Draft Strategies #3

Posted in Feature on April 8, 2006

By Olivier Ruel


Vedalken Dismisser vs. Stinkweed Imp

Today's opposition is between two of the best common creatures in Ravnica. If you happen to get both and if they are the best cards in your first pack, which one should you pick? On one hand, Vedalken Dismisser. The blue wizard is a little bit expensive, but it is with Ogre Savant one of the best creatures for the tempo. If you have an aggro start, it will grant you a great advantage, even if your opponent has a slightly faster start than you. In any race situation actually, the Dismisser is great.

Vedalken Dismisser

Stinkweed Imp is better when you want to go for a slow and long game. Dredge makes him a very dissuasive blocker as it can kill nearly any creature. Not as good as Last Gasp, it fits somewhere between Disembowel and Brainspoil. When playing a deck that doesn’t feature Faith’s Fetters, Pillory of the Sleepless, Elvish Sky... or Benevolent Ancestor, it is fantastic and probably better than Disembowel if you play control. Even if you play aggro it can buy a lot of time if you’re having bad draws or if your opponent’s are great.
I’ve asked many Pro players which one they would take. Here is the list of the players I questioned:

  1. Shu Komuro (Japan)
  2. Quentin Martin (England)
  3. Shuhei Nakamura (Japan)
  4. Ryo Ogura (Japan)
  5. Takuya Osawa (Japan)
  6. Jeroen Remie (Netherlands)
  7. Antoine Ruel (France)
  8. Geoffrey Siron (Belgium)
  9. Ruud Wandenhovenn (Netherlands)
  10. Arnost Zidek (Czech Republic)
Stinkweed Imp

Nearly 4 voters out of five pointed the Imp as being the right pick. But when it comes to Pros, PT London Quarter finalist Arnost Zidek is the only one giving his preference to Stinkweed Imp.

Stinkweed Imp or Vedalken Dismisser?
Stinkweed Imp 1172 79.1%
Vedalken Dismisser 309 20.9%
Total 1481 100.0%

When I asked Julien Goron in last week’s player profile which were, according to him, the most underrated and overrated commons in Ravnica and Guildpact, he gave me a very interesting answer. He actually responded that not so long ago, he would have answered Dismisser to the first question, but that now, Dismisser would rather be the answer to the second one, meaning: no, Dismisser should never have been a 7-10th pick, but it’s not a 1st pick neither, more a 3 to 5.

What about Imp? It’s also a pick 3 to 5 to me. It’s hard to make a decision between these two cards.
However, Imp isn’t great in aggro while the 2/2 is pretty good in any archetype. I’ll make an exception if the choice is to be made after 2-3 picks and I feel like I’m going to play Millstone or UBR control, but 80 per cent of the time, I’ll go for the Dismisser.

I’ve also asked the same players whether they liked Bouncelands or Signets better. Once again, even though both cards seem pretty close, nearly everyone would go for the land if they had to choose in the same booster pack.

Boros Signet

What would make you want to take the Signet?

  • Lots of 4 and higher drops
  • Not enough playable cards
  • A deck with which you’ll go second, to avoid discarding on Turn 2 with a Bounceland
Why would you take the land?
  • Low drops, because you won’t want to use two manas for a Signet on turn two, and because the acceleration provided by the 2-mana artifact won’t be necessary
  • Lots of playable cards
  • A deck with which you want to go first

I would not pick Signets and Bouncelands over good cards in pack one, as I would be too busy building my deck and sending the right signals to my left.
Giving wrong indications is the main risk when picking a Bounceland too high, as it may not only interfere with your left neighbor’s deck, but also with yours. It is very possible to draft 4 or 5 colors in the format, but for more stability, it’s better to have a two-color base - so you should try and draft the good cards in pack one to know what are your main colors and what is or what are your splashes; it will make your draft a lot more simple.

Orzhov Basilica

Then on packs two and three, you pick the cards from the determined splashes, and collect the mana fixers such as Bouncelands and Signets. When I’m four colors, my favorite fixers are those that can produce mana from my two less represented colors. For instance, if I’m UB splash RW I love Boros Signet and Boros Garnison and I’d pick them pretty high. One final detail, between packs two and three, check how many playable cards you have in your deck: if it’s under 15, pick the Signet if you have the choice. Over 17, the land will often be the best option.

[The survey originally included in this article has been removed.]

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