M14: Reevaluating Sanguine Bond

In my post about the lifegain deck, I had evaluated Sanguine Bond as playable in the right deck. I had a great opportunity to test it out this weekend when I opened Sanguine Bond in pack 1 of 2 consecutive drafts and tried to build around it. I even drafted a late pick Congregate to go with it both times. Unfortunately, I lost in the first round of both drafts. Let’s try to figure out what went wrong, and whether we need to reevaluate Sanguine Bond.

The first draft was just terrible all around. The best cards in the second pack were Predatory Sliver, Manaweft Sliver, and Battle Sliver, with the best W/B card being a Divine Favor, so I took the Predatory Sliver, just in case Slivers ended up being open, and hoped that the Divine Favor would table (it didn’t). I got passed a Pacifism third pick, one of my favorite cards in W/B since it also triggers the cards that care about enchantments. Unfortunately, the person to my right was B/G and decided to switch to B/W after being passed a tenth-pick Celestial Flare. Blue was wide open, but I was trying to make the lifegain deck work, so I only picked up a late Time Ebb and a late Traumatize in the first 2 packs. While reviewing my picks at the end of pack 2, I realized that my deck was quite weak and had few win conditions, so I took the Jace Memory Adept I opened in pack 3, a Jace’s Mindseeker third pick (over Air Servant and Claustrophobia!), a Messenger Drake, a Millstone, and 2 Tome Scours, and passed the Angelic Accord I saw since I knew it was too late to make that deck work. The deck lacked early defense and sufficient playables, and rolled over to Predatory Slivers in 2 games.

The second draft went a little better. I drafted 2 Blightcasters to go with 6 enchantments. Unfortunately, at the end of the draft, my only lifegain was the aforementioned Congregate, a Divine Favor, and 2 Dawnstrike Paladins, and I really didn’t want to play the Dawnstrike Paladins. I did consider playing just the Sanguine Bond/Congregate combo since I had a Diabolic Tutor to fetch the missing half of the combo, but decided I would be very unhappy if I drew only 1 of those 3 cards. I was tempted by the fact the Sanguine Bond triggers the Blightcasters and that Congregate can swing some game, but decided that they weren’t good enough to merit inclusion, so I left them out and focused on building a W/B enchantments deck with a good mana curve. I lost round 1 again, but at least I got to win a game this time.

I still think Sanguine Bond is playable in the right deck, but I think you need to be very committed to making it work if you decide to go down that route. The only common lifegain cards in white and black that are good enough to play on their own merits are Divine Favor, Child of Night, and especially Mark of the Vampire, so you need to draft these cards highly, sometimes over better cards, even before you know whether you will be passed any of the other uncommons/rares/mythics that care about lifegain. Diabolic Tutor also goes up in value in this deck as it allows you to tutor for Sanguine Bond if you don’t draw it, or for Congregate or Corrupt if you do.

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