Paul Walks Through An Onslaught Draft

Over My Shoulder

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In my last article I asked for ideas for this one, and the best email came from Brad Baker, who essentially asked for more specific examples from actual drafts. So I figured I might as well go all out and create a walkthrough of an entire booster draft of mine.

My initial picks are listed in bold and an asterisk indicates that the card came back and I took it from my second look at the pack. While not all cards and picks are listed for each pack, the critical ones are all there.

Draft Round One-Passing Left

Pack 1
Swat, Lay Waste*, Elvish Vanguard, Dirge of Dread, Disciple of Grace, Battlefield Medic, Wall of Mulch, Daru Cavalier, Goblin Burrows

The draft started and I found myself looking at a relatively weak opening pack. Elvish Vanguard is not a strong first pick, although it gets better with the addition of LegionsTM cards. It's best to use early picks to start grabbing removal, so Swat seemed to be the best option.

Pack 2
Cruel Revival, Imagecrafter*, Krosan Tusker, Gustcloak Skirmisher, Cabal Executioner, Choking Tethers, Charging Slateback, Piety Charm

The rare was missing, which unfortunately somewhat invalidates the signals that the second booster would normally send. Regardless, the strongest card in the pack was definitely Cruel Revival. Hopefully the player in front of me would realize that I would take the Revival and therefore stay out of black.

Pack 3
Cabal Archon, Profane Prayers*, Erratic Explosion, Birchlore Rangers, Ironfist Crusher, Wretched Anurid, Imagecrafter, Leery Fogbeast, Shaleskin Bruiser, Riptide Biologist, Backslide

Cabal Archon is an insane card in black-white, so I'm pretty happy to pick one up. The other option was Erratic Explosion, but that's not a high enough quality card to justify entering the greedy color combination of black-red. Right now I'm still keeping my options open.

Pack 4
Glory Seeker, Disciple of Grace*, Dirge of Dread, Symbiotic Elf, Dive Bomber, Naturalize, Anurid Murkdiver, Wave of Indifference

Well, I was looking to move into black-white, so I'm fairly happy with Glory Seeker. The other option was Dive Bomber, but I'm not a huge fan of this non-aggressive flier. Glory Seeker will get in two to four points of damage and then trade with a morph, but more importantly it'll fit into a shallow portion of my curve.

Pack 5
Gangrenous Goliath, Lonely Sandbar*, Starlit Sanctum, Fallen Cleric, Foothill Guide, Taunting Elf, Riptide Biologist

Since I'm mainly looking at black-white clerics right now, I'm extremely happy to get the Goliath fifth pick. Even if you don't ever retrieve him, it's still essentially a non-green Barkhide Mauler. I also wanted the Starlit Sanctum, but I can hope to pick up one later.

Pack 6
Choking Tethers, Piety Charm, Aphetto Dredging, Meddle, Elvish Warrior, Nosy Goblin

Here I can take Piety Charm, which looks like it won't help me much as the packs have been light in soldiers, or I can hedge by taking the strong blue card Choking Tethers, which I decide to do.

Pack 7
Starlit Sanctum, Renewed Faith, Tranquil Thicket, Sandskin

There's the Starlit Sanctum I was looking for. I take it without hesitation, as it's great in black-white and even sometimes playable in black-blue with Mistforms and the like.

Pack 8
Boneknitter, Slipstream Eel, Crown of Awe, Wirewood Herald, Wave of Indifference, Backslide

Eighth pick Boneknitter is a nice surprise. It's not amazing in black-white clerics but shines in blue-black, where it can regenerate most of the creatures in the deck.

When the packs came back around I picked up an Imagecrafter and a Lonely Sandbar for the black-blue deck, as well as a Profane Prayers for the sideboard and a couple cyclers.

Draft Round Two-Passing Right

Pack 1
Screeching Buzzard, Complicate*, Goblin Taskmaster, Sage Aven, Shepherd of Rot, Crown of Awe, Crown of Fury, Battlefield Medic, Pinpoint Avalanche, Tranquil Thicket, Secluded Steppe, Serpentine Basilisk, Oblation

Looking at another weak opening pack, I took the Screeching Buzzard with a small hope of getting the Complicate back. Thankfully, this worked out and I was on my way to a solid black-blue deck.

Pack 2
Callous Oppressor, Crown of Suspicion*, Lavamancer's Skill, Wellwisher, Cruel Revival, Forgotten Cave, Glory Seeker, Gluttonous Zombie, Sunfire Balm, Flamestick Courier

There were all sorts of black goodies in this pack, but the Callous Oppressor trumped all of that. Although I never really drew him in the games below, it almost always dominates the table when it's out. I also already had an Imagecrafter, which makes the Oppressor even stronger.

Pack 3
Crown of Suspicion, Wellwisher, Wirewood Savage, Shepherd of Rot, Grassland Crusader, Pacifism, Forgotten Cave, Elven Riders

Lots of green in this pack, but I'm already committed. Crown of Suspicion is a fine card for removing annoyances like Sparksmith and also the Wellwisher that was staring at me in this pack.

Pack 4
Wretched Anurid, Discombobulate*, Slipstream Eel, Treespring Lorian, Symbiotic Elf, Fallen Cleric, Skirk Commando, Snapping Thragg

Again the pack is a little weak in my colors, but I'm happy with picking up a Wretched Anurid, as I like the aggressive qualities of this card more than most.

Pack 5
Mistform Dreamer, Festering Goblin, Daunting Defender, Elvish Warrior, Screaming Seahawk

Dreamer or Goblin? This is almost a tough pick, as the Goblin has the huge bonus of a one drop yet is still a strong card, but at this point I need the evasion more than the quasi-removal.

Pack 6
Mistform Dreamer, Goblin Sledder, Haunted Cadaver, Wirewood Herald, Renewed Faith

I'm pretty happy to see another Dreamer staring back at me. The benefit of drafting blue in this format is that you get fliers fairly late. Unfortunately I haven't seen any Ascending Avens, but Mistform Dreamers will do just fine.

Pack 7
Misery Charm, Krosan Tusker, Primal Boost, Anurid Murkdiver, Fleeting Aven

Somehow Primal Boost made it to seventh pick, along with a Tusker, but at this point there's nothing I can do about it. Misery Charm is a strange pick here, but I didn't really want the Fleeting Aven due to already having two Dreamers, and I was thinking about the powerful combination of Imagecrafter and Misery Charm. A one-mana spell that destroys anything is pretty ridiculous, even if it does take another card to make it work.

Pack 8
Choking Tethers, Discombobulate, Everglove Courier

Eighth pick Choking Tethers, how lucky. I love the little gifts you get when drafting blue.

When the packs come back around I get the Complicate I wanted, plus an extra Crown of Suspicion and a Discombobulate I probably won't play.

Draft Round Three-Passing Left

Pack 1
Tribal Golem, Mistform Dreamer*, Broodhatch Nantuko, Snapping Thragg, Catapult Squad, Barkhide Mauler, Grassland Crusader, Crown of Suspicion, Wirewood Elf, Wretched Anurid, Leery Fogbeast, Sage Aven, Goblin Taskmaster, Daunting Defender

This pack was unique in that it had a full fourteen playable cards. Tribal Golem was the obvious pick as none of the strong cards were blue or black and the golem is very good in any blue deck. Mistforms and Imagecrafter allow it to pick up abilities on the fly, so it's essentially a 4/4 hasted regenerating flier in blue-black.

Pack 2
Cover of Darkness, Fallen Cleric*, Chain of Plasma, Explosive Vegetation, Disruptive Pitmage, Daru Lancer, Misery Charm, Daunting Defender, Severed Legion, Vitality Charm

Cover of Darkness is a fine card, although it ended up not making the cut. If I had picked up another Anurid or maybe a Nantuko Husk, the card certainly would have been in my deck.

Pack 3
Ghosthelm Courier, Backslide*, Snarling Undorak, Lonely Sandbar, Wirewood Elf, Sage Aven, Battering Craghorn, Lay Waste

I took the Courier here, although in retrospect I probably should have just taken the Lonely Sandbar. I wanted to try out the Courier as I figured it'd be good with my Mistform Dreamers, but it was just too unwieldy.

Pack 4
Mistform Wall, Mage's Guile*, Disciple of Malice, Wirewood Herald, Spined Basher, Taunting Elf, Invigorating Boon, Dawning Purist

While not my favorite card in blue-black, Mistform Wall can sometimes keep you alive while allowing your evasion creatures to take the late game. I'm not a huge fan of Spined Basher except perhaps in green-black with Wirewood Savage.

Pack 5
Screeching Buzzard, Festering Goblin, Erratic Explosion, Daru Healer, Dive Bomber, Catapult Squad, Daru Cavalier, Aphetto Dredging

A late Screeching Buzzard is a nice gift here. Again there is a Festering Goblin, but with two Crowns of Suspicion, again I choose the evasion.

Pack 6
Misery Charm, Screaming Seahawk, Gravespawn Sovereign, Profane Prayers, Secluded Steppe, Krosan Groundshaker, Leery Fogbeast

At this point I'm mainly picking for my sideboard, so I take the Misery Charm over the Gravespawn Sovereign as there's no way I'll get enough zombies to make it worthwhile. The black charm is generally a stronger sideboard card against clerics than Profane Prayers, especially with my Imagecrafter.

Pack 7
Chain of Vapor, Spined Basher, Heedless One, Vitality Charm

I've always liked this card more than most people, but not enough to actually maindeck it. However, this seemed like the perfect draft to give it a try.

Pack 8
Gangrenous Goliath, Lonely Sandbar, Pearlspear Courier, Disciple of Grace, Birchlore Rangers

Wow. I'm not black-white clerics, but I'm not complaining in the slightest. An eighth pick five-mana 4/4 is always a gift, regardless of whether if its Barkhide Mauler or Gangrenous Goliath.

Out of my first pack I unsurprisingly get the Mistform Dreamer back, followed by some random cycling cards. The deck ended up being pretty straightforward to build, with one decision being to cut the Starlit Sanctum, as it just didn't do enough and there were three double black spells that I wanted to be able to cast. The Ghosthelm Courier was often sided out for Crown of Suspicion or Misery Charm, but other than that I was happy with the maindeck. You can see the final version below.

Round 1 vs. ivorcek (g/r/b)

Game 1
I mulligan a one-land hand into a two-swamp hand while drawing first. He Chain of Plasmas my turn two Wretched Anurid, which I follow up with a turn three Mistform Dreamer and turn four Mistform Wall. The Wall is Smothered and he attacks me down to fifteen with Birchlore Rangers and a facedown creature. I play a second Dreamer and then a Gangrenous Goliath to hold the ground, but he now has a Nantuko Husk and decides to race so the Goliath swings in with the Dreamers to reduce him to four. He concedes on his next turn.

Game 2
I keep a two swamp hand drawing first. Boneknitter comes out on turn two, but on turn five I still haven't drawn another land and concede when he Smothers my only creature. Not much I could do about that.

Game 3
I keep a two land hand playing first. My curve this game is turn one Imagecrafter, turn two Wretched Anurid, turn three Mistform Dreamer, turn four Chain of Vapor his Spined Basher and play a second Mistform Dreamer. He chooses not to chain it back, probably because he doesn't want to lose a land. Turn five I cycle Choking Tethers on the re-played Spined Basher and attack him down to one, with Cruel Revival still in hand. That's pretty much the blue-black god draw.

Doesn't get much better.

Doesn't get much better.

Round 2 vs. redlum (w/u/r)

Game 1
I keep a three land hand playing first. Imagecrafter returns on turn one but there's no Wretched Anurid to follow it up. On turn three I have the option of playing a Dreamer or sitting on Complicate. I choose the latter and luckily counter a morphed Gravel Slinger which might have later shot down my flier. I then play the Dreamer and put my Lonely Sandbar into play tapped as I haven't drawn any other lands and I want to be able to play a Screeching Buzzard next turn. He plays Ascending Aven, which swings in and destroys the Buzzard with the help of Piety Charm (Imagecrafter had attacked that turn so it wasn't available to disrupt the play). I play a Mistform Dreamer and block his Aven, saving it after damage with Chain of Vapor. He taps out for a Snapping Thragg which is stopped by the Gangrenous Goliath I play next. On turn eight I draw Tribal Golem and with the help of Imagecrafter send it in along with the first Dreamer as a 4/4 hasted flier. After drawing his next card he concedes.

Game 2
I keep another three land hand, this time drawing first. Turn one Imagecrafter occurs yet again and then Mistform Dreamer shows up on turn three. He strangely doesn't attack with his facedown creature and then passes the turn without playing anything. So I read the creature as Gravel Slinger and I play Screeching Buzzard without attacking. He unmorphs on end step and on his turn he taps out for Ascending Aven. I topdeck Swat and destroy the Gravel Slinger, swinging in with everyone for five. He answers with Dive Bomber and attacks back for three. Mistform Dreamer and Screeching Buzzard attack, with the Dive Bomber blocking the Dreamer. He attempts to save it with Piety Charm but Imagecrafter ruins that plan. I tap out for Gangrenous Goliath, he plays Daunting Defender, then I attack for six (Ascending Aven decides to not attack or block this turn) and play a second Goliath. He concedes on his eighth turn.

Round 3 vs. DrWetbone (g/r)

Game 1
I keep a four land hand playing first and have nothing until turn three Mistform Dreamer. By his third turn he's played Birchlore Rangers, Taunting Elf, Goblin Sledder and a facedown creature and on his next turn he adds another morpher and another Sledder. I do my best to stay in this game but one of the facedown creatures is Skirk Commando which zaps my Dreamer. At this point it's too hard to win before succumbing to the ground attackers, especially since the other facedown creature turns out to be Snarling Undorak. A full strength Choking Tethers saves me from death by Wave of Indifference, and then cycling the other buys me one more turn, but I'm drawing all lands.

Game 2
I'm playing first and keep a four-land hand. On turn three I sit on Complicate and stop a face down Spitting Gourna, although I get hit again with an Elvish Warrior. My next two plays are Mistform Dreamer and then Gangrenous Goliath to hold the ground. However, his fifth turn play is Menacing Ogre, which will hit me for five if I let it become big, so it's worth it for me to bid at least five life and probably more. The question is, does my opponent know this? Originally I'm going to bid six but Eugene Harvey is watching this game and mentions (seriously or otherwise) that six is a common tying number. At the last minute I make it seven. Sure enough, my opponent bid six so I go to nine life but maintain board control.

His next play is Tephraderm (enough with the rares already!) while Dreamer attacks him to fourteen. He Wave of Indifferences in an attempt to bring me to zero and force me to sacrifice my Cabal Archon, but I Swat his Elvish Warrior and go to two with the Archon still in play. He attacks with everything again, this time including a facedown creature, so Goliath takes down the Ogre, a recently played Boneknitter blocks Tephraderm and regenerates twice, and Cabal Archon loses to his now face-up Battering Craghorn, but I go back to four and bring him to ten in the process. Crown of Suspicion removes his newly played Sparksmith, Cruel Revival later deals with the Tephraderm, and the Dreamer keeps coming across for two until the game is over.

Game 3
I draw this time and keep another four-land hand. Turn three Dreamer shows up yet again and then the ground is shored up by turn four Mistform Wall. He plays Goblin Sledder and attacks with Wirewood Savage. I call his bluff and block, so he sacrifices the Sledder and plays Wirewood Pride to bring down the wall. Next turn I bring out Wretched Anurid (unfortunately letting him draw a card) and sit on Complicate mana, but his only play is Wellwisher. Both of my creatures attack and bring him to eleven, then I tap out for a regenerating, trampling Tribal Golem. He hardcasts Krosan Tusker, drawing a card, so I nail the Wellwisher with Crown of Suspicion and turn the Dreamer into a wizard so that I can attack for six in the air. Tusker swings and hits me to eleven, but Treespring Lorian is countered by Complicate, followed by a topdecked Swat that removes the Savage and allows me to swing for nine and the win.

Topdecking at its finest.

Topdecking at its finest.

Wrapping Up

So that's a look at how to draft the blue-black combination in practice. Send me feedback on what you thought of this article, as if you liked it I'll do another one. If not, I'll write about something else.

Paul Sottosanti
Yegg on Magic Online
Team CMU
pbs@andrew.cmu.edu

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