A Ravnica Draft Walkthrough

We have a second StarCityGames Featured Writer making his debut today – Paul Jordan, one-third of the Flores/Sadin/Jordan team for Pro Tour Charleston, Two-Headed Giant. In his first article, Paul takes us through his drafting process, providing a full RGD Draft walkthrough from first to last pick. He shares his opinions behind each chocie, and runs through the games he played with the resulting deck.

You need a pie chart for that kind of info!

The majority of my Magical life these days is spent drafting. The split is probably 50%/40%/10% between MTGO, real-life drafting, and non-draft related gaming. Both of my MTGO accounts have a 1600 Constructed rating (and hover +/- 30 of 1800 in Limited, depending on how I’m doing). Please note: all numbers thus far should be read with an implied “ish” as a suffix, meaning the split is “50ish/40ish/10ish”, etc. Well, the 1600 is dead on. No “ish” on that.

So with the above estimated frequency of play in mind, it is only fair to say up front that most of my articles are going to be focused on drafting, and possibly Sealed Deck. And from that sentence, one can safely infer that I am, in fact, going to be writing on a regular basis again. You’re welcome*.

Before I get into the draft, I want to give a little background on how I try to draft, and under what circumstances. For the first 2-3 picks of a draft I try to just take the best card out of a pack, regardless of color, and hope I can play it. That doesn’t mean I’m going to try to get some crazy monkey-mana deck and just throw in every spell I have with the intent of mizing the correct lands. By taking the best cards, I try to follow the signals and hopefully set myself up for the remainder of pack 1 and all of pack 3 (if done correctly, I’ll also send good enough signals to be nicely rewarded in pack 2).

The sad fact is that I’m a greedy person. This block always gives me the glimmer of hope that I can get enough fixers and just play every card I draft with ease. Why not put Niv-Mizzet and Ghost Council in your base Green deck?! So, I often end up with what looks like a crazy concoction that doesn’t really work as often as I’d like. I’m trying to be less greedy and more consistent. Let’s see how it goes.

Pack 1:
Votary of the Conclave; Drift of Phantasms; Gaze of the Gorgon; Tidewater Minion; Stinkweed Imp; Smash; Golgari Brownscale; Conclave’s Blessing; Flight of Fancy; Disembowel; Sell-Sword Brute; Clutch of the Undercity; Dimir Guildmage; Voyager Staff; Copy Enchantment.

Pick: Disembowel

I really like Stinky, and Dimir Guildmage could possibly be my favorite card in the format. But let’s be honest with ourselves – Disembowel is almost a perfect first pick. It is very good, and doesn’t really commit you to a color (very splashable). There I go being greedy again.

Pack 2:
Stasis Cell; Roofstalker Wight; Viashino Slasher; Incite Hysteria; Centaur Safeguard; Screeching Griffin; Leave No Trace; Caregiver; Drake Familiar; Transluminant; Selesnya Signet; Overwhelm; Oathsworn Giant; Twisted Justice.

Pick: Oathsworn Giant

Best card, not even close.

Pack 3:
Votary of the Conclave; Gaze of the Gorgon; Gather Courage; Sparkmage Apprentice; Nightguard Patrol; Smash; Rally the Righteous; Dromad Purebred; Selesnya Evangel; Goliath Spider; Seed Spark; Cyclopean Snare; Woodwraith Corrupter.

Pick: Selesnya Evangel

Again, best card. At this point you’re looking at my deck and saying, “Sure, he has 3 good cards but he’s in GWB- the worst combination. What’s he going to do in the next 2 packs?” But I’m actually intending to be some form of GW/u/b, picking up BW in pack 2 and picking up GU and UW in pack 3, hopefully with both being a splash or with enough fixers.

Pack 4:
Coalhauler Swine; Wojek Siren; Sabertooth Alley Cat; Gather Courage; Boros Fury-Shield; Quickchange; Sewerdreg; Seismic Spike; Elves of Deep Shadow; Perilous Forays; Belltower Sphinx; Remand.

Pick: Belltower Sphinx

This was a greedy pick. I really like the Sphinx a lot, and took it as a decent signal when coupled with Remand that Blue was going to be coming. I also hadn’t passed any Blue outside of the Guildmage, so who knows. Looking back at it now though, I also wasn’t passed any Blue yet so maybe I should have just taken either the Elves or Gather Courage.

Pack 5:
Golgari Rot Farm; Consult the Necrosages; Tattered Drake; Muddle the Mixture; Sadistic Augermage; Thoughtpicker Witch; Goblin Fire Fiend; Sundering Vitae.

Pick: Golgari Rot Farm


Pack 6:
Goblin Spelunkers; Selesnya Sanctuary; Clinging Darkness; Grayscaled Gharial; Necromantic Thirst; Perplex; Dimir Machinations; Instill Furor; Junktroller.

Pick: Selesnya Sanctuary


Pack 7:
Strands of Undeath; Terrarion; Ordruun Commando; Leave No Trace; Zephyr Spirit; Boros Recruit; Boros Signet; Nullmage Shepherd; Conclave Phalanx.

Pick: Nullmage Shepherd

This guy is one of my current underrated all-stars. If you get into any sort of stalemate you can just start picking off Signets. He also stops so many powerful things, from Fetters to Pillory all the way up to Footsteps and Glare. I also hate having things like Sundering Vitae maindeck, and this guy allows me to avoid that scenario.

Pack 8:
Golgari Rot Farm; Dogpile; Vedalken Entrancer; Gate Hound; Lurking Informant; Sewerdreg; Seeds of Strength; Wojek Embermage.

Pick: Seeds of Strength

If I had taken the earlier Gather Courage I could have fixed my mana with another Karoo here. Even if I didn’t take the Courage, maybe I should have taken the land.

Pack 9:
Votary of the Conclave; Drift of Phantasms; Gaze of the Gorgon; Smash; Golgari Brownscale; Conclave’s Blessing; Voyager Staff.

Pick: Golgari Brownscale

Not as bad as you think.

Pack 10:
Stasis Cell; Incite Hysteria; Leave No Trace; Caregiver; Transluminant; Overwhelm.

Pick: Transluminant

Such a gift. I usually end up with a very high curve due to undervaluing low drops.

The next few packs gave me a Rally the Righteous, Wojek Siren, Sundering Vitae, and Leave No Trace just in case. The Rally wasn’t possibly going to be in the deck, so don’t worry.

Pack 16:
Streetbreaker Wurm; Gruul Scrapper; Gruul Signet; Pyromatics; Infiltrator’s Magemark; Absolver Thrull; Fencer’s Magemark; Poisonbelly Ogre; Leap of Flame; Benediction of Moons; Silhana Ledgewalker; Orzhov Guildmage; Shattering Spree; Thunderheads; Dune-Brood Nephilim.

Pick: Orzhov Guildmage

Not exactly what I was hoping to open. At least he’s an early drop.

Pack 17:
Mourning Thrull; Train of Thought; Restless Bones; Fencer’s Magemark; Wee Dragonauts; Scab-Clan Mauler; Gruul Turf; Ostiary Thrull; Wildsize; Ogre Savant; Blind Hunter; Electrolyze; Hissing Miasma; Sinstriker’s Will.

Pick: Blind Hunter

That’s more like it.

Pack 18:
Izzet Signet; Orzhov Euthanist; Silhana Starfletcher; Pyromatics; Orzhov Basilica; Petrahydrox; Guardian’s Magemark; Gigadrowse; Burning-Tree Bloodscale; Cremate.

Pick: Silhana Starfletcher

I didn’t have any way to abuse a Euthanist and was only splashing Black. I love Karoos, but already had 2 and had very little flying defense so far. Plus, he fixes my mana too, even if it isn’t with card advantage.

Pack 19:
Orzhov Euthanist; Castigate; Cry of Contrition; Tin Street Hooligan; Lionheart Maverick; Leap of Flame; Train of Thought; Beastmaster’s Magemark.

Pick: Orzhov Euthanist

Right around here something happened with the DraftCap and cards are missing. The packs were underwhelming and I ended up taking the Euthanist after all. He didn’t make the cut in the deck. So far pack 2 isn’t shaping up so well.

Pack 20:
Skarrgan Pit-Skulk; Benediction of Moons; Izzet Chronarch; Crystal Seer; Castigate; Necromancer’s Magemark; Gruul Signet; Ghor-Clan Savage; Skarrg, the Rage Pits; Goblin Flectomancer.

Pick: Ghor-Clan Savage

I love this guy.

Pack 21:
Restless Bones; Petrahydrox; Skyrider Trainee; Runeboggle; Scab-Clan Mauler; Izzet Boilerworks; Caustic Rain; Feral Animist; Leyline of Lightning.

Pick: Izzet Boilerworks

Not going to play it, but not going to play any of the other stuff either.

Pack 22:
Skarrgan Pit-Skulk; Lionheart Maverick; Burning-Tree Bloodscale; Crystal Seer; Cry of Contrition; Beastmaster’s Magemark; Primeval Light; Nivix, Aerie of the Firemind.

Pick: Skarrgan Pit-Skulk

Steve Sadin won’t shut up about this guy, I figured I’d give him a whirl.

Pack 23:
Gruul Signet; Fencer’s Magemark; Poisonbelly Ogre; Leap of Flame; Benediction of Moons; Silhana Ledgewalker; Shattering Spree.

Pick: Silhana Ledgewalker

Only 2 bloodthirsty guys, but I have a soft spot for this guy.

Pack 24:
Restless Bones; Fencer’s Magemark; Wee Dragonauts; Gruul Turf; Hissing Miasma; Sinstriker’s Will.

Pick: Gruul Turf

See pick 21

Nothing much else happened in that pack. At this point I look basically GW/b. I only really had 1 Blue card and was hoping to get some of the mono-colored cards in this pack to fill out the deck.

Pack 30:
Rakdos Signet; Rakdos Ickspitter; Ogre Gatecrasher; Ocular Halo; Aurora Eidolon; Enigma Eidolon; Gobhobbler Rats; Valor Made Real; Nettling Curse; Kill-Suit Cultist; Street Savvy; Ignorant Bliss; Ghost Quarter; Paladin of Prahv; Novijen Sages.

Pick: Novijen Sages

So greedy. Wasn’t happy with a Paladin. So greedy. Greedy and stupid.

Pack 31:
Kill-Suit Cultist; Azorius First-Wing; Simic Initiate; Vision Skeins; Riot Spikes; Azorius Signet; Seal of Doom; Sandstorm Eidolon; Minister of Impediments; Steeling Stance; Simic Growth Chamber; Condemn; Skyscribing; Trygon Predator.


Pick: Seal of Doom

Stay on target.

Pack 32:
Ocular Halo; Aurora Eidolon; Rakdos Carnarium; Simic Ragworm; Entropic Eidolon; Utvara Scalper; Plumes of Peace; Soulsworn Jury; Vision Skeins; Coiling Oracle; Squealing Devil; Magewright’s Stone; Evolution Vat.

Pick: Evolution Vat

I’ve never seen this in use before… this one was strictly an experiment. It worked out decently.

Pack 33:
Whiptail Moloch; Thrive; Haazda Exonerator; Overrule; Gobhobbler Rats; Rakdos Signet; Aurora Eidolon; Verdant Eidolon; Psychotic Fury; Palliation Accord; Blessing of the Nephilim; Vigean Graftmage.

Pick: Vigean Graftmage

I really should have abandoned blue and taken a Thrive or Eidolon. So greedy. Greedy and stupid.

Pack 34:
Wrecking Ball; Cytospawn Shambler; Delirium Skeins; Valor Made Real; Enigma Eidolon; Shielding Plax; Whiptail Moloch; Pain Magnification; Vigean Intuition.

Pick: Cytospawn Shambler

Don’t you love how I have a chance to be greedy for something with a much better argument going for it, but I don’t? The Shambler is pretty good though and fits into the budding theme of the deck. Just imagine for a moment if I had taken all the non-greedy cards so far. I would have no Blue cards, better fixers, and I could probably splash Wrecking Ball. I’m not unhappy with a Shambler, but I would be happier with a Wrecking Ball.

Pack 35:
Soulsworn Jury; Utvara Scalper; Thrive; Shielding Plax; Vesper Ghoul; Macabre Waltz; Carom; Brain Pry; Might of the Nephilim; Elemental Resonance.

Pick: Thrive

Pack 36:
Slaughterhouse Bouncer; Utopia Sprawl; Writ of Passage; Sporeback Troll; Haazda Exonerator; Delirium Skeins; Flaring Flame-Kin; Vigean Intuition.

Pick: Sporeback Troll

I’m pretty sure I really needed this guy.

Pack 37:
Delirium Skeins; Valor Made Real; Enigma Eidolon; Shielding Plax; Whiptail Moloch; Simic Ragworm; Nightcreep; Fertile Imagination.

Pick: Simic Ragworm

I’ve no way to abuse him, but he’ a very warm body.

The only other card I picked up was a late second Ragworm.

Here’s how I built it:

There’s a pack from the DraftCap missing where I got a Basilica. Man, if I had just been less greedy I think I would have ended up with a nice little package of consistency. Instead I have something like 3 Blue cards and 4 Islands. Genius. Here’s a brief recap of how the matches went. How the games play out isn’t as important (to me) as how the draft goes.

In round 1 I kept a slow draw with 2 Karoos. He had a bear that I blocked with my Guildmage, and he wasted his Wildsize. I was so happy. I’m always happy when a trick is used early on to save something irrelevant. He didn’t have much after that and I got out a Worm and kicked Ghor-Clan Savage. We got into a ground stall and I got out the Evolution Vat. Man, things get big fast with that. In game 2 I traded early with his Aquastrand Spider, and got out a Blind Hunter that allowed me to swing in the air and kick up the Savage. I also drew a Seal of Doom to stop any double blocking.

Round 2 saw a kind of odd game. I had 2 Islands and 2 Forests for a long time, but was able to get out random dorks (Worm, Ledgewalker, Graftmage, Sporeback Troll). He didn’t have much of anything, but got to set off a double Thunderheads, which was annoying, but only killed the Ledgewalker thanks to the Troll. After that, he still had nothing, and I drew a Plains to start playing real threats. In game 2 I got out a quick Evangel. I swung to his empty board on turn 3, and he had Thunderheads again, but I had the Seeds of Strength. After that, I played everything out one turn off the curve, to maximize token generation, and was able to play a Nullmage Shepherd the turn he played an Ocular Halo. He only had an Ostiary Thrull, and 1/4 wall, and a 2/1 flier. In a comic ending, he used Twisted Justice targeting himself to try to draw something. He didn’t draw anything.

In round 3 I got some of a bad beat. I double mulliganed in both games 1 and 3. In game 2, my opponent complained of color screw despite having an active Terraformer. Oh well, such is life.

Overall, I think I could have stuck with what ended up being a GWB deck and had something more consistent and something more powerful. At least I got my draft set back.

For reference, this was in a 4-3-2-2 draft. I try to get into 8-4 drafts whenever possible, but I’m terribly impatient and often end up in the 4-3-2-2 that fills up much more quickly. I’m on MTGO 2-5 nights per week. Feel free to message me [Roc]. I’ll do my best to respond, but if I’m in a match I generally try to focus on playing.


* to ignore my articles if you want to…

Draft recording done by Blargware‘s MTGO DraftCap. Support Blargware!