Finally! Wizards has gone too long without a throwback format. I love the older drafts so much. I have a good amount of experience with Shadowmoor, but not tons. I remember it being a lot of fun and not too fast, except for the Intimidater Initiate mono-red deck. So let’s get into it.

Pack 1 Pick 1

Rune-cervin riderTortureGravelgill duoJuvenile gloomwidowJaws of stone
Crowd of cindersMystic gate
Well, Jaws is a legit bomb. If you can pull off the mono-red deck, Jaws can be a win-condition or a cheaper Plague Wind. In either case, Jaws is amazing and I will be trying for the mono-red deck. There are also no other red cards of note in the pack. Passing a few black cards but nothing amazing.

Pack 1 Pick 2

Barrenton MedicWatchwing scarecrowPower of fireEmberstrike duoCrimson wisps
I did struggle with this pick. The two red cards in this pack are nothing very exciting and Heartmender is very good. R/W is a legit deck as Eventide rewards you for being in enemy colors, such as R/W. Power of Fire has a few cute uses. It can be a machine-gun on a creature with an untap ability, like Pili-Pala. It can kill larger creatures over time when put on a creature with Wither. The duo is not that great in a mono red deck as it only pumps up when you play a black card. I like having at least 1 Wisp in my decks, if possible. There are tons of “color matter” cards in this block and the Wisps can mess with them, especially the enchantments like Shield of the Oversoul. So, in the end, I decide to go with the Power as I want to stay consistent and Heartmender is not quite strong enough to switch colors yet.

Pack 1 Pick 3

Crimson wispsTattermunge duoAethertowBarkshell blessingBoggart ram-gang
Drove of elves
A nice pack indicating that the few people to my right are not in an aggressive R/x deck as Ram-Gang is one of the best aggressive creatures in this format. I would love the Duo but it can’t compare to the Gang. I hope it does not send a red signal to the person on my left.

Pack 1 Pick 4

Loamdragger giantPili-palaChainbreakerGloomlanceEmber gale
MorselhoarderLeech bonder
This pack made me a bit nervous. There was not any outstanding red cards but Gloomlance is a premium removal spell. I passed on the Pili-Pala here as i felt it was a bit too early to take it, even though it goes great with the Power of Fire. Lance was the best card and I figured R/B could still work.

Pack 1 Pick 5

Pili-palaCinderbonesScuzzback maraudersFists of the demigod
Here I can take the Pili-Pala. Scuzzback can go in a red deck, but it is a pretty slow creature. Pili is a cheap, evasive creature that can help with multi-colors and can carry a Power of Fire very well. I really don’t want to play black still and will be avoiding it, if I can.

Pack 1 Pick 6

Elsewhere flaskSootwalkersCultbrand cinderManamorphose
I like seeing the Cinder and the Walkers here. Neither are amazing in an aggressive red deck, but are more playable than most other cards I have seen so far. Cinder is better in a more controlling style deck, which is very much an option for me here, but the red decks are better as aggressive decks. As the Walkers have a form of evasion, and are cheaper, they are the best pick here. Flask is good with Jaws, but it is not needed in a mono-colored deck, which I would still like to be.

Pack 1 Pick 7

Blight sickleThornwatch scarecrowHorde of boggarts
A good sign. Horde is obviously very good in a red deck, and could mean nobody else is in deep red.

Pack 1 Pick 8

Mudbrawler raidersTortureTorpor dust
Another evasive Hill Giant is perfectly fine here. It also keeps me out of black.
Picks 9-15
Traitor’s Roar, Emberstrike Duo, Viridescent Wisps, Ember Gale, Leechridden Swamp, Manamorphose, Toil to Renown.

Pack 2 Pick 1

Mudbrawler raidersRustrazor butcherSickle ripperMerrow Grimeblotter
Not exciting but Butcher is a very strong 2-drop. First strike works very well with Wither as the creature it is fighting gets a -1/-1 counter before it deals combat damage. A wither creature is good with the Power of Fire I have in my pool.

Pack 2 Pick 2

Gravelgill axesharkPower of fireLeechridden swampTattermunge witchEverlasting torment
Not exciting but another Power makes any future Pili-Palas and Wither creatures very strong. Thought about the Witch for a while but it is only really good if you can activate the ability. I am really trying to stay mono-red here so I pass on the Maniac. I am hoping that my cutting red whenever I could will reward me later.

Pack 2 Pick 3

Intimidator initiateScarMudbrawler cohortChainbreakerKulrath knight
Umbral mantle
This makes me feel pretty good. A bunch of quality red cards in this pack. Knight is more for the control decks so its between Cohort and Initiate. Haste is a very strong ability and is very important for the red decks; however, Initiate is one of the key parts to this deck. Making just one creature unable to block does not seem too strong, but most decks have more 3 and 4 drops that 2, so you can neutralize many blockers and make it very difficult for the opponent to mount a good defense. I go with the Initiate here.

Pack 2 Pick 4

Devoted druidPower of fireRattleblaze scarecrowMercy killingWild swing
I do not think I need another Power here as i only have 1 Pili-Pala. I do not like unreliable cards, so Wild Swing isn’t really an option here. Rattleblaze is too slow, but it does usually have haste, which helps.

Pack 2 Pick 5

ScarManaforge cinderBoggart arsonistsTower above
That is a pretty late Tower Above as it is a removal spells and can deal a good amount of damage at the same time. Scar is ok, but I was never too impressed by it. Manaforge Cinder would help play black, if I needed to. Arsonists are ok but not amazing. They do have evasion sometimes and can be a removal spell sometimes. All in all, a fine pick.

Pack 2 pick 6

SootwalkersMudbrawler cohortEmber galeHorde of boggarts
Another late Horde is great here. It makes me feel that red is open for the most part, but the packs have just been less that exciting. I would like any of these cards to table.

Pack 2 Pick 7

Oona’s blackguardManaforge cinderRunes of the deusWicker warcrawler
I have seen Warcrawler go late in a couple drafts and I am not exactly sure why. Yes it gets smaller after combat, but it usually takes a couple of attacks for it to get low enough to trade with most creatures. I am very happy to take the giant artifact here.

Pack 2 Pick 8

CinderhazeSmolder initiateSmash to smithereensPyre charger
Another hasty 2 drop looks really good here. Another good sign that red is open as Charger is very good in an aggressive deck.
Pick 9-15
Blazethorn Scarecrow, Inescapable Brute, Mudbrawler Cohort, Wild Swing, Manaforge Cinder, Ember Gale, Runes of the Deity

Pack 3 Pick 1

Duergar assailantNoggle bridgebreakerHearthfire hobgoblinStigma lasher
Lasher and Goblin are the stand-outs here. Double strike is nice and it is very tempting. I go with the Lasher though as it is a 2-drop and it works very nicely with Power of Fire as it has Wither and one ping from it makes your opponent unable to gain life.

Pack 3 Pick 2

Duergar assailantStream hopperNoggle bridgebreakerCanker abomination
Thought about the Abomination for the R/B deck as I had the Manaforge Cinder and Manamorphose to help with the fixing. I decide against it and go with the Noggle just for the name. I’m kidding, its a fine creature.

Pack 3 Pick 3

Stream hopperHotheaded giantRendclaw trowDeity of scars
I had to restrain myself from picking the Deity here. I probably could have taken it and ran straight R/B, but it would have made my Jaws worse and my deck less consistent, which I really did not like. Hothead is more often a 2/2 that a 4/4, but the potential 4/4 with haste is too much of an upside to ignore. A 2/2 with haste is nothing to get excited about but its playable.

Pack 3 pick 4

Heartlash cinderFlame jabNoggle banditImpelled giant
Another good red pack. I take Flame Jab here as I am very short on removal and it also makes your late game land draws so much better.

Pack 3 Pick 5

Heartlash cinderDouble cleaveNoggle bandit
Heartlash Cinder is fine and all, but Bandit is usually unblockable so I am very happy to take the Noggle here.

Pack 3 Pick 6

Cinder pyromancerRiverfall mimicHobgoblin dragoonDuergar cave-guard
Pyromancer is a very strong card in the mono-red deck. It can also kill some medium-sized creatures with Power of Fire, if I need to.

Pack 3 Pick 7

Flame jab
There was no other red cards in the pack but I am very ok with another Jab here.

Pack 3 pick 8

Battlegate MimicFlame jabJawbone skulkin
I don’t think I need 3 Jabs in this deck. I thought about Skulkin as granting haste is really nice but paying 2 for it is a bit steep. i may not have any other R/W cards for the Mimic, but it is still a 2 drop, so it’s fine.
Picks 9-15
Duergar Assailient. Duergar Assailiant. Desecrator Hag, Heartlash Cinder, Favor of the Overbeing, Riverfell Mimic, Raven’s Crime.

I like this deck a fair bit. It is very aggressive with some nice 2 drops, and some nice finishers like Horde of Boggarts and Jaws of Stone to finish the game. It has some nice synergies like Power of Fire with Pili Pala or any of the Wither creatures, Pyromancer with Flame Jab, or Initiate and Hothead with Flame jab. Flame Jab is very good. One or more removal spells would be nice, but I would give this deck an 8 or an 8.5.

M1G1 against Rustal
Keep a fine hand of 2 Mountains, Stigma Lasher, Cinder Pyromancer, Power of Fire, Horde of Boggarts, and Wicker Warcrawler. He plays a Seedcradle Witch on his first time and I know I need to kill it. I play my Lasher on turn 2. He has no plays for his next turn and I give my Lasher the power of fire. Lasher can attack for more damage, but I am ok with sacrificing a point of damage to be able to put -1/-1 counters on creatures. I kill the Witch immediately. He passes his next turn while I attack for 2 and play Horde of Boggarts. Again, he has nothing. I am nervous at this point and I attack with just the Horde, after playing my Pyromancer, for 4. He plays a Wickerbough Elder and removes the counter to destroy my Power. I play Butcher and Power of Fire, pinging with the Pyromancer each time, taking him to 11. I swing for 5 with the Horde. He simply plays a Juvenile Gloomwidow and passes. I ping him down to 4 at EOT. I ping with the Pyromancer and play Noggle Bandit and the opponent concedes.

I play my Heartlash and a Boggart Arsonists before he plays his first card at the end of my third turn. He plays a Last Breath to exile my Arsonists and takes me to 24. His turn 4 gives him a Barrenton Cragtreads, which could be a problem. I respond with my Sootwalkers and pass. He plays a land and attacks me down to 21. I attack with my Cinder and my Walkers and he drops to 13. I play a post combat Horde of Boggarts. He plays a menacing Twilight Sheperd and the race is on. I attack with my Walkers as he can’t block it and he falls to 10. I play my second Boggarts, and they are both 4/4s. He attacks for 5 and plays his Wickerbough Elder, leaving no Forests open. On my turn, I put power of Fire on my Heartlash and ping the Elder. I use both my Flame Jabs in hand to deal the 2 more damage to the Elder to kill it. I attack with my 2 5/5 Hordes and my Walkers. He double blocks one of the Hordes and I deal all 5 damage to the Cragtreads as I really don’t want to kill the Sheperd. He goes to 2 and concedes next turn.

I keep 3 Mountains, Flame Jab, Pyre Charger, Hotheaded Giant, and Noggle Bandit.
The first play of the game is his Pili-Pala, mine is a turn 3 Bandit. He assembles the combo by putting a Power of Fire on his Pili-Pala. On my turn, I get the 2 for 1 by Flame Jabbing his Pili-Pala and he pings me in response. I drop a Pyre Charger, pump it once, and attack for 4 with both creatures. He plays another Swamp and passes. I discard a land to Retrace Flame Jab to ping him for 1 and play a full-strength Hotheaded Giant. I attack with the team for 7, taking him to 9. He kills my Giant with Gloomlance and passes. I play my next land and pump the Charger to a 7/1 and attack for 9, killing him.

I keep 4 Mountains, Flame Jab, Mimic, and Ram-Gang. He plays a turn 2 Fang Skulkin and I respond with my Riverfall Mimic. He attacks me to 18 and drops a Stillmoon Cavalier. I play my third land and Flame Jab the Cavalier and the Retrace it by discarding another land to kill the Skulkin and attack for 2. He misses his next land drop and plays a Nightsky Mimic. I draw another land and use it to ping the Mimic with Jab and drop the Ram-Gang. I attack for 5, taking him to 13. He draws a card and concedes.

My opponent never showed up. A very anti-climactic end to this fun draft.

I have drafted mono-red a few times and do very well with it each time. I like having some kind of finisher in my red decks, like Jaws or Furystoke Giant, or Nobilis of War. Granted, 2 of those finishers are rare, but any kind of large and preferably hasty creature should usually be enough if pressure was applied early. See you next week!