How to Draft M13 and the Mana Base by Tom Harle

How to Get Better at Magic The Gathering by Tom Harle


Today I’m going to talk you through a recently m13 8-4 draft and then talk a little bit more about something I touched on last time – limited mana bases and how you can try and affect them during the drafting process.

  Pack 1 pick 1:

My Pick:

Not the most exciting of packs to open – a terrible rare and no real stand out powerful cards for a first pick. In my opinion the choices are between Crusader, Fog Bank, Bloodhunter Bat or Deadly Recluse as the best cards in their colours. Fire Elemental is actually pretty decent in M13 and there is an argument for trying to cut red as it’s the only red card but its very easy to end up with a deck with too many expensive spells so I really dont want to start with a 5 drop.

Both the Ring and the Archaeomancer have the potential to be very powerful but rely on having a threshold of other card types which again I’m loathe to move in on first pick. Between the last 3 cards (Bat, Recluse, Crusader) I think it really comes down to colour preference and i’ve had quite a bit of success with white recently, especially with him being a soldier for War Falcon, and there’s a chance of either the Ring or Guardians tabling.

  Pack 1 pick 2:

My Pick:

Again nothing jumps out as being amazing. I was tempted by the Ring but you do need at least 7 and ideally 9+ creatures of the colour to make the rings good and I’m not sure yet that’s going to happen.

Having a second one this close also increases the likely hood that one will table I think as it’s unlikely that there’ll be two drafters that set in heavy white this early in pack one. There’s no real reason to go off colour here so the pick is between the Knight and Griffin and I prefer the Knight for War Falcon reasons and its also lower on the curve, although the Griffin is arguably the more powerful card.

  Pack 1 pick 3:

My Pick:

A very quick Aven Squire pick here as one of the key commons required for the white aggro deck and probably the most powerful card in the pack still too. Again nothing really stands out as being a good signal to what other colours might be open here.

  Pack 1 pick 4:

My Pick:

Nothing in white worth playing so it’s time to start thinking about another colour. The the two Terns stand out as the best two cards and although Turn to Slag is the more powerful spell, I go with the Welkin Tern as it has less of a colour commitment and fits better into a uw aggro flyers deck than Slag does in a Wr aggro deck.

Wr is a little awkward in m13 I find, as you have a mix of exalted and Mogg Flunkies which dont really play well together. The single colour mana cost is a big deal here too as I find most white decks are pretty heavy white to support multiple 1 drops and Ajani’s sSnstrikers. Also no other colour provides Knights and Soldiers (except 1 or 2 in black I think) so if you go War Falcon you usually end up pretty heavy white.

  Pack 1 pick 5:

My Pick:

One good Tern deserves another I guess 😛 basically just more of the same here – Tern is better than Wind Drake due to costing less and you’re usually so full of 1 toughness guys that it’s not worth trying to mitigate the damage that Chandra’s Fury does.

There’s still quite a few good cards left so this must have been a pretty powerful pack to start with.

  Pack 1 pick 6:

My Pick:

Nothing to see here really – I dont really like Encrust but it does get the job done if we can afford the double blue. I could have taken Erase as a sb card against Pacifism and Oblivion Ring but they’re usually not hard to pick up.

  Pack 1 pick 7:

My Pick:

A very late Muckwader but obviously no use to us in our colours. Divination and Entrancer arent what a uw skies aggro deck wants but Show of Valor is worth considering. Its not a very powerful card though and you dont ever really want more than 1 so the pick here is easily Evolving Wilds.

Note I’ve not got a splash yet but just the single double blue on Encrust is enough to start me thinking about how I’m going to shape my mana base.

 Pack 1 pick 8:

My Pick:

Nice. The soldier Falcon plan kicks in and we get a nice late 2 power 1 drop flyer.

  Pack 1 pick 9:

My Pick:

It’s nice when a plan comes together. Obviously the Ring here is great and really going to give our deck some late game power. I really like the Rings in white and red decks as you generally have cheap small creatures so need something to power up a late game more than most BG decks.

  Pack 1 pick 10:

My Pick:

Nothing here for us so just hate draft the card that I would least want to play against. Think thats the Gem here but it might be the wall. Neither is particularly powerful but the Gem is pretty good if you have a powerful expensive spell like Nicol Bolas in your deck.

  Pack 1 pick 11:

My Pick:

Again nothing for us so just take the best card which is definitely Blight. This card is actually really good in this format so probably shouldn’t be this late.

  Pack 1 pick 12:

My Pick:

Just take the playable here.

  Pack 1 pick 13:

My Pick:

Glorious Charge might make the cut in our deck – white can end up with Knights and Calls that make multiple guys at once and a combat trick is a combat trick.

  Pack 1 pick 14:

My Pick:

Always take the card over the land. There’s an argument that says you might want your opponents to have Clock of Omens in their deck but most cards have some small use and if you lose to it you’re going to feel like a right idiot. 99% of the time the card is just unplayed anyway.

  Pack 1 pick 15:

My Pick:

So at the end of pack 1 I’m pretty happy with the direct the deck is going. We’ve got no removal yet but our creatures are pretty powerful and we’ve got the ring to give our deck some late game power.

  Pack 2 pick 1:

My Pick:

Sadly I open nothing very exciting for our deck – Show of Valor is an ok trick but you dont really want too many and it’s not really first pick quality. None of the blue cards are that exciting either, Ring and Auger can be powerful but we’re not going to have the support cards for either.

Obviously the other three colours all have powerful first pick removal spells and the Spear is the most splashable so thats the pick here.

  Pack 2 pick 2:

My Pick:

Again nothing very exciting, with only 3 possible cards in our colours. The Entrancer really isnt aggressive enough and I was more interested in flyers than ground monsters. Also a big factor is that wind drake is only a single coloured mana and I have just picked up a splash red spell so double white on t2 might not always be possible.

  Pack 2 pick 3:

My Pick:

That’s more like it – a nice powerful removal spell and the best card left in the pack. A small reward for cutting white in pack one.

  Pack 2 pick 4:

My Pick:

I considered the Flames of the Firebrand to go with the Searing Spear but in the end decided to stay on target with the War Falcon plan and take the Knight. You need to make the threshold to make them playable and I wasnt 100% I was splashing the Spear yet.

  Pack 2 pick 5:

My Pick:

At this point I was starting to regret not taking the Flames and just abandoning the blue for red! I’d passed a few lateish Turn to Slags in pack 1 but not received anything to make me think red was open from the right so couldnt expect good red back in pack 3 anyway. Guardians serve a reasonable role in our War Falcon deck anyway and i’m usually pretty happy to have one in my deck.

  Pack 2 pick 6:

My Pick:

Another Falcon makes the pile and I’m pretty glad I’ve been picking up those Knights and Soldiers.

  Pack 2 pick 7:

My Pick:

Nothing here for us so I just take the card that is probably the most powerful and the one I want to face the least.

  Pack 2 pick 8:

My Pick:

A 3rd Falcon makes the deck really focused and really means I can focus on 2 drops soldiers.

Pack 2 pick 9:

My Pick:

The Show of Valor tabled from our first pack which is nice, not sure it’ll make the cut but it’s not a bad combat trick, even if it is quite a bit worse than Titanic Growth.

 Pack 2 pick 10:

My Pick:

A potential sideboard card if I do play red.

  Pack 2 pick 11:

My Pick:

Nothing much to see here – just taking the most playable card in the pack.

  Pack 2 pick 12:

My Pick:

  Pack 2 pick 13:

My Pick:

  Pack 2 pick 14:

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 15:

My Pick:

Very happy with the deck now after pack 2. we’ve picked up 3 Falcons and the Knights and Soldiers to support them and a nice premium removal spell.

  Pack 3 pick 1:

My Pick:

And another nice premium removal spell. Nothing much else to consider here – Pacifism is just the best card for our deck by a mile.

  Pack 3 pick 2:

My Pick:

I did contemplate taking another Wilds and pushing for the red splash slightly harder but the deck currently doens’t have much late game (I think this was the first 4 drop) and it has some nice synergy with the Attendant Knights.

  Pack 3 pick 3:

My Pick:

Sleep is very much what this deck wants – coming out the gates fast you can sometimes get shut down by a single large creature, especially something like Serra Angel or the 4/4 vigilance spider so having something to break that stall is perfect. Double blue is something to bear in mind but it’s far too powerful an effect to pass up.

Pack 3 pick 4:

My Pick:

Another perfect card for our 3 War Falcon deck and a very powerful card on its own.

  Pack 3 pick 5:

My Pick:

I noted the Cower in Fear here as a potential blow out against us but cant do much apart from remember its in the draft if I play against a black deck. Obviosuly Captains Call works with our Griffins, Falcons, Sleep and Glorious Charge so thats the pick.

  Pack 3 pick 6:

My Pick:

No choices this time, just take the only playable in our colours. He’s a nice one to have with the Ring though and with the Sleep in the mix I think the red is looking less and less likely to be splashed.

  Pack 3 pick 7:

My Pick:

Might be that a second Glorius Charge is better here as a board against Chandra’s Fury and Cower in Fear but I’ve had some nice success with Provocateur against exalted decks and have 1 charge already.

 Pack 3 pick 8:

My Pick:

  Pack 3 pick 9:

My Pick:

  Pack 3 pick 10:

My Pick:

  Pack 3 pick 11:

My Pick:

  Pack 3 pick 12:

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 13:

My Pick:

  Pack 3 pick 14:

My Pick:

  Pack 3 pick 15:

My Pick:

A few shameless rare grabs and some dregs finish off the draft and I’m pretty happy with where I’ve ended up:

3 War Falcon
1 Ajani’s Sunstriker
2 Aven Squire
2 Welkin Tern
1 Guardians of Akrasa
2 Attended Knight
1 Crusader of Odric
1 Wind Drake
1 Courtly Provocateur
1 Griffin Protector

1 Ring of Thune
1 Captain’s Call
2 Pacifism
1 Show of Valor
1 Glorious Charge
1 Encrust
1 Sleep

1 Evolving Wilds
6 Island
10 Plains


1 Crippling Blight
1 Ring of Valkas
2 Mogg Flunkies
1 Boundless Realms
1 Searing Spear
1 Kindled Fury
2 Reckless Brute
1 Naturalize
1 Clock of Omens
1 Volcanic Strength
1 Forest
2 Mountain
1 Gem of Becoming
1 Trumpet Blast
1 Touch of the Eternal
1 Spiked Baloth
1 Merfolk of the Pearl Trident
1 Dark Favor

I did win the draft with most of my games being pretty 1 sided. Almost every game started with a Falcon attacking on t2 or 3 and then a nice timely Pacifism on the big blocker when needed. What I most wanted to illustrate with this draft was that by being in a strategy that maximises the power of your late pick commons I managed to get a very powerful deck and win the draft without any bomb mythics or rares, or even many powerful uncommons, just fast consistent creatures.

The Manabase

The second thing I wanted to touch on today was drafting with mana bases in mind. I mentioned a couple of times above where I was thinking of things like taking Wind Drake over Sunstriker because I wanted to be able to support double blue and wasnt as sure of t2 WW. Or taking the Evolving Wilds early to give myself the possibility of a splash later.

Generally in more recent draft formats, AVR being the notable exception, there’s quite a deep pool of playable cards and so by the end of the draft its very easy to have 25-6 playables and have to cut down to around 23. In these cases its more of a possibilty that you can spend earlier picks on things like sb cards or mana fixing.

In some formats, like Coldsnap or Ravnica, the lands themselves were so powerful and the cards pools so deep that things like Snow Covered lands or the Ravnica Guild Karoo lands like Selesnea Sanctuary were first picks. Yes sometimes you were passing powerful spells for these lands but the overall composition of your final deck was better than if you were stuck with 17 basics.

Definitely something to consider in your next draft and I wouldnt be surprised if the new Return to Ravnica Gate lands were pretty high picks in the next draft set!

Were any of the pick decisions above different from your own? Was there anything I could or should have done differently? What would you have done in those situations? Please share your thoughts below.

Thank for reading, thanks for sharing.

Tom Harle





Please let us know what you think below...

Visit our Manaleak online store for the latest Magic: the Gathering singles, spoilers, exclusive reader offers, sales, freebies and more!

Magic The Gatherig Freebies Giveaways