Hey guys, here’s a report of my first RTR Block draft.
Here was my decklist:
- Gutter Skulk
- Doorkeeper x2
- Wind Drake
- Hired Torturer x2
- Corpse Blockade
- Sewer Shambler x2
- Ogre Jailbreaker
- Desecration Demon
- Golgari Longlegs
- Death’s Approach
- Crypt Incursion
- Pilfered Plans x4
- Grisly Spectacle
- Island x8
- Swamp x10
Other notable cards (sideboard)
- Sage’s Row Denizen
- Rakdos Shred-Freak
- Izzet Guildgate x2
- Blast of Genius
- Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch
- Carnage Gladiator
- Nivix Cyclops
I started out the draft playing Blast of Genius with two Izzet Guildgates in my main deck instead of the Crypt Incursion, but then I decided splashing red wasn’t worth it, and Crypt Incursion is actually very good in the deck, as I discovered after round 1.
Doorkeeper: This was my main win condition. Dimir mill may not have been a thing back in GTCx3, but it’s likely to be feasible in this format. Doorkeeper is really easy to pick up in the third pack if you are the only focused Dimir drafter, so ending up with two is not uncommon. Unfortunately, Doorkeepers are in the last pack, so you won’t know for sure if you can play this archetype, but you can still play Dimir-Control. You should have alternate win conditions in your deck anyways if they kill all of your Doorkeepers.
Hired Torturer: Speaking of alternate win conditions, here’s a very good one. Three for a 2/3 is good value, being a defender provides excellent synergy, and dealing two damage while extracting information makes Hired Torturer a key player for any control deck. This was probably the MVP in my deck, being good in the early, mid, and late game.
Sewer Shambler: The shambler is one of the best scavenge cards. Its body is relevant and the swampwalk gave me another win condition against over half of my opponents. The scavenge cost is cheap enough for me to power up my 4-toughness walls to block the many 4 and 5 power creatures in the format, while also preserving enough mana to play another spell on the same turn.
Pilfered Plans: I love Divination, and in this deck, it “shocks” my opponent for two at the same time. You normally won’t get more than three in an 8-man draft, so don’t worry about playing too many copies. I drafted 4, so I decided to cut the Blast of Genius: I already have so much card draw, and I didn’t really have any expensive spells to discard for the removal effect. I also played 18 lands, so that I could, in the late game, cast Pilfered Plans and another spell on the same turn. The Pilfered Plans were all late picks (I took my first one 6th pick) which was a very good signal that Dimir was open, so I jumped on it.
Crypt Incursion: How many times have you played a mill deck, and lost just one turn before you would have decked your opponent? Well here’s your solution. Just before your opponent deals those last two points that he worked so hard for, you exile his 10+ creatures in his graveyard (after all of the mill) and gain 30 life, giving you at least two turns to finish him off. I rarely had to use this card during the draft to prevent myself from dying, but there were two games where I won at two life with this in my hand. My opponents were much farther from killing me than they thought. On a side-note, this card also neutralizes some of the benefits your opponent is getting from scavenge cards and completely counters Morgue Burst.
Most of my matches were very close and drawn-out, exactly the kind of games this deck enjoys. Match 1 was against Jund splashing white with a lot of small creatures and burn. These colors are not known for their fliers, which is probably the deck’s biggest weakness, so I was able to gum up the ground, and get in damage with more torturers and shamblers to win game 1. Game 2, he mulled to 5 and I mulled to 6, but I ended up being stuck on two lands for too long. He was able to play his own Hired Torturer first and beat me in the damage race with an Explosive Impact at the end. Game 3, I ended up milling him out successfully. 1-0
Match 2 I played against Boros, which is a scary although probably good match-up for me. Boros has a lot of small creatures with 3 or less power, but they also have a good amount of fliers and late-game reach. Game 1, I had mulled to 6 and was missing my blue source for most of the game. I was able to stabilize with a Desecration Demon on turn 4 at 10 life. The problem with the demon is of course, they can sacrifice a creature to get in for damage. I was at 1 life when I was able to finally neutralize his fliers and chip away at his life total with the Demon. Game 2, I went down to 2 life, but I had no fear with Crypt Incursion in my hand and at least 15 creatures in his graveyard. When you are at that point, be careful when you tap out because your opponent could top-deck a burn spell. I ended up not having to use the Crypt Incursion, but I would have been at a very healthy life total if I had. 2-0
Match 3, I played against a 4 color deck (minus black) with many powerful cards. Game 1, I was able to defend against a turn 5 Rubbleback Rhino into turn 6 Righteous Authority. I had a pretty good curve myself, playing Doorkeeper, Hired Torturer, Ogre Jailbreaker, Desecration Demon, and Corpse Blockade. He used his only removal on my Desecration Demon, though, so I was able to mill him 5 cards per turn. My opponent never bluffed a pump spell when I was tapped out with enough power on my side of the field to trade for his Rhino, so he missed a couple attacks where I would have likely chosen to chump block. He did hit me for 8 twice, bringing me down to 4 before I started getting the mill going. Extort put me at two before I decided to crack my Crypt Incursion on my turn to play around a top-decked counterspell on his last turn. I guess drawing two cards a turn with Righteous Authority sped up the clock more than it helped my opponent in the end. Game 2, he mulled to 6, but was able to hit all 4 of his basics. I easily won that game, though, with an early Desecration Demon and Hired Torturers, though. 3-0
Guidelines when drafting control:
When you draft control, you want to have some combination of: defensive creatures, removal, card draw, and win conditions (counterspells count as removal). It helps a lot in this set when your defensive creatures also serve as win conditions (Doorkeeper and Hired Torturer); you don’t have to devote slots to expensive and inconsistent cards such as the cycle of six-mana maze creatures. In any draft, removal is the most sought after card, so prioritize those first. You really don’t need to fight for any of the good creatures for this archetype because there are plenty to go around if you read and send signals well. Getting good card draw varies on the specific cards passed and the individual preferences of drafters at your table. If I’m at your table, good luck fighting me for those Pilfered Plans and Inspirations, but otherwise, you shouldn’t have too much trouble picking them up. Most of the cards in my deck were pretty late picks, but the mediocre cards synergize so well that it doesn’t matter if they aren’t powerful on their own.
General RTR Draft Tips:
Since this was my first draft, I don’t have too much to offer in terms of general advice. I did notice that 2/2 creatures without abilities are not very good. The format is just not fast enough for them to be aggressive, and there are just too many 2/3s and 1/4s that efficiently block them. I know I played one in my deck (Gutter Skulk), but that was on defense only. The other thing I noticed is that it’s not too difficult to stay in two colors and have a light splash on a third. If you read signals well, I would recommend drafting as few colors as possible. I prefer consistency way more than power level, even if I have a lot of gates and other fixing. That’s just my preference; obviously there is a trade-off between being able to play a variety of powerful spells and having consistent mana to play all of your spells.
I’ll be drafting this set and learning from other competitive players much more often, now that it’s up on MTGO, so look out for a general RTR block limited strategy article from me soon. Let me know if there are any cool archetypes that you’ve found to be successful, and I’d love to hear about your general experience drafting the set in the comments.