Crack a Pack MTG Magic 2015 with Bruce (3rd)By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
Welcome back to another Crack a pack MTG with Bruce. Last week we busted open a pack of Journey into Nyx, but that draft format has come and gone. Sure, you might get a chance to Retro draft that, but let’s be real, the new hot game in town is M15 draft. We had a chance to watch the Pros draft M15 and got some neat new perspectives on things as some of the best drafters on the planet did their thing. Honestly, to watch Ben Stark or some of the other greats of the game draft is something else. I also had a chance to listen to Limited Resources and hear how Marshall Sutcliffe and Brian Wong, both very well respected limited players, regard the M15 draft format and with some interesting results. Both of them commented on how unusual a format this is because there doesn’t seem to be a correct draft order for the cards. Everything COULD be playable…but in that same vein everything COULD be the wrong pick. It makes for some interesting choices and reads at the draft table. So, with those ideas in mind, I thought a pack of M15 would suit our style just right…so here we go!
This is pretty average pack, but there are certainly some stand out cards in this pack that really catch my eye. The first place to start is with our Rare. Stormtide Leviathan is a massive 8 mana 8/8 creature that also has Islandwalk, turns all lands into islands along with their other type, and ensures that only creatures with Flying and Islandwalk can attack. Ok…normally I’m down on 8 mana fatty, but this guy can just lock an opponent out of their game plan and seal the deal for you. I’m actually mildly interested by this guy and what it could mean at the end of the game if I need to bust open a board stall. This will actually get a little consideration because the upside is actually so high.
Next, Quickling is exactly the sort of card I want to run. This is basically a flying “bear” with a downside…except I don’t think it is actually a downside at all. The fact that it was Flash means you can flash it in, bounce a creature that was about to die, and then recast your creature meaning that you don’t actually lose out. You could also reap the benefits of an Enter the Battlefield trigger if you can wangle it. No, this is very versatile, cheap, evasive, and could synergize nicely with a wide variety of fun creatures.
On Limited Resource, Marshall Sutcliffe was expounding on the virtues of Coral Barrier and I have to agree with him. This innocuous little 1/3 defender comes along with a squid token giving you a very solid return for your mana investment. Also, the fact that the squid has Islandwalk could also be very relevant. If you can synergize this guy with an Invasive Species or a Quickling you could really see some benefits and start to build a board state that really puts you in the driver’s seat. This is a very solid creature and would be high on my priority list.
The next creature that I would be looking at is the always boring Carrion Crow. A 2/2 flier for 3 mana makes this a Wind Drake. No one is going to write home about a Wind Drake, but the Crow is a serviceable flier and could make all the difference.
Sign In Blood is another card I’ve always liked because of the versatility. Usually I would cast this on myself to draw a pair of cards because I need to restock my hand. However, this one is versatile enough to target your opponent and effectively “shock” them . This seems like a silly way to use your spell, but if you are out front and you just can’t quite close the deal, sometimes “shocking” them with a Sign In Blood is all you’ve got left.
Shrapnel Blast is nice card mostly for the rather sick amount of damage it can deliver in short order. My only issue is that I’m not really sure that I dig the U/R artifact deck in this draft format and so I don’t prioritize this very highly. The only way I end up on THAT game plan is if I find “angry scissors” (Ensoul Artifact) early on and can then craft my deck to make use of artifacts. Otherwise, if I see things like Shrapnel Blast, Aeronaut Tinkerer and Scrapyard Mongrel, they aren’t as interesting to me and will be things that I would be looking at later in the round.
Plummet is always a fun card and something I like very much. Nothing like a Terror for fliers.
Research Assistant is an interesting card because of the “looting” ability that it packs. Late in the game, when I’m drawing more land than I need, I will HAPPILY pay the expensive activation cost on this guy for the chance to draw something more useful. Otherwise, he’s interesting, but not a super high priority and at common I’m likely to see at least one more before the end of the draft.
Ephemeral Shield is a nice combat trick. I’m not sure if I like it better than Ajani’s Presence from Journey Into Nyx. Ajani’s Presence has Strive meaning I can protect more than a single creature, but Ephemeral Shield has Convoke meaning you could still cast it even if you had no mana up to cast it. Either way, Ephemeral Shield is a very solid trick that can come in handy to save creature or lead to some sort of busted combat scenario. It isn’t a high priority for me, but if I find myself considering playing White I’d like to know that I have at least one in my pile.
Satyr Wayfinder, Thundering Giant, Black Cat, and Runeclaw Bear are all perfectly acceptable creatures, but they are largely interchangeable depending on what strategy you want to play. My motto for Drafting is always “more bodies is always good” and these help you to fill out those creature spots in your deck. I won’t turn my nose up at these guys.
Feast on the Fallen. Ok, I feel like this is a TERRIBLE card. The set up cost, of making an opponent lose life in order to trigger the effect, is very high. And then, what is more, you get a SINGLE +1/+1 counter! I’m sorry…that seems like a very low return for working hard to do damage to an opponent. Beyond the relatively low return, Feast on the Fallen does nothing to the board state. It doesn’t STOP my opponent from doing anything to me, it eats a card slot in my deck, and has a marginal effect even when I can trigger it. No, this is a bad card. I’ll pass it all day long.
Top 5 cards
For my first pick in this pack I would be weighing the Leviathan or the Quickling. In the end, I would likely pick the Quickling. With the Quickling I can almost be assured that I can cast it every game. 2 mana is very achievable (and if you don’t draw 2 mana before the game is over you may have done something terribly wrong) while the 8 needed for the Leviathan is not a sure bet. Besides, the Flying “bear” with synergy is super appealing and very much of interest to me. So, at the end of the day I would take the Quickling and leave the Leviathan to go around.
It also bears mentioning at this point that this pack is a BUST for players in White and Red. The vast majority of the cards in this deck are Black, Green, and Blue meaning that you could reasonably expect that there will be players beside you that will also be in those colours. After a single pick I wouldn’t get worried, but I would start to become conscious of such factors as the draft continued.
Well, there we go. We’ve seen a number of M15 packs and seem some pretty interesting stuff. Would you have gone with the Leviathan? Quickling? Something else? These choices start to get tricky and some other points of view will help us all, some shoot me a tweet and let me know what you think.
Next week I’m going to go and truly find a Retro pack…something from the Return to Ravnica block will be on deck. Which set? That’s a surprise for next week, but it will no doubt bring back a measure of nostalgia for those of us who enjoyed RTR or GTC draft formats.
So, until next time, may you open only Mythic Rare Bomb.
Thanks for reading
By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters @bgray8791 on Twitter