Pack 1, Pick 1
Surge of Thoughtweft, Mulldrifter, Weed Strangle, Mudbutton Torchrunner, Woodland Changeling, Springleaf Drum, Kithkin Healer, Springjack Knight, Heal the Scars, Inkfathom Divers, Boggart Birth Rite, Hunter of Eyeblights, Woodland Guidance, Glarewielder, Liliana Vess
A reasonably strong pack to kick start with. Were it not for the rare, we would slam the Mulldrifter. I want to talk a little about Hunter of Eyeblights. I think it is an incredibly powerful card. Sure, he's a little slow, but he will often get the job done and in the process he'll leave you with a 3/3 body. He's kind of like an expensive Assassinate that you take an additional point of damage from. At the end of the day though, he is a removal spell that two-for-ones.
Pick: Liliana Vess
Pack 1, Pick 2
Kithkin Healer, Deeptread Merrow, Kithkin Daggerdare, Herbal Poultice, Avian Changeling, Warren Pilferers, Aquitect's Will, Kinsbaile Skirmisher, Spring Cleaning, Blind-Spot Giant, Giant Harbinger, Scattering Stroke, Silvergill Adept, Mad Auntie
Lots of options here. Mad Auntie and Warren Pilferers are certainly lead contenders and are black to boot. I don't like taking a Giant Harbinger high unless I already have a Nameless Inversion or a Thundercloud Shaman. Avian Changeling is great but not a contender with the Pilferers. Silvergill Adept is a strong card; I like Merfolk and I am a fan of blue-black, even though I prefer Faeries in that colour combination. This leaves us toying between the two black cards. The Auntie is certainly a cute card, but much like Wizened Cenn, the tribe it makes you fill your deck with really is not that strong. This means we can take the more flexible, arguably more powerful Goblin.
Pick: Warren Pilferers
Pack 1, Pick 3
Moonglove Extract, Boggart Sprite-Chaser, Oaken Brawler, Smokebraider, Stonybrook Angler, Fertile Ground, Dawnfluke, Broken Ambitions, Nath's Buffoon, Faultgrinder, Drowner of Secrets, Treefolk Harbinger, Spinerock Knoll
Another phenomenal pack. Before I go into the actual pick decision too much, I want to talk about the hideaway land. These cards are great and currently underrated. If you're about to pick a mediocre card for you deck instead—don't; it will probably be cut any way. These land are almost always good. They get activated in most games, giving you a free spell. Sure, several of their trigger conditions tend to require you to be winning (not Shelldock Isle, which is by far the best), but that's still fine. For example, Mosswort Bridge often gives you a free card when you are entrenched in a Silvergill Douser–induced stall. Pick these higher.
Moonglove Extract is always going to be a contender to be picked so we'll see what else there is. I don't want to really take the Smokebraider and commit to elementals at this point, although I do love to if I open a Mulldrifter or Aethersnipe. This leaves us choosing between the two merfolk.
Last week, I said I would take Stonybrook Angler over Drowner of Secrets, and corrected myself in the forums. I'm still not too sure. I prefer to pick up the Drowner over worse cards, when I already know that I'm Merfolk, because otherwise it is a fairly unexciting 1/3, like a Vedalken Entrancer outside of a Dimir deck. Don't get me wrong, the card is great, but this early on, before I know I'm Merfolk, I prefer the Angler. This is because firstly, in blue-black, you tend not to be Merfolk-heavy and secondly, the Angler is still amazing within a Merfolk deck where it can untap a Douser or a Streambed Aquitect to shut off combat more effectively than tapping might achieve.
Having said all of that, we're not necessarily blue yet and I think the Extract is better than both Merfolk either way (unless you are already deep, in which case the Drowner can be better if you are light on win conditions).
Pick: Moonglove Extract
Pack 1, Pick 4
Pestermite, Boggart Sprite-Chaser, Thieving Sprite, Kinsbaile Balloonist, Whirlpool Whelm, Black Poplar Shaman, Shimmering Grotto, Elvish Eulogist, Giant's Ire, Lairwatch Giant, Seedguide Ash, Prowess of the Fair
Neither Thieving Sprite nor Shimmering Grotto are powerful enough for us to stay with the black plan, so it's time to look elsewhere. Seedguide Ash is just a wrapped-up Durkwood Boars. For why I won't be picking the Kinsbaile Balloonist, read last week's article, but on top of this both blue cards are more powerful. Whirlpool Whelm is a great trick but Pestermite is one of the better commons in the set as it does so much for so little. Untapping blockers, tapping attackers, Rishadan Porting land in upkeeps, untapping Merfolk mid-combat to use their abilities again, triggering Dreamspoiler Witches, and then it attacks to boot.
Pack 1, Pick 5
Unexciting, with the best playable being both in black and promoting any future Faerie theme.
Pick: Thieving Sprite
Pack 1, Pick 6
The best card in this pack is the late Plover Knight. Normally I would snap up such a late colour signal as this, but I won't for several reasons. Firstly, I'm not a big fan of white, but that isn't the deciding factor here. I already have two five-drops and am likely to pick up more, and I don't want the deck to become too heavy. On top of all of this, white and black have no tribal synergy between them, meaning I won't be able to capitalize on any tribal theme. Added to all of this, there is a Spellstutter Sprite to push us into Faeries and to combo with any Dreamspoiler Witches down the line. The Paperfin Rascal never gets a shoe in as he's just pretty bad unless you really need a Merfolk.
Pick: Spellstutter Sprite
Pack 1, Pick 7
Pick: Amoeboid Changeling
Pack 1, Pick 8
Pack 1, Pick 9
I was very tempted to cut the Glarewielder here as he is a very powerful card that generates a massive tempo swing and will often win you the game right there. However, the Springleaf Drum means I have more options to splash something if it comes my way, or to tap a Fallowsage if I'm short on playables. It keeps my options open, which is far better than cutting a card from someone who probably won't be one of your opponents.
Pick: Springleaf Drum
Pack 1, Pick 10
Scattering Stroke may not be the best card in the world, and when compared to the other counters in the format, it certainly pales in comparison, but sometimes you just need a counterspell, or another instant to trigger Dreamspoiler Witches. It probably won't make the final deck, but it's not the end of the world in a Faerie deck, where you often leave four mana up for a flash creature. I also sideboard it in a lot against slow decks and decks with big bombs I have no answer to.
Pick: Scattering Stroke
Pack 1, Pick 11
I was again very tempted to cut here. Lots of games in this format can drag on into the late game, meaning expensive cards seem to be the way to go. This means that Faultgrinder, a card that I see lining people's sideboards, is often good enough to maindeck. I've had lots of green decks featuring Fertile Grounds that just need a fattie to get there and Faultgrinder does that job. Having said all this, Nath's Buffoon gives me sideboarding options and, again, if there's something that's good for me, I take it rather than hurt someone else.
Pick: Nath's Buffoon
Pack 1, Pick 12
I don't like the Black Poplar Shaman and am happy to let it go past. In this case I cut the Boggart Sprite-Chaser because I do not want someone to my left picking up a few of these late and then dipping into my Faeries.
Pick: Boggart Sprite-Chaser
Pack 1, Pick 13
Pack 1, Pick 14
Pack 1, Pick 15
Pick: Shields of Velis Vel
Nothing too special after the first pack. We're strongly in black, blue is looking to be the best partner, and we have a burgeoning Faerie theme. I want to pick up as many Dreamspoiler Witches as possible and to facilitate their strength, I will tend to favour instants if the choice is close. Faeries either use the Witches to lock up the game backed by counters, or they frustrate and stall opponents whilst nibbling in the air. The deck can go either way, so I'll be looking for both early creatures like Silvergill Douser and Streambed Aquitects to stall or some flyers and cheap removal / bounce to race with. I tend to prefer the former strategy, especially as I have yet to see how a Faerie deck filled with Ringskippers and Nightshade Stingers performs, although I have my doubts.
Pack 2, Pick 1
Streambed Aquitects, Stinkdrinker Daredevil, Nameless Inversion, Battlewand Oak, Hurly-Burly, Plover Knights, Ringskipper, Hunt Down, Triclopean Sight, Nath's Buffoon, Caterwauling Boggart, Briarhorn, Thundercloud Shaman, Woodland Guidance, Thoughtseize
This is a phenomenal pack. It's worth hypothetically analyzing it as if it were the first pack. First, we'll analyze a great Constructed rare, Thoughtseize, in Limited context. I will normally play this card if I'm base black, but it's not worth picking too highly. Kind of like Distress but better. There are three good commons but we know that the Nameless Inversion is the best of the bunch, but how does it cope against the two potent uncommons, Briarhorn and Thundercloud Shaman? I'm fairly certain that both uncommons are better. The Inversion is a classic example of a great removal spell; what the uncommons offer are game swinging effects and card advantage. As a first pick, I think the Thundercloud Shaman is the more powerful of the two as Pyroclasm is pretty powerful against all the blue-based decks, and with enough synergy, it also crushes Elves. However, it's not our first pick and we are neither red or green, so we snag the Inversion.
Pick: Nameless Inversion
Pack 2, Pick 2
Dreamspoiler Witches, Nath's Elite, Neck Snap, Sentinels of Glen Elendra, Smokebraider, Gilt-Leaf Ambush, Black Poplar Shaman, Elvish Eulogist, Wings of Velis Vel, Caterwauling Boggart, Inner-Flame Igniter, Treefolk Harbinger, Nath of the Gilt-Leaf, Whirlpool Whelm
The cornerstone of Faerie decks are the Dreamspoiler Witches. They amp up all of your removal, make playing counterspells even more playable, and they let the deck tick into overdrive. The Witches are better than the Sentinels of Glen Elendra, as well as the two cheap tricks. The only commons I pick above the Witches in blue-black are Silvergill Douser, Nameless Inversion, Eyeblighter's Ending, Mulldrifter, and Aethersnipe.
Pick: Dreamspoiler Witches
Pack 2, Pick 3
Glimmerdust Nap, Cloudcrown Oak, Oblivion Ring, Wanderer's Twig, Axegrinder Giant, Woodland Changeling, Kinsbaile Skirmisher, Lace with Moonglove, Scarred Vinebreeder, Springjack Knight, Lammastide Weave, Giant Harbinger, Thoughtweft Trio
A disappointing pack here with no good pick. The Oblivion Ring is the obvious pick as it is the most powerful card, and if we pick up a Shimmering Grotto then we can play it and our Springleaf Drum. It is also perfectly possible that it will end up in the sideboard.
Pick: Oblivion Ring
Pack 2, Pick 4
Peppersmoke or the enabling Shimmering Grotto or Vivid Marsh? The decision between the lands is pretty close. A lot of the choice is deck-dependent but after that, the temptation is to follow the rarity symbol. I think the Vivid lands are stronger unless your deck is has zero double colour-costed cards, in which case I prefer lands that come into play untapped, but as a rule of thumb, stick to the Vivid land. With that all said, I think the Peppersmoke is the stronger card in a Faerie deck and I'm not too fussed about the Oblivion Ring. Two-colour decks are way more consistent than those with a single-card splash, and I can always pick up a fixer later if I want.
Pack 2, Pick 5
Wanderer's Twig, Bog-Strider Ash, Mudbutton Torchrunner, Springleaf Drum, Gilt-Leaf Seer, Protective Bubble, Ingot Chewer, Amoeboid Changeling, Vivid Grove, Hunter of Eyeblights, Guardian of Cloverdell
Some more fixers that I'm not really considering but might well wheel, and then two cards to choose between. I still love Amoeboid Changeling, but I'm beginning to think he's not that amazing in decks with little need of tribal themes. I call the deck I'm drafting a Faerie deck, but the only card that really needs multiples is Spellstutter Sprite, so I don't rate the changeling too highly right now. Plus, I already have an Amoeboid Changeling.
I've already said how much I like the Hunter, but the Faerie deck really wants to leave all its mana open on turn five as it normally has a freshly resolved Dreamspoiler Witches in play that it wants to abuse. Faeries can also be too behind in tempo to let this guy into play. I tend to start him in the board and bring him in when I'm on the play in a lot of matchups. It's also worth remembering that he also kills most of the clash-winning creatures (such as Nath's Elite).
Pick: Hunter of Eyeblights
Pack 2, Pick 6
Moonglove Winnower's ideal home should be within a Faerie deck as he will hold the ground and trade with fatties that threaten to get out of control. However, the problem is that the four drop tends to be very heavy with Sentinels of Glen Elendra, Dreamspoiler Witches, Faerie Harbinger, and others that contend for the slot and are stronger. Luckily, we need take none of this into consideration because the Whirlpool Whelm is an excellent card, giving us both tempo and another card that triggers the Witches.
Pick: Whirlpool Whelm
Pack 2, Pick 7
Wow, I just wanna scoop up this whole pile and forgo the rest of the pack. The Glen Elendra Pranksters can be game dominating, but we have little that combos with them and there are better cards in the pack. The Spellstutter Sprite is punching out of its weight class here. I picked the Sentinels as they are surprisingly large bodies in the faerie deck and tend to do everything the deck needs well. They mean you can leave mana open to counter, ambush attackers, trigger Witches, provide some much needed beatdown and evade Tarfire. The Ethereal Whiskergill is really, really tempting and it might have been worth taking because Faeries can fall too far behind sometimes, but I think that the Sentinels just do too much for the deck.
Pack 2, Pick 8
Pack 2, Pick 9
Pack 2, Pick 10
Pick: Wings of Velis Vel
Pack 2, Pick 11
Pick: Axegrinder Giant
Pack 2, Pick 12
Pick: Ego Erasure
Pack 2, Pick 13
Pick: Protective Bubble
Pack 2, Pick 14
Pack 2, Pick 15
Pick: Tideshaper Mystic
Pack 2 went nicely. Plenty of cheap, efficient tricks, more Faeries, and the needed Witches. What am I looking for in the last pack? I still want some early defense so a Silvergill Douser or Streambed Aquitects wouldn't go amiss, and we've little countermagic so far so a Faerie Trickery or Broken Ambitions would be nice. And I want some more Witches...We have eighteen playables, about four of which I'm happy not to play, so the last pack is needed.
Pack 3, Pick 1
Kithkin Greatheart, Mulldrifter, Footbottom Feast, Lowland Oaf, Lignify, Weed Strangle, Bog Hoodlums, Protective Bubble, Fire-Belly Changeling, Skeletal Changeling, Veteran of the Depths, Nectar Faerie, Thorntooth Witch, Epic Proportions, Glimmerdust Nap
I've said we need defense, but it's not the correct pick to sacrifice a Mulldrifter for a lowly Skeletal Changeling. Weed Strangle is also not in the same league. Epic Proportions gets filed away in the memory bank to watch out for later and a quick glance at the names of the players to my left to see who's most likely to wind up with it.
Pack 3, Pick 2
Fertile Ground, Moonglove Extract, Hillcomber Giant, Sentinels of Glen Elendra, Stinkdrinker Daredevil, Dreamspoiler Witches, Lairwatch Giant, Spellstutter Sprite, Spiderwig Boggart, Flamekin Brawler, Tar Pitcher, Briarhorn, Eyes of the Wisent, Burrenton Forge-Tender
Powerful though it is, I'm not willing to splash the Briarhorn, which leaves us toying between Moonglove Extract and Dreamspoiler Witches. At the moment, I think this is a really tight pick. It is obviously deck-dependent as if you've no instants you take the removal; as it is, I think the deck is shaping up really nicely to use the Witches, so I'll add a second to the deck.
Pick: Dreamspoiler Witches
Pack 3, Pick 3
Dreamspoiler Witches, Battlewand Oak, Oaken Brawler, Pestermite, Hurly-Burly, Peppersmoke, Rootgrapple, Nightshade Stinger, Faultgrinder, Faerie Trickery, Jagged-Scar Archers, Goatnapper, Boggart Harbinger
We can discard the Boggart Harbinger here even though it does fetch Warren Pilferers and Nameless Inversion, because there are just more valuable cards for the deck at hand. Pestermite is better than Peppersmoke, but right now, which Faerie is best? This is so close. A third Witches increases the chance of multiples and the ensuing insanity, but it might make the four drop too heavy. On the flip side, the deck needs tempo, defense, and more early drops. Pestermite provides all of these as well as being a great card to trigger the two Witches we already have. I'm still not sure which the correct pick is, but if in doubt, get greedy.
Pick: Dreamspoiler Witches
Pack 3, Pick 4
Deeptread Merrow, Kithkin Daggerdare, Herbal Poultice, Warren Pilferers, Lowland Oaf, Inkfathom Divers, Needle Drop, Soaring Hope, Elvish Branchbender, Kithkin Harbinger, Prowess of the Fair, Deathrender
This pack offers nothing that the deck really wants. Deathrender is far too expensive for what it does, although it is still okay, but six mana to give a guy +2/+2 is pricey. Deeptread Merrow is unimpressive and gets outclassed fast, even if he is an early drop, he's just not good enough. This brings us to the star of the pack—the Pilferers. Normally, we would happily snap this up, but here it's just not what we're looking for as it's yet another expensive spell. I mean, I'm not too unhappy to pick it, I just don't really want it. I would have picked anything vaguely defensive or cheap over it, like a Whirlpool Whelm or Broken Ambition.
Pick: Warren Pilferers
Pack 3, Pick 5
Bleh. A completely empty pack. Although Familiar's Ruse is an instant and a counter, and one that returns Mulldrifter, Spellstutter Sprite, and Warren Pilferers back to my hand, the tempo setback is probably going to be too much. I'm going to pick the Glimmerdust Nap. It will shut off a problematic fattie that my Witches can't kill.
Pick: Glimmerdust Nap
Pack 3, Pick 6
The four-drop slot is far too heavy to consider the Winnower, and I'm not a fan of the Paperfin Rascal. However, I'm not really bothered by either as the Faerie Trickery is almost exactly what I'm looking for. Another instant to trigger the Witches, with the potential to stay well ahead in tempo when on the play and to protect my Witches in the late game to ensure I stay ahead.
Pick: Faerie Trickery
Pack 3, Pick 7
Happy, happy, happy.
Pick: Streambed Aquitects
Pack 3, Pick 8
Pick: Changeling Berserker
Pack 3, Pick 9
Pick: Glimmerdust Nap
Pack 3, Pick 10
Pick: Spellstutter Sprite
Pack 3, Pick 11
Pick: Faerie Trickery
Pack 3, Pick 12
Pick: Lowland Oaf
Pack 3, Pick 13
Pick: Boggart Shenanigans
Pack 3, Pick 14
Pick: Nightshade Stinger
Pack 3, Pick 15
Pick: Cenn's Heir
I've thirty-one playables to choose from, but some of them can be quickly discarded. Firstly, the Oblivion Ring is not going to be splashed and there are few early guys to use the Springleaf Drum with. This puts Fallowsage in the board, which is no problem as the deck has plenty of things to do on turn four. This also helps set the Mournwhelk and Scattering Stroke aside as this deck has plenty of late game.
The last three contenders for the final slot were the second Glimmerdust Nap, the Amoeboid Changeling, and the Hunter of Eyeblights. The Hunter was the first to be discarded as the deck already has four fine five-drops and, as I mentioned earlier, it is a little too slow for this deck. The Changeling doesn't do very much for the deck. It makes the Spellstutter Sprites better, but they are already pretty fine, and the little guy doesn't fizzle enough spells or effects as some of its predecessors have done. It is better in a Merfolk deck where it lets your Streambed Aquitects pump everything. This leaves the Glimmerdust Nap as the default inclusion, which suits me fine as it helps to shut off cards like Imperious Perferct and big men that the deck will struggle with. The deck will definitely play eighteen land as it has so many expensive spells that it must get there and cannot afford to stumble.
I was expecting great things from the deck. In the first round, my Elf opponent resolved an Imperious Perfect and Lys Alana Huntmaster as I had to tap out to keep up whilst on the draw and couldn't keep my counter open. I couldn't draw an answer to the Perfect in time, but the deck has a hard time dealing with the Huntmaster anyway. Not the best matchup. I drew seven land in a row after I kept my opening hand in the second game and lost to double Huntmaster and a Pilferered Perfect. He flashed me the Garruk Wildspeaker in his grip at the end of the match. A first round loss is disappointing, but the mana screw combined with the awesome power of his deck doesn't make me worry much. He went on to win the draft without dropping a game to boot.
I liked my deck, especially as anything with three Dreamspoiler Witches and ten instants is something to be feared. Even now, though, how to go about drafting the various archetypes is still in question. Have I given the right cards the correct value or should, for instance, I have picked Pestermite over Witches? To the forums.