Practice Makes Perfect: BTT Draft #1

Learn more about Theros/Born of the Gods Limited before your next event as Frank walks you through a release draft he recently participated in on Magic Online!

Here we go again! This past weekend marked the start of Born of the Gods release queues on Magic Online. Eager to get more drafts with the new set under my belt, I hopped into an 8-4 to take the new cards for a spin. What I ended up with was a slightly unconventional deck and a few lessons learned.

Get ready for a bumpy ride!

Pack 1 Pick 1

Forsaken Drifters Revoke Existence Nyxborn Wolf Evanescent Intellect Epiphany Storm Servant of Tymaret Akroan Skyguard Reckless Reveler Snake of the Golden Grove Nullify Oracle's Insight Ashiok's Adept Vortex Elemental Forgestoker Dragon Forest

Like so many drafts before it, this one starts with a classic pick: do I take the bomb rare (Forgestoker Dragon) or the build around me common (Akroan Skyguard)? When push comes to shove, I just can’t resist kicking things off with a giant Dragon. Who wants to put all that effort into buffing a 1/1 when you can just kill your opponent with fire? The honorable mention from this pack goes to Vortex Elemental. Although I wouldn’t pick it over the other two options, it’s a great card to look out for once you find yourself drafting blue.

My Pick

Pack 1 Pick 2

Great Hart Satyr Wayfinder Retraction Helix Nyxborn Eidolon Bolt of Keranos Mortal's Ardor Cyclops of One-Eyed Pass Necrobite Sudden Storm Kragma Butcher Black Oak of Odunos Archetype of Endurance Dawn to Dusk Mountain

There isn’t a much better way to follow up a bomb pick than with a solid on-color removal spell. Although it might not stack up to a card like Archetype of Endurance in raw power level, it’s more than enough to keep me securely in red.

My Pick

Pack 1 Pick 3

Swordwise Centaur Griffin Dreamfinder Eye Gouge Evanescent Intellect Fearsome Temper Hold at Bay Asphyxiate Fall of the Hammer Cyclops of One-Eyed Pass Ghostblade Eidolon Glimpse the Sun God Graverobber Spider Island

Much like the previous pack, this one has some tempting options outside of red but nothing sweet enough to justify passing another strong red removal spell. In the moderate amount of drafts I’ve done so far, I’ve come to absolutely love Fall of the Hammer. Being an instant and a one-sided fight really helps this common pack a punch.

My Pick

Pack 1 Pick 4

Servant of Tymaret Satyr Wayfinder Pharagax Giant Ephara's Enlightenment Great Hart Nullify Impetuous Sunchaser Culling Mark Necrobite Eternity Snare Drown in Sorrow Plains

This is where things get interesting. The only two red cards handy in this pack are both aggressively oriented, and so far that isn’t the direction this deck is going. While Forgestoker Dragon makes a fine curve topper for an aggressive deck, it is at its best in a more controlling shell. If you recall in triple Theros, R/B Control wasn’t the easiest thing to draft. Since two of the removal spells you had access to (Rage of Purphoros and Lash of the Whip) were clunky and inefficient, it usually took a huge bomb like Abhorrent Overlord or picking up an Anger of the Gods to make it work.

Well, I’ve already got the huge bomb, and Drown in Sorrow does a decent Anger of the Gods impression. Not to mention it will be nice to see if Born of the Gods has enough efficient removal to make the R/B Control strategy more viable. Time to experiment!

My Pick

Pack 1 Pick 5

Eye Gouge Nyxborn Triton Epiphany Storm Hold at Bay Marshmist Titan Aspect of Hydra Mortal's Resolve Divination Gorgon's Head Siren Song Lyre Forest

Unfortunately, this pack doesn’t offer up any top-notch picks. However, there are two cards that catch my eye. First is Marshmist Titan. Although I haven’t picked up many black mana symbols yet, Theros has a lot of creatures like Disciple of Phenax that fit perfectly into a control deck and can help bolster black devotion. On the other side of the coin, I can’t help but want to take Divination here. Drawing extra cards is a time-tested way to win games of Magic. In the end, I decide to take Marshmist Titan mainly because I’m not about to abandon the goal of testing R/B Control. I’m sure there will be plenty of Read the Bones in the Theros packs.

My Pick

Pack 1 Pick 6

Weight of the Underworld Excoriate Rise to the Challenge Nyxborn Triton Warchanter of Mogis Loyal Pegasus Elite Skirmisher Mortal's Resolve Noble Quarry Forest

This pick is simple enough. The way I’m looking to build this deck, a combat trick like Rise to the Challenge isn’t something I’m in the market for. Although Warchanter of Mogis’ black mana symbols are tempting, I’m not about to pass up on a removal spell for it.

My Pick

Pack 1 Pick 7

Setessan Starbreaker Sphinx's Disciple Warchanter of Mogis Revoke Existence Scouring Sands Culling Mark Loyal Pegasus Grisly Transformation Swamp

Looks like I get to have my cake and eat it too! I feel much better about taking Warchanter of Mogis here since I don’t miss out on much else.

My Pick

Pack 1 Pick 8

Floodtide Serpent Rise to the Challenge Griffin Dreamfinder Claim of Erebos Impetuous Sunchaser Griffin Dreamfinder Reckless Reveler Plains

Sometimes you take a random 2/1 to help stave off those pesky aggressive decks. This is one of those times.

My Pick

Pack 1 Pick 9

Forsaken Drifters Nyxborn Wolf Evanescent Intellect Epiphany Storm Servant of Tymaret Reckless Reveler Forest

Here’s a pick I’m very happy to make. Last week Josiah O’Neal pointed out that Servant of Tymaret is a great card to have in a slower black deck. I figure this is as good a chance as any to take his advice and try this 1/3 out. Spoiler: I am not disappointed.

My Pick

Pack 1 Pick 10

Great Hart Satyr Wayfinder Mortal's Ardor Cyclops of One-Eyed Pass Necrobite Mountain

Although Cyclops of One-Eyed Pass might seem fragile because it only has two toughness, this is the perfect deck to take advantage of its enormous power. With so much removal already in the bank, it shouldn’t be too hard to make sure there are no blockers in the way so this guy can hit home.

My Pick

Pack 1 Pick 11

Griffin Dreamfinder Eye Gouge Evanescent Intellect Cyclops of One-Eyed Pass Island

My Pick

Pack 1 Pick 12

Satyr Wayfinder Great Hart Culling Mark Plains

My Pick

Pack 1 Pick 13

Eye Gouge Aspect of Hydra Forest

My Pick

Pack 1 Pick 14

Noble Quarry Forest

My Pick

Pack 1 Pick 15

My Pick

Coming out of pack 1, things are looking pretty good. The framework for the controlling R/B deck is there, and if Theros is kind, the deck should shape up nicely. I really like what the Born of the Gods pack has done to this Draft format, especially by giving red a much needed boost in playability.

Pack 2 Pick 1

Ephara's Warden Fleshmad Steed Nimbus Naiad Portent of Betrayal Observant Alseid Defend the Hearth Agent of Horizons Crackling Triton Setessan Griffin Triton Shorethief Burnished Hart Akroan Hoplite Arena Athlete Prognostic Sphinx Island

Talk about a kick in the face! Not only are there no great cards for the R/B deck in this pack, but Prognostic Sphinx would basically be unbeatable against my plan of mono-removal. I decide to just hate draft the Sphinx here to ensure I won’t have to play against it.

My Pick

Pack 2 Pick 2

Nessian Courser Lash of the Whip Minotaur Skullcleaver Aqueous Form Asphodel Wanderer Wingsteed Rider Two-Headed Cerberus Vulpine Goliath Boulderfall Savage Surge Evangel of Heliod Flamecast Wheel Gift of Immortality Mountain

Not exactly the best second pick in the world, but sometimes you just gotta crack that whip. Again, there are some more aggressive options in Minotaur Skullcleaver and Two-Headed Cerberus, but that’s just not going to cut it in this deck.

My Pick

Pack 2 Pick 3

Bronze Sable Ephara's Warden Sip of Hemlock Agent of Horizons Fade into Antiquity Satyr Rambler Scourgemark Cavern Lampad Sedge Scorpion Peak Eruption Ordeal of Thassa Decorated Griffin Mountain

Now that’s a removal spell I can get behind! It’s always nice to have Sip of Hemlock on the team as a way to answer almost any threat no matter how big it becomes. With so much other removal to back it up, getting to six mana shouldn’t be hard at all.

My Pick

Pack 2 Pick 4

Fleetfeather Sandals Ill-Tempered Cyclops Guardians of Meletis Spearpoint Oread Unknown Shores Aqueous Form Asphodel Wanderer Spark Jolt Wavecrash Triton Burnished Hart Curse of the Swine Forest

Ill-Tempered Cyclops is just what the doctor ordered. It plays decent early defense, works well with Fall of the Hammer and Drown in Sorrow, and can go monstrous to produce a game-ending threat. Welcome aboard!

My Pick

Pack 2 Pick 5

Prescient Chimera Demolish Leafcrown Dryad Nessian Courser Read the Bones Thassa's Bounty Lost in a Labyrinth Kragma Warcaller Karametra's Acolyte Warriors' Lesson Island

Who needs Divination when there are bones to read? Not me.

My Pick

Pack 2 Pick 6

Guardians of Meletis Prescient Chimera Demolish Leafcrown Dryad Spearpoint Oread Breaching Hippocamp Shredding Winds Akroan Hoplite Ordeal of Purphoros Island

Passing two Leafcrown Dryads in a row is definitely not something I like to do. Although I never really got the signal to move into green, the color is definitely open. Looks like I’ll have to settle for Leafcrown’s redheaded stepsister.

My Pick

Pack 2 Pick 7

Fate Foretold Thassa's Bounty Priest of Iroas Savage Surge Setessan Griffin Kragma Warcaller Dissolve Prowler's Helm Mountain

When all else fails, take the Minotaur!

My Pick

Pack 2 Pick 8

Omenspeaker Commune with the Gods Returned Phalanx Lagonna-Band Elder Lost in a Labyrinth Pharika's Cure Savage Surge Swamp

Is there such a thing as too much removal? Looks like we’re going to find out.

My Pick

Pack 2 Pick 9

Portent of Betrayal Defend the Hearth Agent of Horizons Crackling Triton Setessan Griffin Triton Shorethief Island

My Pick

Pack 2 Pick 10

Minotaur Skullcleaver Asphodel Wanderer Vulpine Goliath Boulderfall Flamecast Wheel Mountain

My Pick

Pack 2 Pick 11

Ephara's Warden Agent of Horizons Fade into Antiquity Satyr Rambler Mountain

My Pick

Pack 2 Pick 12

Guardians of Meletis Aqueous Form Spark Jolt Forest

My Pick

Pack 2 Pick 13

Demolish Lost in a Labyrinth Island

My Pick

Pack 2 Pick 14

Demolish Breaching Hippocamp

My Pick

Pack 2 Pick 15

My Pick

Although this pack didn’t come with much of a wow factor, it did what I needed it to do for the deck. I was able to grab a few more removal spells, some card draw, and a much needed threat in Ill-Tempered Cyclops. Moving into the last pack, I want to prioritize shoring up the two slot a bit. The deck is powerful enough to take down the late game; it’s the first few turns that worry me.

Pack 3 Pick 1

March of the Returned Dragon Mantle Nessian Asp Voyaging Satyr Spearpoint Oread Unknown Shores Aqueous Form Asphodel Wanderer Deathbellow Raider Borderland Minotaur Nemesis of Mortals Ordeal of Erebos Cutthroat Maneuver Boon Satyr Swamp

Now that’s just disgusting. This pack is nothing shy of a green drafter’s dream, but that doesn’t mean much over here in the land of red and black. Although I absolutely hate Cutthroat Maneuver, the deck is already saturated with four-mana creatures, so I don’t really want to take Borderland Minotaur. Who knows, maybe it can help win a race or two.

My Pick

Pack 3 Pick 2

Ephara's Warden Fleshmad Steed Nimbus Naiad Asphodel Wanderer Voyaging Satyr Titan's Strength Baleful Eidolon Benthic Giant Disciple of Phenax Ray of Dissolution Purphoros's Emissary Sealock Monster Psychic Intrusion Swamp

It’s a shame that so many of the cards I would love to have in this deck are in the same pack. I decide to stick to my guns and work on two-drops, thus passing on both Disciple of Phenax and Purphoros’s Emissary. Unfortunately, the dream of playing Marshmist Titan dies here.

My Pick

Pack 3 Pick 3

Sip of Hemlock Bronze Sable Messenger's Speed Satyr Hedonist Read the Bones Last Breath Crackling Triton Boon of Erebos Vaporkin Glare of Heresy Dauntless Onslaught Fabled Hero Forest

This pick is a close call between the second Read the Bones and the second Sip of Hemlock. Ultimately, having another hard removal spell is more important than the risk of paying life for card advantage.

My Pick

Pack 3 Pick 4

Nessian Courser March of the Returned Dragon Mantle Nessian Asp Vulpine Goliath Asphodel Wanderer Voyaging Satyr Titan's Strength Opaline Unicorn Ray of Dissolution Cutthroat Maneuver Swamp

Not the best pick in the world, but certainly not the worst. Grabbing an Opaline Unicorn will help pump out those six-mana spells as well as take some pressure off of the deck’s color requirements. If nothing else, there’s no way I’m taking another Cutthroat Maneuver.

My Pick

Pack 3 Pick 5

Lightning Strike Pheres-Band Centaurs Divine Verdict Traveling Philosopher Two-Headed Cerberus Silent Artisan Breaching Hippocamp Felhide Minotaur Anvilwrought Raptor Vanquish the Foul Plains

Slam dunk! A fifth pick Lightning Strike is a nice reward for being in red.

My Pick

Pack 3 Pick 6

Bronze Sable Messenger's Speed Silent Artisan Time to Feed Breaching Hippocamp Aqueous Form Ray of Dissolution Dissolve Pharika's Mender Mountain

At this point all of these green cards is starting to get a little infuriating. Oh well, might as well get my hate draft on.

My Pick

Pack 3 Pick 7

Battlewise Valor Read the Bones Last Breath Unknown Shores Crackling Triton Portent of Betrayal Scholar of Athreos Anvilwrought Raptor Plains

Two Read the Bones and two Sip of Hemlocks is definitely better than three Read the Bones and one Sip of Hemlock. I’m glad at least this part of the draft’s serendipity fell in my favor.

My Pick

Pack 3 Pick 8

Battlewise Valor Loathsome Catoblepas Satyr Rambler Thassa's Bounty Borderland Minotaur Shredding Winds Satyr Piper Plains

Apparently Borderland Minotaur really wanted to be part of this Draft deck. If I didn’t manage to get any two-drops earlier this pack, I might have just gone for Satyr Rambler. With Baleful Eidolon and Lightning Strike in tow, I might as well not hurt Borderland Minotaur’s feelings.

My Pick

Pack 3 Pick 9

March of the Returned Dragon Mantle Spearpoint Oread Unknown Shores Asphodel Wanderer Borderland Minotaur Swamp

Interestingly enough, if I already had two Spearpoint Oreads, I would be really happy to grab Dragon Mantle here.

My Pick

Pack 3 Pick 10

Ephara's Warden Fleshmad Steed Asphodel Wanderer Titan's Strength Ray of Dissolution Swamp

My Pick

Pack 3 Pick 11

Bronze Sable Messenger's Speed Last Breath Glare of Heresy Forest

My Pick

Pack 3 Pick 12

March of the Returned Vulpine Goliath Asphodel Wanderer Swamp

My Pick

Pack 3 Pick 13

Silent Artisan Anvilwrought Raptor Plains

My Pick

Pack 3 Pick 14

Messenger's Speed Mountain

My Pick

Pack 3 Pick 15

My Pick

Although I got what I wanted in terms of two-drops, this pack was pretty disappointing overall. Passing up on so many powerful green cards was not a pleasant experience. Even without much oomph from the third pack, I was still happy with how the deck ended up. Let’s check out my final build:


Building this deck was more or less straightforward. The biggest decision I was faced with was playing seventeen or eighteen lands. This is the type of deck that definitely wants to hit its land drops, but at the same time flooding out can be devastating with a deck that needs to frequently trade one for one to survive.

In the end, double Read the Bones was the deciding factor. Some people would opt to skimp on land count with double Read the Bones in their deck, rationalizing that the draw spells will help you hit your land drops. To the contrary, I find it correct to favor the higher land count with multiple draw spells in my deck. It is more reasonable to rely on Read the Bones to scry extra lands away once you have the ones you need than it is to risk being unable to play your spells if a Read the Bones ever misses.

Round 1

For round 1, I was paired against an opponent playing a U/W Fliers deck.

Game 1 really showcased the power of Cyclops of One-Eyed Pass and Servant of Tymaret. My opponent opened on a quick double Vaporkin draw. I was able to use Servant of Tymaret to counteract some of the aerial damage while also getting a few points in on my opponent. As the game progressed, I added the 5/2 Cyclops to the board, and my opponent attempted to hold it off long enough with ground creatures to win in the air. Fortunately everything went according to plan, and a few well-timed removal spells ensured that Cyclops of One-Eyed Pass threw enough Lava Axes to get the job done.


Lash of the Whip Spearpoint Oread Reckless Reveler


Spark Jolt Eye Gouge Anvilwrought Raptor

With so many one-toughness fliers in my opponent’s deck, the two one-mana removal spells and Anvilwrought Raptor were perfect cards to bring in. I decided to trim one of my slower removal spells along with a few dorky ground creatures that didn’t match up well against my opponent.

Unfortunately, game 2 didn’t break in my favor. After keeping a Swamp-heavy opener, it took a while for me to be able to cast a Bolt of Keranos to deal with an early Vaporkin from my opponent. Thanks to the damage my opponent was able to get in early, they were able to use Wavecrash Triton’s heroic ability to stagger my blockers and push through the last points they needed before I was able to stabilize.

Game 3 ended up being more of the same. Although I was able to fend off my opponent’s early aggression this time around, I began to flood out in the midgame. This time my opponent was able to use an Observant Alseid and a couple of Nyxborn Tritons to turn Wavecrash Triton into an unstoppable threat. I was able to hold it off for a while with chump blockers until I eventually chained a couple of Read the Bones that dug me to one of my Sip of Hemlocks. Unfortunately, before I was able to untap and cast the removal spell, my opponent drew a Thassa, God of the Sea and ended my hopes of a comeback on the spot.

Losing the draft in round 1 obviously isn’t a success, but I don’t regret giving the R/B Control archetype a try. My draws in games 2 and 3 were less than spectacular and didn’t give me much of a chance to even play the game. I was really happy with how the deck performed in game 1, and I feel like replicating the “big threat backed by removal” scenario shouldn’t be too hard. Born of the Gods went a long way toward making red and all of its color pairings a force to be reckoned with in Draft, and I intend to explore it further.


Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

You’re in an 8-4 on Magic Online. Everything is going great, and your deck is looking amazing. Both of your colors are open, and pick after pick you find yourself doing mini fist pumps.

A smile spreads across your face as you stare at the deckbuilding screen. Your masterpiece is complete. You decide to reward yourself with a snack and a bottle of water because you’ve earned it after all!

After a brief recess from your computer, you return and are eager to crush your round 1 opponent. It’s at this moment that you look at your opening hand and realize that there are five basic land types staring back at you. As you glance in horror at your 80-card deck, realization sets in. You forgot to hit the submit button!

This tragedy just so happened to beset me during the initial draft I planned on recording. I figured I might as well at least show off the deck that could have been:


This deck has a lot going for it. It has a strong curve, good bestow creatures, removal, and some really solid win conditions. In the one game I actually got to play with Champion of Stray Souls, it was absolutely amazing. Trading your bad creatures for your best ones and being able to endlessly come back itself makes it impossible to beat in a long game. If there was anything this deck was missing, it was an ordeal or two to go with the heroic subtheme.

I really liked the deck and was pretty disappointed I didn’t get to play it to its fullest. Hilariously enough, at the end of the first game I found myself looking at this screen:

80-Card Victory

Never underestimate the power of a good Boulderfall. I could practically hear Chris Fennell laughing all the way from Valencia as I used it to three-for-one my opponent.

Unfortunately my luck ran out during the second round, and I wasn’t able to cobble together a game 1 win. Throw in some mana issues in game 2 and my lack of a brain during deck construction was my downfall.

Remember, boys and girls, always make sure you hit submit!