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By: phe0bus, David B Strimple
Sep 28 2010 2:49am
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And now the conclusion of episode 1.  If you missed it, go check it out.

Mono Black
When Removal Flows
Creatures
1 Black Knight
2 Child of Night
1 Barony Vampire
1 Liliana's Specter
1 Howling Banshee
3 Nether Horror
1 Nightwing Shade
10 cards

Other Spells
1 Deathmark
2 Duress
2 Stabbing Pain
1 Demon's Horn
1 Sign in Blood
1 Sword of Vengeance
1 Assassinate
4 Quag Sickness
1 Rise from the Grave
14 cards
 
Lands
16 Swamp
16 cards

Sideboard
2 Unholy Strength
3 Bog Raiders
1 Ornithopter
6 cards
 
Quag Sickness

 

I drafted the mono black deck above, and beat my first opponent in two games. I have scouted my round two opponent and found Preordain, Ice Cage, Juggernaut, Warlord’s Axe, Blinding Mage, 2 Cloud Elemental’s, Serra Angel, Scroll Thief, Palace Guard, and Azure Drake.

My first game of round two is missing somewhere in the MTGO void. I was beaten with double Ice Cage and too many creatures to overcome. In scouting I only saw one Ice Cage in the first round. Three other cards that I went up against in game one, but did not see in scouting were Stone Golem, Protean Hydra, and Cloud Crusader. Maybe that hydra is the only reason that he is playing green at all.
 
I have the Sword of Vengeance and I sideboard in the two Unholy Strength’s to help me break the Ice Cages. There are also two Stabbing Pain’s that could be used in a pinch to break out my creatures that are better than one-toughness. Of my ten creatures, that would apply to all but the two Child of Night’s and Liliana's Specter. I probably took out one Duress and the Demon’s Horn. I should note here that I have seen fifteen of Opponent’s cards and have not seen any bounce or removal that can deal with Unholy Strength. That really brings the value of the card way up.
 
I choose to go first and draw
 
 
This is an easy keeper. I don’t have any early tempo, but the Howling Banshee is a highly needed creature against his air force. The banshee was one of the creatures trapped in the Ice Cage last game, so I hope I draw an answer for that early.
 
My first two draws are Unholy Strength and a Swamp. Opponent plays the first spell of the game in turn three after going Plains, Island, Plains, and Cloud Elemental. I draw Black Knight, play my fourth swamp and drop Howling Banshee (17-17). Opponent comes back with an Island and Blinding Mage, and doesn’t attack. That mage has got to die.
 
In Turn 5, I draw a Child of Night. What is the play?
 
 
I developed my board by playing both of my two drops. I’ll deal with the mage next turn. I clutch on the banshee, but didn’t attack. Why? I can’t remember. I know that I wanted to draw out an Ice Cage on it. Was I thinking of Diminish, which I had not seen? Was I thinking of it getting tapped by the mage next turn so that my other two creatures could attack? I don’t know. I should have swung with the banshee. 
 
In the bottom half of the turn, Opponent hit his fifth straight land drop with another Plains and dropped a Juggernaut, leaving up one Plains. He passes the turn and I draw my second Quag Sickness. What is the play?
 
 
I quag the mage.
 
 
Opponent predictably taps my banshee with the doomed mage. I follow this up with.
 
 
I figure that I can get a 1-0 by putting Unholy Strength on the Juggernaut. I am taking a chance in playing it before Ice Cage comes out, but the temptation of getting a 1-0 while beefing up my first striker is too great. It pays off when the Juggernaut attacks alone and gets eaten by my knight. Whoop! He does not have Ice Cage in hand. He follows with his sixth straight land drop and puts down a Cloud Crusader. I see why he didn’t attack. He wants the two defenders for the banshee. He must not have Diminish.
 
I draw a Swamp, quag the crusader, and swing with everything (8-19). Opponent follows with a Plains, an Armored Cancrix of all things, and passes the turn. I have not seen one of these played in the eight M11 drafts I have played to date. Here is the board state after I draw another Nether Horror. Check out that hand.
 
 
I’ll trade him a horror per turn for the rest of the game if I have to. Banshee swings alone and goes unchecked (5-19). I play a horror and pass the turn. Opponent is flooded. He plays his eighth consecutive land. In my next turn I swing for the concession.
 
Game three was easily the best game of my tournament and for the third time in five games it DID NOT SAVE. It was an epic battle where I think I played a great game. I got all of my flyers out, which was great against his air force. He got an Ice Cage on a Nether Horror and the only out I had for that was a Stabbing Pain. He had the pressure on me all game and I had to get the board back in my favor by delaying his attacks. In the late game he had a Cloud Elemental and an Armoured Cancrix on the board when he dropped the Warlord’s Axe. I had The Nightwing Shade in hand while my other two flyers and the Black Knight playing defense. I was going to have to chump all of these creatures, take out the elemental, and delay the cancrix with a Stabbing Pain just long enough to get the shade out with enough mana to take out the equipped cancrix.  Unfortunately, even though I had my other Stabbing Pain in hand, Diminish took my shade down -1/-1 only. This was just enough for the cancrix to live while the shade died instead of the other way around. The second Stabbing Pain, which was the last card in my hand would have canceled Diminish if I only had one more Swamp available. The shade was my last creature, and it was gone, leaving the cancrix alone on the board.  One more swing from the cancrix would end it. I did not draw removal, and I lost. We both went very deep in out decks and were down to zero or one card in hand each. We were both all in for the end of that game. If my shade had won that exchange, I had a clear board and could swing for six each turn.  I noticed that as the game ended that I went three games without drawing my board changing Sword of Vengeance, and Opponent showed nothing to beat it. 
 
Onto round three where I would be facing White-Green-Red. I have lost all of the details from my scouting report other than I am concerned about the two White Knight’s. And he has a Knight Exemplar to pump them up. That really isn’t all that spectacular against me because the White Knights are already indestructible against my deck. I can easily remove the Knight Exemplar to take away the +1/+1 pump. I will have to race those guys and make sure I take care of everything else. Other cards to notice are the Obstinate Baloth (did I help send him to green), and the Acidic Slime. The slime could go after my sword. I need to keep that in mind.
 
On to game 1. Opponent decides to go first and plays Wall of Vines off of a Forest. That is a one drop that doesn’t scare me and that is an understatement. I keep this.
 
 
I draw Nether Horror in turn 1. Opponent plays Sunpetal Grove, Sylvan Ranger, and fetches a Mountain. I draw a Swamp and played Child of Night. Look at the board. Do I care about anything here?
 
Opponent plays a Plains, puts out White Knight and attacks with the ranger (20-19). I draw Nightwing Shade and play my third Swamp. I also play the second Child of Night and leave one mana up for Stabbing Pain
 
Then this happens.
 
 
Turn four saw the biggest mistake of the tournament. Opponent plays Rootbound Crag and taps out to Fireball both of my creatures. No wait! My creatures are still there! There is a long pause for which I am grateful, because I am probably looking at the screen as hard as Opponent. What just happened? He didn’t tap out to kill both creatures.
 
He tapped three of his mana sending a one-power Fireball divided evenly, rounded down. He wasted what I would guess is his best card and got nothing for it. He must be very frustrated right now. I have made a couple of mistakes in this tournament, but so far none have hurt me at all. This has got to hurt, just THINKING about it. Opponent then attacks with both creatures and I stab the ranger (20-17). He has no further play and passes the turn. Now I can freely attack into that wall and gain life from the vampires. 
 
In my turn I draw a Quag Sickness, swing with both creatures, and play a Nether Horror. (18-21). He had better stop attacking with that knight now. 
 
He doesn’t stop. White Knight crashes in for two and Opponent follows with no play other than a Forest. Did he want me to block? I couldn’t if I tried. I am now free to crash in and gain life again. I draw and play a Swamp and attack as planned (14-23). The vines sacrifice themselves to the horror. I follow with another horror. Am I afraid of anything now?
 
 
Opponent plays a Mountain and does nothing else. I guess he has decided to play defense. He has three cards in hand.   I get to see them when I draw and play Duress only to find that he is holding two more lands and (Autumn’s Veil). I trash the veil and swing all in. I lose a Horror, but that is no matter. He will have to top deck a game changer to pull this one out (6-27).
 
Opponent draws and plays Volcanic Strength on his knight and has no other play. He doesn’t even play a land. Maybe he wants me to forget what he was holding.  I draw Black Knight.   I swing with everything and lose my second horror (2-31). I play the Black Knight in the second main. He now needs something that can take care of multiple creatures Day of Judgment, or another Fireball. Something with life gain would also work. He didn’t get it. He drew and played a White Knight and I swung for the win. 
 
I don’t change my deck for the next match. I want Duress in hopes of taking out the Fireball. Opponent decides to play first and mulligans to 6. I keep my hand. Zero or one games left and I have yet to mulligan. That is another strength of this deck.  This may be my closest mulligan, though.  I could be in for a flood, or have no playables for four turns.
 
 
Two turns in, Opponent has played Forest, Plains, and Sylvan Ranger. He fetches a Plains. In my first two turns I draw Quag Sickness followed by the Sword of Vengeance and can only play my two Swamps.
 
In turn three Opponent drops a Plains, then swings with the Ranger and pumps him with Giant Growth (20-16). Why is he going straight to the face like that so early? Does he have Fireball in hand and plan to finish me off with it as soon as possible? As I write this I am suspicious, although at the time I thought nothing of it. After he passes the turn I draw my second Quag Sickness. The ranger doesn’t feel like a threat even if he has another Giant Growth, so that makes my only playable the sword. I play it and plan to play the Nether Horror next turn.
 
Opponent plays Mountain, Knight Exemplar, and swings with the ranger (20-15). In my turn I draw an unneeded Swamp and play the horror. 
 
 
Man, I have not gotten the sword to stick all tournament long. In R1G1 it was destroyed the same way before I could equip.   In R1G2  it got (Neutralize)d. I didn’t draw it in four consecutive games, and it gets slimed again. Rant over. Back to the action. Opponent passes the turn without swinging. I think that this is a mistake, since he already has the defense in the slime, and a backup chump in the ranger. Did he forget about first strike like I did in R1G1? He started off too aggressive to back off now. 
 
In my half of the turn I draw and play Duress, hoping to find an unprotected Fireball, but I only find two lands. At least I know that Opponent will have to topdeck everything to win. I have the choice of killing the Knight Exemplar or the Acidic Slime, and I choose to kill the exemplar. 
 
The next turn sees Wall of Vines hit the table. He is still holding his lands. I should have time to pull this off. I draw a Swamp, quag the slime, swing and kill the blocking vines. The board is now clear except for the ranger and my horror, my opponent holds two lands.
 
Things are looking pretty good until Opponent topdecks and plays Sun Titan. With it he fetches the Knight Exemplar. That was a big turn around. And here I thought fireball was his best card.  The ranger swings (14-20). My only response is to draw and play another horror. I still hold the Assassinate, so I can take out the titan after one swing, right? Opponent starts his turn with a Lava Axe (9-20). He still has one card, but I know that it is a land.
 
 
Oh no! Sun Titan has vigilance. I have yet to play with a titan, but I find three of them in this draft. No wonder black was so wide open. People were committing to the colors of their titans. The red and the black titans were the only ones missing from this draft. None of those players were playing for the championship in this round, though. So, I have to take out the Titan the conventional way. I put both of my creatures in front of it. The titan fetched the vines and not the slime! Maybe I still have a chance. 
 
I draw and play Child of Night, and Assassinate the exemplar. Now we have two weenie creatures that will keep each other from attacking. We are at a stall. This only helps Opponent who has a fireball and perhaps even more direct damage in his deck.
 
Opponent draws and plays Sunpetal Grove. I draw and play a Swamp. Opponent draws, plays Plains. If he drew Fireball it is all over.
 
 
It is all over. On to game three. 
 
I might as well keep the Demon's Horn. Maybe that will draw out the Acidic Slime before I get the Sword of Vengeance down.
 
I am on the play in the final game of my tournament. I keep this.
 
 
I am happy as punch to see Deathmark. I’ll be reserving this for the Sun Titan if at all possible.
 
In the bottom of the first turn Opponent plays Llanowar Elves. Unlike the Sylvan Ranger, who wears out its usefulness in mana acceleration as soon as it hits the table, Llanowar Elves gets to do what it is that makes it useful for as long as it sticks around. Therefore, the Elf gets stabbed in Opponent’s end phase.
 
In my draw I get a very welcome Swamp, and play Child of Night. Opponent’s only play in his turn is to drop a Plains. I draw the Nightwing Shade, swing for two (18-22), play a Swamp, and finally play Liliana’s Specter. Autumn Veil goes to the graveyard.
 
 
Opponent plays Rootbound Crag, and again has no further play.
 
I draw Rise from the Grave. When I see this card I realize that I have not had this in hand for the entire tournament. I am in my eighth and final game and I have not gotten my Sword of Vengeance to stick and I have not drawn Rise from the Grave until now. (The shuffler MUST be broken J). Hopefully I’ll see the Sun Titan and get to make a zombie out of it. One can wish! I am out of Swamps, and have no three drop so I just swing (14-24) and pass the turn. Opponent plays a Forest and again has no play. He has a full hand and four mana and no play? What is he up to?
 
I draw the Sword of Vengeance. This is too good to be true. I have a nice hand to go with this board state.
 
 
I swing and see Safe Passage. Okay, that wasn’t too scary. Was that all Opponent had, or was he sacrificing board development to make this play? I play the sword, knowing full well that I will see Acidic Slime again to crush my dream of victory by the sword. 
 
He didn’t take out the sword yet, but still has one mana up to make a play. Maybe I’ll get one swing in with it. Sylvan Ranger comes down and fetches a Plains. White Knight enters the battlefield as well.
 
I draw my fourth, and very welcome swamp. One more and I can use Rise from the Grave.
 
 
I equip the specter and swing with him alone. He makes it in (10-24). In Opponent’s half of the turn he taps some lands then cancels it. He plays Volcanic Strength on the elf and passes the turn. Why didn’t he put it on the White Knight that I couldn’t target? Why did he leave them both back on defense? Either way, I still am not tempted to take out the ranger with Deathmark since it is no threat to the Specter at 3/3. 
 
In my seventh turn I draw Barony Vampire and play it in the second main. I swing again for four (6-24) and pass the play back to Opponent. He drops a Mountain and plays Fire Servant. Oh boy. That is a good card for him. Should I be worried?
 
 
I don’t think I have anything to worry about. I have seen Fireball and Lava Axe.  He could hit me for a 10 point Lava Axe this turn and a 12 point fireball next turn.  Opponent needs those two cards and a land to kill me in two turns.  He is on a two turn clock.  As long as he can't take out or block my flyer, I have won.  If he had something like a lightning bolt, he would have used it by now.  I think I am in good shape.
 
I draw the Demon’s Horn and play it in the second phase. I swing for four again (2-24). In Opponent’s turn, I get a ten point Lava Axe (2-12) and an all out charge. This smacks of desperation.
 
 
I shouldn't let all of this damage go through.  He can hit me for nine.  Then with the two mana (red and green) he has left he can hit me with a six point lightning bolt for his win.  I will have to block the Fire Servant with the Barony Vampire.  He could use Giant Growth to save it, but that would be his last card and I get the win.  A Giant Growth on one of the other creatures still will not do it.  What if he has Fog?  I'll keep the Child of Night alive just in case.  I could put the sword on it to potentially block a ground creature if the Specter gets fogged.  That's what I do.  I block the Fire Servant with Barony Vampire to be sure. Opponent has no tricks up his sleeve to save it (2-9). 
 
In my turn I get a Swamp, but the specter goes unchecked for the win. 
 

There were many lessons to learn here.  I have heard from a number of people about their first pick and how they would have ended up in another color.  I find that very interesting.  I don't regret the deck I drafted or made, only a few of the picks.  This is really a very powerful deck. I made a few mistakes, but none of them turned out to be costly.  Unfortunately, you can't help me with any of my losses since they didn't record, but I don't think that my game play was bad in them.  I feel like I made correct sideboard decisions.  I'm learning a lot just by writing this and reflecting.  Since this draft I have come to not regret the loss of the Phylactery Lich.  I only had two artifacts and they rarely saw play or got to stick around, so the lich would have been dead weight.

One of my favorite things about this draft was how quickly the games went by.  I was able to watch every replay.  I even watched the championship which my round two opponent won in the most exciting fashion.  It turned out that one of the cards that I didn't see in his first round or in any of our round two games was Baneslayer Angel.  He got that down twice in his finale and still had to work hard to squeak out the match victory.  So, there were three titans and Baneslayer in this draft.  That's a pretty good draw for eight people. 

Well, that's all for now.  I have two more articles in the thought process.  I have two decks and brief conclusions that I just want to throw out for you to see and another full draft where almost every game recorded.  Until next time! ~

3 Comments

Can anybody see the pictures by StealthBadger at Wed, 09/29/2010 - 08:16
StealthBadger's picture

Can anybody see the pictures here? I'm just seeing "upgrade your photobucket account" labels.

They seem fine to me. by Paul Leicht at Wed, 09/29/2010 - 09:48
Paul Leicht's picture

They seem fine to me.

I fixed it in between by phe0bus at Wed, 09/29/2010 - 10:49
phe0bus's picture

I fixed it in between comments, but didn't have time to say so.