ost readers probably will not have played Ninth Edition as a draft format. This means that it will be a completely new format where card evaluation will be happening for the first time in almost every pack. Normally, Limited formats are mainstream insofar as they get played as premier events. This means that the pros draft these formats a lot, and we discuss almost any interesting decision that comes up—dissecting it from every possible angle, even throwing in similar situations, to see what everyone thinks is the best outcome. Drafting Ninth is a refreshing change.
I mentioned wacky draft strategies in my last article, and I forgot to mention that it is possible to draft an Overgrowth deck in 999. It consists of the enchant land, Scaled Wurms, and Craw Wurms, and is often combined with blue card draw to make use of all the mana you have available to you. It can be a lot of fun, but be prepared to adapt if the cards don't come!
I talked about card evaluation and the base qualities that good Limited cards possess last week. I also mentioned that Ninth is a great format to showcase these qualities. I stressed that tempo was far inferior here than in normal formats. I was, in part, in error. Tempo is far less important, but there are clear cases where it still holds true. Evasion creatures in Ninth rule the red zone. Luckily, they tend to be small in nature and can be dealt with by almost all the removal in the set. However, if you play a colour combination lacking in removal, then the value of tempo increases. Enough chitter-chatter, on to the draft walkthrough. Remember, qualities you should be looking for are bombs, fatties, evasion, removal, combat tricks, repeatable effects, tempo (acceleration), and card advantage.
Pack 1, Pick 1
Shatter, Pegasus Charger, Contaminated Bond, Llanowar Elves, Remove Soul, Sandstone Warrior, Wanderguard Sentry, Order of the Sacred Bell, Spineless Thug, Angelic Blessing, Zombify, Wurm's Tooth, Circle of Protection: Black, Loxodon Warhammer, Swamp
Pack 1, Pick 2
Holy Strength, Goblin Brigand, Sage Aven, Wood Elves, Looming Shade, Honor Guard, Raise Dead, Kavu Climber, Fugitive Wizard, Consume Spirit, Sanctum Guardian, Bottle Gnomes, Swamp, Final Punishment
Pack 1, Pick 3
Crossbow Infantry, Lightning Elemental, Storm Crow, Trained Armodon, Highway Robber, Infantry Veteran, Fear, Rootwalla, Flight, Phyrexian Hulk, Stream of Life, Traumatize, Plains
Pack1, Pick 4
Crossbow Infantry, Lightning Elemental, Storm Crow, Trained Armodon, Highway Robber, Infantry Veteran, Bog Imp, Scaled Wurm, Dehydration, Boiling Seas, Mountain, Kraken's Eye
Pack 1, Pick 5
Demystify, Enfeeblement, Fishliver Oil, Shatter, Raging Goblin, Sift, Zodiac Monkey, Giant Cockroach, Reminisce, Demon's Horn, Forest
Pack 1, Pick 6
Mending Hands, Hollow Dogs, Reclaim, Sandstone Warrior, Wanderguard Sentry, Spineless Thug, Angelic Blessing, Groundskeeper, Swamp, Megrim
Pack 1, Pick 7
Holy Strength, Goblin Brigand, Wood Elves, Looming Shade, Razortooth Rats, Natural Spring, Time Ebb, Reflexes, Swamp
Pack 1, Picks 8 through 15
Reflexes, Plague Beetle, Sea's Claim, Raging Goblin, Giant Cockroach, Withering Gaze, Web, Mountain
Pick: Giant Cockroach
Shatter, Contaminated Bond, Spineless Thug, Angelic Blessing, Wurm's Tooth, Circle of Protection: Black, Swamp
Pick: Circle of Protection: Black
Holy Strength, Wood Elves, Raise Dead, Fugitive Wizard, Bottle Gnomes, Swamp
Pick: Wood Elves
Storm Crow, Fear, Flight, Stream of Life, Plains
Pick: Stream of Life
Storm Crow, Bog Imp, Mountain, Kraken's Eye
Pick: Storm Crow
Fishliver Oil, Reminisce, Demon's Horn
Angelic Blessing, Swamp
Pick: Angelic Blessing
Nothing really of note here as the last few picks rotate around. We wheeled a late Wood Elves which I was really happy about, other than that, just dross.
To review: So far we have a collection of solid green creatures, Time Ebb and Sift as blue spells, and the holy bomb of Loxodon Warhammer. We're looking to continue to improve in these colours, focussing on the theme of card advantage, whilst also being wary that we are an inherently removal light colour and will therefore need several temp cards, such as bounce and acceleration, to stay in the game if faced by opposing evasion creatures.
Pack 2, Pick 1
Venerable Monk, Goblin Mountaineer, Sleight of Hand, Tree Monkey, Festering Goblin, Pegasus Charger, Contaminated Bond, Llanowar Elves, Remove Soul, Seething Song, Soul Feast, Circle of Protection: Red, Orcish Artillery, Magnivore, Swamp
Pack 2, Pick 2
Suntail Hawk, Balduvian Barbarians, Boomerang, Overgrowth, Foul Imp, Skyhunter Prowler, Demystify, Enfeeblement, Giant Growth, Fishliver Oil, Demolish, Phantom Warrior, Ley Druid, Plains
Pack 2, Pick 3
Goblin Sky Raider, Aven Cloudchaser, Razortooth Rats, Natural Spring, Time Ebb, Goblin Piker, Horned Turtle, Giant Spider, Mind Rot, Veteran Cavalier, Spirit Link, Rod of Ruin, Swamp
Pack 2, Pick 4
Firebreathing, Bog Imp, Scaled Wurm, Dehydration, Stone Rain, Aven Fisher, Unholy Strength, Urza's Mine, Levitation, Biorhythm, Forest, Swarm of Rats
Pack 2, Pick 5
Sacred Nectar, Dark Banishing, Elvish Berserker, Crafty Pathmage, Goblin Piker, Horned Turtle, Giant Spider, Mind Rot, Veteran Cavalier, Blackmail, Swamp
Pack 2, Picks 6 through 15
Venerable Monk, Goblin Mountaineer, Sleight of Hand, Tree Monkey, Festering Goblin, Mending Hands, Firebreathing, Ur-Golem's Eye, Deathgazer, Mountain
Pick: Sleight of Hand
Holy Day, Norwood Ranger, Goblin Sky Raider, Stone Rain, Aven Fisher, Unholy Strength, Anarchist, Summer Bloom, Swamp
Pick: Aven Fisher
Suntail Hawk, Boomerang, Overgrowth, Fear, Flight, Dragon's Claw, Dream Prowler, Island
Goblin Mountaineer, Sleight of Hand, Tree Monkey, Festering Goblin, Contaminated Bond, Seething Song, Swamp
Pick: Sleight of Hand
Suntail Hawk, Overgrowth, Demystify, Fishliver Oil, Ley Druid, Plains
Pick: Fishliver Oil
Goblin Sky Raider, Natural Spring, Time Ebb, Veteran Cavalier, Swamp
Pick: Time Ebb
Firebreathing, Bog Imp, Stone Rain, Forest
Pick: Stone Rain
Sacred Nectar, Crafty Pathmage, Swamp
Pick: Crafty Pathmage
The rest of this pack was all clear steering. I didn't have a single decision to make. The second Aven Fisher was a nice touch. Time Ebb and Boomerang means we now have multiple ways of dealing with creatures. The two Sleight of Hands help our card quality quota and get us one step close to the Hammer.
To review: We now have seventeen cards we would we happy to maindeck, so we will not be desperately searching for playables. We're not lacking in any particular area so we have the luxury to make picks purely from individual card power rather than to fill any niche that might be missing. A combat trick or another piece of acceleration wouldn't go amiss. Other than the Rod and Hammer, we don't have too many powerful cards to dig towards, so we could do with a few more fatties, but over all, the deck is ship shape.
Pack 3, Pick 1
Samite Healer, Panic Attack, Mana Leak, Naturalize, Ravenous Rats, Sacred Nectar, Dark Banishing, Elvish Berserker, Crafty Pathmage, Hill Giant, Drudge Skeletons, Gift of Estates, Cowardice, Island, Spirit Link
Pack 3, Pick 2
Hill Giant, Demystify, Enfeeblement, Giant Growth, Fishliver Oil, Shatter, Lava Axe, Counsel of the Soratami, Treetop Bracers, Serpent Warrior, Spellbook, Anaconda, Master Healer, Island
Pack 3, Pick 3
Seething Song, Pacifism, Fear, Rootwalla, Flight, Lava Axe, Counsel of the Soratami, Treetop Bracers, Serpent Warrior, Flashfires, Treasure Trove, Regeneration, Mountain
Pack 3, Pick 4
Warrior's Honor, Flowstone Shambler, Lumengrid Warden, Craw Wurm, Coercion, Foot Soldiers, Plague Beetle, Rampant Growth, Sea's Claim, Urza's Power Plant, Sacred Ground, Swamp
Pack 3, Pick 5
Mending Hands, Hollow Dogs, Reclaim, Rogue Kavu, Sea Monster, Grizzly Bears, Scathe Zombies, Glory Seeker, Bog Wraith, Whip Sergeant, Swamp
Pack 3, Picks 6 through 15
Warrior's Honor, Flowstone Shambler, Lumengrid Warden, Craw Wurm, Coercion, Foot Soldiers, Holy Day, Norwood Ranger, Sudden Impact, Swamp
Pick: Craw Wurm
Honor Guard, Raise Dead, Fugitive Wizard, Sea Monster, Grizzly Bears, Scathe Zombies, Glory Seeker, Tempest of Light, Swamp
Pick: Sea Monster
Panic Attack, Naturalize, Contaminated Bond, Llanowar Elves, Seething Song, Peace of Mind, Mind Bend, Plains
Pick: Llanowar Elves
Panic Attack, Naturalize, Ravenous Rats, Sacred Nectar, Elvish Berserker, Crafty Pathmage, Island
Demystify, Fishliver Oil, Shatter, Serpent Warrior, Spellbook, Island
Pick: Serpent Warrior
Seething Song, Fear, Flight, Treasure Trove, Mountain
Pick: Treasure Trove
Coercion, Plague Beetle, Sea's Claim, Swamp
Reclaim, Grizzly Bears, Swamp
Pick: Grizzly Bears
Norwood Ranger, Swamp
Pick: Norwood Ranger
Once more, I was on autopilot for these last picks. We pick up a few more sideboard cards in the form of the second Sea Monster and a Naturalize. We gain two more solid, needed cards for the main—Llanowar Elves and a second Craw Wurm.
We wound up with exactly the correct number of playables, which meant that deckbuilding was also simple. The final result of which was:
My first match was against the guy who wound up with all the white cards. This left him with a high quality, very aggressive deck. I had Loxodon Warhammer to turn the tides in the first game after a blistering start from him. My Giant Spider held him off for a few turns in the second game, until the Warhammer once again reared its head.
I faced a black-green deck in the second round. His turn-three Royal Assassin was probably the worst card I could face. The game lasted till turn twelve, despite his Soul Feast, Gravediggered Highway Robbers and Razortooth Rats! I dug through my deck with my card draw and used my Eddies to stay alive, but I couldn't piece together my bounce and counters to deal with the Assassin and died with twelve cards in my deck (the bottom card of which I knew thanks to a Sleight), which still included my Warhammer and Rod of Ruin, both of which would have been game at any point. The second game boiled down to a race between his second-turn Zodiac Monkey and next-turn Razortooth Rats versus my Phantom Warrior and Aven Fishers. I drew ahead with an Eddy, he regained the ground with two Highway Robbers. I died a turn before I killed, as is always the case, and once more, either artifact would have won the game if I had drawn it.
My one regret is that I wound up blue-green, as it is one of the few archetypes (along with almost any white deck) that has to seriously factor in tempo. It should be noted that when I refer to tempo, I'm not referring to simply making a creature before your fourth turn, I'm talking about a situation where you can fall so significantly behind the board position that you have to make sacrifices like bad blocks just to stay alive. Even though the match I lost contained the games where I fell behind in tempo, my card advantage should have led me to victory, and (as most losers chime) I was statistically unlucky to not have won at least one of those games...
Next week, I hope to have a little insight into Future Sight. For now, as of this writing, I have a Pro Tour (I'm still trying to work out how much I would pay to make it Limited, probably around $300) to play.