In my last article, I described my general strategy for drafting triple Ravnica. Now I shall take you through a Magic Online draft, explaining my picks to give you an idea of how I like to play this format.
I went into the draft looking to force lots of colors, which is a little backwards… the Four Color Green archetype is more of a fall-back plan, for when a draft isn’t working out. I will list the entire pack, with a few thoughts on the choices and my final pick at the end.
With that out of the way, here we go:
Pack 1, Pick 1
Tattered Drake, Mortipede, Dogpile, Thundersong Trumpeter, Ordruun Commando, Grayscaled Gharial, Shred Memory, Rain of Embers, Golgari Signet, Disembowel, Boros Signet, Golgari Germination, Vigor Mortis, Flash Conscription, Woebringer Demon
This was an easy first pick. Disembowel is clearly the best card, and splashable so it fits with our multi-colored plan. The only card that comes close is Woebringer Demon. It has potential to dominate a game when you are sacrificing a token each turn, while your opponent sacrifices real creatures. The problem is, it only fits well into a certain archetype, and can be a very restrictive first pick. The other thing to take into consideration with this pack is to look at the cards that will likely come back. I count the playables, and try to determine which is the weakest. In this pack, I believe there are eight other playables, and since Red White is appropriately under-drafted I expect the Ordruun Commando, or Flash Conscription, to return. This information isn’t important to my draft.
My Pick: Disembowel
Pack 1, Pick 2
Dimir Aqueduct, Goblin Spelunkers, Farseek, Nightguard Patrol, Vedalken Dismisser, Clinging Darkness, Boros Recruit, Smash, Golgari Brownscale, Elves of Deep Shadow, Selesnya Evangel, Rolling Spoil, Watchwolf, Lightning Helix
This pack offers a common Magic Online choice. It seems that an uncommon run of Watchwolf and Lightning Helix sees them appear together almost every time. I’m not sure if this is the case for every uncommon, or it’s simply more noticeable because these are both great cards. With this pick, I could go the boring route and take the Watchwolf and play the solid Green White splash Black for removal deck… but that isn’t much fun (or particularly powerful). I took the Lightning Helix, as it is the best card, and it leaves my options open. I can splash either Helix, Disembowel, or both depending on how the mana pans out. This pack has a lot of playables, from which I expect the Golgari Brownscale and Rolling Spoil to return.
My Pick: Lightning Helix
Pack 1, Pick 3
Courier Hawk, Convolute, Golgari Rot Farm, Ordruun Commando, Boros Recruit, Quickchange, Infectious Host, Dimir Signet, Fiery Conclusion, Blockbuster, Reroute, Nullmage Shepherd, Ghosts of the Innocent
This pack is nearly devoid of playables, with the Nullmage Shepherd standing head and shoulders above the rest. It’s already fairly dry, and I don’t expect to get anything relevant to return. The land or Signet would be nice.
My Pick: Nullmage Shepherd
Pack 1, Pick 4
Courier Hawk, Stasis Cell, Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi, Boros Fury-Shield, Dimir House Guard, Conclave’s Blessing, Dimir Infiltrator, Necromantic Thirst, Skyknight Legionnaire, Cleansing Beam, Auratouched Mage, Hunted Phantasm
This pick was fairly straightforward, with only the Cleansing Beam offering an argument against the Dimir House Guard. I took the House Guard as I like to settle into my base colors early, and this gives me an excellent opportunity by taking a consistent creature over an unreliable removal spell. This also gives me a chance to cut the people to my left out of Black, as I passed good Green and White, while not shipping any Black relevance.
My Pick: Dimir House Guard
I took the Netherborn Phalanx, continuing to cut the Black. The Terrarion was a temporary consideration, but I find one can usually pick it up quite late. It is more than playable in both Selesnya and Boros decks, as they have two-drops that require both colors of mana.
My Pick: Netherborn Phalanx
This pick was quite simple. Gather Courage is a great trick that always makes the cut… the first one, at least.
My Pick: Gather Courage
Mortipede was an easy pick here. He isn’t at his best in my Green-based decks, as I get into creature stalls less than decks that have many colors worth of options for getting ahead.
My Pick: Mortipede
It seemed early to consider mana fixers enough to take a double land over a very solid creature. I was starting to think that I wouldn’t end up splashing the Helix, as I hadn’t seen any reasonable mana fixers and had nothing else to splash.
My Pick: Greater Mossdog
The Signet was a pleasant surprise here. The fact that it is here along with the cCmmando means two things. First, someone took a card I don’t consider playable, which isn’t too surprising – maybe they are disconnected, or just don’t have a clue. Second, and more telling, is that someone took Flash Conscription over Ordruun Commando. Ordruun Commando is the backbone of the Boros deck. He isn’t as powerful as the Fangtail or the Legionnaire, but he does his part. A lot of decks have trouble dealing with him. Four power is an important number in this format. It allows him to trade with Bramble Elemental, and run right by Vedalken Entrancer. Flash Conscription, on the other hand… well, it is a powerful effect, but it’s just not worth the cost attached. At least with Ray of Command (or more recently, Blind with Anger), you could make someone believe that you didn’t have something. But with Flash Conscription, passing the turn with six mana available and a bunch of cards in hand… any competent opponent will deduce that something is amiss.
My Pick: Boros Signet
As expected, the Golgari Brownscale and Rolling Spoil return. My pick here may surprise some people. I’m sure everyone who has drafted Ravnica knows how unexciting the Brownscale is, but do you know how good Rolling Spoil is? Well, let me tell you… I would guess around two-thirds of Ravnica draft decks contain three or more colors. I know about ninety percent of mine do, but I’m probably the exception. Not only are they playing more colors, they are rarely solidly into three colors. Often, you can completely cut off a color with well-placed land destruction. But what really makes this playable is the existence of the double lands. Destroying a double land played on turn thre (or four) can steal games then and there. I’m not advocating playing Seismic Spikes and Barbarian Riftucutters – it would be unethical of me to advocate playing with Red cards – but that’s an issue for another day.
Now I’ve clumsily spent all this time discussing the benefits of destroying a land, I haven’t even mentioned how good the Nausea effect is in this format… I’ll leave that for one of my editors. Baha. [The Nausea effect is good in this format — Craig, with my first editorial comment.]
My Pick: Rolling Spoil
Pack 2, Pick 1
Strands of Undeath, Barbarian Riftcutter, Terrarion, Tidewater Minion, Stinkweed Imp, Sabertooth Alley Cat, Gate Hound, Zephyr Spirit, Lurking Informant, Skyknight Legionnaire, Peel from Reality, Trophy Hunter, Dark Heart of the Wood, Selesnya Guildmage, Necroplasm
This pick was fairly straightforward, with the Guildmage being about one hundred times better than anything else in the pack. Once again, I counted the playables and came to the conclusion that either the Terrarion or Strands of Undeath would come back.
My Pick: Selesnya Guildmage
Pack 2, Pick 2
Terraformer, Gaze of the Gorgon, Goblin Spelunkers, Sparkmage Apprentice, Fists of Ironwood, Drake Familiar, Shred Memory, Surge of Zeal, Flight of Fancy, Disembowel, Sell-Sword Brute, Dimir Guildmage, Voyager Staff, Perilous Forays
This was another easy pick, with Disembowel being significantly better than anything else. The pack is a bit short, so I didn’t expect anything relevant to return.
My Pick: Disembowel
Pack 2, Pick 3
Viashino Slasher, Farseek, Boros Garrison, War-Torch Goblin, Barbarian Riftcutter, Perplex, Gate Hound, Peel from Reality, Seeds of Strength, Galvanic Arc, Wojek Embermage, Goliath Spider, Empty the Catacombs
The Galvanic Arc put me back on the multi-color track. I figured it wouldn’t be difficult to splash Red, as I already needed to splash White for the Guildmage, and Boros Garrison is the easiest double land to pick up.
My Pick: Galvanic Arc
Pack 2, Pick 4
Quickchange, Dimir Aqueduct, Benevolent Ancestor, Surveilling Sprite, Clinging Darkness, Thoughtpicker Witch, Seismic Spike, Elvish Skysweeper, Selesnya Signet, Oathsworn Giant, Twisted Justice, Vindictive Mob
My Pick: Selesnya Signet
I took the maximum amount of time on this pick, deciding between Twilight Drover and Gather Courage. In the end, I went with the Drover. I felt I had a solid amount of playables, thus I could afford to take a sideboard card over one that would likely make my deck. And that’s just what the Drover is, an excellent sideboard card against token decks. The other argument against Gather Courage is the marginal utility of similar tricks. In this format, I like to have a variety of the three solid common Green tricks: Gather Courage, Gaze of the Gorgon, and Seeds of Strength. It is too easy for people to play around them when you only have one of the tricks, especially in multiples.
My Pick: Twilight Drover
Pack 2, Pick 6
Consult the Necrosages, Tattered Drake, Boros Fury-Shield, Surveilling Sprite, Dromad Purebred, Grayscaled Charial, Necromantic Thirst, Transluminant, Ethereal Usher, Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion
Transluminant is another easy pick. It’s a solid creature which can be difficult to get through in the early game. I’ll struggle to find the Red and White mana to reliably activate the Sunhome, never mind the drawback of having a colorless land.
My Pick: Transluminant
There are no spells here that we would play, but the Boros Garrison fits perfectly with the plan of splashing both Red and White.
My Pick: Boros Garrison
The Signet isn’t very useful, as it’s half Blue. The Skysweeper is something that will get played if we’re short on cards, and it comes from the sideboard against any flyer-heavy decks.
My Pick: Elvish Skysweeper
Strands can be a nightmare for the unprepared. When I first drafted this set at Pro Tour: Los Angeles, I considered the Strands marginally unplayable… and I kept getting wrecked because I didn’t play around it. Now I have learned to respect it, and play at least one in all of my Black decks.
The only other consideration in this pack is Dark Heart of the Wood.
I think you need to play around ten Forests to play the Dark Heart, and even then it’s only worth sideboarding against Red / White. This makes it a very marginal card.
My Pick: Strands of Undeath
My Pick: Shred Memory
Little to say here. It’s a little surprising how late I got this.
My Pick: Boros Garrison
In the rest of pack 2, I take an extremely late Dimir Aqueduct (just in case), but nothing that will actually make my deck.
Pack 3, Pick 1
Sell-Sword Brute, Gaze of the Gorgon, Coalhauler Swine, Benevolent Ancestor, Vedalken Entrancer, Thundersong Trumpeter, Drake Familiar, Thoughtpicker Witch, Goblin Fire Fiend, Seeds of Strength, Veteran Armorer, Sandsower, Psychic Drain, Flame-Kin Zealot, Szadek, Lord of Secrets
I was disappointed when I first examined this pack. How can there possibly not be a pick for me, over my four colors? After looking more closely, I realised that Sandsower could be good since I already have a Guildmage… it would only take a Scatter the Seeds and Fists of Ironwood to make it shine.
My Pick: Sandsower
Pack 3, Pick 2
Terrarion, Woodwraith Strangler, Drift of Phantasms, Incite Hysteria, Scatter the Seeds, Sundering Vitae, Caregiver, Dizzy Spell, Compulsive Research, Viashino Fangtail, Instill Furor, Junktroller, Overwhelm, Sisters of Stone Death
The Sisters seem to be a pet card of mine. Not because nobody else plays it, but because people vastly underrate it. For eight mana, the Sisters win the game every time they survive. When I pay eight for a creature, this is exactly what I want. Unbeatable, as long as it remains in play. The Sisters are also perfect for my multi-colored Green decks, since I end up playing more mana sources than most.
My Pick: Sisters of Stone Death
Pack 3, Pick 3
Courier Hawk, Stasis Cell, Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi, Boros Fury-Shield, Vedalken Dismisser, Dimir House Guard, Conclave’s Blessing, Dimir Infiltrator, Necromantic Thirst, Skyknight Legionnaire, Selesnya Guildmage, Flow of Ideas, Mindleech Mass
It may appear that I’m pulling a Scott Wills, or a Nick Eisel, and only using a draft in which I am exceptionally lucky to show you just how good I am. I swear this isn’t the case. I came into this draft looking to draft a certain archetype, to give you an example to accompany my previous article. It’s a happy coincidence that I pluck a second copy of a certifiable bomb on my third pick.
My Pick: Selesnya Guildmage
Pack 3, Pick 4
Woodwraith Strangler, Induce Paranoia, Roofstalker Wight, Incite Hysteria, Centaur Safeguard, Conclave’s Blessing, Quickchange, Sewerdreg, Swamp, Fiery Conclusion, Halcyon Glaze, Stoneshaker Shaman
Things are starting to return to normal. A pack with one mediocre playable, and one mediocre sideboard card. I took the Centaur, as I didn’t have any three-drops at the time.
My Pick: Centaur Safeguard
Pack 3, Pick 5
Dogpile, Votary of the Conclave, Nightguard Patrol, Muddle the Mixture, Stinkweed Imp, Rain of Embers, Stone-Seeder Hierophant, Leave No Trace, Boros Signet, Conclave Phalanx, Clutch of the Undercity
Stinkweed Imp is not only the best card in the pack, but also fills a hole in my curve. An easy pick.
My Pick: Stinkweed Imp
Carven Caryated was a simple choice, as I already had two Signets and two double lands. The Caryatid isn’t as good as one would expect it to be, considering the strength of Jungle Barrier in Invasion block draft. It is still well above average, and often provides you with a two for one.
My Pick: Carven Caryatid
As I mentioned in my last article, Farseek isn’t as strong as the other mana fixers available, but it is still well worth drafting and playing. Nothing else in this pack would make the deck, so it’s another easy pick
My Pick: Farseek
My Pick: Shambling Shell
Nothing in this pack would make my deck. I would consider sideboarding the Benevolent Ancestor against Red / White, and the Thoughtpicker Witch doesn’t do enough to justify expending a card on it. Therefore, I hate-drafted the Psychic Drain.
My Pick: Psychic Drain
I will list all forty-five cards so you can build the deck yourself. We can discuss any differences in the forums if you so desire.
2 Boros Fury-Shield
Festival of the Guildpact
Surge of Zeal
Strands of Undeath
Dimir House Guard
Sisters of Stone Death
2 Selesnya Guildmage
2 Boros Garrison
For the record, here’s my final decklist:
Now that the interesting part is over, I’ll give a short synopsis the matches themselves.
In round 1, I played the Red / White mage who took Flash Conscription over Ordruun Commando. Game 1 was close, as his draw was very fast, but around turn 6 I took over with a Galvanic Arc on my Stinkweed Imp, and a Selesnya Guildmage he couldn’t remove. Game 2, he didn’t play a second land until turn 5.
Round 2, I’m up against a solid Blue / Black mill deck. Game 1, he milled me for two a turn with a Lurking Informant and Tidewater Minion, while I had Selesnya Guildmage and Sandsower, along with eight lands. It was only a matter of time until I built up an army and overran him. Game 2 was close until I baited out his Induce Paranoia with a Disembowel on his Vedalken Entrancer. I then untapped and dropped the Sisters of Stone Death. He complained repeatedly about my good fortune, suggesting I topdecked the Sisters that had been in my opening hand, and complaining that I drew a Forest the turn after the Sisters, so I could kill his whole team. I wish I could have shown him the back-up Forest in my hand.
In round 3 I declined the split, giving me more to write about. That plan didn’t work out to well… not only did I lose, but the games weren’t particularly interesting. I was flooded both games, and ended up getting destroyed by his Dream Leash (and Szadek, Lord of Secrets) in game 1. Game 2, I tried to play around his Dream Leash by never attacking with my Nullmage Shepherd… but it was the only creature I drew. He made flyers, and I had nothing with which to block. My only chance was to attack every turn and hope to get him into Lightning Helix and Galvanic Arc range. I fell short when he drew the Leash, and I drew four straight lands.
Well, thats my draft. Let me know in the forums what you thought, and if you would like me to do this again.
Thanks for your time,