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By: phe0bus, David B Strimple
Dec 23 2011 1:07am
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I have held on to the first draft video for a while.  In the moment it seemed very interesting.  I had not seen anyone make use of Endless Ranks of the Dead.  I'm not even sure I've heard it acknowledged.  But, three picks into this draft I started to get the feeling that I was going to give it a try.  By the end of the draft I was more than a little excited to play the deck.

The Draft

I am going to spare you the temptation of watching the games.  Instead, I will recap them.  You see, I was nearly finished editing the videos when I realized how boring they were.  This deck and the deck in the next draft were so controlling that the games tended to devolve into cumbersome stalemates.  Many turns drug on without much action.  Therefore, you will get the highlights.

Round 1:  VS.  A very good RG Werewolves deck with multiple Moonmist

Game 1:  When I was up 14-6 I felt pretty invincible.  I had Stitched Drake and Typhoid Rats in play vs a Avacyn's Pilgrim and Pitchburn Devils.  I had plenty of land and a hand of Ghoulcaller's Chant, Makeshift Mauler, Unburial Rites, Skaab Goliath, and another Stitch Drake.  I also had Grasp of Phantoms in the Graveyard.  Opponent had Devil's Play in his Graveyard.  When he hit his six and seventh land he played Into the Maw of Hell followed by Charmbreaker Devils.  Even after drawing Silent Departure, I couldn't get through the last of the damage before he could kill any creature any turn.

Game 2:  Opponent Mulliganed to 5 cards, and never drew his second land.  He conceded on turn four after I played Bloodline Keeper.

Game 3:  I was up 18-5 when Opponent stabilized his board.  I knew from game one that he had an excellent late game so the pressure was suddenly on me.  I got Endless Ranks of the Dead into play for the first time with Diregraf Ghoul and Makeshift Mauler in play along with a Typhoid Rats.  On the next turn I got Skaab Goliath in play and could have been putting out an exponential curve of zombies from then on.  I had to swing twice to get through the last three damage, and still the victory required a Dissipate to keep my rats from falling victim to Geistflame.

Round 2:  VS. GW

Game 1:  I bounced Mayor of Avabruck three times and flipped him once.  He made exactly one token and Opponent let that token die to an attacking Typhoid Rats.  This let me kill the Mayor with my one and only out, the Morkrut Banshee.  With 13 cards in my deck I still had not seen my three finishers, Bloodline Keeper, Skaab Goliath, or Endless Ranks of the Dead.  A that point Endless Ranks was my best finisher, followed by Bloodline Keeper.  The Goliath wouldn't have made much of a difference.  By chance the Bloodline Keeper was drawn first.  I won on turn 21.

Game 2:   Once again, Opponent got out an early Mayor, but I was able to get out an early Bloodline Keeper.  I just raced him for a couple of turns, then I killed the Mayor with the Banshee again.  After Opponent put out a spider, and then another, Bloodline Keeper sat back and made vampires for the win.  If Opponent somehow found a way to win this one, I was lower on clock time than him and may have had a rough 3rd game.

Round 3:  VS. Zombies, Vampires, and a Bloodline Keeper

Game 1:  Opponent played a turn 2 and turn 3 Vampire Interloper followed by a turn 4 Bloodline Keeper.  I only had two more turns to see what else he might play before it was over.

Game 2:  Opponent and I both played a turn 2 Vampire Interloper.  He played a turn 3 Markov Patrician.  I had Bloodline Keeper in hand, but would lose if he also had his.  He didn't, so I won.

Game 3:  How much work can one card do?  Both Opponent and I played Wooden Stake.  Have you ever seen that happen?  I played a turn 2 Vampire Inerloper.  Opponent played a turn three Markov Patrician and a turn 4 Abattoir Ghoul.  I played a Diregraf Ghoul, and gave him the Stake to keep the Patrician from racing me.  I played an (Armoured Skaab), and it milled my Bloodline Keeper <shudder>.  Opponent played a Ghoulraiser with no targets.  I drew and played Endless Ranks of the Dead.  Opponent now had to put the pressure on me.  He played Dead Weight on my Ghoul and swung in.  When the dust settled, he was left with his Abattoir Ghoul and I had my Vampire Interloper.  The rest of the game consisted of bouncing the Ghoul and chumping while he gained life and the Vampire Interloper kept swinging.  There were other interactions, but they were just sideshows.  I finally sealed the win with Morkrut Banshee on the Ghoul with Dissipate in hand.  Vampire Interloper dealt all 32 damage by itself, while I held at 5 life for many turns.  Endless Ranks of the Dead made exactly zero zombies that game, but it forced Opponent onto the offensive when he was not yet ready.  Without making a single zombie, it MAY HAVE won the game.  It was interesting to finish the tournament while going up against the guy who took all of my Black Zombies.  Blue Zombies are overall more powerful, but Black Zombies are easier to use with Endless Ranks since you can get more of them out faster.

More game were won with Bloodline Keeper than Endless Ranks of the Dead, but that shouldn't be too much of a surprise.  Endless Ranks finished one game for me, but played an interesting role in the last game of the tournament.  There were few moments in the tournament where I would not have welcomed drawing the card.  So, overall I would say the deck was a success.  I had seven straight up zombies:  1 Diregraf Ghoul, 2 Armoured Skaab, 2 Stitched Drake, 1 Makeshift Mauler, and 1 Skaab Goliath.  I also had two Moan of the Unhallowed.  Counting each Moan just one time and it was 11 zombies.  Count them twice and it was 15 zombies.  I made myself an 'Endless Ranks.dek'. 

The second draft wasn't quite as exciting.  Unlike the first draft, I didn't know what deck I wanted to be by the third pick. 

2nd Draft

Round 1:  VS.  RG Werewolves

Game 1:  I was stuck on three mana with Fortress Crab, Ghoulraiser, Falkenrath Noble, Endless Ranks of the Dead and Moan of the Unhallowed in hand and a Screeching Bat in play.  Opponent, on the other hand, resolved four Werewolves, Manor Gargoyle, and Moonmist. I lost.

Game 2:  I played a turn 3 Armored Skaab, turn 4 Moan, and turn 5 Endless Ranks.  Opponent played a turn 5 Brimstone Volley and Harvest Pyre to kill two zombies.  But, I had seven mana by turn seven, so the zombies kept coming with another play of Moan from the graveyard.  By turn 10 I had 14 creatures.  In the next two turns I had 22, then 29.  I won, despite a Moonmist acting as a Fog.

Game 3:  By turn 10, I was down 5-7 when Opponent played a Manor Gargoyle and a 4/4 Splinterfright.  I attacked through the Gargoyle with the Goliath evening the score at 5-5.  I had to tap out to play Moan from the Graveyard because if I didn't and Opponent hit two creatures with Spinterfright he would have lethal next turn.  He did hit two creatures and swung with everything but the Gargoyle.  That wiped the board of everything but his Gargoyle and my Goliath.  Post combat, however, he played a 4/6 Spider.  I already had Tribute to Hunger in hand, and I drew another creature.  I couldn't tell you the sequence that would have ended that game, because Opponent clocked out with that boardstate.  Too, bad.  That would have been an exciting finish.

Round 2: VS. UW 2x Ludevic's Test Subject

Game 1:  I conceded to a Ludevic's Test Subject after bouncing it twice.  I couldn't get anything to work in my deck, and ended the game with a useless Endless Ranks.  That was the second time in 13 games that Endless Ranks was a dud.  Those aren't bad results.

Game 2:  In turn 4 I bounced a Spirit Token with Silent Departure then played Tribute to Hunger while Opponent's only creature was a Ludevic's Test Subject.  After that, Opponent kept a couple of my Zombies tapped with multiple Feeling of Dreads while I got in for a couple with Falkenrath Noble.  Then I hit Endless Ranks which would have gone exponential against his UW removal, but I already had the win with just a few creatures.

Game 3 or "Yeah- Pretty Lame!"

Opponent played a turn 1 Blazing Torch and I played a turn 2 Mindshrieker figuring that I would leave mana up to save it if at all possible while the Torch was still in play.  Well, it didn't take long to get to that scenario.  Opponent played a turn 3 One-Eyed Scarecrow making my attack useless and I did nothing on my next turn.  Opponent's only turn 4 play was to use the Torch.  I had one chance to not hit a land.  I milled Opponent's Bonds of Faith and saved my spirit.  On turn 13 I milled Opponent to the reply, "Yeah- Pretty Lame!"  I played many Zombies this game, but Endless Ranks did not make an appearance. 

Round 3:

Game 1:  Opponent played a turn 3 Mentor of the Meek, and a turn 4 Avacyn's Pilgrim and Selfless Cathar earning him two extra cards.  I played Blazing Torch, Markov Patrician, Screeching Bat, and then transformed it.  I killed his Mentor, and was in pretty good shape even after Opponent's Butcher's Cleaver play.  I had nearly as much lifegain as him, but I had the biggest creature on the table.  Unfortunately, one Prey Upon into a Festerhide Boar later and the game was back to even.  Moldgraf Monstrosity sealed the deal.  I killed it with zombies, but it spawned two more creatures, and I was done.  I fought hard, but to no avail.

Game 2:  I was off to a great start until my 5/5 transformed Bat was Rebuked.  Afterwards, Opponent played two Ulvenwald Mystics, flipped them, then played Gallows Warden for some offense.  Down 20-7, I conceded to Cobbled Wings.

Well, that was the Endless Ranks of the Dead experiment.  Overall, I would say, it was pretty fun and not too shabby! 

Happy Holidays, and try to draft something fun!

1 Comments

tribal by BOBBAKAKE at Sun, 12/25/2011 - 20:03
BOBBAKAKE's picture
4

good article, i just did my 1st isd tribal draft but it was a GW werewolf thing. i like the tribal approach and think the zombies could even make a good con deck. when i was drafting i watched the Ranks go by and thought about this article. the kessig alnd won 1/2 of my games, just like a std con.;)