Yesterday, I attended Warriors 3, as I now find myself doing weekly, for their Monday draft event. I went 4-0-1 after drawing into the Top 8 and playing the quarterfinals to maximize my return, but it was what I played that is the focus today.
Every block has a few cards, usually uncommon enchantments, that provide some kind of ridiculous board presence and are tied in some way to a marquee aspect of the block. Lightning Rift and Astral Slide, which went on to be powerhouses in Constructed, are the two cards that really showcase the type of power these cards can provide. More recently, Rage Extractor and Furnace Celebration were very small blips on the Scars block radar, but existed in a format where either there wasn’t enough access to the cards that turn the card on coupled with a very aggressive meta, not to mention the existence of poison decks. I loved the Celebration, but even in triple Scars, with endless Spellbombs and such at your disposal, it usually wasn’t good enough.
Innistrad is different however. Dudes die all the time, and boards take time to develop, making a card like Burning Vengeance a viable option in Limited.
The Vengeance has a ton going for it in this format, starting with the fact you can get it early or late. This strategy will change for the worse as sets come out, and Innistrad shows up later in the draft, so enjoy it now while it’s easier to draft. The opportunity cost of taking a Vengeance in this format is also pretty low; unless you are passing a total bomb, snapping it up doesn’t cost you much if the deck doesn’t materialize. The set being so deep because everything is sorta weak also makes it easier to make up for a wasted pick later, so there is less risk. BV fits well into a few already existing archetypes in UR and UW/r. The biggest plus of playing BV is not needing to have it on three to best use it. Past engines like Rift, Slide, or Furnace Celebration suffered from two problems. One, you would often dig through your deck to find one, using the very resources you were going to win with to get there(cycling cards or spellbombs). Often, you would dig so deep that you’re gassed once you find one, or just wasted too much time and can’t gain control.
The difference in Innistrad in the resource used to power the enchantment: flashback. There are 20 non rare cards with flashback(21 counting Runic Repetition), and only Memory’s Journey really shouldn’t make a cut ever, unless you have like 4 BV’s and want to cycle them back into your deck when you accidentally mill them while gassing up. While you bide your time, you can go about your business like a normal deck. You play some dudes, play the front end of some flashback spells to either apply pressure or keep opponents in check, and play some of the milling cards you were going to play anyway to fill up for later. Once you get a Vengeance, the whole game changes. Those sometimes minor effects from all your flashback now have FREE shocks attached. It is REALLY hard to lose when you get one or more free Shocks a turn.
As for how to draft this deck, it’s not hard. As mentioned before, there is a low cost to taking a Vengeance, most times a Vengeance deck operates quite like a normal deck without it’s namesake, albeit with a few extra milling effects or flashback cards you might ‘randomly’ not recast. Your actual picks depend largely on context(like every other archetype in this format thankfully). Each BV you get makes flashback cards and spells that extend the game a little better, and aggro creatures that would be used in a ‘normal’ draft deck worse. With one BV, it’s a supplemental strategy. You just won’t draw the thing often, but that’s ok since aside from this one card, your deck is a typical draft deck with dudes, removal, and tricks. With two BV, you can play a more controlling role. Don’t ignore your curve since against slower, bomb laden decks you need to get them beat down just a bit so you can keep them on the back foot in the late game. With 3 BV, you can pretty much take every flashback/milling card you see with impunity, and only pass one when taking a bomb of some kind.
Here’s an example of a 2 BV deck, and also what I ran yesterday at Warriors 3:
- Reckless Waif
- Ashmouth Hound x2
- Village Ironsmith
- Armored Skaab x2
- Selhoff Occultist
- Slayer of the Wicked x2
- Skirsdag Cultist x2
- Fortress Crab
- Falkenrath Marauders
- Sensory Deprivation
- Blazing Torch
- Burning Vengeance x2
- Rally the Peasants
- Silent Departure
- Dream Twist
- Desperate Ravings x2
- Mountain x8
- Island x7
- Plains x2
Relevant Sideboard cards included Bonds of Faith, Urgent Exorcism, and a second Fortress Crab.
Although I didn’t really have a system when drafting this deck, I started Red and Black, until a BV came around 6th. I took it, and tried to stay open, since I suspected Blue would open up in the second pack. A Desperate Raving I really expected to come back in pack one(that I admittedly wouldn’t have thought about had I not drafted a BV) did not, which was puzzling at first, but later I had realized how powerful the card is in any deck that can cast both ends. Packs two and three I continued to waffle back and forth, taking a few Falkenrath Nobles and some other random black cards, but some Blue as well. When I got the second BV early in three, that sealed it for me. I took two Slayer of the Wicked(bombs in case you weren’t aware) and anything I could jam into a U/R deck. It worked, but I may have gotten a little lucky. There is also a chance I should have just played the second Fortress Crab instead of the second Skirsdag Culitist since I only had about a dozen dudes or so.
I can’t wait to refine the drafting process for this when Innistrad is released on MTGO, and I’ll be sure to include at least one in my draft posts, which will probably be a combination video/written post since I really don’t want to go all train of thought to fill dead air for the entire draft. Also, feel free to comment here. Again, I have to approve comments, but it is only in place to prevent spam, and I approve anything else, even if it’s just ripping me. All opinions are welcome.