From the computer to the tabletop, this is all about games. Updated each week-end.
I find myself home alone this week-end, so what else to do but draft online? I jumped back in quickly after my previous draft and tried to take things seriously this time. I finished the draft with a Sultai deck for some Khans nostalgia. Hmmm, possibly it’s not nostalgia if I’m referring to something six months old. Anyway.
Pack 1, pick 1: Pitiless Horde
A Vulturous Aven in the same pack was probably the correct pick, but I took the potentially backbreaking dash creature. In the right deck this is a fantastic finisher.
As things turned out I swung between colours for the first few picks before settling into Sultai. A pair of Youthful Scholars gave me good card advantage while at the top of the scale Silumgar, the Drifting Death and Sage-Eye Avengers provided some powerful finishing. The green cards were mainly removal/ combat tricks rather than creatures.
The deck: Sultai
The Fate Reforged pack delivered key playables to me, including Silumgar and the Sage-Eye Avengers as well as Cloudform and useful fixing in Thornwood Falls. I went with 18 lands, which is correct for a three colour deck. I also had Silumgar Monument and Sheltered Aerie to ensure I would have the colours I needed when I needed them. This turned out to be too much, and I would often side out Sheltered Aerie for some more removal. Pitiless Horde ended up in my sideboard too and never made it out. The deck did not want that creature, at least not in my estimation.
The result: 2-1
The first match was against another blue/black player. In this match my green combat tricks, plus Grim Contest made the difference. This was helped by my opponent’s willingness to kill of my Youthful Scholars. I contrived to lose the second game after winning the first, but game 3 went my way. There were never any mana issues, and Grim Contest with Silumgar in play will remove any threat from the board. I won with just 27 seconds remaining on my clock.
Match 2 was against a fast red/black deck. The first game I lost handily to the dash creatures. The second game I came back hard, sided in Grim Content and Encase in Ice, and removed or tied down key threats before winning in the air. The third game went the same as the first, sadly for me. I hung on longer, but his removal and dash ultimately beat me.
In the third match I was paired with a player who had lost his first match but won his second. As it turend out he had a blue/white deck. In the first game he was able to remove all my non-Hexproof creatures, leaving me with Silumgar and his eponymous Monument. Silumgar faced a trio of 2/2 creatures, and then I had a revelation. I played a land, activated the monument, and attacked with both. Since both were dragons, my opponent’s creatures all died after getting -2/-2. My opponent conceded on the spot, at 15 life with 5 cards in hand. Okay then.
The next game proved to be the last, with a combination of Cloudform and Silumgar getting through for a hexproof win in the air. My opponent’s plan seemed to be to get a flying creature, stack it with enchantments, and fly through for the win. Between high toughness blockers and significant removal, I was effectively immune to that plan.
Best cards: Silumgar, the Drifting Death, Cloudform, and Youthful Scholar
These cards all came into my hand reliable, and all performed well, even in games where they died (especially in games where Youthful Scholar died!).
Many. Let’s start with:
Fate Reforged is better than you think: This set gets a lot of negative feedback, and I get why to an extend. People’s last few picks in a Dragons/Fate draft tend to be a cavalcade of runemarks, Archers of Qarsi, and other dross. But those first few picks! Fate Reforged made this deck, between mana fixing, Silumgar, Cloudform, Sage-Eye Avengers, and a trio of Grim Contest, the third pack was a good pack for me.
Decisions not results: It’s a frequent refrain on the LR podcast, which I recommend to anyone wanting to improve their draft performance. I was a late convert to the idea of 18 lands. 16 was my default. After switching to a 17 or 18 land mix… yes the first 9 or 10 games I played I was mana screwed in about 70% of them. Really. But I persisted because I felt the decision was the right one, regardless of results. These days variance is being a little nicer to me and four, five, and six mana are no longer distant dreams but simple reality more times than not.
Tighten up that play! I made a lot of mistakes in this draft, including winning a turn later than I should have that time I had less than a minute on my clock, because I forgot that Sage-Eye Avengers would remove my opponent’s only blocker, so I attacked with one creature instead of two for the win. Part of this is my gaining awareness of my mistakes, so I’m not so much hanging my head in shame as trying to take some time to consider options, without needlessly running down that clock.
A full sideboard is a thing of beauty: This deck had abundant sideboard choices and I used the sideboard after every game 1. A pair of Grim Contests, Pitiless Horde, Return to the Earth, Grave Strength, these were all available to me where I needed them. In the past my sideboard has been made up of picks where I saw nothing of interest. This time I kept sideboarding actively in mind, and here I was rewarded.
Rare Draft: No, not as a tactic, but a website. I was put onto this through the LR subreddit and it is great for looking back at your draft picks and seeing what might have been done better. The site demands that you sign in before viewing any content, but once you are in it looks like this:
You can run through your own or other people’s drafts as you like and see the options that may have been missed. If you are registered, click here to view the Sultai Slam draft. I haven’t worked out how to upload a decklist yet, so that will have to wait.
Decklist – sorted by converted mana cost (CMC) with lands last
CMC 1: Typhoid Rats
CMC 2: Epic Confrontation, Glade Watcher, Kolaghan Skirmisher, Palace Familiar, Tread Upon
CMC 3: Butcher’s Glee, Cloudform, Grim Contest, Sheltered Aerie, Silumgar Monument, Updraft Elemental, Zephyr Scribe
CMC 4: Aerie Bowmasters, Conifer Strider, Gurmag Drowner, Monastery Loremaster, 2 Youthful Scholar
CMC 5: Silumgar’s Butcher
CMC 6: Sage-Eye Avengers, Silumgar, the Drifting Death
lands: 1 Thornwood Falls, 7 Island, 5 Forest, 5 Swamp