Saturday, 11:19 a.m.: Deck Tech - What Makes an M12 Draft Tick?

Posted in Event Coverage on August 13, 2011

By Hanno Terbuyken

Walking through the rows of tables during the draft rounds on Saturday, one thing was clear: M12 draft is creature-heavy. The matches are decided on the battlefield. Creatures are king, as they so often are in draft formats, but M12 is complex enough that players are still figuring out the best cause of action.

General consensus on the floor was that aggression was the way to go, though. "You need to be aggressive!" was the most echoed statement. Even Tormented Soul saw plenty of play, becoming a player's favorite among those who championed the aggro plan.

Emanuel Sutor

"The mana curve is infinitely important", explained Tai Scharfe, who was one of the many behind the aggressive strategy. Small, fast creatures with evasion, preferrably in red combined with white or black, make the backbone of these decks. Scharfe, for example, had managed to draft a mono-black deck, even, "which is always a 2-1 deck".

To his point, he played just four cards above a casting cost of three, leaving Rune-Scarred Demon in his sideboard. "The games are short. If you're behind, you will lose" – and a cumbersome seven-drop like the Demon just didn't cut the mustard. Scharfe was especially aggressive in his strategy, eschewing White's best common, Gideon's Lawkeeper, "because it Stone Rains me every turn". He just wasn't a fan of using ressources for anything else but aggression.

Any bomb would have to have a significant impact on the board to even get played in one of these decks. Laying down business every turn from turn 2 to turn 5 was paramount to most players. Cards like the highly valued Goblin Fireslinger and especially the bloodthirst beaters in M12 were high on player's pick orders. "I'm happy if I have a deck with Bloodthirst, Fiery Hellhound and Fling", said Florian Pils, who ran a mana curve that had just three creatures at four mana and everything else below that.

Kai Budde

But not everyone can draft such a deck at his draft table. There is not enough aggression to go around for everybody, so some players either had to settle for second best – cumbersome green-based decks – or an entirely different strategy.

"You definitely want to be aggressive, but control also works in a pinch", explained Denis Sinner, who had kicked his draft off with a Grave Titan as first pick. He claimed that a good aggro deck would usually be better than a good control deck. But he didn't dismiss controllish strategies out of hand, especially given that one of his favorite first picks was Mind Control.

A small handful of people tried to evade combat altogether, aiming for mill strategies, like André Müller and mohawk-wearing Emanuel Sutor. However, to work, these decks had to come together really well. "And then your opponent has Cudgel Troll", remarked Kai Budde, who was not a fan of the fringe milling but instead went for a deck that – no surprise – aimed to put down pressure every turn. And fast to boot: "60 minute rounds? Who needs those?"

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