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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pick: Golgari Rot Farm
Pick: Selesnya Sanctuary
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.
Pick: Seeds of Strength
Pick: Golgari Brownscale
Not as bad as you think.
Such a gift. I usually end up with a very high curve due to undervaluing low drops.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pick: Ghor-Clan Savage
I love this guy.
Pick: Izzet Boilerworks
Not going to play it, but not going to play any of the other stuff either.
Pick: Skarrgan Pit-Skulk
Steve Sadin won’t shut up about this guy, I figured I’d give him a whirl.
Pick: Silhana Ledgewalker
Only 2 bloodthirsty guys, but I have a soft spot for this guy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pick: Sporeback Troll
I’m pretty sure I really needed this guy.
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:
- 1 Belltower Sphinx
- 1 Golgari Brownscale
- 1 Nullmage Shepherd
- 1 Oathsworn Giant
- 1 Selesnya Evangel
- 1 Transluminant
- 1 Blind Hunter
- 1 Ghor-Clan Savage
- 1 Orzhov Guildmage
- 1 Silhana Ledgewalker
- 1 Silhana Starfletcher
- 1 Skarrgan Pit-Skulk
- 1 Cytospawn Shambler
- 1 Novijen Sages
- 2 Simic Ragworm
- 1 Sporeback Troll
- 1 Vigean Graftmage
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…