First Pack, First Pick #5

Hello to all,

I must apologize as I have certainly did not hold up to the idea of keeping this current. With that being said I will try and maintain some degree of regularity with my posts much likehas been doing with their blog. Here is my tentative schedule.

Monday: Discussion of the current set and how cards have been playing out in testing.
Tuesday: Card Spotlight (Similar to what I did with Aftershock)
Wednesday: Nothing
Thursday: First Pack, First Pick
Friday: Nothing
Saturday: Cube Theory
Sunday: Bonus Day! (Boob cube/draft video/something fun!)

Hopefully I can keep this with some degree of regularity. Additionally, I may be writing a weekly cube article for a blossoming website so keep your eyes peeled for updates!

With all that out of the way, since its Thursday I present to you First Pack, First Pick #5! I am adopting the structure of how Usman/SIC/others have done it with actual pulling of cards from the cube instead of having them randomly generated because its more fun to showcase the actual cards.

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First Pack, First Pick #4

Hey everyone I am back from vacation so there will be a heavy influx of new material in the next few days! For today I present an interesting less powerful pack.

Cursed Scroll Merfolk Looter Puppeteer Clique
Banefire Viridian Shaman Loxodon Warhammer
Eternal Witness Liliana Vess Braids, Cabal Minion
Flametongue Kavu Ponder Farseek
Restock Figure of Destiny Goblin Ruinblaster
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Blog on Hiatus

Hey everyone,

I will be in Europe for the next 18 days so I won’t be able to update my blog. When I come back I will have much to update including a new Team Money Draft which we did last Saturday (Where I drafted a sweet Fauna Shaman/Squee reanimator deck) as well as lots more cube content. Attached is a poll where I want your feedback on what you’d like to see out of this blog. Please fill it out and check off anything you want me to keep posting or to start posting.

For all those headed to Canadian Nationals I wish you the best of luck. For those I won’t see before Grand Prix: Montreal, have a great summer.

Take Care,
Daniel

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First Pack, First Pick #3

Another Monday, another pack. Ideally I am going to try and do this twice a week – once on the Monday and once on Friday so it doesn’t get overly stale and repetitive. Enjoy and comment as always!

Wickerbough Elder Knight of the White Orchid Cloudgoat Ranger
Sword of Body and Mind Smokestack Fact or Fiction
Winter Orb Memory Jar Ember Hauler
Wasteland Restock Merfolk Looter
Ajani Goldmane Throat Slitter Elspeth, Knight-Errant
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Card Spotlight #1

In this section I am going to highlight cube cards which some newer players may be unfamiliar with and where it falls into the spectrum of cubing.

At first glance this card may seem unimpressive, 4 mana for a removal spell with a drawback? Aftershock however serves a very key role within the cube. Let’s look at some similar cards:

Fissure/Lava Flow
Comparing these cards we see that Aftershock is the cheaper cousin of Fissure and Lava Flow which are identical in function. For the trade-off of costing one less mana and being able to destroy an artifact we take three damage. In cube the difference between 4 and 5 mana is substantial and at five mana you really want to be doing something relevant on the board. Compare this to other five mana sorceries where we can steal their best creature, wrath the board, take an extra turn, or completely break down their self-confidence – Blasting a creature or a land seems far less impressive. The flexibility of Aftershock is what makes it even more versatile. Aggro decks like it to clear away that pesky blocker, Maze of Ith or a card like Behemoth Sledge which is a barrier. Control decks like it because apart from enchantments or planeswalkers it serves as spot removal for nearly anything in the cube. All this for the low, low cost of three life (And let’s be honest, how many times have we taken 4 to case a Dismember or run out a Vendetta on a Titan?)


Creeping Mold

 

 
The cube community is quite split in their thinking of Creeping Mold. Some groups believe it is a card to be played in a 360 card cube (not frequently), many believe it is well suited in a 560 card cube and for the most part players believe it to be a staple at 720. Currently I am not running Creeping Mold in my list as I’ve found it to be rotting (Molding?) in the sideboard more than having it in my starting 40. Comparing Aftershock to Creeping Mold, we are essentially trading the flexibility to destroy a creature (and take three) to instead destroy an enchantment. I am not downplaying enchantment removal because it certainly has its place in every cube, and in some more than others (I’m talking to YOU, Moat), but in 95% of games destroying a creature will be more relevant than axing a pesky enchantment. In these 95% of situations I am more than willing to take a couple points to get a grasp on the board situation.

Wrecking Ball

Whether Wrecking Ball is included in cubes all depends on whose cube it is. Personally, I am a huge fan of a larger multi-colored section and each of the guild colors is represented by seven cards each. Alongside Wrecking Ball I am running Blightning, Terminate, Bituminous Blast, Sarkhan the Mad, Blazing Specter and Murderous Redcap. Wrecking Ball is a more difficult card to cast that Aftershock, though the Ball has often been splashed in some decks. And with that difficulty we lose the ability to destroy an artifact. In the end, Aftershock becomes a much more solid card in mann decks that Wrecking Ball because of the flexibility and less restrictive mana cost.

Now obviously the life gain is not completely irrelevant. That is why you will find many cubes will not run Ashes to Ashes/Reckless Spite/Wicked Pact because the upside often is not high enough to offset the life loss (and the damage taken while you agonizingly wait for them to drop a second creature to target.

In summary Aftershock is often better than:

Fissure/Lava Flow: 4CC +Artifact and 3 life v. 5CC

Creeping Mold: +Creature and 3 life v. +Enchantment

Wrecking Ball: Mono-red, +Artifact and 3 life v. Multicolored

I would consider this card to be a cube staple at a cube size of approximately 450 cards but many smaller cubes will still run it to great effect. So if you’re reading this and currently don’t run Aftershock in your cube – Try it! You won’t be disappointed. Furthermore, the next time someone passes you an Aftershock 12th pick, don’t hesitate to run it as it is a major role player in many decks in the cube.

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Team Money Draft #1

This past weekend eight of us got together for a team money cube. After randomly choosing teams (Phil, Ben, Chris and Jody vs. Daniel (Me), Jason, Doug and Brett) we got down to business.

Decks from the Winning Team

Phil (4-0) Rg Aggro

//Land
11 Mountain
1 Forest
1 Fire-Lit Thicket
1 Strip Mine
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Raging Ravine//Creatures
1 Mogg Fanatic
1 Magus of the Scroll
1 Grim Lavamancer
1 Slith Firewalker
1 Hellspark Elemental
1 Kargan Dragonlord
1 Ember Hauler
1 Boggart Ram-Gang
1 Goblin Ruinblaster
1 Chandra’s Phoenix
1 Flametongue Kavu
1 Avalanche Riders
1 Bloodbraid Elf
1 Greater Gargadon
//Spells
1 Genju of the Spires
1 Seal of Fire
1 Chain Lightning
1 Ankh of Mishra
1 Searing Blaze
1 Incinerate
1 Wheel of Fortune
1 Tangle Wire
1 Pillage
1 Sarkhan Vol

Chris (3-1) GW Midrange

//Land
8 Plains
7 Forest
1 Wooded Bastion
1 Maze of Ith//Creatures
1 Weathered Wayfarer
1 Troll Ascetic
1 Mirran Crusader
1 Imperious Perfect
1 Phantom Centaur
1 Calciderm
1 Chameleon Colossus
1 Karmic Guide
1 Archon of Justice
1 Deranged Hermit
1 Exalted Angel
1 Avenger of Zendikar
1 Eternal Dragon
//Spells
1 Rancor
1 Skullclamp
1 Land Tax
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Rampant Growth
1 Sword of Light and Shadow
1 Prison Term
1 Arrest
1 Garruk Wildspeaker
1 Primal Command
1 Martial Coup

Ben (2-1) UB Control

//Land
8 Island
7 Swamp
1 Polluted Delta
1 Creeping Tar Pit//Creatures
1 Cabal Interrogator
1 Psychatog
1 Shadowmage Infiltrator
1 Bone Shredder
1 Nekrataal
1 Graveborn Muse
1 Glen Elendra Archmage
1 Murderous Redcap
1 Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni
1 Grave Titan
//Spells
1 Pact of Negation
1 Ancestral Vision
1 Go for the Throat
1 Memory Lapse
1 Thirst for Knowledge
1 Exclude
1 Forbid
1 Capsize
1 Dissipate
1 Necromancy
1 Icy Manipulator
1 Upheaval
1 All is Dust

Jody (0-3) UBg Control

//Land
6 Island
6 Swamp
1 Underground Sea
1 Sunken Ruins
1 Twilight Mire
1 Bayou
1 Rupture Spire//Creatures
1 Enclave Cryptologist
1 Gatekeeper of Malakir
1 Phyrexian Rager
1 Razormane Masticore
1 Puppeteer Clique
1 Sphinx of Jwar Isle
1 Kokusho, the Evening Star
1 Consecrated Sphinx
1 Oona, Queen of the Fae
//Spells
1 Slaughter Pact
1 Preordain
1 Brainstorm
1 Brittle Effigy
1 Into the Roil
1 Ratchet Bomb
1 Bitterblossom
1 Hymn to Tourach
1 Putrefy
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Sword of Fire and Ice
1 Barter in Blood
1 Treachery
1 Profane Command

Decks from the Losing Team

Daniel (Me) (3-1) White Weenie

//Land
16 Plains
1 Dread Statuary//Creatures
1 Steppe Lynx
1 Serra Avenger
1 Soltari Priest
1 White Knight
1 Soltari Champion
1 Pianna, Nomad Captain
1 Paladin en-Vec
1 Masticore
1 Lodestone Golem
1 Baneslayer Angel
1 Oversoul of Dusk
1 Cloudgoat Ranger
//Spells
1 Aether Vial
1 Honor of the Pure
1 Sword of Body and Mind
1 Spectral Procession
1 Griffin Guide
1 Loxodon Warhammer
1 Oblivion Ring
1 Glorious Anthem
1 Faith’s Fetters
1 Ajani Goldmane
1 Parallax Wave

Brett (1-2) UWr Control

//Land
6 Island
5 Plains
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Grand Coliseum
1 Mutavault
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Cascade Bluffs
1 Reflecting Pool//Creatures
1 Gilded Drake
1 Wake Thrasher
1 Plumeveil
1 Aether Adept
1 Thieving Magpie
1 Wall of Reverence
1 Grand Arbiter Augustin IV
1 Mulldrifter
1 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
1 Keiga, the Tide Star
1 Sunblast Angel
//Spells
1 Condemn
1 Dismember
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Miscalculation
1 Temporal Isolation
1 Sacred Mesa
1 Crystal Shard
1 Deep Analysis
1 Rout
1 Red Sun’s Zenith
1 Condescend
1 Banefire

Jason (1-2) WRb Midrange

//Land
4 Mountain
4 Plains
2 Swamp
1 Badlands
1 Ghitu Encampment
1 Evolving Wilds
1 Rugged Prairie
1 Volcanic Island
1 Mystic Gate
1 Battlefield Forge//Creatures
1 Keldon Marauders
1 Eight-and-a-Half-Tails
1 Cunning Sparkmage
1 Jaya Ballard, Task Mage
1 Flickerwisp
1 Spitemare
1 Swans of Bryn Argoll
1 Hero of Oxid Ridge
1 Hero of Bladehold
1 Urabrask the Hidden
1 Firemane Angel
//Spells
1 Basilisk Collar
1 Magma Jet
1 Fire // Ice
1 Arc Trail
1 Lightning Helix
1 Wrecking Ball
1 Ajani Vengeant
1 Bituminous Blast
1 Batterskull
1 Chandra Nalaar
1 Fireball

Doug (0-3) Bant

//Land
4 Forest
3 Island
3 Plains
1 Seachrome Coast
1 Flooded Grove
1 Marsh Flats
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Windswept Heath
1 Breeding Pool
1 Misty Rainforest//Creatures
1 Gideon’s Lawkeeper
1 Noble Hierarch
1 Llanowar Elves
1 Phantasmal Image
1 Lotus Cobra
1 Kira, Great Glass-Spinner
1 Loxodon Hierarch
1 Master of the Wild Hunt
1 Sower of Temptation
1 Mitotic Slime
1 Vesuvan Shapeshifter
1 Reveillark
1 Thornling
1 Frost Titan
1 Myr Battlesphere
1 Simic Sky Swallower
//Spells
1 Sylvan Library
1 Behemoth Sledge
1 Awakening Zone
1 Gifts Ungiven
1 Restock
1 Garruk, Primal Hunter
1 Catastrophe
1 Decree of Justice

The videos of me drafting are here: Part 1 and Part 2.

Pack 1:

Troll Ascetic
Qasali Pridemage
Condescend
Kira, Great Glass Spinner
Grasp of Darkness
Ajani Goldmane
Ratchet Bomb
Wheel of Fortune
Sphinx of Jwar Isle
Ravenous Baloth
Spitting Image
Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni
Prophetic Bolt
Eldrazi Monument
Badlands

Here I got a pretty weak pack and was in between taking the Ajani and Kira. I hadn’t played much with Ajani in cube and I really wanted to see how good white weenie was with the recent changes I made.

Arrest
Icy Manipulator
Condemn
Dismember
Brainstorm
Fathom Seer
Bituminous Blast
Countryside Crusher
Vesuvan Shapeshifter
Cloudgoat Ranger
Kor Firewalker
Putrefy
Skinshifter
Jackal Pup

Here I got a little bit greedy. I had visions of Kithkin tokens getting counters and vigilance. Dismember was likely the correct pick here, and Arrest or Kor Firewalker might not have been terrible picks either. However I made a pick and he underperformed for me most of the day.

Arcane Denial
Misty Rainforest
Upheaval
Bloodghast
Preordain
Oblivion Ring
Cultivate
Dread Statuary
Enclave Cryptologist
Forbid
Temporal Isolation
Eight-And-A-Half-Tails
Mogg Fanatic

My good friend Ben was sitting to my left and his favourite card in cube is Upheaval, so I couldn’t be a jerk and take it. Oblivion Ring is one of the better pieces of removal in white and I was pleased to take it third.

Paladin en-Vec
Living Death
Frantic Search
Bone Shredder
Griffin Guide
Ankh of Mishra
Phantom Centaur
Simic Signet
Sacred Mesa
Rupture Spire
Fireball
Miscalculation

When I saw the Paladin en-Vec I decided I was going to try and force white weenie. Its not a draft archetype which had seen much play recently and it was something I wanted to try out since my cube supports it very well. Bone Shredder and Fireball were also cards I was considering, but here is where I decided to go all-in on the archetype.

Parallax Wave
Swans of Bryn Argoll
Mindslaver
Erratic Portal
Enlightened Tutor
Jungle Lion
Thieving Magpie
Sign in Blood
Terastodon
Rite of Replication
Pact of Negation

Having not played very much with Parallax Wave I thought it might be a reasonable inclusion into the deck. I was wrong. This card was not reasonable – it was absolutely godly the entire day. I actually won three games on the back of this card alone when no other card could have won me the game.

Sunlance
Cunning Sparkmage
Mire Boa
Cascade Bluffs
Faith’s Fetters
Windswept Heath
Gatekeeper of Malakir
Vampire Lacerator
Fume Spitter
Steam Vents

The pick here was between Sunlance and Faith’s Fetters and I liked the fetters as a broader piece of removal which could get me past some of the more problematic cards that white weenie could face.

Wooded Bastion
Reflecting Pool
Soltari Champion
Basilisk Collar
Noble Hierarch
Black Vice
Spectral Force
Dissipate
Stupor

One of the cards that makes white weenie such an awesome deck – Soltari Champion is essentially an unblockable battle crier. He works well with the Ranger’s kithkin tokens and as well with some of the other dudes I hope to pick up along the way.

White Knight
Blazing Specter
Plow Under
Mystic Snake
Fire-Lit Thicket
Keening Banshee
Dauthi Marauder
Vendetta

Realizing now I could have had a sweet W/B aggro removal deck I decide to forge forwards and pick up the only card here that will keep me on color and snag the White Knight. Though I am sad to be passing all the fun black cards.

Ravenous Baloth
Grasp of Darkness
Qasali Pridemage
Spitting Image
Prophetic Bolt
Ratchet Bomb
Eldrazi Monument

Having seen Wooded Bastion and Windswept Heath previously in these packs I thought I could splash green for some creatures as G/W aggro is a fun deck to run especially if you pick up a Loam Lion or Behemoth Sledge. Technically the Monument would have been the better pick here but the Pridemage was a great sideboard card several times throughout the day.

Kor Firewalker
Icy Manipulator
Skinshifter
Fathom Seer
Condemn
Putrefy

The correct pick here was Kor Firewalker, but I just added Skinshifter to the cube today and I wanted to give him a try. If I came up some playables short for the white weenie then I thought he would fill a spot nicely. Sadly he stayed in the sideboard all day long and the Firewalker was a card I desperately needed in my last match of the day.

Bloodghast
Arcane Denial
Dread Statuary
Forbid
Enclave Cryptologist

Manland > Rest. Dread Statuary actually was a house for me all day and I was glad to have him in the deck.

Miscalculation
Griffin Guide
Living Death
Simic Signet

Taking the only white card which is something I am currently thinking about cutting as this is the best deck for Griffin Guide, and I was thoroughly unimpressed all day.

Terastodon
Mindslaver
Sign in Blood

Sometimes you need a big dumb elephant (except I didn’t)

Mire Boa
Fume Spitter
Mire Boa would be a nice card if the stompy route kept going.

Spectral Force

Pack 2:

Flame Slash
Karmic Guide
Darksteel Ingot
Wake Thrasher
Relic of Progenitus
Mystic Gate
Bane of the Living
Rude Awakening
Carnophage
Seal of Cleansing
Regrowth
Baneslayer Angel
Gideon’s Lawkeeper
Saproling Burst
Avenger of Zendikar

I just recently added Gideon’s Lawkeeper to the cube and I felt he would have fit the deck well. With the way my deck seemed to be leaning, both Saproling Burst and Regrowth could have been options as well. However let’s be honest, Baneslayer Angel is just a mountain among men.

Puppeteer Clique
Time Warp
Plumeveil
Karplusan Forest
Breeding Pool
Marshal’s Anthem
Buried Alive
Pilgrim’s Eye
Black Knight
Squee, Goblin Nabob
Gelectrode
Serra Avenger
Shriekmaw
Hellspark Elemental

This back had very little in terms of playables for me. By that I mean I could take the underwhelming Pilgrim’s Eye or the Serra Avenger to stay on color. The choice wasn’t very hard.

Godless Shrine
Hallowed Fountain
Copperline Gorge
Memory Lapse
Catastrophe
Pouncing Jaguar
Honor of the Pure
Into the Roil
Fire // Ice
Lightning Greaves
Mortify
Ninja of the Deep Hours
Ember Hauler

With this pick I began to solidify myself into hardcore drafting white cards as Honor of the Pure was going to reward me for each additional white creature I could pick up. That being said, Qasali Pridemage is still a nice reason to straddle the fence with some green cards as well.

Conquerer’s Pledge
Impulse
Lorescale Coatl
Searing Blaze
Zo-Zu the Punisher
Twilight Mire
Smother
Rampant Growth
Rugged Prairie
Aether Vial
Starstorm
Dryad Sophisticate

Once again amidst a myriad of subpar cards for my deck only one stood above as a truly clear pick. Aether Vial is excellent in almost any aggro strategy and all day was a big workhorse powering out EOT Baneslayers and helping me cheat in cards like Uktabi Orangutan and Qasali Pridemage when I had no green available.

Behemoth Sledge
Snuff Out
Stuffy Doll
Creakwood Liege
Archon of Justice
Pianna, Nomad Captain
Strip Mine
Gaea’s Revenge
Strip Mine
Temple Garden
Kird Ape

Sometimes the only thing better than having one battle crier (Soltari Champion) is having two. Unlike the Champion, Pianna is easily blocked but fortunately she is also able to give herself the bonus during the attack, effectively making her a 3/3 throughout combat. Hadn’t had much of a chance to play this card recently and I was very pleased with how it worked out. I wanted to grab the Temple Garden for mana fixing, but at this point if I could keep grabbing excellent white creatures there may be no need to even run green at all.

Broodmate Dragon
Jaya Ballard, Task mage
Raving Ravine
Reckless Charge
Gemstone Mine
Myr Battlesphere
Sword of Body and Mind
Gruul Signet
Merfolk Looter
Eternal Dragon

Ahem, its tough for me to explain my pick choices when there is really only one excellent card per pack when it comes to fitting into my deck’s theme. Sword, not close.

River Boa
Spectral Procession
Restock
Imperious Perfect
Barter in Blood
Hero of Oxid Ridge
Vampire Nighthawk
Banefire
Tezzeret the Seeker

Here we go – Procession + Ajani + Honor of the Pure + Soltari Champion? This is what white weenie dreams are made of. Again, no reason to go gallivanting into another color when white appears to be so deep thus far.

Chandra Nalaar
Albino Troll
Volcanic Fallout
Mold Shambler
Joraga Treespeaker
Deranged Hermit
Bestial Menace
Blood Knight

Until the white dries up… The best card in here for the deck is arguably Albino Troll. Its an early drop, its big, it regenerates and I haven’t played him in a while. In hindsight I might have taken the Deranged Hermit for value sakes, but in the end neither card would have been particularly relevant.

Rude Awakening
Avenger of Zendikar
Saproling Burst
Seal of Cleansing
Relic of Progenitus
Carnophage
Flame Slash

Rude Awakening is a monster finisher for any big green deck, which is not what this deck is. I still had thoughts of running green which is why I made the Saproling Burst choice. Seal of Cleansing would have been the proper card selection though as there were many times when I wanted to board into good artifact removal and the only way to do that was to skew my mana base.

Karplusan Forest
Gelectrode
Squee, Goblin Nabob
Black Knight
Pilgrim’s Eye
Buried Alive

Only card is a near-unplayable card in this deck.

Pouncing Jaguar
Ninja of the Deep Hours
Mortify
Godless Shrine
Copperline Gorge

The only green card, but hey a 2/2 for 1 is pretty spicy.

Dryad Sophisticate
Starstorm
Rampant Growth
Lorescale Coatl

See above, but instead replace 2/1 for 2 and it is somewhat less spicy.

Stuffy Doll
Gaea’s Revenge
Kird Ape

Stuffy Doll would be more annoying to play against here than either the Ape or the Gaea’s Revenge.

Reckless Charge
Broodmate Dragon

I anticipate no one is in Jund colors so I will pass the harder to play card.

River Boa

…and get Mire Boa’s older and better friend, River Boa!

Pack 3:

Treetop Village
Persecute
Maze of Ith
Arc Trail
Mulldrifter
Conundrum Sphinx
Suffocating Blast
Arc Slogger
Glen Elendra Archmage
Phantasmal Image
Angel of Despair
Memory Jar
Slith Firewalker
Blastoderm
Scroll Rack

After the odd dilemma of strangely only making a pack with 9 cards (math is clearly difficult) I picked up six new cards from the box and found… nothing I wanted at all. The pick was between Blastoderm, Treetop Village and Memory Jar for me (Scroll Rack wasn’t going to be good enough). I took the Blastoderm in case I was going to go the G/W route which turned out to not be the case and essentially my first pick of the third pack was a complete whiff.

Elite Vanguard
Ghitu Slinger
Sunblast Angel
Soltari Priest
Awakening Zone
Spitemare
Shadowmage Infiltrator
Slagstorm
Loxodon Warhammer
Marsh Flats
Willbender
Underground Sea
Murderous Redcap
Chain Lightning

Which makes this sort of pack annoying when there are multiple cards which would all equally fit well into my archetype. I am short on 1 drops so Elite Vanguard is a definite possibility. Soltari Priest is a sweet difficult to deal with 2 drop which would go very well with the Sword of Body and Mind, but Loxodon Warhammer is just a big dumb elephant stick. I like to beat down with large sticks.

Wild Mongrel
Rishadan Port
Exclude
Seal of Fire
Nezumi Graverobber
Loam Lion
Creeping Tar Pit
Smokestack
Sacred Foundry
Lodestone Golem
Reanimate
Sunken Ruins
Leonin Skyhunter

I took the Loam Lion from this pack because if I was running the green splash this would be very good, compared to taking the Leonin Skyhunter. In the end the Skyhunter would have been very good but staying open was something I was trying to do at this point as 2/3s for 1 can be annoying to deal with.
Necromancy
Tradewind Rider
Gilded Drake
Thornling
Wrecking Ball
Vines of Vastwood
Hearth Kami
Dread Return
Llanowar Wastes
Masticore
Polluted Delta
Bloodstained Mire

With the exception of Masticore this pack is a big whiff. Alongside Baneslayer, the Masticore represents some of the only reach this deck has into the late game so picking up this card is crucial to success in some of my matchups.

Martial Coup
Platinum Angel
Flooded Grove
Inferno Titan
Stomping Ground
Magus of the Scroll
Keldon Marauders
Golgari Signet
Cabal Interrogator
Uktabi Orangutan
Grand Arbiter Augustin IV

With the choices between the underwhelming Martial Coup and the Sexy Monkey lingering, I had no choice but to snap up the hairier Viridian Shaman.

Scute Mob
Master of the Wild Hunt
Aether Adept
Thirst for Knowledge
Dauthi Horror
Brittle Effigy
Abyssal Persecutor
Glorious Anthem
Sarkhan Vol
Ghitu Encampment

Wooo – I am certainly not short on the pump effects for this deck. Alongside Honor of the Pure, the Anthem makes my somewhat meek cards like Black Knight and Paladin en-Vec very formidable in the late game. The only other card worth considering is the Effigy which is very slow and perhaps not worth the mana in this deck.

Go for the Throat
Seachrome Coast
Tangle Wire
Steppe Lynx
Evolving Wilds
Grand Coliseum
Nemesis of Reason
Makeshift Mannequin
Knight of Meadowgrain

Once again we are faced with the decision of going with a much needed 1 drop or a very effective 2 mana dork. Making this decision even more difficult is the presence of two lands which will assist the mana base if G/W aggro is the true direction. Taking the Steppe Lynx is the correct pick here as aside from the Aether Vial, the Lynx allows us to use our early turns the most profitably.

Llanowar Elves
Grave Titan
Desolation Angel
Wall of Reverence
Profane Command
Oversoul of Dusk
Terminate
Greater Gargadon

Another finisher alongside Baneslayer and Masticore, the Oversoul of Dusk (Phandy’s favourite card) is difficult to block for many decks and quite difficult to deal with without mass removal. It was also very easy to cast off the mana base that has been assembled so far.

Persecute
Slith Firewalker
Suffocating Blast
Memory Jar
Conundrum Sphinx
Treetop Village
Angel of Despair

Between the Village and the Jar the Village had the most upside for the deck while the Jar might just sit in hand the whole game without much effect.

Elite Vanguard
Soltari Priest
Awakening Zone
Ghitu Slinger
Slagstorm
Murderous Redcap

Both the Priest and the Vanguard wheeled. Having picked up the second piece of equipment earlier this pack, the Priest represented the most upside as creatures with evasion plus Warhammer/Sword was a very good route to quick wins. The Vanguard would have been very good in many matchups but the Priest also performed very well.

Smokestack
Lodestone Golem
Nezumi Graverobber
Reanimate
Exclude

Despite my question about how good WW Stax was, Lodestone Golem was clearly the pick. With many artifacts already in the deck, the downside to this card was minimal and actually helped me steal a game in my first match.

Tradewind Rider
Hearth Kami
Necromancy
Dread Return

Taking the card that can blow up my sword.

Stomping Ground
Golgari Signet
Platinum Angel

Taking the Dual – no one gets the dual!

Abyssal Persecutor
Dauthi Horror

Don’t much care.

Nemesis of Reason

This guy is so good! Who could pass this gem 14 times?!

My Round 1 Matches: Game 1 and Game 2 (Part 1, Part 2)

Round 1 Play-By-Play


Game 1:I kept a hand of Aether Vial, Loxodon Warhammer, Lodestone Golem, Oblivion Ring, Sword of War and Peace and 2 Plains. I led off with an Aether Vial and started ticking up counters. Ben replied with a Cabal Interrogator. Having drawn a Soltari Champion I decided to run out the Sword to avoid it getting discarded away and I could cheat the Champion in during my next turn. I played out my second equipment and passed with Vial on three counters. He made me discard with X = 1 so I pitched the freshly drawn Oversoul of Dusk and snuck in the Champion EOT. Vial went up to 4 counters so I went to tap it to put in the Golem to try and slow down some of Ben’s better controlling spells pre-combat – in response he Diabolic Edicted the Champion before I could get a good whack in. I threw the sword on the Golem and shipped the turn. Ben untapped and used Interrogator on X=1 on my hand of Oblivion Ring and Baneslayer Angel. I pitched an O-Ring knowing I could Vial in the Baneslayer in my hand if he went to use the Interrogator again the next turn. I threw the Warhammer on the Golem and cracked for 10, triggering the Sword for some mill + wolf action. He untapped and did nothing, EOT I cheated in my Baneslayer and smashed with the team. Ben Capsized the Sword without buyback but it wasn’t enough to ward off the onslaught.Sideboard: Nothing.

Game 2:

I kept a hand of 3 Plains, Parallax Wave, Serra Avenger, Faith’s Fetters and Lodestone Golem, Ben started out with a suspended Ancestral Visions. We played Land-Go for several turns until on turn three I ran out a Glorious Anthem. Turn 4 I tried to add a Lodestone Golem but it bit the Exclude from Ben. His Visions fired off on his upkeep and he refilled his mitt with cards. He then played Psychatog and shipped the turn. I untapped and dropped both Paladin en-Vec (Take that Psychatog!) and Serra Avenger. My next turn I swung with both my dudes but Ben had the Go for the Throat ready for the Avenger and took only three from the Paladin. Ben just had a crack for one with the Tog and passed back to me. I drew Griffin Guide and ran it out on the Paladin and attacked for five more taking him down to 12. I drew a Dread Statuary which I promptly played and attacked with the Paladin again, reducing Ben to 7 life. He bought himself some time on his turn by dropping an Icy Manipulator which could lock down my Paladin. I threw Faith’s Fetters on his Icy, with him tapping down my Paladin in response. On my next turn when I went to attack he Capsized with buyback on my Paladin (accidentally showing me the Upheaval in his hand… uh oh). Knowing I was going to face down the old Upheaval-replay-Psychatog play I decided to force it by running out both the Paladin and Soltari Champion. He cracked a Polluted Delta taking him down to a very relevant 6 life and then bounced the board away leaving him with a Tog in play to my nothing. We played lands back and forth with him plinking me with his Tog for 1 every turn. I went to play Paladin to combat the Tog but it got Memory Lapsed to the top. He activated Creeping Tar Pit and could only take me down to 2. That left me with the ability to untap and play Parallax Wave (my only out to this situation). I waved away both the Tog and the Creeping Tar Pit when he went to attack. Trying to mount a counterattack I drop the Paladin en-Vec. Next turn I drop Honor of the Pure putting him on a 2-turn clock and attempted to smack him down to 3 but he played Necromancy stealing a Masticore from my graveyard. I waved the Masticore, taking the Wave down to zero counters and he took the hit for 3. Post-combat I played Soltari Champion and passed. Ben untapped, drew his card, saw no answer and scooped them up.

Daniel 2-0

My Round 2 Matches: Game 1, Game 2, and Game 3.

Round 2 Play-By-Play


Round 2 (Misner)
I kept a hand with Aether Vial, Steppe Lynx, White Knight, Oblivion Ring, Sword of Body and Mind and 2 Plains. Misner leadoff with Weathered Wayfarer and I replied with Aether Vial. He then attacked me and played Land Tax without playing a land for the turn. I decided to ramp up some pressure so I played a land and ran out White Knight which allowed him to search up a Maze of Ith with his Wayfarer and Tax away. Vialing in a Steppe Lynx allowed me to bash him for 2 as he Mazed the Lynx. I then played a Sword and passed. Equipping sword the next turn to the Lynx ensured that I could attack with Knight uncontested as he was Mazing the Lynx every turn. He ran out a Chameleon Colossus which I promptly Oblivion Ringed. He plays a Troll Ascetic which acts as an effective White Knight blocker. The next turn however the Troll gets a Sword of Light and Shadow and Rancor (ew) and starts bashing and as Phil said “How does a mono white deck beat a Sword of Light and Shadow on a Troll Ascetic?.” Gooood question. Vialing in a Lodestone Golem I try to mount the beatdown but the Weathered Wayfarer can become an infinite blocker with the Sword of Light and Shadow recursion. I leave the Lodestone Golem untapped to block the Troll for one turn but he gets promptly Arrested and I go down on the alpha strike.Sideboard plan:
+1 Loam Lion
+1 Uktabi Orangutan
+1 Qasali Pridemage
+4 Forest-3 Plains
-1 Dread Statuary
-1 Griffin Guide
-1 Glorious Anthem
-1 Paladin en-Vec

I keep a hand of Spectral Procession, Parallax Wave, White Knight, Qasali Pridemage and 3 Plains while Misner mulligans. My White Knight is the first play of the game as he plays a Land Tax turn 2 (ugh). I untap and run out Spectral Procession giving me the early beatdown. He runs out Chameleon Colossus but I untap and drop Parallax Wave to RFG the 4/4 before cracking for another five damage. He then plays Deranged Hermit on his turn who brings his squirrely friends. I just bash with my Procession tokens to take him to 5 and pass. He runs out the Sword of Light and Shadow and tries to equip a token but I wave it in response. I untap and bash with the tokens taking him to 2 life and play Qasali Pridemage. He plays a sexy Exalted Angel and here I get a quick rules validation as I Wave the Exalted Angel and Pridemage the Wave in response causing the Angel to be exiled. Misner scoops as he faces the lethal Procession tokens.

I keep a hand with Aether Vial, White Knight, Forest, Plains, Loxodon Warhammer, Ajani Goldmane and Steppe Lynx. He runs out turn one Land Tax (!) and I dump the Vial into play, threatening to never play another land. He runs out Wayfarer and I decide after looking at the sweet hand I have that “sure let’s play more land” as I drop a White Knight. He Taxes and snags a Maze of Ith with the Wayfarer and passes. I Vial in a Steppe Lynx (Seems familiar?) and then beat down for two before I run out Pianna, Nomad Captain to make his Maze of Ith seem less dominating. Next turn I slam the Ajani and -1 to make my dudes more impressive and swing in with vigilance. I did the same play next turn except Pianna bit a mortify, and played out a Soltari Priest. Next turn I dropped a Serra Avenger and -1d Ajani again to get in with more bashing. He untapped and summoned the squirrely Deranged Hermit. I draw the Parallax wave and wave all five of his new creatures, -1 Ajani and get in with the team to do exactly lethal damage past the Maze of Ith.

2-1 Daniel

Sadly my camera ran out of power before the end of the draft but in Round 3 I promptly 2-0’d Jody before losing to Phil in Round 4 when he went Slith Firewalker into Boggart Ram-Gang into Bloodbraid Elf cascading into Tangle Wire (ouch).

Highlight of the day: Jason ripping the game-winning Fireball while facing lethal on board.

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First Pack, First Pick #2

This time I will just accept the top pick from each person – once again you can comment on your top 3 picks.

Bribery Bonesplitter Venser, the Sojourner
Volcanic Fallout Scepter of Dominance Looter il-Kor
Mindslaver Garruk Wildspeaker Grand Arbiter Augustin IV
Nantuko Vigilante Nevinyrral's Disk Jaya Ballard, Task Mage
Darkslick Shores Urabrask the Hidden Liliana Vess
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