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By: iceage4life, Timothy Pskowski
Jan 07 2009 9:31pm
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So I have not written an article for PureMTGO in quite some time.  I figured I'd try my hand at some draft coverage.  I think I have a very good understanding of Shards draft.  My MTGO rating is still under 1800 but I think that is due more to lack of play than lack of skill.  I was up in the 1870 range when Shards was released online then had a long downward plunge to the low 1700s and I'm now building it back up.

Most of my drafting now is done with paper cards at my local store.  I'm lucky to live ten minutes from a large store that has an above average skill pool.  We play for all the rares and the stack of crappy Shards rares on my desk show my success.  I've come to have pretty strong views on this format which differ from some of the normally accepted ones.  That seems like enough rambling so I'll get to the reason you guys clicked on this article, the draft.  I'm going to stick my commentary in between picks rather than at the end as that seems easier on the reader.  Let me know if you'd prefer it at the end.  All drafts unless noted will be 8-4s.

  Pack 1 pick 1:

Not the kind of pack I enjoy seeing when I start a draft.  Naya Battlemage in my opinion is the best of the cycle.  I took it over Rakeclaw as it has slightly fewer color requirements and I think is a card the Naya deck wants more.  You have tones of large, common men but Naya Battlemage is the only tapper you can pick up.  The red ability of course works very well with any future Rakeclaws I pick up.

  Pack 1 pick 2:

Very strong Naya pack with my choice being between the two good red creatures.  Overall I think Iquanar is better though my deck ended up being removal light so maybe the Elemental was the better pick.

  Pack 1 pick 3:

  Pack 1 pick 4:

  Pack 1 pick 5:

  Pack 1 pick 6:

  Pack 1 pick 7:

This was a hard pick and I almost went with the land.  However the power of one drops in this format should not be underestimated.  Again like the Iquanar pick I think the final deck needed the land more.

  Pack 1 pick 8:

  Pack 1 pick 9:

  Pack 1 pick 10:

  Pack 1 pick 11:

  Pack 1 pick 12:

  Pack 1 pick 13:

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  Pack 1 pick 15:

  Pack 2 pick 1:

  Pack 2 pick 2:

A very solid pack I went with the 5/3 though I think Excommunicate is the stronger pick here.

  Pack 2 pick 3:

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  Pack 2 pick 5:

  Pack 2 pick 6:

  Pack 2 pick 7:

  Pack 2 pick 8:

  Pack 2 pick 9:

  Pack 2 pick 10:

Very surprised and happy to see this wheel.

  Pack 2 pick 11:

  Pack 2 pick 12:

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  Pack 2 pick 15:

  Pack 3 pick 1:

God talk about too many options.  The only cards really worthy of considering are the Hydra, Thoctar, and O Ring.  Thoctar was too hard on my mana so if I picked a creature I was planning on the Hydra.  However my deck lacked removal and O Ring is the best removal in the format.  Sadly I passed the two awesome creatures. Stinger is of course very good but I was set on red being my splash now and it just isn't as powerful as the other cards.

  Pack 3 pick 2:

Do you ever feel like MTGO is laughing at you?  I picked up the Panorama on the off chance I get passed an awesome blue card to go with my Obelisk.

  Pack 3 pick 3:

I think the power level of Ambusher and Iquanar are very close however it was clear this deck's mana was weak so I wanted to avoid red cards.

  Pack 3 pick 4:

  Pack 3 pick 5:

This is really awkward... didn't notice the Drumhunter in this pack till now.  Misclick I guess?

  Pack 3 pick 6:

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  Pack 3 pick 15:

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Now clearly I could have had a very strong Esper or Grixis deck.  Pack two clearly Esper was amazing as Grixis was in pack three.  However I don't think I was in a bad spot, my deck was mostly white which clearly was underdrafted at this table.  I'd say my deck turned out okay but not great.  I didn't list the full sideboard here as that seemed like a waste of space, I've just included the semi-relevant cards.


I liked the Sorcerers over
Cylian Elf and Elvish Visionary as they made my colors tighter and gave me a mini-exaulted theme.  The deck is clearly very aggressive and can push through a lot of early damage.  So on to the games:

Round One - Rating: 1576 Deck: Jund

Game One: Keep the nuts, Forest, Plains, Plains, Mountain,
Wild Nacatl, Steward of Valeron, Hissing Iguanar

He has a turn two
Goblin Deathraiders so I don't totally blow him out here.  I  do end up killing him on turn five.  The game did have one intresting play.  The plan for the t5 win is to kill the blocking Deathraiders with Naya Charm and then kill him.  He however had two mana untapped so instead of killing it and dealing him one damage I decided to use the tap mode to make sure he died regardless of a Resounding Roar.  Knowing all the cards in the format is very important.  As he had GB untapped I knew that there was no way he could stop my lethal attack if I tapped the Deathraiders.  However shooting the Raiders while more appealing gives him an out in Resounding Roar.

Sideboarding: +1
Elvish Visionary +1 Forest -1 Plains -1 Sighted-Caste Sorcerer

I like to sideboard in limited when I have the option.  As he was Jund and I saw Deathraiders I wanted to bring in Visionary as it trades with that 3/1.  It also leaves you less vunrable to
Blister Beetle or a pinger.

Game Two: I keep plains, Plains, Forest,
Akrasan Squire, Knight of the Skyward Eye, Obelisk of Naya, and Welkin Guide.  Not as punishingly fast as our last hand but still very, very good.

I play out my guys and he has a turn three
Sprouting Thrinax however I'd drawn Oblivion Ring and use it on turn three.  I have him dead on board when he decides it would be a good time to topdeck Broodmate Dragon.  Troublesome...  I eventally get enough attackers that he has to chump block Knight of the Skyward Eye and get him low enough he concedes after not finding an answer on his turn.

Round Two - Rating: 1692 Deck: Bant splashing the other two colors

Games One: My luck seems to be on the wane.  I keep a weak two lander: Forest, Forest, Steward, Sorcerer,
Naya Battlemage, Bull Cerodon, Rakeclaw Gargantuan.

As usual I get punished for keeping a weak hand and miss my turn three land-drop/play.  My opponent has spent his time getting all five colors of mana and attacking me with a
Court Archers.  I make a few small mistakes this game but lucky for me my opponent totally wastes a Grixis Charm allowing me to win.

Sideboarding: +1
Elvish Visionary +1 Forest -1 Plains -1 Sighted-Caste Sorcerer

Versus exaulted decks Visionary can buy you a turn for free.

Game Two: I again see a sub par hand of 3 Plains, Mountain,
Sighted-Caste Sorcerer, Hissing Iguanar, Cavern Thoctar

My opponent's first two spells are
Feral Hydra and Stoic Angel...  This wouldn't be too bad but I draw two white spells, two green spells, and five non forest lands.  Turns out playing four spells in a game does not win it for you.  Game three time.

Game Three: Open with Plains, Plains, Forest, Steward, Knight,
Welkin Guide, Cavern Thoctar
He doesn't put up much of a fight and I run him over.  On my lethal attack he misclicks and doesn't block which annoys him.  I had
Sigil Blessing in hand though so blockers were not relevant.

Round Three -  Rating 1818 Deck: Grixis
Game One:
Keep Plains, Plains,
Knight of the Skyward Eye, Naya Battlemage, Rakeclaw, Bull Cerodon

My opponent has little going on so plays
Call to Heel on my Knight on my fourth turn before playing Fire-Field Ogre.  His hand seems to improve as shortly later he Agony Warps the Knight and Bone Splinters the Battlemage.  Lucky I drew a mountain so I five him with Bull Cerodon on my next turn.  The turn after Welkin Guide picks the Cerodon up putting him low enough to concede.

Sideboarding: +1
Elvish Visionary +1 Cylian Elf +1 Forest -1 Plains -2 Sighted-Caste Sorcerer

I saw pingers from him so I wanted to make them and possible Blister Beatles worse.

Game Two: Keeping with the theme of weak keeps I keep Forest, Mountain,
Welkin Guide, Bull Cerodon, Knight, Sigil Blessing, Squire

I get the plains turn three but his draw is much stronger.  I make a misplay throwing away my Knight to his double Fire Field Ogre and we goto game three.

Sideboarding: -1
Akrasan Squire +1 Relic of Progenitus

I should have done this for game two as his deck had TONS of unearth including two
Fire-Field Ogres I saw in game one.

Game Three: Keep Forest, Forest, Mountain, Nacatl, Relic,
Cavern Thoctar, and Ambusher
Turn two I draw the plains and have so much tempo he can't recover.  I see his 
Sedris the Traitor King this game but it is too little too late.  His deck was very good and I was happy to win this match.

Well there you have it my first drafting article.  Let me know picks you disagreed with, or any questions about the drafting and deck building.  Also would people prefer a video format as I know those are becoming popular for draft caps.  If people would prefer video content I think I could manage that.  I think my next article will be on Extended which I have been testing quite a bit for upcoming PTQs.

I should also mention this thread on MTGO's fourms.  Now when drafting online you can predict what rares you see in pack two and three after seeing pack one.  This quite frankly is a bad thing.  I plan on taking advantage of this until the issue is fixed.  If the information is out there I don't really view this as cheating.  Very good players can memorize common print runs and know what is missing from a paper pack.  I don't think anyone would would view that as cheating, this is basically the same thing with less mental effort.  I hope Wizards fixes this as at least the rares in a draft should be random.


by Anonymous(Unregistered) (not verified) at Sun, 01/11/2009 - 23:08
Anonymous(Unregistered)'s picture

"Stinger... just isn't as powerful as the other cards."  

 I dont necessarily disagree with your choice, but I think you should reevaulate stinger.  

It is arguably the best common in the set.

silence by Slicy(Unregistered) (not verified) at Wed, 01/07/2009 - 23:04
Slicy(Unregistered)'s picture

Isn't resounding silence (pack1 pick4) really good removal, or is knight captain that much of a bomb in this format?

by Anonymous(Unregistered) (not verified) at Thu, 01/08/2009 - 02:19
Anonymous(Unregistered)'s picture

p1p2 - any consideration for citadel? strong even if you're planning on forcing naya (which it seems like you are) and otherwise keeps you more flexible.

p3p5 - don't you have enough 2 drops? drumhunter seems like the pick either way.  

good article all around though, keep em' coming 

Thanks for the article! by McCombs at Thu, 01/08/2009 - 05:40
McCombs's picture

Great article and congrats on the win. I for one would love to see some video content in future draft caps.

by iceage4life at Thu, 01/08/2009 - 07:40
iceage4life's picture

P1P2 I didn't think it was that close.  A tapland would be nice but have a much smaller effect on my deck than the awesome lizard.  Bant is also the shard I least like to be in and think there are very few U cards Naya would like to splash.

P1P4 Resounding Scilence is a good card but only in defensive decks.  My deck #1 looked like it would be attacking and #2 looked like it would be tapping out.

P3P3 Was a toss up went with Ambusher due to weak mana though it being gold kinda makes that a wash.  I have no trouble with taking Iquanar there.

P3P5 Yeah, just had a brainfart or something and didn't see Drumhunter there.

Glad people liked it will look into future video options.

by blandestk at Wed, 01/07/2009 - 22:29
blandestk's picture

Well-written and a joy to read.  The deck was a little removal-light, but you honestly didn't see too much removal in your colors.  I think the Iguanar was the right pick, even with hindsight.  I also would have taken Ambusher over Iguanar.  I really don't have too many problems with your picks.

I'd argue that O Ring is the by iceage4life at Wed, 01/14/2009 - 10:05
iceage4life's picture

I'd argue that O Ring is the most powerful common in the set. As Stinger is going up against O Ring, an uncommon, and a rare I don't feel it is as powerful as the other cards ;)

Sometimes I think Stinger is the correct choice but in an agressive Naya deck like this I like O Ring as it helps you keep pushing through lots of damage.