Some Early Thoughts on M12 Draft
I’ve been drafting M12 and I’m loving it.
My first impression is that M12 draft is a lot more like Zendikar than M11. There are a few of reasons for this.
1. Bloodthirst has sped the format up a lot. As a result you can be throwing 3/3s down on turn 2 and 5/5s on turn 4 with alarming regularity. This can make for some very short games.
2. Because Bloodthirst and a lot of early removal is primarily in Red and Black, you get the same feel as playing Zendikar. For example Burst Lightning/Shock, Disfigure/Wring Flesh, Goblin Bushwhacker/Crimson Mage, Goblin War Paint/Goblin War Paint, Plated Geopede/Stormblood Berserker, Punishing Fire/Incinerate, etc.
3. Like Zendikar, your draft is primarily defined by your 2CMC cards; Pacifism, Looter, Doom Blade, Berserker, the Mage cycle, Pegasus, Dark/Divine Favour, Crown of Empires, Duskhunter Bat, Mana Leak, Garruk’s Companion, Incinerate, Rampant Growth, Reassembling Skeleton; the format has a metric tonne of great 2CMC cards and they make the format feel fast, probably faster than it really is.
4. The lack of Ramp spells seriously weakens green and makes “going big” pretty difficult. At common and uncommon you have Rampant Growth and… Llanowar Elf. This is NOT the format you want to rely on your six and seven drops to “get you there”.
The best archtypes are as follows:
1. B/R Bloodthirst: Probaby the most aggressive arctype, it has a stack of great removal (Fireball, Doom Blade, Incinerate, Sorin’s Thirst), good enablers (Goblin Arsonist, Goblin Fireslinger, Tormented Soul, Shock) that allow for consistent Bloodthirst activation. I’ve happily bolted a T1 Tormented Soul and watched the look of dejection in my opponent’s face (a dead giveaway they’re holding bloodthirst cards in hand. Po-po-po-poker face, people).
2. U/B Skies: Not as dominating as it was in M11 due to the loss of most of the draw cards and scry, it’s still a fine strategy. You really need Pacifisms and Gideon’s Lawkeeper to make it work, but the problem is Gideon’s Lawkeeper is pretty terrible at stopping Bloodthirst from activating as it’s usually one turn too slow. Regardless, if you can clog up the ground then dominating the skies is a decent approach.
3. Hexproof Aura Beatdown: A strategy that longs for Overrun backup, Hexproof Aura Beatdown is a real thing. Picking a DUngrove Elder or a Sacred Wolf and following that up with a Dark Favour or a Spirit Mantle can put your opponent s on a very, very short clock. The deck also loves to run Lure to push through final damage. Cudgel Troll tends to play a big role in the archtype, however it does slow down playing out creatures.
There are a number of other archtypes:
4. U/R Skies: A more controlly deck, it plays on activating bloodthirst and either holding down the ground with 3/3 First-Strikers and 5/5 fatties while smashing in the air, or just going full-aggro. Generally backed up by good cards like Fireball or Mind Control, or both if you’ve got really lucky. U/R Skies typically plays a dragon or two as a finisher.
5. W/R Skies: A very aggressive build, you’re generally activating Bloodthirst using Stormfront Pegasus or Griffin Sentinel (good at sending in to activate Bloodthirst due to his Vigilance, thus avoiding blowouts). The deck really wants a Benalish Veteran or two to help push damage through and sometimes goes the Auramancer/Goblin Warpoint route, though I’ve found that plan seriously overrated.
6. Mono-Black: Nowhere near as strong as in M11, it’s still a viable strategy, again relying on Bloodthirst creature in the early game, and 4/4 flyers in the late game, backed by Consume Spirit and occassionally the backbreaking Sorin’s Vengeance. That card just busts games wide open. In any limited race a 20 life swing is just incredible. However, mono-black is probably not even a Tier 1.5 strategy in M12 draft, more Tier 2 at best.
People have suggested that Blue has got the shaft in M12, but I think that title is held by Green. Green is seriously week in M12 and should only be considered if you’ve ended up with an Overrun plus a Jade Mage. It’s not an archtype I’d be happy drafting at all at the moment unless it was clear every other colour was totally unavailable. Even then it feels like a mediocre bloodthirst can just outrace a good Green deck without Overrun.
Here’s some cards I’d pick higher than others might advise.
1. Druidic Satchel: This card serves all sorts of purposes, but it’s best because it’s a pseudo Crystal Ball/Merfolk Looter. With Satchel in play you can avoid drawing any land again, they simply go into play (untapped!!) and you get to draw gas. Amazing. I’d run this in every Sealed/Draft deck I ever get.
2. Adaptive Auromaton: I don’t rate him terribly highly, but his versatility in getting damaged push through is not to be underrated. In Green you can confindently name Saproling, especially if you also have a Druidic Satchel. I’ve happily named Ooze and won a game because of it.
3. Alabaster Mage: In any fast format, the ability to outrace your opponent becomes critical. This is one of the few lifegain cards worth playing and he really does screw up racing maths, especially when backed by flyers. If your opponent is playing Sorin’s Vengeance, which will be a rare (see what I did there) but not impossible occurance, you really want to have this guy at hand.
4. Crown of Empires: Yes, it feels a little slow, and I’ve certainly kicked someone’s arse who felt like getting the most activations possible from it, rather than developing his board position, was the way to go. But as a follow-up card on Turns 5-6 you’re rarely going to be disappointed. Anything that can take out your opponent’s best creature, for colourless mana, is worth while picking.
5. Day of Judgment: This is a format where people will blithly dump their hands, and as such Day of Judgment’s stock just went up. I had one at Nationals and got a lot of value from it, whether it was to make up for a slow starting hand (Wrath, start again), to killing an army of Hexproof creatures, or leaping from my aggressive openers to creating room for my finishers. Much better in M12 limited than M11.
So there you have it, some thought thus far on the M12 draft environment. I’m really enjoying it so far, hope you do too.