Having played in the Pre-Release and release events for both Scars of Mirrodin and Mirrodin Besieged, I was fairly confident that I knew everything there was to know about the format and how to draft in it, despite having no other experience with New Phyrexia than covering a Scars block Sealed Deck event last month. Apparently I’ve never played Magic before, because I was under the assumption that a single set couldn’t make that much of a difference in the way the block drafts, particularly in a block with such a unified theme as Scars.
Getting trounced at my first Friday Night Magic draft showed me the light, and I thought I’d share some of my musings. In no particular order…
This was my undisputed choice for best deck archetype coming into NPH (I’m not sure if that’s the abbreviated notation for New Phyrexia, but the Dr. Horrible nerd in me wants to believe it’s true), and while both colors still retain a lot of their strength, I’m beginning to doubt the merit of their combination. I noticed a strange phenomenon while drafting the block, in that it seemed all the excellent removal and equipment spells I’d gotten used to relying on were sort of thinned out by the requisite of only drafting one pack per set. I could no longer count on a bulk of hefty and cheap equipment spells to make my Goblin Gaveleers worthwhile, or enough fast threats to outrace Infect. I suppose a decent R/W is still possible, but you’ve got to hit the nut draw for both colors.
Now that I come to think of it, perhaps the problem with R/W is symptomatic of a much larger general problem with fast strategies. While there are some decent speedy beatdown guys out there, it seems as though they aren’t prevalent enough for you to devise a strategy where your opponent isn’t going to hit 5 or 6 mana. Especially because of all the mana-Myr and other ramp cards. Most games will see the top of both players’ curves becoming at least potentially active. As such, my practice decks have started looking better since I’ve favored 4cc and 5cc Midrange drops over fast beatdown.
CardsnDice and I had this discussion on the blog when Besieged came out. We measured Infect, and found it wanting. We also made another prediction, though we may not have mentioned it on-air: that Wizards would continue to ram this mechanic down our throats until it was viable. And so they have. A 2cc unblockable Infect card? Unreasonable, at least in my opinion. So, yes, it is now perfectly possible to draft a viable Infect deck, but you should feel slimy when you do it. It’s not even really necessary anymore to stack your deck with Infect creatures. You can just pick and choose the best ones and find some decent, fatty normal creatures to hold the board with. Stupid.
Absolutely love this mechanic. This is where it’s at. Draft is all about combat, and some of the best combat tricks involve alternate casting cost cards. Look at Gut Shot for example. For 0 mana you can kill any attacking or defending creature with 1 Toughness at instant speed. Apostle’s Blessing, while not making itself free, can allow you to save a creature or turn a disastrous combat phase into a victory. Sylvok Lifestaff and other such cards make it super easy to work the life loss into your strategy, too.
I hope this helps in some way. Feel free to leave any comments, agree or disagree, and I’ll be sure to respond to them! Peace, gamers!