A deck which, quite explicably, won an Innistrad draft

Just back from a last Innistrad draft this year before the new year festivities start. Since I posted my last tournament-winning decklist, I drafted 5 more times, going 1-2, 2-1, 2-1, 2-1 and, finally, again, 3-0. The remarkable thing is that I felt my decks were getting better with each tournament (I really didn’t like that other winning list that much), but somehow they failed to win consistently enough, although they were increasingly powerful, synergetic and consistent. I wouldn’t have been surprised if the deck which went 1-2 had won the tournament, but didn’t expect it. With the other 2-1 decks, however, I thought: It cannot get (much) better – this should be my next winner! …but somehow, I always met my master. Still, my results were clearly getting better since my first Innistrad drafts, although I cannot really claim this was because I drafted better – if I learned something, or even changed the way I drafted, I didn’t notice it consciously. My draft plans just came together better.

Now I finally won again, and I am a bit lost, because… you see, this time my draft went decidedly NOT to plan. I started out with a few strong red picks, cutting the color to the left and still getting excellent picks indicating that this color was free for me. I debated to go BR vampires, since I had a Rakish Heir and was able to snap up a moderately late Vampire Interloper, but realized that Black seemed to be blocked. I saw a few really strong green picks quite late and decided a bit too late to go into that color, rejecting a Gastaf Shepherd for the Interloper (a mistake in hindsight, but then this was the first booster showing that Green was open, and I had my mind set on trying to draft the vampire deck), and a Villagers of Estwald for a Pitchburn Devils (not necessarily wrong on its own, since the Devils are a fine card and I already had a Skirsdag Cultist to go with them, and since I really wanted to cut off Red, but in conjunction with the Shepherd in the booster before just ignoring a signal I should have heeded). Going into the second booster, I was still looking for my secondary color, with a slight preference for Green where I had already collected a few playables (including a Festerhide Boar and a Darkthicket Wolf which had convinced me that I REALLY should try Green). If I had been tempted with a black bomb rare, I might still have tried to go vampires, but I opened a choice of Mindshrieker and Daybreak Ranger, went RG and didn’t look back… then got a 4th pick Gavony Township. What the??? Of course I took that and made sure to pick up a few manafixers for the White splash. I also got two late Travel Preparations.

Third booster, second pick I stared at Olivia Voldaren and couldn’t resist. So, I drafted a deck I would never have set out to draft in the first place, RG/w/b. Really, I’m a big fan of consistent decks with robust manabases, but how could you not splash THESE cards, especially with 2 Traveler’s Amulet and a Caravan Vigil?

So this is the deck that finally did it:

7 Forest
6 Mountain
1 Plains
1 Swamp
Gavony Township
Darkthicket Wolf
Darkthicket Wolf
Gastaf Shepherd
Bloodcrazed Neonate
Villagers of Estwald
Orchard Spirit
Daybreak Ranger
Rakish Heir
Riot Devils
Crossway Vampires
Festerhide Boar
Skirsdag Cultist
Tormented Pariah
Olivia Voldaren
Pitchburn Devils
Traveler’s Amulet
Traveler’s Amulet
Caravan Vigil
Harvest Pyre
Harvest Pyre
Brimstone Volley
Brimstone Volley
Travel Preparations
Travel Preparations

In a few games I sided in Ranger’s Guile for Tormented Pariah, but otherwise there wasn’t much room for tinkering – I needed my creatures, I needed my removal, and I needed my mana. The games were crazy – one time Gastaf Shepherd, with the help of Travel Preparations (only targetting him each time) went all the way while I drew no other creature, two games were just won by Olivia Voldaren, one game was just won by Daybreak Ranger, one game an early Bloodcrazed Neonate without any backup softened up a somehow spell-screwed opponent, so that I could, later in the game, just alpha strike for the win, and one game where I was incredibly flooded, Daybreak Ranger and Gavony Township kept me on defense with a really low life total, while my opponent threatened to attack with multiples each of Rotting Fensnake and Civilized Scholar threatening to become Homicidal Brute, while my Tormented Pariah was kept under Bonds of Faith. Since my opponent had an Avacynian Priest, these games were incredibly complicated – we both were just one successful attack from the win (I, because my creatures had double-digit stats, he because I was at just three life), but somehow couldn’t find it or risk to lose against a single instant if we dared, all the while changing from day to night, because sometimes it was better for me to shoot creatures with Daybreak Ranger, and sometimes it was better to have two humans which could not get tapped and were able to block. True, I usually killed one creature on his side on the board every turn, but his Scholars and an Unburial Rite just kept them coming, while I drew an unholy amount of lands. In the end, he had a turn where he used two Scholars, and if one of those activations had netted him a creature, he would have won, but he was out of gas, and I could finally attack for the win, although he DID have the Rebuke I’d been playing around forever, but that just meant I could end the game with a Brimstone Volley.

So – is this the kind of deck you need to win an Innistrad draft, splashing two absurd bombs to supplement your third which uses your two main colors? I hope not. I will continue trying to draft decks with a more solid manabase and treat this here as an aberration. Well, goes to show some things never change! I always wondered why I won drafts with decks I didn’t really like, but failed to win with what I considered to be my best-crafted draft decks…

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2 Comments on “A deck which, quite explicably, won an Innistrad draft”

  1. jashinc Says:

    You had two of the top removalspells, two absolute bombs and an additional really good land, together with enough fixing to play them most of the time and some good creatures to put pressure on your opponent and then you wonder why you won?!?

    Well, Innistrad is not as bad as the last sets regarding bombs, but powercreep is still very alive in this set… Additionaly removal is really bad in Innistrad, so the fewer bombs can be rode to victory a lot easier than in other sets…

    • Well, the manafixing made that gameplan possible, but it didn’t make the deck really consistent (and I’m used to color screw issues even with quite consistent 2-color-decks), and the quality of my lowest 30% of cards wasn’t quite what I’d expect from a deck playing two colors plus two splashes.

      I don’t mean I am really surprised this deck won the draft (see the title of this entry), but I think I’ve had better decks before – with a bomb fewer, but with more consistent mana and better card quality in the low quality segment – which failed to win. What bothers me the most, however, is that this deck is the product of a draft which did not go to plan – it makes me feel that I need to be the recipient of dumb luck to win a draft.

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