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Tokens, tokens, tokens!

December 4, 2011

So in the spirit of Innistrad, and given the success stories of GW tokens being pushed in cube, I’ve decided to make an adjustment to the GW aggro decks, pushing the token theme. I’ve also decided to change up a few other cards that haven’t been seeing much play.

Eternal Dragon has been getting picked less and less often, and given I don’t have both sets of duals, it’s value is diminished a bit. It might have been more appropriate to mark this as a change between Sunblast Angel and Elesh Norn, but Norn is a great reanimate target as well as a find top end against the mid-range decks.

I’ve felt like there has been one too many white wrath effects in my cube the past few drafts, and the triple white of Planar Cleansing is what finalized this decision. Mikaeus is another move towards tokens, and an extra human for Champion.

As I mentioned previously, Sunblast Angel is on it’s way out. It just rarely ended up killing enough creatures, and the body wasn’t too relevant. The ever present effect of Elesh Norn will be much better I think. Geist is very similar to Cloudgoat, and has the added benefit of being a human. The spirits being fliers are great as well.

Griffin Guide is a lot better when you go “T1 guy, T2 guy guy, T3 Guide”, which doesn’t lend nearly as well to the token strategy. Midnight Haunting is similar to Spectral Procession, and I feel like it’s borderline good enough for cube, but with lots of anthem effects, and praise from other cubers, I’ve decided to give it a go.

Harm’s Way has always been a favorite trick of mine, as a psuedo burn spell/counterspell against the red decks, but it just often ends up being the former, and a shock just isn’t the greatest. It was between Harm’s Way and Condemn for this pick. Shrine against goes to the token strategy, but is also pretty decent in a control deck for control mirrors as something you can drop that will need to be dealt with.

Yadda yadda, more token stuff. Calciderm being the Abyss is usually helpful, but I like Emeria Angel as a control finisher too, similar to how Caw-Blade decks used it last standard season. Plus full art goodness!

More Anthem effects! I liked the concept behind Scepter, but it just usually never made the cut.

With Despise and Inquisition recently joining Thoughtseize and Duress, the targeted hand disruption has gotten a lot better, leaving little room for Unmask. The two Reanimate spells are based on discussions with other cubers about having them in regardless of a dedicated reanimate strategy. There are enough helpers that can lead to a reanimate deck without needing cards like Entomb.

Animate Dead going in for the same reason as Renaimate. Death Cloud works great with Planeswalkers, but there really aren’t any in black to take advantage of compared to the Wildfire/Planeswalker combo of red.

Massacre Wurm was supposed to come in and be like Sunblast Angel, but the triple black ended up being too prohibitive, and black didn’t need another finisher. Dauthi Horror helps push black aggro a bit, while still being playable in BW or BR due to the single black cost.

Wrench Mind is a card I didn’t know existed until recently, and the first time I saw it I wondered if it was cubeable. While there have been more artifacts seeing play in cube, at it’s worse it’s a two mana Duress for a sword of signet. It’s another aid to heavy black aggro as well.

Phoenix was another card many were excited for when M12 came out, however I was skeptical. I’ve come to realize that recurring it just once ends up being great value. Kruin Outlaw is in that awkward spot of being a mid-range werewolf, where your opponent will usually have a spell. It’s a lot easier to flip Reckless Waif or Mayor early compared to flipping Outlaw.

Ghostfire generally ended up being a 3 mana burn spell for 3. I think the ability to hit pro-red creatures only came into play once or twice. Brimstone Volley gives you the same damage to mana ratio when unkicked, but gives extra reach for the red decks.

Volcanic Hammer has always been so meh to me. Incinerate is already on the lower end of burn, but sorcery speed makes it even worse. I played mono red for a long while before the billion pro-red creatures in standard made me quit. The number of games that this card randomly wins are plenty, and the feeling of having a shrine on 10 is great.

Comet Storm just hasn’t been drafted much. I feel like I have more X red spells than most already, and this is the weakest one. Pyroclasm comes in as a little help against the new found tokens.

Demonfire almost was chopped when Red Sun’s Zenith came in, but it stayed. Unfortunately, Fireballs these days are just much better.

This change goes along with the Griffin Guide change. Exchanging bigger pump on one creature for less pump on all creatures. I was unimpressed with this anthem last time it was in cube, but we’ll see about this time with more tokens.

Another push away from green aggro being about dudes, as Wild Dogs and it’s ilk were rarely drafted, and if they were the decks usually were sub-par. Jade Mage is a great aggressively costed token maker.

Another reason to move away from the Moldervine Cloak/Elephant and Griffin Guide type pump effects have been the Scars swords. Three more first pickable equipment meant less room for these sort of enchantments. Imperious Perfect is a great threat on it’s own, and the token producing helps as well. The incidental pumping of Llanowar Elf creatures is also great.

Again, another triple mana symbol’d card getting the cut, and for that reason. Kodama was often a last pick and unplayed. Cagebreakers is a pet card of mine after playing the BUG mill yourself deck in block, but it’s also a green Hero of Blade Hold with just two creatures in the yard. The card combos even better with Survival, Birthing Pod and Fauna Shaman, three great green utility cards.

I wanted Exarch to be good, as it was another out to Planeswalkers in green. But it was just never played, as most green decks ended up just wanting a finisher to go over the top of the planeswalkers. The one time I did get to Vial it into play on upkeep to go search up a Hero of Oxid Ridge to lethal my opponent felt great, but that was the only time it saw play. Master of the Wild Hunt is another token creature, as well as decent removal in green.

Sadly, the little lion that could do everything but intercept is no more. The reason this is out is the same as Wild Dogs. Nest Invader has always intrigued me. It was one of my favorite cards during RoE draft, which is my favorite draft environment. The token ends up doing so many things, whether it be chumping to gain 5 life, ramping to a 4 on turn 3, or potentially getting in there with the most recent change.

Sprout Swarm is one of the biggest pain in the asses to play against, but it also is one of the most fun to play with. I’ve always loved it in C/UC cube, and decided to give it a go here. Again, more tokens! Crop Rotation was only barely played in three color decks, and I feel like there is enough fixing to justify cutting it.

Rampaging Baloths is practically a 7 already, so the mana costs here are even. Baloths was always fine, but the Queen combos well with Recurring Nightmare and more tokens are more tokens, even though this one most likely won’t ever be played with the rest of the token stuff. I love the 6 power flying for 7 mana, especially given the flying Typhoid Rats makes this great on offense and defense.

Angel of Despair has always disappointed me. New 7 drops Sphinx of Uthun and Rune-Scared Demon have better spells attached to them, and aren’t seeing play in cube. Armageddon is a much better attached spell at the same mana cost.

This is by far the saddest switch I’ve had to make. Fires is my second favorite card in my favorite color combination, and is also my roommates favorite card. But it just rarely gets drafted. It will always hold a special place in my heart. Burning-Tree Shaman is a great body on an aggressive card. I don’t know how relevant the triggered ability is, but I’m excited to find out.

One of the major pushes behind the new change to GW in my cube, Township is an absolute beating. Wizards really did a great job with the last few sets with lands (Enemy M10 lands, this cycle, Fetches, Worldwake Manlands, shards Tri-lands) and didn’t disappoint here. The fact that four of the five are seeing heavy standard play, and the 5th is seeing marginal play is outstanding. Loam Lion is the weakest card in the deepest guild in cube.

Let me know in the comments if I missed anything or you think I removed the wrong card. I’m definitely open to changes and ideas.

Innistrad draft #2

October 25, 2011

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Innistrad draft #1

October 25, 2011

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The rest of Innistrad (and then some)

September 19, 2011

Rounding out the changes now that all of Innistrad is spoiled, and a few others I’ve considered trying and was convinced into after speaking with some friends.

Not a like for like switch, but making white more aggressive has always been enjoyable. Champion will be tested on the basis of 17 white Humans with CMC 4 or less that would be in his deck, and potentially a few others in red.  The first time I saw it in cube, it dealt 15 damage on it’s own.

Since Champion of the Parish wants humans, this is a slight upgrade, as I see the Champion synergy to be more important than Goldmeadow Harrier’s synergy with Cloudgoat. If only they both were rebels…

More humans! Stormfront Pegasus has always been my placeholder for “two drop evasive creature that can play well with GW or RW” decks. While Cloistered Youth isn’t evasive, 3/3 is nice body for T3. This card, like the rest of the double-faced cards with a different color on the back side, are going in the color used for casting, and not the color identity.

Card drawing finisher for card drawing finisher. Often times, Consecrated Sphinx will turn the tide of a game if left unmolested for just one turn. I really just wanted to use the phrase unmolested.

I’ve heard good things from Usman regarding the test subject, and have been wanting to replace Careful Consideration for a while. With Compulsive, Thirst, and the plethora of 1 drop filters, this card just isn’t played anymore. The discard normally isn’t relevant given no reanimator theme in my cube. With that, we’ll go ahead and give this card a Test.

These two are coming out due to a clerical error. I had 69 cards in my Black section due to missing one for a while and putting a replacement in without marking it.

Innocent Blood came in while looking to dump the black 1 drops, but after Diregraf Ghoul was printed, I decided to keep black aggro in for now. While I am a fan of Innocent Blood, it gets the go due to the massive amount of black removal that already exists.

I believe Sheoldred came in while missing Nezumi Shortfang. Not a like for like replacement, but I’ve liked Sheoldred when I’ve seen it and I don’t think Ink-Eyes has connected for value in a while.

Forked Bolt is a dime a dozen, and with a lot of red burn already in the cube, was replaceable. It generally ended up just pinging the player and killing an X/1. Chaos Warp seems good on the surface. I will be paying close attention to how often it ends up flipping a worse card.

I’ve heard very good things about Sulfuric Vortex, but I’ve never had the opportunity to cast it in any format. Mono red rarely gets drafted, so Genju ends up being awkward without the T1 mountain, and often ends up in sideboards.

In moving away from the mono-green aggro deck, Companion gets a lot worse when you need to hit GG on T2. Scavanging Ooze is a card I’ve been wanting to try for a while, as I’m always looking for ways to interact with the graveyard on cards that work well on their own.  The first run with Ooze was a smashing success, almost single handedly winning a game against a Genesis/Regrowth/E-Witness/Gifts deck.

Vines always seems good in theory, but never seems to pan out. I wanted to fit Prey’s Vengeance in, as it’s a huge upgrade on the Arena ability, and Vines just ended up in side boards all too often.

Absorb has always been one of those cards that never fully impressed me.  Often times the 3 life didn’t matter, and the downside of such tight casting restrictions made me wish this was a Cancel/Stoic Rebuttle all too often.  Geist is a very odd card to value, if only because it’s a very aggressive UW creature.  I imagine it will play out as a quick finisher in UW control decks, much like Mirran Crusader currently does in Standard.

Wrecking Ball just came in as Blightning was less than stellar, however after having Olivia in my multi-color cube deck this weekend, I’m convinced to at least give her a go. She was a must kill or else she took over games completely. Awkward leg aside, I’m hopeful.

Both of them are colorless cards, so the artifact/land switch doesn’t bother me. I haven’t gotten to see War Zone much, and the one time I drafted it it served it’s purpose as another Factory-esque land, as I usually had 2 creatures out to pump. I’ve heard Spellskite is bonkers but wasn’t sure if it was cube worthy. The awkwardness it brings to game states in Scars limited convinced me. I’ve probably been playing too much U/R Twin in Standard too.

As always, I’m looking for any sort of feedback, good or bad, on these changes!

Cube draft walkthrough #1

September 17, 2011

Time for the first cube walk-through on the new blog!  We drafted using the cube listed on the right, with a few additional changes that I’ve yet to post about.  I’ll be posting an article on the rest of Innistrad plus a few other changes once all of Innistrad gets spoiled.  This draft was a 6 man with 15 card packs.

Pack 1 – Pick 1

Goldmeadow Harrier
Cryptic Command
Fire // Ice
Black Knight
Starstorm
Sarkhan Vol
Stormblood Berserker
Tombstalker
Maze of Ith
Obstinate Baloth
Golgari Signet
Sarkhan the Mad
Stoneforge Mystic
Simic Sky Swallower
Geist of Saint Traft

As I mentioned in my article I wrote for in-contention a few weeks ago, one of the first things I look for in a first pick is unique effects.  We had a player drafting with us tonight that almost always forces Gruul aggro, so picking Sarkhan Vol was out almost immediately.  I like Sarkhan the Mad, however I don’t believe he’s powerful enough to first pick.  Stoneforge is a card I love first picking, as it makes any future equipments value go up, and is playable in control or aggro depending on what equipment you get.  The Harrier should table, and if I see some other WW cards, might consider going that route.

My pick: Stoneforge Mystic

Pack 1 – Pick 2

Hallowed Burial
Caller of the Claw
Wild Nacatl
All is Dust
Bloodstained Mire
Lightning Helix
Everflowing Chalice
Vampire Lacerator
Oblivion Ring
Scute Mob
Char
Deep Analysis
Clifftop Retreat
Green Sun’s Zenith

Given the Harrier in the previous pack, and the Helix + Char + Clifftop Reteat, I wanted to make a pick pushing me towards Boros aggro at this point.  It was between the Char or the Helix, although I gave the Oblivion Ring some thought as well.  The chances of the Helix tabling are higher than the Char given the color restrictions, and hopefully if the Helix doesn’t, the Clifftop will.

My pick: Char

Pack 1 – Pick 3

Isamaru, Hound of Konda
Nevinyrral’s Disk
Urza’s Rage
Destructive Force
Stillmoon Cavalier
Soul Manipulation
Temporal Isolation
Devoted Druid
Nezumi Shortfang
Flametongue Kavu
Carnophage
Spectral Procession
Golgari Rot Farm

Flametongue Kavu is one of my favorite cards, and very first pickable for a red aggressive deck.  Wheeling the Rage, Isamaru or Temporal Isolation would be very nice.

My pick: Flametongue Kavu

Pack 1 – Pick 4

Mirror Entity
Damnation
Volcanic Hammer
Flame Slash
Porcelain Legionnaire
Dark Ritual
Manic Vandal
Greater Gargadon
Jace’s Ingenuity
Brutalizer Exarch
Sigil of Distinction
Kira, Great Glass-Spinner

Seeing the Mirror Entity makes me wish I had focused on WW, but it seems like those dreams are down the toilet.  However, Porcelain Legionnaire is a great 2 drop, regardless if I end up white or not.  I’m hoping the Vandal comes back, as I’ve started picking artifacts/enchantment removal a lot more recently.

My pick: Porcelain Legionnaire

Pack 1 – Pick 5

Careful Consideration
Hell’s Thunder
Elite Vanguard
Harm’s Way
Hearth Kami
Sudden Shock
Blastoderm
Gelectrode
Sacred Foundry
Blood Crypt
Blind Creeper

While the white has been flowing, the red has as well, so I feel like the Boros deck will be available.  Another thing I’ve been doing my best to prioritize is fixing.  While each red or white card in this pack is playable, none are sacred enough to take over the fixing.

My pick: Sacred Foundry

Pack 1 – Pick 6

Crusade
Verdant Catacombs
Genesis
Ponder
Decree of Justice
Comet Storm
Yavimaya Hollow
Demonfire
Mishra’s Factory
Fetid Heath

And the Crusade is here too!  If all of the white creatures we saw the first round through are still there, this should be back and will supplant us in Mono white.  Demonfire is a fine X spell, and can give the burn decks extra, uncounterable reach at the end of a game.

My pick: Demonfire

Pack 1 – Pick 7

Fire // Ice
Black Knight
Starstorm
Sarkhan Vol
Stormblood Berserker
Tombstalker
Obstinate Baloth
Golgari Signet
Simic Sky Swallower

The Goldmeadow Harrier didn’t come back, which seems very suspicious to me.  Sarkhan Vol still in the pack but his upset older self not being in the pack is also curious, as I consider Vol to be the more powerful of the two.  This tells me that GR looks to be open, and we should start picking appropriately, and avoid white as someone is obviously cutting the deck.

My pick: Sarkhan Vol

Pack 1 – Pick 8

Caller of the Claw
Wild Nacatl
All is Dust
Lightning Helix
Everflowing Chalice
Vampire Lacerator
Scute Mob
Green Sun’s Zenith

The Clifftop Retreat was taken but not the Helix, leading me to believe either RWx control is being drafted, or someone is going Boros aggro.  Either way, as mentioned previous, we want to be in green, and Wild Nacatl can easily end up being a 3/3 in our deck with some fetches and the Sacred Foundry we already have.

My pick: Wild Nacatl

Pack 1 – Pick 9

Urza’s Rage
Destructive Force
Soul Manipulation
Temporal Isolation
Devoted Druid
Carnophage
Golgari Rot Farm

No Isamaru, so white is a no-no.  Urza’s Rage is better than Devoted Druid in an aggro deck, and the only real card we’ll play.

My pick: Urza’s Rage

Pack 1 – Pick 10

Volcanic Hammer
Dark Ritual
Manic Vandal
Jace’s Ingenuity
Brutalizer Exarch
Kira, Great Glass-Spinner

Burn spells like Volcanic Hammer are a dime a dozen.  Artifact removal spells are not.  While the Hammer might make our main board, Vandal will definitely be coming in from the board.

My pick: Manic Vandal

Pack 1 – Pick 11

Careful Consideration
Hell’s Thunder
Hearth Kami
Blastoderm
Blind Creeper

After having just picked up the Vandal, Hearth Kami’s value lessens.  Hell’s Thunder is a great pseudo burn spell.

My pick: Hell’s Thunder

Pack 1 – Pick 12

Verdant Catacombs
Comet Storm
Yavimaya Hollow
Fetid Heath

Verdant Catacombs will give us the ability to fetch up a Stomping Ground if we find one for our RG deck.

My pick: Verdant Catacombs

Pack 1 – Pick 13

Black Knight
Starstorm
Simic Sky Swallower

Given the Clifftop Retreat got taken early, I’d rather take away a sweeper from a most likely existing RW control deck than a potential finisher for a UG deck.  I’ll leave Black Knight on the off chance one of the two people to my left are heavy Black to help fight the WW deck I won’t be in.

My pick: Starstorm

Pack 1 – Pick 14

Caller of the Claw
Scute Mob

Green is open for certain.  Both of these are cards I’m keeping a watchful eye on.  Caller is such a unique Wrath recovery effect, but I don’t think it’s played out that way since it was put into the cube.  Scute Mob is in as a Ranger target, but doesn’t pull its weight otherwise.

My pick: Caller of the Claw

Pack 1 – Pick 15

My pick: Carnophage

After pack 1, we’ve hopefully found our deck.  We started out aiming for Boros, however the white cards that got cut lead us to believe the deck won’t be there.  The late Verdant Catacombs could be clutch in helping the mana fixing if we end up RG splashing Stoneforge.

Pack 2 – Pick 1

Mirri the Cursed
Loam Lion
Call of the Herd
Rampaging Baloths
Garruk Relentless
Glen Elendra Archmage
Prismatic Lens
Counterspell
Overgrown Tomb
Lotus Cobra
Grand Arbiter Augustin IV
Boom // Bust
Mystical Tutor
Gathan Raiders
Icy Manipulator

Hey, one of those cards that hasn’t officially been put in but was put in!  This pack is pretty mediocre for us overall, other than the card we’re planning on taking.  Much like the rats of yore, this Garruk is Relentless (and the pick).  I’m excited to see how the flip aspect plays out.

My pick: Garruk Relentless

Pack 2 – Pick 2

Decree of Pain
Slagstorm
Recoil
Willbender
Twilight Mire
Celestial Colonnade
Cabal Coffers
Farseek
Treetop Village
Kitchen Finks
Onna’s Prowler
Gush
Student of Warfare
Dissipate

Again, we have another pack with no stand outs.  There really isn’t even a decision to make, as we’re taking the Finks as a 1GG creature and hoping the Treetop comes back.

My pick: Kitchen Finks

Pack 2 – Pick 3

Seagate Oracle
Spikeshot Elder
Regrowth
Wickerbough Elder
Smallpox
River Boa
Compulsive Research
Scepter of Dominance
Impulse
Honor of the Pure
Krosan Tusker
Mindshatter
Calciderm

What is with these terrible packs!  As discussed previously, I like to have at least one out to artifacts and one to enchantments in my decks.  Wickerbough Elder is one of each, although a little on the spendy side for an aggressive deck.  We’re slowing moving towards midrange however, and he’ll do just fine.

My pick: Wickerbough Elder

Pack 2 – Pick 4

Arbor Elf
Scavenging Ooze
Faith’s Fetters
Phyrexian Revoker
Brainstorm
Man-o’-War
Stomping Ground
Esper Charm
Mana Tithe
Gilded Lotus
Evolving Wilds
Battlefield Forge

Ding!  Picking up the Verdant Catacombs pays off as we have the appropriate shock land for our deck.  Seeing the Ooze or Revoker wheel would be great, as they’re both special answers to problem cards.

My pick: Stomping Ground

Pack 2 – Pick 5

Kargan Dragonlord
Shadowmage Infiltrator
Nezumi Graverobber
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Ohran Viper
Crop Rotation
Vampire Hexmage
Court Hussar
Terminate
Sign in Blood
Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind

We’re straying more towards straight up RG as opposed to heavy red splashing green.  Ohran Viper is one of my favorite cards, as Ophidian + death touch work so well in tandem.  There are unfortunately still some very powerful cards in this pack however.

My pick: Ohran Viper

Pack 2 – Pick 6

Shelldock Isle
Slith Firewalker
Searing Blaze
Elephant Guide
Ranger of Eos
Diabolic Edict
Enclave Cryptologist
Soltari Priest
Putrid Leech
Thornling

Elephant Guide, Searing Blaze and Slith Firewalker are all appealing.  Thornling seems too expensive even if we are moving towards mid-range.  Removal is generally better than random dudes.

My pick: Searing Blaze

Pack 2 – Pick 7

Mirri the Cursed
Loam Lion
Call of the Herd
Rampaging Baloths
Prismatic Lens
Lotus Cobra
Grand Arbiter Augustin IV
Mystical Tutor
Icy Manipulator

I remember this pack…it was mediocre and still is.  Lotus Cobra is less impressive in cube than in standard, but I already have a fetch and could easily pick up another.

My pick: Lotus Cobra

Pack 2 – Pick 8

Decree of Pain
Willbender
Twilight Mire
Celestial Colonnade
Cabal Coffers
Farseek
Treetop Village
Gush

The Treetop came back, which is easily the pick.  Anyone think an alter of Treetop including the Lost Boys from Hook would be sweet?

My pick: Treetop Village

Pack 2 – Pick 9

Spikeshot Elder
Smallpox
River Boa
Compulsive Research
Scepter of Dominance
Krosan Tusker
Mindshatter

River Boa is a great sideboard card against the control decks, especially if we’re able to pick up a sword.

My pick: River Boa

Pack 2 – Pick 10

Arbor Elf
Scavenging Ooze
Brainstorm
Man-o’-War
Esper Charm
Battlefield Forge

This is the first run of Scavenging Ooze in this cube.  Considering Withered Wretch has been in from the get go, I don’t know why it took me so long to put in Ooze.

My pick: Scavenging Ooze

Pack 2 – Pick 11

Kargan Dragonlord
Shadowmage Infiltrator
Crop Rotation
Vampire Hexmage
Terminate

The creature type on Kargan Dragonlord always confused me.  I understand the dragon grows up, but even as an 8/8, its still only a human.

My pick: Kargan Dragonlord

Pack 2 – Pick 12

Slith Firewalker
Elephant Guide
Putrid Leech
Thornling

Slith Firewalker is a great card for recovering from a wrath effect, growing very quickly if unanswered.

My pick: Slith Firewalker

Pack 2 – Pick 13

Mirri the Cursed
Call of the Herd
Rampaging Baloths

Call of the Herd is the only realistic option.

My pick: Call of the Herd

Pack 2 – Pick 14

Twilight Mire
Cabal Coffers

We aren’t playing either of these.

My pick: Twilight Mire

Pack 2 – Pick 15

My pick: Spikeshot Elder

After pack two, we’re definitely in RG, and moving towards a mid-range build.  We’ve got a good share of creatures and removal, so we just need to keep on keepin-on.

Pack 3 – Pick 1

Sower of Temptation
Shriekmaw
Geth, Lord of the Vault
Burst Lightning
Mimic Vat
Stirring Wildwood
Hellspark Elemental
Pact of Negation
Azorius Chancery
Unmask
Stormkirk Noble
Fireblast
Garruk, Primal Hunter
Yosei, the Morning Star
Wildfire

When I first looked at this pack, I believed that I didn’t have as much green as I really did.  The triple G of Garruk scared me away from taking it, and Fireblast was really the only other pick for the pack.

My pick: Fireblast

Pack 3 – Pick 2

Exalted Angel
Reflecting Pool
Coalition Relic
Mulldrifter
Stone Rain
Wrecking Ball
Misdirection
Goblin Guide
Steel Hellkite
Blood Knight
Plated Geopede
Polluted Mire
Mirari
Putrefy

Unfortunately for me, if my deck has red in it and can justify it, I’ll almost always take the Goblin Guide.  Fortunately, in this situation, I believe it to be the correct pick as well.  It is one of the few cards that can almost single handedly win a game against a control deck on T1 backed by any sort of help.

My pick: Gobin Guide

Pack 3 – Pick 3

Ember Hauler
Spellskite
Incinerate
Survival of the Fittest
Bitterblossom
Engineered Explosives
Tectonic Edge
Arid Mesa
Creeping Tar Pit
Debtors’ Knell
Kodama of the North Tree
Raise the Alarm
Champion of the Parish

While Survival is the most powerful card in the pack, I ended up taking the Arid Mesa for fear of consistency within the deck.  I have a lot of RR and GG cards, and wanted to make sure I could cast all of them.  The Ember Hauler or Incinerate coming back would be great.

My pick: Arid Mesa

Pack 3 – Pick 4

Godless Shrine
Consecrated Sphinx
Plague Sliver
Spiritmonger
Crystal Ball
Doomblade
Keldon Champion
Grave Titan
Crystal Shard
Indrik Stomphowler
Maelstrom Pulse
Flooded Grove

Hm, Grave Titan pick 4 still?  Must not be any black drafters.  The pick was between Indrik Stomphowler or Keldon Champion.  I wanted to keep my deck as aggressive as possible, and already have two outs to Artifacts and one to Enchantments.

My pick: Keldon Champion

Pack 3 – Pick 5

Qasali Pridemage
Ghitu Encampment
Ronom Unicorn
Paladin En-Vec
Volition Reins
Edric, Spymaster of Trest
Thrun, the Last Troll
Murmuring Bosk
Raging Ravine
Kruin Outlaw
Forbid

Deciding between Thrun and Kruin Outlaw, I went with the Outlaw only to be able to test it.  I believe Thrun to be the better pick, and if I were cube drafting at a PT, I would have taken the Thrun.

My pick: Kruin Outlaw

Pack 3 – Pick 6

Sulfurous Spring
Horizon Canopy
Birds of Paradise
Birthing Pod
Wild Dogs
Krosan Grip
Rampant Growth
Breeding Pool
Puppeteer Clique
Wall of Roots

Birthing Pod is a card that I have been absolutely elated with in cube.  The card gets better with the quality of cards in your deck, and since cube is full of the most powerful cards, you’re always poding into something great.  Given we have Sarkhan, Hell’s Thunder and token producers, we might even get the extra value plays.

My pick: Birthing Pod

Pack 3 – Pick 7

Burst Lightning
Stirring Wildwood
Hellspark Elemental
Azorius Chancery
Unmask
Stormkirk Noble
Garruk, Primal Hunter
Yosei, the Morning Star
Wildfire

Seeing Garruk come back was an absolute shocker.  The card is so powerful when it resolves, and so hard to deal with.  At this point, with Pod already taken, I’m okay switching back to midrange.

My pick: Garruk, Primal Hunter

Pack 3 – Pick 8

Mulldrifter
Stone Rain
Wrecking Ball
Steel Hellkite
Blood Knight
Plated Geopede
Mirari
Putrefy

One of our regular drafters is notorious for drafting as many non-basics as possible.  I believe his record for fewest number of basics in a cube deck is two, but I’m not certain.  I always try to pick up a Stone Rain effect in case he is on the other side of the table.

My pick: Stone Rain

Pack 3 – Pick 9

Ember Hauler
Survival of the Fittest
Bitterblossom
Engineered Explosives
Tectonic Edge
Kodama of the North Tree
Champion of the Parish

Survival came back to?!  Green is WIDE open, and unfortunately we’re only able to reap the benefits in pack 3.

My pick: Survival of the Fittest.

Pack 3 – Pick 10

Plague Sliver
Spiritmonger
Grave Titan
Indrik Stomphowler
Maelstrom Pulse
Flooded Grove

As a non-black midrange deck, Grave Titan scares the crap out of me.  While the Stomphowler would definitely have been playable, I have no answer to the Grave Titan and some answers to artifacts and enchantments already.

My pick: Grave Titan

Pack 3 – Pick 11

Qasali Pridemage
Volition Reins
Thrun, the Last Troll
Murmuring Bosk
Raging Ravine

Thankfully, our reaping of green being open is still paying off, as this late of a Thrun is surprising but very much appreciated.

My pick: Thrun, the Last Troll

Pack 3 – Pick 12

Wild Dogs
Rampant Growth
Puppeteer Clique
Wall of Roots

My pick: Rampant Growth

Pack 3 – Pick 13

Stirring Wildwood
Unmask
Wildfire

My pick: Stirring Wildwood

Pack 3 – Pick 14

Wrecking Ball
Mirari

My pick: Wrecking Ball

Pack 3 – Pick 15

My pick: Kodama of the North Tree

After starting out with the plan of going Boros, I attempted to read what was getting passed and go from there.  We floated between RG aggro and midrange but our pack 3 supplanted us in RG midrange with some aggressive draws.  Three planeswalkers means we’ve got some powerful finishers.

This is the deck I ended up building:

Goblin Guide
Wild Nacatl
Demonfire
Porcelain Legionnaire
Lotus Cobra
Scavenging Ooze
Slith Firewalker
Survival of the Fittest
Caller of the Claw
Ohran Viper
Hell’s Thunder
Kitchen Finks
Kruin Outlaw
Char
Urza’s Rage
Call of the Herd
Flametongue Kavu
Thrun, the Last Troll
Keldon Champion
Garruk Relentless
Sarkhan Vol
Birthing Pod
Garruk, Primal Hunter
Fireblast

Stomping Ground
Sacred Foundry
Arid Mesa
Verdant Catacombs
Treetop Village
7 Mountains
5 Forests

Round 1 – Alex Rivard – Ugr

I win the die roll and we both keep our opening seven.  Turn 1 Goblin Guide (I am soon going to miss this occurring in Standard) hits the first three turns.  Kitchen Finks brings me up to 22, which quickly goes back to 20 the next turn via a Birthing Pod + activation.  Keldon Marauders comes down, bringing Alex to 11, and then to 6 with the attack.  Eventually Alex stabilized with Chandra the Firebrand and a Vedalkan Shackles evening out the board.  An end of turn Caller of the Claw and Goblin Guide attack put Alex at 2, with Urza’s Rage finishing him off.

I sideboarded as follows:

+ River Boa
+ Stone Rain
+ Manic Vandal

– Necrotic Ooze
– Demonfire
– Fireblast

Alex showed me multiple “Mindstone” artifacts and had Pact of Negation and Islands.

We both keep our seven and I make the first play of the game with a Porcelain Legionnaire on turn 2.  Attacks on turn 3 and 4 put Alex at 14, and then I play a Thrun.  Alex Chandra’s the Legionnaire the next turn, and I end up killing the Chandra with Char.  The following turn I rip Keldon Champion to take Alex from 10 to 0.

Round 2 – John Laitinen – BGur control

I win the die roll and we both keep our opening 7.  My first play is Kitchen Finks on turn 3.  He Black Sun Zenith’s away the Finks (stupid cross block interaction).  I play Garruk Relentless the next turn and make a wolf.  I play out Birthing Pod and make another wolf, both of which get Zenith’d again.  I draw a Hell’s Thunder, giving me the great value play of attacking and then poding the Thunder into a Thrun.  I also play a Scavenging Ooze with mana to grow.  The next turn, I rebuy the Thunder, remove another creature from his graveyard and attack for lethal.

I board out Demonfire for Stone Rain, as John is four color with a lot of non-basics.

John puts me on the play for game 2 and we’re off.  I play a Treetop on turn two and again a Kitchen Finks on turn 3.  John spends his time just making land drops.   My draw for turn 4 yields a Goblin Guide, allowing me to animate Treetop and attack for 8, dropping John to 12.  12 becomes 11 from the Phyrexian Arena John played last turn, and he drops a blocker.  After a Goblin Guide and Finks attack, he is at 9.  I’m able to fetch up my Stomping Ground, Char and Fireblast him, leaving him with no outs to his Arena trigger.

Round 3 – Kyle Rehome – Wb aggro

I feel like I had a good matchup here, but the games were pretty non-interactive.  G1 he had Temporal Isolation for my Porcelain Legionnaire, Faith’s Fetters for my Birthing Pod, and Oblivion Ring for my Garruk, Primal Hunter.  In the mean time, he played a Paladin En-Vec and equipped it with a Sigil of Distinction.  I had almost no outs and died in short order.

Game two I mulled to 6, kept a 2 lander and didn’t draw a 3rd land the entire game.  Champion of the Parish did a full 15 to me before I scooped.

I liked my deck overall and was happy with where it ended up.  Switching from RW to RG was key, as there were two other heavy white drafters, and one other green drafter splashing it.  I didn’t get a chance to see Kruin Outlaw play out yet again unfortunately.  Garruk Relentless was fine, just creating a steady stream of 2/2s that my opponent needed to continually deal with.  I had no desire to flip him, even when the option was available on my own wolf.  I just wanted to bash more instead.  Scavenging Ooze was surprisingly powerful.  I knew the graveyard removal would be great, but growing to a 4/4 for just 2 mana was awesome, and it would have been able to grow to a 7/7 the turn it was lethal.

Thoughts on the draft?  Comments about the cube or future draft walk-throughs?  Let me know what you’d like to see in the comments!

Innistrad changes (so far)

September 7, 2011

Just a note, these are the changes as of today. I wanted to get the blog up and running, and will be doing another round of changes for the rest of the spoilers once they’re all out.

I like to try to test a lot of cards overall, instead of sticking to the norms. I’ll generally try to pick a card that hasn’t seen much play recently that is near the same role, and replace it for a few drafts to see how things work out. Sometime I’ll force the new cards to be in packs (still randomized of course) and other times I won’t.

One other note; I apologize for the big preview cards. I’ll be going back and correcting it once they’re in gatherer.

Angelic Destiny

I wanted to put Mana Tithe back in and Angelic Destiny had underperformed since it came in. It usually was just 1 mana too many, with the 2 for 1 being easier to pull off.

Snapcaster seems obvious to include, figuring out what to cut wasn’t too difficult either. I like Magpie but I usually would rather be doing other things for 4 mana in a blue deck.

I don’t think Fume Spitter had killed anything since going in, and another aggressive 2/2 for Black is always welcome.

I don’t really need to explain testing out a new PW do I? Ob Nix had rarely seen play, and there is already a glut of CMC 4+ creatures in Black.

Phyrexian Arena on a 5/4 flier? Yes please!

Crusher hasn’t been seeing a lot of play and often times can be a trap. Aaaaand I really wanted to try werewolves!

Another change I’m excited about, the Slith ability is obviously good enough for cube, and often times lackluster 1 drops are included specifically for density sake. I’ve never liked the Echo 1 drops but they’re a necessary evil, until now!

Nothing to do with Innistrad, but I’ve been wanting to fit in RSZ for a while. I think it is better than Devil’s Play, but will be considering that one as well.

Elite wasn’t getting played often, which might be an oversight of the play group, but I wanted to try a few of the werewolves to see how they interacted normally.

Again this boils down to rarely getting played. Most of the green decks end up being mid-range instead of ultra-aggro. Definitely excited for new Garruk though!

In my cube, I’ve tried to adjust the mana fixing appropriately for each “guild” to represent what deck that guild would most likely be in. R/W might join B for a nice Oros control on occasion, but more often than not, R/W will be an aggressive deck. Clifftop Retreat is a land I’ve been clamoring for for a while (although I’d rather have gotten a R/W Scars land I think) so it was a natural swap.

So far in testing, we’ve gotten to see that Bloodgift Demon is as powerful as you would expect. Liliana was very good in a mid-range black deck, and the two of them combined to 3-0 the one draft they’ve seen play. Clifftop retreat wasn’t spectacular, but did what I wanted for the land, which is come into play untapped in a R/W aggro deck. Diregraf Ghoul was fine, but nothing spectacular. The Mayor was in the sideboard for this draft, but the Kruin Outlaw saw play in a B/R midrange deck. The one game I saw it flipped, it completely wrecked, but unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to ask the person who drafted it how it was overall. I’ll definitely be pressing harder to get drafters to evaluate the cards that are being tested.

Thoughts on these changes? Let me know! I’m always open for advice and critiquing!