From the Sideboard—The Flagstaff Draft Report

Hipsters of the Coast welcomes a guest post from Manhattan native and former Brooklyn resident Jeremy Broomfield. For more about Jeremy, read on below.

I played my first booster draft of Gatecrash today, and it was a very different experience from most of my RTR drafts. Perhaps it was the packs we got, but it seemed we were all stunned by the number of amazing cards we were getting passed, and how frequently we’d look at a pack of nine cards and find them almost equally awesome.

I played Boros in the prerelease and I felt like I knew how to draft it. I had every intention of going Boros or Gruul, and here’s a list of the red cards I had at the end of the draft (uncommons in silver, rares in gold):

2X Foundry Street Denizen
2X Act of Treason
Pit Fight
Mugging
Wojek Halberdiers
Frenzied Tilling (whatever)
Cinder Elemental
Five-Alarm Fire
Gruul Ragebeast
Wrecking Ogre

Nice, right?

I played none of those cards.

Red dried up halfway through pack one, so I started taking the cheap black creatures that were flowing freely. I took Godless Shrine to pay for the draft, not thinking I’d play it. Then, fourth pick of pack two, someone handed me a Crypt Ghast (?!), and I moved firmly into Orzhov. I had already passed some Guildgates, the Keyrune, and Knight of Obligation, but I still was able to put this together (creatures in bold, spells in italics):

One-drops
Dutiful Thrull
Shadow Alley Denizen
Smite

Two-drops
Basilica Screecher
3X Gutter Skulk
2X Syndic of Tithes

Three-drops
Corpse Blockade
2X Kingpin’s Pet
Gift of Orzhova

Four-drops
Balustrade Spy
Crypt Ghast
Syndicate Enforcer
Syndicate Enforcer
One Thousand Lashes
Purge the Profane

Five-drops
Angelic Edict
Debtor’s Pulpit
Shadow Slice

Six-drops
Undercity Plague

Lands
7X Plains
8X Swamp
Orzhov Guildgate
Godless Shrine

And that was literally every W, B, or WB card I had. If I had had any other options, I probably would have cut Debtor’s Pulpit and Purge the Profane, but I didn’t, so I didn’t.

Round 1 vs. Dimir

I had a hand full of land (plus a four-drop) and took the mulligan on the draw to a marginally better hand: five land and a two-drop. Somehow I got a toehold on the board, and he encoded his Hands of Binding on his Deathcult Rogue, only to look at my side to see my Denizen and Spy, both Rogues. It seems that rogues run along rooftops, thinking they’re all sneaky, only to constantly run into other rogues who thought the same thing. They would form a club or something, but nobody trusts anyone else to be the treasurer. Anyway: He used Soul Ransom to steal a Kingpin’s Pet, and when I pitched two lands to get it back, I had to point out that he got to draw two cards—”Whoa, that card is better than I thought!” said he. Once I got extort really working, he went fast in the first game, even without Crypt Ghast.

Game two he knocked out two of my better cards with back-to-back Psychic Strikes. I said, “How many of those did you draft?” and he giggled gleefully and said “four,” which he should not have told me, as I played around them for the rest of the match. But his Ogre Slumlord and Stolen Identity helped him take the game, and he milled me enough to make his Wight of Precinct Six big enough to kill me.

Game three he wasted his Psychic Strikes on Skulks, and I pecked at him with Pets and extort. He encoded Hands of Binding and Paranoid Delusions onto a Cloudfin Raptor, but he couldn’t find a creature to evolve it, so it couldn’t do any damage (probably the two other Psychic Strikes in hand). He had 11 life when I hit him with a Syndicate Enforcer encoded with Shadow Slice for nine damage (plus one extort), and he died from One Thousand Lashes during upkeep.

2-1 in games, 1-0 in matches. Yeah!

Round 2 vs. Simic

Not much to see here. Simic did its thing, and I drew shitty cards. He ran out Experiment One into Disciple of the Old Ways, Forced Adaptation on the Disciple, and Ivy Lane Denizen (holy crap imagine this guy in multiples?), while all I could muster was a pitiful Thrull and a Smite. He bashed again game two and I blinked dumbly at my playmat. 0-2 in games, 1-1 in matches.

Round 3 vs. Boros

This kid got bad luck. He took a mulligan on the play as I stared at this opening draw: Plains, Swamp, Godless Shrine, Dutiful Thrull, Syndic of Tithes, Kingpin’s Pet, Crypt Ghast. That was so nice. His Daring Skyjek and Court Street Denizen never knew what hit them. It didn’t feel great that he was stuck on three lands until I finished him off, but it felt better than losing. Game two I was a little worried when he gave the Gift of Orzhova to a Skyjek and whacked me for four lifelink a few times, but once the angels put him in their skyjail, I used Ghast, Syndic, and Pet to extort him to a nubbin and finished him off with a totally unnecessary Undercity Plague. 2-0 in games, 2-1 in matches.

My record earned me third place, and one of my two prize packs had a Master Biomancer.

Lessons from the day: Amazing cards, amazing packs in this format. Stick to two colors. Mind your curve, especially taking care to spread your removal around your curve. Smite + cheap creatures = Orzhov success. Gift of Orzhova is another great aura from the set. Don’t draft 4X Psychic Spike at the expense of creatures if you’re trying to use cipher to win. Shadow Slice is great, splashable even. Debtor’s Pulpit shouldn’t be necessary if your extort is working well, tapper or no. Don’t forget to pay for your extort triggers even if you see your opponent tapping mana for a counterspell—extort triggers on casting, not resolution. Milling is stupid. Unless a six-drop is a sick bomb that will win you the game on the spot, you should probably leave it out.

Maybe that all sounds like drafting 101, but it’s good to remind myself of the basics sometimes!

Jeremy Broomfield came to MTG later than most boys (age 33, sometime during Shadowmoor block), which helped him to avoid a really prolonged Timmy stage. The folks he played Magic with most regularly in Brooklyn were intelligent, capable, hygienic, solvent, and good at playing Magic. They disdained Constructed in favor of Limited, and when he played with them—mostly in booster drafts at someone’s apartment—he was definitely the sucker at the table. When he moved from Brooklyn, NY, to Sedona, AZ, in 2010, his Magic experiences declined in frequency (the mean age of Sedona residents is probably 35 years over the mean age of Magic players, so he must drive for a while to find a draft). He found local communities in the thrall of Standard, and after preaching the gospel of Limited seemingly in vain, he has found a regular draft at The Geekery in Flagstaff. He is happy now. When he’s not playing Magic he teaches oil painting at a boarding school, where he lives with his wife and seven-month-old daughter.

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  1. […] when Matt Jones recounted the highs and lows of GRUUL SMASH, followed by an (always appreciated) guest post from Jeremy Broomfield on his first GTC draft experience. Li Xu Naya’d Saito’s Gruul deck (can anyone resist […]

  2. […] 3 vs Simic with some Gruul Game one was a rematch against the guy with 4x Psychic Strike from my previous post. I got a good crew of creatures out fast (Thrull >  Screecher > Skyjek + extort > Alms […]



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