by Adrian Sullivan
This draft table was something of a Who's Who of the Pro Tour, with Pro-Tour greats Alan Comer, Justin Gary, Mike Pustilnik, Mike Turian, and Bryce Currence providing perhaps a little intimidation for the remaining players at the table. Of them all, only Pustilnik wasn't seated next to a Pro-Tour regular. I followed former National Champ Justin Gary and Draft favorite Mike Turian (Turian was to the right of Gary).
Mike's first pack had a lot of options, with Snuff Out, Overtaker, Warmonger, and Deepwood Drummer being the most noticeable. Mike spent a small amount of shuffling through Overtaker and Snuff Out, but kept seeming to come back to the Snuff Out. To his left, Justin was faced with a difficult decision. Both a Stinging Barrier and Waterfront Bouncer were prominent as two of the best cards in the pack, but Snorting Gahr was the only reasonable Green spell. If Justin took either blue card, he'd probably have to fight for blue after his opponent to the left took the other blue spell. After much deliberation, Justin took the Gahr, unaware that Mike was passing him an Overtaker.
Mike's second pick was far easier. Squallmonger was easily the best card in the pack, with Silverglade Elemental providing a close second. The remainder of the cards in the pack were quite weaker cards like Alley Grifters, and Mike quickly stepped up for Monger love. Meanwhile, Justin was picking out his Overtaker from the earlier pick.
Mike's next pack contained a bunch of powerful cards. Misdirection was the sole blue card of note, and Scandalmonger and War Cadence also stood out, but Mike stuck to his early color choice and took the Scandalmonger. In his next pack, he kept up with black, taking Cateran Persuader over the powerful Tidal Kraken and Nightwind Glider. Once again Justin followed along with Mike's previous next best picks, choosing Silverglade Elemental and War Cadence, respectively.
Mike finally broke into a third color with his next few picks, taking Alabaster Wall (heatedly debating between it and color consistency with Bog Smuggler), Charm Peddler and Horned Troll. His color commitments were clearly with Black, but he'd need to make a decision between White and Green, with no truly clear favorite yet apparent.
Justin, on the other hand, appeared to be in trouble. Nightwind Glider, Crossbow Infantry, and Collective Unconscious were certainly the best cards he had to choose from in each pack, but with each pick, Justin kept shaking his head more and more. While he had clearly strong cards like Overtaker, he had no other blue to accompany it. He had a few good green spells thus far, but he had really not yet developed any color into something significantly exciting.
The remainder of the cards were mostly insignificant for both players. Alley Grifters and Foster snuck into Mike's deck along with a handful of far weaker cards, while Justin received a few small gains in green with Briar Patch and Ancestral Mask. After the first pack, Turian's deck was easily the more focused, though there were few options during the first pack for Justin.
With Nemesis, Justin's first few picks were an attempt to gain direction. A first pick Blastoderm gave Justin a respectable Green base, and he attempted with his next few picks to get his Overtaker into the draft by choosing Blue cards. The second pack's stronger pick was probably the Stronghold Zeppelin Justin chose, with Flowstone Wall the only non-blue card of note.
The third pack is where Justin spent the most time agonizing. With another Defender En-Vec and Rathi Intimidator as the most powerful cards in the pack, Justin chose Seal of Removal in a clear attempt to define himself as a blue player. His decision was probably influenced heavily by a discussion earlier in the previous evening with other players where "bounce" cards like the Seal were heavily appreciated.
Turian, on the other hand, was flying high. A first pick Parralax Wave made his deck clearly White/Black, and when he received first one Defender En-Vec and then a second, his choice was clear. The next packs were continuously kind to Turian, with Lightbringer, Rathi Intmidator, Rathi Fiend, and Death Pit Offering rounding out the deck. A Sivvi's Ruse provided him a potentially useful sideboard card late in the Nemesis packs, and his deck looked excellent, with only a few more cards needed to round it out.
Justin continued to struggle. Strong cards of seamingly random colors gave no clear signals from the drafter on his left to help choose what to draft. A Flowstone Crusher in the fourth pack was his first real step towards red since the War Cadence early in Masques. From there, Justin's picks leaned towards Green and Blue cards, with Trickster Mage and Skyshroud Cutter being typical of the strength of his picks. Justin simply wasn't receiving the high quality cards from any particular color. While Justin's picks showed leanings towards Blue, Green, and Red, no consistently strong cards were letting him make a decision on a final two colors, while Turian, playing White/Black, was able to have many good cards pass through Justin.
Prophecy really helped Justin turn around his draft, though. Threshing Beast joined his legion of fat green creatures, and Silt Crawler and Scoria Cat in the next two packs gave him a definitive color scheme. Where with Nemesis, Mike was able to reap the rewards of Justin playing opposite colors, here Justin was able to benefit. Rib Cage Spider, Vintara Elephant, Vintara Snapper, and Spur Grappler joined his burgeoning Red/Green deck, with Wild Might and Panic Attack giving him some additional finishing power. After the draft Justin mentioned how important Prophecy was.
"I was really worried until Prophecy. I needed those cards bad."
"I didn't," smiled Turian.
While Turian was right that his deck was strong even before the Prophecy, it couldn't be said that Prophecy didn't make a difference. Picking up two Greel, Mind Rakers, he also picked up a smattering of other useful cards. Agent of Shauku, Mageta's Boon, and Chimeric Idol all were picked to stay in color, with the Agent narrowly being chosen over a Noxious Field. His late picks dried up fairly quickly, but Turian had to be happy with such an excellent assortment of cards.