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By: Jester123, Dylan Pratt
Sep 08 2010 1:03pm
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Hello lady(ies? Let’s be honest) and gentlemen! Welcome back to the wonderful world of Magic the Gathering, specifically M11 Draft. I’ve got a rather spicy draft for you today so let’s get to it:

When this deck works it’ll run like a dream, but faced with too much removal or too many obstacles for the Thieves there could definitely be some crashing and/or burning. Obviously the plan is to clear the way for Mr. Ophidian 2.0 and ride the ensuing landslide of card advantage to victory.


Building proved to be pretty darn easy, I’d rather not run double Cancel with only one Unsummon, but secretly I’m kind of in love with Cancel so I won’t cry more. 1.Expanse white sources and 5.Expanse black sources may look a little short, but you would be amazed at what wonders double Crystal Ball can do to a manabase. The most important thing is hitting those Scroll Thieves on time.

Match 1 Game 1 (vs Worldslayer):

Once again MODO fails to record a game so I’ll have to reach into the abyss of my brain and try to extract some memory. Luckily this draft is less than 24 hours old, so it shouldn’t be all that difficult.

It starts out with keeps on both our parts and me winning the roll. Worldslayer reveals himself to be BR and runs out Ember Hauler as I lay Alluring Siren followed by Scroll Thief. His Hauler was a little late to the party so on my turn four he has 1 mana up, 1 Ember Hauler up, while I have both creatures active and a hand full of land, Unsummon and Quag Sickness. I figure bouncing the Hauler is just as good as removing it right now since either way it clears the way for my Thief, and Worldslayer chooses to let my Siren live. I draw into another Scroll Thief and continue to apply pressure by forcing his second Hauler to attack after killing his first with Quag Sickness after he replays it.

From there the fact that I’m drawing three cards a turn ends up in another Scroll Thief and a Howling Banshee to apply additional pressure. Worldslayer concedes shortly thereafter.

Match 1 Game 2:

Other than Negate I don’t have much of a sideboard, and Negate didn’t have many targets in the first game. Therefore my deck remains unchanged. Worldslayer takes the draw, which is surprising to me considering he saw two Scroll Thieves, but hey I’ll take it. My opener is an easy mull, an Island plus some expensive spells. Here are the next six for your perusal:


If my bastard opponent has a Manic Vandal I’m screwed, but otherwise Crystal Ball should make up for the mulligan. Worldslayer keeps, and I briefly consider waiting on the Terramorphic Expanse to see if I draw a Swamp(as per last week), but ultimately decide its better value to just grab the Plains now. Obviously I draw Howling Banshee. Doh! Worldslayer has a Duress on turn two, suggesting either a topdeck or a sandbag in hopes of me drawing more non-creatures. Either way it hits me right in the Crystal Ball and I’m left hoping for action or Swampage.

I find the latter in time to hit Howling Banshee right on schedule and cross my fingers for it to somehow get there on its lonesome. Meanwhile Worldslayer’s first play is Sorcerer’s Strongbox, which he wins the flip with on the next turn before laying down an Ember Hauler. I have an Azure Drake to join my flying assault and an Aether Adept to play defence.

Worldslayer Duresses my Stabbing Pain (jeeze black cards are cruel) before laying an assortment of bears, grey ogres and Bloodthrone Vampire, none of which have flying or reach. Fortunately for my opponent, he has a plan to get out of this situation:


Unfortunately, that plan involves sacrificing Black Knight to Bloodthrone Vampire, Flinging Bloodthrone Vampire at Howling Banshee, sacrificing Ember Hauler to hit Azure Drake, and finally Flinging Manic Vandal at Azure Drake. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the classic six-for-two.

Match 2 Game 1 (vs Jakuren256):

Starting hand, keep or mull? image

Ok ok I guess you need more information, I’ll back up. My opponent won the die roll and chose to draw first. This was especially interesting because from the replays I thought he had an aggressive RB deck (apparently he disagreed). This leads me to the hand in question, which is an easy mull vs an aggressive deck on the draw but worth some consideration here. The nice thing about Crystal Ball is that once its in play you never draw land again if you don’t want to. Its a little slow, but on the play I’m gonna keep this hand, especially considering my opponent chose to draw willingly.

Jakuren keeps and leads off with Child of Night, which I counter with a freshly drawn Mana Leak. Arc Runner eats my face and the follow up is Reassembling Skeleton and Rotting Legion. In the meantime I’ve been sending land to the bottom and playing out Howling Banshee + Harbour Serpent. After passing the turn with those two creatures out my hand is Cancel and Mana Leak, so if I can hold board advantage for a turn I should be golden. Unfortunately I’m not playing solitaire, and Jakuren shrinks my Serpent to a 1/1 with Quag Sickness, and I throw it in front of the Legion in disgust.

Luckily Crystal Ball turns up a Wall of Frost which I hide behind for the rest of the game with counter back-up, while Howling Banshee chugs away at Jakuren’s life total.

Match 2 Game 2:

Jakuren again chooses to play last, and I open with: image

Now normally I would throw this hand back in a heartbeat, but judging from last game and the replays, Wall of Frost practically single-handedly shuts this guys’ deck down. For that reason alone I choose to keep, but I won’t begrudge anyone who challenges me to a duel for it.

After a couple land I find an Alluring Siren, which handily combos with my other dude. Jakuren runs a Child of Night into my Wall before unabashedly casting Demon’s Horn. I find Mana Leak and promptly use it on Duress after playing the Siren. Next up is an Unholy Strength which prompts my Stabbing Pain to take out the Child of Night in response.

The game stymies a bit as I draw Sleep followed by Crystal Ball and Jakuren runs out a bunch of random guys. Double Scroll Thief starts making my opponent’s life hard as I keeping forcing his dudes to attack into my Wall of Awesome. My opponent attempts to finish the Wall after blocks with Quag Sickness but I have the Cancel to deny it and the Thieving beats continue. However, Jakuren’s Demon’s Horn has kept his life total above 20 as he is mostly mono black.

The next real change to the board state arrives with Inferno Titan, killing a Howling Banshee in the Process. Here’s the board, what’s the play?


Obviously I need to deal with that Titan asap, and considering there is an Assassinate in my graveyard and I don’t know my top card, I can’t be looking for help from my library any time soon. I also don’t even have enough Swamps in my deck for Sickness to kill it on its own, so that’s not an option. Bouncing it doesn’t even really delay the problem, as its ETB effect kind wrecks me. Therefore I need to make sure I have enough power on the board to kill it after forcing it to attack and after it killing one of my creatures. Sickness gets it down to a 2/2, then it can kill any creature I have with power, which means I need to play out Aether Adept bouncing something else, block with whatever he doesn’t kill with the Titan, and cross my fingers for instant speed removal. I don’t like it, but its the only way I see of winning this game.

I bounce the Bog Raiders and he decides to kill a Thief on his attack, which I Unsummon back to my hand, and after blocks he chooses Aether Adept to hit the bin. Whew, I manage to survive, but only after taking terrible terrible damage. That one Titan undid all of my card advantage!

As this epic game continues I find a third Scroll Thief to ward off all of his attackers but Bog Raiders, and Azure Drake works to keep his life total around 20. Finally my Crystal Ball finds a Harbour Serpent to turn Alluring Siren into Avatar of Woe. Even though Jakuren pieces together the Bloodthrone Vampire/Reassembling Skeleton combo, the Siren keeps them from blocking and I have enough forces to finally bring his life total to zero, with eight cards left in my library. MVP: Alluring Siren. Who knew?

Match 3:

My opponent didn’t show up. Better lucky than good!

I hope you enjoyed today’s draft as much as I did, this deck was a pleasure to play. See you next week!

Dylan Pratt (Jester123 on MODO)

Artist / Film / TV Show / Book of the Week:

Fort Knox Five / Benny and Joon / The Sopranos / Haroun and the Sea of Stories


Pick explanation would be helpful by helper monkey at Wed, 09/08/2010 - 16:17
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P1P1 I am all for forcing blue in this format, but Mana Leak feels like a weak start over some of the black cards.

P1P3 Scroll Thief over Asassinate, how close is this for you? Any hope that Thief wheels?

P3P4 Scroll Thief over Q. Sickness/Cloud E/second Blinding Mage. As above

More than anything, people hopefully realize how Crystal Ball can turn a rather pedestrian deck into a tournament winner by utilizing some sick card selection.


@Helper Monkey: thief by psymunn at Wed, 09/08/2010 - 16:38
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@Helper Monkey:
thief wheeling? thief is NOT an 11th pick. thief wheeled in pack 2 but that's weird. it's a premium common. you'll find it stops your opponent tapping creatures which is not dismiliar to assasinate. then you draw the bounce and wreck them

blinding mage is better than thief and, if he was blue/white would have been the pick. cloud elemental in blue white is also more defensible as blue/white is more aggressive than blue black. in an earlier pack, elemental or sickness over thief is right, but right now his deck is taylor made to abuse the thief. i think the only commons worth taking over thief by pack 3 are adept and doomblade.

"two balls seems a little unfair" actually that's the usual amount. nice deck is nice

Interesting.. by rpitcher at Wed, 09/08/2010 - 17:28
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Your picks seem reasonable to me, with your explanations, even if some picks don't look the best in hindsight.

I don't have the credentials to be critical of anyone's drafting, but I sense this draft pod was a little less skilled than many other 8-4's. I mean some of the other players, not Dylan. I say that based on some of the juicy cards that were passed mid-late, as well as some of the plays made during the games.

@Scroll Thief: You are by Jester123 at Wed, 09/08/2010 - 19:57
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@Scroll Thief: You are awesome, and still underrated. What Psymunn said.

@rpitcher: I actually think people exaggerate the skill level in 8-4s in general. Yes it can be a little intimidating when you first start, but you see a surprising number of great cards late, misplays, and other types of mistakes. There isn't as much of a skill differential between 4-3-2-2, Swiss, and 8-4 as you'd imagine...

in related news, anyone who by psymunn at Wed, 09/08/2010 - 22:19
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in related news, anyone who has starcitygames premium should check out todays Olie draft. *SPOILER* He has 5 scroll thieves *DOUBLE SPOILER* they get there

The Alluring Siren / Wall of by Sanador at Wed, 09/08/2010 - 22:56
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The Alluring Siren / Wall of Frost combo ate my lunch at FNM recently. I was surprised you didn't mention it when you took the Siren, but nice that you were able to get the combo off.
I agree with the first poster than I would have taken a black card in the first pick of pack 1. And I might have taken Assassinate ahead of Scroll Thief there. But hey, I don't normally win my limited tournaments, so I am always looking for new points of view. This deck seemed to work pretty well.

I actually like the by Felorin at Thu, 09/09/2010 - 05:34
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I actually like the Reassembling Skeleton in pack 1, as I think he's a very powerful card that can combo nicely with various other things, and if you don't get them he still makes a decent wall to blank out their best attacker for 2 mana a turn and buy you a lot of time. But I can't argue with taking the one card in the set's best color and sending a strong signal, either.

I did look at the pick 2 Bloodthrone Vampire and smile at how well he woulda gone with pick 1 skeleton. Though of course even then I'd never take him over Crystal Ball!