Draft Strategies #4

Posted in Feature on April 15, 2006

By Olivier Ruel

Everyone loves Batman

On a casual draft, back in GP Cardiff, I was playing WBG and opened a pack with Agent of Masks, Douse in Gloom, Blind Hunter and Shrieking Grotesque. Sometimes, when you draft with friends, they have to wait for two minutes before they get your pack, that was one of these times.

Agent of Masks

Agent of Masks

Agent of Masks would have seemed way less good than the four, but I had seen him in play twice, and both times it was just excellent, so I considered picking it. But the pack was so good that on a 6 players draft I had pretty good chance to get it back 7th.
In the end it happened, and it was great everytime I played it. On one of this draft's game, it made me win a very long game none of the other cards named could have given me

Shrieking Grotesque

Shrieking Grotesque

Shrieking Grotesque is pretty strong, as good 3 mana flyers aren't that common in draft lately. His black triggered ability even makes it stronger, particulary combined with Strands of Undeath or other discard spell. In the same draft, I ended up with 2 Grotesque and 3 Cry of Contrition, as I wanted to give this card a try. It's not great obviously, but I had Plagued Rusalka and many removals in my deck, so you can get good card advantage. The experiment was positive, as I 3-0'd playing VS Quentin Martin, José Barbero and my brother Antoine, good to know these « unplayables » can help.
Usually, on drafts, you pick 1)The spoiler 2)The removals 3)The guys. Indeed, there is no good deck with no removal, so you have to pick them over most of the creatures, except for some exceptions (Kabuto Moth, Cephalid Looter...). Shrieking Grotesque, no matter how good it is (aussi fort soit-il, j'étais pas sur du tout pour la trad), is not one of them. Then I have only two options, Blind Hunter and Douse in Gloom.

« Oli you're slowing the draft down man »
« Come on just pick! »
Yeah, got it, I've already three packs waiting for me, I'll take Blind Hunter and try and figure later.
The question to know if I took the right pick is the same as asking is Blind Hunter better than a removal.I'd be tempted to answer positively.
When I asked pros what they thought of this pick, nearly everyone told me « Batman, no doubt » or « Blind Hunter, not even close ». Apparently, the pick was obvious, readers quite agree too, as in this week's poll, Blind Hunter gathers more votes than the three other candidates.

Blind Hunter

Blind hunter

So who's Blind Hunter ? Not only is it a 2/2 flyer for 4 manas, also does it make an eight life difference, only by being played and dying. The good thing is it's not only a 4 manas Soul Feast (which would already be played), also is it a creature with an evasion ability, meaning your opponent's problems won't stop with the four life drained. Moreover, If you have any card to sacrifice your guys easily (Thoughtpicker Witch, Plagued Rusalka, Dimir Houseguard), you can play the second drain life on demand, which can be decisive when the board is frozen or when you're racing.

Which Orzhov would you pick?
Blind Hunter 903 58.6%
Douse in Gloom 237 15.4%
Shrieking Grotesque 236 15.3%
Agent of Masks 166 10.8%
Total 1542 100.0%


I would definitely pick Hunter over Douse now, though, except if I have nearly only creatures at this point. However, replace Douse by Mortify or Pillory and I'll pick the removal this time, as despite how much I like Blind Hunter, a card that can kill everything for only three manas is a Level above. I mentionned the creatures you pick over removal spells. The Orzhov bat can be one of them, but it is nothing like Kabuto Moth or Wild Mongrel neither, except for the case when I already have many removals but nearly no guys, I'll pick Mortify or Pillory over it.

The standing of my favorite Orzhov commons

1-Pillory of the Sleepless
2-Blind Hunter
3-Douse in Gloom
4-Shrieking Grotesque
5-Mourning Thrull
6-Orzhov Basilica
7-Ghost Warden
8-Ostiary Thrull
9-Orzhov Signet

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

I wrote this clomun while listening to Pink Floyd/DARK SIDE OF THE MOON

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