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Second Singleton Draft Analysis, part I
By Peter Florijn
Here follows my analysis of the Second Singleton Draft.

The Second Singleton Ultimate Draft started with Melkor picking the strongest card ever printed: Ancestral Recall. I'm sure I would have done the same thing here. The color-commitment is absolutely worth it, as blue is a very strong color, and the insane effect of the Recall gives you a tremendous advantage. There's not much to say here, other than it being the most obvious pick.
I have analyzed the previous draft, which showed that many people chose to play counter-control. With Melkor picking the Recall I was expecting a similar metagame, so I chose to try a strategy that would be able to brutally beat control decks. I basically had two options. First of all there is suicide-black, which is designed to prey on unsuspecting control decks. The other option is one that is slightly weaker against control, but has a better matchup against other decks: Stax. Since the previous draft proved that 4 out of 8 people would go for Ux control, that left 3 other decks, so I feared Sui-black was too big a risc. My personal preference would be Stax, but I would like to keep my options open as well, as I had no idea what would be happening in the next twelve (!) picks.
For this reason I picked Black Lotus, a powerful yet neutral card, which allowed me to go either way, depending on what would happen in the next few picks.
BigBlue picked the mox: Mox Jet, and Spiderman followed this lead by getting Mox Sapphire, both picks did not reveal a lot of information about the type of decks they would be playing, but did show what colors they preferred.
The first real surprise came from BPC with his choice for Yawgmoth's Will. Looking back after a few picks it shows that he clearly had read Oversouls matches, and would try something similar. Of course the mere fact that I was surprised doesn't mean that it was a bad pick, the card was crucial for his deck, and is of a powerlevel that is comparable to Ancestral Recall. A solid pick, and definately not a card that should be left in the pool for a long time.
Mooseman, Turgy and Ransac got Mox Ruby, Emerald and Pearl respectively, no real surprises there, other than an indication of the (second) colors they would like to pick up later.

The second round started with Ransac picking Sol Ring, a strong card which many people would like to have. Next (and not after) to the moxen, the Ring is the best acceleration in the game. Choosing this card over the strongest card in the pool (Time Walk) gave a clear signal that Ransac would be staying away from blue.
The cards from the restricted list still proved attractive when Turgy picked the Library of Alexandria. An excellent choice, strong, yet color-neutral, which was probably the main reason why it got picked first in the First Draft by Spiderman. I think the Library is slightly overrated though, as it loses a lot of it's value if it's not in your opening hand. Even so, it offers a continuous source of card-advantage, and is a very strong card.
Mooseman picked what is probably the weakest piece of Power: Timetwister. Of course it's a card that could come in handy should he choose to try a "Redish" Deck Wins, but even in that case, the Time Walk he left for BPC is easily as powerful. Time Walk is a card that goes very well with the Yawgmoth's Will BPC already has, allowing him to gain three consecutive turns, which should allow him to storm up for the win, with Time Walk as an extra out in case he doesn't make it.
Balance was picked up by Spiderman, who obviously favored UW control, picking the best white card ever.
After the black Mox, BigBlue got his hands on Mind Twist, a card that is exceptionally strong against control decks, which rarely survive a large Twist. This was yet another indication for me he would like to move into monoblack. For this reason I've chosen to continue with my primary plan: Stax. The card that I couldn't leave for other players was Tinker, even if it would prove later that other people picked my plan up faster than I had hoped, the strength of Tinker is enormous. In Stax I have plenty of options to search for once it resolves, so when I draft correctly, Tinker should be able to give me an answer for almost any situation.
Melkor Moved into his second color with his picks for the best tutor around: Demonic Tutor. Tutor into Recall has always been an excellent play in Vintage constructed, and Melkor, having his first two picks the same as in the first draft, seemed to be steering towards a UB control deck with some discard again.

Melkor's next pick was another good tutor: Vampiric Tutor. As long as he had answers in his deck, he could find them anytime he wanted now. The best thing about Vampiric Tutor is that it's an instant. Although it doesn't bring cards to your hand, there are plenty ways of drawing it when you want it.
With that many people in black, I made the decision by picking what is considered to be the most broken land in the game: Mishra's Workshop. With a bit of luck I could be replicating the Vintage plays of Workshop into Crucible, Trinisphere or even the Metalworker I was already hoping to get later.
The Hypnotic Spectre BigBlue picked up was a small mistake in my eyes. Dark Ritual is a much stronger card, especially in monoblack, and the Spectre would have been around for the next pick, while the two other people in black would each be making two picks, so the chances the Ritual would be still available were rather slim. Still, the Hippie is a strong creature that works excellent when combined with the discard he already drafted.
Spiderman opted for the first (or second, if you count in Tinker) blue tutor: Mystical Tutor. With Spiderman deep in UW now, BPC took the Dark Ritual BigBlue had neglected. It was with this pick that I realized what he was doing. Sure, the signals were there, but usually the first picks are simply the most powerful cards, giving no real indication to what people are drafting, other than the color.
Morphling was taken by Mooseman, while I was hoping it would be around for a little bit longer. I wasn't sure if what was once the strongest creature of all time was still good enough to see play. Sure, if you can untap your islands with him in play, he's very hard to get rid off, but I was hoping that by the time Mooseman got up to five mana, I was already attacking him in the single digits, forcing him to chump with superman rather than fly in for 5 every turn.
Turgy took Mox Diamond, another card I had high on my want-list, but wasn't really expecting to get. Artifacts like this fit in every deck, and you can't expect to get them all. I was hoping to shut off anyone else from artifacts by taking the Workshop, but never thought I would get all the juicy stuff.
The round ended with Ransac picking Wrath of God, which was a bit soon, considering that only Spiderman was in white at that moment, even though the Wrath is strong against creatures. With many people drafting control, he wouldn't get much card-advantage out of the Wrath, if it even were to resolve.

Ransac's next pick was Birds of Paradise, which promised to be a white-green deck, with both aggro and control elements. With only Turgy having Mox Emerald, green was wide open, and Ransac picked that up pretty good, although in my opinion there are better cards available than the birds, but then he might be planning on splashing other colors, which makes it the perfect one-drop.
Fastbond was the second green card picked, this time it was Turgy. I'm sure he picked up the lack of people drafting green as well, and went straight in. Fastbond is a card that is often played in combination with Gush in Vintage, allowing to take some damage in exchange for cards, while generating some mana.
Mooseman got Force of Will, which is most likely the best counterspell around, which will give him a nice advantage. This was also the first counterspell being picked, and it was the announcement of the battle for the counterspells.
The storm-count kept going up for BPC with his choice for Lion's Eye Diamond. I'm not sure if it's the right card for his deck. Sure, it gives you three mana, but it also empties your hand, and since you can't use the mid-announcement window, it means he had to draw into Tendrils or another storm spell after he had used it, making it quite a liability.
Lotus Petal gave Spiderman some extra acceleration as well. BigBlue really surprised me by taking Undermine. He was doing so well, and with staying in black he could have had a very strong deck, but instead he chose to go for some counters as well. I think people overestimate the effect counters will have. When just one person gets himself a bunch of counters, it might work, but the problem with counters, combined with normal spells, is that you have to keep mana open. BigBlue won't be able to cast a Hypnotic Spectre if he wants to keep mana open for an Undermine. Control is very powerful in the Vintage and Legacy metagame, but that's only because you're allowed to play the best counterspells four times. When four people are picking up counterspells in a fast pace, it's no longer a viable strategy. In my humble opinion, it's really a missed chance for him, as BigBlue could have got himself an explosive suicide black deck.
I picked Strip Mine, with the obvious intention to pick up Crucible as soon as possible. I didn't expect Melkor to ruin this plan, which is the advantage of being on the edge of the draft. With a Workshop or Lotus I could lock my opponent as fast as turn 2, and since Strip Mine can't be countered, any control-player would be out of business.
The last pick this round was Melkor's: Counterspell. Although I'm trying to go by this round by round, picks from people at the end of the draftorder are in some sort of random order, as they make two picks at the same time. Even though Mana Drain is a card that's almost strictly better than Counterspell, I will keep the order the same, just remember that it didn't really matter.

Round five started with Melkor picking Mana Drain, giving the clear signal that he would be getting the most control cards, if given the chance.
As I expected, I was happy to add Crucible of Worlds to my collection, having the first two-card combo.
Nevinyrral's Disk added some mass removal to BigBlue's pool, although Damnation might have been a strong pick as well. I'm not sure why he thought this card was better, as I suspected people would be picking up some artifact hate later in the draft, with all the Moxes around, and me drafting a lot of artifacts people would want to protect themselves against.
Spiderman got another strong white removal card with Swords to Plowshares. Most likely one of the best choices, as he had to share white with Ransac, who was already drafting white removal spells.
BPC revealed his true intention when he got himself his killcondition: Tendrils of Agony. A wise decision, as his plans would be foiled easily if someone only had taken this card before he could.
The best equipment in the game, Umezawa's Jitte, was picked up by Mooseman, which was an indication he wasn't going to do a lot of control, but was aiming for an aggressive deck instead. After all, without creatures, Jitte isn't going to do much good.
Turgy ruined my day by his choice of Masticore. I know for a fact that many people would be having this card high on their list, and Turgy went straight in to get it. I would have given my left hand just to have this card, one of the best creatures on the board, easily as good as Morphling, despite it's drawback.
Birds of Paradise proved to be a nice pick for Ransac after all, as he moved into black with Thoughtseize. Obviously a very strong card, capable of removing almost any threat, excluding some lands such as Strip Mine and Turgy's Library.

Ransac picked his second black premoval card with Duress, which is slightly less versatile, but still very powerful against control. With very few creatures being drafted thus far, it's almost as good as Thoughseize, just without the lifeloss.
The second Draw-7 was taken by Turgy: Wheel of Fortune, clearly with the intention to draft a GR aggro deck. Again I think that creatures were really underestimated in the previous draft. With on average 9 creatures per pool, decks were really low on ways to win through the redzone, while nearly every deck depended on exactly that! Should Turgy realize this in time and get himself a lot of creatures (if he plays 40 cards again, he should have between 14 and 18 creatures), he can really keep the pressure up against control, which will have to counter most of his creatures, or be overwhelmed.
Clearly Mooseman thought very highly of the Morphling he had already taken, or else he wouldn't have wanted to pick a second one: Pemmin's Aura, again something that is only worth the pick if you have enough creatures that you can reliably cast it whenever you draw it.
Mind's Desire is another way for BPC to get to his Tendrils, if he has a storm count that's high enough. I'm not sure what to think of it. Oversoul only won a single game through his Desire, and even though the extra storm it generates, you would still need extra mana to tutor up and cast Tendrils, or get lucky and flip it with the Desire. Considering the first scenario, if he has got himself up to that much mana, he would most likely be able to win without the Desire, making it a win-more card, and if he needs to flip his Tendrils with his Desire, chances are good he already lost the game. Even so, we all deserve a little luck, and it might just be the out he was looking for.
Spiderman picked Black Vise, obviously a potent card against control, being nigh uncounterable on the first turn.
Even though he didn't knew about my next pick, BigBlue got himself an answer against a lot of creatures that are otherwise very tough to get rid of with Diabolic Edict. Angels and Colossi, beware!
Indeed the very next pick I found one of the most threatening cards to find with Tinker: Darksteel Colossus. Most likely the strongest (power/toughness-wise) creature that will be picked (Krosan Cloudscraper isn't good enough to be played), everyone will have to get some form of removal. With half of the people drafting blue, I feared that it would be pretty vulnerable to bouncespells, but I was hoping to generate enough mana to be able to play it from my hand as well.
The final pick this round came from Melkor, who got himself a way of being able to cast or at least bluff Mana Drain and Counterspell on his first turn with his choice for Chrome Mox.

It was as late as round seven that another broken card got picked, a lot later than I expected, Melkor got his hands on Necropotence. I don't think there's any reason to say anything more about this card, other than to notice that UB can't reliably cast Necropotence on turn 3, but I expect Melkor to get some fix later in the draft).
As I was going to get myself a lot of artifacts, I chose to get some more acceleration with Mana Crypt, before BPC picked it to get more free mana. I'm not sure how it'll work out with the three damage, but if it gets risky, I should always be able to Tinker it into something that hurts me less, and my opponents more.
BigBlue added more discard, Hymn to Tourach. Again I noticed that the Hymn is so much better in monoblack than it is in any other deck. Especially in limited formats, when manabases tend to be a bit too shaky to support double mana - at least on the second turn. I hope BigBlue forgives me for criticizing him too much, but yet again I feel he definitely made a mistake by leaving monoblack for some counters which are mediocre at best.
Spiderman did the same thing as me, by picking Mana Vault. Since the Vault generates more colorless mana, I was hoping it would wheel back to me, but I suppose he will be choosing some cards in which he can use that mana.
Another tutor (there are more good tutors still around, I guess not everyone has done their homework) for BPC, although I wonder if Grim Tutor isn't too expensive, with it's mana cost of 3. In his place I would have considered Imperial Seal. You need to draw spells anyway to fuel your storm, and with plenty of cantrips it shouldn't be too hard to draw into the tutored card.
Boomerang, a very flexible card is chosen by Mooseman, as either another way to protect is Morphling, or to get rid of anything that would bother him, an excellent card in any blue deck, certainly the ones lacking a lot of permission spells.
Turgy's deck lacks permission as well, perhaps his reason for choosing Regrowth. Getting back any card you like can be very handy at times, since your bombs are played only once, getting them back is always a nice trick. After seeing him play BigBlue's "Topdeck", I think Turgy is familiar enough with the cards to get more anti-blue, although I figured it would be safe to leave them on the board a bit longer.
The first person to recognize the threat of BPC's storm deck and to act accordingly was Ransac. He picked Orim's Chant, a very potent card, which wrecks Mind's Desire, and even better, completely stops BPC while he's in the middle of executing his combo.

With the new round starting, Ransac moved a bit deeper into green, picking Pernicious Deed. Deed gave Spiderman an edge in one game, and would have saved him if it would resolved later. I'm not sure how well it'll perform against control decks, but if it resolves, it can take care of any creatures control uses to finish up.
Gamble ended up in Turgy's pool. It was a card I hoped would be around for a bit longer, but Turgy recognizes the power of tutors, especially in colors that are normally lacking those tools. With the cards he already got, there are plenty of targets to search for in his deck. I'm not sure if he's planning to play 40 cards again, but naturally tutors are still very potent. The idea behind playing as few cards as possible, is that you'll draw your bombs faster, yet the problem is that you can not play all of them.
Mooseman got Isochron Scepter. A nice card when combined with the Boomerang he already has, and he would clearly be able to pick up more cards that would prove dangerous. The main disadvantage is that someone able to destroy the Scepter straight away gets an 2 for 1, but the rewards are usually worth the risk.
Desperate Ritual was just another ritual for BPC, I hope he knows what he's doing, adding yet another color to his pool. Rituals might be the best way to establish a nice stormcount, but there's pretty useless if you can't cast them, or if they give you the wrong color of mana. With already double black (Grim Tutor) and double blue (Mind's Desire), he's taking quite the risk, and I hope for him it'll pay off.
A different sort of massremoval, Armageddon, was chosen by Spiderman. It's a good card that won him a game in a previous draft, and I think he's hoping to repeat his success. He's following a different strategy that he did in the previous draft, and still needs a way to recover himself after casting Armageddon.
BigBlue chose Recoil, which is a strong card in UB, stronger if your opponents had no cards in hand, and BigBlue was well on his way to achieving just that. Even though he lost Duress and Thoughtseize to Ransac, he still tries to get a deck similar to what Melkor had in the previous draft. It's only a matter of time until he picks up Megrim.
I got lucky with this pick: Fact or Fiction, which is a very strong card. This card is very challenging for my opponents for several reasons. First, the obvious, it can be difficult to divide the cards into two different piles. Especially late in the game, there are some cards you don't want to see on the table, but you will have to give at least one away. The second reason is less obvious: you'll have to read your opponent. All public information is on the table, and it's usually not too hard to see what cards I would want, but you rarely know what cards I'm holding, which is definitely influencing what I will take. When this resolves, I will be gaining a big advantage, no matter what.
The most surprising thing this round was Melkor picking Grim Monolith. He only has one card requiring colorless mana at this moment, so I'm curious what he'll be using it for. Either way, it is acceleration, and as opposed to the Chrome Mox, you don't have to invest a card in it.

The next card picked by Melkor was Misdirection, which can be a real surprise during the game, because of it's alternative casting cost. It's a very versatile card, capable of protecting his spells against countermagic, and of course change the target of BigBlues discard, Moosemans burn and if he's lucky it might even help him survive a Tendrils from BPC. With plenty of draw effects, the extra card shouldn't matter that much.
b]I picked Trinisphere, which could be an autowin against quite a few decks when cast of a Mishra's Workshop the first turn. The main reason I picked it was of course BPC's deck, who has no way of going off while the Sphere is in play.
Jester's Cap was chosen by BigBlue. It's an entirely different type of card when compared to the discard spells he had already. Still, it can remove all winconditions from BPC, even though it will most likely be too slow for that purpose. Even so, with so many powerful cards around, its effect shouldn't be underestimated.
Spiderman added the first counterspell to his arsenal: Cancel. It's not the best in the book, strictly worse than counterspell, but it should get the job done. However, I would imagine there are better spells still on the board, perhaps Remand or Daze. Either way, it's a hard counter, which aren't as common as it might seem.
More rituals for BPC: Rite of Flame, which isn't very strong in a Singleton Draft, but still nets a mana.
After quite a while, Mooseman moved into his second color, with an excellent choice of Lightning Bolt, a simple, yet very strong red card.
Turgy picked up Sensei's Divining Top, a very strong artifact, which is invaluable in any circumstance. The ability to see what's coming up, let alone the ability to modify it is always going to give you a huge advantage. Even though it's normally paired with Counterbalance, this is the better piece of the soft CounterTop lock.
The round finished with Ransac picking up Damnation, a fine addition to his arsenal of mass destruction. The main problem with the direction he is heading at this moment is his very colorheavy cards. Many of his cards require multiple, or even different colors. He will have to pick up some manafix to ensure he's able to cast every card in his hand.

The tenth round started with Ransac again. He chose Akroma, Angel of Wrath, which has even more colored mana. If he continues this way, his Birds aren't going to be enough, but there's plenty of time left for him to pick up more fixers.
When Turgy got Sneak Attack, it gave a lot of information. Clearly he intended to get himself a GR mana-ramp deck with a lot of fatties, which still had to be drafted. Sure, Sneak Attack is a good card normally, but every overpowered artifact and enchantment will face a lot of removal, I don't expect it to stick around for very long once it hits the table.
Mooseman chose Fork, a strange choice for someone already deep into blue, with Twincast still on the table. Even if he intends to get both cards, Twincast might get picked by another player, as many people are drafting blue. In general it's a fairly weak card, but it might serve him by protecting his spells from a counter.
BPC picked manamorphose, a good step in giving him the right color of mana, while generating storm and cantripping. It's not a bad card at all in his deck, although the colors will have to be chosen very carefully.
I'm not too sure what Spiderman sees in Sapphire Medallion, as a blue mana artifact might be more common, and has usually the same effect. The disadvantages of a managenerator are that it can be used only once, but it's advantage over the medallion is that you can use it for different colored spells as well, and it also works for spells that cost only blue mana. If he really thought this through, he will pick up some cheap blue spells to go with his medallion.
BigBlue picked Copy Artifact. Not a card that will be high on the list of other people, nor a card with a lot of potential. Lacking artifacts to copy himself (no really, you don't want to copy Nevinyrral's Disc), he would be relying on other people before he could play this card.
I chose Thirst for Knowledge as a way to search for some lock-pieces when needed, or simply to refill my hand a bit. Thirst can solve many problems, including mana screw/flood, but most of all it's an instant, so just like Fact of Fiction, I'll be playing it a lot during my opponents end-step.
Brainstorm was drafted by Melkor, quite unfortunate, as I planned to pick it up next. Still, it was on the board for a long time, longer than I expected, and it's a very good card for his deck, so I can't blame him.


These were the first 10 picks, the next ten will hopefully follow somewhere next week.

Read More Articles by Peter Florijn!

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