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By: ricklongo, Rick Longo
Nov 28 2011 1:31am
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Hello and welcome to another edition of Rick's Picks!

Recording Magic videos is a good exercise in many levels. By getting to watch yourself play and talk about your own decisions, you get more opportunities to think back on what happened and figure out ways to improve your game.

Today I'm covering two different sets of videos: both triple Innistrad draft events, and both offering some insights that I have been taking to heart as I get more experienced with the format. Be aware that these were recorded a couple of weeks ago, so my pick order here definitely differs from what it is now. Still, I think there are good lessons to be learned in these videos, so let's get down to it.



Drafting / deckbuilding


Round 1


Round 2

The lesson here is that too much greed will doom you, and I think that is exactly what prevented me from advancing further than round 2 in this draft. It all started with the pick of Moorland Haunt in pack one pick four over good white and green cards, when I had a perfectly reasonable WG beats brewing. Yes, I am a fan of the Haunt (do watch my Standard daily event articles if you have any doubt why), but at that point I should just have stuck to my plan - I did have a huge green bomb after all. Then I opened that sweet Bloodline Keeper pack three, just couldn't resist... and apparently didn't even consider the perfectly good (and perfectly colorless) Geistcatcher's Rig waiting for me there. All of this resulted in me not having enough cards to make a good white-green deck, and resorting to the dubious splashing of a double-colored card.

I think this draft traumatized me enough that today I am more often than not willing to pick mediocre in-color cards over good off-color ones in triple Innistrad. Of course, there are times when splashing is the right option, but it's very important to think hard on whether you actually need to - especially seeing how bad mana fixing actually is in the format. If I have a focused, hyper-aggressive white-green beatdown deck with evasion guys and multiple Travel Preparations, do I really want to go out of my way and play a Caravan Vigil just to splash that Instigator Gang? I know I'd generally much rather have a bigger chance of going turn two Spectral Rider, turn three Chapel Geist, turn four Travel Preparations than hoping to draw that Mountain in time.



Drafting / deckbuilding


Round 1


Round 2 & Round 3 (Part 1)


Round 3 (Part 2)

Yeah, that was an ending I could get behind, even if I was on the receiving end of it. So freaking cool. But what about the lesson?

 If I asked you which of these cards won the last match, what would you answer?

Essence of the WildSpider SpawningGnaw to the Bone

Myself, I'd answer the innocuous little instant, and never look back. Yes, Essence of the Wild plus Spider Spawning is nasty, but it is also a combo of expensive cards that need outside factors to really go off (number of creatures in your graveyard). My deck was ready to deal with that by swarming my opponent with fliers before he could assemble his monstrosity. If it weren't for Gnaw to the Bone, his awesome combo simply wouldn't have gotten there.

So the lesson here really is: mind your sideboard. It is very common for players (and I have been guilty of this many, many times in the past) to just plain ignore those 14th-pick crap cards sitting in their sideboard for limited games, when sometimes they are just what is needed to help them get an edge in the current match. Yes, that Ghostly Possession is generally horrible, but it might be your only out for your opponent's Balefire Dragon and Falkenrath Marauders, and might just let you finish them off with your army.

That's all I have for today. Let me know what you think in the comments, and see you soon!


You had way too many 4 drops. by protocol_7 at Mon, 11/28/2011 - 03:48
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You had way too many 4 drops. I would have taken 2-3 drops that were white/blue and just splash green for garruck. That's just me though.

ok normally i dont comment by ShardFenix at Mon, 11/28/2011 - 05:35
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ok normally i dont comment much on the draft videos but the first draft was terrible. You were passed two TWO travel preparations and still were too obsessed with splshing a double black lord of lineage? really?!? c'mon man focus. You were passed a pretty sick WG deck and threw it away for stupid fantasies.

ok nevermind i commented just by ShardFenix at Mon, 11/28/2011 - 05:36
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ok nevermind i commented just from the video. I see you basiclly said the same thing in the paragraph afterwards.

I haven't watched through by grandpoobah at Mon, 11/28/2011 - 06:54
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I haven't watched through draft #2 yet, but in the first one, it seems like you failed to appreciate the advantage of speed. That said, the picks you questioned yourself on I think were right. Taking the Moorland Haunt is, I believe, the correct choice, and taking the Bloodline Keeper is *also* the correct choice. However, trying to actually shoehorn the keeper into your deck was a really *REALLY* bad idea. However, if you'd made better choices earlier, you would have had an amazing BWg deck:

P1P3: After getting Garruk, money drafting would not be unreasonable, and snatching up all the duals wouldn't be a bad idea. Once you're in WG the cleaver is really good, but I think the priest is the right call.

P1P6: The grizzled outcasts are a bad card that you will have plenty of opportunity to grab later. Tribute to Hunger or Ashenmouth Hound are the good choices here. As it turns out you will lots of opportunities to grab good red cards, but you wind up opening the black bomb.

P1P10: Markov Patrician is the clear choice here.

P2P3: If you'd taken the Tribute and the Patrician previously, then this becomes Victim of Night, easily.

P2P6: When hate drafting, take the things that will cause you trouble. You have passed a number of neonates, so take the Crossway Vampire so you don't get blown out by aggressive red decks.

P2P9: Woodland Sleuth is very so-so, and you'll probably get another crack. Mask should be the clear choice.

P2P11: The Rotting Fensnake is the clear choice here. It would actually be a playable card if you'd taken the previous black cards.

P2P12: You're playing humans, hate draft the hasty vampires.

P3P5: As great as the Sentries are, at this point you need to be watching your curve, and if you'd been building up black along the way, then the Interlopers or the Alters Reap are the right choices; given the BLKeeper, take the interloper.

P3P7: Cloistered Youth is almost always the pick here, and given your high curve it definitely is. After that, given your potential mana problems, take the Spirit over the Geist. You might also take the Cannibals in order to even out your colors (if you'd been taking black all along).

In the end, you wind up with an amazing BWg deck, splashing green for Garruk, Gavony Township, Orchard Spirit, Hamlet Captain, and maybe a Grizzled Outcasts (but probably not). You have plenty of removal, 3 huge bombs that can win the game on their own (Garruk, BLK, and Township), a solid curve and reasonable mana.

Final deck:


Doomed Traveler
Selfless Cathar
Silver-Inlaid Dagger
Traveler's Amulet


Avacyan Priest
Cloistered Youth
Victim of Night
Vampire Interloper
Hamlet Captain
Silverchase Fox
Mask of Avacyan


Fiend Hunter
Tribute to Hunger
Orchard Spirit
Chapel Geist
Elder Cathar
Markov Patrician


Bloodline Keeper
Garruk Relentless
Galvanic Juggernaut
Slayer of the Wicked
Mausoleum Guard
Rotting Fensnake

17 Lands:

Gavony Township
8 Plains
5 Swamps
3 Forests

As you'll see, you've got 17 creatures, 3 of which double as removal, plus 3 removal spells (Victim, Tribute, and Garruk). You have very solid early, aggressive plays (T1 Traveler, T2 Youth, T3 flip youth, play and equip dagger, attack for 7 etc). You have plenty of evasion, and with Patrician and Tribute you're in a good position to race anybody, and with the Amulet, a decent number of artifacts, and a low curve (nothing over 4) you should have no mana problems. Play 17 lands because we count Township as a spell here and because we have double mana in 2 colors. Finally, you have enough 1 and 2 drops that fast Werewolf decks won't catch you with your pants down, and if your opponents hickup it'll be over before it's started.

Against slower decks, side out the dagger for the Hauberk. Against decks with lots of flying, obviously bring in the cobbled wings.

In draft #2, again, I by grandpoobah at Mon, 11/28/2011 - 09:44
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In draft #2, again, I disagree with a lot of your picks.

P1P2: You seem to significantly overvalue the banshee. Usually it's a terrible pick, and taking it 2nd overall is pretty bad. That said, that pack was crap, and the only other choice was Village Bellringers. Also, BW is one of the best color combinations overall, so it's reasonable in context.

P1P3: This is Reckless Waif, every time. Waif is one of the best cards in the format, and you take it over everything except win-on-their-own bombs or big-money rares. And the rest of that pack was crap anyway. Vampire Interloper is something you NEVER want to take pick 3, it's a 5-8 kind of pick. The 2nd pick here is Rolling Tremblor, 3rd is Doomed Traveler, 4th is probably a toss up between Neonate and Interloper and Cathar, depending on your colors. But Waif is a no brainer, by a huge margin.

P1P4: The best cards here are 1) Darkthicket Wolf, 2) Spider Spawning (unless you know you're playing black, then maybe Spawning first), 3) tie between Ambush Viper and Victim of the Night, 4) Past in Flames (Burning Vengeance decks are viable in draft, and if you have it, this value shoots way up obviously).

P1P5: The best cards here are 1) Avacyan's Pilgram, 2) Rolling Tremblor, 3) Abattoir Ghoul. If you'd taken the Waif and Wolf, then you'd be really happy to take the pilgrim here, looking to make a GRw deck.

P1P7: You say you don't think BW is very good, but it can be amazing. Rebuke is the only choice here regardless.

P1P12: Cathar every time. It might actually make your deck, and hell, you already picked the Banshee. Spare From Evil is a possibility, it has an outside chance. The curse will pretty much never get played.

P2P2: If you hadn't been forcing black, you'd obviously take the priest here instead. With the BW deck the unburial rights is probably the right call.

P2P3: This is pretty much Darkthicket Wolf or Caravan Vigil (based on you being in green). Blue looks REALLY open too. Silent Departure is not a bad choice here. The fensnake shouldn't be taken much higher than halfway through, certainly not pick 3.

P2P4: This pick is more sensitive to what came before. If you took Silent Departure P3 and are moving into blue, then it's all Goliath here. For the RGw deck, it's the Crossway Vampire. This early you're counting on getting enough red to justify double red, and the other picks aren't good enough to pull you away from it.

P2P5: This is Ambush Viper followed by Pitchburn Devils. The Devils are obviously better with sac outlets, and you can usually pick them up later. If you took blue, and you're doing BWu then Feeling of Dread is solid here. Altar's Reap is a terrible pick here as this draft demonstrates--you easily got two more later.

P2P6: If you've moved into blue, take Curiosity. If you're in green, take the Spiders.

P2P7: And now you're kicking yourself for not taking the mythic, as the burning vengeance shows up. Oh well, 20/20 hindsight. This is a tough pick between Prey Upon and the Villagers. Since you took the pilgrim P1P5, the value of the villagers goes up--the potential T1 Pilgrim, T2 Villagers, T3 flip is so powerful.

P2P8: Spidery Grasp all the way.

P2P9: If you've taken the blue route, then you take the delver. If you're on the GRw track, you take the clutches.

P2P10: Ahh, this is what's great about GR drafting, you get great playable cards 10th pick! Feral Ridgewolf all the way.

P2P11: And again! Furor of the Bitten, although it's close with Caravan Vigil, since we are doing 3 colors.

P2P12: You might play the revelers, depends on if we pick up a Rakish Heir pack 3.

P2P13: Now hopefully we took the Furor and can pick up a Vigil 13th pick!

P3P3: Again, you're taking the interloper WAY too high. You want to be grabbing these like 5th+ unless the rest of the choices suck. You have a Hauberk, so this is Sentry all the way.

P3P5: Now we get a shot at the cultist; if we took the Pitchburn Devils P2P5 then take the cultist, otherwise the Harvest Pyre. For your BW deck, I think the Manor Skeleton is the correct choice here.

P3P6: Seeing as how we took a Priest P2P2, we take our 2nd Rebuke here instead.

P3P7: We practically shit ourselves getting an Outlaw this late. And here's our shot at a 2nd Burning Vengeance--that deck was totally doable.

P3P8: Since we already have a Spidery Grasp, and other good removal, we go ahead and pick up a cobbled wings here. The scarecrow is fine for what you built, but for the RGW deck, the cobbled wings are better.

P3P9: Again, super happy to pick up an Orcahard Spirit here.

P3P10: We'll take the Grave Bramble, just in case. Nothing much else good here anyway.

P3P13: We'll take the Bramble Crush, again fine SB card.

Ok, and now the final RGW Deck:


Avacyan Pilgrim
Reckless Waif
Caravan Vigil
Furor of the Bitten


Avacyan Priest
2x Darkthicket Wlf
2x Ambush Viper

Bonds of Faith
Nightbird Clutches


Kruin Outlaw
Villagers of Estwald
Crossway Vampire
Feral Ridgewolf
Orchard Spirit

2x Rebuke
Midnight Haunting


Demonmail Hauberk
Thraben Sentry
Mausoleum Guard


Geist-Honored Monk

7 Mountain
6 Forest
4 Plains

Amazingly enough, Harvest Pyre, Spidery Grasp, and Cobbled Wings wind up in the SB. The mana can be a tiny bit funky, but with the pilgrim and the vigil it should work out (and BTW that's why 6 forests and 4 plains rather than 5/5). Anyway, this deck can realistically win on Turn 4. If you play Outlaw Turn 3, and then he flips and you play and equip the Hauberk turn 4, that's 14 (likely unblockable) damage on Turn 4. If you connected with a flipped waif on T2 and T3, that's game. Between the Priest, the Bonds, the Crossway Vampires, and the Clutches, you should take down most opponents before they stabilize, and you still have some decent late game with the Monk, the Hauberk and the Sentry. A flipped Sentry with the Hauberk is a 9/6 Trampler, possibly attacking T4 (with a Pilgrim to accelerate). Also, a T2 Villagers on the play and the game is often over before it started. Also remember that Ambush Vipers and Midnight Haunting are excellent ways to flip your dudes--do nothing on your turn with wasting a turn by playing on your opponents turn.

At any rate, your BW deck would probably lose before the Morkut Banshee/Unburial Rites engine was able to grind out the card advantage it needs to win. A T1 Reckless Waif would have put you on 14 or 11 life pretty fast. T1 Waif- T2 Furor- T3 Crossway- T4 Clutches - T5 Flashback Clutches line of play is pretty brutal.

And finally I would point out that it's impossible to say what other good RG cards would have come by Packs 2&3 if you'd been drafting this way.

Oh, and it's interesting to watch the videos and debate the picks. If I didn't make it clear earlier, thanks for taking the time to make them!

EDIT: Oh, and see the previous draft where I actually recommended cards that I chastise you on here. The difference? Pick number. I recommended a Rotting Fensnake like pick 11 or so, and a Vampire Interloper pick 5. That's where you want to get those cards, but not before pick 5 usually, which you did a couple of times here.

Thanks for all the comments by ricklongo at Mon, 11/28/2011 - 18:57
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Thanks for all the comments so far!

I do agree with a lot of the suggestions - like I said, these drafts are from a couple weeks ago, and since then many of my notions about the format have changed. For example, I think I didn't value Travel Preparations high enough in the first draft.

Other cases come down to personal preference. Vampire Interloper has been truly awesome in my experience, and it's something that aggressive black decks (especially black-red) want to have multiples of. Reckless Waif, well, nowadays I like it much more than I did back then, but I still seem to like it a lot less than grandpoohbah does. Not only is it in the worst color of the format in my opinion, I also think it is generally just worse than the cheap 2-power flyer. Or Cobbled Wings, for example - I just don't think it's generally a good card at all.

Either way, the next draft I'll post will be a more accurate representation of the pick priorities as I see them nowadays, and it's likely the best deck I've built in the format so far. So hang on. :)

Oh, another opinion I agree by ricklongo at Mon, 11/28/2011 - 18:59
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Oh, another opinion I agree with: Morkrut Banshee is really an underperformer most of the time. Nowadays I think it's much worse than it looks.

C- for you by robsonsmith at Tue, 11/29/2011 - 00:02
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How come my best student can make such newbie mistakes? Draft 1 was awful, Rick. But it's for your readers to see what NOT to do!
Some minor flaws playing, but those i'll comment live, if you want.

Anyway, keep on doing the good job you're doing.

Mistakes = Learning Experiences by apaulogy at Tue, 11/29/2011 - 12:36
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I actually appreciate the fact that people don't cherry pick their draft videos because it shows that even the best of us are susceptible to mistakes. No one 3-1/4-0s and/or makes the right picks every time.

Thanks for showing us your learning process.

So yeaaa ;-) by SlowRoll at Fri, 12/02/2011 - 12:16
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Just wanted to let you know that you are currently #3 on my list of most entertaining people to watch draft vids of.

#1 LSV
#2 Conley Woods
#3 Ricardo Longo
#4 Brian Kibler
#5 Owen Turtenwald

That's some pretty good company my man.
Thanks for making these for us and all the time you put in!

So yeaaa...

Wow... lost for words here. by ricklongo at Fri, 12/02/2011 - 12:47
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Wow... lost for words here. Especially since I'm a huge fan of LSV and Conley as well.

Thanks for the support!