Pack 1, Pick 1:
This is not exactly a difficult choice. An unmolested Elder of Laurels rules the board and sets me up nicely to be in G/W.
Pack 1, Pick 2:
Pack 1, Pick 3:
I don’t like Silver-Inlaid Dagger all that much. I mean, if I happen to have one, I’ll play it, but at this stage, it’s much more important to have a lot of cheap creatures.
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This should have been Mask of Avacyn. I don’t think I would start it anyway, but I suppose it’s not unreasonable for siding in.
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Pack 2, Pick 1:
Not a great first pick, but I can’t always open on-color rares.
Pack 2, Pick 2:
I admit this pick was pure speculation. I have no idea how good this card is in G/W. It seems that it would be very matchup-dependent—great versus some decks but mediocre versus others. Part of learning a Limited format is trying out all the cards, so that’s what I’m doing.
Pack 2, Pick 3:
Butcher's Cleaver is pretty close to being a Loxodon Warhammer in G/W because of the high number of Humans. It’s not quite as good since it doesn’t give Trample, and there are a bunch of cards I take over it, but in the right situation, it’s game-breaking.
Pack 2, Pick 4:
I plan on being the one attacking, so Rebuke isn’t great, but it’s nice to have outs when things don’t go according to plan.
Pack 2, Pick 5:
It sucks that I have to pick between a Pilgrim and Travel Preparations. I think they’re pretty close in power level, but my gut tells me that the first Travel Preparations is better than the first Pilgrim. I could be wrong about that, so don’t take it as gospel or anything.
Pack 2, Pick 6:
Well, I see that my decision to cut G/W in Pack 1 is paying dividends.
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I feel that I have enough combat tricks.
Pack 3, Pick 7:
Now this is a 2-drop I can get behind. Plus, I already have two copies of Thraben Sentry.
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Here’s what I submitted:
1 Ambush Viper
1 Chapel Geist
1 Darkthicket Wolf
1 Doomed Traveler
1 Elder Cathar
1 Elder of Laurels
1 Silverchase Fox
2 Avacyn's Pilgrim
2 Grizzled Outcasts
2 Hamlet Captain
2 Thraben Sentry
1 Moment of Heroism
1 Divine Reckoning
1 Prey Upon
1 Travel Preparations
1 Bonds of Faith
1 Blazing Torch
2 Butcher's Cleaver
Before I get on with the matches, I want to explain some of the card choices. I don’t normally like cheating on lands, but having two Pilgrims and a low curve justifies playing sixteen. Gallows Warden is a fine card, but I don’t want too many expensive creatures. I want to play as many Humans as possible because of the two Cleavers, so the Spirit didn’t make the cut. Abbey Griffin was cut for the same reason. I also won’t overload on creature enhancers in order to avoid the all-pants-no-men problem, but I always want to play at least one instant-speed trick. Pump spells have diminishing returns after the first one, so I have a single slot reserved for that. I picked up a variety of solid choices, and Moment of Heroism is the best one to start. I’ll be looking to side in different cards as the situation warrants it.
Time to battle!
Match 1, Game 1
I kept two Plains, Doomed Traveler, Avacyn's Pilgrim, Elder of Laurels, Blazing Torch, and Moment of Heroism on the draw. My opponent mulligans to five cards, though still have an Avacynian Priest on turn two. Normally, that would be a concern, but my deck is mostly Humans, so he’s just a cute-looking Squire.
I don’t draw a Forest for a few turns, so I just equip my Doomed Traveler with Blazing Torch and stare my opponent down. I draw a Butcher's Cleaver on my fourth turn and proceed to go to town. I eventually draw a Forest to play my Elder of Laurels, and I finish the game at 37 life. He’s nice enough to show me that he has a Morkrut Banshee when he’s dead onboard. It turns out that Butcher's Cleaver is pretty good.
Match 1, Game 2
I board in a Ranger's Guile for a Moment of Heroism because his W/B deck has some removal spells. As I said before, I like boarding in and out different combat tricks, when given the option, to suit the situation and to keep my opponent guessing. This time, it’s my turn to mulligan—I send back Plains, two Forests, Travel Preparations, two Butcher's Cleavers, and Ranger's Guile.
Yeah, a hand without any creatures isn’t going to get there.
I keep two Forests, Plains, Thraben Sentry, Travel Preparations, and Doomed Traveler. I can’t ask for much better than that, though I won’t complain if I draw a 2-drop on time. I’m not so lucky, but I’m happy to trade my Doomed Traveler for his Selfless Cathar. The plan is to play Thraben Sentry turn four and make my team huge turn five. If I draw a creature I can play on turn three, I would move up the Travel Preparations turn, but otherwise, I’ll keep the same line of play.
My opponent takes that option away with a Night Terrors choosing my pump spell. I draw Elder of Laurels like a champion, and I figure that winning from this point is going to be easy if he can’t kill my first-pick. He has a removal spell, but it’s Tribute to Hunger. My Spirit token takes one for the team, and I replenish my forces with Thraben Sentry. The Sentry meets a quick death at the hands of Sever the Bloodline, though I think that the Elder is a better choice. I’ll take it, I guess. I make a mistake in my following turn by playing an Elder Cathar instead of a Darkthicket Wolf for the sake of “mana efficiency.” I’m holding Prey Upon and don’t have a fifth land. This is only going to be relevant if he plays a creature I need to kill right away.
My opponent untaps and plays Bloodline Keeper. Awk. Ward.
I miss on my fifth land but draw a Hamlet Captain, so I make a small army after attacking for 4. My mistake makes it so that I have to trade Prey Upon and a creature for his Bloodline Keeper—instead of just the Prey Upon. Oh well, I’m still in a commanding position. Until he plays an Unburial Rites on his Bloodline Keeper, that is. Fortunately for me, he’s at a low enough life total that the only thing his reanimated Vampire is going to do is chump block, and when the top of his deck isn’t Day of Judgment, he concedes.
Match 2, Game 1
My opponent is none other than Worlds semi-finalist Conley Woods. I lose the die roll and keep two Forests, Plains, Grizzled Outcasts, Thraben Sentry, Bonds of Faith, and Silverchase Fox. After attacking for 2 with my Silverchase Fox, I lose it and an Avacyn's Pilgrim to a Rolling Temblor. I still have plenty of gas, following up with a Thraben Sentry and a Grizzled Outcasts on turns four and five.
His flashed-back Temblor takes out my Sentry, but the Outcasts are ready to battle. I elect to play a Chapel Geist and a Doomed Traveler instead of transforming my Outcasts. It’s the same amount of damage, and it’s better to have your power distributed among a few creatures rather than putting all your eggs in one basket. Woods untaps and plays the Balefire Dragon that I opened, but I’m ready with the Bonds of Faith. He tries to stabilize with a Slayer of the Wicked, but my next draw is Travel Preparations to seal the deal.
Match 2, Game 2
I board out Divine Reckoning for Gallows Warden. He didn’t play very many creatures, and I’ll look pretty foolish if I draw it while I need to find an answer to Balefire Dragon. I keep Forest, Plains, two Hamlet Captains, Moment of Heroism, Elder Cathar, and Butcher's Cleaver. I’m determined not to let him receive any decent value out of Rolling Temblor, so I make sure it’s going to be a one-for-one at best.
I have a good hand for this, with a turn-two Hamlet Captain and turn-three Butcher's Cleaver, forcing Conley to act. He indeed has the Temblor, so I follow up with a Thraben Sentry and a Hamlet Captain on turns four and five. My line of play is to leave up mana for Moment of Heroism in case Woods flashes back Rolling Temblor. This would leave me free to untap with a rather large 8/4 creature with Lifelike, Vigilance, and Trample.
Conley isn’t durdling around—he has a Moon Heron and a Galvanic Juggernaut on his side of the board. I take 8 from his attack, and I hope that I’ll draw a fifth land in order to both equip my Cleaver and leave mana up for my trick. Fortress Crab appears to slow me down, but I draw a Forest to put my plan into action. Because of the trigger from Hamlet Captain, Woods is unwilling to block my Sentry, giving me a nice 12-point life swing.
Silent Departure on my 4-drop makes me rethink things. I know that I don’t want to replay an expensive creature just to have it bounced with the Flashback on Silent Departure, so my new plan is to just peck away at him with Hamlet Captain and Doomed Traveler. Woods plays a Civilized Scholar, which does a horrible job of blocking but tells me that Rolling Temblor is going to be less of an issue. I add a Chapel Geist and an Avacyn's Pilgrim to my board, daring him to flash back his newfangled Pyroclasm. He plays a Sensory Deprivation on my flyer, and he’s forced to hold back his own.
I draw a sixth land in order to play and equip my second Butcher's Cleaver, not wasting any time turning all my guys sideways. Civilized Scholar dumps a Skaab Ruinator into his bin in order to upgrade into a more effective blocker. When the dust settles, I’ve traded my Doomed Traveler for a Civilized Scholar . . . leaving me with a Spirit token and having gained an absurd amount of life.
He does get to untap his Juggernaut, but it barely makes a dent in my life total. Armored Skaab gums up the ground even more, so I take the battle to the skies with my Cleaver-wielding Spirits. Woods is at 6 and chooses to block my 2/3 Chapel Geist (the Cleaver is negating his Deprivation) instead of my 4/1 Spirit token. My Moment of Heroism makes the attack lethal.
Match 3, Games 1 and 2
As is par for the course, MTGO lost the replays of these games. In Game 1, I mulled away a five-land hand into an unkeepable one-land hand and again into runner-runner no-land hands. I keep three cards. Three cards . . . and I still almost won. He got me with Ludevic's Test Subject when I had him dead on my next attack. I won Game 2 in about thirty seconds with the standard G/W nut draw: turn one Pilgrim, turn two 3-drop, Travel Preparations, and so on.
Match 3, Game 3
I board out Divine Reckoning for Somberwald Spider since he has a bunch of flyers. I keep two Forests, two Plains, Avacyn's Pilgrim, Silverchase Fox, and Elder Cathar. My opponent has a Stitcher's Apprentice to keep me honest.
On turn three, I play a Silverchase Fox and a Travel Preparations, while my opponent has an end-of-turn Forbidden Alchemy into a Stitched Drake. I flash back my Travel Preparations and trade my Elder Cathar for his flyer, leaving me with a 4/4 Avacyn's Pilgrim and a 3/3 Silverchase Fox. Corpse Lunge takes care of my Fox, but I still have some fat to attack with.
My opponent has a really neat combo of Ghoulraiser and Stitcher's Apprentice, sacrificing the Zombie with its ability on the stack. The Stitched Drake was removed earlier by the Corpse Lunge, making the Ghoulraiser the only Zombie in his graveyard. This means that for , he’s going continue making Homunculus tokens. After two iterations of this, I’m trading my Pilgrim for two tokens, but not before playing an Ambush Viper and a Thraben Sentry.
Thraben Militia makes it so he couldn’t just chump every turn, so he plays a Screeching Bat and his Ghoulraiser to block, not having enough mana to continue using his Stitcher's Apprentice combo. I’ve been holding Butcher's Cleaver for some time now, and my Thraben Militia is poised to make good use of it. He still makes the same block he intended to make, but the Cleaver puts him to 1 life. I have a post-combat Doomed Traveler to put him in a really tough spot. He has a Morkrut Banshee to block, and we trade boards. My Spirit token threatens to poke him to death next turn, and I add a Hamlet Captain for good measure. His top card isn’t Day of Judgment, and he concedes.
I hope you guys enjoyed the draft report. I’m looking into doing draft videos; I’m just working out the logistics. What do you prefer—text or video? Let me know in the comments.
Until next time, may you cleave your way to the finals.