This post is dedicated to the Witch’s Familiars and Rotfeaster Maggots of the Magic world. The under-appreciated, underrated, and somewhat uninteresting cards. The heroes we need, but not the ones we pick. Who the hell wants to draft a creature that has less power than toughness?*

*The official motto of Scrub Report.
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Not this guy.

The above draft deck is pretty bad, despite Ajani and Cone of Flame‘s best attempt to salvage it. The Hornet’s Nest was pretty awkward. During deckbuilding, I thought about shooting it with Lightning Strike to make some instant speed deathtouch blockers. The potential blowouts!

I overvalued Goblin Roughrider and Borderland Marauder in pack two. At that point, I should have either committed to an RW aggro plan and ditched green, or picked up beefier midrange cards and dug in for longer games. Generator Servant, despite being one of my favorite cards, didn’t pan out.

What cards worked? For some reason, Bronze Sable consistently pulled its weight over my last dozen drafts, acting as an on-curve two-drop and bonus Accursed Spirit blocker. Sounds a bit silly. Forge Devil is also very good, serving as a strong reactive turn two play. I used it to ping my own Hornet’s Nest  to hold back an opposing flier, letting me win a race on my next turn.

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The Bronze Sable That Could.

How’d my next draft fare? Well, not much better.

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This is like ten percent of a pretty sweet Goblin tribal deck, though.

Cards like Burning Anger and Nightfire Giant are flashy but justifiably good. I picked Blastfire Bolt over a Rotfeaster Maggot after already having four removal spells because my judgement is usually impaired.

Altac Bloodseeker, Goblin Kaboomist, and Goblin Roughriders were all traps. I wanted them to be good but, in the end, I would have rather had vanilla creatures with better stats. In particular, the two toughness on Roughrider is really, well, rough. If you’re on the offense, it gets blocked by literally everything. If an opponent has you on the back foot, your best option might be trading it for a bear or something.

Also: these 40 cards were too reactive. Having a comprehensive removal suite is nice. But when I could only pressure a life total with a few late-game cards, my opponents had too many times to draw an out and put away the game.

This deck went 2-1. How did it get there? Well, I got lucky. And my second-pick Ulcerate was a good move, although I thought the card was boring as hell at the time. Covenant of Blood did work, taking down bombs left and right and helping me stabilize after rough starts. I had a second one that I should have brought out of the sideboard.

If I managed to get some of my bombs online, games looked a bit like this:

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Nightfire Giant: Limited’s machine gun.

But I didn’t really take screenshots of the games where I lost horribly to a UW deck that beat me to the ground with consistent vanilla creatures.

I think the versatility and importance of boring cards becomes more apparent in Sealed, the format where you’re either a bomb or a bear. Limited Jedi Brendan has a nice M15 Sealed primer that you should probably read instead of this column.

This is what one of my better Sealed decks looked like:

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Turn two Wall of Essence is living the dream.

Spirit Bonds and Sanctified Charge were both speculative inclusions. I didn’t have enough early creatures to use either of them. effectively  I also made a huge mistake by not including Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth in the main deck—the card is an absolute beast for color fixing.

On the play (as Brendan suggested), Trip Spirits can come out as early as turn four or five. That is usually pretty bad news for your opponent:

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Win ratio after resolving Triplicate Spirits: 100%.

I won another game on the back of a suited-up Witch’s Familiar. As it turns out, turn three frog, turn four Marked by Honor, turn five Spectra Ward is unbeatable.

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There’s no shame in losing to a toad this prepared.

Destined to always go 2-1, I lost a close third match after an opponent used removal on his own Scuttling Doom Engine to close out the series. I tried to turn things around with one more Sealed event.

My pool looked like this:

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Not great. I spent fifteen minutes trying out different two-color combinations, but never had enough playables to complete an archetype. In the end, I settled on blue and black as my core colors—both had removal, card draw, and enough early blockers to gum up the battlefield, but no real way to end the game. I decided that Boonweaver Giant + Spectra Ward would be my most reliable finisher, and splashed white for them.

The final decklist:

UBw Durdle City

Creatures (13)
Typhoid Rats
Necrogen Scudder
Nightfire Giant
Chasm Skulker
Coral Barrier
Jorubai Muck Lurker
Wall of Frost
Amphin Pathmage
Kapsho Kitefins
Bronze Sable
Boonweaver Giant

Spells (11)
Sign in Blood
Mind Rot
Unmake the Graves
Flesh to Dust
Negate
Void Snare
Peel from Reality
Divination
Encrust
Spectra Ward
Haunted Plate Mail
Lands (17)
Plains
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Evolving Wilds
Cave of Kolios
Swamp
Island

Sideboard (4)
Typhoid Rats
Festergloom

I’m happy by how it turned out. Typhoid Rats and Coral Barrier served as fantastic blockers, quickly putting an end to the potential for explosive starts from red and white decks. Combined with card draw, Chasm Skulker was an absolute champion. And, after it ate a removal removal, I could use the little mini-squids to Convoke Unmake the Graves, making for the best occult squid ritual the game has to offer.

Mana base felt a bit weird at first. But landing Urborg helped smooth the out awkward moments when I drew my splash Plains too early, and having a Wilds and on-color painland was just bonus.

The perfect board state looked a bit like this:

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One Plains away from complete devastation.

A Wall and rats to prevent ground advances, and a bomb waiting in the wings. Void Snare, Negate, and Encrust were perfect utility cards, each capable of hampering enemy bombs while protecting my own.

In my last match, opponent scooped game one after I had attained what was apparently an unbeatable board state.

 

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BAM.

He failed to show up for the second game, but I figured that winning by default was still winning. And I had 3-0 my first online event!

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I’m more excited by the Phantom Points than whatever the other thing is.

Lesson learned: boring is better. I’ll probably keep that in mind until I have the chance to go 5c Sliver Hivelord in draft. Then all of this learning stuff goes out the window.

Tony is the Hipster’s resident scrub. Find him on MTGO as cloth5, or at tonymei.com.

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