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My Life as a Sheep: Following the Herd
By Russell Sherman
So I have not a spark of originality in my body, but as the highest-posting CPA member to get into the Internet Writers War, I feel that I have a right to exploit my position and tell you why you should have voted for me in the Internet Writer's War!(Oh, God, here we go again...CT) I lost to 4 pro's and Urza's Mistress! If it had been me and Mr. Da Gama, or Fletcher Peatross I would have had a chance! Come on! Pair me against a non-pro/non-female! The pairings are cruel....
Yes, I am perfectly aware that that was a sexist remark. Oh well. I don't actually think that Urza's Mistress got any pity votes. Well, maybe a couple. But I don't know her personally, so I can't tell.

My Hotmail inbox contains letters from The Ferrett, Friggin' Rizzo, Anthony Alongi, and David Stroud! I feel connected!
Maybe I should clarify. My inbox contains 1 letter from each of the following:

Friggin' Rizzo (I named a trivia tidbit. He commented "Hey, haven't I seen your name on articles?" )

Anthony Alongi (I failed to break Keldon Twilight)

The Ferrett (his response to my response to The Great Misunderstanding, which you MUST READ NOW!)(click here to Check It Out...the ever-helpful CT)

So I'm not a name. I've accepted that. Sigh. Maybe it would help if I started writing more articles (I actually have 2 in the works as you read this). I've fallen off more and more. I even played my version of Fires earlier this week. My name is Russell and I touched a netdeck. Now my birds feel dirty....

So, instead, let me tell you about 7th Edition and drafting. I recently attended a 7th Edition draft. Actually, I was the driving force behind it because nobody else really wanted to draft 7th.

Looking at the spoiler I saw that g/r was the way to go. I was gonna draft r/g no matter what, it seemed like the best color combo. Big beats and half-decent removal.

So, three 7th Edition packs. I open pack 1 and look down. The rare is Kjeldoran Royal Guard. The only red card is Goblin Elite Guard. A Dark Banishing stares at me from the middle of the pack.
"Aww... screw it." I take the removal.
Pass, and I find:
Corrupt.
Next pass:
Volcanic Hammer
Next pass:
Phyrexian Hulk
Next pass:
Lightning Elemental

Wow.
Wowowowowowow!
And I got passes like that through the entire draft.

My deck:
4 Giant Cockroach
3 Razortooth Rats
3 Corrupt
1 Dark Banishing
1 Volcanic Hammer
1 Lightning Elemental
1 Phyrexian Hulk
1 Drudge Skeletons
1 Spineless Thug
1 Gravedigger
1 Bog Wraith
1 Hill Giant
1 Befoul
1 Soul Feast
1 Ostracize
1 Lightning blast
10 Swamp
7 Mountain

This deck was amazingly effective, and what would happen was the same in almost every game. In 6 turns, I'd have 1/2 to 3/4 the life total of my opponent, and I would begin to play a spell a turn. A creature a turn. They couldn't keep up.

My first round was against Nelson, who had drafted a u/w/g/b deck with 1 white card and 1 green card. Not the best drafting style, but he's a fairly good player, so the games were a little drawn-out.

Game 1: Basically, game 1 consisted of him playing a 3-mana creature, a 4 mana creature, and another 3 mana creature. Two were killed (Banishing and Hammer), one was trumped by a Giant Cockroach. From then on the game was mine. 2 Cockroaches, a Gravedigger, a Lightning Elemental, and 2 Corrupts looked up at me from my hand when I finally hit 6 mana.... I played a Cockroach, he drew land. I played a Lightning Elemental and a land. He took 8. He played a Vigilant Drake. I drew and played another land. Corrupt his drake for 4. He takes 8 more. He draws and plays a creature, but I would kill him that turn, even without my corrupt.

Game 2: He had no threats. My removal was stockpiled, and I played creatures with power >3 on turns 4, 5, and 6. He played a Glacial Wall on turn three, though, so they didn't all get through, and he Removed the Soul of my Lightning Elemental. I cast Gravedigger, then Lightning Elemental next turn, and he countered it. I attack again, bringing him to 3. I Befoul his wall. He thumps his deck "Come on Wrath!"
"You drafted a Wrath?!?"
"No."
He draws and smiles
"I'm happy though."
He plays an Evacuation, buying him a turn.
"Sorry, I think it's over."
I lay down my eighth mana and play a Gravedigger. It recurs Lightning Elemental, which has haste, and comes into play for 4 more damage....

2-0 Games
1-0 Matches

Next game is against Sean. Sean is the best combination of a drafter/player there, and has the unnerving tendency to play like a machine, and always make the exactly right move. This bothers players like me. Two cards into the draft he smiled at us "I've drafted a combo!"
"With two cards?"
"Yep"
Turns out Sean is playing a w/b deck based on Combat tricks. His combo was Crypt Rats/COP: Black. Fortunately all his COP's were in the sideboard.

Game 1:
I Ostracize and rid him of a Samite Healer. He plays a turn 2 Agelic Page, which I Befoul (bad move). He then plays a Gravedigger (recurring the healer) followed by Sustainer of the Realm. I cast my first Cockroach. Then my second. Then my Razortooth Rats. Then I Hammer his Gravedigger so my Razertooth Rats (which have fear) can serve. I bring him down to 12 like this, and two Corrupts (one for 4, one for 5) following a Soul Feast means he loses.

Game 2:
Uh-oh. Sean, I know, has 2 COP: Blacks and a COP: Red. I had better win and quick. I side in Duress and side out the 3 Rats, putting in Mind Rot and Goblin Glider, just for another red source. He drops a second turn COP: Black and a third turn Crypt Rats. I never really put up a fight this game.

Game 3:
I grimace, but Sean seems happy about this match up. I draw my hand and smile. 2 Corrupts, a Soul Feast, a Hill Giant, and mana.
I play first. Swamp
He plays: Swamp, Ostracize. There goes my Bog Wraith.
I draw a Mind Rot. I play: Mountain.
He plays: Plains, Crossbow Archers
I draw a Hill Giant. I play: Swamp. Mind Rot. He dumps two creatures
He plays: S, Mind Rot
I discard my Soul Feast and a Corrupt, judging them to be bad cards. This is a big mistake, as Corrupt is removal, and Soul Feast gets around COP: Black. Wakefield die goes up a notch.
I lay down a fourth land and cast Bog Wraith.
He plays a Pacifism on it. I am not amused.
I draw and cast a Cockroach. He trumps it: COP: Black.... *sigh*

So, with three creatures keeping his land useless, I successfully draw EVERY NON-BLACK DAMAGE SOURCE IN MY DECK. Volcanic Hammer, Lightning Elemental, Goblin Glider, and Phyrexian Hulk. All the while he draws creatures. One it's all out, he begins to draw land and I draw all my removal spells. He loses this match badly, and goes up disappointed. He should have won. I played awfully, but my deck was good enough and lucky enough to make up for it.

Games:
4-1
Matches:
2-0

Next I face off against Adam. Adam has very little experience, but has drafted a rather pretty R/G/w deck. The only problem is the mana, which his deck consistently screws him on. In game one, Adam's card-land ratio is 3-11. Game two it's exactly the opposite. Both are rather short games. I play straight to 4 land and begin to drop creatures in both games.
6-1 games
3-0 matches

Slick is next. He drafted what he always drafts: U/G/W. He opened an Ancient Silverback, and has some nice defense, though. The running joke is about his deck construction. Slick is a decent deck builder/player but sometimes his mind becomes a little detached from reality, when looking at what a card COULD do. He had maindecked his Spellbook.

Game 1:
He plays a Wind Spirit, and I play a Razortooth Rats. Life totals look like this.
Him: 20,18,16,14,24
?!?
Delusions of mediocrity is some good in a draft. I begin to lay down creatures with a power of 4 (Cockroaches and Elementals), but I'm already at 6. I draw and play a Corrupt, which puts me at ten. He draws a Glacial Wall. I fight around it for 2 turns and Befoul it. Nothing else of note happens, and I end the game at 14 life from a second Corrupt.

Game 2:
I play a second-turn Drudge Skeletons, which is a quick start for me. They trade with his Wind Dancer. He plays his Delusions a second time, going to 30 life, this time backed up by a Glacial Wall. I Hammer his Wind Dancer, to keep flyers from tap-dancing on my head. He plays an Ancient Silverback. Fortunately for me, he was tapped out. I Corrupt the Silverback for 5, then topdeck a Befoul for the wall. All his creatures have powers less than 3. Only my skeletons do. I win by sheer attrition.

8-1 games
4-0 matches

It is important to note than in a draft, attrition is the key. I played with 1 spell that was non-creature or non-creature destruction: Soul Feast. Everything else was damage and/or card advantage. No combat tricks, no enchantments, no pumps, NOTHING SITUATIONAL. My single situational card was a Dark Banishing, even Befoul cold be used on land, if all else failed. This means that, aside from land problems, I was NEVER disappointed by drawing a card I couldn't use. Even with Sean's COP: Black out, every creature I played was a virtual Stone Rain. That's my key to drafting. Unless you are passed an INCREDIBLE situational card, like Delusions of Grandeur or COP's, draft only cards that are always going to be useful. When in doubt, draft creatures.

Last opponent was Justin. Justin built the deck I wanted to build. Justin was playing a r/g deck that was based on removal, 2 fatties, and a nice mana curve. Justin is a very good drafter/drafter. He is not, however, an excellent player.

In both my games against Justin he plays creatures on turns 2, 3, 4, and 5. I play mine on turns 3,4,and 5 in game one. He makes 2 unfavorable trades, and sees 2 Trained Armodons die to a Hammer and a Banishing. 2 Cockroaches come after him. He Shocks one, and the smell of roast bug rolls through the room. He Lightning Blasts the other, but I lay down Lightning Elemental and smile "That's what we call redirection of force. 'You dirty planeswalker, Lightning killed my insect, now it's gonna kill you.'" At one point in the game, I was at 4, and he was at 20. When the game ended, I was at 8. Life drainers are beautiful things.

Next game, he lays down a Grizzly Bears. I sit there. He lays down a Goblin Chariot and hits me for 4. I sit there. He plays a Trained Armodon. I play a Cockroach. He Hammers it, and serves for 7. I Banish his Armodon. He plays another. I Hammer it and play a Cockroach, which trades with his Grizzly Bears. My life total is now 7, so I begin to worry. He plays a Giant Spider and a Canopy Spider. The Canopy Spider brings me to 6 after a few turns. I play creatures enough to block him out. He grins, draws, and casts Lava Axe on me... I'm at 1 life. He's at 14.
I Corrupt him for 5. I'm back at 6. I attack with everything, and he blocks. His Giant Spider is all that lives. One of my creatures dies, leaving me two 4/2's and a 3/3.
He draws again, and Reclaims Lava Axe. And Lightning Blasts me. I'm at two, and he has a Lava Axe on top. I calculate and find that I am 7 damage short of killing him. I have 10 mana out. If ever there was a time for a drain spell.... it was now.

Corrupt.

For 6.

For the win.

Some days, the topdeck gods love you.
I Corrupt his Giant Spider and attack with my creatures, bringing him to 3, next turn I can deal 11 damage. He has no hand, and no creatures, and a single Lava Axe now on top of his library. I am at 8. He forfeits.

10-1 Games
5-0 Matches

This is my 4th victory at a draft in a row. in the last 6, I've won 5. I'm beginning to feel comfortable in this format. If I'm not actually GOOD at it, I am beginning to understand it. I can feel myself begin to make confident decisions.

"To be a leader, one does not have to be infallible. One merely has to SEEM infallible"
-Tambu, interstellar warlord of Robert Asprin

7th is a lot of fun.

Yes, it's dumbed-down. That's why it reads "Intermediate" on the packs under "level". Expansions read "Advanced".

Yes, it had stupid rares. Kjeldoran Royal Guard, Ancestral Memories, the Paladins, etc.

Yes, it made some pointless reprints, but you know what, I like it. It's fat, it's fun, it has a lot of powerful and useful cards. I know it's traditional to trash all the Editions, but, with the exception of what it did to black (tutor and Ritual are BOTH gone? WTF?!?), 7th is a good set. Cards I thought were too versatile to see reprinting are back, like Arcane Laboratory, or Duress. Fatties are back. Opposition is back. Gerrard's Wisdom is back. There's some good stuff here. This set has a lot of very versatile and useful enchantments. Get out there and use them. Stop complaining!

Meanwhile, I'll be sitting here with my u/w deck.
3 Mahamoti
3 Serra Angel
3 Fact or Fiction
4 Accumulated Knowledge
3 Teferi's Moat
4 Gerrard's Wisdom
2 Worship
4 Counterspell
4 Foil
2 Thwart
4 Dismantling blow
24 LAND

You want some, punk?
Nothing like playing some of the old fat in a new deck. I'm so overjoyed to bring my Mahamoti's out of the closet. Finally, u/w has some beatdown creatures again! Booya!

I'm a very happy camper, even though I lost the Writer's War Miserably. And I'm glad there WAS a Writers War! In 5 days we've had articles by Sol Malka, The Ferrett, and Vasco Da Gama. That's the most Star Power we've had since Wakefield himself showed up to reply to an article!

-Russell Sherman
Goblin Lackey

Read More Articles by Russell Sherman!

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