Hello there everyone. I had a draft recently where my deck building process very nearly went to time due to what I felt to be a very difficult evaluation of cards and determining what to cut. I would be very interested to hear how anyone else might have put together a deck with what I had.
So clearly BR aggro was open this draft as I was picking up playables on every single wheel. (The only non-land card not shown is a Make a Wish). For probably the only time I was in a position where I was overloaded with possibilities and struggling to figure out what to cut. I knew I wanted to be as aggressive as possible with this deck and wrestled with the following questions.
-Do you play 17 lands or go to 16? Is there any validity to going even lower?
-With an aggressive curve what would your top end look like? Which of the 5+ CC cards are strong enough to include?
-The removal package felt very weak, at least in terms of ability to reach out and deal with threats, is it worth it to splash for the Bonds of Faith? The flashback on Ancient Grudge?
-You have 7 'normal' zombies, is this a deck that wants the Unbreathing Horde?
-Do you run the sacrifice package of Altar's Reap/Disciple of Griselbrand/Traitorous Blood?
-Do you run the run the 'dome' burn package of the 2 Bump in the Nights?
-What ratio of creatures to spells do you run?
-Is the Curse of Stalked Prey actually a good card for this deck's play style? Or is it a greedy infatuation with a rare?
Two items to consider.
-Olivia Voldaren was a miracle P3p2 pick up, the pack average otherwise and the transform card was missing. I took this to mean that somone snagged a Garruk (turned out to be a Mayor of Avabruck).
-While black and red were ridiculously open, many mid-level cards that I would have played did not end up wheeling. (Diregraff Ghoul/Traitorous Blood/Pitchburn Devils/Harvest Pyre/Corpse Lunge/Village Cannibals). And other then one Harvest Pyre I never saw a single red burn spell, so at least one other player was in each of my colors.
This was the deck I finally ran:
-I wanted to be dropping as many creatures as fast as possible so I went down to 16 lands, with an even split given my desire to be to get one-drops and double color cost spells in each color down as reliably as possible.
-With lower land, difficult casting costs and a need to be on the play as much as possible I decided there was no way I could splash, even for a strong card like Bonds.
-Likewise I couldn't add a forest for Ancient Grudge, and cut it from the deck as a side board consideration. Night Terrors also felt like it should only be considered from the sideboard if I absolutely need a silver bullet for something.
-With 7 zombies it didn't feel likely that Unbreathing Horde would be very strong, and so was cut. How relevant have people found its damage prevention ability?
-I removed the Typhoid Rats/Manor Skeleton/Riot Devils/Altar's Reap/Disciple of Griselbrand as not being aggressive enough for this deck.
-I knew I wanted to keep the Ghoulcaller's Chant in for cheap recursion, sufficient zombies for value, and the possibility of my deck NEEDING Olivia to win games.
-At this point I really started to struggle, I saw strength in playing everything I had level on one level or another.
-With my mana base I really wanted to avoid anything with more then 4CC. Night Revelers and Scourge of Geier Reach, while strong cards, seemed like slow vanilla beaters. At this point I felt the deck was going to win by putting the opponent on the back foot as FAST as possible, and decided to give up the later game inevitability.
-I kept the Mokrut Banshee and the Into the Maw of Hell in despite their cost as I thought they were too strong as removal spells to cut. However this did cause me to have uncastable cards in my hand at points.
-I finally ended up losing the Bump in the Night's, even though they seemed a perfect fit for this deck. I was getting close to losing a critical mass of creatures and need to cut spells. I thought that the combination of 4 falter effects (Nightbird's Clutches and Crossway Vampire), many early drops to get in for incidental damage, and the Curse of Stalked Prey to transition them from early to late game would end up being more consistent then an early all-in creature damage + burn plan.
-The lack of sacrifice outlets made Traitorous Blood lose a lot of value to me, despite seeming a very strong finisher card in an aggressive deck like this. Also the possible weakness of Curse of Stalked Prey giving the opponent back a stronger creature led me to cut it.
-This left me with 2 cards that I still needed to cut. I figured I could take out one of the Ghoulraisers because I wanted more aggression then a 2/2 for 3 CC, and infinite recursion, while awesome in a deck that would suicide creatures, was less valuable then other card combinations. Lastly I cut the Tribute to Hunger, I felt I couldn't go lower then the 16 creatures I had, and thought of all the cards I had left TtH was the most likely to lose value if my deck's plan started to go wrong.
The deck ended up playing exactly like I had hoped (and feared). I went on the play any time I got the choice, and ended up winning the draft going 6-1-0 total.
M1G1: I first Mulliganed a hand of 4 mountain, Curse of Stalked Prey, Dead Weight, and Rotting Fensnake and ended up keeping my second 1-land hand of Swamp, 2x Dead Weight Markov Patrician, Rotting Fensnake, and Nightbird's Clutches hoping that I could clear opponent's early game with the Weights and use the Patrician to recover any lost life. Only got a second land 4 turns later, much too late.
Two of the other games were won either by Olivia Voldaren directly or by my opponent having to play around her while ignoring my other guys, the others were won by the combination of curving small guys out with repeated falter and recursion effects and growth from the Curse of Stalked Prey. I nearly always ended up siding out Into the Maw of Hell for Tribute to Hunger, the 2nd Ghoulraiser, or an extra Mountain.
Even with the strong wins I still wonder if this was the best deck I could have made. What would you have done?