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Second Singleton Draft Analysis, part II
By Peter Florijn
There's part 2 (at last!), sorry for all the delay

Melkor continued by drafting Underground Sea, a wise decision, seeing how BigBlue was in the same colors he was in.
Solemn Simulacrum was another card that I was hoping to get. It has two very strong abilities, which go well in any deck, so I decided to play it safe, and get it. The card played very well in the Mirrodin prerelease, and since this is yet another limited tournament, I was hoping to get similar results here.
Erratic Portal, chosen by BigBlue was the first card I actually had to look up. As soon as I saw it, I realized there was a better option available in blue: Crystal Shard. BigBlue probably wasn't aware of it, which is a shame, as it can be dropped a turn earlier.
Iridescent Angel, picked by Spiderman normally is a very strong card, but I'm not so sure on it's potential in this format. If it isn't countered, and with that mana cost it almost certainly will, most players have ways of getting rid of it. There is so much mass and untargeted removal, the angel most likely won't last long. If it gets through uncountered, it'll pose a nice threath against most control players.
BPC drafted Ponder, similar to Brainstorm, but it only helps to make a strong hand even better. Brainstorm on the other hand can make a weak hand strong, as it has the ability to get rid of cards you don't need. Still, he might get lucky and find the card he needed, and being able to cantrip is good for storm.
Mooseman picked Mana Leak, a cheap counter. The only disadvantage it has is that it gets weaker as the game progresses. Early game it's very powerful, as it's difficult to play around. This pick also initiated the fight for counterspells, with almost every blue player grabbing every counterspell they could find.
BPC must have been unhappy when he saw Turgy "stealing" some free acceleration from him with his choice of Elvish Spirit Guide. I can understand why BPC left it on the board, as it isn't a very good card in a more conventional deck, since you're trading a card against just a single mana. The lack of reusability clearly something that doesn't bother Turgy, but I'm not sure he'll play them maindeck.
Ransac scared me a bit when he picked Eternal Witness. Recursion is a powerful tool, and Ransac already had plenty of things that need not be repeated, including Wrath, Damnation and Pernicious Deed. The only upside for the rest of us here is another double manacost spell. I'm not sure what he's planning here, but he'll need a lot of fix to make up for all of it.

His next choice was less troublesome. Ransac chose a classic manafixer for control decks: Eternal Dragons. This is best used with dual lands, but since it only requires colorless mana, it can be just as useful to fix a basic plains. It's a good flying body as well though, and tough to get rid off.
Turgy found the red counterpart of his previous pick in Simian Spirit Guide. He made a 40-card deck in the previous draft, and I expect him to do the same thing this time. That means he will use only half the cards he drafts, and cards like this almost certainly won't make the cut. He's probably hatedrafting, and might board them in against BPC for extra speed.
More burn for Mooseman, who chose an X-spell over a fixed amount of damage. I'm not sure why he thought that was a better choice then Kaerveks Torch. With plenty of counterspells around, a bit of protection build in a burnspell is very useful.
With two people playing black, I was surprised to see Yawgmoth's Bargain go this late. BPC should be able to use it to pick up his deck and finish the game, but the main problem he will be facing is getting it on the table in the first place.
Moosemans previous choice of Mana Leak didn't go unnoticed. Spiderman picked Absorb, a potent counterspell which buys him a lot of extra time against aggro, but is less relevant against control. Nevertheless, three mana hard counters aren't something to be ignored.
BigBlue added a counterspell of his own, good old Power Sink. I'm sure all of you have first hand experience with the devastating powers of the Sink (no pun intended), so I think BigBlue got himself an excellent card here.
I decided to get something that I could use both offensive and defensive. Platinum Angel was an artifact that everyone could use in their decks, but the main advantage is that once it hits play, BPC has no way of getting rid of it, and I don't think he is likely to get an answer to it. With most good counterspells gone, a card like this would be my best bet of surviving his combo.
The final pick this round was Melkor's choice for Capsize. He was obviously preparing for a long game, although I'm still not sure how he plans to survive up to that moment, but I'm sure he'll figure something out.

It was when Melkor chose Forbid that I felt the desire for counterspells was getting out of hand. Cancel is a bad card, which becomes painfully obvious when it's compared to Counterspell. Forbid is only slightly better because it gives you more options. Melkor however will rarely use this extra buyback option, as it contradicts his entire gameplan, which is to win through card advantage. Without madness, which should be taken literally here, this card is rubbish, and should not be played.
I tried to take advantage of this situation, by picking another critical card for my deck, even though I didn't think many people would be considering it. Metalworker is simply insane in my deck, as it allows for extreme acceleration, without the restrictions that Mishra's Workshop has. At this point I was planning to pick up the Academy next, although this would be quite a disappointment.
BigBlue added Shadowmage Infiltrator to his pool, which made clear that BigBlue would be trying to draft a deck similar to Melkor's, only focusing on the discard instead of the draw effects. Finkel is very powerful on it's own, and against deck without black or artifact creatures, it gives BigBlue the ability to dig for any card he might be looking for.
Foil is another card with a build in option to three-for-one yourself. Nevertheless, it was chosen by Spiderman, who did not seemed bothered by it.
BPC drafted Time Spiral, which is a good card if you're looking to refill your hand (almost) for free, but does not have a lot of synergy with Yawgmoth's Will. It might give him an edge when he combating discard, and most of his outs have been put in his graveyard.
With another red burn spell - Incinerate -, Mooseman continued down the path. I'm not sure if his strategy of combining combo-elements and burn together will work out well for him, but he really will be needing some creatures in case his plans don't work out, let alone to be able to play Pemmin's Aura.
Turgy picked Sylvan Library, a solid way to get some extra cards in his deck. I'm not sure if I would prefer this card over something like Harmonize, but with only a few enchantment removal cards being drafted thus far, and a lot of counters, this might indeed be the better pick here.
The final pick this round was Ransac's, who chose Land Tax. An excellent choice, as would have it on his want-list as well, having Armageddon, and Ransac's deck was already getting shape as a rather expensive one, so he would need all the fix he could find.

Ransac seemed to be realizing the same thing, as he grabbed some more acceleration in the form of Llanowar Elf. Perhaps a bit early, but Turgy would be interested in this card as well, and it provides him with a multitude of one-drops.
Turgy himself chose Survival of the Fittest. Again there is someone who plans on doing a lot with creatures (both Survival and Sneak attack would be interesting for sure, he must be picking up Squee soon), but haven't got a lot of those yet. The only creature he has so far is Masticore, and I don't see that being Sneaked in that fast.
I was very disappointed when Mooseman drafted Tolarian Academy. This card got picked up pretty late in the previous draft, and nobody seemed to be having enough artifacts to really profit from the raw power of the Academy. I would be very surprised if this card ended up in his deck, so I think Mooseman was just hatedrafting here.
Storm decks depend on three kind of cards. First they want cards that give mana, rituals. Second they want cards that dig your deck for more spells. Frantic Search was chosen by BPC, who will be very happy with it. It rarely costs you mana to play, and gives you the ability to find the cards you are looking for. Cards like this will have to form the backbone of his deck.
Spiderman drafted Desertion, and seemed to be interested in stealing other people's creatures and artifacts, rather than playing his own, which is a nice strategy, considering the creatures that had already been picked up. In case of an emergency, he could even use it as a hard counter, but I know what I would prefer if I were in his situation.
Memory Lapse will hopefully give BigBlue the time he needs to execute his own game plan, but will do little else. I'm not that impressed with this card, which only slows down your opponent. It still is a nice way to disrupt BPC when he's going off, but other than that, I'm not sure if people will care a lot, as BigBlue is spending a card on something that does nothing more than delay another spell.
I chose Fire // Ice, since Mooseman was moving in my colors, so I didn't want to leave it on the board too long. Fire is a card that allows me to gain card-advantage, while Ice can do even more damage when tapping a blocker. If it wasn't obvious yet, I would of course be drafting red as my second color, hopefully picking up some parts of the Dragon-Stompy as well as Welder toolbox.
Stroke of Genius was Melkor's choice, who clearly hoped to get more card-advantage. I think this card will be quite dangerous, because of it's expensive mana-cost, and the general availability of counterspells. Should it resolve, it will always be amazing though.

Melkor continued by choosing Impulse, letting him search even deeper. Yet again, he might have a nice control arsenal, he was still lacking ways to finish the game. I fear he's counting on his countermagic and card advantage to be able to find his threats fast, and then protect them, but I very much doubt that's going to work. Removal is plentiful in the draft, and he's not the only one playing this strategy, so people will be prepared for it.
I picked Juggernaut as my fifth creature, knowing very well I would need about ten more to be able to put the pressure on those control players. Juggernaut has the advantage of being relatively cheap for it's size, and has the ability of ending games in a few turns if left unanswered.
I was not the only one picking creatures, as BigBlue added Doomsday Specter to his squad. The main problem this card has, is that you have to return a creature card to your hand. If this had flash, that wouldn't be a problem, but as it hasn't, you'll only be hurting yourself with this. Since Shadowmoor is legal here, I think Ghastlord of Fugue would be a much better card. The mana requirements aren't a problem for him, and the lack of tempo-loss (let alone the unblockable ability) really adds up, when you consider that it has a 4/4 body as well. The Ghastlord is a must-kill creature, while this specter can't even get around a flying hill giant. I think this pick shows more than anything else I've seen so far the importance of knowing the cards you want for your deck.
After Desertion last round, Spiderman continued with his plans of stealing creatures, as he drafted Treachery. This card is basically a free Control Magic (a card that is for some unknown reason still on the board). A very solid pick, definitely better than Treachery, and my best defense would have to be hoping he would not draw them in time.
Threshold can't be that easy for BPC, who chose Cabal Ritual, as he also plays with Yawgmoth's Will and Time Spiral, but more rituals never hurt.
Mooseman went for Miscalculation, a poor man's mana leak, which does has the advantage of having cycling. My experience here is that you'll rarely will be using the cycling ability, yet it's still a decent counter when your opponent is still trying to gain board-advantage. If he gets lucky he can take an X-spell down with it.
Although I'm not sure of it, it certainly looks like Turgy is deliberately foiling BPC's plans. He picked Land Grant, which isn't that good. Revealing your hand is something you never want to do, unless you can combo out on the same turn. In limited, where you'll be playing 16-19 lands, depending on your deck, the times at which you can play this for free are very limited, and if you draw this later in the game, you won't be happy with it either, as it isn't a spell that's going to aid you.
Finally, Ransac got a bit greedy when he chose Recurring Nightmare. I wouldn't be surprised if he will be trying a small reanimator subtheme in his deck, featuring some powerful angels, but even so, he will be trying to get Deranged Hermit, which is absolutely crazy with this card.

Phyrexian Arena is a card that can be strong in the right circumstances, but I'm not sure Ransac's deck is capable of creating those kind of situations. When you have a lot of cheap spells, you can use this card, but when you're playing a rock-like deck, you'll be using all mana most of the time, so you don't need those extra cards. The lifeloss will hurt sooner or later, and I doubt the extra options will be worth the loss. Even with this card, it will be hard to push something past a strong control player, and this is only putting pressure on himself, instead of on his other player. When I compare this card to Bitterblossom, the latter is definitely superior. First of all you're getting creatures, which are free and give you a nice threat. If your opponent doesn't kill Bitterblossom, and has no answer to the tokens (and lets face it, there aren't that many answers chosen yet), the game will be over very soon. Phyrexian arena has no such effect, all it does from your opponents point of view is nibbling at your lifetotal, and you're still stuck on one spell / turn. While it's a good way to fight the card-advantage most control decks will be having, it does not have any effect on your board by itself.
Some more acceleration for Turgy, who picked up Tinder Wall. Although there is no aggro-deck in the format (which is a shame really), it's still some free mana, which signals he will be getting some expensive stuff later, which is no real surprise, given the fact that he's drafting green.
Mooseman got Fabricate, which was obviously on my list as well. I guess he really wants his Scepter in play, but I'm not sure if it's that wise to have a strategy that depends on a single card staying in play. When looking at his earlier pick of Tolarian Academy, I suppose he will be picking up some more artifacts as well. I can't imagine which ones that would be, so I decided here I would simply continue my own strategy, while keeping an eye on his picks, but not responding to them unless I had no other choice.
BPC picked up Cabal Therapy. At this moment however, he has no way of looking in his opponents hand, so I wonder what he's plans he has for it. Maybe he'll open the game with it, hoping to take out some hate that people have been drafting, but even though he sees their hand then, he has no creatures to sacrifice to pay the flashback cost, thus can't really make good use of that information. I suppose it could help him if he gets really, really lucky, but in general he will just be throwing a card away with it, and in that case I think there are better ways of generating storm-count.
Another counter got added to Spiderman's pool. Thoughtbind is a fine card in this format, as it counters almost any spell, with the exception of the largest creatures, I'm sure he'll find a way to deal with those.
Blizzard specter got drafted by BigBlue, if he goes on like this he might as well pick up Urza's Incubator to set on Specter's! Specter's are usually a nice way of recurring discard, but they have the main disadvantage that they aren't actively contributing to the board until the turn after they came into play, and are vulnerable to removal. The latter won't be as important in this draft though, as there isn't a lot of spotremoval drafted thus far, it might just be a winning strategy.
I picked up Gifts Ungiven, which is simply a fantastic tutor in a Highlander format, and with both Crucible in my pool, and Academy Ruins on my list, I could basically search for any two artifact cards and put them into my hand!
Round 16 finished with Melkor drafting Impulse, which is a good way of digging deeper for the cards you are looking for. It also works pretty good with brainstorm, acting as a semi-shuffle. The only thing his deck is lacking is a strong finisher, he only has some counters, a few tutors and a lot of carddraw, but if he doesn't get a target for his tutors, or has nothing to draw into, he won't be winning.

In the new round, Melkor started by picking Trickbind, a strong counterspell for both activated and triggered abilities, both of which are plentiful around in the format.
On my turn, I chose Pithing Needle, another way of fighting activated abilities, it's a nice way to get rid of a Jitte, Morphling, Sneak Attack or Sensei's Divining Top, to name a few. I'm not sure if I should play this maindeck, but it's a good sideboard option, which I'll definately use.
Reconstruction was BigBlue's choice for this round, which is a good way to get some extra use out of a Nevy Disk or Jester's Cap, but is otherwise a poor card. The problem is that you need to invest a card to get your artifact back. Sure, an extra Disk is good, but if you cleared the board once, you don't need to do so again right away, most of the time anyway. I fear this will be a dead card in his hand most of the time.
Spiderman continued to pick up counters, this time by choosing Rewind. This card seems nice, but if you won't be using the extra mana this card gives you, a cheaper counter might be better. Let's face it, untapping four land can have it's advantages, like getting another use out your Mishra's Factory, but most of the time, there won't be another thing to counter, so you won't be spending the mana, meaning it's often functionally identical to a 2UU counterspell. Even though I used to think this was the best card ever, as it didn't cost you any mana, since then I've learned a lot about card-quality, and this is mediocre at best.
Stifle is a card BPC would hate to see go to one of his opponents, and I believe it's a wise move to just take it yourself, rather than having to face it in a game. Well picked!
After his tutor last round, Mooseman now finally got around to picking some artifacts, and a fine one at that. Vedalken Shackles is a fine control cards, although his two-colored deck will have some difficulties producing enough islands to take over enemy fatties. Being an artifact it dodges most protection abilities (save Pristine Angel), and Moosemans deck sure became interesting. If it really is his intention to draft a deck with which he can decide to burn the smaller creatures, then steal the larger ones and beat his opponent with it, he might end up with a difficult to pilot, but even more difficult to play against deck. I hope he was just picking this for the quality this card has, and not as a part of a grander scheme.
Turgy got worldly tutor, clearly intending to get a lot more creatures. Whatever he would pick, he had now multiple ways of making sure he'd find what he wanted.
As the last player to get a card this round, Ransac picked Vindicate, obviously one of the best spotremoval around. The only disadvantages the card has to offer is it's manacost, which shouldn't be a problem in his deck, and the lack of split second, making it vulnerable to counterspells. Other than that, it's a superb card, answering almost any threat.

Ransac immediately got another pick, where he chose Exalted Angel. Obviously, two big flying finishers aren't enough, so he picked a third. While this one can be played face-down, it might be a bit overdone, but against decks with a lot of removal, it might be useful to have a backup angel.
Still deciding to stay almost creatureless, Turgy chose Browbeat over a creature. I don't think he has the right deck to play this card, as you're typically hoping your opponent will take 5, so you can burn him to death, while you wouldn't mind drawing three cards either, as you will be using those to burn your opponent into oblivion. Turgy will deal 5 damage with this card almost all the time, but rarely draw any cards from it, and his deck does not quite support this strategy, making it a poor inclusion in his deck, as 5 damage for three mana just isn't good enough in this format.
When he chose Ball Lightning, Mooseman moved deep into red. If you want to support both this card and Vedalken Shackles, you're going to need a lot of manafixers, which are not that available in Blue/Red. Either way, I suppose Mooseman knows what he's doing, so it must be part of his gameplan.
Chromatic Sphere is a card that sees a lot of play in Storm-based decks, due to it's ability to create colored mana and drawing a card, even though playing the card and getting a mana out of it costs you two mana. The extra card is what makes this a good card, and I'm sure BPC will be running this.
Spiderman picked up Merchant Scroll, a tutor that I've considered taking myself, but didn't due to the lack of targets I had for it. Spiderman can use this as an extra counterspell in his deck, or can get his Swords to Plowshares should he be unable to counter something.
Reality Ripple got drafted by BigBlue.
I chose the signature card for my deck: Smokestack. Everyone knows the trick of stacking it's "add-a-counter" ability first, then the sacrifice ability, so you sacrifice less permanents than your opponent, yet almost everybody underestimates the truly wrecking powers of this card. When left unanswered, it can clear the board in just a few turns, with the help of cards like Solemn Simulacrum, you can even make sure you still have cards on the board when you sacrifice Smokestack to it's own ability. If I could play four of these, I would do so without a second of doubt, it is easily one of the most powerful cards in my deck.
The final pick this round was Bazaar of Baghdad, which got picked up by Melkor. This is a card used primarily by combo decks that aim to find their relevant cards as fast as possible, and at any cost, and since he's still creatureless, I doubt he'll be playing a reanimator deck, and a singleton format isn't able to support a Bridge/Ichorid combo. Either way, it's a good way to search for your best cards, and with a nice madness subtheme, it'll be a powerful inclusion in his deck.

Round 19 began, and Melkor got even more boardcontrol. The Abyss is excellent for dealing with creatures, but Melkor should not forget he needs a way to win himself. We're almost halfway through the draft, and his deck still has no way of winning.
Lotus Bloom is a card I would rather not see at BPC, so I hatedrafted this card. Although I will be boarding it in in matches in which speed is decisive, it doesn't deserve a spot in the maindeck. Unless I would be losing a lot of manafixers to Mooseman, I have no need for it.
BigBlue went in a different direction with his deck when he chose Glimpse the Unthinkable. Milling 10 cards is pretty good, when most decks only have 40 cards, so combine it with an opening hand of 7, and you're already halfway milling them. Alone it's not going to be enough to win by giving your opponent an empty library and a draw step, but if he can get cards to mill more cards, it can be a very fast ticking clock.
The next person in line was Spiderman, who shifted his attention from counterspells to tutors. He drafted Enlightened Tutor, which is a fine choice, considering he has Treachery to look for. Other than that, he has no real targets, but there's still plenty of time to get some good stuff.
Personal Tutor is the best card for BPC, as it can tutor up any of his storm spells, for just a single mana BPC can make sure his mana acceleration and fixing will actually lead to him winning the game this turn.
Mooseman went back to the blue side of his deck, by choosing Clone. While only Ransac has drafted more than 5 creatures thus far (and even that's including his Mana Birds), people still seem to be happy to pick control-magic and copy effects, and that's while control magic is still available.
Finally Turgy got himself to draft a creature. I'm not sure what he sees in Woodfall Primus, as it's a bit clumsy for my taste, given it's enormous manacost. Still, it can take out artifacts and enchantments, even lands if there's nothing else, and persist makes sure it lives through removal. In a format full of counterspells, I would hesitate before picking too expensive spells, and this sure is expensive.
The round was concluded by Ransac, who chose Scroll Rack, most likely due to it's amazing synergy with Land Tax. Even so, in my limited experience with this card, it's no match for Sensei's Divining Top, and gives a lot less advantages.

As round 20 began, Ransac got another Angel, Blinding Angel this time. I don't know why he thinks this card is good, as there aren't that many creatures yet. I feel people understand the Golden Rule of drafting, which is to get as much removal as you can, but forget that this only applies when you know your opponents are drafting a lot of creatures. Currently, people are way too busy countering (literally) each others spells, without having good ways of making sure they will win the game at some point. Overall, Blinding Angel is not spectacular, as it's easily blocked or removed, or people will simply not care about it's ability, as they haven't got any creatures themselves.
Turgy realized he needed a way of protecting his spells from counters, and found Vexing Shusher up for the job. This card was hyped quite a lot when Shadowmoor was released, but eventually people realized that this was in fact a poor card, as it forces you to leave mana open to deflect counterspells, and it's still only a 2/2 body, which dies to a lot of removal. If a card isn't good enough to be played in Standard, I doubt it's good enough here, but we'll see.
Force Spike is like the Spanish Inquisition, nobody expects it, let alone play around it. Force Spike is stronger than it seems, as it can almost be used as a Time Walk in the first few turns. I predict Mooseman will catch a lot of powerful spells with this card.
BPC's next pick works really good with Yawgmoth's Will, since that card allows Intuition to search for three cards instead of the usual one. He will be needing more and more mana with every pick he makes though, so I think he will go back to drafting rituals soon, or he will have a hard time pulling of his combo.
Null Rod will probably head straight for Spiderman's sideboard, but it has some very useful purposes against quite a few decks. Especially I have a lot of artifacts he would like to shut down, and this card takes care of most of them.
With Induce Paranoia BigBlue went deeper into his new strategy of milling his opponent. It's a decent counter, which becomes a very good counter if you look for ways to get your opponents library to zero cards as soon as possible.
I must admit I have been hatedrafting just a little bit when I drafted Bribery. This is one of the cards I certainly do not want to see in my opponents pool. I also realized that most people had very few creatures, and the ones they had were very powerful, so I figured I might as well play it in my deck, and hopefully I'll be able to steal the best creature my opponent wishes to use against me.
Melkor finished the round by choosing Memory Jar. By now he has a total of nine (that's almost half his picks thus far!) cards, dedicated to finding other cards, but I have no idea what he will be looking for. Memory Jar offers a nice way to search your next seven cards, but I think all of us wonder, what will you be looking for Melkor?

Read More Articles by Peter Florijn!

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