While the Booster Draft Simulator isn't as exciting as sitting down for a draft with your friends, at a tournament, or on Magic Online, it's still a good way to hone your skills, answer some interesting questions, and experiment with new ideas—all without having to purchase three booster packs, or set aside two or more hours to draft, build your deck and play out your matches.
In addition to being free, quick, and repeatable, the Booster Draft Simulator also allows you to interact with other players in a pretty unique way.
If you're following along with someone else's prerecorded Magic Online draft, you can say that you would have made a pick differently... but after that pick is made you are forced to follow along as the draft has been irreversibly changed by the pick that the person who is physically drafting the deck.
If you would have taken a Doom Blade where the person drafting the deck took Incinerate, you'll be able to see exactly what would have happened in the alternate reality that you created by making a different choice for the next seven picks... but then you are back to the Doom Blade world where the person to your left got passed a juicy Incinerate plus all the other dominoes that consequently fell into place. There's just no way to figure out what would have happened after that.
By using the Booster Draft Simulator, you can see exactly what would have happened if you made a series of different picks than the person drafting the deck.
Then, once you're done with your draft, you can hop on over to the forums to talk about interesting picks, and share your final draft deck.
Have you done this week's draft yet? Good—now you can see what I did!
Pack 1, Pick 1
Greater Basilisk, Bonebreaker Giant, Stampeding Rhino, Gideon's Lawkeeper, Gravedigger, Bloodrage Vampire, Negate, Peregrine Griffin, Manic Vandal, Runeclaw Bear, Arbalest Elite, Kite Shield, Tectonic Rift, Sphinx of Uthuun, Plains
Looks like we get to start the draft off with a very difficult pick!
If you have a strong preference for black, then Gravedigger is a very appealing pick. During the first week or two following the release of Magic 2012, I probably would have taken the Gravedigger as I was having a ton of success with Black-Red Bloodthirst (in large part because players were undervaluing the one-cost enablers like Goblin Arsonist and Tormented Soul).
However, I think that Black-Red Bloodthirst is a bit overdrafted right now (which, admittedly, is not something that you need to think about when drafting with seven AI drafters... but I'm not going to let the fact that I'm drafting with algorithms rather than people skew my picks).
Given the fact that it's tough to put together a Red-Black Bloodthirst deck right now, I'm simply unwilling to sacrifice card quality early on in an attempt to put the deck together. Yes, I'm still willing to try to draft the deck, but for right now I'll only do so if I open, and/or get passed, a series of good cards for the archetype.
I think that there's a ton of merit to both of these picks.
Gideon's Lawkeeper is an absolute steal of a deal at one mana. It lets you deal with the biggest and priciest of threats that your opponent presents, and it can even sneak in for a few points of damage if you draw it early.
Meanwhile, Sphinx of Uthuun is one of the best finishers in the format. If things are even remotely close when you cast Sphinx of Uthuun, you're probably going to win the game even if your opponent is holding a removal spell to deal with it.
Yes, there are plenty of expensive creatures that are great if your opponent doesn't have an answer, but the fact that you will be up several cards the moment you resolve Sphinx of Uthuun makes it very special.
There were a couple of factors that made me want to go with the Gideon's Lawkeeper on this pick.
Normally when given the choice between two cards of comparable power level, I'll go for the cheaper option. I do this because you can usually find reasonable cards to top off your curve with, but it can be quite difficult to find cheap spells that have a big impact on the game.
Additionally, I don't particularly like drafting control decks in M12, as I think that the beatdown decks in this format are pretty fantastic. There are enough good cheap creatures to allow for some blazingly fast starts, and many of these cheap creatures are strong enough that the beatdown decks in this format can have late games that are comparable to those presented by dedicated control decks.
I will only try to draft a control deck if I have the right cards to build around—and Sphinx of Uthuun is devastating enough that I'm willing to build my deck around it.
After taking Sphinx of Uthuun, I want to pick up: a bunch of card drawing/library manipulation so I can reliably draw into my game-breaking cards and removal spells (like Ponder, Merfolk Looter, and Divination); dedicated control cards (all the while keeping my curve low so I can stay competitive against the beatdown decks of the format and buy enough time to cast my card-drawing spells); and/or tempo oriented cards like Æther Adept, and Unsummon that will help me buy time and press any advantages that I might develop.
Pack 1, Pick 2
Yes, it's a bit unfortunate that we just passed a pack with three very strong white cards. It's also too bad that we have to pass Merfolk Looter and Æther Adept in this pack. But given that I started the draft off with Sphinx of Uthuun, this is a pretty easy pick for me.
Day of Judgment is not only a great card in the abstract, it's also a pretty perfect card to have when you're trying to build a control deck that wants to stall the game until it can cast Sphinx of Uthuun.
Pack 1, Pick 3
As tempting as it is to take the Merfolk Looter and stay on color, Doom Blade is just so good. Cheap removal is a great addition to any deck, but the fact that Doom Blade can kill just about anything for only two mana makes it pretty amazing.
If things go according to plan and I do end up with a white-blue control deck highlighted by Sphinx of Uthuun and Day of Judgment, then Doom Blade will make a very good splash. (This is true especially because I intend to prioritize drafting cards like Ponder and Divination which will allow me to rip through my deck, making it relatively easy to draw a Swamp or my Doom Blade to deal with any particularly problematic creatures that my opponents might cast.)
If things don't go according to plan and I have to abandon blue or white (which could very easily happen as I never want to feel married to my first couple of picks), then I'm going to be very happy to have a Doom Blade.
Pack 1, Pick 4
Pack 1, Pick 5
This is a pretty late Stormblood Berserker, but there's no way that I'm going to try to go red at this point—especially when there's a very solid on-color card for me to take.
Pack 1, Pick 6
This was a very difficult pick for me to make, and I'm still not confident that it was correct.
On the one hand, it isn't that difficult to find high-quality spells that cost five to seven mana in M12 booster drafts (and we already have a Sphinx of Uthuun at the top of our curve). But on the other hand, Peregrine Griffin is very good at locking up the board and it can help enable any Griffin Riders that might come my way.
Being able to reliably draw into my bombs, removal, and/or my lands is incredibly important. Maybe that means I should have taken Divination in this spot?
What would you take here?
Pack 1, Pick 7
Pack 1, Pick 8
At this point, I already have enough strong late-game cards that I don't feel a need to gimmick up my deck by trying to Jace's Erasure people out. I would need to invest at least two slots in my deck to Jace's Erasures.
However, I might board in a Plummet or two against an opposing deck full of Griffins or Dragons. Plus, it's likely that Plummet will end up being quite strong against this deck, so I don't mind taking it out of the pool at little to no cost to my own deck.
Pack 1, Pick 9
Greater Basilisk is worth considering here. But I didn't get passed many good green cards early, so it's very unlikely that I am going to be able to move into green profitable, and I like having a Negate or two in my sideboard in case I'm playing against a deck with a lot of juicy noncreature spells like Doom Blade, Fireball, and Mind Control to counter.
Pack 1, Pick 10
I don't love playing Amphin Cutthroat, but sometimes you just need a warm body to help fill out your curve.
Pack 1, Pick 11
If I can help it, I don't want to get double Goblin Grenaded out any time soon...
Pack 1, Pick 12
Pack 1, Pick 13
Pack 1, Pick 14
Pack 1, Pick 15
Pack 2, Pick 1
Arachnus Web, Mighty Leap, Slaughter Cry, Blood Seeker, Harbor Serpent, Pride Guardian, Zombie Goliath, Gladecover Scout, Merfolk Mesmerist, Goblin Piker, Levitation, Hunter's Insight, Diabolic Tutor, Warstorm Surge, Forest
Obviously, this is far from the pack that I wanted to open at this point.
I thought about taking the Harbor Serpent here as it's a good blocker (and it's virtually a Dragon against blue decks), but I don't foresee myself having trouble filling out the top end of my curve. Arachnus Web is a good enough removal spell that I'm willing to take it, and leave myself with the possibility of splashing green.
Pack 2, Pick 2
Gideon's Lawkeeper, Gorehorn Minotaurs, Æther Adept, Stampeding Rhino, Demystify, Phantasmal Bear, Tormented Soul, Mighty Leap, Act of Treason, Scepter of Empires, Diabolic Tutor, Flashfreeze, Grand Abolisher
I briefly considered taking Æther Adept here as I could abandon white entirely, but Gideon's Lawkeeper is significantly better in my deck than the blue-three drop, and I'm still willing to take some lumps to try to make Day of Judgment work.
Pack 2, Pick 3
I don't like taking Divination this early, but I'm still happy to add a copy of the card drawer to my deck that is sure to be quite hungry for both lands and spells at every stage of the game.
Pack 2, Pick 4
Pack 2, Pick 5
There's certainly an argument to be made for taking the Stonehorn Dignitary here, as Armored Warhorse's mana cost can be quite difficult to assemble in a timely manner especially given the fact that I'm planning to splash black for Doom Blade, and one of my main ways to fix my colored mana problems is by casting Ponder.
But this deck's utter lack of cheap creatures makes the choice pretty easy for me.
Pack 2, Pick 6
Yet another reminder of how much better things would be if I were drafting Red-Black Bloodthirst...
Pack 2, Pick 7
Pack 2, Pick 8
Pack 2, Pick 9
I don't mind having a Pride Guardian in my deck...
Pack 2, Pick 10
This late Phantasmal Bear is actually a huge boon to my deck. If I get a Phantasmal Bear in my opening hand, it'll provide me with some early pressure, and give me a good blocker if my opponent has a cheap creature of his or her own.
Additionally, I really want one- and two-cost spells that I can cast after I resolve a Divination. I don't want to take full turns off just to draw cards, especially if I'm backpedalling.
Pack 2, Pick 11
If things go awry, I might start two Pride Guardians...
Pack 2, Pick 12
I have no plans to main-deck three Pride Guardians... but I might find myself in a match-up against a deck full of Runeclaw Bears and such where I want to board in as many life-gaining 0/3s as I can get my hands on.
Pack 2, Pick 13
Pack 2, Pick 14
Pack 2, Pick 15
Pack 3, Pick 1
Garruk's Companion, Jace's Erasure, Lifelink, Bonebreaker Giant, Sorin's Thirst, Assault Griffin, Arachnus Web, Brindle Boar, Mighty Leap, Distress, Volcanic Dragon, Goblin Bangchuckers, Combust, Cemetery Reaper, Swamp
Not an amazing first pick, but still a very good addition to the deck.
Pack 3, Pick 2
There are a lot of good options here.
Problems currently plaguing this deck: it isn't fast enough to kill people quickly, and while it has a good amount of card drawing/digging, it doesn't have enough good cards to draw into.
I would love to be able to be able to take a card in one of my base colors here, but this deck desperately needs more removal spells. Otherwise it's just going to lose any time an opponent presents a decent threat or two (and I don't draw Day of Judgment).
However, with two Doom Blades in my deck the future becomes a lot brighter.
Pack 3, Pick 3
Given how few creatures I have, I'm probably not going to play Divine Favor. But aside from Plummet (which I don't feel a need to look at given that I already know I'm going to be splashing black for my two Doom Blades), there's simply nothing else in the pack that I have any chance of playing at this point.
Pack 3, Pick 4
Pack 3, Pick 5
Mana Leak is tempting, but at this point (given that I'm a bit light on ways to win, and that I plan on tapping low on key turns to cast Divinations) it seems more important to me to add another evasive creature to my deck.
Pack 3, Pick 6
Pack 3, Pick 7
Pack 3, Pick 8
At this point the deck actually has the chance to get some very strong aggressive starts, thanks to the fact that I have multiple 2-power one-drops, a 2-power flier, several two-cost removal spells/counterspells, and three 3-power three-drops.
Pack 3, Pick 9
Pack 3, Pick 10
Pack 3, Pick 11
Pack 3, Pick 12
Pack 3, Pick 13
Pack 3, Pick 14
Pack 3, Pick 15
Final Deck List
(Note that I've included only relevant sideboard cards.)
I would usually fit a Turn to Frog or two into my deck, but I only have a handful of creatures with more than 1 toughness, so I'm not going to be getting much value out of them.
While I'm not ecstatic about the way this deck turned out (especially given the high quality of cards in the draft), it has all the tools that I need to win: a good curve, good evasive creatures, some solid removal spells, several ways to gain card advantage, and a couple of absolutely game-breaking bombs at the top of my curve.
How did your draft go?
Did you start out your draft with a Gravedigger, and end up with an amazing black-red deck?
Did you take Gideon's Lawkeeper first, and end up with a very different type of white-blue evasion deck?
Let me know in the forums!