Good Game: A Night with M10

Last weekend was the M10 Release draft at our store, an event that I was craving ever since I judged at the Prerelease and got to watch all those happy faces playing with the new cards. I wanted to play Magic, too. Of course, judging has its rewards. One of which is that I get to watch everyone play, and I get to see what does and does not win games. What did I see that Saturday? Removal is key (like always), and in M10, it was concentrated in either red or black.

Did you read the flavor text? Ridiculous.
Which meant, when it came time to drafting, I felt certain that the primary color I'd be drafting was either red or black. So when I opened pack one, and saw a Lightning Bolt, I took it. I took it over the Magebane Armor in that pack. Why? Removal is better. Sure, the armor makes a creature large and un-burnable, but that's actually redundant with the +4 toughness. So ask yourself, what would you rather have? A piece of equipment that makes your non-evasive creatures bigger (because you're certainly not putting it on a flier), or quite possibly the most efficient piece of removal in the game?

That's what I thought (as long as you said Lightning Bolt). My next two picks were actually the same—Deadly Recluse. It was easily the best card in the pack, and really, it's just an awesome card. He's got the 2 toughness, so he can't be pinged, and he's got reach with deathtouch, meaning he's like a passive form of removal, and only at a converted mana cost of 2. Not as good as real removal, but still very good. Then came the black cards. I pulled an Assassinate, a Rise from the Grave, and even a Doom Blade. How does Doom Blade make it past pick one, much less pick two?

Bombs away!
At the end of pack one, I had four auto-playable green cards, three black cards, and two red cards (I drafted a pick ten Act of Treason; on second thought, is that auto-playable?). I opened my second pack, and saw a Seismic Strike, which, I knew from watching my wife dominate a draft pod at the Prerelease, was solid removal. Then I saw the rare: Ant Queen. Normally, I take removal over everything. But this card is the quintessential bomb. When you play this, your opponent has to have an answer for it almost immediately or it will be all over. Besides, I was solidly in green, and I only had two playables in red. Hello, my Queen.

A couple picks later, I got passed a Nightmare. I was leery of taking it at first because I wasn't that committed to black. But it was the best card in the pack, so I nabbed it. I'm glad I did, because right after that, a Tendrils of Corruption was passed to me. Luck or providence? By the end of that pack, I was firmly in green and black, and it was looking unlikely that I'd even be running my very first pick.

My third pack presented me with a dilemma. In it was a Doom Blade, which would have been my second. But the rare was a Dragonskull Summit. Now, how good was the Summit for my deck? Not very, though it added toward the possibility of splashing in that Bolt. But I have this thing about dual lands. They are always money cards, because they always see play. When new sets come out, I work hard to get a full set of all the duals, and I won't trade them. Why? Because when I have a deck idea, I don't want it getting curbed because I don't have the cards for its land base.

But an extra Doom Blade would give me a much better deck, and I was already feeling confident with my developing pool of cards. Screw it, I thought, I'm in this to win. I took the Doom Blade. The rest of the pack went well, though I never got passed anything mind-blowingly late. But I was quite happy with my pool. Here's the deck I made with it:

My M10 Draft DeckMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
7 Forest
9 Swamp

1 Ant Queen
1 Bog Wraith
1 Child on Night
1 Cudgel Troll
2 Deadly Recluse
1 Dread Warlock
1 Elvish Visionary
1 Giant Spider
1 Gravedigger
2 Howling Banshee
2 Kelinore Bat
1 Nightmare
1 Prized Unicorn

1 Assassinate
2 Doom Blade
1 Duress
1 Rise from the Grave
1 Rod of Ruin
1 Tendrils of Corruption
1 Windstorm

A solid removal suite, good creatures, a few bombs. The only time consuming part of building this deck, actually, was deciding whether or not to maindeck the Mist Leopard. They're not bad, as shroud is a very good ability, but they often get trapped on your side of the board by an opponent's 2/X creatures. So they got the cut.

Onto the matches!

Match One, vs. Blue/White/Splash Red

A 3/5? No problem for this little guy.
I won the roll and we both kept seven. We both came out a little slow. Or, it's more accurate to say, we came out fighting on the board (you know, playing creatures, getting them waxed by kill spells), but not hitting one another. Damage wasn't dealt until my turn four, when I dropped a Howling Banshee. He then Lightning Bolted it. Next turn, I dropped another. It even got to swing in once, and then he killed it on the next swing. But, I got my Ant Queen, played it, and started making Insect tokens. He couldn't handle the horde.

Game one: win

This time, we both came out a little slow. He had a turn three Griffin Sentinel, which got to hit me for 1 before I played my Howling Banshee. On my next turn, he elected to take the hit from my Banshee rather than block, and I played a second Banshee. He killed this one and got in with his fliers (plural; he played more on his previous turn) for some damage. I played a Bog Wraith, and he killed my other flier. Some more blows were traded, and then I played a Deadly Recluse. He dropped a Siege Mastodon, and our game came to a bit of a halt. He tried to still pepper me with his creatures, but a well-timed Tendrils of Corruption gave me a tempo boost. Eventually, my Recluse traded with his Elephant, and he dropped an Illusionary Servant. But I had a Gravedigger, and brought back the Recluse. Then he hit a few land drops. I did not. I killed his Servant, and managed to finish him off with my 2/2 and my 1/2.

Game two: win

Match Results: 1-0-0

Match Two, vs. Blue/White Traumatize

Can be quite the clock...
I call his deck Blue/White Traumatize because he made strong use of (duh) Traumatize. But not one Traumatize. He had two of them. And a few Tome Scours. Do you know how fast you run out of a library when you get hit by two Traumatizes?

He won the roll, and I had to mull to six. I came out with a turn two Elvish Visionary, a turn three removal spell, and a turn four Howling Banshee. Then another Howling Banshee after he managed to get rid of the first one. And then an Ant Queen. He didn't see his mill cards, and he didn't have the removal for the Queen. Really, with regards to that card, that's all that really needs to be said.

Game one: win

He came out with a turn two Mold Adder (obviously, he drew it that turn; or he drew the Forest that turn). All I had in my hand were black cards and a Rod of Ruin. I decided not to spend my Assassinate on the Adder, so I refrained from playing anything, including my Duress I drew on turn two, until I could kill that Adder. He also played a Wind Drake on turn three. But, I had my Rod out on turn four.

Of course, on his turn five, he had the Traumatize. Oh well. On the bright side, he did fill up my graveyard with bombs Ant Queen and Nightmare—who wasn't all that bomb-y as I didn't have that many Swamps out. Why is this a bright side? I had a Gravedigger in my opening hand. So on my turn five, I killed his adder with my Rod and played the Duress, hitting a Pacifism. And then on turn six, I played my Windstorm to kill his Drake, playing a Kelinore Bat behind it.

He then played a second Traumatize that he pulled off the top. I was down to five cards in my library. I played the Gravedigger next, getting back my Ant Queen, which I played on my next turn. I attacked, made a metric butt-ton of Insect tokens, and, again, he had no answer to the Queen. He conceded as I had him dead on my next turn. I would have killed him with one card left in my library.

Game two: win

Match Results: 2-0-0

Match Three, vs. Blue/White

Worth a middle pick in this format.
This was a normal Blue/White build, which I think is inherently weak in M10. But this guy got the cards necessary to make it viable (essentially, a ton of white removal and a Mind Control). I won the roll and we both kept our seven. I opened with a turn three Dread Warlock. He played his Wind Drake. I hit him for 2 damage, and then played my Howling Banshee. Let me tell you, having two of these things was great. I can't imagine a better turn-four play in this format (oh, I'm sure there are some, I'm just not imagining what they are).

The Banshee went nuts, hitting him three times before getting killed. Meanwhile, we were both building up our ground board, which include my Deadly Recluse. It managed to get him down low enough that I was able to finish him off with an alpha strike.

Game one: win

I actually did some boarding this game. Out came my Bog Wraith (it was essentially just a Hill Giant in this matchup) and in came my Naturalize, as he had numerous enchantments to mess with my board and a suit of Magebane Armor, which could be annoying.

He came out with a turn two Coral Merfolk, and a turn three Wind Drake. I didn't have a turn-two play, and I decided to hold out on my turn-three play to keep a Windstorm back. Turn four, he swung, I took it all (hoping that he'd drop another flier post-combat), but he didn't. He dropped another Coral Merfolk and passed turn, so I killed his Drake.

Then I drew an Elvish Visionary, and I ended up trading with one of his Merfolk. Then I played a Gravedigger to get back the Visionary, and that's some good card advantage. It turns out, his hand was all white cards, and he didn't have any Plains in play. So my board grew and grew, and he had very little. He did finally hit a Plains (around turn nine), and started to turn the game into a grinder, but it was too late. Had he hit that even one turn earlier, the game could have been up for grabs

Game two: win

Match Results: 3-0-0

Match Four, vs. the mirror

So good. Definitely a nominee for MVP.
This one was fun. Honestly, I don't have much data to work with (just what I saw at the Prerelease and this one night), but I think green/black may be the best color combination for draft. Which, of course, makes the mirror match pretty intense, especially since we were in different drafting pods so we both had top quality cards. He won the roll, and he went to five cards while I stayed at six.

I played the first threat: a turn two Child of Night. He answered on his next turn with a Dread Warlock. I swung, he took it, then vice-versa on his turn. On my fourth turn, I swung with the Child, and he killed it before damage with a Tendrils of Corruption. Post-combat, I cast my Howling Banshee. Then I hit him with my Banshee, and he hit me with his Warlock. I hit him with the Banshee again, and then killed his Warlock with an Assassinate. After a few more hits with my Banshee, he Assassinated it as well.

Oh, if it seems like we weren't playing many cards, it's because we were both screwed on Forests. He had one, I had none. So I was holding three good green cards in my hand that I couldn't play. But I had six swamps in play, and I drew a Rise from the Grave to steal his Warlock. Then he hit his second Forest, and played a Great Sable Stag, which wouldn't have been so bad, but again, no green for me. I drew my own Warlock though, which was nice, because I could outrace the Stag.

At this point, he was at 4 life, and I was at 9 life. He hit me for 3 damage with the Stag, and had the Consume Spirit for 2 on one of my Warlocks, which sucked. But I drew a Gravedigger, hit him back down to 4 life, and played my Zombie to get back a Banshee. He drew on his turn and didn't get anything to save him. If he attacked to put me at 3 life, my counterswing would kill him. If he kept his Stag back to block, I could knock him down to 2 life with my alpha strike, and then play a Banshee to finish him off. He conceded.

Game one: win

For this, I also did a tiny bit of sideboarding. I never saw a flier come out from him, so I pulled my Windstorm and put in a Mist Leopard. Why? Because it had 3 power and shroud, which meant it could trade with a Great Sable Stag and it couldn't be Doom Bladed.

We both came out decently in this one. He started playing green right away, starting on turn three with an Awakener Druid. He also had a turn five Stampeding Rhino. But I had a turn three Warlock, and managed to hold off the Druid's tree long enough to get my Rod of Ruin online, which killed the Druid to turn the Forest back into just a Forest. But that Rhino beat me something fierce. I tried to stop it by playing an Ant Queen, but she got a Tendrils of Corruption for five aimed at her.

My opponent then also dropped a Craw Wurm. I managed to get a Deadly Recluse down and enough other creatures so that when he attacked with everything, I ended up trading all three of my creatures for his two fatties. Which put us both on top-deck mode. My first rip? Nothing. His? Gravedigger bringing back a Craw Wurm. Then I drew a Nightmare, and she was a 6/6. He played his Craw Wurm, and I blanked again. He came in with both, and I traded my horse for his Wurm.

Then I drew my gravedigger, and it brought back my Ant Queen, which I could play that same turn. He didn't have an answer to the Queen. Remember what I said earlier about not answering the Queen? On my next turn, I got to jack him for a ton of damage. He ripped the Assassinate next, but my lands were untapped, and I made four Insects in response. He couldn't deal with my board, and a turn later, conceded.

Game two: win.

Match Results: 4-0-0

Not too bad. I ended up winning nine packs for taking first place, in which I pulled a Drowned Catacomb, which more than makes up for passing on that Dragonskull Summit earlier (the second Doom Blade was way more important than the rare draft).

This weekend I'll be in San Diego judging at ComicCon, so if you're there, look for the judge with the beard and the glasses and say hi. The weekend after that is the PTQ in Phoenix, and I'll have a report on that for you next time.


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