About Joel Calafell
Joel is a Level 4 Pro Player from Spain who helped develop well-known decks such as Cephalid Breakfast, Cascade Swans or most recently Jacerator, he loves playing almost every format and has a number of high-profile finishes under his belt:
- Top 8 Pro Tour Kuala Lumpur
- Winner Grand Prix Barcelona
- Three Grand Prix Top 8
- 70 Lifetime Pro Points
- Level 4 Pro Players Club member
BR Allies (ZZW)
It’s been a while since I last did a Draft with the Pro, but yesterday I switched on my computer and after having my daily dose of “waste-your-time” in
front of a computer, I thought I could do something more productive… So I logged
into Magic Online (Now I will leave it up to you if that was productive or not)
and joined an 8-4 draft queue. This was actually my first draft on Magic Online since GP Oakland. A lot of traveling, the need to rest, and Final Fantasy XIII
MIGHT have had something to do with that…
Now let’s go back to
Pack 1 pick 1:
My Pick: Kazuul Warlord
- Kazuul Warlord
- River Boa
- Torch Slinger
River Boa has become a much more
solid pick after Worldwake, since Green is now a real color and the card has
always been very good anyway. However, Kazuul Warlord is one of those rares you
really want to first pick, since it allows you to sculpt your draft around it.
If the ally strategy comes together it can be completely unstoppable, and this
guy is solid to good even if you don’t have a lot to support it.
Torch Slinger is good, but it’s
definitely not the pick here.
Pack 1 pick 2:
My Pick: Nimana Sell-Sword
- Nimana Sell-Sword
- Shatterskull Giant
- Conqueror's Pledge
It’s not that I don’t like Conqueror's Pledge (which I think is overrated) but I don’t think you should go
crazy just because you see this card. The commitment to triple white is just
too much at this point of the draft, when we have other options that will just
go a lot better with our first pick. Picking Shatterskull Giant would be very
safe, and I wouldn’t blame you at all for making that pick, but I feel like
trying to break Kazuul Warlord, and Nimana Sell-Sword will fit perfectly in any
BR combination. Both allies are good alone, but amazing together, and that’s
exactly the kind of potential that I want to maximize. Besides, we might end up
drafting three color allies with a splash, so we still have many, many options.
Pack 1 pick 3:
My Pick: Plated Geopede
- Plated Geopede
- Highland Berserker
Ok, Plated Geopede is not an ally, but who needs the bonus when you have creatures
that are this good? Hopefully, the Highland Berserker will table, but it’s not
very likely. On the other hand, Gigantiform is much better than most people
think, but it just doesn’t fit in our colors nor the kind of deck we are trying
to build at the moment.
Pack 1 pick 4:
My Pick: Geyser Glider
- Geyser Glider
- Giant Scorpion
a really tough pick. I’m not sure the pick was correct even after playing with
the card, but I guess we aren’t technically in Black at this point, so picking
the red card is just safer. Besides, the format is a bit slower now, thus cards
like Geyser Glider are more solid than pre-Worldwake. And let’s face it, if our
deck ends up being the standard super-aggressive BR deck, Giant Scorpion is not
the kind of card we want. That being said, I recognize this might have been a
Pack 1 pick 5:
My Pick: Burst Lightning
- Burst Lightning
- Surrakar Marauder
It’s never a good thing when you have to pass a Surrakar Marauder, but at least we are getting the best common we could ask for!
Pack 1 pick 6:
My Pick: Seismic Shudder
I don’t like Lavaball Trap
at all, and there’s not much we can do here besides picking Piranha Marsh
–which, by the way, got better now with the Zendikons, or… Seismic Shudder: I
was still wondering how to deal with the Conqueror's Pledge I passed? Ok, problem
Pack 1 pick 7:
My Pick: Teetering Peaks
- Teetering Peaks
- Stonework Puma
- Hagra Crocodile
That’s right, this land is just too good!
Stonework Puma is solid, but I don’t think
it’s better than Teetering Peaks, and it’s actually not the kind of ally you
want in BR. And, at the moment, we don’t have a lot of allies anyway, so this
probably means we will end up with a BR deck with solid creatures and just some
allies that will be good on their own.
yes, I hate Hagra Crocodile in this format. I think it was acceptable before,
but now you have too many cards that make you invest a lot of mana, like the
Zendikons, or a lot more expensive commons in Worldwake that make your mana
curve higher anyway. You can still pick and play the card, and you don’t need
to feel bad for that, but as long as there are other options, I will take them.
Pack 1 pick 8:
My Pick: Grim Discovery
Pack 1 pick 9:
My Pick: Slaughter Cry
Pack 1 pick 10:
Tempest Owl Sunspring Expedition Mire Blight Quest for Ancient Secrets Molten Ravager Plains
My Pick: Molten Ravager
Pack 1 pick 11:
Ravenous Trap Plains Sky Ruin Drake Vastwood Gorger Merfolk Wayfinder
My Pick: Sky Ruin Drake
Pack 1 pick 12:
Trailblazer's Boots Landbind Ritual Swamp Turntimber Grove
My Pick: Turntimber Grove
Pack 1 pick 13:
Swamp Frontier Guide Soaring Seacliff
My Pick: Soaring Seacliff
Pack 1 pick 14:
Spreading Seas Mountain
My Pick: Spreading Seas
Pack 1 Pick 15
Oops, looks like the Draft Converter didn’t
capture the last pick. I don’t think it was a Jace.
Pack 2 pick 1:
My Pick: Shatterskull Giant
- Shatterskull Giant
- Hellfire Mongrel
- Guul Draz Specter
The Specter is just not that good, but both Hellfire Mongrel and Shatterskull Giant are very solid picks. At this point, I
will pick the Giant because I feel like it is the most powerful card in a
vacuum, but Hellfire Mongrel is always a nice three mana drop to have in really
any red deck you can have.
Pack 2 pick 2:
My Pick: Murasa Pyromancer
- Murasa Pyromancer
- Tuktuk Grunts
- Guul Draz Vampire
- Goblin Bushwhacker
that’s a lot of possible picks! The major dilemma comes with Murasa Pyromancer
or Tuktuk Grunts. Usually, the Pyromancer would be just too slow for a BR deck
unless you end up with a lot of allies, but we have a Kazuul and a Nimana Sell-Sword already, with still two more packs to go, so we can probably pick up
enough of them to make it work. Tuktuk Grunts is still very good, and
versatile, since it is already quite solid on its own, while the Pyromancer
relies a lot on what else you have, however, there are still a lot of picks to
come until the end of the draft, so I think the Pyromancer has some more
potential in the long run.
Pack 2 pick 3:
My Pick: Electropotence
much to see here, but I think Electropotence is the most breakable card. It’s
quite decent if we end up in a BR-control archetype with a lot of allies and Murasa Pyromancer, and it seems like this might be the direction we are taking.
Worst case, we can always sideboard it in against slow decks.
Pack 2 pick 4:
My Pick: Hideous End
- Hideous End
- Shatterskull Giant
Just when it looked like we wouldn’t be very committed
to black we see a Hideous End. And of course we will pick it! The Giant is
good, but Hideous End is one of the reasons why BR is THAT good.
Pack 2 pick 5:
My Pick: Mark of Mutiny
Just average cards here, but I guess this one
has the biggest chance of making the cut if we need a filler. Also, decent
sideboard card against Green…or that Gigantiform!
Pack 2 pick 6:
My Pick: Murasa Pyromancer
This sure is good news! This might lead us
definitely to BR mid-range allies.
Pack 2 pick 7:
My Pick: Vampire Lacerator
- Vampire Lacerator
- Goblin Shortcutter
- Guul Draz Vampire
You know, some Vampires are just better than
others… Sorry, man! As for the Shortcutter, I think it’s just strictly worse
than the Lacerator, and it is so rewarding to have a one mana drop such as this
one when you are on the play…
Pack 2 pick 8:
My Pick: Teetering Peaks
Yay! More lands.
Pack 2 pick 9:
My Pick: Hellfire Mongrel
It’s a really good thing the Mongrel wheeled, even
though this usually isn’t the case, but hey, I guess I can’t complain.
Pack 2 pick 10:
Goblin Bushwhacker Lethargy Trap Crypt Ripper Tanglesap Mountain Ior Ruin Expedition
My Pick: Crypt Ripper
Crypt Ripper might be a bit expensive when looking at our already really high mana curve, but it’s always good when a mid-range deck (that’s what
a double Murasa Pyromancer.dec tends to look like) has a card like this.
Pack 2 pick 11:
Shoal Serpent Grim Discovery Demolish Needlebite Trap Plains
My Pick: Needlebite Trap
Pack 2 pick 12:
Sunspring Expedition Plains Tempest Owl Unstable Footing
My Pick: Unstable Footing
Pack 2 pick 13:
Goblin War Paint Plains Quest for Pure Flame
My Pick: Goblin War Paint
Pack 2 pick 14:
Mindless Null Plains
My Pick: Mindless Null
Pack 3 pick 1:
My Pick: Chain Reaction
- Chain Reaction
- Grotag Thrasher
- Corrupted Zendikon
Both Grotag Thrasher and Corrupted Zendikon are very solid in BR, but there’s no way
they are better than a board sweeper, even if it is kind of situational. The
thing is, in a deck with late game allies like the one we have, this might end
up being the perfect card for our strategy. We reset the board and cast Murasa Pyromancer, with some more allies waiting in our hand? Give me a better
Pack 3 pick 2:
My Pick: Bojuka Brigand
- Bojuka Brigand
- Slavering Nulls
- Ruthless Cullblade
More allies! Any ally will be amazing in our
deck from now on, so I wouldn’t hesitate to pick them this high, since we are
in the last booster. Slavering Nulls is obviously very good as well, and is the
kind of reward you get for sticking to allied colors, but it’s not really what
we need and if we are lucky enough and we are the only BR drafter at this table
it might even come back… (Ok, wasn’t serious, it won’t).
Pack 3 pick 3:
My Pick: Searing Blaze
I know what I said about the allies seconds
before, but Akoum Battlesinger is really disappointing in slow strategies, the same
way Bushwhacker would have been in our deck. But seriously, even if this was
another Bojuka Brigand, Searing Blaze is just TOO good.
Pack 3 pick 4:
My Pick: Hedron Rover
You see? Why would you play Hagra Crocodile
when you have this guy in Worldwake! The rest of the pack is trash for us, so
I’m actually quite happy that I got this pick.
Pack 3 pick 5:
My Pick: Dead Reckoning
Dead Reckoning is just the best card, and I’m
pretty sure it will work wonders in our ally deck.
Pack 3 pick 6:
My Pick: Calcite Snapper
And here we just get… nothing. But Calcite Snapper can be very frustrating to play against when you are in BR, so I don’t feel
bad about hatedrafting this.
Pack 3 pick 7:
My Pick: Walking Atlas
Nothing again? At least we get Walking Atlas. I know this card might look
unplayable to many of you, but it’s actually not that bad! It can do a lot of
tricks (or bluffs) with the Landfall creatures we have, along with others like Crypt Ripper that can really benefit from this effect. In addition, it can do
some naughty things with a Teetering Peaks. Plus, accelerating into an early Murasa Pyromancer is not something to sneeze at! I can see myself happily
playing this card if I need it to complete my deck.
Pack 3 pick 8:
My Pick: Bojuka Brigand
Sweet. Another Brigand joins our ally team.
Pack 3 pick 9:
My Pick: Cosi's Ravager
At this point, it’s either hatedrafting
another Calcite Snapper or picking a playable card just in case. Since I’m not
sure if I’ll get to 22 cards (I’m totally sure I will play 18 lands in this
deck), I think I will take the Cosi's Ravager. It’s not the card I would always
like to play but I don’t think I can play 19 lands this time.
Pack 3 pick 10:
Khalni Garden Roiling Terrain Permafrost Trap Walking Atlas Dispel Island
My Pick: Permafrost Trap
Sorry left-neighbor, you are not getting two
Pack 3 Pick 11
Pack 3 pick 11:
Smoldering Spires Permafrost Trap Mountain Twitch Mire's Toll
My Pick: Smoldering Spires
Pack 3 pick 12:
Pulse Tracker Scrib Nibblers Mountain Veteran's Reflexes
My Pick: Pulse Tracker
Pack 3 pick 13:
Quest for Renewal Mountain Feral Contest
My Pick: Feral Contest
Pack 3 pick 14:
Rumbling Aftershocks Plains
My Pick: Rumbling Aftershocks
Pack 3 pick 15:
My Pick: Bull Rush
What? There’s a LAND with the same effect! Stupid
Rating the deck: 8/10
As you can see, the deck lacks some components but is quite solid after
all. There’s a lot of removal and a lot of good creatures, both in the early
turns and in the late game. This means the deck can work well in almost any
situation. Cards like Vampire Lacerator or Plated Geopede give it a lot of
speed when it matters the most, while others like Kazuul, Geyser Glider, Murasa Pyromancer or even Chain Reaction, can finish the game on their own given
The synergy in the deck is good overall, and I have the feeling that Walking Atlas plays an important role trying to improve the curve, but we can’t
hide the fact that we are playing some fillers like Cosi's Ravager or Molten Ravager too (it’s not that bad, but it’s definitely not a Giant Scorpion either).
So this might make some of our initial hands a bit awkward, as we get cards we
don’t really want to draw.
Finally, don’t forget we have two Teetering Peaks and one Smoldering Spires. Lands are definitely not annoying when they are THAT good! Or when you
have a Walking Atlas!
Now let’s go game by game:
Opening hand:Swamp x2, Teetering Peaks, Vampire Lacerator, Crypt Ripper, Burst Lightning, Chain Reaction
Everything starts well enough for me, even on the draw, when I play a first
turn Lacerator and burn his only creature, a Guul Draz Vampire, that is
equipped with a Blazing Torch and an Adventuring Gear. This, of course, gives
me plenty of time, while my Lacerator goes all the way thanks to Teetering Peaks, Searing Blaze (killing an animated land from Corrupted Zendikon) and Hideous End. That looks like a lot of “2 for 1” effects!
Still he plays cards like Soul Stair Expedition and Ior Ruin Expedition, but I don’t see much a lot of his deck. In the end, Crypt Ripper
is just too much for him to handle, even though I considered not playing it to
play around Summoner's Bane. However, he didn’t seem to have anything at all…
I think about what to sideboard against him, but I realize I haven’t seen
many cards anyway, and that I like my 40 already. We will see how things go in
Opening hand: Swamp x2, Mountain, Cosi's Ravager, Kazuul Warlord, Vampire Lacerator, Bojuka Brigand
For the second time in a row, I start my game with a first turn Vampire Lacerator. But then I even get to follow it up with a Bojuka Brigand. However,
my opponent plays a Ruthless Cullblade and then a Blazing Torch, which means he
can deal with my early attacks this time.
Suddenly, between the fact that my Brigand can’t block and that Vampire Lacerator gets a little – well…, afraid of Blazing Torches, I find myself
without a way to block his Cullblade. This becomes a problem when he Disfigures
my Crypt Ripper next turn, which means we will both get to single digits soon,
but with the difference that he will be able to kill my only blocker and start
hitting me for 4. Still, Kazuul Warlord and Geyser Glider are waiting in
my hand, but what seemed like a quick race, takes even longer when Gatekeeper of Malakir makes an appearance on his side of the board. Next turn, my Kazuul
turns my Brigand into a 4/4 and I attack. I feel like this might be enough to…
Oh wait, what is that? He’s quickly tapping 5 mana… Hum, no, wait. 6
mana… Hope that is not a Sorin…
Oh, great! It’s just a 5/8 Kraken… with Swampwalk. Wrexial, the Risen Deep joins his team at the “best” possible moment. I even have Smoldering Spires and Cosi's Ravager, which means I can ping him for one, leave him at 5,
and then attack with both my 4/4 allies, keeping the Wrexial away from blocks,
but sadly that’s not enough to finish him off, and he’s happy with some
chumpblocks until I die to the landwalk beast.
For game 3, I sideboard out Slaughter Cry and bring in Mark of Mutiny,
just in case I get the chance to steal that Kraken, even if it’s only once… That
could be fun!
Opening hand: Swamp, Mark of Mutiny, Cosi's Ravager, Burst Lightning, Hedron Rover, Plated Geopede, Bojuka Brigand
I send it back.
Next hand: Swamp, Swamp, Smoldering Spires, Crypt Ripper, Hideous End, Geyser Glider
Well… fair enough, I guess. The hand is not that good or anything, and
I’m not even sure he has a lot of non black guys. I mean, I have seen him
playing Islands, so he must be playing something blue besides the Kraken, but
he has been playing only black creatures so far. Still, that’s not enough to
justify blindly sideboarding out Hideouds End, since chances are he is playing two
colors and not just monoblack with a splash.
The game starts with me playing lands and casting a Crypt Ripper as my
first spell. However, he now has a much more aggressive start, which I wasn’t
really expecting, with both Guul Draz Vampire and Ruthless Cullblade hitting me
right from the beginning.
Since I’m already quite low on life, considering what will happen if I go
below 10, I choose to block with my Crypt Ripper, and when he passes the turn
untapped, with two Islands and three Swamps, I try to figure out if he has the Summoner's Bane or not. I haven’t seen it before, so maybe it just means he
doesn’t have anything to play, or has cards like Hideous End or Whiplash Trap. Maybe
even just a Cancel…
In the end, I try Geyser Glider and it gets countered by… Summoner's Bane.
But at this point of the game I’ve drawn the Dead Reckoning, which means I’ll
have the chance to recover from the situation easily. I then kill the Guul Draz Vampire with it, and try to recover with a Plated Geopede in the same turn. And
just when it looks like I might be able to stabilize, he taps out and plays the
Just kidding! He didn’t have it this time.
But he plays a Sorin instead.
I try to race it (I mean, trying to race a Sorin is usually hopeless
anyway) with Geyser Glider, but he just plays Guul Draz Specter and blocks it
on the critical turn.
And that’s it:
I feel like the deck was better than this, but I don’t think there’s a
lot you can do when you get beaten by an enormous Kraken and Sorin Markov
himself! The deck was performing well, but I wish I would have had more chances
to see if there was something wrong. I know the six card hand wasn’t
spectacular, but it might be all Hideous End’s fault. I guess that card has tricked
So far, though, I can tell you I kind of missed the Stonework Puma and
the Giant Scorpion, but at the time they showed up, I couldn’t know what my
deck was going to look like. If so, maybe the Scorpion would have been better
than the Geyser Glider most of the time, but maybe that’s only because I played
against a black deck.
As always, don’t hesitate to make suggestions and tell me what you think
in the comments!
Until next week!
*Look at it in a positive way! This week you had to read less than you