Storming Standard: Filling Lulls with Limited

Welcome to another edition of Storming Standard (but not really, because we’re drafting while we wait for Scars of Mirrodin)! While I would normally like to bring you an article on Standard, there is a good reason not to- why discuss Polymorph, Mythic Conscription or any of those other decks when the release of Scars of Mirrodin (which is sure to shake up Standard quite a bit) is just around the corner? So instead of that tedium, I decided to bring you an 8-4 draft that I did recently. Without further ado, here is that draft:

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Here is what I played:

The only cards that I considered for the main deck were Maritime Guard, Wall of Frost, and Diminish. In the end, I opted to go with cards that were underpowered compared to them: Goblin Piker, Phantom Beast, and the second Unsummon. I went with the latter because I felt that my deck looked and should play out like a tempo deck with some decent finishers- defenders would just slow my clock. I was looking forward to deploying some aerial beats while bouncing and burning my way to victory.

Round One: RemoSuffredi

G1: I opened with an acceptable seven card hand consisting of Gargoyle Sentinel, Cloud Elemental, Azure Drake, Mountain, and 3 Islands. The game progressed with us deploying our threats, with his top threat being a White Knight enchanted by Armored Ascension. Luckily, I was able to draw an Air Servant to hold it at bay. One of the key things of this match was that I chose not attack with Air Servant. The reason that I did not attack with Air Servant was because I did not want it to fall victim to Condemn. There are very little ways for a white deck to stop Air Servant since Pacifism will not shut off its ability. Eventually, I was able to keep his flying threats tapped down and establish my own threats! Shortly thereafter, a Fireball appeared on the top of my deck, making the game that much shorter.

The only sideboard change that I made was replacing a Phantom Beast with a Wall of Frost. Generally, Phantom Beast is not a good card against white-based decks because of the possibility of Blinding Mage. Also, he showed a few ground-bound 2CC white creatures that Wall of Frost would chill out easily.

G2: Again, I started with a very reasonable hand of Cloud Elemental, Scroll Thief, Fiery Hellhound, Lightning Bolt, Island, and 2 Mountains. The first play of the game was my Scroll Thief, which was sadly met with Pacifism. He developed his board with an Ajanis Pridemate and a Squadron Hawk (fetching a twin). However, because he was not able to explode out of the gates, my Air Servant joined the fray with me sitting at a healthy life total of 17. There weren’t any key difficult decisions to make, but I did cast a Foresee. What would you do here?

I decided to put Preordain and Negate on top of the library while putting Cloud Elemental and Goblin Piker on the bottom. It seemed pretty obvious to keep Negate and ship Goblin Piker, but I like to be aggressive when given the opportunity to scry. It gets me that much closer to my bomb (Ancient Hellkite) and also a second Cloud Elemental doesn’t do much to affect the board. On the proceeding turn, he attacked with Stormfront Pegasus and Squadron Hawk into my Air Servant — most certainly telegraphing a second Mighty Leap or Inspired Charge. Since I had the Negate in hand, I felt confident blocking here. Subsequently, when I cast Negate on his Inspired Charge, he conceded.

Note: It is always important in a draft to determine what archetype your deck falls into and what role you will play in the matches. Initially, I thought my deck was a blue-red tempo deck. While that may still prove to be the case, in this particular matchup, I was definitely the control deck. With the assignment of the control deck, how I sideboard and when I chose to attack and block reflected this mentality.

Round Two: disruptor44

G1: Upon reviewing my opponent’s previous match, I saw that he had a red-green aggro deck. A key situation came up when I was stuck on 2 Mountains, 1 Forest (all untapped) and a Gargoyle Sentinel against his 3 Forest, 1 Mountain (all untapped) and Garruks Companion and Sacred Wolf. I opted to not cast a useless Cloud Elemental so that I could have Lightning Bolt and Negate up. When he attacked with both creatures, I chose to block the Sacred Wolf instead of the Garruks Companion. My reasoning was that I wanted to make sure that Sacred Wolf would die this turn. Sorry that I do not have a picture to ask what would happen; however, I do have a picture showing what did happen:

The game stalled a little while as I was able to get 2 Cloud Elementals into play and he landed his Primeval Titan. It turned into a race! Unfortunately, he followed up with a Yavimaya Wurm and Overwhelming Stampede to destroy me. Ouch.

I opted to replace Phantom Beast and Stone Golem in favor of Diminish and Wall of Frost. The problem with blue-red decks is that it has a very difficult time dealing with large creatures, so these two cards should help me out some. Moreover, I took out Stone Golem, because I saw a Manic Vandal in a previous game.

G2: I started with a shaky but solid hand:

I would have liked to see a Cloud Elemental or something, but it did have the tools to deal with his larger threats. A creature rush on his side could be troublesome if I did not draw some blockers. I had to burn a Lightning Bolt on an Awakener Druid because I could not afford to take too much damage. Up to Turn 5, I had drawn five lands in a row. I did resolve an Azure Drake thereafter which held some of his creatures at bay, but I could not get my offense going. He eventually resolved a Fauna Shaman, but I chose not to Fireball it. I wanted instead to save my Diminish/ Fireball to catch his Fauna Shaman and Primeval Titan (which I did).

Here is another key stage of the game. What would you do with Foresee?

I opted to put Augury Owl and Wall of Frost on top of my library and the rest on the bottom. I kept Augury Owl because the board seemed fairly stalemated and needed to dig for my Ancient Hellkite. The scrying ability on Augury Owl revealed an Island and Gargoyle Sentinel, which I put to the bottom of my library. Eventually, he cast a Yavimaya Wurm. I had my Wall of Frost blocked his Yavimaya Wurm which he used Thunder Strike. I had one card in my hand the Unsummon, but I opted to let my Wall of Frost die because I had Ancient Hellkite in play that I wanted to protect it with Unsummon (while pretending to have a Negate). It did not end up mattering too much, because Ancient Hellkite untapped and dominated the game.

I made one more sideboard change in taking out Gargoyle Sentinel for an Ice Cage (since I wanted more ways to stop his bombs and it looked like Thunder Strike was the only way for him to remove an Ice Cage).

G3: There’s no other way to explain this game than this. I kept an opening hand of 2 Mountains, Island, Goblin Piker, Diminish, Lightning Bolt, and Fiery Hellhound. But as the game progressed, this is what happened:

That’s right. Yeah, I didn’t draw another spell. Diminish plus Lightning Bolt to take out a Primeval Titan but not another creature to stop his 2/2s.

Note: I may have made a mistake in going down to only 12 creatures (with two of them being Cloud Elementals) or a mistake in perhaps not taking a mulligan to get a threat that could deal some real damage. I think it was my own fear of his threats that forced me to water down my deck too much.

Post-Draft Analysis:

I hope you enjoyed this draft! Do you agree or disagree with my picks? I want to know what you think so that I can also become better. I wish my games had more complex decisions to be made, but unfortunately there weren’t that many. If I may, here are a few of the takeaways of Limited play:

(1) It is important to pay attention to what cards the other players may have drafted. For example, I did not recklessly attack with Air Servant when my first round opponent had white mana available. While it would feel nice to attack for four with Air Servant and tap down his flyers, if he had a Condemn, I would lose instantly on the spot without a way to stop his White Knight enchanted by Armored Ascension.

(2) Removal is always at a premium. What this means is that it is generally incorrect to remove a creature unless is poses a significant threat. For example, in Game 2 of the second round I did not go into detail, but I let a Runeclaw Bear deal 4 damage to me instead of using a Lightning Bolt on it. That Bolt, however, did kill an Awakener Druid which did prove to be a significant threat. When the Azure Drake came along, his Runeclaw Bear became a non-issue.

(3) Always keep your opponent guessing. One of the sillier things I like to do on the second turn when I have no play is tap my Island and Mountain and then untap it. To the opponent this looks like I have a second turn play, but opting not to make it because I have a Mana Leak! Just putting the thought of Mana Leak into their mind when I don’t have Mana Leak may alter their play just enough. It’s very subtle, it may prevent an opponent from casting a lethal Fireball in the late game, just because they remembered what you did on the second turn.

And so, that is all I have for you right now. Thanks for reading along and I hope to bring to you a Standard article with Scars of Mirrodin when it is released. That should be pretty fun! Until then, take care, and good luck grindin’ on MTGO.

— rainin6

  1. Thanks man! Really solid draft and I was pretty much with you pick for pick. I liked the Air Servant 1st pick in that 1st pack also. It definately is one of the cards in M11 that can dominate a game and did just that for you in the 1st round. Unfortunate R2G3, looked all too familiar to me. :(

  2. Hey. Really enjoyed the article; I like being able to go through the draft and see what you picked and why. I think I would have been sorely tempted to go black early on, but that might have been a mistake. I can see why you did what you did. Very unlucky that you weren’t in a position to take the Fire Servant when it came up!

    I’m not sure I understand what you were doing with black in the first pack; if you were trying to coerce the people on your left into drafting black, then why did you yourself carry on picking up black cards? Why take Child of Night over Bog Raiders, given that you’re supposed to be leaving the stronger black cards, and the swampwalk ability might become more relevant anyway? Lastly, I’m pretty sure I would not have taken Rotting Legion seventh pick. I understand that drafting allows ugly creatures to have their day in the sun, but surely Duress, Kraken’s Eye, or even the risky Phylactery Lich would have been more useful..?

    I was also slightly surprised about your lack of interest in counterspells. I find a Mana Leak or Negate is nearly as attractive as a removal spell. But maybe that’s just because I loved Deprive in RoE drafts!

  3. Thanks for the comment guys!

    Pete: Through the first pack, I was indecisive… I knew I was going blue for sure but wasn’t sure if I wanted to be in red. Much like everyone else, I prefer being blue-black if I can help it and tried to kind of keep it open. I wanted to still take Fireball as a splash if necessary. But looking back at the draft, I think I should have realized from my first pick and second pick, that black would have extremely slim pickings in pack 2. It was only in pack 2 that I finally committed to red – perhaps a little too late.

    I too love having a Deprive in ROE drafts, but that’s because the format is much slower than M11 and also there is almost always going to be some huge late-game bomb that you can counter with Deprive. Sure, there are bombs in M11 as well, but some games can end before the bombs really arrive or affect the board, while I think most of the ROE draft games I’ve played have been decided by strong late-game cards. That being said, I don’t mind Mana Leak or Negates, but I was drafting with the idea that I’d be tapping out each turn to play threats/removal and setting tempo of the match instead of being reactive – turns out I was wrong on that plan!

    Scars is looking juicy!

  4. Uhm… your deck looks horrible. I’m too lazy to follow the draft, but some things bug me…

    I’m missing the focus in here. It’s a real controldeck but there are some elements of aggro or tempodeck in it, like the phantom beast or the 2 unsummon. Act of treason doensn’t do a lot for you either. Your curve on the other hand is so incredible high, I have no idea how you cant do well here with only 17 lands.

    I would change phantom beast and act of treason for wall of frost and ice cage. Maybe even take out one unsummon, they are only good in aggressive decks or with your 1 ophidian.

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