Practice Makes Perfect – Journey-Born-Theros Draft #1

A new set on Magic Online means new opportunities to showcase drafting! Frank Skarren takes on the challenge with a complete 8-4 draft on Magic Online!

Spring 2014 State Championships

Don’t you just love it when a new set hits the release queues on Magic Online? This time around, Journey into Nyx is the new kid on the block, and that
means things are even more exciting than usual. That’s right, I’m talking about full block drafts baby!

Fire up the 8-4’s. I’m going in.

Pack 1 Pick 1:

Satyr Hoplite Lagonna-Band Trailblazer Oakheart Dryads Font of Return Font of Fortunes Magma Spray Pin to the Earth Renowned Weaver Flurry of Horns Thassa's Devourer Reprisal Fleetfeather Cockatrice Gold-Forged Sentinel Doomwake Giant Forest

As you can see, this draft began with a very powerful pack. There are three premium removal spells in Magma Spray, Reprisal, and Pin to the Earth.
Alongside the kill spells we have a couple of tiny heroic creatures, and the double powerhouse package of Doomwake Giant and Fleetfeather Cockatrice. While
taking a removal spell first is always a safe bet, your first pick should always err on the side of power. While Fleetfeather Cockatrice is sweet, it is a
little sketchy to commit yourself to two colors right from the start. Add in the fact that you aren’t passing any other good black cards, and Doomwake
Giant is the easy first pick.

My pick:

Pack 1 Pick 2:

Font of Vigor Oakheart Dryads Feast of Dreams Hubris Thassa's Devourer Desecration Plague Flamespeaker's Will Cast into Darkness Oreskos Swiftclaw Desperate Stand Eidolon of Rhetoric Thassa's Ire Dictate of Kruphix Mountain

This pick is a pretty easy followup to our first pick. Feast of Dreams is a cheap and effective removal spell, and while the pack has some other good
cards, there isn’t anything nearly strong enough to warrant straying away from our first pick.

My pick:

Pack 1 Pick 3:

Pharika's Chosen Font of Fortunes Sigiled Skink Ajani's Presence Golden Hind Mortal Obstinacy Pin to the Earth Pheres-Band Thunderhoof Gluttonous Cyclops Chariot of Victory Riptide Chimera Spirespine Mountain

Golden Hind is one of the best green commons in Journey into Nyx, and seeing one third pick might be an indication that the color is open. However, both
green and black are a bit shallow in Journey so moving into both colors so early can leave you stranded down the line. Pharika’s Chosen might not be the
best card in the world, but it is good enough to stay the course and not move into a second color just yet.

My pick:

Pack 1 Pick 4:

Feast of Dreams Cloaked Siren Lightning Diadem Lagonna-Band Trailblazer Market Festival Rotted Hulk Oppressive Rays War-Wing Siren Satyr Grovedancer Disciple of Deceit Swarmborn Giant Island

May the temptations never cease! This time it’s a few solid blue cards beckoning us towards a second color. While I could never fault anyone for making a
move on one of the blue cards here, with a second Feast of Dreams at the ready there was no real reason not to stick to the “take the black card” strategy.
If I were to pick a blue card here, it would have been Cloaked Siren. War-Wing Siren isn’t at its best in a U/B deck, and I’m not a huge fan of Disciple of

My pick:

Pack 1 Pick 5:

Lagonna-Band Trailblazer Font of Return Font of Fortunes Pin to the Earth Renowned Weaver Flurry of Horns Thassa's Devourer Interpret the Signs Rollick of Abandon Reviving Melody Island

Finally a pack that forces us to delve into a second color. At this point, we’ve got a few removal spells in the bag and a Doomwake Giant. It definitely
feels like the deck wants to move in a controlling direction, and Pin to the Earth is the perfect card for the job. Not only is U/B the best control color
combination in the format, Pin to the Earth can even trigger Doomwake Giant’s constellation.

My pick:

Pack 1 Pick 6:

Returned Reveler Countermand Pensive Minotaur Gluttonous Cyclops Sigiled Starfish Starfall Cruel Feeding Triton Cavalry Revel of the Fallen God Island

Now we’re talking! I was pretty amazed to see a Sigiled Starfish this deep into the pack. The card is just incredible. Put simply, the longer it stays in
play, the more likely you are to win the game.

My pick:

Pack 1 Pick 7:

Countermand Lightning Diadem Market Festival Starfall Supply-Line Cranes Rise of Eagles Goldenhide Ox Dictate of the Twin Gods Island

Normally I wouldn’t be too happy to pick up a Rise of the Eagles. The card is very slow and expensive for what you get in return, and it usually doesn’t
make the final cut. However, the way this deck was shaping up, Rise of the Eagles was just what the doctor ordered. With so much cheap removal, getting to
six mana becomes a lot more reasonable. In a grindy deck like this, Rise serves as a reasonable one card win condition. The fact that it makes enchantment
creatures to double-trigger Doomwake Giant is just gravy.

My pick:

Pack 1 Pick 8:

Font of Vigor Thassa's Devourer Desecration Plague Flamespeaker's Will Interpret the Signs Underworld Coinsmith Dictate of Karametra Swamp

At this point, the deck was coming together very nicely. It had a nice control strategy in place, held together by a bunch of removal spells and couple
expensive cards. The only thing I was worried about was that it might not be able to actually win the game once establishing control. Although Thassa’s
Devourer isn’t the most enticing win condition in the world, it can get the job done in a pinch.

My pick:

Pack 1 Pick 9:

Lagonna-Band Trailblazer Font of Return Font of Fortunes Pin to the Earth Renowned Weaver Gold-Forged Sentinel Forest

My pick:

The choice here was between Pin to the Earth number two and Font of Fortunes. Although picking up a few card advantage spells is essential to making any
control deck function, Font of Fortunes isn’t the most efficient. With the potential to get either Divination or Read the Bones down the line, picking up
another cheap piece of interaction was a more immediate priority.

Pack 1 Pick 10:

Font of Vigor Thassa's Devourer Desecration Plague Cast into Darkness Desperate Stand Mountain

My pick:

Pack 1 Pick 11:

Font of Fortunes Pin to the Earth Gluttonous Cyclops Chariot of Victory Mountain

Here we’re faced with the same pick from a couple of packs ago. With a second Pin to the Earth already in the deck, this time around it was better to be
cautious and take the Font of Fortunes. Although Divination and Read the Bones might be better card draw spells, there is no guarantee that they will be in
the next two packs. Worst-case scenario, we get the other draw spells and don’t end up playing Font of Fortunes. Best case scenario, we aren’t left high
and dry without any card advantage.

My pick:

Pack 1 Pick 12:

Lightning Diadem Market Festival Rotted Hulk Island

My pick:

Pack 1 Pick 13:

Font of Return Reviving Melody Island

My pick:

Pack 1 Pick 14:

Countermand Island

My pick:

Pack 1 Pick 15:


My pick:

Coming out of pack one, it would have been unreasonable to be anything but very happy with how the deck was positioned. Although it didn’t have the best
win conditions at this point (double Thassa’s Devourer), what it did have was a very above-average removal package. The toughest thing for a control deck
in this format to do is keep your opponent’s creatures in check. As long as you can do that, you can win with pretty much anything.

Pack 2 Pick 1:

Nyxborn Eidolon Charging Badger Pharagax Giant Sphinx's Disciple Ephara's Radiance Setessan Starbreaker Cyclops of One-Eyed Pass Necrobite Sudden Storm Kragma Butcher Pheres-Band Raiders Ghostblade Eidolon Fanatic of Xenagos Heroes' Podium Mountain

Not the most exciting pack, but there are a few cards to choose from. Normally I would be all for taking Sudden Storm here. Unfortunately, at this point
our deck wasn’t well equipped to take full advantage of the instant. Sudden Storm is at its best when you are locked in a close damage race. Not only do
you get to prevent your opponent’s creatures from hitting you, but you clear the way for your own attackers. Without much of an offense to speak of, Sudden
Storm would serve as a glorified Fog in this deck. Nyxborn Eidolon is a much more versatile pick that fits in well with the deck’s constellation plan.

My pick:

Pack 2 Pick 2:

Floodtide Serpent Felhide Brawler Ephara's Radiance Bolt of Keranos Elite Skirmisher Oreskos Sun Guide Divination Nyxborn Rollicker Karametra's Favor Stratus Walk Satyr Nyx-Smith Unravel the Aether Sanguimancy Island

As I said before, card advantage is key to making a control deck function. Without much else tempting in this pack, it was the perfect time to pick up a

My pick:

Pack 2 Pick 3:

Nyxborn Triton Swordwise Centaur Epiphany Storm Hold at Bay Culling Mark Necrobite Kragma Butcher Loyal Pegasus Setessan Starbreaker Mortal's Resolve Skyreaping Flitterstep Eidolon Swamp

It pains me to say it, but this deck just isn’t a Necrobite deck. We’ve already got a lot of removal and not many creatures to actually make the Necrobite
work. That being said, you can never go wrong with picking up a Nyxborn Triton.

My pick:

Pack 2 Pick 4:

Meletis Astronomer Retraction Helix Nyxborn Eidolon Bolt of Keranos Mortal's Ardor Eye Gouge Stratus Walk Nullify Impetuous Sunchaser Pinnacle of Rage Fate Unraveler Swamp

Although black might be shallow and tricky to draft in Journey into Nyx, one of the benefits of moving in on it early is that you can expect of get strong
black cards later than normal in Born of the Gods and Theros. A fourth-pick Fate Unraveler is a perfect example of this.

My pick:

Pack 2 Pick 5:

Epiphany Storm Hold at Bay Culling Mark Necrobite Kragma Butcher Loyal Pegasus Mortal's Resolve Ashiok's Adept Thunder Brute Fated Return Plains

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much going on for us in this pack. Fated Return is a bit expensive for my blood, especially when you need to rely on your
opponent to have a decent creature to reanimate for it to actually be good. Although Ashiok’s Adept is mediocre, it might come in handy if we table a
Necrobite and need a couple of cards to fill out the deck.

My pick:

Pack 2 Pick 6:

Griffin Dreamfinder Eye Gouge Evanescent Intellect Fearsome Temper Hold at Bay Claim of Erebos Impetuous Sunchaser Thassa's Rebuff Archetype of Finality Plains

Another less-than-stellar pack. Archetype of Finality is a decent card, but much like with Necrobite, deathtouch isn’t that great when you don’t have many
creatures to pair it with. It might seem crazy to take Eye Gouge here, but I would rather have a card I can sideboard in in certain matchups than a card I
am almost definitely not going to play.

My pick:

Pack 2 Pick 7:

Floodtide Serpent Felhide Brawler Ephara's Radiance Divination Nyxborn Rollicker Karametra's Favor Peregrination Fated Infatuation Swamp

Even if casting Fated Infatuation were feasible in this deck, it wouldn’t be very good. A second Divination, on the other hand, means a clean upgrade from
Font of Fortunes.

My pick:

Pack 2 Pick 8:

Rise to the Challenge Warchanter of Mogis Forsaken Drifters Claim of Erebos Black Oak of Odunos Drown in Sorrow Astral Cornucopia Plains

Although Drown in Sorrow looks like the perfect card for this deck, it isn’t as good as it might seem. To begin with, -2/-2 only kills a small portion of
the important creatures in this format, and most of those creatures have heroic and will quickly get out of range anyway. Not to mention this deck is
already packing so much one for one removal that it is unlikely for the board to build up to a point where Drown in Sorrow can really go to work. That
being said, the potential upside for the sweeper does outrank the other marginal cards in this pack.

My pick:

Pack 2 Pick 9:

Pharagax Giant Ephara's Radiance Setessan Starbreaker Cyclops of One-Eyed Pass Necrobite Heroes' Podium Mountain

My pick:

Pack 2 Pick 10:

Floodtide Serpent Felhide Brawler Ephara's Radiance Nyxborn Rollicker Sanguimancy Island

My pick:

Pack 2 Pick 11:

Epiphany Storm Hold at Bay Culling Mark Necrobite Swamp

My pick:

Pack 2 Pick 12:

Eye Gouge Impetuous Sunchaser Pinnacle of Rage Swamp

My pick:

Pack 2 Pick 13:

Epiphany Storm Culling Mark Plains

My pick:

Pack 2 Pick 14:

Claim of Erebos Plains

My pick:

Pack 2 Pick 15:


My pick:

As it turned out, pack two was much more underwhelming than pack one. Even still, we had such a strong shell going into pack two that it didn’t really
matter that we didn’t get that many premium picks. Picking up double Divination was certainly nice, and Fate Unraveler goes a long way towards adding to
the overall power of the deck. Heading into the Theros pack, the biggest priority was picking up better win conditions to replace the Thassa’s Devourers.

Pack 3 Pick 1:

Divine Verdict Guardians of Meletis Prescient Chimera Demolish Wingsteed Rider Wild Celebrants Two-Headed Cerberus Time to Feed Boulderfall Setessan Battle Priest Artisan's Sorrow Heliod's Emissary Prowler's Helm Fleecemane Lion Mountain

Talk about a rough one. Not a black card in sight and only one measly blue card. Even still, with two Pin to the Earths and a Rise of Eagles in tow, there
was no harm in picking up a strong flier.

My pick:

Pack 3 Pick 2:

Nylea's Presence Triton Fortune Hunter Demolish Vulpine Goliath Annul Titan's Strength Yoked Ox Voyaging Satyr Voyage's End Akroan Crusader Karametra's Acolyte Decorated Griffin Artisan of Forms Mountain

Even with so many two-mana removal spells, it is hard to pass up on a card like Voyage’s End. With so few ways to trigger heroic, Artisan of Forms and
Triton Fortune Hunter just weren’t what this deck was looking for.

My pick:

Pack 3 Pick 3:

Stymied Hopes Leafcrown Dryad Yoked Ox Blood-Toll Harpy Benthic Giant Voyaging Satyr Spearpoint Oread Vaporkin Felhide Minotaur Peak Eruption Pharika's Mender Pyxis of Pandemonium Swamp

Although it wasn’t exactly “on plan” at this point, you can never really go wrong with Vaporkin. Sometimes you play it on Turn 2 and it just attacks for
ten points of damage. Felhide Minotaur may fit in better with the defensive nature of the deck, but compared to Vaporkin it has much lower potential.

My pick:

Pack 3 Pick 4:

Nylea's Disciple Lash of the Whip Messenger's Speed Blood-Toll Harpy Spearpoint Oread Breaching Hippocamp Vulpine Goliath Staunch-Hearted Warrior Borderland Minotaur Peak Eruption Polis Crusher Plains

At this point it looked like the fliers plan might actually come together. With so much cheap and efficient removal, there was no reason to consider the
expensive and clunky Lash of the Whip.

My pick:

Pack 3 Pick 5:

Chosen by Heliod Mnemonic Wall Viper's Kiss Pheres-Band Centaurs Yoked Ox Baleful Eidolon Annul Traveler's Amulet Shredding Winds Horizon Scholar Swamp

This is the pick that sealed the deal on using fliers as a win condition and led me to “hide” the Thassa’s Devourers from the deck. It is a shame that
Baleful Eidolon had to get passed up in the process. Even with the constellation-mill plan out of the picture, Baleful Eidolon would have made a solid
addition to the deck.

My pick:

Pack 3 Pick 6:

Bronze Sable Ephara's Warden Lagonna-Band Elder Lost in a Labyrinth Pharika's Cure Rage of Purphoros Feral Invocation Setessan Griffin Warriors' Lesson Island

Can you have too many two-mana removal spells in one deck? Only one way to find out!

My pick:

Pack 3 Pick 7:

Fleetfeather Sandals Ill-Tempered Cyclops Guardians of Meletis Aqueous Form Silent Artisan Blood-Toll Harpy Sedge Scorpion Pharika's Mender Swamp

My pick:

Pack 3 Pick 8:

Guardians of Meletis Prescient Chimera Demolish Unknown Shores Crackling Triton Anvilwrought Raptor Satyr Piper Forest

Where there were once two Thassa’s Devourers, we now have two Prescient Chimeras. Transition complete.

My pick:

Pack 3 Pick 9:

Guardians of Meletis Demolish Wild Celebrants Boulderfall Setessan Battle Priest Artisan's Sorrow Mountain

My pick:

Pack 3 Pick 10:

Demolish Vulpine Goliath Annul Yoked Ox Decorated Griffin Mountain

My pick:

Pack 3 Pick 11:

Benthic Giant Felhide Minotaur Pharika's Mender Pyxis of Pandemonium Swamp

My pick:

Pack 3 Pick 12:

Lash of the Whip Messenger's Speed Peak Eruption Plains

We even managed to get the value twelfth-pick Lash of the Whip.

My pick:

Pack 3 Pick 13:

Mnemonic Wall Pheres-Band Centaurs Swamp

My pick:

Pack 3 Pick 14:

Lost in a Labyrinth Island

My pick:

Pack 3 Pick 15:


My pick:

In the end, everything came together quite nicely. We picked up good removal in pack one, some card advantage in pack two, and a solid plan to win the game
in pack three. All that was left to do was build the deck:

    Draft Deck

As you can see, there weren’t too many difficult decisions when it came to putting together a final 40 cards. The biggest question was whether or not to
play Drown in Sorrow. Although it didn’t synergize very well with the early game fliers like Vaporkin and Blood-Toll Harpy, it did match up well with all
of our other creatures. It’s possible that the slot would have been better off as a Rotted Hulk to up the deck’s creature count, add a second four-mana
card, and completely solidify the deck’s ground defense.

Round 1

To kick things off, my opponent was playing a UGR ramp deck. Although green was definitely the main color, blue and red seemed pretty evenly split as the
off-colors. Even though my opponent never had an issue casting his spells, I try to avoid playing straight three-color decks when possible in this format.


To start Game 1, I decided to keep this hand on the play. Although it looked a tad bit slow, it was only one land off of casting the powerful Doomwake
Giant. I figured Nyxborn Trition could hold down the fort until the sick combo of Doomwake Giant and Rise of Eagles could come along and Infest my
opponent. As it turns out, things went much simpler than that:


Talk about brutal. From that point it was easy to close out the game with my fliers.

During sideboarding I was tempted to bring in an Eye Gouge to combat my opponent’s double Golden Hind. With Drown in Sorrow and Doomwake Giant already
waiting to punish them, however, it didn’t seem like there was enough of a reason to bring in such a low-impact card.

For Game 2, my opponent played a Bow of Nylea on Turn 3 but had an otherwise slow start. I was able to get some early beats in with Nyxborn Eidolon before
playing out Fate Unraveler and Doomwake Giant. Even though my opponent managed to follow up Bow with a few other powerful rares, the tempo of the game was
too far in my favor.

Game 2 is

I was able to Pin both Spawn of Thraxes and Ember Swallower precombat, giving my opponent’s team -2/-2 with Doomwake Giant and leaving them with
less-than-favorable blocks. Afterwards, it was easy enough to overpower Bow of Nylea and win the game.

Round 2

For Round 2, my opponent was playing a very fast R/B aggro deck. He came out of the gates quickly Game 1 with a curve of Nyxborn Eidolon; Kragma Butcher;
King Macar, the Gold-Cursed; and Flurry of Horns. I had to play from behind the entire game, but I was able to do just enough to reach this board position:

Tense Board

Going to one life against an R/B deck might not be pretty, but it afforded me the best opportunity possible to win the game. I managed to slowly fight my
way back into control of the game, but unfortunately, a timely Bolt of Keranos ended my dreams of a Near-Death Experience-style victory.

This time around, I decided to sideboard out Drown in Sorrow. My opponent’s deck was full of 2/3’s that the sweeper was not equipped to take down. I
instead brought in Rotted Hulk. Five toughness is right where you want to be when dealing with Kragma Butcher.

After choosing to be on the play for Game 2, I was met with a hand of five land, Prescient Chimera, and Lash of the Whip. Although this hand is close to
keepable with two Divinations in the deck, so much cheap removal, and an opponent playing an aggressive deck, I couldn’t justify keeping such a slow and
risky seven card-hand. Unfortunately both my six- and five-card hands didn’t have any land to go with them. Eventually I settled on a hand of three Islands
and a Prescient Chimera, a hilariously worse version of my seven-card hand.

I did manage to topdeck a Divination on Turn 3 which gave me a fighting chance, but my opponent played three Kragma Butchers in a row for a strong early
offense. A Cast into Darkness on my Prescient Chimera was more than enough to end my tournament.

Game Over

Not too shabby for a mulligan to four, huh?

Even though mulliganing the seven-card hand didn’t work out in my favor, I would do it again if put in the same position. This deck was well above-average,
and any reasonable six-card hand would have been much better-positioned to win the game than a subpar seven.

This draft may have not resulted in a win, but there are plenty more where that came from. If nothing else, we learned that U/B Control is still a viable
archetype with Journey into Nyx added to the draft format.

Spring 2014 State Championships