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Drafting Shards of Alara (SCA) Walkthrough Part 1 May 9, 2009

Posted by James in : all, strategy, tips, limited, draft , trackback

In order to better understand the best way of drafting, it can be a good idea to take a look at the thought process involved when drafting Shards of Alara/Conflux/Alara Reborn. I have simulated a draft using Magic Workstation, and I will show you the thought process that I used when deciding what to pick. (The draft was simulated by assuming the opponents always take the most powerful card.) This is part one of three, and I will start with a Shards of Alara booster pack.

Drafting Shards/Conflux/Alara Reborn requires that we understand not only the power level of individual cards, but also that we are careful to choose the colors of our deck. I prefer to choose one color at a time when possible, but sometimes it is best to see if you can “force a color.” In other words, if your first pick is a bomb rare in green, white, red; then you will hope that your three colors have already been chosen. However, it is essential to be flexible when drafting and to be willing to change your colors when you have no other option.

First Pick

When opening the first pack, I see the following:

bone splinters
glaze fiend
godtoucher
jungle weaver
magma spray
ridge rannet
vithian stinger
cancel
angelsong
oblivion ring
sharuum the hegemon
mighty emergence
kiss of the amesha
sphinx’s herald

Of these 14 cards, Vithian Singer and Magma spray are possible first picks, but Sharuum the Hegemon and Oblivion Ring are by far the best.

Either of these picks would be a good choice. Taking the Sharuum is a little more risky because it commits you to three colors before you even find out what your opponents are playing. It is possible to play anything if you play 5 colors, but you can never know if you will get enough mana fixing to play 5 colors. The safe pick is Oblivion Ring and that is what I will pick here.

First pick: Oblivion Ring

Second Pick

I get to choose from the following:

bone splinters
shore snapper
naturalize
soul’s might
viashino skeleton
coma veil
jhessian lookout
vectis silencers
akrasan squire
sanctum gargoyle
qasali ambusher
swerve
dragon’s herald

Out of all of these cards there is nothing that I consider to be a first pick. Here are the best cards in this pack:


Akrasan Squire is a great creature and Bone Splinters is creature removal, but neither are cards you want to take early in a draft. Qasali Ambusher is often creature removal and can end up being a two for one, so that is my favorite card in this pack. It also goes well with Oblivion Ring, since both are white.

Second pick: Qasali Ambusher

Third Pick

I get to choose from the following:

obelisk of naya
resounding scream
shore snapper
godtoucher
resounding thunder
vithian stinger
dawnray archer
guardians of akrasa
gustrider exuberant
rhox war monk
sprouting thrinax
protomatter powder

This pack is pretty exciting. Sprouting Thrinax, Rhox War Monk, Vithian Stinger, and Resounding Thunder are all great cards.

At this point I am in Green White, so Sprouting Thrinax would be inappropriate. Any of the other cards could work. If I end up splashing red, Vithian Stinger won’t be as good as Resounding Thunder, so the real choice is between Rhox War Monk and Resounding Thunder. Splashing for a Resounding Thunder is easier and it is one of the best creature removal cards in the set, but Rhox War Monk is a more powerful card in general. I chose Resounding Thunder, but Rhox War Monk might be a better choice.

Third pick: Resounding Thunder

Fourth Pick

resounding scream
shore snapper
gift of the gargantuan
blightning
rip-clan crasher
waveskimmer aven
bloodthorn taunter
spell snip
yoked plowbeast
jhessian infiltrator
swerve

The best card in this pack is Jhessian Infiltrator and Blightning, but both require the wrong color. Either of these could be picked, but I want to keep taking cards within my colors (white, green, red), so that leaves me with Gift of the Gargantuan, Rip-Clan Crasher, and Yoked Plowbeast:

Of these three, Rip-Clan Crasher is risky because it is two colors that isn’t very good late game. If I don’t draw both of the colors right away, it is a waste of a card. Yoked Plowbeast can be good early game or late game. Gift of the Gargantuan could be good, but I haven’t had very good luck with it. It seems that there is a high chance of only getting one card with Gift of the Gargantuan and wasting precious time. So, Yoked Plowbeast is my Fourth Pick. It isn’t very good, but it is the most appropriate card to take at this time.

Fourth Pick: Yoked Plowbeast

Fifth Pick

onyx goblet
jungle weaver
resounding roar
hissing iguanar
volcanic submersion
dawnray archer
outrider of jhess
excommunicate
mighty emergence
esper charm

Of these picks, Esper Charm is probably the best, but it is in the wrong colors. Hissing Iguanar and Excommunicate are best for the deck I am making so far.

Both of these cards are underrated. Hissing Iguanar can win some games by dealing a ton of free damage. Excommunicate is removal that can ruin many creatures that get +1/+1 counters. Excommunicate can also function as a timewalk after the opponent plays a huge creature. I choose Excommunicate.

Fifth Pick: Excommunicate

Sixth Pick

obelisk of jund
banewasp affliction
soul’s might
etherium sculptor
soul’s grace
minion reflector
demon’s herald
thoughtcutter agent

Nothing worth taking in my colors, so I might as well take mana fixing (Obelisk of Jund).

Sixth Pick: Obelisk of Jund

Seventh Pick

glaze fiend
court archers
soul’s might
thorn-thrash viashino
call to heel
vectis silencers
akrasan squire
sangrite surge

Akrasan Squire is leagues ahead of the rest of these cards.

Seventh Pick: Akrasan Squire

Eighth Pick

obelisk of jund
skeletal kathari
naturalize
incurable ogre
lightning talons
yoked plowbeast
bant battlemage

Yoked Plowbeast, Bant Battlemage, or Naturalize could be worth taking. I will go with Naturalize.

Eighth Pick: Naturalize

Ninth Pick

glaze fiend
godtoucher
cancel
angelsong
mighty emergence
sphinx’s herald

The pack I opened returns with nothing left. I take Angelsong, but I hope not to use it.

Ninth Pick: Angelsong

Tenth Pick

soul’s might
viashino skeleton
coma veil
vectis silencers
dragon’s herald

Tenth Pick: Coma Veil.

Eleventh Pick

resounding scream
godtoucher
guardians of akrasa
gustrider exuberant

Eleventh Pick: Guardians of Akrasa

Twelfth Pick

resounding scream
shore snapper
spell snip

Twelfth Pick: Shore Snapper

Thirteenth Pick

outrider of jhess
mighty emergence

Thirteenth Pick: Outrider of Jhess

Fourteenth Pick

banewasp affliction

My Deck So Far

I have stuck to my colors (white/green/red) with the following cards: Oblivion Ring, Qasali Ambusher, Resounding Thunder, Yoked Plowbeast, Excommunicate, Obelisk of Jund, Akrasan Squire, Naturalize, Angel Song, Coma Veil, Guardians of Akrasa, Shore Snapper, Outrider of Jhess, Baneswap Affliction. Of these cards 8 are playable in a deck. If I get 8 playable cards in every pack, then I will have 24 cards to choose from when making the deck, which includes one extra card.

Comments»

1. Erez - May 10, 2009

Thank you very much

2. michael - May 12, 2009

The walkthrough isn’t bad, but you really need to do one with real people since a computer will not read signals and it makes the draft wonky.

I do not agree with P1P2, The gargoyle definately is worth looking at.

Likewise, I do not agree with P1P7. Court Archers is worth consideration.

3. James - May 12, 2009

This is a lot of work, so I am not in a hurry to do one with real people. I agree that it might be beneficial, but the main point here is just analyzing which card to pick each time.

Gargoyle might be worth mentioning, but I would personally hate to take one second pick. I suppose it could help me decide if I should play Esper though.

Court Archers is playable, but Akrasan Squire is on many expert’s top 10 list. I don’t see how you can compare them.

4. michael - May 13, 2009

Gargoyle isn’t just for esper though. It flies. That is better than Reach. And if you happen to pick up more, then it is even more fun. Also good with Armillary Sphere.

5. James - May 13, 2009

Yes, Gargoyle is an OK card in any deck. I agree with that. It’s still not going to be worth second-picking in most cases. I hate armillary sphere. I almost never play it. I don’t agree that Armillary Sphere is that good with the Gargoyle. Almost every non-Esper deck will be better without it. However, perhaps Gargoyle was worth second picking here. If so, I would be tempted to play Esper.

6. Strangla - May 13, 2009

I agree with Michael in his picks and as for my self i have drafted so much online and off that i have seen that 85% of Print Runs will allow you to fun esper especialy with a first pick sharuum.

That is my 2 cents and i agree that squire is nice turn 1 but archers has way more playability either turn 3 or turn 10.. if i play a squire turn 10 in draft all it does is look pretty

7. James - May 13, 2009

Strangla,

No one could argue against taking Sharuum first pick. Obviously Gargoyle would be a good idea for an Esper deck as well. Squire wouldn’t work as well in Esper.

I still don’t like the Archers that much. Why would I want more turn 3 plays, especially one that isn’t that great? There are plenty of those already. Especially in Alara Reborn. Turn 1 plays, on the other hand, are pretty hard for people to get overall.