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By: toolazy2stand, Josue Ledesma
Dec 01 2011 5:56am
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Limited Sense

My thoughts on Innistrad Draft

Hey all, and welcome to another edition of Limited Sense.  I thought instead of giving you guys another Draft walkthrough and basically leaving it at that, I might go through my thoughts on the draft format which will give you insight on how I draft with those thoughts in mind.  Then afterwards, there will of course be a draft video.  Just a quick disclaimer: though this is only my 4th draft video on INS, it's not my 4th overall.  I've probably done over 20, and have done pretty well (which is why I was able to just keep on drafting) and it's the only format I've been able to go back from the 4-3-2-2 queues to the 8-4 queues and still finish with enough packs to spend 2-4 tix to get into another draft (as opposed to buying an entirely new draft set), with that in mind, onto the analysis!

At first, I thought synergy was the most important for decks to prosper.  My first draft (detailed here) relied on token creators and Intangible Virtue with strong white and blue cards as back up.  On an individual basis, these cards weren't too powerful, but together, they were very good and put games away fairly quickly.  I also drafted various zombie decks with Rotting Fensnake, a card that reliably wheeled in packs.  Ghoulraisers and Ghoulcaller's Chants all make the Fensnakes and Walking Corpses great.  If you were able to pick up something like an Undead Alchemist, awesome! Opposing decks full of Butcher's Cleavers, Elder Cathars, and even Spare From Evils, fostered this hypothesis.

However, I found myself quickly winning with clunky three color goodstuff.dec kind of decks.  Mostly blue and/or black based, these used cards like Silent Departure, Grasp of Phantoms, and the various removal spells to just take over the game and win with above average creatures (once they were on the board) like Hanweir Watchkeep or Pitchburn Devils.

In some drafts I found myself losing to very quick decks who played mediocre, but low curve creatures backed up with some form of disruption, whether it be a pump spell (or pump enchantment), falter-type effects, or, the best kind, removal.  This happened quite a few times, and I found myself losing with awesome cards in my hand, with the lands to play them.  But this wasn't Zendikar, how could these decks reliably beat mine?

I also realized that dorky guys, even if good, wouldn't pan out unless backed up with good spells.  Raw power in the form of creatures was nice and all (I'm looking at you R/G archetype), but I'd lose to G/W men, or lose to the various control decks I thought wouldn't survive the speedy creature decks.

Was there a solution?  Maybe I was looking at things wrong. 

Now that I do have several drafts under my belt (and after seeing many other drafts from other players, much better than myself) I have started to pick up on certain aspects of triple INS that will hopefully help your next draft.

  • Having a good curve is EXTRA important now.  I've talked about this before, especially in M12 draft, where the speed of the deck didn't allow a deck to stumble early on, lest it die to various bears.  However, INS is not as fast, and most of the time, crappy 2/1's and 2/2's won't be enough to take advantage of a slow draw (this is why Bloodcrazed Neonate is not great, unless in the most dedicated of aggro decks).  But, what does change things is the advent of Werewolves and the G/W archetype.  Werewolves inherently punish any deck that doesn't play a spell on one turn (duh).  If your deck has two 2-drops, four 3-drops and your powerful cards might start at the four-mana mark, you better stock up on more two drops.  Most of us has seen what a turn 1 Reckless Waif does to any deck who doesn't have a Blazing Torch or Traveler's Amulet to play on their turn, but even a more innocuous creature like an Ironfang or Villagers of Estwald can really punish a deck who doesn't have a turn 2 or 3 play.  In a similar sense, if a G/W deck plays a turn 2 bear, turn 3 creature (most likely an evasion creature like Orchard Spirit, Chapel Geist, or Voiceless Spirit) then double Travel Preparations, any deck would have trouble beating that.  But a deck that didn't have a turn 2 or turn 3 play has a much lower chance of surviving until their stronger cards can come out.
  • Related to the first point, but cheap spells are really valuable and must be used to their utmost potential.  Silent Departure and Dead Weight are prime examples because any Blue/x or Black/x control deck needs a way to slow the game down for their stronger spells to take over the game.  But this point even extends to cards like Typhoid Rats (a card I see tabling way too much) and Sensory Deprivation.  They're low drops, essentially deal with creatures in their own ways, and even keep Werewolves from flipping (or aid in getting them flipped).
  • Two power creatures define the format.  This is true of most limited formats but so much more here than in others.  For this reason, cards like Selhoff Occultist, Riot Devils and even One-Eyed Scarecrow are all fine cards that, while not outstanding, do pull their weight in as much as any other creature your opponent has.  I've maindecked One-Eyed Scarecrow in slow control decks and they've always outperformed, even blanking cards like Midnight Haunting and making other fliers much less effective.
  • Know when to splash and when to not splash.  This format is more forgiving in terms of splashing simply because there are more outlets available to all color (Shimmering Grotto and Traveler's Amulet).  However, curve once again rears its ugly head and wants to remind you that if the splash might leave you vulnerable to awkward, slow, clunky hands, it might not be worth the risk.  Maybe you'd be better off putting in less-than-optimal cards replacing those of the splashed color if they're low-cost and allow for a smoother overall game.  You might reduce the overall power level of your deck, but the reduction in variance is not without its benefits
  • Last but not least- Morbid.  It looked a lot easier to get on paper- cards like Woodland Sleuth, Festerhide Boar and Moorkrut Banshee looked pretty awesome, and I always found myself picking up Woodland Sleuth earlier than I should have.  This point can be extended to the blue zombies of Stitched Drake, Makeshift Brawler, and Skaab Goliath.  They're all great creatures, but their mana costs are deceptive.  Rarely will you be able to play Stitched Drake on turn 3 or the Brawler on turn 4.  Those cards are why the self-mill strategy is popular and powerful.  But back to Morbid- black is really the best color for morbid enablers.  It has a cheap creature kill in Dead Weight and even a card like Rotting Fensnake always provokes trading.  Perfect for the Banshee, the Woodland Sleuth (a similar effect is achieved with Ghoulraiser), or any of the green Morbid creatures.  However, it's not too ubiquitous in INS format so it's not worth devoting too much time on it.

Well, those are my thoughts on the format so far, but enough theory and musings.  On to the real-world application.  There's no post-video summarizing, which is why I decided to write something more general.  Also, I lost Round 2's Game 2, unfortunately, and do not remember what happened.  My opponent did win though, I went to 3 games in all my matches, which might be saying something about my deck.  Hope you enjoy this deviation from the standard

 Drafting

Round 1

Game 1

Game 2

Game 3

Round 2 (again, so sorry that I could not find R2G2, but I hope this still helps!)

Game 1

Game 3

Round 3

Game 1

Game 2

Game 3

Thanks for reading (and watching!)