How to Salvage a Wreck

Innistrad draft has incredible depth. It mixes that even power level of cards that weaker sets tend to have plus a solid mix of tribal effects, though usually the tribal effects are restrictions rather than bonuses(Victim of Night for example).  Being able to actually draft a relevant card at ten or more is so exciting, since when it comes you know no one else wants it. It will happen more often than you’d expect since people generally aren’t going to hate a card when they can take a borderline one for their own, plus the potential hater has no idea if a given card will actually be good for anyone, as this set more so than most requires context to discern a card’s value.

That said, it was the aforementioned depth that allowed me to rescue what seemed to be a total loss yesterday at the Monday Warriors 3 draft event. I started Blue and signaled a Civilized Scholar, while both my left and right took Gastaf Shepherd, and a few other common Red/Green flip cards. I stayed Blue through the first pack since it was wide open, and because nothing else came that I wanted to pair with it. I ended pack one with a Ghoulcaller’s Chant and about 11 Blue cards. Highlights included Back From the Brink, a card I had been itching to try since it just seemed to be the quintessence of what Blue wants to do in this set, a Millikin look alike, some Makeshift Maulers, and a Skaab Sea Turtle.

Blue didn’t flow as well in pack two, and I first picked a foil Gavony Township out of a weak pack, one because I wanted $5, and two because I didn’t like the idea of facing it down with my army of big butted men. In the back of my mind, I thought about maybe splashing it since the Traveler’s Amulets were going late so far, and I hadn’t seen much White going left in pack one, and though Green wasn’t open as indicated by those adjacent, White goes very well with Blue here.

It didn’t really pan out the way I expected. I got more solid Blue, but little else from Black or White that I liked. The White plan seemed out of the question, with what seemed like three out of the four people near me drafting it, and Black was just… not there. Pack three offered me yet more Blue, but nothing I didn’t already have a copy of, a few random Black cards, then three picks in a row that sealed the fate of the draft for me. First, a Hinterland Harbor from a weak pack, which combined with the Shimmering Grotto I had picked earlier to enable the Township I greedily picked up for $5. Then, right after I thought I had a passable plan, a Morkrut Banshee, and then ANOTHER. I had little choice in these packs other than the Banshees, and I walked away to build having no idea what I was going to do.

I could almost build mono Blue + Township and Urgent Exorcism, but it looked SO weak to anything with evasion, or to any bomb I couldn’t counter with Lost in the Mists. I probably would have but I shipped a late Foil Urgent Exorcism in pack three in favor of a Burning Vengeance for $1. I had about five OK Black cards, but exactly zero good ways to activate the pair of Banshees. The other black cards were only good because they were low drops, but it interfered with my mana base a bit.

This is an example of a total train wreck, and although I saw it coming at the start of pack 3, I couldn’t avoid it by that point. I just had to hope White or Black that worked well with my deck started coming, and it just didn’t. In the end, I reverted back to an age old rule. When your deck sucks, get greedy.

Durkwood Boars.dec

  • Typhoid Rats
  • Deranged Assistant
  • Manor Skeleton
  • Selhoff Occultist
  • Civilized Scholar
  • Armored Skaab x2
  • Stitched Drake
  • Makeshift Mauler x3
  • Morkrut Banshee x2
  • Murder of Crows
  • Sensory Deprivation
  • Lost in the Mist
  • Grasp of Phantoms
  • Claustrophobia x2
  • Forbidden Alchemy
  • Silent Departure
  • Tribute to Hunger
  • Back From the Brink
  • Shimmering Grotto
  • Hinterland Harbor
  • Gavony Township
  • Plains
  • Island x7
  • Swamp x6

Relevant Sideboard

  • Makeshift Mauler
  • Selhoff Occultist x2
  • Ghostly Possession x2
  • Ghoulcaller’s Chant x2
  • Curse of the Bloody Tome
  • Rotting Fensnake
  • Altar’s Reap
  • Lost in the Mist
  • Urgent Exorcism

Yikes. Let’s hope I don’t mill anything important eh?

I’m not giving an entire report on this event, mostly due to the fact that my deck was a total pile, and did alot of draw go-ing. Still, I learned a few key facts from people I played.

If you think your opponent doesn’t have a great handle on things, he will almost always block the guy you suicide in to trigger Morbid effects. People LOVE to block Manor Skeleton for some reason, maybe because it looks like an obvious semi-bluff, and there is little cost to me if they block. I binned him at least three times in key spots to let the new King Banshee do it’s thing. .

Sadly, I also just played him as Durkwood Banshee two or three times. Once, against the guy who was to my left during the draft, I had been signaling I had a Morbid card by trying to suicide a guy, but since this opponent was solid, he wasn’t biting, so I played one as a Durkwood Boars, and he quipped “Oh what a surprise you had that. I had no idea!” or something. I just shrugged, and when I succeeded in trading the next turn, I played the other. It sorta makes my opponent look like a jerk, but he wasn’t at all. That little tale hides another key gem of the format; playing a Morbid guy without using it’s Morbid sorta waves a white flag. It tries really hard to say “OK, I give up on trying to trigger Morbid. I’ll just play this guy and move on.” I held both Banshees several times, and each time, the turn after I played one, I managed to get a dude offed somehow on my next turn to play the other.

Gavony Township is the real deal. I assembled my own Voltron three times(and should have done it in a 4th scenario, but binned my white sources during a Forbidden Alchemy and had to win with three cards in my deck much later), and each time it was pretty much unstoppable. As long as a had a few dorks standing around, I typically didn’t have to play a spell unless it was Lost in the Mists, which was well disguised by the potential Township activation. In a real deck that actually plays small guys and creates a few tokens, especially with any sort of evasion, it must be backbreaking.

Blue simply cannot stand on it’s own unless you drafted a large army of Armored Skaabs and Stitched Drakes/Moon Herons. I could control a board readily when my deck functioned properly, but struggled to get damage through even when opponents were completely stalled on the ground. In this draft, I don’t know what I should have done differently besides not valuing the Blue cards so highly, or perhaps conceding that not every card from another color I take should have synergy with Blue.

No one should ever draft Mono Blue outside very special exceptions, but let it be known that Blazing Torch kicks your ass. I constantly forgot(as did an opponent or two) that the vast majority of Blue’s men cannot block a man who has fire.

In the end, I split in Top four with my train wreck at 4-1, though I’m the first to admit I got a bit lucky, though no more so than anyone else. Mostly it was people’s unfamiliarity with the format that did them in. I won game 1 in Top 8 against a good player with a very good deck. He blocked Manor Skeleton with Falkenrath Noble, and I Bansheed it. He followed with Bloodgift Demon, then Curse of Death’s Hold, shrinking  my Mauler and Banshee to 3 power, but hid my aspirations of a second Banshee when I attacked in. Later, I still had to draw some removal spells to win, but it was that first block that set him on that path.

Gonna try to get a draft going with someone who got 9th at a PT(I wonder who) and someone who likes Avalanche Riders + Momentary Blink. Oh, and please spread the word about this blog, and coerce your friends to like the Facebook page I recently created.

Later!

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