Hamlet Captain | Wayne Reynolds
As with all good things, the Eldritch Moon must set, and so this week is our final visit to Innistrad. Let’s go for one more spin around the block, shall we?
This pack is very good, and I wouldn’t fault anybody for taking any number of cards from it. Galvanic Bombardment and Ulvenwald Captive are top commons in their respective colors, while Wretched Gryff and Drownyard Behemoth are very strong emerge creatures for any blue deck. But I think Bedlam Reveler is a little bit stronger as a p1p1, given its flexibility in its casting cost, and the ability to refill your hand in a game that’s gone a bit long. Even if you don’t end up in the UR spells deck, casting it for 6 isn’t uncommon, and the body is respectable in a set where 4 toughness is key.
This pack is quite a bit worse than the last, but Ulvenwald Captive is still fantastic. Some people might take Prey Upon over it, but I prize the mana dork that can flip into a late game beater more than I like the sorcery speed Fight spell.
In most scenarios I would snap off the Blessed Alliance, as I feel like it’s one of the best white removal spells in the set. But having a strong red card in my pile already, I decide to go with the Thermo-Alchemist. The power level is a little lower, but it’s still a very strong card, and taking a card that’s in a color I already have incentive to play makes this a tie-breaker for me.
You would think my last pick would push me toward taking the fourth pick Galvanic bombardment, but that’s not the case here. I just saw Blessed Alliance in the last pack, and this pack not only has Choking Restraints but also Subjugator Angel. The safe pick is to just snap up the red removal spell, but part of me can’t help but believe I’ve just been fed the signal that white is wide open. This may be incorrect, but I decide to take the Choking Restraints and hope I’m not making a huge mistake.
And now I’m given a pack laden with good/playable white cards. I snap up the Courageous Outrider easily. I like Extricator of Sin, but I’ve found it difficult to turn Delirium on in white without going out of my way to build around it.
Another pack with a bunch of garbage red cards. Steadfast Cathar is perfectly playable in the 2-drop slot though, so I decide to grab it.
I know this pack was pretty stacked, but a wheeled Hamlet Captain, alongside a Woodland Patrol may mean that green isn’t being picked very much by the rest of the table. If red gets locked down coming back the other direction, it might be worth considering pivoting into green.
In case I still end up in red, I’d rather take the 2-drop to fill my curve than the sideboard card.
Always nice to see Ironclad Slayer wheel. I have two auras in my pool already, so I know it’ll do some work.
At this point I’m pretty sure red is going to get cut off from me from the left, so I take the island to signal that red is open.
End of Pack 1❮ ❯
I’m pretty confident in going into white at this point, though green and red are both toss-ups. My power in red is a little higher but after all the good red cards that slipped through, I’m almost positive I’m going to get cut off from that color in the second pack. That might not matter if my white goes deep enough, but I can’t bank on that happening. I’ll likely be pushing more toward WG in the second pack.
There’s nothing great in white here, unfortunately. If I felt better about taking red I would snap off the Brazen Wolves, but I just can’t afford to run the risk of getting cut off in the second pack. Hamlet Captain is pretty strong in WG though, so I decide to pick him up.
There’s not really anything in either white or green that I care much about here. Geist of the Lonely Vigil is a good body at 2 mana, but it’s very defensive and I just can’t guarantee I’ll be able to turn on Delirium very quickly. I decide to take the Desperate Sentry since I have two Hamlet Captains in my deck, and a weapon I can use to buff it if necessary.
If I wasn’t sure about white being open before, I sure am now! I snap off Bruna, the Fading Light so quickly that I almost miss the Courageous Outrider in the pack. I don’t expect it to wheel, but fortunately I already have one in my deck. Bruna combos with it fairly well, too.
And with a second Ironclad Slayer, I don’t mind taking Wolfkin Bond for the top end of my curve. It’s no Knightly Valor, but having a couple ways to recur it from the graveyard makes the threat of removal a little less taxing.
I like having a Borrowed Grace in my pool over taking another 2-drop. There are a number of green 2-drops I can pick up in the third pack, so I’d rather have the instant board pump since this pack is winding down and I don’t know if I’ll have the chance at another.
I’m not a huge fan of Dawn Gryff, but a little evasion can close out games in a board stall.
I only have a single werewolf right now, but I decide to take Waxing Moon in case I run into a mass of them in the last pack. I already have two pump enchantments in my pool, so I don’t really need a second Lunarch Mantle.
Long Road Home is another one of those effects I like to have in my back pocket. It’s a solid sideboard option against removal-heavy decks.
With a Borrowed Grace in my pool, Thraben Standard Bearer looks a little better than it normally would. I may or may not play it, but it’s an option I can play around with when I piece my final deck together.
There are no cards for me here, but Borrowed Malevolence has the highest chance of wrecking me during combat, so I decide to cut it.
I don’t think I’ll play a second Crossroads Consecrator, but it’s the only on-color card left in this pack.
End of Pack 2❮ ❯
My deck is starting to look pretty solid at this point. I have a few human synergies, and possibly the start of a token subtheme. I’d like a couple more good 2-drops to make sure I can get off to a fast start in most games. I also really want some instant speed spells so I have some tricks to put my opponent on the back foot, rather than being forced to play everything on my turn.
Moldgraf Scavenger isn’t the sort of 2-drop I’m looking for, and I don’t really want to take a combat trick as my first pick of this pack. Its mana cost is rather steep, but I decide to take Tamiyo’s Journal, knowing from experience that the extra card draw can give more aggressive decks the gas they need to close a game out.
As much as it pains me to do so, I pass up the Angelic Purge here. Ulvenwald Mysteries is just that good, and it’ll probably replace the Journal I just picked up as my “gas” card. Hopefully leaving the good white removal spell in the pack will mean that Apothecary Geist will wheel.
I only have one piece of equipment in my deck, but even so, Avacynian Missionaries is a pretty good pickup here. There’s the chance I could get another piece of equipment before the packs dry up, too.
I don’t know that I need another vanilla 5-drop, so I take Devilthorn Fox to make sure I have all the 2-drops I need to get out to an early start. It doesn’t have any synergies with my deck, but 3/1s attack and block pretty well.
Had I taken the combat trick last time, I’d grab the Emissary now, but since I didn’t, I decide to take the Watcher in the Web as a sideboard card against other fliers.
I probably won’t run it in the mainboard, but Unruly Mob is a human that can get out of control against heavy removal decks, so I decide to take it over the Moldgraf Scavenger, which is too slow for my deck.
With nothing left in my colors, I snap off the Silent Observer, which can put a real damper on my beatdown plan.
Here’s what I ended up with.
Final Deck - With two pump auras and a piece of equipment in my pool, it behooves me to build my deck more toward the aggressive end, which means ditching the Thraben Standard Bearer in favor of the Crossroads Consecrator. I also want to eventually get to 7 mana to cast Bruna, which means I wouldn’t be able to pitch them for tokens until then anyway, making the card far worse than it would be if my curve topped out at 4 or 5. And since I already have a number of 4-drops, I decided to cut Spectral Procession from the final deck as well, preferring the larger bodies that can rumble in combat over the 1/1 tokens that only provide a life cushion and a clock. These cuts make Borrowed Grace a little worse, but it’s my only instant speed pump spell so I’m not willing to cut it from the deck.
My white is a lot heavier than my green, but since i have so many green 2-drops and my only double white card is a 7-drop, I decided to go with the standard 9/8 land spread.
As much as I enjoyed Shadows over Innistrad, Eldritch Moon never excited me quite the same way. A lot of the mechanics I enjoyed in the previous set were gutted and replaced with very staid, unexciting mechanics that complimented a more power-driven (rather than synergy-driven) format. Escalate was the most fun of the bunch, giving drafters a lot of flexibility within each card; but even those were just another form of Kicker cost, an ability that’s been kicking around since Invasion block.
Nevermind the slew of build-around uncommons that lost their value when SOI was relegated to a single pack. Going into pack 3 had equal chances of either gifting you an embarrassment of riches or seeing almost nothing playable in your colors. I’ve drafted this set well over 20 times by now and going into the last pack has always felt like a total crapshoot. I’d have much rather just drafted 3xEMN, so I could at least expect the last pack would grant me the same number of playables as the first two.
Although I have my complaints, Eldritch Moon wasn’t all bad. Transitioning from the Flip-Wolves to the Wolf-Drazi felt really good, since they gave you inherent late-game mana sinks and complete control over when they flipped. I also appreciated the clear direction some of the less-common color pairings were given, like UG Emerge and UR Spells; enemy color pairs can get the shaft in a lot of sets, so it was nice to see them actually come together into something strong and cohesive this time around.
As a player who started just before the release of the original Mirrodin, I’m pretty psyched to see what Kaladesh has in store for us. Artifacts have always been one of the coolest card types in my eyes, and I can’t wait to see how Wizards is going to mechanically differentiate Kaladesh from Mirrodin while maintaining the artifact theme.
The new set spoilers should start officially releasing on the week of September 5th, so keep an eye out for my Limited discussion on those cards around the same time!