left.

Pick 10

My Original Pick: Scaled Wurm

My Revised Pick: Scaled Wurm

The two playable red cards in this pack that I passed are gone, and there wasn't any good black in it. Scaled Wurm is the best card in this pack and might show green could be open.


Pick 11

My Original Pick: Serpent Warrior

My Revised Pick: Serpent Warrior

Serpent Warrior was the only playable card.

Pick 12

My Original Pick: Tree Monkey

My Revised Pick: Tree Monkey

Tree Monkey was the most playable card here, although it normally doesn't make decks.

 

Pick 13

My Original Pick: Unholy Strength

My Revised Pick: Unholy Strength

Better of the two.

Pick 14

My Original Pick: Tree Monkey

My Revised Pick: Tree Monkey

Pick 15

My Original Pick: Natural Spring

My Revised Pick: Natural Spring

 

 
Summary of Pack 1:
The two Blazes are an amazing start to my draft and automatically have me at least splashing red. Then the overwhelming amount of decent black cards puts me pretty strongly into black. I'm still looking for a second color, but am definately hoping red will work out for me.
Pack 2:
 

Pick 16

My Original Pick: Dark Banishing

My Revised Pick: Dark Banishing

Unfortunately I've lost two of the uncommons in this pack and have no way of finding out what they were as the draftcap debugging images have already been overwritten. In black and red we only have one outstanding card and that is Dark Banishing. Master Healer is a nice white card, and Hill Giant, Counsel of the Soratami and Treetop Bracers are the other color's first picks in my opinion.

Pick 17

My Original Pick: Phyrexian Arena

My Revised Pick: Phyrexian Arena

Ah a nice rare passed to me, and it is black too! Red has some nice cards here in Sandstone Warrior and Kird Ape, but the Ape won't help me as I'm not playing green as well. Hill Giant is playable, but the card advantage from the Arena makes it the best pick in this pack in my colors.



 

Pick 18

My Original Pick: Looming Shade

My Revised Pick: Looming Shade

As of right now I'm heavy in black, which would make Looming Shade a nice choice. Master Decoy is a really good card in this pack. However the Shade should really help my deck. Hollow Dogs was my other option, but I already had one and I like the Shade better in a black heavy deck.

Pick 19

My Original Pick: Llanowar Elves

My Revised Pick: Llanowar Elves

Missing an uncommon here, which really stinks, but it must not have been good because I didn't pick it. I have finally run into the dilemma that I'm not getting passed hardly any red, and I kind of expected that by passing a Shock in pack 1. Green has looked pretty strong so far, so I take the Llanowar Elves here for potential tempo if I go green. Probably the best card in this pack.





Pick 20

My Original Pick: Volcanic Hammer

My Revised Pick: Volcanic Hammer

Now I see a really nice red card pop up... and I'm starting to get confused. Volcanic Hammer is by far the best card in this pack so I'm hoping to get some more red.

Pick 21

My Original Pick: Giant Cockroach

My Revised Pick: Giant Cockroach

Playable cards include Giant Cockroach, Samite Healer and Wind Drake for the most part. The best card in my opinion is the Drake but its not in my colors so I go with the Cockroach.


 

Pick 22

My Original Pick: Goblin Chariot

My Revised Pick: Flowstone Shambler

Overally the Flowstone Shambler  has more versatility by being able to kill 3 toughness creatures, so that is why I revised my pick to the Shambler.

Pick 23

My Original Pick: Ravenous Rats

My Revised Pick: Ravenous Rats   

Packs are starting to wind down and the Ravenous Rats are all I can take in this pack.



Pick 24

My Original Pick: Lava Axe

My Revised Pick: Lava Axe

Lava Axe can be played, although it ususally isn't unless it is used as a finisher. Nothing other than that in this pack.

Pick 25

My Original Pick: Spineless Thug

My Revised Pick: Spineless Thug

Nothing great so i stick to my colors.


 

Pick 26

My Original Pick: Demon's Horn

My Revised Pick: Demon's Horn

Some may argue Mending Hands is playable... but I don't, it just isn't worth a spot in your deck so I pick the more playable (although still not playable) uncommon.

Pick 27

My Original Pick: Contaminated Bond

My Revised Pick: Contaminated Bond

Contaminated Bond is playable in dire circumstances, so I picked it.

 

Pick 28

My Original Pick: Urza's Power Plant

My Revised Pick: Urza's Power Plant

Never hurts to get some urzatron this late.

Pick 29

My Original Pick: Norwood Ranger

My Revised Pick: Norwood Ranger

Pick 30

My Original Pick: Swamp

My Revised Pick: Swamp

 
Summary of Pack 2:
The first three picks solidify the fact that my deck should be black heavy. The Dark Banishing and Phyrexian Arena are amazing, and Looming Shade is good in a black heavy deck. Volcanic Hammer continues my hopes of using red as a second color.
Pack 3:
 

Pick 31

My Original Pick: Jade Statue

My Revised Pick: Jade Statue

First and most importantly there are no bombs here. Next I take a look at what I have drafted so far, and realize I don't have any big toughness creatures. In my colors there isn't anything amazing besides Razortooth Rats so I think about Jade Statue. It could work well for me with 6 toughness, so I decide I should take the Statue for this pick.

Pick 32

My Original Pick: Anaba Shaman

My Revised Pick: Anaba Shaman

I have some nice red because it is the beginning of the pack, and Anaba Shaman definately fits that category. It is a great pinger, or good for threatening to take that one extra toughness a defender has left to kill your opponent's creature.



 

Pick 33

My Original Pick: Millstone

My Revised Pick: Gluttonous Zombie

My original pick here was pretty much made without thinking. I had once played with a blue and white deck and lost because I didn't pick Millstone in that draft so I figured it'd help here, until I realized red and black dont' go for the long game. I definately should have taken Gluttonous Zombie which is an amazing card for any black deck because it is a 3/3 with fear.

Pick 34

My Original Pick: Spineless Thug

My Revised Pick: Sandstone Warrior

Originally I took the Spineless Thug here because I was worried about Sandstone Warrior's double red casting cost, however it is a very good red card and I should have taken it here.



 

Pick 35

My Original Pick: Looming Shade

My Revised Pick: Looming Shade

It is always nice to add another Looming Shade to a predominately black deck, esecially when nothing else in your colors is amazing.

Pick 36

My Original Pick: Lightning Elemental

My Revised Pick: Highway Robber

My original pick here was Lightning Elemental. While it is good, the Highway Robber was probably better because it had one more toughness and gives an overall 4 point life change in favor of you.



Pick 37

My Original Pick: Hill Giant

My Revised Pick: Hill Giant

Hill Giant is the best card to add to my creature base at this point.

Pick 38

My Original Pick: Goblin Piker

My Revised Pick: Goblin Piker

The Piker was the best card in my colors, but Dream Prowler was the best card in the pack.


 

Pick 39

My Original Pick: Giant Cockroach

My Revised Pick: Giant Cockroach

Giant Cockroach was probably the best card left in the pack at this point.

Pick 40

My Original Pick: Plague Beetle

My Revised Pick: Plague Beetle

Nothing great here, so I picked the Beetle as the lesser of the evils and because it was black.


 

Pick 41

My Original Pick: Hollow Dogs

My Revised Pick: Hollow Dogs

Hollow Dogs is hands down the best card in the pack.

Pick 42

My Original Pick: Plague Beetle

My Revised Pick: Plague Beetle

And the commentary becomes pointless.

Pick 43

My Original Pick: Demon's Horn

My Revised Pick: Bog Imp

Bog Imp is playable in dire circumstances while the Demon's Horn shouldn't be.

Pick 44

My Original Pick: Contaminated Bond

My Revised Pick: Contaminated Bond

What to pick... What to Pick...

 

Pick 45

My Original Pick: Forest

My Revised Pick: Forest

 
Summary of Pack 3:
I made a few mispicks in this pack, but the pack definately helped me go into red for a second color. I also added some more black cards and rounded out my deck well.
Deck-buildling:

14 Creatures:
1 Anaba Shaman
1 Foul Imp
2 Giant Cockroach
1 Goblin Chariot
1 Highway Robber
1 Hill Giant
2 Hollow Dogs
1 Lightning Elemental
2 Looming Shade

1 Razortooth Rats
1 Serpent Warrior

10 Other Spells:
1 Lava Axe
1 Jade Statue
1 Millstone
2 Blaze
1 Dark Banishing
2 Enfeeblement
1 Phyrexian Arena
1 Volcanic Hammer

16 Lands:
10 Swamp
6 Mountain

Sideboard:

2 Contaminated Bond
2 Demon's Horn
1 Forest
2 Goblin Piker
1 Llanowar Elves
1 Natural Spring
1 Norwood Ranger
2 Plague Beetle
1 Ravenous Rats
1 Scaled Wurm
2 Spineless Thug
1 Swamp
2 Tree Monkey
1 Unholy Strength
1 Urza's Power Plant

     My original deck to the left looked really nice with the exception of an error I made while building it. Millstone should have never made the deck in the first place. It might work well in blue and white, but not in a more short term black and red deck. The rest of the deck had some good creatures but has no creature answer to fliers. Also, I dont' have many big defenders so that could prove problematic. My spells were really nice for a black and red deck. I had 6 removal spells, a Lava Axe and a Jade Statue which could potentially be a big blocker. The Phyrexian Arena also gave the potential for card advantage which would be huge.
     The deck using my revised picks is to the right. The Flowstone Shambler replaced the Goblin Chariot, a Highway Robber was added in place of the Lightning Elemental, and a Gluttonous Zombie took the place of the evil Millstone. I definately like the build on the right better as it has a slightly better creature base. I also like the fact that the useless Millstone is gone. Overall it isn't THAT different, but those 4 changes could definately switch the tides of the game, especially the Gluttonous Zombie because of its fear ability and Highway Robber's 4 point life swing.

15 Creatures:
1 Anaba Shaman
1 Foul Imp
2 Giant Cockroach
1 Flowstone Shambler
1 Gluttonous Zombie
2 Highway Robber
1 Hill Giant
2 Hollow Dogs
2 Looming Shade
1 Razortooth Rats
1 Serpent Warrior


9 Other Spells:
1 Jade Statue
2 Blaze
1 Dark Banishing
2 Enfeeblement
1 Lava Axe
1 Phyrexian Arena
1 Volcanic Hammer

16 Lands:
10 Swamp
6 Mountain


Sideboard:
2 Contaminated Bond
1 Demon's Horn
1 Bog Imp
1 Forest
2 Goblin Piker
1 Llanowar Elves
1 Natural Spring
1 Norwood Ranger
2 Plague Beetle
1 Ravenous Rats
1 Scaled Wurm
1 Spineless Thug
1 Sandstone Warrior
1 Swamp
2 Tree Monkey
1 Unholy Strength
1 Urza's Power Plant

 
The Match(es):

Match 1:
Game 1: I enter the match with high hopes and a great red and black deck. My first round opponent is playing a fast and mean red and white deck. They decided to play first, and on turn 2 get a Rogue Kavu out. I have no two drop so on turn 3 he swings for 3. On my third turn I play a Serpent Warrior to hopefully counteract the Rogue Kavu but on his fourth turn he uses Pacifism on my warrior and also plays a Master Decoy. By the end of his fourth turn I am at 11 and in bad shape. On my turn 4 I drop a Giant Cockroach that I unfortunately know will be tapped by the Decoy as I go down another 3 on his 5th turn to 8 life. He puts a Goblin Sky Raider into play and then I start my 5th turn. I Blaze his Decoy to keep a blocker for the ground, but he follows up on his next turn with an Angel of Mercy putting the game out of reach has he has 4 damage per turn in the air, and I have no sky blockers. My opponent wins game 1.

Game 2: I start game 2 off with a decent hand that includes a Dark Banishing, and a Foul Imp as notable cards. He plays an Infantry Veteran on turn 1, and I play Foul Imp on my second turn. He follows up by playing a Suntail Hawk on his second turn. I play nothing on turn 3, while he drops a Master Decoy. This game has gone downhill already. On my fourth turn I use the Dark Banishing on his Decoy and swing with my Foul Imp. The life totals are 16-16 at this point. On turn 5 I drop my Jade Statue as a hopeful blocker, but cannot activate it when my opponent swings for 4. He ends the turn by playing a Hill Giant. On turn 6 I play a Looming Shade, which has potential with 4 swamps in play. On my opponent's turn, he plays a Pacifism on my Foul Imp allowing his Suntail Hawk to fly by for 2 each turn thanks to Infantry Veteran. I get an Anaba Shaman into play on turn 7, but by the end of my opponent's next turn I'm at 6 life while he is at 14, while I have 2 creatures in play to his 5. The game is pretty much over by this point. I ping off his Hawk with my Shaman, only to see him play Angel of Mercy in his post-combat main phase. I topdeck a Blaze the next turn to kill the Angel, but he follows by playing Aven Flock the turn after. He follows with a Leonin Skyhunter and then the game was over. I lost the match 0-2 to a very formidable fast red and white deck. The fliers ended up killing my in both games.

Lesson of the Week: How to Win with Black and Red 

     Even though I didn't win with my black and red deck this week I understand how I'm SUPPOSED to win. The most important part of any black or red, and especially black AND red, deck is REMOVAL. Black and red are FULL of it! Blaze, Dark Banishing, Shock, Volcanic Hammer, Guerrilla Tactics, Pyroclasm and Enfeeblement are just the more common ones I can think of off the top of my head. Some other biggies include Grave Pact, Flame Wave and Wildfire. With this much removal you should be able to effectively get rid of their big threats.

     The next important part should be your creature base. Black and red just plain don't have fliers, thats what the removal is for, but it does have a lot of nice critters on the ground. Anaba Shaman is a removal creature, Hollow Dogs is a nice attacker, and Looming Shade can be a nice threat with a lot of Swamps available to you. Another big benefit of black is its two fear creatures Razortooth Rats and Gluttonous Zombie. If your opponent doesn't have a black or artifact creature it goes right through to deal damage straight to your opponent's life total. Those are just the creatures that are more common. Some of the nicer and more rare creatures include Royal Assassin, Hypnotic Specter, Nekrataal, Sengir Vampire, Mortivore, Gravedigger and Nantuko Husk in black, and Shivan Dragon, Thundermare, Karplusan Yeti and Shard Phoenix in red. None of these lists are by any means comprehensive and I definately might have missed some biggies.

     So now that we understand that part, how do you win? You get some nice creatures out on the ground and use your removal to take care of your opponent's creatures. Then when you have the opportunities you attack through to their life, sometimes using Volcanic Hammers, Blazes, and potentially a Lava Axe to further bring down their life total. Black and red are EXTREMELY short sighted, so unless you get going fast you could be in for a bumpy ride. I fell into that trap a bit in both games, but when you get a decent hand with a good deck you should be ok.
   
     Well, as I write this conclusion I am sitting in my room at home two hours away from college. I've been home for a couple days, yet I haven't unpacked. I also have to go try to find a job, and start sharing dial up with my family. I'm a bit busier than I thought I would be in my first weekend at home, but I still try to get my articles ready for you guys in a timely fashion. Hopefully I can keep up with my self declared deadline of TTP 2 articles from now. I'd like to thank JacsUK, Gus from MTGO TRADERS, and Zahori for chatting with my about drafting and helping me out.  Until next time..

Thats a wrap!

Need some boosters to draft with? MTGO TRADERS has great prices on 999 packs! Just click here to see for yourself!


Back to Top


Back to Pack 1

Back to Pack 2

Back to Pack 3

Back to Deck-Building

Back to the Match(es)

Back to the Lesson

0 Comments

What it probably was... by ButtWhiskers at Thu, 05/10/2007 - 12:45
ButtWhiskers's picture

""I would love to know what common was picked over the $5 bill that is Phyrexian Arena.""

Judging from the other commons in the pack, it was Dark Banishing. Those groups of commons go together in the collation: Dark Banishing, Elvish Berserker, Crafty Pathmage, Hill Giant. You can see this in Pick 16... Why someone playing black (obviously if they picked DB) would pick that over the Arena is beyond me - except sometimes ya get tunnelvision looking for such cards and click before looking at the rest of the pack...

by dragonmage65 at Tue, 05/08/2007 - 20:31
dragonmage65's picture

You really can't ignore your signals. Red was clearly getting cut off towards the beginning of pack one (as a general rule, I consider four consecutive packs anywhere between P2-P8 without playables in a particular color as an indication of cutting-off). At that point, you HAVE TO JUMP SHIP! There's always the temptation to deny the reality and force yourself into red, but you can't do that. 2x Blaze does not necessarily translate to red being one of your main-deck colors. While black was clearly a good choice, you also should have concentrated on establishing another color.

by runeliger at Tue, 05/08/2007 - 22:27
runeliger's picture

In terms of those 2 blazes, you could have probably splashed the red in to play it. Even drafting blaze the first 2 picks was right, blaze is an insanely powerful card in limited, so strong some people even hate draft it.

Jolly Green by khirareq (Unregistered) 198.68.188.207 (not verified) at Wed, 05/09/2007 - 13:07
khirareq (Unregistered) 198.68.188.207's picture

First pick blaze, I'm thinking "awesome!" Second pick blaze, I'm thinking "Go Green!" Green has almost all the accelerants in this format, in addition to the mana fixing that makes it easier to splash should you need to. You would have had a stronger deck if it had been G/B splash R, since even without cutting green there were some very strong Green cards in pack 3.

You underestimate Coercion. The ability to pull your opponent's strongest card from their hand or randomly mana screw them is pretty good, certainly a higher pick than an off-color scaled wurm.

I would love to know what common was picked over the $5 bill that is Phyrexian Arena.

I love this series, btw.

by ButtWhiskers at Tue, 05/08/2007 - 19:07
ButtWhiskers's picture

Good article - however I think some big mistakes were made.

Pack 1 Pick 10: You have RB up to this point, and picked the Scaled Wurm? Bog Imp (evasion) or Coercion (remove best card in opponent's hand) would have been much better. Most of the time Scaled Wurm never hits the table in 999, and when it does, either the game is pretty much already over or there are enough chumps to make it ineffectual. Evasion is the missing piece of the puzzle...

Pack 1 Pick 12: Again, Tree Monkey probably wouldn't even make the cut in a predominately G deck. Fear is good evasion - drop it on a Hollow Dogs or Serpent Warrior and the clock is ticking!

Pick 19: Okay, by this point you've passed a Kird Ape in favor of the Phyrexian Arena (BB commits you), so G is obviously a splasher if used at all. No sense picking Llanowar elves, since the likelihood of getting them out early enough to accelerate your mana is very low. Needle Storm would be a great splasher, as you are sitting with one flier at this point! But in reality, as you apparently realized soon after, G is not going to make the cut - should have picked one of the R or B cards instead. Contaminated Bond is fundamentally removal, and the Serpent Warrior would even help with the quick beats.

That all being said, Unholy Strength and/or Contaminated Bond should have probably been maindecked here. Contaminated Bond is a good way to hinder the other guy's evasion critters, which is what took you down. Unholy Strength is great to get the game off to a raging start - and on an evasion critter such as Razortooth Rats it can amount to a gamebreaker.

All in all, some good reading! Keep it up!