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By: walkerdog, Tyler Walker
Apr 28 2008 11:15am
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I got into the Shadowmoor Beta, so I’ve been doing a lot of drafts.  We’re not supposed to go into too much detail about the Beta itself, but there shouldn’t be any problem talking about Shadowmoor, as it has been fully spoiled in Gatherer and Pre-Released.  First I want to do a quick review of the set from my limited Limited perspective.  To start with, the set seems very much like a core set, in that the benchmark for creatures are 2/2 for two and three (if they have an ability), 3/3s for four, and lots of men who are situational.  The reason that this is NOT a core set is that they built from that basic concept by heavily concentrating on -1/-1 counters.  Wither gives me.  Various spells give them.  Some creatures can give them or take them away outside of combat.  Untapping is not a payment cost and  Persist doesn’t work WITH a -1/-1 counter.  Unless you managed to move that counter elsewhere.

People have said that Shadowmoor is a poor set to draft because it is too easy to force mono-colored because of  the bunches of hybrid mana present in Shadowmoor and is making drafting too easy.  I must say that having played with the set some, I strongly disagree.  The thing is that we started out with a fairly slow format in LLL, then as LLM joined, the speed picked up, with decks capable of turn six-seven being rather common, albeit not the norm.  Now in SM, while the format has probably slowed just a little, it is still very fast.  The best decks tend to have relevant two, three and four-drops, then follow up with either removal (to keep their two, three and four-drops attacking), evasion, or an even bigger curve into cards like Demigod of Revenge.

The trick to the format is balancing your deck just right, and while I’ve felt like I’ve done that a time or two, reading what is passed and acting appropriately is very challenging.  Some quick first impressions:  White is weak, and I have found White-based decks to disappoint.  However, GR/w and UB/w decks have been very spicy for me… and oftentimes you can avoid cards that cost White totally for hybrids that want Green or Blue as alternatives.  Blue seems solid although slightly weaker than it normally is, but Blue is rarely bad.  Black is a strong color IF you’re getting the bombs (Say Incremental Blight and Corrupt), and is worthy of focusing on if you’re getting good Black.  Red and Green are pretty spicy in the early going.  Cards like Boggart Ram-Gang, Juvenile Gloomwidow, Power of Fire (Works well with Untaps!), Puncture Bolt, and various other solid bodies and removal make it a lot of fun to play.

Anyways, I’ll go ahead and take you through a quick draft to give you a feel for it.  The last thing I’d like to say before I start is that I’ve been playing on V3 for a bit now (over a week I guess) has made it much more comfortable than when I started, and between the stability and increased familiarity, I don’t hate it as much now.  Now WHERE ARE MY PES!

Solid first pack.  My choices, as I see it, are between Seedcradle WItch and Dusk Urchins, although Last Breath and Repel Intruders deserve mention.  I take the Urchins.

One of the blocked cards is Faerie Macabre, which I take.  Sorry about that.  Next pack I missed the 'shot on, and took the colorless option of Trip Noose.  Onto Pack 4!


I go with Helm of the Ghastlord over another Macabre and Curse of Chains.  Helm is just crazy if you start connecting, although the Macabre was probably the BEST choice, cutting Black pretty hard.  Still, I really have fun playing with the helm.

Here I went with the overpriced but still nice removal, Gloomlance, picking it over Sinking Feeling. 

Here I went with Parapet Watchers.  Wisps would be fine too.

I grab the Gatewarder as a great one-drop in what may end up being a slightly controlling deck.

Here I went with the Somnomancer for another early drop and occasion way to push damage through.  I picked up another Gatewarden as the only late card of note.

Pack two:

At this point I picked up the seemingly bomb Murderous Redcap.  Very nice card to get here.


I take the Banshee, but probably should have grabbed the Cohort.  Banshee is AWESOME, but six mana is a lot, especially in this format.  It still was a fine pick I think.  No, I'm lying, I took the wonderful Kulrath Knight.  He's so awesome. 

I'm dumb and pick the Chainbreaker.  Scar was a MUCH better card here, but I'm still learning.  Still though, this was a BAD pick.

I take the Cragtread as a decent Hill Giant.  Not much to see here.

Scapbasket was my choice here with the reasoning that it can wield the Helm's pretty well.  Dunno if that was very smart though when I could have take a positively BOMBY Torrent of Souls.  Here is me paying for being too infatuated with a 4CC aura that ISN'T removal.

I grab the Power of Fire on a lark... and I was thinking Chainbreak was an UNTAP man, not a tap man.  My bad.  Still nice here.

I took removal over the Cinderbones.  Both are probably too slow, but bones might be the better card, as they can't really profitably block him ever.

Since I want to run primarily UB mana, this guy can grow and grow.  He's very weak against Wither however.

Other notables I got from this pack were another Loch, and a really late Dire Undercurrents.

Corrupt is awesome.  It's the pick.

I take another Helm, since I'm so in love with the stupid card.  The NON-HELM choice is probably between Spell Siphon, and the Duos.  I REALLY like Siphon.

It beats AND taps opponent's down.  NICE!

Nice man.  Steel of the Godhead is also incredible, but I think I've wrecked my deck with greed enough, don't you?

Harpoonist can do some nice work as a finishre, or I probably would have just grabbed the Burn Trail.  This was a mistake.

More Helmsmen!

I went with the removal here, over not much else

I wanted to try it, but the Cinderbones are a better card.  Pick them if you're given the choice.

So, out of the last few cards I got a gift of a late Gravegill Duo and Dire Undercurrents, otherwise, not much.

I built my deck as follows:
9 Swamps, 1 Mountain, 8 Island
Dusk Urchins
Power of Fire
Parapet Watchers
Kinscaer Harpoonist
Helm of the Ghastlord x 2
Oona's Gatekeeper x 2
Dire Undercurrents
Kulrath Knight
Loch Korrigan x 2
Murderous Redcap
Gravegill Axeshark
Trip Noose
Wanderbrine Rootcutters
Barrenton Cragtreads x 2

I rolled my first-round opponent, with Oona's Gatekeeper getting hooked up with Power of Fire and wrecking him in one memorable game.  Round two I had that combo AND a Helm on the Gatekeeper and just won game one... getting rolled by his crazy aggro hands games two and three.  I think had I noticed some of the Red cards that were open to me instead of trying to force (an albeit fun) Helm.dec, I would have had a much better result in round two.  The best deck would have been BR/u I think.

I hope you enjoyed this walkthrough, and if you have any questions or comments, please speak up!  Hopefully I'll have a PE report next week if they're up!


by Sambfwin at Sat, 05/03/2008 - 12:35
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Torrent of Souls is a draftwinner! I can't believe it was available. Try to stay away from the helms because they're invite your opponent to 2 for 1 you or time walk you.

by Faustus (Unregistered) (not verified) at Tue, 04/29/2008 - 18:16
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Thanks for a great walkthrough, Walker.  I would have made a thousand more mistakes, with Shadowmoor being so new.  You even pointed out where you went wrong in the article, so I don't see what people are freaking out about.  It was a fun, thought-provoking draft.  Thanks again.

hmm by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Tue, 04/29/2008 - 16:47
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I would have gone with Repel Intruders p1p1 honestly and ride the blue wave.  We're all still new to this so, there's alot of good debate.  My opinion is RI is such a tempo changer but Dusk Urchins is pretty good too. 

Don't think by walkerdog at Tue, 04/29/2008 - 17:20
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I don't THINK it should be a problem, as while I guess it's slightly for profit, I could have just written about Classic, PDC, or something else.  I wrote about this mostly because it seemed like a fun thing to look at for everyone, since people are doing Shadowmoor paper drafts already, and this would hopefully cause some discussion. 

Speaking of riding the blue wave, that probably would have been fine too.  However, the RB stuff that came that I missed was crazy too.

ethical? by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Tue, 04/29/2008 - 14:34
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Should you really be using your slot in the Shadowmoor beta test for personal profit on a non-affiliated website?  I'm not sure what they make you sign in the newer betas, but it's been my impression beta testers are forbidden from personally profitting from the beta by testing for things like PT's.  Does this article violate the NDA of the current beta?  Did you ger permission to write this? 

Sorry for raining on your parade, but it strikes me as weird I haven't even been to my local store's 'sneak peek' event and you are already drafting Shadowmoor online. To be honest, I'm a little jealous.

From the article by walkerdog at Mon, 04/28/2008 - 22:25
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Well, while I agree with some of what you're saying, I did point out "I think had I noticed some of the Red cards that were open to me instead of trying to force (an albeit fun) Helm.dec, I would have had a much better result in round two.  The best deck would have been BR/u I think."  I did mention that I was just MISSING the Red, due to my infatuation with a deck I'd seen do well, and one that I wanted to force.

However, I do agree that I SHOULD have grabbed the Torrent over just about anything, and that was where my draft probably began to go downhill.  Worse, I didn't cover how bomby the Torrent is(although I did mention it was a huge bomb).  In penance for this lack of coverage on ToS, I'm going to try to do it justice here.

"This card is pretty much Overrun for your format.  Tromp the Domains, Swell from Morningtide, etc.  It will win close games, get back whatever ridiculous guy they had to spend two spells on to remove, whatever.  Draft this card because you will win the game.  I'm a donk for missing it."

Another WOW by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Mon, 04/28/2008 - 22:56
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After pick 5, I thought of checking out what others had to say in the comments.  Apparently, there was only one yet.  I have to agree with him.  I know it took a lot of effort to put this walkthrough together but it seemed that you didn't know what you were doing.  I'm sorry if this comes out harsh, it's just that recently I've noticed that a lot of people on the internet have been writing about stuff they have no idea about.  I hope that drafting more gains you the necessary experience in card evaluation.

wow by whiffy penguin (Unregistered) (not verified) at Tue, 04/29/2008 - 00:52
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so seriously i think that people need to be a little bit more relaxed. how many times had you drafted shm before this walkthru walker if you say less then 5 i think that its fine this is a new set and on a free account so you feel like you can experiment more. anyways i think that people who just come out and harsh the vibe should just save thereselfs the 2 mins it took to respond. after all experimentaion is what its all about. and who knows maybe the helm deck will be a legitamate archtype once everything is settled. anyways my 2 cents. keep it up walker

Wow... by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Mon, 04/28/2008 - 21:39
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I don't really know why I read draft summaries on PureMTGO. Maybe it's because I'm trying to view all the SHM drafts I can or maybe I'm a glutton for punishment... At least you knew to take the Redcap over everything else in the pack, but frankly, I don't think you really know what you're doing.


 Why are you taking a 4cc creature enchantments that sometimes draws you cards if you're lucky and lets you 2-for-1 yourself over half the time? I mean... Scrapbasket? Really? When there's an incredibly bomby Torrent of Souls? I really hope you learned something this draft and this pile is a step on the way to becoming a better drafter.


 I don't want to be all negative... I appreciate the time that you took to record and post your draft, but if you're going to sit around and play with pet cards, I don't think it's worth our time to read it. Like I said... I really don't know why I didn't just close the window and go read something else.