Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Drafting the Laboratory Maniac deck

I did another draft last night and, while I didn't do well with blue last time, ended up playing blue again. I had been reading about an archetype where you mill yourself and make many spider tokens over and over again, but didn't want to go into the draft looking to play the deck, and just went with what I saw. As it turned out, I ended up going with a deck very similar anyway. 

When I opened the pack, the first card I picked was Skaab Ruinator. Massive creature, evasion; generally a great bomb. Meant I was going to be in blue again, but I had a win condition, whereas last time I just had ways to delay my inevitable defeat. It also meant I would have to be looking into playing cards that filled my graveyard, so kept that in mind. I can't remember what my next pick or two were, it might have been a Victim of Night. But my pick either 3 or 4 was Laboratory Maniac, which looked so fun I took it and decided to build my deck around it...

This meant I would be taking cards that would usually be considered useless fairly early on. But it also meant I should (in theory) be getting a higher number of them, because no one else would be taking them. 

So I was taking Dream Twist and Memory's Journey quite highly (I even managed to get passed a second Memory's Journey as a last card which was nice). 

In the second pack I opened a Mindshrieker which fitted nicely, and was happy with some of the good quality cards I was getting passed, such as Silent Departure, Splinterfright, and Forbidden Alchemy

Building the Deck
It was a really weird experience building the deck. There were cards I know are really good, that I would almost always play, that I was cutting because it didn't fit the theme of the deck and what it was trying to do. 

1 Prey Upon
2 Silent Departure
2 Dream Twist
1 Ghoulcaller's Bell
1 Mindshrieker
2 Think Twice
1 Deranged Assistant
1 Memory's Journey
2 Ambush Viper
1 Laboratory Maniac
1 Skaab Ruinator
1 Splinterfright
3 Forbidden Alchemy
1 Civilized Scholar // Homicidal Brute
1 Grave Bramble
1 One-Eyed Scarecrow
1 Runic Repetition
1 Fortress Crab
2 Swamp
6 Forest
8 Island

I think I had a second Memory's Journey instead of the Runic Repetition initially, but changed the deck a few times. The first game I played I initially had two extra land (so 18 land and 42 cards) instead of the 16 land and 40 card I wanted, because I want to get rid of my deck, and had a very low curve. 

The weirdest thing about building the deck was the cards I didn't play - there are some great ones I had to cut:

Boneyard Wurm, Murder of Crows (mana cost too high), Geistcatcher's Rig (same), Mayor of Avabruck // Howlpack Alpha

All great, but I didn't have the room for them in the deck!

Full sideboard
In case you are reading this and want to think about how you would build the deck, this is the full sideboard:

2 Orchard Spirit2 Caravan Vigil, 1 Wreath of Geists, 1 Gatstaf Shepherd, 1 Lost in the Mist, 1 Curse of the Bloody Tome, 1 Abbey Griffin, 1 Victim of Night, 1 Murder of Crows, 1 Ghoulcaller's Bell (a second, 1 already in deck), 1 Somberwald Spider, 1 Boneyard Wurm, 1 Memory's Journey (another spare), 1 Mayor of Avabruck // Howlpack Alpha, 1 Geistcatcher's Rig, 1 Darkthicket Wolf

The Games
The first game I played, I drew the maniac early on, and kept it in my hand until later on, and was able to stall the game long enough to mill myself, play the maniac, and play a Think Twice to win straight away. The second game, I mulliganed to 6, even though the 6 had no Islands and all Blue cards, and lost very quickly to an aggressive start. The last game was quite close, I may have made a play mistake with a Silent Departure (should have bounced one of my creatures that couldn't block and replay it instead of one of theirs I think), and ended up losing. My first opponent is a very good player, whom I have to be playing really well in order to have a chance at beating, so I was happy enough I won the first game, especially playing a colour and archetype I am unfamiliar with. 

The second match started off well, although my opponent played Night Terrors when I had both Laboratory Maniac and Skaab Ruinator in hand (they removed the Maniac). Kind of awkward (exiled so I couldn't get it back), but I was somewhat lucky that I had both my win condition and back-up win condition in hand and was able to keep one to use. Afterwards, I played a Civilized Scholar, and when I was able to use it, declared it as a blocker against a big dude, activated it discarding the Skaab (which I can cast from the 'yard), flipping it to a 5/1 to trade. I was able to win by flying over for lots of damage. I even tried to use the Mindshrieker for extra damage, but one time I activated it three times and turned over land and two one-cost spells. Bah (another bah moment was milling one of my 2 swamps wanting one to flashback Forbidden Alchemy). Second game I was a bit low on land (but had a low curve so wasn't too worried) and the same thing happened - Night Terrors with both win conditions in hand. They choose the other one this time, so I had to win with the maniac. A few turns later I drew a Dream Twist which sped up how quickly I could empty my library, which my opponent wasn't counting on. 

In the third match, the game was very, very close (I was a turn away from winning), but my opponent had Blazing Torch available all game, and I didn't have enough mana to play maniac, flashback Silent Departure and Think Twice in a turn, and they were able to just kill the maniac in response to me flashbacking Think Twice. Second game I mulliganed to 4(!), but the hand was as good as I could hope for - 2 land, Dream Twist, Deranged Assistant. I managed to get rid of a fair amount of my library before I was beaten, and was happy that I managed to put up a bit of a fight. 

All in all, the deck was very fun to play (albeit a little confusing to track at times), even though I didn't do too well. I managed two wins through the maniac, so I am pleased by that. 

When I first saw the card, I thought it was being over-hyper a little bit. Sure, it looked interesting, but I wasn't going to go out of my way to make a deck with it. This draft gave me a chance to, and I am happy it did because it is quite fun, and now I have a copy of the card, I can think about throwing together a casual deck with it :D

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